The harsh January wind cut deeply into his bones. Cold within, cold without, it suited his bleak mood. Bodie watched his breath crystallise in the dim glow of the one light designed to illuminate the pub car park across the street. The pub itself was empty; the plumber refusing to repair the burst water pipe before tomorrow. No amount of money would entice him to dig to find the leak in the cold, night air, so the regulars had gone home or elsewhere to find warmth and refreshment. 'Amazing what a little acid will do, judiciously applied,' Bodie mused to himself. He blew on his finger tips to warm them and shivered as he plunged his hands into his jacket pockets, hoping that the wait wouldn't be much longer.
He'd been standing watch for over an hour, spending every second going over his plan; it was unlikely he'd have another chance if he botched this, and too much depended on it for it to fail. Every last detail had been carefully mapped and plotted, every favour owed--and then some--called in.... Still...there was always random chance; he could only hope his luck would hold, and chance would take the night off. The coloured lights surrounding the pub sign still blazed forth, as the landlord had not bothered to turn them off in his rush out to his girlfriend's for a rare night off.
Coloured lights. Bright, blinking neon, forever locked in memory. The lights drew him back to that night in Amsterdam over twelve years before when he'd stood at a crossroads and made one of the major decisions of his life. Tonight was another such night.
"Come on, Billy-boy, last night to fuck our brains out before we head back to the jungle. Plane leaves tomorrow." Rick, a mate from his last African campaign, encouraged him with a shove towards the brothel up ahead.
Bodie had found himself more enchanted with the neon lights that sparkled in the night than the prostitute in the window selling her wares. He liked civilisation: bars, and people, and lights, and running water--hot and cold--and soft beds, and...and just about everything about it that the jungle didn't have. They'd been back in civilisation for about six weeks, and the money he'd allocated for this trip was starting to run low. It was either dip into his savings or head back to Africa for another campaign. The season was right, the weather should hold, and they could make some headway against the rebels on this next run, maybe even earn a bonus. But deep inside that little voice that had kept him alive through the hell of the last five years told him he'd had enough.
He stared at a garish pink and green sign--in what he assumed was Dutch--as he stopped his forward motion just shy of the brothel. Letting his gaze fall to the pavement, he watched as the reflected neon colours blurred and ran together in a puddle of rain water. He looked back up at the sign and came to the conclusion that his life felt like the wet neon reflection, all muddled and confused. His hand came out, pulled his comrade to a stop and around to face him.
"Not for me, Ricky. I've had enough. Going to catch a ferry home in the morning--"
"Don't let it get to you. We can make good money this next trip."
"Made enough, had enough. Not going back."
"What yer goin' to do then? Be a plumber, push a broom, run a pub? None a that's for you." Ricky gave him a nudge with his shoulder. "Come on, Billy," he nodded at the woman in the window, "Bet they've got something in there to take your mind off it."
"Nah. I'm heading home." Bodie held out his hand, and they said goodbye outside an Amsterdam brothel.
A few years later he heard that his old troop had been ambushed on their next foray into the jungle. Ricky hadn't made it out, and the few who had had been seriously injured. He'd gone back to England and signed up for a spell in the army--he wasn't trained for much else. He'd liked the Paras, and the SAS had been quick to pick up on the skills he'd acquired in Africa and offer him a try. They'd been good years, but the years in CI5 with Cowley and Doyle had been better. 'Yeah, the time spent with Ray had definitely made it the best.'
The coloured lights of the sign ran together as he stared, the moisture in the air making them sparkle and blur in his vision; he remembered the neon glow, the muddy colours--his muddy life. And his little voice was telling him time had come again for a change. Events were pressing in, and he'd been forced to choose--he chose.... He only hoped this choice would pay off as well as the last and that this time he wouldn't be alone to face it.
Bodie thought back on what had led up to this night. Tonight he was throwing the past eight years away on a gamble, a risky one at best, but he owed Doyle, and he owed Cowley, and tonight he hoped to pay both debts.
"Bloody hell, Doyle, you're crazy to let the old man talk you into this. It's too damn risky."
"It's worth the risk. If Peters falls for the bait then we'll have him cold--"
"There's more than that going on. Has to be. And Roger Peters is too rich with too many connections; don't like the feel of this at all."
"The old man--"
"Cowley'd sell his grandmother for the good of queen and country, mate, and you're not as near and dear to him--"
"But it's worth the risk."
Bodie'd lost it then, exploding, "To who? To you? To me? No way, sunshine. If you go down for corruption it won't be him paying the piper--"
"Damn it, Bodie, I've got to--"
"Well, you may, but I don't have to agree with you, and I'm sure as hell not going to back you up. It's suicidal, Ray. If you don't end up dead, you'll end up in the nick for years--" Bodie broke off as the restroom door opened. Their boss had obviously heard part of the conversation from the glare he gave them. He checked first to make sure no one else was in the room.
"Gentlemen," Cowley's harsh voice interrupted, "Doyle, I thought I told you this was to be on a need to know basis." He rebuked his agent firmly. It was obvious that he didn't feel three-seven had a need to know.
"Bodie's my partner." Doyle s voice was petulant, but he didn't back down.
"You know he doesn't stand a chance--" Bodie rounded aggressively on his boss.
"He stands a good chance, three-seven, of accomplishing his task."
"I won't stand--" Bodie spoke loudly, threateningly, to the Controller.
"Aye. Well, as you don't wish to support your partner, I've got a job for you in Germany. That should keep you out of the way until this is over."
They'd exchanged glares and argued further, Bodie finally storming out, furious at both men, to pack and help the German police track down the remaining members of a terrorist group that he and Doyle had broken up in England. He knew their MO and the remaining three members on sight.
That assignment had taken four weeks, but in the end he'd been successful. Two of the terrorists were dead, the third in custody to face trial for murder. But his return home hadn't been to glory or congratulations; he'd come home to find himself in the middle of a nightmare. Ray was in jail, accused of taking a bribe, and Cowley was silent and distant.
He pulled back his sleeve to check his watch. 'Seven-thirty, any time now, gents.' Double checking his RT--not CI5 issue--to make sure it was on and working, he resisted calling his lookout. Couldn't risk anyone picking up a strange transmission. Now, if the team he'd sabotaged with engine trouble had been late enough, and the backup had replaced them, they should be driving into his web within the next quarter of an hour. He'd not get many chances--in fact, this might well be his only one; too many accidents on too many days would arouse suspicion. Bodie thought back to what he'd come home from Germany to find....
Doyle had been placed on suspension, soon to go before the Crown on charges of police corruption--soliciting a bribe. Bodie'd stormed into Cowley's office demanding to know what he was going to do about it and had been incensed when Cowley denied any knowledge of any operation. He'd raged, he'd threatened to testify in his partner's defence, but, in the end, his boss held the upper hand. If Bodie went to his partner's rescue, then he'd either be implicated with him and brought to trial, or he'd be up on perjury charges for lying to the court to try to save his partner. The Controller had covered his tracks too well; after all, Bodie'd never actually heard Cowley admit to the plan to trap Peters by having Doyle take a bribe, he'd only heard that from Doyle.
Furious, Bodie'd threatened to resign, but the Controller's point that he'd have even less power to help his partner as a member of Joe Public had held three-seven hostage. In the end--throwing a bone to his obedient dog--Cowley'd merely stated that Doyle probably wouldn't have to be imprisoned for more than a year to eighteen months before they could make another move on Sir Roger Peters. And, if that failed, Bodie had asked, and been informed that his partner should be out in three years with good behaviour.
'Three years to what?' No one would hire a copper who'd been on the take, and who would believe Ray when he claimed that it had been a set up? If they didn't get Sir Roger and his cronies, then the rest of Doyle's life would be bloody well ruined, a black mark that no amount of good behaviour would erase to let him do the job he loved and was good at.
Bodie'd walked out on the old man as he'd tried to discuss his next assignment. Feeling furious and betrayed, he had gone to his bolt-hole and hung up an old punching bag and pounded it until it fell apart under the force of his anger. Collapsing to the floor, he had vowed that he'd not let his partner spend one minute longer in gaol than necessary. His next stop had been Doyle's flat. He'd dragged him out--knowing that it was likely to be bugged, there was bound to be at least one other agency making sure that one of Cowley's favorites didn't disappear--and he spotted the observation team that had been assigned to make sure he didn't run. The pub was noisy, it would be impossible to overhear them, and he'd spent an hour trying to convince Doyle either to tell the truth or make a run for it.
"Bloody hell, Ray, the old man's not about to bail you out."
"Think I don't know that? He got what he was after--"
"What do you mean he got what he was after? Peters is free as a bird."
"Found out when I did some digging after the fact: the Cow knew there was an inside man in the HS's office who had been selling stuff to interested parties. They just couldn't work out who.
"Traced him selling the information to Peters, so that when Peters found out he was being set up, he went to his boss and pretended to be setting me up. They couldn't get to me in time to stop the deal." Doyle sighed, the stress and fatigue obviously taking its toll. "Cowley was doing his own operation Susie, hadn't even told the HS what he was doing. And the man selling the secrets has turned out to be the Home Secretary's nephew. Even if the Cow had enough to prove it--which he doesn't, two men meeting in a bar is not enough to even bring him in for questioning--without proof he'd still hang me out to dry to save himself. His nephew's a traitor for money; you think he's going to let that come out?"
"Shit, Ray, let 'em go to hang. Tell the truth and be damned. Do you know what they'll do to you in prison?"
"I know, but it's not like I've got much choice. You and I are the only ones who would testify, and all you've got is that I told you that Cowley wanted me to set Peters up. That's hearsay, and even if I was believed, it'd probably only bring the Cow down with me. He didn't have approval from higher up either, so it's just as likely to look like the two of us were in it together."
"They're watching me like a hawk. Surely you couldn't miss--"
"No, I saw both teams. Don't recognise them though. Not ours?"
"No, not ours. Cowley's under a cloud, too. The HS is suspicious, and it's going to be a tight game of chess over the next year to see who comes out on top."
"Could be a hell of a lot longer than that."
"Think I don't know that? Think I relish spending one to three years banged up? But even if the Cow does speak out, I might still be convicted, and he'd be dragged down with me. Keeping him in power is my best chance to clear my name in the long run."
"And in the short one?"
"I knew the risks when I took the job."
They'd argued some more, and, in the end, Bodie had dropped him off at his flat, having reluctantly agreed to keep his distance. No sense in them both going down, and the investigation was looking at him carefully, too. Doyle and he had been partners for eight years; it was felt that he'd probably been in on the deal, too. Dirty by association. He'd picked up a tail the minute he'd landed back in England, and it was still on him, following him on a taxi ride to Heathrow right about now, Bodie mused as he rechecked his watch. Was good to have connections with a man who, from a distance, could pass as your double, especially one who was heading out of the country for a year or two.
The RT beeped, bringing him back to the present. "Papa Bear," he spoke softly into the RT.
"Goldilocks is on his way. You've got five minutes."
"Roger, five minutes. Drop the bar and get lost, Mama Bear. And thanks."
"You're welcome, Papa Bear. Take care and good luck, you're going to need it."
Bodie switched off the RT. He was on his own now; in less than fifteen minutes he'd either have succeeded or be in custody or dead. His preference was either to succeed or be dead, but for Doyle's sake, he'd let them take him. Maybe Cowley could pull a few strings and get the authorities to put them in together. 'Get to watch his back that way at least, maybe keep us both alive.'
Moving out from his hiding place, he threw the caltrops onto the road. This was a risk. Blow one tyre and the guards would just assume a puncture and not be on their guard. Blow two or three and they might radio in for help--that would cut down the time he'd have to get Ray out of the country before road blocks were put in place. Still, if he didn't use enough of the spikes, they might not get a puncture, and he'd have to trigger the knockout gas and risk them crashing at full speed. Bodie ran down the road to his hiding place and grabbed the radio trigger. Now all he had to do was wait. Four months planning finally coming to fruition.
The remand hearing had been swift. Doyle, with no living relatives and the nature of his job, was considered a slight risk; he had nothing but his years of service and untarnished record to say otherwise. The Cow remained silent. The judge, determined to make an example of the CI5 agent, had denied bail.
Bodie had watched and kept an ear to the ground, and he knew CI5's Controller better than most. He'd come to the conclusion that Cowley had decided to sacrifice a knight, Doyle, in an effort to capture the king. There wasn't any proof, but instinct told Bodie that his boss thought the corruption ran higher than the nephew, and that the Cow had known all along that Doyle would get caught. But to the old man it would be worth it to ferret out who had been selling information and weapons to foreign powers and other interested parties.
'Damn him and his triple think. Ray doesn't deserve a year behind bars just to get at the rot. It's not worth his life.' But down deep Bodie knew that, given the choice, Doyle would have still gone on with the op, considering it worth the price. 'Sorry, sunshine, but I'm not going to let you go. Could die in there or go crazy if they keep you in solitary to keep you safe. The boss can manoeuvre all he wants but you're not going to be in prison while he does it.'
Headlights brought him swiftly back to the present. 'A mile away and only one pair. Good, the diversion must be working.' The road wasn't a busy one, and, with the pub closed down for the night, it was practically deserted--fewer than a dozen cars in the hour-and-a-half he'd been waiting, and the man Nelson had hired to be the lookout was to drop a barricade saying the road was closed and redirecting traffic right after the car carrying his partner passed. By the time anyone realised that it was a false diversion, he hoped to be somewhere in France.
The night was bitterly cold and his gloves thin to allow for better manoeuvrability; he blew on his hands one last time. He couldn't afford for them to be less than perfectly flexible. If he had to shoot, he didn't want anyone to die. The headlights, having disappeared briefly behind a gentle rise, came back into view, the drone of the engine now breaking the absolute stillness of the cold bleak night.
As the car sped along, Bodie held his breath, his hand on the remote trigger waiting for the spot where the spikes were placed. The police car passed the spot, and Bodie thought that luck had deserted him, but, at the last minute, a back tyre blew. Sluing to the right, the well trained driver controlled the skid and brought the car to an abrupt stop. Three-seven wasted no time; he hit the remote trigger, and, although he could see nothing in the darkened interior, he counted the seconds for the gas to work. One plod managed to get his door slightly open before he passed out on the cold ground.
Bodie ran swiftly to the car, grabbed each man's gun first, then the handcuff keys to Ray's restraints. He spared only a brief glance back at his partner as he reached over, unlocked the driver's door, and then pulled the driver over onto the passenger seat. He opened the back door and managed to lever the other guard into the back seat alongside his partner. Racing around to the driver's side, he slid behind the wheel and started the engine, driving the car on the wheel rim the hundred yards to the back door of the closed pub. He'd picked the lock earlier so that it was only a matter of minutes to unload both policemen into the back storeroom, strip them of their trousers and shoes, and cuff them to heavy metal storeroom shelves. He threw a couple of blankets around them and turned the heat up in the pub. They might get a little chilly, but they'd be fine until the landlord returned from his girlfriend's house the following morning. Throwing their trousers and shoes into the passenger seat as he got in, he was confident that he had them secured until morning. Even if they woke up and got free, he'd disconnected the phone line, and he doubted that they'd be willing to hike the mile cross country to the nearest house with no shoes and trousers.
He drove the car a quarter of a mile down the road to the lay-by where he'd parked his car, a back-up that couldn't be traced to him and would tomorrow be for sale in a used car showroom with a different set of tyres. Quickly he unlocked Ray's restraints and shifted him from the back of the police car to the back of his car, covering him up carefully with a blanket. He checked his watch. 'Less then twenty minutes. Good,' he congratulated himself, 'The worst is over.'
"Only one more hurdle now, sunshine," he spoke quietly to the sleeping man, "Hope you're not going to be a problem about this."
Doyle had refused to run, giving the excuse at first that he was constantly under surveillance, then, with bail denied, he'd not had a chance. And, with three-seven needing to appear angry with his partner, they'd not had a chance to talk in over three months. Bodie's one fear in all this was that Ray would refuse to go with him, and he'd be forced to leave everything behind and again be on his own. Death didn't scare him, being in jail--as long as he could be there to watch his partner's back--didn't disturb him too much either, but the prospect of being alone again and on his own had cost him several nights sleep. He'd had few real friends in his life, not even a handful, and none that meant as much to him as Doyle. If his partner refused to go.... Bodie pushed the thought back. He'd deal with it in an hour, if and when he had to. Now was not the time.
Pulling his car out onto the verge, he used the branches he'd cut to cover the tracks as best he could and then placed them over the back of the police car. Stepping back and giving it a good look, he was satisfied that it wouldn't be found for several hours, probably not until morning. By that time it wouldn't matter. He drove his car to the place he'd thrown the caltrops down and stopped just long enough to gather them up--at least all that were obvious on the tarmac. 'No sense giving them more clues, letting them run over one while searching.' Getting back in the car, he headed swiftly for a small airstrip not far from the coast.
They made good time, and the radio he kept tuned to the police band made no mention of an escape during the hour it took to get them to the small field that occasionally served as an airstrip for an acquaintance of his. Towards the end of the drive there were a couple of groans from the back seat. Bodie hoped that Doyle would stay out of it until they made it to the plane at least. He didn't want a fight by the side of the road, nor did he want his mate trying to jump out of a moving car.
Pulling up to the barn that doubled as a hanger, Bodie parked, got out, went to the back door of the car, and opened it. Leaning over, he shook his partner.
"Doyle. Come on, Goldilocks, rise and shine."
The unconscious man groaned and tried to roll away from the source of irritation. Finding himself held fast by a hand gripping his shoulder, his eyes slowly opened to see Bodie leaning over him, a worried frown on his face.
Bodie watched the expressions cross Doyle's face. Discomfort, followed by confusion, then the slow dawning of what was happening. He said nothing, but four-five's gaze scanned first Bodie, then the car, and then the little bit that he could see illuminated by the car's headlights.
He glared intensely at his partner before asking, "What's up?"
"What do you think's up, Doyle? We're getting out of here."
"Out of where?"
"The country." Bodie's voice and expression were flat; this was the moment he'd know whether he was on his own again.
"Don't want you to do this. No need to wreck your life--"
"Too late for that, mate. I've already sprung you. I'm leaving, with or without you. Your choice." He backed up, allowing Doyle room to sit up.
Once Doyle was sitting up, it was obvious he was still feeling the effects of the gas. His head dropped forward, and he rubbed it with one hand. It wasn't long before he was looking at Bodie again. "Didn't want you to have to give up everything. Why'd you have to go and--"
"Did you think I could just go on with the job and ignore what might be happening to you? That I could say, yes, Major, you know best, Major, and ignore all that had gone on?"
"Thought you trusted Cowley--"
"I trust him to do what he thinks is best for the country. But, in this case, it's not what's best for you. Breaking you out of gaol isn't going to hurt his op. He can still go on with it; you just won't be in the nick waiting for trial or for your time to run out."
"He needs you, Bodie. Not many of us left."
"Then he should have thought of that before he staked you out for slaughter." The dark-haired man leaned forward and rested his hand on Doyle's shoulder, squeezing gently. "He's got to have known that I wouldn't sit still for this, and if he didn't, then he's not the master of triple think that we think he is. Either way, my time with CI5's over. Going to move on."
"And if I refuse?"
"I'm still going. Be better with you, but I'm not hanging about. Even if it didn't matter to me what he did to you, I'd still be sitting around wondering when the hammer was going to come down on my head. There's a lot of corruption that needs weeding out, and he's running out of time. That leg plays him up, and you're bound to have noticed that he's not looking too good." When Doyle said nothing he prodded, "Well?"
"Yeah. I noticed. So?"
"So he's trying to do as much as he can. Fast. But you know something, mate?" Ray looked up, shaking his head. "I've discovered I like living, and I like being free. So I'm getting out now, while I can. And I want you to come with me. How 'bout it, sunshine?"
They stared long and hard at each other before Ray finally nodded. He stood up slowly, the effects of the gas gradually dissipating. Shuddering a bit and then stretching, Doyle collected himself. Seeing that his partner was capable of managing on his own, Bodie moved to step away, but suddenly found himself wrapped in two very strong arms that pulled them close together. Without thought, he wrapped his arms around his partner and hung on with all his strength. It was several minutes later before he noticed the shaking. Took him a bit longer to decide which one of them was responsible; he knew he wasn't exactly as calm as he appeared.
Giving another squeeze, he felt curls brush his lips as he asked, "You okay, Ray?"
Doyle nodded, but his grip didn't lessen. That was just fine as far as Bodie was concerned; after four months of this hell--not knowing what was happening to his partner, not being able to touch him--having Ray back where he could hold him close was worth a little delay. He held on tight and ran his hands up and down the smaller man's back, as he cast his mind back to their first close embrace.
He remembered driving, fast and recklessly, speeding through Piccadilly, trying to lose Doyle, who was following him closely in the gold Capri. It made him wish that he'd taken Doyle's car rather than Murphy's, then Ray wouldn't have been able to follow him. The only other CI5 car being Cowley's and Doyle wasn't that much of a pillock, no matter how angry at his partner.
Slamming on the brakes at a red light, he thought about getting out, going back and telling his partner to get lost, but he knew that would have about as much effect as a cup of water on a dessert. Doyle could stick like glue when determined, and tonight he was determined.
Bright neon signs distracted his attention briefly, and he wondered why he'd ever left Africa. He'd allowed their glare to seduce him back from the jungle years before; now he wondered if it hadn't been a mistake. At least out there you knew you couldn't trust the man next to you; he was in it for the money, not patriotism or friendship or all the other false coins that passed for reasons to risk life and limb for god and country...and Cowley, bloody Cowley. A honk from the car behind Doyle brought Bodie back to the moment, and off he sped again.
He'd ended up at the CI5 gym, knowing that he had to pound the anger out of his system or he'd hurt someone--most probably his partner--the way he was feeling now. Doyle followed him into the building but didn't speak. Unlocking his locker, he changed quickly into his track suit and pulled out boxing gloves; knowing that in his present mood if he attacked the punching bag with only tape on his hands they'd be raw and bloody by the time he was done. Bodie wasn't so far gone that he didn't prefer to minimise the hurt where possible. He held the gloves out for Ray to help him pull them on and lace them up. The only words exchanged were when he told him to lace them tighter.
It was late--well after ten--and the last of the agents using the gym were leaving as Bodie and Doyle entered the workout area. Their soft footfalls echoed in the vast empty room. Ray went over to the punching bag and held on; Bodie needed no other encouragement. He began to beat the shit out of it.
He pounded it over and over, again and again, seeing first Keller's face, then Nairn's, and finally Sheila's. Was she the reason Jimmy had turned? Or was it that he had been too long out on his own, crawling in the mud that he couldn't wash the stink off? Had Major Nairn misjudged the pressure his man was under? Had Bodie's leaving him left Jimmy open to feeling abandoned and resentful? Or had the potential for Jimmy Keller to go bad always been there and Sheila and the money only the final straw. Why? Why? Why? Couldn't he think with something besides his balls?
Questions with no answers...answers but no questions...and above all the gut wrenching fear that Doyle had figured it out, that he now knew what had once been between the two SAS men. He'd watched Ray watching him and of course Jimmy couldn't leave it alone. Hints that Doyle would have been a moron not to see and though there were many things Bodie could fault his partner on, being slow on the uptake wasn't one of them. Doyle knew, but so far had said nothing. 'And he's still here, guess that should count for something. But will it last?' A cold hand squeezed his heart. Out of all of this he did not want to lose Ray Doyle. 'Bastards! Bloody, damn, fucking bastards!' And still he pounded and still the anger overwhelmed him.
Finally, nothing left to give, he collapsed against the bag. He was a bit dizzy, weak, worn out, and still so wound up he wanted to scream and just keep on screaming. Leaning against the bag, he brought his fist up beside his head and pounded it again against the bag. Arms came around him from behind, and a hand rested on his pummelling fist, stilling it.
"Easy, take it easy. You're ready to drop now," Doyle's voice spoke softly into his ear, trying to calm him.
Bodie tried to push back and push Doyle off, but found himself too feeble to do so. Then he tried to speak, but found no words to say. He ached physically and mentally; his soul hurt; he mourned a love long dead and an old lover now martyred on the altar of greed.
His voice broke as he whispered, "Why, Doyle? Why? Damn him...damn them!"
"Not your fault. Can't hold yourself responsible for him going bad." By now Doyle's strength was what was holding him up.
"Know that.... But...." His voice faded off and his fist pounded again, twice. Anger, hurt, disillusionment.... They were supposed to be the good guys, yet Keller had calmly killed an unarmed man to get his greedy hands on half a million pounds. But in the end Jimmy had saved Bodie and Bodie didn't know which he found harder to live with: that he'd turned or that in the end he'd saved him. So easy to hate for betrayal; so hard to hate the man who'd saved his life, yet again. Not black and white but only shades of grey. 'Cold blooded bastard, just like in the jungle. But why save me? Why care?'
Bodie slowly became aware of Ray's breath on his neck, close, too close. He felt his body responding, and, knowing release was what he needed, yet afraid of what Doyle would do should he discover the effect he was having on his partner, Bodie again tried to push him off. "Come on, Doyle, let me go."
"Sorry, sunshine, not this time," soft words whispered into his ear, then lips, teeth, teasing his lobe, soft tongue brushing just the tip. "Wanted this a long time, but thought you wouldn't be interested. Now I know different, you're not getting away from me." Bodie groaned, and let his head fall back onto Doyle's shoulder; he needed this...desperately. Needed the mindless minutes of seduction and orgasm, the tension release, the forgetting that they would provide. And the fact that it was Ray made it all the sweeter. So different from Jimmy--shorter, gentler, stronger bonds of trust between them. Of all men Doyle would never betray him, in his arms Bodie could be at peace.
Ray's hands moved around his body, shoving the front of his t-shirt up, fingers pinching his nipples, lips nipping at his neck, tongue gently following to lap where teeth had bitten. Then his hands flowed down, pulling the tie loose and pushing the track suit bottoms and jock strap down and away from Bodie's swiftly rising erection. That done, one hand moved back up to tease his nipple, the other hand left Bodie to undo his own belt, and run his zip down, then Doyle's hand came back, firmly grasping his partner's penis and pulling Bodie back hard against his body. Bodie wanted to respond, to drive his partner as wild as he was being driven, he cursed the presence of the boxing gloves--it was worse than bloody handcuffs for restricting his participation.
He felt Ray's erection shove against his arse. His partner's knees bent slightly then straightened, and Bodie felt the hard cock stroke the crack of his arse. Up and down his partner moved with his body, then his hand began the same rhythm on his cock. The other hand gave one final pinch to a nipple, then moved down to rub and roll Bodie's balls and inner thighs. Bodie leaned back into the embrace and began to buck his hips back and forth, counterpoint to his partner's melody.
Worn out, exhausted and aching from everything, it took Bodie several minutes to reach orgasm, time an exquisite torture as the tension built in his groin and his mind finally blanked. He moaned his release and felt Ray bite hard on his shoulder as warm liquid covered his arse; Bodie's seed spilled to the floor. No longer able to remain upright, he collapsed to the floor, his eyes closing in exhaustion.
He'd only planned to rest for a bit and was startled to be awakened by Doyle almost three hours later.
"Come on, Bodie. Time to go find a bed."
He found his track suit had been pulled back into place to cover his body and keep him warm, and Ray was again dressed. Checking his watch, he asked, "Why didn't you wake me before now?"
"You needed the sleep, but let's spend the rest of the night in bed."
"I'm not leaving you alone, so forget it." They shared a glare, but in the end Bodie looked away, giving in to his partner. He didn't want to be alone anyway.
"Well, help me out of these bloody gloves. You tied 'em too tight."
"'S what you wanted." Another glare exchanged, then they broke into slight smiles. Doyle untied the boxing gloves then pulled them off, he stood and reached down, helping Bodie up.
Bodie cursed himself for being an idiot. Every muscle in his body ached from the work out and his earlier battles, he could barely move.
"Let's go back to my place. Need a hot soak, and you don't have a bath." Ray nodded as he picked up his partner's gloves and towel, and they headed back to the locker room to get their things.
After a soak and a brief rub down, Bodie spent the rest of the night sleeping in his partner's arms. After that, every couple of months or so, when things got too bad or hard to take, one or the other would initiate sex, and they'd spend a night or, on occasion, a weekend doing nothing but bringing each other off and sleeping. Best stress relief Bodie'd ever found.
Another squeeze from his partner brought Bodie's reminiscing to an end; knowing they shouldn't delay any longer, he pulled gently away so that their hands were holding each other's waists.
"Hope this means you're coming with me?"
"Yeah. I'm coming. Don't know how we'll live, but together we can survive."
Bodie smiled back, "Come on, put on these gloves," he handed Ray a pair made of thin black leather, "Then help me get the stuff loaded into the plane, and I'll tell you all about it. Should be able to do more than survive."
Unlocking the car boot, they grabbed the luggage and got the plane ready for takeoff.
They'd been airborne for over ten minutes when Ray cleared his throat for the third time in as many minutes but said nothing.
Exasperated, Bodie said, "For pity's sake, Doyle, ask it and be done with it. Couldn't be any worse than the suspense."
"'S not that. Can't decide what I want to know more--"
"You mean, where we're going, how we're going to survive, or how I got you out?"
"Okay. Short version of how I got you out," Bodie said. "They were watching me, but after a couple of months they got sloppy. Not to mention they kept their distance--"
"Why's that got anything to do with it?" Doyle interrupted.
"You going to let me tell this, or you going to interrupt? Be faster if you don't." Ray glared but nodded for him to go on.
Bodie shot him a big smile and double checked his course before continuing, "Remember about nine months ago when several grasses kept saying that they'd seen me around at some of the rougher pubs?"
"Yeah. Thought you were hiding something from me until Frazer swore he'd seen you at the Standing Cow the week we were up in Manchester."
"Wasn't too thrilled with the idea myself. So I did some checking; seems there's an oil rigger who looks like me. Wouldn't fool you or anyone who knows me close up, but from a distance, I'd swear it was me." Bodie paused to adjust the course; the strong cross wind meant that he had to watch the course and the VOR closely. They couldn't afford to miss their rendezvous.
He continued, "When I decided that I was going to have to get you out, and we'd need to run, I had Nelson look him up and hire him. So we'd switch off in my flat at nights, and I'd sneak out the cellar door and do what I needed to. He's off to another platform job right now. My tail is going to follow him to Amsterdam as me, and then I'm just going to disappear."
"Why would you be going to Amsterdam? The Cow's going to know something's up."
"Mr. Cowley and I have not been getting along well since this whole thing started. I let it blow up this afternoon and resigned--"
"Going to make you work off your notice."
"He has to find me first--"
Ray conceded his point, "All right, assuming we get well away, how'd you do it?"
"Planted a gas canister in all the transport cars, with a remote trigger--"
"Not easy to find--"
"Course not. Why the hell you think it took me so long to make my move? Wanted everything to go without a hitch, and for that I had to wait for the proper supplies and opportunities. Now, you going to let me tell this my way, or do you want to question me and see if you can find it all out that way?"
"Sod. Go ahead," Ray waved one hand to emphasis his words.
"Sod yourself. Anyway, before I was so rudely interrupted," Bodie said haughtily before continuing, "I got the supplies I needed at night from my old merc contacts while Jacob, that's the bloke who looks like me, took my place."
"What about call outs?"
"Kept my RT with me and answered it. Jacob let the machine get the phone if it rang. You know central, try the RT first most of the time."
"Yeah, well, without a partner and the strain between me an' Cowley, he didn't choose to call me out much. Happened only four or five times in the last three months."
"Cor. If I'd known that, I'd have been a lot sarkier."
"Wouldn't have worked. You had me for backup, sunshine. I was on my own. Threw a fit at even the suggestion that I be re-teamed."
"That worked?" Ray was doubtful. In his experience, shouting did nothing but put the Cow's back up.
"Made him think I was a bomb ready to go off. Was afraid I'd do something stupid and bring everything down around his ears."
"And would you?"
"One way or another, I was going to get you out. Another partner would have got in the way. So I made sure I didn't get one. No partner, not as many high risk call outs."
Ray nodded to concede Bodie's point. Bodie continued with his explanation.
"I didn't need all that much equipment. Stun grenades and remote triggers, a few traffic barricades to reroute any other cars; had to take some time to watch them transporting prisoners. Don't always go the same way, you know?"
"Yeah, wondered about that. Think one of the guards must have a bird he visited, cause his mate would drop him off and take me back to the nick. S'pose he must have picked him up on the way back."
Bodie went on to describe the escape in detail. Only one thing seemed to bother his partner.
"Closed down a whole pub for my sake. 'S downright cruel, that is."
"Yeah, well it was a small one, out of the way, not too much traffic on Tuesdays anyway. Local farmer's meeting or something."
"'S all right then. Wouldn't want anyone to suffer too much."
"You're all heart, you are, Doyle."
One thing still concerned his partner, "Where'd you get the dosh for all this? And for us to live on? Can't have been cheap."
"Investments--my merc money. They did well."
"Never knew you were into stocks."
"'m not. Bought stamps and diamonds. South Africa has lots of diamond opportunities if you know where to look. Easy to move, easy to sell, not easy to trace, and prices have been going up. Actually, the stamps did better than I realised; only had to sell one to finance this whole op."
"Didn't know you were rich."
"Didn't realise it myself until I contacted the dealer that I'd worked with. His advice back then was top notch. Several of the stamps I bought are now worth over ten times what I paid for them twelve to fifteen years ago. One was worth fifty times." At his mate's raised eyebrow he went on to explain, "When I bought it there were still a lot on the market. I got it at a good price from a bloke who needed fast cash, no questions asked. Since then there was a fire in a shop that specialised in this time period which destroyed several of the stamps and suddenly mine's a lot more valuable. So money's not likely to be a problem for a bit. Not planning on living high, I hope."
"Nah, just living free'll suit me fine," Ray smiled over at his partner. "So, where are we going?"
"Contacted an old mate in Canada, Paul Anderson. He's the head of the local RCMP office in a small city out in the western provinces which is growing pretty fast. Going to hire us as mounties." Bodie grinned at Ray's shock.
"We'll never pass the background checks," Ray was emphatic. "We'd be extradited back to England the minute they run our prints."
"Not to worry. Not only supplies that held me up. Cowley kept me in records a lot of the time, and I made a few connections. All of our files have had the fingerprint records altered. Even managed to do yours at the Met. That was the toughest. You came and went before the new computerisation, so I had to find an excuse to go down there myself and replace your prints with a new set--"
"That belong to who?"
"A dead criminal. Mine too. Spent a week running all the data bases to make sure that no fingerprint records were left. Weren't a whole lot to replace. Can thank Cowley and his desire for us not to be easily identifiable. And without prints to match, they can't prove that it's us. Could just be two blokes that resemble us--"
"And if we ever want to go back?"
"Bridges burned, sunshine. This is a one way ride. Cowley might vouch for us, but that's several years down the road; this game he's playing's bloody risky. Lot of people in power are nervous and your escape's only going to make things worse for a good bit. He's a crafty old buzzard; he'll watch and wait and bide his time. Get them in the end, but it's going to take years, just like getting Willis did." Bodie's voice held grim satisfaction as he remembered the fate of the man who'd tried to frame him, and whom he held responsible for an old love's death. "With you out of the way, no pressure on him to force his hand."
"And no one to support him with the both of us gone."
"Shouldn't have chosen you for this op if he wanted me to hang about."
They shared a determined look, then Ray encouraged, "So, Canada? Going to be cold."
"Can't have everything. It was either that or a sheep ranch in New Zealand. Thought you'd prefer staying in law enforcement."
"Thought right. But what about you?"
"You don't seriously think I'd prefer the sheep do you?"
"Good for cold nights--"
"Got you for that, curly locks. Well, when they grow back--"
"What do you mean when they grow back," Doyle ran a quick hand through his hair to make sure nothing had been done while he was out.
"Going to have to cut them--"
"Not my hair--"
"If I can do this to mine--"
"Do what? Cover it with a cap, nothing major about that."
Bodie flicked on the cockpit light and pulled his cap off, glaring hard at his partner as he did so, "Not one sodding word, Doyle, or I dump you out, and you can swim the rest of the way across the Channel."
Ray flicked the light off and turned to look straight ahead, sniggering under his breath, but he said nothing. Bodie had bleached his hair, then dyed it; it was now a sandy blond, and, in Doyle's opinion, looked awful on him. But then he liked Bodie as he was, didn't want him to change.
"Oy, Doyle, snap out of it. Hold this heading while I get this flipping cap back on and check the maps. We should be landing soon."
He coughed a bit, but finally felt enough in control to ask, "I assume we're flying below radar?" Bodie's look said you've got to be kidding. "Where are we landing?"
"Landing strip just outside Le Bourget. Got a flight school there so one more plane landing at night isn't going to be noticed. Long as we make it before midnight, and that shouldn't be a problem."
"Then? We flying on our own passports?"
"Nope. Biggest part of the funds went to have a forger ready to snap our pictures and create the false identities to go with the false records I put in the databases. Teach Cowley to have me inputting old files for weeks on end."
"Weeks? You do anything else to piss him off?"
"No, being on edge was enough. And I was under a cloud 'cause of you when I first got back. I didn't protest the assignment much because it gave me a chance to snoop through the records; putting in old non-classified files was regarded as harmless. But hanging around there allowed me access to borrow a few passwords from other clerks. Then, when one was sick or off for a bit, I'd log on under their ID and look round for someone with little hard background who'd died. Took awhile, but I found a couple of blokes enough like us to pass. My briefcase has all the background for us to learn. You're Steven R. Bennett; the R is not on the birth certificate, but added in the records now and stands for Raymond. I'm Philip W. Smithers; the W on the birth certificate stands for Wilfred--a family name--but I've changed it to William. My mate, Anderson, who's going to give us the job, is used to calling me Billy, so I reckoned that would work."
Ray resisted teasing Bodie about Wilfred, for now, but he noted it for future use. "So, Anderson knows about us?"
"Yeah. Had to tell him the whole thing, but he knows me and I trust him. We were pretty good mates; I saved his life on a couple of occasions and helped him get out of Africa. He'll back us up. Right now, he's arranging false records for us in Canada for the last five years--"
"Big risk for a lawman to take."
"Not really--he contacted an old mate who's doing all the work. If we ever get caught, he'll look like he was fooled with the rest. The province and city government finally raised his budget so that he could hire ten new mounties. Did that about five months ago, but he's been taking his time filling the positions, and he's lost a couple of men, so we go in, interview with our job records--created a whole background for us when I was changing your prints over at the Met, and for the last five years we've been into freelance security, very hush hush--and gives us the jobs. He's happy to get us. Not too often you get someone with CI5 type experience out there. We are, by the way, naturalised Canadian citizens and have been for three years. Biggest problem is that we're going to have to know our new pasts inside and out. I put a lot of our CI5 experiences into them. Should make it a bit easier to keep straight that way."
"Not too hard for me--"
"Don't remind me; your ability to memorize useless junk always amazes me. I'll just work on being the strong, silent type; let you do all the talking."
"Do that anyway. Not much change there, mate," Ray leaned over and nudged him with his elbow. Bodie nudged back. The contact felt good. "How long 'til we land"
"Five, ten minutes; coast should be coming up shortly." They fell silent, each to his own thoughts.
They landed, taxied off the runway towards a set of headlights.
Ray hopped out first followed by Bodie. A voice from behind the head-lights spoke, "Right on time, Billy-boy, right on time." A tall, broad man with an Aussie accent walked towards them.
Close up, Doyle realised that he must be six-four or six-five. 'Billy-boy?' Ray chuckled to himself; later he was going to enjoy taking the piss out of his mate.
Bodie spoke, "I'm always on time when it counts. Sean, meet my partner, Ray Doyle. Doyle, an old merc commander of mine, Sean Patrick MacKenzie. And no jokes about the name--"
"Seem to remember you hated yours just as much, Billy."
"Yeah, well it's Bodie now--"
"Not for long." Sean nodded towards the plane. "Let's get your stuff loaded into the car, the plane will be returned by morning."
"Best not ask questions like that, my friend; there are some answers it's better not to have. You did keep your gloves on the whole trip?" He nodded down at their hands.
"Haven't taken mine off since I my apartment this afternoon. And Doyle put a pair on when we met up," Bodie said.
Bodie hadn't filled Sean in on the details of why he and Doyle were running. His old commander was of the school the less you knew the better, and he preferred to know only the minimum necessary to get the job done. He owed a debt, and he was paying it off and making money to boot--that made the why irrelevant as far as he was concerned. This attitude suited Bodie to a T.
"If this is all, let's go. Need to get you to the house and ready for your photos--everything else is all set but that. After that, it'll take the man I hired about an hour-and-a-half, and you can be on your way. Should be able to reach Orly well before your flight. Said you needed to be there by nine?"
"Yep. Nine should do it, no problem." Bodie ignored the question in Sean's voice. The fewer people who knew where they were headed, the better, and keeping the exact flight time a secret would make it harder for anyone to trace them.
Sean shook his head and smiled; Billy always had been a closed mouth SOB. He drove them to a hotel on the outskirts of Le Havre. It wasn't one of the better areas.
Bodie looked at the motel; dump was too nice a word. A neon sign proclaimed its name, but half of the letters were burned out. The harsh, white glare of the remaining letters was muted by dirt. A couple of men were lying unconscious in a doorway just one door down, drink or drugs leaving them oblivious to the rest of the world. When they exited the car, the smell of urine and rubbish pervaded. The hum and crackle of the poorly wired sign could be heard along with the noise of cars passing by; somewhere the sounds of a couple fucking could be heard. At least, Bodie assumed that was what all the moans and groans were. The 'come on lover,' said in harsh French added to this impression.
"Nice digs," Ray observed.
"Everyone here minds his own business; they don't ask questions as long as no dead bodies turn up, there's minimal damage to the room, and the banging against the wall isn't too loud. Most of these rooms rent two and three times a night. Got the feeling you preferred to be less conspicuous."
"Just what we want," Bodie spoke before his partner could say more. "Come on, Ray. We'll leave the rest of the stuff in the car. Got all we need in this bag," Bodie said as he slammed down the boot and made sure it was secure.
"My man's a five minute drive away, and he's expecting me in about an hour; you going to be ready in time?" Sean asked as he unlocked the door to a ground floor room. "Got two rooms, this one and the one next door. Connecting door in-between. Just in case...." He entered the dark room while Bodie and Ray held back in the doorway. "There," he said as he turned on a lamp. "The light switch by the door doesn't work; hope this'll give you enough light to work. Even the lamp in the other room doesn't work. Only light's a forty watt bulb in the bog."
"No problem. I'm all set; only got to cut Doyle's locks here, and he's ready, too." Bodie grabbed the one rickety chair in the room and instructed, "Take off your jacket and sit. Going to have to give you a short back and sides, mate."
Ray glared but followed orders, asking, "Going to give me a dye job, too?"
"Like to, but we don't have time. Hopefully, the cut will be enough. Your hair's sun bleached, so cutting it should make it look a good bit darker."
"Somebody going to be looking for you?" Sean obviously wanted to know what kind of trouble he could expect.
"Shouldn't be. That's why we're pushing off so fast. If anybody's looking, it'll be in England first."
"Going to my room for a slash. Quicker you get his hair cut, the quicker I'm out of here." Sean went through the connecting door, leaving them alone for a few minutes.
"So he doesn't know about me? Or where we're going?"
"Nope. That way he can't tell anyone--"
"And if my picture's spread across the morning papers?"
"Won't be. Everyone involved has been keeping your case quiet. They might put an all stations out for you, but they won't put it in the press. You're still CI5 until convicted and therefore protected by a D-Notice. And, since what you've been accused of doesn't involve violence, Cowley'll hold 'em to that. Can't afford the scandal." Bodie began to vigorously brush Ray's hair and then took out a pair of scissors.
Ray cringed and asked, "You do know what you're doing, don't you?"
"Trust me, sunshine. Been seeing a hair stylist for the last couple of months. Who do you think taught me enough to do my hair?"
"That's not a recommendation--"
"Yeah, I'm not all that fond of the colour meself, but it changes my looks enough that not many are going to recognise me at first gander."
Bodie still had his cap on, but Doyle, remembering the glimpse he'd had in the plane, had to agree.
"Even bleached your eyebrows too, I see. We going to have to stay like this?"
"Once we land in Montreal, I'll buy the supplies I need to get back to my old self. You, sunshine, are going to have to wait 'til it grows back out. Hang on a minute, that reminds me...." Bodie's voice trailed off, and Doyle felt him brushing his hair back down. "Let's see, over here by this wall should do." He pulled his partner up and had him stand with his back to a blank, off-white wall. Grabbing up the camera, he snapped a picture.
"What's that for? Thought we were going to change my hair?" Ray rubbed his eyes, seeing spots before them.
"That's for the new Canadian passports we're going to apply for. I assume you don't want to keep your hair short?"
"Don't know. Never thought about it. Might."
"Well, either way we'll have a choice of looks for you, just in case your disappearance raises more of a stink than I'm expecting. Okay, this one looks good." Bodie was watching the Polaroid develop. "Time to get shorn." He patted the chair in front of him, and Doyle grimaced, but walked over and sat down.
Bodie kept Ray's back to the mirror while he cut. He'd spent several dates practising on old, cheap wigs until he thought he'd got a pretty good idea how to cut hair. Mona, his hairdresser girlfriend, had said he was a natural--wasn't going to give that bit of info to his partner though. Whether he gave Doyle a good cut or botched it royally, it didn't matter; the disguise would work, and his partner would be taking the piss out of him over it for months either way. This was one match he knew he'd never win. It was either going to be 'Mister Bodie' with a swish or 'clumsy handed sod', but as he was going to have to look at Raymond for the next few months, he was doing his best. 'Wasn't quite like cutting a wig though.'
He stepped back to look and, deciding he was done, said, "Take a look, mate. Your own mum would have to take a second glance."
Ray stood and turned, a bit shocked by what he saw. He'd not had his hair this short since he was a kid and crew cuts were the rage, and that was fifteen, twenty years ago. Turning his head left, then right, he couldn't decide if he liked it.
"Well?" Bodie was impatient.
"Course it's not you. S'whole idea."
"Makes me look, older, more respectable, serious. Don't think it's attractive, do you?" He turned to look at Bodie, a question in his gaze, his hands unconsciously running through it.
"Makes you look ruddy gorgeous, and you know it. Makes your eyes look even greener now." Bodie turned back to his bag before he said something he'd regret. Too much of that and his partner might just catch on to the main reason he couldn't stand the thought of leaving him in prison. "Got some contact lenses here to change your eye colour. Going to have blue eyes for the flight."
"What about you?"
"I'm going to have brown. Let's get them in so that Sean can snap our pictures for the passports."
They turned to the mirror and carefully inserted the contacts.
"Bloody hell, Bodie, can't stand these for hours."
"Give your eyes time to adjust. If they're still bothering you after we take off, you can go to the bog and take 'em out, then put 'em back in before we land to go through immigration." Bodie went to the connecting door and knocked. "We're all set, Sean. Better take these photos and get going."
"'Bout time." He took one look at Bodie and Ray and stopped. "Billy-boy, don't know what kind of trouble you're in, but it must be a shit load to do that to your hair," he nodded at the dark blond head. "Your mate, on the other hand, looks quite nice. Put him in some better clothes and a nice Saville Row overcoat and he'd pass for a businessman." Picking up the camera, he motioned Doyle back to the place he'd been. "Okay, look off that way a bit. Good." He pulled out the picture and then motioned to Bodie, "Your turn. Don't glare at me; try to look pleasant. Bloody hell, Bodie if you aren't going to look pleasant, at least try to look a little less like a thug."
Bodie worked at schooling his face to neutral, but the pat on the arse that Sean had given Doyle as he passed did not leave him in a happy mood. He continued to glare as Sean watched the pictures develop.
"Well, you still look like Jack the Ripper's first cousin, but it'll have to do. Got the rest of the money?" Bodie reached into his pocket and handed him a well stuffed envelope. It looked like quite a lot to his partner.
Sean tossed it gently in his hand a couple of times before putting it in his inside jacket pocket. "All right, this'll take an hour, maybe two; you aren't planning on going anywhere are you?"
"Not going to budge. We've got two hours if he needs it to get them right."
"Don't worry; he's the best and knows how to keep his mouth shut." He headed out of the door, leaving Doyle and Bodie alone together for the first time in months, and with nothing to do.
Doyle went over to the mirror and popped the contact lenses out, putting them carefully in their container, "I'll put 'em back before we get to the airport."
"S'all right, going to take mine out, too. Not used to them; they're a bit uncomfortable." Bodie leaned on the dresser and turned to look at his friend, who, having finished removing the contacts, had taken refuge on the bed. "How're you doing, Ray?"
"Holding up. You think we can pull this off?"
"Taken care of the hard part--getting you out of custody and out of the country was the worst of it. This--as long as we're careful--shouldn't be too bad."
"What did you pack me? Clothes?"
"Only a few. Just enough to do us a week or so." Bodie looked away from Doyle and towards the curtained window. "Sent a couple of boxes for each of us on to my mate in Canada--via another acquaintance, of course. Suitcases contain memories, mostly. Photo albums, couple of special books your mum gave you, your dad's police medal. Stuff you can't replace--" he heard a gasp from the bed and stopped.
Turning back to look at his mate, he saw Ray rub his hands across his eyes. "Ah, sunshine, don't. It'll be okay--"
"Won't ever be okay, but it'll do, as long as you're here with me."
"I'm here," the voice was soft, barely a whisper, but the bruised look in his partner's eyes was one Bodie couldn't resist. Two steps took him to the bed; he sat down and pulled his mate into his arms.
Ray grabbed him and held on tight. The world had gone to hell around him, but somehow having Bodie there made it all right. They held tight for several minutes, alternately squeezing and then patting. Somewhere in the desperate clutch for comfort, the touches changed, no longer offering just reassurance, but arousal as well. Neither was sure later who realised it first, or who made the first move, but Ray leaned back, and Bodie followed him down to stretch out on the bed. Ray nuzzled his partner's neck while he felt his friend nipping at his ear lobe. He groaned; it was soon echoed by Bodie, and it seemed only natural to turn and tilt their heads just a bit so that their lips could meet.
The kiss was gentle at first, only a touching of lips, then tongues emerged to do a bit of exploring. Ray sighed as Bodie's penetrated into his mouth. Their bodies began to rub gently and brush. Bodie's tongue withdrew; Ray's followed it into the haven of his lover's mouth.
"Too many clothes, love. Want to touch you, see you, feel you--" Ray's voice pleaded.
Bodie broke the kiss and pulled back to look, "Are you sure? Thought you said after the last time, no more."
Ray gave his mate a shake, "You think I meant that?"
"If not, why--?"
"Because it was starting to hurt too bloody much to spend one weekend in bed making love to you, and then the next you'd go off with some bird. Was tired of being a relief valve."
Bodie sat up, angry, whether at himself or Doyle he couldn't decide. "You were always more than that. You think after all I've seen that I'd let just anyone fuck me? Took me damn near a year to let you have my arse.... You have any idea how hard that first time was for me?"
"Thought so at the time. But then along came Julia or Kathy or Susan or a dozen others--"
"Not like you've got room to talk--"
"Self defence. Couldn't let you think--"
"Well, neither could I!" Bodie's voice rose, anger, frustration, defence all merged together.
"All right, then. This is it. Us. No one else. If you don't want that, then tell me now--"
"Oh, I want, Ray, I want.... I'll always want." There was no more time for talking as lips met and the bargain was sealed.
Slowly, clothes came off, first shirts, then belts unbuckled and zips undone. Bodie was the first to reach in to fondle his partner's cock through his pants. He broke off their kiss and began to work his lips down Ray's body, pausing to nip and suck nipples to aroused peaks. He moved farther down, kissing and touching his lover's belly, then on down to kiss Ray's cock and was brought up short. Standard prison issue, white pants covered Ray instead of the colourful pairs that he favoured. Anger ambushed Bodie; he wanted to violently rip the stupid things off, but restrained himself--he wouldn't risk hurting his lover. Sitting up, he quickly removed shoes, socks, pulled the dress trousers that Doyle had worn for court down, and then pulled him free of the pants. 'No more!' He silently vowed, 'No more prison and no more separation; from now on, it's together.' He threw the pants across the room, making a mental note to make sure they were disposed of far away from where they might give them away.
Kneeling between Ray's spread legs, he paused to study the body sprawled before him. He stroked gently over one thigh, tracing with one finger the faint scar left from the Russian's gun. Leaning slightly forward, he used his fingers to trace the scars on his partner's chest. These not so faint, their memory still a deep soul ache; slowly, the emotions he'd kept buried surfaced. Words would not come--they'd never been easy for him, not when it mattered, and nothing mattered more than this--so he let the gentleness of his hands and the tenderness of his looks communicate to his partner how much he cared. Bodie looked up, pain in his eyes for all he could not say; Ray understood.
"It's okay, sunshine, love you, too." Ray reached up and gently stroked his lover's cheek. "'Bout time you got the rest of those off, don'tcha think?" He nodded towards Bodie's remaining clothes. Bodie shifted so he could sit to remove his socks, trousers, and finally pants. He glanced up as he slipped the latter off to see love shining out of his partner's face. Bodie was startled; he'd never seen Doyle look at him that way before.
Ray spoke before he could say anything. "Wanted you a long time, but Cowley laid down the law when he paired me with you. Said he knew I'd experimented, but that if he caught me playing round with you, we'd be split. Told him it wouldn't be a problem, big and butch wasn't my type. By the time I realised you were just what I wanted, the partnership meant too much for me to risk it. He watched us, you know, for the first couple of years? Had to bide my time."
"What made you...that night...at the gym?"
"You were hurting so much. And until Keller opened his mouth didn't think you'd be interested. Then him betraying you like that--"
"Wasn't just me he betrayed and he saved me, too."
"Yeah, I know. Owe him for that. Never forget.... " Ray brought the subject back to the original question. "You took off and I had to follow you. Could tell how much what he'd become hurt you.... Was afraid if you got time on your own to think that you just might decide that you couldn't trust anybody."
"Always trusted you, sunshine, even then."
"Well, I wasn't 'bout to risk it. Wasn't going to let you go off by yourself. Then at the gym. You kept punching that flippin' bag 'til you could barely stand and then came back for more." Ray reached out and took his lover's hand, needing the contact to ground him in the present and keep the past at a distance. "First I was only going to hold you, support you, get you to stop pounding the bag," he stroked the strong fingers as he continued, "But touching you, being that near, couldn't stop myself.... And, God, having you that close and helpless, those gloves...." Ray shuddered at the memory. "Was nice."
"Yeah, it was."
"Why'd you let me, after your past?"
Bodie looked up at that. "What do you know about my past? You read...but you couldn't have...my file doesn't...."
"You told me."
"Didn't. Never talked about it with anyone."
"Thought you didn't remember. Was sort of glad that you didn't, cause I reckoned that if you had, you'd have demanded a new partner."
"I've never been that drunk, Doyle. Don't ever let myself get that far gone." Bodie tried to pull away, but Ray held his hand tight.
"Was the night we brought Krivas in."
"I remember. I didn't drink much. They gave me something for the pain, and I passed out once you got me home." Doyle shook his head, and Bodie protested, "What do you mean, no?"
"You didn't have a concussion, only badly bruised all over your body, so they gave you some new stuff. Found out later that it took longer to kick in than what we were used to, but the advantage was that it was longer lasting. And you had that flat that was close to the hospital. Remember?" Bodie nodded, Ray continued, "Got you home in under fifteen minutes. The doctor had told you not to drink, but you've always been bloody stubborn, and you were hurting a lot, so first thing you did when you got home was drink down a shot of whisky. That numbed the pain, and I began to get you settled for the night. Ten minutes later the drug kicked in and you started to talk--"
"How much did I--"
"My guess would be just about everything. Your mum, what happened with your dad and uncle, the time on board ship, and three or four of your worst African experiences--"
Bodie pulled away and stood up, angry, "And you just let me." He felt betrayed that Doyle wouldn't have stopped him, he'd never wanted anyone to know about his past--not even Ray.
"Couldn't stop you. When I saw the effect of alcohol combined with the painkiller, I realised I didn't dare leave you on your own, and short of knocking you cold you wouldn't shut up. Was that night I realised that my opinion mattered to you. Up until then, I thought you were only tolerating me as the best of a lot of bad options--"
"What on earth would give you an idea like that?"
"Ah, come on, Bodie. You made it clear from day one that you found an ex-copper a piss poor substitute for your SAS and merc mates."
"Didn't mean--" at Ray's sharp look he amended what he'd been about to say, "All right. At first, maybe I did, but you proved me wrong within a few months--"
"Yeah, well I didn't know that--did I? Might have been nice if you'd mentioned that fact somewhere along the line. But you were too busy taking the piss out of any copper that came your way. How was I supposed to know that you still didn't include me in that group?"
"Never treated you like that after the first few weeks." Bodie sat back down on the bed and took his lover's hand, bringing it up to his face to rub his cheek against the palm. "Thought you realised that I--"
"Did. Sort of. But I thought I'd gone from intolerable to just bearable."
"Much more than that."
"Yeah, realised that the night after we caught Krivas. You were so upset with me for saying that you were no better than him. Wanted to prove me wrong, so you talked." Ray pulled Bodie close enough for a gentle kiss. "After the first ten minutes or so, when I realised that there was no way to get you to stop, I just sat and listened."
"So I told you everything?" Bodie looked very discomfited at the idea, worried even now what his lover would think of him.
"All the highlights. I knew that night, when you finally fell asleep, that not only did what I thought matter to you, but seeing that you didn't get hurt any more mattered a hell of a lot to me. After that...well, it was different between us. Next day, when you talked about crashing, I wondered if you were just covering up and embarrassed about what you'd said. But, within a couple of weeks, based on a couple of comments, I realised that you didn't remember a thing. But that night at the gym, when you were so upset, decided, even if I could only be a release valve for all the anger and frustration, that I could at least do that. I was sure, after all that you'd been through, that you could never love a man."
"I had some bad experiences at home and then in Africa, had to watch as the pack brutalised some others--didn't like it and did what I could to stop it--but I wanted to live, so some I had to let pass, and some I only found out after the fact. They knew I didn't like it, so they'd wait 'til I was out on patrol. Didn't think after that I'd ever...." Bodie broke off and shook his head. He stared into his partner's eyes, "Green eyes, always did have a thing for green eyes." He lay down by his partner, gently stroking him, whispering softly into his ear, "If I'd known that it was more than just physical for you...well...I would...I mean, I could have...." Ray smiled at him, and Bodie gave up trying to explain how he felt. "Come 'ere, you." Bodie pulled Ray to him and their lips met in a passionate kiss.
They kissed and stroked for a while, lying side by side, but soon the contact wasn't enough. Bodie rolled to his back, pulling Ray on top of him. Skin on skin, Bodie slid his hands down to grasp his lover's arse and pull them tight. The friction of their erections rubbing together soon brought Doyle to climax. Bodie felt a warm wetness, heard a soft whimper in his ear, and, clutching his partner's buttocks, gave three hard, swift strokes and groaned as he came.
Harsh, panting breaths were the only sound in the room for several minutes. Then he felt a nibble on his ear and heard a soft whisper, "'s nice, that. Can't wait 'til we get settled and can get back to some more...." Bodie grinned as Ray stumbled to a halt.
Bodie chuckled as he rubbed his mate's thighs, arse, and back. "What more you got in mind? My watch," he raised his wrist so that he could double check, "says we've got at least another forty-five minutes before Sean's likely to be back. Plenty of time, I'd say."
Lifting up, Ray folded his hands across his lover's chest and rested his chin on them; he gave his mate an impish smile. "Got in mind the kind of explorations that would make a long flight a bit uncomfortable."
"Hmmmm," Bodie mused, pulling a pillow so that his head was propped up. "Think I see your point. Been a while, and long periods of sitting...." He shook his head. "Pity, though."
Ray raised an eyebrow in question. "Yeah.... Shame.... Still."
"We'll have a few days in Montreal to kill while we're waiting for our new identities to be firmed up. Can get back to it then."
"Look forward to it." Ray brought his mind back to business. "What about our identities?"
"Need our pictures and prints. I sent them some old ones, but they've got some of their own forms--"
"This going to work?"
"Well, Paul's connections help, and given enough time and money, the Canadian end should hold. It's all that computerisation; a bugger to try to hide from, but if you've got an in and know how to programme...." Bodie shrugged, and Ray rose and fell with the movement. "My CI5 clearance made things a lot easier on our end, and Paul knew someone to handle his end."
"Won't they start checking on what you did when we go missing?"
"Course, but there are over a dozen with higher clearance than me, managed to steal three or four of their passwords. Even got hold of Cowley's--"
"Betty. Boss uses her to do his stuff and to access when he's not in the office. Just had to work out where she'd written it--slip of paper, top right desk drawer--after that it was a piece of cake. Even managed to check out Ross's files. Made interesting reading."
Ray detected a hesitation in his partner's voice. "What?" Bodie heard that tone and debated lying, but reckoned Doyle deserved the truth.
"Found out why Cowley decided to use you for the op." Startled, his partner pushed up off Bodie's chest.
"What'd you mean? What would Ross have to do with--"
Bodie pushed up so that he was sitting with his back propped up by pillows. "Seems you were showing signs of burnout. Me, too, for that matter. She estimated that you'd make another six months without a major decline in performance and me another year or two--with the caveat that once you went I wouldn't be around much longer. Since there's nowhere else we'd fit after CI5--can't see you back in the Met or me in the SAS--I reckon that the old man decided you were expendable."
"So he gives me an operation Susie that can't win."
"Gets you out alive--if you survive gaol--and if he ever does manage to catch the ones responsible, you're a hero."
"And if not?"
"Then you get out in three years, or I get you out sooner."
"You think Cowley expected you to break me out?"
"Don't know. Think he thought I'd help you run and was surprised when you didn't get bail." Bodie shrugged. "I don't know what goes through his head, too much triple think for me--this time I think he was so sharp he cut hisself. But I think if he really didn't want me to run, I'd have been watched a lot more closely. Been put on lower level duties, no computer access.... That sort of thing. Can't say that he helped me at all but he didn't interfere either."
"Think he's hoping we'll come back if this breaks in a year or two?"
"Maybe. If he is, you can bet it'll be news world wide. Might even force an election. Meantime, I'm not going to sit and wait. Got good jobs lined up with a future--"
"What about us?" Doyle cautiously probed.
"Are we.... I mean...birds and the like?"
"Are we--yes. Birds--no. Behave ourselves in public, and what we do in private is no one's business but our own."
"And your mate?"
"Will mind his own business."
Ray leaned over and shared a long kiss with his lover. "Going to get a shower. Fancy joining me?" he added as he stood and headed for the loo.
Bodie grinned. 'Oh yeah, sunshine, I'll join you.' He stood and followed his lover into the small room deciding that a little sitting discomfort was a small price to pay.
Biting into one of the pastries they'd purchased on their way to the airport, Bodie picked up an English paper and paid for it with some of the money they'd just exchanged.
"Going to have much to exchange when we get to Canada?" Doyle asked.
"Nope. Sent a good bit ahead through channels to Anderson. It should be waiting for us when we get there, and I'm carrying the rest of my assets."
"Don't like--" Ray protested, uncomfortable with breaking so many laws.
"Know that, mate, but we need a new life, and this way our funds are untraceable. Even have the name of someone to contact if and when I need to sell any more...."
"How much do we--?"
"Enough to last until we start the new jobs. If we're careful. Come on, Ray, that's our flight." Bodie put his hand in the small of Doyle's back and guided him towards the departure gate.
Bodie turned and took one last look around. Just opposite their gate he noticed a shop carrying sundries for last minute purchases. A neon sign blazed in the window trying to catch the weary traveller's eye. He smiled at the clear, blue glow and turned and followed his lover through the gate. No more reflected, muddy lights, no more muddled future. Whatever lay ahead, it was with Ray, and that made it worth it.
At a knock on his door, George Cowley called, "Come in."
"We've received another report from the police. No trace of either Bodie or Doyle," Susan Fisher informed him. She'd been assigned to liaise with the police on the Raymond Doyle escape. "Inspector Richardson wants to know if you think a house to house in the area where the escape was made would turn up anything, and he requested that you call the Amsterdam police and have them put an all stations out on three-seven."
Under the desk, Cowley rubbed his aching leg and sighed, "Not that it'll do any good, but tell him I'll contact the Dutch police. Tell him not to bother with the house to house. Doyle's long gone."
"He said to assure you that they're watching the airport and ports. Doyle won't get out of the country."
George Cowley snorted. "Three-seven had him out of the country before the escape was discovered. He had damn near six hours to do it."
"There aren't that many night flights out of Heathrow, and security tapes show that Doyle wasn't on any of them. Besides, Bodie was just disembarking the ferry when the escape occurred. If he was behind the escape, he hired someone else to do it."
"I don't care what Bodie's tail reported, three-seven wouldn't trust Doyle's escape to anyone else but himself. And if there's one place you can be sure Bodie and Doyle aren't, it's in the Netherlands. Three-seven's got a pilot's license, by now they could be anywhere in Europe, or for that matter on a aeroplane headed anywhere in the world."
"You don't think it's possible that someone with an old score to settle or maybe a foreign power might have taken Doyle?"
"If Bodie hadn't lost his tail the same night and vanished, I'd consider it a distinct possibility. But I don't believe in those kinds of coincidences. No, three-seven and four-five have gone to ground together."
"Should I suggest to Richardson that he contact Interpol and have the European police alerted to watch the major airports for them."
"No, lassie. Let it be."
Susan nodded, but she was obviously confused by Alpha One's attitude; he didn't seem surprised at the escape, nor was he exerting more than a minimal amount of effort to find the rogue agents.
Cowley watched the expressions cross her face, which finally settled on resignation. She, at least, had decided not to stir the pot.
He brought his mind back to the job at hand. "All right, six-two, let's go over the details of the Blazedale op. I'm still not satisfied that we have all the contingencies covered."
Back to business as usual for CI5.
-- THE END --
7 September 1998
Published in Nothing to Hide, Get-the-Boys-Together Press, 1998