Doyle wasn't fooled. There was Bodie, clowning around with the two guns, turning the whole situation into a joke, lapping up Cowley's exasperation with the panache of the born entertainer. But seared into his brain was the flashing anger in the clear blue eyes as Bodie had met him at the dock. Doyle had strolled over, hands in pockets, trying to lighten the tension with an insouciant "What kept you?"

Even as the words dropped from his lips, he knew he'd made a mistake. Bodie's eyes had clashed with his own, fists clenching and jaw taut as he made a visible effort to rein himself in. Then the expression rearranged itself into the familiar blankness. Bodie turned away to deal with a trembling Brownie and Doyle knew this wasn't over.

The three men made their way back to the RS, now joined by a red Granada, the torn gravel behind it clear evidence of the urgency of its arrival. Cowley moved towards the Granada, turning back towards the two agents. "4/5, I'll expect you in my office first thing tomorrow for a full debriefing." His tone was neutral, the faintest hint of disapproval possibly existing only in Doyle's imagination. "In the meantime, you're stood down. Make sure your report is finished before I see you. Bodie, take him home. Make sure he doesn't land himself in any more trouble."

"Sir," the two responded in unison. Cowley glanced from one to the other, taking in the shame-faced sullenness of the one, momentarily arrested by the expression of the other. Briefly he hesitated, questioning the wisdom of leaving the two of them alone together given the mood Bodie was in. He shook his head in irritation -- they were grown men, Doyle could take care of himself. He got into the Granada, executed a neat U-turn, drove away.

Doyle closed his eyes, letting a debilitating wave of weariness wash over him and fade. The adrenaline high had passed in the aftermath of the action, leaving a pounding ache behind his eyes, and a renewed awareness of the last two all but sleepless nights. He could feel his partner's suppressed fury radiating outwards like a physical presence, and knew he was ill-equipped to deal with the inevitable argument. Without much hope, he decided to try and ward off the onslaught.

"Look, Bodie..."

For answer, Bodie stalked to the passenger door of the RS, jerking it open. "In," he commanded tersely.

Doyle sighed inwardly. "For crying out loud, Bodie..."

"Hey, mate," never a good sign when Bodie drawled, "you heard the man. I'm to take you home. Orders are orders. Now get in."

Doyle decided that, for the moment, discretion was the better part of valour. In all honesty, it'd be a blessed relief not to have to drive right now anyway. He fished the keys out of his pocket and wordlessly handed them over, then settled himself in the car, closing his eyes. Idly he took in the slam of the door, the crunch of gravel, drifting off as the engine roared into life. As the RS sped through the deepening shadows, Doyle slept.

It took him a moment to realise that he had been woken by the engine cutting out. He glanced over at Bodie, seeing only the featureless profile of the other agent, staring straight ahead into the gloom. A few charged seconds passed. Finally, Doyle pushed open the door.

"Thanks, mate. Really. See you tomorrow?"

"I'm coming in."

Doyle paused in the act of climbing out of the car. "Look, you're pissed off. I can understand that. But honestly, I'm knackered. I just need to get my head down. And I've got Cowley's report to do yet. It'll keep till tomorrow, won't it?"

Bodie sat motionless while Doyle completed his little speech. In the ensuing pause, he finally turned to face Doyle, and the look in his eyes was chilling. "No," he said flatly. "I'm coming in. Now."

Doyle gave up. What the hell, he thought, might as well have it out now, let him get it out of his system. In truth, he had some sympathy for Bodie's position -- he could well imagine how unimpressed he would have been if Bodie had acted so recklessly. Silently he led the way into the small courtyard, remembering Bodie's antics there yesterday, and the protective instinct that had prompted them. Remembering the night that followed -- Bodie, unasked and unannounced, huddled in the Capri outside, guarding Doyle's back against any unwanted attention. "You'll save me," he had said so casually, knowing without question it was the truth. And Bodie had. No thanks to Doyle.

Doyle headed straight for the whisky, pouring two glasses, taking a gulp from one, refilling it. Turning back, he found Bodie standing immobile watching intently, face utterly inscrutable. Doyle was a little unnerved by this -- he had thought he knew his partner well enough to be able to pick up on the smallest signals. But this time Bodie was giving nothing away. They stood face to face, neither speaking, the tension building palpably between them. At last Bodie broke the silence.

"So. Maybe you'd like to explain to me what the hell you thought you were playing at?"

Doyle felt his temper rising, curbed it with an effort. He'd give Bodie that one. He took a few steps towards his partner, holding out one of the glasses. "Here you go, mate. Look, you're right. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have gone off like that. It was a spur of the moment thing. And we were meant to be maintaining radio silence anyway."

The fašade cracked, eyes first. Irrelevantly, and not for the first time, Doyle marvelled at how such an icy blue could project such fire. "Don't give me that," Bodie snarled, contemptuously ignoring the offered drink. "You managed to radio in, didn't you? You could have given some clue. Or maybe phoned and left a message? Sent a bastard carrier pigeon, anything. Just so I wasn't left in the middle of nowhere without a clue about how to get to you."

Doyle drained his glass, decided there was no point in wasting the other one, emptied that too. He relished the burn of the spirit as it slid down his throat, reviving him. One last try, then. "I know how you feel, Bodie..."

Oh perfect. Patronise him. "You know what? For the last two days I've trailed around after you, guarding your sorry arse while you try and figure out what happened to the gun you were supposed to be looking after in the first place. I've called in favours that you couldn't possibly imagine -- Christ, I owe Marty Martell a favour or two myself now, and, believe me, that's not good. And after all that, I find you were too busy thinking with your balls to see what was right in front of your face. What the fuck's wrong with you?"

Doyle snapped. Covering the distance between them in two or three strides, he grabbed the front of Bodie's jacket, twisting it in his fists till their faces were forced to within inches, their breath mingling. "What's wrong with me?" he ground out. "Get a grip, would you? You're not my fucking mother. What is it -- can't keep away from me?"

He never saw the fist coming, was aware only of a roaring pain in his jaw as he crashed back onto the rug. Within a moment Bodie landed on top of him, his bulk pinning Doyle to the floor, an arm across his throat. Calculated pressure: Doyle could -- with difficulty -- draw breath, but any movement was likely to cause a lot of pain. Their eyes met and held, and for the first time Doyle felt a thrill of apprehension. He had seen that look in his partner's eyes before -- usually shortly before he killed the person he was looking at.

But when Bodie finally spoke, his voice was soft, his tone conversational. "You get off on it, don't you?" He lifted his free hand, grazed the tip of his index finger down the length of Doyle's cheek. A parody of gentleness, far more menacing than the blow that had preceded it. "That's what it is - the danger. It turns you on. Am I wrong?"

Doyle swallowed, the words themselves less horrifying than his reaction to them. He could feel himself hardening, knew from the proximity of their bodies that it was only a matter of time before Bodie became aware of it. Sure enough, he caught the sudden widening of Bodie's eyes, the brief flare of the pupils. He had no excuses, nothing he could say to cover this, no escape. Desperately he tried to land a blow on Bodie's body, maybe he could wind him enough to break free...

But Bodie was more than ready for him. Grabbing Doyle's forearms, he pinioned his hands above his head, shifting his weight so he was lying more squarely on top of his partner. Doyle lay perfectly still, breathing laboured, hoping against hope that his inaction would allay some of the fury directed against him.

He was utterly unprepared for what followed. Infinitely slowly, Bodie brought his face downwards until they were almost touching. Paused. And lightly traced his tongue across Doyle's lower lip.

Had it not been for the weight of the other man pinning him down, Doyle was sure he would have hit the ceiling. As it was, he arched uncontrollably against Bodie's body, their groins grinding into even closer contact. A soft, involuntary moan escaped him as he closed his eyes. "Jesus, Bodie," he whispered, defeated. "You bastard."

Bodie laughed, a cold, hard sound devoid of humour. "Oh, I haven't even started yet." His voice was rough, husky, no hint of friendship. Doyle opened his mouth -- to demand, to rant, maybe to beg, he was never quite sure. In the event, Bodie seized the opportunity with shocking suddenness. His lips and teeth ground into Doyle's hard enough to draw blood, tongue gaining access, swirling around Doyle's tongue as the kiss deepened, softened, until Doyle was dizzy and both agents' breath was coming in ragged gasps.

Vaguely Doyle became aware that the hard flesh between the two was not his alone. Bodie, face flushed, eyes gleaming, was clearly as aroused as he was. Doyle sensed his opportunity for escape. Pressing himself firmly against Bodie, he began to move against him in a slow, tantalising rhythm. At the same time he began his own offensive on Bodie's mouth, nibbling and sucking at the swollen lips, swallowing into himself Bodie's muffled gasp and curse, feeling the iron grip on his arms begin to relax.

Doyle seized the moment, wrenching one arm free and ramming his clenched fist into Bodie's side. Bodie collapsed sideways with a grunt, and Doyle rolled them both over until now it was he pinning the larger agent, tables neatly turned. He braced himself for some serious retaliation, surprised instead to feel his partner relax under him. He risked a glance at Bodie's face -- saw, rather than the expected fury, a combination of amusement, arousal and speculation. An unmistakable challenge.

"Okay, you've got me. What now?" The huskiness was still clear in Bodie's voice, but softer now, lower.

A very good question. The combination of whisky, lack of oxygen and adrenaline was making Doyle feel decidedly heady. Without conscious thought, he slipped one hand inside Bodie's shirt, running it gently across the smooth abdomen, enjoying the shiver his action provoked. He tried for a menacing smile, fairly sure he hadn't quite achieved it, utterly unaware of the blatant seductiveness he radiated. "Dunno mate, you started this."

"Yeah," Bodie drawled. Now that was a menacing smile, damn it. "Going to finish it, too." His hands came round to cup Doyle's arse, pulling them together, pinning Doyle's hand between them as they moved urgently against each other. Doyle searched his partner's face, drawn inexorably into the blaze of emotion he found there. Their lips met.

The kiss was a power play, a battle of sorts. It contained all the questions, demands, furies and reassurances that had so far remained unspoken. Frantically they clung to each other as though to lose the contact would mean destruction, Doyle's free hand snaking round to tangle in Bodie's hair, neither giving any ground until they had found some unnameable resolution. Slowly, slowly, the pressure softened, until the two broke away to gaze at each other, both stunned by the storm they had unleashed.

The spell lingered, the stillness stretching into a frozen eternity, until finally Bodie nodded once, sealing between them a pact which both understood to their core, though neither could have explained it. His grip loosened, hands stroking gently over Doyle's denim-clad buttocks, provoking a smile of such dazzling intensity that Bodie was temporarily robbed of breath.

Not without regret, Doyle rolled off to lie beside his partner, his hand, still buried under Bodie's shirt, moving upwards to toy idly with a taut nipple. "Fancy that drink now then?" he asked mischievously.

Bodie's grin was feral. "Maybe later. Got some unfinished business here first." He busied himself with Doyle's belt buckle, expert fingers slipping inside the denim to grasp firm flesh. As he lay back, helplessly watching Bodie move purposefully down his body, Doyle reasoned with some amusement that, after all, that could have gone a lot worse. It was his last rational thought for some time.

-- THE END --

September 2007

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