The Temple of Venus


Doyle shivered. A cold wind whipped around his ankles and crept inside his thin t-shirt, making him wish he'd put something warmer on before he'd come out tonight. Technically, of course, it was still summer -- but mid-September could be as unpredictable as his own temper and he should have known and been prepared. Instead, he was standing in the grounds of a small stately home freezing his nuts off.

He leaned against the wall, momentarily wishing he still smoked. Perverse as it might seem, the act of lighting and quietly smoking a cigarette seemed like it might be comforting on this dark and rather sharp evening. But cigarettes belonged firmly in the past -- behind the school bike sheds as a matter of fact, with a boy called Andy who liked a fag as much as Doyle... in every sense of the word.

He sighed inwardly. Kid's stuff. Though none the less satisfying for all that. He smiled, remembering the other boy's arm, tight around his waist; the excitement mixed with raw fear that they might be discovered; but most of all their semen -- the smell of it as it dribbled down the masonry, drowning a spider in the process. Euphoria and giggles had shortly given way to horror at what they had done. Painfully aware that other boys got behind the shed with girls and tried to get their hands up their skirts, Doyle had looked at Andy, his clear blue eyes shining, and kissed his perfect mouth -- accepting his fate, if not exactly willingly then at least fatalistically. He was queer. So, what...

But you outgrew childish things -- or were supposed to. Groping up dark alleys or in dense bushes still held some attraction, he had to confess, depending on how much he'd imbibed on any given night and whether or not his need for sex outweighed the discomforts of shagging in the park on the way home from the pub. He was the first to admit there had been times when a much younger Ray Doyle and some pick-up had not been able to wait and remembered, with a sly grin, occasions when a tree had provided the necessary support as he'd emptied himself into an all too willing mouth.

He pulled his leather jacket more securely about him and did up the zip. He shivered again and then reached for the waistband of his jeans and tugged at them, wriggling his backside to dislodge recalcitrant underpants. His deliberations on the vagaries of his sex life had made him hard and his cock was painful within the confines of jeans that were never anything less than skin tight. He briefly considered a quick wank against the wall, only counting it out when he considered the repercussions of getting caught. Cowley would doubtless have one or two choice things to say and Doyle didn't fancy his chances against the dour Scot. What excuse could you possibly have anyway? It wasn't exactly an urgent call of nature no matter how full your balls were...

Doyle sighed inwardly. Perhaps he was getting too old for this lark. Christ knew what he was doing out here, anyway. Okay, so the conference back at the big house included enough politicians and bigwigs to sink a whole navy, let alone one battle-ship... and thinking about it, some of them deserved such a fate. So, of course, security was watertight -- easier to get a pay-rise out of his boss than a killer in there, he thought. On the other hand, perhaps the wily Scot knew that and had placed his best men in the grounds, watching.

He walked the perimeter of the building he'd been assigned to, for the umpteenth time. The Temple of Venus they called this. Every stately home should have one and, apparently, a few still did. It seemed they'd been all the rage a couple of centuries back, when the rich had nothing better to do with their money, and this one was supposedly a bit out of the ordinary. Built on a mound, well away from the main house, it was actually a tall, almost conical, building with a spire for a roof. Ornate with it's stone gargoyles depicting weird and wonderful animals, he supposed it was Gothic -- though an expert he was not.

The interior of the place was a mystery. On his arrival the door was found to be locked, and no one had offered to find the key and show him the inside: doubtless it was empty, anyway.

But what was, in fact, unusual about this particular example of a Temple was the tunnel which ran underneath, from one side of the small mound to the other. It was odd and Doyle had asked its purpose. His inquiry had been met with blank looks; it transpired that no one knew, and by the looks of it, cared even less. It seemed that curiosity had not only killed the cat but had also expired along with it.

While it was still light he'd walked the length of the passageway -- all of fifty feet and lined with stone local to the area. Odd atmosphere, he noticed. Deciding he was going doolally in his old age he retraced his steps and found he hadn't been mistaken: the place was peculiar.

He leaned against the wall in the dark and thought about it. No one would ever have called Ray Doyle fanciful -- not and lived to tell the tale. Doyle only believed in what he could see -- cold spots and atmospheres were for dotty maiden aunts not men who were tough enough to be agents with CI5.

It was odd though...

His RT beeped, interrupting his train of thought. "Four five."

"How're things out in the wild blue yonder, Doyle?"

"Hello, Murph. You've heard of brass monkey weather?"

"Gettttt on," the other agent jeered. "You're getting soft. I'll get you a nice pair of tartan slippers for Christmas: fur lined. And I'll see if I can run to a nice hot water bottle too..."

Doyle laughed. "Watch it, Murph or I'll duff up your teddy bear. You wouldn't like that -- after all, who else would sleep with you, eh? Apart from that redhead with the big bum and freckles..."

A sudden cough from Murphy alerted Doyle and the next voice he heard was Cowley's. Doyle, slouching against the wall, automatically stood up straight.

"Four five?"


"What's going on out there?"

"Uh, nothing. All quiet. Bloody cold though, any chance of...

"You're not on a Sunday afternoon picnic, Laddie!"

"No, sir. Sorry, sir."

"Well, keep your eyes peeled. We're not expecting trouble but that's no reason to be complacent. And Doyle?"


"Didn't your mother ever tell you to wear a vest?"

The RT went silent and Doyle laughed. Bastard...

Suddenly, the tunnel beneath him seemed like an excellent option, strange atmosphere or no strange atmosphere. Just for five minutes while his hands thawed out. He could keep watch from there just as easily as he could from up here. Decision made he nipped down over the grass and approached the entrance to the tunnel.

Standing just inside, he peered out, rubbing his hands together vigorously. The big house was visible across the parkland -- lit up like a Christmas tree. Doyle bet they weren't having to stamp their feet to keep warm. They had central heating, decent Scotch... A sudden noise interrupted his thoughts and he turned on his heel in alarm. Horrified, he realised that at the other end of the tunnel someone was casually lighting a cigarette. In the light of the match the two men stood and regarded each other.

Doyle was the first to gather his wits. "Who the hell are you and what are you doing here?" He reached inside his jacket and fingered his pistol, hesitated, and brought a small torch from his inside pocket instead. Flicking it on he used it to light his way as he stalked to the other end of the passageway.

As Doyle approached the man took a long drag on his cigarette, blatantly eyeing him up and down in a manner that was unmistakeably sexual. Despite his training Doyle experienced an automatic reaction to the clear message.

"I could ask you the same question. This is private property you know?" the other man drawled.

"Of course I know," Doyle snapped. "I'm guarding the bloody place!"

"Ah. I see. Apologies. Didn't realise."

Doyle studied him carefully in the light of the torch. Good looking; dark hair, cut short, dark eyes, nice body. And what's more, fully aware of the admiration on Doyle's face judging by the little smile that was tugging at the corners of his mouth. They held each other's gaze for just a moment too long.

"Who exactly are you?" Doyle asked at last, struggling to remember his duty.

"I'm er... family," the man said. "Name's Bodie. Related to that lot," and he nodded towards the big house in the distance.

"What? The owners?" Doyle's eyes widened in surprise.

"That's right." He drew deeply on his cigarette and regarded Doyle, amusement lurking in his eyes.

Something wasn't right here. He stared at the man, attired in evening dress, took in the bow tie, skilfully knotted, the perfectly fitting jacket and tailored trousers -- and could come up with nothing amiss whatsoever.

"Cigarette?" Bodie said, opening a small silver case.

Tempted, Doyle declined. "No, thanks. Bad for you."

Bodie stared, wide-eyed, at him. "What?"

Doyle reached out and grabbed one, shaking it in front of the man's face. "Cancer sticks," he admonished. "I'd give it up if I were you. Quickest way to an early grave short of throwing yourself off the nearest suspension bridge tied to your granny's knicker elastic."

The man's eyes widened until they were huge pools of silent laughter.

"It's not funny," Doyle told him. "I'm serious: you ought to stop."

"I promise to give it due consideration," Bodie said, his eyes belying the seriousness of his tone.

Doyle nodded, almost satisfied.

"You haven't told me your name." Bodie's eyes lost their amusement suddenly.

"Uh... Doyle. Ray Doyle," Doyle replied, still trying to shake off the feeling that something wasn't quite as it ought to be. "I'm supposed to be keeping an eye on things out here. Hold on. Be back in a minute."

He went outside and did a recce of the area. Everything seemed to be just as it should, which was more than could be said for this other situation. Retracing his steps he found Bodie leaning against the entrance to the tunnel watching him. No doubt about it, there was appreciation in those eyes. Inside his jeans, his prick, never fully flaccid after his mental reminiscing, sprang back to life. The light from the torch illuminated them both. Doyle saw the man's eyes linger at his crotch and his cock got even harder.

He leaned against the wall, hips thrust out -- erection clearly visible. Bodie closed the short distance between them, eyes still locked on Doyle's groin. Doyle watched mesmerised as the man reached out and, with one finger, lazily traced the shape of his arousal inside his jeans.

"Christ," Doyle muttered. "I'm supposed to be on duty."

Dark eyes caressed his. "Everything out there is fine. And this isn't going to take long is it?"

He was suddenly astride Doyle's hips. So close the smell of tobacco assaulted Doyle's nostrils. And then he could actually taste it as the man's mouth closed over his and their tongues met. Unlike many, Doyle had no objection to the taste of tobacco on a kiss, often finding, to his dismay, that it aroused him even more. He pulled Bodie's body roughly against his own and pressed their groins together as hard as he could. The other man groaned and a quick flurry of activity resulted in two erections being exposed to the night air.

Doyle gasped as a hand grasped his prick. He groped for Bodie's, glorying in the surge of power which swept over him as the other man responded with a guttural, "Christ, yes," and pushed hard into Doyle's hand.

A mouth hungry for flesh was practically eating him -- his neck would be a mass of bites in the morning he realised, dimly. But who cared? His cock was being handled by an expert and the man had been right: this wasn't going to take very long. A ragged voice whispered, "Coming," into his ear and Doyle merely had time to reply, "Fuck, yes," before both of them came, their grunts of release echoing up and down the dark tunnel.

They rested until Doyle lifted his head and got soundly kissed. He laughed as teeth caught his bottom lip. "Christ," he murmured, "this is mad -- not to mention bloody dangerous!"

"Yes, but that's half the fun isn't it? The possibility of getting caught increases the er... stimulation."

Doyle wasn't so sure but it was rather late to protest now... Instead he offered his mouth for another kiss and got it. "You're a sexy bugger," he said breathlessly. "Knew as soon as I set eyes on you that I wanted my cock in your hand."

Bodie laughed softly. "Only in my hand? You're easy to please."

Doyle smiled. "Well, let's say I'm willing to explore other options if you are. Anytime you like."

"How about tomorrow night?"

"Not while I'm on duty. I may not be out here, anyway -- they might want me in the house."

"Later then. When the place is quiet. Say one o'clock?"

Doyle nodded. "To explore other options."

The man's hands slid down to cup Doyle's denim clad buttocks. "Oh, I think I can promise you that much at the very least..."

The next time Doyle saw him was at lunchtime the following day. The great and the good were there, including the Assistant Chief Constable who at that moment had Doyle and Cowley trapped in a corner treating them to a diatribe on the extortionate cost of providing toilet paper for the stations under his control. Even Cowley, Scrooge's representative on Earth, looked bored to tears. Doyle was mentally composing the letter the ACC could write to his stations, requesting that they take a shit less often and suggesting a diet less high in fibre, when his gaze fell upon Bodie at the other end of the long dining room.

Doyle's plate of unidentifiable cold meat -- he suspected it might be turkey but thought the turkey's mother would have had a hard time recognising it -- and sundry salads dipped precariously. He stared, open mouthed, at the vision in black polo neck sweater, grey cords and grey tweed jacket, that stood chatting to another police officer. It had been clear last night that the man was good looking but in the cold light of day the bugger was gorgeous! Doyle ogled. There was no other word for it and he was quite aware he was doing it but so, eventually, was Bodie.

When their eyes met Doyle smiled a gentle, knowing smile of recognition and nodded in greeting. The man across the room blinked. Doyle raised his eyebrows jokily, widened his eyes and pouted imperceptibly. The instant recognition Doyle expected was not forthcoming but, he had the man's undivided attention, nevertheless; riveted to the spot the man stared at him long and hard. Doyle glanced quickly to the side to check that his companions were not looking at him -- they weren't -- and mouthed the word `tonight' at Bodie. A small frown insinuated itself on the other man's countenance and he appeared to be about to move forward when he was suddenly approached by an older woman who clearly wanted to talk. Glancing sideways at Doyle, that peculiar little frown still present, he looked torn but proved unable, for whatever reason, to extricate himself from the woman's clutches. Doyle grinned and went to get his glass refilled, thinking about options and how amazingly wonderful they could often turn out to be.

Expectation put a spring in his step as he crossed the parkland that night. They'd finished at the house, just before midnight, Doyle's presence having been required inside tonight, rather than out. After leaving, he'd left his car just outside the grounds and hopped back over the wall without difficulty; on a night like this he felt he could have flown over had it been required of him.

He could not wait to see Bodie again. This was something special, he could feel it in his bones. Yes, that little incident at lunchtime was curious but you had to face facts. They were a couple of gay men -- poofters in most people's language -- and even in this day and age you did not shout about it from the rooftops. It was hardly surprising therefore that Bodie had been a little reluctant to blow loving kisses across the room at him...

Approaching the temple, torch in hand, Doyle saw Bodie's smoke before he saw the man. Skirting the hillock he could see by the fug drifting up into the night air that he was waiting for him at the far entrance to the tunnel.

Once again he was in his evening dress. Doyle decided that the man probably belonged to a lot of clubs and societies and was therefore out at some function or other almost every night. And he wasn't complaining. The epitome of tall, dark and handsome the suit set off his dark, good looks to perfection and Doyle felt a welcome response building within his jeans.

Bodie's eyes raked him up and down and Doyle grinned as he stood before him,

"Will I do?" he smirked, running his hand provocatively over his groin area.

Without a word the man beckoned to him to follow. They went outside and climbed the grassy mound to the base of the temple. Finding the door, Bodie produced a key and Doyle shone the light on the keyhole so that he could see to unlock it. It clicked noisily and the hinges creaked as the door swung open; suddenly they were inside.

To Doyle's surprise three candles lit the interior. Bodie had clearly come prepared. He glanced around. There wasn't much to see; stone seats around the walls as though provided for an audience; a stone table affair in the centre.

"Use these for picnics did they?" he asked.

Bodie smiled. "Sometimes. During the day anyway."

"And at night?"

"At night some of the goings on in here would make your hair stand on end."

Doyle smirked. "Is that what we're about to do? Scare the horses?" The man looked at him but Doyle had the odd feeling that he wasn't seeing Doyle at all. "What?" he said softly.

"It's a more question of consenting adults," Bodie said, his all too familiar frown reasserting itself.

Doyle nodded. "I see," he said, though he didn't see at all...

In the light of the candles Bodie's face was bleak. "I hope you to God you never do."

"Whatever it is, I'm sorry," Doyle whispered as he approached the other man. "Let's see if we can make it better shall we? Here," he said, pointing to the stone table in the centre, "we can use this."

"No!" Doyle jumped at the vehemence in Bodie's tone. "No. Not there. Over here," and he led him over to one of the seats and sat down, positioning Doyle in front of him, his crotch level with Bodie's face.

Recognising the treat in store, Doyle's erection was almost instantaneous. Smiling seductively up at

him, Bodie reached for the snatch on his jeans, fiddling awkwardly for a few moments before finally getting them undone and bringing the hard cock into view. He spent a little time stroking its length and gently squeezing tight balls, before using his mouth and tongue to such effect that Doyle was soon beginning to fly.

As he watched his prick disappear between Bodie's lips Doyle muttered, "You've done this before."

Wetness engulfed him. He grasped Bodie's head, wanting not only to get as far inside as possible, but also to know the feel of that dark hair beneath his hands. It was incredibly soft and Doyle threw back his head and closed his eyes as he pumped in and out, sensation after sensation rampaging through his body.

Suddenly his release was upon him and he opened his eyes once again. This he wanted to see... Their eyes met and he pulled his cock out of its confines, allowing the knob to rest on Bodie's tongue. The first spasm hit him and he watched in a trance as his fluid spurted into the man's mouth, saw him attempting to swallow every drop, and saw him fail as a small dribble of spunk escaped to trickle down his chin.

Spent, Doyle collapsed astride Bodie, his knees on the seat, head on the man's shoulder. Arms were around his waist holding him tight.

After a long moment lips were suddenly on his kissing him urgently.

Doyle made to move but Bodie held him there. "Don't you want me to...?"

"No. Can't wait. Got to come. Give me your hand."

His hand closed around Bodie's cock and Doyle saw he hadn't lied. The eye was weeping profusely -- he was very close. Two strokes and the man stiffened, pulled Doyle as close as he could, and grunted his release loudly into Doyle's neck, each spasm sending a fountain of come into the air and thence onto blue denims -- the wet patch of Doyle's wildest dreams. He decided it would a long time before he washed this particular pair...

He waited while Bodie recovered, gently rubbing his back and caressing his head. At last the man stirred. "Lucky sod," Doyle heard him mutter.

"Who? Me?" Doyle asked, surprised.

Bodie shook his head. "No. Someone else. Doesn't matter. Forget it..."

But his mention of `today' reminded Doyle of something. "Didn't you recognise me at lunchtime? I know it was dark last night but you looked as though you didn't recognise me. I know being queer isn't something you want to advertise but you don't get arrested for a quick nod, y'know."

The man stared mutely at him and it struck Doyle that the man had no idea what to say. He was instantly sorry for putting him on the spot... after all, it wasn't particularly important. What mattered was what they'd just shared. He lifted Bodie's chin and kissed his lips gently. "Sorry. Doesn't matter," he said.

"It won't happen again," Bodie replied.

Doyle looked deep into the man's eyes and had the oddest feeling that they were not even talking about the same thing.

Bodie locked his car door and walked towards the back entrance of his erstwhile home, pondering on the fact that people wondered why he didn't miss living in the old stately home. He smiled mirthlessly to himself. Big wasn't always better and in his case the day he'd decided to move into a much smaller place and run the big house as a business counted as one of the best decisions he'd ever made. Not for one moment had he ever regretted it.

He strolled through the kitchen, bustling with activity, and waved to a middle aged woman standing beside two of the caterers. Hands on hips, her considerable bulk looming over the two smaller individuals, she was clearly sorting some emergency or other. Eventually, she came over to speak to him, a wide smile on her face.

"Hi, Maureen. Everything okay? Any problems?" he asked.

Her eyes went heavenward. "The salmon hasn't turned up yet and one of the ovens is playing up. The plumber is still trying to fix that damn dishwasher; this is his third attempt in as many weeks. Oh, and Ron phoned in sick again, his back apparently... funny how these Test Matches seem to bring that on."

Bodie laughed and tried to remember who it was who'd described cricket as `organised loafing'. In his opinion it also applied to those who watched. "Well, the season's almost finished," he said.

"You know as well as I do that something else'll take its place! He'll have to go, you know. We're running a business here, not a charity."

"I know," Bodie nodded, serious again. "But other than that, is it all under control?" It was a stupid question. Maureen reminded him of the wife of one of his headmasters, a woman the boys at his school had feared more than anyone, Matron and old Crabby -- who patrolled his History classes with a freshly sharpened pencil and took pleasure in the amount of blood drawn per lesson -- included.

"You know better than to ask that," she said. "But that's not to say I don't appreciate the sentiment."

Patting her reassuringly on the arm he moved off, telling her to shout if he was needed.

Entering the huge reception hall, at the front of the house, Bodie stopped to survey the scene. Policemen, staff, the Great and the Good were all milling about, some going about their business, others simply observing. Meetings and talks were going on all over the house and would continue to do so for the rest of the week. Some of the people present were VIPs, which is where that secret service lot came in he supposed. It was all the same to him, he didn't care who turned up as long as the bill was picked up at the end of the day and the business survived. His staff all had families to feed and that was what mattered most.

Crossing the hall, he entered the dining room. Again he took time to take in the scene. It was nothing short of impressive, this beautiful oak panelled room, a perfect venue for buffet meals or sumptuous banquets alike. He strolled along the tables as waiters came and went, depositing plates of food in readiness for the buffet lunch. Salads, quiches, hot potatoes, all looked excellent but Bodie had a feeling it was time they changed their cooked meat supplier; yesterday's turkey had tasted like it had been through the dishwasher and that was not an impression he wanted people to go away with.

Out of the corner of his eye he noticed the main door open and looked to see who was coming in -- about to tell them lunch wasn't for another half an hour. Instead his stomach lurched. Two men entered. The Scot with the limp who seemed to be in charge of the secret service men -- and him. Bodie looked away quickly, hoping not to catch his eye, a small amount of panic steeling over him. Who the bloody hell was he?

It wasn't that Bodie didn't want to know the man, or wasn't interested. Christ, he was sex on a stick with that slim but well toned body, long, russet curls just begging to be wrapped around your fingers and lips he could just picture around his... Bodie shook himself mentally and diverted his thoughts.

The big problem was the man clearly knew Bodie, or thought he did, and expected Bodie to know him back. He'd racked his brains... literally... trying to remember men encountered in gay bars, pick-ups in pubs, holiday romances: nothing came. Except dismay at the sheer number of his sexual conquests. Aware that it went with the territory and trying not to be too hard on himself, he flinched inwardly: it was not a pretty picture.

"Mr. Bodie, I believe?"

Busy with his deliberations, Bodie jumped at the mention of his name. Looking round he found he'd been approached by the sandy haired Scotsman and Sex On A Stick was bringing up the rear. Oh, shit.

The older man was holding out his hand. "George Cowley. I'm in charge of security, for my sins. I just wanted to congratulate you on the set-up you have here. Very nice. Very nice indeed."

Shaking the man's hand, Bodie thanked him. "We work hard. These things don't happen over night."

Cowley nodded and turned to his companion. "This is my colleague, Raymond Doyle. Mr. Doyle is one of my more senior agents."

Bodie looked at Doyle and was on the receiving end of a delightful smile. "We've already met," the man informed his superior and held Bodie's gaze for longer than was strictly necessary.

"Right. Then I'll leave you to get reacquainted," the Scot declared and limped away, leaving them to it.

Bodie felt Doyle's eyes travelling the length of him. "You look different without the suit. Nice," his eyes were soft, appreciative.

Suit? What suit? Bodie hardly ever wore a suit if he could possibly get away with it. "Er, yeah," he said, his mind working overtime. "Don't need it to check on the catering, eh?"

Doyle smiled. "You might want to check the turkey. It tasted like wet blotting paper yesterday. Good pasta salad though. Good enough to eat. Like you."

Those soft eyes again. Bodie's stomach did a somersault and he couldn't think a of single thing to say. Whoever this bloke had mistaken him for was the luckiest bugger in Christendom...

"Perhaps," Doyle was quietly saying, "we could have a drink in the bar tonight? And then -- if you fancy -- a nice soft bed? Up against a wall does have certain base attractions and all that but it does lose a bit of its appeal once you pass thirty."

Bodie stared at the man, mortified. Against the wall? If this wasn't all a big mistake then he must have been pissed as a newt. Out of his head. Was he really looking at someone he'd picked up in a bar or nightclub, shagged against a wall, and now couldn't remember? Dear God.

"You okay?" Doyle was frowning at him, concern in his eyes.

Bodie shook himself. "Yeah. That's fine. A quiet drink would be nice."

This was going to have to be brazened out. Okay -- he could just tell him that he hadn't a bloody clue who he was; that was the easy way he supposed. But a man who clearly cared would be hurt and for some obscure reason he couldn't fathom, Bodie wasn't willing to do it. Hopefully their previous meeting would come to him eventually and in the meantime... well... Raymond Doyle was sex on a stick.

In the event it wasn't such a quiet drink after all. They'd been joined by two of Doyle's colleagues, a tall skinny man that Doyle referred to as `Murph' and a chain smoker called Anson. Both pleasant company and the evening passed without incident with only one curious occurrence to speak of. Anson had politely offered Bodie a cigarette and Bodie had turned it down, telling the man he'd given it up. Which he had -- many years ago. The odd thing was that this declaration seemed to delight Doyle out of all proportion. He'd grinned delightedly and punched Bodie playfully on the arm. Clearly the smoking thing was a big issue between him and whoever Ray Doyle thought he was.

And now here they were standing beside Doyle's car and Bodie was telling him how to find his house. He had to be mad. When this trusting soul found out that Bodie was actually a complete stranger and not who he thought he was, all hell was going to be let loose. He had a sneaking suspicion that under that casually sexy exterior lurked a fiery temper and if Bodie wasn't careful it could well be aimed straight at him. He sighed inwardly as he walked towards his car. And all for the chance to climb into bed with that fabulous body...

Bodie opened the front door and let Doyle in.

"Any trouble finding your way?" he asked.

Doyle smirked. "Nah... me prick got the scent no problem."

He pointed to his groin and Bodie spirits leapt as he surveyed the tenting in the man's trousers caused by a blossoming erection. He grinned, despite himself, and raised his eyebrows suggestively. The other man stepped towards him and suddenly he found his mouth captured in a long, intensely satisfying kiss.

When they parted Bodie's brain took a moment to surface. Doyle appeared to be tasting something.

"Hmm," he said, thoughtfully, "you taste different without the tobacco on your breath. Gonna take me a while to get used to that."

Bodie didn't reply but told Doyle to make himself comfortable while he went to put the coffee on. He watched it percolate, deep in thought. It was as though Doyle's association with the other, unknown, man was recent. He'd not actually said it in so many words but Bodie had definitely received that impression. He'd heard the theory that everyone had a double somewhere in the world -- but right on his doorstep? Surely not. The whole thing was bloody peculiar.

Returning to the lounge bearing a tray of coffee he found Doyle stretched out on his settee having put some music on and turned down the lights. Bodie sat down at the other end of the sofa and Doyle moved to sit beside him, placing one of Bodie's arms around him and snuggling in. Bodie decided that such pleasant comfortableness might be worth a little misunderstanding. Little? Who was he kidding? But when his bewitching companion turned to him and a gloriously wet exploration of mouths ensued Bodie totally forgot his concerns and gave himself up to the passion of the moment.

He could love this man. The thought came unbidden as his tongue played with Doyle's and caused no small amount of shock and apprehension. Doyle broke off the kiss to stare at him. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." Bodie tucked a few of Doyle's stray curls behind his ear and then traced his jaw line to his mouth. "Beautiful," he murmured.

Doyle smiled a lazy smile. "Pot calling the kettle black." He was quiet for a long moment staring into Bodie's eyes. Then, "I don't allow every Tom, Dick and Harry I sleep with to fuck me."

Time stood still as Bodie fully digested this. Eventually he said, "Are you saying what I think you're saying?"

Doyle's eyes softened as he nodded. "I want you inside me. Tonight."

Bodie stared at himself in the bathroom mirror. He had a choice here. He could -- should -- go out there and tell the man waiting in his bed that this was all a big mistake. A case of mistaken identity. A lot of confusion would follow; Doyle would undoubtedly be angry but better that than have him find out later he'd allowed a complete stranger access to a sexual privilege he reserved for a chosen few.

But would he be angry? It was quite clear that in the here and now, Bodie was the object of Doyle's desire -- not the other man, whoever he was. And they were both men of the world, after all, not nervous virgins. Bodie was sure Doyle must be as used to the casual pick up for good sex as he was. It went with the territory: everybody knew that.

Bodie's gaze settled on his cock. Almost fully erect, the head rested on the sink in front of him. "This is all your fault," he said The eye stared back at him in the mirror. "Driven, I am -- and you're the bloody slave master." He emitted a long, slow breath. "Bugger it..."

A sudden knock sounded urgently at the door. "Hope you haven't started without me in there? Come on, hurry up, I need a big butch fella to see to me needs!"

The sound of Doyle cackling followed and, despite himself, Bodie grinned at his reflection. Realistically, there was no way he was not going to do this; tomorrow would have to take care of itself.

Still smiling, he went back into the bedroom to find Doyle about to climb back into bed. The man smirked. "See you're ready for action."

Bodie looked down at his prick.

"If it had hands it'd salute," Doyle laughed. "Stick some of that lube on then."

Holding the tube aloft, Bodie stared at it. He couldn't even remember picking it up. Was it that automatic then? Kiss, grope, grab lube, fuck like rabbits...

His expression must have betrayed him because Doyle's voice, interrupting his thoughts, was gentle. "You okay? We don't have to do this, y'know. If I'm going too fast, just say."

Bodie shook his head. "No, it's all right. Been about a bit that's all -- gets to me sometimes."

"Haven't we all?"

"You too?" Bodie asked.

"Yeah." Doyle smiled. "Never too late though, eh? To find the one person who can put a stop to it, I mean."

Bodie regarded him speculatively and then said, "Better oil the machinery and keep it in good working order then, hadn't I?"

He squirted a goodly amount of the cream onto his hand and proceeded to work it into his prick, stroking slowly and spreading liberally until the shaft shone in the soft light of the bedside lamps.


Bodie looked up at the sound of Doyle's oath to find him spellbound, huge eyes locked on his well oiled erection. "Ready?" Bodie asked, his smile seductive.

In reply Doyle lay back on the pillows and lifted his legs. Another squirt onto Bodie's fingers and more cream was distributed, this time around and into Doyle's anus. It accepted his fingers hungrily, Bodie noticed. Despite his claims, the man was used to anal penetration...

As he entered, trying to hold back a little lest he come too soon, the rightness of their union struck him like an iron bar around the head. Never before had he felt so much as though he was meant to be with someone; never before had been so scared.

His cock slid home, connecting in all the right places and below him Doyle groaned, lifting his hips in search of more. Bodie pulled right out and pushed in again -- hard -- providing the `more' Doyle so desperately needed.

He reached for Bodie's hand then, and their fingers entwined, staying that way as Bodie moved in and out of his new lover's body. Eyes locked, hands joined, for neither of them was this a casual fuck intended to scratch an itch. This was something entirely different.

They came together... something unusual in Bodie's experience... as though their minds were somehow also connected. Doyle's come hit Bodie's chest exactly as his first spurt erupted into his lover's insides and their cries and their sweat mingled, a fusion so complete and so sweet it rocked Bodie's world and he knew that nothing was ever going to be quite the same again.

"Someone's happy."

Doyle was whistling as he strode across the entrance hall towards Murph. He grinned at the lanky agent. "Yeah, well, last day of the conference, weekend ahead and er..."

"You've got a new boyfriend to enjoy..." Murph supplied, wiggling his eyebrows.

Aware that he had very few secrets from the other man, Doyle still coloured. "Christ, is it that obvious?"

"Yeah," his friend drawled, matter-of-factly.

"The Cow?" Doyle was alarmed now.

Murph stopped to consider. "Dunno," he said after a while. "Inscrutable's that bugger's middle name. Though I'd bet a week's pay he knows everything there is to know about all of us. Including that you're as bent as a three quid note."

"Shit." Doyle's oath was heartfelt.

"What's the matter?" Murph frowned.

"What the fuck do you think's the matter?" Doyle replied, eyes flashing. "If he knows I'm queer..."

"Has he done anything?" Murph interrupted.

Doyle shook his head mutely.

"Said anything?"


"Then chances are he's decided to trust you until you prove otherwise. After all, agents are equally as likely to share national secrets with members of the opposite sex as they are their own. Gay isn't a by-word for untrustworthy. Or stupid... This is the late eighties you know, not the ruddy fifties."

Doyle was still unconvinced. "Christ," he muttered.

Murph surveyed him appraisingly. "Bit keen on him are you?"

"Yeah," Doyle admitted.

"Thought he looked like your type -- tall, dark and well endowed." His friend grinned mischievously. Doyle glared at him. "Get on, Doyle! You didn't think you had any secrets from your old friend, Murph, did you? Got next week off haven't you?" Doyle nodded. "Then spend it fucking the brains out of each other. If you haven't already noticed -- life is bloody short. Especially for the likes of us. Make the most of it; you could be run over by the number nine bus tomorrow."

Doyle laughed. "I know."

As Murph moved off Doyle reflected on weeks off. And sex. Hot and desperate, slow and sensuous -- it made no difference to him. Just as long as there was plenty of it.

"Fancy a walk around the grounds?"

It was Wednesday morning and Doyle was luxuriating in a deeply comfortable bed and the enjoying the fact that he was still in it at ten in the morning -- an occurrence practically unknown in his world. Lying on his front, head in the pillow, he peered blearily up at Bodie with one visible eye. "Walk?"

Bodie sat down beside him and pushed his fingers into Doyle's curls. "Yeah, you know... one foot in front of the other. Fresh air. Not that the bedroom doesn't have its attractions of course..."

Doyle squirmed with pleasure as his lover began to massage his scalp. Pushing himself into the mattress, his cock began to stiffen. "`Snice," he muttered.

He felt fingers at his side and lifted to allow them to slide underneath to where he was now ramrod stiff. Heat engulfed him and he pushed into it, aware of a sudden weight astride his legs, of a zip being pulled down and of Bodie's prick nudging his cheeks apart.

Sex. It had taken on a whole new meaning this last week or so. It was now all about Bodie. For the first time in many a year Doyle no longer required a quick and impersonal means of release: he wanted one man. And he wanted him all the time. Inside -- yes definitely inside -- and in every orifice. But that wasn't all. He needed to be with him, around him, beside him, in everything he did. Bodie had become the most important person in his life in the space of just one week.

They'd made love endlessly, both insatiable, sometimes not even making it to the bedroom. The other afternoon they'd fucked on the stairs and one night straddling the toilet, at three in the morning, when they'd both got up for pee. It was almost frightening, this all consuming passion and hunger for each other that they were both, clearly, experiencing.

Groaning into the pillow Doyle felt himself building to another orgasm, surprised that he actually had the capacity for yet another. A sudden slickness between his cheeks told him that Bodie was pushing the soft tip of his prick in and out of his cleft. It turned the man on and Doyle smiled feeling the head popping in out and the stickiness of pre-come as it lubricated the act.

A sudden cry escaped Bodie's lips and the grip on Doyle's cock tightened, causing him to moan out loud. A few seconds later he was anointing the bed sheet liberally with his offering, the experience intensified by the sensation of Bodie's prick jerking against his arse and fluid trickling down his crack and onto his anus.

Coming to he could feel light kisses on his shoulders and that hand was still in his hair, stroking. "Wake up, Sleeping Beauty," Bodie whispered into his ear.

Doyle raised himself slightly and wiggled his backside. Bodie's flaccid cock bounced from cheek to cheek and Doyle heard him laugh softly. "You're without shame, d'you know that, Raymond? Totally and utterly wanton."

He slid over Doyle then, pinning him to the mattress, grinding his whole body into Doyle's as though desperate to brand him with his whole being. "Christ," he muttered eventually, "I think I'd climb inside you if I could, Ray. I want all of you. What the hell is this?"

Doyle signalled for Bodie to lift himself and turned over to face him. He held Bodie's gaze for a long moment wondering what would happen when he said it. But say it he must. "Love," he declared as though it were the answer to every question ever posed. He watched the man as his lips formed the word. "We're in love," he reiterated. "This," he indicated, flicking Bodie's limp prick up and down with one finger, "wants me to have your baby and can't tell the difference between my arse and a woman's er... you know..."

Bodie burst into laughter and rolled over to lie beside Doyle. After a while his hoots subsided and he was quiet, staring at the ceiling for a long moment. Eventually he turned his head towards Doyle. "Walk," he declared. "After a shower. We need to talk."

They stood on the grass some couple of hundred yards from the front of the house and surveyed its dimensions.

"Bloody big," Doyle observed.

"Not as most stately homes go it's not," Bodie answered casually.

It was strange, Doyle decided, the man seemed oddly detached from the place he must once have called `home'. "Don't you miss it at all?" he asked.


Doyle instinctively knew he should leave the subject alone but not for nothing was he one of George Cowley's finest. "I would..." he said. "So, why...?"

Bodie's short laugh was devoid of mirth. "Yeah, but I daresay you got on well with your father."

It was an odd response.

"Yes," Doyle replied. The truth. He had loved his father to distraction and had been inconsolable when he'd died of prostate cancer four years ago.

"Didn't he mind having a queer for a son? Or didn't you ever tell him?"

Doyle expelled a long breath. "Yeah, I did tell them -- my parents that is. Wasn't easy. Hardest thing I ever did as a matter of fact. They must have been disappointed. I suppose... But neither of them ever made an issue of it. Being gay didn't make me any less their son, they said. And it had its compensations. They knew I would never do what a cousin did and marry some bitch who set about coming between her husband and his mum and dad. Destroyed the family. Two grandkids who never see their grandparents. Bloody sad. How did your parents find out?"

"I was sent down from school for what's quaintly referred to as `the usual thing'."

Doyle nodded his understanding. "Ah." Then, "But I thought that was rife in public schools and didn't necessarily mean..."

"That's what my parents hoped," Bodie told him. "Until I got caught with Mark, the son of the local pub landlord, one night. I was seventeen, he was eighteen. The hunt had met that day and the beer was flowing freely. We'd had a drop, both of us, despite me being underage. Thinking no one would miss us, we snuck down to the cellar for a mutual hand job.

"That the landlord would need to change a barrel didn't occur to us in our booze fuelled randiness. Anyway, we got caught with our trousers down, cocks in each other's hands, too far gone to hear his dad coming down the stairs. I was never sure if he was more angry because we were at it in his pristine cellar -- his sanctuary, apparently -- or because his suspicions of Mark's bisexuality were confirmed. Mark had a steady girlfriend too, you see. He kept yelling at us that we would have to fumigate his ruddy cellar and what was Mark going to do about `Alison'."

Doyle winced. "Sounds like a bloody awful scene."

"Yes. I can hardly bear to think about it even now."

"So, what happened?"

"My father took his belt to me."

"What?" Doyle was appalled. Like most kids he'd had the odd smack for misbehaving when he was young, but the idea of a father inflicting corporal punishment on a lad of seventeen was beyond his comprehension.

Bodie smile was humourless. "We weren't what you would call `close'. Never had been. I think he knew from an early age that I wasn't interested in girls."

"Bit bloody silly to send you to an all boys school then!" Doyle observed.

Bodie laughed. "He wasn't the sort of man to break with a tradition dating back two hundred years."

"Well, there is that," Doyle conceded. "I suppose Solihull Secondary Modern hasn't quite got the same ring. So, you never got on with him?"

"No. He was... difficult... and not just with me. Nobody much cared for him, to be honest. He was selfish and permanently irritable -- blew his top if he couldn't get his own way or things weren't quite as he wanted them to be. To tell the truth I always thought I was better off at boarding school than here at home, with his unpredictable temper overshadowing everything. To be brutally frank, when he died I had trouble even being sorry."

"What about your mother?" Doyle asked.

"She always preferred her society friends and was hardly ever at home. Not that I blame her. She lives in America now with her new husband. We `do' lunch whenever I'm over there."

Doyle regarded the other man as he regressed back to the time of his youth and wondered what such an upbringing did to a man. At some stage it was going to be a factor, he was sure; he sincerely hoped they would be capable of riding whatever storms came their way. "Come on," he said, "let's walk."

Doyle looked around as they made their way across the parkland, and saw nature preparing for autumn. In the city the change was never so apparent: here it was everywhere in evidence, in the trees, in the heavy dew dotted with delicate cobwebs -- in the very air itself.

He stood still and took a deep breath. Bodie turned to look at him. "You like this?" the man asked.

"Too right, I do." Doyle regarded him curiously. "Wasn't there anything about your home you liked?"

Bodie looked round at the surrounding countryside. "Of course. This for a start. Especially at this time of year."

"And people? Wasn't there anyone who..." Doyle was about to say `cared' and stopped himself just in time.

"Bothered about a lonely little kid who was queer?" Bodie finished for him. "There was as a matter of fact. He lived in a couple of renovated cottages not far from where I am now. What you might call an outcast."

Doyle was now very intrigued. "Who was he?"

"My grandfather."


"That's right. My father's father. `Two peas in a pod' people called us. Partly because we were always together but also I was a younger version of him. If we'd been the same age we'd have looked like twins. Weird, really..."

"But how come he was an outcast?" Doyle asked, knowing somehow that this was an important piece of information that he should have in his possession.

Bodie regarded him speculatively. "Come on," he said, "let me show you something. `Set the scene' as Miss Marple might have said."

It wasn't long before Doyle realised where they were going and a sense of unease began to settle itself upon him. They'd not spoken about their assignations at the temple; in point of fact Doyle had gone out of his way to purposely avoid doing so. It was as though there was a certain wrongness about the whole thing -- as though something was not quite as it ought to have been. And he was feeling it again now as they approached the building.

"Ever seen anything like that?" Bodie asked, looking up at the gothic architecture.

There it was, in a nutshell: the question Bodie should not be asking.

Coming to a sudden decision Doyle decided to play it cagey. "No," he said, lying because Bodie clearly saw no reason to suppose he should have been here before. "What is it?"

"Commonly known as a Temple of Venus. Not many of them left now but once upon a time they were all the rage amongst the smart set. Round about the time Byron was popular, these places were two a penny."

"More money than sense," Doyle commented.

"Damn right there. Sense non-bloody-existent in my humble opinion."

Instinctively Doyle knew Bodie wasn't referring to the early nineteenth century society responsible for constructing these temples, but another time entirely. "What happened?" he prompted, gently.

Bodie expelled a short laugh. "Every sordid little scene you can think of apparently. It was just after the war and I suppose it was a kind of a release. Sex and booze in the temple, with a few willing land girls. Bit of pagan ceremony thrown in for good measure. If not quite harmless fun then nothing to get really upset about. Got quite crowded in there I believe, when word got around about what was going on." He looked at Doyle and shrugged. "Well, who isn't interested in a bit of illicit sex, eh?"

Doyle smirked and raised his eyebrows.

"Only problem was," Bodie continued, "as things always do -- proceedings got out of hand. Next thing you know, things were getting a bit rough. Bruises were suddenly in fashion. A couple of pregnancies got hushed up. And then a girl from the village was taken there against her will and raped."

A moment passed as Doyle digested what he'd been told. "So, where does your grandfather fit into this?" he asked at last.

"He did it."

Doyle waited silently for Bodie to speak again.

"Now ask me how I could have loved a man who raped an innocent girl."

"Well.... You can't have known about all this until you were older," Doyle ventured.

Bodie nodded. "Seventeen. Mark's father. Screaming at me in that cellar, telling me why degeneracy was in my blood."

"Oh, shit." A lump had formed in Doyle's throat. He glanced at Bodie, who was clearly staring into the past at a terrible nightmare. "Bodie..."

"He died just a few years later. Cancer. They say stress can bring that on, you know. And what's more stressful than having the grandson you worship suddenly cut you right out of his life -- deny your very existence."

There was nothing to say. Nothing that could possibly make a difference. So, Doyle walked forward and took him in his arms and they stood for what seemed an eternity while Bodie took strength from him and recovered his equilibrium.

Parting at last, Bodie blew his nose. "Sorry I can't give you a guided tour," he said at last. "Bloody key's been missing for years."

The key was lost. Such a simple, uncomplicated little statement. Except that Doyle knew the key wasn't lost. It was like the sudden impact of a freezing cold shower -- you knew it was coming but nothing quite prepared you for the shock. And shock it was: he went cold from head to toe.

"You all right?" Bodie's voice penetrated his confusion at last.

"Oh. Um. Yeah," he said, quickly. "Never mind. Doesn't sound like my sort of place anyway. How about heading to the pub for a liquid lunch? And then some er... what does the song call it... Afternoon Delight." He grinned and nudged Bodie's arm. "It's been two hours now and you know the animal in my jeans needs regular sustenance. It tries to escape if it doesn't get it."

Bodie was laughing and Doyle cackled with him. "You're insatiable," Bodie grinned.

"Yeah." Doyle sighed with contentment. "And I like a lot of sex too..."

It was going to rain, Doyle decided. And it was colder than the other nights he'd been out here like this, striding across the parkland. Bodie had to make a long distance call to The States so Doyle had excused himself on the basis that he fancied a breath of fresh air before they went to bed.

The temple loomed in front of him, lit briefly by the moon, and then plunged into darkness again as the moon slid behind a cloud.

As he neared the tunnel, the smell of cigarette smoke accosted him as it had done before.

"Do you know what this tunnel is supposed to represent?" the smoker asked Doyle as he approached.

Doyle regarded him in the light of his torch. "You know," he said, "if you don't give that filthy habit up it'll be the death of you."

The man grinned. Bodie's grin -- only it wasn't Bodie at all and Doyle could see that now. This man was older than his Bodie, more careworn, his face bearing a cynicism that wasn't present in his grandson.

"So what is it?" Doyle inquired.

Bodie frowned.

"The tunnel. You were about to tell me," Doyle reminded him.

"Ah, yes. It's supposed to represent the female vagina. The building above it being tall and conical is therefore..."

"The male penis," Doyle finished for him.

The man nodded.

"Subtle," Doyle observed, dryly, "And that's the excuse is it? For the goings on, I mean. All that erotic symbolism..."

Bodie laughed mirthlessly. "Excuse? When did men ever need an excuse for excesses?"

Doyle emitted a long breath. "I don't believe you raped that girl."

"My grandson does."

"Only because you didn't tell him otherwise."

The man shifted uneasily. "I couldn't."


"Why are you under the impression that I didn't kidnap and rape an innocent girl? Don't I strike you as capable?"

Doyle was silent for a moment.

"Not sure, are you?" Bodie said, his voice quiet, intense.

"No," admitted Doyle. "But when you've had your prick in another bloke's mouth and known that he wanted it more than anything, you get a sense that raping some virginal female might not be his first priority in life."

They were silent for a moment. Then Bodie looked across at him. "Is he as good as me?"

Doyle flinched at the unexpected change of subject. "Yes," he said eventually.

"Do you love him?"

Doyle replied without hesitation. "Yes."

"I hope he knows how lucky he is."

"Why didn't you tell him you were innocent?" Doyle felt compelled to know the answer to this sixty four thousand dollar question.

"Because, you don't tell a fresh faced seventeen year old that while the main event was going on, you were behind the scenes with your cock embedded in the arse of the family cook's twenty one year old son! Especially when said beautiful young man was too drunk to know what was being done to him and probably wouldn't have consented if he'd been sober. You see, Doyle, I am capable of being cold bloodedly calculating."

"Didn't anyone bother to tell you your grandson had been caught in flagrante with another lad?"

Bodie laughed hollowly. "My son? Tell me something like that about the fruit of his loins? That's very funny! I knew later of course, but not then."

"So, what else?" A seasoned interrogator, Doyle knew there was more to come.

"You don't give up do you?"

"Not famous for it, no. So, who did do it?"

Bodie expelled a short breath of capitulation and glared at Doyle. "His fucking father. My son."

Shocked, Doyle took a moment to take this in. "And you took the blame?" he said.

"Well, let's just say I allowed people to think it was me."


"His wife," Bodie said simply.

"What about her?"

"Well, there wasn't a lot of love lost between us, admittedly. She was a bit of cold fish. But understand what it must have been like to be married to that bastard! And... well, she'd just had a miscarriage. Four months pregnant with her first child and the foetus aborted. The whole thing was horrendous. I couldn't let her think that two days after she'd gone through that her swine of a husband was raping a young girl. She didn't deserve that."

"You didn't go to prison though?"

Bodie shook his head. "No. Friends in high places. The Chief Constable was a close friend. We paid the family off handsomely and they moved to Scotland. I moved out of the main house -- my wife had died years ago -- and into a place several miles away. There were whispers and rumours of course but no one really knew what happened that night. The temple was only lit with a couple of candles and we tended to cavort in monks habits. And bear in mind no one who was there wanted to come out and admit to it. So in the end the whole affair was hushed up."

"And your son let this happen?"

Bodie looked deeply into Doyle's eyes. "He was that sort of man. You have no idea."

Sighing inwardly Doyle stepped out into the fresh air and breathed in deeply hoping it would clear his mouth of the sour taste of lies and deception.

"I'll have to tell my Bodie," he said, turning to the older man. "He needs to know."

Bodie gave him a tight little smile. "And just how do you propose to do that?"

Doyle stared at him, nonplussed. "Christ knows."

"Mmm," Bodie nodded in agreement. "I'm not sure he won't think you're ready for a lunatic asylum if you tell him you met the ghost of his grandfather who turned out to clearly prefer men because he sucked you dry inside the Temple of Venus."

"And the stuff about his father?"

"Oh, he'll believe that," Bodie said without hesitation. "If you were witness to some of the marks on that boy, after the beatings he took, you'd know he was aware that his father liked inflicting pain."

Doyle didn't doubt it.

"I sometimes think," Bodie was saying, as much to himself as to Doyle, "that my son was my punishment."

"Punishment?" Doyle frowned.

"For my predilection for men. My wife knew, you see. That I'd married her solely to produce an heir, I mean. Not that I was ever unkind and she wanted for nothing... but... imagine how it must have felt. A beautiful woman tied to a homosexual, knowing that it didn't matter what she did, he could never love her or truly want her physically."

"All families throw up monsters like your son from time to time. It's nobody's fault," Doyle said. "It just happens."

Bodie closed his eyes and Doyle let him be. It started to rain then and Doyle knew he should get back. "Will you be all right?" he asked.

Bodie smiled. "I will now. And thank you."

"What for?"

"For bothering to find out the truth. For loving him, because he desperately needs someone who does and who will always be there. And for er..." and his lips twitched.

Doyle smirked. "Oh, yeah -- that." He cleared his throat and regarded the man, thoughtfully. "I won't see you again will I?"

"No. I've been waiting for you, Ray. Now you're here and know the truth I can go. I er... have somewhere else to be."

Doyle nodded. "Me too."

Moonlight poured in through the crack where Bodie had not pulled the curtains properly in his eagerness to get to Doyle. More haste less speed. He'd yanked at them and then promptly tripped over the rug as he was turning towards the bed, landing sprawled on top of his lover, knocking the wind right out of him.

Doyle laughed softly in the dark and ran his hand over Bodie's back. He was lying on Doyle's chest, head tucked into his neck, sleeping peacefully, his breath tickling his skin. There was just a hint of a snore evident and, if Doyle wasn't mistaken, a dampness on his collar-bone indicating that his lover was drooling on him.

The sign of true love: allowing a lover to drool on you. Not to mention other things. Their love making had been passionate tonight, earthy with a hint desperation born of he knew not what. Instead of wishing to imbed himself in his lover's arse or slip into his mouth Bodie had wanted to anoint Doyle with his come, and, at the point of climax had sprayed liberally onto his chest, genitals and thighs.

Not that easy to shock, Doyle had been, but was unable to put his finger on the reason. Why shouldn't his lover do that? Love meant giving your loved one what he needed. No boundaries. Or did it? He was unsure. And unsure too as to why it felt wrong; he'd done worse on many an occasion -- but that had been different. Casual sex was a something else entirely. What you did with a man whose name you'd only learnt half an hour ago -- or in some cases not at all -- was not the same as what you did with a man you had fallen in love with. Respect came into play. Remembering the hard, calculating look on Bodie's face as he'd crouched above Doyle and ejaculated over him, he began to feel uneasy. Tomorrow he would have to tell him about his grandfather. He had no doubt that it would not be simple. How could it be? They were talking ghostly apparitions and the whole thing was totally unbelievable. The stuff of Victorian penny-dreadfuls. Had their positions been reversed he would suspect lunacy at the very least.

He rubbed Bodie's back again and the man stirred. Doyle smoothed his hair while he settled again in his breathing rhythm. Unable to shake his feelings of foreboding, Doyle eventually slept himself.

Bodie watched the kettle boil, waiting for the toaster to eject its burnt offerings. His stomach was in a knot and he was scared. Very scared.

Doyle was in the shower. He could hear the water running and pictured him soaping his chest, shampooing his curls. Of late Bodie had showered with him, entranced to see this water nymph cavort for him and feeling privileged just to be there with him -- and then inside, feeling the man all around him, possessing him; owning him. He was losing himself -- and he was terrified. He needed time and this morning he was going to get it.

The toaster pinged and he jumped. He grabbed both slices and transferred them gingerly to the breadboard where he buttered them liberally and then smothered them unstintingly with his favourite thick-cut orange marmalade. `Heart attack special' Doyle always called it as he ate his cat litter muesli and drank his fruit sludge.

Doyle. This was not going to be easy. On either of them. His stomach churned again and his mouthful of toast went round and round as though his insides had denied the food entry to their hallowed interior. He swallowed at last and washed it down with a swig of strong coffee. That didn't feel any better. In fact, he felt distinctly queasy.

He stared at the globs of marmalade streaked with creamy butter and his mind went back to what he'd done last night. In simple terms he'd abused the man he loved. But it was more than that -- much more. It was as though he'd wanted to punish him for the power he held over him; to prove to him that he was still a man with free will who did as he pleased. It was disgusting and he knew it. Showed him for the coward he really was; scared to commit; scared to be loved; scared to love...

"What's the matter, toast and inch thick marmalade suddenly been declared healthy so you don't want it any more?"

Doyle's brisk entrance made him jump. Bodie rose and went to the bin, letting the contents of his plate slide into the plastic liner. Leaning against the counter he surveyed the other man as he went about preparing his own breakfast, trying to remember which day he'd gone to the supermarket to buy his breakfast budgie droppings to keep in his store cupboard. He thought it might have been the day after he met him...

He was dressed as usual in the obligatory obscenely tight jeans, a cream grand-dad style shirt, chucked on but not done up, hung outside his trousers exposing his chest to the air. Bodie could see that his chest hair wasn't quite dry from his shower.

As though suddenly aware of Bodie's regard the man turned to face him and Bodie's stomach constricted again. He knew. Christ, what was he now? A bloody mind reader?

"Well?" Doyle said as though wishing the deed over and done with. "Got something to tell me have you?"

Bodie nodded wordlessly.

"Makes two of us," Doyle informed him. When Bodie still didn't reply he continued, "Who's going first? Shall we toss for it?" he grinned mirthlessly. "Played that game a few times. First one to spunk gets the virgin. One night it was a young bloke on his stag night. Three of us did him -- randy sod couldn't get enough. Kept coming back for more even after he'd married his pretty blonde girlfriend and had two kids." He snorted. "`Course that was when I was young and permanently hard. Talking of virgins, you told me a story yesterday. About your grand-father and the goings on up at that temple place."

Bodie looked sharply at him. "Yes," he said tentatively. "What about it?"

Doyle took a deep breath and Bodie suddenly realised that he too was scared. Consumed with curiosity his own fear began to evaporate.

"Do you believe in ghosts?" Doyle asked then.

For a moment Bodie was sure he'd misheard. Ghosts? What the hell did that have to do with the price of fish? "What?" he said.

"Ghosts. You know -- apparitions. Hauntings, things that go bump in the night. And I don't mean you and me."

Another cold knot suddenly had hold of Bodie's stomach. "Listen, Doyle," he said, "I haven't got time for this."

"Only I met your grand-father," Doyle ploughed on, regardless. "And um... found out a few things about him that I think you should know."

Bodie stared at him, astonished. "Is this some kind of sick joke, Ray?"

"No, of course it bloody isn't. I'm serious here, Bodie! I know it sounds barmy and perhaps it is a bit but I need you to open your mind and listen to me."

"NO!" The response was automatic; Bodie's head had not even registered the word. "Stop it,

Doyle. As sick jokes go this takes the biscuit. And..."

"Makes what you're going to say a lot easier," Doyle interjected.

So, he did know. Bodie deliberated on how. Was it last night? Or were they so mentally in tune that his mind had been read? Either way he still had to say the words out loud. "I have to go to America."

Doyle nodded slowly. "When?"


"How long for?"

"I don't know," Bodie told him.

"Two days? Two weeks? Ten years? What?" Doyle's voice held a world-weary note of defeat and Bodie had to struggle to hold on to his resolve.

"Several weeks, I think."

"Bit sudden."

"Last night's phone call. I'm needed to persuade an American firm to use the house for a conference with their Brit counterparts. Business..."

"Comes before me," Doyle said, holding Bodie's gaze. "Suddenly."

Bodie felt his guts twist. If only he knew. But then he probably did. Bodie was running for his life like an escaped prisoner and was sure the man sensed it. The question was, what would he do? Fight to keep him here or free him and hope he would come home of his own accord? "I need time. It's probably for the best..." he ventured.

"Best for who?" Doyle said quietly.

Bodie didn't trust himself to reply but stared at the floor wishing the man would just go so that he could fall to pieces in private.

"I'll get my stuff."

As the man brushed past him he caught a whiff of soap and shampoo and the special smell that was Ray Doyle. It almost finished him there and then. But that came later, when the door had shut quietly behind the love of his life and he was on his knees on the floor wondering, perversely, if the smell of vomit would still be in his kitchen when he eventually returned home from America.

Doyle held the pencil between the fingers of two hands, pulling the top back towards his body. He waited patiently until the moment was right and then let go. It spun through the air hitting a mug that boldly announced its owner's unwavering allegiance to Guinness, flipped over the rim, and fell with a plop into the freshly made coffee within.

"Bored, Doyle?" Murph barely glanced at the evidence of his friend's tedium. He had, after all, a reputation for being the most unruffled individual in the entire service -- and was determined to hang on to it come hell, high water or Raymond Doyle.

"Mmm," Doyle confirmed. "Bloody reports."

Murph looked across at him. "Well, if a certain person hadn't managed to get himself shot he wouldn't have so much to report would he?"

Doyle regarded his shoulder, bandaged still, under his shirt where the bullet had just caught him. He'd been lucky. Despite his casual treatment of the injury, sustained during their last operation, he knew -- they all knew -- that had the bullet been a few inches adrift he would have been killed instantly.

It was sobering. But he'd had worse and probably would do again. Physical pain he could deal with -- what had been going on in his head for six weeks was a different matter entirely; that was nigh on unbearable. He knew he was grieving a loss as surely as if someone had died. Bodie. Even thinking the man's name caused an agony he could hardly bear.

Every time the phone rang or the doorbell sounded Doyle's heart had stopped beating, hoping, praying even, that this time it would be him. It never was.

Six weeks. Six bloody weeks. Either he'd read the situation all wrong or the man was made of sterner stuff than Doyle. He had crumbled. Lost his appetite, his ability to sleep, concentrate -- his will to live almost -- and knew without a shadow of a doubt that his injury was probably down to his mind not being on the job.

He wondered how Bodie would have felt had he actually been killed. It would almost serve him right, Doyle decided perversely. A good dose of guilt was always excellent revenge. He rubbed his hand over his face, massaging his temples and cheekbones, tired beyond sensible thought.

"You okay, Doyle?"

Doyle glanced quickly at Murph and then away again. "Yeah, `Course. Why not?"

"It's just that you seem to have been a bit off for weeks now."

Doyle shrugged dismissively.

"You still seeing that bloke from that stately home? What was his name again?"

"Bodie. No." It was the last thing Doyle wanted to discuss with his mate and not just because it pained him; he was not comfortable talking about his male lovers at any time, in fact. Why, he couldn't say. Other blokes talked about their birds, why should it be different if you were queer? He didn't know: it just was.

"Didn't it work out?" It seemed Murph didn't want to let it drop.

Doyle glared at him and didn't reply.

"Well?" Murph persisted.

"Well, what?"

The other agent expelled a long breath. "Well, something's got you by the short and curlies, Raymond. And in the absence of information to the contrary I'll have to assume Bodie ditched you and it's fucked you up."

Doyle regarded him steadily. "That's about the gist of it. Now can we change the subject?"

Murph sniffed. "When I'm good and ready, yeah. What was the problem? Didn't he like you picking your nose in bed?"

"I dunno."

"What, you do pick your nose in bed?" Murph cackled and Doyle gave him a hard stare. "Sorry," he said, not altogether convincingly.

"I don't know what the problem was," Doyle told him, long sufferingly. "I think he was scared. Difficult childhood and all that. Maybe we were going too fast for him."

"Bit intense?"

Doyle nodded without answering.

"Shame," Murph added.

Doyle frowned. "Why?"

"Nice bloke. Thought he suited you, that's all. Fancy a beer tonight?" he asked, almost as an after-thought. "Drown your sorrows."

Staring, unseeing, at the papers on his desk, Doyle nodded. "It might take every drop of alcohol the pub possesses, Murph, but I'm game if you are."

Why not? Death by alcohol poisoning would certainly relieve him of this terrible ache.

Doyle steadied himself against the lamp post, leaning his forehead against the cool metal. A woman, walking her dog, approached and jumped with surprise as he belched loudly and crudely, unconcerned and unable to prevent his wind erupting noisily into the night air. He grinned drunkenly at her and she picked up her pace, hurrying on quickly as his inane laughter followed her up the road.

Christ but he was pissed. He should have called a taxi. Murph had suggested it but being almost as drunk as Doyle had not had the wherewithal to insist. So, he'd walked. Staggered, in point of fact, meandering his way from one side of the pavement to the other, watching, amused, as other late night pedestrians crossed the road to avoid him.

He moved on. A car was coming down the street, music blaring, its occupants yelling out of the windows. Recognising fellow drinkers Doyle stopped to shout an acknowledgement and found himself waving at a bare arse wedged in the open window. This struck him as hysterically funny and he began to laugh, losing his balance as he bent double and slipping off the kerb into the road. A passing taxi driver hooted several times, narrowly missing him as he came around the corner. Doyle straightened up, yelling abuse until the cab was long gone, his obscenities echoing up and down the street. Stepping back, his heel caught on the edge of the pavement and he was suddenly on his back in the road.

It had rained that evening, and Doyle felt water soaking into his clothes. He rolled over, got onto his hands and knees and then grimaced. Jesus. How come the filth of humanity -- and its pets -- always ended up in the gutter? He could feel it now, under his hands, the nameless lumps that disintegrated as he put weight on them. He shuddered and squeezed his eyes closed in disgust. He had to get up. Now.

He was concentrating all his efforts into doing just that when a car suddenly pulled up beside him. Doyle merely had time to thank his fairy godmother for not making him a famous politician or member of the royal family, and thus unlikely to make the front page of the morning papers in his disgrace, when the passenger door opened and a voice said, "Get in for Chrissakes."

Steadying himself by placing one filthy hand on the bodywork of the car and the other on the interior of the door, Doyle peered inside and came face to face with Bodie.

Robbed of the ability to speak he stared at the man, nonplussed, until eventually Bodie snapped, "Come on, Doyle, get yourself out of the bloody gutter!"

Doyle's brain slowly returned to the here and now. "Yeah," he said, frowning. "Okay."

Easier said than done. His limbs would not carry out the instructions his brain delivered. He knocked his knee, hit his bad shoulder and cracked his head on the roof in an attempt to get into the passenger seat and was then totally incapable of doing up his seat belt, struggling until Bodie did it for him, sighing long sufferingly.

"Thanks," Doyle said, apologetically. "Had a few drinks. Bit pissed."

"Nooo?" Bodie drawled sarcastically. "I never would have guessed."

Doyle didn't reply as Bodie started the engine and moved off. His befuddled brain was having difficulty taking in what was happening here. Where the hell had he come from? And why? Doyle wasn't at all sure what the time was but knew it had to be after one in the morning. What was he doing cruising the streets at this hour? Looking for a lay? Doyle glanced across at the man, his mouth set in a firm line, body language clearly disapproving. No. This man would have someone to call when he needed sex -- picking up male prostitutes was not his style at all. What then?

Being already fairly close to Doyle's flat they were there within a couple of minutes and Doyle was still none the wiser after his deliberations. As they came to a halt he looked across at his former lover.

"You stink," was the only comment the man made.

Doyle looked down at himself. Wet, muddy -- hands caked in God knew what, he could see he was not exactly fit for a royal garden party. "Fell over," he muttered, forlornly.

Bodie took in the state of him with cold eyes. "Quite a sight," he declared. "Legless, soaked, covered in shit..."

Doyle lifted one hand, examined it carefully and then sniffed.

"Doyle!" Bodie shouted, clearly appalled.

"`Snot shit!" Doyle protested and held out his hand for Bodie to smell.

Bodie slapped the hand away roughly.

Doyle's anger began to build. "Look," he said. "I didn't ask you to pick me up. What the fuck're you doing here anyway?"

Bodie ignored him.

"I mean," Doyle ploughed on, "it's not as if we're an item any more is it? Eh? Buggered off, didn't you? If his high and mightiness didn't want me dirtying his posh car he shouldn't've of fucking well invited me to get in it! If he objects to my stink he should have left me in the sodding gutter, shouldn't he?"

"Look Doyle..." Bodie began but it wasn't on Doyle's agenda to let the man have much of a say. None at all as a matter of fact...

"No, you bloody look!" he spat, cutting him off mid-sentence. "I've been ready to slit my throat for weeks and tonight a friend decided I needed to get pissed just to forget you for one sodding night. Then you happen along and get all prissy because I'm offending your sensibilities. Well, fuck you, Bodie! You know what's kept me going these last few weeks?" Bodie continued to stare wordlessly at Doyle. "Well, I'll tell you," Doyle said, putting his face inches from Bodie's. "It's the hope that wherever you are and whatever you're doing, you're every bit as miserable and suicidal as I am. Now fuck off and leave me alone!"

With that parting shot Doyle opened the car door -- and promptly fell out onto the pavement in a heap.

"Shit," he said and kicked the door shut with his foot. Bodie's car drew away from the pavement and Doyle watched. "Bastard!" he shouted at the top of his voice. "Fucking bastard!"

Doyle pulled his grey, thigh length, overcoat around him, tucked his hands into his pockets and set off along the tow path. This was what he needed -- a brisk Sunday morning walk along a canal that meandered lazily through the beautiful countryside of the Thames valley.

It was Bodie he had to thank for first bringing him here. Before that, Doyle would no more have thought of walking a canal tow path than he would of selling his granny to white slavers. But after a Saturday spent recovering from the excesses of Friday night the fresh breeze and bright sunshine would be just what the doctor ordered.

There were not many people about on this chilly October morning, despite the good weather. A few anglers sitting beside their rods pouring steaming cups of coffee to fortify them against the cold; a couple with a white haired toddler and a white haired baby, sitting bolt upright in its pram with a big toothy grin on its face. Doyle nodded sociably and grinned back at the baby. Two middle-aged women on bikes went past, bidding him a cheerful, "Morning!" Doyle heard one of them tell the other that he was a bit of all right and perhaps she should send their Sharon down here as she was looking for a man. He laughed to himself and strolled on.

Blackberry bushes lined the route and he stopped to pop a few late berries into his mouth, remembering how he'd used go out picking them with his sister many years ago. Coming back scratched to pieces and purple from head to toe he wondered that his mother had never chastised or complained but had taken the berries from the grubby little boy and appeared thrilled.

It made him think of Bodie. It seemed to him that the man had, in all probability, never gone blackberry picking so his mum could make blackberry and apple crumble for their tea -- and that that was a very sad thing indeed.

Bodie. Doyle's stomach did its familiar somersault and his heartbeat quickened. Friday evening had confirmed that he still had a long way to go before he was over the man. Plus, he was still utterly confused about how Bodie had come to be in exactly the same place -- and at the same time -- as he was that night. Any court of law in the land would declare that suspicious, he was sure, and Doyle had come to the conclusion that the whole episode was no coincidence.

So, what was going on? Had he gone to Doyle's flat? Perhaps he'd discovered him out and waited in his car? The wait would have been a long one. Maybe he'd been on his way home when he'd encountered his ex-lover, drunk in the road. Doyle shuddered, knowing he could hardly have been a pretty sight. And his behaviour had not helped either. He sighed inwardly. Well at least the man had now witnessed him at his very worst. Small wonder if that was the last he ever saw of him.

Returning to his car some while later Doyle was trying to fish his keys out of his jeans. Without thinking he'd shoved them into the pocket on the same side as his bad shoulder. Although much improved it stiffened up occasionally and Doyle was having difficulty prising them out of the skin tight denims. When he eventually managed it, he fumbled, and the keys fell to the floor and rolled under the car.

Emitting a long sigh of exasperation he got down on his hands and knees to retrieve them.

"Is it my imagination or are you spending more time on your hands and knees than is strictly healthy, Doyle?"

Turning his head, Doyle's eyes came level with someone's knees and he knew without looking up that he was being addressed by Bodie. Shit...

Doyle climbed slowly to his feet and regarded the other man, at first suspiciously and then, realising that this was one of his favourite haunts and he had as much right to be here as Doyle, with a little more tolerance. "Hello," he said. "Spyin' on me again? You ought to be with CI5, mate, Cowley'd love you."

Bodie smiled. "Think I'll keep the day job but thanks all the same."

"Mmm. Probably safer." Not realising what he was doing Doyle rubbed his hand over his shoulder and frowned.

"What's up?" Bodie asked.

"What? Oh, nothing."

Bodie stared at him for a moment and Doyle knew he hadn't been fooled. "What happened?" The man asked quietly.

"It's just a flesh wound -- nothing to get excited about," Doyle insisted.

Bodie's eyes widened in alarm and Doyle saw him pale. "You've been shot?"

Doyle tried to avoid his gaze. "Well... yeah. But it's not serious. Goes with the job, if you see what I mean."

"Like housemaid's knee?" The man was staring at him intently.

"In a manner of speaking." Doyle chuckled but quickly wiped the grin off his face when he realised Bodie wasn't laughing.

An embarrassed silence followed as the two men regarded each other.

"Well," Doyle suddenly declared. "Better go, eh? You uh... going for a walk?"

For a moment he thought the man hadn't heard but eventually he nodded, though Doyle had the feeling that Bodie's mind was somewhere else entirely. He unlocked his car and got behind the wheel, wishing more than anything that things were different and Bodie wanted him again. He glanced at the man before he closed the door. He was standing as though in a trance, clearly looking at something no one else could see.

Doyle started the engine and drove away, his earlier contentment killed stone dead by grim reality.

The phone was ringing. Doyle sat up with a start and tried to focus on what was happening. He'd dropped off after an early tea and it was now seven o'clock. He leapt off the settee and lunged for the phone.

"Doyle?" a voice said.

Bodie. Doyle felt his heart begin to beat hard against his chest.

"Yeah. Hi. What can I do for you?" he asked, hoping against hope that the answer would be hot sex: in the shower, against a wall, anybloodywhere -- he'd even settle, he realised, for a kiss. A sweet, undemanding kiss. `Course a demanding one would be even better but beggars couldn't be choosers and the ball, such as it was, was in Bodie's court.

There was a silence on the other end of the line. Then, "You could have been killed."

It wasn't a question and nor was it what Doyle had expected Bodie to say. He hesitated.

"Couldn't you?" Bodie said before Doyle could think of an answer.

Doyle cleared his throat. "It's not something we like to think about."


"Cowley's mob."

"Right. Occupational hazard?"

"That's right."

Another silence followed. Then, "I understand."

A click and the phone went dead. Doyle held the receiver out in front of him and stared at it. What the hell? Emitting an audible sigh of frustration he slammed it back on its cradle and went to make some coffee, his thoughts in turmoil.

After the events of Friday night and their short conversation at the canal this morning, Doyle was now completely confused. Was this some sort of cat and mouse game Bodie was playing? Was he meant to read something into it? He sighed again. The man was as inscrutable as Confucius himself and twice as bloody cryptic. Wondering when the hell he was going to get some answers Doyle poured his coffee.

He didn't have long to wait.

He was watching The Antiques Roadshow, hoping the expert would drop the hideous ornament of a smirking cat on the floor and whistling at the valuation of the thing, when the doorbell rang. If he wasn't very much mistaken...

He turned the television off and padded across the room to answer the door: he wasn't mistaken. Doyle gestured for Bodie to enter. This was going to be an interesting conversation.

"So," he said, as the two men stood facing each other in his sitting room. "What can I do you for? Me mum's recipe for sticky gingerbread cake? Hints on descaling your water pipes? I do a great line in mindless sex but draw the line at old women's silk bloomers with elastic round the knees. Saw a bloke after he'd been got at by knicker pervs once and I don't mind tellin' you -- it was not a pretty sight."

Bodie sat down, eying Doyle sceptically. "And I thought I'd lived a full and er... active life."

Doyle sat on the sofa beside Bodie. "Been about a bit, eh?"

"Mmm, but it sounds like you've travelled quite a bit further than me even..."

Doyle laughed. "Yeah, well, you don't want to believe everything I say."

Bodie stared at him for a long moment and then glanced away. He looked lost and Doyle had to garner every bit of his resolve not to gather him up into a huge bear hug and try to make it better. Wondering if his promiscuity was the problem he sought to reassure him. "Look," he said, "I talk a lot, but that's all a lot of it is -- talk. I have been around -- goes with the territory -- you can't deny that. But I always knew that when someone a bit special came along, things would change."

"And... was I special?" Bodie asked.

"No." Doyle watched the shock register in the man's eyes and waited. Then, "You are special. I've never felt like this before, not with anyone. And it's not just the sex, though Christ knows that's the best I've ever had too..." Doyle reached out and smoothed the dark hair above Bodie's ear. "It's everything. All of you. You know what I'm saying, don't you?"

Bodie nodded imperceptibly. "Yes. And... I suppose I'll have to learn to cope. Seeing as living without you doesn't seem to work either. Never been so fucking miserable."

Doyle moved closer and put his arm around him. "You'll have to explain that. It almost sounds like you don't want me to care." Bodie didn't reply and a light suddenly went on in Doyle's head. "Bugger," he muttered. "You're not used to it are you? You hardly know what the hell it's like being..." he trailed off, reluctant to say it.

"Loved," Bodie said, supplying the missing word himself. "No. I don't. And I've never been so shit-scared as a matter of fact. Can't cope. Not with the way you clearly feel about me nor the way I find myself feeling about you. But when I found out you'd been shot this morning I realised something was going to have to give and that in all likelihood it was going to have to be me."

Doyle let out a long breath. "So, what are we going to do?"

"In the long run -- I have to learn to cope with our feelings for each other. I might need help... and understanding."

"I'll try," Doyle said and placed a tentative kiss on Bodie's chin before moving to lick his earlobe and sucking it into his mouth. "And what about the short-term?" he said at last. "God, I love your earlobes."

Bodie was leaning into him, eyes closed. "Pervert," he declared. "The short-term? Well..." he turned his face and offered his mouth to Doyle. A long and intensely satisfying kiss ensued. "I think we both need your bed and I'm not talking about taking a nap either."

Doyle laughed softly. "Yeah. I never knew an erection could last for six weeks, did you?"

Bodie looked down at his groin. His trousers were strained to bursting point by a cock heavy with need. "Oh, yeah. I knew..."

Doyle let himself into his flat. As Mondays went it had been a pretty average day. A row with Cowley over expenses, three bloody reports to write, and cream cakes because it was Betty's birthday. All pretty run-of-the-mill; nothing to get excited about. But excited he was. He'd floated through the day and not a single thing had touched him; not even Ebenezer Cowley's histrionics about his mileage this month. He -- Doyle -- had Bodie to come home to tonight: all was right with the world.

He sniffed. Something was cooking. Chucking his coat at a hook, and missing, he walked through into the sitting room and thence into the kitchen.

"Smells nice," he said.

Bodie looked up. "Sausage and red pepper casserole. What do you want with it? Spuds, rice or pasta?"

Doyle considered. "Pasta. And open a bottle of plonk. Think we deserve it."

He sauntered to where Bodie was putting the finishing touches to a bread and butter pudding and slid his arm round the man's waist. He touched his lips to his cheekbone just below his eye and the man smiled, lifting his mouth for a kiss. Doyle delivered, pushing his tongue inside as quickly as he could manage and allowing his hand to wander over Bodie's corduroy clad backside before searching out another, more interesting area. The lump swelled into his hand and Doyle applied pressure, causing Bodie to laugh softly in his throat.

They parted and Bodie leaned against the counter, slowly undoing his zip, his eyes never leaving Doyle's face.

"Do you want to go into the bedroom?" Doyle asked, swallowing hard as Bodie brought his rapidly hardening prick into view.

Bodie smiled and pursed his lips. "What for? I thought the kitchen was the place for lots of licking and sucking." He ran his hand lazily up and down his erection squeezing the head and polishing it with fingers full of saliva. Like one hypnotised Doyle got down on his knees in front of him.

"Take yours out too," Bodie told him. "I want to see it."

Doyle did as he was bid, stroking himself as his mouth covered Bodie's cock and took him in. The man's hands were in his hair, on his neck, and on his face pushing his thumb into Doyle's mouth along with his cock.

"Handle yourself," Doyle heard him mutter. "You're leaking, give me some."

Doyle eased Bodie's prick from his mouth in order to see what he was doing and the man traced the outline of Doyle's face with the head of his cock leaving a damp trail on his cheeks and lips. Gathering a liberal amount of his own pre-come onto his finger, Doyle offered it to Bodie; he licked it off, sucking Doyle's finger deep into his mouth.

Doyle felt the familiar tightness in his balls. "Gonna come," he muttered. Bodie knelt and brought Doyle to orgasm holding his own cock so that Doyle's come spurted over it. Giving him a moment to recover he then stood and pushed once more into Doyle's mouth and Doyle found himself tasting and swallowing his own spunk -- and then Bodie's -- as the man came, grunting loudly with each spasm and grasping Doyle's head as though wanting to climb right inside.

Spearing a piece of sausage, Doyle regarded Bodie appraisingly. "You're a man of many talents," he said. "This is good."

Bodie, his mouth full, smiled and winked.

"Sensuous bugger too," Doyle added.

Taking a swig of wine Bodie said, "Well, you've either got it or you haven't."

"Mmm. And sometimes it can run in the family."

Bodie eyed him suspiciously.

Doyle eyed him right back. "I did see him."

"My grandfather?" Bodie sighed.

Doyle nodded. "You could pass for the same person you know?"

"So I'm told."

"In fact," Doyle ventured tentatively. "I thought you were."

"So, that was it..."

"Yeah. You must have wondered who this over familiar madman thought you were, eh?"

Bodie grinned widely. "Yeah, in the bathroom as a matter of fact, but my cock won the argument."

Doyle laughed. "And you call me insatiable?"

They were silent for a moment, doing justice to Bodie's culinary efforts, but Doyle knew there was more he had to tell the man. "He didn't do it, you know."

"Do what?"

"Rape that girl."

Bodie stared at him for a moment without speaking. "Ray, where did you see him?"

"By the temple. First night I was out there on duty. The thing is, Bodie, he was real. Like you or me, not like ghosts are supposed to be -- insubstantial things that disappear when you look at them. He was solid."

"Are you sure? I mean, much as want to believe you, it seems a bit far-fetched you know. A living, breathing ghost?"

Doyle snorted loudly. "Put it this way -- he felt solid enough when I spunked into his mouth."

Judging by the expression on his face, Bodie was astonished -- and struck dumb.

"Why else do you think I jumped into bed with you so quickly?" Doyle continued, "I thought we'd already enjoyed each other twice and wanted to see what else was on offer!"


Doyle nodded wordlessly.


"Look on the bright side," Doyle told him, "apart from getting meself into the Guinness book of records as the only man alive to have sex with some bloke and his granddad... it's also proof of something else."

Bodie frowned, questioningly.

"Proves he preferred men doesn't it?" Doyle supplied.

"I suppose," Bodie agreed, but didn't seem convinced. "So, if he didn't do it, who did?"

This was the point at which Doyle had known he wouldn't want to continue. He stared at his plate instead.

"And where was Grandpa when the rape was taking place?" Bodie prompted.

"Otherwise engaged," Doyle replied, quietly. "The family cook's son was very obliging apparently -- mainly because he was too drunk to worry about your grandfather being up his arse."

Bodie covered his face with his hands for a moment. "Christ," he said eventually. "Why the hell did he let everyone think it was him?"

"Well, first of all you didn't admit to being queer back then, did you? And secondly," Doyle hesitated and took a deep breath, "it was your father who raped the girl."

There was a long silence as Bodie digested this. Then, "Yeah. I can believe that."

"Your grand-father said you would."

"Doesn't really explain it though, he hated my father as much as me, Doyle. Why should he take the blame for him?"

"Because your mother had just had a miscarriage and he didn't want to put her through another sort of hell."

Bodie's mouth dropped open. "No one knew about that except the family. Oh, Christ, you're telling the truth!"

"The thing is Bodie, I think it was all so that I would tell you. He's been waiting for me, the love of your life, all these years. It's amazing really."

Bodie stood up suddenly and took their plates out to the kitchen. Doyle sat and stared into nothing, deliberating on things which defied explanation no matter which way you looked at them.

Clutching the dish of bread and butter pudding, Bodie was soon back. He deposited it on the table and reached for a serving spoon. "So," he said, "it's forever is it? With Grandpa's blessing. Bullets not withstanding of course and subject to you not getting yourself run over next time you're pissed out of your brain."

"Oi! That was your fault!" Doyle said, indignantly. "If you hadn't buggered off I wouldn't have been needing to drown me sorrows. And what were you doing there by the way?"

Bodie spooned a large helping of pudding into Doyle's bowl. "Looking for you, of course. I sat outside your ruddy flat for four hours. And where were you? In the bloody pub getting rat arsed! I tell you, finding you in the gutter was a shock to my poor sensitive system. I still haven't recovered from that."

Doyle laughed very loudly. "Serves you right, you bastard." He looked the man in the eyes for a moment. Then, "I love you."

"I know."


"I'm happy."

"No panicky feelings?"

Bodie shook his head.

"I think," Doyle said, "that you've taken it very well. All this stuff about ghosts and rapings, I mean. Most people would be gibbering to the men in white coats by now."

Bodie picked up his spoon and tucked in. "Yeah, well, made of stern stuff us Bodies. You going to come and live with me then?"

"Maybe," Doyle replied. "If you keep churning out meals like this. But not in that sodding great house."

Bodie shook his head. "Shit, no. Wild horses wouldn't drag me back there to live."

"Why?" Doyle asked, intrigued and wishing, for once, that a straight answer would be forthcoming.

"Bloody place is haunted," Bodie told him.

Doyle's jaw hit the table. "What?"

"Yeah. Okay during the day but at night the noises and malevolent atmosphere are enough to scare you shitless." Bodie stared at Doyle for a long moment. "Tell you the truth, Ray -- I think it might be my father...."

-- THE END --

Originally published in Secret Agent Men 2, Devious Developments Press, 2003

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