Only the Reflection


Banner by Agent Xpndble for summer_of_78

Written for the summer_of_78 livejournal fic exchange.

Bodie stared out the window, concentrating on the busy flow of traffic rather than on the two men sitting across from him. They should have been to the house by now but they'd had to detour around an accident and they were running behind. Nerves on edge, Bodie relaxed only a little when the light turned green and the car started forward.

Minding jobs. He'd always hated them. Too often you ended up with some less-than-grateful bloke irritated by your presence and not shy about letting you know it. Like now. Even from across the wide space that separated the seats, he could hear their whispered conversation. A word snatched here and there was enough to let him know that Paul Rennie, Jr and his companion were heartily sick of the two CI5 agents who shared their vehicle. Works both ways, mate.

From the moment Rennie had let them into his Knightsbridge flat, there'd been a running battle between them. Bodie's dislike of the man had been instantaneous; he hated the way the man pranced around, acting the fool, not just with his own companion but with Doyle as well.

Odd that, because Doyle looked nothing like Rennie's current interest. If Bodie's partner looked like either of them Bodie would have said Rennie, who had least shared his partner's slim built and brown hair. Not that you could have mistaken one for the other. Rennie was almost scrawny. Doyle may not have a lot of meat on his bones, but what he did have was all muscle. And there'd be no mistaking Rennie's coarse mud-colored hair for Doyle's mop of auburn curls.

Bodie turned and caught his partner's eye. Doyle cast a jaundiced look at their two charges and shrugged. Bodie tried not to smile, instead going back to scanning the cars that inched along beside them.

"Shouldn't we be there by now?"

By the petulant tones, Bodie knew it was Oliver Connelly, Rennie's latest paramour, asking.

"Shouldn't be more than another thirty minutes," Bodie responded without taking his eyes off the traffic. They were coming to a major junction, the snarl of cars a perfect place to attempt a kidnapping. He leaned forward, one knee on the opposite seat, and rapped on the glass that separated them from the driver. With an economy of motions, he signaled the man to be on the alert. The man nodded and Bodie sat back down.

"I really don't see why we have to stay in some nasty, old house when your flat would do so much nicer, Paulie."

Out of the corner of his eye, Bodie saw Rennie reach over and pull the man to his side.

"I don't like it anymore than you do but Father insisted. You know what a worrier he can be. It was either there or with Mother up in Durham." He shuddered theatrically. "Besides, love, it's a wonderful, old house with ever so much for us to do there."

"Musty old castle you mean," Connelly groused.

Rennie laughed. "It does seem a bit of overkill. It's a wonder he didn't demand these two wear suits of armour."

"Your father went to a great deal of trouble to set this up," Doyle interjected. "Death threats aren't to be lightly taken."

"Yes, but it's his life they threatened, not mine," Rennie countered.

"'You and yours,' was the phrase I think they used." Bodie sat forward in his seat again as they came to the light. "Best you remember that."

The next few moments were long ones. Bodie could tell that even their two charges were picking up on the tension in the vehicle. A brief look showed the two nervously glancing around.

The car started forward again and quickly picked up speed.

Buildings eventually gave way to open meadows as they left the city proper behind. The house where they would be leaving their charges would be well defended but Bodie had to agree with Connelly; it had made no sense to move the men from the relative safety of their penthouse suite.

At least his and Doyle's part of it would end when they discharged these two into the tender care of Rennie Senior's security staff. Six days of dancing to their limp-wristed tune and Bodie was almost ready to shoot them himself. But he'd kept his thoughts to himself and played along as best he could. Nothing and no one was going to ruin the three days off he and Doyle had coming after this.

Three days. Bodie had been hard pressed to believe it when Cowley had informed them. Not that they didn't have it coming; it had just seemed that every time he and Doyle planned a holiday, something always seemed to come along and throw a spanner in the works.

"I still think Father is-"

The gray lorry came out of nowhere, crashing into the passenger's side and sending the car skidding across the road.

Bodie heard a shriek of fright from Connelly. He thought it was Connelly, anyway. The vehicle had gone into a spin and he was too busy trying to keep from being thrown around to check.

A second jolt threw him from his seat as the car slammed into something and came to a stop. Bodie felt a crush of pain as his head impacted against the door jamb and he blacked out. When he came to, the car was at a stand still, the only noise the steady tick of the cooling engine. Biting back a moan, he tried getting his arms under him to push himself up; there was still a job to do. He had almost managed to stumble to his knees when he felt his partner's hands on his biceps.

"Take it easy. You've got a gash on your head I could lay two fingers in."

"I'm all right." Bodie let Doyle help him off the floor and onto one of the seats.

"Sure you are, sunshine. Here, watch it."

Doyle steadied him after an unsuccessful try at getting up. His head felt ready to split open. Split open more, Bodie thought, when his hand came away from his head awash in blood. "What happened?"

"We were hit." Doyle glanced into the driver's compartment. "Looks like Eric's dead."

What about the other two?" Bodie felt more than saw Doyle move to the other side of the car. He couldn't seem to keep his eyes clear of blood.

"Connelly's dead but I think Rennie will be all right. His pulse is strong."

"We've got to get out of here. This couldn't have been an accident."

Doyle chuckled. "Figured that out all by yourself?" He tried one of the doors. "Looks like we're doing it the hard way."

"You need help?"

"Nah, I've got it." Doyle positioned himself against Bodie, using him as a backstop. Two good kicks and the crumpled metal gave way.

"Hey, you in there!" someone yelled from outside.

Doyle swore and tried pulling the door back. It wouldn't close. He peeked outside the car. "Don't see anyone. They must be on the other side." He leaned further out. "What do you want?" he shouted.

"You know what we want. Send Rennie out."

"They don't really expect us to just hand him over, do they?"

"Could be they don't figure on leaving us much choice." Doyle glanced at the still unconscious Rennie then looked out again. "What happens if we don't?" he yelled.

"We'll blow all of you to kingdom come, that's what. Now, send him out!"

Doyle turned and stared at Rennie then gave Bodie a look he didn't much care for.

Bodie scowled. "What's going on in that little pea-brain of yours?"

Doyle didn't answer him but stuck his head out of the car. "How do I know you won't kill me soon as I step out?"

"Could 'ave done it already if we'd been of the mind." Silence for a moment. "Where's your keepers?"

"They're dead," Doyle yelled back. "But I've got a gun."

"Doyle, what the hell are you doing?" Bodie tried pulling himself up but found it beyond his capacity.

"I'm trying to get us both out of here alive. You can barely sit up, much less fire a gun. If they think they've got Rennie...."

"You don't look anything like the man!"

"Close enough. Wouldn't think they'd know exactly what he looks like. Besides, it's our only chance."

Whoever was out there, was getting impatient. "You best come out, lad, and leave the gun behind. Wouldn't do, you gettin' 'urt."

"Give me a minute!" Doyle hurriedly removed his jacket and started undoing his holster. He motioned to Rennie as he spoke. "You think you can get him out of the car? I'm pretty sure they won't hurt me but they might decide to follow through on their threat about the car."

"What about backup? Didn't you call in?"

"Couldn't. Me RT's busted. Couldn't find yours."

Bodie felt around in his jacket. "Bloody hell. What about Eric's?"

"They'll see me if I try looking for it, if it's even in one piece." Doyle finished removing anything that might give him away and started toward the door. "Soon as we're gone you can try for Eric's RT and get hold of someone."

"Doyle," Bodie hissed, the word filled with both anger and worry.

Doyle hesitated a moment, then quickly moved to Bodie's side and kissed him, hard. "It'll be okay, love. You'll find me."

With that, he scampered out of the car. Bodie heard him call out to their attackers that he was coming out. Not wasting any time, Bodie wiped the blood from his face the best he could and turned toward Rennie.

"How's he doing, Doctor?"

Bodie kept his eyes closed. Maybe if they thought he was still asleep, they'd leave him alone.

"His head stitched up nicely. There's something of a concussion but with a few days rest he should be right as rain."

Cowley gave a sound of exasperation. "Could you quantify that?"

"I'm assuming this isn't his first blow to the head." There was a brief silence. Amazing what the Cow could convey with a look. "I thought not. He should stay away from strenuous activity for at least a week. Longer if you can manage it. And no high-risk activity for several days after that."

"Did you hear that, Bodie? So you'll be leaving the search for your partner's whereabouts to others."

"Yeah, I heard." Bodie tried to massage away the tight ball of pain at his right temple.

"I can give you something for that."

Bodie finally opened his eyes and squinted at the man standing in front of him. His memory of how he'd got here was a bit shaky; last thing he recalled clearly was pulling Rennie free of the car. But he did remember waking to this man hovering over him. "'S fine. Nothing a couple of hours of sleep won't cure."

Cowley stepped forward. "Will you be wanting to keep him here overnight?"

"He doesn't necessarily have to stay here as long as you have someone checking on him through the night. Your men are staying here at the house, aren't they?"

"I'm not in hospital?" Bodie gave his surroundings a good look. He'd assumed they had taken him to the nearest medical facilities.

"We brought you to the house along with Rennie," Cowley responded. "With a doctor on staff and a fully equipped clinic, there was no sense in taking you anywhere else."

"How'd you find us?"

The doctor pulled Bodie's head up by his chin and shone a light into his eyes. "Don't you remember?"

Bodie pulled away and glared at the man. "Wouldn't be asking if I did, now would I?" He turned his attention to his boss. "Well?"

Cowley grimaced. "You managed to keep from turning this into a complete disaster by retaining your RT, though you might have thought to use it sooner. When your message came in that you'd been attacked, I sent Jax and Murphy to bring you in. They found you barely conscious with Rennie next to you."

"I remember now. I couldn't find the RT at first; turns out it got shoved under the seat. But that was after." He thought a moment. "What about Doyle?"

"That's what you need to tell us. He wasn't at the site when they arrived. Do you know where he went?"

Bodie nodded and then winced in pain. "He made them believe he was Rennie and that the rest of us were dead." He looked up at Cowley. "Eric?"

"Aye, Wilson's dead. Connelly, too."

"What about Rennie?"

"I can answer that," the doctor responded. "He's got a major concussion but it's his first so I'm relatively sure there will be a complete recovery. But he's not doing well, emotionally. He and Oliver really did care for one another."

"So now what?" Bodie looked at Cowley.

"You're to be escorted to your room. We'll all be staying here until we know who was behind the attack."

"And Doyle?"

"We'll find Doyle, don't you-"

"What are you doing about him now?" Bodie started to get to his feet. "They could have taken him anywhere by now! We need to get back to the car, see what we can find."

Cowley grabbed Bodie by the arms and pushed him back down onto the bed. "You're not going anywhere! Och, man, do you think we haven't already started looking for him? I've got every spare man on the case, going over that site with a fine-toothed comb. Don't you worry about Doyle, Bodie. He'll be fine. But he'll tear off a piece of your hide if he comes back and finds you still abed because you didn't have the sense to mind the doctor."

Bodie glared at his boss. "You can't keep me out of this. He's my partner; I have the right-"

"You have what I say you have." Cowley straightened and let go of Bodie. "You've got a nice, clean room waiting for you; I had Murphy pull your and Doyle's luggage from the car so you should be all set. In a couple of days, if you're up to it, I might allow you to participate in the investigation. But in a purely fact-finding capacity and only from the sidelines. No fieldwork."

That wasn't the way it was supposed to be; partners covered each other's backs, not lie around nursing a knock on the head. He looked from one man to the other, a plan already formulating. He'd do what he was told...for now. But when the time came, when Ray really needed him, nothing and no one would keep him away.

Bodie only vaguely noticed the rest of the house as he was escorted through the wide hallways. He quietly followed Murphy, who seemed to know his way about. Bloody place is huge. He couldn't imagine why Cowley had agreed to allow the family to wait out their time in protective custody here. There were windows everywhere. And the layout was a hodgepodge of right angles and swooping curves.

Murphy led him up a narrow stairwell to what Bodie assumed was the servant's quarters. Tucked up in the attic, the windowless, cramped area was at least easily defendable. Murphy finally stopped before a plain wooden door, one of many that lined the long hallway. A key was produced and the door unlocked and opened.

Murphy switched on the light. "'S all yours, mate." He motioned Bodie in and then left with a sketchy salute.

Bodie walked in and closed the door. He looked around the room. It was sparsely furnished: a bed against the far wall, a standing lamp next to it. A small wardrobe stood to the left of the entry and a scarred wooden desk and chair were pushed into one corner. On the other side of the bed a small table with a bowl and pitcher on top rounded out the decor.

He rubbed his head and wished he'd taken the doctor up on his offer of some pills; it felt like someone was trying to hammer their way out of his skull. Nothing to be done about it now. He slowly pulled his jacket off and approached the wardrobe. Three shirts, three pair of trousers and another jacket hung on one side, underwear and socks filled one shelf on the other; nice that someone had thought to unpack his gear. He hung his coat up then removed his gun and holster and placed them on the second shelf.

Bodie stared at his gun. Hadn't done him much good today. Hadn't done Doyle any good, either. He cursed under his breath. "Damn you, Ray. Why'd you have to go and let yourself be taken?" He took a breath and gently closed the wardrobe's doors.

Thing was, he knew why, why he was standing here alone instead of maybe being dead inside the burned-out remains of a car. At this moment he could easily strangle his partner; his infuriating, self-sacrificing, insanely brave partner who would willingly let himself fall into a villain's hands rather than let anything happen to Bodie. He put his hands against the sides of the wardrobe and let his face lie against its cool surface. Don't die, Ray; please, don't die.

He couldn't swear how long he stayed that way, the not-very-sturdy piece of furniture taking his full weight. Eventually, he straightened and moved toward the bed. He switched on the lamp then walked over to turn off the overhead. The room went from a bright starkness to a wretched gloominess. Fit his mood.

Tired, he started removing his clothes. Shoes first, he toed off both and left them where they landed, not really caring about neatness or what kind of impression he'd make. His shirt and trousers were next. He draped them over the desk chair, his socks and y-fronts thrown on top.

It was only then, standing naked in the middle of the room, that he noticed the dirt on his arms and the smell of sweat that drifted up off his body. A bath would be nice but he didn't have the energy or the inclination to redress and go looking for one.

Instead, he moved around the bed and lifted up the pitcher. Happily, he found it filled with water. He poured some into the bowl and, taking the small flannel that had been lying next to it, proceeded to give himself a cursory wash-up.

The water was cold but he clenched his teeth and got on with it. He'd certainly been in worse situations. He tried to blank out the scene of his last shower, a long interlude shared with Ray, but his mind kept conjuring up images of his lover's lean, hard body wet and slick with soap, pressed against the wall while Bodie filled that perfect arse with his cock. Doyle, his head thrown back, his mouth open as he breathed in jerky gasps, had urged Bodie on, his hips snapping back to take Bodie in until Bodie was pounding into the receptive body. One hand on Doyle's hip, the other wrapped around the other man's organ, it had been like they were the last two people on the planet. It had been like flying. It had been perfect.

Bodie squeezed his eyes shut. Go away! He didn't want to think about that, not while Doyle was gone, not when he didn't know if he'd ever have him back.

When he finally opened his eyes, he was breathing heavily and he felt as if he'd run a mile. He finished his ablutions, his mind kept purposely blank. Afterwards, he crawled under the stiff, scratchy covers of the narrow bed and turned off the light. It took a long time for him to fall asleep.

"All right, in you go."

Doyle had just enough time to realize there were stairs in front of him before he found himself careening down those same steps. Flailing about and trying to keep his feet under him, he managed to grab the railing that ran along one side. It slowed him down, just not enough to keep him from slamming into the wall where the stairs took a ninety degree turn.

He stayed there for a minute, letting the wall hold him up. His side was already beginning to ache from the blow he'd taken when he had given himself up and his right cheek burned from being scraped along the ground. Now he could add a full body bruise. Taking a breath, he finally pushed himself away from the wall. His hip protested when it took his full weight but better his hip than his head.

He slowly took the short flight of stairs the rest of the way into the room. It was dark down here, the only light what little filtered under the door he'd just come through. He looked around, narrowing his eyes as he peered into the dark and tried to take in his surroundings.

He managed to make out a bed against the furthest wall. Good a place as any to get his bearings. He shambled over, favoring his right leg. When he reached his destination, he groaned in relief and lowered himself onto the cushioned surface.

A pile of blankets was placed at the foot of the bed and he grabbed one to sling around his shoulders. It was cold. As his eyes adjusted, he was able to make out other shapes around the room. There wasn't much. A small table sat in the corner to his left, with a pile of what looked like old magazines stacked next to it. Across from him a doorway loomed under the staircase. There was no door.

Doyle hoped it housed facilities; he had to pee. He got up, pulling the blanket more tightly around him, and made his way over. He let out a sigh of relief when he saw the glow of porcelain. Strange, that. He didn't think he'd be able to see in there. He entered the small enclosure and realized that it had no ceiling; the steps above broke, but did not obscure, the light from under the door.

Carefully, he undid his zip and worked his organ out. He shivered, the cold creeping under his clothes and onto his exposed flesh. He let go a stream; the smell of urine was strong in the enclosed space, so he hurried. Done, he turned around to the basin behind him. The freezing water on his hands only added to his discomfort.

He wanted more than anything to bundle himself under the covers and wait for rescue but he knew better than to count on it; there was no telling if the clue he'd left would be found and if it would do any good even if it was.

Determined, he started going over the room, inch by inch, his hip protesting all the while. If there was anything down here that would help him escape, he'd find it.

Cold, he was so cold. Bodie groaned and rolled onto his side. He wrapped the cover more tightly around himself and reached out for the body that should be lying next to him. Nothing. He'd forgot for a moment.

He opened his eyes into almost complete darkness. Bloody room didn't even have a window. He could hear noises coming from outside and from time to time the light from underneath the door was broken by someone walking by. Seemed liked a fair amount of activity was going on and he wondered what time it was. There'd been a clock around here somewhere. He craned his head around and spied the timepiece on the dresser, the luminous hands pointing at half past seven.

Great. The Cow would have his hide. He snorted in amusement, only a little amazed that he could find anything at all amusing. He was sitting up, both hands running briskly through his hair when the knock came.


The door opened a crack and Lucas stuck his head in. "Cowley's called a meeting in thirty minutes in the servants' dining room. You'd best get ready."

How many agents did Cowley have here? Bodie pulled his blanket around himself and glared at the man. "I thought I wasn't being allowed on the case yet."

Lucas shrugged. "All I know is what I'm told and I was told to make sure you made it to the meeting."

"Where's Murphy? I thought he was the one in charge of baby-sitting me. Woke me up often enough through the night."

"Nah, he's asleep; must be my turn now. So get on with it. Cowley doesn't take kindly to tardiness, as you well know."

"You mind if I take a shower first?" he growled.

"Whatever suits your fancy, mate. Just make sure you're there on time."

Anson pulled his head back and was closing the door when Bodie realized he didn't know where the bathroom was. "Hey, where is the bog?"

"Oh," Anson stuck his head back in. "There's one down the hall that way," he nodded to the right. "Make a left turn at the end and it's the first door on your right."

Bodie waved him away and turned on the lamp. He grudgingly got up and found his dressing gown hanging on a hook in the wardrobe when he went looking for clean clothes. He shrugged into it and, clothes in hand, headed for the bathroom.

Thirty minutes later he was sitting on one of the chairs placed around a large and obviously heavily used table.

Several of the agents were already there and most acknowledged him with a nod of their head or a quick wave. None seemed inclined to talk. Bodie could understand that. He didn't feel much like talking, either, and he was sure he was putting off some pretty definite keep-away signals. Until he got his partner back, it was best if they just left him alone.

When Cowley walked in, he was trailed by both Rennies, father and son. The father looked as if nothing was amiss. Perfectly groomed, it was as if he couldn't imagine that this would all work out anyway but well. He had his son and if a CI5 agent had been killed in the process, well, that was what they were for, wasn't it?

Bodie pulled his gaze away from the father to study the son. Rennie Jr looked to have got about as much sleep as Bodie had. His eyes were puffy with dark circles that accentuated his pasty complexion. And even from where he sat, Bodie could see that the man was having trouble staying upright.

His father must have noticed it, too, because the man took his son's arm and led him over to the side of the room where two chairs had been set apart from the rest. Cowley nodded to Rennie Sr then went to stand at the head of the table. He looked from agent to agent, settling on Bodie maybe a little longer than most before moving on.

"As you're all aware, agent 4.5 has been taken by, we assume, whoever has been threatening Mr Rennie and his family. We don't have a lot to go on so you all will have your work cut out for you." He picked up a stack of papers and handed them off to the man sitting to his left. "Here, each of you take one of these. They're flyers we've had made up. You're to scour the surrounding area. Perhaps you can find someone who might have seen something."

"What about the car they were hit with, sir?" one of the agents asked, one of the new men Bodie hadn't got to know very well.

"Stolen. We didn't really expect otherwise. But we've had it towed to headquarters; they're going over it now."

"What about the other car, the one they took off in?" Lucas interjected.

"Now there, we may have a slight lead."

Bodie, slouched in his chair with his head down, straightened and gave Cowley a disgusted look. "Why didn't you say so right off?"

"I don't remember you being allowed back on duty, 3.7. You're only here because of my good graces; you'd be smart to remember that." Cowley pulled a small slip of paper from his coat pocket and handed it to Bodie. "This is already in the competent hands of our computer operatives. Your partner had the good sense to write the license number in the dirt. Unfortunately, part of it was eradicated by the car's tyres."

Bodie took the paper. Three letters, A, M and D. Half the license number. He looked back at Cowley. "This is it? You think we're going to find them just with this?"

"Stop being such a pessimist, Bodie. We've broken cases with less before. It's going to take time but-"

"We don't have time!" Bodie was on his feet. "They've got Ray! And the moment they realize they've nicked the wrong man they're going to kill him."

Cowley didn't flinch, didn't move at all, but Bodie felt the man's gaze burning into him. He managed to pull himself together and slowly sat back down. "Sorry, sir," he mumbled as he lowered his head.

"As well you should be. We're all concerned for 4.5-"

"Doyle," Bodie ground out, "his name is Ray Doyle."

"Aye, I'm aware of that, laddie," Cowley gently responded.

Bodie felt the eyes of everyone in the room on him but he couldn't look up. He could only sit there and wait while Cowley finished the meeting, giving each agent his specific area before releasing them to their duties. He remained sitting while the men got up and filed out of the room, the sounds of their chairs being pushed in mixed with the quiet mutterings of their voices, until the dull quiet was all that was left.

Bodie managed to shake off his worry enough to spent the rest of the afternoon trying to learn as much as he could without making too much of a bother of himself. Action had always made him feel better; he wasn't good at waiting. So anytime an agent came in from the field, he was there to pump him for information. Had they tracked down any witnesses? Were there any leads regarding the getaway car? Had a ransom note been found? Either they didn't know or they weren't telling. Bodie was inclined to believe the latter. Some of the other agents might be a bit intimidated by Bodie when he pulled out all the stops, but none of them were crazy enough to go against the Cow's orders. He was out of the loop and looking to stay there until Cowley said he wasn't.

He spent lunch with Murphy and Jax. Both men had been sympathetic but of little help. They'd be going out later, so knew little more than he did. He tried to keep his worry reined in, knowing from the glances both men threw his way that his control was suspect. His control and maybe something more. Doyle was his partner and it was expected that a bloke would worry about his partner. But Bodie knew he'd come close to giving himself away. Worry was one thing; the kind of out of control distress he'd shown during the meeting something else entirely. No one knew about him and Ray and he wanted to keep it that way.

So he put his mask back on, the one he'd been so comfortable with before his ratty sod of a partner had torn it off to expose the man beneath. It didn't fit as well anymore. It held until he got back to his room.

He'd talked Anson into bringing him a bottle of liquor. Bodie didn't care what kind, just as long as it did the job. He found the agent in the makeshift control center and stayed only long enough to collect the paper bag propped up next to him.

He walked back to his room and let himself in. He switched on the light. His heart slammed against the inside of his chest as he took in the slight figure on the bed. Turned away from him, all Bodie could make out was the thinness of the body and the thick mop of hair.

The figure stretched then turned his way. "Wondered when you'd be getting back."

Bodie put his package down on the desk and advanced on the bed. "What the hell are you doing here, Rennie?"

Rennie sat up. Propping his arms atop his bent knees, he gave Bodie a speculative look. "I wanted to talk with you. You seemed...upset."

"Shouldn't I be? It's my partner out there pretending to be you."

"I didn't ask him to do that. In some ways, I wish he hadn't."

"You do, do you? Well, that's all right, then. They'll realize their mistake and just send him back." Bodie paced away from the bed. "Wouldn't do to kill him, seein' as how it wouldn't be appreciated."

"That's not what I meant," Rennie shot back. "Will you sit down? You're making me dizzy with your pacing."

Bodie glared at him but did what he asked. He grabbed the chair from the desk and hauled it over next to the bed, straddling it. "So, get on with it. Say what you've come to say so you can leave. I'm tired."

"Are you always this difficult?" Rennie snorted. "Of course you are. There were a few times Oliver was ready to have at you."

"Goin' to hit me with his handbag, was he?"

Rennie eyed him coolly. "Don't talk like that. I know you didn't like him much; the feeling was mutual. But he's dead, now. Surely that counts for something, doesn't it?"

He looked down and after a moment, nodded. "'Yeah. Sorry. It's just...I'm tired, that's all."

"At least there's a chance you'll get him back. I don't even have that."

"'S not the same. I should be there with him. He's my partner."

"Why not the same? You're lovers, aren't you?"

Bodie's head shot up. "Where'd you get a crazy idea like that?"

Rennie fluttered one hand. "Oh, tosh. You can pretend all you want with your mates out there but it takes one to know one, love."

"You're daft."

"Deny it all you like; doesn't change a thing as far as I'm concerned."

Had they really been that transparent or was this just a lucky guess on Rennie's part? Either way, Bodie had no intention of confirming the man's suspicions. He gave an exasperated sigh. "What is it you want, Rennie?"

"I'm not really sure." Rennie chuckled. "I suppose I had an idea of seducing you."

"You can forget about that, about as fast as you seemed to have forgotten about that poor, ol' sod, Oliver."

"I shall miss Oliver dreadfully. But life does go on, you know." His face hardened. "I've done my crying. He's not the first I've lost and, I dare say, won't be the last."

"Cool one, aren't you? Bloke seemed to be crazy enough about you."

Rennie tilted his head in thought. "He did, didn't he? But it was hard to know for sure. So many people find me ever so much more fascinating once they realize how rich I am."

"Money's always nice."

"Does that mean you're interested?"

Bodie stood up and pulled the chair back to its proper place. "Sorry, mate, not at all. And even if I was, got other things on my mind, so you can take your business elsewhere."

"My 'business'? Hate to break it to you, love, but if it were my 'business' you wouldn't be able to afford me."

Bodie gave him a speculative look. "Nice someone thinks so highly of you. But I'll let you in on a little secret, Rennie. Doyle's worth ten of you any day."

"I'll forgive you for that because you're obviously besotted by him. Not to say he isn't an extremely sexy chap."

"There's more to Ray than his looks, not that you'd notice. Anyone would be proud to have him as a partner...and a friend."

"Oh, my, he does sound intriguing. Tell me more."

"To begin with, the man did put his own life in danger to save your worthless hide."

"What are you going to do if they kill him?" Rennie suddenly asked.

It took everything Bodie had not to haul off and deck the man. "Get out of here, Rennie, before I forget I was ordered to help keep you alive."

Rennie shrugged and languidly rose from the bed. He strolled by Bodie, seemingly unconcerned with the anger barely held in check. He opened the door, then stopped and turned. "It's not the same for us. You enjoy what you can, while you can, then you move on. You'd do best to remember that."

Behind the closed door, Bodie had to fight off the urge to tear the room apart. Wouldn't do at all, destroying his lordship's precious property, he thought bitterly. Cowley'd have a right fit. Bodie settled for collecting his package from the desk and making himself comfortable on the bed.

He was surprised to see Anson had had the wherewithal to include a glass, though not surprised at all that the bottle turned out to be decidedly cheap whiskey. Didn't matter. He only needed enough to turn off his mind so he could sleep, so he wouldn't spend half the night worrying about Doyle and the other half giving answers to Rennie's question.

Doyle woke with a start. The light still shone from under the door but now he could hear someone moving around upstairs. He'd been half afraid they would leave him in the dark when he'd heard them making plans to leave. But a light had been left on for which he would be eternally grateful. The silence had been bad enough.

From what he'd been able to hear, only one of the three men who had drove him here, after he'd been unceremoniously shoved to the ground, trussed up and hauled into the boot of the car, had been hired to watch him. They'd been so sure he couldn't escape from his underground cell that they had all left within hours of locking him in. After scoping out his prison at least three times, he had to agree with them. The only way out was through the thick wooden door that barred the entrance.

He'd tried its strength the moment he knew he was alone. It didn't budge, no matter how many times he'd thrown his weight against it. Oddly enough, the space at its bottom was a good four inches wide and, though he had managed to squeeze his arm through, he couldn't reach the knob. Not that it would have done him much good. Even from this side he could tell that a regular lock wasn't what was keeping him in; the knob turned in his hand as if waiting to be opened.

Yelling hadn't done any good, either. He'd screamed himself hoarse, hoping to attract attention. Finally, he'd given up and tried to sleep. The four blankets they'd left him cut the cold and he'd managed a rest of sorts. But his sleep was disturbed by his inability to relax, so much of the night he had passed thinking about Bodie.

He hoped his partner was all right; he knew his captors had ignored the wrecked car once they'd got their hands on him so, unless Bodie was worse off than he had looked, by now the crazy bastard was probably making all kinds of trouble, demanding to be in on the rescue.

Doyle smiled into the dark. He'd always known about the strong protective instincts Bodie felt toward him; their becoming lovers had only strengthened that tendency. It had bothered him at first but he'd come to see it as the principal manifestation of Bodie's love for him. Unable to say the words, his partner's feelings found expression in an almost obsessive desire to keep Doyle safe. I'm all right, mate. Just come get me out soon as you can.

The smell of food and his stomach's protest finally drove him from the bed. He didn't know what time it was but he could almost bet it was going on twenty-four hours since his last meal. He tightened a blanket around himself and trudged up the stairs. He could see a pair of feet through the wide gap under the door.

He went up to it and slapped his hand as hard as he could against its rough surface. "Hey, you could hurry it along; I'm starvin' down here!"

Nothing happened at first and then the light was partially blocked by someone standing on the other side of the door. "Don't get your bloody knickers in a twist or you won't get anything!"

Doyle squatted down and leaned over in the hope of getting a look at what was going on. He peered under the door and could see the man's feet as he walked around the small area visible. He seemed to be going about some chore, walking from one side of the room and then, seconds later, to the other. Doyle heard the sound of dishes being rattled.

"You're taking long enough! I'm used to better, you know!"

"I'll show you better, you stinkin' fag. You want your breakfast, you keep your ugly mouth shut!"

The man had a temper, something Doyle hoped would work to his advantage. He stood up but stayed close. Maybe when the man opened the door, he'd have a chance, a very small chance, of making a break for it.

He was just about to give it up when his captor again approached and yelled out to him. "Step back from the door."

Doyle moved back a few inches and readied himself. He heard the man moving around and then suddenly a large, metal tray slid under the door. He swore softly to himself; they were taking no chances with him. He stooped down to pick it up: a couple of eggs, some bacon and what looked like a jam butty. It'd do. His hopes of escape effectively squashed, he returned to the bed and, the tray propped on his folded legs, began to eat.

"So glad you've decided to join us, Bodie."

Bodie ducked his head as he passed Cowley and took a seat toward the back of the room. He'd overslept, though 'overslept' gave the impression that he'd actually got much sleep. Odd how little the liquor had affected him until he'd had to drag himself out of bed.

The four other agents in the room looked like they had lost as much sleep as he had. Jax stood propped against one wall, his eyes closed and his head resting against the surface behind him. In the chair in front of him, Evans, one of the newer lads, had actually crossed his arms on the table and laid his head on them. They were pulling double shifts in their attempt to find Doyle; it made Bodie feel a little better.

He glanced at the clock. Bloody Cowley, he was only two minutes late and by the looks of it they were still waiting for the guests of honour to arrive. Paul Rennie, father and son, had not presented themselves yet.

Scattered on the table were several files, though from Bodie's position whatever was written on them was impossible to read; he was giving himself a headache just trying. He gave up, he'd know soon enough, and took the chance of calling attention to himself by going over to the setup of coffee and pastries someone had been kind enough to leave for them.

Bodie confiscated the chair pushed back in the corner rather than make the return trip to his previous seat. He wolfed down a Danish and was just getting comfortable, his coffee cup balanced on one knee, when the door opened and Rennie and his son entered the room.

"Mr Rennie, would you mind taking a seat, please?" Cowley asked, his words in direct contrast to the scowl on his face.

Bodie would have smirked if it wasn't for the fact that Rennie Jr had already spotted him out and was heading his way. The young man grabbed the closest chair and placed it right next to Bodie.

"You should find somewhere else to sit," Bodie quietly announced.

"No, this is fine." Rennie smiled as he took his seat. "Besides, other than Father, you're the only person I know here."

"You don't know me."

"Oh, bother, I thought we'd already had this conversation. I know everything I need to know about you. Problem is, I'd like to know more."

"Forget it. Just stay away from me, Rennie. I've got enough troubles without adding the likes of you." With that, Bodie turned away and found himself being closely watched by Cowley. His boss seemed to find his interaction with Rennie interesting, though one never knew what was going on in that mind of his. He probably thought they were commiserating. Not bloody likely.

"Have you found anything about who's behind all this?" Rennie Sr asked from his position just to Cowley's right.

"Actually, we have."

Bodie straightened, almost spilling his coffee. "You know where Doyle is?"

"Not yet but we have a definite lead." He picked up one of the folders, leafing through its contents until he found what he was looking for. "Our research department managed to track down the getaway car from the partial license 4.5 so kindly left us and from the description garnered from eye witnesses. It's registered to a Van Leer construction company, owned by a Dwight Van Leer." He directed his question at Rennie. "A business associate?"

"In a manner of speaking," Rennie sternly remarked. "I used them for my last building project. When we started finding major structural flaws, I canceled the contract and started legal proceedings."

"Has the suit been filed?"

"Last week."

"Could you tell me for how much?"

"A million pounds."

Cowley's eyebrows shot up. "That's a great deal of money. Won't that effectively bankrupt that company?"

"I certainly hope so." Rennie's response was filled with indignation. "If we'd opened up that building for business, there's no telling how many people would have been hurt or killed due to that company's shoddy workmanship. We had to start from scratch and I lost hundreds of thousands of pounds because of it."

"I see, though, I must say, this information would have done us more good if we had known about it earlier."

"Mr Cowley, you'd be surprised how often something like this happens. If I were to worry about every failed business deal...."

"We'd have a suspect list a mile long." Cowley absently rubbed his jaw. "Would Van Leer know what your son looks like?"

"I can answer that," Rennie Jr interjected. "Yes, he would. We were introduced a year or so back at a social gathering."

"You think he'd remember?"

"Oh, I'm sure of it. He didn't seem to like 'my kind,' as he so crudely put it; made quite a scene. I accidentally spilled my drink on him, actually."

Cowley grimaced. "Well, that certainly explains why he singled you out. That could put our man in an even more precarious position."

"Why the hell are we sittin' around here, then?" Bodie cut in. "If we know they have Doyle-"

"And just what do you think we should do? Storm the man's office and demand he return our agent? Aye, that'd be just like you. Well, I'm inclined to want Doyle back in one piece, so we'll be doing it my way. You understand?"

Bodie pressed his lips together and grudgingly nodded.

"I'm so very glad we see eye to eye on this." Cowley's voice was laced with sarcasm. "Now, where were we?" He scanned the top sheet of the file before starting around the table to hand each agent a flyer. "This is the most pertinent information we have on Van Leer, along with a recent photograph."

"What if he never goes near wherever they've got Doyle? Anson asked.

"They've got to make contact, somehow, especially if he's planning on sending a ransom note. We've got his home and work phones tapped, so if he calls his men, or they call him, we'll be able to track down the place ourselves. But I'm betting he's the type who has to see for himself, maybe gloat a bit.

"I've got Murphy and Miller on stakeout right now. Jax, you and Anson will spell them this afternoon, with Conner and Evans taking the night shift. You're to keep this man in your sights at all times."

"What about me?"

Cowley gave Bodie an appraising look. "You don't look like you could take on my dear, old mother."

"Just a couple hours sleep and I'll be right as rain...sir." Bodie took a breath. "He's my partner."

"Yes, I think you've mentioned that a time or two, 3.7." He shook his head in exasperation. "We'll see. If I think you're up to it, and that's a mighty big if, you can take a turn tomorrow. But I'm warning you, Bodie, no heroics. I'll not have you fouling up the operation because you started something you couldn't finish."

Bodie kept quiet. Whether Cowley took his silence as acceptance or not, he didn't know; didn't much care, either. One look and Van Leer would know they'd snatched the wrong man. Doyle would be dead before he hit the floor. Bodie planned to be there to make sure that didn't happen.

Doyle crouched on the landing, his back against the wall. Through the crack under the door he could see his captor moving around the room.

Three days. He knew that because checking his watch was one of the few activities remaining to him. He didn't sleep well. Inactivity and the constant waiting for something to happen were wearing on his nerves. He'd gone over the room again. Four times. All that had done was prove to him just how bad his situation was.

There had been no physical contact between him and his gaoler. It was always the same; the man showed up three times a day but stayed only long enough to fix his meal, collect the tray Doyle would have pushed through earlier and then slide the newly loaded tray under the door. Then he would leave. But once in awhile, he seemed to find pleasure in taunting Doyle with vague threats that made no sense.

Doyle played with the plastic fork in his hand. He'd held it back and hoped it wouldn't be noticed. He wasn't sure what he'd do with a handful of plastic utensils but he was getting desperate.

Whoever had set this up, had been thorough. The bed was bolted to the floor, as was the small table. The toilet lid was bolted onto the tank and a drain in the center of the floor made sure he couldn't cause trouble by trying to flood the place. He wasn't sure they would have done anything even if he'd managed it. It would be just like them to let him put up with the stink it would cause.

He sniffed. He was getting a bit whiffy himself. And after three days, his beard was beginning to itch. He shifted his weight and grimaced at the feel of his clothes. He'd removed them the night before. The blankets were enough to keep him warm and he'd always slept in the raw so it was more comfortable. But, mostly, it was the fact that they'd be close to standing on their own soon.

What was the hold up? He had figured a day, maybe two, before a note would have been sent and a trade set up. Even if it was only for forms sake, usually the hostage was trotted out, 'see he's still alive, now hand over the brass.' But they hadn't so much as given him a by your leave.

Doyle stood up and started up the steps when he saw the man approach the door. He was hungry, for all his lack of activity. At the top of the steps he watched as the tray was taken and another slowly pushed under the door. Not a word was said; just the tray with the same food he'd had that morning and the day before and the day before that. He might as well be some animal they had locked down here. Suddenly angry, his intention to meekly pick it up evaporated. He kicked the tray, hard.

"'S not just anybody you've got down here, you know! You better be bringing me something a little more palatable, mate!"

He heard a string of obscenities and a satisfying clatter as his captor dealt with the mess.

"You hear me?" Doyle slammed his fist against the door. "You expect to get the money, you'd better take proper care of me!"

"Oh, you're going to be taken' care of right proper, you little bastard and it won't be because of any money, either. You'll be beggin' for whatever I decide to give you after a couple of months."

"Couple of months? What are you talkin' about?" Doyle's mouth went dry. What was going on?

His captor laughed. "Thought you were worth all sorts of money, didn't you? Rich bugger like you, be out of here in no time, right?"

"You tellin' me they're refusing to pay?"

"No, I'm telling you we're not askin'. You think my boss needs money? You stupid git. It's revenge he's after. When we 'and you over to your da, in four or five years, we'll see how much you're worth. You think about that, bein' down there in that hole, day after day, month after month, year after year." The man laughed again and started away from the door.

"No, wait!" Doyle felt a surge of panic. "There's been a mistake. I'm not who you think I am."

His captor approached the door again. "Yeah, pull the other one."

"It's true!" There was no sense keeping the truth from them now. And to see for themselves that he wasn't Rennie, they would have to come down here; they would have to open the door. "Rennie was in the car but was knocked unconscious. My partner was hurt, so when you threatened to blow up the car I pretended to be Rennie so you'd leave them alone."

"You're lying! They told us what you looked like!" the man blustered.

But there was a note of uncertainty in his captor's voice. Doyle tried to keep the elation out of his. "'S why it worked. Because I resemble Rennie. 'S true, mate, I swear."

"I don't believe you!"

"Call your boss, then. He must know what Rennie looks like. Ask him, then take another look at me."

"You think I'm stupid, don't you? He'll laugh his arse off, me fallin' for an old trick like that."

Doyle pressed his forehead against the wood. He had to convince this man to open the door. "It's not a trick! Listen, what'll your boss do when Rennie starts showing up? He will, you know, once they think he's safe. They're probably already wondering why there hasn't been a ransom note."

"There wouldn't 'ave been, anyway."

He kicked the door. "But they don't know that! Call your boss; tell him you got the wrong bloke!"

Quiet. Like he was alone again. Doyle slumped to the floor. He looked down into the dark of his prison. Years in this place. He didn't know how he would survive something like that.

Then he heard his captor's voice.

"Mr Van Leer, 's Albert. I know you said not to call but we might have a bit of a problem."

Doyle took a deep breath and pulled himself together. Company coming.

Bodie took a swallow of coffee and grimaced. Stuff was like sludge but it was keeping him alert. He stared out the windscreen and tried to focus on the building across the street. Van Leer's building.

He squirmed in his seat, trying to get comfortable. A body could only take so much of this. Sitting in a car, eight, ten hours was hard. Not as hard as not, though. Here, at least he felt like he was helping to get Doyle back.

He'd kicked up a right fuss on the second day with Cowley still not of the mind to let him take a turn at stakeout. Bodie had lashed out, accusing their boss of not caring whether they got Doyle back or not. The Cow'd dressed him down good for that one but had finally relented. Bodie hadn't moved that fast in a long time, out the door and on his way to a car before Cowley changed his mind.

First day had been bad. Sure that they'd be hearing something, he'd taken his position with the fanciful notion he'd soon get a call and be on his way to Doyle. It hadn't happened. And as the hours had wound down, so had his spirit. Today was turning out to be not much better. No note, no call. Nothing.

"Damn it, Ray, you better be all right," Bodie whispered to himself.

They both had known something like this could happen at anytime. They'd talked about it when they realized what was happening between them but it hadn't stopped them. Nothing could as far as Bodie was concerned. Doyle had become his home, his refuge. If he didn't come back.... Bodie didn't want to think about the long, empty years of exile that would await him.

He took a deep swallow of coffee to clear his throat. Not the time to lose it, mate. They'd hear something soon. If they didn't, Mr Dwight Van Leer would be receiving a visitor and, one way or the other, Bodie would get the information out of him.

"6.2 to 3.7."

Bodie picked up his handset. "What is it, Murph?"

"We've got something going on back here. They're bringing Van Leer's car up to the back entrance."

"It's about bloody time. I'll wait until you know for sure it's Van Leer who's leaving; don't want him slipping out the front."

"I'll let you know. 6.2 out."

This was it; it had to be. Bodie didn't think he could stand another day like this.

"Cowley to 3.7."

"Bodie here, sir."

"Van Leer just got a call from whoever's watching Doyle. He's on his way down."

"Yes, sir. Murphy said they're bringing his car around back right now."

"Well, what were you waiting for, Bodie? An invitation?"

"No, sir." Bodie started the car and threw it into gear. "Didn't know about the call. Didn't know if the car was a ruse."

"Well, it's not, so get on with it, man!"

Bodie threw the handset on the passenger seat and shot out into the street. Slow down before you blow the whole thing. He eased off on the accelerator and drove the car casually around the building to the back. He spotted Murphy's car down the street and took up position where he could keep both it and Van Leer's in sight.

Seconds later, Van Leer hurried out of the back entrance and to his car where it sat idling on the kerb. The driver got out and Van Leer slid quickly in. He didn't even look around before tearing off at a high speed. Something had apparently gone very wrong.

"Cowley to 3.7."

Bodie felt around on the seat, not willing to take his eyes off the road. Van Leer was driving like a maniac and it was taking all his skill to keep up without being noticed. He finally found the handset and clicked it on. "3.7."

"Where are you?"

"We're on a dirt road about ten miles south of Rennie's place. He must be keeping him in one of the cottages around here because this road dead-ends. Can't believe he's been holding Ray so close to us. Any idea what got him in such a panic?"

"From what we gathered from the conversation, Doyle's let slip who he really is."

"That doesn't sound like him, sir."

"No, it doesn't. So, be extra careful. Things are obviously not going as planned."

"We gettin' any back up?"

"On its way. We finally managed to trace the call and I dispatched four more agents to the site. They should be there soon."

Just then a small shack, Bodie couldn't think of it as anything else, came into sight. Van Leer's car was parked in front of it.

"Gotta go now, sir."

Bodie pulled the car over into the underbrush and got out. Crouched low, gun in hand, he followed the tree line that snaked along this side of the property. The sides of the building were windowless and once in a good position, he sprinted across the open area.

The shack was more sturdily made than he'd suspected from a distance. With his back pressed against its wall, Bodie inched his way to the front and the door twenty feet away. He could barely make out the voices coming from within.

Bodie hesitated at the door. He didn't know how many were in there or where Doyle was. He was alone, Murphy and the backup who knew how far behind. But he couldn't wait. Taking a breath, Bodie backed up a stepped and kicked out against the door. It flew open and crashed against the inside wall.

"Freeze!" Bodie stepped into the room, his gun pointed at the two men caught by surprise.

Van Leer and another man stood in the center of the sparsely furnished room. The other man looked panicked, Van Leer only furious.

"Put your hands up, both of you, and move over there." Bodie motioned to the side of the room.

They did as they were told, taking a stand in front of the small sofa placed against the wall.

Bodie tried looking around, while keeping his gun trained on the two men. The room was really two; one side a living room of sorts, the other a kitchen. A short hallway branched out from the back of the room. Doyle was nowhere in sight. "Only the two of you at this party? Where's the guest of honour?"

The other man motioned toward a door in the kitchen area. "'E's down there."

"Shut up, Albert, you've made a big enough mess of this as it is," Van Leer hissed.

Bodie moved toward the door without taking his eyes off the two men. With his peripheral vision he picked up the solidness of door and the two by four that barred it. "Ray? You down there, mate?"

He heard the sound of eager steps on stairs. "Bodie? That you?"

Alive. He was alive. "'S me, sunshine."

There was no answer at first. Several seconds went by before he heard the furious shout. "Quit mucking about and open up the bloody door!"

Bodie grinned, almost giddy with relief. "All alone here, Doyle. Gotta keep me eyes on the villains."

"You stupid crud! You came by yourself?"

"No choice. Just hold on, back up should be here soon."

Van Leer cast a disgusted look at his accomplice. "You did grab the wrong man."

"A picture might 'ave 'elped, you know. Wasn't like he was the only one in the car."

Bodie chuckled and shook his head. "That was pretty stupid, Van Leer. Not everyone reads the society pages."

Van Leer didn't deign to answer. He threw Albert one last killing look before turning away and ignoring both him and Bodie.

Bodie heard the churn of dirt and rocks outside the front door. "Sounds like we've got company. And just in time, too."

Murphy and Anson were the first two in, with Evans, Williams and Jax bringing up the rear. Murphy shook his head with a grin. "Could of waited, you know."

"Not likely. Can't help it if you drive like an old granny."

Anson and Williams approached the two prisoners and proceeded to pat them down. Neither turned out to have a weapon on them. They were cuffed and led out to the car. Evans, who seemed entirely too pleased with himself for having been in on the capture, led the way.

"Ah, the young, " Bodie remarked to Murphy. "Don't remember ever being that enthusiastic."

"Hard to believe you were ever that young." Murphy looked around the room. "By the way, where's Doyle?"

Behind them, there was a loud thud.


"Oops." Bodie turned around and started removing the wooden beam across the door. "Hold on a minute, sunshine."

It took less than that to get the door open. It swung wide and Doyle stood on the other side. Dirty, three days of growth on his face, he'd never looked more beautiful to Bodie. It was all he could do to keep from grabbing the sarky bastard and planting one on him.

"Took you bloody long enough." Doyle pushed by Bodie. "I could have wasted away down there for all you'd care."

Bodie only smiled and fell in behind his partner.

While Anson, Williams and Jax secured the scene, Murphy and Evans took Van Leer and his accomplice back to CI5 headquarters. Bodie and Doyle were ordered to the Rennie estate. Cowley would be busy closing up the operations there and he wanted Doyle's report as soon as possible.

Doyle leaned back and closed his eyes the moment he was in the car, which only made it worse for Bodie, who was having trouble watching the road and his partner at the same time. He had Doyle back and he couldn't keep his eyes off of him. He'd rolled down the windows, Doyle ponged a bit, and the wind was lifting his partner's somewhat lank curls about. Coupled with the sprawl of his body on the front seat, his jeans pulled tight across his groin, it was all Bodie could do to keep his hands on the steering wheel.

To distract his flourishing libido, Bodie finally broke the silence. "You done in?"

Doyle rolled his head back and forth against the back of his seat. "A bit but mainly just trying to get me bearings. For awhile there, I was thinking I wouldn't be seein' the light of day anytime soon."

"We'd have got you out soon enough, sunshine. Rennie would have paid the ransom in any event."

"Wasn't going to be any ransom, Bodie. Van Leer was planning on keepin' Paul under wraps until he was little more than a drooling idiot. Could see how it could happen, too. After three days down there, I was ready to climb the bloody walls. Don't know what I would have done if he hadn't believed me," Doyle softly added.

Bodie slowed and pulled over to the side of the road. He turned to face his partner. "You all right, Ray?"

Doyle gave him a halfhearted smile. "'M fine. Just need to get me head around all this, that's all."

"You know I would have found you, don't you? No matter what they did."

"How'd you have managed that? You wouldn't have known where to look. Van Leer stayed far away from the place. Ol' Albert's the only one who ever came around after that first day."

"Doesn't matter. I would have found you."

Doyle finally opened his eyes and gave Bodie a searching look. After a few moments he reluctantly nodded in agreement. "I suppose you would have; too stubborn by half, you are."

"Ray." Bodie reached out to touch Doyle's face but his hand froze halfway and then dropped. "I want to touch you so badly it hurts."

"Wouldn't recommend it." Doyle gingerly ran a hand through his hair while he took in their surroundings. "Besides, even out here we can't be too sure."

"Don't I know it." Bodie threw the car into gear and pulled back onto the road. "Shouldn't be keeping the Cow waiting, in any event. He wants to hear all the gory details."

"Not much to tell. They threw me down into that room and then threw food at me three times a day. When I finally figured out they weren't plannin' on ransoming me, I persuaded Albert into calling his boss."

"Wondered why you told them who you were. Couldn't figure it out. But I knew there had to be a good reason for it."

Doyle didn't answer, his mood still precarious. Didn't matter. Bodie knew his partner would be okay, ultimately. He didn't understand Doyle's need to dwell on what might or might not have been; most of the time he felt like shaking him 'til his teeth rattled when he pulled this. But today he was just too happy to have him back. If this is what it took for Doyle to get past this, then so it. Bodie wasn't about to complain.

He drove the rest of the way in silence. But that was all right; he wouldn't have it any other way.

"And that's about it, sir."

Cowley closed the folder and began gathering up the rest of the reports. "Regardless of what was said, I never would have figured the man was motivated by anything other than greed."

"Came as a bit of a shock," Doyle agreed.

"Yes, I would imagine. That's it, then. Van Leer is being interrogated as we speak, though I doubt anyone else was involved. But both Rennie Sr and Jr will stay here under protective custody until we're sure. As for you two...."

Bodie sat up from his slouch. "Three days off, sir?"

"Aye, but I want to see you both in my office bright and early Thursday morning. Seven-thirty, sharp."

"Seven-thirty it is, sir. Bodie nudged Doyle out of his chair. "You heard the man."

They were almost out the door when Cowley spoke again. "Oh, and Doyle."

Doyle grimaced before turning round to face their boss. "Yes, sir?"

"You might do maintenance the favour of showering before you get back into the car. I imagine Bodie might also be grateful."

Bodie didn't let Doyle find his tongue before he grabbed his arm and pulled him the rest of the way out of the room. "I'll see to it, sir," he called out.

"Do you a favor," Doyle groused. "I don't smell that bad." As they took another corner he looked around, noticing their surroundings for the first time. "Where you takin' me, anyway?"

"They brought our stuff here from the car and I had them put it in my room. There's showers near by."

"Oh, ta very much." Doyle gave the place another look. "You stayed here?"

"Took a bit for my head to clear. After that, I think the Cow just wanted to keep his eye on me."

"You givin' the old man trouble?"

"He wouldn't let me look for you; said I had to rest." Bodie made a face. "How was I supposed to rest with I should've been out there backing you up?"

"You berk." Doyle cuffed him lightly on the arm. "There when I really needed you, weren't you?"

"Only because he finally saw things my way. This way," Bodie noted as they came to the stairwell.

"Up those stairs? Bloody hell, Bodie, I'm knackered. Couldn't it wait until we get home?"

Bodie thought a moment. He'd prefer a clean Doyle but he knew his partner was done in. He remembered something he'd noticed while traveling through the house and a plan formed. He grabbed Doyle's arm and pulled him down the hallway.

"Where are we going now?" Doyle complained.

"You'll love it, sunshine."

Bodie hauled his partner down the hall, moving toward the back of the house. He stopped near the end of the corridor and looked around before opening the door. "Never knew of one of these that didn't have a shower area."

"We can't go in there," Doyle protested, eyeing the room filled with gym equipment.

"Sure, we can. No one's around and it's not like we're planning on breakin' anything. Come on, Ray. It's on the first floor and the car's parked just down the way a bit."

Doyle hesitated, then glanced back into the room. Finally, he gave Bodie a look and entered the room without a word.

The door hadn't finished closing before Bodie was on his way. He hurried down the hall and up the stairs to his room, slamming the door against the wall in his haste as he entered. He didn't give it a thought. He grabbed his satchel, opened up the wardrobe and began stuffing his clothes in. That done, he moved over to the table next to the bed. He upended the drawer, pouring its contents into the bag, his toiletries making a jumble on top. He closed the bag and hurried out, stopping at the door only long enough to grab Doyle's bag and give the room one last cursory look. By the time he got back to the gym and found the locker room, Doyle was already undressed and had started his shower.

Bodie went up to the bench where Doyle had dropped his discarded clothes. Messy bugger. He looked around until he found a sack to put them in and, with as little contact as possible, gingerly bagged them up. That done, he plopped down on the bench. The adrenaline rush had subsided and his limbs suddenly felt like rubber. But try as he might to relax, his eyes kept straying to the figure in the showers.

The place was built like most gym, the shower area separated from the rest by only a half wall. The fixtures ran along the three full walls with more supported by a pole placed in the center of the area. Doyle was standing along the far wall, his back to Bodie.

He had his head thrown back, with his hands in his hair as he rinsed the soap out. Streams of lather floated down his lithe body, following the contours of his muscles, to pool at his feet on the shower floor.

Bodie licked his lips. He'd pushed away all carnal thoughts while Doyle was missing. Now, they'd come roaring back with a vengeance. Not even a saint could resist the siren call of his partner's body. And Bodie was no saint.

He stood up and started unbuttoning his shirt, down the front first and then the cuffs. He hastily untucked it and pulled it off, then bent to tug his shoes and socks off. His trousers followed, with his y-fronts coming off at the same time in an economy of motion. He entered the shower area and, coming up behind Doyle, wrapped his arms around his waist.

"Oi, what do you think you're doing?" Doyle grabbed hold of Bodie's arms, though he didn't push him away.

"You're slippin'. What do you think I'm doing?" Bodie punctuated his statement with a slight nudge of his hips so that his burgeoning cock slid enticingly between Doyle's arse cheeks.

"You're a mad bastard. What if someone were to walk in?"

"No one will. Rennie and his son are the only family members here, there aren't any guests and the servants wouldn't dare come in here." He lowered his head and nipped at Doyle's shoulder. "I could eat you alive."

Doyle chuckled evilly. "'S not the part of me you usually go for."

"You want me to stop?"

"No, feels good." Doyle dropped his head back to rest against Bodie's shoulder. "Missed this. Missed you."

Bodie smirked and lowered his hand to take Doyle's cock. "I can tell." He slowly fisted the organ, completely enchanted by his lover's enthusiastic response as Doyle gave himself over to Bodie's administrations.

Doyle moaned. "Want you, Bodie. Want you right now."

Bodie shakily reached out to the soap dispenser sitting on a shelf below the shower head. He liberally coated his finger and then reached down and gently inserted it into Doyle's body.

His partner hissed and pushed back, burying Bodie finger deep inside of him.

Bodie added another finger and scissored them back and forth to stretch the tight muscles.

"Come on, quit messing around."

"Jesus, Ray, 'm going as fast as I can." Bodie hastily grabbed more soap, coated himself with it and positioned his cock against his partner's opening and slowly pushed inside.

He groaned as he let himself slide into Doyle's body. He quickly took up a rhythm, his thrusts into Doyle in time to the slide of Doyle's cock through his tightened fist.

Doyle stretched his arms out and leaned up against the wall. It helped Bodie find the perfect angle as Doyle's body moved to meet each stab of Bodie's cock.

Bodie could feel the heat of Doyle's body enfold him as he entered, pull him in like a lover's embrace, then reluctantly let him go only to welcome him in again. He tightened his arm around Doyle's waist and pulled him closer.

Doyle gave a stifled cry and his movements took on an added frenzy. With eyes clenched shut and his mouth open and gasping, he threw his head back and moaned as his climax took him, his sperm pulsing out to coat Bodie's hand.

Bodie redoubled his effort. He held his satiated lover tightly against him and seconds later tumbled into orgasm, filling Doyle with each hot gush.

They fell in a heap on the shower floor, gasping for breath.

"You all right?" Bodie finally asked.

"Oh, never better. Always wanted to be shagged silly in the men's room." He glanced around. "Or close enough."

Bodie chuckled and was about to respond when the heard the door open. They looked at each other in panic and scrambled to their feet.

When the servant came in, pushing a cart piled high with clean towels, bottles of soap and shampoo lined up on the shelf below, Bodie and Doyle each stood beneath a different shower head, the very picture of propriety.

The man didn't give them so much as a second glance. When he finished restocking the room, he left as quietly as he had come.

Alone again, they turned off the water and, without a word between them, quickly toweled off and got dressed. Only then did Bodie dare look at his partner. Doyle's hair was slightly damp but still haloed his face in the curls Bodie loved. And their quick interlude had seemed to calm Doyle; all trace of his previous sombre mood was gone.

He couldn't help but smile smugly as he led Doyle out of the house and to their car. Rennie might have more money than he knew what to do with but it was Bodie who had the real wealth. A partner and a lover he could never replace in either capacity. At the car, Doyle gave him a questioning look. Bodie's smile only widened as he waved Doyle in. It was time to go home.

In the last analysis, love is only the
reflection of a man's own worthiness
from other men.

    -Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841

-- THE END --

June 2006

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