In the Dark


"Bodie, Doyle, The Cow wants to see you. Now." Murphy stuck his head into the rest room and delivered the message on his way out of the building.

The two agents got up from the sofa where they'd been discussing the football pools, trying to keep their minds off the unprecedented heat wave (It'd been over 30 for a week now) and headed towards Cowley's office.

"Wonder what he's got for us, now?" Doyle said.

"Who knows. Could be anything." Bodie's reply was abstracted, as he was concentrating on Ray's arse going down the corridor ahead of him.

When they got to the door, Ray knocked perfunctorily and they entered without waiting for Cowley's reply. The controller looked up from the papers he was reading.

"Oh, there you are. Here." He picked up a file folder. "Something a bit different for you. It seems the Witch of Wookey Hole has returned after all these centuries."

"A witch?" They chorused, with very different intonations. Bodie's tone of voice was clearly derogatory, a disbelief that anyone in this day and age could believe any such thing. Doyle's on the other hand, was apprehensive. After all, if there were elves - as he well knew there were - why not witches. Just because he hadn't met any didn't mean that they didn't exist.

"Aye, that's what the locals think, anyway. According to legend, she put a curse on all lovers. And it seems that the lover's lane for the area is near the cave she's supposed to have inhabited and accidents have been happening lately to anyone who uses it. Nothing that doesn't have a purely mundane explanation, of course, but the suggestion was made, presumably in jest, that it could be the witch returned to life. The idea caught on, and now the authorities are afraid that a modern day witch hunt could occur. They can't find out anything tangible one way or another and Scotland Yard say witches aren't in their brief, so the minister says it's all ours."

He handed them the folder. "I want you to study the reports then find out what's actually behind all this, before some poor old-age pensioner is hounded as a witch."

Bodie took the folder from Cowley. "Yes, sir. We'll get right on it." He led the way out of the office.

"Four-five," Cowley called Doyle back as he was almost out of the door.

"Sir?" Ray asked, turning back.

"Are you going to have any problems with this assignment?"

"No, sir. I shouldn't think so," Ray replied. "I've anticipated just such an occasion."

"Good lad. On your bike then," Cowley said.

"Yes, sir. Running all the way, sir." And he left quickly, nearly running into Bodie who was waiting for him in the corridor.

"What'd he want, then?" Bodie asked.

"Nothin' important," Ray answered. "Let's go." Then, he paused, looking askance at Bodie, who was chuckling at his side. "What's got you goin'?"

"Witches," Bodie laughed. "What in earth is the Cow going to have us investigate next? Vampires in London? Well, it'll make a nice holiday for us while we figure out which of the local yobbos are behind this. Might be a bit cooler there, too." He didn't notice that Ray had gone very quiet. "Better pack for a week, I suppose. Just in case. D'you wanna drive?"

"Huh?" Ray looked up as the question penetrated his abstraction. "No, that's okay. You can."

"All right. I'll pick you up at your place in an hour."

"Yeah, sure," Doyle replied vaguely.

When he got home, Ray Made quick work of packing, then went over to his bookcase. Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain - that's the one he wanted. He looked in the index at the back. 'Witches, Wookey and,... p. 167.' He turned to the page and started to read.

'A cave. Great. S'pose we're gonna have t'check it out. Just great. And no sunlight after the first few feet, if at all. Well, I hope that new spell I got from Malandar works. If it doesn't...Christ. Okay, let's see. Torch. Extra batteries. Extra bulbs.'

He added the items to his overnight case, then went over, once again, all he knew about witches. He looked at his watch. 'Yeah, think I've just got time.' He left a note on the door for Bodie. "Gone round to the shops. Be back soon."

As it happened, he returned well before Bodie got there, so he tossed the note in the dust bin and tucked his purchases into his case. All ready to go now, he went to stand at the window while waiting for Bodie. He could feel the sunlight filling him and power tingled at his fingertips. He amused himself by plaiting sunbeams, (as much sun as there was today, he could afford to waste some of it), but when he heard Bodie's special knock and his key turning in the lock, Doyle flicked his fingers and vanished it.

He remained at the window, listening to Bodie cross the room, then turned to face him as Bodie took him in his arms. Ray raised his face for a kiss, pressing himself tightly against his lover.

"Mmm, you taste good, " he said a bit breathlessly, when he was finally released. "Pity we don't have time to do a bit more."

"Tonight," Bodie promised, grinning at him. Ray was like a cat, he thought, always in a pool of sunlight if one was to be found. He always seemed...more himself in the sun.

"Yeah, I guess." Doyle stretched in the sunlight and, for a moment, seemed to have a golden aura around him.

"Let's go, then." Bodie picked up the overnight case and headed towards the door. "We can stop for lunch in Bristol."

"Sounds good." Ray agreed. He locked the door behind them and followed Bodie to the car.

They got on the M4 and headed west. Ray read the file out loud while Bodie drove. All the events could, individually, be explained by simple carelessness, but it did seem to stretching coincidence a bit far for so many negligent accidents to have happened in the same place.

The first two or three motors had gotten punctures, then the turn signals were shorted out on one car, a wheel was loose on another, still others had loose wires to the alternator and the spark plugs. The most recent incident was a loosened brake line. When the driver stepped on the brakes, the car swerved and his girl hit her head badly enough to get a mild concussion. It was then that someone had mentioned the witch.

Before that, no one had thought anything about the incidents, each couple assuming they were the only ones anything had happened to. However, when they began comparing notes, they realised that everyone who had gone near Wookey Hole night in the last several weeks had had a minor car accident of one kind or another. The police had inquired into the matter, but none of the lovers involved could remember seeing anyone around their cars. Of course, they had been otherwise occupied in the bushes, at the time. The police had even staked out the area around the cave for several nights in a row, but had seen nothing. So, since the police had no leads, at all, it was now in C.I.5's laps.

"'S obviously the local yobbos, like I said earlier," Bodie commented. "They're probably using this cave for a hide-out and are trying to keep everyone away. We can check out the area this afternoon, then go into the cave first thing in the morning. Why didn't the police check it out, anyway? Seems like the logical thing for them to have done."

"They did," Ray answered. "Tried to, anyway. But one man slipped and fell and broke his arm. And he knocked over another man who sprained his ankle. Took some doing to get them both out. At that point they decided to leave it to us."

"Yeah, they would, wouldn't they?" He glanced over at his partner. "Well just you be careful you don't break that pretty neck of yours."

"That's the least of my worries," Ray replied. He yawned. "Think I'll take a bit of a kip." He curled up, cat-like, in the front seat.

Bodie glanced over at him from time to time while he drove, enjoying the sight of his lover sleeping in the sun.

When they arrived at the hotel, Bodie reached over and shook Ray's shoulder. "Wakey, wakey, mate."

Doyle stretched and yawned. "In Bristol, are we?"

"Nah, I drove straight on to Wells. We made good time and you were sleeping so soundly, I didn't want to wake you. C'mon, lets get checked in and then get something to eat. We nearly missed lunch-time."

They carried the cases in, fronting up to the large oaken desk. Betty had called ahead and made reservations, but as it was the height of the tourist season, the only room available was a family room.

"That's fine," Bodie assured the clerk. "We can flip for who gets the twin."

"Or take turns," Ray said, "if we're here a few days."

Jogging up the stairs to stretch their muscles stiffened by the long drive, they found their room and began unpacking, indulging in a few kisses as they did so. Things might have gone further, but Bodie was hungry and tended to have a one-track mind while in that condition.

They drove to the nearby chippie for a quick snack of fish and chips for Bodie and savaloys and chips for Ray. Then, they drove out to Wookey Hole to check out the area.

There was a local road that led from Wells to Easton, going right through Wookey Hole, with a small woods on the Easton side. This was obviously the local lover's lane. They took a look round the small, shaded area, but found nothing out of the ordinary. It was getting late, so they returned to Wells in time for dinner.

"What d'you want to eat, then?" Bodie asked as they approached the town. Ray gave him a glance of pure mischief and opened his mouth to reply, but before he could say anything Bodie realised he'd left himself wide open and spoke quickly. "Besides me, that is. That's for afters. Don't need to order pudding when you've got me, " he added smugly.

Ray laughed at his neat recovery. "I dunno. Why don't we just see what we come across. I'm easy."

"Suits me," Bodie agreed.

They drove on towards the center of town. Bodie had been in Wells before and thought he remembered a street with a lot of eateries on it. He cast about a bit, then finally made the correct turn and was on a street with half a dozen places to eat.

"There you are, mate. Any kind of nosh that suits your fancy. Chinese, Italian, Paki, steak house, Greek, French. You choose."

"Spoilt for choice, aren't we? Okay, how 'bout Paki. I could really go for a nice curry."

"Paki it is." There was a car park just down the road, so Bodie pulled in and parked and they walked back to the restaurant.

The place wasn't very busy, so they were seated and served quickly. They didn't bother with starters, as they'd had a late lunch, but they ordered boiled rice and chapattis with the curry, along with a litre of wine.

"Bloody hell, Doyle," Bodie gasped after his first mouthful.

"Good, innit?" his partner asked.

"If I had any taste buds left I might be able to tell you."

Ray laughed and took another mouthful. "Eat up," he said, licking up a couple grains of rice that stuck to his fork. "The first bite's the worst."

"Yeah, I know." Bodie took another forkful. "I like curry. I just don't usually get it quite so hot." He ate some more, then returned to his earlier topic of conversation. "Still think we're here on a wild goose chase. Don't know what we're expected to do that the local authorities haven't already. All we can do is check out the cave tomorrow and if nothing shows up there, we're at the same stopping place they are."

"True. But maybe something will turn up. Y'never know." He poured himself some more wine and topped up Bodie's glass. "Anyway, let's forget about it for tonight. Got lot's nicer things to think about than witches."

"What's that, then?" Bodie asked, blue eyes wide and innocent.

"Oh, football, cricket, lots of things," Ray replied, equally innocent. "Even," he continued in a low voice, "what I'm going to do to you when I get you back to the hotel."

"You're right," Bodie said, smiling. "That is nicer than witches, especially the last. But if you have plans, we'd best not dawdle." And he applied himself to his food, with great alacrity.

Doyle followed suit and they soon had polished off all the food, then decided on ice-cream for afters, enjoying the contrast between its sweet coolness and the hot curry.

They drove back to the hotel and put the car away for the night, then decided it was too nice a night to go in right away. It had finally cooled down to a reasonable temperature, so they decided to stroll down to the local for a pint or two before turning in. Both men knew what was going to happen as soon as they got to their room, but they weren't in any hurry, having discovered long ago that anticipation added a bit of spice to things.

The pub had tables outside and they chose one, slowly sipping their ale and enjoying the cool evening breeze after the heat of the day. They stayed until closing time, then returned to the hotel through the soft night. When they got to the room, Ray found his sponge bag and robe and headed down the corridor to the bathroom, C.I.5's budget not running to en suite bathrooms. Bodie went when he got back and by the time he returned Ray was snuggled down in bed, half asleep.

Bodie climbed into bed beside him, reaching for Ray's shoulder and pulling him over so he lay on his back, blinking sleepily up at his lover.

"Thought you were gonna have your evil way with me, then," Bodie said.

"Mmm, I was," Doyle yawned. "Just can't seem to stay awake somehow. Don't know why. After all, I slept most of the way here." He yawned again, so wide Bodie could see his tonsils before Doyle put a hand over his mouth. "Sorry, lover. How 'bout tomorrow morning instead? We can set the alarm to go off early, okay?"

"Sure, that's fine. I feel sleepy, myself, for that matter. Odd, that." Bodie yawned almost as widely as Doyle had, then mumbled puzzledly, "Wasn't that strenuous a day." He leaned over and drowsily set the clock, then turned out the light, reaching for Ray to kiss him good-night, but was asleep before the action was completed.

The alarm went off with a loud, jarring sound. Ray groaned and turned over, pulling the duvet up over his head. Bodie reached out to turn it off, then focussed on the time. "Bloody Hell, we're barely gonna have time to shave and get dressed before the dining room opens." He threw back the covers, then swatted Ray's arse none too gently.

Ray turned over, enraged. "What the hell was that for?" he demanded.

"Just thought you needed waking up," Bodie answered.

"Thanks, lover," Doyle spat. "Just wait till the next time I wake you up."

Bodie was sorry as soon has he'd hit Ray. He didn't know what had made him do it. They weren't usually rough with one another, except in play, and even then, they pulled their punches. "Sorry, love," he apologised sincerely. "I really didn't mean to hit so hard." He leaned over and kissed the abused portion of Ray's anatomy

"Yeah, well, just watch it next time." Doyle was still a bit put out by the rough treatment, but he knew Bodie meant what he said. "Anyway, what happened to the alarm? I thought you were going to set it early so we could mess around a bit before we had to get up." Letting Bodie know, by the subject matter under discussion, that he was forgiven.

"I did," Bodie said. "At least, I sure thought I did. I don't know what happened. We're just not having any luck, at all."

"Maybe it's the witch," Ray said, climbing out of bed and rubbing sleep from his eyes.

"What? What're you on about now?" Bodie asked.

"The witch. You know, the one we're supposed to be checking out."

"So? What about her?" Bodie couldn't see the point Ray was trying to make.

"Well she was supposed to cast spells on lovers. Maybe she's the cause of the trouble we're having with our love life."

"C'mon, Ray. You don't really believe that, do you?" Bodie asked in disgust.

"Seems as good an explanation as any," Ray replied with a shrug, "considering what we're usually like when there's a bed around."

Bodie wasn't sure if Ray was joking or not, so he decided to just drop the conversation there. "Well whatever the reason, we've got to get a move on. Got to do our little bit of spelunking don't we."

"Yeah, I know," Ray sighed gloomily. "I'd rather be on the rocks than inside them, any day."

"Ah, what can go wrong? It's an explored cave. We're only checking things out."

"I know. I know," Ray said again. He didn't make any more protests but was still not happy as he got ready to go. They didn't waste any more time, but shaved at the basin in the room and were ready for breakfast as soon as the dining room opened.

Both men ate hearty breakfasts, starting with corn flakes for Bodie and muesli for Doyle, then progressing to a typical fried breakfast - eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, and bread - plus a large toast rack full of toast triangles and a pot of tea. Doyle pushed the fried bread to one side but ate the rest. Bodie helped himself to the rejected bread and scarfed the lot. As they left the dining room, the asked the hotel to put up a lunch for them. They'd pick it up on their way out.

Back in their room, Bodie dug out his rucksack and put both his and Ray's torches in it. Doyle got the extra bulbs and batteries from his case and unobtrusively stuffed them into his pockets along with the other item he'd gone out and got. He glanced over the room before they left. 'Yeah, both beds look like they've been slept in. Nothin' t'make anyone suspicious.'

He followed Bodie downstairs and waited while the dark-haired man picked up the large lunch the kitchen had prepared and tucked it into his rucksack with the torches, then they walked out to the car. Ray got in on the passenger side, more than happy to let his partner drive. In just a short time they were back at Wookey Hole. Bodie parked the car and they got out and walked towards the tourist office. A tall man with a shock of brown hair came out to meet them.

"You the men from C.I.5?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," Bodie replied. "I'm Bodie, he's Doyle." He flipped out his I.D., Doyle following suit. "You Mr. Smithers?"

"That's right," the tourist guide answered. "Your Mr. Cowley asked me to give you what assistance I could. I don't know how much help I can be, though. I do have a map of the cave for you with the tourist route indicated in red, also a florescent marker, so you can tell where you've been." He handed them the items as he spoke. "You'll need hard hats, too. You've got torches, don't you?" At their nods, Smithers continued, "Then I won't bother giving you the ones with lights attached. Torches are more versatile anyway.

"I've queried the other guides," he added, "and none of them admit to seeing or hearing anything out of the ordinary. Personally, I think it's all just a tempest in a teapot, but if there is anything there I certainly hope you discover what it is."

"Don't worry," Bodie said with confidence. "If there's anything there to find, we'll find it."

"Well, good luck to you. Do you have any questions?"

"No, I think you've covered everything," Bodie answered. "How about you, Doyle?"

"No, not right now," he replied. "Just - are you going to be here all day, Mr. Smithers."

"Yes. I'm at your disposal. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. We closed the cave to tourists for the day, so the only people down there legitimately will be the two of you."

"Good," Bodie nodded in approval. "That'll make things easier. The hotel packed us a lunch, so we probably won't be back until this evening. We'll try to make it around 5:30, but if we find anything interesting it might be later. So, don't worry unless you don't hear anything from us by, say, 9:00. Then you can send in the rescue team."

"Fine. I'll see you later, then," Smithers said, and returned to the office.

Bodie turned to Doyle, who had been standing quietly by during the conversation. "Y'ready?"

"As I'll ever be," Ray replied.

"Then, let's get started."

"After you," Doyle said solicitously, waving Bodie ahead of him and toward the opening of the cave.

Three hours later, they had gone over a good portion of the cave and found nothing - no sign that humans had recently been in any part of it except the marked tourist route. They decided to take a break and eat part of their lunch the next time they came to a relatively level place.

Doyle had been feeling nervous from the time they had entered the cave, but so far the spells had been working okay. His biggest concern was that the new spell for total darkness had a time limit on it. If they were out by 5:30 or 6:00 - or to stretch a point 6:30 - he should be all right. But if they were much later than that, the spell would start to wear off. How quickly would depend on how much energy he was able to put into maintaining it. Even within the time limit he had to keep renewing it at intervals or he would slowly begin to shrink and Bodie'd be sure to notice that before too long. All Ray could do was hope that nothing would delay them in the cave.

"Oi, you still all right back there?" Bodie was leading the way, consulting the map from time to time, while Ray marked their route.

"Course I am. Why wouldn't I be?" Doyle replied.

"No reason. 'S just, you've been awfully quiet the whole time we've been in here," Bodie said.

"Concentratin' on the job is all. Listenin' for any sounds besides the ones we're making. Found a place to stop yet?" Ray asked.

"Yeah, I think there's a place right up here. Nice smooth cave floor, soon as we brush some little pebbles aside. See," Bodie shone his torch around, "all the comforts of home."

Doyle clambered over the last few rocks between him and his partner, and sat down in the area Bodie had cleared. There were still a few pebbles around, so he started to brush them aside, then stopped and picked some up for a closer look.

"Bodie," he said in an odd strangled voice, "these aren't pebbles."

"They're not?" Bodie was more interested in getting out the sandwiches. "What are they, then?"

"Goat droppings."

"Oh, that's interes...What?!" As Ray's words sank in, Bodie stopped what he was doing and looked over at his partner. "That's odd. This is pretty far into the cave for them to come for shelter and there haven't been any other signs of goats in here." He took a quick look round as if he expected to find one of the animals hiding behind a rock.

"You don't understand. The witch who lived here had two familiars, a goat and her kid. And there are two sizes of goat droppings here - fresh goat droppings." Doyle put the droppings back on the ground and took out his handkerchief to wipe off his hand with a grimace of distaste.

"Come on, Doyle. Are you trying to tell me you think there really is a witch who lives in here and brings her goats in with her every day? Why haven't we seen any signs of fires then? Or food? Or bedding?" Bodie could not believe what his partner was implying.

"Well, we haven't checked out the whole cave yet," Ray replied. "Who knows what we'll find in the rest of it."

"A witch?" Bodie scoffed. "A real witch? What century are you living in, anyway mate?"

"Well, maybe not a real witch," Ray agreed, though he still wasn't convinced there was no such thing. "Maybe just some old lady who thinks she's a witch, or who's trying to re-create the legend so others will think she's a witch. I dunno. All I do know is that there are fresh goat droppings in this cave and you can see - and smell - that as well as I can." Ray's temper had begun to get the better of him. After all, it wasn't as if he had imagined the manure or created it himself. "You come up with an answer, then."

"All right. All right. No need to get so upset," Bodie said placatingly. "I grant you there are fresh goat droppings. I'm sure that by the time we finish exploring the cave, we'll have found out why they're there. Probably some perfectly simple explanation. Anyway, it's not worth fighting over. Here," he handed Doyle two rounds of sandwiches. "Eat your lunch."

As Doyle reached for the sandwiches, Bodie grabbed his wrist and pulled him into his arms, kissing him thoroughly. "Rather kiss you than argue with you any day," he said.

Doyle grinned, pleased that the argument had been averted, and applied himself to his lunch. 'Didn't have any trouble with that kiss. Maybe my little insurance is working.'

Five hours later they had gone through almost all the rest of the cave and found nothing - no more signs of goats, no signs of humans - just limestone formations and pools of mineral water. It was beginning to look like they were, indeed, on a wild goose chase.

They had stopped to eat again in the early afternoon and Ray had taken the opportunity to renew all his spells very carefully. He had gone over them a number of times while they were in the cave, but it was difficult to concentrate properly while clambering over rocks.

"Hey, Bodie, how much more of this place is there for us to check out, anyway?" he called out to the man ahead of him.

"Not much," his partner replied. "Two small side branches and one large one. Why? You getting tired?"

"Nah. Just tired of being down here. 'M beginning to feel like a troll. Glad there's not much more," Doyle answered.

"Should be finished in another hour or so if we don't find anything - and it doesn't look like we will."

"Okay, carry on. The sooner we're done, the better." 'Gettin' close to my deadline's the problem,' Ray worried. 'Hope nothin' happens to delay us in this last little bit.'

They had gone through the last branch without finding anything more and Ray heaved a sigh of relief. Now, all they had to do was get out. And while that would push his limits to their extremes, there shouldn't be any real problems.

They were negotiating a sharp corner heading back towards the marked tourist area. It was a fairly tricky bit of terrain that necessitated using both hands for safety as they climbed down a small but steep wall to the cave floor, so Bodie had turned off his torch and out it in a pocket, while Ray lighted his way for him. Now it was Doyle's turn. Bodie was shining his torch on the rocks, so Ray turned his off, tucking it into his zipper as there was no room for anything as large as a torch in any of his pockets.

Ray was one step from the bottom when Bodie thought he heard something. He turned suddenly towards the sound, not realizing how close he was to the wall of the cave, and hit the rock with his torch, knocking it out of his hand. It fell to the ground, smashing the lens and bulb on a sharp projection.

"Shit!" Bodie growled, annoyed. "Ray, turn your torch on so I can find mine. Maybe I can fix it," he said, not realising how badly it had been damaged. "Ray? Ray! Why don't you answer?"

Bodie was getting quite worried, now, thinking perhaps Ray had made a misstep right at the last and had fallen, hitting his head or something, though Bodie'd heard no sound of a body falling. Just, now that he thought of it, a sort of muffled thud, which had seemed to be an odd sort of echo to the sound of the torch landing. All he could hear right now was a kind of muted squeak. He was quite sure it wasn't a rat, as they had seen no signs of rats, at all, but he had no idea what it could be.

Ray had been in the process of taking the last step down when Bodie's light had gone out. He immediately shrank to twelve inches and ended up flat on his back, tangled in his clothes, completely covered up by his hard hat. He fought his way out of the clothes and tried to lift the hat so he could crawl out from under it, but he couldn't begin to budge it.

'Now what'm I gonna do?' he wondered. He called Bodie's name, but his high voice didn't carry very well and was muffled by the hat, and pounding on the hard plastic only hurt his hands. He was additionally handicapped by the fact that he couldn't stand upright as the hat was only eight inches tall at its highest point.

Finally, he managed to pull a pen out of his shirt pocket. He dug the point of it under that hat, then shoved over a large pebble to use as a fulcrum. The first few times, the biro slipped off the pebble, but eventually, however, he was able to wedge the pen under the hat's edge and lift it slightly. The problem was that it took all his strength and the pressure of both hands to keep the hat elevated, so he was unable to shove a pebble underneath to keep it up. He tried kicking a rock into place, but they would either go to far or not far enough. One time, he thought he had it, but when he lowered the hat, it slipped off the rock and he was no better off than before.

Doyle forced himself to patiently begin the levering process again. His previous attempts having taught him how to do it, it didn't take him very long to raise it again. "Bodie!" he shouted, as loudly as he could, having decided that he would be stuck under the hat forever, unless his partner lifted it off him. "Bodie!" The hat acted like an echo chamber and increased the size of his voice, so it carried further, while nearly deafening him at the same time.

It had been several minutes since the torch had gone out and there was still no answer form Ray. Bodie felt his way towards the rock wall Doyle had been climbing down, but as he stepped forward a rock turned beneath his foot and he stumbled. He tried to catch himself on the rocks, but was unable to. As he fell, his hard hat came off, since he hadn't bothered to fasten the chin-strap, and his head hit the rock wall with a dull thud.

When his head stopped ringing, Bodie realised that what he had thought was his imagination was actually a small voice calling his name. All he could think of was that Ray must have fallen, also, and hurt his throat, so he couldn't yell loudly. Bodie groped his way toward the voice and eventually came to some cloth on the floor and a hard hat that had to be Ray's. He rested his hand on the hat, which seemed to be moving.

"Don't push it, twit! Lift it off!" the small voice shouted at him.

Bodie did as he was told, thinking at the back of his mind that something about this situation seemed familiar to him.

When Bodie lifted the hat off him, Ray's first reaction was relief at being out of his prison. He stood up and stretched gratefully. It had been very uncomfortable to be constantly bent over. His second was worry. 'What in hell am I gonna do now? I'm sure not gonna be able to talk my way out of this.'

Bodie stared blindly at the place the voice had come from. He groped in the dark, but all he could feel was the hat he had set down and some cloth. He picked up the pieces one at a time. Not just cloth - clothes. Ray's clothes. 'Now, what in hell is Ray doing stripping at a time like this?' he wondered. Head still throbbing from the bump, Bodie found thinking difficult. 'This is ridiculous. I've gotta be able to see something.'

He groped around in his pockets to see if he had a lighter with him. He didn't smoke, but generally had one handy for friends who did. After a short search, he found one and moments later, there was a tiny flicker of light. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough light to do anything for Ray except to reveal him in all his glory - twelve inches of very naked Doyle, ear points just peeking through his curls, digging through his clothes.

'No. I don't believe this,' Bodie thought groggily. 'Bash on the head, that's what it is. 'M hallucinating.' He flicked off the lighter and leant back against the wall to recover. 'I'll look for the real Doyle in a minute.'

"Oi!" It was the little voice again. "Put the light back on. How can I see in the dark?"

Bodie ignored it, willing the hallucination to go away, but he soon felt movement by the edge of his jacket and then, tiny fists were pounding on his side.

"Bodie! Damn it! Pay attention to me!" The little voice wouldn't shut up.

'Not gonna go away,' Bodie concluded. 'Might's well humor it.' He flicked the light back on and the pummeling stopped.

"That's better." The miniature Ray went back to digging through his clothes.

"What're you looking for?" Bodie asked. 'I'm right round the bend,' he thought. 'Talkin' to a hallucination.'

"Handkerchief," the voice was muffled by the clothes.

"Oh. Want t'blow your nose," he agreed wisely.

The little Ray backed out of the clothes, dragging a handkerchief after him. "No, twit. I want something to wear. It's damned cold in here." Ray sniffed the white cloth, then dropped it. "Ugh! Goat droppings. Hey, Bodie!"


"Give us your handkerchief. Mine's dirty."

"Oh. Right." Bodie slowly searched and found his handkerchief and handed it carefully to the small man. Doyle dropped the cloth in a pile and began busily working a shoelace out of one of his trainers. Once obtained, Bodie watched interestedly as the miniature Doyle wound the handkerchief around him, more or less toga-fashion and tied it on with the shoelace. When Ray had finished and stood staring up at him, Bodie focussed on his ears.

"Y've got pointed ears," he commented.

"Course I do. I'm am elf," Ray stated.

"An elf?" Bodie repeated blankly.

"Yes, an elf. Christ, don't you remember. I explained it all to you months ago." Doyle wasn't too sure if jogging Bodie's memory was exactly a good thing. He just knew he couldn't face standing here in the middle of a cold, dark cave, explaining it all over again.

"Explained..." Bodie's voice trailed off as he tried to get past the throbbing in his head to search his memory for anything about elves. He seemed to get a dim flicker of a night of drunken excess and something about a cat. "Oh, yeah...I remember...I guess," he said hesitantly. "Something about light, wasn't it? Stretching and shrinking or something."

"That's right," Ray said approvingly. "Good. Then I don't have to go through it all again. What happened to your torch?"

"Dunno. I dropped it. Think it broke," Bodie answered absently, his mind refusing to switch tracks. " But why didn't you shrink before?" he asked. "There's sure not much light in here."

"I got a new spell for just such occasions as this," Doyle explained. "The torch light was enough, until it went out. See if you can find it. Maybe it can be fixed. I've got extra bulbs along."

"Okay." Bodie started searching carefully with the lighter, but couldn't find anything. "'S not there."

"It's got to be here, somewhere. Hold the lighter down near the ground and go slowly," Ray commanded.

Bodie did as he was told and Ray walked along with him, looking under rocks and into crevices. Finally Doyle, spotted it under a large overhanging rock.

"Here it is. Can you get it out?"

Bodie lay down and groped under the rock. He found the torch with his fingers and pulled it out. Looking at it, he saw that, sure enough, the lens and bulb were broken.

"Extra bulbs in the left hand pocket of my zipper," Doyle said. "See if they work."

Bodie got a bulb and tried it. Unfortunately, it was not quite the right size. "Damn. Should've planned ahead like you did. I will, next time. He put the defunct torch down and tucked the bulb in his pocket. "Where's yours, then?"

"Dunno. I tucked it into my zipper while I climbed down. Isn't it with my clothes?"

Bodie looked around the area where Ray's clothes had been originally, but saw no sign of his torch.

"Here we go again," Doyle said resignedly. "You hold the lighter down and I'll look."

They had almost covered the whole area when Doyle caught a glimpse of something metallic deep from within a small crevice in the ground.

"Over here, Bodie," he called.

Bodie obligingly brought the lighter closer. "See it?" he asked.

Doyle got down on his hands and knees and peered into the crevice. "Yes, that's it, right at the bottom. Can you reach it?"

Bodie went prone and reached down into the crevice as far as he could. The tips of his fingers brushed the torch, but he couldn't get a grip on it. "Now what d'we do?" he wondered.

"Take off your belt," Ray answered.

"What?" Bodie asked, surprised.

"Take off your belt," Doyle repeated. Bodie looked puzzled, but did as he was told. "Now thread the loose end through the buckle to make a loop." When Bodie had done so, ray slipped the loop over his head and slid it down until it rested around his waist. "All right, mark where the buckle comes to then when I take it off, you can poke a hole there with your pocket knife. You do have your knife with you, don't you?" he queried.

"Course I do. Wouldn't be without it." Bodie punched the hole and handed the belt back to Ray who slipped it on. After his partner fastened the buckle, Doyle adjusted the belt so it was as comfortable as possible, with the buckle at the back.

Ray walked to the lip of the crevice and looked up at Bodie. "Okay, lower away."

Bodie lay down and lowered Ray on the belt a bit at a time. He held the lighter as far down as he could without burning his hand.

Ray checked out the situation. He thought, just maybe, his plan would work. "Up," he called.

Bodie put the lighter down and pulled the elf back up, then reclaimed the only light source in the cave.

"Take your shoelaces out and tie 'em together," Doyle commanded. "They should just about be long enough."

When Bodie had complied, setting the lighter down and tying the laces in the dark, then flicking on the lighter again, Ray had him hold one end, took the other end himself, and had Bodie lower him again. Doyle's first thought was to tie the shoelace to the ring on the end of the torch, but that was blocked by a large piece of rock. Luckily, the torch had fallen with the large end up, so he decided to tie the shoelace around it just where it started to get larger. He lay on the torch and stretched his arms around it. He passed the shoelace from one hand to the other then brought the end up and tied the knot firmly. The switch was on top and Ray thought about turning it on, then decided to wait. He didn't think it would reverse his size, but in case he was wrong, he wanted to be on level ground when he was exposed to light.

"Pull me up," he called to Bodie. The lighter went out and he rose through the air again. When he was safely on the ground, Bodie flicked the lighter once more and carefully pulled on the shoelace. The torch didn't want to move at first, but some judicious jiggling did the trick and it finally came loose.

Ray sat down by the edge. "Put the lighter down here. I can hold it on, and you can concentrate on pulling up the torch."

Bodie set the lighter down carefully in front of Ray and held the lever down until the elf got both hands on it. He pressed hard and the lever stayed down. Bodie now used both hands to pull up the shoelace until he could finally reach the torch.

"Got it!" he cried jubilantly. He sat down, torch in hand and pushed the switch. Nothing happened. He tightened the top and pushed it again. This time, it came on immediately.

Ray let go of the lever of the lighter with a sigh of relief. "Shine it on me, Bodie. See what happens."

Bodie shone the light on the elf while Ray concentrated as hard as he could. To Bodie's eyes Ray seemed to blur slightly, then stabilize the same as he was before.

"That's what I was afraid of," Doyle sighed. "The spell's worn off. I have to have full daylight to get back to my regular size. Just be glad it's summer and the sun'll still be up. Otherwise I'd have to wait 'til tomorrow morning." Ray looked over at Bodie. "Well don't just sit there. Shift around so I can get to your rucksack."

Instead, Bodie slung the rucksack off his shoulders and put it in front of Doyle. "What d'you want it for?"

"T'ride in, of course." Ray was busily digging out the remains of the lunch and climbing in. "Fold my clothes up and tuck them in around me." Bodie did as he was told. He realized this small version of Ray had been ordering him around ever since he appeared, but Bodie seemed to be one step behind him all the way. "Why are you riding?" he finally asked, putting Doyle's clothes neatly in around the miniature frame.

"Use your loaf, Bodie. We wouldn't get out of here 'till sometime tomorrow - if then - if I walked, now would we?" Ray demanded.

"Guess not," Bodie agreed. He wasn't usually so slow on the uptake. He put it down to the fact that the throbbing behind his eyes was getting steadily worse. He must have bumped his head harder than he thought.

There was just room in the rucksack for Ray, his clothes and shoes, and the remains of the lunch. Bodie hung the broken torch from his belt along with Doyle's hard hat. He re-laced his shoes, tying them tightly, when he noticed something over by the wall. He reached to pick it up and found it was a small plastic bottle with a spray top. It had a small amount of a clear liquid in it.

"Look," He held the bottle out to Doyle. "There has been someone in here, after all."

"," Doyle said reluctantly. "That's mine."

"What is it?" Bodie asked.

"Nothing important," Doyle evaded the question. "C'mon, let's go."

"Doyle," said Bodie, prepared to stay there all night, if necessary, to get an answer to his question. "What is it?"

"Well...if you must's holy water."

"Holy water?" Bodie was astounded. "What the bloody hell for?"

"Oh, the legend says a monk got rid of the witch with holy water, so I figured it couldn't hurt. I just sprinkled a bit here and there while I was marking the route."

Bodie was laughing hysterically. "Sprinkling the cave with holy water," he roared. "To get rid of a witch. Wait 'til I tell the others about that."

Doyle was embarrassed, but wouldn't give in. He still wasn't thoroughly convinced that there weren't witches. "Okay, tell 'em. And then I'll tell 'em that you think your partner's a twelve-inch-tall elf."

At that, Bodie sobered up. "But you are a twelve- inch-tall elf!" he protested.

"You know that, and I know that, but they don't know that. And they're sure never gonna believe it, are they?"

That gave Bodie something to think about. "All right. Truce." He tucked the bottle in his pocket, put on the rucksack, picked up the torch, and headed back out of the cave by the quickest route.

When they got to the mouth of the cave, it was just gone 8:00. Smithers was nowhere to be seen, so Bodie put Doyle and his clothes down behind some shrubbery and went to the tourist office.

Ray loosened the shoelace holding Bodie's handkerchief from around his waist. Now that he was back in the sunlight, it was just a matter of minutes before he was back to his normal height. He dressed, re-laced his shoe, then picked up the handkerchief and followed Bodie into the office.

"...Oh, he's just checking around the entrance to see if he can find any thing there. He'll be right with us," Bodie was saying as Ray came through the door. "Here he is, now. Find anything?" Bodie looked Ray over as carefully as he could in Smithers's presence, but as far as he could tell, Doyle looked just the same as he always had. "Nothing," Doyle replied. "I don't know what's been causing the problems, but the cave is clean, inside and out."

"That's just what I've been telling him," Bodie agreed.

"Any accidents?" asked Smithers.

"Just a slight bump on the head," Bodie answered. "Nothing to make a fuss about. I'll have it looked at when we get back to London."

"Well, thank you for checking it out. At least, now no one can say it's the Witch of Wookey Hole come back from the dead who's doing these things. It could really hurt the tourist business, if they did."

"I don't think you're gonna have anything else to worry about," Ray said. "You can re-open again tomorrow for your tourists." He shook hands with Smithers. "C'mon, Bodie, we'd better be going or we won't get any dinner."

The thought of missing dinner was enough to galvanize Bodie into motion. He shook hands with Smithers and headed toward the car, Ray following.

When they got to the motor, Ray held out his hand for the keys. "Better not drive with that bonk on the head."

Bodie handed the keys over without arguing and got into the passenger seat. He didn't say much to Ray on the way back, just looked at him oddly from time to time.

They got to the hotel in plenty of time for dinner. Bodie had roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and trifle for afters. Doyle had fried brook trout with rice, and fresh raspberries. After dinner, they sat in the bar with brandy and coffee, watching whatever was on the goggle box without really paying attention to it, each occupied with his own thoughts.

'I know Ray was only twelve inches high this afternoon,' Bodie thought. 'After all, I carried him out of the cave in my rucksack. 'Course he'll deny it if I say anything about it.' He shook his head and mentally rephrased it. 'Ray Doyle is a very small elf part of the time. That doesn't worry me, as far as safety goes. 'M not afraid that Doyle'll let me down, not be there to watch m'back. We've been partners for a long time now and Ray's always been there when I need him. 'I'd just like to know what exactly to expect from him and when to expect it. One day soon, we're gonna have to have a talk. The problem is getting Doyle to talk about something he doesn't want to - a thing more easily said than done.'

'Dammit,' Doyle brooded. 'He knows now. Really knows, not just suspects. Pity that knock on the head didn't put him out for a bit. Wouldn't want him really hurt, o'course, just...maybe I could've convinced him it was all in his head, like last time. 'What in hell is this gonna do to our partnership?' he wondered. 'I'll deny it, of course, but even if he goes along with me, he still knows and I know he knows. Damn. Malandar warned me this wouldn't be as easy as I thought it would. Never listen, do I.'

'Well,' he concluded, 'guess I've just got to play it by ear. Maybe if I refuse to talk about it he'll forget about it - in time,' he thought, ever hopeful. 'If nothing else happens, that is.'

Eventually, they finished their brandies and went up to bed, feeling slightly uncomfortable with one another, but each determined not to let the other know how he really felt.

They hadn't got back in time to change before dinner, so they showered now. Bodie went first, this time, and was lying in bed, hands behind his head, when Ray returned.

"Come to bed, Raymond," he ordered, "quickly."

Ray gave a knowing grin as he strolled across the room. "Anxious for it, are you? Thought you had more self control than that."

Bodie merely lifted the duvet in silent invitation/command and waited.

Ray gave in gracefully, dropped his robe, and slid under the duvet with his lover. He lay across Bodie and took his mouth in a long kiss, only breaking it when he realized that Bodie was fingering the tops of his ears. "What're y'doing?" he asked, wondering what Bodie would say.

"Nothing," his lover denied. "Nothing at all. Just playing with your hair," he added, doing so. "Love it when it's all clean and soft."

'So,' thought Ray. 'Everything as before. That's fine with me.' "When're y'gonna let yours grow so I can play with it?" he asked, knowing what the answer would be.

"Chance'd be a fine thing," Bodie replied. "Can't you use your mouth for anything other than asking silly questions?"

"'Course I can," Ray answered. "Let me demonstrate." And that was the last coherent sound made by either of them for quite some time.

Ray used his mouth to cover Bodie with kisses from head to toe, licking softly as the most sensitive places, nibbling and giving little love bites where he thought it would do the most good - with the very notable exception of Bodie's cock.

Soon, Bodie was writhing on the bed, a puppet Doyle could control with a touch. The dark-haired man gave soft little moans ands whimpers, far beyond even the remotest semblance of coherent thought, let alone speech.

Doyle flew him high and far, but always held back a little, never letting him climax. Finally, Ray drew back and soothed him down, until he relaxed just a bit. "Want more, lover?" he purred.

"Yes. No," Bodie said, still not thinking too clearly. "I want you" he managed.

Ray was almost as far gone as Bodie, but he was trying valiantly to hold on to his control. "What do you want?" he breathed into Bodie's ear. "Tell me."

"Anything. I don't care. Just let me come," Bodie begged.

Ray didn't answer verbally, merely moved down in the bed and took Bodie's cock in his mouth, laving it with his tongue.

As soon as Ray took him in, Bodie arched up and loosed the cream into his lover's mouth, giving a muffled cry at the same time. Ray sucked him dry, then moved back up beside him and kissed him. Bodie was asleep almost before the kiss was done.

Ray curled up against him and kissed Bodie's hand where Bodie had bit it to stifle his cry. He didn't mind that Bodie had not offered him release. It wasn't necessary. He had been so aroused that Bodie's coming had sparked his - and elves were always a little faster off the mark than humans, anyway.

He reached across Bodie and turned off the light. As he drifted off, a last thought curled through his mind. 'If it was a witch, cursing us as lovers, she's either gone or we've broken the curse somehow. The holy water? Who knows. Don't even know if she was ever really there.' Doyle smiled, snuggled down by his lover and fell asleep.

The next morning, after another large breakfast, they headed off to the local police station to tell them what they'd found - or, rather, what they hadn't found. They managed, just, to avoid letting their annoyance show at being sent down on what had, ultimately, turned out to be a wild goose chase. Ray, in particular, had been happy at how things had turned out. The police thanked them politely for their report and they headed back to London. Doyle drove, even though Bodie said he felt fine. Ray wasn't taking any chances with both their lives until his partner had been checked out by the squad doctor.

Back in London they told Cowley what they had - or hadn't - found, then went back to their cubbyhole to write their reports, both carefully, independently, leaving out all mention of what had happened to Ray.

Bodie was checked over and given a clean bill of health by the doctor, then released. Both men left the building quickly. Bodie dropped Doyle off at his flat and continued home. Nothing had been resolved between them; yet everything was, apparently, the same as always.

For the next several months, they were involved practically night and day with one op after another. When they finally had a breathing spell, Bodie found an opportunity to ask Cowley a question that had been bothering him.

"That business at Wookey Hole," he asked. "Did the police ever find out what it was all about?"

"That was a very strange thing," Cowley said. "After you checked out the cave, nothing more ever happened. The police never had any leads, so, since no one was seriously hurt, it was put into the 'pending' file and more or less forgotten about. It was probably, as you thought, just some local yobbos who decided they'd had enough fun and quit. Or, perhaps, whoever it was heard C.I.5 was interested and decided we were more than they wanted to tackle.

"That's probably it," Bodie agreed. 'Or,' he thought, 'it could be that Ray's holy water chased the witch away.' He thought about it a bit longer, then shook his head. 'Nah, couldn't be.' And he went off to find his partner.

-- THE END --

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