"But, Sir..." Doyle whined. Before he could go any further George Cowley interrupted.

"Believe me, gentlemen, I sympathise but it can't be helped. We traced back to where Wakeman got your address, Bodie, and it seems that an employee temporarily assigned to housing about six months ago managed to get a list of not only our safehouses but all of our agent's apartments as well. It's going to take six months to a year to acquire suitable safehouses and apartments."

"It shouldn't take that long to go out and buy some locations and sign some leases," Bodie put in disgustedly.

"Think, man. If housing goes out and does that now it won't take a rocket scientist to go check the records and get the list of the new locations. Do you want them to be able to find you as easily as they did Doyle with the Shuman woman? I wasn't happy at the time with how easily MI6 found it to put us under surveillance. Well, now we know how they did it. This list has been on sale for over six months; none of CI5's residences or safehouses can be considered secure. The ones we own will have to be sold and replaced and the ones under lease will be allowed to expire and new locales sought. And let me point out that it will all have to be done secretly and in false names. And lest you forget, once acquired the security systems still have to be installed. It's going to take time, and until it's done agents are going to have to share."

"So how long are Bodie and I going to have to shack up together?"

Cowley frowned at the crude phrasing but answered the question. "This is a nice one bedroom flat that was acquired after the list was sold, so it's safe. You'll probably be sharing at least six months, maybe longer."

"Why so bloody long?" At his boss' sour look Bodie added, "Sir."

"Because if you take this flat you're going to be in comparative luxury over your fellow agents. For example Jax, Murphy, Anson, Cryers and Smithson are sharing safehouse seven, another residence acquired after the leak...."

Before the controller could continue Doyle interrupted, "That house's barely big enough for two with those two little tiny bedrooms and a kitchen that you can't have the fridge and oven door open at the same time in. Where are they all going to sleep?" Bodie and he had used that house to guard a witness a couple of months back. It had been the longest two weeks that he could remember and there had only been three of them.

"CI5 is purchasing a sofa bed," Cowley replied.

Doyle and Bodie exchanged horrified looks. Neither of them wanted to spend the next six to nine months on a sofa bed.

Their boss was continuing, "So you see, gentlemen, agents in such strained conditions as safehouse seven take priority. It's because you two are one of my best teams that I'm settling you in a more permanent situation."

"But, Sir, the two of us are never going to survive a month or more sharing a double bed or with one of us on a pull out." Doyle protested. "Not to mention being together twenty-four hours a bleeding day."

"CI5 will spring for a reasonably priced king-sized bed but if one of you wants to keep it when we relocate you then you'll have to reimburse us. As for breaking up partners...well we considered it, but if you got opposite operation schedules it could make getting sleep difficult. I'm sorry gentlemen but it's the best we can do. Unless you'd prefer safehouse seven or the warehouse or even the hotel Maximillion."

Both men shivered at the mention of the last. Sharing a room in a run down hotel with roaches and rats was neither man's idea of a restful time. And that didn't include the other clientele that actually paid--by the hour.

"If you want to switch to one of the above then I imagine that we could arrange to get you a new flat assignment in two to four months."

Bodie and Doyle exchanged long hard looks, and both wondered what surviving the next six months would be like. They'd been together four years but they both enjoyed their privacy and time alone. Being together as much as they were on the job, they got up each other's noses quite enough already; now they were adding off-duty time as well. Both figured that it was going to be bloody hell but it beat hands down any of their other options. Nodding at each other they turned and addressed George Cowley.

"We'll take it." They said together.

Bodie picked up the keys and handed one set to Doyle. "Come on, Sunshine, let's go get our gear packed up and moved in." They turned and left.

The sandy haired man sighed. He knew this was a mistake, but saw little alternative. They'd probably end up killing each other or madly in love. Laughing at that thought he contemplated ordering funeral wreaths and sending them to Bodie and Doyle. Maybe they'd take the warning and try to get along. The CI5 controller sighed as he realised that it was going to be a long six months while housing worked to replace their stock.

Several hours later Bodie and Doyle were in the middle of their third or fourth fight. Neither man could remember which, or maybe it was all one big long one.

"Look, Doyle, we're just not going to have room for all that stuff."

"Well, what the hell am I supposed to do with it for the next six months? It'll never fit in the back of my car or that gawd-awful garage you rent."

"The Cow's just going to have to spring for a storage facility for our extra stuff. Hell, with all the money he's saving on rent on us he should have a bit extra in the budget."

"You going to tell him that?"

"Damn right. This is going to be tight enough without tripping over boxes for the next half year."

"I like having my stuff around. Makes it more homey," Doyle pouted.

"Makes it look like a damn jumble sale," Bodie answered under his breath. Doyle heard, of course--as he was meant to.

"Well at least it's more personal than a bloody barracks. Your place has about as much personality as a hotel room."

"Yeah, well, I learned to travel light. Makes moving easier."

"So then put your stuff in storage."

"Look, Doyle, my stereo system and TV are better than yours and so is my furniture for that matter."

Ray started to protest but realised Bodie was right. Besides, if someone didn't compromise they'd be at this 'til it was time to move out in six months. "Alright, agreed. But both our beds are going to have to go into storage along with that big chest of yours...." As Bodie started to argue Ray rushed on, "Be reasonable, Bodie, you saw the apartment, it'll never fit. Least not and have any place to sit down on in the living room."

Realising the bionic golly was right, Bodie nodded his agreement, resenting the fact nevertheless. "That dresser of yours is going to have to go in as well." At Ray's sign of protest Bodie continued on a softer note. "Look, Ray, if you want your easel and paints with you there just isn't going to be any room."

Ray stopped, surprised that Bodie wasn't going to argue about him keeping his art supplies out. He hadn't felt much like painting of late but realised that he'd hate not having them with him just in case. Nodding his assent he looked at his watch. "If we're going bed shopping we'd better get a move on. What do you think Cowley would consider reasonable?"

"Don't know what he's going to consider reasonable but I'm not about to settle for some cheap mattress. You do realise that six months may be an optimistic estimate, don't you?"

"Unfortunately, yes." Doyle sounded resigned and changed the subject, "Could always try a water bed. They're supposed to be sump'un, and at CI5's expense."

Bodie grinned at Doyle's suggestion. "Tried one once, mate...." Doyle raised an eyebrow in question. "That little brunette. Chris. Was big into that sort of thing. Wasn't too fond of the effect meself. Don't care much for a bed that seems to have a mind of its own. Never did get a good rhythm going." He wiggled his eyebrows on the last line.

With a disgusted look Doyle replied, "That's not going to be a consideration with me."

"Doyle if you think I'm going to be celibate for the next...."

"Didn't say that, you prat. Just mean that most of the time we're going to have to go back to the bird's place."

"Yeah, I suppose. Still if we get a water bed you're going to be the one to break it to good ol' Georgie."

Seeing the logic in this Doyle conceded, chickening out. "Alright, we'll get a regular bed. No soul of adventure, that's your problem."

"I prefer my adventures in bed to be of a different nature." Bodie grinned smugly back at Doyle as they grabbed their jackets and headed out to go bed shopping.

Doyle thought to Bodie's back, 'I'll just bet you do. Smug bastard.' He shut and locked the door to his apartment.

Two hours later they had finally agreed on a mattress and box spring set that they both liked. They were waiting on the sales clerk to check delivery routes to determine when they could get it delivered. It had been a long hard battle and required compromises, plus they had both tried out a couple of dozen sets and settled on one that wasn't too hard for Doyle, nor too soft for Bodie.

"You know, Bodie, that clerk's acting weird."

"What'd you mean?"

"Don't know mate, but he kept giving us this weird eye. Didn't you notice?"

"Nah, not really." Bodie looked up to where the clerk had gone to set up delivery. Their clerk was talking on the phone and not paying any attention to them but the salesman beside him winked at Bodie and ran his tongue along his upper lip. Suddenly 3.7 twigged.

"Bloody hell, Doyle! They think we're a couple of poofs."

"Nah. That's crazy. Why'd they think something like that?" Ray denied.

"I don't know?" Sarcasm dripped from Bodie's voice, "Could have something to do with the fact that we've just spent the last hour arguing over the mattress we're going to be sharing. And Louise over there just winked at me and made a rather suggestive movement with his tongue."

Ray looked over at the rather effeminate blond man Bodie had referred to, who promptly blew him a kiss.

"Fuck!" Was 4.5's volatile reaction.

Suddenly the humour of it struck Bodie and he camped, "Well, I never. I'm taking my business elsewhere next time, somewhere they are less crass."

Doyle swore that if his silly berk of a partner had had a scarf he'd have flipped it over his shoulder at the end of that comment. Snickering back, Ray replied, "Come on, Sunshine, looks like our guy's ready. Let's get out of here before they start calling us Daphine and Josephine."

It had taken a week and more fights than either could count, a couple of which had resulted in them not speaking to each other, except in the line of duty, for a day or so, but finally they were moved in together. Cowley sprung for the cost of a storage room--it had either been that or listen to them bitch at each other for the next six months. He figured it was worth the cost, and debated trying to find other roommates for his two most difficult agents, but the sighting of a couple of terrorists outside an MP's residence had distracted him, and by the time he thought about it again they were living together and things had settled down somewhat.

The calm lasted less than two weeks.


Doyle, returning to the flat for some kip after a stakeout had been called off, entered to hear a crash in the bedroom and moans of pain--well it sounded like pain to him--coming from within. He'd swiftly drawn his gun and kicked the door in, only to find Bodie in bed with a nubile, well-endowed redhead straddling him, her head thrown back. The sounds were not of pain.

Unfortunately by the time he'd realised this, the redhead had turned, seen the gun and screamed like a bloody banshee. She then quickly rolled off his partner and dropped to the floor on the side of the bed farthest away from the gun-waving maniac who had just broken in.

'Good defensive reflexes,' Ray thought to himself.

Bodie sat up quickly, looked at Doyle and shouted, "Bloody hell, Doyle, you're supposed to be on a stakeout."

Feeling a bit guilty, Ray shouted back. "Know that. Was cancelled so I thought I'd catch some extra kip."

"Should have called or at least shouted when you came in. Not broken the bloody door down."

"Heard a crash and then some moans. Thought you might have been attacked. How was I to know you were busy getting your end away...were supposed to be going out and if you scored, you said that you'd stay at her place." Ray nodded at the redhead who, now that she realised the two men knew each other, had her head peeking up over the side of the bed.

"Her roommate had to study for a test and the library's heat was shut off during this cold snap, so we had to look elsewhere."

"College, mate?" Doyle grinned and gave his patented dirty chuckle, moving a little to get a better eyeful of his partner's date.

The date however had had enough. Being broken in on by a nut with a gun was bad enough but having their actions referred to as 'getting your end away' was damn insulting, and then the nut started to leer at her...well blue-eyes might be cute and charming but he wasn't worth this.

She grabbed the sheet from the bed, leaving her lover naked--Bodie could freeze for all she cared--and then, picking up her clothes, stormed into the bathroom to emerge five minutes later. Curly was sitting on the bed grinning and her date had pulled on his slacks and was trying to apologise and set up another date.

"Forget it, Bodie. A tumble with you isn't worth this aggravation." She picked up her shoes and stormed out, slamming the doors to both the bedroom and apartment.

Bodie turned furiously to a laughing, leering Doyle. "I'm going to go and take a very cold shower and then we are going to sit down and work out a set of rules and a signal for when the flat is occupied. I do not intend to live like a priest for the next six months."

As Bodie slammed out of the room Ray Doyle fell back onto the bed laughing. He really couldn't blame his partner for being in a snit, he wouldn't want to be left hanging like that either--well-endowed his partner when aroused--but the look on their faces when he'd broken in.... It was a long time before he could collect himself. When he finally did he decided to head down to the kitchen to make some sandwiches and tea. A little food bribery should get around his partner's anger nicely. 'Bodie's not hard to handle. You just got to know how,' he thought to himself as he headed into the kitchen to soothe the savage beast with a food sacrifice.


"Stupid messy bugger..." Bodie mumbled to himself. Well, it was supposed to be himself, unfortunately his partner had chosen to pass the bathroom door right at that moment.

"All right out with it. What major sin have I committed now?" Doyle's query was loaded with sarcasm.

"Nothing, Sunshine, you haven't done a damn thing." The answer Bodie gave dripped with sarcasm as well.

Ray lost his cool and temper at the same time. "Bloody hell, you stupid prat, living with you is hard enough without you pouting around and mumbling under your breath all the fucking time. You don't like something I do--then say so. Otherwise keep your yap shut and stop pouting...."

"Don't pout...."

"The hell you don't. You're worse than me mum with all your sulks. If she didn't live so far out of town I'd move back in with a damn sight easier on my nerves, that would."

"Alright, you want to know what's wrong. Well it's nothing major and I can live with it, but since you asked so very nicely--it's the toothpaste and the margarine and the shampoo and the friggin' KY."

"What the hell are you going on about...?"

"You and your latest must have borrowed my tube?" At Doyle's nod Bodie continued, "I don't mind you using my stuff, I'm not so petty as that, and I've been known to nick a bit of yours on an occasion or two, but you left the damned tube open on the bed so that I rolled onto it and it squirted all over me and the sheets." At his partner's stricken look Bodie elaborated, "Woke up an hour after I'd gone out with my back covered in the stuff. Felt like a greased pig." As something else occurred to him he asked, "What'd you need that stuff for anyway? Your bird dry or something?"

Ray blushed. He was sure that if he was naked he'd be bright red from head to toe. He wouldn't meet Bodie's eyes as he answered. "Wasn't doing it in the regular way...she's a bit on the wild side and doesn't mind an experiment or two...."

Bodie still hadn't caught on and his questions added to Ray's heat. "Still don't see.... I mean if she was sucking you...." He stopped as Doyle shook his head. Well what the hell other way was there? He wondered to himself, and why was his partner so embarrassed? As a possibility finally occurred to him an evil grin lit on his face. "You mean you were trying on a bit of the other side of things? Like that sort of thing, do you?" He raised an evil eyebrow.

He hadn't believed it possible but Ray got even redder and stumbled over his answer. "Wouldn't know. Never had a chance to try it before and bloody Cowley called us out right as things were getting interesting. Sorry 'bout the tube though...slipped my notice."

By now Bodie was grinning from ear to ear. Getting covered with that crap had been worth it to find this out about his partner. My, but who'd a thought that the straight ex-copper could be such a wild one? Ray looked chagrined. "Don't worry, I'm sure she'll give you another try." He waggled his eyebrows at his partner and went back to brushing his teeth in a much happier mood. Doyle headed back down the hall. So the forgetful golly left the cap off the toothpaste every now and then. It had its compensations.


"Bodie.... Bodie, bloody hell, Bodie, wake up." Doyle spoke loudly into his abstracted partner's ear. As Bodie finally turned to look at him Ray queried, "What's with you, mate? You're off in another world." He opened the restroom door and motioned for his partner to proceed him into the room. 'Going to need a bloody keeper at this rate.'

"Sherry broke it off with me last night." Bodie sounded depressed.

"That the bird you been dating off and on for the last four or five months?"

"Been dating her off and on for nine months...."

Interrupting Ray commented, "Surely not that long?"

"Yep. Our first date was late September or early October." Bodie walked over and turned on the tea kettle, pulling some mugs off the shelf.

When Bodie didn't continue Ray pressed a little. "That's a long time for you, mate?" He got the cream and sugar for the drinks and wondered how he'd missed that his partner might be getting serious about a bird.

"Long time for either of us. Wasn't too serious at first but lately was thinking about asking her to be exclusive."


"Yeah--know it's a hard concept for you to grasp, variety being a must for you, but she was lots of fun and wasn't too put off by the job or the hours.... So I thought I might give it a try."

"Thinking of settling down? Getting old...."

"Well you thought about it. Why shouldn't I?" Bodie bit back, upset. He didn't like to think about that Holly bitch who'd hurt Ray.

"Take it easy. No reason you shouldn't. Just never thought of it as being your style, that's all." Doyle could hear the hurt in his friend's voice and was trying to ease the pain.

"Well, guess it's not, 'cause just as I was about to suggest we get exclusive she tells me that she's met someone. Her mom introduced her to him...she didn't like me the one time we met and so started throwing single males her daughter's way. One stuck." Bodie sat silently for a moment. Doyle didn't say anything because he could tell from his partner's attitude that he had more to say. It wasn't long in coming.

"You know what gets me?" His partner said as he turned off the heat, poured out the tea and watched Ray add the cream and sugar to both their cups. "This berk she's going for is an obstetrician, got worse hours than we do!" He took a quick drink of his tea and collapsed back into his chair in disgust.

"Maybe it's just that that job's safer. Hard on a family, worrying about you all the time you're out. Broke up a lot of my mates' marriages on the Met, and CI5 isn't exactly teeming with happy couples." When Bodie stayed staring down at his cup Doyle continued, "Come on, Sunshine, look how uptight we get when we're split and we're working together in the middle of the action. Must be a real bitch for a spouse left stuck at home waiting for a call."

Ray watched his partner's slumped shoulders and felt guilty. Bodie got up his nose--seemed like all the time now that they were sharing a place--but he still didn't want to see him settled with someone else. Didn't want to see the partnership threatened like that...didn't want to have to share him seriously with some bird. He realised that he liked having the blue-eyed lug all to himself, and felt guilty for those thoughts. It wasn't fair to Bodie to not want him to have a bird to care for and love him.

"Come on, Bodie. Tell you what...make you dinner." Ray smiled when his friend's head came up and their eyes finally met. "Your favourite, and I'll even stop by and pick up a cake on the way home."

"Chocolate?" Bodie asked with that little boy grin of his.

"I'll stop by the deli and get the triple chocolate supreme you were eyeing last week. Even pick up some ice-cream to go with. How 'bout it?"

Bodie felt the cold loneliness that had been gripping him since late last night slowly melt, warmed by his friend's concern. 'Sometimes it's not so bad having the golly for a roommate.'

"You're on, Sunshine."


"Bloody hell, Bodie, I was going to do the damn dishes this morning. You didn't have to stay up last night and wash 'em." Doyle said loudly to the empty kitchen, a part of him hoping to wake the self righteous bastard. 'Damned friggin' perfectionist,' Doyle thought as he threw the dish towel into the sink and slammed around the kitchen putting things away. 'Why the fuck can't he let a couple of dishes sit overnight? Aren't in the bleeding army now. No superior officer going to come and bawl you out for shirkin' off.'

Ray Doyle felt guilty. It was his turn to do the dishes but he'd been tired last night--they both had--so he'd gone on to bed fully intending to do the dishes and clean the kitchen this morning. 'But nooo! Bloody Bodie just couldn't let it rest, he'd had to go and wash the dishes, tired as he was. Fucking martyr complex.' Well, Ray was determined to not let his partner change him. When he was tired, the damned kitchen could wait 'til in the morning or even the next night. He bagged the garbage up and slammed out the door to put it on the kerb.

When he came charging back in a couple of minutes later he was met by his irate partner.

"Damn it, Doyle, I'm trying to get some sleep. What the fuck are you pounding about for? Cowley didn't call us in early, did he?"

"Why'd you have to go and wash the bleedin' dishes?" Ray shoved past him into the flat.

"Because they were dirty and needed to be done...."

His partner interrupted before he could finish. "I was going to do them. Got up half an hour early this morning to finish off the kitchen, only to find that everything had been done."

"So I cleaned up.... Was doing you a favour, mate."

"Don't need no damn favours. I've been taking care of myself just fine for the last fifteen years. It was my turn...."

Bodie'd had enough, he was tired and wanted to go back to bed and all he'd done was wash up. He couldn't stand a messy kitchen. "Yeah but you didn't do 'em, did you?"

"No I bloody well didn't. I was beat. Dead on my feet and the government wasn't going to collapse if the dishes soaked for eight hours while I got some kip. I realise I'm not up to your standards of perfection, but I pull my weight...."

"Fine, from now on they're all yours. Okay?"


Bodie stormed back to bed and Doyle into the bath.

A week later Doyle looked at the clock on the kitchen wall. One a.m. God, he was tired. He ached from head to toe and he hurt so much he wanted to cry from the pain and the exhaustion but he was determined to do the damned dishes. It was his turn and he wasn't going to leave them because he knew, without a shadow of doubt, that his neatnik partner would do them tonight if he didn't, and he was determined to pull his own weight. Not going to let Bodie hold it over his head that he'd had to do Doyle's work yet again.

Suds up to his elbows, he scrubbed away at the pots, pans and plates. Damn, the food was caked on. They'd been called out right at the first of their dinner two days ago and not been home since. The food was rancid and glued to the plates and cookware. The flat was filled with a foul odour from where the food had spoiled.

If Ray had been on his own he'd have dumped the food, taken out the garbage, aired out the flat and left the dishes to soak overnight, but he knew better. If he left them Bodie would stay up another hour to finish cleaning the kitchen and despite the rough couple of days he'd had, his partner's had been worse.

Bodie'd had to kill a man--a teen really, the kid was no more than sixteen--but if his partner hadn't shot him he would have killed a woman and possibly her child. The boy had been high on some drug and the first two wounding shots had failed to stop Bodie's third shot had been fatal. The ex-merc might not admit it--even to himself--but killing someone so young had shaken him and he needed to rest. So Ray was determined to do the damned dishes.

Unfortunately, as dried and baked on as the food was, they'd have to soak at least twenty minutes before he stood a chance of getting them clean. He didn't dare sit down because he knew that he'd fall asleep, so he stood in front of the sink up to his elbows in suds and scrubbed half-heartedly at the dishes hoping to speed the process up.

Bodie came out of the bath wearing a blue terry-cloth robe, drying his hair and headed into the bedroom surprised to find that Ray wasn't yet in bed. 'Where the hell is he?' He wondered.

Roaming into the kitchen he found him slumped over the sink, asleep on his feet, arms in dish water. 'Stupid prat.' "What the hell are you playing at, Doyle?" There was an undercurrent of anger in his voice. 'The stupid golly just had to carry things too far.'

Ray jumped and straightened himself with an effort. "Just washing the dishes. Stuff's dried like cement on them."

"Then they'll be better off with an overnight soak."

"Nah...get 'em done tonight, that way they won't prey on your mind." Ray was too tired to lie about his motives.

Bodie started to get angry. Didn't the stupid idiot know when to let a fight go? But he stopped himself before he started his tirade. Ray was hurting and exhausted and barely awake--he wasn't carrying on any fight, he honestly thought that Bodie wouldn't rest if the dishes were dirty. Sighing to himself, Bodie admitted that knowing they were out here and dirty would bug him but it wasn't worth putting his partner or himself through any more while they waited for them to soak enough to loosen the dried and baked-on food.

Walking up to his partner, he put his arm around his shoulder and squeezed. "Come on, Sunshine. Bed. They'll wait 'til morning and we can do 'em together." He felt Doyle lean wearily against him.

"You sure? Know how you hate to leave 'em hanging."

"Well I'm just going to have to learn to live with it, aren't I? Come on."

Bodie led his exhausted partner into the bedroom, helped him undress and get into bed. Ray was out before his head hit the pillow. Contemplating going back and finishing the dishes Bodie stopped himself. He was still strung up from the day's events and it might relax him, but he knew that if he did Doyle would never again trust him to share the load. 'Hell. Might as well turn in. They'll be there in the morning.' Taking off his robe, he slipped into bed, scooting over more towards the centre than was strictly necessary, but tonight he needed to feel Ray close. As he fell asleep he realised that Doyle had been right last week. The chores could wait with no harm. He was chagrined to find that the bionic golly was changing him.


"Is it just me or are there a lot of changes going on in personnel? And why is everybody so damn on edge? There aren't any big ops going down from what I can tell." Doyle mulled to his partner as they left the CI5 briefing. They'd been out of town for a couple of weeks and the tension at headquarters upon their return really surprised them.

Bodie scratched his head and looked puzzled as he and Ray sat down at their desks. "Not just you. Got my head snapped off by both Lucas and McCabe when I asked them what op they'd collected those souvenirs from. McCabe had a busted lip and nose and Lucas has a beaut of a shiner. They must have been careless and Cowley's run them through the ringer is all I can figure, 'cause when I said something thought they were going to turn on me. Instead they just stormed out in separate directions."

"Yeah, I noticed the damage. And what about all the new pairings? There have been four splits and re-teams in the last six weeks...we don't normally have that many in six months' time." He paused and thought about it a bit quickly, acquiring a horrified look, "Think the Cow's decided to shake things up? You don't think he would re-team us do you?"

"No way, Goldilocks. We're his best." Bodie replied, appalled as well by the thought.

"Well, if one half of his best starts hogging all the covers again after having slept on his own for the last couple of weeks--you just might be sporting a few bruises yerself," Ray threatened, remembering the trouble he'd had keeping warm when they'd first started sharing a bed. It didn't help that it had been the coldest summer on record. London was rarely what one would call balmy but this summer it seemed to have more in common with Iceland than was necessary.

When the weather was cold, Bodie liked to turn himself into a mummy by rolling around until all the bedding was wrapped tight about himself...was fine for him but had left Doyle shivering more times than he could count. They'd gotten better at sharing after a while, but having separate beds for the last couple of weeks had seen Bodie's returning to his old habits. Ray had woken up this morning to see his partner on the other bed in the hotel entombed in the covers again. Was the middle of bleeding summer, but the last week had been cold and wet and this week was shaping up to be the same. Doyle wasn't in the mood to freeze, and they'd be sharing again tonight.

"Not used to sharing...." At Doyle's sceptical look Bodie elaborated, "Least not with someone who doesn't cuddle up close and share body heat. Keep me bed partners nice and warm that way."

Ray Doyle shot his partner a dirty look and got back to his report.

"Bloody hell, Doyle. What the fuck are you doing?" Bodie yelled several hours later, abruptly woken from a deep, exhausted sleep.

"Getting my feet warm, what else?" Ray replied calmly.

"Well you can warm them some place other than my arse."

"Was your idea," Ray replied smugly.

"What was...?" Bodie was involved in the complicated process of trying to listen, wake up, and squirm away from two ice cubes planted firmly on his bum.

"You said that your previous bed partners used you to keep them warm. Figured you were issuing an invitation. You going to pull the covers off me, figured the least you could do was to warm me up when I wake up cold."

Bodie felt like slugging his partner and tried to get some leverage. He gave up on the idea once he realised that the reason he couldn't get any leverage was that he was wrapped tightly up in the covers again. Apparently it was only a quirk of fate that had left his arse as the only part of his body accessible to his partner. He sighed.

"Okay, Ray, you win. Sorry about the covers. Maybe if we try tucking them in that'll help and I'll try to behave. Now will you move your feet?"

Ray sighed as well, knowing that he'd finally got his point across, but sorry to have to move his feet. Bodie's arse was nicely padded and warm.

The two men got out and remade the bed, tucking the sheets and blankets firmly in at the foot, and settled down to sleep.


"Damn it." Ray slammed the refrigerator door, yelling, "Bodie!"

"For heaven's sake, Doyle, I'm not a mile away." Bodie came in from the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist and one covering his head and face. He was rubbing his hair vigorously to get rid of the excess water.

"We're out of milk, eggs and bread! If you were too friggin' lazy to stop by the store the least you could have done was to let me know so that I could have picked some up." This was an old issue between them. Neither liked to go to the store and so continued to ignore diminishing supplies until they were totally out, figuring that who ever got hungry first after that would go buy some food.

They had supposedly settled the issue a month back when both had been determined not to go and they had, therefore, been totally out of food when a case had finally ended at two in the morning. Neither had had anything to eat since a doughnut on the run for breakfast, and were not in the best of moods to come home and realise that there was absolutely nothing in the flat to eat and the nearest all night store was forty-five minutes drive away and cost twice as much.

About to come to blows over the issue, Doyle's stomach had growled loudly, followed almost immediately by Bodie's in apparent agreement; the humour of the situation finally struck them and they had dropped laughing to the couch. After that they agreed to trade weeks shopping, and if they noticed that certain foodstuffs were running out early to mention it so that someone could be delegated to pick up the needed items. Ray was angry that Bodie seemed to be falling back into the old pattern of ignoring the shopping because he wanted to avoid doing it.

Seeing the look of irritation on his partner's face and knowing its cause, Bodie defended himself. "Can't be out--had plenty last night when I made myself a sandwich."

"Well then we've got elves or hungry mice, 'cause there's none left now."

Bodie thought and then suddenly said, "Damn. Sorry. Julie made breakfast for us this morning and I didn't think about it but she probably used up the stuff then. Said something about me getting a new toaster 'cause mine didn't work right. My guess is she burnt the first batch and that's where all the bread went. Made extra eggs too, so that we had some left over...." His voice trailed off and he shrugged. Seeing Doyle start to soften, he volunteered for the ultimate sacrifice. "I'll finish getting dressed and run out to the store." He had found over the last months of living with his partner that he hated to have Ray mad at him and so was willing to compromise if it would keep him happy.

It had been a long day, they both were tired and Ray could tell from the slump of Bodie's shoulders that he was sorry and willing to make the effort to get them some food. That was enough to cool off Doyle's temper. "S'okay, mate. Tell you what. I'll run down to the deli and get us some sandwiches and bread and milk. Shouldn't take long and then we'll make a list and do a big store run tomorrow. Try to stock up on more frozen and canned stuff so that we won't get caught out again." Ray grabbed his jacket and was out the door before Bodie could protest that it was his fault and he should be the one to correct the problem. Doyle had been on an all-night stakeout and Bodie'd spent the night enjoying a little female companionship. Ray was the one that deserved to rest.

Bodie smiled at the closed door. He wasn't the only one making an effort so that this would work out. He went back to the bedroom to get dressed.


Bodie woke upon hearing the soft whimper and looked over to check the clock. It was four in the morning and still very dark. At the soft moan beside him he rolled out of bed and went to the bathroom, getting a glass of water and some pills. Returning to the bed, he sat down by his partner and gently shook him.

"Come on, Sunshine, time for your medicine."

Ray tossed a bit and tried to shove Bodie away. "Don't want them, they make me groggy."

"Come on, you'll get better faster if you can rest and you can't rest if you're hurting this much."

"'M not hurting all that much," Doyle lied as he tried to shift away.

"Not true." Bodie put down the glass and pills on the night stand and helped Doyle sit up. "You're moaning in your sleep." When his partner still resisted, Bodie changed his tactics. "Look, mate, I have to go in to work tomorrow. Not all of us can be layabouts--you know? So take these so I can get some sleep."

Doyle looked mutinous but took the pills. They both settled down into the bed, but Ray was restless, obviously having trouble getting back to sleep.

"S'matter now?" Bodie asked sleepily.

"I'm cold," Ray replied reluctantly.

Knowing that his partner would take forever to get to sleep, even with the medication, unless he was warm, Bodie decided to use an old tried and true method for warming. He shifted over into the centre of the bed and careful of Ray's injuries pulled him up against his body spoon fashion.

"Better now?"

"Yeah," was Doyle's sleepy, drugged reply. "Always did say you were hot, Bodie love."

Bodie stiffened at the words but Doyle was out cold.

'What the hell did he mean by that?' Bodie wondered to himself as he slowly fell asleep.

Waking up with his partner curled in his arms was a new experience for Bodie. They'd normally managed to keep to their own side of the bed, but between his worry over Doyle's injuries and Ray's being cold last night, Bodie decided his subconscious must have desired the contact. So even after his body heat had warmed his partner he'd kept him held close. 'Better hit the landlord up about turning on the heat,' he thought, frustrated with the unseasonably cold weather they'd been having all year. Hadn't seemed like summer at all and now fall was here. He didn't exactly blame the landlord for not wanting to run the heat all summer, that could get expensive real fast, but it was late September, the cold snap showed no sign of improving, and Ray and he weren't the only tenants suffering. It was miserable being sick and cold and Ray was going to be stuck in the apartment for the rest of the week. He'd be in a foul mood if he spent it freezing his buns off and Bodie decided he really couldn't blame him.

Easing carefully out of the bed he headed into the shower to get ready for work.

Waking within minutes of the departure of his bed warmer, Doyle sighed. It had been nice, for a change, relaxing in the arms of someone he could trust--someone as strong or stronger than himself. He'd felt safe and slept better than he normally did after as close a call as they'd had yesterday. He'd saved Bodie's life, Bodie'd saved his, fair exchange, but normally it induced nightmares. Having Bodie close seemed to have prevented that.

'It's going to be a hell of a week,' he moaned to himself. 'No heat and no Bodie.' Well, at least last night had been nice. 'Almost made up for the fact that the building was having furnace problems, being able to cuddle up next to my normally reserved partner.' A soft, smug smile caressed his face. It had definitely been a nice night. Doyle wouldn't admit it, even to himself most times, and especially not to his partner, but being mothered by Bodie every now and then was something he enjoyed.

Three days later Ray Doyle had had enough of sitting around and enough of being mothered. He wanted out and he wanted action.

"Damn it, you can take me along as backup."

"You're still on sick leave, Doyle. At least through tomorrow and you're not going to be able to run on that leg for another week at least."

"Don't have to run. I can just sit in the car, watch, and call for backup if you need it. Don't have to be ambulatory for that." At his partner's continued resistance Doyle lost his temper. "Damn it, Bodie, you need backup when you start asking questions in that bar. I don't give a damn how busy the squad is, if Cowley doesn't have anyone available then I'll cover you. I might not be at my peak but I'm better than nothing."

They glared at each other over their dinner for several seconds and finally Bodie blinked. Doyle relaxed back, knowing that he'd won.

"Alright, mate, but you stay out of the fray if anything starts up. Don't want you on sick leave any longer."

Ray nodded his agreement. They could fight later if he had to do more than watch.

Hobbling up the stairs to their flat three hours later, Doyle waited for the explosion. Up the stairs, door unlocked, both of them in, door re-locked, alarms set, Bodie let loose.

"Bloody hell, Doyle! Just what did you think you were doing...."

"Keeping you alive and in one piece...."

"Didn't need...."

"The hell you didn't. You'd have been out cold with a concussion or worse if I hadn't come in when I did and stopped that berk from bashing your head in."

"Yeah, well now you'll probably be out for another week what with the strain you put on that leg tonight." He scowled fiercely at his partner who was leaning against the wall trying to hide how much his leg was hurting him. Bodie wasn't done yelling but he decided to take care of Doyle's discomfort first.

"Come on, Doyle, in the tub with you...." As Ray started to interrupt, Bodie glared at him and continued, "No arguments. And tomorrow you can see the doc and see what damage you've done to your recovery. Cowley's probably going to flay me for letting you come."

"Don't need to see the doc, I'll be fine by Monday." Doyle protested as he pushed himself off from the wall and fought not to grimace as his leg again received his weight.

"Yeah, right. Tell me another one. Come on." Bodie put Ray's arm across his shoulders and held his partner by the waist as he helped him limp down the hall.

Doyle resisted at first but his leg was hurting so bad that he finally gave in. "Do we have any more of those pain pills left?"

Bodie's anger washed away with Doyle's question. Ray was obviously in pain if he wanted a pill. He gripped the body he held tighter to assume more of Doyle's weight. "We've got half the bottle. You didn't take many when this first happened. Got more bottom than sense, you have."

Ray sighed, glad that his partner's anger had dissipated. "Yeah, I know, but I couldn't hold back and let you get hurt. 'S my job to watch your back."

"Know that, Sunshine. But don't want you hurt either." Bodie felt uncomfortable admitting his feelings and hearing Ray's. He tried to lighten the mood, "'Cept now I'm going to be on my own longer while you recover from tonight."

"Promise to take it easy so that I'll be back sooner."

"Pull the other one, mate. Three more days cooped up in here and you'll be climbing the walls all over again."

They'd finally made it to the bathroom and Bodie helped Ray to sit on the bog while he started the bath water. "Water takes forever to warm up and it never gets hot enough for my liking," Bodie observed to his flatmate as he held his hand under the tap.

"Yeah, the landlord's having trouble with the boiler. I think it's going and he's too cheap to replace it. 'Spensive proposition that. Just let it run on hot and that should be warm enough. If not you can always boil me a pot of water to pour in."

As the water filled the tub, Bodie helped Ray undress and then helped him lower himself gently into the tub. "Now I'll boil some water to warm the bath 'cause I want you to soak at least twenty minutes."

"Yes, mother."

"Not your mother. If I was I'd have turned you over my knee a long time ago."

"Eewww spanking, Bodie. Kinky!" Ray wriggled his eyebrows at him. Bodie blushed as he left the bathroom, his partner's dirty chuckle following him down the hall. Doyle was the only person he knew that could make him feel like an awkward adolescent.

They'd both made it out alive with only minor injuries. That made it a good night.


Ray Doyle leaned against the hall wall as he unlocked his apartment door. So tired that standing was an effort, he had trouble staying awake long enough to get the key in the lock. As the door finally opened he stumbled in and hit the light switch. 'God, this place is a mess and Bodie's due back late tomorrow.' It wasn't a pleasant thought what his neatnik partner would say if he got one look at their flat.

Bodie'd been gone up north chasing an IRA informant for the last week and a half and Doyle hadn't been too concerned at first at keeping the place up to snuff. That had been his big mistake, because five days ago all hell had broken loose and he'd had no time to do any cleaning or straightening since. Using his flat primarily as a pit stop for changes of clothes, quick bites and short cat-naps, the place was now a disaster. Ray gazed around the rooms in disgust. Clothes were strewn everywhere, with a big pile by the door. Doyle had been on his way out to the Laundromat when the call-in had come. Dishes were piled on the coffee table, and Ray knew that the kitchen sink was filled with more; the stove held several dirty pots and pans--he didn't even want to think of what might be growing in them by now. And the bathroom didn't bear thinking about.

He decided that with a little under twenty-four hours before his partner was due back, he had time to get some kip and then would have to spend the next day cleaning. He didn't like the idea of spending his first day off in two weeks making the place habitable again, but he liked even less the prospect of what Bodie would say if he came home to this mess. He sighed and headed into the bedroom.

Boots and socks off, shoulder holster on the bedside table and jacket on the floor. That was good enough. He collapsed across the bed, remaining awake only long enough to pull the covers over his body to keep him warm.

Two in the morning. Bodie wondered to himself why he'd bothered to drive half the night just to get back to London. Wouldn't admit that missing his partner had anything to do with it or with the fact that he hadn't slept well the entire time he'd been gone. Instead he blamed it on a long boring couple of weeks, and that when he'd finally run O'Shaunessy to earth the information he'd given had ended up being a dead end. 'What a waste.'

As he parked outside his apartment building he looked up to see that a light was still on in the flat. What the hell was Doyle doing up at this hour? 'If Murphy's right CI5 has been on its ears all week chasing down a couple of assassins. Doyle better not have a bird in, 'cause I'm beat. Be just like the randy little bugger to try and get his end away since he's expecting me back tomorrow,' Bodie thought in disgust. 'Well, I owe him one anyway.' A malicious grin lit his face remembering what Doyle had interrupted a few months back.

Grabbing his suitcase he headed up the stairs to his flat. The sight that met his eyes did little for his temper.

"Fuck!" He gaped as he stared around the room. "Doyle!" No answer. He yelled louder, "Doyle!!" At a thud from the bedroom he pulled his gun and headed that way. 'Doyle had better be on his death bed or he soon will be, letting the place get in this shape.'

Entering the bedroom he stopped in surprise. Ray Doyle was on the floor by the nightstand his gun still in his shoulder holster his hand on the trigger. Eyes wide he was waving it around the room, looking for the target responsible for waking him after only an hour's kip.

Bodie stood in the door glaring at him. It took a few seconds for Doyle to spot him and aim the gun in his direction.

"If I was out to kill you, you'd be dead by now. How much did you have to drink?"

Doyle squinted, finally recognising who was at the door. "Bodie?"

"Yeah. What the...."

"You're back a day early."

"No shit, Sherlock. What the fuck did you do to the apartment? And put that damn gun down. The rate you're going you'd probably shoot yerself in the leg."

Doyle stared at the gun and holster in his hand as if they'd suddenly appeared. He reached back and placed them on the night stand and sat staring numbly at his partner. After about a minute his head began to drop as he started to fall asleep.

"Doyle!? Shouldn't drink so damn much."

"Didn't." Ray mumbled. "First sleep I've had in thirty-six hours and before that only a couple of short cat-naps for the week."

"Why the hell is Cowley pushing you so hard? 'S dangerous to have agents as tired as you."

"No choice and no backup." Ray looked up at Bodie for a long time, eyes dreamy. A smile slowly appeared on his face, and he spoke, "Missed you, Sunshine. 'S not the same without you." He gazed dazedly around the room and sighed. "Going to spend my first day off in two weeks cleaning up for you. Go sleep and ignore it--have it back to normal in no time. 'Night." He leaned his head against the bed and closed his eyes.

"Oh no you don't. Come on, Ray, let's get those clothes off and you into bed." Bodie levered Ray up off the floor, proceeded to strip him, and then tucked him into bed. He wanted to be furious, tried to be furious at the stupid golly for letting the flat get in this state, but being greeted by that blinding smile and those soft words he found himself turned to mush. He mumbled to himself, "How come I'm always tucking you in?"

Thinking Doyle was asleep--which he probably was--he was surprised when Ray answered. "'Cause you're my best mate and you care for me. Nothing better." He rolled over onto his side and was fast asleep in less than a minute.

Bodie sighed, 'Stupid bugger.' Being too tired himself to worry about the state of things, he stripped down and crawled into bed beside his partner. It was the best night's sleep he'd had in days.

Waking to find himself cuddled up next to his partner, Ray rolled over and groaned. 'Damn. Of all times for Bodie to come back early.' He'd been hoping to lie in a bit but knew if he was to keep the peace he'd better at least get a start on the flat. Maybe if he got a good start he could talk his partner into disappearing for the day and he'd have the place clean by the time he got back.

He looked around as he pulled on a sweat shirt and jeans and decided, 'Dishes first.'

Arms deep in soap suds, he'd have sworn that the damn things had multiplied on their own. He did not remember eating eggs anytime this week, as he tried to scrub the dried yellow stains off a plate. He'd gathered up all the dirty dishes and left them in to soak while he gathered up the clothes for a trip to the laundry. After that he'd dust and vacuum. Might even get done in time to take his partner out for a pint by day's end.

Hearing Bodie up and showering, he hoped that his flatmate wasn't in a bad mood. Messiness did tend to get up his nose very fast. When Bodie came into the kitchen he decided to make the first move. "Sorry 'bout the mess. Cowley barely gave us time to breathe over the last week."

"Some of this had to have been before that."

"Yeah, I know, but I thought I'd have plenty of time to clean up. How was I to know that the bloody Arabs would suddenly decide to start a new campaign?" Doyle admitted, chagrined.

Bodie just shook his head at Ray's defensive posture and voice. "'S'kay. I'll get the laundry done and you finish the flat."

Straightening his shoulders his partner replied. "'S all my doing, I'll do the laundry...."

"I've got almost two weeks worth in my bag, I can throw yours in, too." As Doyle started to object Bodie interrupted, "Don't fuss, Doyle. Say thank you nicely and let it go."

Ray gave in and said no more, as Bodie gathered up the dirty laundry and left. That had been easier than he'd expected.


The double date had not been going well and Ray couldn't figure out what was wrong. He and his partner had occasionally double dated in the past and usually had a great time, but on this date everything seemed to be a bit off. Their dates were both beautiful and were having a good time. It looked as if they'd both score tonight if they wanted to, but he wasn't enjoying himself and, knowing his partner as well as he did, neither was Bodie. In fact, as the evening had progressed Bodie seemed to be brooding about something. Looking over at his closed-off partner he wished for a few minutes alone with him to talk and find out what was wrong. Maybe the birds would make a trip to the loo soon and give him an opening. They always went in pairs, right?

Bodie snuck a quick glance at his partner. 'Yep, Ray has noticed something wrong. Too damn discerning at times for both our comfort. And of course the golly will want to talk. So what the hell do I tell him?'

At a loss to explain exactly what had upset him and a bit afraid of probing too deep into his emotions, Bodie knew that Ray would want to examine the situation for all its ramifications. Sometimes his partner would just let things pass, but Bodie could tell from Doyle's mood today that this situation wouldn't be one of those times. And there was a twitch deep inside that told Bodie that in this situation he really didn't want to probe too deep for the reason Beverly's off hand comment had upset him.

He and Ray had been hamming it up, showing off, doing their double act and towards the end of one of their more outrageous stories he'd heard Bev turn to Ray's date, Liz, and stage whisper, "You know, dear, at times I don't think they need us, they seem to keep each other entertained quite well."

Liz had stage whispered back, "You could be right. I always thought that they'd make a cute couple." The girls had giggled at the joke and Ray had made an outrageous comment about what he couldn't do with Bodie and the conversation had moved on. But the comment had struck closer to home than Bodie wanted to admit. In point of fact, most times, he realised, he'd rather be with Ray than with any of the birds he dated. Except for getting his end away, Doyle was lots more fun and much easier to live with than any woman he'd been involved with.

Bodie drew himself up and stopped that line of thought...he did not need to be thinking of Ray Doyle that way. He threw himself into being the life of the party, but beneath it all he knew that neither he nor Ray were really having a good time. And later that night after having had sex with Bev he lay back and realised that something was missing but he didn't have a clue as to what and he wasn't sure he wanted to know.


Was it the uncapped toothpaste tube or the wet towel on the bathroom floor? Or maybe it was his partner's silence and distance over the last two or three weeks? Whatever it was, Doyle didn't have a clue as to what had gone wrong between him and Bodie but he sure as hell wished he could figure it out. He strolled down the hall towards the CI5 restroom in the early morning hours of December 21st trying to decide both what had gone wrong and what action to take to remedy the situation. He'd gone all out for Christmas this year since he had someone to share it with and he didn't want to be left on his own, but at the rate things were going that's just how he was going to be left. He sighed.

His partner had been moody and withdrawn for almost three weeks. Ever since their double date, and Ray couldn't figure out why. They'd both gone home with their respective ladies and had very rewarding evenings--at least he assumed that Bodie's evening had been as satisfying as his, since Bev, Bodie's date, had kept suggesting a repeat--but his partner had made it clear that he wasn't interested. It wasn't like Bodie to turn down a willing bird--especially one as pretty as Bev--but any suggestion by Doyle of a repeat double date was met with stony silence. 'So what the hell went wrong?' he mused to himself.

Last night, just five days 'til Christmas, they'd had a massive blow-up and Bodie had stormed out. It had been about everything and nothing, Bodie seemed to be looking for trouble and finally he hadn't needed even that to yell and storm out. 'Course Doyle was well aware that he'd lost his temper with his partner as well. He'd never been one to sit back and silently take it, but thinking back over the fight it didn't have any real cause, it was more like it had been an excuse on Bodie's part to get out and away from his partner. Ray didn't have a clue to where Bodie had spent the night and he was worried.

As he approached the restroom door for some much needed tea, he heard Murphy's voice raised in teasing banter, "Your better half throw you out, 3.7?"

"Stuff it, Murph. Bright and cheery this time of the morning should be against the law. And I can tell you right now that's one law I'd be happy to enforce--with a gun if necessary."

"Tsk, tsk. Up on the wrong side of the bed...or should I say couch...this morning?" The cool, calm and collected 3.7 sacked out on the restroom couch was just too good to pass up in the CI5 annals of teasing.

Ray relaxed knowing that his partner was safe, and turned around and headed for his office; the tea could wait. Bodie still sounded in need of careful handling to keep him from blasting away, and Ray just wasn't up to it--admitting to himself that he'd slept lousy because he missed Bodie and was worried about where he was--he knew his temper wouldn't survive another encounter if 3.7 was still in a snarky mood. His partner was safe--that made Doyle happy--Murph could deal with the nasty temper for a change, he'd had enough of it of late.

"So you and 4.5 finally split. Is it permanent or temporary?"

"What are you nattering on?" Bodie asked as he sat up, trying to clear his muzzy head. Sleeping on the couch had not been restful, or maybe it was the fact that he'd been fighting with Doyle or the fact that he missed the prat; his head hurt too much this morning to try and sort that one out just yet. 'Shouldn't've had those scotches to try and relax,' he groaned to himself.

"You two going the way of the other going to ask the boss to split you?"

Looking up horrified at Murphy, Bodie replied, "Of course not. What gave you a stupid idea like that? Had a bit of a fight that's all...might ask Cowley how the apartment hunt is going, however. Encourage a little speed on his part."

"You want the Cow to hurry and find you a new place just let him know that you and Doyle are having problems. He'll find you a new apartment so fast you'll be in it by New Year's."

"Ah come on, Murph, it's been over six months and housing's months behind schedule in finding replacements. Cowley said if we took this set up that we'd be way down on the list for getting new places. Nothing's changed."

"You're kidding, right?" Murphy looked closely at 3.7's obvious confusion and realised that he wasn't. He explained, "The boss can't afford to lose another good team." Bodie still looked totally lost. "Damn it, Bodie, sometimes you and Doyle are so oblivious to what goes on around you on the squad. You two are a world unto yourselves. Haven't you noticed all the re-teamings over the last months?"

"Yeah. Figured the Cow was just trying to shake things up a bit."

"Sheesh.... Do you and Doyle belong to the same organisation I do? We've had six re-teamings, four look like they are going to be permanent and the other two are still on edge with each other and may or may not work out, but at least they're working together again. None were at the Cow's instigation. Most just couldn't take being in each other's pockets twenty-four hours a day. Several of them came to blows. Thought for sure you'd twigged last Summer when you were giving Lucas and McCabe grief about who they'd had a fight with."

"You mean they did that to each other?"

"You always this slow on the uptake or just in the mornings? Yeah, they beat the crap out of each other, Cowley split them for a couple of months and found different temporary housing. They've been back together for a bit and seem to be working out. Most of the others haven't.

"You and Doyle were out of town for that blow up in August so I guess it could have slipped by, but I figured you would have heard about it from others. It was that big op and every available agent was combing the south sector. You know what it's like--little sleep, high danger, lots of tension, and this time no place to go home to and away from it all, 'cause your partner is right there beside you bringing the job right along. There were several blow-ups that had been simmering for weeks. Some still aren't speaking." Murphy shook his head at Bodie's ignorance, wondering how such a top notch investigator could be so oblivious to those around him. He'd spot a suspect in a lie by the twitch of an eyebrow, but show him two partners bruised, bloody and not talking and he wouldn't catch on to the fact that they'd been in a fight with each other. 6.2 continued his explanation.

"Cowley's tried to hurry things up, but every time he does, Willis or the Russians or someone else try and slip in a ringer to get the new addys. They'll probably get them for most of the agents eventually, but he at least wants the safehouses to be kept secret. But I'll tell you right now, any sign that your and Doyle's pairing is in jeopardy and he'll set them on their ears finding one of you a new place. CI5 can't afford to lose another experienced team this year. You want me to drop a hint in his ear?"

Bodie thought about it. It would solve the problem--wouldn't it? And was therefore surprised to hear his answer. "Nah. I'll do it if I want it done. I'd appreciate it if you kept quiet about finding me here. Okay?"

"Yeah, no problem."

"So what about you in that little house? You seem to have survived."

"That's 'cause I moved out at the end of the first month and in with my sister. Sleeping on the sofa in her den was a damn sight better than sharing the house with those pigs. Then I took that out of town obbo so that I could stay someplace nice at CI5's expense. By the time I got back housing had found me something--'course security took another month to get it set, but it was worth it. Funny thing is that now that only Cryers and Smithson are sharing the house it looks like they may keep it. They like sharing and since they aren't partners they don't have to put up with each other twenty-four hours a day. They seem to like having someone else around. They both come from big families and I think they miss not having anyone to come home to. You know what it's like trying to find a bird that'll put up with both the hours and the worry that accompanies the job. 'S far as I know you and Doyle are one of only a very few partnerships that seem to be faring okay under the stress of sharing a flat. Actually I can't think of another team that's still together and still sharing. Care to clue me in on your secret?"

"Just my innately sweet disposition, mate." Bodie found he had no desire to discuss his relationship with Doyle. He decided to get while the getting was good. "Well, I've got work to do and I need a shower first. See you later." Bodie breezed out the door. Murph had given him a lot to think about.

Sharing with Ray had had its ups and downs, but had never really been that much of a strain--least not until the last couple of weeks. So what had happened? He had some files and leads to follow up today and Doyle was assigned to work with Stuart on tying up some loose ends on a drug bust. Bodie decided he could use the time apart to think.

Bodie sighed and steeled himself to go into his apartment, figuring that he'd avoided Ray for as long as he could. Trouble was that he was still no nearer the answer to what was bothering him, nor what was making him restless, than he had been days ago. Still, two nights on the Smurph's couch had brought him no closer to an answer. The only answers were to be found behind the door he now stood before. Inside was his partner and maybe talking with him would give him some idea as to what was wrong. He hadn't seen Doyle in three days now, other than from a distance, and he found that he missed him. At least that much he knew for sure, but what was making him uneasy...? Taking one last deep breath he unlocked the door and entered.

Their Christmas tree was lit and sat in the centre of the front window. His eyes focused first on it and then a slight movement off to the side drew his gaze. Ray had stiffened when he heard him come in but hadn't turned around from his stance next to the tree as he stared out the window watching the drizzling rain. They stood motionless for several minutes, neither man saying anything, neither willing to look directly at the other. Instead each stole sidelong glances, taking stock of how the other fared.

Bodie tried to analyse what he was feeling. Just walking in and seeing Ray beside the Christmas tree had made him feel safe--like years ago--held tight in his mother's arms before she'd died and everything had gone to hell. He felt...? What? Home. He felt home, safe at home. And he knew that it had nothing to do with the damned apartment.

Doyle finally broke the silence; at the wording of his question Bodie caught his breath. It confused him. Ray asked tentatively, "You going to leave me?"

Not knowing how to answer that, Bodie remained silent. His partner turned around and their glances finally met. Ray's held a bit of sadness, a bit of hope, and a lot of longing. He spoke, "Missed you, Sunshine. I don't know what I did wrong, but I can't do anything to correct it if you won't talk to me, Bodie. Are you ready to throw in the towel and request a new pairing like all the others?"

"You knew about them?" At Doyle's nod Bodie continued, "Why not tell me?"

"Figured you would hear one way or another and if you didn't--well I didn't want to add any pressure. You know, we had enough of our own problems adjusting to living together, I didn't want you to realise how hard most were finding it and decide to move out to save the partnership. Would have done that myself if it looked like it was in jeopardy, but we seemed to be doing all right by the time I heard about all the others' problems."

"So you knew that one hint from us, that we were having problems, and the Cow would quickly move one of us out?" Doyle nodded. Bodie pressed, "Why?"

Doyle turned away and looked out the window. "'Cause by late August or early September when I found out 'bout the others I realised that I liked sharing with you. I didn't want to move out, nor have you move out." He glanced back at Bodie, a chagrined expression on his face. "Sorry, mate, guess I should have considered how you felt."

'Truth time,' Bodie thought to himself. "You did--didn't you? You knew that I wasn't minding living with you...."

"Thought least until this last month...don't understand what I did to put you off?"

Bodie's conscious mind finally realised what his subconscious mind had been coming to grips with over the last month and he spoke the truth with a question. "We're talking about more than just sharing a flat. Aren't we, Ray?"

His partner said nothing, but nodded to indicate that Bodie was correct. He was too afraid of turning and seeing rejection of the desire he was alluding to. Hearing Bodie walk up behind him, he felt hands grip his shoulders and turn him around. A hand raised to gently stroke his cheek.

"I've not had much luck with relationships, Ray. Though I've never tried anything on with a man before...."

"I'm not just talking sex...."

Bodie interrupted the angry start, "Know that. Neither am I. Scared me shitless when I realised the birds were right--that I'd rather be with you than them--or anyone else for that matter--that all I really needed and wanted was you. I'd known that for a long time, but when you snarked back about what we couldn't do...well all I could think of was why the hell not? Shocked me to realise that I was bent that way for you. So I locked it up and pushed it away, but down deep I knew it was too late to go back.

"You ready for that kind of commitment? 'Cause I'm not just talking living together...."

"I'm ready...if you're talking about giving up the birds, too. Don't want them...don't want anyone but you, love." Doyle stepped forward into his partner's welcoming arms.

Their first kiss was tentative but soon the passion grew. Neither man had been with anyone since their double date. Down deep they had both recognised the already made commitment and knew that anything or anyone else just left bitter emptiness. They broke apart and although it was only nine p.m. headed in to get ready for bed.

"Bit early to be turning in," Bodie teased Doyle as his partner brushed his teeth.

Doyle spit, rinsed, wiped his mouth and then drew Bodie into another kiss. "Didn't say anything 'bout sleeping, sunshine." A huge yawn belied his statement.

Laughing Bodie teased, "Not been getting much sleep either these last few days, have you?"

"Nope. But I'm planning on having me wedding night and then sleeping in in the morning. Got Cowley to give us a few days off. We're on call, but that's all."

"How'd you manage that?"

"Well things have been pretty quiet of late, for a change, and I hinted that the stress was getting to us a bit. He's walking on egg shells of late, afraid of losing another team, so he was happy to oblige. By the way, you going to stay on living here?"

"Nope." At Doyle's hurt look Bodie was quick to explain, "Want my stuff. And I'm sure that you want yours, too. Right? So I figure that we go in after the first of the year and put in our request for a two bedroom flat when we let him know about us. Don't want them coming up with a couple of one bedrooms across town from each other, do we?"

"Going to tell him?"

"Not outright, but our George is a sharp man. We request that he put us down for a two bedroom flat and let him have a good butchers--he'll figure it out, no problem."

"Think he'll mind?" Doyle finished stripping and slipped quickly into bed beside his lover. He was anxious to get this settled so that they could concentrate on the important stuff.

Bodie pulled Ray into his arms and shared another long kiss before answering, "Maybe a little. Involvement on the part of agents is always risky, even without the added bonus of it being two males, but I think he'll live with it. A practical man is our boss and right now he can't afford to lose any more teams...."

"And what about later when he can afford...."

"Have you ever known the squad to have enough agents? I don't mean the odd week or two here and there when we sit twiddling our thumbs. I mean when the action gets hot, have you ever known the old man to think we had enough?" Doyle nodded, indicating that he saw Bodie's point. Bodie concluded, "'Sides, we're his best, Ray. Far and away above the rest. He already lets us get away with more than most. It's not even a matter of blackmail or letting us do it 'cause he has to to keep us. You know, I've given it a lot of thought, and he lets us get away with what he does because he knows that that is what makes us the best--without it we'd just be an ordinary team. This is just another part of that. Our closeness is what allows us to work so well together. You eliminate that, you eliminate his best team. He's practical--he'll live with it.

"Enough about Cowley. I want to enjoy my wedding night and a long discussion about our George is putting me off my stride." Bodie concluded.

They met in the middle of their bed and no more words were spoken.


George Cowley watched his top team walk out of his office, more shocked than he could remember being in a very long time.

'Bloody hell, I should have sent them wreaths back in May,' he thought to himself. 'Might have got their mind on a different track. 'Course in that case they'd probably have been at each other's throats and split up. This way I've still got my best team. But at what price?'

They'd come in, he'd thought, to tell him that they were having problems and that they wanted to know when their own places would be available. Instead he'd sat quietly stunned as they requested that they be put down for a two bedroom flat to share as soon as one became available. He'd managed to hide his surprise by concentrating on trying to catch the underlying message they were trying to tell him.

It'd been a long time since he'd sat in a room knowing that two conversations were going on, but unable to follow one of them. It had taken a rather forthright move by Doyle to finally get the message across. Doyle had been leaning on the window ledge at the back, Bodie in his usual seat in front of the Controller's desk. After their flat request they had started to discuss their current case and Cowley had been aware that Bodie was trying to tell him something but wouldn't come out and say it.

He'd been about to snap at his agents and tell them to get to the point. Doyle must have seen his frustration because he'd stood up and grasped Bodie's shoulder and leaned over a bit and said, "Come on, Sunshine, we've taken up enough of the boss' time."

Cowley had fully expected Bodie to be furious with Doyle but instead he'd stopped and smiled up at his partner and 4.5 had smiled down at him, and it was like the Controller was no longer in the room. The exchange had only been brief but Cowley had finally caught on. 'Only have to hit me over the head once,' he thought in disgust at how slow he'd been on the uptake. The two men had then turned back to face him and met his surprised stare, making sure he'd gotten the message. Bodie stood and allowed his and Doyle's shoulders to meet as he asked, "Anything else, Sir?"

"No, that'll be all, 3.7, 4.5."

He distinctly remembered thinking to himself that they'd either end up killing each other or falling in love, but he hadn't really expected them to fall in love.... Well, as long as it didn't interfere with the job, they were welcome to it. He made a note of their request for a two bedroom flat and got down to more important matters.

-- THE END --

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