Fly on the Wall


"Christ, what a natural." McCabe adjusted the telephoto lens and snapped a picture. "There's one for the ops board."

Bodie rolled his eyes, not bothering to comment. The collective wit of CI5 wouldn't fill a shot glass. Three days and they were already repeating themselves.

"Give it a rest." Bodie resignedly opened a well-thumbed Mayfair, the only reading material in the dingy room.

Anson threw open the door, his arms laden with goodies. "If the pages stick together, blame McCabe. He had it in the loo for an hour last night."

Bodie pretended to pry the pages apart as Anson stacked fish, chicken, and plenty of chips on the table. The last item to appear was a fifth of scotch that stayed at his elbow.

"Morcombe and Wise are quaking in their boots with you two comedians on the loose." McCabe handed the glasses over to Bodie. "You're up." He turned to address the room at large. "A night of sensual delight awaits me. Soft music, a bottle of wine--"

"--And a pillow named Shirley." Bodie finished for him.

Anson guffawed. "Wait a minute, Romeo." He grabbed McCabe's arm. "Aren't you forgetting something?"

McCabe looked around the room, then shook his head. "Nah, you lads keep the magazine."

Anson picked up a wrinkled 20 quid note from the table. "It's your turn."

"No it isn't!"

"I picked him up this morning, Bodie picked him up this afternoon." Anson tucked the money in McCabe's shirt pocket and patted it. "That leaves you."

Bodie snorted in disgust and trained the glasses on the figure across the street. Watching Ray Doyle being picked up by a succession of CI5's finest was bad enough without listening to them argue about whose turn it was.

The focus of all this attention was standing in the wash of yellow streetlight, leaning against a red brick wall, negligently displaying what was up for grabs--for the right price. The faded, contour hugging jeans left no doubt as to what was on offer.

A natural.

Doyle was a natural all right, but not the way McCabe meant. Doyle would have been equally convincing as an Albanian sheep- herder or a Catholic seminary student. He was good at his job, a concept too complicated for their fellow agents.

Tasteless jokes and anonymously captioned photos on the ops board would be the inevitable result. Life would be so much easier if Doyle was a cack-handed as McCabe who couldn't go under the covers of his own bed without looking conspicuous.

The ongoing argument drew his attention. McCabe was still fighting his destiny. "It's already gone eleven! Well, I'm not staying up in that room for no hour. I don't care what Cowley says." He slammed out of the room.

Anson wagged his eyebrows. "That's 59 minutes more than he ever needed anyway."

"Nah, takes him longer than that to get the wig on the dog." Bodie brought up the glasses. The battered yellow mini that had just done the block was creeping round the corner for another look. Another 10 pound suitor. "Trouble, where the hell is McCabe."

Anson joined him at the window, all business now. "Doyle'll handle it."

The driver leaned over and rolled down the window. Bodie watched as Doyle ran a negligent hand down the front of his pants before deigning to notice his admirer. The bloke was motioning him over to the car, but Doyle wasn't having any of it.

Sliding his tinted glasses down until they perched on the end of his nose, he looked out over the tops and subjected the poor bastard to an inspection humiliating in its brevity. Then he pushed the glasses back in place, folded leather clad arms over his chest, and looked pointedly down the street, as if to say, 'I might be for sale, but there's not enough money in the world to do you any good'.

McCabe rounded the corner, walking purposely toward Doyle. Stopping directly in front of the jean-clad sullen siren, he leaned over Doyle's languid form and clamped his hand on a well- rounded buttock.

Anson pursed his lips and whistled. "Doyle's going to kill 'im."

"They're doing a job," Bodie said through gritted teeth. But even he gulped as Doyle pushed himself off the wall, rubbing the merchandise in question against McCabe in the process.

The unsuccessful suitor roared off as McCabe, his arm firmly planted around Doyle's shoulders, walked them into the building where Doyle maintained his room.

"Another heart broken." Anson sighed mournfully. "They'll be up there for an hour, so we can relax." He wandered over to the table and started in on the food. "You owe me three quid for this lot."

The food was eaten in companionable silence. Conversation was a rationed commodity on 12 hour shifts.

Anson looked at this watch. "Where the hell is he? His hour was up ten minutes ago. The stupid bugger is driving this week." The Mayfair diverted him. "Who's supposed to be here with you?"

"Susan." Bodie infused the two syllables with as much self assured innuendo as he could and sat back in his chair with the air of a man who knows his body will soon be required to perform hard, but rewarding work. "She volunteered."

Ignoring Anson's snickers, he put a hand to his ear and leaned toward the door. "Hark, I hear her dainty tread upon the stair."

Murphy walked through the door.

"Hello?" He stepped over Anson who was writhing on the floor, laughing so hard tears were streaming down his face.

Bodie kicked Anson out of the way. "What are you doing here?"

"Backing you up. Susan called off sick."

Impossibly, Anson laughed even louder.

"That's just great," Bodie mumbled to himself.

Murphy shrugged and left the room, reappearing with a bundle of items. Curious, Bodie watched him unfold a canvas deck chair and a small camp table, on which he placed two books--real hardcover books--a packet of biscuits and an alarm clock. Turning the chair to better catch the light, he sat down and opened a book.

Bodie caught Anson's eye and raised a questioning eyebrow. Anson shrugged and rolled his eyes before returning his attention to the magazine.

Murphy was an unknown quantity, too new for Bodie to know if the middle-class affectations were real--in which case he could continue ignoring him with a clear conscience--or if they merely masked the mild psychosis that guaranteed social success with CI5.

As if alerted by the silence, Murphy raised his eyes, looking first at Bodie, then Anson. Finally, he held out the second book. "You could share."

Anson retreated behind the Mayfair, but Bodie took the volume, looked at the spine, then handed it back. "Already read it."

Murphy went back to his book, Anson his pictures and Bodie his window.

The calm lasted all of ten minutes before Anson threw the magazine down. "What's he doing up there? He's the one that was in such a bleedin' hurry to get out of there."

"Would you be?" Murphy's comment barely reached across the room.

Even Bodie, whose brushes with ambiguity amounted to 'will she or won't she', looked over at Murphy.

But ambiguity was just another knob for Anson to adjust on his telly. "Nah, his girl isn't so bad. After all, today was hot wax day. No whisker burns on my lad tomorrow."

The door opened, but McCabe didn't enter the room. "Well, come on then."

Anson gave a long suffering sigh and gathered his things. "Wasn't me doing god knows what in some sordid bedsit for an hour and a half." He stopped at the door. "Don't forget to leave the 20 on the table."

"Shut up," McCabe muttered under his breath.

"Not so fast." Bodie's voice froze McCabe who was trying to pull Anson out of the room. "The money."

McCabe gave Anson a withering look. "Since you're so bleedin' helpful, you can lend me 20."

"Since you're such a pain in the arse, you can forget it." Anson shrugged off the entreating arm.

"Bodie?" McCabe abandoned Anson and walked into the room. "How about it?"

"What did you do with the money you left with?" Bodie felt like a kindergarten teacher.

Murphy looked up from his book. "He was up there quite a while."

"Who pulled your chain?" McCabe snarled, but Murphy had already returned to his book.

"The money?" Bodie prompted.

"Lost it." McCabe collapsed into a chair at the table and picked at the leftover chicken while ignoring his expectant colleagues.

"Next time we'll sew it to your mitten." Anson took a deep breath. "How did you lose it?"

One at a time, McCabe looked everyone in the eye, Murphy, Anson, Bodie, then back to Murphy. "If this gets around I'll know who to talk to, won't I, sunshine?"

Murphy didn't look overly impressed, but he nodded.

"I'm sitting there, minding my own business when Doyle bets me 20 quid that he can..." McCabe's voice trailed off as he looked speculatively at his companions. A hopeful look sprang across his face which he immediately concealed with all the subtlety of a mime. This blindingly cunning talent guaranteed him a warm welcome at poker games.

"That he could do what?" Anson prompted.

"Hey, Mick, I'll bet you twenty that I can stick out my tongue and touch my nose--" But McCabe's audience already had their tongues out and their fingers on their noses. "Fuck off."

The room erupted in laughter.

"How could you fall for that?" Anson picked up his things again. "Well come on, you're the one with the date."

McCabe pulled a twenty pound note from his wallet. "Not much point now, is there? I'm skint. Besides, look at the time. I was supposed to meet her an hour ago." He shrugged. "I was ready to give her the shove anyway. This way, she can dump me, so losing me won't hurt so much."

Bodie and Anson traded skeptical glances.

"I hate to ruin this noble moment, but I might have plans of my own." Anson was still standing by the door.

"Your guppies can wait for their dinner." McCabe pushed an empty chair toward him. "Set it down and don't forget the bottle."

"Bottle?" Bodie asked brightly as he joined them at the table.

"Oh no you don't." Anson hugged the bottle to his breast.

Bodie placed a hand on McCabe's shoulder. "Where is your compassion? This is a man in pain."

McCabe sighed mournfully and put his hand on his heart. "It's broken, you know." He looked at Anson soulfully. "And you were going to be my best man."

"What about Lucas, your partner?"

"He doesn't have a bottle, does he?"

"Only to shut you up." Anson broke the seal on the bottle. "Wait a minute. No glasses." There was a noticeable lack of sorrow over this discovery. "Too bad."

"Wait a minute." Murphy put down his book and rummaged through his bag. He pulled out a shot glass, a thermos which he divested of its cup, and a chipped enamel coffee cup.

"But what are you going to use, Murphy?" McCabe asked innocently.

"Leave off," Bodie said firmly. "Anson can drink from the bottle, after all, it is his."

But Murphy had already pulled a long-stemmed wine glass from his magic bag, but he still hung back from the table.

"Come on, then," Anson invited, "grab a chair."

Pouring equal amounts of liquid in disparate containers was a delicate operation. Silence reigned until Anson sat back and critically considered his work before taking the first sip from his cup. He swished the liquid around his mouth. "A very good year, gentlemen."

Bodie sipped his. "Yeah, last year was a good one." He leaned back and savored his drink. It really wasn't bad. There were worse ways to spend a stake-out.

Amiably they sat and drank, letting the conversation ebb and flow. The mystery of life, the universe, and everything was their subject. It was heady stuff.

"Betty's a dyke."

Bodie choked on his drink. "Just because she turned you down--"

McCabe sat up straighter--briefly. "I was merely testing my theory."

"You mean every woman who turns you down is a lesbian?" Murphy looked doubtful.

McCabe poked Murphy's chest with his finger. "I can get any woman I want. If I had wanted to lay Betty, I could've, except she's a lesbian, so I couldn't've anyway."

"Except if you'd've wanted to?" Anson scratched his head.

"I didn't turn her down," Bodie announced.

A chorus of guffaws greeted his assertion.

"But," Bodie added nobly, "I couldn't let her ruin her life over me. There was George to consider."

Anson cleared his throat. "Well, Betty really isn't my type. She's a nice enough girl, but..." He threw up his hands, as if apologizing for the suffering his lack of attention must have engendered before dividing the last of the whiskey--half to him, the other half split three ways.

Bodie drained the last of his cup. "Those that can, do--and don't have to talk about it."

Murphy cleared his throat. "I hate to interrupt this stunning display of machismo, but if you lot are so bloody good with women, why are you sitting here on a Friday night?"

Bodie took advantage of his companion's preoccupation with the question and drained Anson's cup. "I'm on duty, aren't I? The female population deserves some rest."

Anson started to say something, then subsided into his chair and started to drink from his cup. Shaking it, he turned it upside down and peered up into it.

"Just who do you think you are?" McCabe rounded on Murphy, obviously deciding the best defense was a feeble offense. "Are you insinuating that we might be exaggerating our inter...interlocutory skills?"

A premonitory chill ran down Bodie's back when he saw the glint in Murphy's eye. McCabe and some of the others had been pretty hard on him since he was activated. If Murphy was trying to get some of his own back, he wasn't going to interfere.

"Oh, no," Murphy said fervently. "I didn't mean to give that impression." He leaned closer. "You're sitting here tonight because you aren't challenged anymore. What's the point, no woman can resist you."

"Unless she's a lesbian," Anson intoned.

Bodie grabbed the glasses and headed for the window, not wanting to be snared in the trap that was about to be sprung. "I'll check on Doyle."

"You could get anyone to say yes, couldn't you, McCabe?" There was respectful reverence in Murphy's voice.

Bodie said a silent prayer for Betty. More money changed hands over her virtue than over the football pools.

"Well," McCabe said expansively. "Some have the talent, some don't. It's all in the approach. I mean, it's not like they're not getting something out of it, so why piss around? Get 'em in a clinch, show 'em you know what you're doing, and soon they're beggin' for it."

Bodie sat back and waited. McCabe had enough rope to hang himself with enough left over to make a rope bridge across the channel.

Murphy went in for the kill. "How about a little wager?"

McCabe pulled a comb from his jacket pocket and ran it through his hair. "What did you have in mind?"

Murphy produced his wallet. "This 20 quid note says I can name someone you can't talk into bed." The note fluttered down onto the table.

"Who did you have in mind?" McCabe's eyes were caressing the money.

"Does it matter? I thought you could get anybody you wanted."

McCabe licked his lips. " 's true."

"So?" Murphy pulled another note out of his wallet. A second 20 hit the table.

McCabe was practically salivating.

Bodie shook his head and returned to the view of the street.

McCabe tucked the comb back in his pocket. "I accept the challenge. So who's the lucky girl?"

Murphy paused theatrically. "The lucky person is Ray Doyle."

Bodie's head whipped around so fast he almost gave himself whiplash. McCabe was sputtering his indignation, Anson was laughing his head off, but Murphy was ignoring both of them.

Bodie found himself the recipient of a cool, blue appraisal. What was Murphy expecting him to do? Rush to protect Doyle's honor? As if Ray Doyle needed help cutting anybody off at the knees an inch at a time--from the neck down.

But Murphy was still looking at him, as if waiting for something. Finally, Bodie just shrugged and chuckled at McCabe's furious blustering.

Whatever Murphy wanted, he must have gotten it, because he gave an acknowledging nod.

McCabe's aggrieved wail broke the moment.

"Doyle? That's disgusting!" McCabe puffed out his chest. "Are you insinuating that I'm a poofter?"

"Of course not." Murphy sounded like the epitome of reason. "You said you needed a challenge. You said no woman can resist you."

"And Doyle's not a lesbian," Anson pointed out helpfully.

McCabe gritted his teeth. "Do me a favor, Anson, don't help me."

"All you have to do is get him to say yes, not actually do anything. But if you can't..." Murphy reached for the money.

McCabe grabbed his wrist. "He just has to say yes."

"Yes to your amorous advances, not yet to does he have the time," Murphy clarified.

"My twenty says McCabe can do it." Anson pulled a wrinkled note from his pocket. "How about it, Murphy? You going to cover my bet?"

Murphy extracted yet another note from his wallet.

"Whose side are you on, Anson? And where was that twenty when I needed a loan?" McCabe looked over at Bodie. "What about you?"

"I'll save my money for your wreath."

"Hm," Anson intoned, as if he had to announce imminent mental activity. "This leads me to believe that you're in awe of McCabe's romantic prowess." He paused, then shook his head. "Nah. So if you aren't confident of him getting a yes, you must think that Doyle can't be relied upon to say no."

That Anson's pronouncement silenced the room was as much a tribute to the revolutionary nature of his conclusion as to his ability to reach one.

Bodie rolled his eyes. "Doyle saying no doesn't worry me. Who Cowley will lumber me with when Doyle gets suspended for putting McCabe's dick in a pencil sharpener does."

Speaking of Doyle...

Bodie went back to the surveillance. The light was on. "It's almost time."

McCabe stood and rubbed his hands together. "Wish me luck."

"I just thought of something." Anson was on a roll. "What's stopping you from coming back and pretending Doyle said yes?"

McCabe drew himself up. My innate sense of honor." Guffaws greeted his assertion. "Pillocks."

"Well, Murphy, how do we keep him honest?" Anson demanded.

But Murphy just shrugged, acting not at all like a man with 60 quid on the table.

McCabe picked up an RT from the jumble of items on the table.

"This is McCabe, put me through to Lucas." He tapped his foot impatiently until the static cleared.

Bodie just shook his head and listened to the one-sided conversation. Why couldn't McCabe just admit the new boy had suckered him and let it go?

"Lucas? Do you still have the surveillance equipment from the Reynolds job? Good, bring it over here. No, tonight, as in right now." He threw the RT back on the table. "Problem solved."

"Here comes Doyle," Bodie announced.

"I'll go." Anson jumped to his feet.

"I'll do it," Bodie said with a noticeable lack of enthusiasm.

"Oh, no you don't." Anson sat back down. "You'll tip him off."

All eyes turned to Murphy.

"And he won't?" McCabe protested.

"Somebody has to go." Bodie held on to his temper--barely. Doyle was already splayed over his accustomed wall.

McCabe didn't look too pleased. "I know I can't trust you two." He turned to Murphy and grabbed his arm. "I'll know if you tipped him off. Understand?"

Murphy pulled his arm away, straightened his jacket and rerolled his cowl neck before making his exit.

The lure of money being more motivating than a sense of duty, Bodie found himself squished between McCabe and Anson. Since Murphy had to leave by the back exit and walk around the block, several minutes went by before he appeared.

Bodie brought the glasses up. "Still no sign of Gregson."

"Did anyone ever find out why the Cow is so interested in that bloke?" McCabe asked.

"Our's is not to question why, our's is but to pick up strange men." Anson shook his head. "Lacks a certain flair."

"Here comes Murphy." Bodie reared back from the hands trying to tear away his field glasses. "Leave off, McCabe. Unless you read lips, these aren't going to do you any good."

Down on the street, Murphy walked right past Doyle, who looked a little disconcerted, as if he was used to the goods speaking for themselves.

Murphy turned around with a 'who me?' expression on his face in answer to whatever was said.

"Murphy's making him work for it," Anson chuckled. "Serves the little bastard right."

Murphy still looked skeptical, but he moved to stand in front of Doyle. Unfortunately, he completely blocked Doyle from view. They stood there for a few minutes before walking into the building.

"He told him," McCabe said emphatically.

Anson reached over and patted him on the head. "Of course he didn't. Murphy is more interested in seeing you make a complete idiot of yourself."

"Ta very much."

The three of them drifted back to the table. The room stayed quiet until Lucas' aggrieved arrival.

Anson quickly explained the situation. Since it had everything necessary for ghoulish bystanders--a reckless wager, a large sum of money, and best of all, complete humiliation for some unfortunate soul--his cooperation was easily gained.

"It's a no lose situation," Lucas said gleefully and tossed a twenty onto Murphy's pile.

McCabe rummaged through Murphy's bag and came up with a deck of cards. Several hands of poker kept everyone busy until Murphy returned.

"Doyle said he wanted to hit the sack early. Just one more lucky man." Murphy sat down at the table. "I've got a deck of cards just like that."

Anson dealt him in. "Imagine that."

"Where's my cards?" McCabe asked when Anson skipped him. Lucas plopped the bug down on the table in front of him.

"Stick it in your pocket." Lucas adjusted the volume of the receiver sitting in the middle of the table.

McCabe gamely picked it up, but it was obvious his whiskey fueled high was gone.

Give it up, Bodie silently encouraged, thinking of McCabe's unborn children should Doyle lose his rag. Then again, maybe it would be a good thing if McCabe came back with his testicles stuffed in his ears.

It wasn't that he was worried Doyle would say yes. But the bet implied that their fellow agents thought that Doyle might welcome the advances.

"What was it you said, Mac? Get 'em in a clinch and flash your...expertise...then sweep 'em off their feet?" Anson swooned theatrically.

"That's right." McCabe took a deep breath, squared his shoulders and dropped the bug in his shirt pocket. He swaggered to the door. "You lads should take notes, you might learn something."

Lucas waited until the door closed behind the master seducer. "What a prat."

This time three spectators joined Bodie at the window.

"Don't mind me, I'm only on duty," Bodie muttered as Murphy squished him against the glass.

"Move it or lose it, Anson," Lucas' jabbing elbow sent Anson into Murphy, and Murphy into Bodie.

Anson jabbed back. "Thought it was a roll of breath mints, and a half empty one at that."

"Here comes McCabe." Bodie trained the glasses on the approaching figure. Tuneless whistling came over the receiver.

"Testing...testing. One two, unbuckle my shoe. Three four, on the floor. Five six, suck my dick. Seven fuck it." McCabe abandoned his future as a starving poet. "Doyle is looking particularly trashy this evening. Lucky for him he could wear his regular clothes on the job."

Laughter surrounded Bodie, but he kept an almost straight face. After all, the tart in question was his partner.

"Like what you see?" Doyle's voice was loud and clear even though McCabe was still six feet away. "Don't be shy, sunshine. I don't bite, but if I do it's an extra ten."

The observers waited with baited breath for McCabe's killer line. And waited. And waited.

Bodie increased the magnification and zoomed in on McCabe's face. "I think he's swallowed his tongue."

Lucas snorted. "I knew he was all mouth."

But Anson still had faith in his champion. "He's just getting Doyle to feel sorry for him."

Bodie couldn't resist. "Everybody already feels sorry for him."

Down below, Doyle levered himself off the wall and wriggled over to stand in front of the apparently paralyzed man. "Don't you like me?"

McCabe cleared his throat--several times. "I wondered if you wanted to spend some time with me."

Doyle rested a long finger on McCabe's chest. "Depends on what yer spendin'."

"Nothing. I mean..." McCabe backed away from the fingers that were playing with the buttons of his shirt, but Doyle pulled him closer.

"What's wrong with you, McCabe?" Doyle's fierce whisper crackled through the speaker. "I'm supposed to be fighting you off with a stick, not checking for a pulse."

"Ray..." McCabe's voice cracked. "Ray? Would you--"

"For christ's sake, at least touch me!" Doyle plastered himself against McCabe's stiff body and rested his head on his shoulder. "Well? Go on."

Anson pushed closer to the window. "Come on, Big Mac. Sell those two all beef patties."

McCabe put his arms around Doyle. "I mean it. You and me. Your room, how about it?"

An exasperated sigh whooshed through the speaker. "Where else, dummy?"

McCabe grabbed Doyle by the upper arms and thrust him away. "Fuck the job! Ray...I want you."

All the oxygen in the room was sucked into four sets of lungs.

"He did it," Lucas squeaked. "Bodie, give me the glasses!"

Bodie belatedly released the breath he'd been holding. "Fuck off."

"Then tell us what's happening!" Murphy demanded.

The speaker remained ominously silent.

"Whew!" Doyle pulled back further. "You smell like a brewery. You might have brought me some, you know." He reached around and gripped McCabe's arse. "Didn't it occur to you that I might want a drink? You lot sit up there on your arses while I'm down here doing all the work. I'd like to see one of you down here bein' mauled--"

Bodie stopped listening. Once the moaning started, McCabe could be hit by a truck and Doyle wouldn't notice.

Lucas was laughing. "Say bye bye to your money, Anson."

"Ray." Desperation edged McCabe's voice, but it seemed Doyle had the situation well in hand. "Get your hand off my zip!"

Doyle sighed. "You sure are running hot and cold. Pick a characterization and stick with it." He pulled McCabe's zip back up. "We may as well go up to the room."

Doyle stalked away with McCabe trailing behind like a whipped puppy. The blind leading the brain dead.

Lucas switched off the receiver. "How do you put up with him, Bodie?"

"Just what you did, switch him off." Bodie claimed one of the chairs at the table. "Whose deal?"

The card game was still going strong when McCabe finally showed his face.

"Hail the great white hunter!" Lucas tugged his forelock.

"The conquering hero." Anson toasted him with an empty glass.

"Told you so," Bodie said smugly, taking the opportunity to peek at Anson's hand.

McCabe sniffed indignantly. "Not my fault he's as thick as a brick."

Lucas waved a dismissive hand. "You froze. Stood there like a shop dummy, then just blurted it out. Christ, Cowley would do smoother than that, and the last time he chatted up anybody was VE Day."

"I suppose you could do better?" McCabe bristled.

"The Elephant Man could do better, at least he had an interesting face." Lucas laughed at his own cleverness. Charity begins at home.

Bodie drug his eyes away from Lucas' cards. "Come on, you two. Joke's over."

"Stay out of this, Bodie." McCabe plucked the bug from his pocket and handed it to Lucas. "You're up, sunshine."

"My bet still stands," said Murphy as he looked at the reflection of Bodie's hand in the window.

Bodie's fingers froze on the queen he was about to palm. A joke was a joke, but this one had gone far enough. "Doyle's done for the night."

Anson noisily clunked down his two chip ante, then quietly slid one back under his retreating hand. "Lucas is off tomorrow, so he can try it on tomorrow afternoon."

Bodie and Lucas rounded on Anson.

"Well, he is."

Lucas sighed. "I am."

McCabe sat down a happy man. Humiliation was like a social disease, the only fun part was in the sharing.

The game lasted another hour before Lucas ran out of money. Since McCabe hadn't had any to begin with, he didn't see any reason to quit, but Anson dragged him out the door.

"Might as well get comfortable." Bodie stood and stretched, eyeing the cot in the corner. "You take the first watch."

Murphy counted his chips. "Will I see any of this money?"

"Probably not." He laid down on the cot. "If we had to pay up we wouldn't cheat and that's half the fun."

"Oh well." Murphy picked up the wager. Looking around the room, his eyes fell on Turner's discarded peanut tin. He retrieved it from the trash, wiped it out, then dropped the five bills inside.

"Can't wait to collect?" Bodie was half asleep.

"Wouldn't mind losing it myself."

His sleep-fuddled mind wrestled with the cryptic comment, but he was soon out for the count, snoring softly as Murphy stared out onto the empty street.

The next morning, after sharing the breakfast Murphy produced from his magic bag, Bodie sent him off for the morning paper and fresh coffee. They spent a companionable morning until Doyle appeared about half eleven.

"A man's work is never done," Bodie sighed as he got to his feet.

"Wait a minute." Murphy held out the bug.

"Joke's over."

"McCabe'll have my head if you tip off Doyle before Lucas gets squashed."

Bodie dropped the bug in his shirt pocket.

He left by the rear exit, stopped by a few shops, then circled back toward Doyle.

An appreciative whistle greeted him. " 'Allo, sailor."

Bodie stopped in front of Doyle and preened. "You should be paying me. My beauty is a curse."

"Curse of the werewolf, maybe." Doyle hooked his thumb in his back pocket and nodded toward the door. Bodie fell in behind him.

When they got up to the room, Doyle grabbed for the bag. "What'd you bring me?"

"Popper and vaseline." He surrendered the bag and plopped into the lone, threadbare chair.

"KY works better." Doyle sat cross-legged on the bed and pulled a bacon sandwich, juice and a candy bar from the bag. "If boredom doesn't kill me, the food will."

Bodie fondly watched the avowed vegetarian tear into the bacon sandwich with gusto.

They spent the hour working the crossword, but every so often, Doyle looked at him speculatively.

"Bodie?" Doyle shifted uncomfortably.

"Yeah." He filled in 4 across before looking up.

"Did McCabe, I mean, is McCabe OK? He's not been acting weird or been hit in the head recently, has he?"

His grip tightened on the pencil. "No more than usual. Why?"

"This may sound crazy..."


Doyle clenched his jaw belligerently. "I think he was tryin' to pick me up."

Bodie laughed, if that choked, hollow sound qualified. "Of course he was. That's the whole point, isn't it? We are the pickers, you are the pickee."

"Not picky enough." If the map was marked well enough, Doyle could be led to a good pun. "Never mind, I guess this job is making me squirrelly. Must be from workin' with all you nuts."

Doyle sat back, waiting for his laughter like a Caesar waiting for tribute.

Bodie ignored him. If Doyle ever got the slightest hint he was amusing, life wouldn't be worth living.

"Squirrels, nuts...Oh, never mind." Doyle stretched out on the bed.

Bodie got up to leave. "I'll see you tonight. Murphy and I pulled 12 to 12. Save the last dance for me."

The empty juice can thunked against the door as he pulled it shut.

He took a walk around the block before ducking into the rear of the building. Anson and McCabe were already on duty when he got back to the room.

He gathered his few possessions while Murphy started breaking camp. "See you tonight, Murph."

Murphy offered the last bit of quiche to Anson. "Wouldn't miss it."

Bodie turned to go.

"Aren't you forgetting something?" Anson held out his hand.

He grabbed the hand and shook it. "A handshake instead of a kiss? Where did we go wrong?"

"No, you moron. The bug."

"Christ, I'd forgotten it was there." He fished it out of his pocket. "May I go now?"

"Goodbye," chorused the occupants of the room in unison.

It was two minutes to midnight when Bodie glided through the door. It wasn't his fault it was 48 hours after the midnight he was scheduled to have appeared. It wasn't as if he'd asked Cowley to take him along to Paris and sit in that luxury hotel guzzling wine on expenses.

"What the hell?" He stopped short as a dart whizzed past his ear and thunked into a dartboard that had been hung on the wall beside the door.

"Get out of the way, Bodie, you're spoiling my aim." Bodie identified the speaker as Donaldson--what was he doing here? He stepped aside as a second dart flew dangerously close and bumped into Miller and Lake who were squeezed into a corner playing Mastermind around Murphy's little camp table. Donaldson brushed past him, yanked two darts from the board and several from the wall, stalked across the room and thrust them, point first, at Stuart.

Around the table, Anson, McCabe, and Jax hunched over a poker game, oblivious to the polka music screeching from a portable radio buried under the mound of crushed takeaway containers and empty beer bottles that littered the rickety coffee table and the floor around it. A bouquet of half-dead flowers topped the pile like a centerpiece from a Hammer horror.

"Bodie!" Anson waved him in. "Help yourself to some nosh. Stevens and Pruitt went for more beer."

But Bodie was beyond the lure of free beer. He was staring horror-struck at the peanut can that held the wager.

It was bulging with money.

"Somebody doing a kick around for McCabe's lobotomy?" Please, let it be the football pool he pleaded with any god who would listen.

They were all busy.

"Don't be daft." Anson looked at his hand, grimaced, then folded. "That was covered by national health."

McCabe raked in the pile of chips in front of him. "There is approximately 284 quid in that can, Bodie. There'd've been more, but we've been using it to buy the beer."

Bodie looked around the room in disbelief. "Do you mean to tell me that you cack-handed Romeos are still trying to chat up Doyle?"

"Cack-handed?" Donaldson's dart hit the wall beside the target. "I gave the miserable little sod flowers."

Stuart's dart knocked Donaldson's from the wall. "You only gave him flowers because I got him candy. You're as original as a xerox machine."

Bodie groped for a chair.

"You gave him flowers?" Lake looked up from his Mastermind game. "Why didn't somebody tell me? There's two quid down the drain." He pulled forlorn daffodils from their beer bottle vase and chucked them in the garbage.

"How..." Bodie cleared his throat and took a calming breath. "How many of you have tried it on?"

Anson leaned over and blew ashes and peanut shells from a piece of paper. "Let's see." He counted down the sheet. "Twenty-two attempts from nine would-be Romeos."

"Twenty-two?" Bodie echoed as he pulled the paper from Anson's fingers. The enormity of the catastrophe was strangely calming. Doyle was going to kill him. No arguments, no tantrums, just a nice clean bullet in the back of the head.

He read down the list. There were three marks each beside McCabe's, Anson's and Murphy's names. Donaldson and Stuart had two, Stevens, Pruitt, Masters...

He quit reading. "Couldn't squeeze in the Cow?"

Another group of names in the lower right-hand corner caught his eye. "And these?"

Jax leaned over and looked at the list. "They bet yes or no."

That the no's outnumbered--slightly--the yes's was little comfort. "What about these?"

"They're in on the 'who will Doyle kill' pool. This is where most of the action is. The winners will split the proceeds with the victim."

"I can't lose," McCabe informed him smugly. "If I get Doyle to say yes, I get 88 quid. But if he attacks me, I'll still get 65 quid. Not bad, eh?"

Bodie rubbed his suddenly throbbing temples. "How many people know about this?"

"Everybody." Anson looked quite pleased with himself. "Nothing is going on at HQ. Everybody is on stand-by or on a stake-out as pointless as this one. It was either bet on this or how long Sparks can last unrelieved in the buggy-boo. Other than some interesting hygiene problems, Sparks' action can't touch Doyle's."

"And I make the hourly reports," McCabe chimed in as he picked up an RT. "McCabe to base. No change in operation Tootsie."

Bodie began to plan his own wake. Before he could decide on the music, a decision had to be made about the guest list. Too bad Murphy wouldn't be able to attend, but more than one dead person would be considered bad taste.

"Where's Murphy?" Bodie never put off 'til tomorrow killing someone he could kill today.

The receiver on the table crackled to life.

It was like watching one of Macklin's precision drills. Darts, cards, and beers were abandoned for field glasses. The frenzied figures assembled with military precision--three up, three down--in front of the window.

"Here comes Murphy."

Bodie's head snapped up. Even in the dark he could get off a clean head shot.

"He's looking pleased with himself," Jax commented rudely.

"I wonder what's in the bag?"

"He better not have stolen my cologne idea!" Lake said fiercely.

Bodie groaned. These berks must be so far up Doyle's nose brain surgery wouldn't dislodge them. And who was Doyle going to blame for all this? Who else but his soon-to-be-dearly departed, or just departed, partner.

"On your toes, gentlemen." Murphy's smooth baritone oozed over the speaker.

The same morbid curiosity that made him slow down to look at accidents on the M-4 drew him to the window. He tapped Lake on the shoulder. "Give me your binoculars."

Lake didn't even turn around. "Piss off."

Nobody got away with that. Bodie tightened his fingers and growled. "I asked you nicely."

Lake stiffened. "Hey, Bodie, why don't you take my glasses?"

"Good of you to offer, mate." He shoved Lake aside, and focused the glasses on Doyle.

What a difference two days made.

The care-free siren was gone, replaced by a wary, cornered panther with--Bodie zoomed in--a definite facial tic. Doyle's shirt, usually open to the navel, was done up to the last button, and while the jeans were still tight, the goodies were not discreetly covered by shirt tails.

Bodie smiled in spite of himself.

"Evening, Ray." Murphy sounded cool as ever.

Doyle, already huddled against the wall, flinched away from Murphy's reaching hand. "Don't prat around."

Murphy lowered his voice. "Gregson is in the neighborhood scouting talent. Cowley said to put on a show."

Anson lowered his glasses. "He's up to something."

Jax brought the matter into perspective. "Nah, he'd make more money if Doyle said no."

Murphy slung an arm over Doyle's shoulders and walked him back under the streetlight. "You're jumpy tonight."

"Shouldn't I be?" Doyle clenched his jaw as Murphy leaned over and nipped his neck.

Murphy straightened up. "You could cooperate. It's not like I'm enjoying this."

"You're the only one that hasn't," Doyle hissed. "I'm sick and tired--"

Doyle's protests were smothered by Murphy's mouth.

Bodie listened to the resulting sound effects--it was a very sensitive microphone.

Anson whistled in admiration. "He's really layin' one on him."

"That's disgusting!" Lake opined.

Stuart snorted. "You had your hand down his pants this afternoon."

"I didn't kiss him! Besides, how was I to know he wasn't wearing any shorts? Anyway, he might've said yes if I hadn't caught him in the zip."

"Belt up you two." Anson regarded the receiver with sheer admiration. "Christ, he'd better let Doyle breathe soon or he'll swoon on him."

As if on cue, Murphy released his victim.

"Was that necessary?" Doyle wiped his mouth with the back of his arm.

"If you would just cooperate, this job could be wound up tonight. One look at you being friendly and Gregson would snap you up like a fly on sugar."

Doyle's long suffering sigh whooshed through the receiver as Murphy's hand combed through his curls. "Is Bodie back yet?"

Bodie cringed. His passport was still in his pocket.

"Haven't seen him." Murphy investigated Doyle's left ear.

"Where'd he skive off to?" Doyle turned his head away when Murphy started to lean down.

"Why worry about Bodie when you have me?" Murphy feinted left, then swooped down from the right and kissed him.

Doyle pushed him away. Zipping his jacket all the way up, he stalked off. "Let's go."

Murphy jogged to catch up. But before they disappeared into the building, he ran his thumb slowly up and down the seam of Doyle's jeans.

Bodie tensed when he heard Doyle's grunt of protest, recognizing it as a not so early warning sign for a display of temper. Maybe it wasn't too late to bet on Murphy being the lucky recipient of Doyle's temper. After all, funerals weren't safe from the ravages of inflation, and if Doyle wouldn't pay for it, nobody else would.

"Move it." Bodie didn't need to see the expression that went along with Doyle's machine gun delivery. Murphy apparently valued his life because the only sounds emanating from the receiver once they entered the building were their feet upon the stairs.

Everyone left the window and gathered around the receiver.

A door slammed shut. The silence was finally broken by scuffling sounds.

"See!" Murphy's laughter crackled over the speaker. "I knew you missed me."

"Piss off." There was an oddly strained quality to Doyle's voice.

"I brought you something. Thought it might come in handy."

"Belt up or leave." Doyle sounded livid.

"I was just trying to get comfortable," came aggrieved protest. "How long have you been cooped up here? I think you're letting the job get to y--"

The sound of glass shattering made the listeners jump.

"Christ, Ray, you could've killed me!" There was a brief pause in the activity. "Whew! You're the one who's going to have to live with the smell. Pete must have spent all of three pounds on that stuff."

Lake groaned. "That tears it! No more presents from me."

"Shut up," Anson hissed, but there was nothing to hear. The room was totally silent.

"Who collects if Doyle killed him?" McCabe asked, ever practical.

Murphy finally broke the silence. "Are you just going to sit there and glower at me?"

More silence.

"Listen, Ray." Murphy's voice was back to its normal laconic drawl. "You just hang onto my pressie. After all, this job could drag on for weeks. You'll thank me for it one of these days."

More silence.

Lucas finally shut off the receiver. "Damn. Doyle sure is getting stroppy."

Anson shook his head sadly. "And I thought he had a sense of humor."

Bodie looked around in amazement, waiting for Rod Serling to step around the corner and put an end to the episode.

Was he the only sane person here? The card game was back in action, darts were flying, and Mastermind was still baffling Lake and Miller.

When Stevens and Pruitt arrived with the beer, Bodie grabbed five and retired to a corner to mourn in peace since nobody would do it for him when he was gone. No, that wasn't fair. He knocked back the first beer. Doyle would suffer some post-trauma guilt--briefly--for having killed his partner.

Not even Murphy sauntering through the door looking like the cat who had just molested the canary stirred Bodie from his reverie. The beer he'd imbibed by that time might have contributed to this newly acquired serenity.

"Lo, Murph." Under the circumstances, Bodie thought his greeting rather reserved, but Murphy froze in his tracks, then whirled to face him.

"Goddamn it! What are you doing here?" Murphy's shouted words bounced off the walls.

All activity in the room stopped.

Murphy, the same man who hadn't batted an eyelash when his towel was treated with itching powder, who smiled good-naturedly when the perfume laced water balloon soaked him before a briefing, who didn't say a word when twelve hookers rang his doorbell at half hour intervals all night, had just lost it.

Only Cowley mooning the Prime Minister could have been more shocking.

Murphy's eyes darted around the room. Taking a deep breath, he ground out a greeting that broke the stunned silence. "I mean...what a surprise. Good to see you."

"You and I have something to discuss later, don't we?" Gratification at being the one who finally cracked Murphy's facade blunted his immediate urge to kill. It was reassuring to know his old killer aura was still there.

Murphy shifted from foot to foot, then nodded abruptly. Once he stalked over to the opposite corner of the room, the others returned to their abnormal activities.

Bodie snagged another beer, uncapped it and sat back, waiting for the gloom to overtake him. At least with all the wagers he wouldn't have to face Doyle for a while.

He threw back his head and guzzled his sixth beer. As he waited for the last trickle of liquid to hit his tongue, he sensed a change in the atmosphere of the room.

McCabe nudged Anson, looked significantly in Bodie's direction, then waggled his eyebrows. Anson, ever quick on the uptake, blinked in confusion until McCabe pointed at Bodie, then out the window. The light switching on in Anson's brain was almost visible, but then it was a dim bulb.

The mysterious message limped around the room. Anson kicked Jax under the table, Jax threw beer nuts at Stuart's head, and Stuart hissed at Lake who proved to be the weak link.

"I was just scratching it!" Lake exclaimed defensively as he extracted the finger from his nose.

Bodie found himself the center of attention. Although he had adjusted early in life to the fact that he was indeed the center of the universe, it wasn't often the lesser beings realized their subservient status.

"Something I can do for you? Explain to you?" he asked benevolently.

"You're up," Anson stated firmly.

"And deprive you boys of your fun? Wouldn't dream of it." Cold panic gripped him.

Stuart chuckled derisively. "Told you he was chicken."

Bodie set the empty beer bottle on the floor. No way was he going to go across that street. What was one insult?

"Nah, Bodie isn't chicken." McCabe paused a beat. "He's pussy-whipped."

Challenges, even those issued by inferior beings, had to be answered. Bodie directed his most lethal expression toward McCabe. It must have been a doozy because Anson, only on the periphery, pushed away from the table.

But McCabe, having finally found an effective needle in the haystack, wouldn't relinquish it. "Doyle's had you jumpin' through hoops for years."

Stifled giggling aside, the room was silent as the protagonists stared each other down.

"I'll go." Murphy's voice was resigned, but his expression was eager. He was halfway to the door before Anson snagged his arm.

"Sit down." Anson turned his attention to Bodie. "You and Murphy are on duty. Murphy just went. That leaves you. Besides, Doyle's been asking after you."

But Bodie and McCabe were still glaring at each other.

There was nothing else for it. Bodie narrowed his eyes and upped the psycho quotient by four. It was higher than he liked to go since over-use would weaken the effect but he couldn't let this one pass.

McCabe paled and sweat broke out on his forehead. Finally he blinked and looked away.

Bodie drew himself up. "I was only thinking of your wagers."

McCabe chuckled weakly. "And I was just kidding."

Murphy chimed in brightly. "Now that that's settled, I'll go."

When Bodie's head whipped around, Murphy subsided meekly into his chair.

Bodie looked contemptuously around the room. Death by Doyle had suddenly lost its sting. With one last withering look, he strode purposefully for the door, shrugging off the hand that tugged at his coat as he passed the table.

The dignity that fueled his exit burned brightly, but quickly. His pace slowed as he fumbled for an excuse.

He could play dumb, but who would believe it?

Injury! He could tell Doyle he'd been in hospital. But where was the evidence? He eyed the brick wall consideringly. One good bash should raise a respectable bruise.

Instead, he kicked it. This was ridiculous. He had survived--barely--Doyle's diatribes before. What made the impending one so daunting was the fact that he deserved it. Partners in CI5 protected each other from danger and other CI5 agents.

He had chosen to say goodbye to Monica before jetting off to Paris instead of sneaking back and letting Doyle in on the joke. He had let his partner down. The least he could do was be a man about it.

He turned the final corner. Quietly he approached Doyle who was standing with his back to him.

"Hello, sunshine."

Doyle stiffened, then slowly turned around. Bodie gulped and took two steps back, ready to take off.

But happiness lit Doyle's features. He smiled, exhaled and leaned back against the wall. "It's about time."

Bodie approached warily. After all, the lions were probably glad to see the Christians, too.

Doyle's hand reached out and lazily pulled him forward until they were standing nose to nose, or nose to chin.

"You bastard." Doyle's breathy whisper blew across his lips.

A trap! His heart hammered.

"Stuart writes poetry, Bodie. Very bad poetry." Doyle grabbed a fistful of cowl neck and twisted. "He rhymed Ray and lay."

"Ray, I've b--" The grip tightened.

"Masters was considerate enough to bring me a book. 'Hot Boy Holes for Sale'. Ever read it?"

"R--" His vision started to blur.

"Where was my partner during all of this?"

"Par--" To hell with being a man about it. "Hospital. Just got out." He was starting to black out. "Can't breathe." He sucked in a huge breath when the relentless grip eased.

"You'll need a hospital when I'm done with you." Doyle shoved him away. "We've spent enough time on this street. Let's go."

Bodie nodded numbly. He'd let Doyle get in a few pride restoring blows, then put him down as gently as possible. No reason for both of them to go around with black eyes.

Resolved to his fate, he followed Doyle through the door and up the stairs. When they reached the landing, Doyle fumbled in his pocket for the key. Opening the door, he stepped back and motioned him through.

Bodie stepped over the threshold.

The blow that shoved him inside wasn't totally unexpected. He went with it, not even protesting when he was spun around and pushed up against the wall.

Doyle, green eyes spitting fury, had his arm cocked and aimed at his face.

Bodie shut his eyes, but the blow didn't arrive.

"Damn it, Bodie, you win."

It was a full body blow.

"Oof." He grunted in surprise as Doyle mashed him against the wall. Doyle was trying to crush him to death, or smother him. Even their mouths were glued...

He reared back instinctively, but a strong hand clamped the back of his head and held him in place.

Don't jump to conclusions, Bodie told himself hurriedly. Just because their lips were mashed together and Doyle was moaning didn't necessarily mean--

A tongue probed between his hermetically sealed lips.

There was no other word for it. He was being kissed by a man. Panic gripped him, or was that Doyle's hand?

He tried to protest but got a mouthful of tongue for his trouble, so he fought back with the only available weapon--his own tongue. Back and forth the lingual battle raged until he realized he might be giving the wrong impression. A strategic retreat was in order, but Doyle followed so far and so fast he was afraid he'd swallow both their tongues.

The same adrenalin rush that let mothers lift cars off children helped him wedge a hand between their chests and push until the suction of Doyle's mouth was broken.

Bodie wiped his mouth on his sleeve. "Very fun..."

The hope--that this was a revenge joke--died when he saw Doyle's fevered eyes and flushed face, not to mention his naked chest since his jacket and shirt already littered the floor and his fingers were working on the zip of his jeans.

"Ray!" Blind with panic, Bodie knocked away Doyle's hand and tugged the zip back up. He won the battle, but lost the war. The zip stayed up, but his hand was captured and pushed onto Doyle's crotch.

There was no doubt about what throbbed beneath his palm. It was too long for a roll of breath mints, too thick for a gun barrel, and too warm for an ice sculpture of a small porpoise.

Bodie grimaced. While not a sexual wallflower, neither was he a pansy. If Doyle thought he was going to stand here and be--

"Clever bastard," Doyle murmured as he humped against the captive palm.

That his hand was wrapped around another man's penis became irrelevant in light of the word that had just been uttered.


Doyle had called him clever. Cowley, who treated him like a moronic, yet amusing child, showed more respect for his intellect than Doyle.

The same rush of pride he'd felt when 16 year old Moira Connell opened his pants and expressed awe over his 13 year old penis assailed him.

"Enough talk." Doyle's other hand delved under his sweater. "God, you feel good."

"So you figured it out." Bodie squeezed more information out of him--literally.

Doyle moaned and writhed against him, rubbing his nipples over the buttons on his jacket. "Setting up the lads to have a go at me was brilliant. I didn't think you had it in you."

Brilliant? Better and better.

He took a deep breath and burrowed through the nest of curls until his lips found Doyle's neck. Second, not to mention third and fourth, thoughts assailed him, but after touching Doyle's cock a chaste neck nibble wasn't going to set him on the inexorable path of sexual deviation, a natural fiber wardrobe, and upholstery and draperies in a matching fabric.

He'd done worse things for information. Like a wine connoisseur, he took a small sample, then considered it. Smooth, full-bodied, but the bouquet could have been fresher.

"Oh, yeah," Doyle sighed and moved impossibly closer.

"Those inept clods?" Bodie prompted, moving his hand off Doyle's cock and onto his hip.

Short, fierce kisses punctuated Doyle's explanation. "That's being generous, but they blundered close enough to the good bits. After three days of non-stop grabbing and rubbing, I was ready to fuck a knot in the wall."

Somehow Bodie knew this was where he came into the picture. But what was his motive? Kinky woodwork?

While he was trying to puzzle this out, Doyle was making a frontal assault on his clothing. His jacket was being pushed off his shoulders. Hurriedly, he shrugged it back in place, but Doyle tugged it back. A tug-of-war ensued until Doyle disgustedly abandoned the jacket, grabbed the bottom of his cowl neck, and hiked it up.

"Mmm, that's better." Doyle zeroed in on his chest.

Bodie arched toward the wet suction. Definite pleasure alerts were being sparked by the sharp-toothed caresses scraping his nipples.

It was time to fondle the motive out of him, then get the hell away.

"So what was I after?" He trailed fingertips up and down Doyle's bare back.

The tongue on his nipple stopped in mid swirl. Doyle slowly raised his head, looking affronted. "Me, of course!"

"Of course," Bodie echoed weakly. Besides having an evil twin, it appeared he also had a gay triplet. "How did you know I wasn't just trying to get up your nose?"

Doyle rolled his eyes. "I know you, Bodie. If that was your intention, you'd've been sitting across the street with a video camera waiting for me to lose my rag. Instead, you sic the others on me, then disappear for two fucking days!"

Bodie made one last try. "It didn't seem at all strange that I'd go after you all of a sudden?"

"Getting flowers from Stuart was strange. Looking at Masters' collection of body builder magazines was beyond strange. But you, you're crazy! Maybe you were drugged with a gay serum." He took a calming breath. "I don't give a damn why you did it. You maneuvered me into attacking you, and I am. You should be happy!"

Happy wasn't the word for it. Flabbergasted worked, stunned, appalled. Doyle had flipped, or eaten one too many bean sprouts.

Doyle's next words were unintelligible mumbles. But "Fuckin' beautiful" and "drop dead eyes" were some of the phrases Bodie snapped from the jumble of groans, grunts and slurping noises emanating from the vicinity of his navel.

While it was flattering to be wanted, it was definitely time to make his escape. His body wasn't overly concerned about the sex of the tongue and fingers diligently kissing, sucking and-- ouch!--pinching across his chest. His cock was already half- hard.

He immersed his fingers in the sea of curly hair and tugged.

Doyle shook loose. "I'll get down there in a minute."

Down there?

Bodie froze. Did Doyle mean to...His cock leaped painfully to a conclusion.

What kind of man would let his best friend suck him off under false pretenses?

Moral dilemmas not being his strong point--he could identify one if it was a multiple guess test--Bodie nevertheless threw himself into this one. As he pondered the implications--well, implication since he could only think of one--Doyle dropped to his knees and licked his lips.

Bodie found his answer.

A clever man, god damn it!

And he was clever, Doyle said so.

"What did you bring me?" Doyle's fingers eased down his zip.

"Look and see." The rest of Bodie got as stiff as his cock when Doyle reached inside his pants.

"Not bad." Doyle sat back and whistled admiringly. "I'm going to suck you so hard you'll implode if you don't keep your mouth open."

"You're all talk." He clutched the wall to keep from pushing Doyle onto his cock.

"Still the hard man, aren't you?" Doyle snorted derisively. "I think you're a vein man." He lifted the heavy cock and trailed his tongue along the vein. "Or maybe you're a head man?" The tongue swirled delicately over the head.

Bodie whimpered, a charitable description of a pathetic sound.

"Nah, you want it all, don't you?" Doyle held the cock to his lips. "Don't you?"

Bodie threw his head back against the wall, knocking the groan of supplication back down his throat.

"Stubborn bastard," Doyle whispered before finally engulfing the cock.

Now the groan roared out, but it was one of pure exhilaration. Damn, but it felt good. And while he couldn't really judge Doyle's style, he got ten out of ten for enthusiasm. The pleasure was so intense, it literally curled his toes. "Oh, yeah, suck it, Doyle."

His fingers dug into the wall. Getting sucked off was nothing new, but this was entirely different. Before it was something a bird did for him.

Doyle was doing it to him.

Helpless. He was pinned to the wall with pleasure, like a fly in a web. His mind seized the phrase, applying the rhythm of it to the movement on his cock with Doyle's tongue providing the syncopated beat.

Fly in a WEB. Fly ON a web. Fly on A web.

A fly on the wall, he amended happily, content to let the pleasure pull him along. Fly ON a wall. FLY on a wall. But he didn't like flies. Bug on a wall, BUG on a wall, Bug on a WALL.

Bug in a pocket.

That tug on his pocket before he left the surveillance room...

"Oh my GOD!"

Doyle looked up triumphantly, having just licked Bodie's balls. "Knew you'd like that!" He returned to his task with renewed vigor.

Extracting one finger at a time from the plaster, Bodie moved his hand to his pocket where it hovered as he said a fast, fierce, and completely sincere prayer promising to give up all pleasures of the flesh should his pocket turn out to be bug free.

But in case it was, he let Doyle get in a few good licks before slowly edging his fingers into the pocket.

Gum wrapper. Cracker crumbs. Car keys. His fingers closed around something hard, small and round.

It wasn't a St. Christopher's medal.

Black spots swirled before his eyes. The dots bled together as his vision began to fade at the edges.

Ruined. He was ruined. CI5 was history. Even Africa wouldn't be far enough away after this. Every word, grunt and slurp had been broadcast to a roomful of drunken cretins.

His chest felt like it was about to explode. He was having a stroke. Or maybe the medical examiner would discover a brain tumor.

At the inquest, closed of course, Cowley would inquire discreetly if such a growth could explain his erratic behavior and the radical shift in his sexual orientation.

Doyle would be held for involuntary manslaughter, and even though the charges would later be dropped, the episode would leave him impotent.

Naturally his body would be preserved for science...

Before he could gauge the effect his death would have on world peace his body overruled his mind and forced him to breathe.

Consciousness rushed back with the first hint of oxygen, his lungs pulling it past his shocked body one gasping sob at a time.

A muffled chuckle and hands pushing his legs farther apart told him Doyle was still hard at work. He gasped as both his balls were captured by Doyle's mouth.

How could he be this miserable, yet feel so good?

Torn between the panic in his mind and the tongue flicking between his balls, he helplessly looked around the room for someplace to dump the bug.

The window! It was closed. Under the door! Too risky. The ash can wouldn't muffle the sounds.

Maybe he should just tell Doyle. He looked down at the happily bobbing head.

Bad idea. Doyle would be more embarrassed than he would. After all, who was doing the sucking?

So, if his life was already ruined, what harm would there be in letting Doyle finish? Just as he decided to lean back and enjoy it, he was abandoned. He slammed his bug-filled fist against the wall, hoping his listeners got an earful of static.

Doyle climbed unsteadily to his feet and wiped a shaky hand across his mouth. "You're almost there."

Bodie squeezed the bug tight. No kidding! "So finish it."

"I want to see you, all of you." He skinned out of his jeans.

Doyle's cock, bobbing a few scant inches from his own, captured his attention. It was like looking into a mirror, the carnival fun-house kind, though, that reflected smaller.

Intrigued, he shifted his body, easing his cock toward Doyle's. But at the last minute he veered away as thoughts of jumper cables popped into his head, as if he was about to attach the positive cable to the negative post. Trifling with the laws of nature could be dangerous.

But Doyle's cock came looking for him. He arched away, but it did no good. Their flesh slithered together, back and forth, until Doyle retreated. Shivering at the sensation, Bodie followed, engaging them in a duel.

Vaguely he was aware of hands tugging and pulling at him. Annoyed at the interruption he shifted as he was bid. It was a tactical error.

"Damn it, Bodie, move your hand!"

He jerked back to awareness. The only impediment between his jacket and the floor was his clenched fist.

"Are you deaf?" Doyle demanded impatiently.

He wasn't CI5's finest for nothing. "What's that at the window?"

No match for subtle cunning, Doyle looked away. "Where? I don't see anything."

Bodie looked helplessly around the room. There was nothing else for it. He popped the bug into his mouth and tried to remember if gold conducted electricity.

Doyle turned back as his jacket slid to the floor.

"Now the shirt." Doyle tugged it over his head and tossed it aside. "Isn't that better?"

"Mmmmmm." Long, drawn-out conversation being impossible, he opted for a diversionary maneuver.

He grabbed Doyle and pulled him forward until their bodies were plastered together. Doyle's mouth was already closing in at three o'clock. Remembering the thorough job the Ray-O-Vac had made of him earlier, he met him halfway, tongue in the attack mode.

Doyle must not have minded because he wilted against him and opened wide.

The tenor of the encounter began to change. Maybe it was because he had to concentrate on keeping the bug balanced under his tongue instead of dwelling on the fact he had his tongue in another's mouth. Maybe it was because he was so damn close to coming that he would have humped Cowley's leg if it got him off. But whatever the reason, he was revelling in the sensations instead of the situation.

When Doyle's hands clamped on his arse and pulled, he happily thrust back.

Everything was under control. What was the big deal anyway? He was a man of the world getting his rocks off. Doyle was putty in his hands. Just because a finger was poking at his arse hole- -

No fuckin way! Literally! He pushed Doyle away, ready to make his position on this position perfectly clear. He opened his mouth to blast him, then shut it again. Did he really want that roomful of idiots hearing him protect his virtue?

Instead, he aimed the full force of his personality directly at Doyle, shook his head meaningfully, and growled, "Umm ummm."

Doyle slid the finger inside. "Ummm is right. I'm going to fuck you rigid."

Death by bug or death by buggering. There was only one choice.

He swallowed.

"Oh no you don't," he choked out between coughs. If his insides rotted out from bug-inducted radiation poisoning at least he would die unviolated.

He reached back and grabbed Doyle's wrist.

Doyle extracted the finger, none too gently. "You'd fight to be on top of an anthill," Doyle said disgustedly. He walked over to the table beside the bed and picked up a small bag that he tossed to Bodie. "You can do me then."

He caught the sack, then watched as Doyle walked back and braced himself against the wall, his arse sticking out and his legs apart. Gingerly he opened the sack. KY jelly.

Now he understood what it meant to be too clever for one's own good.

"Well?" Doyle prompted.

He tossed the crumpled bag aside and looked at the tube lying in the palm of his hand, then at Doyle's arse. Thoughts of what it would be like to fuck a bloke had crossed his mind once or twice over the years, and here was the opportunity, literally spread before him.

He moved behind Doyle and cupped a round, firm buttock. For a bloke, Doyle was easy enough on the eyes, at least from the back. His fingers edged closer to the dark crevice.

The problems he was having with this intellectually weren't apparent to his flesh. His cock was straining toward Doyle's arse like a divining rod towards water.

"Use a lot. It'll make it easier for you to get all the way in." Doyle wriggled impatiently.

"You an authority on the subject?" He had been prepared to view Doyle's oral talents as typical of his over enthusiasm and to the impressiveness of the specimen in hand.

"Not a lot."

"Do it a lot, do you?" You think you know somebody.

Doyle shrugged. "Not really."

"More than once?" Maybe it wasn't so bad.

"Not exactly."

"Once?" It was bloody typical of Doyle to consider himself an expert after one poke.


"Almost?" Bodie rolled his eyes.

"Listen, I was gonna do it, but we were both pretty drunk. I woke up with an arse full of margarine, but nothing else, if you know what I mean."

"So you don't know what the hell you're doing." Not that he minded.

Doyle spun around. "Christ, Bodie, we're not doin' brain surgery here! Do you want me to fuck you, then?"

Bodie spun him back.

He unscrewed the cap of the tube and squeezed a glob onto his fingers and hesitantly rubbed it over his cock.

"Get a lot up there," Doyle instructed.

Up there?

He grimaced in distaste. Reaching out with his free hand, he spread the cheeks of Doyle's arse, exposing the small, puckered objective.

Hookers had done this for him once or twice. Now he was glad he'd always left big tips.

This little piggy went to market. Gingerly he pushed one finger inside.

This little piggy had roast beef. A second finger slid in.

Doyle threw his head back and moaned, and it didn't sound as if he was in pain. Bodie massaged deeper.

It was like retrieving a ring from a drain pipe. He knew what he was looking for, but he was afraid of what he'd find along the way.

This little piggy had none.

"Christ, that feels good," Doyle panted. "Do it, already!"

Bodie brought the little piggies home and wrapped them around the big piggy.

He took a deep, calming breath, then exhaled slowly, finding his center.

It wasn't there. Neither was erection. He was losing it. Doyle would never let him live this down.

"I'll have to let Murphy know I used his pressie after all," Doyle chuckled, dirtier than usual.

"Murphy?" Bodie wrapped his hand around his cock and gave it an encouraging squeeze. Keep talking, he pleaded silently. It was just a matter of time.

"He figured out your plan." Doyle leaned into the hand that was once again fondling his arse. "He knew exactly how to get me going. No grabbing for him, just a subtle thumb up and down the seam of my pants until I was ready to burst."

What time couldn't cure, purpose did. The missing piece fell into place. Murphy had set this up as cover to make a move on Doyle. That smarmy, horse-faced, green as a gourd recruit had the nerve to mess with his partner? His cock throbbed with renewed vigor.

"So Murphy was trying to move in on my action."

"Damn near stole it. I thought you were never going to show up. Didn't know how I could keep saying no. His thumb was pretty clever."

"Forget Murphy," he growled into Doyle's ear. "I'm going to fuck you up against this wall. Any objections?"

"None at all," Doyle moaned lushly.

Resolutely, he pushed his cock inside.

"Ouch!" Doyle sounded startled.

Bodie nudged forward. He wasn't doing so well himself. Too tight was never a complaint he'd ever had about sex. It had to get better.

"Bodie," Doyle gasped, "stop."

He caught his bottom lip in his teeth and leaned his forehead against Doyle's shoulder. The escape route he'd been looking for since Doyle jumped him had just been offered. But now he didn't want it.

They'd gone through too much to just quit. Since Doyle's threshold for pain was nonexistent--he said ouch before getting hit just to save time--maybe his pleasure threshold was as easy to reach. A little persuasion was in order.

"Easy, Ray. Give it a minute." He covered Doyle's clenched fist and gently squeezed.

Doyle twined his fingers around his. "I'll try."

"That's it," he soothed. "Relax." Gradually the pressure around his cock eased and he pushed a little further. "Ray?"

"It's not as bad, but it's not good." Doyle shifted slightly and winced.

Bodie kissed his shoulder. "Do you trust me?"

"Course I do."

The immediacy of the answer deserved a reward. He slid his other hand up over Doyle's ribs, then onto his chest where he pinched one nipple, then the other. "Do you trust my plan?"

Doyle arched into the massaging hand. "More every minute."

Bodie gave him a few seconds before letting his hand drift down the furry chest until it brushed lightly over Doyle's cock.

"Oh, yeah," Doyle moaned. "Touch me, Bodie."

Wrapping his fingers around Doyle's erection, he automatically adopted the same slow, steady stroke he used on himself on the rare occasions he had to make do on his own. "Do you like that, Ray?"

Actions spoke louder than words. Doyle pushed back until the last few inches of cock were imbedded in his arse.

He nuzzled Doyle's ear. "Now I'm going to fuck you rigid."

"You keep saying that," Doyle gasped.

Bodie chuckled and gave Doyle's cock a placating squeeze. Suddenly it didn't matter that it was a bloke standing in front of him, that a cock was nestled in his hand or that his own cock had never been anywhere so tight and hot.

It all came down to fucking. And nobody fucked better, harder, and longer than William Andrew Philip Bodie.

It took a few minutes to get the right angle, but he soon settled into a hard, deep stroke that soon had Doyle bucking between his fist and his cock.

Fucking was like flying, he finally decided. Once you were in the air, it didn't matter if you were in a helicopter or a plane. The approach angles and the instrument panels were different, but everything was controlled by the stick.

And Bodie was a frequent flyer.

"I'm almost there." Doyle's hand covered the one squeezing his cock.

"Give it to me," Bodie growled. Doyle sobbed once, then stiffened. Warm semen splashed their joined hands.

Bodie hovered near the edge, then as Doyle's arse contracted around his cock, he hurled himself over with one final thrust. When the last spasm rippled through him, he opened his eyes in time to see Doyle sliding down the wall.

As he looked at the huddled figure, primal male pride throbbed through his body. He fought the urge to put his foot on Doyle's back and pound his chest. Me Tarzan, you Doyle. "You look fucked out."

"You should be a detective," came Doyle's slurred reply.

"Upsy-daisy." He gripped him under the arms and tugged. "Why didn't we use the bed?" He steered Doyle toward the furniture in question, then dumped him on it.

Doyle bounced over onto his back and let loose a jaw cracking yawn. "Too many bad memories. Jax spilled his poppers on it, and Stuart sat on it to read his poetry."

Bodie flopped down beside him. He laced his fingers behind his head, crossed his feet at the ankles, and opened his mouth to say something flip, but suddenly it didn't seem appropriate.

The real world was rearing its ugly head. He still had to face McCabe and the rest of the cretins. How was he going to tell his partner?

His partner. He had just fucked his partner.

Stripped of the sexual heat, not to mention confusion and blind panic, the stupidity of the act was all too obvious. It wasn't as if he could thank him, shove him in a cab, and send flowers.

He surreptitiously glanced over at Doyle who was staring up at the ceiling. Things could get complicated if Doyle chose to be difficult.

If? Doyle was difficult the way a lemon was sour. It was the nature of the fruit.

When Doyle started to turn towards him, he quickly looked away.

Nothing was said, but the ocular game of cat and mouse continued until they both peeked at the same time and found themselves eyeball to eyeball.

The moment stretched.

"Bodie?" Doyle's unblinking gaze was solemn.

"Yeah?" His eyes narrowed warily.

"You know what I want more than anything?"

The dreaded post-coital request! Bracing himself, he dusted off THE SPEECH. "Listen, Ray, tonight was--"

"A wet towel," Doyle wriggled uncomfortably.

"really spec--" Bodie backed up. "A wet towel?"

"I'm dripping all over the place," Doyle said petulantly.

Bodie couldn't help it, he snickered. Doyle's indignant expression only made it worse. Soon he was laughing outright, the same crazy, tension-induced laughter that sometimes ambushed him after a shoot-out.

Doyle's expression darkened, but the effect was ruined when the corner of his mouth twitched into a smile.

Overwhelmed by the blessed normalcy of the moment, he grabbed Doyle in a hug and kissed him soundly.

"What was that in aid of?" Doyle asked dopily, yawning again.

"Shut up and go to sleep."

Doyle promptly nestled closer and shut his eyes. He was asleep in seconds.

Bodie blinked in disbelief. If fucking made Doyle this tractable, he'd do it every week. Maybe twice a week.

Screwing Doyle was like finding the 101st use for his swiss army knife. Already indispensable, it was now infinitely more valuable.

And, for once, he didn't doubt his importance to Doyle.

Doyle was the one who had added two plus two and come up with sixty-nine to explain the amorous advances of his fellow agents. The desire, whether conscious or unconscious, had to have been there before.

He waited until Doyle started grinding his teeth, which meant he was out for the count, then gently eased out of the embrace.

Dressing quickly, he went over to the window and peeked out the corner of the drape. Lights were still blazing in the room across the street.

"Damn." He patted his stomach, trying to remember exactly what had been said before he found the bug in his pocket. He looked over at the bed.

Running away was out of the question. Hell would be a picnic compared to the reception he was going to get from their fellow agents. Still, facing them would be easier than telling Doyle.

Quietly, he let himself out.

As he walked around the block his depression deepened as he picked out various CI5 vehicles still parked around the neighborhood. McCabe must have miked the whole episode through to headquarters. Tapes were probably already being duped.

At every Christmas party somebody would drag it out and play it. But Valentine's Day would be the worst. He could see it now--little cupids taped on their lockers, homosexual porn sent to his flat, their faces pasted onto porno pictures.

Life wasn't worth living.

He stopped short. Suicide. But not his--theirs!

He could spike a bottle of whiskey with sleeping pills, wait till they fell asleep, then shoot each of them with their own gun. It would have to be a mass suicide note...

We the undersigned, having judged ourselves to be unworthy of living...

Nah, who was he kidding? Those idiots couldn't compose a shopping list, let alone a decent suicide note.

Bodie sighed and looked up at the window. There was no reason to put it off.

He entered the building and climbed the stairs, his gun bouncing against his side with every step.

A terrorist overcame him, stole his gun, and shot everybody in the room. He abandoned the scenario. Cowley would never believe his gun could be stolen.

He threw back his shoulders, held his head high, opened the door and entered the room like a man since he'd probably be leaving it a poofter in the eyes of the world.

Nobody even looked at him.

Lake and Miller were still playing Mastermind, probably the same match by the look of it. Stuart and Donaldson had abandoned their darts and were playing poker with McCabe, Anson, Stevens, and Pruitt. Murphy was off in a corner reading.

"So?" Bodie demanded belligerently, mildly insulted that his humiliation was drawing so little attention.

Nobody answered.

He was being shunned. It was a cruel, but effective punishment. Casey only lasted three weeks before he broke down and bought odor eaters for his shoes.

Bodie wandered closer.

"What happened to the money?" he finally asked. The peanut can was empty.

McCabe slapped down his cards and rounded on him. "What do you think, you prick? We gave it all back."

"We even had to pay back the beer money," Anson whined.

"Suck me, Doyle, suck me," Lucas mimed, fanning himself with his cards and fluttering his eyebrows while Stuart flicked his tongue and produced obscene slurping sounds.

The derisive laughter burned through him. Get used to it, he told himself miserably, they were just getting started.

"I've never heard such obviously faked sex in my entire life," McCabe stated authoritatively.

"And he's heard more faked orgasms than anyone here," Anson added helpfully.

McCabe blinked in confusion, then swatted the back of Anson's head.

"Huh?" Bodie froze.

"Don't bother playing dumb." McCabe dealt a new hand.


Stuart rolled his eyes. "I can't believe you expected us to think all that thumping, pounding and moaning was you two having it off!" He looked at his cards and asked for three more. "How stupid do you think we are?"

He kept his mouth shut as a glimmer of hope stirred. He still had his reputation. Better yet, he still had Doyle.

"I suppose you snuck back early and tipped him off?" Anson looked at his hand and folded.

He shrugged modestly.

"You couldn't stand seeing all that money and not getting any of it for yourself." Donaldson threw down some chips. "Well, we were too clever for you."

He looked around the room. It was truly impossible to underestimate this group. "You caught us, all right."

McCabe pushed away from the table. "You just remember that, Bodie." He looked down at Anson's hand. "Come on, Sport. We may as well leave since you're bluffing on a pair of fours."

Anson threw down his hand. "You prick."

Lucas gathered his chips. "I'll go with you." He looked meaningfully at Bodie. "I don't like the class of people they let in here."

"Funny, I was just thinking the same thing," Bodie said sweetly. When he claimed the now vacant chair, everyone else got up.

"Piss off, Bodie." Donaldson nudged Stuart. "Let's go." He turned to Lake and Miller. "What about you two?"

Lake looked up distractedly. "I guess we can finish this tomorrow."

Miller shrugged and climbed to his feet.

Lucas stopped at the door. "Bodie, where's the bug? It's signed out to me."

Bodie patted his stomach. "It's around here somewhere. It'll turn up one of these days."

"Well, I want it back."

"The minute it appears," Bodie promised the retreating figure.

Within minutes the room was cleared. He was alone with his spotlessly macho reputation, his universally acknowledged cleverness, a roomful of trash, and Murphy.

Life was good. Damn good. He looked at Murphy benevolently. There was plenty of time to get his revenge. "Why don't you go on home. I'll work solo tonight."

Murphy looked up from his book. His expression was cold, his voice even colder. "Are you sure you aren't too tired?"

"Never felt better."

Silently Murphy gathered his glasses, dishes, crock pot, furniture and folded everything away. He was almost out the door before he stopped and dropped everything on the floor. Slowly he turned and walked determinedly back to the table.

"I don't welch on my bets." He pulled out a 20 pound note and put it on the table.

Bodie chuckled nervously. "I didn't bet."

Murphy arched an eyebrow. "But you won anyway, didn't you?"

"I didn't win anything. It was a trick." He pushed the money away.

"So Doyle is still up for grabs?"

Bodie froze. Was Doyle still up for grabs? He watched Murphy's hand reach for the money as if it was moving in slow motion.

Conflicting thoughts assailed him. If he claimed the money, and by implication Doyle, he might as well start shopping for that natural fiber wardrobe. But was he ready to stand by and watch Murphy make another move on Doyle?

Murphy rubbed his thumb along the side of his nose.

That thumb was never going to crease Doyle's trousers ever again.

It was time to put up or shut up.

"If you insist," Bodie said affably as he scooped up the money, folded it and slid it into his pocket. If he was going to stake a claim he might as well use a harpoon. He pulled out his wallet and pulled out two singles. "That's for the KY. You shouldn't have to pay for something you'll never get the chance to use."

Murphy flinched, then regained his composure only to lose it completely. He dropped into a chair and buried his face in his hands. "I was so close," he wailed. "Everything was going according to plan until you waltzed in and plucked him away. How did you do it?"

Bodie tilted back his chair and regarded Murphy warily. The abject misery sounded sincere enough, but he couldn't be too careful. Bland as he was, Murphy had come damn close to succeeding.

If Murphy ever found out how close he'd come to succeeding...

It was time to neutralize the competition. A plan started to form. Murphy hadn't let on to the others that they were hearing the real thing, so anything he said now wouldn't be repeated. If he could make him believe it was hopeless from the start...

The wheres, hows, and whys crystallized in his mind. The flawless logic of it took his breath away.

"Your plan was good as far as it went," Bodie said kindly. "You use double-think pretty well."

Murphy nodded attentively.

"But I," Bodie paused for emphasis. "I use triple-think. You see, I knew what you were after the minute you made that sucker bet with McCabe. And since I'd been thinking about tumbling Doyle for awhile anyway..."

So Bodie told him the tale of the most public seduction in the history of CI5.

After all, it was the clever thing to do.

-- THE END --

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