Word Association


Another of those challenges using certain words: mine were Dr. Ross, chamber pot, graveyard. All in two pages (I used a small font, OK?)

"Word association?" Doyle grinned. "Oooh, I like that."

Kate Ross, PhD, rolled her eyes. Having had Bodie in there earlier, she thought she'd seen everything but was suddenly a little less sure. If Bodie could link hand grenades to cleavages (pineapples were a more frequent association), what was Doyle about to come up with?

Maybe - just maybe - this would be a little more civilised, although he and Bodie both seemed to find the idea of getting past her armour something of a sport. Why on earth had she chosen to work with an organisation that seemed mainly staffed by over-libidinous, over-trained cretins talking about cleavages in relation to weapons of war? And refusing to explain it, in Bodie's case?

"I did this when I was little," Doyle informed her politely. "At school. I was an over-achiever, you know..."

She bet he was, at least in some departments. He didn't know, however, that she had every one of his school reports on file. Over-achiever my eye, she gloated silently. What had one said? "Raymond Doyle should spend more time observing his school books than the female members of his class." Typical. Even so, he'd been on the better side of average and at least had actually finished school, unlike some she could mention.

Doyle was definitely on his best behaviour, though. Very strange and a little worrying. Was he ill? No, not according to his medical and he certainly looked healthy. And extremely sexy, dammit. Were those jeans really comfortable?

Time to flip over the first card. Here we go... barbed wire.

"Barbed wire," Doyle said helpfully.

"That's what is is. You're supposed to tell me what it reminds you of," she said patiently.

"It reminds me of barbed wire. I mean you can't exactly mess it up with anything else, right?"

"Just try," she sighed, trying not to find the puzzled expression rather attractive.

Doyle thought for a minute.

"Pigeons with sore arses."

No, she wasn't going to laugh. Time for the next one. A tree.

"A chamber pot," Doyle declared firmly.

"Are you trying to be funny with me?"

"Wouldn't dare, Miss Ross. There was this tree in the playground. If we got caught peeing against it, we had to use the chamber pot in the classroom the next time, in front of everybody. An old china one, it was. Splashed a bit, though."

Fine. She was not going to contemplate images of a very young Raymond Doyle pointing Percy at the porcelain, or even the Percy in question. Oh, come on woman.

She glared, and flipped a few more cards over in rapid succession. Doyle seemed to produce fairly standard answers and didn't bother to explain any more of them. He was grinning slightly, though, looking... looking like he always did. Amazing.

In fact, she found herself nodding approval at the quick-fire responses, yet perfectly sure the rapid mind ("Raymond has an extremely agile brain, if he would only use it", another report said) was doing a little double guessing about what she wanted to hear. They all did that, which is why she speeded up more and more.

The cards turned faster, until she produced the one of his partner. That always surprised them.

"Graveyard," Doyle said without the slightest pause.


Good God, that was a new one. She paused in the process, deciding that this required an explanation.

"Dreams I had when I was shot. Bodie... talking to me. There was always this graveyard."

"I see. And do you get a lot of... dreams?"

"Wet ones?" Doyle enquired cheekily, "Or nightmares? No to both. But the medics were prodding around with my scars earlier, which reminded me of being shot. Not bad memories, though - you unscrambled my brains enough after all that, right? But it's linked to both Bodie and you, so do I get double points for that?"

Double what? Dammit, what with the idea of wet dreams and all that time she'd spent with him after the shooting, struggling to remain cool and professional and avoid thinking about how he'd be in bed... this was unsettling.

"Double points," Doyle repeated smoothly. "What you get for performing well."

Cheeky bastard. Kate Ross had heard plenty about his performance, and not just in the field.

"No. Carry on."

Dammit, she'd forgotten the one of the balloon that looked suspiciously like a ... thank God it hadn't come up in Bodie's run-through. She felt her cheeks flaming. No, maybe Doyle wouldn't...

"Condom," Doyle said airily. "Safe sex, contraception, babies, mortgages, retirement, back to graveyards. That's... seven in one. Will you have dinner with me?"

Exactly which of the string of words caused her to drop the entire pack of remaining cards she didn't know.

"Don't be ridiculous."

"Oh, we don't have to do the babies and mortgages quite yet, love."

"Don't call me love," she snapped.

"Sorry." Doyle cast his eyes down. ("One of Raymond Doyle's redeeming qualities is his honesty and his indisputable charm", a later report had said.)

"Dinner?" She repeated distractedly.

"Oh, about seven tonight," Doyle said. "Like Italian? Or there's this new French place..."

Without thinking, she held up another card at random, with a knife.

"And fork," Doyle said delightedly. "I'll take that as a yes, then."

"Mr. Doyle..."

"Ray. C'mon, let's get this over with. Certify me a nutcase as usual. Or there's a place by the river..."

Sitting there watching him over a glass of wine, in the evening sun... Oh, that would be wonderful. But out of the question. She grabbed a final card, wishing he was serious, but of course he wouldn't be. Ah, the hand grenade.

"Cleavage," Doyle said without hesitation. "About seven, then?"

"I need you to explain why you and Bodie came up with that... "

"Oh, if you insist," Doyle grinned, getting up to go. "I'll tell you when I pick you up."

Of course, Kate Ross told herself, she needed to find out. Research, of course.

-- THE END --

August 2002

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