Careful What You Wish For


I thought of you and nothing more
I needed nothing else...
I should never have allowed myself
To feel this way.

 --Michael Been, "To Feel This Way"

Part I: Like a Thief to Silver

Bodie lay face down on the bed, his head turned to one side, almost buried in the sheet and half a pillow that was scrunched up under his face. While he was fighting off the heavy sleep he became dimly aware of a great weight pressing down on him, almost over his whole body. And a warm wetness behind his ear.

It was Doyle, who lay sleepily above him from head to toe, arms stretched over arms, legs on legs. Very little of his partner's weight was actually on the bed; in fact, the majority of Doyle was over him, enveloping his back, legs, feet and arms with extreme warmth.

Feeling the rise and fall of Doyle's chest as he breathed, he became aware of what the moistness behind his ear was: Ray's breath, small, feathery wisps of air condensing against his skin. He was also aware of the soft, languid movements of the other man's right hand gently stroking up and down Bodie's right arm, the left hand caressing what was available of Bodie's own left arm. The sensation was tickling yet incredibly heat-charged, so easy and smooth, so calculated to be arousing. Just like Doyle.

Oh yes, last night, Bodie thought, finally coming up to wakefulness. And then with the memory, he realized there was something else besides Doyle's body lying against him. Not only was his own arousal intensifying enough that the position on the bed was growing uncomfortable, but he was distinctly aware of Ray's hot, hard shaft, located firmly in the cleft of Bodie's buttocks.

A distant, far-off part of his brain considered the possibility that this could be petrifyingly awful. But the feeling that was shooting through his groin, tingling in his stomach, and making his whole body throb with wanting meant he didn't much care. Bodie moved his free arm around and gently stroked Doyle's firm, round bum, running his fingers lightly over the smooth skin--dancing, really. Ray sighed more heavily into Bodie's ear this time, the impression sending shivers through Bodie.

"Always dreamed..." Ray murmured into his skin. "Never hoped."

Bodie began the slow process of turning round to look at him. Shifting under the weight, he twisted, rubbing his body against Ray's even more strongly, their cocks touching, making them both gasp. Bodie sought Ray's mouth, his eyes closed in languorousness as Ray's hands continued to moved up and down his skin, first the fingertips, then the backs of the fingers.

Not like last night. Doyle was making it clear he wanted it slow this time. He stilled Bodie's grinding hips with his hands, and kissed his pouting mouth slowly, gently. They had all the time in the world, and Doyle would make it last until Bodie screamed for release.

When that slow passion was finally done for both of them, they lay in bed awhile, silent, breathing heavily, looking into each other's eyes. Bodie swallowed hard, seeing the almost arrogant satisfaction on Doyle's face.

"What now?" he asked, almost afraid of the answer. The night before had been wild; today this slow, sublime torment.

Doyle had invited him back to his flat like he always did, but everything after that had been like stepping into the middle of someone else's movie. Ray had watched him all night, staring at him with something Bodie couldn't put his finger on. He had sat too close to him on the sofa, stood too close in the kitchen. Now Bodie knew those actions had been impatient desire, but then it had just been a distraction, a puzzle. Ray had not asked him what he wanted. Instead he took it.

Took Bodie by the shoulders as they got up from the sofa after the match was over, moved a hand across the back of his neck, and kissed him. Bodie had sputtered, tried to break away, then fell into the kiss. He'd had no idea what was going on, other than briefly considering first that Ray was insane, then that he was playing a terrible practical joke on him. When they finally broke, Bodie's arms now around his friend's waist, Doyle had laughed his low, wicked chuckle, moved his fingers across Bodie's mouth gently, and smiled his unbelievable, white smile. The chipped front tooth made it seem almost sinister, but Ray's hands were gentle, holding Bodie tightly, caressing him.

"Always wondered if you'd run away or stay," he'd said, low and conspiratorial.

"What are you doing?" Bodie had asked, breathless. He could feel Ray's growing erection as they stood, groins pressed against each other. It spooked him that he could feel his own arousal growing. Just looking into the cat's eyes staring back at him was enough to do it.

"Trying to tell you how I feel. I haven't had the words for so long, I couldn't do anything else but...take action."

"Some action," Bodie had said, eyes closing. He did not know what to do about this sudden and very strange development, but he had begun not to care. It wasn't like he hadn't had sex with a man before; he'd certainly done it as a kid, but this was different. Oh man, was it different.

"Bodie." A strong voice, sure and confident. Doyle picked up Bodie's chin with his hands, signaled that he wanted Bodie to look at him eye to eye, open them to his face. "You've become my life. I can't look at anything or anyone else but you. It's been getting worse now the past year. I want everything with you, about you. Your decision. But that's what I want."

Bodie, stunned stupid, shook his head. "I...I didn't know you were queer." Waiting as soon as it was said for a blow, a kick.

Instead, only a soft voice whispering across his skin as Doyle's mouth kissed his neck, behind his ear, his temple, his cheek. "No one else interests me anymore," Ray said, locking his lips on Bodie's. "It's you I want."

A whisper in return. "Then take me." Doyle had led him to the bedroom, their encounter fast, untamed, both of them exploding into climaxes with a minimum of touching, the quickest contact. And before he'd fallen asleep, Bodie thought briefly that he'd died and gone to heaven.

Now this morning he looked into the impenetrable eyes and waited for a response.

"I dunno what now," Ray said thoughtfully, hands dancing over Bodie's soft skin.

"What...why did you do this?" Bodie asked, trying not to sound peevish.

"I've struggled with it long enough. But the other night, on surveillance at that awful, cramped flat, it changed. You went to get some kip, and when you came back, you stood behind me, very, very close, and massaged my shoulders. You don't know what it did to me."

Ray's hands moved across Bodie's skin. Bodie looked down at his partner's hands, then back up at Ray. "I think I have an idea."

"I'm not sure I could go back to normal, Bodie, but if that's what you want..."

"I don't know what I want, but I do know it's likely to involve you, after last night." He smiled a rueful, sad smile. "I'm afraid that you've effectively drawn me into this little web of yours, said the fly to the spider."

"Let's just take it day to day right now, okay?" Doyle said hopefully. "Let's not worry about the job or friends or anything, okay?"

"You've got the jump on me, remember? You've had time to think about this." He shook his head, closed his eyes. "I had no idea."

"I like sex, Bodie, I like romance and getting to know someone and everything about it. I've experimented, I've done some pretty wild things. But I never expected you--I never planned to fall in love with my partner."

Bodie opened his eyes quickly and stared hard at Ray. "Now you're really getting too far ahead of me. Slow down, okay?"

Doyle smiled. "Okay," he said, smoothing Bodie's tightly cropped hair over and over, stroking the warm skin of his temples. "First step today, though, is we have to relieve Murphy and Anson at the flat in about two hours. We can think about this later."

He kissed Bodie gently on the forehead and got up from the bed to take a shower, trailing his fingertips over Bodie's back as he left.

Bodie sat awkwardly in the passenger seat, waiting for Doyle to speak. He was still puzzling out the events of the past twenty-four hours, not quite certain where things stood, or even where he wanted them to stand.

Watchful indigo eyes traveled sideways to examine his partner. Doyle was his usual casually boneless self, sprawled comfortably in the driver's seat, hand idly dangling on the gear shift and the other loosely resting on the top of the steering wheel. Bodie, who acknowledged himself to be the control freak of the pair, had the definite feeling that Doyle knew he was in control here, felt comfortable in his own authority.

They pulled up outside the small block of flats that housed the surveillance operation for this job. Bodie followed behind Doyle as they walked slowly up the stairs, resting his gaze on Doyle's tight denim-clad behind, marveling at the thought of what had happened previously with that very same bum. Surprised, also, to find a smile growing on his face.

Murphy was eyeing them blearily when they entered the empty flat, eagerly picking up his gear to leave. Anson wearily did the same.

"What's up?" Doyle asked Murphy.

"Nothing much. No movement last night, anyway." He quickly pulled the zip on the bag and headed for the door. "Don't wait up, girls. See you again tonight." Anson lit another cigarette and followed Murphy wordlessly to the hallway. Bodie wrinkled his nose at the smoke.

Doyle parked himself on the chair at the window and picked up the binoculars to examine the house opposite the flats. "Make us a cuppa, will you?" he said to Bodie, as though there was no question Bodie would do it. Instead, his partner remained motionless against the wall, staring at Doyle with a mixture of annoyance and confusion.

"The first thing you say to me all morning is 'make us a cuppa'?"

Doyle put down the glasses and turned to look at Bodie, a smile spreading across his wide face. He shook his head, then pursed his lips into a delectable, smirking pout. "Sorry, Bodie. I guess I've been, oh, I dunno, basking in the whole thing. Just enjoying being with you like always, but knowing things are different."

He stood and went to the other man, put his hands on Bodie's shoulders and rubbed small circles around them. "I think there's lots of things to talk about, eh?"

Bodie looked down at the floor, then up at Ray, eyes lost under the brows and the long, thick lashes. "Just don't want to think it was all some big joke and that you're pretending it didn't happen." He moved away toward the kitchen, intent on making tea. Doyle resumed his place by the window.

They sat at the window observing for a very long time and drinking numerous cups of tea before Doyle spoke.

"I don't have any answers, you know. I acted completely on impulse last night, an impulse that's been building for a long time. But as to what we should do about it..."

"I don't know if I want to think that far ahead." Bodie's face was impassive, a look that disturbed Doyle.

"Is this...does this mean you want to forget about it?" Ray's heart was sinking. He was quite certain he could never forget about it, that there was no way he could remain simply friends or partners with Bodie, behaving as they had before.

"No, I...I don't know. I'm sorry. I don't know what I want." Bodie splayed his hands out, palms down, hanging in the empty space between the two of them. He stared at his hands. "Yes. I do know one thing I want. Right now I would like to kiss you." He looked helplessly at Ray.

"We are on a job you know," Doyle said mischievously, leaning closer to his partner. His face hovered near Bodie's, his heat and energy spilling over onto Bodie's skin like sunlight.

Bodie leant forward, nearly falling off the edge of the hard chair he sat on, and his lips touched lightly on Ray's. Then Ray pressed into the kiss, his tongue delving into Bodie's mouth, his lips pressing firmly and hungrily against Bodie's, until they eventually pulled apart, mouths red from the effort and both a little breathless.

The sapphire eyes looked piercingly at Doyle before Bodie finally shook his head, then looked down. "Well. I guess I do know what I want. I want to do that some more." His voice, however, sounded troubled.

Doyle was searching out the window again, keeping an eye on the house. "Bodie. I think we can be...lovers, and still be partners." Doyle did not take his eyes off the house, because he could not look over at Bodie and risk seeing rejection on that beautiful face.

Bodie's head snapped up, and his eyes looked up and to the side, his mouth opened as though he had trouble breathing. It was the look of the trapped needing escape.

"Hello! Look at this," Doyle said suddenly, pulling up the binoculars. "Murphy said there was no activity. Then how'd this bloke get in?" He suddenly whistled between his teeth. "Check this out."

Bodie took the binoculars from Doyle and gaped as he spotted a tall, red-haired man leaving the house. The man made a visual sweep of the street, then looked at the flats across the way, before going to his car. Bodie whipped back to the side of the window, out of view. "That's Malone! Cowley'll have kittens!"

Doyle was leaning far back in the shadows away from the window. "This is going to get tricky. If he's here with these low-budget idiots that ups the ante on this game quite a bit. Besides, I thought his IRA faction wasn't talking to their IRA faction."

"Strange bedfellows." Bodie picked up the R/T and thumbed the switch. "3.7 to Alpha."

Cowley answered with a curt, "Alpha."

"Sir, you might want to know about the guest at our little tea party. We've just had a visit from one Sean Malone."

Cowley was silent for a moment before answering. "I'll be there right away."

Bodie raised his eyebrow at Doyle and the two looked at each other with bemused surprise. "Guess we'll have to talk about this at a later date."

Doyle motioned at the R/T and Bodie gave him an exasperated look. "It's off."

"I expect to do other things tonight besides just talking." Ray smiled gently at Bodie and received only a forlorn look in return. Rolling his eyes and grimacing, Doyle looked away. Obviously, Bodie was not easing into this.

Cowley arrived shortly. "Is he gone?" he asked, looking out the window.

"About fifteen minutes ago, sir," Bodie replied. "But it was him, that's for sure. Don't know how long he's been in there, or how he got in. We sure didn't see him and Murphy swears they didn't see a thing last night."

"Well, that answers one question we've been asking ourselves the past few weeks." Cowley continued peering out the window. "Get a tap on the telephone line. I want to hear who they contact."

Bodie sputtered a bit. "Sir. Aren't you forgetting something? Such as telling us what's going on? Malone doesn't have anything to do with these goons. Why is he here?"

"Yeah, and why the hell aren't we arresting him?" Doyle asked suspiciously.

"Malone is here, as usual, to cause trouble. We can't arrest him. We have no proof of his attachment to any of the bombings he's been associated with, and no one else has implicated him. Especially not his brother. No, I want to wait and see what he's going to do first."

"There's something else you're not telling us," Bodie said, eyes narrowed at the old man. He hated it when Cowley got cagey.

"There's a high level conference going on next week between some individuals in the government and certain...factional groups in Ireland. My guess is Malone doesn't want the talks to succeed. Neither do the Liberation Army. But why they're having any discourse at all with Malone is--shall we say--interesting." He threw his keys up in the air lightly and then caught them, looking distractedly out the window as he said, "Keep an eye on our friends over there. Get the line tapped. I'll deal with Malone."

The agents watched him leave with raised eyebrows. "Don't like the sound of that," Doyle said.

"Me, neither," Bodie said with a frown.

Bodie held out his hand, palm facing toward Ray as Ray came out of his kitchen. They had gone straight from surveillance to Doyle's flat. "No. Stop. I have to make a phone call." Doyle had been moving toward Bodie with a spoon, asking him to taste the spaghetti sauce.

Bodie turned his back to Ray and dialed a number. After a moment he said. "Hello. It's Bodie. Yeah. Look, I'm sorry, but--" He paused for a moment. "Yeah. Duty calls. I'll call you when I know. Okay? You're a brick." He sounded genuinely troubled and Doyle felt a pang of guilt. But as he looked at Bodie's strong, muscular back outlined under the cream cashmere poloneck, the regret didn't last long.

Putting the phone receiver down, Bodie turned to look at Ray just as he put the spoon toward Bodie's mouth. Sauce dribbled onto Bodie's chin as the spoon wobbled. Doyle withdrew the spoon and Bodie murmured, "Could use more salt." Just then Ray leant to Bodie's face and ran his tongue along the small trail of red.

Bodie closed his eyes and felt Ray's lips locked around his. After a moment he broke the kiss. "Thought we were going to talk." But it was already too late for him, he knew, feeling the fabric of his trousers grow much too tight. Doyle suddenly dropped his head and clamped teeth delicately over Bodie's left nipple, tugging gently through the fabric, hands working at the zip of Bodie's trousers.

"Talk, schmalk," Doyle said as he began his planned effort to leave Bodie weak-kneed and completely spent.

They had finally, after a few hours, made their way to the bedroom, the dinner long-since left cooling on the table, only partially eaten in between bites of other things. Doyle had finally drifted off into a half-sleep, aware that Bodie lay inert beside him, feeling smugly satisfied at his ability to keep Bodie in this state. It was with surprise that he woke from real sleep and saw the clock at three a.m., and Bodie gone from the bed.

Padding out to the kitchen, he saw Bodie slumped over a cup of steaming tea, head in hands. Doyle came up behind him, placing his long fingers on Bodie's lower neck muscles, massaging them gently. Bodie didn't look up.

"Can't sleep?"

"No. Didn't want to just lie there and flop around."

"What's wrong?"

Bodie stared off into space. "I--I don't know."

"Let me hazard a guess."

"I don't know, Ray," Bodie said, a tight edge to his voice. "Leave it."

Doyle continued the massaging movements, then sat down on the narrow chair opposite Bodie. He took his friend's hands in his and ran his artist's fingers over Bodie's strong, heavy ones.

"You've always been able to tell me what's bothering you before. If I'm what's bothering you now, you have to tell me."

He looked at Bodie with a softness that made Bodie's heart ache.

Bodie cast his eyes down at the table. "Ray, this changes everything, no matter how casual you want to be about it. This could turn everything in our lives upside down." He paused, then looked up at the jade eyes staring back at him. "But I know I can't go back now. I didn't expect this, I had no idea anything like this could happen. But I can't go back, not the way you've made me feel."

Doyle had the wisdom not to say anything, he merely watched his partner and kept holding the other man's hands. Eventually he moved his hand away, leaving his index finger, which he curled around Bodie's index finger. Bodie in turn curled his finger around Ray's and they sat that way for a time, locked together by that simple touch.

"I wish I knew what this was going to do to our lives. We'll be queers to everyone who knows, we may lose our jobs, we'll have a lot of people to answer to. What makes it hard is that when you look at me, I'm not sure I care about any of it."

Ray pulled his partner up from the chair and wrapped strong, sinewy arms around him, nuzzling his face into the warm crook of Bodie's shoulder.

"I never expected it, either. But I'm glad I feel it. I love you, Bodie, whether you want to hear it or not. I love you and I don't want to lose you. We'll work it out. We have to."

Bodie sighed. He had been led to this place like a thief to silver. He had gone inside, seen the fortune to be had, and now wanted everything, a glutton for all Ray displayed.

Sean Malone sat staring at a photograph of George Cowley. There was an entire pile of photographs, with dates, times, and information marking his comings and goings. Malone had wanted every detail of Cowley's life, and he had them all here. Now he made his plans about what to do with them.

The quickest thing would be to arrange a meeting, but he had to be certain that Cowley would come alone, not with one of the heavies pictured here. The other factor was whether someone would know who Cowley was going to meet. In that case, Malone would be clearly identified. But with the conference, there was the strong possibility Cowley would deal with Malone on his own terms, because after all, Cowley's first duty would be to protect the conference attendees. He'll want to keep me busy, Malone thought wryly. He'll want to know just what it is I want.

And now that Cowley knew he was here and having discussions with the Irish Liberation Army, Malone knew he'd got the old bastard's curiosity. Everything was working according to plan, he just needed to finalize the last stages, and Cowley would be dead.

He called the number given to him and Cowley answered on the first ring; surprising, really, for someone in his position.

"Mr. Cowley. Sean Malone here." He waited to see if there would be astonishment in the other man's voice.

"Mr. Malone. What brings you to England in such...treacherous times?" Very smooth, not a hint of any emotion.

"I have some information that may be of interest, regarding the ILA. I'm sure you're aware of their agenda that any agreement with England would be a disgrace to the Irish people."

"And that Marxism would be the answer to Northern Ireland's problems."

"Well, there is that. But I have some specific information that may be pertinent to your plans for the conference."

"And why would you take an interest in their plans, Mr. Malone? Surely your offshoot of the IRA has a different agenda."

"Let's just say that I'm working as a free agent these days, and that many people are interested in my... help."

He waited for some time before realizing Cowley was not going to ask what he wanted. "I wonder if we could meet. Privately, just you and me."

"I may be able to arrange that."

"As you know, I can't come to your office. Perhaps we could meet somewhere less traveled."

The two made arrangements and Malone put down the phone. There were many things George Cowley was, Malone knew, but a liar he was not. If he'd planned to come alone, he would. And finally Sean Malone would have the revenge he sought for his brother's death, which he had pinned on George Cowley.

"Something's wrong abut the whole thing, but I can't quite put my finger on it," Bodie said to no one in particular as he watched out the window. Doyle was flipping through a motorcycle magazine. Doyle just shrugged. Cowley was not one of the things on his mind these days.

"I mean, what exactly is Malone doing here when he knows he risks arrest? His middle brother is still in jail, and if I'm not mistaken he is still as least wanted for questioning in any number of the bombings in the past fifteen years. What's the Cow up to?"

"Like he said, it could just be all the high-level people involved in the talks. Maybe Malone is a threat to the talks and Cowley wants to take care of it his own way. Maybe he thinks Malone will lead him to someone."

"Yeah, but--"

"But what, Bodie? We simply do as we're told. If the old man wants to get involved in this, it's his business. He trusts us to know what we're doing; we should trust him."

"Still, I want to stop by records after we're done here today. I want to look into Malone's background. There's no reason Cowley should be having telephone chats with known terrorists and keeping his hands off them while they're running around loose in London. Especially with a bunch of people talking about the situation in Northern Ireland."

Doyle sighed in mild annoyance but capitulated. There wasn't much he wouldn't do for Bodie right now, and he had learned to trust Bodie's instincts when something wasn't right.

Later, they went to the records division of CI5, wading through all available information. Bodie had begun to piece together a past operation, before his time with CI5, that involved Cowley. Sean Malone's youngest brother, Kevin, had apparently died during interrogation--although of natural causes, the report stated--shortly after arriving in the CI5 "dungeon," as the agents called it. Cowley had been involved in the investigation and subsequent arrests, fairly unusual for him, but not unheard of. This unnerved the normally implacable agent.

"Well, here's something," Doyle commented, the green of the computer screen glowing across his face. "Seems Malone may have been tipped by 'agents unknown' as to the raid on their group shortly after that nasty pub bombing in Liverpool. But Cowley's investigation turned up nothing. They netted the two younger Malone brothers but not Sean himself, who seems to be the ringleader of this group."

"Which he avows he is no longer a part of," Bodie said sarcastically. "It gets worse. The youngest Malone had a bad heart. Myo... I can't pronounce this. The boy was basically dying when they got him here. Being thrown in the dungeon was just what he needed, I guess." Bodie scowled. "I don't like this at all. I want to keep an eye on the old man. There's no reason for him to be talking to a terrorist."

"That's for me to decide, Bodie," Cowley said, standing in the doorway. "I'm not quite as feeble as you'd have me be." A slight smile traced across his lips. Bodie responded to him as he always did, in near-military fashion, jumping up out of his chair and almost standing at attention.

The casual atmosphere of CI5 had at least relaxed him of that stupid habit, Doyle thought.

"Nothing of the sort, sir. It's just..." Bodie looked sheepishly at his superior. "Why is Malone calling you right at the same time as the conference? And why you specifically?"

"We have old blood between us, Bodie. And anyway, I'm set to have a little private chat with him Thursday. Then we'll see what he's up to."

Bodie was aghast. "That's too dangerous! We should at least be backing you up."

"Och, I can take care of myself. No, if Malone is here to make trouble for the discussions, it won't do to have me harmed in any way. He's much too clever for that. There's a reason he's talking to the ILA. And I intend to find out what's going on in his Machiavellian little mind."

"Sir, at least tell us where you're meeting him," Doyle asked. Cowley waved a dismissive hand at them. "I'll be fine. What I want from you is to keep an eye on the faction. They're the ones we have to watch out for right now. God only knows what they're planning, especially with Malone hanging about. They are not involved in these talks. And that one cell...well, there may be others."

Bodie's face was twisted in rage, he stared at Cowley as he walked away. "I don't like this one bit."

"Hey, you heard him," Doyle shrugged. "We hang about, keep an eye and an ear open. Besides, it's more time alone," he said, his restless cat's eyes watching Bodie.

Always the prisoner of those eyes, Bodie's shoulders sagged. "But I don't like this at all."

Doyle moved closer to his partner and stroked a gentle finger across Bodie's proud cheekbone. "Time with me," he said throatily. Bodie's eyes closed. He had no will any more, it seemed. Not when it came to Doyle.

"Let's let the old man take care of it. What's so terrible about being locked up together for a while longer? Evans stays off in the buggy boo, we bask in each other's company. Keep the flat to ourselves." He cocked an exquisitely arched eyebrow at Bodie. Bodie nodded, not quite willingly. For what seemed like the thousandth time that day, he muttered, "But I still don't like it."

Doyle did not want to do his job, and Bodie had gradually become more annoyed at the fact that Doyle wasn't letting him do his. Between watching out the window and checking in with Evans, Doyle continually stood close behind Bodie, stroking him, petting him. It was at best distracting, at worst impossible not to respond.

"Do you ever think you could love me?" Ray asked at one point in the day, his voice a husky whisper, moving his hands up and down Bodie's arms.

"Christ, Ray, you pick the worst times to do this!" Bodie said, without much real strength behind the angry words.

"I know," Doyle answered, and laughed wickedly. "Can't help it. I kinda like putting you off guard."

Bodie shook his head, but a smile was creeping across his mouth, try as he might to prevent it. "Yes, Ray, I think I could. God help me, but I think I already do."

"Don't sound too happy about it." Doyle quickly bit Bodie's earlobe, and Bodie yelped. He turned on his partner and grabbed him by the shoulders. There was the vaguest hint of danger about it, a slight twitch of Bodie's firmly set mouth that told Doyle he was growing frustrated.

"You're like a little kid, you know? You keep playing these silly games and I can't even help meself, I just keep following along."

"It's my innate charm."

"It's hormones," Bodie grumbled, and quickly jerked his hands away as he heard the crackle of the radio. "Ooo, listen to this," Evans said, excitement in his voice as he turned on the speaker.

"...because I don't trust the bastard, that's why. He's just using us to get to Cowley and CI5."

That comment was met with prolonged silence. Doyle shook his head. "I'm telling you Bodie, they're morons. They're going to be a complete waste of time."

"They're still dangerous," Bodie replied.

"Not as much as Malone runnin' around loose in London. They're Marxists, for crissakes. That's why they left the IRA, it didn't stay true to the Marxist principles it began with. As if that'd ever fly in a Catholic country."

"It did well enough in Central America."

"You know what I mean. It wouldn't wash in Ireland."

"They've been trained by the best, they're just as capable of making things that go boom, and just as capable of killing anyone at that conference. And who knows what Malone's educating them in?"

A short burst of noise, first water and then a metallic rattle, Doyle guessed a kettle being slammed onto a heating element. "Malone's just serving his vendetta against CI5. He's just using us to get their attention."

Bodie's head snapped up and he stared hard at Doyle. He grabbed for his gun and holster, quickly putting them back on, and threw his jacket on.

Motioning with one finger held up, Doyle indicated that Bodie should slow down. Another voice, this one sounding as if it came from another room, said, "Malone's got very stupid over the past few years. I've heard tell he didn't leave them, he got the boot. All he can talk about is his brother."

Bodie bolted for the door, with Doyle close on his heels. He ran past the buggy boo, sped across the street and with a running jump hit the door, which splintered on the frame and gave under his weight and momentum. Gun drawn, he ran forward and grabbed the first body he could find, Doyle behind him, screaming at everyone to get down on the floor. Evans followed them, mystified but knowing there was action and he had to help. The group of three terrorists, so startled that they were still poised with cups of tea in hand or biscuits on the way to their mouths, could do nothing but oblige the CI5 agents. Doyle moved to the stairs to secure the second floor, but there was no one else there. Evans cautiously moved upstairs. They had only been aware of three distinct voices in the house, but Doyle warily watched back and forth between his partner and the stairs, preparing for anything.

This was definitely not what the old man would have approved of. Doyle wished Bodie was not doing this more than he'd ever wished anything in his life. But his obligation was to watch his friend's back, even if it was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Bodie pushed the muzzle of his .357 into the closest man's neck. He was a dark, stocky man, built much like Bodie on a shorter scale, but he was cringing as the gun made contact with his skin. "What the hell is Malone up to?"

This was obviously not the question they had anticipated. "Wh-what?"

All three looked up from their positions on the floor and tried to face the seething agent. When it came to Cowley, Doyle knew Bodie would go to nearly any lengths to protect him. For all the trouble and disagreements the two had had, Bodie admired him and trusted him, which Doyle knew did not come easily to one as distanced as Bodie.

"Malone. What's this vendetta against CI5?" He shook the man hard, hanging him by the collar of his shirt, and the man squirmed against Bodie's grip.

"He..." The man looked puzzled briefly, then seemed to realize that their house had been bugged. For a moment outrage crept across his face, to be replaced by a look of complete fury. "What the hell are you playing at?" he screamed, before Bodie started pulling back the hammer of the gun.

"Did you know that the Colt Python .357 has a hair trigger? Goes off at even the slightest movement when the hammer's cocked." His voice sounded tight and strained.

"Okay, okay. Jesus! Malone has a thing about what's 'is name, the head of CI5. Wants him dead, wants to get revenge for his dead brother."

Bodie hurled the man back down on the floor and bolted from the room, Doyle following close again. They ran to Bodie's car, and tires squealing, speeding toward CI5 headquarters. It was this day, Bodie realized, that Cowley was planning to rendezvous with Malone.

"He's going to kill him. The bloody bastard is going to kill him and Cowley thinks he's going to some little chat with a former IRA cell leader who just wants to stir up trouble. This is just great. Just great."

Ray called in on the R/T to see if Cowley had left. He had, the operator answered, but responded to Doyle's query of where with only the vaguest of information. "That could be anywhere!" Doyle screamed at him. "A location. Haven't you got a location?"

The operator seemed to disappear for some time before coming back on. "Sorry 4.5, that's about all I can tell you. Oh wait, here's something from Ruth. He scratched something on paper but it doesn't help much. It looks like...gasometer. It's underlined. But again, it doesn't say where."

Doyle looked at Bodie to see if he was thinking the same thing. Bodie nodded, his mouth drawn tight.

"I think I know where that is. We need back up now." He put the radio down.

"Either the Cow has a strange sense of humor or this is a very big mistake."

"It's all we've got now," shrugged Doyle. "God, I hope we get there in time."

Cowley was frowning. Malone was hiding from him and he didn't enjoy this sort of cat and mouse game at all.

"Just come out, Malone. I haven't time for this. If you don't show yourself soon, I'm leaving."

Malone called out from behind him, but where, Cowley was not sure.

"No, I don't think you're going anywhere. Except straight to hell."

Cowley whirled, trying to see where Malone was hiding. "What are you talking about, man?" His rage was growing.

Malone enjoyed the disorientation Cowley was obviously experiencing. "I've waited six years to kill you, Mr. Cowley. Thank you for making it so easy." Everything had fallen so neatly into place--the conference, the presence of the various factions of Irish resistance groups, and now Cowley stood in front of him, alone and open. He walked forward and Cowley scrutinized him. He waved his gun at Cowley and said, "Take off your coat."

"Huh?" Cowley growled, then did as he was told.

"I want to make sure you're not wearing a vest."

Cowley unbuttoned the coat, his eyes searching for an escape. "Won't work. You made sure my brother didn't have a chance. I won't let you." The gun made a sharp cracking sound, and Cowley's leg buckled under him. A harsh cry escaped from his mouth as he grabbed his leg in agony, hitting the ground.

Cowley tried to gasp out words, but they fell out in guttural sobs. "Your brother had a medical condition. He should never have been in that position. You risked his life. Not I."


Malone heard tires squealing from the distance. "You tattled, Mr. Cowley. Too bad, your goons are too late." And he fired again, this time straight at Cowley's heart. The older man's hand clutched wildly at his chest, then he was still. Malone did not wait to make sure he was dead, hearing the car skidding towards him. He ran, vanishing down a nearby street.

Bodie took the last corner too hard, spotting Cowley's car, then nearly flipped the car over as he pulled violently on the driving wheel and skidded to a stop. The two could see Malone look quickly in their direction, then begin running. Cowley was on the ground.

Bodie sprinted first to Cowley, then looked wildly around to see where Malone had run.

Doyle knelt over Cowley, feeling for a pulse. He looked up with terror widening the green eyes. "My God, Bodie," Doyle said, in a harsh whisper. "He's dead."

Bodie did not hesitate. He ran after Malone in the direction he'd seen him flee.

Doyle was amazed, in the back of his mind, at how fast Bodie was running. He was fueled by rage, Ray knew. He also knew Bodie would catch Malone, and God help him then. Looking down at Cowley, all he could do was stare in dumb surprise. He heard a car pull up nearby, distantly, but could not look up, cradling the controller of CI5 in his arms. Murphy was gently tugging at him, trying to peel his arms away from Cowley's body, but Doyle could not seem to let go. He had no idea how long he'd been sitting like this.

"Ray, let go. Let go, the ambulance is here. Let go. We have to at least try to get him in the ambulance."

Doyle moved away, mechanically standing up. The attendant quickly came and put Cowley on a stretcher.

"Where's Bodie?" he asked, surprised to hear his own voice.

"I don't know." Murphy looked around. "Is he in pursuit?"

"Malone. He went after Malone. Cowley's dead. Malone...I should have followed him. I should have known."

Murphy gave Doyle a look of complete confusion. He shook Doyle hard and said, "What the hell are you talking about? Where's Bodie?"

Doyle seemed to come awake suddenly. Bodie. Bodie could be in danger.

He tore off in the direction he had seen his partner run. He had gone a distance when he heard the sound of gunfire. He ran faster, screaming Bodie's name. From far away he heard Bodie shout his name, listening carefully to see which direction his partner was. He ran down two narrow streets before he saw Bodie, at the edge of a narrow alleyway. When he reached him, Bodie stood above Malone's form, sprawled on the pavement, blood pooling quickly from behind his head. Another wound showed red on the lower abdomen, an exit wound. Bodie had shot him from behind. Most of the front of Malone's skull was gone. Horrified onlookers from the nearby industrial buildings and warehouses stared at them both, clutching at each other as if afraid they were next. From the distance, sirens wailed.

"Looks like Malone'll get to spend time with his brother now," Bodie said in disaffected tones, not really looking at Doyle but past him.

"Cowley's dead." Doyle stared emptily at Bodie, hoping for some kind of reaction, but he didn't know what.

"I know. I heard you the first time. Call this in. Have someone pick up this--" He pushed at Malone's body with his foot. "--thing."

He walked away, holstering his gun, as Doyle stood mutely on the street.

"We will of course do everything we can to find out how this happened."

The minister was not really looking at any of the agents, but out the window of the CI5 briefing room. No one spoke. They had gathered in stunned silence, no one knowing how to act, for it had never occurred to anyone that Cowley could die.

Bodie looked over at Doyle. Ray did not know how to read the look. Less then ten hours had passed since Cowley's death, and he had not had time to talk to his friend at all. Bodie had gone to his flat first, changed clothes, then routinely returned to headquarters. Doyle had been alone, first riding to the hospital as Murphy's passenger, then getting the official word from the doctor that Cowley was indeed dead. It had been Murphy who dragged him back to the building, tried to force tea down him, finally giving up when Doyle would do nothing except stare at the floor. It wasn't until Bodie had returned that any life at all showed in the green eyes.

Then the minister had come, speaking for the home secretary. Everyone had been gathered, taken off ops, pulled in from days off. But none looked as dazed and stunned as Doyle, not even Bodie. Bodie could only look at Ray, his seething rage now tamped down to an anguished smolder, his eyes bereft of understanding and asking only for Doyle's comfort, which Doyle would not seem to give him.

"For now, I'd like each of you to continue your assignments. The Home Office will assign someone to temporarily oversee the agency. When the inquiry is through, we'll be able to tell you something more about the future of CI5. As we all know, this department was founded by and based around George Cowley. I'm honestly not certain how this changes things."

He left the room, a sea of faces following his path and then helplessly staring at the open door, as if waiting for Cowley to come in and tell them it was all a drill. Which, Doyle knew, it was not.

In the office that had until recently belonged to George Cowley, the minister, John Barry, asked Betty about the personnel. "How many senior agents would you say you have? Those capable of helping to run the organization for the time being?"

"Well, there are really only a few with that level of seniority. Lucas and McCabe come to mind, though they're somewhat unpredictable. And Jax. But most of the agents defer to Doyle and Bodie. They've created something of a reputation for themselves, and Bodie was always known to be Mr. Cowley's blue-eyed boy."

"I've heard about them many times--and I can't say it was always good." He shook his head, musing on the information. "I want to speak with both Bodie and Doyle now. Bodie's the one who killed Malone, yes?"

"Uh, yes sir. He did." She felt suddenly protective of them. "I'll go fetch them."

She returned a few moments later with the two agents, whose haunted eyes stared bleakly at him as they shrugged into the two chairs opposite Cowley's desk. The room seemed oddly hollow to Bodie, although nothing had been touched: the picture of the queen still remained, the old photos of Cowley's WWII regiment, the commendations, and sundry other items scattered around that told a bit of someone's life, though hardly all of it.

"I'd like to know in your own words why, if you had suspicions that something was amiss, you did not back George up on this meeting with Malone."

Doyle's eyes flicked up and to the side, narrowing.

Barry continued when he got no response. "I want to make certain we are in agreement as to the events of yesterday. I understand that both of you were aware that George was to meet with Malone, privately. I'd like to know why you allowed that. I'd also like to know the details of your arrival at the murder scene."

Bodie, sensing Doyle was going to say something that would destroy everything, blurted out, "We didn't like it. We warned him it wasn't a good idea, but he insisted it was perfectly safe. He thought Malone was here for something else entirely."

"Nevertheless, you checked out Malone before confronting George with the information, am I correct?"

"Well, yes and no. We had no idea that he held Mr. Cowley responsible in any way for his brother's death."

Doyle suddenly interjected, "To tell the truth, I just wanted to stay on the surveillance duty watching some ILA goons. I convinced Bodie to let Cowley do what he wanted."

Barry eyed Doyle suspiciously. He knew their reputations well enough, had heard George talk of them often, and knew Doyle to be very clever but also very insubordinate.

"There will be an inquiry, you realize?"

Doyle nodded dejectedly.

"You made a statement to...Murphy, I believe. That this was all your fault. Can you explain that?"

Bodie stood up and in his best military form said, "Sir, Doyle and I thought the Irish Liberation Army faction we were keeping an eye on were more important. Mr. Cowley was convinced Malone was not a threat because of the high-level talks. There was an error in judgment. We made an error in judgment and timing." He stood before the desk, waiting for a response.

The minister's eyes never left Doyle the entire time, for he knew Doyle was hiding something. Finally Barry looked up at Bodie. "And you. You hunted Malone down and executed him." His voice was hard-edged, weary.

Bodie looked appalled, enraged. "Hunted him down? I went after him. I told him to stop, and when he didn't I shot him. He had his gun out, he would have shot me if he'd had half a chance. The same gun that was used to kill George Cowley, I might add!"

"You shot him in the back of the head! After he'd already gone down from your first shot! That is an execution in my book, Mr. Bodie. Do you realize what will happen if the press gets hold of that? They'll crucify CI5, and without George Cowley here to defend it, this organization will go down in flames. It doesn't matter that Malone was responsible for the deaths of many British citizens. All that will matter to the papers is that you executed him!"

Humbled, Bodie sat down hard in the chair. Doyle had not looked up.

"Now I want both of you to listen. George Cowley was my friend. We served together in the war, and I have always supported him and this organization. I do not want to see it fail. But these two events have left me in a complete quandary. I will be forced to defend CI5's very existence at this inquiry, besides explaining how this death was allowed to occur. What you two have done is to make this even more complicated. I want information about Malone to stay in this room, is that understood? I have some very fancy footwork ahead of me if I'm to...modify...the reports to prevent information about this execution--"

Bodie glared at the man.

"--from leaking out. As of today, I'm placing you on an unofficial suspension. I hope to have a temporary controller of CI5 within the next twenty-four hours. Your suspension will be kept quiet, is that understood? Right now you are 'between assignments.' Because if anyone thinks you're suspended due to the handling of this incident, I don't want to think of what the press could do with that.

"That will be all."

Barry sat with the home secretary and a number of other associates. "I do believe in the viability of this organization," he said deferentially. "Cowley was nothing if not practical. He left this list of possible successors, people he felt had the ability to run the organization. Its track record speaks for itself, sir. I believe we should at least keep things running until the inquiry."

The home secretary flipped through the list. "Interesting group. Ah, Thompson gets his top request--"

"Apparently George spoke with him about taking the reins in just such an event, sir. Whoever heads CI5, it would be vital for the agents to know that the individual was selected by the recommendation of George Cowley. That would command their respect and loyalty more than anything. All the operatives were fiercely devoted to him, it appears."

The home secretary thought this over. "We'll keep CI5 open until the inquiry. Talk to those on this list who were the top choices for interim director. But I want some answers at that inquiry. I think there's something else going on we're not being made privy to."

Ray put car keys down on the table near the door and sat down heavily in his overstuffed chair. He buried his face in his hands and sat silently, while Bodie stood by the door and watched him with a mixture of disdain and hopelessness. Right now he was not emotionally capable of dealing with Ray's self-loathing but recognized that as much as he loved Ray, it would have to be dealt with. Things like this consumed his partner and eventually consumed him simply because of his closeness to Ray.

After a good long silence, he moved to the kitchen and dug around in the cupboard until he found Ray's whiskey, took it out and poured a rather large amount in two separate drinking glasses. Why waste time with refills? he thought. He handed the glass to Ray and took a long pull from his own, then sat down on the opposite chair and removed his leather jacket, tossing it on the floor. Doyle was still staring at the floor, but at least took his head out of his hands when Bodie gave him the glass.

"It's all my fault," he finally said shakily, his voice a plaintive whisper.

Bodie had been expecting this.

"It's everyone's fault, Ray. It's ours for not following him, it's Cowley's for going it alone, it's CI5's for not insisting that Cowley be as accountable in his whereabouts as we have to be." Bodie wanted more than anything to weep right now for the loss of the closest thing he'd ever had to a father, but as always, Doyle took precedence. Bodie sometimes hated him, actually detested him, when he got like this, because the demands placed on his emotions--on the emotions of everyone surrounding Doyle--were like a prison sentence.

"It was my idea. I insisted we should be alone together. I may as well have killed Cowley myself."

"That's bullshit Ray, and you know it. If anything, we're both guilty of leaving him alone!" He was screaming at Doyle now, not caring that he'd lost his temper, wanting only to get through to his partner. "I had half a brain and thought something was up but I made my decision. It was the wrong decision, but it's too late to do anything about it now. Except keep it to ourselves, do you get that? If you go into an inquiry blathering about why you chose not to tail Cowley then you'll get both of us thrown out of this organization, do you understand? And I don't want that."

Helpless, huge green eyes stared up at him, bereft of caring, answering only that nothing mattered now except his own expiation. Doyle was the sinner and must atone, to Bodie and to everyone around them.

Bodie didn't know whether to throw his drink at Ray in disgust or hold him and whisper sweet words of encouragement. So he did nothing.

Finally, Ray broke the silence. "My God, Bodie. I made us stay back there and we could have saved him. I killed him as surely as Malone did."

While Bodie knew this to be the most basic truth--forgetting his own lack of will, which still stung Bodie sharply--he would not accept that Ray's guilt could spell the ruination of their careers. For Bodie, one error in judgment, however huge, did not mean that it should destroy his life. He wanted to believe Barry would somehow find a way to keep CI5 alive. And he wanted to be in it.

It had been his feelings for Ray, developing so quickly in such a short time, that had driven him to this error. He was as responsible as Doyle for Cowley's death, he knew, because he had dived so deeply into the safe harbor of Ray's love. He had sublimated his will to Doyle's, let Ray guide their decision based solely on emotion, and it had meant they did not do their job properly. Bodie had learned his lesson.

Dropping to his knees, Bodie knelt at Ray's feet, bringing his hands up to caress the sinewy shoulders of his friend, now his lover. "Ray..." he said in a dark voice.

He felt Ray stiffen and jerk back, but he pressed on. "Ray, I love you. I've never said that to anyone before in my life. Ever. But I do, I do love you. I can't watch you take the blame for this yourself. It belongs to all of us. We made the stupidest decision we've ever made, and I feel like I've died inside because I truly cared for the old man. But you are not the only reason this happened."

"Bodie, I risked everything for you, to be with you. Not even in a special situation--just an average day at work, and I still wanted to follow my emotions, not do the job I was trained for. I just wanted to be with you, enjoy being together, so differently. And look at what happened because of it." He shook Bodie's hands off and got up, moving to the window.

"I'm sorry, Bodie. I need to be alone right now, all right?" He did not look at his partner, whose head hung down almost to his chest.

Bodie felt his guts go cold. He knew this Ray. There would be little chance of reaching him now. Bodie did as he was expected and left.

Neither man slept that night, or the next. In the day, both paced around nervously, going out to the shops for food that they would not eat, drink that they would consume in too-large quantities.

Ray visited his sister, ostensibly to take her to lunch. He sat across the table from her, silently picking at his food. She finally gave up trying to talk to him and went back to work. Ray stayed by himself the rest of the time, the hint taken.

Visiting the shooting range to stave off boredom and frustration, Bodie fired round after round at targets until Eddie, in charge of the range, told Bodie to leave. "What you're doing isn't target practice, Bodie," he'd said with concern.

On the fourth day, Doyle showed up at Bodie's door without announcement, looking terrible--sleep deprived, wearing dirty clothes, three days' growth of beard, hair a riot of waves around his face. He did not come into the flat right away, rather lingered at the door as though hoping to make a quick getaway.

"Bodie I...I've been thinking. I really think we need to end this, go back to just being partners. I made a huge mistake. You can't be personally involved and work together, not in this job. It's too deadly." His words were coming out in torrents, he seemed unable to stop them so Bodie grabbed him, pulled him close and threw his strong arms around Ray. Doyle tried to wriggle free but Bodie had the advantage, and Doyle was off-balance.

"Bodie, I mean it. I'm sorry. I'm crazy about you, you know I am, but this won't work. I made a decision that killed Cowley, all because of how I feel about you. I can't do this anymore. Every time I look at you I'm going to see him, dead, because of me. Don't you understand?"

"I understand that I'm not letting you go. You wanted me here, and now you have me, and so help me Ray, I'm not letting you go. I ache too, can't you even see beyond your own self? I've cried more tears over Cowley than I did over my own mum's death. I hate myself for not standing up to you--but that's the point. I let my will go to you and together we made a wrong decision. But that doesn't mean you have to throw me away in the bargain."

Shaking his head, Ray said, "No, Bodie, it's not like that. I'm the one who made sure you stayed back. I used the hold I knew I had on you to do it. If you really want to stay in CI5, you can't have a relationship beyond work or mates." His voice was frantic, plaintive. "I thought when this first happened that I could not go back to just being mates or partners with you. But we can. We have to end this, Bodie. Go back to before."

Now Bodie could feel the anger growing in him. Helpless to stop it, it boiled up inside him and made his fingers clench at Doyle's arms. There would be bruises later.

"Fuck you, Ray! You are not the martyred saint in the death of George Cowley. Sod that!" he bellowed into Doyle's face. "We are both to bloody blame, and I'm not going to have you end this because we both made a big fucking mistake! We grieve over this and then we get on with our lives, because that's what George Cowley taught us to do. You brought me here, and so help me you are not going to continue without me!"

The dangerous Doyle appeared suddenly, his eyes narrowed and full lips tightened against white teeth. "Let me go, Bodie, let this thing go right now." His eyes flashed at Bodie's, but Bodie was having none of it.

He brought his mouth down on Ray's, kissing him hard, forcing Doyle's mouth open to his tongue. His mouth pressed harder and harder against Ray's, his hands coming up to bring Doyle's head even tighter against his own, if that were even possible. For minutes he kissed Doyle until his lover gave way against him, hands clutching at his back. Finally he broke away, seeing the swollen red lips, watching Doyle wipe his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Big man, aren't you?" Doyle spat at him, his voice poisonous with fury and self-hatred. "Showed me, didn't you? As if you have to be a genius to figure out how I feel about you. So I can't help myself when you're around. Proved it, didn't you?"

Bodie gripped Doyle's body against his own, the rage beginning to turn slowly, sourly into grief, hopelessness.

"That's just it, don't you see?" Ray said despondently. "I can't help myself when you're around. Who's going to die next because of how I feel about you?"

Suddenly the rage was back. Bodie brought one hand up away from Doyle.

"I don't want to see you anymore, Bodie. Not off the job. We end this here, now. I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt you. But it's better that way, you'll see."

"You little bastard," Bodie said, moving to strike Ray while still clutching him with the other arm.

Doyle's hand came up and he caught the blow with his open palm, Bodie's hard fist smacking loudly as it made contact with Doyle's skin. Ray forced it down, staring at Bodie--but what the look was Bodie could not decide. Pain, or challenge?

Just as instantly, an overwhelming sadness struck Bodie in the heart. "What do you want, Ray? Do you want me down on my knees, do you want me to beg you to stay? You wanted me this way and now I can't go on without you. So should I beg? Will that make up for all the mistakes?"

He dropped to his knees, his head pressed against Doyle's thighs as he leant forward, supplicatory. Doyle's head rolled around on his shoulders, eyes narrowed in disgust. "Stop it, Bodie. Get up! For God's sake!" He tried to haul his partner up but Bodie fought him off; they both ended up on the floor.

"Do you want me to plead with you? I can beg with the best of 'em, I know all the right words, Ray. You gave me a taste of what life would be like with love. I didn't know what I wanted then. I can't let you take it all away from me now." He did not make eye contact with Doyle, did not have the courage. All the fight had gone out of him, he could see only the bleak emptiness of a future without Ray, without Cowley, without CI5--but mostly without love.

"I can't, Bodie. I just can't. We can still be partners. But I can't be anything more." He got up and left.

Bodie collapsed on the floor in front of the door, face down, fingers clutching at the carpet as though he could capture Ray in the phantom space were he had just stood. And Bodie sobbed until he was spent, sobbed for Cowley's horrible death, for the loveless life he'd spent until Ray, and for the bleakness that he knew so well which awaited him, until he fell into an aching sleep never having moved from the spot.

Part II: Worthless Currency

Two more days of suspension and Bodie had been going crazy. At least when he had leave there were things to do, places to go. As it was all he could do was wait around his flat, hoping to hear when he was needed at the inquest, keeping a low profile as the minister had asked of him. And think endlessly of Ray. At least until Cowley's funeral, the next day.

The events played over and over in his mind. He had no way of reacting differently; the way he'd behaved was the only thing he was capable of doing. Yet in his mind he could see things he might have done, said, visions of an argument that ended differently. Instead the real scene haunted him.

But there was no pride like Bodie's wounded pride, and the thought of putting himself in that position--begging again--was impossible. Doyle had made his decisions regardless of Bodie's feelings, and that told Bodie all he needed to know. He would go back to work with Doyle, oh yes, and when the storm had blown over, he would request another partner, or no partner at all. Assuming that CI5 survived of course, which was iffy, considering how he had killed Malone.

Would CI5's destruction be so bad, he wondered? If it were disbanded then that would end any question of working with Doyle again.

When it came time for Cowley's funeral, Bodie mechanically put on his best jacket and tie. He considered how he had stopped wearing ties after a few years while on duty, mostly because Doyle had encouraged him to stop. Even then, he was giving in to Ray, he thought wryly. Before I even knew I was doing it I was sublimating myself to him.

He stood at the back of the church, surveying the mourners before going inside, making certain he did not see Doyle amongst the crowd. And it was quite a crowd. Whitehall must be empty. Cowley had affected a great many lives, Bodie reflected, and was admired--or feared, depending on which side of his razor-sharp mind you were on--by many more. Cowley would have no doubt found this crowd, this forced solemnity and gaudy show of patriotism, annoying. The Major was many things, but not ostentatious, Bodie thought quietly. And was wracked with an overwhelming sadness and pain that pierced him to his core. Cowley was gone, the closest thing he'd ever had to a father, and the one person who had helped him put his life on track. He owed George Cowley everything--and had repaid him with worthless currency.

Looking up from the floor at last, he spied familiar reddish-brown curls five rows up, the head bent toward the floor. His heart sank even further. There would likely be no avoiding Ray here. Murphy sat to Doyle's left, Sally to his right. Nearly the entire squad was here, peppered throughout the crowd, but Bodie felt no compunction to sit with any of them. He felt himself retreating into the cold silence that had been his life before CI5; being aware of it didn't stop him from feeling it.

The vicar was droning on an on about Cowley's work, his life, his friends. Work was his life, and far as Bodie was concerned. No family. Maybe that's why he was so kind to me at times, Bodie thought. Maybe I was like family to him, just as he was to me. He felt hot tears creep into his eyes, blinked a few times to hold them back. He'd not thought to bring a handkerchief, had not imagined himself reacting this way.

At last the sermon ended and the mourners got up to leave the church, those in CI5 would likely follow to the cemetery for the burial. Bodie hung back, hoped Doyle would not see him hidden behind the bowler-hatted civil servants, but Ray's keen eye spotted him right away. He stood frozen in the aisle as others moved around him, annoyed at this inconvenience and breach of funeral etiquette. Bodie returned Ray's gaze, a look of complete silent rage on his classic features.

"Hello, Bodie. I wondered where you were," said Doyle in a slight voice. He was clearly nervous but doing his best to sound casual.

"Doyle." Bodie nodded in his direction, then moved to leave the aisle.

Ray put out a hand to stop him; the touch hit Bodie like a hot iron on his skin. He looked down at his hand where Ray's met his. Then he jerked the hand away.

"Bodie, please, can we talk? After the..."

"Burial? Just say it, Ray. We've had enough time to get used to it."

Doyle sighed, his entire body seeming to wilt in front of Bodie's ice-cold eyes. He kept pace with his partner, trying to keep his voice low. "Can I ride to the cemetery with you?"

Head snapping around to stare at Doyle in wide-eyed amazement, Bodie started to laugh. The Cow had always told him his humor was usually ill-timed. Mourners turned to look at the pair.

"Oh, be my guest. Please. I can't think of anything more enjoyable." He sauntered past Murphy, Jax, and Sally, who eyed the pair nervously, but said nothing. All of them had seen Bodie and Doyle have rows before, and all knew to stay wide away.

In the car Doyle stared emptily out the window, his face a blank wall of misery. Bodie eyed him sideways, noticed the gaunt eye sockets, the lips that had gone slightly too white. In another space, he would have pitied him, but not today.

"Bodie." Bodie shifted violently at a light, which sent Doyle jolting forward at the waist, as if for punctuation.

"If you're going to start in on how we have to go back to being just partners you're wasting your breath. You've said it all before, so forget it. I got the message. I'll think no more of you, okay?"

"Bodie...I just wanted to know how well you're holding up. I've been better meself," he said under his breath.

"Who's to blame for that, eh? No one but yourself. You want to martyr yourself for the death of George Cowley, you go right ahead. But me, I've got more important things to do. Like upholding what Cowley started CI5 for in the first place. And obviously you don't want me getting in the way of that, now do you? Unless you plan to quit the organization."

"Is that what you want?"

They had arrived in the cemetery and Bodie sought a place to pull the car over. "You wanted me to fall in love with you, and I did. Now you want to take it all back. Fine. I lived my life without you before, I will again. What you decide to do with your life no longer affects me, got it? That's your decision. You have no one but yourself to blame. But you're good at that, aren't you? You have guilt all sewn up. Ray Doyle cornered the market on blame years ago and none of us could hope to compete. Cowley would sneer at you for blaming yourself for his death." He got out of the car, his voice drifting on the wind as he faced away from Doyle, but Ray heard all the venom in it nonetheless. Bodie locked the door and walked away to his other waiting CI5 colleagues.

After the goodbyes had been said and the ceremony completed Doyle was not certain he wanted to get back in the car with Bodie again, but he was even more hesitant about asking anyone else for a lift, so he climbed back in the passenger seat. He'd watched Bodie through it all, watched him fight back the tears, remembered Bodie almost prostrate before him on the floor begging him not to leave things this way. How could he tell his recalcitrant partner that this was for the best? It wasn't as if it were easy for Doyle, he'd not eaten anything at all since that day, not slept more than a few hours fitfully here and there. He'd paced his flat for hours, and when that grew wearisome, went outside and paced the streets. He'd been suspended before, but never without Bodie to share it.

In the long run Bodie would have to see it. He'd have to see that their feelings for each other would eventually destroy them, and possibly everyone else. It may even now be the death of CI5, he thought, as he watched Barry walk away to his chauffeured car.

Bodie snapped the door open and sat down, quickly turning the car's engine over and peeling out from the curb. Doyle merely stared out the window, his chin in his palm, until Bodie pulled up outside the church.

"I assume you left your car here."

"Yeah, over there," Ray answered, jerking his thumb to the left. "Can we still talk? Would you come by my place?"

"I don't think it's a good idea." Bodie refused to look at him. If he did, he knew, he would dissolve in a million pieces. The few times he'd ever allowed himself to feel love it had been snatched away from him. Now this, possibly the worst theft of all.

"I just want you to sorry I am. I know it hurts now, it hurts like hell. But it's for the best. It has to be. I never thought anything like this would happen, or I never would have done anything in the first place. But I have to have you in my life, even if it's just as partners, as friends. To be lovers is too much to ask. Please don't hate me!" The last, choked out, escaped him before he knew it or could stop it.

"Hate you! Hate you? That's rich, that is. You made me fall in love with you, and now you don't want me to hate you! Don't you know, sweetheart, that it's only those we truly love who we can truly hate? Funny how that is, isn't it?" Bodie laughed his snide, sarcastic laugh, which made Doyle's skin crawl.

"Get out of the car, Doyle. I'll see you when the minister calls us for the inquiry. I hope you'll decide to keep your mouth shut about us. Or I may have to shut it for you." The threat hung in the air as Ray stepped from the car, zombie-like. He had no doubts that Bodie would act on a threat like that.

Doyle still hadn't decided how he could explain his decision to let Cowley meet Malone by himself. And Bodie's threats wouldn't make a dent in his decisions, he told himself as he watched Bodie's car speed away.

There were facets of an individual's personality that revealed themselves with a careful gaze, just as a diamond revealed its quality. The color, character, the consistency, depth, clarity, all came together to tell the beholder of the diamond's worth. Doyle had long thought of Bodie as the diamond in the rough, all jagged, undeveloped edges and uncertain inner color. He now realized it was he who was still unformed, unshaped; while Bodie was clean edges, crystal light, hard smooth surface. Doyle saw that it was he who was the still-changing carbon, the dark star to Bodie's brilliance. And he had shattered that diamond, turned it rough and ugly, the shining heart cut right out of it. And like Doyle, Bodie was now cold, very cold.

"Ray?" a voice called out upon opening his door. He'd thoughtlessly left it open but didn't really care now. "Ray, are you in here?" A thin woman with auburn, shoulder-length hair, a wide round face, and lively green eyes entered. Doyle finally bothered to look up from where he was lying on the sofa, putting his book down on the coffee table. He rose and smoothed a hand over his unruly hair.

"Emma, what are you doing here?" he asked with disdain.

"Oh Ray, you look frightful!" she exclaimed. "My God, what's happening to you?" She knelt beside him and put loving hands to his face.

He snapped them away and looked off in the distance. "Em, go away." There was no conviction in his voice, but she would have ignored it anyway had there been. There was only one person in the world she knew truly and totally, and that was her brother.

"I saw in the papers that Mr. Cowley's funeral was today. I thought I should come and see how you're doing. Are you still on suspension?"

"You're not supposed to call it that, remember?" He lay back against the cushions and crossed his arms, body language saying, "Go away."

Emma got up and went into the kitchen to put the kettle on. "The first thing is I'm going to do is make some tea. Then I'm going to cook you a real meal and force feed you if I must. Then we are going to the park for a brisk walk. In the meantime I expect you to tell me what the hell is the matter with you."

He looked up at her hopelessly, knowing that he had no choice in the matter, and never had done when it came to his little sister. She made the orders and he followed them. Right now he wished he didn't love her so much. It would be easier to get rid of her then.

"Won't Johnny be expecting you?"

"Oh, sod Johnny, he can get his own dinner, thanks very much. It's you I'm worried about. God Ray, I know you blame yourself for Major Cowley's murder but this can't be why you look as if you stepped through death's door. There's more to it than that." The kettle began boiling and she put tea in a pot, then poured the water in. After a few moments she handed Ray a steaming cup, with just the right amount of milk, no sugar. If Emma hadn't been his sister she'd have been the perfect wife for him, he thought wryly.

She silently began bustling in the kitchen and every once in a while threw him a baleful look. He knew what was coming: she would wait him out until he could no longer tolerate her implied impatience, then blurt out whatever was on his mind. They'd played this game since she'd become old enough to out-think him.

Finally he sighed, as she readied potatoes to plop onto a plate. "All right," was all he said, and she shoved the steaming plate before him while pushing him into a seat at the table.

Putting her plate on the table and picking up a fork, she looked at him with wide green eyes that said "get to it."

"It's about Bodie." A look of complete boredom crossed her face, as though she were expecting this and hoping for something better. They had discussed this subject before, for there was little Ray didn't tell his sister. She was interested in Ray's rather broad-minded sexuality, as if she lived a more thrilling life vicariously through him.

He toyed with the food on his plate and she whacked at his hand with her fork, so he quickly picked up some potatoes and shoved them into his mouth and began chewing.

"We had sort of...started a relationship. I am in love with him. That's why Cowley got killed. I just wanted to be with Bodie alone on a surveillance op to spend every minute alone together and he had doubts about Cowley meeting Malone. Then...everything happened and I know I can't have a relationship with him and now he hates me." The words had spilled out in a torrent, so fast she almost couldn't take them in. Doyle looked down at his food and waited for her response, which came after a long time of chewing and sipping her wine.

"Why did you tell Bodie you couldn't have a relationship? I'm assuming, of course, that he loves you in return?"

"Because my desire to be with him made us put Cowley at risk! He died because I couldn't get a grip on my hormones."

The absurdity of the statement made her burst into unrestrained laughter and she helplessly tried to gain control before finally putting her face into her hands. After a time she looked up at him.

"Ray, I love you more than anything on this earth. I don't believe for a moment that you're at fault for any of this, but I know you and I know that you'll carry the guilt for this until you're ready to move on. Right now what I want is to see you get better. If that minister is really going to try to keep CI5 intact, you'll do no one any good in the shape you're in. When is the inquiry?"

Her abrupt shift in thought made Doyle pause, eyes scanning the table. " a few days, I believe."

"Is this going to be anything like that inquiry with that horrible Geraldine Mather person? The one you tore yourself up over last time?"

He snapped his head back and forth angrily and pushed himself away from the table, hurling his dish into the sink and swigging back the last of his wine. Emma came up behind him and put her thin, long arms round his waist, hugging him close and resting her head on his shoulder blade.

"You still think about that from time to time, don't you? I know. But you didn't mean to hurt that lad, and you're very unlikely the one who caused his death, you know that. But Ray, you made a dumb decision with Bodie. That's all. Major Cowley has some responsibility in it too, you know. It was a very bad error in judgment because you were excited and heady with love, eh? I would wager you'll never make the mistake again."

Ray turned to her and pulled her close, hiding her head in the crook of his shoulder. "I know what you're saying intellectually. But emotionally I can't accept it. It wasn't just a mistake. It was the life of the man who gave me what my life is today. A man I admired." He paused, took a deep breath. "And Bodie said I brought him to love me and now I'm asking him to drop it. I'm not sure he'll ever want to work with me again."

"Well, depending on how you answer that inquiry board, you may not get the chance to find out."

He nodded his head against hers, and sighed raggedly.

The call to the inquiry was an agonizingly long wait. He had never had so much time on his hands, so little to do, and so much fear gnawing at him.

Doyle recognized a few of the faces of the board--the Home Secretary's assistant, a few ministers, the new acting head of CI5, whom he had not met--but not everyone. He had no idea what they were looking for, how formal this group's decisions was, what the results would be. It disturbed him that they were so close-mouthed about it to all the agents.

They had started by firing small questions left and right, until he wasn't following the train of thought anymore. Then Barry, supposedly the one who wanted to keep CI5 open, slammed him.

"Why did you leave George Cowley to meet alone with a known terrorist like Malone, when you had suspicions something was amiss?"

Doyle could see Bodie's face in the back of the small hearing room. The heat coming from his glowering face seemed to Doyle as strong as a furnace.

" partner and I had been on a surveillance. And there had been--I don't know--some difficulties, some changes in our working relationship. A partnership is a tricky thing in this business. And I thought...I thought the quiet time of a surveillance op would be a good time to talk things out. Mr. Cowley, he--well, he often liked to go it alone. There were times, such as the incident with Quinn, and again with the Wakeman thing, that he put himself in danger, dismissed our concerns. Bodie--my partner--had worries that this was another situation like that, and wanted to act as backup. I'm the one who convinced Bodie that Cow-- Mr. Cowley--knew what he was doing. Obviously I made a mistake and I'll never forgive myself."

He hung his head and waited for the barrage of questions about the "working relationship," but another man spoke up.

"What do you mean, the incident with Quinn?"

Doyle told the story of Cowley's refusal to believe he was in danger, and the two agents bugging his car and following him. The panel members seemed to consider this.

"What about Malone's death?" the assistant to the Home Secretary asked. "There are implications that he was gunned down in retaliation, rather than in defense."

Doyle swallowed and looked at Bodie, who stared at him from under heavy brows, lips drawn tightly in line.

"I don't know, sir. I stayed with...Mr. Cowley. My partner went after Malone and when I eventually caught up to him, Malone was dead. His gun had been fired a number of times, that's all I know. I was not an eyewitness."

To his surprise he was then abruptly excused, and he left the room, not able to bear the burden of Bodie's rage, not wishing to hear Bodie whitewash the details of the whole nightmare. Bodie would not lie, but just as Doyle himself had done, Bodie would skirt around the questions, leave out the missing pieces of the puzzle.

Emma was waiting for Doyle as he left the building. He walked past her and she followed on his heels, refusing to be ignored by him. "How did it go? What did you tell them?" Doyle shrugged, then opened the car door for her. She slid in next to him, then stared at him, a mirror of his own eyes. "What did Bodie say in his testimony?"

"It's not a trial, Em," he snapped. "You don't testify."

"Whatever! Who gives a damn? What did he tell them?"

"I didn't wait to hear. I just wanted out of there."

He put the car in gear and drove. After a time she sighed and looked at him. "You're looking worse than ever, luv. This is going to eat you from the inside." She put a hand on his, closing over it even as he shifted the car. "When will you find out what happens to CI5? Will you be called off suspension?"

"I'll just have to wait and see." They reached Emma's house in Kensington, and he pulled up at the curb. She had taken a day off from work to be with him, but he did not have the resources to provide any companionship in return for hers.

She sensed this intuitively and opened the door, giving him a quick peck on the cheek. "I'll be by tomorrow to fix supper. You'll eat some more then." More breathlessly she said, "I love you, Ray. Please be careful."

The suspension had taken on the air of a punishment now. It had been yet more weeks and still they were not recalled to duty. Doyle and Bodie finally received a summons from the temporary controller, who both had not yet met.

Finally Doyle found himself across the desk from the new acting controller of CI5 and tried to look casual, but could not control the tenseness that marked his body language. Thompson was an old comrade in arms of Cowley's who had had a nearly parallel service track. They had both reached the rank of Major in the Army, had served intelligence duties, and been involved in governmental agencies in various functions. Until this posting he had been in a high level Home Office job.

Cowley obviously thought highly of him, for he had placed him at the top of his shortlist of possible replacements. With a well-connected family Thompson did not have to do this sort of work, but he had always been a bit of a rogue, and enjoyed the life of intrigue he lived. He had been more than happy to take over the reigns of George's own group, he liked CI5's fight-fire-with-fire brief. But he was deeply disturbed about his own friend's death, and about the two men he was to talk to today and their role in that death.

Thompson had an excellent reputation, and Doyle had waited anxiously to be called in to talk with the temporary head of CI5. But the person who sat before Thompson now was a shadow of the man he'd been even as recently as the inquiry.

Thompson sighed heartily and examined Doyle's personnel file. "You've performed in an exemplary fashion for a number of years. George seemed to think highly of you. I even gather from reading his notes on this file that he considered beginning to groom you as a future replacement for himself."

This being news to Doyle, the younger man shook his head. "I doubt that, sir. But I appreciate it anyway."

"However, for all the good things he said about you, I still have great difficulties with the answers you gave in the inquiry, and things the minister has told me. Just what did you mean by talking about your working relationship?"

Doyle had been expecting this, yet still didn't know how to answer. He stared at the window for some time trying to frame a reply.

Thompson watched Doyle's reactions. Barry had warned him of his suspicions that there was more to Bodie and Doyle's working relationship than met the eye. There had been documented rows in George's own files, behavior witnessed by other agents, that all indicated an intensity of feeling far above the usual partnership associations. And now the fact that the two were not even speaking threw another spanner into the works. Thompson had had to go so far as to discuss his concerns with Kate Ross, who clearly treated him with suspicion.

Barry's warnings aside, he'd asked her just what level of attachment the two agents had with each other. Her reply had been obviously intended to answer him yet protect the two men. "I believe the two of them have an attachment that goes far beyond the job." She had left it at that, but it had added a sinking weight to the suspicions Thompson was beginning to carry about Bodie and Doyle. What perhaps may have only trifled George's attentions and amused their fellow CI5 agents as eccentric behavior was now very close to damning them all.

He watched Doyle and still the other man did not answer. He began to lose patience. "Working relationship. Did you mean personal relationship?"

Doyle's taciturn behavior was only inflaming the situation. His face reddening, he continued to look out the window with narrowed eyes. Finally he answered, nearly under his breath, "Yes."

Thompson straightened the papers in Doyle's file. He chewed on his lower lip. "Are we talking about a homosexual liaison?"

Doyle stared blankly at him. "Yes, sir. But one that was only temporary and is long over." His face had turned nearly scarlet.

Thompson put his head in his hands. From behind his fingers he muttered, "I did not hear that answer." Finally he looked up at Doyle. "I have enough on my hands right now without needing to think about this. So I'll pretend we have not had this discussion. I am reteaming you with Jax for now, and putting you back on active duty, because in spite of this unbelievable situation, you are still a valuable operative and I have need of that. I want to prove this organization should stay viable, and I need everyone to do that."

Still riddled with guilt, Doyle could not say he was happy to be recalled. "I know my actions have led to a number of mistakes, and that Mr. Cowley's death was the end result of those mistakes. I can promise you it won't happen again," he said gloomily, though there was no conviction in his voice.

Thompson almost felt sorry for the lad. It wasn't in his heart to feel prejudiced toward homosexuals, his own family had a few such skeletons in the closet, but there was no way he could allow that sort of behavior to affect the teaming of two of the top agents in CI5. He felt torn between his duty to George and his duty to keep the organization afloat.

"It had better not happen again, Doyle. But that said, I don't believe you are at fault completely for what happened. George made rules he didn't always play by himself. He was as much at fault for meeting with Malone as anyone else, and no one was prescient enough to divine Malone's intentions. You're dismissed."

Doyle stood and mechanically walked to the door. He stopped, hand on the knob, and turned to Thompson. "What was the decision on the inquiry, sir?" He'd almost forgotten to ask.

Thompson looked cross. "Decision? What kind of decision could we make? It all ended up status quo. What other decision was left? There were so many errors in judgment that it all added up to nothing! We agreed that there was no one particular person at fault, and that we would give CI5 a chance to prove its worth. But I can honestly say, that may be difficult to do. Any of us know what a challenge it is each year not to get the budgetary ax, and this may make it doubly hard, though I will do my utmost to keep the organization alive. Your friend Mr. Bodie's actions notwithstanding, of course. You may send him in, by the way." He watched for a sign that Doyle was discomfited by this but there was no clear signal.

Doyle nodded and left. Outside the door Bodie was waiting, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed in front of his chest.

His basilisk's eyes lazily looked Doyle over, and he eventually stood away from the wall and gave a nod to his former partner.

Ray breathed deeply and said, "You can go in now." He put his hands in the pockets of his jeans and looked at the floor. "It was good working with you. I'll miss you." Then he lit out of the room before he could see the look of complete shock on Bodie's face.

Bodie stared after Doyle, his mouth open in wordless amazement, but he stood firmly rooted to the floor. After a moment he realized he was expected inside and turned to the new controller's office. He had felt confident, unworried that anything the new man could say to him would matter. He had not counted on Doyle's comment.

Bodie slid into the chair near the desk and looked warily at Thompson. The temporary controller did his utmost to return a calm gaze, but it was clear to Bodie that he was agitated.

"So far we've managed to keep your behavior out of the newspapers."

Bodie did not know how he was supposed to respond to this. After floundering for some seconds, he finally answered, "I'm sorry." Where the hell did that come from? he wondered immediately. "I mean, I didn't realize my doing my job was such a problem," he said more viciously. He waited hostilely for a response.

"Just doing your job? No, I don't think so. You executed Malone. I may think he's the lowest form of life, and so may you, but how you handled that situation may very well be the end of CI5."

"I thought -- I thought that they had agreed to keep CI5 going. Isn't that why you're here?"

"Yes, it's still going, but I'm simply a temporary commander. Bodie, your behavior and your crass description at that inquiry of how you killed Malone did nothing to endear this organization to those who already have severe doubts about CI5's purpose and usefulness. You only convinced them that it is an organization employing thugs in the glorified position of defending the citizens of this nation. For many of them, that reminds them of a country they knew of in the 1930s."

He let out a long sigh and then looked hard at Bodie. "Your extreme temper problems and your history of violence are well-documented, Bodie. I can't have you running about like a loose cannon any more."

"So you are reteaming us?" Bodie did not want to wait on this subject any more and was tired of hearing a litany of his faults.

"Yes, I'm reteaming you, but not because of your temper. Because I believe that neither you nor Doyle have the emotional capability to work together anymore."

It was clear from Thompson's face that he knew what had been going on between Bodie and Doyle. Bodie decided not to push it, but he was reaching a boiling point that with Cowley would have resulted in an explosion. Once again his heart gave a sudden lurch in his chest as he thought of Cowley, and sadness overtook the rage.

The brief moments where he had felt so alive with the possibilities of the future were gone now. The world had been at his feet when he was with Ray--he had love, he had the best job in the world, he had respect and admiration from colleagues. At times he'd felt invincible. He could not believe that it had happened so quickly, stealing through his life like a thief, and a laughing one at that. Those brief moments mocked him now, and he wanted to smash the past with his fist, bring it helplessly down in a bloody mess. He wanted everyone to suffer as he was suffering.

After a time Bodie realized that Thompson was still talking to him. "That's why I've reteamed you with Murphy. From what I understand you two work well together, although this recent incident on the chimney wasn't the best show. Nevertheless..."

"Am I back on active duty?"

"Yes. But I want this understood perfectly: I have my eye on you. If anything ever happens to besmirch the reputation of CI5 again, or you do anything to jeopardize an operation, I'll have your head on a platter."

Bodie nodded curtly and left. He looked hopefully down the hall to see if Doyle might still be around, catching himself as he did. Bodie walked out of the building and went to his car, surprised to find someone standing beside it. As he got closer he turned his head sideways and made a face of annoyance.

"What are you doing here, Emma? Go away." Bodie pushed her aside and inserted the key in the lock.

She put her hands on the door and pushed against it as he started to open it.

"Bodie, please just listen to me for a moment. Bodie, please!" She gave a sharp shove on the door and he whirled on her in disgust.

"Pack it in, Emma! For chrissake, I do not want to talk to you!" All of a sudden he could feel hot tears creeping around the edges of his eyes and he stared down at the pavement.

Emma clutched his hands in hers. "Bodie, I just need to talk to you. Please. Just drive home, you know I don't live far from you and I'll walk. Please?"

He rolled his tear-stung eyes heavenward and gave in. He was often as helpless against her iron will as Doyle was. He genuinely liked Emma, although he found her annoying at times; she could be quite smug and tyrannical in the way only little sisters could. Bodie had had limited experience with families, having left home early, and did not have any siblings.

It was some time after he put the car in gear that she spoke. "Have you seen Ray?"

He shook his head, his lips drawn into a tight white line. "Just for a moment today, otherwise no, not really seen him."

"Did you notice how gaunt he is? He's eating himself up inside. He can't sleep, eat, or do much of anything. I don't know how he's going to go back to work."

"At least he won't be going back to work with me." He made the assumption that she knew everything, since Ray usually talked to her about almost everything he did. He sometimes envied them their closeness, could not imagine what it was like to feel that attached to someone without a sexual involvement. Except for Ray. That had been close like that, he reflected.

She watched him silently, taking that piece of information about work and weighing it. "So you've been assigned other partners?"

"Yeah. Assuming CI5 even lasts. At least for right now it's still intact."

"Oh, Bodie," she moaned, putting her head in her hands. "Ray's made such stupid mistakes. He always does this."

"I don't care, Em. I just don't care any more. He hurt me more than I ever thought possible and I just don't care any more."

"Did he ever tell you about our father?"

"Not much. But I said I don't care!" Bodie shouted at her.

Used to this sort of bellowing, she ignored him and plowed on. "Dad used to beat mum up, and then he'd scream at us. Ray took it for some time until he was big enough to fight back. That's why Ray turned into such a terror as teenager. He fought with all the kids who taunted him about dad's drinking and bad behavior. And that's also how Ray got the cheek, fighting for the family honor, you might say. Anyway, one day--instead of verbally abusing us, threatening us--dad hit me, hard, and called me a slut because I'd been out with a boy. I was about thirteen, Ray about seventeen. He went after dad."

Bodie did not want to admit that he was interested, but when she stopped he wanted her to continue. He pulled up on the street in front of his flat and turned off the engine.

"Dad had a massive stroke right then, fell down dead before Ray could ever even get to him. It was bizarre. It was as if he froze in time, then just fell over. That was really the beginning of Ray's martyr complex. Forever after, he blamed himself for anything bad in the world, and he always thinks that somehow if only he'd done something different or if he'd been in control, know."

She got out of the car and looked up on the steps to Bodie's building. There was an elegant, long-legged blonde woman standing waiting, a look of extreme impatience on her porcelain face. A small suitcase was at her feet, and Emma suddenly realized that she was wearing the clothing of an Air France flight attendant.

Emma turned to Bodie and said, "Please don't give up on him. Don't let his martyr complex ruin it for you. Give him another chance."

The woman glided down the stairs and purred at Bodie. "You are horribly late, cherie," she said, pouting.

Bodie smirked at Emma. "Emma Holman, this is Esmee. Esmee, this is Emma, the pest sister of my former partner. Do you think Esmee is the French name version of Emma?"

Emma stared at him with a cool jade gaze. Then she smiled the quick, deadly smile that was so much like Ray's, turned and walked away. Bodie suddenly wanted to run after her, apologize, but was tired of feeling like he was in the wrong. He took Esmee's hand and walked her up the stairs, picking up her bag as he went.

"And how long are you in town for this time, my lovely one?"

Doyle felt as though he were new to the job again coming in to receive his assignment. While he'd worked with Jax often enough and genuinely liked him, Doyle felt the acute emptiness of work without Bodie.

They had detested each other when they first were teamed, he remembered, but that had quickly worn away to respect and later to true friendship. That was where his love and desire for Bodie had sprung from, Doyle knew. How had he managed to mess it up so badly? he wondered. The job had been everything for him, his focus in life. He had wanted to make a difference in the world and CI5 had allowed him to do that, much more so than even being a policeman had. Now he had destroyed the most important relationship he'd ever had, cost the life of his superior--a man he admired--and possibly brought about the destruction of this agency. No matter what Thompson said, he could not forgive his own actions.

In the hallway of CI5 headquarters as he looked at the assignment board with Jax, he sensed Bodie's presence but could not bring himself to look for his former partner. Jax coughed and said, " 'scuse me, Doyle, need to use the gent's. Meet you in the carpark."

Ray turned and looked at Bodie's impassive face and felt his heart falter. Bodie nodded at him. "Heard you and Jax were teaming now. Good choice. He's a good fella."

"It wasn't my choice, Bodie," Doyle said, an edge to his voice. "It was Thompson's choice. I'd rather work with you."

A strange, distant smile appeared on Bodie's lips. Doyle realized for the first time that Bodie never showed his teeth when he smiled, no matter how hard he might be laughing.

"Ah, but like you said yourself, we make mistakes together, don't we?"

"Bodie, I--" Doyle looked quickly to the side as Murphy sidled up to them with his lazy stroll.

"You ready to roll, Bodie?" he asked. Murphy was a bit edgy about this partnership, like most other CI5 agents he viewed Bodie and Doyle as inseparable halves of one extraordinary whole, and he did not enjoy being placed between them. There were also rumors abounding that the reason they were separated was that the two had had a lover's spat, and that did not sit comfortably with Murphy.

"Yeah." Bodie did not look at Murphy as he answered. Doyle gave a quick nod and walked away, leaving the two new partners to watch him go.

Bodie watched him walk away, noticing how gaunt he'd become. The jeans that had been so arousingly tight were now slightly loose on Doyle's angular frame, the odd damaged cheekbone even more pronounced because of the hollow darkness of Doyle's eyes and the slightly sunken cheeks. He was not aware of his own paleness, the loss of muscle mass in his once-powerful body, or the red edges of his eyes.

When Doyle returned home at the end of the interminable day, still thinking of his morning meeting with Bodie--he had hoped to run into him at check-out but saw no sign of Bodie--he found Emma waiting on his sofa, and smelled food cooking in the kitchen.

He plopped down on the chair opposite her and said, "I should never have given you the security code for this place, you know?"

She smiled at him and asked, "How did your first day back go?" The unspoken question hung between them, "Did you see Bodie?"

He shrugged and lay his head back against the chair, closing his eyes. "Pretty dull. Just surveillance. And yes, I saw Bodie. And it was miserable." He could not help the tears forming in his eyes and thought, sod it, crying in front of Em won't matter.

She was instantly by his side. "Ray. It's time to end this, right now. Even if you can't be working partners you can get back together. I admit it's funny to think of my brother in relationship. But you know I like Bodie." This was no secret to Doyle, Emma had always commented on how she wouldn't mind shagging him, even if he was the love 'em and leave 'em type. She understood his attraction to Bodie well enough.

Stroking his hair, she continued. "You're eating yourself up inside and I can't take it anymore, and Bodie's not much better. Because you made a mistake are you going to punish yourself for the rest of your life? You'd rather be miserable when you have the most wonderful thing in the world right there in front of you? Ray, you have to take what life gives you. It gave you real love. You can't throw that away."

Doyle held her tight to him. "Something smells good in there."

She looked up at him. "As if you'd actually eat it. You've hardly eaten at all when I haven't been here, have you? Oh Ray, look at yourself. Do you honestly think this will get better with time? You know it won't. You're living your failures over and over with this Major Cowley thing. And losing Bodie in the bargain."

She grabbed his shoulders and shook him a bit. "Think about all the people in the world who never know what love is, who never have someone in their life who'd do anything for them. And you go and throw it all away as if it's commonplace and you could find it anywhere."

With a noise of disgust Emma rose, picking up her handbag. "If you don't go soon and beg Bodie to give you a second chance, you might as well kill yourself because you're certainly going to waste away from all this. I won't sit by and watch you do it to yourself. I'm washing my hands of you."

The door closed softly behind her. For all her theatricality, he thought, she at least wasn't a door-slammer. He sat for a while before getting up to take the dish out of the oven she'd kept warming for him. He set it on the counter to cool but could find no interest in it.

After some time he got up and went to the bedroom and opened a drawer where he'd kept some of Bodie's clothes. The two had often borrowed each other's things--the things that fit, anyway--and Bodie had ended up leaving two linen shirts here. He took them up, pushing his face into one. It still smelt of Bodie, and the scent made him shiver.

She was right, as much as he hated to admit it. He would waste away until he made a mistake on the job that killed him, or he fell ill and couldn't recuperate, or they cashiered him right out of the squad when he couldn't perform on the yearly evaluations. Macklin wouldn't accept him in this condition, nor would Ross.

He sat down heavily on the bed and played the words over and over in his head. He saw Bodie's face from the morning, thinking for the first time of his reddened eyes, the way his shirt hung slightly loose. How long had they been going on like this? Over three months, probably more. In that time both of them had begun to look like shadows of their selves. Bodie was clearly suffering, even though Doyle had not noticed that at first.

There were many things about his former partner he did not know, but one thing had been clear to Doyle from the beginning of their teaming: Bodie used his coldness to hide very deep, intense feelings. It had sometimes made Doyle uncomfortable until he'd learned how to deal with Bodie, how to comfort, cajole or humor his irascible partner until he achieved the desired result. Partly Doyle's ability to deal with Bodie's seeming distance had grown from affection. Where Doyle would easily give up on anyone else, the gifts that Bodie gave of himself, as if they were of little worth, were treasures to Doyle, and made all of Bodie worth keeping.

Worth keeping. That was really it, wasn't it? There was a currency in love, a give and take of different values. Doyle had given something to Bodie and taken in return, but when things turned sour he had thought only himself of worth--his blame, as Bodie put it, his martyrdom. He had given Bodie nothing to trade with, devalued anything Bodie could give him. Now he had to find something of equal merit with which to honor his friend, and all he could give was his love. Was it enough?

He put on his jacket against the chill night air and drove mechanically to Bodie's flat, although it was beginning to get late. His heart had begun hammering in his chest, a fear keeping beat inside him that he did not feel in even the most deadly situations his job called for. How had love managed to become more frightening that a villain with a gun?

Ringing the bell, Doyle waited with fear, trying to think of what to say but discarding everything as facile. Eventually the door opened to a pretty face, a tall blonde woman who looked strikingly like Catherine Deneuve. Doyle stared at her in open-mouthed surprise, a vise-grip of sickness clutching his stomach.

"Yes?" she asked, sleepily. She wore only Bodie's dressing gown, tossing her long hair back and trying to put it into place.

"I..." Doyle stopped, unaware of what to say, thinking only of the incredible noise the blood pounding in his ears made.

From behind her Bodie's cold face loomed into view. He was completely naked, his hair mussed, but obviously not from sleep. He put a proprietary hand on the woman's shoulder and stared at Ray. She moved a step back, her face a mixture of confusion and curiosity as she looked back and forth between the two men.

Doyle suddenly realized this was Esmee, the French air hostess Bodie had been seeing so much of before they started their relationship. It had been her on the phone the night he'd been canceling a date to be with Ray.

If they'd been sleeping or having sex, Doyle reasoned, there was no reason for her to answer the door, other than that Bodie expected it to be Ray, and wanted her to be the one to open it. The thought made his mouth turn sour. He wanted to vomit.

Bodie certainly hadn't wasted any time, Doyle thought bitterly, and neither should I. He turned on his heels as walked quickly away to his car, hurling himself into the seat and pulling away with the tires laying rubber.

Watching him go with an almost detached passivity, Bodie shut the door and walked away from Esmee, grabbing his scotch and pouring himself a very large drink.

"What was that about?" she asked carefully.

"Nothing you need to know about," Bodie said darkly. He threw himself into a chair and stared at the drink. "I think you should go now." The tone said no arguing.

"But--" Esmee began a reply, but Bodie cut her off.

"Now. I want you to leave."

She watched him for a while. "If I leave now, you will not see me again."

"That may be for the best," he said, without looking up at her.

He listened as she rustled around in the bedroom getting dressed and taking her things, then heard the door slam. He knew in many ways he was being as bad to her as Ray had been to him, but he felt powerless to stop himself, as if he were watching himself from a distance and could do nothing to prevent the awful things that seemed to pour out of his mouth.

Bodie had always believed you must play the hand you're dealt in life, and bluff as best you can. He was not able, suddenly, to do either, could not figure out how he might do anything now but fold his cards and leave the table. Perhaps CI5 wasn't what he needed anymore; he'd done many things in his life, there were opportunities for a man like him. He could go to another country, start a new life. If there was to be no Ray, what did it matter?

The scene at the door was a punishment he wanted to inflict on Ray, wanted to see the anguished face as he turned the screw. He thought it would make all this easier, the slight thrill of revenge. Yet all he'd felt was empty, achieving a hollow victory just at the time when Ray may have been begging for his love again. Why else would Ray be there?

He'd wanted Ray to become desperate, to ache for the touch of him again, to suffer what he was feeling. Yet the simple truth was in trying to be the big man, in control of the situation, he had let his arrogance destroy the attempt at reconciliation Ray was making. Now there would be no turning back.

He squeezed the glass with such force that it shattered, shards embedding themselves in his hand. "Oh bloody hell!" he shouted, leaping up from his chair and rushing to the bathroom. He pulled two large pieces of glass out of his fingers and wiped small splinters off the rest, the blood dripping steadily into the washbasin. This was all he needed, he thought. And realized, then, that he'd been crying, probably had been since Ray left.

They did not see each other again the next day, nor the next. Then Bodie went with Murphy up to Manchester for nearly a week, tailing a drugs suspect who used student tourists to carry small caches of cocaine. Doyle's assignments were mundane, mostly paperwork or stand-down time, and he'd grown increasingly restless and manic as he seemed in even worse health than ever.

Jax watched it with impatience, even worry. Where he would once have gone to Cowley over something like this, he did not feel comfortable yet talking to Thompson, especially in light of the rumors circulating about just why both agents' conditions were deteriorating. After a few days of watching it, he took Ray aside and forced him into a chair.

"You look like hell, Ray."

Doyle glanced up at him with disinterest. He shrugged.

"I'm not comfortable with this but I can't stand by and watch you do this to yourself. This is more than just blaming yourself over Cowley's death, isn't it?"

Ray scanned the window but again did not say anything.

"Look, I don't know how I feel if it's true that you and Bodie got to be more than friends. I don't know...what I think about that. The fact is we've worked together before and I admire you. Everyone on this squad does. But you're ruining yourself over this! If it's because you think you'll get kicked out of here for being...queer or whatever, wouldn't it be better to just deal with it than waste away like this?" Jax's voice was now high and reedy, his concern weighing out over his discomfort at talking about such things.

"It's not just about that, Jax. It's about Cowley and how Bodie and I performed as CI5 agents and now it's just too damn late to patch things up."

Jax ran a hand over his face. He was obviously out of his depth but couldn't let it go without a fight. "No one on this squad is going to be able to cover your arse when evaluations are due, Ray, not if you keep going on like this. You and Bodie will both be kicked out anyway, so where does all this get you? Do you think this is really what George Cowley would have wanted from you? What he would have expected?"

"It was my decisions that led to his death. Decisions that had to do with...Bodie."

"That's just bullshit and you know it, Ray." How much like Bodie's own words that sounded. "Cowley always did what he wanted. Even if it was dangerous. We weren't his bleedin' nannies."

Doyle looked at Jax and nodded. "I know. I've heard it before." He got up and gave Jax's shoulder a quick squeeze. "Too bad our hearts and our heads rarely work together, isn't it?" He paused at the doorway. "I'll try, Jax. I'll try not to let everyone else down."

Doyle could not know that Bodie was having a parallel conversation with Murphy almost the next day, as the two drove back from Manchester. It had been a long trip, with little to show but an arrest, not of their suspect, but the mule who'd been ferrying the drugs from Northern Ireland, due to a mix-up with the local constabulary.

Murphy had begun to grow increasingly annoyed with Bodie to the point where he'd lost his usual casual characteristics and begun hectoring him with his disapproval, both of Bodie's ill health and his demeanor since he and Doyle were split up.

Bodie had responded with a curt, "It's none of your business." But Murphy had turned on him, spat out an angry cascade of words. "I don't wanna know if you're gay, Bodie. I don't wanna know anything at all about your personal life especially if it's going to make me sick. I just know that I do not enjoy workin' with someone who walks around like a ghost, who hates every fuckin' minute of the day, and who is puttin' my life in danger because he can't get a grip on his emotions!"

Bodie had stared impassively at him, the cool blue gaze neither angry nor hurt. "Point taken."

After some time, when they had reached the outskirts of London just as sunset was spreading a dusky glow over the city, Murphy said again, "I don't care what you do, Bodie, but just do something."

They had left it like that, and when Murphy dropped Bodie at his flat, he drove away with a sense of fear that something desperate was about to happen to his new partner.

Bodie went in to his flat and looked through his week's post, finding nothing but bills and a few magazines. He sat down at the dining table and rummaged around in a stack of papers he had yet to file or discard. Toward the bottom there was a photograph, taken at a party to celebrate Cowley's birthday. It had been the first and only time the agents were stupid enough to throw a surprise party for someone as low-profile as George Cowley. But when the old man had been liquored up enough, he'd allowed a photo to be taken of himself with Bodie and Doyle. They flanked him on either side, drinks raised in a toast, all of them smiling. It had been one of many times the old man had got a bit drunk with them, yet there was the special significance this time of the photograph.

Bodie stared at the picture for some time before putting his head in his hands, his fingers pressing against his skull. Murphy was right, he had to do something to change the course of events. Time to deal his own hand rather than wait for someone to hand him the right cards. He grabbed his jacket and keys and left.

Ringing Doyle's buzzer, he noticed there were no lights on in the flat. Perhaps Ray was also working on an out-of-town job, he thought. After waiting a while he drove to headquarters. It still seemed a haunted place to him, and he could not help the expectation that he would see Cowley coming round the corner in his typical late-night dishabille, wondering what Bodie was here for. But there was no sign even of Thompson, only a few of the computer staff and Frank at the front check-in. And no Doyle, no information about any particular assignments for his former partner.

He stood outside the building for a time, wondering whether he should reconnoiter the pubs Doyle sometimes frequented, before having an idea. He drove back toward Kensington and saw lights still on at Emma's house. Knowing Johnny would probably have a fit at such a late night visitor, he knocked quietly but the door was immediately answered by Emma, her hair pulled back in a headband, toweling at her damp face. He'd caught her in the middle of her night-time routine.

She waited a moment for him to say something, not opening the door to invite him in. When she realized that he couldn't speak, her heart ached at the sight of him: the dark circles, the whitened lips pressed firmly together fighting not to quiver.

"He's just gone not a few moments ago. He took the tube, seems to enjoy walking a lot these days." Emma took his hand for a moment, her fingers still wet, and squeezed his. He turned and walked quickly to the tube station.

It was not as if he expected to find Ray, but somehow he felt compelled to try. Bodie walked down, aware that this would probably be the last train of the night. He saw a few people milling about waiting, then spotted the familiar auburn curls and the red and black leather bike jacket. Bodie tried to calm his heart, which seemed to be skipping its rhythm, by taking some deep breaths but they did nothing to help. He walked slowly towards Ray, keeping to the side. Ray caught sight of him out of the corner of his eye and turned slowly to look at him. There was a light in the jade eyes, Bodie could see, a quick spark of interest that Ray immediately tried to douse by squinting.

Doyle pulled his head back a bit, then turned fully to face Bodie, who stood quite a ways away from him. His heart hammered softly in his chest. Bodie had come to find him.

They stood for some time looking at each other. They had been so intimate once, Bodie realized, sharing hidden parts of themselves, reaching each other through heavy walls that had been built up over many years. Now he felt they were strangers, staring across at each other. Life seemed to disappear then, a silent blackness that fell on everything, the people behind and around them frozen in time. He heard nothing else except the breath rattling in his own chest.

Bodie blinked slowly, as if he could barely raise the lids of his eyes, and looked at Doyle with all the pain and vulnerability of the past months laid bare. Doyle gazed back at him, an understanding in his face, a sudden softening of the squint, the eyes relaxing with the assurance of forgiveness.

For this was what Bodie wanted: forgiveness for him; forgiveness for Ray that only Ray could give to himself; absolution for all their sins. He saw it in Doyle's face, a hint of it there. The train arrived and Doyle closed his eyes, then opened them and stepped forward to enter the train. Bodie followed quietly behind him and they sat silently across from each other, only looking at each other's eyes the whole ride.

Doyle got off at his station and began walking, with Bodie keeping pace casually at his side. They reached Doyle's flat and went inside. Neither made a move to turn on the light, and Doyle did not shut the curtains, letting the light from the street pour in the window. He stood looking at Bodie not with challenge -- for the first time in weeks, Bodie thought -- but with patience. In his eyes were promises that Bodie did not care if Ray kept; he wanted only to see and hear those promises, those lies.

Bodie stepped forward and put his hand to Ray's face. Doyle noticed for the first time, really, how weak Bodie looked, how deathly pale he was, his hair messy and lapping his collar. Not the sleek Bodie of before. He returned the gesture, putting his hand to Bodie's face and closing his eyes to feel more strongly the texture of Bodie's caress. Bodie pulled Ray's face close against his and they stood for some time silently joined that way.

Whispering in Doyle's ear, Bodie said, "I want everything, and nothing." He swept both arms around Ray, pulling him into an urgent embrace.

Ray moved one hand up behind Bodie's head, cradling it with his palm, and with the other arm he clutched Bodie's waist. He felt the fire of his cheek against Bodie's, the almost-painful pressure against his damaged cheekbone as they tried to meld themselves into one form. He finally brought his face back to look Bodie in the eye, opened his mouth to speak, but Bodie stopped his words with a kiss. Their lips met passionately but gently, Bodie kissing him again and again, before Ray finally held Bodie's mouth firmly against his, devouring the sweet pout of Bodie's lips.

When they broke Ray did not speak, let his eyes instead tell Bodie that he had made terrible mistakes. Bodie nodded, the empathic understanding that had marked their partnership together returning in this one piercing gesture. He swept his hands across Bodie's chest and pushed the holster slowly over Bodie's shoulders, taking it and dropping it to the floor. Doyle caressed Bodie's chest and hips with his hands, staring into the indigo eyes the whole time, worried that Bodie might not want this reunion to turn sexual.

But Bodie's head drew back, his eyes closed as he absorbed Ray's touch.

Continuing to stroke Bodie's now-thinner body, Doyle dropped to his knees and pressed his head against Bodie's thighs, mirroring the supplicatory position Bodie had taken with him so many weeks before when he could not see to love Bodie the way he deserved. This time Doyle wrapped his arms around his lover's legs, after a time moving his hands up the firm thigh muscles, then to Bodie's buttocks. He brought his face to Bodie's groin, letting the heat of his breath against the tight corduroy finish bringing Bodie to arousal. Moving his hands to the zip, he pulled the fly open, then pulled the trousers wide, moving his mouth over the fabric of Bodie's underpants. Bodie moaned against him, his hands circling Doyle's head and tangling his fingers in the curls. Doyle slid the corduroys down over Bodie's hips, then the pants. He took Bodie inside his mouth and heard, distantly, what sounded like a whimper as Bodie clutched Ray's head against him. Doyle worked his mouth up and down Bodie's cock, knowing it would take a short time to bring him to climax, so deep was his arousal. Doyle himself felt a heat building inside him and as Bodie cried out his name, spending himself inside Ray's willing mouth, Doyle himself exploded in a hot stream, still inside his jeans.

After a moment Bodie collapsed on the floor next to Ray, pulling Doyle up to lie beside him. He kissed Ray's face, soft gentle kisses over and over the smooth skin until Doyle finally took Bodie's hand and placed it against his lips. They lay together for a time, until Ray pulled them both up and they went to the bedroom.

Stripping off their remaining clothes, Doyle mopped at the stickiness of both of them with his shirt, tossed it in the corner, and pulled Bodie inside the covers of the bed to sleep cradled in his embrace.

Doyle awoke to find himself alone in the bed. He wandered out to the kitchen, again to see Bodie sitting at the table, a cup of tea before him.

Bodie started at the sight of Ray, his face becoming at once anxious and quizzical, looking up with haunted blue eyes. He reached over and pulled the chair out for Ray, who sat down and reached across the table for Bodie's hand. Bodie let him take it, looking down into his tea and closing his eyes. He felt as if he were holding the future in his hand, and at the same time nothing at all.

With his other hand, Doyle raised Bodie's head up to look at him. He smiled gently at his friend and lightly caressed Bodie's face with long, sensual fingers. "I still love you. I haven't stopped loving you. You have to know I didn't want to do what I did. I just...thought it would be for the best. I was wrong."

"No. Maybe you were right. But I think it's just too late for us to right the wrong and we can't go back. Look what happens to us for trying." He gave a sardonic smile and Ray's face lit up in return to see his old Bodie.

"We may still lose our places on the squad," Ray said. "If our condition hasn't ruined us, the relationship just may. I don't think Thompson will ever reteam us. I'm not sure I can live with that."

"I know," Bodie replied bleakly, the smile gone. "If CI5 even survives. There's no guarantee right now that it will."

"True," Doyle answered softly. "I'm afraid of the future, a little." He slid his hand away until only his index finger touched Bodie's, curling around Bodie's own.

Bodie locked his finger with Ray's. "I am, too. I regret a lot of things, Ray, not the least of which is that the old man is gone. Everything seemed full of promise to me. Now it looks...if not black, very dark grey."

"I won't leave you again, Bodie. I won't."

Bodie tightened the lock that their two fingers held. "Don't make promises we can't keep, Ray. Just for now, don't make promises that could turn into lies."

Doyle hung his head down and could feel the tears creeping into his eyes. There was no way he could ever make up what he had done to Bodie. But really, that was what Bodie was telling him now, wasn't it? That they were starting anew. Everything in their life had begun again, not necessarily in a good way, but new all the same.

It was up to him--to them--to make it into something worthwhile.

"I will try, Bodie. That's all we can do, isn't it?"

Bodie nodded and pulled Ray to him.

-- THE END --

Originally published as a zine novella, Deathless Pros Press, 1995.

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