The silence of his office was interrupted only by the familiar ticking of the clock and the scratch of his pen on paper. There had been a time, long ago, when Cowley had thought that to achieve this state of concentrated purpose required a combination of action and fear. He remembered how it had been when his body had performed faultlessly, in complete accord with his mind. When, as the saying went, he was firing on all eight cylinders. It became a sort of addiction, the need to feel that oneness, it offset the dangers inherent in his profession. And it was why men such as Bodie signed on with the army and the SAS and CI5. Yes, he understood Bodie very well--and Doyle, too, who shared the same addiction although he might deny it. As for himself, it was only after he had been forced away from the action, his own body betraying him by failing to heal, that he had discovered another form of that completeness.
He continued to write, the words flowing effortlessly from his brain, through his fingers and out onto the page before him. Writing up his notes. He would shred the papers tonight, but the very act of writing his thoughts ensured that he would remember them. A trick he had learned while serving under Dansey during the war.
It was late, all but the security staff and those agents on active standby long gone. His favourite time, of all the times he sat behind the big desk, when none would interrupt and he felt the control that was his.
The corner of his mouth turned up slightly as he reached the climax of the op he was describing--the successful discovery of Harris as the highly-placed mole known as Sasha. He wrote of the brief and violent action that had left Bodie and Doyle standing a foot apart while they reported to him, the tension between them obvious to anyone with a mind to see it. A successful op, and he had sent them home to recover, with the morning off for reward.
And then he would discover if Bodie and Doyle were as good as he believed them to be.
"Pick up some takeaway, then?" Doyle suggested as he sprawled in the front seat of Bodie's Capri. One foot was on the dash, and he wriggled his body to settle into the most comfortable position possible.
"No." The answer was clipped, and Doyle smiled, well-pleased. No. Home then.
"My place is closest," he murmured.
"Mine has fewer neighbours," Bodie countered, and Doyle's smile grew. "There's food in, too," Bodie added, his voice recovering some of its normal cadence.
"You haven't been on an op for the past week," Doyle reminded, and watched the tension ratchet up a notch in his partner. Yeah, better they were going to Bodie's flat.
The conversation died and Doyle found his eyes drawn to Bodie's hands as he drove and shifted and fidgeted. The clench and release of fingers; the movement of tendons under his skin. Capable hands, and Doyle remembered the feel of them on his body as his cock twitched and his breathing quickened. He noticed movement in Bodie's groin and he smiled again.
They reached Bodie's street and, with consummate skill, Bodie slid the Capri into a parking space between a dilapidated Rover and a blue Triumph
"Tight fit," Doyle commented as he pushed himself from the car, burying his hands into his jacket pockets.
"I like the challenge of it," Bodie replied, following Doyle up the steps to the building, crowding against him at the door.
"Takes years of practice, judging the angle like that."
Bodie pushed Doyle through the doorway and up the first flight of stairs. "And a driver who's not afraid of a few bumps and scratches."
"We're all thrill-seekers in CI5, haven't you heard?" Doyle stopped by the door to Bodie's flat, eyeing the hallway rather than his partner.
Bodie unlocked the door and guided Doyle through first. "Prove it."
The door closed and Doyle was on him in an instant, his lips on Bodie's, tongue pushing in. Bodie's arms locked around him, pulling Doyle hard against him, with an impact that drove the breath from his lungs. Doyle pulled his mouth away in order to breathe more deeply, and Bodie's mouth followed, grabbing hold again, his tongue duelling with Doyle's.
Doyle's hips thrust forward, grinding against the heat and hardness he found through layers of cloth. He shrugged out of his jacket, with Bodie's help, and then felt Bodie's hands travelling urgently down his back to his arse, gripping hard once he reached his goal. Doyle groaned and pulled his head back, and Bodie attacked his throat with a ravenous appetite.
The blood was pounding in his ears, singing for the freedom of action that had been denied too long. All the pent up tension and anger and fear would find an outlet here; no holding back. Doyle moved his fingers beneath the shirt Bodie wore, rucking it up to expose the pale flesh beneath, feeling the quiver of muscles as he touched. Dimly, Doyle heard the sound of buttons falling and scattering across the wood floor as his own shirt was opened hastily, tangling with the straps of his holster.
"You'll be doing the repairs there, sunshine," he said, gasping as Bodie latched on to his nipple with teeth and dedication. A soothing tongue roamed the tip, then the other nipple received the same treatment. Doyle's fingers clawed at Bodie's trouser zip and button.
"Want you, Ray, now--" Bodie's voice was little more than a moan, the words understandable only to Doyle. He felt his trousers being undone and pushed down his legs, while possessive hands cupped his arse, skin to skin.
"Yeah, all right, but not here--" Doyle's voice cut off as Bodie's finger entered him, and he jerked forward into Bodie, eliciting a growl as his hand clenched around Bodie's newly freed cock. In a second, he knew, Bodie would turn him to the wall, and sure enough the finger in his body withdrew as Bodie pushed him back, coming off the door and twisting to place Doyle there instead. Doyle resisted, wrapping his leg around one of Bodie's, and pulling to topple them both to the floor.
Bodie's hands on him slipped away as he instinctively tried to break his fall, giving Doyle all the advantage as he landed on top, and pushed on Bodie's abdomen to bring himself to his feet.
"Doyle!" Bodie protested, panting.
"Bedroom," Doyle said firmly, stepping out of jeans and pants and unbuckling his holster, but ignoring the shirt hanging off his shoulders. He moved quickly towards the bedroom, hearing Bodie cursing and divesting himself of his own clothing behind him.
As he reached the room he was tackled from behind but their combined momentum, and Doyle's determination, carried them to the bed before falling. As the bed thumped and shook from the impact Doyle was again grateful that the flat downstairs was currently untenanted.
Bodie was on his back, pinning him to the mattress, kissing and biting at Doyle's exposed flesh. Doyle pushed up and forward, banging his head on the headboard, but giving better access to Bodie and to himself. "C'mon," he growled, "C'mon!"
Bodie's fingers were in him again, two now, twisting and moving to open him up, and Doyle thrust back impatiently, impaling himself further. He could feel Bodie's hard cock on his legs and moved to give it further stimulation. Bodie gasped, cursed, and faltered. Doyle twisted around, quick as thought, and pushed Bodie flat while his mouth sought his weeping cock. He took him all in, bathing him in moisture, hearing Bodie yell, then he abandoned him, turned back to the front of the bed, and opened himself for Bodie's penetration.
He felt the hard body slam into him, nearly flattened from the impact, and he shoved back in self-defence and unloosed aggression. Bodie's arm clamped around him, helping Doyle to balance, as Bodie's cock pressed against his arsehole, and then pushed inside, accompanied by two intermingled shouts.
It hurt. The pain exploded in him in glorious combination with pure pleasure. Release. Bodie withdrew and thrust, and Doyle moved in concert with him, giving Bodie the ride that he needed, feeling the impact of each thrust in his balls, in his groin, in his body, in his soul. Bodie rammed into him as hard as he could give it, and Doyle did the same in reverse. Bodie's other hand snaked around and grabbed Doyle's cock, sliding along its surface in rhythm with his thrusts. Moving together, perfectly attuned, the sweat poured off them and ecstasy grew step by step--fought for, forcing all the fear and the adrenaline and the love together into one act. Unity of mind and body achieved; completeness. He felt Bodie's teeth close on his shoulder and the pleasure tore a deep moan from him. And then he was coming, feeling all of it surging from his body even as his contractions pulled the same from Bodie's. And it lasted as long as life and as short as death. He collapsed, Bodie following him down, covering him so he couldn't breathe, and he didn't care.
Eventually Bodie shifted, sliding off Doyle though one of his legs remained entwined with Doyle's, and his arm lay heavy on Doyle's back. "Ah, Christ Doyle," he muttered.
"We're getting too old for this," Doyle mumbled into the sheets.
Bodie turned Doyle's head just enough to gain access to his mouth. The kiss was gentle and infinitely tender. "Never," he whispered.
Doyle blinked and took in a quick breath. "Cowley'll be the death of us at this rate."
To his surprise, Bodie's face immediately closed to him. "Don't want to talk about the op."
"Looks like we'll have to," Doyle shot back, but his fingers were soothing as he brushed them up Bodie's arm and down to his back.
"Later." Bodie closed his eyes.
Concentrating on the feel of the smooth flesh beneath his fingers and the tension of muscles that should have been relaxed, Doyle thought it best to change the subject.
"You want food now? Could go and make an omelette."
"No," Bodie sighed.
Doyle frowned. "But--"
Bodie opened his eyes and reached with a finger to stroke the furrows in Doyle's forehead. "Nah, nothing's wrong, mate. But if you get up to make an omelette then I'll have to get up to change the sheets, won't I?"
"Nothing wrong with that."
"Except I'm too comfortable to move."
"You're not the one lying in a puddle of his own semen."
"That's decadent, that is."
"It's also cold, mate."
"Here then." Bodie rolled on his back, away from Doyle, then pulled him over to him, and settled Doyle's head on his chest.
"You can't possibly be wanting more," Doyle said, one knee coming up to investigate.
"Watch it. And, no, I just want to lie here with you, is that a crime?"
"On whether you can get this bloody shirt off me or not. Feels like I'm tied up, the way it's hanging on my arms."
With a sigh Bodie sat up, divested Doyle of his shirt, then lay back down again with all the determination of a man settling in to watch football in a house full of distractions. Doyle grinned into his chest, and licked a nipple.
Bodie's hand began a slow petting of Doyle's back. "Maybe we are getting old," he murmured.
"What?" Doyle raised his head to eye Bodie. "What brought that on?"
Bodie pushed his head back down, and Doyle lightly touched the wet nipple with his finger, enjoying the reaction it produced. "Was a time when all I'd've wanted to do after a fuck like that would be to kip out and then do it again." His arm tightened around Doyle. "Now I want to lie here, with you."
"You'll get it up again soon enough, grandfather."
"With you around? That's a certainty, my son."
"Getting a bit incestuous here, aren't we?"
"Happens in all the best families."
"Next you'll be saying you want Cowley in bed."
Bodie laughed, jostling Doyle's head on his chest, and Doyle felt the muscles beneath his hands begin to relax. He encouraged the process with a light touch.
"Cowley was pleased with us," Doyle ventured after a few minutes, pulling back so his head rested on Bodie's shoulder, and he could see Bodie's mouth--more revealing than his eyes at times. And sure enough the lips tightened momentarily before he spoke. "With you."
"No, with both of us." Doyle's hand, now lying flat along Bodie's ribs, detected a slight increase in his breathing. "Rostov is safe as houses and we discovered who Sasha was."
"You did. Nearly got yourself killed for the trouble, as well."
Doyle shrugged, wondering with some surprise if this could be the trouble. It didn't seem likely. "Comes with the territory."
Bodie said nothing to that, and Doyle began playing with Bodie's nipple. "Thought you were the one wanting proof of thrill-seeking." He squeezed the nipple sharply, eliciting a satisfying hiss.
Bodie rolled over, pinning Doyle beneath him while he thoroughly took Doyle's mouth, stealing the breath from his lungs. With a self-satisfied grin, Bodie released Doyle and turned on his back again. "It's one of your better traits, petal."
"Berk," Doyle said, sliding in close to Bodie again, and insinuating his leg between Bodie's. No, it wasn't the risks then. Feeling unusually restrained, Doyle ran his hand soothingly over Bodie's chest and stomach, leaning to kiss the pectoral closest to him. He felt Bodie sigh, and his fingers curled through Doyle's hair, tugging gently. Doyle closed his eyes, absorbing the contact.
And it was Bodie who broke the silence. "Why'd you choose the Tube?"
"Eh?" Doyle was enjoying the slight motion of Bodie's steady breathing beneath his cheek.
"You could have gone for the motor, or that bus at the corner, but you went into the Tube station with Rostov."
Doyle's eyes opened. "Yeah, seemed best to disappear into a crowd just then." He raised his head to look at his partner. "I didn't mention any of that to Cowley." It took but a moment more to reach the proper conclusion. "You were there."
"Yeah." Bodie's hand moved from Doyle's hair to brush gently along his cheekbone.
"Why?" Doyle asked, leaning into the touch.
Doyle nipped at the finger that was now tracing his lips. "I was told I was on my own."
Bodie tugged Doyle a little closer, and kissed him again, before settling Doyle back down on his chest, and resuming stroking his back. "Cowley called me off the Carter case, told me to follow you."
Resisting the urge to sit up, Doyle lay still under Bodie's steadily moving hand. "I might have liked to have known," he said, keeping his tone mild.
"I reckon it was a last minute decision--a backup so we could track you in case something went wrong."
"Which it did."
"Yeah. Noticed that."
"When did you start following me?"
"From the Embassy."
"Christ." Doyle stroked Bodie's stomach, absently feeling the muscles shiver in reaction as his hand moved lower. "I was on radio silence then."
"Yeah," Bodie agreed quietly. His fingers trailed along Doyle's spine, up and down and up again. "Cowley reckoned I was the one best able to follow your reasoning if I lost you."
"Safe bet. Did you?"
Bodie's hand hesitated, then settled at the base of Doyle's spine. "Yeah."
Doyle smiled a little at that, not displeased. "Where?"
"The changeover at Victoria."
Doyle's snigger turned into a yelp as Bodie pinched him.
"That wasn't kind, Raymond."
"Well, didn't know you were trying to follow me, did I?" Doyle asked, aggrieved.
"It was a neat trick," Bodie conceded.
"Courtesy of Barry Martin, that was."
"Oh yes? Explains why it nearly backfired into killing you then."
Doyle slanted a look at Bodie, then stretched up to kiss him, lingeringly. "Nah. You caught up again, didn't you? Must've been you who called the 7th cavalry."
"You didn't look suitably pleased to see them," Bodie reproved.
"Only because they took their sweet time about it."
"Lucky for you Cowley was able to narrow the possible destinations as I followed you. Who else would have reckoned you'd take Rostov to Shad Thames?"
"On Harris' order--made his escape plans easier, didn't it? Did Cowley know it was him, then?" Doyle turned so he was lying nearly on top of Bodie, although he rested his weight on his hands and left leg.
Bodie flicked his nose with a careless finger. "He didn't say--but I wouldn't be surprised if he'd narrowed that down too."
Doyle lowered his head again, and began an inventory of Bodie's chest with his tongue. "Mmm."
Bodie, wriggling at the movements of Doyle's mouth, inhaled sharply, but managed to say, "Would you care to clarify that, mate?"
Doyle looked up. "You do realise Willis is finished?"
Bodie grinned happily. "Yes. Such a shame, too. Should've been more careful in his choice of blue-eyed boy."
"Or known better than to attack Cowley's." Doyle thought for a moment. "How much of a set-up do you reckon this was?" He was in a perfect position to feel the reaction of Bodie's body at his question. What the hell was behind all of this? It wasn't like Bodie to hang on to an op this way.
Bodie, however, just shrugged. "Don't know. I still don't know all that happened--was surprised to find you walking calmly off with Rostov, I'll tell you that."
Doyle nipped at Bodie's throat, then grinned up at him. "Reckoned I'd turned, did you?"
Bodie nodded sagely. "Oh, yeah, was convinced of it mate. And mind what you're doing, that's sore, that is."
Doyle gently kissed the area in question, then settled down with more of his weight directly on Bodie, ignoring the grumble of protest. His breath caressed the damp trail he'd left on Bodie's chest, and raised goose bumps. "Rostov contacted Cowley, said he wanted to defect."
"His son needed an operation." Bodie shifted under Doyle's weight, and trapped one of his legs with his own.
Doyle stretched a little, enjoying Bodie's renewed caresses. "Nah. Well, actually I don't know--that was part of Cowley's scheme to bring out Sasha--
Harris. He put it about to MI6 that Rostov wanted out and was willing to trade Sasha for the life of his son. Willis and Harris both bought it, obviously. Cowley implied it was a trick, but you know as well as I do how the Cow plays with the truth."
Stilling, Bodie asked, "How much of this did you know going in?"
Doyle eyed his partner, wondering at the flat tone to his voice. "What do you think?"
Bodie's hand again began moving over Doyle's skin, incessantly. "But you knew it wasn't a milk-run?"
Doyle controlled a shiver at Bodie's touch and replied slowly, "I knew there was some danger, yeah--from the Russians and from anyone over here who'd be hurt by Rostov's information. That's why it was a need-to-know op." His hand caressed and settled along Bodie's neck. Still too tight. "And Cowley told me you were out of it, working on the Carter case. This was a minimum-man operation."
"I thought you were working on that case with Stuart."
"What'd Cowley tell you?"
"Just to follow you." Bodie's face was blank--a dead giveaway that was.
"Yeah. Well, and to keep him informed."
"Hmm." Doyle abandoned questions for the moment and moved his hands down Bodie's chest, over his nipples, and along his ribs. Bodie shuddered, and Doyle felt the growing interest of the cock lying next to his own. Then he felt a tug on his hair, and looked up. "What?"
"What're you so busy thinking about?"
"Wasn't thinking, sunshine." Doyle raised himself to his knees straddling Bodie.
"Were too," Bodie insisted, spreading his thighs and groaning as Doyle's hand reached his cock. "Stop evading the issue." Whatever Bodie's intentions, the statement came out as a sigh.
Doyle lightly fingered Bodie's cock, watching and feeling it beginning to grow. He slanted a look at his partner, noting the closing eyes and the relaxing mouth. "What were you doing when Harris had his gun on me?" He watched as Bodie jerked, and his eyes snapped opened. "Just waiting for him to pull the trigger, were you?" Doyle's hand left Bodie's cock.
They stared at each other. "Would you've been happier if I'd killed him?" Bodie demanded.
"No. But you would have done if he'd pulled that trigger."
Bodie's mouth flattened. "Yeah."
Doyle brushed a finger along that mouth. "It didn't happen."
Turning his head, Bodie evaded the touch, and his hands moved knowingly over Doyle, in a blatant attempt at distraction. Doyle resolutely ignored his body's response. What else was there, then? He thought back: Cowley.
"Why'd Cowley choose me for Rostov?" Bull's-eye, Doyle thought, as Bodie twitched beneath his hands, going taut. Time for some answers. "What aren't you telling me, Bodie?"
"Ray. Leave it."
Ignoring that, Doyle pondered, thinking out loud. "Cowley put me on Rostov, told me you were out of it, then sent you to follow me. Why?"
In answer, Bodie pulled Doyle down on top of him, and kissed his mouth fiercely. It was the desperation underlying the kiss that allowed Doyle to break it, to pull back far enough to read the expression in Bodie's eyes, and in his mouth. He saw rebellion and resignation, and he saw the emotion there, that same emotion that had shone in Bodie's eyes for years now. Always there, under anger or fear or laughter or even the lust that clouded them regularly. Trust Cowley to have seen the vulnerability. Doyle thought of that love in Bodie's eyes as he sighted a rifle's scope.
His hands gripped Bodie's arms, hard. "I didn't know."
Bodie sighed, and his lashes fell to cover the too-revealing blue eyes. "No."
Doyle drew his breath in sharply. "Did you think--"
Bodie's eyes opened and his hand went to Doyle's face, cupping his cheek. "I wondered."
It was the acceptance of it that shook Doyle--no anger, just a willingness to be the good soldier. And he'd thought Doyle would expect that from him, want it even. "Christ. You bastard."
A smile chased the grim look from Bodie's face. "No, just wrong. And stupid with it."
Doyle felt his throat tighten, but he pushed the words out. "We're getting out, mate. He's not using you like that. Nor me."
Bodie's fingers stroked Doyle's chest. "Should be used to it by now."
Doyle scowled. "How long? How long have I been blind to it?" How long have you accepted it, he thought, but couldn't say. Didn't want to know.
Bodie shook his head, then kissed Doyle between his eyes, trailing his tongue down his nose, to reach his mouth once again. "It wasn't like that; didn't think about it. I never put words to it until today. Not until I had Harris in my sights and waited to pull that fucking trigger. Realised then what Cowley meant when he said I was backup."
Doyle sighed, and lowered his forehead to Bodie's neck. "Backup to the op, not to me."
"Fail safe," Bodie confirmed, levelly.
"Bloody Christ." Doyle raised himself again, his fists on either side of Bodie's head. "The Whiton case," he said, and watched Bodie think about it, and confirm it with a slight nod. "And that time in Manchester, when my cover was blown, and you arrived in the nick of time."
"Yes," Bodie said, his eyes darkening with memory and something else.
Fear. Fear of a lack of understanding from him. The bloody fool.
Doyle didn't turn away from Bodie's expression and what he read there, and he felt his love relax under his steady gaze, even as he himself tensed as the memories surfaced. Bodie wasn't the only one to live with hard truths.
"It wasn't just you," Doyle said slowly. "Think about the Hampton op."
Bodie's eyes narrowed. "No. Not you, you wouldn't--"
"No." Bodie's certainty was absolute, stopping the coldness growing within him. "And it would have caused an international incident if you'd killed him. But you'd have got him, just like you got the ones after Zadi all those years ago."
"They almost killed you, the bastards, and for no reason."
"Yeah." Bodie pulled Doyle down to him again, kissed him. "The old bugger knows what he's about." His hands were clenched on Doyle's arms, but his voice was close to cheerful as he spoke. "At least we know now why he puts us on those ops alone from time to time. Have to admire him, the way he uses everything at his disposal."
Doyle pulled back far enough to watch Bodie. "No more," he said fiercely.
Bodie looked at him with equanimity in his gaze. "No."
"You'll not fight me on this?" Doyle asked, startled at the easy victory.
"No." At Doyle's continued stare, he laughed a little, then kissed him. "You don't want to be used; I don't want to wait on the trigger."
Doyle looked at him, and saw the deep-rooted certainty in Bodie. A certainty that had sprouted and grown only in the last few years. The violence was there, never far from the surface, but it was contained--dedicated to a purpose. He'd noticed it before, the changes in Bodie as the years passed, the settling down, but perhaps he had attributed it to the wrong cause. Cowley was the one to recognise the truth of it. And, like the commander he was, he'd used it when necessary--but only when necessary, he'd give him that. Cowley wouldn't risk them lightly. But Doyle wasn't the Controller and Bodie was his responsibility. The decision was as simple and irrevocable as that. "We'll tell him tomorrow."
"All right," Bodie agreed, looking unconcerned, hands already moving to explore Doyle.
"Use our notice time to decide what we'll do next." Doyle said, resolutely ignoring the sensations Bodie's hands were creating, while he planned their future.
"All right," Bodie agreed, reaching to nibble on Doyle's chest.
"You're not going to let him talk us out of it," Doyle warned, struggling to keep his voice level.
"Oh hell," Doyle groaned, losing the battle.
In his office, silence gained ground as Cowley perused his notes. Willis' resignation was on its way to Whitehall, while orders regarding Willis were already at their destination elsewhere. One thorn permanently removed. Perhaps not the motivating factor for the trap he had sprung, but a satisfying side benefit.
Rostov, meanwhile, was being debriefed while his son was being cared for, never to know the truth. A father's sacrifice for his son; a leak plugged. It almost made up for the lives Rostov had destroyed. Almost.
Harris was someone else's headache now. Someone else's mistake, as well. Cowley had more immediate concerns.
He stretched out his hand and retrieved the two files he had pulled for himself earlier that night. They would be in to see him in the morning, despite the time off--early or late? Cowley debated for a moment and placed his bet on early and Doyle's active determination. They would go out on top, as he had always intended. Pluck the fruit at just the stage of exact ripeness, not before or after. Dansey had been an expert on cultivation.
It was time for them to move on. He'd give them six months--two more with the Squad, four on their own, before he'd lay his proposal before them. By then they would be eager for it, and ready to listen. His plans for them were long-term.
He would miss them--Bodie's company and Doyle's backing; their usefulness together. But there were other ways for them to serve. He'd sent them a sign they wouldn't fail to understand--both of them expert at double-think by now. They might even, eventually, master triple-think. Cowley smiled as he placed the files to one side and reached for Murphy's latest report, well-content with his world.
-- THE END --
Originally published in Night Music in B and D, Keynote Press, May 1998