Trying to Understand
The Professionals belongs to Brian Clemens and Mark 1 Productions. This story originally appeared in the zine Priority A-3.
Yves Germain concentrated on the damp pavement, shoulders hunched against the depressing Paris winter, and wished himself back in the warmth of Nice. He glanced up as he approached the concrete office block, its top floor blended almost seamlessly with the grey sky, and jogged easily up the steps before pausing to greet the commissionaire.
A searing thud tore into his back, knocking him to the ground. Another caught his shoulder, his head, and he knew nothing more.
The commissionaire flung himself through the door, yelling over the shocked screams for police, ambulance, oblivious of the blood that splattered his uniform.
On the roof opposite, a man quickly and expertly disassembled his gun and placed the pieces in a violin case. He pulled a hat down over shockingly ginger hair, picked up the case and, with a final glance around, headed for the stairs.
"Bloody protective surveillance." Bodie slapped the files against Doyle's stomach, leaving his partner to either grab them or let them fall on to the rain-drenched pavement. "Wet one at that," he added, continuing down the street.
Doyle's mouth lifted in a grin as he followed. "Wet's the right word. Obbo on a bloody boat."
"Come on then, what are the gory details?"
Doyle flipped open the first file. "Alan Cartwright. Ring any bells?"
Bodie frowned. "Can't say it does."
"Not surprised, actually," Doyle continued, reading further. "No convictions, no obvious criminal connections. Beyond the fact that he's a banker."
"Pull him in now," Bodie deadpanned.
Doyle glanced over. "Yeah, well, he's not exactly the guy who turned down your loan application. A moderate bigwig with the London & Anglia. It's his boat we're watching. Uses it as a holiday home. He's meant to be turning up next week, so we're to be in position by Sunday afternoon." He read further. "And get this: we get to pretend to be happy holidaymakers in the boat next door."
"Lucky, lucky us. 'Scuse me while I jump for joy." Bodie rolled his eyes. "What's he done to deserve Cowley's attention, then?"
Doyle flipped through the rest of the file. "'Information received' that a bloke called Richard Anderson has also arranged to be there this week."
"Richard Anderson's the chief suspect in the assassination of three European bankers."
Bodie raised an eyebrow. "Busy lad. Why us and not the police?"
Because Cowley wants it to be us." The pair shared a sympathetic grimace. "Besides, all three of them were involved with an interesting customer."
"Interesting in this case meaning?"
"Dear old Magnus Delaney."
"Oh, lovely. I thought the Irish lot had been a bit quiet lately."
"Looks like they've just been building up funds ready for bombing season," Doyle agree.
Bodie sighed. "And our Mr Cartwright's the next victim? Anybody told him?"
"Not likely. Cowley wants us to catch Anderson, not scare him off, and Cartwright's got a mouth the size of the Blackwall Tunnel." Doyle removed a couple of photos and passed them to Bodie before shutting the files and tucking them under arm. "The blond is Cartwright and the ginger's Anderson."
Cartwright's picture showed him posed carefully at his desk, his tie discreetly patterned with the bank's grey and blue logo. Faded blond hair was carefully framed to cover a receding hairline without anything so crass as a comb-over, while a neatly-trimmed beard gave an illusion of chin to an otherwise rabbit-like face.
"There's one for the dartboard when this is finished," Bodie commented, handing the picture back.
In contrast, the photograph of Anderson was obviously snatched form a surveillance camera. Grainy and indistinct, Anderson had a trilby pulled down far enough to leave his face in shadow and a loose raincoat disguised his build. The only obvious feature was his hair, a violent orange.
"Jesus. Looks like Johnny Rotten." Bodie passed the picture back over the roof of the Capri. "How the hell are we meant to spot him from that? The hair's got to be fake and, even if it isn't, he'll have dyed it by now."
"We're CI5 agents. We're meant to be clairvoyant. Didn't Cowley tell you?" Doyle opened the car's passenger door.
"And I went and left my tarot cards back home. Lend us your crystal ball, will you?" Bodie thudded into the driver's seat. "anything else?"
"Oh, wait till you hear what we're there as!" Doyle had opened the third file and was reading through it.
"What's Cowley done to us this time?"
"We're a pair of grammar school teachers. I'm art and you..." His shoulders were shaking with laughter as he continued, "You're biology."
Bodie leered as he turned the key in the ignition. "I know reproduction." A moment later, he gunned the accelerator and the Capri shot out of its parking space.
"Oh, Christ. Cowley's got me preparing for an exhibition. Pretty river scenes." Doyle shook his head in disbelief.
"See, those art classes came in useful for something other than ogling naked birds."
"There's a reason I junked art for the Met, Bodie. I'm crap." Doyle began laughing. "Guess I'll have to do abstract pretty river scenes."
"What am I meant to be doing while you're struggling with you paintbrush?"
"Oh, lots of nice, long nature walks, I think. Collecting wildflowers - and stray assassins."
"Flowers." Bodie shook his head in disgust. "A painter and a flower collector. We're gonna look a right pair of pansies." He glanced over at his partner. "Tell you what, though. Seeing as we're free tonight, fancy paying a visit to this little club I know?"
Doyle took a sip of his gin and tonic and studies the almost-empty nightclub as he lounged bonelessly against the bar. "I thought," he accused his partner, "you said this place was wall-to-wall birds."
"It was," Bodie defended himself. "I'm telling you, it was packed last week."
"I could almost believe you." Despite his complaints, Doyle didn't look too put out as he drained his gin and tonic. "If it weren't for the evidence of my own eyes."
"They'll be here. Be patient."
"In case you haven't noticed, it's nearly chucking out time." Doyle put his glass down with a clink. "And there isn't a piece of talent here worth the effort."
"At least the booze isn't bad." Bodie raised an obviously empty glass at his partner, who ignored the attempt to divert the conversation.
"And that's another problem." Doyle continued his litany without any real malice. "Can't get any decent drinking done in this place. We would've been better off going to my local." He pushed himself away from the bar. "Come on."
Bodie sighed and followed.
Once out of the club, they walked without conversation for a few moments. Eventually, Bodie spoke. "You should have been here last week," he mused. "There was this one girl with long blonde hair - natural, mind." He smirked. "Built out to here." He mimed a figure that would have given the woman serious trouble walking.
Laughing, Doyle shook his head. "Never. Wouldn't be fair on all the lovely ladies out there." Grinning, Bodie slid into the Capri's passenger seat.
"What do you say to a bit more drinking?" Doyle dropped into the driver's seat. "I've got a bottle of scotch back at my place, if you'll spring for a Chinese."
"You're on." Bodie rubbed his hands in anticipation. "Bring on the booze."
"You get the scotch and I'll get the plates." Bodie juggled the containers as Doyle fumbled with the keys to his flat. "And hurry up, will you? These are hot."
"Tough SAS man like you can't even cope with a couple of cartons of rice?"
Bodie burst through the opened door and dropped the food on the coffee table. "More than rice. Peking duck, sweet'n'sour port, ginger chick-"
"All right, you're wonderfully generous and you've bought loads of grub. Good job, seeing as you'll eat most of it." Doyle's voice wafted out of the kitchen. "Now shut up and let's get stuck in." He reappeared, precariously balancing a couple of glasses, some plates and a bottle of Famous Grouse. "Beat you to it" he added, plonking himself on the settee.
As they shovelled food on to their plates, Bodie turned the television on and flicked through the three channels in disgust, getting nothing more exciting than the Open University. "Bloody hell, This country shuts down at midnight. Stick some music on or it's particle physics for beginners."
"Particle physics?" Doyle looked up, suddenly interested. He studied the equations the besuited lecturer was writing on the blackboard. "That's not particle physics, you moron, it's calculus. Don't you know anything?"
Bodie stared a Doyle for a long moment, confused surprise plastered on his face, before flinging a cushion at Doyle. "You had me going for a moment."
Doyle grinned. "Revenge for that club you inflicted on me. Here." He raised the bottle of scotch. "Have a top up."
"Wouldn't say no."
They lapsed into silence, tackling both food and whisky with single-minded enthusiasm. Finally, Bodie leaned back and let out a belch. "Better out than in, as my dad always used to say."
"Yeah but your dad was a scouser."
A second cushion flew towards Doyle. "Southern nancy."
"Nancy?" Doyle raised an eyebrow and treated Bodie to a mock scrutiny. "You're the flower collector, not me."
"Well, I seem to remember you saying you wanted to be the next David Hockney." Bodie cocked his head. "Painters are all an odd lot."
"Toulouse-Lautrec? Bloke spent most of his life watching women waving their legs around."
"But did he get any of those legs open? That's the important question."
"Bodie!" Doyle flung a cushion back. "Lautrec led to the recognition of commercial art as a valid art form and all you're concerned about is how often he got lucky. You're a philistine."
"I'm a philistine? You're the one who can't tell alliteration from onomatopoeia."
"Should I ask Cowley to change your cover to an English teacher, then?"
"Not a bad job. Get to spout love poetry to gorgeous sixth formers in short skirts." Bodie clapped a hand to his chest as he declaimed. "She walks in beauty, as the night, Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that's best of dark and bright, Meet in her aspect and her eyes." He fluttered his eyelashes. "Byron, that is."
"Here, he was randy sod, wasn't he?" Doyle managed to duck the cushion, which flew over his head to hit the door. Lacking a missile to hand, he hurled himself at Bodie in return.
The impromptu wrestling match ended with Bodie on his back on the floor, Doyle sprawled on top, both of them breathless and giggling.
"Give us a hand up," Bodie finally managed.
"Got to get up myself first," Doyle pointed out.
"Bodie's tone was dry as he replied. "I know. That's what I meant."
"Dunno. Quite comfy here. Your flab makes a nice cushion."
"Oi!" Bodie managed to move his leg enough to kick Doyle, who suddenly froze.
"What the fuck's that?"
Bodie swallowed. "What's what?"
Doyle had scrambled to his feet. "That!" He pointed towards Bodie's groin. "You've got a bloody hard-on!"
Bodie groaned and sagged back against the floor. "Nothing personal. Just, well..." He grinned ruefully. "Mel started getting a bit too clingy a couple of weeks back and Cowley's kept us too busy for me to find a replacement." He shrugged. "My body got a bit confused."
Doyle's mouth was starting to twitch. "I don't believe it. The great Bodie that desperate for a bird!"
"Hey!" Bodie sat up. "I just haven't had time, that's all," he continued defensively.
"I believe you, Bodie. I believe you." Doyle suddenly yawned. "I'm going to bed. Are you going home or do you want the sofa?"
Bodie was woken by the noise of Doyle making his way to the bathroom. For a few moments, he lay on the sofa, simply staring up at the ceiling, before pulling himself to his feet. He paused at the foot of the stairs and finally, with a shrug and a muttered "Why not?", began the climb. He face was remote and expressionless as he finally approached the door to the bathroom and his voice, when he spoke, seemed incongruously cheerful. "Cover yourself, mate. I burst, use the kitchen sink or come in here."
There was the sound of the shower curtain being twitched closed, followed by the splatter of water. "You, suh, have No Manners." Even Doyle's bad impersonation of a southern belle didn't soften Bodie's expression as he pushed open the door but his voice continued to be light-hearted.
"How do you think I cope with you?" His adam's apple jumped and his eyes drifted to the semi-transparent shower curtain and the indistinct figure that was Ray Doyle.
"Yeah but how do I cope with you?" The shower curtain opened far enough for Doyle to stick his head out and meet Bodie's eyes. His grin faded to a puzzled frown at Bodie's appearance and his gaze drifted lower. "Bloody hell, you still desperate?" He looked back at Bodie's face, grinning, until Bodie's expression reached him. "Bodie? What's the matter?" He turned off the tap and stepped out of the shower, casually reaching for a towel. "Bodie?"
Bodie was already halfway out the door when Doyle's hand on his shoulder stopped him.
"What the hell's the matter with you?"
"No!" Doyle glared at his back. "We're about to go on a job. I'm not having you acting weird on me."
"Nothing weird about it." Bodie's mouth twitched in a bitter smile as he reluctantly turned to face his partner. "Perfectly natural human reaction."
"What is?" Doyle's expression had changed to irritated confusion.
Bodie raised a sarcastic eyebrow and looked down at his crotch.
"Oh, that!" Doyle grinned. "Yep, perfectly natural for someone who can't get a girl. Long as it's not me that's turning you on, I don't care." There was along silence while Doyle examined Bodie's expression and slowly put two and two together. "Oh. Shit."
"I'm not disagreeing with you there. Do you think I like the fact my dick has no taste?"
"Yeah, well..." Doyle stepped back sharply and wrapped his towel round himself a little more firmly. "I mean, you know I don't... Well..." He shrugged. "Um, you know nothing's going to happen, right?"
"Oh, relax," Bodie snapped. "I'm not going to jump on you. I wouldn't have even said anything if you'd been able to leave well enough alone."
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry." Doyle raised his hands.
"Just don't say you're going to want to talk about it."
"No." Doyle backed away, shaking his head. "Definitely not."
By noon the following day, they were moving their bags into the small river cruiser moored next to Cartwright's. "The Susie-May," Bodie said in disgust, dropping his sleeping bag in the cockpit.
"Thought you'd be glad to be getting back to sea." Doyle followed him through, laden with sketchpad and assorted artistic accoutrements. "Jolly Jack Tar and all that." Without waiting for a reply, he jumped down into the main saloon. "Kitchen's in here," he called up. "The bathroom's tiny. And-" He stopped. "Bodie. There's only one bed."
"So?" Bodie sighed. "We've slept in the same bed before without me jumping you. Besides, we're on stakeout. We're not going to be sleeping at the same time."
"True." A faint hint of relief could be heard in Doyle's voice and Bodie scowled. "Fancy that cuppa now?"
"I'll be in the cockpit."
"Cockpit. Or sundeck or patio or whatever you want to call it."
"Hardly a sundeck," Doyle called over the clatter of the kettle. "What sort of prat holidays on a boat on the Thames in the middle of November?"
"Teachers and bankers."
A few minutes later, the shrill whistle of the kettle interrupted the peace of the river and soon after Doyle came through to the deck, carrying two mugs of tea.
"You're the arty-farty type," Bodie asked, taking his mug from Doyle. "Can we still talk about birds over our tea or do we have to discuss Ravioli's use of light compared to Spaghetti-Hoop's?"
A twisted grin struggle don to Doyle's face as he warmed his hands on the mug. "We're still blokes, even if arty-farty blokes. I think birds are an allowable topic of conversation. Although it might be more authentic if we compared del Sarto's and Mucha's ideas of what was beautiful.
"And what did get Munchausen going?" There was no response and Bodie glanced over at Doyle, who was concentrating hard on stirring a spoonful of sugar into his tea. "Doyle?"
"I was just thinking."
"If you fancy me, how come you still fancy birds?"
"Jesus!" Bodie slammed to his feet. For a long moment, he glared down at Doyle, who was still fascinated by his tea. "Oh, sod it. I'm going for a run. I'll be back later."
Doyle's interest in his drink continued while Bodie changed into his tracksuit and set off. The tea was so entrancing that, by the time Doyle picked up the mug to actually drink it, it was stone cold.
It was dark when Bodie returned to find Doyle clattering pans in the galley. "Wondered when you'd be back. Dinner'll be ready in a few minutes. Spag bol."
Bodie nodded acknowledgement and headed through to the shower. Five minutes later, he was back, shivering slightly in a thick sweater. "If you think I'm sitting out there to eat, you can think again. It's bloody freezing."
"Fine by me. Get some plates, will you? This is ready to dish up. And there should be a bottle of vodka in the bag by the door."
"Very domesticated." Bodie plonked the plates on the table.
"I'm more than just a pretty face, you know." Doyle paused. "There's a radio in with the vodka."
The boat was filled with the harsh sound of static as Bodie fiddled with the tuning before hastily turning the volume down as Madness started belting out of the tinny speakers. Bodie winced. "Makes me wish you hadn't bothered."
"Have some vodka, eat your grub and shut up." Doyle picked up his knife and fork and started on his spaghetti. "And you're washing up," he mumbled through a too-hot mouthful.
"I slaved over a hot stove for this while you were off enjoying yourself. I think I deserve the evening off."
"I was working," Bodie objected. "Checking out he area."
"Nice excuse. Find anything?"
"A very rare orchid. I trod on it. Other than that, nothing." He frowned thoughtfully at his empty fork. "I think I'll go for runs rather than nature walks. A week of your cooking and no exercise and Cowley'd have to send me back to Macklin."
Doyle looked up sharply. "I'm not cooking every night. You're just about capable of holding a pan."
"Okay, a week of your cooking and takeaways." Bodie grinned as he wrapped some strands of spaghetti round his fork.
The chart rundown had reached number twenty-three by the time Doyle ran a piece of bread round his plate to pick up the final drops of sauce. With a sigh, he leaned back and pushed the plate away. "Couldn't eat another bite."
"Pour it out." He stretched. "Last night of freedom. Cartwright's expected tomorrow and Anderson any time after that."
"I'll do the first night watch if you want?"
"Ta. Hardly slept last night."
"How do you think I feel? Your sofa's not he comfiest bed in the world."
"It was that or the floor," Doyle pointed out sharply. Bodie sighed. "I was hoping you'd got over that."
"Got over it?"
"It's not that much to cope with, is it? You've had birds fancy you when you haven't been interested." Bodie shrugged. "Wouldn't have thought it was that big a deal."
Doyle stared incredulously. "There's a big difference between some woman and the bloke who watches my back," he finally said. A thought seemed to occur to him. "Do you think of me when you're wanking?"
Bodie ignored the question. "Hasn't affected our performance over the last years."
"A year?" Doyle pounced on the face. "None of our birds have lasted that long."
"What do you want, a declaration that you're the big love of my life? Forget it."
The tinny sound of the Boomtown Rats was the only noise as Bodie waited for Doyle's reaction. When he eventually spoke, his voice was surprisingly soft. "I just want to know what you want from me, Bodie."
"What I want?" Bodie's voice was equally quiet as he finally met his partner's eyes. Doyle unconsciously leaned back in his seat. "What I want, Ray, is you screaming with pleasure as I fuck you senseless. What I want is your mouth wrapped round my dick. What I want is your dick buried so far up my arse it's about to come out my mouth."
"On the other hand," Bodie continued, "I also want Krivas dead. I want diplomatic immunity abolished so we can get some of the worst crooks. I'm not going to go around crying my eyes out because I can't get that. Yeah, I sometimes think about you when I'm wanking. Think about what it would be like to have those skinny hands of yours wrapped round my dick. Sometimes I think about Betty, maybe Susan or Julia. I've even thought about your precious Ann Holly."
"You bastard," Doyle breathed.
"You're going to start policing my thoughts now?" Bodie slowly shook his head. "Doesn't work that way, Ray."
"What do you want from me?" Doyle repeated.
"Shit." Bodie turned away, stared out the window into the darkness. "I want you to forget this conversation happened. I want you to forget I fancy you. I want to go back to being just partners. And you can't do that, can you?"
"I can try."
"Cartwright should have been here yesterday. Cowley said Monday lunchtime." Lounging in the cockpit with an early morning mug of coffee, Bodie's attention was focused on the cruiser moored next to them. Even so, he was well aware of Doyle stepping aboard the Susie-May, the dip of the cruiser as he took the couple of steps along the deck to the cockpit.
Bodie looked up. Doyle was sweating, tracksuit unzipped to show the damp t-shirt clinging to his chest. "Anything out there?" Bodie asked.
"Not a snowdrop out of place."
"No snowdrops this time of year," Bodie corrected absently. "You don't think Anderson's already taken him out?"
"Murphy was watching him." Doyle didn't quite answer the question.
"I'll give him a call." Bodie jumped down into the saloon and sagged on to the sofa, R/T in hand. "Three-seven to 6.2."
"What do you want?" Murphy's voice was familiar through the crackling and Bodie grinned.
"Charming. Just calling to see what's happening with Cartwright. You haven't lost him, have you?"
"Chance'd be a fine thing. He's still holed up in his house; hasn't been out since Sunday."
"That was two days ago!"
"I can count, Bodie." Murphy's frustration showed.
"Yeah, okay." Bodie frowned. "Anybody visit him recently?"
"Hang on." Bodie could hear rustling as Murphy studied the clipboard. "Let's see. Wife left on Saturday - that's been checked out, she's visiting family up in Leamington. Since then, there's been nobody but the milkman and me."
"Yeah. Knocked on the door yesterday evening to check he was still alive. He seemed okay but wasn't too keen to buy any double-glazing."
Bodie laughed. "What would you've done if he'd said yes?"
"I'm on commission from Everest. Nice little earner."
"Surprised Doyle hasn't thought of that, the miser. Okay, give us a call when he leaves. I'm going to lie back and enjoy myself." He clicked off the R/T. "Well, as much as anybody can on a river in November," he added to himself.
Bodie looked up and grinned at Doyle. "Of course. Murphy says Cartwright's alive and well as of last night and he'll give us a call when he leaves. Which means-" Bodie stood up and rubbed his hands, beaming brightly "-we're safe to nip to the pub."
Doyle slowly shook his head. "No."
"No," Doyle repeated. "Which means we're safe to do some housebreaking." He frowned. "Boatbreaking."
"You nearly done?" Bodie asked, glancing up the towpath. "It's only a sodding padlock."
"Shut up. Or do you want to do it yourself?"
"Nah, it's okay." He heard a satisfied exhalation behind him. "Done?"
"Done. Come on it."
The boat wasn't much different from their own but, as Bodie pointed out, there wasn't really much you could do in a twenty-foot space to make any appreciable difference. He ran a finger along a surface and examined the dust critically. "Doesn't come here much, does he? Not that I blame him. If you're going to have a boat, might as well have it somewhere useful."
"Greece? Spain? Bahamas?" Doyle was quickly checking the cupboards, carefully removing cans of baked beans, spaghetti and soup before placing each back in their original position."
"Liverpool." Bodie ignored Doyle's groan and concentrated on the bookshelves. "Seriously. Nice little 50-foot sloop, you could do some good sailing round there. Nip over to Ireland. Maybe do an Atlantic run. Hey, Cartwright's got he new Dick Francis."
"If I'm crossing the Atlantic, I'm doing it on a plane. Or the QE2. And put the book back." Doyle shut the cupboard, pulled the cushions off the sofa and began checking the storage space underneath it. "Hope he isn't planning on using this rope any time soon. It's about to fall to pieces."
"What are we actually looking for?"
Doyle emerged from the locker, dust in his hair, and sneezed. "Dunno. Why?"
Bodie shrugged. "Fair enough. I'll check the pointy end. And let's bug it while we're here."
At the end of an hour, they'd deduced that Cartwright used the Pegasus to eat unhealthy food, listen to opera and enjoy a wide and varied selection of what Doyle condemned as airport novels.
He sighed. "Come on, let's head back home to the good ship Susie-May."
"'Ship' is an over-used term," Bodie said, climbing into the cockpit. "Did you know that, strictly speaking, a ship has to have at least three masts, be square-rigged on them all and a bunch of other stuff that I can't remember?"
"Thank you for enriching my knowledge. I can't see it's ever going to come in useful but thank you anyway." Doyle slotted the boards back into the hatch and clicked the padlocks into place. "How do you know that?" he asked following Bodie on to the towpath.
"Merchant navy. The first mate was mad about tall ships and I was too young and naive to work out how to shut him up without getting myself slung off the ship."
"Did you work it out in the end?" Doyle asked, interested.
"Yeah," Bodie drawled, amusement plain.
"Well?" Doyle prompted.
"You don't want to know."
"I do. Might work on the old man."
Bodie gave a snort of laughter. "Try it if you like. Blow job. I'm heading to the shops." Doyle was left standing on the towpath as Bodie disappeared into the cabin.
"Six-two to 3.7."
Doyle picked up Bodie's R/T. "Doyle. Bodie's out."
"Just keeping you up to date on Cartwright's movements. He nipped out this morning to visit his sister's grave. Spent half an hour there neatening up, then when to the supermarket and straight back home like a good little husband."
"Is he ever going to come here, though?" Doyle jotted down Murphy's information. "If I was Anderson, I'd be getting very fed up by now. You don't think anyone's tipped him off, do you?"
"Nobody's been to see him, we've got his phones tapped and his post's being diverted. I'm not saying it's impossible but..."
"Yeah, okay. Thanks, Murph."
"Murphy?" Bodie lowered a bag of shopping through the hatch then followed with another. "Does that mean Cartwright's finally coming to visit us?"
"Not likely. Quiet morning doing chores." Doyle pulled open one of the bags. "chocolate cake?"
"Special offer. Buy one, get one free." Bodie smiled at Doyle's grimace. "Don't worry, I got some nice, healthy fruit for you."
Doyle examined the contents of the other bag. "One apple?"
"There's a banana, too."
Doyle sighed. "I'm doing the shopping next time."
"Tell you what, get some more when you go back to pick up the laundry."
"Pick up the- You mean to didn't even stay around long enough for that?"
"Thought there might have been some action back here. Didn't want to leave you alone and unsupported, did I?"
"Almost believable," Dole commented.
Bodie grinned broadly.
Doyle breathed on his hands, breath misting in the cold air, grateful for the distraction of the gold Jaguar that had pulled up on the bank. He held back a pleased smile as Cartwright got out. Two days, almost to the minute, after he'd been expected but he'd finally sodding turned up.
"Afternoon," Doyle called cheerfully.
Cartwright glanced up quickly. "Oh, er, afternoon." He looked uncomfortable.
Doyle jumped off the boat and walked over. "I wasn't expecting to see anybody else here at this time of year. Oh, I'm Ray Doyle." He held out his hand.
"Alan Cartwright," the other man mumbled, giving Doyle's hand a damp shake. He seemed to pull himself together. "I wasn't expecting anybody, either. Normally have the river to myself at this time of year."
"Hope I'm not intruding."
"Not at all, not at all. Just you, is it?"
"My friend, Bodie. He's hiding in the warmth." Doyle smiled. "Sensible bloke, really." Doyle glanced down at Cartwright's bags. "Can I give you a hand?"
"No, no, it's all right." Cartwright's eyes had widened in alarm.
"Really, no trouble." Doyle hefted the violin case. "Lead on, MacDuff."
"Lay on," Bodie said from his sprawl on the sofa as Doyle entered.
Bodie took the magazine off his face. "It's 'lay on, MacDuff,' not 'lead on'."
"If you say so." Doyle took a seat at the table.
Bodie swung upright, yawning. "What's he like?"
Doyle frowned. "Twitchy. Nervous. I'm really starting to think he's been tipped off."
"Might be. Might have sussed it for himself."
"Nah." Doyle shook his head. "Delaney was using different names with each of them. No way Cartwright could have put it together without some outside input."
"Perhaps he's had the outside input?"
Doyle pursed his lips thoughtfully. "Possible. He was definitely twitchy about something. Unless he's just like that normally. Ah, well, I'll let the old man know."
"What does he know about us?"
Doyle shrugged. "Teachers. I'm painting."
Bodie paused. "You realise he's going to know this place has only got one bed. He's going to draw conclusions."
Doyle stiffened. "I'd twigged that from the start. I'm not thick."
"Just checking. I think it might be worth playing up to it a bit, that's all. Make us seem a bit more harmless." His mouth twisted. "After all, everybody knows all a faggot can do is hit you with his handbag."
Doyle glared for a moment before dropping his head on to his hands and rubbing his temples. "Yeah. Hate to say it but I think you might be right. Otherwise, he's just going to be even more suspicious about what you're doing here."
Bodie swung himself upright and rubbed his hands. "Well, my little bundle of scrumptiousness, now we've arranged that I'm Larry Grayson's major rival, I think I'll go skipping off and pick some flowers."
"I don't get it." Bodie kept his eyes on Cartwright's boat as he spoke. Dim light filtered through the curtains, the only sign of life aboard. "Why would anybody spend a week on a boat in the middle of winter?"
"It's not the middle of winter." Doyle didn't bother looking up from his book.
"So? I want to know why."
"According to his file, he spends a lot of time up here. Not everybody wants the bright lights all the time, Bodie."
"But he's hardly stepped foot off the boat in the three days he's been here. Hasn't been to the pub, only been to the shops once. Why doesn't he just stay at home?"
"I don't know." Doyle sounded irritated. "Perhaps he wants to go somewhere where people can't keep asking him stupid questions."
"I'm not just being nosy; I'm trying to understand what's going on. What if he's got a reason for coming up here? What if he's arranged to meet somebody?"
"You mean Anderson?" Doyle finally put his book down. "But why?"
"I don't know." Bodie sighed with frustration. "I don't know. Maybe Anderson. Maybe Delaney."
Doyle nodded slowly. "Interesting thought. Come on, then, let's go through it. What have we heard him do?"
"Play some opera. Read, by the sound of it. Nothing suspicious but nothing to indicate why he comes out here to do it, specially with wifey away."
"There's got to be something else." Doyle frowned in concentration.
"See anything in his baggage?"
Doyle shrugged. "Nothing out of the ordinary. Looked like clothes, mostly." Suddenly he clicked his fingers and stared at Bodie. "Violin."
"Violin," Bodie agreed, starting to smile. "That's certainly odd. He's brought it out here but he hasn't played it once."
"And" there wasn't any music on the boat," Doyle pointed out. "There might have been some in his baggage - maybe even in with the violin - but it's still odd."
"I'll call HQ, see if there's any record of Cartwright playing the violin." He shrugged. "I haven't got a clue what it means but it's certainly something unusual."
Taking advantage of the blue light of the early morning, Doyle sketched a couple of lines. A few patches of shade were added, blended, erased, repositioned and slowly the jumble of lines and scribbles turning into Bodie's face, grinning knowingly. Doyle frowned thoughtfully at the slightly distorted bone structure and toyed with the eraser before flipping over the next page.
This time, the lines were little more than doodles. Vague, purposeless and stubbornly refusing to tun into anything recognisable. Doyle glared at the paper and turned back to the picture of Bodie.
Tentatively, he sketched a couple more lines. Bodie's neck extended downwards, settled into broad, well-muscled shoulders. A couple of lines describing a shirt collar were considered and erased. The pencil hovered for a moment before decorating the paper with taut pectoral muscles. It hovered even longer before delicately sketching nipples. Doyle frowned, darkened the nipples and continued the body downwards.
Abdominal muscles were pencilled in, considered, then softened. A grin twitched Doyle's mouth as he softened them still further. Bodie really did need to lay off the takeaways a little. He bit his lip as he sketched the navel and the faint trail of hair below it leading downwards. A long wait, again leading the eye downwards.
And Doyle stopped.
He toyed with the pencil, occasionally made a move to continue the figure, but always stopped. Finally, he shut the sketchpad and, with a sigh, leaned back in his seat.
"You're not going to get read in time for your exhibition if you keep up this work rate."
Doyle started, his hand instinctively reaching under his coat, before he realised who had crept up on him.
Bodie settled himself on to the seat opposite and pulled his coat tighter around him. "I really don't understand why you don't just take some photographs and work on the actual pictures back at home. Surely you can't paint in this cold, anyway?"
Doyle's mouth twitched. "But photographs don't capture the atmosphere of the place. Art goes beyond a simple visual representation."
"I'd cope with a less perfect picture if it meant I didn't have to shiver out here." Bodie pouted with an elaborate artlessness.
"You don't have to shiver out here. I'm not stopping you from going back to bed. After all, you're on holiday even if I'm not."
"In other words, I'm just getting in you way." Bodie cocked his head and smiled.
"Well, if you want to put it that way..." Doyle picked up his sketchpad and looked expectantly at his partner.
Laughing, Bodie stood up. "I'm going back to bed. Wake me at midday." At the hatch, he looked back over his shoulder and his eyelid flickered in a wink before he was gone.
Doyle turned to a fresh page and began to sketch.
This time he kept his attention on drawing the Pegasus, which was how he noticed the twitch of the curtain. He frowned slightly. Cartwright shouldn't be wondering about them. Surreptitiously, he reached down and knocked against the wall of the cabin. A few moments later, Bodie appeared, apparently relaxed and casual but with a familiar sharpness about his face.
"Cartwright's watching us," Doyle murmured.
"Might be time to play it up a little more," Doyle volunteered. Part of him was wondering why that would do any good. Part of him was insisting it was the best plan since the Trojan horse.
Bodie was silent for a moment. "You think?"
"We're meant to have a reason for being here, even if he doesn't. Just kiss me, Bodie." Doyle's stomach objected as he spoke the words.
"Promise you won't hit me later." Bodie's smile took on a twisted semblance of light-heartedness as he perched opposite his partner. He reached out, softly rested his hand on the side of Doyle's face, then leaned forward and, before Doyle could do or say anything, Bodie's lips were touching his.
It was a curiously gentle kiss, restrained. Even when Doyle opened his mouth - verisimilitude, his mind insisted - , Bodie didn't take advantage.
Finally, Bodie pulled away. "Don't do that to me, Ray," he whispered as he sat back.
"Do what?" Doyle's eyes were guileless. He glanced back at Cartwright's boat. The curtain was back in place. "He's gone."
"No indication of Cartwright playing the violin," Bodie told Doyle triumphantly at lunchtime. "The only thing he plays, according to Betty, is the stock market."
"So what's he doing with a violin?" Doyle asked.
"Violin case," Bodie corrected. "We don't know there's a violin in it."
"Good point." Doyle frowned at his glass of whisky. "So what has he got in it? And is he ever going to go back to the shops so we can break in and have a look?"
You tell me." Bodie poured himself a whisky and picked up Doyle's sketchpad. "Can I?"
Doyle nodded absently. "What does he want to hide?"
"Perhaps he's a drug baron on the side. Hey, this isn't bad." Bodie held up the pad, showing a quick sketch of a tree overhanging the river.
"Perspective's screwed. Look at the swan."
"Is it a swan?" Bodie asked, squinting. "I thought it was a duck."
"Oi!" Doyle hit Bodie's shoulder and snatched the pad back. "For that, you're not looking at any more." He realised, as he flicked over the page, that he'd retrieved the pad just in time. He flipped it shut as Bodie moved to peer over his shoulder. "Cartwright," he said, deliberately changing the subject.
"Oh, I don't know." Bodie drained his glass. "The only one acting suspiciously round here is Cartwright. And us. Are you an assassin?" he asked Doyle sternly.
Doyle watched the play of shadows against Bodie's throat as he spoke. "No sign of Anderson," he agreed quietly.
Bodie picked up a pen and began to doodle. "Stupid. It doesn't make any sense." he turned the notepad the right way up and read Doyle's scrawled writing. "Cartwright visited his sister's grave?"
"What'd she die of? And when?" Bodie reached for his R/T. "Three-seven to control. I need you to do some checking for me."
Rain shattered over the houseboat, cracking the surface of the river into a fractured mirror. A smooth streak of lightning jagged across the sky, lighting the countryside with an eerie split-second of pure white light.
And over the sound of the storm, Doyle could hear the trickle of the shower. The thought of the water sliding over Bodie's body was distracting.
He pulled his sketchpad towards him, let it fall open at a too-familiar page. He'd tried to continue the drawing downwards but it just wouldn't flow. It wasn't that he didn't know what Bodie looked like, it was just... He sighed. The bottom of the sketch was as scrubbed mess now, ruining whatever virtue it might have had.
He turned to a new page and toyed with the idea of starting again but gave up after the first line. He wasn't in the mood for something as sedentary as drawing. The storm was making him restless.
At home, he'd have gone for a run, despite the rain, but Bodie was shattered and it wouldn't be fair to drag him back on duty because Doyle was bored. There wasn't enough room to do anything on the boat, not even to sodding well pace. He hated boats.
The glanced out the hatch, taking in the dim light filtering from Cartwright's boat. Silent, without even the too-familiar strains of whatever opera Cartwright had a yen for. Probably sleeping.
He leaned back and sighed with frustration.
"What's up?" Bodie emerged from the shower, towel round his waist and hair dripping.
"You're dripping," Doyle commented.
"Any more stunning observations?" Bodie padded further into the saloon.
"I meant, you're making the floor slippery. If you break your neck, don't expect me to take you to hospital."
"I won't. In fact, I'd rather you left me alone and called an ambulance - less chance of me not being paralysed that way." Bodie grinned and Doyle resisted the urge to hit him.
"Go to sleep," he said.
"Yeah, will do." Bodie yawned. "Any word from HQ about Cartwright's sister?"
"Not yet. I've hassled them on it and been sworn at." Doyle grinned with satisfaction.
"And I take it you swore back." Bodie nodded slowly, grin matching Doyle's. "You need to learn some people skills," Bodie added.
"You're the one the new agents get warned about," Doyle retorted, suddenly feeling more relaxed.
"The female ones, yeah," Bodie said smugly.
"Should be the male ones, too," Doyle said quietly, regretting it as soon as he opened his mouth.
Bodie shut his eyes, took a deep breath. "Yep," he said evenly. "Lock 'em all away from me. Murphy - can't wait to get him in the sack. And how about Anson, hey? Bet he's good with his mouth. I'm just working my way through ever single CI5 agent, aren't I?" He opened his eyes and looked at Doyle. "Well? Aren't I?"
Doyle shook his head slowly. "I don't know."
Bodie sagged on to the sofa. "You keep doing this. Every time I think you're over it, ever time things seem to be getting back to normal, you just keep dragging it out. Is it so hard to understand? I fancy you. I'm not going to do anything about it."
"Then why did you tell me?" Doyle burst out. "You'd kept it quiet for a fucking year - why did you suddenly decide to tell me?"
"I didn't tell you," Bodie insisted. He sighed. "Okay, I did mean for you to find out." He shrugged. "I just thought that, maybe, you might-"
"You thought I might be interested?"
"But you're not, so I'm trying to drop it."
"Why did you think I might be?"
"I don't know. Just a hunch, something not seeming quite right." His mouth twisted into a wry smile. "Kind of like with Cartwright. Except I couldn't call HQ and ask them to run checks on your sexuality."
"And would it have stopped you if they'd said I was straight?"
"Not really. They'd say I'm straight, probably."
"So Cowley doesn't know you're a faggot?"
"I'm not-" Bodie took a deep breath. "I'm not a faggot."
"You fuck men. You're a faggot." Dole didn't know why he was seeking refuge in the insults.
Bodie slammed his fist down on the table. "Okay, I'm a faggot. Happy?" Bodie was on his feet, walking towards the bow cabin. He paused at the door. "Your partner's a nancy-boy fairy. Remember that the next time I save your back."
Doyle watched him go and swallowed. Faggot. Nancy boy. Fairy. Pansy. Poofter. Queer.
Words for Bodie?
Or words for himself?
It was only a brief shower compared to the storms Bodie had survived in Africa but Africa suited the harshness. In the soft green countryside of Britain, the storm was out of place, unrealistically ominous. Frowning, he look away from the tiny porthole to find Doyle leaning against the doorway. "How long you been there?" he demanded, startled.
Doyle shrugged. His gaze met Bodie's for a second then skittered around the cabin before finally resting over Bodie's shoulder, focused on the bed. He nodded towards it and raised an eyebrow.
Bodie sighed. "Yeah, you go ahead and kip. I'll watch Cartwright."
"Not what I meant."
Bodie's look became wary. "Then what did you mean?"
Doyle shrugged again. "Do you want to...?"
"Do I want to what?" Bodie's mouth had tightened and his expression was becoming dangerous. "We've just finished this conversation, Doyle?"
Doyle exhaled sharply. "Do you want to have sex?" He glared at Bodie for a moment before looking away again.
"You think I'm going to hop into bed with you, just like that? After all that?"
"Why not? You fancy me."
Bodie folded his arms and leaned back against the bunk, glaring at Doyle. "Believe it or not, I quite like my bed partners to fancy me too. I don't want a mercy fuck, Doyle. I'm not going to get blue balls just because you don't want to come across. Plenty of others do."
"It's not a mercy fuck." Doyle swallowed. "I fancy you, Bodie."
Bodie's eyes narrowed. He wanted to believe but it was just the sort of stupid thing Doyle would do. Except... Was it? Exactly how often had Ray gone against Cowley's orders, just because he thought Bodie would appreciate it? It was Bodie who put his partner's needs before his boss's commands. Ray was too sensible and too bloody ambitious. And Cowley's orders against fraternisation were strict. The old man would be outraged by the fact that they were working partners, not that they were men, that was for sure.
So why was Doyle offering himself up like a sacrificial lamb?
At that moment, Doyle glanced up and scowled. "Do you want to fuck or not, Bodie? I'm not going to hang around waiting."
"What about Cartwright?" The moment he said it, Bodie knew what he was going to do. They'd both regret it but he was going to do it anyway.
Doyle shrugged. "Can't see anything in this weather. And it's not as though there's been any sign that he's at risk. Bodie's eyes were fixed on Dole's face as he stepped forward. "I'm warning you. If you get cold feet halfway through, I'm not going to be happy."
"I'm not going to back out." Doyle glared at Bodie.
"Good." Bodie smiled coldly. "In that case, I'm not going to be unhappy." His hands tangled roughly in Doyle's hair, pulling him closer. He took a sharp breath, surprised by the eagerness with which Doyle pressed against him, his body hot and hard. "Done this before?" Bodie whispered.
Doyle shook his head.
"Guess I'll just have to teach you." Bodie's mouth closed softly on Doyle's and, after a moment's hesitation, Doyle's lips opened. And in that moment, Bodie knew that this was going to be a good one. Doyle kissed like a man possessed - hot, hard, demanding. Knowing exactly what he wanted and how to get it.
Doyle's hands stole up, gripped Bodie round the waist and pulled him even closer. Bodie felt the hardness at Doyle's groin and thrust gently against it. In immediate response, Doyle's kiss deepened, his hands flying up to grip Bodie's head, positioning it exactly how Doyle wanted it. For a moment, Bodie stiffened and began to draw away but instead he let his hands drop to cup Doyle's arse, pushing himself harder against the other man.
Finally Doyle pulled away, flushed and breathing hard. "Get rid of the towel, Bodie."
"Ever the romantic." Bodie dropped the towel to the floor and raised an eyebrow. "Ray, I know you're new to this but there's not much point in me being naked if you're still dressed."
"You want my clothes off?" Doyle gave a challenging half-smile. "You take them off."
"You're a little tart, Ray Doyle." An admiring whisper and Bodie's hands were already pulling Doyle's shirt out of his trousers, jerking buttons undone with no thought for finesse. And then the shirt was hanging open and Bodie peeled it off completely, yanking the cuffs over Doyle's wrists rather than spend the time undoing the buttons.
"Keen, aren't we?"
"I'll let you know."
Bodie kissed Doyle hard, letting his hands roam ver the smooth, broad back, fingers tracing the dent of the spine. His grip tightened, kneading the warm flesh hard enough for Doyle to wince, pulling away from the kiss. "Watch it. I don't like it rough."
Bodie's eyes met Doyle's. "Well I don't like it too soft to feel. We're going to fuck. Hard." He raised a challenging eyebrow. "Want to back out now?"
Doyle swallowed but didn't pull away, despite a flash of fear in his eyes. "Told you. I'm not backing out. But if I end up with bruises, you'll get double."
"I don't go that rough." Bodie rested his hand on the side of Doyle's face, calloused thumb smoothing the skin under his eyes. "Nothing to be afraid of."
"Never said I was scared." Doyle jerked his head away from Bodie's caress. "Get on with it, Bodie." He stepped back, unbuttoned his jeans and wriggled them down over his hips, taking his underwear with them.
Bodie swallowed and leaned back against the bunk. "Before we get down to it, we need to get something cleared up."
Doyle sighed impatiently, concentrating on unfastening grubby white trainers. "What?"
"Who's fucking who?"
Doyle's head shot up. "If you think-"
"Because I want your dick up my arse and, if you have other plans, we're going to have to fight it out."
Doyle relaxed. "Oh. Yeah, I'm happy to drive."
"Never said anything about you driving." Bodie glanced at Doyle through narrowed eyes. "I'm not going to be lying back and thinking of England, so don't get any ideas like that." He squeezed past Doyle.
"Where you going?" Doyle demanded.
"Marge," Bodie explained succinctly. He sighed at Doyle's lack of comprehension. "Margarine. Wasn't planning on getting my rocks off this weekend so I didn't pack any lube. And I'm not letting that-" he nodded towards Doyle's erection "-anywhere near my arsehole without something.
"And it'd better not be full of toast crumbs," he added from the saloon. He came back into the bedroom holding the tub. "'Cause if it is, it's blow jobs all round." He stopped dead in the doorway, his breathing suddenly harsh at the sight of Doyle lying on his bunk, eyes closed and head pillowed on folded arms. He shut his own eyes for a moment. This was a mistake, but there was no way he could stop it. No way he wanted to stop it. "Looking good, Ray," he finally managed to say.
Doyle's eyes flew open and his head snapped towards Bodie. "Stop taking the piss and get over here. I wanna fuck you. Hard."
"Never heard of foreplay, Romeo?"
"Don't have time to mess around. We're meant to be on stakeout, remember?"
Bodie shrugged as he pulled himself on to the bunk. "Fair enough." he lay down next to Doyle, almost on top of him in the cramped space, and ran his hand down his partner's chest. "Furry bugger, aren't you?"
Next thing, he was lying on his stomach, half off the bunk with his arm twisted behind his back and Doyle straddling his waist. "Maybe, but you still want my dick in you, don't you?" Doyle hissed into his ear.
"Jesus, Doyle!" Bodie tried to throw his partner off but he was firmly held. "Wasn't a complaint, you bloody moron," he gasped into the wooden side of the bunk, legs braced against the bow locker for support.
Doyle's grip didn't slacken and he stayed motionless.
"Are you going to do something or not?" Bodie finally demanded. "Thought you were meant to be fucking me through the mattress."
The was a moment of silence. "Don't know what..." Doyle quietly admitted and Bodie fought down a grin. Poor little bugger didn't have a clue.
"Then how about letting me up, so I can show you?"
After a moment's hesitation, Doyle let go of Bodie's arm.
"That's better. That bloody hurt." Bodie twisted on to his back, Doyle still straddled across his hips. He gasped, head jerking into the pillow in reaction as his erection came into contact with Doyle's. "Jesus!"
Tentatively, Doyle moved against him and Bodie gasped again. His hands closed on Doyle's hips, forcing him where Bodie wanted him. "Oh, Jesus!"
And then his hands were knocked away and pinned to the sheets as Doyle guided his own pace, thrusting harder. Bodie forced his eyes open to look up at Doyle. Eyes shut, head thrown back, mouth open as he forced ragged breaths into his lungs, Doyle was sex personified.
"Stop," Bodie hissed through gritted teeth.
Doyle opened his eyes, looked down at Bodie, but didn't stop.
"I said, stop!" Bodie was desperate now. "Ray!" It was too late. The familiar tightness spread through his groin and then he was pulsing over his stomach. He sagged back, fighting for breath. "Shit, Doyle," he finally panted. "There was a reason I told you to stop."
Doyle shrugged. "I'm still going." His voice was shaking slightly.
"I'd noticed." Bodie reached out a trembling arm and pulled the margarine towards him. "Come on, then. Let's get you sorted." He scooped out a dollop and warmed it in his hand before reaching out.
"I can do it myself," Doyle snapped, pulling away.
"I'm sure you can." Bodie hooked his leg around Doyle's and pulled, twisting as he did, so he ended up on top of his partner. "But I want to make sure this is done thoroughly. It's my arse you're going up." He turned his attention back to Doyle's cock, deliberately taking his time as he spread the margarine over the soft skin, his movements becoming a teasing caress as Doyle's struggles ceased. He glanced up at Doyle's face and grinned at the flushed cheeks and gritted teeth. "Nearly there, ma- Shit! " He looked down in disgust as Doyle spurted white fluid over his hands. "For fuck's sake! Why didn't you say?"
Doyle sagged on the bed, eyes shut as he drew one deep breath after another. "I was distracted," he finally panted.
Bodie's mouth twitched. "Didn't realise I was so distracting." He rolled off Doyle to lie sprawled on the bunk. "You'd better go and shower before you check on Cartwright. Personally," he yawned hugely, "I'm going to kip."
Bodie attempted to look innocent. "Hey, if you'd jumped me during my shift, it'd be me heading back to work. Your bad timing."
"I didn't jump you." Doyle's voice was hard as he stood up, snagged a towel.
"What else would you call it?"
"A mistake." Doyle didn't look back as he shut the door to the heads behind him.
"Mistake?" Bodie let his disbelief show in his voice. "Any sex that's good enough to make you pop before you even get anywhere can not be termed a mistake." There was no response. "Ray?" Still no response. Bodie reached out and hammered on the door. "Doyle, you alive in there?"
"Piss off, Bodie."
Bodie swore quietly and wandered through to the saloon. He picked up the bottle of vodka and, taking a sip, checked the view on Cartwright's boat. Which was dark, padlocks showing clearly on the hatch.
"Shit!" Bodie was back in the cabin, desperately yanking trousers over sticky skin. "Doyle, Cartwright's gone!"
"Fuck!" Dripping wet, Doyle burst out of the shower. He didn't bother drying himself, didn't even bother with underwear, before wriggling back into his jeans.
By the time Doyle was dressed, Bodie had already examined the ground around Cartwright's boat. "He went down the bank, that way. No sign of a struggle and the boat seems unharmed. Come on."
Bodie's torch swept the ground ahead of them, providing just enough light for them to stay on the path.
"You sure he came this way?"
"Yes, I'm sure." Bodie's voice was hard.
"God knows what we tell Cowley if we can't find him and something happens."
"Why not tell him the truth?"
Doyle paid no attention to the chill in Bodie's voice. "Yeas, sure. 'Sorry I didn't notice Cartwright being offed - I was too busy wanking my partner.'"
"He's not been killed."
"How do you know?"
"This isn't Anderson's mode. One, two shots from a distance. He wouldn't have taken Cartwright anywhere."
"What's to stop him taking advantage of Cartwright wandering around, though?"
"Not Anderson's mode," Bodie repeated. "He plans, schemes everything in advance. I've worked with that type. They can't take advantage of random opportunities - their minds don't adapt to it."
"So where the hell has Cartwright gone, then?"
Bodie grinned and pointed ahead of them. "I think friend Cartwright has done what most sensible people would do. He's gone to the pub."
"Jesus." Doyle flung his head back and glared at the sky, breathing deeply. "Okay. Let's go and check."
"Fair enough." Bodie switched off the torch. "But it's your round."
"I'll even buy you a Harvey Wallbanger if Cartwright's in there."
"How frightfully nice of you, Raymond."
Bodie led the way into the pub, casually glancing round. Doyle was more obvious in his scrutiny.
"He's not here, Bodie."
"I had noticed that." Bodie directed his attention to the barmaid and turned on the charm, full blast. Doyle turned away, disgust on his face as he examined the pub's clientele. "Excuse me, love. We're looking for our mate. We were meant to meet him here but we got a bit delayed. The weather. He's about 5'10", blond hair, beard. Hang on, I think I've got a photo." Bodie reached into his jacket and, careful to keep his Browning hidden, pulled out the pictures of Cartwright and Anderson. "There, that's him. Has he been in yet?"
The barmaid glanced at the photos. "Not the blond. That guy's been in, though." She pointed at Anderson. "Well, same colour hair."
"Him?" Bodie tensed. "When? Where did he go?"
"About five minutes ago. I think he had a motor in the carpark." She frowned. "Why do you want to know?"
"What type of car was it?"
"Harry? That ginger bloke earlier - what type of car was it?"
"Bloke with the violin? A blue Cortina. M-reg."
"There you go. Why? Are you police?" The barmaid was starting to look worried. "What's he done? Where's your ID?"
Bodie was too busy sprinting after Doyle to answer. He paused in the car park, noted that there was only one way Anderson could have gone, then tore down the towpath after his partner.
He reached the Capri a moment after Doyle had dropped into the driver's seat and just managed to get his feet off the ground before Doyle floored the accelerator. "Go left," he gasped.
The rear wheels skidded in the mud, skewing the car before Doyle could wrestle it back under control. "Why don't they build these things with decent-sized steering wheels?" he muttered as he finally reached the paved road. "And where the hell's he going?"
"I don't know - but why the fuck didn't we realise?"
"Realise what? Shit, of course! "
"Three-seven to control, 3.7 to control." Bodie clung on to the grab strap as Doyle screeched the car round a corner.
"This is control; go ahead 3.7."
"We're following Anderson along the..." He fumbled with a map. "East along the B4972. He's got a five minute lead on us and he's driving a blue Cortina, M-reg, repeat, mike-registration blue Cortina. We need backup."
"Six-two is on it, 3.7."
"And, control, Anderson and Cartwright are the same person." Bodie threw the R/T down. "And let's hope we catch him or Cowley'll send us to the Outer Hebrides. If we're lucky."
Doyle said nothing.
"And if you wreck my car, the Outer Hebrides'll look good."
"Shut up, Bodie."
"Shut up. Shut up, he says." Bodie appealed to the darkness outside his window. "About to write off my car and my career and I'm meant to shut up."
"I said shut up." The Capri's rear wheels swung out again and Doyle swore as he fought with the steering wheel. "Make yourself useful and try to work out where he might be going, can't you?"
Bodie struggled with the map. "There're one or two houses but no turn-offs for about five miles. If we're lucky, Murph'll get there before him. "He pulled out the R/T. "Three-seven to 6.2."
"What is it, Bodie?" Even through the distorted crackle, the tension in Murphy's voice was clear.
"No need to be narky."
"I'm driving, Bodie. I don't have a chauffeur like you."
"Yeah, well try to drive yourself to the junction of the B4972 and the B496. Friend Anderson should be popping out there any time now."
"And am I allowed to ask how he got away from you?"
Bodie paused and glanced sideways at Doyle. "We were distracted."
"Well, I hope she was worth it. Six-two out."
"I don't think she was," Bodie muttered, settling back against the seat.
"Alpha to 3.7."
Bodie snatched at the R/T. "Three-seven. We're following Cartwright al-"
"I know that Bodie," Cowley snapped. "But his manager, Towersley, lives off that road."
"And he's the target," Bodie realised. "Whereabouts?"
"Here! " Doyle interrupted. The car's engine screamed a protest as he wrenched the gears down.
"Blue Cortina, sir, parked outside a house called..." Bodie looked around, couldn't find any indication of a name. "Called something or other. We're going in."
"Don't kill him!" Cowley's order was left unacknowledged as Bodie and Doyle scrambled out of the car, guns already drawn.
Bodie glanced at his partner then nodded to the back of the house. Doyle nodded agreement and silently melted into the bushes, heading around the house. Bodie looked after him for a moment then moved in the opposite direction, approaching the lit windows of the house.
The first room - and over-opulent living room - was empty and Bodie moved on. The second was a study, with a corpulent, white-haired man seated at a huge mahogany desk. "Bingo," Bodie breathed. He pulled out his R/T. "Four-five, I've found the target. Untouched. Cartwright's got to be around here somewhere."
"Well done." The barrel of a gun jammed into Bodie's jaw. "Drop it."
Slowly, Bodie released his grip on his Browning and let it fall into the mud. He kept hold of the R/T, finger still on the transmit button.
"And the radio."
Reluctantly, Bodie obeyed.
"I don't want to kill you but I will if I have to. Believe me on that. Do as I say and you'll live."
Cautiously, all too aware of the gun at his throat, Bodie nodded.
"Hands behind your back." The bun was withdrawn and Bodie felt the familiar snap of handcuffs. "Make a noise and you're dead. Understand?" Lips pursed with fury, Bodie nodded.
"Down! " Even before his mind had registered the word, Bodie hit the mud. A split second later, the sharp retort of Doyle's Walther shattered the night. Missed, Bodie noted incredulously. But he was already rolling, using his body to trip Cartwright. The other man was up and running again in a moment but it gave Doyle just enough time to re-aim. This time, the bullet caught Cartwright's knee and, before he could struggle upright again, Bodie had rolled on top of him, sheer weight keeping Cartwright pinned down long enough for Doyle to get the cuffs on.
"Why the hell did you miss?" Bodie snapped.
"It's dark." Doyle's voice was strained as he fiddled with Bodie's handcuffs. "And why did you let him use your own cuffs on you, if it comes to that?"
"I didn't have much choice. You've shot in darker than this."
"I didn't want to risk killing him. Cowley wants him alive, remember? There, you're free."
"Doesn't normally stop you," Bodie muttered, pulling himself out of the mud.
Bodie wiped the worst of the mud off his face and dropped the filthy towel on to Doyle's shoulder. Behind him, Murphy wrestled a furious Cartwright into the back of his car. "And that's that." Bodie beamed at his partner. "Come on, let's pick up the stuff and head back to civilisation."
"Do you two have an explanation for this mess?"
Bodie's grin sobered at Cowley's sharp question but the adrenaline-fuelled excitement still showed in his eyes. "No, sir."
"How did Cartwright manage to get away without you two noticing?" Cowley demanded.
Bodie glanced over at Doyle, who refused to meet his gaze. "We were distracted, sir," he mumbled.
"Distracted?" Cowley tore off his glasses to glare at the pair of them. "Och, it's no good talking to you now. I'll see you at seven in my office."
"Yes, sir." Bodie rested his hand on Doyle's back, started to push him towards the car.
Doyle resisted. "But, sir - why did Cartwright...?"
Cowley snorted. "Would you believe anti-terrorism? His sister was caught in a bomb blast last year."
"But how did he know who to target?"
Cowley suddenly smiled. "That's the useful part. A paper trail of account that none of our boys would have spotted but that we can certainly use. Turns out all three of the dead men knew they were fronting for a terrorist group. Give it a few days and there'll be a lot of arrests."
"Including Towersley?" Doyle asked.
Cowley turned away without another word.
Bodie suddenly gave a jaw-cracking yawn. "Let's head off. I need a shower."
Impatiently, Doyle flung clothes into his holdall without paying much attention to whom they belonged.
He ignored Bodie when he emerged from the shower, damp but fully dressed. "I used up all the hot water last time," Bodie said plaintively.
"Sod the wheel," Bodie continued, opening his own bag. "The hot shower's the mark of a great civilisation. Hot running water on demand. Central heating." He breathed a sigh of sheer hedonistic pleasure. "Bubble bath. I'm filling the bath with boiling water and I'm not getting out until I'm bright red and shrivelled as a prune. Hopefully, I'll have defrosted by then."
"Yeah, if you say so." Doyle's concentration remained firmly on the holdall. "Finished in there? I need to get my stuff."
"Be my guest." Bodie bowed extravagantly as Doyle passed him. By the time Doyle re-emerged, Bodie was almost packed. "Seen my black polo?"
Silently, Doyle opened his holdall and, after some rummaging, produced the sweater.
"Wanted a souvenir, did you?" Bodie took one look at Doyle's set face and sighed. "Come on, then. Civilisation and hot water are waiting."
Doyle followed Bodie out the cabin and, after locking the hatch, carefully pocketed the key. He looked up to find Bodie already in the car, engine running. "Come on. I want to get home." Doyle sighed and, hefting his bag, slumped into the car.
"Took your time. Could almost think you didn't want to leave."
Doyle ignored him and reached down to turn on the radio.
"Can't believe we were watching Anderson for that long without twigging what was going on."
Doyle stayed silent."
"Mind you, gun in a violin case? The guy's been watching too many gangster films."
Doyle turned up the volume on the radio.
"Okay, you don't want to talk." Bodie sighed and settled back in the driver's seat. "We're going to have to at some point; need to work out a story for Cowley."
"I don't know," Doyle muttered.
"Okay, sunshine. Leave it till the morning."
Doyle slumped further in his seat and tried to ignore the man next to him.
Mistake. Mistake didn't come close to it. The first mistake had been guessing what Bodie was trying to tell him. If he'd just stayed happily oblivious to that, nothing would have happened. He wouldn't have kissed Bodie. He wouldn't have slept with him. And he wouldn't have enjoyed it so much it terrified him.
He wouldn't have deliberately shot away from Cartwright.
Damn it, he'd nearly let a murderer escape, just because he didn't want to run the risk of hitting Bodie. He thought he'd got over that, back with the Greek job. He'd had not trouble shooting past Bodie in the past - he had enough confidence in his skill. Usually.
He sighed and focused on the countryside speeding past, slowly turning into the expansive suburbs that meant they were approaching London. He had to make a decision.
Bodie couldn't wait to get back to London, back to the familiar sanctuary of his flat. Thankful for the Capri's 3-litre engine, he put his foot down and, finally, pulled up outside Doyle's flat. "Door to door service. Hope you appreciate it."
Doyle didn't say anything as he pulled his bag out of the boot but, halfway to his door, he stopped and turned back. "Fancy a drink?"
"Why the sudden sociable turn? Thought you 'vanted to be alone.'" Bodie's Greta Garbo attempt didn't get even a twitch from Doyle.
"If you don't want to, no worries." He shouldered his bag, turned away.
"I never said that." Bodie jumped out of the car and followed Doyle. "Just didn't think you were feeling like company."
"Don't feel like chattering.
Bodie shrugged. "I can be silent. I'm good at being the strong, silent type." He grinned over at Doyle and sighed at the complete lack of response. "Okay. I'll shut up." He followed Doyle into the darkness of the flat. "Lights?" he prompted when Doyle seemed inclined to leave it dark.
"Don't feel like light."
"Well, I hope you can find the booze in the dark."
"Not looking for booze." Doyle's voice, close behind him, made Bodie jump.
"Didn't know you were there." He said. There was no response. "What are you looking for?" Bodie finally asked, needing to somehow fill the anticipatory silence.
And, somehow, without knowing it, Bodie was expecting the touch of Doyle's lips to his own. Gentle but firm, pressing him back against the wall. Doyle's hands resting on his shoulders, creeping up to cup his face, ruffling the hair at the nape of his neck.
Just for a moment, Bodie promised himself. Just a moment. But the moment extended until it was Doyle who broke the kiss. "Do you really want to make another mistake?" Bodie whispered into the darkness.
"Yes." The answering voice was soft, confident. "Do you?"
Bodie reached out blindly, rested his hands on Doyle's hips. "I haven't made one yet."
A soft outrushing of air as Doyle laughed. "Cocky bugger."
Bodie smiled, suddenly sure that things weren't going horribly wrong after all. "Yep. Now come here."
Doyle's lips closed on his again and he let himself enjoy the feel of his partner's body pressed against him. He kissed the corner of Doyle's mouth, down over the round chin, down to the curve where shoulder met neck, pushing the light t-shirt out of the way. He paused there, enjoying Doyle's reaction to teeth and tongue. "Bed?" he whispered, warm breath smoothing over skin."
Hand gripped by Doyle's invisible presence, Bodie was steered past sofa, coffee table and up the spiral staircase. The blinds in the bedroom were open and street lamps stained the white sheets a lurid orange, turned Doyle into a bizarre sculpture of light and sharp shadows.
Bodie reached out, turned Dole around, puled him into his arms. Smiling, Dole complied. They stood like that, simply holding each other, for a long moment and it was Dole who eventually spoke. "Kit off." The humour in his voice warmed the terse command.
Bodie dropped his hands to pull Doyle's t-shirt out of his jeans, lifted it over his head. Laughing, Doyle shook his hair back out of his eyes and pushed Bodie's sweater up. "If you think I'm wrestling that sodding poloneck off you, you've got another thing coming. Get it off."
Obediently, Bodie pulled it off.
Doyle lowered his head, kissed along Bodie's shoulder. "Gorgeous shoulders." His hands rested at Bodie's waist. "Macklin'd have a fit about this, though." He patted Bodie's burgeoning belly. "Too many takeaways."
"Too much of your cooking. Said this week'd have me back with the sadistic bastard." Bodie should have been offended but he couldn't be bothered.
It really wasn't worth the effort. Not when Doyle's lips were drifting down his body, leaving a trail of tingling nerves. Bodie let his head fall back, muscles suddenly slack. "God, Ray..." Fingers unbuttoning his trousers, hands sliding into the waistband and cupping his buttocks, fingers drifting down.
Bodie swallowed. "Bed. Now."
Doyle stepped back, turned away and threw a mischievous grin over his shoulder. He unfastened his jeans and perched on the edge of the bed to finish removing them. "I'm not planning on staying here alone, you know," Doyle commented as he stretched out.
Bodie knew full well that his own clothes weren't coming off with anywhere near the same grace as Doyle's but, quite frankly, he didn't care. He tripped over his trousers and hopped for a feet before crashing into the bed and tumbling on top of Doyle.
"All the flair and elan of a herd of elephants," Doyle mumbled into his chest.
"Elephants are very intelligent animals," Bodie aid.
"Who cares about intelligence?" Doyle ran his hands down Bodie's back, caressed the curve of muscular buttocks. "Get off me, you oaf."
Reluctantly, Bodie rolled to one side. He reached out, cupped Doyle's cheek. "Look at me." Doyle stared back with eyes made colourless by the erratic lighting. Poets might go on about eyes being the window of the soul but Bodie couldn't see at thing in there that wasn't reflected a hundredfold in the rest of Doyle's body. "Gorgeous," he whispered.
Gently, he kissed Doyle's forehead, down the beaky nose, closed on the overly full lips. With a sigh, Doyle pressed his body against him. Chest against chest, groin against groin. Bodie groaned.
"Like it?" Doyle murmured into his mouth.
"I'm hating every minute."
"Good. You deserve a bit of torture."
Bodie swallowed as Doyle shifted against him. "You're torturing me. Believe me."
Doyle's smile was filled with inexpressible knowledge. "I believe you."
Bodie dropped his head, kissed his way down his partner's body. Explored with taste and texture and scent until he knew every millimetre of flesh, until Doyle was gasping for breath, for words, for thoughts. "I'm not the only one deserving torture," Bodie whispered.
He ran his tongue down the crease of Doyle's hip and was rewarded by the shudder of sensation-racked flesh. Breathed over soft inner thigh and watched already tense muscles become iron.
Took Doyle's cock in his mouth and heard the long, low, guttural moan in response.
Strong, skinny hands clutched his neck, his shoulders, his hair. Never still. Never gentle. And, God, so perfect.
"Stop. " Hoarse voice, hands pushing him away.
Bodie felt the sudden stab of nausea in his guts. "What? " he hissed. "Make a mistake?"
Doyle's face was blank, eyes made huge by the shadows. "You said I could fuck you."
Doyle was fumbling in the bedside cabinet, taking too long, damn it, Bodie couldn't wait, he'd waited to long. But then Doyle was leaning towards him, pressing the tube into his hand. "KY." And, strangely, it was the most erotic thing he'd ever heard.
"Oh, God..." And he was on his stomach, waiting, waiting, waiting. The warmth of Doyle leaning over him, calloused hands running down his back more sensual than any silks and satins and soft skin, the staccato whisper of panting damp on the back of his neck. "Hurry up..." But the words were only in his mind.
And then Doyle sank into him.
Knows what to do now, a corner of Bodie's mind commented but it wasn't heard. Not over the screaming sensation of nerves pleasured into pain, pained into pleasure. Hands gripped him fingers twined into his own, pressure hand and bruising and too soft to feel. And it was too quick, over too soon, not enough time, his body protested as the flash of familiar fire rushed through him.
But still there was the weight of Doyle on top of him, the pressure within him, and it still felt so good, so right, so part of him. Doyle kissing the back of his neck, Doyle's sweat dampening his skin, Doyle's breath mingling with his hair in a desperate search for oxygen, Doyle stiffening, clutching, gasping silently, then collapsing bonelessly, rolling away.
And it was still so comfortable, so right, as Doyle nestled beside him. No aggression, no tension, just partnership. And it was still right when Doyle opened heavy eyes and smiled.
And it only went wrong when Doyle spoke.
"What do we put in the report for Cowley?"
-- THE END --