X Marks the Spot


"It isn't fair," said Doyle, putting the last of the faded yellow ochre envelopes back in the shoe box.

Bodie was still giggling over the photo of Ray, completely starkers, sitting on a pottie that had a handle like a duck's beak.

"What isn't?"

"That you haven't any old family snaps to show me," Doyle said plaintively. "I really fancy the idea of you in your birthday suit on a sheepskin rug."

"You do?" Bodie brightened. "It could be arranged." He leered.

Doyle fended him off. "With an aspidistra."

"Kinky devil." Bodie had got ahold of him by this time and was making a meal of it.

Doyle finally emerged looking tousled, but animated, with that certain betraying droop to his eyelids.

"Haven't got a sheepskin rug," Bodie said huskily, "but I can do you a bit of Berber."

"What's the matter with your bed?"

"Collapsed from over-use--I think the springs have gone."

"It's still better than getting rope burns off a cheap carpet," Doyle said pointedly. "Besides, the bed was alright last night."

Bodie grinned. "Avon lady's been around since then."

Doyle raised an eyebrow. "Renewed your mascara, have you?"

A wet tongue licked over his eye. "Yours tastes so nice, I thought I'd get some like it."

Doyle shivered--pleasureably. "Let's go to bed."

He borrowed the sheepskin rug from Jax and his missus, the aspidistra from Murphy's Mum. With a large white bath sheet for a nappy, he even contemplated borrowing a kilt pin from Cowley to fasten it, but eventually chickened-out and bought one from the Scotch House in Knightsbridge. He could always give it to the old buzzard next Christmas. On a last, happy thought, he bought a dummy at Boots--not having felt that embarrassed since he purchased his first packet of French letters more years ago than he liked to contemplate.

"For my nephew," he said, waving it under the girl's nose.

She giggled loudly. "Well, I didn't think it was for you."

Bodie blushed, paid up and fled.

Taking the photos was simple with his sophisticated camera--how to get them printed was another matter. No way was he going to do them at HQ; the darkroom was in constant, twenty-four hour use for one thing and to try and get it to himself would be to arouse precisely the kind of suspicions he least wanted. Nor was he going to take them to any ordinary chemist's for obvious reasons: He didn't mind making a fool of himself around Doyle, in fact doing so was pretty good all around and produced satisfactory results, but he did draw the line at letting the outside world see just what kind of a fool he was--the sentimental sort who'd go to almost any lengths to please or amuse his lover.

Lover. The word gave him a warm, contented glow in a way that 'girlfriend' never had. It wasn't just the sex that was marvelous with Ray, it was the whole relationship. Being with him was fun. Gaining his friendship had been the single, most important factor in Bodie's personal life; adding a sexual element was simply the icing on the cake. Pretty fancy icing, too, Bodie reflected, smiling reminiscently. Long before he'd come round to actually wanting him himself, Bodie had decided his partner was the sexiest thing on two legs. It had alot to do with a certain pair of pale blue denims with a patch on the rump; how he'd kept his hands off Doyle that day he never knew. He'd even been a little worried afterwards that Ray had noticed his obsession at the time because that particular pair of scruffy jeans had never appeared again.

In the end, Bodie decided to pay a call on an old portrait photographer acquaintance and obtain the use of his dark-room--a few judicious mutterings about 'CI5 business' and 'classified information' would be enough to make Sandy leave him alone to get some uninterrupted peace and quiet, and he's sent him enough custom in the past in the way of society birds eager to get their identical little faces immortalise on film for the old devil to owe him one.

Sandy expressed himself glad to oblige an old mate and gave Bodie the freedom of his dark-room the next evening he was off-duty, merely requesting him to make quite certain the door was shut when he let himself out.

"Got a date?" Bodie asked idly.

Sandy smirked. "No one you'd know, my son. Think you can find everything you want?"

"I'll manage. Enjoy your evening."

Once the other man was gone, Bodie settled down to work, mentally crossing his fingers in case he did anything wrong. It was sometime since he'd done any developing for himself and it would be particularly galling to ruin these. Jax, for one, had eyed him very oddly when he'd borrowed that rug, and he'd got the aspidistra from Murph's mum by dint of promising to talk to it kindly from time to time--and a complete fool he felt doing it, too.

Good job Doyle hadn't paid any unexpected visits to his flat during the twenty-four hours they'd been there; the rug was easy to hide but there was little you could do to conceal a flourishing aspidistra. Since it was nearly Christmas he could possibly have hung it with fairy lights, but a quick brain like Ray's would have soon noticed it bore little resemblance to a conifer.

The snaps were superbly awful and a huge grin of delight spread over Bodie's face as he surveyed the negatives and picked out the three best for printing. Once he'd finished with them he intended to destroy all the negatives; he could just see the Cow's face if he ever discovered anything like this was lying about the place for someone to find.

While he was waiting for the prints to dry, he wandered idly about Sandy's small office seeking distraction, though there was little enough to find save portraits of some very vapid looking young women. Bodie surveyed them critically, deciding that none of them measured up to a certain pair of wicked green eyes and a full sensuous mouth... Yes, he knew he'd got it bad, had long been resigned to it.

These were more interesting--some of Sandy's other work, aerial photography that had started purely as a hobby and was fast becoming as good a source of income as his society portraits. Many people nowadays were eager to have photos of their country homes and such estates as they still owned. Bodie flicked through a box full of them, idly trying to match them with areas he knew and failing dismally. There was just one which he hailed with a certainty as portraying the M1 motorway near Watford Gap with the Leicester arm of the Grand Union climbing it's stair of five and then the two locks to the summit level; otherwise his ability to decide on which area of England he was looking at proved negligible and at last he abandoned the effort in self-disgust.

Eventually, he collected his three prints, carefully burnt the negatives in Sandy's revolting, overflowing ashtray and went home.

Part of Doyle's Christmas present was now off his mind, a couple of bottles of good malt would complete his offering.

The weeks up to Christmas were always busy for both the petty criminal fraternity and the police, but CI5 usually experienced a somewhat slacker time during the festive season. This year proved the exception and job after job occupied their attention, including the outwitting of a certain Mr Rahad. Bodie wasn't at all sure Ray was ever going to recover from his delight at hearing Bodie had been 'sold' to Rahad--references to chains became tedious after a while. Maybe he'd smother himself in a set of paper ones later on, give him a cheap thrill.

When the job was over, Cowley (for once) expressed himself well pleased with them and offered a generous week's leave over the Christmas period which they accepted instantly. Both being bachelors with no close relatives, it was usually left to them to do the decent thing and remain on duty or at the very least, stand-by, over the actual holiday and this was the first time they had been given leave. They determined to make the most of it and drew up a list of things that 'made Christmas really Christmas' for each of them.

"It's noticeable," Doyle said thoughtfully, "that yours consists mostly of things like cream and ice cream with your Christmas pudding...but chocolate in your stocking?"

Bodie just grinned at him. "Well, who wants to listen to carols from Kings?" he said scathingly. "I'll sing 'em for you."

Doyle pondered that a moment. "Bit hard to do the soprano bits unless you have the operation."

"You should be so lucky, my angel," Bodie fluted outrageously.

Doyle chuckled, thinking of the Cadbury stocking already safely stowed away at the back of his half of Bodie's wardrobe...sheer inspiration that had been, and he was looking forward to seeing Bodie's face when he found it at the foot of the bed on Christmas morning. Even be worth getting up in the middle of the night for, that would. He could remember his father stating that 'Christmas was really best with children around', and for once the pompous old bugger had got it right--though Bodie probably wasn't exactly the sort of child he had in mind.

On the 21st of December, the whole Department threw a party for Cowley who had decided to take some long overdue leave, and bade him a tender if somewhat drunken farewell around 3.00am when they poured him into a cab and, in hearty chorus, told the driver where to take him.

Fortunately for Cowley, Bette retained sufficient sobriety to give a more immediate attainable destination--a very pearl among secretaries, as Doyle informed Bodie while they leant on the wall to await a taxi for their own use.

Bodie surveyed him owlishly. "Only say that," he observed sagely, "because she never let either of us get to first base even. Gives her a rarity value!"

On the evening of the 23rd, they clattered together down the steps of the building in Whitehall, free for the next whole seven days to come and already full of the Christmas spirit. With the Cow away, every room at CI5 seemed to have it's statutory bottle stowed away and they had sampled a good many of them before they decorously took the underground back to Bodie's flat where they planned to spend the holiday.

After an enjoyable game of darts at the local, they went home to a most welcome bed with its promise of a long, luxurious lie-in.


At 6.43 precisely, the phone rang.

A curled figure turned, swore incoherently and pulled a pillow over its head.

Two more rings.

Another, more vehement obscenity.

"Let it ring," Bodie said sleepily.

Three more rings.

"Oh shit!" said Doyle, and sat up violently, reaching over Bodie and just managing to dislodge the receiver with his fingertips.

"'s probably my bookmaker," Bodie mumbled, being thoroughly obstructive.

Doyle however had recognised the voice at the other end of the line.

"What? We'll be there in half an hour. Less." He hauled himself out of Bodie's stranglehold. "Leggo, you ape, we're going to work."

"You're crazy," Bodie told him flatly. "There's nothing and no one can make me get up and go to work when I'm on holiday, mate. You can forget it."

A once neatly folded pair of brown cords draped themselves about his shoulders.

"Cowley's been snatched," said Doyle.

Twenty-five minutes later they were in the main operations room absorbing relevant data.

Murphy had maps spread out over the table.

"He was staying here." A stabbing finger indicated a spot. "At the Beauchamp Hotel. He was out in the afternoon playing golf on the hotel links with an old school pal, Major Dolby. Apparently the Major got caught short, decided a quick dive behind a tree wasn't the answer and went back to the hotel on his own. Didn't realise George hadn't come back until he wasn't around at dinner. Waited until 8.30 thinking he may have fallen asleep and then went to look for him. Wasn't in his room, paged him, finally roused the alarm just after 9.00. It was pitch dark outside, drizzling, fortunately not freezing. They found his golf-trolley parked at the side of the fairway--half a dozen idiots must have seen it and taken no notice--but no sign of the Cow."

Murphy paused, his mouth momentarily closing in a stern line. "It wasn't until then that Major Dolby recalled hearing a helicopter go overhead, rather low, as he was on his way back to the hotel. I gather he had other things on his...er...mind at the time."

"Bloody old fool," Bodie said evenly.

"It isn't everyone who automatically expects trouble," Doyle said fairly. "Have we heard anything yet? From the kidnappers, I mean."

"Hang about." Bodie had taken hold of the ordinance map and turned it, eyeing one of its features marked close to the spot Murphy had indicated--an elongated X shape. "What's this?"

Doyle squinted. "Just a crossroads."

"Yeah--but the angles are odd. It's long and thin, not right-angled."


"I've seen it somewhere before." Bodie's brow cleared. "That's it. Come on, Ray, we'll check it out. Murph, we'll be at Sandy Loughton's studio in the King's Road."

"I hope you know what you're doing," Doyle said plaintively, following Bodie into his car. "This hardly seems the moment to try and get your photo in Tatler."

"What--horse of the month? I'd grace their pages," Bodie informed him loftily. "No, bird-brain, Sandy's got another string to his bow, hasn't he?"

"Aerial photography." Doyle looked puzzled. "So?"

"So--" Bodie smother a grin. "I want a little chat with him. Know I've seen a crossroads like that recently--in one of Sandy's photos. Easy when you know how."

"When have you been to Sandy's recently?" Doyle asked suspiciously. "Been 'aving your portrait taken?"

"Yeah. Thought you'd like one of his soulful ones of me for Christmas." Bodie negotiated the Sloane Square traffic with dexterity. Keep your eye open for a parking space, mate."

Doyle sent a glare his way that said he hadn't heard the last of this and directed Bodie down a side street.

"Yes, I remember that one," Sandy said. "Took it last month. Postcards for the hotel, she said."


"Young lady name of Turvey. I've taken her picture several times. Said she was a friend of the owner's daughter and he'd heard I was the best." He smirked.

"Not far wrong."

"Turvey?" The name was ringing bells in Doyle's brain. "Julia Turvey?"

"Yes, that's right. You know her?"

"We've met," Doyle said grimly, "and if she's anything to do with anyone at the Beauchamp Hotel, I'll eat my Sunday hat. They were casing the bloody joint!"

"Only one thing, Bodie said, slamming the car door. "How would Julia Turvey know Cowley was going to be staying at the Beauchamp?"

"Not through Cowley, that's for sure," Doyle said grimly. "That only leaves Dolby."

"He wouldn't talk...old friend of Cowley's. He knows the score." Bodie slid the car through a gap that looked barely wide enough to accommodate a pram.

"No--better talk to the rest of his family, though, hadn't we?" Doyle glanced slyly across at his partner. "I hear they're a couple of beauties and it doesn't hurt to look at the menu even if we have gone vegetarian."

"Not a bit," Bodie agreed cheerfully.

Dolby's twin daughters--both at home from college for the Christmas vacation, greeted the agents with mild surprise and not-so-overt admiring looks, offered coffee and prepared to gossip happily.

Behind their backs, agents 3.7 and 4.5 exchanged significant glances. These two'd babble about anything given the opportunity.

"Julia Turvey? No." Lissa, the blonder and most bubbly of the pair shook her head. "Is she a relation of Mark's?"

"His sister." Bodie accepted the proffered cup and projected charm to an indecent degree. "So you both know Mark Turvey?"

Babs shrugged. "She knows him better than I do."

"Have you ever talked to him about your father or Major Cowley?" Doyle asked, watching his partner's practiced performance with a jaundiced eye.

Lissa giggled and exchanged looks with her sister. "I did just happen to mention we'd be alone here over Christmas," she said, overly-innocently. "I think Mark was worried Daddy may arrive unexpectedly with a horse-whip. So old fashioned! So I told him he'd be playing golf with an old crony over Christmas and nothing, but nothing short of an international incident or some frightening outbreak of crime would get those two off a golf course once they'd got going. He thought I was pulling his leg until I told him the old friend was Major Cowley."

"So Mark's coming here, is he?" Doyle asked, sipping his coffee daintily and pointedly ignoring Bodie's silent look of surprise.

"To a party." Babs positively dimpled. "Starting tonight."

"Which may be over by New Year," Lissa giggled.

"Do come," they both added in chorus.

"Sounds fun," Bodie said mendaciously, wondering exactly when it was he'd grown out of wanting to spend Christmas in a drunken, pop-musical haze. He knew when he'd grown out of women!

"We'll be along if we can."

"Where next?" Doyle demanded. "The Turvey residence?"

"D'you think they'll be at home?" Bodie's eyes gleamed.

"Someone probably will be. Granpa may be taking a holiday at Her Majesty's expense, but Julia and Mark's mum is still in residence along with the kiddies. She may be able to tell us where the little ones are playing today."

"And if not," Bodie sighed with simple pleasure, "we can persuade Mark to give our ball back this evening at the twins'."

The sprawling Turvey mansion still oozed considerable wealth although there were a few signs of neglect about the long. curling drive that indicated perhaps all was not quite so rosy in the Turvey finances as it had once been.

Well aware of the need for extreme delicacy--they had no search warrants and at present insufficient concrete evidence to obtain one--they were both keenly aware as Bodie drove in, slowly, to give them both time to look about.

"I don't believe it," Doyle said on a long, heart-felt breath.

Bodie heard the lick of excitement and turned his head, braking carefully.


"There look--beyond those trees."

Bodie looked and a slow smile of satisfaction curved his mouth.

"Of course," he said fairly, "plenty of people with this sort of money do own helicopters."

"Of course," Doyle agreed, but his smile matched Bodie's. "And I'll just bet that one is covered in fingerprints."

Bodie chuckled. It was not a reassuring sound.

Suave and well mannered, they were admitted by a butler who examined their IDs with popping eyeballs; probably remembering the last time CI5 had called with rather less ceremony, Doyle thought cynically.

Mrs. Turvey, an over-thin, over-made up and under-dressed woman in her late forties greeted them without enthusiasm.

"Your son," Bodie said, smiling his best knock-it-to-'em smile, "is he at home?"

"Or your daughter?" Doyle said gravely, green eyes wide.

"Julia's about, yes." She looked from one to the other doubtfully. "What do you...?"

"Been away recently, have they?" Bodie asked, jerking his head towards the back of the house. "In the 'copter?"

"Well, yes, but..."

"Thought they might have seen a friend of ours," Doyle said casually. "Like to ask them...catch up on news...you know." He smiled disarmingly. "Always a shame when you lose touch with old friends, isn't it?"

Mrs. Turvey looked from one to the other, obviously at a complete loss.

"Well," she began doubtfully.

"If we could just see Julia," Bodie suggested.

"She's in the pool--swimming," Julia's mother told them.

"Pity she's not drowning!" Bodie said out of the corner of his mouth as they followed Mrs. Turvey through the house to the heated pool adjoining it.

The water was presently unoccupied, but Mrs. Turvey pointed to a tray on a low table under a sunlamp.

"I expect Julia's dressing. She'll be out in a minute for her lunch."

Bodie looked about approvingly. "Very nice. Double glazed, I see. Sound-proofed, is it?" He tapped the solid door they had just come through.

"Well, yes it is, as a matter of fact," Mrs. Turvey agreed, puzzled. "Julia and Mark used to be dreadfully noisy with all their friends here when they were little. It used to disturb my father-in-law, their grandfather you know..."

"Very distressin' for him," Doyle agreed solemnly. "So they could make as much noise as they liked and not disturb anyone."

"That's right."

Bodie smiled. "How very convenient--don't you think so, Ray?"

"Very," Ray conceded. "Shall we try it out?"

Both together, they called loudly, "Major Cowley!"

A muffled yell and a thump answered them from behind one of the dressing cubicle doors and a second later another of the doors opened and a panic-stricken Julia Turvey emerged, clad in a towel and prepared to make a dash for it.

Doyle caught her, holding her easily, while Bodie went to the cubicle from which a positive frenzy of thumps and half-strangled cries was cascading.

He opened the door and stood looking down, a broad smile lighting his eyes.

"Well, well, well," he said jovially, "it really is Christmas. Even George Cowley comes gift-wrapped this year."

In the car a still inclined-to-be-peevish Cowley listened to their explanation as to how they had tracked him down, commenting sourly that it was just like the pair of them to be blessed by such a huge coincidence.

Bodie pursed his lips. "Rewards of virtue, sir," he suggested.

Cowley made a sound like a stepped on cat.

"Oh, and we were wonderin'," Doyle said, "whether perhaps it was just a coincidence you were on your own."

"What do you mean?" Cowley glared from out of the back seat.

"Well, Major Dolby did disappear at a most convenient moment," Doyle said. "Could be he was leavin' them a clear field...sir!"

The look in Cowley's eye told him his irascible boss thought poorly of his suggestion.

"No," Cowley said positively. "Clarence Dolby had nothing to do with it. They were hoping to snatch him as well, thought it would give them more bargaining power to get their grandfather out of jail. It was just luck that Dolby had an upset stomach and had to go back to the hotel."

"Glad to hear it," Bodie murmured. "Never like to hear of corruption in high places, do we, Ray?"

"Never," Doyle assented. "Oh, by the way, Happy Christmas, sir."

Cowley looked up at the sky. "It'll be too dark for another round when I get back today," he growled, "and Doby'll be too full of turkey tomorrow afternoon."

"Oh, what a shame," Bodie managed to say, straight-faced. "I'm sorry we ruined a day of your holiday, sir."

"Yes, Bodie," Cowley said waspishly, "so am I!"

Leaving Murphy to finish tidying up all the details, and promising reports the minute they returned after the holiday, Bodie and Doyle once more made their way back to Bodie's flat.

"Shall we take the bloody phone off the hook this time?" Doyle suggested, half in earnest.

Bodie looked at it then at Doyle, lying in a comfortable, naked sprawl across his bed.

"It's a temptation," he agreed, letting his gaze linger ostentatiously on a certain portion of Doyle's anatomy.

Doyle chuckled. "Delighted to hear it. You talkin' about the phone?"

"What else?" Bodie demanded loftily.

Two muscular arms reached for him, pulling him down.

"I can't imagine," a voice breathed huskily.

The street light outside cast an inadequate glow through the crack in the curtains and Doyle swore volubly under his breath as first he stubbed his toe on the wardrobe and second, overbalanced and sat down involuntarily on the end of the bed.

He held his breath, certain he must have woken Bodie...but no, the sleeping figure never stirred.

Instantly suspicious, Doyle stared at it and shrugged. The read-out on Bodie's alarm said 6.28 and Bodie may soon be awake anyway. He'd meant to get up much earlier to get the chocolate-filled stocking out, but Bodie had made sure they'd slept long and heavily. He smiled reminiscently, finally laid his hand upon the elusive net material and made his way to the foot of the bed, using his teeth to open the large safety pin he'd stowed away beside the stocking.

Having pinned his little surprise in place, he was feeling his way stealthily back around the end of the bed when his hand encountered a wooly lump and cold thin metal in an unmistakable configuration.

He must have made some sound because there was a muffled giggle from the region of the pillows.

"Bodie!" Doyle snapped the bedside light on.

The picture of innocence looked back at him.

"Happy Christmas, Ray."

Half an hour later Bodie said drowsily, "Aren't you going to open your stocking, then?"

The tumbled curls under his nose whispered lazily across it, making him sneeze plaintively.

"Ugh!" Doyle's head lifted, face puckered in disgust.

Bodie kissed him, preventing complaint.

"Needed a shower anyway," Doyle agreed, surfacing. "What stocking?"

Bodie surveyed the bed, its quilt lopsidedly off. "Well, it was here about an hour ago."

"So was yours."

Simultaneously they dived for the foot of the bed.

"Pin's big enough," said Doyle, holding up the massive object. Nick it off Cowley's kilt, did you?"

Bodie smirked.

"Chocolate," he said, as one who sees heaven's portal opening before him. "Before breakfast!" He opened a fruit and nut bar.

"You're disgusting," Doyle said, diving into the grey-looking sock Bodie had filled for him, "you know that? What the hell..."

It was not just a pair of spectacles as he'd thought, but a Groucho nose, eyebrows and moustache as well, all in one.

He put them on.

Bodie choked on his chocolate, dropped it, clutched his stomach and rolled over, snorting and struggling for breath.

"Told you all that junk food was bad for your heart," the moustache informed him smugly.

He plunged to the toe of the sock, coming up with an envelope.

"Dirty pictures?" he surmised, peeking inside.

One bloodshot-mulberry eye gazed up, it's owner barely containing hysterics.

Doyle drew the pictures out, face carefully controlled.

From the white sheepskin rug a benappied Bodie grinned out from behind his dummy, first legs and then bum in the air, and finally (nappyless this time), coyly behind the aspidistra.

Doyle looked from the snapshot to the original and back again.

"My!" he said admiringly. "Who's a big boy then!"

"You're only jealous," Bodie said, fishing his squashed slab of chocolate out from the region of his left shoulder blade and relieving Doyle of the solitary raisin adhering to his elbow.

"Could be. I was much smaller at that age," Doyle agreed, turning the third picture to a better angle and squinting at it closely.

"What is it?" Bodie enquired peering over his shoulder.

"Never noticed you had that spot on your backside before."

"What spot?" Bodie was indignant. "Skin pure as the driven snow, I have."

"Just--here!" he said, marking a large X with his fingertip, and then leant over and bit the marked area.

Lunch was late--even for Christmas.

-- THE END --

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