A Voice Is Heard in Ramah


AUTHOR'S NOTE: Unless somebody knows something that my crowd of slashwriters doesn't, this appears to be unique - a crossover between "The X-Files" and "The Professionals." For those readers on non-Pros lists, you may enjoy this anyway, but borrowing a tape of "Pros" from a friend would help you immeasurably first. For those of you on non-XF lists - if you've never watched XF, this will still make a good bit of sense, though XF viewers will get more references than you do. For the sake of continuity, this is circa 1980 or so. Fox Mulder's in university, well pre-XF series, and Bodie and Doyle are approximately their ages on "Pros;" in real time they'd be just a few years older, somewhere in their 30's. Thanks to JiM for beta and Dawn for support - both also fans of the boys on both shows.

"A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are no more."
--Jeremiah 31:15

"So, sunshine," Ray Doyle called to his partner as Bodie exited CI5 controller George Cowley's office, "what's up with Cowley?" He ran a hand through his mop of curls anxiously, prepared to hear the worst. Cowley was known for irascibility, especially at the antics, as their behavior was dubbed, of his two best agents. As Doyle hadn't been summoned, he supposed it was Bodie alone who'd sinned this time.

"Nothing much," Bodie replied. He adjusted his jacket; Doyle, as he always had, bit his tongue at the sight. No point in ruining a good partnership like that, was there? Besides, Bodie had always been partial to the birds, hadn't he? "It's the serial killer in Dorset we helped on. Cowley's giving us the whole case and is bringing in an assistant."

"An assistant?" Doyle echoed, annoyed, as they strode down the corridor. "We've gotten further than anyone else in this agency by ourselves, haven't we, mate? Jax couldn't do a thing with the case himself; we've done more with it than anyone could. What's the Cow doin', giving us a Yard man to play dogsbody? Blast the bloody Minister for yanking the Cow on this; this isn't our line, anyway."

"No, it's not. But when their relatives get murdered, they figure they deserve special handlin'." Bodie stopped by a door. "Fancy some coffee?" Doyle nodded, trying not to notice his partner's body, and they entered the CI5 cafQ. Bodie paid for two coffees, flirting mildly with the new girl at the register, and they took seats at a table near the doorway. "Ray," Bodie said casually, "you remember the Monte Phipps case?"

"Vaguely." Doyle bit his lower lip and focused, relishing the opportunity to take his mind off of Bodie and to concentrate on something else. He'd left the police by the time of the Phipps case; that had been the Yard's baby. He had followed it, but only in the news; no one he'd known had worked on it to pass on any stories. "Proper mess, that was, as I recall."

"Remember how the Yard finally solved it?" Bodie sipped at his steaming mug.

Doyle pursed his lips thoughtfully, green eyes staring at his own mug, worn government seal facing him squarely as he looked at it. "Hmmm. Phipps. Wait - the Yard brought in a consultant. Right, I remember now. Some Yank student at Oxford. Practically had ESP, they said, right?"

"He's a psychologist, or studying to be one. Name's Fox Mulder. Seems to have a gift for what the Yard boys call profiling. It's a cross between analyzing the criminal from the clues at the crime scene and flat-out mind readin'. This Mulder bloke apparently comes a little closer to the mind readin' than anything else. He doesn't claim to be psychic but the Yard doesn't know how he does it. Word is he's already been tapped by the Yanks to work for the government. Their FBI, Cowley says. Anyway, he talked to someone at the Yard who knows our Mr. Mulder, and the young gentleman's apparently happy to lend a hand, or some brain cells, or whatever, to the case. So we're to work with him and make him welcome."

"Ah, a real junior G-man, eh?" Doyle laughed and raised his mug to Bodie. "Well, any port in a storm, I say. We need a break on this case, and if he can give us one I don't much care if he gets it from readin' tea leaves at an ABC shop. Nobody else has been able to do anything with it. I'll be nice as I can, so don't you bite his head off either, eh?"

Whatever Ray Doyle had expected - and, to be honest, he had no idea what to expect - Fox Mulder in the flesh was not it. No one could look less Oxford, less "law enforcement", or less Gypsy fortune teller. Expensively tailored, well shod, he was far from Whitehall in appearance either. He looked the proverbial rich boy with too much time on his neatly manicured hands. Bodie appeared to be eyeing he younger man's wardrobe with admiration, Doyle noted; unlike himself, Bodie was a clotheshorse.

A Fox Mulder, beyond the wardrobe, was a tall, lanky creature, with a mop of unruly brown hair, pained hazel eyes - what on earth could hurt that much when you were that young? - and lips that made Doyle chew on his own to keep from thinking about what they might be able to do. No reason to believe Mulder any more available than Bodie though, was there? And any boy that pretty couldn't be short on the birds flocking round, either. Especially with that haunted, Byronic expression.

Doyle ran his tongue over his lower lip unobtrusively. If he kept biting his lip every time he tried checking himself on his impulses towards his partner, his lip would be severely chapped. If this case didn't end soon, so that he didn't have to contemplate both Bodie and the pretty boy standing there, he'd have no lower lip left. Given a choice, his partner, solid and muscular, was much more Doyle's type.

However, he wouldn't throw the Yank out of bed - not that there was any more chance of finding him there than there was of finding Bodie there. Doyle resolved to settle the problem by volunteering for all legwork on the case, and letting Bodie and Mulder work together. They'd hardly notice each other. And he'd have to deal with neither of them more than he had to; that should reduce the misplaced temptation.

Bodie handed the files over to Mulder in Cowley's office after the briefest of introductions all round by the great man. Mulder, standing by Cowley's desk, flipped the top folder open, perused one page of notes idly, then stared intently at several photographs of victims, all boys between the ages of eight and fifteen. He nodded grimly, his lips set. "I can work with this," he said to Bodie with a coldness that turned blood to water. Someone who'd been doing this for a while might be relatively indifferent to this sort of violence, Bodie thought, but this was only Mulder's second effort, hardly time to become jaded over children's deaths. Was he treating six murders of young boys as an academic exercise?

That seemed unlikely, Bodie decided; more likely Mulder was masking understandable revulsion. Fox Mulder was going to be interesting, he was. What went on in that mind? "Okay," Mulder continued. "All kidnapped, all found strangled. Signs of physical or sexual molestation?"

Silence among Cowley, Doyle, and Bodie; then Bodie replied. "Rather. All six, same fashion. Quite definitely forced; they all showed signs of struggling. We have the autopsy reports, I believe." Cowley nodded grimly. "Would you like them?" Bodie offered to Mulder. Better Mulder reading them than him; if Mulder had survived those police photos without choking, he had a strong stomach.

"Please. Anything that lets me see what the killer was doing."

The three went out to a pub for a pint at the close of Doyle's and Bodie's shift. Both had been impressed with Mulder's grasp of the case, and with the questions he'd asked about both the original investigations and the pair's followup. The younger man was nothing if not serious about the endeavor, whatever it was that he was doing. Doyle asked Mulder to explain it. Bodie decided to hush up as much as he could. Mulder was certainly intriguing, personally as well as by reputation. Bodie wanted a look at the younger man's mind. The body was interesting enough - he hoped Doyle hadn't noticed his noticing that - and there seemed to be a brain to match it.

It wasn't that there was anything wrong with Ray Doyle. Far from it, Doyle had a body to die for and a mind that was more than a match for any number of men Bodie had known. But Raymond Doyle, the one man capable of working full time with Bodie and matching his ability, was hopelessly unavailable. Bodie knew from experience just how much enthusiasm Doyle put into skirt chasing. Fox Mulder, on the other hand, was an unknown quantity. It was worth keeping an eye open to see if there were any possibilities there.

"So, Mr. Mulder - or is it Fox? - how does this business of yours work, anyway?" Doyle asked.

"Mulder. Just Mulder." Rather like Bodie, that was. "Well, it's psychology, of course. Except, instead of taking a known person - say, you, Ray - and finding out what makes them tick, I do the opposite. I take the clues you collect, the evidence - the things that make the killer tick - and try to figure out the person and describe him as much as possible. At least, I try to narrow down the suspect pool."

Doyle nodded. "I think I see what you're getting at. Like to see you tell me what makes Bodie there tick, I would. Crazy, he is. Watch your step around him."

"I'll take that under advisement." Mulder inclined his head in mock thanks towards Doyle, grinning like a Cheshire cat, then raised his pint to Bodie. "Looks like quite an assignment your partner's given me there. I don't know whether to check the file or you."

Was that a deliberate flirt on Mulder's part? Bodie held his breath for a second, trying to let the thought pass without sinking in. Doyle appeared not to have noticed anything; if anything, he appeared to be making eyes at the barmaid. Maybe it was just imagination? It was time to change this conversation back to work, Bodie decided. "Well, some things would seem to be clear. For example," Bodie observed, "we know the killer's male."

"Yes," Mulder said, taking a long drink of his beer following the word. "That's a physical clue, and it only leaves fifty percent of the populace under suspicion. But I have to ask - why boys? Why those ages only, not older? What is it about this particular male that makes those things tick for him? Why, for instance, strangling? It's easy of course, but so are other methods. Disposal of the bodies? Now, he has a real quirk there - why?"

Bodie was fascinated. He tried to avoid watching Mulder's fingers, long and slender, as they ran along the side of his pint glass while talking, with Doyle sitting as close as he was to the two of them. "I try to work out the answers and get the description. Sometimes I have reasons; sometimes I'm playing hunches. Sometimes - well, sometimes I just know; I can't tell you why. And sometimes - well, sometimes you wind up in their head, thinking their thoughts. That's a scary place to be."

Doyle made a face at his beer. "Sounds spooky to me."

Mulder smiled wryly. "I suppose it does at that."

"So, where's the Cow putting you up while you're in town?"

"The Cow?" Mulder blinked. "Oh. Cowley." He grinned at being let in on the secret. "Okay. I'm staying at his -" a head nod indicated Bodie - "flat. Bodie's obliging me with a couch."

"The couch?" Doyle razzed, looking at Bodie. "That any way to treat an Oxford man?"

"Ask him yerself, sunshine," Bodie sighed. "He demanded it. Could've had a proper bed, he could, but no, had to have me bloody couch." Bodie grinned. Not only could Mulder have a proper bed, he could have Bodie's. With Bodie in it, if the lad cared to give the nod, Bodie mused. Any more flirting like that moment just before, and he'd be certain of the nod.

"I don't sleep much," Mulder explained. "Easier to sit and work then if I'm on the couch."

"Or watch the telly," Bodie prompted.

"That, too," Mulder laughed, finishing his beer.

Cowley had furnished Mulder with an office normally used by Susan, who was off nursing a badly injured ankle. Doyle had driven back to Dorset to speak to one of the victims' mothers and to review the locations of the bodies at Mulder's request. Bodie sat across from Mulder, making his own observations and glancing occasionally at the young man, who was engrossed in staring at a blank pad of paper. "Channeling the spirits?" Bodie inquired.

Mulder smiled. "Not quite. This isn't an exact science. I'm waiting to make some connections here once they start falling into place." He snatched up a pen. "Oh, shit. Of course ." Bodie watched, fascinated, as Mulder began scribbling furiously, obsessed with a non-stop flow of words. Despite Mulder's claim, his procedure resembled nothing so much as a display of automatic writing Bodie had seen once on television.

Several minutes later Mulder dropped the pen and leaned back, sweating. Bodie stared - Mulder did look just like a medium done with a sQance, at least the ones Bodie had seen giving demonstrations. The pained look that Mulder habitually wore was rather more haunted than usual. Bodie's stomach hurt in sympathy at the evident pain Mulder was feeling. "You all right, sunshine?"

Mulder shook his head. "The general pattern. It suggests someone not physically powerful, not young, but he has very strong, very powerful hands. He's a somewhat older male, at least in his forties. Now, every one of these boys sings - sang - in a church choir, Bodie. Different towns, schools, activities, churches, but all choirboys. Now, who'd know a number of choir boys to pick them out? And wouldn't have to be a large man, but has strong hands? A choir master or an organist - especially one who plays for several churches." Mulder stretched his arms over the desk and began motioning with his fingers as if playing a keyboard. "And he's married."

"Hell. A church organist?" Bodie clapped a hand to his forehead. "Makes sense - how'd we miss that? Bloody wonderful, this is. Let me call Doyle, see if these boys' churches shared an organist." He forced himself out of the chair and headed for an R/T on a ledge across the room. "4.5? This is 3.7. All the victims are choirboys. Find out when or how they've all worked with the same organist, and who he is. No arrest yet, 4.5; repeat, no arrest yet." He signed off from the transmission and looked back at Mulder, who was blanching visibly.

Bodie looked again, then moved closer. Mulder was still in a cold sweat, still losing color; his breathing was ragged. Bodie helped him up from the desk and felt the chill Mulder clearly had. "C'mon, sunshine, let's get you out of here. You're coming down with something."

Mulder shivered through his suit jacket against Bodie's suede blazer. "No." He shook his head. "It's just - God, I hate it when I get in their heads--"

"I'm still taking you home, lad. You look like you're in shock."

Helping Mulder out of the car and up the steps to his flat, Bodie proceeded to shuck Mulder's jacket and tie expertly and get him down on the couch. "I'm making us a cuppa," he called to Mulder as he headed into the kitchen. 'And don't you even try to talk til you drink some." He returned in a few minutes with two cups. Mulder accepted one gratefully; Bodie sat the other down on a small table. He left the room, returning in a moment with a heavy wool blanket.

"Should've brought this out first," he apologized, draping it over Mulder's back and shoulders. He sat down next to the younger man and picked up his own tea cup, drinking alongside Mulder in companionable silence. He soon set his own cup back down. "Now, then. What's the story here, hmmm?"

Mulder shivered again - from fear, not from chill. "He's-- well, he's sick. He's married. Has a grown son. He's impotent with his wife now. Doesn't care. He-- ugh." Another shiver. "He - it's really disgusting."

" 'S all right." Bodie placed a hand reassuringly on Mulder's upper arm. "Go on there, lad. I'm listening. It could be important."

Mulder nodded, drank more of the tea, and steadied himself. "He - well, he was molesting his son some years back. His son's grown now, and no longer at home. He's - he's getting it off with boys who are the same ages as his son when he - well, you get the picture. He's kidnapping them because they don't want to go, of course - and killing them because he doesn't want to be exposed. Obviously they'd tell someone. One thing Doyle's going to confirm for me - how I know he knows them from their churches - if I'm not mistaken, he's left the bodies of the boys in the cemeteries of their own churches.." He finished the tea in one gulp. "Jesus."

Bodie grimaced, the strong features of his face painfully contorted. Mulder had been right about the details being repellent; how he had pictured it all in his mind that way was beyond the CI5 agent's understanding - it was, as Doyle had said, spooky - but it was quite remarkable, and fit together all too neatly.

"No wonder you came down like that." Bodie's hand was still on Mulder's arm, warmth seeping through Mulder's shirt and into his skin, thawing the spot. "Did you just - well, understand that all of a piece, or were you really there, inside his head?"

"In his head. Thinking his thoughts. And he's probably got one more to go before there's evidence on him-- he'll do it soon, and I can't do a damn thing about it. Even if Doyle brings in the exact name, we've no evidence yet that'll stand up in court." Mulder swallowed. "I could see the whole thing through his eyes. Everything except the next boy. It's-- frightening." He leaned back against the couch. "God. Why - why is it always like that?" Another shudder.

Odd, Bodie thought, to see anyone that strong look that vulnerable. The urge to kiss away the pain on that quirky but beautiful face was incredibly powerful. He tried to be nonchalant. "Dunno, mate; you're the one with the gift for this business. You'd have to tell me."

Mulder shook his head. "No, sorry, I didn't mean that. It - it was something else I was thinking."

"Tell Father Bodie all about it, son."

Mulder wrapped the blanket around himself more tightly. "This-- this whole business-- I've seen it before. It seems like the same thing every time. You get some man who likes the boys, or men, what have you - and - shit, I've looked at the case records-- is it always like that? Violence? Killing? What is it about it?"

Bodie sipped the remainder of his tea, raising an eyebrow at Mulder. "Been readin' criminals' records, aintcha, sunshine? Read a few rape cases, and ask me why all blokes do is knock birds down and jump them, even if they've never met 'em before. That's how these blokes do it - but they're criminals, mate, they're not normal. Right? Isn't that way for anyone normal, is it?"

"I guess not." Mulder stared at the opposite wall.

Bodie took a breath, then ventured a shot. He didn't have to be a profiler to recognize this. "So I don't think you need to fret that just 'cause you fancy the boys you'll wind up a homicidal maniac. Take it from me."

Mulder turned and looked at Bodie in mild wonder. "You?"

" 'Course, sunshine. Didn't think all I've been doing looking at you was admirin' your ties, did you? Don't think so myself." He shifted on the couch, turned his body, and leaned in to place a very gentle kiss on Mulder's lips. "There. Feel like you need to go out and kill people? 'Cause I have some better ideas of what you can do with your time."

Mulder flushed. "I - "

"First time, innit?" Mulder nodded. "Thought as much, I did. You want this, lad? 'Cause if it's up to me, I'd be shagging you on the floor in thirty seconds."

Mulder smiled awkwardly and reached over to Bodie. "I-- think we'd better go a little slower than that. I learn fast, but--"

Bodie's blue eyes twinkled impishly. "Well, then. This lesson could take all night at that rate."

Bodie finally released Mulder's hand when they reached his bedroom. He slid both arms around Mulder's waist and drew Mulder closer to him. "Lesson one, lad." He leaned in, eyes focused intently on the younger man, as Mulder inclined himself to meet Bodie in a deep kiss. Bodie ran a hand up to the buttons of Mulder's shirt and began unfastening buttons slowly as he started exploring the hot, sweet recesses of Mulder's mouth. Mulder tasted of tea, and warmth, and need. He reached awkwardly to Bodie's shoulders, but Bodie had better to do than to notice any fumbling. The warmth of Mulder's hands grasping him, drawing their bodies into complete physical contact, was more important than whether they had reached him gracefully.

Bodie slid Mulder's shirt from him and tossed it in a corner, quickly pulling his own pullover up to push it over his head. He felt Mulder's hands sliding up his chest to his raised arms, helping him tug the jersey away, taking it from him as it came over his head. His already erect cock throbbed as he watched Mulder bring the pullover to his face and inhale Bodie's scent from it. Seeing Bodie's attention to the act, Mulder hung onto the pullover for one more moment, sliding it down from his face and rubbing it against his chest before throwing it upon his own shirt. Bodie groaned to himself. This might be the other man's first time, but he was a bloody natural cock teaser, wasn't he?

Reaching out and grabbing Mulder roughly, he pulled the younger man against him again, the feeling of skin against skin electrifying to him. He kissed Mulder again, savoring the feeling of those lush lips under his own. "Bed," he ordered huskily, leading Mulder backwards in his arms to their destination. He sat himself on its edge, pulling a more than cooperative Mulder onto the mattress with him. Moving his hands down Mulder's body, molding the smooth, warm skin under his hands, Bodie reached Mulder's belt, unbuckling it quickly and unfastening and unzipping the woolen suit trousers which separated him from his goal. Mulder raised his hips as Bodie pulled pants and boxers down, then aiming them towards the growing pile of clothing. Mulder's cock was engorged, as rigid as Bodie's own, and it was completely irresistible. "Ready for Lesson Two?" Bodie whispered questioningly. Watching the older man, speechless, Mulder nodded.

Sliding down, Bodie grasped Mulder's erection, running his fingers along the shaft as Mulder gasped with pleasure. Encouraged by the response, Bodie spiraled a finger up the head of Mulder's cock, finally reaching the slit at the tip, gratified to feel it weeping in his hand. Bending over, he took Mulder as deeply in his mouth as he could, running his tongue along the ridge on the underside. Mulder let out a moan, his eyes unfocused. Bodie began alternating laving Mulder with his tongue and sucking firmly. Mulder was squirming beneath him, hips bucking. A faint "Jesus!" escaped from the younger man's lips as Bodie continued his assault.

Bodie glanced upward to see Mulder clutching the sheets in his hands as his efforts proceeded. He increased his efforts, speeding his pace as the younger man's movements became more frantic. In a moment, he was rewarded with the first spurt of come in his mouth as Mulder let out a near scream from just above him. As Mulder's thrashing subsided and his erection began deflating in Bodie's mouth, Bodie released Mulder's cock and pushed himself up to slide an arm around the younger man. Mulder's breathing began to level as he turned his head to look at Bodie. "Jesus. That was fucking incredible." He rolled a bit more onto his side and kissed Bodie deeply.

"Liked it, eh?" Bodie teased, enjoying the sight of the younger man's fading flush. "Care to try it again?"

"Yeah-- if I can ever get it back up after that--" Mulder sounded as if he were beginning to fall asleep.

"Why don't you sack out for a bit, love?" Bodie suggested as he slid out of his own trousers. "Bit of a nap might do us good."

"Seems like I owe you a favor about now," Mulder observed sleepily as his eyes lit on Bodie's erection.

Bodie grinned. "It can wait. Don't think it's goin' anywhere for a while. And if it does, well, you know, it always comes back, don't it?" He lobbed his own clothing at the heap across the room and pulled the covers up over both of them. "Feel like a cuddle right now anyway. C'mere." He reached over as an obliging Mulder slid against him, pillowing soft brown hair against Bodie's chest.

Bodie woke about an hour later, turning to smile at Mulder, sound asleep against him. He detached Mulder from him as gently as possible, and grabbed a bathrobe. After a few moments in the bathroom, he headed to the kitchen to put on tea. Mulder awoke to Bodie's return, two mugs in his hands. "Sleep well, love? Thought we might be able to stand a cuppa about now." He handed a mug to Mulder, placing his own on the nightstand. He shucked his robe at the side of the bed, and crawled back in. "About earlier. You okay?"

Mulder nodded, sipping thankfully at the tea. "Yeah. I'm sorry; I get those episodes when I profile, sometimes. I know it must have been pretty bad to watch."

"Not what I meant, mate." Was the lad really all right about what had happened? A bit of a mess, sometimes, realizing what you'd just done for the first time. And he'd been rather out of it before that, maybe not the best mental preparation for the event.

"Oh." Mulder appeared lost in thought. "Sorry. Wasn't planning a report." He grinned suddenly at Bodie. "On the other hand," he opined, stretching and flexing is shoulders, "I think I can recommend it as a sure cure for temporary depression." He paused. "No, I take that back."

Alarm bells in Bodie's head. What? "Beg pardon?"

"Only done this once, Bodie. It might not have the same effect the next time. Only way I'll be sure is if I keep doing it until I can establish a pattern. Scientific method, you see."

Bodie shook his head. "Meaning?"

"Meaning I think it's time I had some more practice at this. I'd like to find out about Lesson Three, if you don't mind."

Bodie grinned back. Oh, no, he didn't mind at all. Lesson Three was going to be highly diverting, it was.

Bodie looked up from the desk as Doyle strolled into the office the next morning, a satisfied smile on his face. "You look like the cat what ate the canary, mate," Bodie told Doyle as Mulder nodded a greeting of his own. "What'd you do, besides Dorset? Round up ten drug smugglers and an assassin?"

"Nope, sunshine," Doyle sighed cheerily as he sank into the third chair in the office. "Just nearly wrapped this up, I did. Wanted to run over things with both of you. Time to go for it, I'd say." He pulled a small pad out of a pocket in his worn leather jacket. "George Abercrombie. Church organist and boys choir master. Former music teacher at the cathedral school in Manchester, asked to leave because he was a little too friendly with the student bodies, if you take my drift." He sighed and flipped a page.

"Seems the Bishop was having a celebration thrown for him last year to mark his twenty-fifth year of service, so the local churches did a regional boychoir for it. Boys from all the churches in the area auditioned, some taken from each church. All the victims were from the choir, each from a different church. And our friend Mr. Abercrombie was the conductor. So I had the local police get a list of all the singers and notify the parents of all the boys from churches who haven't been hit so far that they need to watch their sons right now." He stuffed the notebook back into his pocket. "You pick it out?" he asked Mulder.

"He did indeed," Bodie responded before Mulder could answer, "here before my very eyes, after he'd just been sittin' and starin' at the bloody wall. Then he yelps and starts writing like Grandpa's ghost is tellin' him what to put down, like a ruddy sQance. And there you have it. I called you on the spot."

"Ready to go back and take a crack at getting the goods on the bloody bugger?" Doyle asked his partner.

"Am I not?" Bodie responded cheerfully. "Time to haul his miserable hide in."

Doyle looked over at Mulder. "Care to be in on the kill, mate?"

Mulder smiled back. "Nothing I'd like better, thanks. If Cowley'll let me." Bodie looked over towards him, cheered by Mulder's humor. He might not look it, but the lad was cut out for this work. He'd have to ask Cowley if there was any chance of CI5 making an offer better than the Yanks had. Not that there was any personal interest on his part, of course, in having Mulder there.

It was raining in Dorset that afternoon, the sort of gray weather that dampens spirit as well as ground. Three men, one in blazer, pullover, and slacks, one in leather jacket and jeans, and one in a tailored gray suit that matched the clouds, emerged, cramped, from their drive up in a CI5 Capri. "Well," Bodie said, feeling for his gun, "time to have a chat with our Mr. Abercrombie, innit, gentlemen?"

"Looks that way," Doyle replied. His gun was jammed in his waistband at the small of his back; no need to feel for it. Bodie eyed his partner quickly; he hoped that Doyle's waist-length jacket would stay down well enough to keep his weapon covered in back.

Cowley had at first refused to issue a gun to Mulder temporarily, but had relented when Mulder offered a demonstration with Bodie's pistol. He'd spent enough time with a shotgun at his father's rod and gun club, picking off clay pigeons, to acquire a reasonable aim. Mulder's Remington was shoulder- holstered under his suit jacket. Bodie didn't anticipate needing weapons to face off with a middle-aged church organist at his home, but the bastard had picked off six boys; better that all three of them were prepared, he had argued.

The three made their way to the door of Abercrombie's modern red-brick cottage, past a walk trimmed with low hedges, neatly pruned. It didn't look any different from any of the other cottages in the neighborhood; no sign read "Serial Killer inside." Doyle knocked at the white-framed door and waited for reply. It was opened by a slight woman in an apron, graying brown hair drawn up in a neat bun. "Mrs. Abercrombie?"

"Yes. What can I do for you gentlemen?"

"We're doing an investigation, ma'am," Bodie replied, "on the boys who were killed up here. We understand that Mr. Abercrombie was somewhat acquainted with all of them, so we're hoing, you see, he could tell us a little about them that might help us see if the boys had anything in common, maybe help us find a lead."

Mrs. Abercrombie nodded. "George had told me he'd conducted them in choir. Awful, isn't it? Please come in, gentlemen." She held the door open for them. "Are you from the Yard?"

"No," Doyle explained. "We're government, ma'am." He flashed an ID card that Mrs. Abercrombie all but ignored. She ushered them into the parlor, offered to make tea, and went upstairs to find her husband. She returned a few minutes later with her husband in tow.

George Abercrombie was short and slender, with russet hair graying at the temples and thinning at the top. He did, however, have large hands with long fingers; his handshake was powerful, like a vise grip. A beaky nose perched above a fading red moustache. He took a seat across from the operatives. Bodie noticed above Abercrombie's head a group of old family photographs, framed; in them were Abercrombie, his wife, a young girl, and a teenage boy.

"Oh," Abercrombie observed, "just some family snaps. The boy, my son Fraser, he's dead now, poor lad. Killed himself when he turned twenty." Bodie glanced out of the corner of his eye at Mulder, who sat tight-lipped, nodding to himself in thought at Abercrombie's statement. The suicide must have fit into Mulder's picture of the crimes somehow; that was all Bodie wanted to know. "Now, gentlemen, I understand you're looking into the deaths of those poor boys. I knew all of them, you know; they sang in the church district boys' choir."

"We're aware of that, Mr. Abercrombie," Doyle responded, "and we hoped you could shed some light on what they might have had in common, why someone would single that group of boys out to kill them."

While Doyle chatted up Abercrombie on details about the singers, Mulder elbowed Bodie. He turned and quickly hissed in Bodie's ear, "All of the boys have the same hair color and complexion as his son." Bodie caught Mulder's eye and gave the smallest nod of acknowledgement he could. Bodie nudged Doyle. It was time to go in for the kill.

"That's all very interesting, Mr. Abercrombie," Doyle replied encouragingly. "I'm just about done here meself. Oh, by the bye-- why'd you rape all of 'em first?"

It was as if a switch had flipped in Abercrombie's brain, as Mulder had predicted to the CI5 agents on the drive up. He lunged across the room at Doyle, hands going for the throat; though Doyle was stronger and clearly superior in strength and size, he could barely dislodge Abercrombie, whose hand strength was immense.

Bodie moved to rip Abercrombie away, the man still struggling dangerously with Doyle's neck. As Bodie pulled Abercrombie backwards, still not fully removing him, Mulder reached inside his jacket. Before Bodie could warn him not to shoot, Mulder had the Remington by the business end, bringing its butt down soundly on Abercrombie's head. The pistol-whipping failed to render the organist unconscious, but it stunned him enough to release Doyle. Bodie held the man still, arms pinned. Doyle slapped Mulder on the back and reached inside his own jacket.

"Here ye go, sunshine," Doyle grinned, one hand extended towards Mulder, the other chafing at his own throat. "You called it, you just got him; I think you should have the pleasure." Mulder looked at Doyle, then at Bodie. Bodie grinned and nodded his head. "Go ahead, lad," Doyle ordered. Mulder took the handcuffs from Doyle's outstretched hand and cuffed Abercrombie, his own hands shaking. "Good job. Let's haul this piece of shit in."

George Cowley was a generous man, a surprising attribute, some of his operatives thought, for a Scot. Although his agents were expected to do their work, and the government thought that their paychecks were sufficient reward for the job, Cowley had never agreed with that theory, believing that more than "the thanks of a grateful nation" was required to keep his agents motivated. He had never rewarded a successful operation with less than a dinner at his club, despite the small stir that had been caused on the first occasion that Susan had been one of the operatives rewarded. Bodie and Doyle expected nothing less on this case, although they had neglected to take into consideration that Cowley had a guest to impress. Cowley had made a specialty of attempting to impress the Yanks when they worked jointly on cases, and this occasion was no exception in Cowley's mind.

"Surely you'll not mind staying in London till the weekend?" Cowley asked Mulder. "The family of one of the victims is related to the Minister, and he'd like to thank you personally for your help on the case."

"That's really not necessary," Mulder demurred politely. "I was glad to have the opportunity to work on this."

"Nonsense. And Bodie, ye'll not mind having a guest for a few more days at your flat?"

"Not at all," Bodie assured Cowley with a smile. In fact, he was quite looking forward to it.

Ray Doyle pulled a sweater over his head, adjusted it, and ran a comb through his tangled locks. He looked across at his bedside clock; good, he'd plenty of time. He checked his keys; yes, he still had the key to Bodie's flat. He and his partner had exchanged spare keys a long time before, not knowing when they might need to be able to access each other's flats. If he left now, he'd have plenty of time to pick up breakfast for himself and the other two and surprise them before they headed in for work this morning..

After he had picked up a baguette, butter, and some fresh bangers, Doyle pulled up in front of Bodie's flat. Shutting the car door as quietly as he could, he crept up the stairs to Bodie's flat and let himself in silently, anticipating being able to surprise Bodie and Mulder. As early as it was, they might still be sleeping. He placed the bags in the kitchen and then looked around.

The living room, home to the sofa on which Mulder was presumably living, was empty and undisturbed; there was no sign of any blanket, pillows, or any indication that Mulder might ever have slept there. Had they been out drinking all night? That wasn't altogether unknown for Bodie, though not on a work night; had they been out looking for birds at the pub? Doyle felt a mild quaver of irritation - going out and finding a couple of birds together was something he and Bodie were supposed to do together, wasn't it? Their bonding ritual? It was as close to their ever having sex together as Doyle figured they were likely to get, Bodie being so into the birds.

Ah, well, he might as well check the bedroom; no harm done if he did, was there? Doyle tiptoed across the carpet and made his way to the bedroom door. Silently, he turned the knob and swung the door open. No, Bodie wasn't out on the prowl-- and neither, obviously, was Mulder, whose soundly snoring head was pillowed comfortably on Bodie's nude chest, an arm across Bodie's chest. Bodie's free arm was draped protectively across the younger man.

Doyle inhaled sharply, then, fearing waking them up, pulled the doorlatch back with his thumb and closed the door quietly. He retrieved the bags from the kitchen, then sneaked back out of the flat. He sat in the car thinking. He'd clearly misjudged Bodie - by a mile, it appeared. Had Bodie really been available all this time, and he'd missed it? His partner certainly looked pretty well snagged there this morning; had he missed whatever chance with Bodie he might have had? Stifling a sound - he wasn't sure what kind of sound he would have made had he let go - he pounded his steering wheel and hung his head. A few minutes later he started the car and drove off.

When Bodie and Mulder arrived at Headquarters later that morning, Doyle was already there filling out reports and gulping coffee. His greeting was curt, much unlike his usual welcome; he handed Bodie a stack of files as soon as he approached, cutting off any chance for conversation.

A call came in from Cowley's office asking Mulder to report; Cowley had decided to let Jax take advantage of Mulder's presence to review Jax's most recent drug investigation and provide his thoughts on possible suspects. Bodie took the opportunity to comment. "Lighten up, sunshine. What's the matter, some bird blow you off?"

Doyle looked up at Bodie from his seat at the desk. "Look, Bodie. I - I stopped by your flat this mornin'. Was goin' to surprise you with brekkers. I - look, I know about you and Mulder."

Bodie blanched. "uh... um... Ray, it isn't... uh..."

"Ain't what I think? I doubt that, mate. Looked pretty clear to me, it did. Been doin' each other this whole time, have you? Can't believe I've worked with you this whole time and never had any idea about it." Doyle shoved the papers across the desk in agitation.

"No, I have not been shaggin' Fox Mulder 'all this time,' as you put it, if it's anything to you. And I guess you never had any idea about it 'cos I didn't want anyone to know. Not too popular in law enforcement circles, izzit? Well, now you know. Are we goin' to have a problem with it or what, now you've found out? Maybe you should ask the Cow for a new partner?"

Doyle heated up further. "Maybe it's you wants a new partner, eh? Move your little Yank fucktoy into CI5 and go gallivanting around with him, hmm? Maybe you'd rather have him around than me?"

"So that's what you think this is about? I want to ditch you so I can run off with him? More like you don't want to work with a bloody faggot, right?"

Doyle threw a pencil at Bodie. "Damn it all, Bodie, don't you friggin' get it? I'm not here shrieking 'help, Bodie's a poofter,' am I? I've been spendin' all this time these past few years goin', 'Bodie likes the birds, so I don't have a bloody chance with him myself.' "

Bodie stared. "Oh, for Chrissakes. You mean, you were thinkin' that you... and me... er... us?"

Doyle nodded slowly at his partner. "Yeah, I was. All this time. And now I find out, you've already got yourself someone, it looks like."

Bodie continued staring. "Look, Ray... Mulder and I... hell, he's goin' back to Oxford next week. It's only been a few nights, and we didn't make any promises. I like him-- hell, who wouldn't? But he's not you, Ray, is he? Fancied you myself, you know - no, I guess you didn't."

Doyle rose from his seat.

Fox Mulder, done with his meeting with Jax, strolled back into the office. Bodie and Doyle were against the wall in a clinch, Bodie's hand laced in Doyle's curls.. "Uh - excuse me..."

Doyle nearly stumbled in embarrassment. "Oh... Mulder... I - sorry."

"No need to apologize." Mulder blushed. "I - I'm sorry." He backed away, towards the hall.

Bodie disentangled himself from Doyle. " 'Scuse me, Ray; let me talk to him." He went to Mulder, dropped an arm around his shoulders, and began talking quietly. "I'm sorry, lad. Ray and I - well, we've both been waiting for this for a long time. It's just that neither of us knew it." Doyle stepped quietly out into the hall. He trusted Bodie to fill him in later.

Mulder shook his head. "Look, Bodie - I-I don't need the details. I'd have been an idiot if I'd hoped for anything to come out of this, anyway." The hangdog expression on his face suggested that he was being a bit less than honest.

"Look here, lad." As Mulder turned, Bodie slid his other arm around the younger man. "I want to thank you." Mulder raised an eyebrow. "No, I mean it. Serious. First off, I'd be lying if I said it hadn't been a wonderful time this past week. I don't just mean in the kip, either. It's been good being with you. Not to mention working with you. You'll go far at this work. You've a feel for it. And I want to thank you for something else, too."

"What?" Mulder searched Bodie's eyes.

Bodie smiled at him kindly. "Letting me be your first. Never had that happen to me before. Means a lot to me that you trusted me that far." He drew Mulder closer and kissed him gently. "You'll get back to the States and find yerself another Yank. Got to set the world on fire over there, you know. Your government's after your talents for a reason, you know. Good luck with it."

Mulder smiled back. "Good luck with Ray. You'll need it. You're a pair, all right." He returned the kiss quickly and backed out of the embrace. "And, if you'll excuse me-- Cowley wants to see me again." He picked up a stack of papers and headed for the office door, stopping long enough to lean against the door jamb and address both Bodie and Doyle. "I have to head back over to Cowley's office. As you were, gentlemen as you were." He cut down a side hall, smiling at them.

"Went well, did it?" Doyle queried his partner.

"Well enough, I think. I hope. Not the easiest thing in the world-- but he'll get over it. He's damned young. Has to hurt." Bodie shrugged. Doyle nodded at him sympathetically, then pulled him back into a clinch. "Here, what's all this, Ray?"

Doyle grinned, tightening his embrace. "C'mon, you were in the military. Gave us an order, didn't he? 'As you were'? Least we can do is follow an order around here for once."

-- THE END --

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