Boys Night Out


(Sequel is Missing)

The inn stood in a quiet part of the town, just off the main road into London. The bar was cosy, friendly, and had been designed to allow its patrons the privacy they sought away from the bustle of city life.

Preston Davies had stumbled across the Four Feathers by accident, had enjoyed the pleasant atmos- phere and spent many a night in company there. Now, he was ruined. He could see his career come to a crashing halt and all because of his indiscretion at the inn. He sighed deeply, as he thought of hand- ing his resignation to the Minister that morning, and how he had been asked to wait while Sir James made a phone call to a man named Cowley.

Sir James had left the office immediately after, while Davies went out to drown his sorrows.

The Minister spent two hours with George Cowley, discussing the problem with the head of CI5.

Benny was on his way up from the motor pool, when the door of the controller's office opened and the two men emerged.

"My men," Cowley was saying, "usually have better things to do than staking out a brothel."

"I know, George, and I appreciate this very much." They shook hands and the Minister left.

Benny hurried to the canteen. A stake-out at a BROTHEL! Wait till that got round the squad.

Murphy and Terry Martyn, one of the new recruits, was sitting at a table drinking coffee.

"You'll never guess what I've just heard," Benny grinned, as he slid into one of the free seats beside them.

"Cowley's given us the day off?" Murph asked hopefully.

"The Old Man's been asked to stake out a brothel."

Terry choked on her coffee in surprise. "What?"

"Straight up! Sir James Todd was in with him this morning. I heard them as they came out of the office."

"Chance would be a fine thing!" Murphy snorted. "I'd give gold for a job like that..."

"All we drew was lousy observation duties," Terry grumbled. "We take over from Bodie and his partner."

"Wish we could stay and find out more," Murph added wistfully. "The dream stake-out!"

Terry patted his arm in sympathy, and they checked their watches. Murphy slung his jacket over his shoulder and he and his partner traipsed into the corridor and down to the motor pool. They collected the keys to the blue Sierra, and headed out to Mile End.

The "dynamic duo" as Murphy irreverently called them, were waiting to be relieved. Bodie was his usual immaculate self, clad in a dark leather jacket, black pullover and trousers. He answered the back door of the obbo house to them, and briefed them as he led them up to the first floor.

"Nothing -- except the milkman, the postman, and the paper-boy."

"No Jehovah's?"

Bodie shook his head. "This one's a wash-out," he concluded.

He pushed the bedroom door open to reveal his partner who was sitting at the binoculars. Doyle was as unkept and scruffy as Bodie was neat. Murph wandered across and took his place.

"It's all yours," (Doyle) announced, as he struggled into his lumber jacket. "Reckon Bodie told you we think it's a waste of time."

"Benny said there's another stake-out up for grabs," Terry informed them brightly.

"You know what Cowley can do with it," Doyle told her.

"That's a biological impossibility, Ray," laughed Bodie, as they turned to leave the room.

"It's at a brothel," Terry called after them.

Both men stopped and looked at each other.

"A brothel," repeated Bodie.

"Fancy stopping by the office?" suggested Doyle.

Bodie smirked. "I'll drive."

Doyle folded into the passenger seat, as Bodie slid behind the wheel. "D'you want to come for a drink at lunch-time?" Doyle asked, as they wove through the mid-morning traffic.

"Is that an invitation to JUST a drink?" Bodie teased.

"JUST a drink -- socially."

Bodie patted the denim-covered leg playfully and Doyle feigned a punch athim. "Into sadism, are you?" Bodie goaded. He glanced at his passenger togauge the reaction to his words, well-aware that references to his bi-sexualitymade Doyle uncomfortable. Doyle laughed: HE was thinking of the brothel.

Cowley pressed the intercom and asked his secretary to locate Bodie and Doyle. The door opened and a curly head appeared.

"You wanted to see us, sir?" Doyle ventured into the room.

"Aye, is Bodie -- " Bodie was, shadowing his partner.

"You're both off the Mile End caper as of now. Something's come up, that requires immediate attention."

Bodie stifled a giggle. Cowley glared at him.

"Would you care to share the joke, 3.7?"

"Just a cough, sir." He caught Doyle's eye, and looked away lest they both disgrace themselves in front of the controller.

"We have a situation that requires DISCRETION -- " Cowley frowned at Bodie " -- and someone skilled at undercover operations." He flicked his attention to Doyle, who was trying to hide a smile.

"Yes, sir."

"I've decided to assign you. Sit down, and I'll brief you now."

The agents each drew up a chair and obediently sat. Cowley cast a glance at the flimsy dossier before him on the desk.

"This is a particularly nasty case of blackmail," he began.

"Dirty pictures," Doyle hazarded.

Cowley nodded. "This is a favour for a friend -- a friend who could be quite useful to us."

"You scratch my back..." Bodie said.

"Precisely, Bodie. It appears that -- an acquaintance has been caught --being somewhat indiscreet at a certain establishment -- " Cowley noticed thelook that flashed between the two younger men. "So -- you know. Who toldyou?"

"Terry Martyn, sir," Doyle confessed. "The rumour's gone round the squad there's a stake-out at a brothel."

Cowley looked very pointedly at Bodie. "Not a brothel -- not quite," he amended.

Doyle stiffened at the older man's tone.

"The Four Feathers, at Kingston."

"Oh!" This from Bodie, who had heard rumours about the inn.

"'Oh!' indeed!" Cowley said drily. "I'm sending you and Doyle down to have a nose around. You, 3.7, will be posing as an executive from a munitions company, which is responsible for several major Government contracts."

"And Ray?"

"4.5 is to pose as your 'boyfriend'."

Doyle had gone two shades paler.

Bodie glared at the controller. "'Pose as...' You said there were pictures..."

"Treat it as you would any other under-cover operation," Cowley wasn't exactly happy about the situation either; but if he could trust any of his men to bring this particular task off, it would be this team. "I have promised to do the best I can, and you are the best I have. Bodie," Cowley came out frombehind his desk and handed him the dossier. "The details of your cover, andDoyle's, too. I'll leave you to get acquainted with both histories. Be readyto move in tomorrow." He dismissed them and they stood to leave. Cowleycaught them at the door. "Who started the rumour?"

"Benny, sir," Doyle spoke with gritted teeth. And if I get my hands on him...

Cowley pushed the intercom again. "Find Benny for me, will you? I'd like a word..."

Bodie closed the door softly, and said, "Come on, sunshine, I think we both need that drink."

Bodie drove them out to a pub by the Thames on the west side of the city. Beside him, Doyle was seething -- very vocally. "I practically VOLUNTEERED for that!"

"I'll agree, it is unfair," Bodie conceded. "But look on the bright side, you've got me for company. If you need any practice..."

"Shut up," snapped Doyle.

For a long while, they traveled in silence, the atmosphere in the car as chilly as the October day outside. Bodie shot several surreptitious glances at his companion. Doyle swallowed nervously.

"This assignment -- I've never felt -- that way for a bloke before. How the HELL am I suppose to fake it?"

Bodie considered the problem for a minute. "We'll go back to my place after lunch," he decided, "and work out a few moves..." He crooked one eyebrow at his other half. "Once you're over the initial shock, it gets easier..."

"I'll take your word for it." Doyle didn't sound convinced. "Mind you," he added after a suitable contemplation, "I'd rather be here than in Benny's shoes right now."

"He'll get the bollocking of a lifetime," Bodie predicted, laughing.

"And he bloody well deserves it!" Doyle snorted.

They were in a country lane now, wide enough only for one car to pass at a time. There was a red Datsun approaching them, so Bodie pulled into one of the passing places and waited. The other driver raised her hand in acknowledgement as her vehicle squeezed through the gap. In that instant of inattention, Bodie felt a tentative hand on his knee. Surprised, he turned to Doyle and smiled.

"Sunshine?" He leaned across the car and planted a gentle kiss on the parted lips. There was a moment's hesitation, then Doyle kissed him back, with a tiny spark of interest.

"You can back out of this -- he can't make you do it..."

Doyle shrugged, self-consciously. "You know me -- I'll try anything once..."

Bodie patted his knee companionably. "Don't worry, Ray. I'll look after you..."

But at the pub, Doyle was nervous and shy, half afraid that people would guess. Bodie was careful not to sit too close when he came back from the bar with their drinks. His partner eyed the whisky with suspicion. "I asked for a pint," Doyle glared at his colleague.

Unfazed, Bodie set his own half beside Doyle's glass. "Dutch courage," he explained. "We've got a lot to do before tomorrow, if we're going to make this op succeed, and you're too tense. Drink that, and I'll get you lunch -- then we'll start work on our cover..."

Doyle skimmed through the dossier that Cowley had handed his partner. He frowned.

"Hmm! Seems that you have a lot of influential friends and move in exclusive social circles. Perfect blackmail fodder..." A glass of amber liquid was thrust under his nose.

Bodie dropped onto the sofa beside him, sipping his own whisky. "You do realise," he said quietly, "that we'll be expected to pose for some good old-fashioned nudie shots, don't you?" He watched the other man's expression harden. "We'll probably end up in bed together -- romps and frolics -- "

"You don't have to rub it in, Bodie," Doyle snapped. "Christ, it's allright for you, you're used to -- "

"Like hell it's all right for me!" Bodie's anger flared. "I don't get mykicks from performing in front of a camera -- " He stopped, knowing that hewas taking his temper out on the wrong person. The fact that he happened to care a lot for his partner made this operation particularly tricky.

"I'm sorry," Doyle said softly.

"So am I." Bodie leaned against the back of the settee and sighed. "We have to make it look convincing -- it's no use your sitting there like a lemon, Ray..." He shut his eyes, listened as Doyle swallowed -- nerves, or the last of the alcohol...The rap of the glass against the wooden coffee table, and Doyle's weight shifted beside him.

"What d'you suggest?" The voice was husky in his left ear.

Bodie turned his head, opened his eyes again, and met the earnest green gaze. Steady, he told himself, one wrong manoeuvre now, and you'll lose him forever...

"A few kisses and cuddles aren't going to be enough," He watched Doyle's eyes carefully. "These people make videos of their victims...they'll need something fairly juicy to hang on me."

"Bodie," Doyle chewed at his lower lip, "I don't know if I can -- "

Bodie held his gaze. "Do you trust me?"

The slightest hesitation, then the curly head bowed. "Yes."

Bodie gently cupped the stubbled chin, and tipped Doyle's face up. "Kiss me."

Doyle swallowed and leaned forward to where their mouths could meet. He touched Bodie lightly, and felt one strong hand creep round to the nape of his neck. He jerked back, eyeing the other man warily.

Bodie sighed. "Ray, this is me -- Bodie, the bloke that Cowley set to look after you -- I won't let anything bad happen to you, I promise."

"I'm sorry," Doyle apologised again. "I just can't get used to the idea of -- kissing another man, that's all. Can -- can we try again?"

"Close your eyes," Bodie suggested. Then lie back and think of -- Cowley!

It was better that time, more of a response. Doyle's arms had come up round his waist, and when they parted, his partner was flushed and breathless. "So -- " he gasped, "this is the famous knock-'em-dead routine!"

Bodie grinned. "You haven't seen anything yet," he replied.

He slid his arms round the bony shoulders and kissed him a third time, drawing him down onto the couch, then rolling so that Doyle was between himand the back of the sofa. There was a deep, con- tented-sounding sigh andBodie decided to carry on. He began a gentle exploration of his partner'sthroat and ear, licking and lapping at the slightly salty flesh, and painfullyaware of his own arousal. One false move now would wreck more than Cowley'sstake-out...

Doyle's breathing had become erratic, and there was a growing bulge in the front of the patched jeans. Bodie teased at his mate's ear with his tongue, eliciting a groan.

"Relax, Ray," murmured Bodie, as his hand slid lower, skimming over the taut belly. The temptation to undo those jeans...

Bodie slipped his hand up under the t-shirt, moving it in soft circles over hot skin. He pulled Doyle onto his side, running his hand up the back, then back across the furred stomach, with the intention of unfastening Doyle's zip. An insistent hand stopped him and Ray did it himself, then drew his hand down...

Doyle arched against him, caught his breath suddenly and came.

"That's it, Ray," Bodie coaxed, "all of it. Come on, sunshine..."

The curly head lolled against his shoulder drowsily, and Bodie smiled. "It's okay, Ray. Go to sleep now. I'll be here for you, sweetheart..."

Bodie's own eyelids drooped and minutes later, he had joined his lover in sleep.

Doyle came to, to find himself in a firm but gentle embrace. He was lying on a sofa, his head pillowed on a black-clad chest. Bodie! For a moment, he almost panicked, then he collected himself, and began thinking about his current situation. Here he was, Ray Doyle, who had always considered himself as straight, lying in the arms of another man. That man had brought him off with just a handful of kisses and touches -- Bodie had aroused him quicker than some of the girls he'd gone out with...He pushed out of the embrace and sat up. His head was spinning.

Bodie woke the instant he moved. Blue eyes sought his. Doyle avoided the contact.

"Ray?" the enquiry was soft, as if Bodie was unsure of his reception.

"My head hurts," Doyle complained. "What did you do to me?"

"Nothing you weren't aware of," Bodie assured him. "That's the whisky..." He swung his legs off the couch and stood up. "I'm going to put you to bed."

Doyle struggled into a sitting position and lifted his heavy head. Bodie picked him up and carried him through to the bedroom, with only a token protest. He dumped Doyle gently on the bed and pulled off his trainers and socks. Doyle lay back, staring at the ceiling.

"Ray, you've be more comfortable if you took your clothes off." Doyle deigned to glare at him and Bodie sighed. "I'm not going to do anything to you," he assured.

Doyle continued to glare at him, so Bodie turned his back and began to strip slowly. When he turned back, he found that Doyle had fallen asleep once more. With a snort of amusement, Bodie set about getting him ready for bed.

Bodie woke three hours later, to find Doyle snuggling into his side, the curly head on the pillow beside his. He was tempted for a second to ruffle the thatch, but thought better of it: neither of them had had much sleep in the past few days and there were no guarantees that they wouldn't be pulled off this caper for something more serious at a moment's notice -- and Ray would only get underfoot in the kitchen. Bodie eased his way from the bed, donned his robe, and went to make the coffee.

"Bodie?" Doyle's voice drifted from the bedroom.

Bodie returned to slouch in the doorway. "How d'you feel?"

"'orrible," groaned Doyle, glancing up at him. "What time is it?"

"Nearly supper-time. I was going to send out for a pizza and re-read the file."

Doyle sat up. "Sounds okay. Have you thought about the approach?"

Bodie had and was still unhappy about it. "We have to go in and convince whoever's doing the blackmail that first, I'm worth cultivating, and second, that I've got a weakness they can exploit. The usual method is the victim spending time at the hotel..."

"Like you say, romps and frolics," Doyle spoke with distaste.

"And sex."

Doyle looked, if possible, even more unhappy.

"It has to appear real," Bodie persisted.

"I know."

"There's a limit to how much you can fake."

"I know that, too," Doyle swallowed noisily.

"You've already proved you can kiss another man without being sick -- " And shown me that I can turn you on...

Doyle was blushing.

Bodie came into the room proper and sat on the edge of the mattress. Herisked a hand on his partner's shoulder. "I won't hurt you, I promise. I'll -- try to make it good..."

Doyle put up a hand to cover Bodie's and attempted to smile encouragingly.

Bodie kissed him and he opened his mouth to let the enquiring tongue in. Strong arms wrapped round him and he was pushed back against the pillows, as Bodie manoeuvered onto the bed. There was the strange sensation of being caught beneath a heavier body, an almost delicious sense of fear -- Doyle closed his eyes, and concentrated on the feelings rushing through him, centering on his groin. Bodie was eating him alive, his mouth busy everywhere, his fingers teasing...Doyle groaned, helpless in the face of such pleasure. His erection was trapped between their bodies -- every movement Bodie made sent shock waves of ecstasy to his heated flesh... And Bodie was enjoying himself, too. His cock nestled beside Doyle's, as he teased his mate to climax, drawing on all the skills he had to make it good for his partner. He ground his hips against the slighter body under him, rubbing them together, and Doyle moaned at he came. Bodie was only a second behind him, his semen spurting over the already- wet belly. He writhed closer, spreading their seed between them and paused long enough to give his lover another kiss, before rolling away down the mattress, exhausted. He lay there for an eternity of minutes while his heart slowed to a normal pace. Presently, he gathered enough strength to raise his head and check his mate. Doyle hadn't moved, was still flat on his back, across the pillows, one arm thrown over his eyes.

"Ray?" Bodie got to his knees and crawled to his side. "Ray?"

The soft sound penetrated the post-coital trance, and the ragged head turned towards the familiar voice.

"Are you okay?"

Doyle stopped to consider. WAS he okay? This morning -- whenever that was -- I was happy, planning on chatting up Murph's partner, used to going out chasing birds. Then, Bodie goes and kisses me, touches me up, and I end up coming like an oversexed teenager -- okay? OKAY?

"Ray?" Bodie was shaking his shoulder.

"No, I'm NOT okay. What's happening to me, Bodie? What are you doing to me?" The arm dropped, and he glared at his colleague. "I don't want -- damn, I don't know what I do want anymore!" He glanced down to the hand on his shoulder.

Bodie hastily removed it and sat back on his haunches. He didn't offer to help as Doyle tried to sit up.

"I'm going to have a shower," Doyle announced as he slithered off the bed. His knees almost buckled beneath him as his feet connected with the floor. Bodie bowed his head, waiting until his partner was in the bathroom, then, with a sigh, he made a half-hearted attempt at repairing the wreck- age. He burrowed under the covers, to lay contemplating the ceiling.

What did you expect, he asked himself. Ray to come into your arms willingly, forsaking his safe and secure past experience with his women? You knew how he felt about you and your kind before Cowley laid this assignment at your door -- what made you think he'd change his attitude towards you just because of a quick tumble?

The sudden cessation of the water in the next room signalled Doyle's imminent return. He would recover his clothes from the wardrobe where Bodie had hung them, dress and disappear. There may or may not be a scene beforehand. Bodie rolled onto his side and shut his eyes, schooling his breathing to feign sleep. The last thing he wanted right now was an indignant and guilt-ridden colleague analysing HIS motives...

"Bodie?' Doyle padded into the bedroom and frowned at the cotton-coveredmound in the centre of the mattress. There was no reply. He scrambled ontothe foot of the bed and crawled up towards the head slowly. He placed a handon the bit that looked like Bodie's shoulder. Still no response -- so muchfor his jungle training, thought Doyle wryly. He crept under the duvet,snuggled up and settled for the night.

He came awake feeling secure. A strong arm around his neck in a loose embrace and a warm body pressed close. Then memory reasserted itself and he frowned: today, he and Bodie were going to the Four Feathers in Kingston and were to allow themselves to be set up. He shifted, uncomfortable at the thought and the movement disturbed Bodie.

"Mornin'," he yawned. "What're you doing here?"

"Wanted an early start, didn't I?" Doyle glared at him. "What's for breakfast?"

Bodie, whose emotions had run through surprise, delight and despair in the first thirty seconds of consciousness that morning, slowly unwrapping his arm from the warm throat.

"Anything you can find in the kitchen." He pushed himself out into the cold light of day and headed for the bathroom, fervently hoping the atmosphere would get better. He had banked on their professionalism to get them through this operation, but now he had serious doubts that their friendship would survive...

Bodie took the file back to Headquarters and used the opportunity to beg Cowley to take his partner off the case.

"He's -- not happy with this job, sir. Please -- "

"No, Bodie. He's the best undercover operative I have, and this one has to be wrapped up quickly, before the press gets wind of it. You seem to be coping with the demands of the role."

"Yeah, well -- " Bodie looked away.

"I don't doubt that you'll take care of him," Cowley remarked drily. "Now, Bodie, I've arranged for you to have the Merc when Benny gets back with it..."

In the car park below, Doyle sat waiting in the Capri. He watched the blue Sierra swing into the space opposite, and Murph shot out of the passenger seat and belted up the stairs, heading for the canteen -- or the toilets, Doyle guessed. Terry Martyn slid out from behind the wheel, and ambled over to the silver car.

"How's the obbo?" asked Doyle.

Terry raised her eyes to the sky briefly. "Scintillating. Two motorcycle couriers and a little green van - all deliveries." She frowned. "Are you all right, Ray? You're looking a bit rough round the edges."

Doyle smiled thinly and caught the flicker of movement in the driving mirror. Bodie, on his way back from taking the file to the Old Man. "Just overworked and underpaid as usual," he quipped. "Good luck with your house-watch."

Terry grinned, waved him a cheeky goodbye, and darted off as Bodie reached the vehicle. Both men watched her leap up the stairway.

"Nice kid," remarked Bodie.

"Very," Doyle agreed, with a wistful smile.

The best-laid plans of mice, men and mean little Scottish gits called Cowley are only good as long as Benny hadn't got a hand in them. So Doyle said aloud to his partner on the way back to Bodie's flat. Somehow, Benny had managed to involve the Mercedes in a minor skirmish with a bollard on the way to the motor pool. Bodie had been instructed to return home and wait on a call from the garage to say when he could collect it.

Both agents were tense and apprehensive about the forthcoming job, and the moment they reached the sanctuary of Bodie's lounge, the whisky bottle put in an appearance and stayed handy for the rest of the afternoon.

Bodie doled out the alcohol and leaned back against the sofa, closing his eyes. The dip of the spring beside him told him that his partner had followed suit -- the brush of curls against the hand he'd stretched along the settee's back confirmed it.

"I'm scared," Doyle announced blandly.

Bodie opened his eyes, to study his friend: if Doyle was scared, how the hell did he think Bodie felt.

"Bodie, I said -- "

Bodie put his hand on the bony shoulder and squeezed gently. "So am I, sunshine." A little more pressure and Doyle toppled towards him, tumbling into the embrace, so that his head lay against Bodie's shoulder. Before either of them realised, Bodie was brushing his lips softly over the furrowed brow and the silvering temple. Doyle relaxed, comfortable and at ease in Bodie's arms. It felt -- natural, like they belonged together. Bodie was murmuring softly above him. Doyle snuggled up and closed his eyes. It felt -- he sighed and smiled into the polo-neck.

"Could almost get used to this, you know," he confessed.

Bodie could hardly believe his ears. Doyle admitting to enjoying -- this? He hated himself for saying it, for breaking up the mood, but if he didn't, there was a very real danger that they would forget this was part of a cover story, not the beginning of a love affair.

"Just as long as we can make it look convincing enough tonight," Bodie reminded his partner. He felt the tension in the body at his side, and Doyle pushed himself away from his hold.

"Yeah, sure, thanks for reminding me," Doyle said bitterly. "For a moment, I almost forgot."

Bodie bit his lip and his heart gave an uncharacteristic lurch at the tone. Oh, Ray, if you only knew...

The man who pulled up in the year-old Mercedes and who walked into the lounge at the Four Feathers Inn, had distinct possibilities. Jan, the receptionist, eyed him with interest, and mentally licked her lips. He was just the sort of man they were looking for. She buzzed for the assistant manager, Graham, to get a second opinion.

"Send one of the girls over to sound him out, after he's had a few," decided the little man. "If we can get him hooked on one of our ladies, we could probably hit him for a few thousand."

Jan watched as the stranger sat at the bar and ordered his drink. She was tempted to approach him herself -- everything about him, from the cut of his clothes to his bearing shouted 'class' at her -- she already had him pegged as a senior executive in a successful company -- was probably married to the boss' daughter...

Bodie stayed by the bar, discreetly observing the clientele. Businessmen on their way home to their homes in the commuter belt, for the most part, or retired financiers popping into the local for a quick one with their golfing chums. It was early yet, but Bodie was aware of the fact that he had already been targeted by the receptionist as he came in. He case a surreptitious glance at the Rolex on his wrist -- almost eight o'clock -- Ray would be here soon...

The lounge was beginning to fill up and Bodie order another drink while he waited.

"Move over, mate."

The cheeky voice came from behind him and a hand descended to his shoulder. Doyle leaned into the non-existent gap between Bodie and a pin-striped executive.

"Pint of the best, love," he called above the rising chatter.

Bodie took a moment to rake his partner from head to toe. Doyle was dressed in a neat white shirt and tidy blue jeans for a change, with a leather jacket that Bodie hadn't seen before. It was a pleasant surprise.

Jan brought Doyle his pint and as Doyle accepted it, Bodie contrived to job against him, spilling beer down the pristine shirt-front and the sculpted denims.

"I'm sorry," Bodie apologised. "It's packed in here. Excuse me," he called to the barmaid, "could you bring a towel?"

Doyle started to protest, but Bodie took the cloth that Jan handed him and set about repairing the damage he'd inflicted.

"It's nothing," Doyle insisted, willing himself to remain calm under the touch. If anyone other than Bodie had attempted this, he thought...

"At least let me get you another drink," Bodie offered. "If you can find a table, I'll bring it over."

Doyle made a show of accepting and gratefully escaped from the bar. Jan had eyed him up too professionally for his liking. Ten minutes later, Bodie joined him with a tray-load of glasses.

"I must let you spill beer over me more often," grinned Doyle, as Bodie set down the drinks.

Bodie smiled mischievously and sank into the seat at his side. "I don't make a habit of chucking good beer over any old riff-raff." He picked up his half and toasted Doyle with it. "We've been targeted, mate."

"You have," corrected Doyle. "The barmaid gave me the once-over, but you," Doyle raised his own glass, "you are the dish of the day, as far as she's concerned." He took a sip. "How d'you want to play this?"

"Slow and easy," replied Bodie. "We're just getting to know each other -- " he grinned. "You might not be able to drive home and so you wind up staying the night -- and being smitten by your charms, so do I. Have you had supper yet?"

Doyle shook his head. "You buying?"

"I," Bodie said smugly, "can afford to treat you. Fabian-Ward pays its men very well indeed."

"In that case," Doyle decided, "I'm eating."

The barmaid buzzed for Graham again. "The guy that came in earlier -- " she nodded in Bodie's direction. "He's found himself a playmate, by the looks of things."

Graham case a shrewd eye over the two newcomers. "The young one -- him with the curly hair -- has he had much to drink?"

Jan nodded again. "I should say. Handsome keeps buying 'em, and he keeps sinking 'em."

"So," Graham's eyes narrowed, "Curly's going to be well over the limit by closing time..."

"He'd better stay the night," Jan smiled coldly. "And judging by the look on Handsome's face, he WON'T be alone..."

"I'll go and set up the cameras," offered Graham.

"You'll be nissed as a pewt if you keep putting it away like that, Ray," Bodie admonished. "At least, they'll think you should be."

The dangerous glint in the green eyes warned him that Doyle was still quite sober. He checked his watch.

"Time to turn in, I believe," he flashed a swift smile to his mate.

"Still time to turn and run, if you think you can't do it," Bodie gave him the option.

Doyle shook his head and met the anxious blue eyes. "I've got complete trust in you. Let's do it, and get it over with." He finished his half and lurched to his feet. "Nothing to it," he smiled dopily, and began to waiver in the non-existent breeze. Bodie stood slowly and made to steady him.

"Don't overdo it," he hissed. "Save the real acting for the bedroom."

They threaded their way through the crowded bar to the reception area, where Doyle accidentally stumbled on the step. Bodie's arm went round his waist and stayed there. Jan watched as Bodie piloted his mate to the desk.

"Have you got a room for the night?"

Doyle slouched against him. "I c'n drive," he protested. "Bit of fresh air, I'll be okay..." He hiccupped. "Pardon!"

"The police'd have you before you got ten yards, Ray. You'd lose your job."

Doyle appeared to consider and delved into the pocket of his jeans, pulling them even tighter across his genitals. Bodie swallowed involuntarily and looked away quickly, fumbling for his own wallet. He withdrew his credit card and handed it to Jan.

"We only have one room available at the moment -- if I could ask you to fill in the registration card -- your details, sir, if you wouldn't mind, sothat I can check with the credit card company..." she explained with just theright amount of apology in her voice.

Bodie didn't question it, but obediently picked up the pen and filled in his name and address. After the job, he would be moved and the property would be transferred to be used by another department. He turned the card over and smiled. There was a questionnaire on the back -- the why and wherefore of his visit, his opinion of the accommodation, and the service, and a space for any constructive comments he cared to make. He crooked an eyebrow at Jan. "This, too?"

She smiled. "Voluntary," and the expression hardened as Bodie filled out his company address and handed it back to her. She collected the keys from under the counter and dropped them into Bodie's outstretched palm. "It's up the stairs and turn left, the bathroom's in suite."

Bodie gathered his partner under one arm and steeling himself mentally, he took Doyle to bed.

The room was a double, large and airy, tastefully decorated. Bodie almost carried Doyle over the threshold and dumped him gently in the middle of the bed before turning to close the door. Doyle folded his hands beneath his head and sighed, smiling up the ceiling. Lights, he reckoned -- the camera had to be up in the fixture.

Bodie kicked off his shoes and knelt up on the mattress to untie Doyle's sneakers. The ex-police- man's toes wriggled appreciatively and Bodie couldn't resist tweaking them. Doyle giggled and gave him a shove with his free foot.

Bodie sat back on his haunches, watching his partner for a moment intently. Then he crawled up the bed, licking his lips nervously, and planted a brief chaste kiss on the corner of Doyle's mouth.

Doyle contrived to look startled, but not angry and he smiled as Bodie gulped.

"Ray -- I -- "

An iron-hard hand grasped his wrist, staying him. "Is that what you want?"

Flash-fire centred on Bodie's groin and he hung his head. Yes, he wanted it -- wanted Doyle, but not like this -- not on a job for Cowley -- for himself. Doyle's free hand went to his knee.

"Come on then," he coaxed. "Nobody'll know -- they'll just think you're putting me to bed." The hand slid to Bodie's crotch and Bodie risked a glance at his partner's face. Green eyes glittered dangerously -- and HE was supposed to be the one with all the experience in bed!

Bodie broke the hold on his wrist, knelt up and got rid of his jacket, then moved the other hand and pulled Doyle up into an embrace. There was a moment's struggle as Doyle's coat came off, then he put his arms round Bodie and tugged him down, their mouths sealed. Bodie turned his attention to Doyle's throat, wriggling onto his front, half on top of his mate and fumbled with the buttons of the beer- stained shirt.

Doyle closed his eyes, savouring the feeling of Bodie's tongue and lips against his skin -- first his neck, then his shoulder and his chest, where his shirt parted under Bodie's insistent efforts. He almost squeaked in pleasure as Bodie licked his nipple, and his cock twitched in anticipation.

He opened his eyes to find a pair of blue eyes regarding him anxiously. "Let's get our clothes off," he grinned, "and do this properly."

Bodie moved off him and sat up. Doyle's fingers snagged at the top button, and Bodie impatiently undid his cuffs while Doyle tackled the front. The pale chest was sheened with perspiration and in a moment of pure devilment, Doyle pushed the other man flat and licked up the breast-bone to the pulse- point in his lover's throat. He stropped himself bodily against the prone figure, hips thrusting suggestively and nipples sliding against one another...

"You wicked little bugger!" Bodie gasped with delight and he crooked his arm behind Doyle's neck, and yanked him into kissing range.

Doyle was lying right on top of him, their crotches pressing together. Bodie pushed his hand between them under the shirt and into the top of the blue jeans, homing in on the zip. He discovered that Doyle wasn't wearing any underpants, and found himself with a handful of hard hot flesh. A shock shot through the body beneath him. In the interest of keeping the operation uncompromised, he squeezed gently and kept kissing.

Doyle retaliated by groping Bodie and was rewarded with a muffled groan somewhere between frustration and ecstasy. Bodie bucked and rolled him onto his back, fiddling with his own fly as he covered the taut body. His hand slid into the jeans' opening and he cupped Doyle's testicles, praying that his partner was enough in control of his natural reactions NOT to hit him...Doyle whimpered and writhed, shedding his trousers...

Oh, God, he thought, what a time to turn on! He dragged Bodie on top, squirmed and kissed -- there was a sense of unreality about the whole business, and he wondered if Bodie felt the same...

Bodie had undone his own slacks and was halfway out of them, pressing his erection into his partner's belly. He ground his hips against Doyle's heat, and found himself dragged closer. Doyle was actively encouraging him, thrusting as best he could from underneath. Bodie picked up the rhythm and drove them both to climax. Doyle stiffened and Bodie had the presence of mind to gather the wiry body to him as Doyle came. Bodie was a few seconds late and gave a tiny whimper before collapsing onto his temporary semen-streaked mattress. He didn't want to move but he had promised to take care of Doyle.

Slowly, Bodie raised his head. "Ray?"

No reply.

"Ray?" He shook the bony shoulder.

The ragged head turned on the pillow and green eyes opened. A sweet little smile started in their depths, and spread outward to the bruised mouth. "Bodie..." His voice was no more than a whisper.

Bodie slid his arms round him, hugged and kissed him. "Are you all right?"

Doyle shut him up with trembling finger to his lips. "I'm fine," he assured. "You're really something else when you get going."

"Let's get our clothes off and go to bed properly," suggested Bodie, who wanted nothing more than to get this awful job over with so that he could have Doyle to himself. "Do you want to shower first?"

Doyle snuggled up unashamedly. "Haven't got the strength to make it that far," he sighed. "I don't mind if you don't..."

Bodie kissed him again. "I don't mind at all."

They lay together half-naked on the wreckage of the bed, their arms about each other, drifting towards sleep.

"Will I see you again?" asked Bodie. "I'd like to..."

"What're you doing tomorrow night?"

"There's a soiree for a party of Arabs we're negotiating with. I'll be expected to play host," Bodie apologised. "What about the night after."

Doyle considered. "I can be here," he decided. "You're worth the trip..."

Bodie squeezed him enough to make him yelp, and then patted the hurt better. "As I'm paying for (the) sheets, what about using them," he announced sleepily. "Come on, Ray."

But Doyle wasn't going anywhere. He crowded in close to Bodie's flank, jammed his head under the stubbled chin and passed out. With a contented sigh, Bodie shoved their shirts out of the way, and did the same.

Bodie woke first, to find Doyle curled against his side, still out for the count. He slid off the bed and shed the rest of his clothing before stepping into the bathroom for a shower. He padded back with one of the hotel towels wrapped round his waist and sat down next to Doyle. He checked his watch. Seven twenty -- time to wake his lover. He peeled away the cotton, kissed the bared shoulder beneath and left a trail of kisses across the rough cheek to the slightly parted lips.

Doyle opened his eyes and blinked. Bodie was in his bedroom, kissing him...

"Morning, Sleeping Beauty."

Doyle sat up, rubbing his eyes, remembering. He grinned and returned the greeting. "Prince Charming, I presume." Then, "What time is it?"

"Time for me to go. I've got a bunch of reps from the Sultanate this morning, and they don't like to be kept waiting."

"You're not going to stay for breakfast?"

Bodie shook his head. "I'd rather dip out of one meal than miss my commission on something like this..." He bounced off the bed and began dressing. "If it goes through, I'll be able to buy half shares in a place like this. I'd like that. I could arrange for you to stay whenever you came to town -- " He stopped fidgeting and looked directly at Doyle. "I meant what I said last night. I would like to see you again, Ray."

Doyle slid across and sat on the edge of the mattress. "Thought that was all settled," he remarked. "You're playing with your Arabs tonight, and I've got to get the van back to Portsmouth. But you'll be free tomorrow night and I'll swop shifts with one of the other lads. I'll meet you here at eight -- is that okay?"

Bodie drew him to his feet and gave him one last kiss; Doyle's body reacted instantly, and he pushed free.

"Do that again, mate, and you'll lose your commission for sure," he joked. "Come on, Beau-di Geste, you've got a job to do."

Doyle gave his accomplis a half-hour start before going down to breakfast. He was feeling strangely euphoric, with a warm glow in the pit of his belly that had little to do with the coffee. The colours of the morning through the dining room window seemed richer, deeper, more ALIVE...He sat sipping his drink dreamily, his mind on nothing in particular, and Bodie.

"Mr. Doyle." The receptionist interrupted his reverie. "I have a message for you from Mr. Bodie."

She handed him the unsealed envelope, and Doyle took out the business card that bore the Fabian-Ward logo together with Bodie's name and contact numbers. Bodie had scrawled a note on the back: 'CALL ME AS SOON AS YOU CAN.'

Doyle smiled and slid the card into his wallet. Jan would've had Bodie checked out before putting the squeeze on. His partner was doomed to spend a morning at Fabian-Ward, just for the sake of his cover. The telephone lines to his temporary 'office' had been bugged, as had the line to his flat. They only had to wait.

Doyle's own cover would stand up well enough. He was a driver from Portsmouth, free-lancing for any company who would have him. There was such a swift turnover of staff at this place that his documents could be discreetly slipped into the files, and nobody would be any the wiser. Knowing that he was from out of town, and not in the right financial bracket associated with blackmail, it was a fairly safe bet that the crooks would concentrate on Bodie...

A short plump man was crossing the reception area as Doyle checked out. He nodded curtly as he passed and swept into the private room behind the desk. Watching the reflections in the glass panelling of the door as he walked towards the exit, the agent saw Jan disappear the same way seconds later.

On the other side of the car park, he was just getting into his van, when he spotted the courier. Doyle, who had a long-standing interest in motorcycles, stopped and raked the bike from tank to tail- light, making a mental note of the registration and make. He slid behind the wheel of his own vehicle, fired the engine and pulled away slowly, watching the bike in his mirror. The courier appeared, parcel in hand and mounted up. Doyle followed him onto the London road, but lost him in the building traffic.

There would be no hope of catching the bike with a car, Doyle knew, but another motorcyclist might be able to keep tabs. With that thought in mind, Doyle made his way round the houses and, eventually, back to CI5's HQ.

A bit of cajoling got him the keys of a battered old Kawasaki that handled like a dream. He abandon- ed the van in the motor pool, scrounged a helmet and decided to take the bike for a little spin...

Bodie had been tailed by a man in a Metro from the Four Feathers right to Fabian-Ward's doorstep. He had expected as much. So had Cowley, who had made arrangements with the company accordingly. Bodie made sure he was in plain view of his tail as he was admitted by the security guard.

Two minutes after he got into 'his' office, the chief of security called to tell him that an unknown individual had been asking for him by name at the gate, and had been refused admittance without authorisation. Bodie thanked him, and passed the message onto Cowley. The controller would send out someone to follow the would-be intruder. Meanwhile, Bodie would have to wait until he was given the all-clear to leave. And that gave him time to think about Doyle.

He helped himself to a cup of coffee from the vending machine in the hallway, and returned to his office to consider the situation.

Bodie was in no doubt that they were heading for trouble rapidly, and he didn't know how to stop it. The bottom line was that he had always rather fancied his partner, but Doyle had made it clear that HE wasn't interested in men. Bodie accepted that, and Doyle tolerated his bi-sexuality. Cowley's little 'favour-to-a-friend' had virtually guaranteed that they would wind up in bed together, in order to lure the blackmailers into action. A simple kiss-and-cuddle routine would never have worked -- Bodie wasn't sure that what they HAD done would be much better -- but he dared not go any further, because of his feelings for his partner.

I like him, I respect him -- and I'd still have to work with him when this lousy job is over. Being lovers with him would change things somehow, make Bodie more responsible for his well-being -- and he wasn't sure he wanted that. If you start to care for someone, and something bad happens to them, you got hurt. It had happened so many times in Bodie's life that he had taken a vow to never let anyone get that close again, to always keep his relationships light, free and easy, so that when they went -- which they inevitably did -- it wouldn't cost him so much. That, at any rate, was the theory. Bodie had never been too good with theoretical problems.

So, when this is all over, we just go back to being good friends and working partners, like this operation never happened. We write up our reports, Cowley reads them and files them as usual, Ray goes back to chasing girls while I just chase my dreams...

Simple, unemotional, non-involvement. Easy, he decided, and he drained his cup. The phone went a minute later. He was cleared to leave whenever he wished.

He drove home and got changed, wondering whether to call his partner or leave him in peace. The buzzer sounded and wearily, he went to answer the door. Doyle bounded in looking like the wreck of the Hesperus.

"What happened?" Bodie raked him from head to toe. "I only spilled beer over you." He eyed the tatty jeans in disgust.

Doyle smirked and dropped the helmet on the armchair, he collapsed on the sofa. Bodie went to pour the drinks.

"A courier pulled up as I was leaving." Doyle accepted the whisky and sat up so that Bodie could sit beside him. "He was heading into the city..."

"Tell Cowley -- he'll have him tailed."

Doyle shook his head and indicated the helmet. "If it's a regular run, I'll catch him tomorrow."

"No. Not you, Ray." There was an edge to Bodie's voice.

"Bodie, I know how to handle a bike and I can look after myself. I'm a big boy now."

"Don't I know it," Bodie remarked without thinking.

Beside him, Doyle was going a fetching shade of pink, and Bodie felt his own face colouring.

"Ray, I didn't mean -- look, about last night, mate, I'm -- "

"Goes with the job. Actually," Doyle's blush deepened, "I quite enjoyed it."

Bodie felt his stomach muscles contract and forced his voice to remain normal. "Good, I'm -- " He didn't get any further because Doyle pinned him to the cushions and began to ravage his mouth. After a second or two's consideration, Bodie gave up the unequal struggle and joined in, wrapping his arms round the wiry bundle on top of him and giving his opponent a mouthful of tongue to play with. He made sure of his position by locking his legs over Doyle's as they lay kissing; then Doyle transferred his attentions to Bodie's throat, and began to suck and chew at Bodie's ear.

"Was just thinking..." he mumbled between mouthfuls, "...on the way over..." slurp, "...about tomorrow night." Lick, lick. He blew into Bodie's now-damp ear, which caused a squeal and a wriggle.

"And you decided to come and practice on me," Bodie concluded, as he moved his ear from the questing tongue.

If that was what Bodie wanted to believe, Doyle wouldn't disillusion him. "We're not sure these guys have recorded us last night, are we?" Doyle started on the other side. "But they'll definitely be interested."

The assault was having definite and interesting results further down Bodie's body, which he was trying to ignore. "Get to the point." Bodie slid his hands underneath Doyle's shirt, and began stroking his back.

"What if we gave them a real show -- something devastating?" Doyle stopped and met his partner's gaze.

Bodie didn't like where this conversation was leading. "Such as?"


One word, four letters. Bodie's reaction was more devastating than the suggestion. He almost threw Doyle to the floor as he leapt to his feet.

"NO!" He began to pace the length of the lounge.

Doyle stared up at him. "Why not? It'd be perfect. They would have something to pressure you with -- and Cowley'd have his case against them."

"No!" Bodie barked. He stopped prowling and glared at his other half. "Not rape, Ray."

"Why not?" repeated Doyle.

"Because -- "

Because there was no way to fake the horror of the act; because it would mean forcing Doyle into having sex with him and hurting him. It would lead to alienation -- losing his best friend, their partner- ship -- everything that meant anything to him.

"You couldn't fake something like that, Ray..."

Doyle sighed and chuckled softly.

"You always pull your punches when we fight..." He stood up and made a determined grab for his partner. "Like I said, I'm a big boy now -- I won't break..." He kissed the pouting mouth slowly. "You can show me what to do..."

Bodie took one look into the green cats' eyes and knew he was lost...

Doyle was dead to the world when he woke.

I could hate you, thought Bodie fiercely, for making me do what I did to you. If I've hurt you, I'll never forgive you for letting it happen...Thebruised mouth was covering one of Bodie's nipples, a sub- conscious reversionto the most secure place he'd known -- I've broken him -- what's that old jokeabout virginity and balloons -- one prick and they're gone....Bodie kissed thetop of the woolly head.

Wanted it -- wanted you, never thought I'd ever get it...Beautiful, just lying here under you, lover. Yes, we ARE lovers now -- because we make love. Wasn't just showing you the mechanics of it, was I? I wanted to make it good for you so you know how it feels with a man. I saw you fighting the fear -- I could admire you for that alone -- and I felt it when I came inside your body -- you knew then, didn't you, how I feel about you...watched your eyes, all dreamy, when you came into my arms afterwards and cuddled up...Will you still feel the same when you wake up and realise what I did to you?

He mouthed one ragged curl, tugging gently with his teeth. There was an answering nip at his chest, as Doyle came awake and came aware.

"Hello," he yawned. "What time is it?"

Bodie had taken his watch off before he made love to his partner. "Dunno. D'you want to move so I can reach the cabinet?"

"No." Doyle put his head down on Bodie's chest again, listening to the steady beating of his heart.

"Ray, love, come on, I need the loo..."

Reluctantly, Doyle shifted off his living mattress. Bodie slipped out of bed and into the bathroom. Doyle rolled into the space he'd just vacated and dozed off until his lover's return. A pat on the behind, and Bodie scrambled in beside him. Doyle crawled into the waiting arms.

"How d'you feel?"

"Bit stiff, tired -- wet 'n' warm," giggled Doyle.


"Not really -- a dull ache -- what d'you think of my idea, then?"

"Like everything, it's fine in theory. I still don't like it," Bodieadmitted. "Even a prostitute would have a hell of a job."

"And I'm not experienced enough." Doyle raised his head and met Bodie's troubled eyes.

"ANYONE doing it -- being on the receiving end of rape -- is going to get hurt. Experience teaches you a few tricks -- "

"Teach me then," demanded Doyle. "Show me what to do so that you won't hurt me."

"I can't. I never learnt them," Bodie replied bitterly. "If I had -- "

Doyle hugged him. "I didn't know. I'm sorry."

"Don't be. It's all in the past. We're talking about tomorrow night..."

The plan appeared simple enough: Bodie had already booked the room. He and Doyle would go up, things would get out of hand and Bodie would stage the rape.

"We'll have information on the courier by then, too," added Doyle. "We'll net the lot."

"Let someone else follow the biker, Ray. If you get spotted, it'll blow the whole set-up."

"There are hundreds of motorcycles in London," protested Doyle. "I'll be in jeans and a jacket, with a scarf over my face. Nothing could be simpler."

"You're jeopardising the whole assignment, Cowley'll haul us over the coals if we blow this one..."

Doyle conceded the point, and Bodie settled him against his shoulder for the night.

"It was just a thought..."

Bodie woke alone the following morning and went off in search of his mate. He got as far as the lounge when anxiety gave way to anger: the helmet had gone.

Doyle positioned the bike so that he could see the reception area of the Four Feathers and he settled down to wait. The courier arrived just after eight, for which Doyle uttered a short prayer of thanks; he was bitterly cold in just his jeans, t-shirt, and jacket. He shoved his vehicle into gear as the other rider pulled out onto the London road and set off in pursuit.

The traffic was already building to a steady, slow-moving stream. The courier wove between the other commuters with the consummate ease born of practice. Doyle followed. There were about four other motorcycles doing the same thing -- only one was not a despatch rider.

Doyle was worried about losing his prey as they approached the city proper. The traffic had ground to a halt on London Bridge -- roadworks in Fenchurch Street -- which was making it difficult even for two-wheeled travel. Doyle cursed. In this situation, the longer he stayed behind the rider, the more chance there was of his being noticed. The vehicle ahead lunged forward suddenly into a convenient gap. Doyle twisted the throttle and shot after him. It proved a bad mistake.

He felt the Kawasaki start to slide from under him and his only thought was that the cunning bastard ahead had jumped the lights...Doyle went down in the only clear space of road, between both sets of lights and landed with his left leg pinned underneath the machine. He instinctively cut the engine. Two workers dashed across the street and lifted the bike off him, so that he could roll clear.

"You all right?" asked one.

Doyle nodded. He didn't feel all right, and he was as EMBARRASSED as hell. "Which way did that courier go, did you see?"

"Aldgate. How's your leg? This thing weighs a fucking ton!"

Doyle tested his leg gingerly. "Still attached." He took hold of the bike and swung astride it stiffly. The handbars were bent. He fired the engine.

"Next time," the other workman advised, "make sure the lights are green."

Doyle drove to Aldgate, without much hope of finding the rider. He circled the block, then made his way slowly back across town to Bodie's.

Of course Bodie had been right: someone else should've trailed the courier, but -- damn it, it was their stake-out, and Doyle resented the idea of anyone else being in on it. He stopped, surprised by the depth of his reaction. This was a case of blackmail, a case that Cowley wanted cleared up as soon as possible. The more pieces of the puzzle they had, the quicker they built up the picture and could round up all the members of the organisation. So -- why should he resent the help from other agents?

He considered. He would feel embarrassed if anyone found out the nature of the assignment...He could probably weather the catcalls that would arise -- except that, even in fun from friends it would hurt -- degrade -- what he was feeling at the moment. Bodie had shown him a side of his nature he hadn't wanted to know about. His partner had shown him that it was not only possible to like another man, but to have a physical relationship that was ENJOYABLE, and the implications of that...

All right, I admit, I did like Bodie a lot before we started this operation, and I trusted him enough to let him teach me how to make lo -- The answer to the question he had been avoiding was staring him in the face. He had fallen, like a tons of bricks, for his rough, tough, MALE partner, and that was going to cause a whole load of problems of its own. There were strict rules about relationships within CI5. Husbands didn't works with wives, and there was no allowances for any same-sex couples among the higher security grades of the civil service. If -- WHEN -- Cowley found out, both he and Bodie could expect one of two things. They could be given their marching orders -- and nobody else would touch them; or they would be subjected to internal discipline, read the riot act -- and re-teamed.

Bodie and he had been partners for too long in the field for him to want to change -- and he was honest enough to admit that he was selfish about working with the best. If it came to a choice of keeping Bodie with him on the streets, or being with him in bed...He didn't like the solution he arrived at, but at least it meant he could keep a little bit of Bodie for himself.

He swung the bike onto the street where Bodie lived, parked up, and limped over to the front door of the flats...He was tired, cold and dispirited.

Bodie sat in the bar at the Four Feathers thinking. He had flown at Doyle when he returned, berating him for the absolute stupidity of the stunt. Doyle had yelled back, justifying his actions; it had been necessary to have the courier tailed and he had elected himself the best man for the job. Doyle did most of his shouting from the shower and Bodie had been even more annoyed -- if that were possible -- to learn that Doyle had lost -- actually LOST -- the biker anyway.

Doyle emerged from the bathroom, dressed hurriedly, and gone out again.

Now it was half past eight, and Bodie was getting worried. He glanced over at the lounge entrance, and there was Doyle, leaning against the doorjamb regarding him strangely. Bodie moved onto a free table and sent for drinks. His partner was coming over, slowly, deliberately, unsteadily. Bodie was instantly on alert.

"You'd better sit down, sunshine," he invited quietly. "How much have you had?"

"I've had enough, Bodie. I'm not going through with it. Not tonight, not ever."

"We have to. You know it. You agreed to it. Damn it, Ray, it was your idea!"

"Well, it was a stupid idea. I've changed my mind -- I want out." He downed his whisky in one and made to leave.

Bodie knew it was down to him to salvage what he could of the stake-out,and their friendship.

"You're half-cut. If you go now, the cops'll pick you up, and you can wave bye-bye to any further employment. You're coming with me -- somewhere we can have a talk and then I'm going to put you to bed."

"Like hell you are!" snorted Doyle.

Bodie caught hold of his elbow and stood up. "Come on, sunshine. You'll feel better after a decent night's sleep."

Doyle made another half-hearted protest, but the truth of the situation was that the minute Bodie reached for him, Doyle felt a familiar tingling in his groin.

Bodie collected the keys from the reception desk and guided Doyle towards the stairs. Doyle wasn't sure whether his knee would hold as far as the bedroom, but Bodie didn't look as if he were in any mood to be generous enough to carry him.

The room was as neat as they remembered. Bodie pushed his partner onto the bed and kicked off his own shoes and jacket before starting to strip Doyle. As he went to untie Doyle's trainers, he received a ribful of boot, more in the nature of discouragement than to actually hurt. Bodie gave his other half an admonishing slap on the rump and tugged off the offending footwear. Doyle sat up and hit at him. Bodie blocked his swing easily, flattened him by the simple expedient of a hand firmly in the middle of Doyle's chest. Then he started on the shirt and Doyle wrenched himself free and cuffed him painfully. Bodie yelped in surprise. Doyle really didn't want to go ahead with it -- and there was no way out. Cowley was counting on them, and they were smack in the centre of the lion's den -- there was nothing for it, but to play out Doyle's proposed scenario.

Bodie pinned his partner to the mattress, using his own body and a semi-vicious leg lock. "If you want it rough, sunshine, you've come to the right man..."

He grasped Doyle's left wrist in his own left hand and groped the bulging crotch with the other. He slid the zipper down and Doyle began to struggle in earnest.

"Bodie, stop! Please -- I don't want -- "

A hand slithered into his jeans and began to feel him up. Doyle turned his head and bit the nearest piece of Bodie he could find. The resultant moment's preoccupation was enough to give him the chance to break free of the hold and try to crawl away.

Bodie lost his temper. He hauled at Doyle's trousers and succeeded in pulling them down, revealing the trim little behind, and effectively haltinghis flight. He slipped the belt from his own slacks, as he pinned Doyle down once more, but this time he held his victim in an arm lock.

"Someone should teach you some manners," Bodie warned darkly, and he brought the narrow leather band down across his partner's buttocks. Each blow landed with a resounding slap and Doyle winced in very real pain. He was turned over and was vaguely aware of Bodie fumbling with his hands. He looked up to find the belt had been wrapped round both his wrists and fastened to the bed-head. Bodie paused for a moment to admire his handiwork.

"Bodie, untie me. I'll do anything you want -- just free my hands. Please!"

The moment he was free, Doyle intended to give Bodie a taste of his own medicine. Bodie wasn't stupid.

"Now I've got you where I want you, you'll do just what I want anyway -- and I won't get my head bitten off." Bodie rubbed at the teeth-marks in his shoulder.

Doyle tried to kick him again, but the movement jarred his injured knee and he bit his lip to keep from crying out in pain. Reading the sudden expression as fear, Bodie touched the roughened cheek gently as he slid off the mattress. He posed by the bed, as he peeled off his own clothing and displayed himself for the benefit of the cameras. Doyle watched him as he stripped, revealing his arousal. He jerked against the strap that held him as Bodie approached.

"You wouldn't dare!" he whispered hoarsely.

"Not only would dare, but WILL dare. Right now, you've got two choices -- you can co-operate, or you can fight me. Which is it to be?"

Despite everything, Doyle still felt impelled to have another go at kicking his mate. "Get stuffed!" he yelled.

Bodie caught his jeans-hobbled ankles. "You're the one who's about to get stuffed," Bodie corrected. He pulled off Doyle's denims, and nearly got booted for his trouble. In retaliation, Bodie grabbed the exposed balls and squeezed. "Ah-ah, naughty, Ray." He moved between the parted legs, still threatening mayhem with Doyle's genitals.

He gazed down at his victim and his heart gave a sort of skip that it shouldn't. He wanted nothing more than to untie the miserable-looking bundle and love him back to happiness -- and if he did that, he'd blow the whole charade. Doyle looked as if he was almost in tears -- there might be a chance later on, to make up for what he was about to do. He grabbed Ray's left leg and turned him onto his side. He lay down behind his partner, and let his hands play across the taut body, muttering all sorts of obscenities about what he'd like to be doing to Doyle. He poked a finger into his partner's behind and found to his relief that Doyle had used some kind of gel...

"Bodie, don't please...For the love of God, don't!"

Bodie pushed his cock into Doyle's body, sheathing himself easily. He began to thrust forcefully, taking hold of his partner and milking him to the rhythm.

"Oh, you're sweet," Bodie whispered, "so tight, so hot -- beautiful. I could come just watching you. You're pretty outside -- but you're heaven," he shoved forward, "in here. I want to keep putting it up you -- I'm going to suck you off when I've finished inside you -- "

The tears were trickling down Doyle's cheeks as Bodie moved against him. He hardly felt Bodie come for the over-riding pain in his knee. His backside didn't feel that much better. Bodie slid free and tugged gently at his lover's genitals.

"Your turn, son." He rolled Doyle onto his back. And froze in horror. "Ray."

Doyle turned a pair of burning eyes on him. "No more...please..."


"Just -- untie me -- "

Bodie moved up the bed and released the belt.

"Let me -- I'm sorry -- I -- do you need a doctor? I'll get the girl in reception to call one..."

"No doctor -- I don't want -- get me my jeans -- " He attempted to sit up and Bodie automatically went to help him. "Keep your hands off me."

Bodie withdrew his hands and dived off the end of the bed to retrieve Doyle's jeans. He passed them across and bit his lip when Doyle took them into the bathroom to get dressed.

"Ray, you're not going to drive home -- in that condition, are you?"

"Rape has a habit of sobering you fast," Doyle snapped. He could scarcely move his left leg -- the joint was swelling even as he tried to pull his trousers over it.

"I can't let you go home like this -- stay here tonight. I promise, I won't lay a finger on you again."

"You're damn right you won't lay a finger on me. Not tonight, not tomorrow, never again," Doyle emerged from the bathroom, walking stiffly. "You play too rough for me." He picked up his trainers. "I won't say it was fun, because it wasn't. I hated it -- goodbye, Bodie -- "

"Ray, you can't mean -- "

But Doyle had already gone.

Bodie woke in the steel grey twilight of the hotel room. He listened intently to the birds, chirping outside, and distant sound of the traffic. He could hear the sound of his own breathing. He rolled over. It was no dream: Doyle had gone.

The sick feeling he'd had when he'd seen those tears was back with a vengeance. Ray hadn't been acting last night when he'd cried quits, and Bodie had pushed him mercilessly into carrying on with the suggested scenario. He HAD raped his best friend. A wave of despair welled up inside him, and he stared up at the ceiling, wondering if there could ever be a way of making it up to Doyle -- would he be prepared to even listen to Bodie's defence...

Wearily, he pushed himself out of bed: he had a job to do, he was a professional and he'd do a damn good job -- with or without Doyle. But something had gone out of his life when Ray walked through that door last night...

Doyle had dozed fitfully through the night, and finally came awake at five that morning. He was in his own bed -- alone. He winced as he moved onto his side: his backside was sore -- inside from Bodie's loving, and outside from the strapping -- but what bothered him most was his knee. He couldn't move it at all, it was so swollen. There was nothing for it but to go down to the casualty department of the local hospital...

It was almost noon before Terry Martyn and Murphy drove to the hospital to collect him. Doyle had been poked and prodded by enough doctors and X-ray technicians -- all he wanted was to go home and lie down. When Terry came in, she took one look at him and swore.

"What the hell did you do?"

Doyle was sitting in just his underpants, with his left leg totally immobilised by a huge padded band- age. His ribs were going a very fetching shade of puce. One of the nurses was splitting the outside seam of his jeans so that he could put them on.

"I fell off the bike yesterday -- it's okay, there's no serious damage done. Cracked a couple of ribs they think." Doyle was blushing.

Terry didn't take her eyes off him for an instant. She drove him back to his flat, gave him a pain- killer and put him to bed. Hunting through the cupboards, she sighed with exasperation: why were men such lousy housekeepers? There was hardly any food in the place at all. Terry picked up Doyle's keys, checked that he was sleeping soundly, then went shopping. When she returned an hour later, she found him moving about restlessly in the throes of a nightmare. She sat on the edge of the bed, and stroked his forehead gently. The light touch seemed to calm him and she smiled. He looked so forlorn, a ragged little urchin of a man.

The telephone rang and she left Doyle's side to answer it.

"Terry?" Bodie sounded startled. "Is -- Ray there?"

"He's in bed. Is it important? Can I give him a message?"

"No. I'll call back." Bodie put the receiver down in stunned silence. Terry Martyn and Ray Doyle. Well, he should have guessed. Doyle never did waste time round women. Still, Bodie told himself, if he's making it with Terry, he can't've been that badly hurt last night.

Bodie poured himself a very large measure of whisky and swallowed half of it before throwing himself onto the couch. He put a hand to his eyes, rubbing them, wondering if it was lack of sleep or unshed tears that made them burn so badly. He fell asleep on the sofa, steeped in alcohol, and woke two hours later with a headache and a crick in his neck. Grumbling, he took himself to bed with the whisky bottle for company. His last thought before passing out was that Doyle and Terry Martyn were probably having a better time than he was...

Terry was dozing in the armchair when Doyle woke up. He had hobbled into the living room, to investigate the soft sounds of the TV and he smiled as he noticed her. She woke and insisted on cooking dinner. They stayed up until nine o'clock watching the television, when Doyle suddenly thought to call his partner. He dialled Bodie's number, but there was no reply.

"He called earlier," Terry said helpfully. "Said he'd ring back."

"If he does, take a message. My leg's giving me hell -- I'm off to bed."

But Doyle was unable to sleep, in spite of the pain-killers, and Terry came into his room when she heard him moaning.

"Isn't there something I could do?"

"Any good at massage?" Doyle asked, more in hope than expectation.

Terry kicked off her shoes and knelt on the mattress beside him. "Tell me where it hurts," she invited.

"If I said all over, where would you start?" Doyle challenged.

She leaned over and kissed his forehead, brushing away a straying curl with a gentle hand. "There."

Doyle caught her face between his hands and drew it down. Their lips met lightly, but there was something missing from the encounter for Doyle. When they parted, he smiled at her. "It's working."

"Roll over, Ray, and I'll do your back."

He managed to obey with difficulty and Terry started kneading the stiffened muscles at the back of his neck and in his shoulders. He relaxed beneath the skilled touch and began drifting away, dreaming of other hands caressing him, firm and strong...

Terry worked her way down to Doyle's slender hips, half expecting him to object to the increased intimacy. She slowed down and checked -- he'd fallen asleep. His head moved a little, settling on his arms. She reached his buttocks, and rested her hands on the neat rear-end.

Doyle's good leg shifted a bit, almost an invitation. Terry grinned mischievously and began to massage his behind with steady strong strokes. His legs parted even more. She nuzzled the base of his spine and kissed all the way up his backbone. Doyle wriggled and murmured sleepily. "Not now, Bodie. Go sleep!"

Terry sat back on her haunches. BODIE!

BODIE and RAY, sleeping together! She refused to believe that. Her brain kicked into gear and she did some rapid calculations and came up with a more plausible theory. Cowley's top agents were on special assignment, staking out a brothel of some sort. In Terry's book, it added up to a blackmail case, and an undercover operation. If that were so...Cowley must be off his head, trying to pass Bodie and Doyle as homosexuals. No wonder poor old Ray was so edgy lately -- and no wonder Bodie sounded so off on the phone. The few people that knew, the better. Terry vowed silently to Doyle she would keep their secret.

Bodie didn't call again. He got quietly drunk on his own and slept through until the following morning. He woke with a stinking hangover, which put him in a foul mood. He toyed with the idea of phoning Doyle, but decided against it: he didn't want to ruin Ray's night of passion with Terry. Instead, he made himself a gallon of black coffee and settled by the telephone to wait for the black- mailers' call. And waiting was the hardest part for a man like Bodie.

Doyle rang his partner as soon as he woke up. The voice on the other end of the line sounded cold, strange, impersonal. Bodie didn't want him to come around, which suited Doyle fine: his leg was giving him hell.

"Let me know when they've contacted you," Doyle finished.

"Yeah," and the line went dead.

The phone rang mid-afternoon.


"Good afternoon, Mr. Bodie. Mr. William Bodie."

"Who is this?"

"You don't know me, Mr. Bodie, but I know you. I'd like to make you a proposition. A business proposition."

"I don't deal from home. If you'd like to call my office -- "

"It's something in the nature of a person contract."

"I don't negotiate with other arms dealers," snapped Bodie.

"It isn't arms, Mr. Bodie," the wheedling voice assured. "But it could be very explosive in the wrong hands."

"Get to the point."

"I understand that you're acquainted with a certain Mr. Doyle. Mr. Raymond Doyle."

"What if I am?"

"It appears that you've been -- a little indiscreet -- with your 'friend'."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"A boys' night out, Mr. Bodie -- "


"And a few romps and frolics. Really, Mr. Bodie, it's not the sort of thing a man in your position would like his bosses to know about, is it?"

"You filthy conniving bastard!" Bodie yelled down the phone. "What's to stop me from going straight to the police and reporting you?"

"Then we would have to give them the evidence from your last meeting with Mr. Doyle. The papers would love it -- senior executive in rape scandal. Your Mr. Doyle would be dragged into the public eye -- your bosses wouldn't be too pleased with you, either..."

Bodie paled. Playing the role of company executive-cum-remorseful lover, his voice was husky when he spoke again.

"What -- do you want me to do?" There was just the right amount of defeat in his tone.

"That's better. The transaction will take place three days from now. We are not unreasonable. It'll give you time to raise the cash."

"How much?"

"Twenty-five thousand to you."

"I haven't got twenty-five thousand!"

"But you can get it. Just to prove my intentions are sincere, you'll receive a small package with a sample of what I have to offer. Twenty-five thousand isn't too much to preserve your reputation -- and Mr. Doyle's -- is it?"

"Wait! When I've got the money, what do I do with it?"

"The details are with the package. Good day, Mr. Bodie, it's been a pleasure doing business with you."

The line went dead and Bodie replaced the receiver. The buzzer sounded a moment later and Bodie went to answer it. A despatch rider in blue and yellow livery stood before him, parcel in hand. Bodie signed for it and took it into his flat. No need to open it -- a video cassette, probably containing the highlights of his performance with Doyle. He picked up the phone and called Cowley direct.

"The call has been traced to Mile End Road. Is 4.5 with you?"

"No, sir." Probably still having his end away with Terry Martyn...

"Bring the tape in and we'll have the lab go over it."

"Now, sir?" Bodie felt a bit nauseous.

"Yes, 3.7, now."

Bodie had never been quite as ill or embarrassed in his life and for once, he was glad that Doyle wasn't around to share the humiliation. He wanted to crawl away and hide -- had even asked Cowley if it was necessary for him to stay -- and was told to sit down and shut up. The only slight consolation was that Cowley had seen enough two minutes in, before things got really serious.

"Interesting, don't you think?" Cowley had frozen a couple of shots.

Bodie swallowed and kept his eyes averted.

"The camera angles, man! They must have a whole battery of hidden cameras to produce something like this! I wonder how many others they've got stashed away."

"Are we going to raid, or pick them up at the drop, sir?" asked Bodie in something approaching his normal voice.

"We'll take them tomorrow. They'll not be expecting trouble, I hope. Unless you or Doyle let anything slip in your time there."

Bodie shook his head. "No, sir. Our cover was just perfect."

Cowley glanced back at the screen and gave a wry smile. "Briefing for tomorrow's action is at 19.00 hours this evening. I think you and Doyle should see this one through to its conclusion..."

08.00 hours.

The plan was simple enough. There would be simultaneous strikes by CI5 personnel at Mile End and the Four Feathers. Bodie and Doyle were to be backed by Murph and Terry, and Benny and Turner; while Cowley himself headed the team in the East End.

"Ironic, isn't it?" Murph remarked to Bodie, as they set off for the operation. "We thought we were onto renegades from the IRA and we wind up with rejects from the IBA."

"All the same, though," remarked Terry, who had overhead, "in the wrong hands, this stuff is just as explosive."

They crouched like whippets waiting to be unleashed on the unsuspecting criminals. As soon as the Metro pulled into the car park, Bodie radioed Cowley and the squad swung into action.

Sprinting across the parking area to take the main entrance, Bodie was aware that Doyle was lagging dangerously behind. Murphy and his partner had the back and Benny and Turner were covering the side exit. Everyone else was in position.

Bodie burst through the entrance hall, and made straight for the private office. Jan and Graham were both there, mid-conversation, videos in hand.

"You're busted!" yelled Bodie and he heard the others thundering into various parts of the building.

"You can't come in 'ere without a warrant!" squealed Graham. "I know me rights."

"CI5 says I can go anywhere I want. Where's the rest of these tapes?"

"Get knotted!" Graham swung an ineffective fist at Bodie, who blocked it, and put him in a vicious arm-lock.

"Come on, sweetheart," he turned to Jan, "or I'll break it for him."

"Upstairs -- in the video room."

Doyle trailed in at that moment, and Bodie shoved the assistant manager into his partner's arms with a "Hold this for me, will you?"

"Where're you going?" Doyle twisted the other arm for good measure.

"To get those damn tapes."

Bodie leapt up the stairs three at a time, and burst into the camera room to find Benny off-loading the few tapes there. Each one was marked with a date. Bodie picked one from the pile and slipped it into his jacket.

"Bodie, that's evidence!" protested Benny.

"Benny, see this?" Bodie waved a fist under the other agent's nose.

Benny took the hint.

The drive back to town was conducted in silence. Doyle was slouched in the passenger seat, trying desperately not to wince every time he moved. Bodie glanced at him several times before speaking.

"You walked out on me," he stated quietly.

"I had to make it look real." Doyle shifted uncomfortably. "Think you overdid it, though."

They lapsed into silence again for a while.

"Why didn't you call back? Terry said you would."

Bodie scowled at the mention of the girl's name. "I forgot."

"I believe you."

"What was she doing at your place, anyway?"

So that had bothered Bodie. "She came round to cook my supper."

"Oh, yeah, I believe you!" There was no disguising the sarcasm in Bodie's voice.

"Since when do I have to clear my guests with you?" snarled Doyle.

"You don't, sunshine. I couldn't give a damn who you sleep with." Bodie's eyes were fixed on the road.

"I wasn't sleeping with her," Doyle protested.

"Save it, Ray. I don't want to know anymore."

Bodie clammed up and Doyle fumed in silence. They swung into the car park and without a word between them, they went up to the ops room for the de-brief.

By ten o-clock, only they remained with Cowley.

Bodie was seething quietly and Doyle was uncharacteristically sullen. Cowley frowned. They had been under a strain to pull this caper off, and were due a few days leave. They could settle their differences then. He studied Doyle, noting how he favoured his left leg.

"The Minister has advised me to grant you the rest of the week off. I'm inclined to agree with him on this occasion. I want you both back here on Monday morning at eight. Doyle, see the doctor about that leg."

Bodie flicked a glance at his partner as they turned to leave.

"Bodie." The controller's voice brought them both up short.

Bodie rounded to face the older man. There was a packet in his hand -- avideo-cassette sized pack, which he handed to his agent.

"I think you and Doyle would prefer to view this in private." Bodie went two shades paler and Doyle blushed as Cowley continued. "They made duplicatesof all their tapes -- I'll leave it to your discretion as to their disposal."

Bodie went to follow his partner through the door.

"I must compliment you both on your skills as actors."

Doyle looked daggers at Bodie, then glared at the controller. "It's all in the line of duty, sir," he replied through gritted teeth.

Bodie closed the door behind them and put a hand on his colleague's shoulder. "What happened to your leg?"

Doyle shook him off. "Nothing. Leave me alone."

He limped away down the corridor. Terry Martyn appeared at Bodie's side, coffee in hand. She frowned slightly as she watched Doyle's departing figure.

"I think you ought to go with him," she said. "He's not fit to drive."

"How would you know?" snapped Bodie.

"Murph and I picked him up from the hospital yesterday. The doctor gave him some pain-killers -- "

"Pain-killers!" Bodie blanched. "What -- "

Terry sighed. "He obviously didn't tell you -- he came off the bike a couple of days ago. He's buggered his knee and the doctor told him to keep off it. Murph and I were just making sure he followed orders."

"Murph -- was with you?"

"He's my partner, where else would he be?" Terry raised an almost innocent eyebrow. "He should have stayed at home today, but he wanted to back you up."

Bodie closed his eyes. "The stupid -- " He spun on his heel and sprinted for the car park. Terry was still smiling when Murph joined her.

"Terry -- was there anything between you and Ray Doyle?"

"About twelve feet of floor and the back of the sofa, why?"

Murphy laughed and put his arm round her shoulders.

Doyle had to get away. He couldn't stick around the flat all day and it hurt too much to drive the car. The bike was still (out) front, bent-barred, but rideable. He secured the bandage he'd used to replace the hospital one and grabbed the helmet.

He hadn't got a particular destination in mind -- he just wanted to be away from London, away from Bodie, so that he could think.

What the hell was he supposed to do? In the last few days, Doyle had turned from a heterosexual into one very confused individual, (but) the one thing he WAS certain of was his love for his partner. Admittedly, Bodie had been rougher than necessary, but in time Doyle would teach him to behave -- he stopped....It hit him then that he'd been planning returning the treatment as if it were the most natural reaction in the world -- it WAS natural, he realised....

I thought he felt the same way about me.

When we made love that first time, I swear I could feel him thinking it, but this morning, at the inn, and in the car -- it was like another job to him. I honestly thought I mattered to him...

Doyle pulled into the car park of the pub on the river that Bodie had taken him to less than a week ago, when they first knew about the Four Feathers. A couple of pints and he'd go home, he decided. And maybe he would phone Bodie.

Despite breaking all the speed limits to get there, Bodie arrived at Doyle's flat too late. Cursing, Bodie went home and decided to wait by the phone. Surely, he'd call...

By five o'clock that afternoon, Bodie knew that he'd seen the last of his partner until Monday, so he phoned Murphy and invited him out for a drink. Bodie didn't want to be alone (that night), and Murphy had an uncanny knack of being able to cheer him up no matter how depressed he was feeling.

The lanky agent arrived just after seven and Bodie was setting the locks when the buzzer went again.

"Expecting company?" asked Murph.

Bodie shook his head and answered the door.

Doyle was leaning against the frame.

"Hello, sunshine." He pushed past Bodie and made it into the lounge somewhat unsteadily.

Bodie followed him through. "We were just on our way out. Help yourself to a drink and let your- self out when you've finished."

With that, Bodie ushered Murph out the door, and Doyle was left alone, swaying in the middle of his partner's living room.

Being dismissed like that made him angry and upset, and before he realised quite what he was about, he was helping himself to a very large whisky from Bodie's somewhat depleted stock. He took the bottle and the glass over to the sofa and sat down. He had intended having a very long and sober talk with Bodie about their partnership -- and things...He lay back on the couch, kicked off his trainers, and closed his eyes for a minute...

"If you're that worried about Ray," Murphy regarded his colleague over the table, "go home. We can always come out for a drink another night."

Bodie heaved a sigh and conceded. There was no way he could concentrate on anything -- not while that aggravating little sod Doyle was so obviously upset.

Murphy drove him home and left him on the doorstep, waving him a cheery goodnight. Bodie watched the Sierra disappear around the corner, before climbing the stairs to his apartment. The lights were out when he got in -- so, too, was Doyle -- on the sofa, with the whisky bottle by his side.

Treading softly, Bodie crossed the room and perched on the edge of the settee beside him. Doyle's expression was one of weariness and pain. Once again, Bodie's heart gave a sort of lurch and this time, with no cameras on them, he followed his instincts. He ruffled the silky curls and traced a finger down one shadowed cheek. Doyle's eyes flickered open.

"See you had that drink," Bodie said wryly.

"I came over to talk to you."

"I didn't' think there was anything to say."

"I've been thinking," murmured Doyle.

"Must be quite an achievement with all that booze inside you."

Ignoring the slight, Doyle went on. "I don't want to lose you as a partner, Bodie. I want to know how you feel about me." It wasn't quite as he'd meant to say it, and Bodie knew it.

With a smile that touched the depths of his eyes, Bodie answered the question his partner was too afraid to ask. "Don't you know? Christ, Ray, even you can't be THAT thick." He met Doyle's slightly glazed look. "I wasn't acting."

That was all Doyle needed. He reached up and got his arms round Bodie's neck. He pulled his partner down to where their mouths could meet and for a moment, they got lost in a kiss. Eventually, they came up for air and Doyle smiled sleepily.

"You should be in bed, sunshine," Bodie told him.

"Don't you mean WE?"

Grinning, Bodie got to his feet and picked his partner up. He carried his semi-conscious burden through to the bedroom, where he dropped Doyle in the middle of the mattress. He stripped quickly, then started to undress Doyle with care. Doyle sighed and lay back enjoying the attention. Bodie hesitated when he reached the jeans.

"This is gonna hurt, love." He grabbed the ends and pulled. The denims slid down reluctantly, and Doyle flinched.

"Why didn't you tell me about the accident?"

"Didn't want to give you the satisfaction of knowing you were right for once."

"You're an idiot. You know I'm always right." Bodie kissed him. "I was right about us..."

"All right, smart-arse," Doyle conceded sleepily. "D'you mind if I get some sleep? This leg kept me awake all night."

"Thought you wanted to talk?" Bodie teased.

"Changed my mind," yawned Doyle. "'s all settled. I love you, and you love me, and the rest can just go to hell..."

Bodie grinned as he crawled into bed and folded his lover into his arms. Doyle winced and laid his head gingerly on one broad shoulder.


Doyle chuckled ruefully. "Too much whisky on an empty stomach."

"I hope I don't have to get you drunk every time we go to bed together," Bodie snorted, "or you'll wind up with sclerosis of the liver before Christmas."

Doyle made the effort to raise his head and smiled. "Don't worry, sweetheart. Cowley doesn't want us until Monday -- and the bottle's nearly empty."

Bodie pulled him back down to where he belonged and kissed him to sleep.

-- THE END --

From an idea by G.J.

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