Among the Lilies


My beloved is mine and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies
Until the day break, and the shadows flee away.

-Song of Solomon.

Bodie's eyes flickered momentarily with surprise at the smiling figure on his door-mat. So - Ray's date had let him down, had she? Gathering his cool about him in its customary, concealing cloak he stood to one side, determined not to let any sign escape of the wild hope that had been growing in him, past sense, without reason, not to be denied, ever since Sven had made that startling, unbelievable claim.

"He loves you," he'd said. "Oh, he doesn't quite know it himself yet maybe, but he loves you."

Bodie wasn't sure he believed it, wasn't sure he didn't either, and the uncertainty made him edgy and even terser than usual.

"Help yourself to whisky," he said, reaching for his own. Doyle noted the curtness without surprise but said nothing as he found a glass, poured out a generous measure and threw himself down on the couch.

Bodie stood over him, looking down sardonically. "Stand you up, did she?"

"Last minute call." Doyle shrugged. "It comes to the same thing - just as things were hotting up nicely, too."

"Didn't occur to you, I suppose," Bodie dropped untidily into an armchair and hooked a leg over its arm, "that I might have had things hotting up nicely as well?"

"It occurred to me, yes." Doyle managed a broad grin. "I thought you could maybe do with some advice on technique."

Bodie drank deeply, eyed his partner over the rim of his glass and said nothing.

The moment stretched, only the noise of traffic outside and the faint sounds of a neighbor's television closer at hand broke the silence.

Doyle swirled the whisky in his glass; silence between them was often companionable but this was tense, unnatural - and he didn't know how to break it naturally. What had seemed so easy seated outside in his car, now hung impossibly on his tongue.

"You're a bad liar," Bodie said at last.

Doyle's eyes snapped towards him but Bodie's head was turned away, shadowed.

"What do you mean?" Doyle said defensively. He was ready to swear Bodie had not seen him earlier. He wasn't that bad at his job unless... unless his tangled feelings had made him careless.

Bodie's face swung round, triumph gleaming out of his best-polished smile. "So you did know I hadn't got someone in here," he said pointedly.

Doyle abandoned caution. "I watched you come in."

"Watched me?" Bodie's tone, like his face, was unreadable.

"Yeah." Doyle fixed him with a stare of unconscious challenge. "I saw you in the pub."

"And followed me?" Still no clue in the even voice.

"Yeah," Doyle said again. If Bodie was annoyed he was hiding it well. That meant nothing. Doyle could be on the verge of having his head separated from his body and Bodie would give no warning.

Eventually, Bodie vented a long sigh. "And I thought he was having me on maybe." Immediately, he wished the words unsaid. If Ray asked him what he meant and it wasn't true after all, and it really couldn't be - could it? Bodie wasn't used to doubt, it unsettled him, made him nervous.

"What? Who?" Bewildered by the inconsequential comment, Doyle floundered momentarily.

"It doesn't really matter," Bodie tried to read something - anything - on the cherubic face.

The green gaze slid away from the cool, appraising stare. "What did Sven want?" An unwise question, but he couldn't contain it.

Bodie didn't know whether to be pleased they'd avoided the previous topic or not. This one was nearly as bad, but Doyle had to know sometime. As well now as later.

"Us - in Geneva. Remember? Giorgio sent him to talk to us, to remind us he'll start recruiting in three months."

Startled, Doyle said, "How'n hell did Sven find you?"

"He got a message to me through... well exactly how doesn't matter now."

"It will if Cowley ever finds out."

Bodie shrugged. "Who's to tell him?"

"Cowley always finds out."

Bodie's lips pursed in a wry smile. "Then it's lucky he already knows." He watched Doyle's face, meanly enjoying its brief flash of stunned stupefaction. "Who d'you think passed the message on? Cowley'd drop his own grandmother down a sewer if he thought it was useful to CI5."

"Useful to CI5," Doyle echoed. Something in Bodie's manner was ringing warning bells in his mind. He eyed him, an edge of wariness frosting his otherwise relaxed posture. "Come on, Bodie, give. You're hiding something."

Bodie shrugged. "You'd have found out tomorrow." A small smile lifted his mouth without touching his eyes. "I'd just it rather it was Cowley who broke it to you, that's all."

"Broke what to me?"

Doyle's growing wariness would have been genuinely funny to Bodie if that young man had not been acutely aware of the peril his own skin was in. He suspected that being flayed alive would be a rest cure compared to what Ray would be burning to do to him any minute now. "He wants us to go."

Doyle's mouth hung, goldfishlike, gasping in disbelief. He forced it closed, swallowed painfully over the mouth- drying effect of sudden, panic-stricken apprehension. "Who wants us to go where?"

He knew it was a fatuous question. Bodie knew it too. A gleam of sympathy overlaid his guilty amusement. He spelt it out for both their sakes. They needed to face the implications after all.

"Cowley wants us to go to Geneva. He wants to make contact with Giorgio. A small question of information... maybe a connection with a terrorist group. You know Cowley... personal considerations don't matter."

"Personal consideration?" Doyle's face was a careful, controlled blank hiding his furiously overworking mind. How the hell much did Cowley know for god's sake? And how the hell had he found out? He compressed his mouth over a compelling urge to utter raging accusations.

Bodie's own mouth quivered into a reluctant smile. "Don't blame me, Sunshine," he said as lightly as he could, as lightly as he dared. "I wasn't the one who sang like a little canary."

A cold, painfully squeezing hand took hold of Doyle's guts. His eyes narrowed. Half an hour ago everything had seemed so easy and straightforward - walk in, seduce Bodie, live happily ever after - or for as long as they could. Now his carefree plans lay in ruins and the tentative, stumbling beginning of what might have become beautiful to both of them had been stained by the curious pawing of probing fingers.

"Stop talking in shorthand," he growled angrily.

"You really need me to spell it out for you?" Bodie's voice was careless but his eyes were bleak. "Cowley knows what happened eleven weeks ago and thinks he can make use of it to find out what he wants to know about Giorgio's plans. Don't look at me like that." His voice sharpened and was consciously brought under control. "I blew my top when he told me. I said I wasn't the one who sang, well in a way I did but Cowley had heard most of it before." He blinked; that interview with the Cow had been one of the hardest of his life to date. He still wasn't sure that the head of CI5 had not seen that one of his toughest men was on the verge of bawling. "I spelled it out for him though. Told him it could involve us in having to fake a foursome and asked him if he really thought we could carry that off. He just sat there and looked at me with that fishy eye of his and then said that a foursome might just persuade Giorgio to talk indiscreetly."

"Is he out of his mind?" Doyle snarled furiously. "Or does he think we actually enjoyed what we had to do back there? Didn't you tell him it was a ruse - just a way out of a sticky situation?" Suspicion flared in him to die at birthing. No, he knew Bodie too well to think he'd take advantage of what had, at the time, seemed the only way out. Bodie had been as reluctant as he was too, it had been a hell of a risk for both of them, but more for Bodie who stood to lose what little he'd had... But Doyle had trusted Bodie with his life, had trusted him with his body. His partner wouldn't betray that trust for his own gratification. Bodie had his own, weird set of morals.

The moralist shrugged a little angrily. "He knows why we did it," he said coldly "He says if we managed it once we can do it again if necessary. I did point out the situation would be rather different, but he didn't want to know."

"A foursome," Doyle raged, refusing to see Bodie's inner hurt. "He's got to be kidding."

Bodie shook his head. "He isn't."

Doyle shut his eyes painfully. No, Cowley never joked. He let the situation sink in, still almost unable to believe Bodie was serious in spite of his conviction to the contrary. But if Bodie had been trying to have him on, his voice would never have carried that inner edge of misery. Awake now to the tight-held-in despair, he opened his eyes again, searching the harshly handsome face, seeking his own answers.

"How do you feel about it?" he asked abruptly. Bodie's expression darkened ominously. "What are you trying to suggest...?"

"Nothing - nothing," Doyle put in quickly, afraid of pushing his friend too far. "Bodie, I..." It wasn't easy to find the right words and they were important, very important. "It isn't you I object to." There was an ominous heat around his neck; he hoped to hell he wasn't going red. He'd never be allowed to forget it if he did. "In fact I... I..." Oh shit, why couldn't he just say right out he wanted to make it with him, or was he afraid Bodie would take flight at any open admission? Whatever else, he didn't intend to offer any words of commitment, at least not yet and maybe not ever.

Bodie gulped down the last of his drink and rolled the empty glass between his hands, watching his own aimless movements as if intent on ignoring his partner. However, he was not. Doyle's stumbling fall into silence had told its own tale. "Ray - why did you come here tonight?"

At the jerky whisper something tore free in Doyle, liberating him from reticence and embarrassment alike. Geneva - and its attendant problems - was three months away. Even Cowley was safely in the never-land of 'later'. Tonight there was he and Bodie and what they might make of their lives. If he waited, sulking because of something that might never even happen, he could risk their chance of happiness. Either of them could die by a bullet tomorrow - or get run over by a number 9 bus! He stood up, put down his drink, dropped to his knees in front of Bodie's chair and taking the empty glass away from him, set it down beside his own.

"I came here to seduce you, Sunshine," he said. "Think I can do it?"

Bodie's gaze lifted then, in capitulation to hope, in mingled shock and awakening, hopeful wonder. His lids' usual arrogant droop had deserted them and the insolent set of the mouth was softened, lending the proud features a new vulnerability.

"Don't," he said pitifully. "Ray, don't play games."

Doyle's own face softened, teasing and loving. "Would I?" he asked, wounded. Then seriously, "I'm not playing, Bodie. I'm here - if you want me."

Frozen, Bodie stared back, not quite able to believe that what he wanted so much was being offered, that it wasn't some hideous jest, that he wouldn't soon wake shaking and sticky-bellied in the solitary darkness of his bed.

Seeing his partner's unaccustomed uncertainty, Doyle's guts turned simultaneously to water and flame. He uttered an inarticulate, consolatory murmur and reached out, pulled the dark head close and claimed the mouth for his own.

The first kiss was only a tentative sliding of lips, a gentle promise of more before they drew apart for visual confirmation that the other was all right, that this crazy, impossible beauty was not about to blow apart taking them with it.

One long look was enough; their quickened breathing and clouded, intent gaze said it all without words for now and their mouths met again, this time opening softly to offer and entice, moist tongues discovering dizzy sweetness in each other. A tiny gasp from Doyle, the barest tremor of a shudder through Bodie and the kiss grew more eager, less afraid, more openly erotic.

Doyle let his hands slide over the curled-up form, encountered prominent elbows, obtrusive knees. He pulled away.

"I can't get at you. What time did the bailiffs leave?"

"Huh?" Bodie wasn't usually so slow but he had other things on his mind at the moment than trying to follow the obliquer shafts of Doyle's questionable wit."

"I thought," Doyle said with exaggerated patience, "since you seem so determined on doing this the hard way in an armchair, that maybe they'd finally caught up with you and taken the bed away for non-payment of debt! I can't get at you, Bodie. Like I can't get your bloody clothes off and what I want to do is better with your bloody clothes of or hadn't you heard?"

Concentrating on the one item he had really heard in this flood of irrelevancy, Bodie said bemusedly, "The bed's still there. At least it was last night."

"We'd better check on it then," Doyle told him solemnly. "Just suppose some villain's half-inched it during the day, mate."

Bodie blinked, gathering his wayward senses. "Then there'll be all the more room on the floor for us, won't there?

Acknowledging the truth of this with a smirk, Doyle pulled him to his feet and pushed him towards the bedroom. "That way - how's the hot water supply?"

"There's plenty." The brief break had given Bodie time to clear his mind, to gather some of his poise and get a grip on things. He began stripping off his clothes, discarding them carelessly. "D'you want a shower first then?"

"Some of the things," Doyle said, jerking at his sweater a little breathlessly, "I plan to do to you, a shower's..." The rest of the sentence faded, muffled in the neck of his sweater. Bodie didn't ask for a repetition. The little he had heard caused his insides to churn, rousing an unaccustomed trembling. He followed Doyle into the shower, putting out a hand to stop him as he reached for the control.

"Ray, are you quite sure?"

His partner turned, the full mouth sensuously parted; it widened into a smile without teasing or challenge and the green gaze drew Bodie's eyes down to jutting flesh. "He's sure," Doyle nodded indulgently, "so who am I to argue?"

Bodie's hand jerked as though to reach out and touch but was hastily thrust behind his back. Doyle watched him catch his teeth on his lower lip, noted the suspicion of a tremble with a sweet piercing in his gut. Was he really that important to this devoutly self-sufficient man--and would Bodie ever admit it to him? One thing he felt sure of, there were certain words that would frighten Bodie for ever, drive him back into the cynical shell from which he regarded the world.

A great tenderness filled him, an urge to give that had nothing to do with sexual passion but which could be ably demonstrated through the medium of mutual lust. He lifted a hand to Bodie's face. "You weren't afraid to touch me last time," Even to his own ears, his voice sounded husky.

Bodie's face quirked in rueful amusement and self- deprecation. "Who're you kidding? I've never been so bloody terrified in my life as I was that night, mate." Again that sweet lance sped through him. "If we don't turn the water on soon, sunshine..." he said shakily. He didn't dare finish the sentence.

Bodie reached across him and turned the tap. The first rush of water was ice-cold and Doyle gasped, retreating involuntarily, fetching up against the hard warmth of Bodie stepping into the small space behind him. Two arms came round him, steadying them both.

"A bit eager, aren't we?" Bodie said, the insidious slide of his hands belying his admonitory tone.

"Not any more," Doyle had just got his breath back.

"Huh?" Bodie's jaw sagged.

Doyle grinned. That had shaken his partner. "I don't suppose you've ever tried the effect of a cold shower as a passion killer. Too much of a sybarite you are."

"Nah." Bodie shook his head. "I don't hold with those foreign religions. And what do you mean, passion-killer?" His hands turned his chuckling and not unwilling partner and he surveyed the now-wilted organ, his mouth curved in a disappointing droop. "Tut, tut, we can't have that. We'll have to do something about it, won't we?"

Doyle had the temperature adjusted to a comfortable level now. He pulled Bodie under the water with him. "Yes, please. Do something about it, Bodie."

The blue eyes met his. The arrogant lips essayed a smile, parted and emitted a groan. "Ray! Oh, Christ, Ray!" Doyle grabbed the dark head tightly, pressing against the lean body and silently demanding a kiss. The water streamed over their heads and into their busily working mouths until they broke apart, choking and gasping from the combined effect of the water and newly admitted feelings.

"Wash!" Doyle said. "I suppose you own such a thing as a bar of soap?"

Bodie took it from the wall holder and began to apply it to Doyle's body, working up a good lather. Enjoying the intimacy, Doyle let him soap his chest and back, buttocks and legs, but when Bodie turned him, he took the bar away and scrubbed at him in his turn, rubbing steadily over him.

Something--anticipation, shyness even--made him avoid Bodie's crotch as he had avoided the direct touch on his own genitals, but he watched hungrily as Bodie soaped himself, attending to his own cleansing and trying to imagine it was Bodie's hands on him. He grinned sheepishly as their eyes met.

"O.K. So I'm afraid too," he confessed.

Bodie put down the soap. "I hope it's not going to last. A nice pair of fools we'll look if it does."

"I doubt it." Doyle grinned and began to rinse off. "I have a great faith in your resilience... not to mention this precious technique of yours you've spent so many years boasting about."

"Yeah." Bodie smirked. "Gonna learn a thing or two tonight, you are mate."

"Good." Doyle turned the water off with one hand and pushed Bodie up against the wall, trapping him. "Well, I'm willing, Casanova, I'm willing."

Bodie squirmed under the dual attack of the cold, tiled wall and the warm slippery body and panicked. Too much, too soon. He lunged forward, ducking under Doyle's arm. "I'll get you a towel." He retreated self-consciously, every inch of his bared backside aware of those unabashed green eyes. Hell, in spite of Doyle's admitted fear his partner seemed more in control, more sure of what they were doing than the experienced Bodie. Maybe he just wasn't so involved. A shudder shook the ex-mercenary. Ray must never know just what he meant. He'd shy away from pathetic words like 'love' and 'always'. Burying his head in the small airing cupboard, Bodie whipped his fast disappearing sense of self-preservation back into shape. A fine fool he'd look if he succumbed to the temptation to say all the things he wanted to say, pleaded with Ray to stay with him forever, love him...

He flung a huge bath-sheet Doyle's way. "Don't be too long, sunshine," he said airily, scooping his own towel off the rail. "I don't want to wait for ever."

He wandered into his bedroom, towelling down, abandoning it to pull curtains, adjust lights, turn down the bed. Thank god it was warm. This was not a night for bundling under a duvet or getting goosepimples on your ass - at least, not cold-related goosepimples. A shiver of anticipation thrilled through him, translated to a jump and a gasp of fright as warm breath tickled his neck.

Doyle nibbled his ear, laughing throatily. "Your nerves are shot to hell, Bodie."

"D'you always creep up on people?" he complained.

"Only those I'm seducing." Doyle's hands slid down his partner's flanks, paused on his thighs, his fingers curving inwards. He pressed the length of his body down Bodie's back, allowing him to feel the hardness of his arousal and peered over his shoulder to enjoy the reactive throb of Bodie's burgeoning erection.

"Come on, get into bed before we both come all over the carpet," he muttered thickly, pulling away but retaining a powerful grip on Bodie's arm.

Their descent to the bed was neither planned nor dignified, was even for Doyle - who was on the receiving end of an elbow in the ribs - mildly painful, but suddenly these things no longer mattered above the here and now, above the painful thudding of excited heart-beats, the shallow, hard-to-catch breaths. Enchanted by Bodie's tentativeness and possessed of an aching tenderness, Doyle abandoned any thoughts of trying to brazen out his inexperience of same-sex. Bodie knew it, for god's sake, wouldn't think any the less of him for it. He rolled over, making room for Bodie, and held his arms out. "Come on," he whispered, unknowing that his face shone with naked trust, "come and show me how to make love, Bodie."

The hard-boiled mercenary emitted a sound suspiciously like a sob and went into his arms. He put everything he knew into his worship of the slim body, shaken and intoxicated by Doyle's total surrender to him. Using his hands, lips, teeth and the sliding pressure of his own yearning flesh, he coaxed response from the shuddering form, filled with a desperate need to taste every inch of him. Finally he approached the ultimate object of his longing, the straining penis that bobbed with every breath Doyle took.

Bodie looked up, found Doyle's eyes fixed on him in breathless expectancy, tried to smile and then, afraid that the pricking of joyous tears would become a shaming reality, bent his head to take Ray in his mouth.

The salt-sweet, clean taste of him was heady. He moaned, deep in his throat, and applied himself fervently to his task. Soon - all too soon - Ray was writhing under him, crying out semi-coherently.

"Bodie. Oh, god, Bodie. I'm going to come. Bodie, I'll come in your mouth. Bodie!"

Did he think he shouldn't? Bodie thought wonderingly. He wanted Ray to come in his mouth, wanted to taste all of him, know all of him. He sucked harder, pleading silently with his tongue... and Ray was rippling within him, spurting into his mouth.

He swallowed greedily, heart pounding furiously, then once Ray's body lay still de drew back, licking luxuriously at the beginning-to-soften organ as he let it slip slowly from his mouth, then he laid his cheek upon its dampness and uttered a sigh of total content.

More emotionally shattered than he had ever been, Doyle finally found the strength to move, and reaching down, pulled the unresisting Bodie up into his arms and buried his face against him.

"Beautiful," he whispered.

"Mmmm." Still aroused, Bodie was finding concentration hard but he didn't want to spoil the moment for Ray, rush him unnecessarily. He wrapped an arm around him, surprised to find a slight trembling beneath his hands. Shocked and concerned he said questioningly, "Ray, what's wrong?"

"Wrong?" Doyle's hands tightened on him. "Wrong? You do that to me and then ask what's wrong?"

"But you're shaking. Anyone'd think it was the first time..." A horrible, terrible, wonderful suspicion flooded Bodie. "Ray, was it the first time?"

He felt Doyle's cheek move in a tremulous smile and then the green eyes looked up at him, simultaneously teasing and pleading.

"If you mean was it the first time anyone's ever gone down on me, no it wasn't," Doyle said softly. "But it's not a thing I make a habit of."

"Don't you like it?" Bodie was horribly afraid.

"Oh, yes, I like it." Doyle was smiling properly now, and genuinely amused. "What's the matter, did you think I was shocked or something?"

"Well, I did wonder." Bodie settled them both more comfortably.

"It was just..." Doyle paused and then met his eyes, his own expression rueful. "I know it's going to sound damn silly but the very first time a girl ever did it to me, well, I guess I must have talked her into trying something she wasn't ready for really. I'm not sure I was either, come to that. I came almost at once, just couldn't help it... and she promptly threw up all over me. It was a bit off-putting, to say the least. Since then, I've never let anyone go the whole way like that." There was a tense little pause. Doyle half expected Bodie to laugh--there was a pathetic silliness about the old story after all... The comforting grip tightened as Bodie pulled him even closer murmuring, "Wasteful little cat. You won't catch me chucking it away like that."

"You didn't mind?" Doyle couldn't help the question. Bodie leaned up on one elbow and looked down at him, gripped by so many emotions, so many different feelings at once it was hard to define any of them with precision. Near the top of the pile was a huge, welling protectiveness that made him want to gather Ray up and keep him safe from all the hurts and cruelties of the world. Deeper but still strongly contending for attention was an astonished gratitude that Ray should have been able to share such a painful memory with him--he'd always had the impression Ray thought him incapable of understanding any of the finer emotions, damnit he'd always intended he should think it! Deepest of all and probably strongest and most important was a humble joy that Ray trusted him enough to confide in him. Him mind? He'd never been so overwhelmed by an experience before and in such a varied life as he'd led, that was saying something.

"That's not quite the way I'd put it," he said gently. "It wasn't a question of not minding I wanted it, wanted the taste of you." He leaned down and kissed him hungrily. "You taste fantastic," he whispered, their lips still touching. "And it was a first time for me, too, sunshine."

Startled, Doyle looked up at him. "But you've had other male partners."

"Not like that," Bodie told him. "No way. You're special, Ray."

A huge, delighted smile spread over Doyle's face. You're pretty special yourself." He reached up to him, gripped him fiercely round the neck and then pulled him down abruptly and rolled him over.

Pleased at the break of mood--Bodie had a shaky feeling that things might have been about to get out of hand and words might have been spoken he'd afterwards regret--he growled, "And about time, too. I can't stand these people who leave you in mid-air just because they're satisfied."

"You didn't come?" Doyle asked guiltily.

"Not yet," Bodie replied pointedly. "You seemed to be too occupied to be concerned about me."

"I"m sorry." Doyle's face was a study in mock humility. "Would you like me to do something about it now?"

"Yes!" Bodie roared ferociously. "Yes, I would. Now!"

The next moment he was melting under an onslaught of kisses, his limbs weakening as Ray bent over him. Every touch burned, leaving a trail of cold fire followed by the hot moistness of Doyle's mouth. Without even thinking about it, Bodie surrendered, offering himself to the exquisite loving with not even a token protest of male/dominant assertion rising in his mind. It wasn't until much later that he realised how great his trust in Doyle was, that he had not feared his total submission would be abused. That Ray would give the same at his need, had given it already.

Inexperienced with same sex Doyle may have been, but he was not shy, not any more. Summoning up every fantasy he'd ever had, every bit of knowledge he'd acquired of his own sexuality, he pleasured his partner with a sensuality that had the cool, world-weary Bodie lying in rapturous abandon, freely moaning his delight as he came in the warm, wet security of Doyle's mouth.

As he stirred with returning life, Bodie noted that his friend had already hardened again.

"Lie close to me, Ray," he whispered, putting one arm round his shoulders to draw him nearer, then with the same expert touches he had used in that far away cell, but accompanied this time by real, open-mouthed kisses--deep oral explorations--and the cooperative, clinging, pleading limbs of his lover, he brought him to a second, triumphant climax with his hand.

Much later, the edge having been taken off mutual desire leaving them temporarily replete but still wakeful with the newness of this, with the need to explore further, Doyle let his hand lie intimately over the muscled curve of Bodie's ass and said lazily, "You know what we're doing, don't you?"

"I had heard there was a name for it, but," Bodie said virtuously, "my nannie always made me wash my mouth out with soap if I talked dirty. Ouch, that hurts."

Doyle grinned, slowly releasing the flesh squeezed between his thumb and forefinger. "We're working."

"Working?" An expression of unholy glee lit Bodie's face. "So we are! Whenever Cowley wants maximum performance in the line of duty he makes us take a refresher course. Pity we don't get overtime for it."

"How'd we word it on the claim form?" Doyle demanded practically. "What's the technical term for screwing in the line of duty?"

Bodie pondered that. "Expenses occurring from the high cost of loving," he said, employing an exploratory hand, "caused by rising inflation." His finger traced a line along Doyle from root to tip to emphasize his point.

Doyle gave a low snicker. "They'd tell us to do it for love, same as they always do." He cupped his hand over Bodie's. "Did I get round to telling you you're pretty good at that?"

"I should be," Bodie was grinning evilly. "I put in plenty of practice by myself, don't I?"

Came the morning, alive with the shrieks of children passing on their way to school, the noisy clatter of a milk float, the rattle of a letter box.

Doyle stirred, peeled himself stickily away from Bodie's hot body and then sank back again muttering, "Oh what the hell, why bother?" He was comfortable. What did it matter if he was melting, if both of them dissolved away? Let Cowley try and send them to Geneva then! He sniggered, spluttering when the hair on Bodie's chest tickled his nose.

"Mmm?" Bodie wasn't properly awake, reluctant to move, to spoil this moment. He wanted to hold it, encapsulated, tuck it away greedily and keep it. He realised his arms had tightened when Doyle gave a tiny grunt.

"Oof - practising to be a gorilla are we?"

"This bed's hot and wet enough to make one feel at home."

"Gorillas don't live in tropical rain forests."

"Don't they?" Bodie said lazily. He didn't care either way. Let 'em live where they liked, do what they liked. The world was big enough for them as well.

"No - at least I don't think so," Doyle said doubtfully.

"Does it matter?"

"No, I suppose not," Doyle relapsed into silence again, wishing he had the energy to move. He wanted to look at Bodie, to see if the incredible, gentle lover of last night was still there or if rough, tough, cynical Bodie was back.



"Look at me."

"What for? You're no beauty first thing." Doyle lifted his head obediently though.


When the kiss had ended, Doyle said, "You're insatiable."

Bodie chuckled, running a hand down to his partner's groin. "I'm insatiable?"

"Okay, we're insatiable." Doyle didn't sound as though he found it particularly disagreeable.

Half an hour later he sat up. "We'd better get up."

"What for?" Bodie stretched lazily.

"A pee and breakfast. I'm bloody hungry. Got anything in we can eat?"

"I guess so. Coffee. Toast. There might be a few eggs, I'm not sure. Better sniff 'em first if there are."

"What a marvelous housekeeper you are." Doyle said admiringly, climbing out of bed and shambling towards the bathroom.

Bodie watched him go, experiencing an odd pang as he did so. They had to talk about this - couldn't let it drift into a something or nothing situation. Correct that. He didn't want it like that, he wanted more, needed more. He was growing up now, acknowledging the need for permanence and stability of even the most fleeting kind. But how would Ray take it? How would he react to a suggestion of commitment? He was afraid to speak, even more afraid not to. Damn Cowley and his hare-brained, single-minded ruthlessness. They couldn't risk this just for Queen and Country... could they? Come to that would Queen and Country want them afterwards if they did? Cowley seemed to think they might be useful anyway. A foursome?

Giorgio's hands on Ray? Or worse, Giorgio wanting to screw... NO! Bodie's hands clenched into fists, pounded the pillow in anguished fury. If anyone was going to do that, he was - but not yet, not until they were good and ready, both of them.

That thought scared him, staring ahead with blank, unfocussed eyes. He'd been taken in the past - it was a risk you accepted in casual male/male sex born of desperate need and the weird closeness engendered by temporary release from physical danger, but it had always been after a fight, always as the winded, raging victim, always a brutal rape without consent. Now he wanted to give as well as take, to acknowledge Ray's maleness as a part of their individual truths -

Shit, he'd really got it bad, lying here being deeply philosophical after the most joyful night he'd ever known, the most involved, caring partner he'd ever had.

A grinning face was watching him from the end of the bed, damp, tousled curls spreading a halo-like nimbus about it in the light from the window, belying the eye's devilish gleam. "Come to any conclusion?" Doyle asked cheerfully.


"About the inner meaning of life - or whatever you were thinking about," Doyle told him. "Sounded like the works of Big Ben getting ready to strike. Creaks and moans, strained machinery..."

"Don't be so bloody cheerful this early," Bodie said sourly, heaving his legs over the side of the bed. He might have known the object of his thought would be unimpressed by his partner's concern, even without knowing it was being offered.

Over a cup of coffee Doyle said, "What were you thinking about?"

Bodie didn't pretend to misunderstand. "Us."

"Want to talk about it?"

"No - but we have to."

Doyle studied him consideringly. "Why don't we just take it as it comes, one step at a time? That makes more sense than trying to come to conclusions and make decisions with our balls in knots." He caught a quick flicker of... something on Bodie's face; he wasn't sure what the swift, goaded look meant. "What's the matter - have you got it all out of your system already?"

"Have you?" Bodie wasn't going to give anything away.

Doyle grinned impudently. "No - and neither have you. Don't try and kid me or yourself into believing you have either. There's a lot more where that came from."

He reached for the jam jar. Bodie's hand shot out and fastened on his wrist. "Why did you come here last night, Ray?"

"Told you, didn't I?" Doyle tried to jerk his hand away, but seeing Bodie wasn't having any, shrugged mentally, abandoned flippancy and decided to take the risk on the whole truth.

"When I saw you with Sven I wanted to twist his balls off, screw you rigid and then beat the living daylights out of you."

The imperious set of Bodie's mouth returned, hardened. "You've seen me with plenty of girls recently."

"Girls... aren't important to you," Doyle said softly. "They don't threaten me." He saw Bodie's doubt, hard though that young man tried to cover it and came to another decision. "D'you want me to say it all -- now? I can if you like."

"Yes. Say it."

Outwardly, Bodie was all calm, his face watchful but showing nothing. Doyle had seen him like this a hundred times with witnesses, casual, careless, deceptively peaceable. The inner tension - excitement - never showed. Now it betrayed itself in the hand that gripped his so hard it hurt.

"I tried to say it before," Doyle told him, "on that journey to hospital. I knew then that you wanted me, that you cared... I heard the things you said to Sven, too, or some of them. I tried to tell you... I just couldn't make you understand, that was all. It didn't frighten me or worry me, I wasn't even surprised. It all made sense, all fitted into the scheme of things. But then when I was better, I wasn't sure any more. I didn't know if I would ever be, until last night, when I realized it was up to me, that you'd never talk, never say it, so I came to say it for both of us. I love you."

The hand on his had relaxed its aching grip, now it drew away, lifting, pleading for silence as Bodie fell to studying the floor.

Doyle smiled and came round the table to pull him close. "I know - daylight makes you feel a bloody fool, doesn't it? Tonight maybe, or some other time when the barriers are down..."

"No." Bodie's face was muffled against his partner's waistline, burrowed into the borrowed sweater, his arms tight round Doyle's hips. "Love you, Ray - need you."

Doyle's stomach contracted, his legs threatening to drop him if Bodie let go. "You didn't have to say it."

"I did. Honesty - that's the only thing, with each other, with Cowley..."

"Cowley!" Doyle's face mirrored his horror. "Have you gone crazy? He'll tear us apart."

"And back us to the hilt." Bodie's grip loosened. "I've had time to think this out. Look, it's not illegal in England to go to bed with another fella - only in the services - the only reason they don't like it is the blackmail angle. If everyone knows, if it's out in the open, no one can try it on us, can they?"

Doyle had to acknowledge the sense of it, but he still didn't like it. "Everyone?"

A small grin lightened Bodie's face. "We won't actually have to put an announcement in the Times, sunshine," he said soothingly. "Just admit it privately to a select circle of friends, relatives and bosses. The ones who matter. The ones who might be hurt or who could hurt us if they found out any other way." Seeing Doyle's still-dubious expression he added painfully, "I knew you'd hate it. That's one reason why I never tried..."

"No." Doyle said it swiftly, emphatically. "I don't hate it. It just takes a bit of getting used to, that's all. Damn it, Bodie, I've only known myself for a few weeks. Give me a little time for God's sake."

Bodie looked at his watch. "We've got until 0900 hours tomorrow. Twenty one hours and forty-five minutes. Then we face Cowley. Is that time enough?"

Doyle shrugged, summoning up an insouciance he was far from feeling. "Guess it'll have to be. Good job I'm a quick learner."

"Good job," Bodie told him arrogantly, "that you've got a bloody good teacher!"

-- THE END --

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