Born of Fire


"Want to talk about it?"

Murphy shoved a coffee under Bodie's nose, as the older man sat pensively in the corner of the Ops room.

Bodie glanced up as he accepted and sighed inwardly. He had chosen this particular place at this particular time because it afforded the best refuge from the usual bustle of the rest of the headquarters block; he might just as well have gone to Piccadilly Circus.

Murphy dragged up a chair, spun it on one leg and swung astride it, so that he could lean over the back.

"Something's been bothering you a lot lately. I've noticed. Mac noticed -- you can bet your life Ray's noticed."

"It's nothing," Bodie replied quietly, touched by the concern that had prompted the other man's action. He met Murph's piercing blue gaze and managed a credible smile. "I just want to be alone for a while, think things out..."

The other agent hesitated a moment before nodding and getting to his feet. He punched Bodie lightly on the arm.

"If you need to talk, you know where I am, mate."

Bodie raised his cup in salute.

"Thanks, Murph."

Bodie drove home to his flat and let himself in slowly, thinking about -- things. Christ, he thought, Murph would never have -- I must be slipping if McCabe has noticed. The worst of it was that he DID need to talk to someone. Desperately. Someone who understood what an agent went through daily in the course of their work; somebody who could appreciate what life in the firing-line was like, who would listen and then impart unbiased advice. Trouble was, the only people Bodie trusted enough were Cowley and his partner. He shied at approaching the Controller: it was too private to involve the Old Man.

Because Doyle was the problem.

Bodie went straight to the drinks cabinet and poured himself a measure of whisky. He was doing that more frequently these days, he found, but he felt so miserable, he didn't really care. He tossed the first one straight off, and took a second glass to the sofa with him, where he threw himself on the cushions and heaved a heart-felt sigh. Yeah, Ray Doyle was a problem and Bodie couldn't even begin to solve it.

Sipping slowly, he thought back...

He couldn't say when it had started -- this awareness of Doyle as more than a friend. Their relationship had been long in the making, tried and tested in life-or-death situations, tempered by wit. Bodie supposed it must happen in all teams to a certain degree; spending so much time with just one person was apt to bring you close to them...but how many of Cowley's other operatives had landed themselves a partner like Ray Doyle...From wary beginnings, Bodie had progressed through friendship until he regarded his colleague as family -- Doyle's very presence was a form of security and comfort in a life that had had precious little of either. And then, that night, when he and Ray had gone drinking...They had wound up on Doyle's sofa -- strong arms, crushing embraces, beer-flavoured kisses... Bodie had been woken the following morning by his partner's soft lips against his clammy forehead. He knew he should've laughed it off, knocked Doyle flat, walked away from it, but the seeds had been sown long before, and he responded to the gentle touch...

Since then, he and Doyle had gone to each other's flats for drinks and meals, as usual; but now, they held one another, kissed...And that was all. Bodie had broached the subject of sex with Doyle several times, wanting to take their relationship further -- wanting to bed with Doyle, make love with him...

"It's a hell of a step to take, Bodie, and I'm not sure I could -- I'm happy with the way things are."

And Bodie had to go along with that, because NOT doing so would cost him the little piece of Doyle's affection he HAD managed to win, but it hurt him all the same. It was as if the trust they had developed in their years together had reached a dead-end, and Bodie didn't know what to do next. He was confused, needing time to sort out his feelings for his partner...

He took a mouthful of whisky, and closed his eyes.

Cowley collared Murphy before the agent went off shift and called him into the office.

"What's wrong with 3.7?"


"Och, don't play games, Murphy," snorted Cowley. "Next to 4.5, you're his closest friend. What wrong with him?"

Murphy met the older man's penetrating look.

"I don't know, sir. I tried to tackle him earlier, but he wouldn't speak to me. Said he needed some time to sort things out."

"He's put in for leave at the end of this week. I want you to go with him -- get him to talk..."

"With respect, sir," Murphy began. "I think Doyle would be better at following him..

"Not following, 6.2, accompanying...and I've got an assignment for Doyle here in London. Get Bodie out of the city for a few days..

"Yes, sir," replied Murphy, his mind already working on where he could take his colleague for a long weekend.

Bodie felt miserable the following day, and it wasn't all due to the amount of alcohol he'd drunk the previous night. Doyle hadn't come over, hadn't called, and Bodie had spent the evening getting steadily tipsier. He had one more day to work, then -- off for an extra-long weekend. He had no special plans -- just stay home, and get drunk, he supposed, or wait until Ray came around.

Bodie was in the car park at the end of his shift when Murphy hailed him and came sauntering across. Bodie groaned inwardly; he wasn't in the mood to discuss anything with anyone. The blue eyes that regarded him were guileless -- Bodie still couldn't reconcile the innocent expression with the ruthless agent.

"Bodie-mate, I'm off Thursday to do a bit of climbing up in Wales. Mac's just told me you're on leave, too -- d'you fancy sharing a ledge or two?"

Bodie considered for a moment. Four days in Snowdonia...away from the city, the squad -- from Doyle...He didn't think he could bear that...

"Thanks, Murph, but I haven't climbed in years. I wouldn't be good company."

"I wouldn't've asked you if I hadn't wanted you there," smiled the other man. "Think about it anyway. If you change your mind..."

"I won't," Bodie sighed. "Thanks for the offer

He slid behind the wheel of the Capri and closed the door, his mind on his partner and what Doyle would say when he found out Bodie had swanned off without him...

Doyle arrived at seven-thirty, barrelling in cheerfully with a bottle of whisky. He affected not to notice the dark smudges under Bodie's eyes, or the less-than-scintillating conversation in place of the usual repartee. The evening ended with them slightly drunk, lying full stretch on the sofa, their arms around one another. Doyle snuffled into his partner's neck, warm and sated. Bodie's hand wandered low over his back, sliding to his buttocks, circling gently.

"Mmmm's nice," murmured Doyle sleepily.

"You like it, then?" purred Bodie, turning his head to kiss the curly mop. "Could take our clothes off... touch each other properly," he suggested hopefully.

Doyle's head jerked up and Bodie took one look at the expression on his partner's face.

"And then you'd take me to bed, right? I told you -- I thought I made it clear enough for you to understand -- NO!' Doyle pushed himself free of the firm embrace. "It's getting late -- I'd better go."

He scrambled off the sofa, stood hastily, tucking his shirt into his jeans, and finger-combing his hair. Bodie followed him to the door in silence. They didn't even kiss good-night; Bodie felt he'd ruined any chance he'd had.

He threw himself back on the couch and stared up at the ceiling, searching for inspiration. Finally, he reached for the phone, and dialled a local number. The voice that answered was wide-awake and depressingly cheerful.

"Look, Murph, you know that trip over to Wales..."

Half-past three Wednesday afternoon, Doyle was called into the controller's office for a briefing on his next assignment, thereby missing his partner's early departure with Murphy. By the time he emerged, two hours later, both men were long gone, out past the city limits on the motor-way, north and westward-bound in Murph's black Capri.

Bodie watched the other vehicles flick by as the other agent put his foot down and the car got into her stride. His mind was miles away, back in London, where a quick-tempered ex-copper named Doyle was probably fuming at his partner's absence.

Behind the wheel, Murphy was aware of the tension and unhappiness in his companion, but until Bodie chose to speak about it, he could do nothing except offer silent support. Murphy had his suspicions, of course, but...

Murphy glanced at his watch before he looked down to monitor Bodie's progress. The other man was climbing steadily towards the ledge where Murph waited, his face showing concentration, his worries seemingly far behind him.

The younger man wrinkled his nose, looked up and round. Mountain and sky coloured his vision, and he filled his lungs with sweet air, remembering how it had felt to be this free all those years ago on his very first Alp. Bodie would have loved it, he knew -- appreciated the utter majesty, the grandeur, the savage peace of it all...Murphy could never put into words that feeling of love, of oneness, BELONGING to the mountain, but his heart leapt with joy every time he came to these solitary silent high places that only wind and eagles haunted...

Bodie levered himself over the edge and came to join his mate. He looked winded but less preoccupied than he had the previous evening when they arrived. With a grin, Murphy offered him a piece of chocolate, which was declined in favour of a few deep breaths.

"Not far now," Murphy promised cheerfully. "How d'you feel?"

"I need a psychiatrist!" grumbled Bodie. "A dozen different climbs, and you choose THIS one..."

"We'll go back if you want," offered Murphy, having no such intention, and knowing that Bodie knew it.

Bodie grunted and began to prepare the ropes for the next stage.

They were both ascending steadily, with Murphy leading, when it happened. Bodie reached for a grip with his hand, and somehow lost his toehold. There was a brief moment of fear, before anger took its place. Both useless emotions, he thought philosophically, as he plunged to the limit of the rope.

"MURPH!" he yelled instinctively.

He felt a thud against his helmet, and a jerk as his descent was checked sharply. He was left dangling in space, facing up the mountainside, swaying like a pendulum in the breeze.


There was a note of desperation in the other man's voice. Bodie thought rapidly. I'm too heavy for him to pull me up, and he can't rope off and get down to me -- I've put him into a no-win situation...didn't want to, never meant to hurt him -- good mate is our Murph...To Bodie's mind, which was going into shock, the only thing he could do was sacrifice his own life to save his partner's...

He slipped the pocket knife into his hand and looked up. Even across the distance, Bodie could read the other man's expression perfectly, and he smiled, suddenly calm in the face of his decision. There was only one thing he needed of Murphy.

"Murph," he called. "'s okay. Do me a favour?"

"ANYTHING!" Murphy was puzzled and paused while he made ready to go down after his mate.

"Tell Ray -- " Hell, it didn't matter now. " -- tell Ray, I didn't mean to hurt him. Tell him I love him -- " "BODIE!"

But Bodie extended the blade, smiled up at his friend and cut the rope. The last thing he heard as he fell was Murph's agonised scream.

"Bodie, NO!"

Murphy watched as Bodie fell, not believing his colleague could he so stupid. He gritted his teeth, and retrieved the severed life-line, before preparing to go down. Of all the crazy things Bodie had ever done, this last act had to rank as the most senseless...God only knew what Cowley would say...Talk to him? They'd hardly spoken since leaving London -- all Murphy had to go on was supposition, and the dying man's last words -- 'tell Ray I love him' -- Murphy put such thoughts aside as he reached the ledge. He leaned over, scanning the ground below. There was a blue anorak. . .Bodie's body lay unmoving, the helmet missing...Murphy was honour-bound to go down, check him over, then fetch a rescue party to recover the body. Anxious, upset, Murphy abseiled down the rock-face, missed his footing the last five feet and landed heavily.

"Took your bleedin' time!"

The voice made him jump, and he scrambled to Bodie's side, incredulous.


"Don't shout, I've got a headache," snorted Bodie, who hadn't moved. His eyes were closed.

"Jesus, mate, I thought you'd had it!" breathed Murphy. "What the hell did you do that for?"

One dark eyebrow twitched as Murph pried back the lids.

"Seemed like a good idea at the time. Whatcha doin'?"

Murphy was running his hands round Bodie's head, checking for damage. "You must be one of the luckiest bastards alive," he murmured, when his probing failed to reveal any injury to Bodie's skull.

"You touchin' me up?" Bodie asked.

"'s right, mate. Any objections?"

Murphy was feeling his arms, before opening the anorak to check his ribcage.

"'s nice..." Bodie smiled, heaving a contented sigh.

Murphy frowned. This was not like the man at all. He usually shied from physical contact and here he was ENJOYING the examination -- Murphy thought again of brain-damage. He carried on.

"Feel that?" he asked, as he ran his hands down Bodie's right thigh.

Bodie giggled.

"Tickles -- keep going..

"Christ," cursed the other agent, "it's a wonder Ray puts up with you if you carry on like this..." He stopped, noting the change of expression on the pale features. Inadvertently, he'd struck a raw nerve. He shuffled up to sit beside his companion's head.

"It'll take a while for the rescue party to get up to us. Plenty of time to talk, Bodie..." He took off his jacket and laid if over Bodie's chest. "You need to tell someone, mate -- " "Sod off," Bodie protested weakly. "None of your business." "It's to do with Ray, isn't it?" Murph pressed. "Come on, Bodie-mate." Bodie swallowed audibly. "He'll kill me if he ever finds out I told you..."

Doyle emerged from the duty-room scowling. Nobody had thought to tell him that his partner had booked leave -- they just assumed that he would know. It annoyed him even more to find that a certain Greg Murphy was also absent, and he couldn't help the nagging suspicion that his so-called other half had gone off with him. It was ridiculous; Bodie and Murph were good friends -- Murph made friends with everyone, from the janitor up -- and they had several interests in common...why shouldn't they be away together...

Because Bodie always keeps me informed as to where he is, and who he's with, and this time he hasn't, and I'm annoyed. And, face it, Doyle, he told himself, you're jealous; jealous of the fact that Murphy is with Bodie, and they're probably having a good time together, and -- would he? Doyle swallowed, fighting the sudden image of the two of them laughing with each other, touching, kissing -- writhing together, two beautiful dark-haired men, their bodies twining and twisting in bed, as they made love...The thought sent a jolt of rage searing through him, and Doyle's fist closed on the coffee cup in his hand, splitting the plastic and sending sticky liquid over the lino in the corridor. He glanced down, cursed, and dropping the remains of his drink into a nearby bin before trotting off to the gent's for a cloth to mop the mess. Today, he decided, was not going to be a good day.

The assignment he'd drawn was a low-key bodyguard duty on a visiting American. Sam Hilton was a first generation Yank returned to the land of his forefathers for a working vacation. A strong rumour, fed to them from MI6 suggested he might be a possible target for while Bodie and Murph were whooping it up, Doyle found himself baby-sitting an American businessman.

Doyle was quick to appraise Hilton as an opinionated bastard; his first encounter with the man was a disaster, and it got steadily worse.

"I don't need you, Doyle. I've got my own security guards."

"May I remind you, sir," Doyle said with icy politeness, "that your people are breaking the laws of this country by carrying firearms." He demanded -- and eventually been given -- the Americans' armoury. Magnums, designed for maximum effect.

Hilton wasn't pleased.

"You'd better be as good as my men, or I'll nail your arse to a tree!" Doyle smiled nastily and assured the businessman that his anatomy was perfectly safe. All the same, though, he'd've felt better if Bodie had been with him.

Thursday, Doyle trailed round in the American's wake until six o'clock, when Jax took over as his relief. His face told the West Indian agent exactly what Doyle thought of the job, and Jax could only sympathise, praying his colleague was wrong.

Doyle made for his own flat, intent on a quiet night. He changed his mind as the traffic lights turned red ahead of him.

Hell, he'd see if Bodie was home, and they could spend the evening together; after one day away from him, Doyle had to admit, albeit grudgingly, he missed the arrogant sod.

The lights flashed green, and he turned the car into the warren of side- streets, making for his partner's flat. He skidded outside, and parked his Capri behind Bodie's. Doyle took it as a good sign, and strode up to the door confidently to buzz at the intercom. There was no answer. He waited, buzzed again... In all, he waited ten minutes, and gradually his temper unravelled enough for him to decide Bodie wasn't worth the effort. He would go out on the town by himself, pull a bird, and take her home for a good old-fashioned screw.

Two hours later, sitting in a bar in Islington, Doyle had to face the fact that it wasn't a woman he wanted, it was Bodie. A woman was just a body, a pleasant acquaintance, and sex was a mere biological function.

Bodie was a friend, a partner, his mate -- someone he could share with...and when Bodie decided he'd had enough, was tired of Doyle and turned to someone else...

That thought had haunted Doyle from the moment he and Bodie had first kissed; Doyle feared it more than anything. To lose his partner to a woman would be bad; to lose him to another man would destroy him. The fear kept him from taking the final step because if he went to bed with Bodie, the end would come that much sooner, their partnership would be dissolved, and Doyle didn't want his friendship with Bodie to end -- ever.

Admit it, he told himself as he sipped his pint, you've bloody well gone and fallen for him, and what happens every time you think you've found your one and only? Something, someone, comes along and takes them away, and you get left behind -- and every time that happens, it hurts just a little bit more, until you are afraid to go out and try...So you want Bodie, want to keep him for yourself... but you know he's a free spirit, and he'll soon tire of you, soon move on, so you keep him hanging on. And all the time, it's just hurting you both more and more. You want him, but you're terrified of losing him...So, if you're going to lose him anyway, why don't you take what you can while you can get it? The thought of holding all that strength and beauty to him was arousing him, and Doyle willed himself to subside. He heaved a broken sigh that went unnoticed among the pub's patrons. Anonymous man, impersonal company -- you could be anyone hiding anything, in here, going unremarked in the crowd...As if on cue, the press around the bar disintegrated, and Doyle had to do a double-take.

Bodie was carrying two halves towards a table in the corner of the lounge. He hadn't even noticed his partner, which annoyed Doyle. Two drinks -- a bird, or Murph -- Doyle intended finding out. He rose, clasping the remainder of his pint, and edged towards the table across the crowded room. He stopped well short of his target when he realised that something was undefinably wrong. Bodie's face was a mask of barely suppressed anger -- he seemed to have aged ten years since Tuesday night. What bothered him more was his partner's companion, a little oriental man dressed in a dark sweatshirt and jeans. Doyle was familiar with most of Bodie's contacts, by sight or description: this one was new to him. There was a sense of furtiveness about them, the Chinese gesturing to Bodie, instructions, Doyle guessed. He was too far to hear and couldn't follow their lip-movements. Something about over the top? Overlooking? And Bodie nodded. Doyle shook himself mentally; it could even be the weekend's football tactics at Crystal Palace, though he doubted that...

The two men stood, and Bodie inclined his head once more in response to his companion's words. The oriental gave him an appraising look, then vanished into the crowd. Bodie was slower. He finished his beer and surveyed the room. Some instinct made Doyle draw back, and when he looked again, his partner had crossed to the door.

Doyle latched onto his partner's trail, determined to have a word as soon as they were alone. Bodie was heading up towards the Islington station, striding purposefully. It was all Doyle could do to keep him in sight. Once inside the entrance hall, it became apparent that Bodie wasn't going home, and for the first time, Doyle's brain engaged and started to work on the anomaly; Bodie -- on leave -- meeting with a stranger -- could mean almost anything, from a casual acquaintance to...Bodie, meeting a courier, or an agent from a foreign power. No -- he may be crazy, Doyle thought, but he's no traitor. The fact that he wasn't going directly home was significant.. Cowley had had them working separately for a few days now... Bodie could be undercover on his own, while Doyle got that effing loudmouth, Hilton. It was the most logical solution -- the mystery solved, Doyle was free to worry about his personal concerns. Obviously, he couldn't talk to his partner now, but he would make a point of taking the first available opportunity to sit down with Bodie and have a proper discussion about their relationship. Afterwards...Doyle closed his mind to the probable future; he would have Bodie to himself for a little while at least...And, looking on the bright side, if he was working undercover, Bodie wouldn't have time to fool around with anyone else...

Doyle abandoned his partner at the station and went to find a bus home.

Friday morning at Headquarters, Doyle decided to do a bit of detective work, attempting to discover what his partner was engaged on. The duty board still said he was on leave, as was Murphy, and when he questioned other agents casually, they knew of nothing dangerous or untoward that Bodie might be involved in. It was McCabe who suggested that it could be an Operation Susie. The thought made Doyle's blood run cold: his partner, out on his own, with no official sanction, no back-up -- just his wits to keep him alive...Doyle was outside Cowley's office, ready to take the controller to pieces for risking Bodie's neck without telling him...

Cowley opened the door, on his way somewhere in a hurry, his face dark as a thunder-cloud.

"Sir, I -- " "You're supposed to be with Hilton. What are you doing here, 4.5?" "About Bodie -- " "Never mind him. Get over to the hotel. IMMEDIATELY!" Cowley barked. Doyle had no choice but to obey.

The American was less than pleased to see him, said as much to his face, which didn't bother Doyle, and re-scheduled his day, which did. They spent the morning in the City, Hilton busy with his financiers, and returned to the hotel for lunch. Doyle ate with the security men, while Hilton transacted another deal over the phone in the bedroom.

Doyle listened with half an ear as he sat in the lounge, sipping coffee. The only good thing about the whole job, he reflected, was the food; Bodie should be... "...docklands. I'll be there," promised Hilton.

Doyle's ears went up; the American was going slumming?

Hastily, he scrambled to his feet, only to fold even more quickly as his knees gave way under him.

"What the hell -- " The burly bodyguards grabbed him by the wrists and ankles and lifted him to the couch.

"You -- what've you done to me?" Doyle yelled, his voice beginning to slur. "Bastards!"

Hilton came out to look at him. He was carrying his jacket over one arm, and he wore a shoulder holster.

"Like I said, I don't need your help. Just stay here like a good boy. I'll be back and wake you in time to go home."

"B'stard!" Doyle gasped, trying to swing an ineffectual fist at the two Americans standing before him. Hilton laughed unpleasantly. "Sweet dreams, Doyle."

Enraged, Doyle closed his eyes and passed out.

He didn't know how long he'd lain there, but Doyle managed to rally enough to get to the lounge telephone. He contacted reception and found Hilton had left ten minutes before, by taxi and he had taken his bodyguards.

Doyle stumbled to the bathroom where he stuck his head under a cold tap. The water shocked him back to his senses in part -- his anger did the rest. He checked his gun -- they'd left that at least -- and went down to the lobby.

Hilton was heading for a little place in Wapping. The doorman had overheard the address as Hilton got into the taxi. Doyle made for his car, and set off, tyres squealing, for the rendezvous.

Doyle used the back-streets, praying fervently that he would beat the Americans, but knowing deep down it would be hopeless. He radioed Central, appraising them of the situation, furious with himself for getting caught out, for allowing Hilton to get away and for missing out on Bodie's op...

The gold Capri skidded to a halt on the wharf-side. Doyle scrambled out, gun drawn. Where the hell were they? He raced forward, keeping to the shadow of the buildings until he spotted one of the bodyguards by an open doorway -- keeping watch, he figured, as he flattened himself against the warehouse wall. Inching towards him, Doyle focussed on the scene ahead.

Presently, two men appeared. Hilton was following a little man in a blue suit. As they came into full sunlight, Doyle noticed two things -- firstly, the smaller man was Bodie's companion from the pub, and more importantly, the bodyguard was drawing his weapon, about to kill him.

"Hold it!"

It was too late, even as Doyle shouted. The oriental was dead, and Hilton was falling, punching back by a shot that echoed round the pier. The next took the security man, and Doyle ducked instinctively, before rushing to the three bodies.

The Chinese had a crater in his chest the size of a fist, the others each had a neat round hole in the forehead; despite the carnage, Doyle had to admire the skill involved. A fourth shot reverberated, and the guard's body jerked as the bullet struck him. Too close -- the bastard was still shooting, and Doyle was the target... He dived for cover behind the corpses, then rolled into the shadow of the wall, where another bullet tore a chip from the door frame.

Up high -- rifle -- Class A marksman -- he catalogued his assailants attributes. He wished that Bodie were with him; one would draw the fire, the other would circle and come up behind the sniper...But Bodie was God-alone-knew-where, and Doyle had only a hand-gun for protection against a deadly enemy.

The gunman was between him and the Capri -- Doyle would have to make a run for it. He gathered himself and sprang from the warehouse, zig-zagging to his next bit of cover. Two more shots and he became aware that the approaching sirens were actually closing in on the wharf. With a sigh of relief, Doyle crouched behind a stack of tarpaulin-draped crates and caught his breath.

The sound of running feet attracted his attention and cautiously he peered over the edge of his sanctuary. A tall man, dressed in black was sprinting along the iron-clad stairway. There was no sign of the rifle -- Doyle was after him in a second.

Up, and along they raced, further from the newly-arrived Met and CI5 units, desperation and fury firing them. His quarry was swift, sure-footed as if he'd been born to this particular jungle...Doyle found himself flagging, but went on gamely. He loosed a couple of shots that went wide, not entirely deliberately, but still the sniper ran.

They reached the roof-tops -- they were running out of ground though, and in a brief glimpse towards the pier below, Doyle could see cars moving into position. He slithered to a halt.

"Give it up, mate!" he yelled. "You're surrounded."

The assassin ducked round a corner ahead and Doyle, whose finger was already tightening on the trigger, gasped as he recognised the profile. Bodie fled upwards as his partner's bullet smacked into the wall barely an inch from his head.

"Bodie, for God's sake, wait!"

But Bodie had already disappeared. Wearily, Doyle set off after him, confident that he would not be harmed, no matter what had happened at the warehouse below. A bullet clipped past his ear, and he stopped dead.

"Stay back -- " Bodie's voice was angry, almost unrecognisable. "Bodie-mate -- " "I have no quarrel with you, but I'll kill you if I have to."

"Bodie, listen, mate," Doyle thought fast. "I'm coming over, unarmed." He tossed his gun within easy reach. "We've got to talk, Bodie. I don't care about the Yank -- Cowley must've had his reasons to set us up this way -- God knows, he's done it before...Bodie, if we go down together now..."

"No." Bodie was adamant. "I'm not going anywhere with anyone."

"You're backed in a corner, mate," Doyle protested. "There's nowhere else you can go. Cowley's got marksmen surrounding this place. Where could you run? Bodie!"

Doyle moved forward cautiously. One step, another, he bent to retrieve his gun, and made towards his partner's last position. There was nothing, no trace whatsoever that he'd been there; Bodie had quite simply vanished.

Slowly, Doyle made his way down to the pier, his feet leaden from exertion, and the after-effects of the drug. He made it to the ground level before his knees subsided under him again, and for the second time that afternoon, he passed out.

He opened his eyes to a sunny room and the concerned face of the controller. He licked dried lips.

"How long've I been out?"

"About two hours. What happened, Doyle?" The younger (man) struggled to sit up.

"Hilton's bodyguard killed the Chinese bloke and the sniper got the others."

"You gave chase -- did you get a description?" Doyle's eyes dropped.

"Didn't need to, sir." He met Cowley's anxious gaze levelly. "It was Bodie."

"Are you sure?" The revelation shook the older man.

"I've worked with him for three and a half years, sir. I'd know him anywhere." He couldn't keep the hurt out of his voice. "You could've told me, sir."

Cowley looked at him blankly.

"Told you, 4.5?"

"Bodie -- undercover -- " then, seeing the expression on the craggy face, he plunged on, damning both his partner and himself. "Bodie met the Chinese bloke in the pub last night. I happened to see him. I thought you had him on an Operation Susie -- you might've told me," he repeated bitterly.

"Doyle, Bodie was not acting under my orders today. The Americans wanted Hilton granted extra protection because he's one of their top agents. He had a lot of useful contacts... There'll be hell to pay after this..."

Doyle swallowed; Bodie going maverick, turning rogue...

"Bodie wouldn't -- I just can't believe he'd..." he was murmuring to himself. "There has to be an explanation..." Even though he had seen with his own eyes...

"I'll issue a general alert to all police and security forces... I'm sorry, Doyle."

But Doyle hardly had the strength to acknowledge him. He knew -- oh, HOW he knew -- what would happen now. The wharf-side would be sealed off. The police and the squad could systematically search the area, brick by brick if necessary.s All the airports, ferry terminals would be alerted -- a man, armed and dangerous, trained killer, professional assassin.. Where could Bodie go? He was being hunted like a criminal -- Doyle refused to think of him as a murderer -- and he had nowhere to run...Doyle had turned his back on his partner on Tuesday night -- it seemed like an eternity ago -- and now Bodie had done the same to him, only it could cost him his life.

"If you know anything, Doyle -- " Cowley broke in on his reverie. "I want him taken alive."

A sudden thought struck Doyle.

"The other bodyguard?"

"Gone to ground. I don't want this to end up as a fire-fight between Bodie and the CIA, but if we can't find them..."s

Doyle closed his eyes, feeling thoroughly sick and heavy-hearted. Only three days ago...

"You're off until Monday. I'll expect a full report on this case for the Minister. You'll be in here tonight for observation."

Doyle's eyes snapped open.

"If Bodie tries to contact me, he won't know -- " "Your flat is under surveillance, there's a tap on your line -- " Then, in an uncharacteristic move, Cowley squeezed Doyle's shoulder, conveying more than words in that touch.

"It's hard for me to believe as well, lad. I blame myself -- should've spoken to him sooner..."

"Can't be helped," Doyle gritted his teeth. "Always said he was crazy... never thought it was true, till now."

Cowley's hand dropped.

"I'll see you first thing Monday, 4.5."

As the old man turned to leave, Doyle reached out.

"If you find him -- I have to talk to him, sir..."

Cowley nodded.

"I'll do what I can."

Doyle was on his way over to his partner's flat when the call came over the radio.

"9.6 to Alpha I. Priority call. We've got him, sir. He' s in a disused warehouse in Wapping."

No need for Doyle to ask who -- he glanced at his watch as he pulled the car round. It was three o'clock, Saturday afternoon -- Bodie had been loose for a mere twenty-four hours. Doyle was aware of a sense of disappointment. His partner, jungle-trained, SAS-honed, had been classed as the best by everyone, including Cowley. He could've slipped by the cordon, could've gotten away -- if he'd wanted to. Nobody could hold Bodie -- not even me, Doyle reflected sadly. It's my fault. I should've noticed something was wrong -- that it wasn't only my refusing to give him what he wanted...Perhaps, that's why he turned to me, because he needed...I let him down badly...If only I'd...

He was heading for Wapping, drawn by the desperate urge to be with Bodie again, to understand why he had done what he had -- to hold him again, to touch him once more before they took him away...

"Alpha 1 to 4.5. Doyle, where are you?"

"I'm -- " Oh, hell the Old Man knew him too well to think he'd stay away. "I'm on my way to Wapping, sir."

"What's your ETA?"

Doyle checked his watch and pressed his foot harder on the accelerator.

"Twelve minutes, sir."

"Report directly to me when you get here. Out."

Cowley was going to keep his word -- he would be able to speak to Bodie. A thousand things crammed his head, all of them too personal for the situation -- too painful. He wanted to tell Bodie he was sorry, he had been selfish, not wanting to be hurt by a probable rejection in the future. He had to say those words -- I'm in love with you -- but with half the squad, the Metropolitan Police Force and Cowley watching...If he could've turned the clock back to Tuesday night, he would have gladly done so.

He swung the gold Capri in behind the police patrol cars that formed the outer limits of the cordon, and flashed his ID card as he leapt out. A uniformed bobby had been waiting for him, and pointed out Cowley's position. Doyle ran across, his eyes searching the clutter of buildings ahead. He could detect no movement anywhere, and even the sounds of the police radio seemed muted.

Cowley was bending over the bonnet of a squad car pouring over a plan of the area with the divisional commander. He glanced up as his agent arrived.

"Where is he, sir?" Doyle asked breathlessly.

Cowley nodded at the commander, who said, "Upper right, we THINK. There was some movement on the ground floor. Looks like he's barricaded himself in."

"Ten minutes, Doyle, then we move," Cowley warned. "I want him alive, if possible," he told the policeman.

"My men have their orders, sir. They know what to do."

Cowley nodded tersely and Doyle swallowed the lump in his throat. Bodie would be taken, dead or alive, but he would be taken. He was probably the only person who could talk his nutter of a partner into surrendering and right at the moment, he had grave misgivings about his abilities. He started away when Cowley called him sharply.

"Flak jacket, 4.5. Bodie's already shot at you. He might not miss this time."

"He's my partner," Doyle reminded him obstinately, "and if he could take the Yanks with head shots, I'm a sitting duck."

"FLAK JACKET," Cowley repeated.

The kevlar vest was thrust into his hands and Doyle put it on under his lumber jacket, his eyes locked with Cowley's.

"Clear the way," Doyle ordered. "I'm going in!"

The metal barriers, usually aired on demonstrations were dragged protesting over the fretted concrete of the wharf. The police and squad members watched in silence as Doyle began the longest walk of his life towards the old warehouse. He looked up at the building, its glassless windows watching as the blind watch, without seeing. The tiniest hint of movement, and a rain of bullets spattered the cement ahead of him.

"That's far enough. What d'you want?"

"Bodie-mate, I've come to talk. Let me in."

Behind the lines, Cowley groaned.

"There's nothing to say. Go back!"

"BODIE!" Doyle couldn't keep the pain out of his voice this time. "Give it up! You can't win! You're surrounded!"

"So what?"

Doyle's temper flared.

"All right, you stubborn git! At least tell me WHY -- you owe me THAT much!"

Bodie laughed unpleasantly.

"You mean they didn't tell you?"

"Hilton was CIA --"

"He was a dealer!"

"Jesus!" breathed Doyle. "How the hell d'you know?" he bawled.

"I've spent the last eight years of my life trailing him," Bodie replied angrily.

Doyle gulped and started to speak again but Cowley's voice carried over the gulf between them.

"Time's up, Doyle!"

"Bodie, please, mate -- "

"DOYLE, get back here -- "

"Do it," Bodie snapped, "or I might -- "

His voice broke off as a muffled thud sounded inside the building. Bodie loosed a couple of rounds at his partner, causing Doyle to leap back towards the cordon, where Cowley was waiting for him.

Behind, he was aware that a group of marksman was shifting into position. Bodie had signed his own death warrant, and Doyle's heart was sinking fast. He had pinned his hopes on a peaceful surrender, but Bodie seemed to have developed some kind of death-wish...A rifle was shoved into his hands, and he came to, to find Cowley watching him. For one moment, the mask slipped to reveal an anguish that almost matched his own, then the older man's expression hardened.

"Get into position, 4.5. A good clean shot -- " His words were interrupted by the dull roar of an explosion, and flames suddenly belched from the eyeless building where Bodie was besieged.

"My God..." breathed Cowley.

Two figures broke clear of the inferno, their clothes ablaze. The first was screaming unintelligibly and Doyle thought he recognised Hilton's second guard. Bodie was racing after him, but he man was already dead, and fell; a heap of charred and burning flesh.

Cowley was shouting at Doyle, who stood rooted to the spot as his partner ran towards him, burning to death.

"For Christ-sake, Doyle, KILL HIM!"

But Doyle couldn't move, transfixed by the horror of the moment. Rough hands snatched the rifle and brought it to bear. A single shot rang out -- Bodie jerked mid-flight and hit the deck, body still blazing like a torch. The police on both sides rushed forward with blankets to smother the flames, and Cowley lowered the rifle, handing it to the divisional commander who had been at his side throughout the siege.

For a moment, Doyle stood gazing at the police who covered the remains of his partner, then he walked forward, unseeing, his mind still locked in the previous few minutes. Should've tried harder -- should've gone in to him -- told him why I couldn't -- wouldn't do what he wanted...Nothing matters now -- I've lost him forever.

He broke into a run, skidding to a halt beside the small tableau. One of the young P.C.'s was crying, as he stood aside, letting Doyle take his place.

Doyle folded down onto the concrete, ignorant of the cold, and leaned forward to peel back the edge of the blanket. Bodie's face was pink where he'd been scorched -- it looked like a bad case of sunburn -- and his blue-grey eyes were half-closed. There was a tidy hole in his forehead where Cowley's bullet had hit, and his expression was one of pain. The sickening smell of seared flesh and charred material assailed his nostrils...

"Oh, Bodie-mate, I'm so sorry -- so very sorry!"

Behind the lines, the divisional commander was organising the clearing of the vehicles -- his own and CI5's, and the ambulancemen were making their way through to pick up the grisly remains.

Cowley stood back, allowing the police to work unhindered, lost in his own bitter thoughts. He regretted having to hunt down one of his own -- that it should be Bodie, for whom he felt no small measure of affection, was doubly saddening. The reasons for his recent behaviour had now become clear. Knowing that he would be committing a crime under their very noses, he was obviously torn between his loyalty to the squad and whatever had motivated him to kill the Americans. Cowley was fairly certain that Bodie hadn't even confided in his partner, which went in part towards exonerating Doyle. The whole business was a shambles, his attempt to use Murphy, an entire waste of time.

As if summoned, the jet black Capri came gliding to a halt beyond the fringe of the police cars. Murphy got out swiftly, and even across the distance between them, Cowley could see his frown.

The lanky agent wove his way to the controller's side. Further away, Murph had spotted Doyle, kneeling on the ground by a blanket-covered mound. Two ambulance men were hovering nearby, but he seemed oblivious to them.

"What's going on, sir?" Murphy asked. "I radioed to find Doyle, and they said there was a siege situation -- one of OURS..."

The controller's expression hardened.

"You were supposed to be with 3.7. Instead, I find you out of contact, and Bodie waging a one-man war against the CIA!" The older man had raised his voice and those squad members closest flinched in silent sympathy with the luckless agent and sidled off, knowing they had more urgent business to deal with.

"With respect, sir," Murphy prepared to defend his rope-mate and himself, "we were stranded on a mountain on Thursday. By the time the rescue party got to us, Bodie was in -- " "You can vouch for his whereabouts on Thursday evening?" Cowley demanded.

"Bodie was never out of my sight from Wednesday afternoon until he was taken into the local hospital on Thursday -- " "Bodie, in hospital? Which one, man?"

"Caernavon, sir." Murphy was becoming more mystified by the minute. "What's happened?"

Cowley ignored the question and pursued his own inquiry.

"Where is he now?"

Murphy jerked his thumb towards his car, where his passenger was struggling to get out. Cowley darted between the jumble of vehicles with a speed which belied his age. He hardly dared to believe...The gauche figure resolved his problem, ended balanced on one leg, holding the door and roof of the car as props. Bodie looked tired and very pale. As he followed the controller, Murph wondered whether Cowley would speak aloud what was so evident on his face, but there was a heavy hint of annoyance in the older man's words, as he greeted his operative.

"Well, 3.7, I hope you have an explanation."

Bodie eyed Murphy nervously, hoping that his mate hadn't filled in all the details. Behind Cowley's back, Murph gave him a reassuring smile.

"I -- er, fell off the mountain," Bodie replied sheepishly.

Cowley glared at the pristine white cast that encased Bodie's left leg from the knee down.

"Accidents will happen, sir, even to the best of us," Murphy chipped in helpfully. Nobody else would ever know how miraculous it was that Bodie had escaped serious injury. Cowley's eyes raked the agent from head to foot.

"And you haven't been near London since Wednesday?"

Bodie and Murphy shook their heads.

Without taking his eyes off Bodie, Cowley ordered Murphy to fetch Doyle. Gratefully, Murph obeyed.

He found the other man kneeling in the middle of the wharf, by the place where the assassin had fallen. It took a few minutes to get through to him. When Doyle finally responded, he looked up at Murph with dull and listless eyes.

"Bodie's gone..." he announced in a husky whisper. "The Old Man shot him..."

Murph didn't begin to understand what was going on, but he could hear the pain behind the simple statement.

"Bodie's all right, mate," Murphy told him softly. He slid a hand beneath the smaller man's arm, and Doyle allowed himself to be helped to his feet.

"I wanted to go with him," Doyle continued. "They wouldn't let me."

"It's all right, Ray," Murphy soothed, realising that his companion was in shock. "I'll take you to him."

Doyle nodded dumbly and moved out of his reach.

"My car's up behind the police cordon -- the Old Man's up there now."

Doyle went on ahead, walking as if he were in a dream...

Cowley was still standing beside the open door of the black Capri when Doyle arrived. The older man took in the dishevelled appearance, the pale face, the blank eyes.

"Doyle, the man I shot -- you were mistaken, it wasn't Bodie." Doyle simply looked at him, unable to react to the words. "Doyle -- " "Ray," Murphy interrupted, "Bodie's been with me since Wednesday." Doyle switched his glassy gaze to the taller man. "I wanted to go with him..." he repeated.

Cowley nodded to someone standing behind both the agents -- Murphy didn't have to look to know who -- "Sunshine?" Bodie's voice was husky. "What's this about me shooting some Yank... ?"

Doyle turned slowly, beyond comprehension for a moment. Bodie was staring at him, a quizzical expression on his face.


Doyle's eyes filled with tears and he took one tentative step towards the phantom before his knees gave way. He was dimly aware of two strong arms catching him, lowering him gently, and then unconsciousness claimed him...


Bodie's eyes opened and he found himself gazing at Doyle's bedside radio- alarm. It was six-forty, Monday morning. He took a deep breath and smiled. No work for a month while his ankle stayed in plaster. He wished he could spend it all with his partner.

The smile became a grin as he turned his head on the pillow. Doyle was stuck to his back, his breath tickling Bodie's shoulder, his arms locked about Bodie's waist and his cock still buried in Bodie's backside, soft now after he'd spent himself so generously the night before. Bodie bent his arm so he could stroke Doyle's stringy flank, half-afraid that he might be dreaming...

Murphy had caught Doyle as he fainted, and laid him carefully on the ground before demanded to know what was going on. Bodie slid to the concrete to sit with his partner, while Cowley briefed them about the previous days' events.

Doyle was taken off to the hospital in the second ambulance, accompanied by Bodie. He woke once during the journey, slipping his trembling hand into his partner's, before passing out again.

The doctor who had tended him the day before shook his head.

"I told him not to overdo it...The drugs will take time to clear his system. What was Cowley playing at, ordering him on duty? I'm signing him off for the rest of the week, and I want to see him Wednesday morning."

"Can I see him?" Bodie asked.

"You can have him," the doctor answered. "Just make sure he takes it easy. What've you done, Bodie?"

Bodie glanced disparagingly at the cast. "Oh, fell off a mountain -- " "Very clever. Should've tried landing on your head -- would've done less damage," snorted the doctor, who wasn't particularly fond of him.

Bodie gave him a knobs-to-you smile, and said, "If you show me ho....."

The doctor glared at him. "Get out of here."

Bodie got.

Murphy drove them to Doyle's flat where they put their fellow agent to bed. Bodie elected to stay on and keep him company. He busied himself around the place getting used to manoeuvring on crutches, and when he finally went into the bedroom, he found Doyle awake and looking self-conscious.

"I made a prat of myself, passing out like that, didn't I?"

"Don't worry about it. The doctor put it down to the drug yesterday -- " Bodie parked himself on the edge of the mattress.

"I owe you an apology for Tuesday night -- walking out the way I did." Doyle looked uncomfortable.

"Well?" Bodie waited.

"I was scared," Doyle said simply. "If we start sleeping together, how long will it be until you -- " he closed his eyes, " -- walk out on me and find someone else? I've seen what you're like with your women -- dating Claire, and seeing Fiona on the side, then phoning Mandy when they aren't free. I don't want to be just another notch on your bedpost -- " "If I could get a word in," Bodie was trying not to smile, and succeeded in sounding indignant.

Doyle shut up, afraid that he'd ruined it already.

"First off, I'll admit that I like to leave my options open when it comes to girls -- I'm just filling in time, and it's nice to have a change now and again. Second, I don't know where you got the idea I'm sleeping my way into the Guinness Book of Records, because I don't keep scores." And forestalling any interruption, he added, "You'll never see me making it with another bloke, either." He leaned over and ruffled the tangled fringe. "In case you hadn't noticed, you've been Number One in my life for quite a while now, and I'd like to keep it that way. I'm happy with you. Yes, I want to go to bed with you, but if it means ruining our partnership -- wrecking friendship -- " "I just need to know you aren't going to dump me for some bird with big tits and a university degree," Doyle interjected. "Or a bloke who's got a big -- " Bodie's mouth descended on his and effectively silenced him for a minute.

When they finally surfaced for air, Bodie was frowning.

"Should've asked the doctor to clean your ears out. I told you, I'm happy with you. For God's sake, Ray," he laughed suddenly, "I love you."

Doyle gulped, speechless.

Bodie shunted further onto the bed.

"I realised when I was falling that I should've said something sooner -- might have made a difference...I asked Murph to tell you for me, 'cos I wasn't sure I'd survive after I cut the rope -- " Bodie found himself seized in a painful grip.

"You did WHAT?" demanded Doyle. "You CUT the rope? For God's sake, you weren't trying to --" Bodie snorted.

"Suicide? No, if I hadn't, I'd've pulled Murph down with me. Can't do that to a mate -- " "So you cut this rope and fell down the mountain?" Doyle wanted to be absolutely sure about the sequence of events.

Bodie nodded, ignoring the pain where his partner gripped him.

"Wouldn't've been hurt, but I forgot to keep my legs together when I landed and rolled. That's how I broke my ankle..."

Doyle couldn't help it. His shoulders began to heave and he burst out laughing, despite the seriousness of the situation.

Bodie pouted. "Glad you think it was funny..."

Doyle tried to control himself.

"I'm sorry, mate, but I was thinking -- when I knew you and Murph were both off -- that you would -- what if you and he were -- that'll teach you to keep your legs together when you're on holiday with strange men -- " and he started again, chuckling filthily.

Bodie had to admit he hadn't looked at it QUITE that way, and the thought tickled his sense of humour, too. Soon they were clinging to each other, giggling helplessly.

"D'you know, Ray," gasped Bodie, "I don't think that even crossed Murphy's mind."

"Good," snorted Doyle, "'cos I'm not sharing you with anyone. I decided on Thursday that you were a bastard, but I wanted you. Then yesterday, when Hilton was shot, and I thought it was you, I realised I'd do anything to save you, even if it meant breaking the law. When Cowley shot him -- and it was too late."

Bodie freed himself from Doyle's grasp and slipped an arm round the bony shoulders, cuddling gently.

"Don't think about it, Ray. It's over. We're both alive, and that's what matters."

Doyle shook his head.

"I can't help it. I keep seeing him burning -- all I could think was that I would never get the chance to make love to you -- " "Do you want to?" Bodie's voice was husky with desire. Doyle swallowed and nodded.

With a grin, Bodie dropped a tiny kiss on the curly head. "Give a man some room, Ray..."

They spent Saturday night exploring each other's bodies, touching and teasing, Doyle was in a hurry to learn all he could about his partner.

"If I lost you tomorrow -- " 'You won't," Bodie assured him, laying back and letting Doyle find his sensitive areas.

Neither of them slept much, Doyle kept coming awake, haunted by memories of the day, so that, eventually, Bodie spread his legs and made Doyle lie on top of him where he could feel Bodie's heart beating. Bodie, himself dozed fitfully through the night, and was finally woken by the instant erection jabbing into his belly...

Doyle had proved an adept student, and there was nothing he wouldn't try, although the plaster cast made some things a little difficult. He had allowed Bodie to penetrate him -- Doyle straddling his partner -- and they had come together, Bodie pumping his seed into the tight channel, Doyle spilling his over the hot, sticky body beneath him. Afterwards, they lay quietly, holding each other close, contentedly dozing...

Eager to repay his lover in kind, Bodie had presented himself, lying on his side. It was sweet, he remembered -- Doyle entering him so slowly, it seemed to take forever. Once inside, he had driven Bodie to a powerful climax, hauling his partner close, whispering soft words without realising what he was saying.. They had fallen asleep, still joined....

Bodie pried himself free, first of the encircling arms, then the softening cock. He eased out of bed, making his way carefully, without crutches to the lounge, where he gingerly sat on the couch, and reached. for the phone. Mentally crossing his fingers, he dialled a familiar number. Murphy answered on the first ring.

"We ARE eager this morning, 3.7," he teased. "How's Ray?"

"He's -- " Bodie couldn't help the dopey grin on his face, " -- fine. Any news yet?"

"Interpol's been busy all weekend. Nothing on the assassin at the moment, but the Chinese bloke -- Lee Wei Yu -- is a member of the Hong Kong Narcotics squad, and THEY have been after our American friend for years, but couldn't prove anything. I will call you, soon as we've got anything definite on our gun-man..."

"Thanks, mate." Bodie hung up, a pensive look on his face. He turned to find his partner hovering in the doorway.

"Should you be out of bed?" he asked. Doyle put on a mournful expression. "Lonely in there on my own..."

Bodie got to his feet, slowly. He could feel the familiar throb of arousal.

"I'm just coming," he promised.

Doyle stared pointedly at his lover's groin, and chuckled evilly.

The noise of the telephone penetrated sleepy brains. Doyle rolled over, groping haphazardly for the receiver.

"Ullo?" he mumbled drowsily.

"Ray?" Murphy sounded disgustingly bright for the time of day. "Is Bodie still there?"

"Hang on, I'll find out." Doyle leaned over and poked his lover awake. "You still here?"

"Nggh! No," grumbled Bodie, snuggling deeper into the pillow. "I've emigrated."

"He says he's emigrated," Doyle relayed the news, knowing that Murphy had heard anyway.

"This'll make him sit up," Murph predicted dryly. "We've got a name for his look-alike."

Doyle slapped Bodie's rump hard, bringing his partner to full awareness. "His name is Robin Wesley. He's a mercenary, working out of the orient." "Doyle repeated the name, "Doesn't ring any bells with me -- " He glanced at his other half, who shook his head. "Nor with Bodie." Bodie sat up, listening intently.

"Freelances a lot, recently he's been working without a client." Doyle recalled the gunman's words.

"He's been after Hilton for years..."

"Not without reason," Murph said sadly. "His son was an addict -- died from an overdose -- he's buried in Hong Kong. Wesley claimed the Yanks had supplied the stuff, said he knew of people who would testify to CIA involvement in trafficking but nobody would listen to him..."

"The poor bastard," murmured Doyle. "If he'd surrendered -- Cowley would've loved a case like that -- " "Cowley's been told to drop it," Murph informed them. "He's spoken to the Minister and the Ambassador."

Bodie made a grab for the phone; Doyle fended him off. "And?"

"The Yanks are saying they'll look into it. CIA's equivalent of Internal Affairs, FBI...who knows?"

"And we're just going to let it go?" Doyle was incredulous.

"'fraid so," sighed Murphy. "The Minister wants us to keep out of the firing line -- quite literally, this time. Cowley's very unhappy."

"I'll bet," muttered Bodie.

"Gotta go -- " Murphy breathed. "The Old Man's just come back...I'll keep you posted." The line went dead.

Doyle replaced the receiver and frowned. Bodie knew that expression.


"All that time -- all those years WASTED," yelled Doyle. "The CIA investigating! That's like asking Hitler to write (the) history of World War Two! My god, Bodie -- " He buried one hand in the unruly thatch of his hair, " -- and we're just gonna let them get away with it!"

Bodie pulled him close. There was no easy answer this time.

"Don't tear yourself up over Wesley, Ray, it's --" Doyle struggled free.

"DON'T YOU CARE? Bodie, the CIA are involved with drug-dealers, and all you can do is -- "

"Mind my own back-yard," Bodie responded quietly.

Doyle stared at him. "I don't believe this -- you really DON'T care -- "

"Oh, I care," Bodie assured him softly. "I just -- I'm not a crusader, Ray, I'm not going to take up arms on anyone else's behalf against the might of the CIA -- we keep our own doorstep clean, and we don't mess with the Americans' trash." He risked an arm round his lover's shoulders once more, and wasn't surprised to feel Doyle trembling. "This time, sunshine, it's not our fight -- let the Yanks sort it out among themselves, or with MI6 -- they got us into it, after all." He gave Doyle a gentle hug and brushed his lips against the stubbled cheek.

"Bodie, it's -- I can't -- the INJUSTICE of it. Wesley KNEW that Hilton was a trafficker -- had witnesses who could've sworn it -- "

"He took the law into his own hands and he paid the price, Ray." "THAT'S what I mean -- he shouldn't have had to -- he was in the right -- if he'd surrendered, we could've helped him -- it was such a WASTE of a life --" Doyle shuddered as he recalled those last few minutes of the assassin's life. "If I had --"

"Don't!" Bodie whispered, his breath tickling Doyle's face. "You can't blame yourself for his death. Wesley knew the risks, knew he wouldn't win -- "

"It's a terrible way to go -- " Doyle buried his face at Bodie's shoulder.

"It's over, love. Don't think about it anymore." Bodie stroked him, trying to still the trembling.

"I can't NOT think about it. I was watching him die. I had the rifle in my hands, and I couldn't pull the trigger -- I thought he was YOU, and I couldn't --"

"But it wasn't me, Ray," Bodie pushed himself upright. "Look at me a minute." He wriggled round so that he was comfortable and met Doyle's troubled eyes. "Wesley is dead -- it's happened, and there was nothing you could do to save him. I doubt that he even WANTED to be saved. He appointed himself as executioner, and he killed Hilton -- mission accomplished, the game is over...You can't change the facts -- you just accept 'em, and learn to live with them." He sighed heavily. "I won't ask you to forget, because I know you won't -- all I ask is that you stop blaming yourself for what happened. Let the dead rest in peace and let's get on with our lives, hey?"

He pulled Doyle into a firm embrace and held on. Give his partner a couple of weeks and the whole episode with Wesley would be history. They couldn't afford the luxury of grief for a stranger in their business, they both knew that, and there were more pressing concerns to occupy them -- not the least was how they would tell Cowley about their altered relationship. A sharp poke in the ribs brought him back to the present.

"What, love?"

"I said I love you. Maybe YOU should get your ears cleaned out."

Bodie snorted, and slid down the bed, taking his partner with him. Doyle settled his head on Bodie's chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart. He closed his eyes for a moment...

Bodie felt the weight on his chest grow, knew that his lover had fallen asleep again, and kissed the top of the curly head. He eased his injured leg so that it was comfortable and gazed up at the ceiling.

Ray was wrong, he thought; Wesley's life hadn't been wasted. Hilton was dead, and Wesley's son was avenged, which was probably all the mercenary had wanted, had ever set out to do. Bodie could understand that, and sympathise with him. If anything happened to Ray, he would be just the same...

Bodie acknowledged that he owed the man a debt that he could never repay in person -- Wesley's death had forced Doyle to face the prospect of life without him, and it had brought them together when Bodie had feared they would part. Now he had been given the chance, Bodie was determined to make the most of it. He hugged the wiry body to him, brushing the ragged hair again with his lips. Doyle murmured softly in his dream and was still once more.

The only cloud on the horizon was a little Scotsman called Cowley. He had the power to make or break their relationship. If he sanctioned it -- and Bodie was aware that he and Doyle were considered CI5's top team -- then there was nothing to worry about...And even if he didn't, Bodie knew, he and Doyle would find a way...

Satisfied that he had solved the only problems that ever really mattered, Bodie smiled at his sleeping lover, closed his eyes, and drifted off...

-- THE END --

For 'Wes'.

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