Demons of the Past


Bodie lifted his head from his pillow and looked across his companion, blinking a couple times and forcing his eyes to focus on the bedside clock. With a deep groan, he dropped flat on the bed causing his companion to stir.

"You a'right?" mumbled Doyle, shifting onto his side to face Bodie, his auburn curls tangled and wild.

"Gotta get up," sighed Bodie, rubbing his face with his hand before stretching. "The Cow wouldn't appreciate showing up at my flat in the morning and me not be there, especially since I'm supposed to ride along with him to his meeting. I don't know why I'm always stuck playing the muscle in these power games of his."

"That's easy," said Doyle sleepily, skating a hand over Bodie's smooth chest. "You're big enough to intimidate anyone by just posing, besides, you're his blue-eyed boy." He lightly pinched a peaking nipple and was rewarded with a swat, brushing his hand away.

"If I'm his blue-eyed boy, then why do I get stuck with these boring assignments instead of a day off like you?" asked Bodie, pushing off the covers and reluctantly rising from the bed. He stood a moment, letting the cool air caress his sleep warm skin and willing himself to wake up just enough to make his way home.

"Must be your natural charm," answered Doyle, snuggling further into his pillow. With one eye he watched Bodie dig through the pile of clothes on the floor. He noted the half stifled yawn as Bodie tugged on his corduroy pants. "You gonna be fine driving?"

"Yeah. Don't want to wake up too much, or I won't be able to drop off again once I'm home." Bodie sat down on the edge of the bed and pulled on his boots. He twisted around and leaned down to give Doyle a kiss. "I should be free of the old man later this afternoon, want to come over to my place after?"

"Dunno, what's in it for me?" asked Doyle, his green eyes half shuttered.

"Oh, just the opportunity to have your wicked way with me," smiled Bodie, darting in and planting a swift kiss on Doyle's lips before standing. "Then again, I just might ravish you instead."

"In that case, I'll be there," said Doyle, grinning sleepily. "So off with you so I can get my rest and make plans for later, just don't slam the door on your way out."

"Ever the romantic," chuckled Bodie, pausing at the bedroom door. "What? No declarations of missing me until we're together again?"

"Not likely, mate," said Doyle. "You should already know how I feel. If not, then your hard head is thicker than I thought."

"But that's what I thought you loved about me," smirked Bodie. "Thick and hard." The groan that drifted from the bed was all the response he heard as he slipped out of the bedroom. He scooped up his brown, leather jacket and shrugged it on before heading for the front door.

Doyle heard the soft snick of the front door shutting and rolled over, intent on dropping back off to sleep. He wished Bodie could have stayed until a reasonable time in the morning, but they both understood the value of discretion in their line of work. Cowley knew the depth of their partnership and tolerated it as long as it wasn't flaunted, hence Bodie rising from their shared bed to head home at three in the morning.

He was just drifting back to sleep when a loud explosion had him rolling out of the bed and onto the floor. He took a quick survey of his surroundings and grabbed his holster hanging on the chair before hastily pulling on his jeans with one hand. Any vestige of sleep was quickly erased as his attention centred on a bright glow outside his bedroom window. Cautiously, he approached the window and peered outside. What he saw caused his gut to twist and the blood to drain from his face.

Flames licked around distorted metal and smoke swirled up and disappeared into the dark sky. The twisted wreck was the remains of Bodie's car. For a moment Doyle stood in shock, his heart wrenching at the sight, then he burst into motion, racing out of his flat and down the stairs to the street. He skidded to a stop as a wall of intense heat met him. He frantically looked around the area, hoping to spot Bodie safe and sound. Instead he saw neighbours begin to emerge from their homes and mingle together. The faint sound of sirens could be heard in the distance and Doyle slowly backed up, stumbling as he made his way back upstairs to report into headquarters.

He half fell through his front doorway, his vision blurred by unshed tears. Bodie! His mind conjured up the happy, sleepy face of his partner and a knife twisted in his chest. Any other time, Bodie would have been alert before hopping into a vehicle that had been left unattended. Swallowing back the lump that threatened to choke him, he fumbled with the phone and made the call every agent dreaded regarding a partner.

Doyle stood leaning against the bookshelf in Cowley's office, absently holding the shot glass of scotch his boss had forced into his hand. He couldn't shake the image of the body they had finally pulled out of the burnt wreckage. The blinding pain of loss had nearly consumed him before being replaced by a whirlwind of emotions tearing at his soul swinging from intense despair to nearly unbridled anger, rendering him incapable of coherent thought or action. His mind unwilling to accept and fighting against the reality before him, he could only blindly follow Cowley away from the wreckage of what had once been his life.

The medical examiner on scene had informed them that the explosion and high intensity of the fire might make identifying the body difficult, if not impossible. When this much damage has been done, dental records were the only means available. Unfortunately, the impact of the explosion was directed toward the upper body, thus destroying most of the jaw along with the facial features. To Doyle, there was no doubt it was Bodie who they had carried away under the white sheet.

"What was Bodie doing out and about at that time in the morning?" demanded Cowley, breaking into Doyle's replay of the nightmare he found himself trapped in. All of his appointments had been cancelled indefinitely until this mess was straightened out.

"Going home, Sir," said Doyle, his voice rough, unable to look directly at him. He knew he was being unreasonable, that it wasn't Cowley's fault that Bodie was dead, but he still blamed the old man. If it hadn't been because of him, Bodie would still be safe and alive in bed with him. He tossed back the shot of scotch and placed the glass on one of the shelves of the bookcase.

Cowley eyed the younger man and steepled his fingers in front of him, his elbows resting on his desk. "Well, he obviously never made it, did he?"

"Dammit! How can you be so cold blooded? He's bloody well dead!" Doyle pushed off the bookshelf and slammed his fists down on Cowley's desk, leaning toward the man who appeared unaffected by the loss of Bodie. All the pain and anger welled up to a crescendo and he was ready to unleash it all directly at Cowley.

"Is he?!" barked Cowley, glad to finally have Doyle feeling something other than the mindless stupor he'd been in since they left the scene. "I've seen nothing to prove to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that what is lying on that cold, steel table is one of my own!"

Doyle froze, speechless, his mouth open in silence. The flood of anger directed at the man sitting before him corked in his throat as a flicker of hope was seized at Cowley's declaration that he didn't believe Bodie was dead. The wiley head of CI5 never said anything without reason, not even to soften the worst situation.

"I thought I taught the two of you better than this," said Cowley, his voice dropping to normal once again. "Not everything is always as it seems and this whole set up doesn't sit well with me."

Doyle slowly straightened, his emotions finally numb as the words sank in. "Set up?"

"Aye," said Cowley. "I have a gut feeling about this, and I never ignore my instincts. That's why I have some of the lads going over the area."

"That's what I should be doing," said Doyle, turning on his heel and heading for the door.

"Not you, Doyle," said Cowley, effectively stopping him in his tracks. "I need someone who is thinking clearly and as dispassionately as possible and you're obviously not doing either."

Doyle spun around, ready to argue heatedly and loudly why he should be there when the phone rang.

"Yes?" Cowley kept eye contact with Doyle as he answered the phone. "You did, did you? Good work." He hung up the phone and sat back in his chair. "It seems my hunch might have paid off. We'll know for certain after the lab goes over things."

"What?" demanded Doyle, hating the way Cowley sometimes measured out news regardless of how much one wanted him to spill it out.

"A second wrist watch has been found in some nearby bushes," said Cowley. "Identical to the one the body was wearing. What are the odds that another watch, an identical watch, should be discovered? And so close to the scene of the crime at that? I don't believe in coincidences, nor do I believe Bodie would wear two watches at the same time, do you?"

Doyle blinked and shook his head. He knew Cowley and there had to be more than just the discovery of a second watch. "What else?"

"They also found a knife with a bit of blood on it. Together it tells me that Bodie wasn't in that car when it exploded. Someone went to a lot of trouble to make us think he was," continued Cowley, his eyes focusing inward before sharpening in Doyle's direction. "No matter what the situation, you men have been taught to be aware of your surroundings to the point that it's second nature. There is no way Bodie would have gotten in that car with a bomb situated directly in front of the steering wheel. And that is exactly how that bomb had to have been placed to pinpoint the targeted area of the body."

"So who was it that was pulled from Bodie's car and where the hell is Bodie?!" asked Doyle, his voice rising as he grabbed onto the hope that Bodie was still alive.

"Some unfortunate soul," said Cowley, his eyes narrowing. "Right now though, who he is, is not as important to me as to where Bodie has been taken and by whom."

Slowly, Bodie became aware of his surroundings. He was lying on his side upon a bed facing a blank wall. He discovered his hands had been cuffed behind him when he tried sit up, causing him to collapse back down, his head throbbing along with a matching pain across his forearm. Closing his eyes against the flare up of pain his moving caused, he struggled to gather his thoughts and fight against the lure of unconsciousness. The events that brought him here gradually formed and his whole body tensed against the bonds holding him.

He had been fishing out the keys to his car when he had been jumped from behind. During the scuffle a knife had been brought into play and he swung a protective arm in an attempt to deflect it, resulting in the gash down his forearm and the loss of his watch. Despite knocking the blade out of the hand of his assailant, he was bashed in the back of the head. Strong arms had caught him before he hit the ground and just as a sea of darkness descended upon him, his dimming vision met with wide, frightened eyes of a young girl crouched half hidden behind a hedge.

He wracked his brain, trying to think who would have snatched him right off the street. Granted it wasn't in broad daylight, but it was right outside his partner's flat. As soon as his disappearance was discovered, all of CI5 would be searching for him. In the meantime, he needed to keep himself alive and hope for a chance to escape.

The sound of movement alerted Bodie that someone had just entered the room. A shadow crossed over him and he squinted against his headache, turning his head to look up at the person towering over him. His breath caught in his throat as the identity of his abductor was revealed to him.

"Hello, Billy-boy," smiled the man looking down on Bodie, his steel grey eyes remaining cold and hard. "Been a long time, hasn't it?"

Bodie blinked, trying to clear his vision and blanched as his captor came into focus. "Victor." The man had aged, but Bodie would have recognized him anywhere, at any time. Suddenly, he was transported back to the tender age of fifteen year old boy. Despite the years and the training that had come to pass, he found himself paralyzed with fear.

"Ah, but not so long you have forgotten me, eh?" Victor reached forward and rolled Bodie over until he was facing the room. "Then again, how could you forget us? After all we've shared together?"

Bodie shivered under Victor's touch, his skin crawling from past memory. He took in the two other men who had entered behind Victor and his gut clenched. He tried to hide the fear that lanced through him, a fear a fifteen year old boy had felt the last time he had seen these men.

"Sean and Phillip have been thinking of you over the years, as have I," said Victor, a predatory gleam raking over Bodie. "Surely you've thought of us since we were all together last. We certainly have a lot of catching up to do, don't we?" He turned back just enough to glance at his companions, who continued to stare hard at Bodie.

Bodie remembered them all too well. A year where the days and nights blended together in an endless nightmare of pain, humiliation and fear until he finally was able to jump ship at Dakar. He tried to swallow, but his throat was dry and clicked loudly from the effort. "This isn't like last time. There are people who will be looking for me." He twisted his bound hands hoping to break free, to give himself a chance to go down fighting, but the restraints held firm.

"Now why would they be looking for a dead man?" asked Victor, tracing a single finger down Bodie's cheek and following the contours of his neck.

Cringing away from Victor's touch, Bodie squirmed to put distance between them only to have Victor grab the waist band of his trousers and tug him closer. It wasn't until that moment he discovered the shackle and chain around his ankle, the other end attached to a bolt cemented in the floor.

"You see," continued Victor, running his other hand roughly over Bodie's groin. "We made sure that you wouldn't be missed. They should have your burned, mangled body free from that gutted mess that once was your car. Unfortunately it will have to be a closed casket service."

"No!" Bodie twisted, panic taking over as he struggled to break free. He lashed out with his free leg, catching Victor in the hip. Victor stumbled back, releasing his hold as Bodie pushed himself to the opposite side of the bed. He squeezed his eyes shut against the skull splitting pain accompanied by a wave of nausea as his vision dimmed. He struggled against the pull of unconsciousness, his mind reeling at the thought that Doyle believed him dead, thus no help would be coming to his aid.

"You're not the young, frightened youth you once were," said Victor, motioning back his two companions who had moved forward ominously. "But I'm certain we can regain the status quo. In fact, it'll be more interesting this time around. You've grown up, Billy-boy, and into a fine, strong man at that." His intense gaze pinned Bodie, relaying unspoken promises, unspoken threats. "Unfortunately we have a bit of business to tidy up at the moment, but afterwards you will have our undivided attention, I promise."

Bodie couldn't hide the relief at the temporary reprieve.

"Surely you didn't think you are the reason we're here in London in the first place," smirked Victor. "You just happen to be an unexpected fringe benefit. Imagine our surprise when we discovered it was you who we were to take out as a message to your boss, Cowley. We couldn't very well let such an opportunity pass us by, could we?"

Bodie's eyes narrowed at the mention of Cowley. If some how this was connected with his boss, there was hope yet that the old man would ferret out that he was still alive. Somehow. "Who wanted me out of the way?" asked Bodie rallying as much of his bravado as he could.

"Just our clients. It seems your Mr. Cowley has been making things rather difficult for them and the best way to make it clear to him to back off was taking out his best team," said Victor. "Killing you would have been such a waste. Now then as for your partner, that's another kettle of fish."

Bodie's gut clenched at the thought that Ray would be their next target.

"We'll have plenty of time to relive old times once our business is over and done with." He raked him with his gaze before turning and leaving the room.

Sean and Phillip waited a heartbeat before following Victor. Their own promises made in their silence.

"Nothing," spat Cowley, tossing another file onto the growing pile on his desk. "Not one lead as to where Bodie's been spirited to." It was midmorning and they had spent the last four hours going through files of possible suspects and they were no closer to finding Bodie, although he had every available agent working to find him.

"He couldn't have just disappeared into thin air," said Doyle, his frustration high. A door to door had been done around the neighbourhood, hoping someone had seen something. Anything.

"By all appearances, he has," scowled Cowley. He hated not being able to squeeze out whatever information he wanted, when he wanted it. It didn't matter the source or the method and in this circumstance, he would turn England upside down and question the Queen Mother herself should she prove to be useful to find his man and to hell with the consequences.

"But why Bodie?" asked Doyle. "What if he's no longer in England?" The question had plagued him since the possibility Bodie could still be alive had been granted to him.

Cowley shook his head. "Every possible way off this island has been covered. I've called in enough favours that nothing and no one will pass undetected with Bodie in tow. He's here alright, we just need to figure out where."

"If we knew who had taken him, we might have a direction to look." Doyle glared at the stack of files that had failed to produce any leads. Old cases and anyone who might hold a grudge against Bodie had been accounted for, mostly by jail or cemetery.

"I don't think any of this has any connection to CI5. Whomever has taken him would want us to know who they are to rub our noses in it. It has to be personal, otherwise they would have simply killed him, or called in to say they had him. Why go to all the trouble of covering up the fact he was taken by providing us with a body?" asked Cowley, mostly to himself. He tapped his fingers against his chin, his complete attention turned inward.

"Great," muttered Doyle. Bodie's past was a mystery for the most part. The man rarely spoke of it, and by the bits Doyle had learned over the years, Bodie had more than his share of dark, nasty periods in his past. "Could it be from when he was with SAS or the Paras?" If this did stem from Bodie's stint with either of these organizations, there'd be some sort of records to study in hopes of unravelling this nightmare.

"I don't think so," said Cowley, thoughtfully looking at Doyle. "They snatched him right underneath your nose, too much of a risk with you around to possibly interfere and they obviously knew he'd be staying at your place. Nay, if it was connected to the SAS or Para, they had another avenue available to them to attempt to cause harm. This has the feel of a more personal vendetta aimed directly at Bodie, not toward CI5 and his relationship to his work."

Cowley's meaning was perfectly clear to Doyle. A homosexual relationship would be a better leverage against CI5 and Bodie than to stage such a situation to whisk Bodie away. Doyle kept his mouth shut, but couldn't conceal the glare directed at his boss.

"More than likely, this goes back to his much younger days," continued Cowley, ignoring the daggers coming from Doyle's eyes. "Perhaps when he was gun running or playing mercenary...." After a moment's thought, he added, "Even possibly during the time he was with the Merchant Navy. It might be a long shot, especially after all these years...." He trailed off again, his thoughts turning inward and his face darkening.

"Sir?" prompted Doyle, suspicious that Cowley knew something about Bodie's past that he had never been told.

"Hmm?" Cowley came out of his retrospect and looked back at Doyle.

"Why do you think this has something to do with Bodie's past spent with the Merchant Navy," pressed Doyle, resisting the urge to reach out and force the explanation out of Cowley.

Instead of answering immediately, Cowley narrowed his gaze and studied Doyle. Doyle in turn remained motionless, meeting Cowley's intense gaze with his own.

"Due to the lack of leads of the more recent kind, it leaves only the past to draw from no matter how much of stretch it may be. There are certain things in every man's file that is to remain confidential. Information that has either been given in confidence or discovered," said Cowley, raising a hand to forestall Doyle's protests. "Yet in this situation, it may be prudent to share it with you."

Bodie grimaced and forced his eyes open, any hope that what had happened had been nothing more than a nightmare vanishing. He took in the empty room assuring himself he was alone before struggling to sit up. With no windows, he had no idea whether it was night or day outside or how long he had been unconscious. Despite the ache still present along his forearm, he tested the binds around his wrists, closing his eyes against the disappointment when they held firm.

Taking care not to alert his captors that he was awake, he shifted until he sat on the edge of the bed, his feet flat on the floor. The shackle and chain attached to his ankle looked new and solid. Furrowing his eyebrows he tried to come up with some kind of plan to protect himself and get free if at all possible.

Gritting his teeth to keep back a groan of pain, he leaned back and wiggled forcing his arms past his hips and carefully tucking his feet up to bring his bound hands in front of himself. He grabbed the chain attached to his ankle, testing how much play he had, frowning at the limited length. He didn't delude himself into thinking he could take on all three, but maybe if it only one came in alone he might be able to take him out. Either way, he didn't plan to go down without a fight.

He sat back down on the bed and waited, oblivious to the blood running down his arm from the wound he had reopened. The sound of an air horn, deep and reverberating, clued Bodie into where he was being held and his muscles tensed at the implication.

When Cowley had told him of Bodie's time with the Merchant Navy and the reason he had jumped ship, Doyle had felt such a rage of hatred directed at the men who had taken advantage of a young Bodie that his stomach churned.

It had just gone noon when he left headquarters and headed back toward home, intent on going over the area himself. He stuffed his hands into the back pockets of his jeans as he scuffed the ground with his foot. The area had already been gone over with a fine toothed comb, but he still felt like something had been overlooked. He squatted before the hedge where Bodie's watch and the knife had been found, parting the small, stiff branches to search for any other clues.

The sound of a door opening and closing attracted his attention and he looked up to find a young girl of about seventeen watching him. He remained squatting, not wanting to scare her off. "You were here when all this happened, I remember seeing you with your mum and dad."

"The man that was hurt and taken, has he been found yet?" inquired the girl, folding her arms protectively across her chest.

"Not yet." Doyle stood, his whole being focused on her. When the neighbourhood had been questioned, nothing had been said about the knife and Bodie's possibly being hurt. Basically, they had asked if anyone had seen anything, which no one had...until now.

"Oh." The girl bit her lower lip and avoided looking Doyle directly in the eye. "Well, I best be going...."

"Wait," said Doyle, moving in and blocking her. "What do you know about the man that was taken?"

"Nothing," said the girl, backing up a step, fear crossing her features.

With patience born from desperation, Doyle forced himself to ease off. It wouldn't help to frighten her, it might make getting any information out of her impossible. "What's your name?"

"Lacey. Lacey Rollings." She darted a glance past Doyle, obviously trying to calculate whether she could run past and get away.

"Lacey, that's a pretty name." Doyle could tell she was nervous and jumpy and hoped to calm her enough to trust him. "What did you see last night? You had to have seen something, because nothing was said about the man being hurt."

"Look, I don't want to get into trouble," said Lacey, glancing back toward her home.

"You won't be in trouble," assured Doyle, fighting his instinct to grab her and shake her. "Please. The man is my partner, anything you might have seen could help me find him."

"My parents will kill me." Lacey, her eyes pleading. "You see, I snuck out last night. They don't approve of the boy I'm seeing and if they find out I was with him, they'll go bonkers."

"A man's life is at stake here," said Doyle, his voice rising. "Just tell me what you know, please."

Lacey bit her bottom lip, sparing a quick glance back toward her house. "Only if you promise not to tell my parents."

"I promise. Now, just tell me." Doyle couldn't give a damn about her parents, his only concern was Bodie.

"I was coming home when I heard voices. Angry voices. I hid here." She pointed to the spot just behind the hedge. "There were four men, three of them were struggling together while the fourth appeared to be in charge. Two against one, with another waiting to step in if he had to, isn't very fair, is it? They dragged him here toward their car. All the while cursing and telling him to stop fighting. One of them pulled a knife, I don't think to really hurt him, but to stop him from struggling. He, the man that was fighting them, swung his arm up and it cut him. The one who appeared to be in charge knocked him out and they stuffed him into the back seat."

Doyle gripped her upper arm, "Can you describe the men? The car, did you get anything about the car? License plate, colour, make...."

"You're hurting me!" Lacey yanked her arm in an attempt to break loose.

Immediately Doyle released her. "I'm sorry, but this is very important. Please, what can you tell me about the men and the car?"

"It was very dark out," said Lacey, rubbing her arm. "It was a car, just a car. Four doors, maybe dark blue or black. I don't know. I was too afraid they'd see me."

Doyle shut his eyes and took a deep breath. "Yes, I understand that, but can you remember anything, any detail."

"He had blue eyes," said Lacey after a moment.

"Who?" asked Doyle.

"The man that they were ganging up on. He saw me right before he was knocked out. Short dark hair, nice looking, wearing a brown jacket and brown corduroy pants."

"Bodie," confirmed Doyle to himself. "What about the three men who took him?" If she was able to see Bodie that clearly, then she surly had been able to see the other men.

Lacey hugged herself tight, once more committed to revealing what she had seen. "They were older than him, than your partner I mean. Your Bodie. The one in charge, who didn't really participate in the struggle except to hit your friend on the back of the head, he had graying hair at the temples and was tall. The other two had brown hair and were a bit shorter than your mate. But all three had a hard look about them." She shuddered at the memory.

"Did they say anything that might tell me where they might have gone?" pressed Doyle.

Lacey bit her bottom lip, trying to think. "Victor. One of the men called the man in charge, Victor."

"You sure?" Doyle's whole body tensed. Victor was the name of one of the men who Bodie had run from back with the Merchant Navy. Victor Granger. And if he was responsible, it wasn't hard to assume that Sean Norris and Phillip McKenna were the other two.

"Yes, I'm sure." Lacey took an involuntary step back from the look that crossed Doyle's face. Suddenly he looked just as hard as the men had last night.

"Would you be able to identify them from photos?" asked Doyle, fearing what these men would do, or have already done, to Bodie.

"I...I think so," said Lacey.

"Come on, then," urged Doyle, reaching out to guide her toward his car.

"But my parents, they'll know about me sneaking out last night if I get involved with this," said Lacey. "You promised they wouldn't find out."

Taking a deep breath, Doyle leaned forward, his voice dropping with full menace. "If you don't come with me, now, you're parents will definitely find out about it when I haul you down for questioning for refusing to help with this investigation." He gripped her upper arm hard, determined not to let her get away.

Lacey paled and tried to pull away, before giving up. "Alright."

On the ride toward headquarters, Doyle radioed in to Cowley, informing him that he was bringing in a witness to Bodie's abduction who might be able to verify who took him. Arriving at headquarters, Doyle ushered Lacey into a small room where Cowley was waiting for them.

"Please, Miss Rollings, take a seat," smiled Cowley. He used all his charm to put the young lady at ease. It was obvious Doyle hadn't been all that gentle on questioning the frightened young woman. "I'm very grateful for your help. A man's life is at stake and any help you can give us will be greatly appreciated."

"Well," Lacey eased herself down on the hard, wooden chair, giving Doyle a sideways glance. "I will certainly try. I'm not sure just how much more of a help I can be."

"You told Doyle that you might be able to identify the men who took Bodie," said Cowley. "Is that true?"

"It was dark, but I did see their faces," admitted Lacey, rubbing her hands up and down her arms.

"Good, good," smiled Cowley. "I have some photos here that I would like you to take a look at and tell me if these are those men." He slipped three pictures out of a large envelope and laid them out on the table.

Lacey leaned forward and her eyes widened. She swallowed hard before looking away from the pictures. "It looks like them, but the men I saw were older."

"That's fine," said Cowley, giving Doyle a quick look. "These were taken some years ago. Would you say these are the same men?"

Taking another long look at the pictures, Lacey nodded. "It's them. They were the ones who took your friend."

Doyle inhaled deeply, his whole body tense. They now had confirmation of who had Bodie, they only needed to figure out where they had taken him.

"Did these men say anything about where they might have gone?" asked Cowley, he continued to smile giving an air of fatherly ease toward the young lady.

Lacey shook her head. "I was so scared and it happened so fast."

"It's alright, lass. You're safe here, they can't harm you now, but try to think."

Lacey looked down at her hands, struggling to remember. "There was something...."

"Yes?" encouraged Cowley.

"I must have misunderstood," said Lacey, shaking her head.

"Go on, what do you think you heard?" Doyle couldn't stop himself from interrupting Cowley's handling of the situation. Luckily, Cowley chose not to take offense at Doyle's interruption.

"It sounded like the one called Victor said something about a flying dagger. I couldn't really hear all that clearly." Lacey looked back and forth between Cowley and Doyle. "At first I thought perhaps he was talking about the knife that had been knocked away, but now I'm not so sure."

Cowley straightened and walked over to the phone mounted on the wall. "Give me all the information you can on the registered name Flying Dagger. Check every privately owned plane and boat that has landed on British soil for the last seven days."

The sound of a door banging shut alerted Bodie and he rose from the bed. He moved to stand beside the closed door to his room and waited. He strained to hear whether there was only one or all three on the other side.

He braced himself as the door swung open. Moving quickly, he lifted his chained leg upward to give the chain more length and wrapped it around Sean's neck and jerked backward. Awkwardly balanced on one leg, Bodie found himself falling, dragging Sean down with him. Strength born from desperation was the only edge Bodie had, being limited with his movement due to the chain and the handcuffs that bound his hands. Keeping it tight, he viciously pulled backward until Sean's struggles slowed, ignoring the vicious blows from Sean's elbows and heels.

Bodie held the tension a few moments longer, assuring himself that Sean would not be getting back up again. He unwrapped the chain and quickly checked Sean's pockets in hope for a key to unlock the manacle that still held him prisoner. He didn't find the key, but he did discover a pocket knife. He ran his hand through his hair and quickly looked around. The only hiding place was under the bed and he rolled Sean's body under it.

He moved toward the door and opened it, finding only another small room on the other side. He strained against the chain that prevented him from walking out of there. He looked for anything he could use to break the chain or pick the lock, but nothing was at hand. In the centre of the room was a table with four chairs and a free standing sink beside a small counter the extent of the furnishings. The small window showed the fading light as the day was coming to an end.

Once more he sat down on the bed and waited. Knowing this time both Victor and Phillip would be arriving together and his chance of over powering them both were slim to none. He gripped the knife, musing it was better than no weapon at all.

Doyle accompanied Cowley down to records, both too impatient to wait for the information to be brought upstairs.

"What do you have for me?" asked Cowley, his tone brisk.

Judy turned around, giving Doyle a brief acknowledgment before focusing her attention on Cowley. "I haven't found any listing for Flying Dagger, but there's a cargo ship that had arrived from Australia five days ago registered under the name Flying Dragon. Not an exact match, but considering the similarity of the two, I thought perhaps this might be what you're looking for. According to the ship's manifest, they bypassed Portugal which should have been their next stop before docking here," she answered. Judy was a tough old bird who had never been ruffled by Cowley's abrupt manner.

"When are they scheduled to leave?" asked Cowley, looking over the printout.

"They are set to sail at the end of the week," said Judy, never taking her eyes off Cowley.

Cowley turned to Doyle. "Take Murphy with you and check it out."

"You think Bodie is around here?" asked Murphy. They stood along the docks and eyed the cargo ship whose side depicted what was once a brightly painted dragon, now faded.

"I don't know," said Doyle, looking around the docking area. Long shadows played along the ground as the sun started to set. "It would be too dangerous to keep him on board the ship until it was ready to sail. Between now and then they could be boarded for inspection. If they're planning on taking him with them, they would want to hold him close at hand."

Murphy nodded and together they headed toward the line of warehouses that bordered the water.

The hairs on Doyle's neck prickled and he turned to look behind them. A glint of sunlight caught Doyle's attention from the roof of a building and before he thought things through, he had Murphy around the waist shoving him down. The sharp report of a rifle echoed off the warehouses and Doyle landed heavily on top of Murphy, his head contacting with the hard pavement.

No other shots were fired and Murphy pushed up against Doyle. "You hit? Doyle?" He twisted around until he was lying on his back, Doyle still draped over him. He scanned the surrounding roof tops, but there was no sign of the sniper. He eased himself out from under Doyle, scrambled to his feet, and carefully checked Doyle, finding a shallow crease from the bullets path along his side. Further inspection revealed a lump along Doyle's hairline that explained why Doyle was out cold.

Cowley was sitting at his desk, having just heard that Doyle had been checked out by the doctor and would be fine, when Betty intercommed him that Mr. Swerisse was here to see him.

The tall, black man entered the office with the air that he owned the place.

"Mr. Swerisse, please, have a seat," said Cowley, motioning toward the chair in front of his desk.

"Mr. Cowley," said Swerisse, "I figured I would come to you, since you were not able to make our meeting this morning. I would have waited until time was of your convenience, but my business with you is pressing."

Cowley kept his irritation hidden at the audacity of this man to come barging in without advance notice. "I'm sorry Mr. Swerisse, there has been other matters that have demanded my attention. And seeing that all matters of security had already been worked out, our meeting this morning was not one of dire necessity."

"Ah, yes," said Swerisse. "I'm sorry to hear of the loss of two of your men."

Cowley stilled for a moment before speaking. "They were two of my best men."

"But the current situation needs immediate attention as well. I want your assurance that tomorrow's negotiations on the future trading agreements between our countries are perfectly safe." Swerisse brushed imaginary lint from his dark suit, avoiding Cowley's penetrating gaze.

"And you have it," said Cowley. "The arrangements we have proposed still stand, unless there are some concerns you wish to address?"

"No, no," smiled Swerisse. "The arrangements are satisfactory. My only concern is the recent events may distract you and your men from their duty."

"You have no need to worry about the level of performance regarding my men," growled Cowley. "I assure you that all necessary precautions are being taken and every man will be alert to guard the proceedings tomorrow."

"Good," smiled Swerisse, rising to his feet. "Again, my condolences to your loss."

"Thank you." Cowley stood and escorted Swerisse out of his office, carefully closing the door. He resumed his seat behind his desk and waited until he was sure Swerisse had left before hitting the intercom button.

"I don't get it," said Doyle. He was sitting in the passenger seat of Cowley's car as Murphy drove back toward the docks. "How does Mr. Swerisse figure into all this?"

"I'm not sure," said Cowley from the back seat. "But no one else knew about the attempt on your life, yet he had assumed you were killed."

"Why not just pull him in and question him about Bodie's whereabouts?" demanded Doyle, absently rubbing the bump on his head.

"I don't think he knows where he is. What if whomever he had hired to take you and Bodie out, made a change of plans and took Bodie instead of killing him?" Cowley reached into his jacket and checked his gun.

"Why try to take us out to begin with?" asked Doyle, as Murphy maneuvered the car through the early evening traffic.

"I believe it was an attempt to rattle us, cause us to make mistakes," said Cowley, settling his gun back into it's holster. "These trade negotiations aren't welcome by everyone. Should there be anything to disrupt the meetings to be held, Mr. Swerisse's government would immediately pull out, claiming the situation is too volatile to continue."

The three men exited the car and studied their surroundings.

"Where did the shot come from?" asked Cowley.

"From that building over there," pointed Doyle.

"I checked it out, but I didn't find anything," said Murphy.

Cowley studied the area and frowned. "Did you finish checking the warehouses?"

"No," said Murphy. "I was more concerned on catching the gunman at the moment. Nor did I want to leave Doyle unprotected any longer than I had to."

"I see," said Cowley. "I suggest we take a look now."

The soft murmur of voices accompanied the sound of movement on the other side of the door and Bodie rose to his feet. He adjusted his grip on the knife as he waited, tilting his head to listen.

"I'm telling you, they're on to us somehow," said Phillip.

"You worry too much," said Victor. "Even if they somehow figured out that it wasn't Bodie they pulled from the wreckage, there is no possible way for them to trace him here."

"Then why would that partner of his be sniffing around here?" The scrape of a chair being pulled out from the table masked Bodie's loud inhalation that Doyle had been close. "I'm telling you they know! They were heading right for this place."

"He is no longer a problem," said Victor. "You shot him yourself and our employer has confirmed that he is dead. By tomorrow evening we will be long gone from here, with quite a lovely bonus. We have one more job to complete, and it should be a piece of cake. Take a couple shots at the windows where they're meeting and take off. Just remember to aim high. We wouldn't want to hit our employer."

Bodie paled and closed his eyes. He didn't have much to lose if Ray was gone, and his sole determination was to exact vengeance on the men who had killed him.

"Where's Sean?" asked Phillip. "He was supposed to be here keeping an eye on Bodie."

Victor looked toward the closed door. "Perhaps he couldn't wait to relive old times."

Bodie widened his stance and adjusted his grip on the handle of the knife. He watched as the doorknob turned and the door started to swing open. He held his breath and raised the knife, ready to deliver the downward blow.

Phillip caught sight of the empty bed and quickly slammed the door back into Bodie. The force of the impact knocked Bodie off balance and he took a blind swing in the general direction of Phillip.

Dodging back and to the side, Phillip narrowly missed being sliced. Victor moved into the room, caught Bodie's wrist, and twisted it back behind Bodie.

"Ah, just like the old days," chuckled Victor. "Is nice that you still have that fire in you. Makes things much more fun." He freed the knife from Bodie's hand and pushed him toward the bed.

"What did you do with Sean?" demanded Phillip, backhanding Bodie when he tried to sit up.

"Whatever happened to Sean was nothing he didn't deserve if he wasn't careful around our little hellhound," said Victor. "But I can make an educated guess as to where he is at the moment."

Bodie flinched back as Victor stepped toward him.

"There's really only one place to hide a body in here," said Victor as he pointedly looked toward the bottom of the bed.

"Aw, fuck," said Phillip, dropping to his knees, mindful of the proximity of Bodie's legs.

"Shift back onto the bed, Billy-boy," instructed Victor, producing a gun and pointing it at Bodie.

Phillip reached under the bed and tugged Sean's body out. "You bastard. I'll kill you for this."

"Now, now," said Victor. "Let's not be too hasty. I'm sure you can extract whatever you deem is fair payment after we've had a little fun with him. For now, place Sean in the other room."

Phillip dragged Sean out of the room and returned.

"Secure him and strip him," directed Victor, all the while holding the gun on Bodie.

Careful not to get in between Victor's gun and Bodie, Phillip forced Bodie's hands up and over his head.

Bodie kept his attention on Victor and the gun, as Phillip undid one wrist and looped the short chain of the handcuff through the head rail before reattaching it to Bodie's wrist. His heart hammered in his chest as he lunged forward and swung his freed fist toward Phillip's jaw. His had made only a glancing blow before Phillip jerked his head back and blocked Bodie's punch. A burst of pain exploded behind Bodie's eyes as Phillip used his elbow against his chin to stun him.

"Here," said Victor, once Bodie was secured to the bed. He tossed the knife to Phillip who started with Bodie's shirt.

By the time Phillip had Bodie's shirt cut off, there were shallow gashes along his arms and torso. "You keep struggling like that, you're gonna be shredded," said Phillip before turning his attention to Bodie's trousers.

The tugging on the waist band of his corduroy pants spurred Bodie to fight harder. He kicked out with his legs, only to have them captured and restrained by two sets of strong hands. This couldn't be happening, not now, not after all these years. He twisted and bucked, trying to throw off his abductors. Despite his struggles he felt his zipper lowered and his pants tugged down past his knees. "Don't...."

Phillip leaned close to Bodie's face and grinned. "Come on, now. You can do better than that, little Willie. You can beg so prettily, it makes me hard just thinking about it."

Bodie bit his tongue and squeezed his eyes shut, refusing to give them the satisfaction of hearing him plead with them. In the past it was never any use, but he had been young enough to believe it might grant him some leniency, instead it had just fuelled them to use him longer, harder and rougher. He continued to struggle, his movements limited against his restraints.

"Considerin' the circumstances when you left us, I think Phillip should have first go at you," said Victor. "He still bears the scars where you tried to cut off his cock and balls. Rest assured they are still in working condition."

Between the two of them they turned Bodie onto his stomach, pinning him down as Phillip shoved his legs apart.

Doyle tried the doorknob before him. This would be the fifth closed door they had inspected with no sign of Bodie. He twisted the knob and looked at Murphy before gently pushing it open. The sight of a dead body lying on the floor put every instinct on alert as he quietly entered the small room. Murphy followed close behind with Cowley bringing up the rear.

The sounds of a struggle drifted toward them from the one other door connected to the room. Moving together, Doyle took one side and Murphy the other, while Cowley knelt down by the table to cover them.

Doyle stared at Murphy and nodded his head in a silent count of three. Together they hit the door and rolled inside, guns up.

The sight that met them had only a moment to register before they both fired.

Phillip was in the process of turning his head when Doyle's bullet struck him and he fell heavily upon Bodie's back.

Victor swung the gun he still held toward the two agents and Murphy's shot knocked him backward against the wall.

Bolting toward the bed, Doyle yanked Phillip's lifeless form off and reached toward Bodie. "It's alright, I've got you."

Bodie kept his eyes squeezed shut, caught in the nightmare of what had happened to him years ago at the hands of his tormentors.

"Bodie!" Doyle took quick stock of his partner, searching for any hidden injuries. It was then he noticed Bodie's state of undress. "The bloody bastards!" He ran his hand over the narrow cuts and down over Bodie's bare flanks, wanting to know just how far Bodie's violation had gone. He jerked his hand away when Bodie flinched and tried to distance himself from the roaming touch.

"Is he alright?" demanded Cowley, hurrying into the room. He spared a quick glance at Murphy who was verifying that the two men were dead.

"I'm not sure," answered Doyle, holstering his gun and trying to pull Bodie's trousers back up to protect him from any further humiliation by prying eyes.

"Unlock these restraints and see to him," ordered Cowley.

Murphy produced a set of keys from Victor's pockets and freed Bodie's ankle from the manacle. He then tossed them to Doyle who found the key to the handcuffs and removed them. The metal had rubbed the tender skin of his wrists raw, evidence of the struggle Bodie had put up.

With gentle hands, Doyle eased Bodie onto his back and searched his face. "Come on, Bodie. Open them pretty blues for me, mate." He gripped Bodie's arm, preventing him from turning away.

"You're dead," mumbled Bodie, refusing to open his eyes and having the phantom of his partner leave him when he looked and he wasn't there.

"No more dead than you, Sunshine," said Doyle, keeping a tight grip on Bodie's arm.

Swallowing against the lump in his throat, Bodie cracked open an eye. Seeing Doyle beside him, he threw himself into him and wrapped his arms tightly around his waist.

"Easy," soothed Doyle, unable to stop the grimace that crossed his face as Bodie pressed against his own injury.

"They said they killed you," said Bodie, his voice muffled against Doyle's chest.

"They tried," said Doyle. "Not a very good shot, were they?" He kissed the top of Bodie's head before lying his cheek against it.

"Close enough," said Cowley, jarring them back to the situation at hand and that they weren't alone.

"What?" Bodie lifted his head and looked back and forth between Doyle and Cowley. He eased his hold, yet refused to completely let go.

"Just a scratch," shrugged Doyle, rubbing his hand up and down Bodie's bare back.

"I know the shape Doyle is in, the question is, how hurt are you?" Cowley moved a step closer. He noted the unconscious display of his two agents and stored it away for now.

"I'm fine," said Bodie, wiping his face with a shaky hand. He doubted he convinced the old man or Ray, but at that moment he needed to shield himself from the events surrounding him.

"We'll let the doctor decide that, shall we? Call this in Murphy," said Cowley, satisfied for the moment that Bodie wasn't seriously hurt.

Murphy slipped out of the room and headed for the car to call into headquarters.

"Honest, sir. I'm fine," protested Bodie. "I just really want to get out of this room, if it's all the same to you."

Doyle helped Bodie to his feet and started to guide him out of the room with a protective arm around him, making sure to avoid the two dead men crumpled on the floor.

"One moment Doyle," said Cowley. "I'd like a word with Bodie privately."

Doyle opened his mouth to argue, then shut it when he saw Cowley's mulish expression and Bodie's diverted gaze. "I'll be waiting in the next room." He wanted Cowley to understand he was not going to leave Bodie, even to him.

Bodie nodded and continued to look off to the side.

"I will only ask this once, Bodie, and I won't mention it again," said Cowley, his voice soft. "Did they harm you as before?"

"No," choked out Bodie. "But if you had been any longer in getting here, they would have."

Cowley nodded once. "Then I won't request the doctor to check you out as thoroughly as I had planned. That is, as long as you're honest with me, lad."

"They didn't." Bodie looked Cowley straight in the eye.

"Good," said Cowley, a small smile gracing his lips as he patted Bodie on the shoulder before joining up with Doyle who was standing by the sink with his arms crossed.

"Your handy work?" asked Cowley as they moved past Sean's lifeless form.

Bodie simply nodded and refused to look at the body.

Doyle stayed by Bodie's side as he was treated for cuts and abrasions. On the drive from the warehouse, Doyle had brought Bodie up to date on Swerisse and the attempt to throw a wrench in the proceedings. Just as the doctor claimed Bodie was fit enough not to be held for observation, Cowley showed up.

"I'm glad you both are still here," said Cowley.

"The doctor just released me," said Bodie, slipping on a borrowed shirt from Murphy who kept an extra around should he need it.

Cowley glanced over toward the doctor waiting for confirmation.

"He's suffering from minor cuts, abrasion and is slightly dehydrated," confirmed the doctor. "Some rest and he'll be right as rain again."

"Good," said Cowley, turning his attention back to Doyle and Bodie. "Before you leave, I want you two in my office." He turned and left before either could ask him any questions.

Ten minutes later, Doyle knocked on Cowley's door.


"You wanted to see us?" asked Doyle, ushering Bodie in first. They took their accustomed seats in front of Cowley's desk.

"I'm giving the both of you the next two days off," said Cowley. "Just don't go getting yourselves blown up or shot."

"Two days, sir?" repeated Bodie, wondering if even two days would be enough to put all this behind him. He needed to do something to complete the closure of his past, but he couldn't figure out what.

"What about the negotiations tomorrow?" asked Doyle, worried that Swerisse would try something else to sabotage any future attempts to build a relationship between their countries once he believed that CI5 was easily disrupted.

"It's covered," said Cowley.

"Can't you pull Swerisse in for attempted murder? The man is dangerous and right now he thinks he got away with taking us out," pressed Doyle.

"There's no proof he was behind the attempts on your lives," said Cowley. "The men responsible are dead and unable to testify against him. To arrest him now without evidence linking him to what happened, would cause an international uproar to."

"But wouldn't it be something if we happened to show up? I mean, seeing two dead men come back to life would certainly rattle his cage," said Bodie, thinking along the same lines as his partner. Perhaps this would help put some of the nightmares awaiting him to rest.

Doyle studied his partner, weighing whether or not Bodie would be up to the job right now.

Cowley smirked. "Aye, that it would."

"So do we show up tomorrow?" asked Bodie. He maintained eye contact with Doyle, hoping he would understand this was something he needed to do.

"Very well," agreed Cowley. "But only long enough to make an appearance, then you're to leave. Technically the two of you aren't on duty until seven o'clock in the morning day after tomorrow."

"Is that all sir?" asked Doyle.

"For now," said Cowley, slipping his glasses back on his face and bending his head toward the paperwork in front of him.

"Come on Bodie, I'm taking you home." Doyle stood and waited for Bodie to rise.

"This time stay there until morning. I'll not have a repeat of what just happened," said Cowley, looking over the rim of his glasses. "In fact, I suggest no more traipsing back and forth between your places in the middle of the night at all. Just radio in where the two of you are going to be for the night and leave it at that."

"Yes, sir," said Bodie and Doyle in unison, surprise on both their faces.

"But what about appearances, sir?" asked Doyle, wanting things to be perfectly clear as to how everything stood with them and CI5. He missed the pained look on Bodie's face at his question.

Cowley removed his glasses and leaned forward on his desk. "I still expect you two to behave professionally. As long as this arrangement does not interfere with your performance, I have no problem with it. And should anyone take offense, then they'll have me to deal with. Now get out of here. I have work to do," dismissed Cowley, turning his attention once again to the stack of papers on his desk.

Once they had left and the door was shut, Cowley leaned back in his chair and studied the closed door. He hoped his decision would not come back to haunt him, but the alternative of making either of them easy targets by travelling back and forth in the wee hours was not acceptable either. He understood that to force them to choose between the job and each other, the job would lose. And he wasn't willing to lose his top team anytime soon. Only time would tell what the future held.

Doyle drove, glancing every once in awhile at Bodie. "You alright?"

Bodie remained silent, staring out the side window.

Giving up on any sort of conversation until they were safely inside behind locked doors, Doyle spent the remainder of the trip in silence. He made a quick side trip, picking up take away to eat once they arrived at his flat.

Bodie followed Doyle inside, looking around. He was back where this whole nightmare had started.

"What do you want to drink?" asked Ray, placing the food on the table. He opened the fridge looking for any kind of juice to help replenish Bodie's system.

"Scotch," said Bodie, still standing near the front door.

"How about some tea instead?" suggested Doyle, not finding any juice. "You haven't eaten since yesterday and the alcohol will just make you feel worse."

"Fine," said Bodie, not really caring. He sat down at the table and pulled the food out of the bags while Ray placed the kettle on the stove.

Doyle moved to sit down beside Bodie, scooting his chair as close as he could. They ate, both aware of the other's presence, yet the silence was heavy in the air.

Finally Bodie couldn't take it anymore. "Just say it!"

"Say what?" asked Doyle, taken aback by Bodie's sudden outburst.

"Cowley told you about...and now you're just trying to figure out how to tell me you don't want to be with me." Bodie had pushed his chair back and jumped to his feet, determined to leave before Ray asked him to.

"What the hell gave you that idea?!" Ray had risen the moment Bodie had stood.

"What about appearances, sir?" mocked Bodie. "It's obvious you don't want to be associated with someone who was passed around. I'm not good enough for you, and you're right. I'm not!" He turned on his heel and headed for the door, unable to take the disgust he had been waiting to see in Ray's eyes since he saw him in the warehouse.

"You bloody fool!" shouted Ray, cutting Bodie off and slamming the front door closed. "How dare you walk away from me! From us!"

Bodie took an involuntary step backward as Ray moved into his personal space. "Obviously Cowley must have left a few details out," said Bodie between clenched teeth. "So let me spell it out for you."

"You don't have to spell it out! I know. And it doesn't change the way I feel about you," said Ray, searching Bodie's face. "Before, I said you should already know how I feel about you. Well, that's not good enough, is it? I should tell you, should have told you straight out before."

Bodie opened his mouth to argue, but Ray didn't give him a chance to speak.

"I love you, Bodie. I loved you before all this happened, I love you now, and I'll love you in the years to come. We've never really said how we felt, we just assumed the other knew by our actions. But we need the words as well."

Bodie stared at Ray. "Even after...."

"Especially now," said Ray. "When I thought I had lost you, that you had died...." His voice caught and he swallowed the bitter lump that had formed in his throat. "I couldn't face being without you, and now to be given a second chance, I'm not giving you up without a fight. Even if it means I have to fight you."

Bodie searched Ray's eyes, seeing the love and truth behind his words. "I love you, too."

The tension in Ray's body dropped and he slumped forward into Bodie's embrace. "Don't do this to me again, Bodie. Don't go leaving me just because you think it's what I want or need. Promise me."

"I won't," promised Bodie, hugging Ray close. "But you have to promise the same thing."

"Easily," said Ray, capturing Bodie's lips with his own and sealing their promises with a kiss.

"We best follow the doctor's orders," said Doyle, breaking the kiss. "And get some sleep."

"I'd like to jump in the shower first," said Bodie. "Help work some of the kinks out."

Doyle understood the real reason Bodie wanted to shower. "Go ahead, I'll just make sure everything is locked up and secure before we turn in."

The sound of the shower running followed Doyle as he double checked the locks and the alarm. He wandered into the bedroom and straightened the bedding still crumpled from when he had rolled out of it when the explosion had erupted. A cold shudder travelled down his spine as he remembered the exact moment he had thought Bodie was dead. He jumped when Bodie came up behind him and placed a hand on his shoulder.


"It's okay. Just remembering when all this started."

"Maybe we should go and stay at my place," suggested Bodie. "Less memories there."

"No," said Ray, shaking his head. "I've got to convince myself your really here, and until I do, it won't really matter where we are." He roughly undressed, angry at himself for reacting this way.

"I am here, Ray," said Bodie, taking a good, hard look at his partner. The strain had obviously taken it's toll on Ray. His green eyes were shadowed by dark circles and worry lines.

"Prove it to me," said Ray, moving close and wrapping his arms around Bodie. "Show me you're alive and won't be leaving me." He tugged loose the towel Bodie had around his waist, allowing it to drop on the floor.

Bodie returned Ray's hug. "I'm not going anywhere." He covered Ray's mouth with his own and carefully guided them down on the bed, mindful of their various hurts. He eased his body on top of Ray and quickly lifted himself back off when Ray couldn't suppress the faint groan that escaped when pressure was put upon his bandaged side.

"How about we just lie on our sides," suggested Bodie, his own various cuts tender.

"Sounds good." Ray shifted over, and pressed into Bodie once he was settled beside him. He traced Bodie's proud features with the tip of his finger, tracing an imaginary line down his throat and chest until he flicked the tightening bud of Bodie's nipple. "You sure you're okay with this? With all things considered...maybe this isn't such a good idea after all. Give you some time to put what happened behind you."

"This is exactly what I need," said Bodie, leaning forward, bringing their lips a hairs breadth apart. "Replace old memories with new ones, better ones." He closed the distance and pressed his lips hard against Ray's. The answering moan was all the encouragement he needed as he ran a hand down Ray's back and cupped the firm, round cheek, giving it a slight squeeze.

Wanting to be as close as physically possible in this position, Ray nudged a thigh between Bodie's legs and brought their hardening shafts together. The friction spurring them both to rock and buck harder and faster against the other.

"'m close," gasped Bodie, tightening his hold on Ray's arse and thrusting fast and furiously.

"Right here with you, mate," panted Ray, arching as shudders wracked them both while they spilled their completion between them.

The room was silent except the harsh breathing from the two lovers tangled together amongst the sheets. Only the faint sounds of the city drifted to them as they recovered.

Ray broke out into a lazy smile as he studied the relaxed, bliss expression on Bodie's face. "Guess it's my turn to get us cleaned up." He shook his head in amusement when Bodie simply grinned wider. Completing his task, Ray crawled back into bed and pulled the covers up and over them both.

Bodie snuggled against Ray, pulling him close as he spooned behind him. He looked at the bedside clock and his heart gave a skip as he saw it was the same time as it had been when he rose from their bed yesterday morning.

Ever aware of his lover, Ray entwined his fingers with Bodie's and held their joined hands close to his chest. "Your safe, Bodie. You don't have to go anywhere."

Gradually, Bodie relaxed, letting the steady rise and fall of Ray's breathing lull him into sleep.

Swerisse sat at the conference table. He started to grow restless as the expected disruption never took place. He could only remain silent as deals and negotiations were worked out and a pact between the two countries was outlined. He scanned the room and the men that constantly shifted from place to place as they kept watch for any trouble. His throat tightened and he blinked when he caught sight of Bodie and Doyle staring at him. They gave a slight nod as they acknowledged him before made their way back out of the room.

"Think he'll try anything on his own?" asked Doyle, after they stepped outside.

"Nah," said Bodie. "He's not one to get his own hands dirty." He opened the car door and slipped in behind the wheel.

"Guess we best be getting back home, then," said Doyle, a twinkle in his eye.

"I thought the doctor ordered rest," said Bodie, hiding the grin that threatened to ruin his stern expression.

"We'll be in bed," said Ray. "Can't think of a better place to recuperate, can you?"

"Unless you count the couch, the floor, the shower...." He broke off laughing when Ray jabbed him in the ribs.

"Okay! I give!" Bodie turned the key in the ignition and shifted the car into gear. "Just be glad I didn't list the car."

Bodie missed the glint in Ray's eyes before he found himself trying to control the car while Ray proceeded to help him relax in the car.

-- THE END --

Originally published in No Holds Barred 23, Kathy Resch, 2001

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