The Good Morning Soldiers


Carnal Interests Part 3: Cry Wolf through Spy Probe

"Good-morning; good-morning!" the General said
When we met him last week on our way to the lines.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead.
--Siegfried Sassoon

Doyle aimed a jealous glower at the blonde girl engaging Bodie's attention. The unexpected feeling overtaking him was so alien, it unnerved him for a second. He would have sworn he had no doubts about his place in Bodie's life, but evidently his subconscious wasn't all that secure.

A brief retrospect provided him with the answer to this moment of insecurity: bloody Cowley had assigned this case to them, indicating his partner should be the contact person. Ever since he'd seen Susan Grant, he'd known why. She was, or had been, Bodie's type, and Cowley had assigned their unit to the case for that reason. It had to be another one of Cowley's continuing plots to terminate their relationship, or at least to test how committed they were. They'd been rather careless of late, and the old man had probably picked up on it. Of course, since Bodie hadn't yet twigged to the old man's machinations, it would have been rather hard for Doyle to completely fool Cowley on his own.

Doyle's shrug was fatalistic. Maybe it was time to finally tell Cowley he'd have to live with it. There was no way the old man could come between them, not since Mayli had shot him, and they'd stopped pratting about. Funny what a near brush with death could do in the way of straightening out your priorities. A harsh grin touched his mouth. They couldn't stay away from each other, could they? Had to be a marriage made in heaven--or hell. His lips curled in a sneer of self-mockery at his own thoughts. It disappeared abruptly when Bodie and the girl got into the silver Capri parked on the other side of the street and pulled away. For all his shored up assurance, jealousy twinged again at the look of interest on her face, evident even at a distance.

Damn the old bastard for even trying to throw a bird Bodie's way! He'd bet she couldn't wait to explore the goodies. Society bitch! Probably never knew a macho type like Bodie before. Most blue bloods talked about their ancestor's accomplishments rather than achieving any of their own.

His scowl deepened. This girl was just another do-gooder, putting in time before marriage. If she were getting phone calls like she claimed, he'd lay odds it was a disgruntled boyfriend.

She'd be disappointed though when Bodie didn't show any interest. Viciously, his fist hit the dash a resounding thump. Bodie had better not show any interest!

He sat brooding until his r/t crackled to life.

"4.5., 3.7 here. Just deposited our little bird on her perch."

"Yeh?" His mood improved perceptibly. "Want to grab a takeaway before you go on surveillance?"

"Nah, can't. Asked Susan to dinner. She's up powdering her nose."

"Why?" He sounded aggrieved even to his own ears and wished Bodie oblivious to his tone.

"Why what? Maybe her nose was shiny."

It had been a vain hope. The voice on the other end sounded guarded. Of themselves then, the words poured out in a rush. "You don't 'ave to bloody feed her, do you? The Cow..."

Bodie's tone admonished him gently. "The Cow won't care. He's got a personal interest in this case. Knows the family, doesn't he?"

He listened to his partner circling the anger, probably confused by it, but Doyle was unable to explain over the r/t.

"C'mon, sunshine, she's feeling nervy, and besides, I'm supposed to get to know her. What better way than over a bit of knosh, eh?

The soft wheedling tones helped restore his balance. "Shirrup, Bodie. You just want a pretty face across from you while you feed." Normalcy settled about him. "Sorry , I just thought we could have a minute to ourselves."

"I know," Bodie picked up. "And it's a nice thought. Hang onto it." His voice broke off for a second. "Here she comes, talk to you later."

Gritting his teeth in helpless aggravation, Doyle increased his grip on the handset, and then mindful of Cowley, gently laid it down beside him.

Very early the next morning, he dropped by Bodie's flat on the way to work. Since his partner had kept watch over the Grant woman all night, he wouldn't come in before 2 or 3:00 in the afternoon, and Doyle refused to wait that long to find out about their evening. He found Bodie sitting half-asleep over the remnants of breakfast, drinking tea. Doyle poured himself a cuppa and joined him.

Too preoccupied for tact, he plunged in. "So how'd your meal go last night?"

Bodie was sleepy and his answer was vague. "Dunno. Okay, I guess."

"What's that mean?" he rapped out sharply.

Bodie threw him an exasperated look. "'Means it went all right. We got along. I'm meeting her after she gets off work tonight."

Doyle studied his cup before looking up. "Sounds better than okay. She come across?

Bodie's eyes widened in surprise. "No she didn't, and I didn't try it on, did I?"

"Why not? Your type, isn't she? Not like you to let an opportunity go by."

Lips tight, nostrils flaring, Bodie looked like he was ready to let fly, but Doyle watched fascinated as his partner's jaw unclenched and he regained control.

"She's not some old slag, Ray. She's a job, nothing more."

"Couldn't blame you, could I?" Doyle continued relentlessly, unable to stop. "She's a real raver, intelligent, oh yes, and very rich, mustn't forget that."

Bodie's face showed startled comprehension. "You're jealous."

"Who me? Just because you're larking about with this beautiful bird who can't wait to see what you got in your pants?"

He couldn't take his eyes off Bodie even as he railed at him, inwardly cataloguing his appeal, understanding why this woman would want him. But she couldn't have him; this man was his. "Bodie, so help me, you can fuck her for Cowley, or even if you have an itch, but if she starts to mean something to you, I might kill you both."

Bodie finally found a voice which still reflected his astonishment. "Come off it, Ray. If I had to, I would, but I don't want to."

His partner looked unhappy and defensive and confused in equal measure and Doyle's heart twisted. That softly protruding under lip got to him every time. "And she doesn't hark on and on either, does she?" he replied softly. "Sorry, mate, didn't meant to do my fishwife impression." He leaned forward and ran his forefinger along the curve of Bodie's blue-stubbled jaw. "Mebbe I am jealous. Don't know do I? Never felt this way about anyone. Not sure I like it either."

Bodie's face softened. "There's no reason for it, Ray. I'm not tempted. Might as well be a eunuch."

Doyle gave a small laugh. "Not worried about that ever happening."

Bodie chuckled, and then frowned. "She's a nice girl, and I like her."

Doyle felt his own mouth curve downward despite himself, and Bodie hastened to add, "Like a brother. And I feel sorry for her, too."

Bodie slid down in the chair to stretch his legs, precariously sipping his tea at the same time. "I believe her, too. At least I believe she's not the type to get upset over nothing."

"Like me?"

"You? That's different."

"Is it?" Doyle asked, mildly curious at the teasing tone.

"Of course," Bodie said in mock offense. "She's not got me to lose, has she?"

Doyle felt his world tip at the easy words. In one step Bodie was up, around the table and had him held close, murmuring comforting words.

"What a prat, Didn't mean that the way it sounded. You'll never lose me, no matter what. Jungle leeches could learn something from me about sticking on."

Doyle pressed his mouth to Bodie's in a fierce need to be close, to weld them into one being, and to somehow brand Bodie with a love that would warn off prospective trespassers.

Tired to the bone, Bodie stripped off his clothes, carelessly dumping his polo jumper and fawn cords over the back of a handy chair. A bit downhearted, he dropped to the edge of the bed. He hadn't seen Ray for several days, and on the first night he'd had off since he'd been assigned to Susan's case, Cowley had sent Ray out of town. Bloody Cowley couldn't seem to coordinate their schedules since they'd been working on this case.

"Not feeling half sorry for yourself tonight," he muttered in self-deprecation and determinedly headed for the shower.

Hot water cascaded down his back, and little rivulets washed over his front as he lathered his chest. It felt good, and relaxing farther, his eyes closed and his head dropped back. Slowly he let his hand drift down to touch himself lightly, teasingly, ostensibly to wash, but also to enjoy. Stroking gently, his touch was languid despite the tightening in his balls, and he lost himself in a favourite fantasy featuring Ray.

"Christ, mate, you could turn on a dead man."

The husky voice was so soft it was almost woven into the fabric of his dreams, however, the hand that slid over his tumescent flesh was very real.

He jerked back to the present. "Ray?" Fantasy and reality merged as he saw his lover standing there, the pulled-back shower curtain still in his hand.

"Bodie," Ray whispered, his voice rough, wide green eyes smoky with desire. "Get out of there, or I'm comin' in."

Heat flushed through him as he stepped out, heedless of the water he shed on the floor. "I'm coming."

"Not without me," Doyle promised, throwing a towel over his wet head and simultaneously pushing him in the direction of the bedroom.

"What are you doing here?" Bodie remembered to ask from within the towel before it was snatched away.

"Not too dry; I rather fancy you wet."

When a curly head bent over and fastened onto a damp nipple, he no longer cared why Doyle was there, only happy that he was. He abandoned further thought as Ray's attention strayed lower and hands caressed his ass. Knees gave way and he tumbled them both onto the bed, pulling Ray close as they fell.

"Gotta get you out of these clothes," he murmured as he nuzzled into Doyle's vulnerable throat, his hands seeking the zip. Doyle arched against him as Bodie slid his hand down the front of the tight fitting denim, stroking the fullness within. Making inarticulate sounds of encouragement, Ray squirmed out of the tight material so their bared skin could press close.

He rolled to lean up so he could cup Ray's up drawn testicles with one hand while the other stroked the engorged cock. "What you want then?"

Ray's moan was harsh with need. "Want you anyway I can have you."

"You've got me anyway you want," he replied, nipping delicately at the full mouth beneath his.

"More, harder," Ray urged, pulling him down so their mouths fused, tongues pushing for dominance. They struggled wetly before Bodie relinquished the battle.

"You know where the stuff is don't you?" he asked in a hoarse whisper.

Doyle fumbled in the bedside drawer a moment before producing a tube of lubricant. "Bodie?"

His answer was to drag a trembling Doyle to lie between his parted thighs. "S'all right, sunshine, I want you, too." He drew up his knees, exposing himself to his lover. "Go ahead, do it."

Doyle's head lowered, his lips brushing Bodie's ear. "Would like to go slow; don't know if I can."

The breathless voice tickling his ear, touched and excited him all at the same time. "Slow would be nice, fast is great, just do it. Now, Ray," he pleaded. As he had hoped, his words were all the enticement Doyle needed, and he found himself impaled and being taken before he could draw another breath.

His own ragged moans almost drowned out the low gasps punctuating Doyle's every stroke. Welcoming the small pains it caused, Bodie arched his hips higher, wanting Doyle to thrust harder, deeper, to lose control. Teeth sank into his shoulder, marking not biting, as the wiry body pressed him deeper into the mattress, and Bodie anchored them by clamping both legs around the narrow hips.

Despite the wild rhythm, Doyle was still holding something back, and suddenly Bodie wanted it as rough as Ray could make it.

"C'mon, Ray, you c'n do better than this. Not gonna break; not some bird. Show me how a man can love a man."

His goading worked. Doyle let out all the stops, his teeth breaking the thin skin of Bodie's shoulder, his hip bones pounding bruises into both of them. Only then did Bodie give himself up to sensation, letting the sweet desire coil round with the pain to tighten and climb to an explosive end. When Doyle's release came, they were dripping with sweat and exhausted: Doyle, too spent to move, and Bodie without the energy to push him off.

Finally discomfort and inability to breathe properly drove Bodie to action, and he lifted enough to roll Doyle to the side. His eyes open, at last, he saw traces of blood on Ray's chin.

"Whassamatter, your chin's bleedin'?"

Doyle's eyes opened and he dragged a hand across his face. He glanced at Bodie then, his mouth drawing into a frown. "I'm not, you are. Your shoulder. C'mon," he said, hauling himself out of bed.

"Where we going?" Bodie asked, unwilling to leave the bed.

"Bog. Clean you up. Human bite is the worst kind." He pointed toward the loo. "Up. Now. And if your tetanus isn't up to date we're..."

"It's current," Bodie interrupted. "Don't take on so, mum. I've had a hell of a lot worse."

Doyle just nodded in the direction of the bath, and he knew there was no use arguing when his partner was in this mood. Obediently he followed the determined figure and allowed himself to be sat down and have the small abrasion examined.

"Not bad," Doyle admitted.

"Told you, didn't I?" Bodie complained, then yelped as the wet flannel Doyle was applying to him dripped down his back. "Cold, that. Thought hot water and soap were the proscribed disinfectants?"

Doyle growled deep in his throat as he grabbed the wiggling Bodie. "Hold still, you daft bugger. The first-aid cream will do you." But he ran hot water in the basin and his touch was gentle as he soaped the flawed skin. "You shouldn't get me going like that. Someday I might do you an injury."

Suddenly dry-mouthed, Bodie remained silent for a moment, thinking about a Doyle that wound up. "It wouldn't matter," he suggested cautiously. Hands tensed on his body as Doyle went quiet. Casually, Bodie continued, "Nothing wrong with variety."

He leaned into the slippery hand that began to massage his flesh and changed the subject. "Feels nice, that. You could make a living doin' this, you could. Very skillful hands."

Doyle's smile was strained. I did once, remember me telling you?."

Bodie's head popped up from where it had come to rest on Doyle's abdomen. "You never finished that story."

"Remember me telling you about that older woman?"

"That kept you? Yeh?" Doyle ran the warm wet flannel over him, rinsing off the soap.

"That was one of the services rendered. Real sensualist, she was."

"Maybe you better not take it up full-time," Bodie reconsidered. "Got all you can handle right now, old man like you. Ouch!" He drew back from Doyle as the stinging in his shoulder intensified. "What's that?" he asked, warily regarding the tube Doyle was squeezing.

"Ointment. Found it in your cupboard," Doyle offered sweetly. "Don't you know what you've got?"

"Never used it."

"Hold still, it doesn't hurt that much," Doyle replied around an evil grin. "Me mum used to put this same stuff on my scrapes. Never once lost a limb."

"That's enough." His protest was ignored as Doyle rubbed some more of the goo onto him. "It smells horrible. Had an auntie once smelled just like that."

"You don't like my methods, take yourself off to hospital then. See how the sisters treat sissy boys."

"No thank you. Seen too many hospitals from the inside already." To prevent any more ministrations, he wrapped his arms around Ray and nuzzled the flat belly. "Mmm. Don't get treatment like this in hospital, mate," he whispered against the taut flesh.

Except for the slight tremors visibly chasing up his stomach, Doyle didn't move. Bodie cupped his buttocks, and as his fingers slipped into his moist crevice, Doyle gave a small groan. "That works a treat, it does."

"Back to bed, goldilocks--time I got my own back." Doyle shivered against him and this time he let Bodie push him towards the bedroom.

Standing on the grounds of Susan's home two days later, Bodie and Doyle oversaw the final chapter of the Grant case. Bodie was especially pleased for Susan's sake at the outcome and relieved for his own. Maybe now Doyle could cast off his black mood. Silly bugger had got over acting jealous, but still acted cooly towards the girl.

Bodie's eyes followed the twosome of daughter and father strolling through the lavish garden and couldn't help but contrast the peaceful scene with old memories which rose unbidden and unwelcome. Frowning absently, he dismissed them as having no significance in his present or future. Loving Ray had eased all old hurts, and he saw little reason in mulling over an unhappy childhood as the only son of a strict Calvinist minister.

Relaxing onto a bench, he thought about the dark night he and Ray had finally shared pasts. They'd been a little worse for drink but aware the time had come for more openess. Stiffly at first, they'd each spoken of their pasts, wincing when they thought they'd sounded too maudlin. Even in drink, they hadn't managed to totally conquer the fear of appearing less than macho. They even laughed about it later, deciding they each had worse faults.

The memories traded that intimate evening weren't all that revealing, but it had been necessary to share those things once. There had found similarities between them even there: both had wretched childhoods; both had come to CI5 via a hard path; and both, at one point in their careers, had come close to crossing an invisible line not acceptable to civilized society.

Bodie had had individual moments so close to the edge, he'd feared for his humanity at times. Ray had suffered doubts that he was any different than the villains he was helping put away. By sheer strength of will, both men had managed to pull back from the abyss, somehow knowing the wrong decision would destroy them.

For them to have come this far alone was a triumph. But now, that loneliness frequently inherent to their chosen life style, was purged for one by the other. Somehow they'd survived life and found a reason for joy. It was their personal miracle, and Bodie marvelled every time he thought about it.

"3.7, when you're finished gawping at the scenery, you can drive me back to headquarters."

Reflexively, Bodie came to attention, a little embarrassed to be caught daydreaming. "Yessir, just let me collect Doyle and we'll be off."

Cowley frowned and Bodie hastened across the lawn to find his elusive partner.

On the way back to London, for some reason unknown to Bodie, tension enveloped the car and its occupants, and it was with real relief that he pulled into the CI5 parking lot.

Before they could get out, Cowley's r/t sounded. "Alpha One, here."

It was dispatch. A bomb had been discovered in a deserted van and CI5 and MI6 were both being alerted since the police were sure unsure who was responsible for planting it. Before Cowley signed off, Bodie had headed the car toward the site.

The coppers had the area cordoned off, and two ambulances were parked nearby. Neither MI6 nor the bomb squad had arrived yet so he and Ray moved in to check out the situation. The police waved them through when they produced their I.D.

Bodie carefully opened the back panels of the Volkswagon van, and Ray peered into the back.

"See anything?"

"Yeah, there's a very suspicious looking box. Whoever planted this might as well have put up a sign saying 'bomb here.'"

Bodie gingerly climbed in the back of the van and settled carefully beside the box. "Yeh, there's nothing like wires all over the place and a nice neat stack of plastic to advertise your intent."

Doyle shook his head. "If the bomb squad is on the way, there's little sense in us tinkering with it."

"I'm with you, mate. I don't like it. Let the experts deal with it."

Doyle nodded his agreement, and they returned to the car to tell Cowley that this one could be handled by trained personnel. The controller looked as relieved as they did when a black panel truck pulled up seconds later and two men emerged togged out in special gear. They all knew the protective clothing and goggles were inadequate, that at close range a bomb could splatter flesh and bone all over the countryside, but it made the job seem safer.

As Bodie watched, he was glad he and Ray were out of this one. Someone else could be a hero for a change.

He was reaching for the ignition in response to the impatient sound that told him Cowley was ready to get under way when the device detonated. Even at a distance, their vehicle rocked with the intensity of the shock wave and searing heat. When Bodie raised his head, he saw the gutted van. Gripping the steering column in an effort to control his heaving stomach, he swallowed bile as he spared a glance for his white-faced partner.

"Don't bother. They're dead; they'd have to be," he warned.

"I know," Doyle agreed, sagging back in his seat. But Bodie noticed his partner didn't give up his death grip on the door.

They watched silently as the waiting emergency vehicles pulled close to the destroyed van, and men clawed through twisted rubble. As the remains of two bodies were pulled free, Doyle made a strangled noise deep in his throat. Bodie looked at him and found a green gaze riveted on him. It didn't take an explanation to know Doyle was as shocked as he by their near miss.

"Must have been on a timer," he said inanely.

"Let's go, 3.7. We're doing no good to anyone here." Cowley's reminder sliced through his horror. Obeying the brusque command, he threw the motor into gear, squealing tyres as he drove off.

Back at the office, Cowley gave them no respite. Giving up any hopes for a cuppa and a chance to recoup emotional equilibrium, Bodie and Doyle silently followed the Controller into his inner sanctum.

Thirty minutes later, Doyle was glowering at Cowley. Once again they were to be working solo.

"And so," Cowley concluded, "Bodie, you will work yourself into this organization. Let your past speak for you. It should be all the cover you'll need. You're exactly the type they're looking for as near as our informant can tell...loners willing to kill for money. Set yourself up in a room near the docks, hang out in the right places. As a disaffected ex-mercenary, they'll believe the worst of you."

"Thanks, so much," Bodie snorted.

Doyle flicked an annoyed glance at his partner before he dared a question. "What about me? If Bodie's going undercover, he'll need some back up, won't he?"

Cowley's attentive gaze switched to him. "Maybe, 4.5, but not you. You've not got the proper credentials; this lot seems to be able to smell a copper--and they do vet their applicants carefully. It'd take too long to set up a reliable cover for you. Bodie's is ready-made."

For the moment Doyle fumed silently. The old man kept splitting them every chance he got. It seemed if he couldn't get to them on a personal level, he'd do it professionally, and Doyle was getting sick of it. Sparing another glance for his oblivious partner, he ground his teeth against an outburst when he saw the cretin was grinning like a little kid given an all-day sweet for his very own self and told he needn't share it.

Finally Cowley finished the briefing and dismissed Bodie.

"Go on about your business, now, 3.7, while I speak with 4.5."

Doyle was too dispirited to object. Cowley had to be up to his old tricks, and Raymond Doyle was getting sick of it.

"So 4.5., now I must assign your task."

Doyle tried to gauge the disposition of the man across from him, wondering if he should take the opportunity to talk to Cowley. A grim smile played about the dour Scots face and the blue eyes had seldom looked so wintry. Briefly he thought Cowley was going to talk about something other than business, and Doyle hoped he would, but when the controller started talking about his new assignment, Doyle knew he would have to be the one to broach the topic.

When Cowley finished, he leaned back. "Any questions 4.5?"

"No sir, not about the job."

Cowley's eyes narrowed. "Then you're dismissed; I've got a number of things to attend."

"No sir, not yet. I want to talk about me and Bodie. We're sick of these separate assigments; we want to work together."

"I make the assignments around here, 4.5, and I'll put you where I think you're needed." Cowley put on his glasses and began thumbing through files.

Doyle recognised the technique for what it was and blithely ignored it. He was getting more than a little irritated with the controller's high-handedness. "You don't have a good reason for splitting us; we work better together."

Anger clearly beginning to emerge, Cowley rose to his feet, a thunderous expression on his face. "That's enough, man. You'd better leave before you go too far."

Temper reaching flash point, aggression brought Doyle to his feet as well. "I don't think so. If you're breaking up the team, then say so." He struggled for some composure, telling himself this was no way to impress Cowley with his reasoning, but he was only partially successful. "It's gettting more than a little ridiculous. The whole department has noticed that if Bodie and I aren't working solo, you've got him teamed with Murph or me with Jax."

Cowley's jaw jutted with wrath, his words scathing. "This conversation is terminated, 4.5."

Over the top with fury at Cowley's unwillingness to accept facts, Doyle said the first thing that came into his head. "Sod it! You might keep us from working together, but you can't keep us from fucking together."

Cowley went still, a murderous rage flickering in his eyes. When he spoke next, it was with white-lipped ferocity. "If this is true, then I suggest you cease immediately if you wish to keep working for this organisation."

"Never," Doyle ground out. "And begging your royal CI5 arse, you can't do anything about it, Mr. Cowley, sir."

"If you don't leave this office at once, 4.5, you may consider yourself unemployed."

The hissed threat finally penetrated the white-heat of Doyle's passion, and although his emotions kept him swaying in one spot for several seconds, he finally accepted the uselessness of further confrontation. His only satisfaction was slamming the door in his wake.

Still fuming over Cowley's injustice, Doyle had to accept he was once again saddled with an inane chore: a baby-sitting assignment for a visiting dignitary who was determined to sample all the pleasures of Soho. If Cowley was trying to drive him crazy with the jobs he was handing out, he might succeed. Of course, he might just fire them both for engaging in a homosexual relationship, but Doyle didn't think so. No way would Cowley chance losing Bodie completely, and if he fired Doyle, Bodie would go, too.

Still breathing rapidly, but regaining control fast, he was more than a little disgruntled to find Bodie had escaped to the rest room and already guzzled two cups of tea.

"Have you left any, then?" he asked ungraciously.

A typical Bodie-smirk greeted him. "Course, I'm the thoughtful one, remember? What took you so long?"

Doyle poured out a scant cup of almost undrinkable, tepid tea and confirmed it with a fastidious slurp. "Yechh."

Bodie had no sympathy. "T'was hot fifteen minutes ago."

"Gluttonous, that's what you are," Doyle pronounced, absently rubbing his eyes. "You're just lucky it's after six and I'm too thirsty to care."

Bodie pushed a chair in his direction. "What's your assignment?"

"Ruddy baby-sitting," he answered shortly.

He was treated to an all out smile of superiority. "Guess we know who's the favourite around here."

"Don't act so superior," Doyle snarled. "How'd you like it the other way round?"

Bodie sobered fast. "I wouldn't."

Gulping down the remaining tea, Doyle allowed his partner a moment of chagrin. "Well, I don't either. This new job is risky, even if he'd assigned you some backup. Christ, after today...what if we'd gone ahead and tried to disarm that device? Wouldn't have been the first time we had to do it on our own."

"Yeh, but today would have been the last time."

Doyle shivered. "Don't mind the danger, but I would like to be the one watching your back."

Bodie automatically glanced over his shoulder to scan the empty room, and then in a gesture daring for him, covered Doyle's hand with his. All too quickly he pulled away, lightly resting one hand on Doyle's forearm in a chummy manner. "I'll miss you."

A slight movement beyond the doorway attracted Doyle's attention and he looked over Bodie's shoulder into a blizzard of blue. Cowley quickly stepped back into the hall, but Doyle was sure he hadn't missed anything. Tempted into a show of defiance, he stood up and pulled a willing Bodie to his feet.

"It's almost 6:30. Let's go home, sunshine," he said loud enough to be overheard from the hallway. "Time for you to show me how sincere you are."

Completely unaware of Cowley's presence, Bodie was more than agreeable. "I am a very sincere person and I can prove it," Bodie promised, and went without a struggle.

Doyle's smile was triumphant when they passed Cowley in the hall.

White-lipped, Cowley returned to his office and told Betty he wasn't to be disturbed. He'd hoped it would never come to open warfare. Not only had he always respected Doyle's ability on the squad, together, he and Bodie had seldom failed him, and he appreciated their successes. Today, though, the agent had precipitated a crisis that would have to be settled permanently.

He also accepted that although it would pain him to lose a good agent, it had always galled him beyond belief that Doyle knew of his...attachment for Bodie, his one weakness. No, he did not like that at all. Now Doyle had challenged his authority, and that could not be permitted. Doyle might have won a minor skirmish today, but he would win the war.

He smile was not pleasant as he contemplated his next move.

Deep into undercover, Bodie looked around the depressed neighborhood. Things were tough all over, but it didn't get much worse than Woolwich. He enjoyed going undercover, but once in awhile he wished the Cow would send him somewhere posh.

He slouched around a corner and leaned against rough bricks. Sparse sunlight was unable to dispel the chill breeze and he shivered inside his wool jacket. Undercover for only fifteen days, he'd been recruited for the assassination ring three days ago and still knew very little about their operations. Shrugging in disdain, he glanced around at his surroundings. This was definitely a part of the city few tourists saw. He shifted his view from a dead cat to the tatty derelict staggering up the alley towards him. The man settled down between two dust bins. Moving aimlessly, Bodie stopped nearby, and ducking his head, he muttered softly. "Looking good, Murph."

"Like my designer threads, do you," Murphy yawned. "I'll be sure to put them back for you."

"Don't bother," Bodie interjected lightly. "They're more Doyle's style, aren't they?"

Murphy smiled into his sleeve.

Suddenly all business, Bodie said, "Good thing Ray isn't in on this op. Lots of local talent who could grass on him are walking about."

Murphy nodded in agreement. "Anything else?"

"Supposed to meet up with another feller in a little bit. They want us to work together on some job. Maybe I'll have more info tomorrow. See you same time near the tea cart at the warehouse."

"Adams is on tomorrow."

"Okay," Bodie replied before he drifted casually up the alley and away from his contact. He was looking forward to his meeting.

He had no idea of the surprise awaiting him.

It was the end of a disastrous day, and they were both taking a chance coming back to Doyle's place, but Bodie didn't know where else to go. They needed to talk to teach other, even if only for a few minutes.

Bodie opened two beers, handed one to Doyle, and settled himself on the sofa.

Doyle's continuing silence began to make him nervous; he knew why Doyle was mad, but he, too, had been very angry today.

"You still pissed at me for the same thing or have you got something else up your nose?"

Doyle made in indecipherable noise deep in his throat. "Somethin' else? Nah."

Bodie had enough. "You gonna talk about it or is it a bloody Whitehall secret?

A green-eyed glare iced him in his tracks. "What took you so long today?

Despite his own anger, Bodie felt the slow stain of color mounting his face. "Didn't think it'd hurt to scare you a bit."

"A bit! Almost disgraced myself," Doyle raged, his emotions spilling over. "Like to see how you'd take to some strange nutter pulling a gun on you and me standing there with my finger up my arse!"

"Well, you shouldn't have been there in the first place!" Bodie shot back, feeling justifiably enraged. "Don't know how you talked Cowley around to letting you go undercover anyway. Need your heads examined, both of you!"

"Me!" Doyle snarled, further irritated by the injustice of the accusation. "Like the chance, I would, to talk him into anything. I'm not his blue-eyed boy, am I?"

Doyle's words hit him like a bucket of cold water, but Bodie's brow furrowed with lingerng suspicion. "You didn't? You trying to tell me this was his idea?"

"Not trying, am telling you," Doyle said, jaw clenched. "Surprised me, too, when he sent me in after he was so determined to keep me out."

Bodie shook his head slowly. "Cowley's not usually so thick. Thought he realized your cover was at risk in this job."

Doyle said nothing, face moody, hands idly turning the beer can.

"Well, you're out of it now," Bodie said, leaning over to take the can from him. "About not stopping Williams right away. You're right, I acted like a berk. You know I wouldn't let anything happen. Only meant to scare you good." His face became grim. "Just was so pissed with you for getting yourself into a fix like that. I mean, what if I hadn't been there to stop him?" Shook, Bodie set his can down and reached for his partner. "Ray, let's go to bed."

Doyle looked up sharply from where he had been regarding the floor. "Now?"


"Now's not good. You need to get back on the street, and I'm feeling too strung out."

"Need you now, lover," Bodie whispered, running a finger over Doyle's damaged cheekbone.

The other man stood passively for a moment, then shivered visibly. "Stop it, Bodie."

Without actually touching Doyle, Bodie leaned close, his lips replacing his hand on Doyle's cheek. "C'mon, Ray."

His urgency transmitted itself, and Doyle responded despite his initial unwillingness. "All right. Only let's use the bed; don't feel like rolling around on the floor."

In the bedroom, they fastidiously avoided each other as they undressed, only coming together on Doyle's big bed. His partner's touch was tentative at first, but Bodie would not have it slow. Already on fire, he was also driven to dispel Doyle's earlier doubts. He needed to convince his partner he was loved and to reassure them both of their continued existence.

Wrapping himself around the smaller man, Bodie laid a line of kisses from collar bone to mouth, hands busily seeking out sensitive areas known so well to him. Doyle lost any hesitancy under his expert touch, quickly caught up in his urgency, and within seconds was outstripping him.

Clutching at Bodie, pressing close, his mouth trying to be all places at once, Doyle smothered the larger man with his desire. Bodie relaxed then, letting Doyle's passion wash him clean, succumbing to the other man's need to control. Doyle rolled on top, forcing sharp knees between Bodie's legs, and beginning a strong thrusting motion, groin to groin.

"No. Not that way," Bodie objected, his hands stilling the frantic motions.

"Can't wait," Doyle protested.

"Want more. Please," Bodie directed, pulling his knees back, presenting himself to the seeking cockhead.

"I need the stuff," Doyle demanded, desperate now, his organ rubbing against the entrance to Bodie's body. Sweat dripped from Doyle's face, his fingers sinking deep into Bodie's arm.

Goading him on, Bodie wrapped his legs around the taut figure. "Don't need it. Do it. Now!"

A deep groan erupted from Doyle. "Crazy sod," he muttered.

"Go on," Bodie demanded, pressing his heels against Doyle's buttocks, thrusting his pelvis upwards.

Doyle conceded to his demand with an impaling thrust that tore a shout of pain from Bodie. Face mirroring both satisfaction and lust, Bodie clamped his jaw against further outbursts, enduring silently until the tearing pain was submerged by an annihilating pleasure.

Doyle's movements were swift and hard, jabbing into pliant flesh. Bodie soared, wild with the fervour of Doyle's needful strokes, pushed to new heights by his lover's fire, until destroyed by pleasure, his seed escaped, driven from him with an intensity almost painful in itself. His pleasured cries went unheeded as Doyle continued his driving rhythm that raised him finally to his own equally pleasureful release. Peaking, a shrill yelp signaled his climax, and Doyle froze before collapsing downward onto Bodie's inert body.

It wasn't long though before Doyle pushed off and rolled to the far side of the bed. His huddled misery compelled Bodie to desert his state of satiated languor.

"Ray, is somethin' wrong?"

"I hurt you." Doyle's muffled reproach went soul deep.

"No, you didn't. Not much anyway."

"Don't lie."

"I'm not lying. I wanted it rough, didn't I?" Bodie said with some aggression.

"You're a sick bastard; nobody would like that."

Bodie reared up and leaned over Doyle the better to gauge his reaction. "Mebbe. At least I didn't ask you to quote bloody scripture during." His gaze wavered slightly before Doyle's piercing look.

"Don't even bother."

"I won't." Bodie fell back. "Has it ever occurred to you that maybe we're both a little twisted? You enjoyed it too, you know?"

"No." Doyle's denial was too quick, even as haunted green eyes turned toward him and confessed the possibility. "But it is sick," Doyle protested again.

"We can't be really sane, not what we do for a living. Only know I wanted all of you. This is one way to break through; to know I've been let inside all those barriers."


"Yeh, I know you were the one pushed for this, us, but you don't always let me close. Save a bit of yourself, keep something in reserve. I respect that...but there's times I need all you can give." Bodie dropped his eyes. "And times I want it really rough." He steadied his voice. "If that makes me sick, well, mebbe I am. There's probably reason enough for it, but I don't want to go into it." He swallowed nervously. "There's times you want to hurt me, too."

White-faced, Doyle denied it, his voice gravelly. "God, no."

"You do," Bodie insisted.

Doyle's gaze fell under the intense scrutiny. "Yeh," his voice broke. "I hate it. I don't want to hurt you, just love you, be easy like you deserve. You need that, too," he insisted.

"Christ, yes. And if I had to choose, it'd always be that way. But sometimes I get a need. I don't what else to say, Ray. I wanted it, that's all."

They lay quietly for a time, thinking about truths divulged, trying to accept. Finally Doyle rolled toward him again. "Bodie, are we truly mad? I'm not sure I can understand I can want to cause you pain."

"Look, Ray, if it's in us, and once in a while we both want it, why question it?" He ran his thumb gently beneath haunted green eyes. "Mustn't tear yourself up. That's just the way we are." He smiled. "S'lucky Cowley teamed us. Murph wouldn't have had either one of us."

Doyle's answering grin was strained. "Swear you'd find something funny about a week old corpse."

"Don't have to," Bodie murmured, suddenly played out. "Got you around for laughs, don't I?" He pulled the slighter man close. "Be a good lad, now and let me get a few minutes kip. Who knows how soon I'll sleep in a bed this soft again?"

Doyle obligingly shut up, and as Bodie dropped off, he felt a twinge of guilt. He was sure Doyle would get no rest this night; his partner always had trouble accepting the worst home truths.

Bodie was driving too fast and didn't care. When the call had come into headquarters that Doyle had been shot, he had concentrated solely on reaching hospital as if that, in some way, could prevent Doyle leaving him forever. Shifting down, the car swung around a corner, narrowly avoiding a pedestrian. The near miss registered, but it didn't slow him down. He was focused too tightly on Doyle and what he would find at the end of his journey.

He wondered briefly how things had got so cocked up, and why Doyle was on a dangerous assignment without his partner there to back him up. Until this morning when Cowley has assigned him a babysitting job, he and Doyle had been working together again.

Bodie remembered why very well. He'd gone to see the Cowley after his last undercover assignment. With his help, Dawson, Acting Head of MI6, had been outed as a Kremlin mole, and Kovak of the KGB had died. Cowley had been well pleased with the outcome. Afraid Cowley would split them again, Bodie had decided to take action while the old man was still in a good mood.

As he'd hoped, the encounter with Cowley had gone well and their next assignment had paired them again. As he'd told Cowley, rather smugly, there were plenty of solo agents who could handle the assignments they'd been drawing; surprisingly, the Controller had not demurred, but had agreed the team should be reunited. He and Doyle had drawn assignments together continuously for a few weeks until this morning when Cowley had sent him out on a babysitting assignment and Doyle to a tail job. Bodie had thought nothing about it; the occasional solo assignment fell to all team members, especially when CI5 was very busy.

The terse call to CI5 concerning Doyle had reached Bodie just after he had checked back into headquarters, at the end of a very boring day, in the hopes of running into his partner. Instead, he'd arrived in time to learn that Doyle had been shot. Again.

Incredibly he arrived at hospital before he had an accident. Abandoning his motor, Bodie jogged knowingly through to the surgical ward. The whole trip over, he had been mentally girding himself to accept catastrophe even while reminding himself that the phone call said Doyle was alive, only wounded. It hadn't helped. The last time Doyle had been wounded had forever banished any acceptance of easy reassurance. Having one's lover die and be brought back to life was very sobering. Besides, there were few enough miracles about, and Bodie figured they had already used up their quota.

Suppressing a rising tide of terror, he barged through the door and confronted the woman behind the desk, hoping he wouldn't start gibbering.

"Doyle?" he growled, flashing his ID. His throat and mouth had dried so badly, speaking was painful.

Impersonal eyes marked him. "Raymond Doyle? He's not down yet from surgery. If you'll have a seat, the doctor will be around shortly."

He nodded numbly. CI5 personnel were well-known on this ward. No one tried to restrict agents from visiting partners here. Cowley'd seen to that a long time ago.

Gathering his courage, he asked, "His condition when he came in...?"

Fleeting compassion crossed her face. "The doctor will tell you he comes now." Bodie followed her gesture, newly terrified at the sight of the tired, blood-spattered physician.

Bodie took an involuntary step back, but the doctor appeared not to notice his fear. "You're not Mr. Cowley so you must be one of his men."

Bodie recognized the doctor, but wasn't surprised the man didn't remember him. "Doyle's my partner. How is he?"

"Quite lucky actually. Bullet passed through his shoulder and did very little damage considering everything. He'll be awhile recuperating, but with a course of physio, he should regain full use of his arm."

Doyle was alive. Relief surged through Bodie, and he slumped against the support of the corridor wall.

"He'll be all right then," he said aloud, just to make it real, knowing that he had expected to hear Doyle wouldn't make it this time.

"Mr. Bodie, would you like some tea? P'raps you'd better sit down."

Surprised to find his eyes closed, he opened them to see the concerned face of the doctor peering at him.

"I'll be fine," he said in a more normal tone of voice. "When can I see him?"

"He should be down from post-op in an hour or so. You can see him as soon as he's settled in his room."

"Can I wait?"

The doctor eyed him anxiously before turning to the woman at the desk. "Show Mr. Bodie to Mr. Doyle's room. He can wait there." Looking back at Bodie, he inquired with some concern. "You're sure you'll be all right? Don't want you passing out on us, do we?"

Embarrassed to have revealed how disturbed he was, he sent a quelling look in the doctor's direction, straightening his shoulders. "I'm fine. Nothing wrong with me."

Taken aback by the man's rapid self-possession, the doctor figuratively shook his head at the whole CI5 mob and moved on.

Bodie glowered at the nurse next. "If you'll tell me where they'll put him, I'll get out of your way."

Senses smothered in cotton wool, Doyle struggled with an urgency he couldn't put a name to. And he was cold--cold to the bone and shivering with it.

"Mr. Doyle...Ray...wake up."

With the greatest difficulty he raised an unwilling hand to his face and encountered something strange and hard.

"It's all right, Mr. Doyle, we're giving you oxygen," the voice reassured. "Your surgery is over and you're going to be fine. Just relax. Someone will take you to your room shortly."

It all came flooding back then. The simple tail job had been a set-up. That lot had been waiting for him; and he knew without doubt that Cowley must have planned it that way. He shivered with a new kind of cold, for the first time realizing just how badly Cowley wanted him out of the picture. It he'd ever assumed the man would give up or realize how hopeless his passion was, he was disabused of the notion now.

He had to admire the old fox though. Such a neat plan--So sorry Bodie but your partner was killed in action--and then be there to comfort his grieving lover.

Like hell!

He had to tell Bodie now, warn him about Cowley. Fighting against his weakened limbs, he clawed at the oxygen tube, trying to sit up.

"Mr. Doyle, please be still. You'll reopen your wound."

He found he didn't need to be reminded as pain tore at his shoulder and arm. Cursing, he tensed against the fire in his body that momentarily obliterated all other concerns. The bite of a needle as it entered his thigh was barely felt, and soon he began to relax as the pain became manageable.

To his intense relief, the nurse returned after awhile and removed the oxygen. Resisting sleep became his primary concern. Warmer and no longer in pain, the soporific effects of the drug began working in his system; but he forced himself to stay awake, the need to see Bodie imperative. His determined calmness was rewarded when he was moved to a room and found Bodie waiting.

At the sight of his partner, a smile tugged at his lips. Some things were as certain as the wheeling of the planets. Bodie was his stability. Too tired suddenly to cope and certain of his safety, he slept.

Again, a nagging unease pulled him from the cotton-wool, and he opened his eyes to see Bodie, still vigilant, heavy bearded, and exhausted at his side. Reaching out to his bereft-looking lover, Doyle found his hand suddenly gripped tightly. Bodie's head lowered and Doyle realized his partner was making a major effort to cope with his emotions. Shaken by Bodie's momentary lapse, Doyle sought to comfort the other man.

"S'okay, mate. I'm all right."

The internal struggle seemed to ease and Bodie raised his head to reveal a tentative smile. "Can see that, twit. Why'd you think the hospital's still standin'?" The tremble in Bodie's voice revealed his still precarious hold on ravaged emotions, but even that partial control let Doyle relax.

"Yeh, wondered about that. Glad to see you, too."

Bodie frowned fiercely. "Ray, when you're feeling better, I want to know why you went after Calhoun alone. If you weren't lying there looking all pale and interesting, I'd thump you a good 'un."

Doyle's brows lifted in a weak imitation of surprise. "Me! Mate, it was never my idea; Cowley ordered me not to lose him at any cost. No one was more surprised than me when I blundered in on that mob."

"Cowley!" Bodie was clearly amazed. "That's crazy. He knew Reynolds was on Heinrich's payroll. Murph told him two days ago. He had to know Reynolds could break your cover. Why'd he do anything so daft?"

Doyle was speechless. If he'd ever needed proof Cowley was behind the attempt on his life, Bodie had just handed it to him. It was pure luck he'd gotten out of that warehouse alive.

How many more times would this happen before Cowley succeeded? Life as a CI5 agent was risky at best; with your boss working for your demise, a violent end was assured.

"Bodie?" Fear strained his voice.

"What is it, sunshine? Look awful, don't you? Want me to call the nurse?" He was on his feet before Doyle could answer.

"Cowley sent me in cause he wanted me dead. He thought Reynolds would do me. Not likely I could escape from that mob, is it?"

"Shh, Ray. You're rambling, mate."

"Shut up, and think about it. Otherwise why send me in, knowing Reynolds was there? And what about sending me undercover in that assassination mob the last time?"

"Mate, Cowley must be under strain, maybe not thinking clear, but to accuse him of wanting you dead..."

Doyle sighed. "This is partly my fault for not telling you sooner, isn't it? Now listen up, cause I've only got enough energy to say this once."

Clearly Bodie believed him to be unhinged, but nevertheless drew his chair obediently closer, prepared to let Doyle talk.

"I've known for over a year the old man wants you. And don't look so smug. I mean exactly that. He's in love with you, or what passes for it. He wants to break us up. Was on account of him I broke it off after we were snatched last year. Made me think that if I couldn't protect you, loving you could only hurt you."

Doyle closed his eyes. Such a little bit of talking and he was exhausted, the need to close his eyes was overwhelming. "Bodie, gotta' sleep awhile. Don't leave?"

Bodie's face softened. "Not going anywhere. Go ahead and rest."

The next time Doyle woke, Bodie was gone from his side. In a panic he searched out the control next to his hand. Almost immediately a nursing sister bustled in.

"Where's Bodie?" he asked.

The nurse smiled at him. "Good morning to you, too. Mr. Bodie's having a bite. Don't worry he'll be right back. We convinced him you would be all right and that he should take a break. Your breakfast should be here soon."

Assured that Bodie was still around, he quietly accepted her ministrations as an unavoidable part of a hospital's early morning ritual. At least she helped him sit up before Bodie returned, and she left before he could become really irritable.

As the door shut, they both spoke at the same time. "Christ, you look awful."

Bodie grinned. "I think I'm insulted. It's all right if you look rough, you're wounded, but I'm the beautiful one."

"Your mother wouldn't know you this morning." Unfortunately, it was almost true. The usually well-groomed agent was rumpled and red-eyed.

Bodie rubbed a hand over his chin. "You're right. Suppose I'd better stop off before work and clean up."

"I want to finish our conversation first."

Bodie looked uncomfortable. "I'd hoped last night was the result of some kind of anesthetic induced hallucination."

"I wish it was, mate." Doyle carefully adjusted his wounded arm and laid his head back. "This isn't easy for me either, so just let me say it, okay."

Rather dubiously, Bodie resumed his bedside seat.

Doyle shook his head at the other man, afraid Bodie was going to interrupt before he could get it all said. "Just weeks ago Cowley and I had it out, and he told me if we were on again, he wanted me to break it off. I told him to sod off. We'd do what we wanted, and what we wanted was each other.

Bodie's eyes widened. "You never said that to the old man."

"He went white, Bodie. I thought he was going to stroke out or something on the spot. Then real quiet, he told me to get out. Except to give me orders, he hasn't spoken to me alone since. I think he's gone round the twist. God knows what he'll try now that this little piece of work has failed." He eyed Bodie warily. "I'm not crackers, you know. It's all true, and I'm sorry I didn't tell you before, but I didn't think you could handle Cowley wanting your gorgeous body."

He knew he'd said the wrong thing at once.

"That's enough," Bodie growled, eyes navy blue slits of rage.

Doyle couldn't remember seeing his partner this angry before. "Think!" he commanded. "He's probably been after me for awhile now. It's just become more blatant and what better way than through the job? He's not stupid, he's mad."

Doyle watched as Bodie made an obvious effort to control his temper, probably in order to humor his ailing partner. "You mean send you on a suicide mission? C'mon' Ray. Even if all this garbage were true, there're better ways of killing."

Doyle sighed. Bodie was resisting him, and it was vital his partner accept the truth now. Silently he cursed himself for keeping the truth from Bodie for so long. "What better way to get me out of the picture? Ever hear the story of David and Bathsheba?"

"Was my father a clergyman!" Bodie snapped back. "Course I know it."

"Well, then, how'd David get rid of the unwanted husband?"

"Sent him off to war knowing he'd be carried home on his shield," Bodie answered, a wave of emotion in his voice. "You're serious about this. You really mean it."

"I've known ever since he offered me his job and wanted you to quit the mob to work for 'im. Remember?" he prompted.

Pale now, beginning to accept Doyle was serious in making accusations about a man he respected and cared for, Bodie looked stunned. "You really think he wants you dead." It wasn't a question, just a statement of acceptance.

"I'd swear it. Sod it, Bodie, I wouldn't be telling you now if he hadn't arranged my 'accident.'"

It was plain Bodie no longer was able to believe Doyle was having him on in some bizarre fashion. Doyle winced in sympathy as Bodie choked as he asked what had to be unbelievable to him. "And it's all because he...wants me...that way?" Bodie could not hide his disgust.

"I wouldn't make this up; you know me better than that."

"You're dead cert?"

"Never more so." Briefly, but completely as his memory allowed, Doyle recounted every conversation he'd had with the old man since he'd first learned of Cowley's feelings.

Doyle could tell acceptance had begun in Bodie. They'd been partners and lovers too long, trusted each other too completely for Bodie not to believe him. Bodie knew him well enough to know he wouldn't make such an accusation unless it were true, and his words were damning.

Unnamed emotion flashed across Bodie's face, and fists were clenched in a white-knuckled rage. "You should have told me when this happened, Ray, and we'll discuss it later, but right now, we have to stop him."

"Maybe if we confront him, he'll give up. I mean, what good would it do him to kill me if he loses you in the process, right?"

"We'd never be sure that way, would we?" Bodie said calmly.

The simplicity of the question chilled Doyle. "Well, I'll be careful, won't I? Not so easy to put me under, especially with you as back up."

"No," Bodie contradicted. "It'll be just as easy to nail you as it was this time. No matter if we live in each other's pockets, it could happen. Cowley is the best there is. You might understand how he thinks, but you you don't understand Cowley the way I do, Ray. He doesn't give up--ever. The only way we'll be sure is to kill him first."

"Bodie, no!" Belatedly, Doyle knew he should have realized Bodie would react this way.

"Yes," The other man was implacable. "We can't take a chance. I can't take a chance."

"No," Doyle denied. "We can't kill him. Except for this, he's...he's Cowley. Think of the job he faces every day! Hell, think of the good he's done! He's just sick, mate."

"You saying someone has to be sick to be in love with me?"

Horrified at Bodie's reversion to black humour, Doyle cried out. "Don't Bodie, no jokes."

Bodie's mouth lifted in a grim caricature of a smile. "Sorry, but it's either laugh or weep, and no matter who he is, I don't feel kindly towards someone who's trying to off you."

Doyle wanted to weep for Bodie so much pain radiated from the man. "Just wait a bit, okay, till I get out of here? We'll figure something out." He leaned towards Bodie as he made his plea, forgetting his shoulder. Sudden agony pierced him and he fell back with a gasp.

Bodie hovered, worry driving away all thoughts of Cowley. "Take it easy, sunshine, we'll figure out something later. Now lie still before you do yourself a mischief."

"Tired," Doyle mumbled, swimming up past the renewed pain.

"Rest now, mate, I'll call the nurse."

"You won't do anything?" Through a mist of pain, Doyle examined the taut face hanging over him. "Bodie, you can't murder the man in cold blood."

" Can't I?"

Bodie's voice was so soft, Doyle had to strain to hear, but before the nurse came in Doyle wanted some kind of surety that Bodie wouldn't act hastily. "Promise...promise me...."

"Rest now."

"You won't do anythin'," Doyle slurred, pain taking its toll. "We wait... till I'm out of 'ospital."

"Don't worry about anything. You can trust me."

"Right then, I'll rest a bit. You better be off." Wearily he closed his eyes. Bodie would wait; he'd promised. Hadn't he?

Out in the morning light, Bodie looked around the car park, dazed by what he'd learned. Last night, he'd pretty much dismissed Ray's words as the ravings of a sick man. This morning, Doyle had been perfectly lucid. Acid lurked at the back of his throat, proving the whole conversation had been real and not the product of troubled imagination.

Leaning against his car, he went over Ray's story again, seeking a reason not to believe him. It didn't work. Too many facts added up; Ray was right about Cowley. Bodie hadn't wanted Ray to see his pain, but it hurt to know the old man could do this to him. He'd always found excuses for Cowley's dropping them in it; he'd always been 'Cowley's man.' That very loyalty brought certain ramifications to any dealing he had with the old man, so now, he was definitely going to take this turn of events very personally.

The drive to his flat, and then to work, passed in a blur. He couldn't stop thinking about it...about Cowley. He couldn't get past the necessity of killing the controller, but he was beginning to see the necessity of caution if he wanted any kind of a future with Ray.

Somehow he got through the day without making any obvious mistakes, but his thinking was still without direction. After work, he stayed away from the hospital even though he knew it'd make Ray crazy. He had to think things through before he faced his partner.

Bodie grabbed a quick dinner but couldn't bear going home, so drove the busy streets almost automatically. He was surprised when he found himself in Cowley's neighbourhood.

It was late enough in the evening that Cowley would be at home. Bodie cut his lights and parked down the street from the Controller's house. It was a relatively quiet street even though it was two blocks away from a busy thoroughfare. Neat houses, now divided into flats, were set back a few feet from the street, and quaint street lights cast dramatic shadows in the, as yet, light mist. He could see lights in the front windows of several houses, but no one was walking along the deserted pavement, and very few vehicles were on the road. Although not so very cold, the damp weather was obviously discouraging the dedicated keep-fitters, and it was too early yet for dog owners to be out for last walkies.

In some strange way, sitting in front of Cowley's house began to steady him. The old man's presence had always make him settle down and see a situation much more clearly. Not that the old bastard had never put any of their lives ahead of the job, but Bodie had willingly gone the limit for Cowley many times. Not any more.

He supposed they could just up and leave CI5, avoid Cowley for the rest of his life. That didn't set well though. Bodie never liked to leave unfinished business. And, of course, Cowley liked unfinished business even less than he; and that same Cowley was threatening their future.

Bodie shivered as he thanked whatever lucky stars they had for yesterday's reprieve. In his time in CI5, Bodie found much to rejoice in, especially since he and Ray had got back together. Over a year ago, Mayli had almost ended that chance, but once Ray had come through the surgery and they knew he'd live, Bodie had waited patiently until Doyle had been able to sit up without pain. Then he'd presented him with some home truths.

Bodie, too, had learned the guilt Ray had felt when it came not to being there when your partner needed you. But, he argued, wasn't it better they spend the time they had left together rather than waiting around miserably for the other one to be offed?

He was unaware he smiled as the next memory surfaced. Ray had capitulated without a single argument. It hadn't taken much for the stubborn git to see they had to get back together. All he had to do was die.

Bodie's smile changed to a scowl. Cowley had signed his own death warrant the moment he plotted Doyle's death. He didn't let himself think about the other thing Cowley wanted yet. It would cloud his thoughts, and he needed his wits about him if he were to stop Cowley. He'd not only respected and admired the man, he'd been fond of him, almost at times regarding him as a father figure. To find out that Cowley desired him made nausea climb his throat, but no matter how much he considered that desire to be a personal betrayal, it wasn't a killing offense. Somehow though, Cowley must never again be allowed the opportunity to hurt Ray.

Even now when he was immersed in a personal dilimma, Bodie was still one of Cowley's best. No matter how preoccupied, he constantly scanned and evaluated his surroundings, and his interest was piqued to see another motor park farther down the silent street and go dark. If he hadn't observed that no one got out, he'd have thought the car was empty. In time the faint glow of a cigarette tip proved the car was definitely inhabited.

Curious now, he decided to investigate. Bodie slipped out the door, and cautiously made his way from shadow to shadow, until he was close enough see the figure within the black Merc. Patiently he waited until the man inside finally shifted his head slightly.

With the aid of the faint lamplight, Bodie identified the man as KGB. Petrov and he had crossed paths a couple of times while he was doing Cowley's business. Curious as to why the Russian had Cowley under surveillance and mindful of Cowley's earlier warning about KGB activity, he faded deeper into the darkening night and prepared to wait.

It wasn't a long wait for a CI5 obbo. Bodie wasn't even uncomfortably chilly when Petrov started his engine and pulled away.

After Bodie returned to his cold motor, the beginnings of an idea teased him on his drive home.

Looking down at the glum figure of his partner lying in the hospital bed, Bodie thought that Doyle already showed improvement. "It's not such a long time, Ray, and the doctor said you'd come back good as new."

"It's long enough," Doyle said, feeling good enough now to heartily resent his immediate future. "Seems I just got back to feeling good, and now I'm off to convalescence and rehab again."

"I know," Bodie smiled, kindly ignoring the other man's sarky disposition. After all, a cantankerous Doyle was a Doyle on the mend. "It ruddy stinks, but it's better than the alternative, right?"

"What alternative?"

""Being dead," Bodie replied succinctly. "Look you're going to get full use back, and it's only going to take about six to eight weeks this time. You were months getting back on your feet after the last go round." Bodie sat down by him. "Think I'll start calling you Tom; you've got more lives than any moggy I ever met."

Doyle cocked his head, his narowed green eyes and voracious smile subtly reminding Bodie of his other feline traits.

"Know what else tomcats are good at, don't you?" Doyle replied, lightening up as Bodie had hoped he'd do. Keep things easy and keep the conversation moving was what Bodie wanted before Ray thought to ask why a London specialist wouldn't do just as well as a Yorkish one.

"Yes, I do. Now shirrup before you embarrass me."

"All right, mum, I'll be suitably grateful for my future in rehab." Doyle turned carefully over onto his side. "Guess I should have figured Cowley would send me to our clinic in York; he's determined to keep us apart."

Bodie tensed and then sighed with relief as Doyle found his own answer. It was uncanny the way he Ray sometimes picked up on his partner's thoughts. "I'm sure he won't try another hit this soon," Bodie said, subdued by the thought of Doyle going to a strange place with no back up. "You should be safer in York."

He did worry about Doyle being without backup in a strange city, but he needed Doyle out of the city for his plan to work; and he really did think Doyle would be better off if he were gone temporarily, rather than here, constantly reminding Cowley of his existence. It had been easy convincing Cowley to send Doyle to CI5's facility in York, but it also created guilt pangs consigning Doyle to weeks of pain in the company of strangers.

"I agree, he'll wait till I'm back on the streets. A work-related accident is much easier to explain." Doyle sat up in the bed, a look of resolve on his face. "When I get back, we'll decide what to do." He drew a deep breath and wrinkled his brow at the same time. "I hate to quit but that might be the only way."

"I've thought before about what we'd do the day Cowley retires," Bodie said thoughtfully. "I'm not certain CI5 will continue to exist without him."

"True." Then Doyle shrugged carefully. "But there's bound to be other good men who could take over...if they would."

Bodie concurred. "There's some good women, too. I'd work for Miss Marsh in a minute."

Doyle's eyes widened. "What a thought. Hey, she'd be bloody good, wouldn't she?"

"If the old boys network would let her," Bodie responded. "Anyway, tomorrow I'll run you up to York and get you settled." He stood and stretched then. "Been a long day. You better get get your head down; I'd like to leave early.

"Okay," Doyle agreed. "Bodie?"

The quizzical look on Doyle's face made Bodie fight to keep calm. He'd been afraid all evening Doyle would pick up the fact that he was concealing something. "What?"

"About Cowley. You have't mentioned him much the past couple days. Are you all right with the way things are till I get back on my feet? You won't do anything dumb?"

Bodie sighed heavily. "I can cope for as long as it takes you to get back. Just cooperate with the docs and don't mess about ." He leaned down to where he was almost touching Doyle's forehead with his own, and his eyes closed briefly as he inhaled Doyle's familiar scent. "I'll miss you, and I'll call when I get the chance. I may not be able to come up very often though."

Doyle contented himself with letting his good hand slowly glide down Bodie's arm. "No, I suspect Cowley will keep you too busy to get away." He glanced at his useless arm. "Just call when you've a spare minute."

"You've got it," Bodie promised, pulling back. "Come on, quit stalling, it's beddie-bye time."

"You're sure you're going to be all right?"

Bodie's mouth thinned; Doyle sometimes had the persistence of a bull terrier. "Don't worry about me, just take care of yourself," he said, ruffling Doyle's hair. "Honest. I won't do anything off the wall."

Three weeks later, Bodie, while missing Ray, seldom had the luxury to dwell on it. Four out of every seven nights since Doyle had left, he had gone directly home, just as he did this night, fixed a quick supper, and watched the telly a bit before going out again. His destination was, as always, Cowley's neighbourhood.

As he cruised by Cowley's flat, he was pleased to note the same dark sedan parked along the kerb, just as it had been every time other time. He continued past it, and parked a little ways down the road. After a few minutes, he got out of the car and strolled slowly to Cowley's building. Looking up, he saw that the light was still on in Cowley's first floor flat. The old man kept to a fairly rigid schedule that only varied with the demands of work. Bodie knew that in ten minutes, if not interrupted, this main room light would go out, and the light in the bedroom would go on; fifteen minutes later it, too, would go out.

Quickly, he crossed the street then, went up the stairs where he paused for a few seconds on the stoop, being sure the outside light illuminated his face so the car's occupant could note his identity before he entered the building. Once inside the downstairs hall, he opened a nondescript door which housed a broom closet and sat down to wait in the dark for the proscribed two hours. It was boring, but it wasn't any worse than most obbos. While he waited, he thought about the previous evenings he'd sat here and how he'd begun to implement his scheme. From the beginning, Cowley had fallen right in with his plans.

It'd started that first night after he'd returned from taking Ray to York.

He'd got back to town about when he'd planned, and checked in at CI5 headquarters. It was late enough most everyone not on a case had already gone home. He'd had a quick cuppa in the rest room while waiting for the familiar step in the hall. When he heard it, he went out into the hall where he passed up Cowley with a friendly 'good-night sir.' He proceeded almost to the stairs before casually stopping to look back.

"I don't suppose I could buy you a drink, could I, sir?"

Cowley's face lost its abstracted air as he took in Bodie's friendly demeanor. "Not tonight, Bodie. I have a meeting across town." Cowley caught up to him and they both walked out the building together. "Feeling at loose ends with your partner gone?"

"Something like that, sir," Bodie said. "Not that I don't enjoy present company, too," he hastened to add.

Cowley winced. "No need to flatter me. If you'd still like to have a drink, I 'm free tomorrow night."

Bodie's nodded. "I'll look forward to it, sir."

"Well then, tomorrow it is. Good night, Bodie."

The next day after work, he had been waiting outside Cowley's office. When the old man saw him, he'd looked a little surprised.

"So you still want to buy me a drink, do you?"

Bodie smiled. "Yes sir. The local do or would you rather go for some food?"

"Dinner?" Cowley was clearly surprised, but pleased at the same time. "Well, why not? We both have to eat. But I won't go to those hellish take-away places you frequent," Cowley warned. "I'll come only if you have a decent restaurant in mind."

"Yes sir, " Bodie agreed. "If you like a good Italian meal, I know just the place."

"The food's not all garlicked up, is it?"

"Some of it is, but the fish isn't, and it's very fresh."

"Very well," Cowley said. "Come along. We'll go in my vehicle; I can drop you off after."

Now, in the period of three weeks, they'd had drinks after work a dozen times as well as that one dinner. In a perverse kind of way Bodie had enjoyed that meal. Cowley could be good company when he chose. They'd sat for three hours, talking over the remains of a bottle of Chianti.

Bodie had begun visiting Cowley's building the same night.

Restively, Bodie checked his watch. Only one hour gone by; that wasn't nearly long enough so he settled back. A mop handle poked him and he squirmed to find a more amenable position.

The next time he checked his watch, only 30 minutes had passed, but by now he'd had it. He wanted a shower and a drink, in that order. It was a relief to let himself into his own flat, strip off his dusty clothes, and climb into the shower. He was just rinsing the shampoo from his hair when the phone rang.

Grabbing a towel, Bodie ran cursing all the way to the insistently ringing phone. "Yeh, hello," he snapped.

"Mr. Bodie? Of CI5?"

"Who wants to know," he growled, a tingle of satisfaction stirring in his gut at hearing the lightly accented Russian. It gave Bodie a warm feeling sometimes to know the KGB could be so predictable.

"Someone who knows a great deal about you."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Bodie demanded.

"I want to meet with you...tomorrow tonight."

"Me mum told me not to talk to strange men," Bodie parried with a certain amount of pleasure.

The voice on the other end of the phone hardened. "Please do not play games with me, Mr. Bodie. You will be very interested in what I have to say. You will hear from us soon regarding where and when."

The click that followed, Bodie decided, was trite. Russkies definitely lacked finesse.

But they were dependable.

When Bodie got home the next night, an envelope had been thrust under his door; the directions were explicit: he was to be at the little park near his flat at 8 p.m. As he ate supper and listened to a news programme, the satisfied cold smile that had become habitual lately appeared whenever he thought about the meet.

Before leaving, he showered and changed into clean clothes. It took a minute to decide just what clothing would be à propos for a clandestine meet. Finally it seemed most befitting to have a rendezvous in dark colors, and he laughed quietly over his choices: black cords and polo, topped with his black leather jacket. As he viewed himself in the mirror, he decided it was a shame Doyle wasn't here to appreciate his choices. Ray had a thing about him in black. On a more disconcerting note, it occurred to him to wonder if Cowley had such preferences.

Out the door seconds later, he was plenty early for the meet. Finding a vacant bench wasn't hard on such a chill spring evening, and he was caught up by the green peace of the park as he watched the few late strollers and joggers. He spotted Petrov and his companion seconds before they saw him. On their guard, they approached him cautiously, but after one more quick look around, Petrov joined him on his bench, while the other man stood apart, alert to his surroundings.

"Good evening, Mr. Bodie."

"It was an even nicer evening before you arrived, comrade," Bodie drawled.

"Silence," Petrov snapped. He glanced around nervously before standing up. "Come, we will walk."

Bodie joined Petrov, aware that the other KGB man lagged a step behind.

"Who's the watchdog?" Bodie asked. "He new in town?"

"Mr. Pervukhin is not up for discussion," Petrov replied. When they reached a broad swath of grass, Petrov veered off in its direction. Evidently deeming them to be far enough away from any prying eyes and ears, Petrov pulled a packet of snaps from his suit coat and handed them to Bodie.

"What's this, then?"

"They should look familiar to you," Petrov responded.

Bodie looked at several dark but clear shots of him going into Cowley's flat and leaving Cowley's flat. He turned them over and the dates and times were printed on the back. "Sure, they're pictures of me. So what?"

"At last count, you have visited your Controller's home four nights this week, not counting all the other times previously. To be blunt Mr. Bodie, we think you are having an homosexual affair with the head of CI5. Are you?"

Bodie ground to a halt and turned on Petrov with a lowering of brows. "Is that what this is about? Some pathetic attempt at blackmail! I can't believe you'd think I'd answer such a bloody stupid question. For your information, Mr. Cowley and I chess."

"In the dark? Mr. Bodie, please do not underestimate us. You have been seen arriving at your employer's home shortly before the lights go out and you have been seen leaving long after the lights in the bedroom have gone out. I agree you are playing at something, but it is not chess."

Grinding his teeth and crushing the pictures in a fist which he shook under Petrov's nose, Bodie shouted, "Look you, these don't prove a thing. They certainly don't prove I'm sleeping with Cowley."

From the corner of his eye, Bodie watched as Pervukhin moved closer. With real disgust he turned to fling the pictures in his face before wheeling away at a fast pace.

Petrov's voice tendriled after him. "Mr. Bodie, we are quite serious. These pictures will be sent to the Home Secretary. They may not prove anything by themselves, but there will certainly be an inquiry into your activities as well as Mr. Cowley's."

Halting, Bodie swung around, hopeless confusion playing over his features. "Look, I'll lose my job over this. Cowley will come out all right; he's got all the proper connections, but I'm disposable. What good is it going to do you to get me fired? One agent? It's laughable."

"Then you admit you are having an affair with Cowley?"

Bodie shut his mouth and swung his head back and forth in a fair portrayal of desperation.

"Come, Mr. Bodie. What if we assured you that all we want is Mr. Cowley?"

"Just Cowley? I don't believe you," he said, allowing his skepticism to show .

"But you were right; you are small potatoes. In fact, you pose little threat to the KGB or my country. Your Mr. Cowley is, however, very dangerous. If you think to protect your lover, it's far too late."

"Lover!" For the first time since Bodie had begun this charade, he didn't have to act, his distaste obvious. "You don't think I go to him because I want to, do you? He doesn't care whether or not I want to be with him, in fact, he gets off on forcing me...." Abruptly, Bodie broke off, uneasily aware his real feelings were dictating his outburst. He drew a calming breath before starting over. "Look, I don't care about that bastard, but I do care about losing my job. I don't see how you could keep me out of any disclosure."

"If we can manage it in such a way that would not compromise you, would you cooperate?"

"You'd bring Cowley down, but leave me out of it?"

"I assure you that's all we want. We don't want to disrupt CI5 activities; we believe the status quo should be maintained."

"What do you want me to do?" Bodie's grimace was real. Cowley was CI5, and it rankled his soul even to pretend to hand over the old man to the KGB.

"At present, I suggest you do nothing to make Cowley suspicious."

Scowling, Bodie looked down at his feet. "You mean I should keep on as is?"

"Exactly. We'll get back to you soon, Mr. Bodie."

"I'm sure you will."

When Bodie left the park, he knew it was time to implement the next step in his plan. He drove to Cowley's place, and making no effort to be covert, he parked directly in front of Cowley's building. Once inside he buzzed Cowley's flat.


"Bodie, sir. Can I come up?"

"Is anything the matter, 3.7?"

"No sir, it's not business."

"Come ahead. It's the door at the top of the stairs."

"Yes sir."

As he leapt up the stairs two at a time, Bodie wondered how Cowley would handle tonight's progression in the plan.

The Controller was waiting for him at the top, door open. "Come in then, Bodie, and tell me what's on your mind."

"I know it's late, sir. I didn't know who else to turn to."

"It's not that late, Bodie, but this sounds personal; you know I don't like to mix into the private affairs of my men."

Cowley's last statement struck Bodie's odd sense of humor and drew an involuntary grin to his face. The neatly appointed room he entered gave him something else to think about. Cowley didn't go in for opulence, but his flats were all elegantly appointed. Once again Bodie wondered how much Cowley took home in his pay chit.

"I understand, sir, it's just that this involves the job, too."

"Go on and take a seat. I was about to have a drop. Would you care for a glass?"

"Only to keep you company, sir."

Cowley poured out two stiff measures and handed one to his agent. "Now then," he said as he settled himself in his chair. "What's the problem? And why couldn't it wait till tomorrow?"

"I'm sorry to bother you at home, sir, but I didn't want to discuss this in your office. You see, I've just got off the phone with Doyle." Bodie sipped his scotch as he watched Cowley's body language. Cowley had tensed at the introduction of Doyle's name: he did not like the topic.

Cowley's voice revealed nothing however. "So, is the lad recuperating on schedule? We were two men down with him gone and now with Steigmann newly dead, we've a serious shortage."

"Yes sir, I guess so. Ray's the problem, you see."

"How so? He is cooperating with the medical staff, isn't he?"

"Oh, yes sir, at least I think he is. It's just that since he got to York, he's jittery. If it were anyone but Ray, I'd say he'd gone round the know, paranoid."


"Yes sir, he says he wants to quit CI5; wants me to quit as well. Won't say what's wrong in any definite kind of way, just rabbits on about how the job's not safe any more. That he doesn't want to come back, and that I should quit, too. That's crazy. The job's never been safe. Nothing has changed...except Ray."

"What do you think is wrong with him?"

"I think he's lost his nerve. He's my partner, my back up. We can't do our job if he's afraid. He'll get us both killed if he doesn't straighten out. And I hate to say it, but I don't know if he can." Bodie stood up and went over to the curtained window and pulled the edge back to look out. Prayerfully, he hoped Petrov, or one of his goons, were standing ready with a camera.

"Bodie, leave the curtain be and come back over here," Cowley said with no real heat. Indeed, he looked quite deep in thought.

Lingeringly, Bodie twitched the curtain one more time before returning to his chair and drink. "You see my problem, don't you, sir?"

"Yes, I do, but don't you think you're worrying prematurely? Doyle still has about three or four weeks of physio, and there's a good chance he'll come around once his health improves."

Bodie let his head fall forward into his hands. "Maybe. You haven't heard the worst, though."

Cowley's guard visibly snapped into place. "Oh, what's that?"

"He blames you for his being shot." Bodie looked up into guileless blue eyes. "I told him he was flat out wrong on that one. It makes him sound like he's not man enough to admit his own mistakes."

Warily, Cowley followed his lead. "Aye, that is hard to believe of him. Doyle usually accepts blame for about everything that comes his way."

"Exactly, so now you know why I'm so worried," Bodie continued. "Sir, do you think he should be invalided out?'

Instead of answering, Cowley asked his own question. "And how would you feel about that?"

"It'd be bloody awful," Bodie looked up at Cowley as soon as he thought he'd managed an expression that revealed just enough guilt to be believable. "We've been together for a long time, longer than I've ever had a partner. We've got used to one another, you know, like Darby and Joan." He rubbed his forehead and then let his head sink back on the chair. "I didn't think I'd ever say this, but maybe it's time Ray left CI5, and I went solo."

"You actually think I should invalid him out?" Cowley made no effort to hide his astonishment.

Bodie nodded. "I hate it, but for his own good, if he's lost his nerve, Ray might be better off doing something else."

"And you'd want to work solo?"

"If you want the truth, sir, I don't think I'd ever want another partner. After having the best, I couldn't deal with anyone second-rate."

"Well, well," Cowley mused. "Never thought I'd live to see this day." He got up to pour them both another drink. "Not that I'd do anything on your word alone, you understand. Doyle will have to undergo stringent testing by Dr. Ross first." He nodded to himself. "If she finds him unstable, of course, he'll have to go."

Bodie gave an unhappy shrug. "Yes sir, you know best."

Cowley sat back down. "I'm concerned about you, Bodie. This is going to be quite an adjustment."

"Don't worry about me, sir. Won't be the first time I've lost a partner."

"I would have thought you'd be more adverse to the idea."

Bodie hunched down into his chair. "I bloody hate it. But I prefer the odds to be weighted on my side, don't I?" He let his mouth droop into unhappy lines. "It'll take some getting used to though. We've lived in each other's pockets so long, I hardly know how to do things alone anymore."

"You don't need to be alone, Bodie. There are other agents to pal around with. In fact, you and I seem to be getting on quite well lately."

Bodie let a pleased smile raise the corners of his mouth. "Yeh, we have. And I appreciate it, sir. I know you've got better things to do with your time."

Cowley's answer reflected genuine pleasure. "I've enjoyed our chats, Bodie. And I've always believed that knowing your men well is the mark of a good leader."

Bodie frowned. "Yeh, but you'd probably rather be spending time with your posh friends, playing golf or chess."

Cowley gave him the exact opening he'd hoped for.

"You know you could benefit from learning those games yourself, Bodie. Chess is an excellent way of acquiring strategy."

If nothing else, Bodie knew when to strike. "Would you teach me?"

Cowley set his drink down carefully. "I would be pleased to do so." His gaze drilled into Bodie's skull. "Are you sure you want this, Bodie?"

Bodie's pleased satisfaction was evident. "Only if you're willing, sir, only if you're willing."

Thus began the seduction of George Cowley.

Clothes were neatly hung up before Bodie allowed himself the luxury of stretching out on the bed. Idly he wondered if it were too late to call Doyle. He really hadn't expected Cowley to start giving him chess lessons this very night, but there was no way he would have refused the offer. He'd caught on to the rudiments fairly quickly, and Cowley had urged him to finish their game before he forgot.

A yawn caught Bodie unaware, and he reached to put out the bedside lamp; he'd call Ray tomorrow after the little bugger had his beauty sleep.

The first ring of the alarm caught Bodie in the middle of an erotic dream so he awoke more than a little frustrated. "Cool it, my lad," he said, peering down at his rampant cock.

He forced himself out of the bed and staggered into the loo. Lonely showers and a better acquaintance with his right hand were becoming a way of life he wasn't very fond of. It was hard to believe any man, no matter how dedicated, would willingly choose celibacy.

Feeling a little cheerier after he'd addressed his problem and had a coffee, he dialed up Doyle.


The gruff voice that answered the phone indicated it was most likely Doyle's first conversation of the day. He'd probably woken the little sod. Immediately Bodie felt better. "My you sound bright and beautiful this morning," he caroled into the mouthpiece. "How's my big boy doing this fine day?"

"I can hear the rain pissing down from my bed, that's how," Doyle snapped, now wide awake. "Don't tell me you're having sun."

"I'm about blinded," Bodie lied.

"What! From inside?"

"Striking me right in the eye, isn't it," Bodie insisted.

"You watch out or something else will be striking you in a couple more weeks," Doyle said.

"Hostility so early in the day?" Bodie crooned.

"Yeh, it is sodding early," Doyle complained. "Barely got me eyes open." His tone changed then to one more confidential. "Lying here with me early morning tent pole. Could use a friendly hand. You coming up anytime soon?"

"Don't," Bodie choked. "I just got it under control."

An evil chuckle greeted his words. "Yeh, it's big and hard and I'm wrapping my hand around it, getting real friendly, you might say."

"You liar," Bodie snarled. "You're not doing that in a nursing clinic!"

"Oh yes," Doyle moaned. "Yes, yes, yeesss."

Bodie looked down hopelessly at the front of his pants. "I hope you have to explain the wet spot," he said nastily, and slammed down the phone.

Grabbing the umbrella Doyle had left one night, Bodie headed out into the rain.

It was unbelievable how one short phone conversation with Doyle made things seem so much more bearable, and he knew the same was true for his partner. Besides Doyle was obviously improving if he were thinking about sex. Bodie sighed; he didn't think he'd be going to York anytime soon.

It was late when Bodie let Cowley off at his flat. He'd been driving for the old man for the last several days since Maxwell had come down with the chicken pox. He'd jumped on the assignment, and Cowley had gladly taken him on. Things had been proceeding apace since he now managed even more contact with his subject.

The day before Cowley had even had him to his club.

He remembered the prelude to that invitation. Cowley had told him he had to work that evening so Bodie supposed the invitation to dine had been offered as a sop.

"Be back at my place at 7:30, Bodie. I have a dinner engagement that's probably going to last quite late, and I'll need a driver."

He'd looked up to meet Cowley's concerned glance in the rear view mirror.

"Normally I wouldn't oblige my day driver to do this, but there's no one else available tonight. There'll be a fair amount of drinking going on, and it wouldn't do for the head of CI5 to be over the limit when driving home."

Bodie found he could answer without acrimony. "I don't mind, sir. It's not like I had a bird lined up or anything."

Cowley's smile softened his craggy features. "You can do whatever you like to amuse yourself while I dine as long as you return by 11:00." Cowley started to get out and then paused. "Tomorrow noon I'm lunching at my club. You're welcome to join me, but you'll need to wear a suit."

Bodie didn't try to hide his surprise. "Yes sir, I will, thank you."

Lunch had gone well.

As Bodie drove home, he was filled with a cold satisfaction. Fate was cooperating beautifully. For his current purposes, he couldn't have wished for a better job than driving Cowley. He might even start wearing suits again on a daily basis just to be ready for any eventuality. It would seem strange though; since he'd been partnered with Ray he'd become more casual in his dress.

At times, it seemed, he was reverting to the person he'd been when he joined CI5 three years ago. The thought discomfited him and he dismissed it quickly. The very idea that playing a temporary undercover role could make a difference in who he was seemed a bit far fetched at any rate.

At home he fixed a quick bite, planning to call Ray before it got too late. With his evenings so busy, he rarely had time for much more than a health report.

He hadn't finished eating when his phone rang.


"Petrov here."

Bodie smothered a curse. "What do you want? You've got a real knack for upsetting my dinner hour."

Petrov laughed unpleasantly. "Surely you expected to hear from me again?"

"With bated breath," Bodie said without inflection. "What do you want?"

"Why your company, my dear accomplice. Tonight."

"I'm busy tonight," he improvised. He could see no reason in making Petrov's job too easy.

The Russian agent's tone turned nasty. "Change your plans. We have more pictures."

"Am I supposed to applaud?" Bodie replied, doing nothing to curb an automatic snideness, but his curiosity won out in the end. "Okay, I'll meet you same time, same place."

Bodie went back to his cold meal and cursed the Russian's timing, yet he was glad the KGB was making a move. This way things could be brought to a head much quicker. He had buried his anger at Cowley so he could function, but it was not easy to work with the man in such close proximity day after day. He'd succeeded so far by focusing on his ultimate goal and never forgetting that Cowley wanted Ray dead.

He was beginning to wonder if he were wholly sane anymore; he was playing so many roles there were moments he almost lost track of who he was. That was a real danger in going undercover for too long. He hadn't been playing this role so very long, but the pressure to be perfect, to continue fooling Cowley was intense.

He sighed. Hereafter he'd be happy to leave the triple-think to Doyle and.... He caught himself before he thought the name. It was better to believe the Cowley he'd once served no longer existed. His job was to save Ray from a murderous stranger who only looked like Cowley.

By the time he'd cleaned up after himself, he had to hustle for his meet with Petrov. Tonight he didn't care how he was dressed since he wasn't going to Cowley afterwards. Petrov and his accomplice were waiting for him. Without talk they headed for the same greensward they'd walked before. Petrov handed him a packet of snaps and Bodie slowly thumbed through them, noting with approval the one of himself peering down from Cowley's window.

"They don't show much," he observed.

"They are not as incriminating as we might wish," Petrov replied.

"You want something exciting try a peep show," Bodie snapped.

"In fact, we would like something a little more explicit," Petrov continued. "We would like you to arrange something."

Bodie stopped in his tracks. "Don't want much, do you?"

Petrov turned to face him. "It's the only way to get any leverage over Cowley. You were quite right in your assessment of the pictures. In the right hands they might cause an inquiry but nothing would come of it. We need pictures of the two of you together."

Bodie turned his face away. Every instinct screamed at him to pound Petrov into a bloody pulp. "That won't be easy. You'd have to have someone in his flat. He's too careful; he won't go anywhere else." Bodie resumed walking. "There's one thing, you haven't told me how you plan to keep me out of this."

Petrov rubbed his hands together. "We will show your Mr. Cowley the prints, and request his resignation. He is very zealous about his reputation; I should think the mere hint of a scandal would send him into retirement."

"And me?" Bodie persisted.

"I'll hand over all the pictures to you after he has been persuaded. We shall have no more need of them once he has resigned."

"What guarantee do I have you'll keep your word?"

"None, Mr. Bodie. Just see reason for a moment. It is important that you do not resign at the same time as Mr. Cowley if we are to persuade him. After all, we are going to assure him there will be no breath of scandal as long as he leaves; if you were to go at the same time...well, there might be talk."

Bodie sneered, unable to smother his disbelief. "I'm supposed to take your word?"

"What choice do you have, Mr. Bodie? Your career will be ruined if you don't. At least this way, you have the opportunity to walk away. And, I think, to see a man destroyed you do not care for very much."

Shrugging, Bodie made a small grunt of acquiescence. "There's that. I wouldn't have to put up with the old fool any longer." Bodie ground his foot into the soft soil and made a show of stalling. "Can I think about it?"

"Not really. What do you need to consider? You will have your escape from unwanted attentions, you will even have your revenge. We will be rid of a nuisance. It's the perfect solution for both of us, nyet?"

Bodie hesitated. He would do it, of course, but it seemed as if a stranger was agreeing to the plan. "Okay, I'm in. Let me think a bit how it'll be done."

"You say he will not go elsewhere?"

"No, he's far too careful," said the unknown person who was handing Cowley over with such ease to the KGB.

"Then you'll have to get us into his flat."

"That's not so easy. There's is high," Bodie hedged.

"You can discover how to circumvent these alarms. We need to get a man into his bedroom..."

"No." It came out with more force than warranted, but Bodie knew there was no way he would go willingly into Cowley's bedroom. "It's too difficult; security is tighter in that room. There's a closet off the entry that looks directly into the main room. Your man can wait in there, and I'll stage something in full view."

"Now we are getting somewhere," Petrov smiled. "You check out the flat's security. I'll call you day after tomorrow to see what you've learned."

"Give me three days," Bodie said, continuing his pretense of negotiating terms. "It's not as easy as you might think."

It was, in fact, easier, but Bodie saw no purpose in letting Petrov know that. He already knew exactly where the entry alarms were and how to disconnect them for a very short period so no one would get suspicious, certainly long enough for one Russian photographer to get inside the wolf's lair.

From his vantage on the second floor, he studied the street below. Cowley was golfing and then dining with old friends so Bodie had his first day free in a long time. Oddly enough, it was putting him out of sorts. He supposed that since he had been so focused lately, it felt strange to let down, even for a little while. Besides, the temporary sloughing off of his new persona was giving him a hollow feeling, as if he were unsure whom he really was.

Flipping open the window in the hopes some fresh air would clear his mind of such a ridiculous idea. Bodie poured himself another cup of coffee, and pointedly ignoring the unread Sunday papers that only further illustrated his inability to concentrate. Idly, he toyed with the idea of driving to York and surprising Doyle, but he didn't think he could face him successfully at this point. The two or three phone calls he made each week were difficult enough. Each time it seemed to take more effort to shake himself into the person Ray knew.

Unused to this strange paralytic indecision, and wanting very much to have some kind of contact with Doyle, he dragged the phone over to the couch and got comfortable. As he dialled the number, he tried to remember Doyle's Sunday schedule; maybe he wouldn't even be in his room today.

"Doyle here."

Happiness began to stir inside Bodie. "H'lo, Ray. Wondered if you'd be there. Sleeping late today, eh?"

"H'lo yourself. And, no, I'm not skivving off. Just got back. They work us every day, you know."

"Good," Bodie said, finding that the rhythm of being the right person was returning with the sound of Doyle's voice. "You'll get well faster; I'm tired of covering for you. Lazy little bugger, leaving me to do all the work."

Doyle grunted. "Get you. I'm so glad to hear your voice, I don't care if you rag at me." Bodie thought he could detect a faint note of wistfulness in Ray's voice. "Be even nicer if you were doing it here."

Squelching his guilt for not driving up to York, Bodie continued to tease. "Horny, are we?"

"Of course I am. And don't try telling me you like going without."

Bodie smiled. "You only want my beautiful body, and here I was thinking you missed my company.

Doyle's answer reflected his amusement. "Angling for a compliment, sunshine?"

"Don't need to, do I?" he answered smugly.

"No, I'm sure you get plenty. You keeping yourself out of trouble without me around?" Doyle asked.

"Of course. I'm too busy driving Cowley around to even find trouble."

"Yeah, I'm sorry about that. Wish there was something I could know, at least be there for moral support. When I get to thinking about it, I want to pack my gear and come home, but at the same time I know I should be in good shape before we tackle the problem."

Bodie frowned. Just like Doyle to think he could fix everything. "It's okay. Don't think about leaving till you're better."

"I know, but it bloody stinks you have to deal with him on your own."

It suddenly struck Bodie that maybe Doyle didn't think he was capable of handling Cowley. "Why, don't you think I can?"

Bodie could hear the frown in Doyle's voice. "If it were anybody but him, I'd never even ask." Doyle snorted with humor then. "Of course, if it was anybody but him, I'd probably be wondering when he'd try something on with you."

Suddenly Doyle's voice turned sharp. "Look, Bodie, don't ever underestimate the Cow. He's deadly and devious. It's going to take both of us to handle him." Doyle paused, and Bodie floundered trying to think of a way to reassure him, but before the silence grew too long, Doyle continued. "I can't think of a solution anyway. Keep coming back to the idea of leaving the mob."

Bodie shrugged in frustration at the thought of Doyle spending his time and strength worrying about their future, but there wasn't one thing he could do to stop it except tell Doyle what he was planning. "It's one option certainly. The problem we face then is what the hell are we going to do for a living."

Doyle always could keep him on his toes though, as his next suggestion demonstrated. "Did you ever consider MI5? Now wait, before you jump in, consider the facts. Nigel Dawson was only the acting head and he's dead now. Sir Charles still hasn't appointed anyone to the post, so we don't know if it'll be someone we could work for or not. My point is I don't see whoever it might be turning us down."

Bodie considered the idea; it had a certain amount of merit but little charm. "Probably not" Bodie admitted. "We've got the training and the clearance. Be a fool not to use us, at least here in England, if not abroad."

Doyle sounded pleased with himself. "So see, we are qualified to do another job."

Bodie shook his head fondly. "Can't see how that solves the Cowley problem though."

"Well, it can't hurt to be out from under his thumb, can it? Maybe with you gone from his sight, he'll forget you. No, strike that; Cowley never forgets. But still, it couldn't hurt to leave CI5."

Bodie massaged his forehead with the heel of his free hand, as he swung both feet onto the coffee table. "Well don't start chewing the scenery yet. You're going to be in Brian's clutches in several weeks anyway before you're assigned any duties. I can handle anything Cowley throws at me till you're back."

"It doesn't bother you to spend every day with him?"

"I'd rather not," Bodie replied, tired of the topic, and afraid Doyle would keep up a line of questioning he'd just as soon ignore for the moment. "But I can do the job like always."

"You'd tell me if you were planning something?" Doyle questioned with typical perseverance.

Bodie had half been expecting this line of questioning might develop so at least he didn't stammer like a school boy. "I told you before I wouldn't do anything foolish. Certainly, I would never do anything to jeopardize your life."

"Sorry for bringing it up. Never thought you had so much patience though." Even over the phone, his chuckle was infectious. "Must be lerv, eh?"

Laughing, Bodie looked at his watch. "Must be. Look, I hate to be the one to bring it up, but this is getting expensive."

"Yeh, I suppose our phone bills have become outrageous."

"S'okay, we need to talk. And as long as I'm working, there's money to pay the bill.

Diverted, Doyle replied with some small outrage. "Listen to him! I'd trade you any day. Nothing but torture sessions here."

Mentally, Bodie kicked himself for upsetting Doyle. "Is it bad, Ray?"

Doyle was obviously moved by his partner's quick concern. "Nah, just complaining. Besides, I'd be willing to go through a lot more to get full use of my arm." His voice dropped seductively. "Some things are a lot easier with two hands, you know?"

Bodie felt a tingle of interest. "Single-minded little sod, aren't you?"

Angelic innocence shone forth in Doyle's voice. "I was talking about shooting, you know?"

Sitting up hastily, Bodie stood. "Don't you think we should drop this before it's too late?"

This time Doyle's chuckle was deep and dirty. "Such a responsive lad."

"Doyle, you are an unrepentant sex maniac."

"Yeh, and you love it."

Bodie sighed mournfully. "God, I miss you."

"Hang on a minute," Doyle said. Bodie could hear him talking to someone, and when he came back, he sounded rushed. "Bodie, Cecil is here to take me off to physio. Call again when you can?"

"Bye, Ray, love you."

"Me too, Bodie. Bye."

Later, when the euphoria of talking to Ray dissipated, Bodie felt empty, as if he'd transferred part of himself to York during their conversation. He supposed he should have resisted the urge to call Ray as it made resuming his persona all the more difficult. More and more, in order to play the role he had adopted meant virtually locking the person he was behind a high wall. He was beginning to feel as if he were running on the edge again.

Just a little longer, he promised himself, hold on, do the job, and then everything will be okay.

Humming, as he adjusted his black tie, Bodie figured he'd worn his evening suit more in the last two weeks than he had in two years. But then, Cowley moved in higher circles and, lately, had been taking Bodie with him.

Only the week before when Cowley had invited him to attend the opening of Sir Richard's play, Bodie had decided the time was right, and he'd informed Petrov of his intent soon after. It was a very basic plan. Pervukhin would be hiding in the flat waiting for them to return, when Bodie would provide the opportunity for some intimate shots.

Their deal was equally simple. Once Cowley was coerced into taking an early resignation, tonight's photos would be handed over to Bodie as his payoff. Petrov agreed, because with Cowley gone, the photos would cease to be important.

Also as part of the deal, Bodie arranged with Petrov to give Bodie all the photos and negatives of the pictures they had taken to date. Petrov had also agreed for Pervukhin to meet Bodie afterwards and turn them over.

Bodie continued to hum under his breath the entire drive. Happily, it no longer bothered him much to betray Cowley to the Russians, and he was rather looking forward to mingling with both the nobs and actors on their territory. Bodie made do with take-away and rental films, but he liked the theatre and caviar, too.

Arriving a good half-hour before he was expected, he buzzed Cowley's flat. The old man stuck his head out the door. "You're early. Well, come up; it'll be a bit of a wait before I'm ready. I've been on the phone the past hour with the minister. Have a drink while you wait."

Bodie bounded up the stairs and over to the drinks tray where he poured with a lavish hand. There was no harm in starting Cowley early, too; Bodie hoped there would be lots of booze throughout the evening.

At the sound of the running shower, Bodie, glass in hand, moved to Cowley's desk where he eased the drawer open. Cowley's weapon was at the front where it would be easily accessible if needed, just where it was always kept when it wasn't being worn. Bodie shook his head as he reached for the gun: in some ways the old man was as predictable as the KGB.

Their evening went well, lasting into the morning. Bodie knew he could be most engaging when he tried, although listening to George Cowley's reminisce about the Spanish Civil War was never a hardship for him, and he was confident he had done all he could to charm Cowley into a very congenial state of mind.

When they finally emerged from the fine restaurant where they had dined late, a late spring rain that gave promise of turning into a real downpour had begun to fall.

"I'll get the motor, sir. You wait here."

"Nonsense, I can walk with you. I'm neither drunk nor feeble."

"It's going to pour in a second," Bodie warned.

"Oh, all right, go ahead," Cowley frowned. "I'll hold you up."

"No you won't, I'll run ahead," Bodie said, exhibiting just the right amount of boyish charm. "Just trying to save you a wetting, sir."

Cowley's laugh, he knew, came from his relief that although Bodie was cosseting him, he wasn't trying to hide it with glib explanations. "Get on with it you young whelp. My leg does ache a bit. I'll wait here at the entrance."

Whipping out to the parking lot as fast as possible, trying to save his black evening suit from the damp, Bodie located the Capri. He felt good tonight, on top of the world; he had tight control, was in charge of his life. He often felt like this before an op: as adrenaline coursed through his body, he'd feel like nothing could ever hurt him.

Cowley was in a good mood, too: good show, entertaining party, late dinner, lots of drinks, and comfortable conversation had worked wonders on the old man. Bodie pulled up in front of the restaurant,and Cowley got in the front quickly as the rain really began to come down. The swipe of the windscreen wipers, the dark night, all made for an intimate closeness. Bodie glanced into the rearview mirror and smiled. Drops of rain glittered in his hair and on his eyelashes, and he wondered if Cowley found him attractive. Ray would have. The little sex maniac would have had him pinned to the seat at this point; it drove Doyle up the wall when Bodie was wet and wild.

Bodie smiled at his image and then let his eyes slide over to Cowley. The old man was looking at him with a strange expression. Bodie had never seen that look on George Cowley before, but he recognized it nonetheless. Cowley might not make the first move tonight, might never make a move at all, but he would not fight very hard.

As he let Cowley out at his flat, he prepared himself to ask for a nightcap, but Cowley beat him to it.

"You're coming up for awhile, aren't you?"

"Of course, sir, if you're pouring the scotch."

Cowley smiled. "I'll get out the best bottle."

Bodie gave him a sideways glance. "Are we celebrating, sir?"

Cowley's laugh was light. "You might say so. Now hurry up."

The kerbs were full up, so Bodie had to drive around a bit before he found an available space down a side street several blocks away. He sat a moment, savoring the fact that his plans were culminating in such a satisfactory manner. It seemed as if fate had a hand in everything this evening. No one had ever credited him with an ability for triple think, but tonight, he thought Doyle would have been proud of him. Too bad he would never be able to tell him the truth.

When he got back to Cowley's, he found the old man had waited for him in the entry hall. They went up the stairs and into the flat where one low lamp gleamed feebly. Looking about casually, Bodie spotted the cracked open door of the hall closet.

When Cowley reached for switch to the overhead, Bodie blocked his hand. "Leave it sir. Sometimes the dark is more comfortable."

When Cowley didn't protest, didn't even move, Bodie felt the first flickerings of triumph.

Facing Cowley now, only inches separating them, Bodie didn't touch him but let his presence bring them close. Their gazes locked, and Bodie lowered his voice to a whisper. "Sometimes the dark makes everything seem more secure, better. Like now." His words seemed to caress the very air between them, pulling them into a private circle.

Beads of perspiration popped out on Cowley's forehead. "Bodie, put the lights on."

The old man was asking not ordering. Bodie knew the moment was right, and slowly he bent his knees. Hands, still strong for all their age, caught him under the elbows and pulled him upright.

"Why, Bodie? Why, now?" Cowley asked, his confusion evident.

Letting his head fall back, Bodie closed his eyes and thought about the words he must use... the words he might have used had Ray died, before he knew what Cowley had become. "I need to trust someone. I need you."

Cowley's reply was not an accusation, but it was direct. "You have Doyle, you've always wanted Doyle."

The lie never got any easier to tell, and Bodie's response was almost inaudible. "Not any more. He's changed. You're all I have now." This time when he went to his knees, Cowley let him. He still did not touch Cowley, but he knew when the other man began to tremble, felt his stentorian heartbeat thunder through his own veins.

"3.7, get up. Please."

Bodie's gaze lifted to Cowley's, the false promise coming easily. "It's all right. Nothing much will change, it's just that I need you now."

"Bodie, don't," Cowley said, but an unknown emotion was bleeding through, the steel had become pliable, and they both knew it. Cowley was a tough old bastard though, and he fought to the end. "I will not be able to put this aside, lad. You better get up now before it's too late."

"In a minute," Bodie breathed. For the first time, Bodie really thought about what he was going to do. He'd planned and schemed to get this far, but he'd never really dealt with the act itself. Now, for just a second the question flitted through his mind. Shuld he do it? Could he prostitute himself ? The answer was easy. He could and would do anything for the revenge of Ray Doyle. He leaned forward then, and very gently let his face rest against Cowley's groin. The old man's cock leapt within the confines of his trousers, and Bodie knew he was hooked.

Cowley gave a soft groan. It wasn't loud, but Bodie felt the reverberation from that sound thunder up his spine. Carefully then, sure one wrong move would cost him his control over this man, Bodie started to lower the zip by his cheek, centimeter by centimeter, so very slowly it was painful. His mouth nuzzled where his hand left off, but Cowley made no noise, only his hips giving the merest push against Bodie. Emboldened, Bodie reached in and freed the old man's now rigid penis from the folds of clothing.

The lighting was too dim for Bodie to see much, but he was grateful Cowley smelled clean, and his cock was not unpleasant to touch. Concentrating fiercely on what he must do next, he blanked his mind of all extraneous thoughts except for performing the act itself. He pulled Cowley closer so he could lick his cock; Cowley reacted by clutching his shoulders in a painful grip. Encouraged, Bodie wrapped his tongue about the fleshy tip and then sucked in the head with a long swallow. Cowley gave a low moan and sagged heavily on Bodie's shoulders.

The whole thing didn't take as long as Bodie had feared. Cowley came and Bodie licked him clean before solicitously tucking him back into his trousers. The zip went up rather quickly this time.

Nownownow. Bodie's pulse thundered with the need to finish this godless charade. He had more than earned his thirty pieces of silver, and nownownow it was time for pay back, it was time to ensure Ray's safety.

Bodie threw himself into the moment, pausing artfully, tilting his head questioningly. "Did you hear something?" His alarm became more insistent as he looked around him. "What was that?" He looked up into slightly dazed blue eyes. "Did you hear it, too, sir?" Bodie came to his feet in one long surge. "Where's your gun? I think there's someone else in the flat."

His urgent whispering galvanized the old man into action, and Cowley swung around, his eyes darting everywhere. "Where? Are you sure, Bodie?"

"I think the sound came from over there," Bodie mouthed softly, barely nodding at the slightly ajar closet door.

Cowley went for the desk drawer to retrieve his revolver, and moving faster than a man his age should, crossed the room and threw open the door to reveal a stunned Pervukhin clawing at his jacket.

"Watch out," Bodie cried. "He's armed."

Indeed, the bewildered Pervukhin was reaching for his gun as Cowley fired, proving he could shoot better than most men his age, as well. The Russian was dead before he tumbled out into the foyer. Slumped there on the floor, Pervukhin's mouth was still open with startlement.

Suppressing an immediate rush of gratification at the progression of events and moving quickly, Bodie knelt to search through the Russian's jacket. He removed Pervukhin's service revolver with the Russian's own handkerchief and then scooped up the micro camera he'd been using, being careful not to disturb the body.

Cowley's firing arm hung limp at his side as his gaze swung to Bodie. "You know what this means, don't you? If he got in here, there's a mole in CI5."

The stunned urgency in Cowley's voice blazed through Bodie, and his cold rage would not be concealed any longer. Ray was almost safe now; he had only to end it.

Rising to his feet and making no attempt to hide his distaste, Bodie confronted the Controller. "Yeh, I know. It's me."

Nothing could have staggered Cowley more. "You? My God, why?"

Bodie left eyebrow rose in disdain as he was flooded with a cold loathing for Cowley, for what the man had forced him to become. "You know the answer. Look to your own house, Cowley. Think about what it took for me to turn on you."

If a man could bleed from the eyes, Cowley would have been hemorrhaging. "So Doyle convinced you I was responsible for his carelessness."

Soul deep anger had been denied too long, and Bodie loosed it gladly. "Your lies won't work. What happened here tonight is proof Ray was right. I hope you enjoyed having me on my knees, you old bastard. It was the first and last time I'll ever touch you."

Bodie watched the vast mix of emotions tear across Cowley's face as he worked out what Bodie had done. Knowledge gave birth to the rage of betrayal, and Cowley's arm swung up and fired once, twice.

At the click of the gun's chamber, Bodie's heart pounded with triumph. "It's empty," he drawled contemptuously. "I removed all but one bullet before we left."

Swift as a striking cobra, Cowley flung the empty gun at Bodie, but with a slight movement, the younger man avoided it.

"You shouldn't have tried to hurt Ray," Bodie accused in a voice as cold, hard and deep as permafrost. "I would have forgiven anything else."

Then with an insouciance he wasn't feeling, he lifted his free hand in salute. "This is for Doyle." Bodie was very good with a hand gun, and in the department, second only to his partner. His bullet took Cowley in the heart before the old man could dive for cover.

He had expected to feel something when Cowley died, but instead, an abrupt numbness slid down from his brain and encompassed his heart. It was fortunate in that it helped him accomplish the next few tasks that would establish the Russian agent's guilt.

With alacrity, he wiped his fingerprints off Pervukhin's gun and carefully positioned it in the Russian's hand. "Going to get yourself quite a reputation with this one, chum," he mused. "I expect your boss will consider it more than fair trade for you." Another quick inventory of the dead agent's pockets produced the wrapper of snaps. He grimaced slightly and shook his head in minor disbelief. "Remembers everything that Petrov."

On his way out, he paused briefly by Cowley's body. The old man no longer looked threatening, just...dead, and any residual anger Bodie harbored drained away.

"I learnt a lot from you, sir, but I'll never forgive you."

Bodie cocked his head then, wondering if he heard sirens. Surprising that, he'd thought the little lady downstairs in the garden flat was deaf as a post. Oh well, he had enough time. As he walked out the door, he stuck a hand in his pocket to crumple the snaps. They were so innocuous they'd do little harm if they ever came to anyone's attention, but he'd destroy them anyway. He'd rather not have to answer any embarrassing questions or find plausible excuses to mollify Doyle.

By the time he reached his motor, the numbness had begun to fade some, and he found himself shivering; the warmth of the heater didn't seem to help much either. As he drove home, he wished Ray were waiting for him. His balls tightened just thinking of the other man, and he swallowed hard. He needed Ray badly; it was terrifying to be alone on the other side.

It was a beautiful morning. The rain the night before had cleared and the sun was shining. From the window, Doyle watched the birds carrying on about their morning's business as he finished his coffee. Finally, rejecting the paper and its burden of news, he stretched carefully and got up to telephone Bodie again. When there was still no answer, he dropped the phone back into its cradle. He was only slightly worried since it was likely Cowley, with too few agents available, had Bodie working double shifts.

Still it was irritating. He wanted to share the good news that he was being released to return to London, and work, in another day. He'd be expected to continue his therapy, of course, but no reason for him not to return to at least a desk job.

While here, he'd tried to conceal his worry from Bodie, to focus on healing; but now, he was anxious to concentrate on their problem. The sooner solved the better as far as he was concerned. Cowley was not to be trusted, and even now, might be hatching plots to separate them once he returned.

Bodie hadn't complained, but Doyle had seen the strain growing in him the past weeks. It had to be hell to keep on working as if nothing had happened, and he didn't know how Bodie had managed.

He sighed. Unless Bodie came up with a spectacular plan, they were at a real impasse as far as he was concerned. He didn't like it, but he hadn't been able to come up with any ideas that might work, except leaving the mob. It wasn't the best plan, but short of murdering Cowley, he couldn't come up with anything else.

He didn't look forward to explaining this to his partner, but he'd find some way to make it up to him.

A unconscious smile crossed his face. Yeah, he was looking forward to making it up to Bodie. No matter what, he'd fix it.

The ringing of the phone shook him from his happy contemplation.

-- THE END --

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