Luck of the Irish


aka 'The Murphy Story'

(First part of the Murphy universe. )

"Murphy! Have you seen Bodie?"

The tall agent stopped with his hand on the door. "Yeah, he left about five minutes ago, Ray. Why?"

"Oh, nothing. It wasn't important."

Murphy regarded the smaller man. He looked a bit down. Come to think of it, he hadn't seemed very happy for a couple of weeks, now. Maybe he needed a little cheering up. "You doing anything tonight?" he asked.

"No," Ray definitely sounded despondent, "not now, anyway."

"Well, come down to the local with me for a pint." Murph held the door open.

"Okay. Thanks." Ray trailed after him into the car park. "Shall I meet you there?"

"How about giving me a ride?"

"Sure," Ray looked a bit surprised. "Aren't you going to need your car, though?" he asked, unlocking the doors to the Capri.

"Nah, I can get it later." He folded his long legs into the passenger side of the car.

When they arrived at the pub, Murphy got the drinks while Ray looked for a table. The few other patrons were in the front, near the bar, so he chose an empty one towards the back of the room and sat waiting for him.

"Here you go, mate." Murphy set the drink in front of him and sat down. Still holding his bitter, he caught Ray's eye. "Cheers." He took a long swallow and put the glass down. "Mmm. Nice, that."

Ray picked up his ale. "Ta." He drank some and then set it down and sat staring into the glass as if into a crystal ball.

"What's the matter?" Murphy asked, softly.

"Nothin'," Ray didn't raise his eyes from his glass.

"Come on, don't give me that. Something's bothering you. Why don't you tell me? Maybe I can help."

"Well .... He looked up and met Murphy's sympathetic gaze.

"You can trust me, Ray. Whatever it is, I won't spread it around.

"Okay. Actually, you might be the right person to ask, at that. It's about Bodie."

"Bodie? What about Bodie?"

"Well ...." Ray stared into his glass. "You've known Bodie longer than I have ... I don't quite know how to ask this," he glanced up, then back down again. "Is Bodie gay?" he asked, all in a rush.

Murphy was quiet for a moment. "What makes you ask?"

"I was over at his flat a couple weeks ago, waiting for him. I was lookin' for something to read and found some magazines. Gay magazines."

Murphy thought a bit. "How do you feel about it?"


"If Bodie were gay, how would you feel about it?"

"I don't know."

"Would you want a new partner?"

"No!" Ray looked up, eyes blazing. "Bodie's my partner and nobody's splitting us up, for any reason!"

"Okay. Calm down. I was just asking."

"Sorry, mate. Didn't mean to take your head off."

"That's okay. You didn't answer my question, though."

"I ... I really don't know. I don't think it would bother me particularly if he were, if I just knew. It's the not knowing that bothers me." Ray drew patterns with his finger in the moisture on the table. He seemed very intent on what he was doing.

"Why haven't you asked him?"

"Oh, I dunno. Didn't want him to think I was snoopin' 'round his place, did I? Anyway, we were out on a foursome just last week and I know he made it with the bird, so why the magazines?" Ray hesitated, "You haven't answered my question."

"Well, it's no deep dark secret. Bodie's bi. He swings both ways." Murphy watched him carefully to judge his reaction.

"Oh." Ray picked up his glass and took a long swallow, then stared down into his glass as if all the answers were there. There was a heavy silence.

"Ray? How do you feel now? About Bodie?"

"Huh? Oh, nothing's changed as far as that goes. I told you. Bodie's my partner and that's it. It's just..."


"Well, I wonder what it's like." He took another swallow and held the glass to his mouth with both hands, elbows propped on the table, nibbling at the rim of the glass.

"Would you like to find out?" Murphy fiddled with his own almost- untouched drink, studying his companion intently.

"What? With Bodie?" Ray started to take another drink.

"With me."

Ray, startled, looked at Murphy and choked on his ale at the same time. Murphy reached over and pounded him on the back, while Doyle set his glass down with a thump. He finally stopped coughing. He took a deep breath, brushed the tears out of his eyes, and stared at Murphy.


"Yeah. I've fancied you for a long time, mate." Murphy reached over and ran a fingertip lightly over the back of Doyle's hand. He looked at Ray and smiled, "You've got to know how attractive you are with those curls and cat's eyes. Not to speak of those jeans you paint on every morning."

Ray stared at Murphy. "Bloody hell! You want me?"

"Yeah, I do." Murphy dropped his guard for a minute to stare at Ray with eyes hungry with desire. The moment passed and he grinned. "Look, it's no big deal. You said you were curious and I offered to show you. That's all. Consider it an open proposition. If you ever want to take me up on it, just let me know. Otherwise, nothing's changed."

Ray stared at Murphy, speculatively. "You're gay?"

"Nah, bi. I like birds all right, but a good-looking guy can turn me on, too."

"You ... and Bodie ... who else?" Ray was still studying his companion.

"Well, don't make it sound like it's the whole squad, Doyle. Forget I said anything. I wouldn't have if you hadn't brought it up. Look, there's a match on the box tonight. Come back to my place. I'll fix dinner and we can watch it."

"I don't know," Doyle looked dubious.

"C'mon, Ray, I'm not into rape. We've been friends for years, and I've never laid a hand on you. You goin' to throw it all away now?"

"No-o-o ... Okay, that'd be nice. I get tired of my own cooking." He pushed his drink aside and got to his feet.

"Good!" Murphy smiled at him. "Let's go, then."

Ray followed the other agent out of the pub, considering. 'Murph ... and Bodie. They're both bi. Good mates, too--for years. Wonder if they're lovers. Could be. Suppose Bodie's interested in me? Murph sure is. Mmm ... maybe that's how to get Bodie.'

Murphy propped himself up on an elbow and smiled down at the man lying beside him. He gently kissed the relaxed mouth while he stroked a bare flank.

"You were right. He is interested. It was those magazines that did it."

Bodie smiled back at his lover, reaching a hand up to cup his face. "I thought they might do the trick. The way he's been acting the past few months, I didn't think it would take much to bring things to a head. You made him an offer, did you? Think he'll take you up on it?"

"I think he will, after he's thought about it for a while. After all, the first question came from him." He stroked the smooth body and licked delicately at a nipple, then gazed at Bodie, thoughtfully. "You sure you want me to do this? After all, he's your partner, and you know he's really gonna be pissed off when he finds out what we've been up to. That temper's nothing to take lightly."

"No," Bodie wriggled appreciatively. "I know it's not, but you want him, too. If he likes it with me, it might be just me he's reacting to. If he likes it with you, he'll like it with both of us. After all, it's not as if we don't care for him, as well."

"Okay, if that's the way you want it." He licked along Bodie's collarbone then raised his head to scrutinize him sharply. "But no matter how willing he is, he'll never be a replacement for you. You mean a lot to me, Bodie. I don't want to lose what we have."

Bodie just smiled. "Don't worry. What we've got is too good for me to throw away. C'mere, we've talked enough." And he pulled Murphy's head down to him, opening his mouth for a kiss.

As Murphy responded, Bodie stretched out beside the big man, pressing close, fire burning through him wherever their bodies touched. 'Mmm, 's nice, this, being held. C'n be myself with Murph -- let go. Don't have to be the hard man. C'n let him take charge.

'Never talked about it with him, never had to. 'M sure he knows -- and understands. Doesn't take advantage, either. Oh, sure, he teases sometimes, (''Standing in a hole, are you? Forget to put your legs on?"), but he's never mean.

'Know Murph likes me for what I am. Doesn't love me, o'course, (don't think he loves anybody, really -- say's he's still waitin' for the right person to come along), but he cares about me. Sure we play games -- rough ones, sometimes -- but we know that's what we're doin' and it's never cruel.'

"Penny for them, blue eyes."

Bodie started. He'd been lost in his thoughts for several minutes. "Nah, not worth it, then, are they? Thought you were going to have your wicked way with me. Changed your mind, have you?" He pressed himself even tighter to Murphy and hugged him.

"Never." He took Bodie's mouth in another kiss. Bodie responded eagerly, and the fire flared between them again.

Dr. Johansson, head of the London Atomic Energy Lab, strolled up to his front door. Tall, stooped, grey-haired, he habitually peered out at the world from behind his glasses as if he were not too sure what he was doing there. Being usually totally preoccupied with more esoteric thoughts, his mind never quite removed itself from his work, which was also his greatest pleasure. It had been a good day. The design for their new process was almost complete. He had only to incorporate the circuits for the switches he had invented into the blueprints, and they could begin work on the prototype. If all went well, they would soon have a system that was not only much safer but cost less money as well. Tomorrow he would finish the schematics and security would be doubled. The company was taking no chances of any foreign agency, getting their hands on this. Up to now, all the top-secret information was only in his head as he had shredded his original designs; however, by tomorrow they would all be on paper and subject to theft.

He reached into the letter box and took out the post, absent- mindedly. He stared at a small parcel. That was interesting -- why would they be sending something to him? He leaned against the wall as he pried open the flap with his finger -- too curious to wait until he was inside to open it.

The explosion wasn't big enough to attract attention on the street, but it was plenty big enough to accomplish its purpose. Dr. Johansson was very dead. And his radical new design was dead with him.

Inspector Walsh stared at the body on the slab. It had been a very pretty girl, once. She was not pretty now. She had been strangled -- and a large lock of her long blonde hair had been hacked away. The inspector had seen many dead bodies in his ten years with the CID but he never got used to them -- especially not the young ones.

He turned to his sergeant who was standing beside him. "Jane Doe. Not much to go on. But I'm going to get this one, Haskins. You can bet on it," he said, coldly. "If there's one thing I hate, it's waste. Especially the waste of young lives."

The sergeant merely nodded. He knew the inspector meant what he said. He had worked with him before and knew he would push that long, thin nose of his into everything until he found the answers he wanted.

"You have the files? Good." Walsh appreciated his sergeant's attributes. Haskins was quiet but thorough, never speaking unless he had something of interest to say. Walsh liked the younger man. Liked, particularly, the way he seemed to blend into the woodwork so thoroughly that people tended to forget he was there; and, therefore, often said more in his presence than they would have with another person.

Haskins was a very medium-type person -- medium height, medium weight, and medium coloring, lightly tanned skin, medium-brown hair, and medium-brown eyes -- in contrast to himself. He knew that some people thought he was too tall and thin but he was comfortable with his size. That and his unusual coloring -- a shock of prematurely white hair and ice-grey eyes gave him an advantage because people often Judged him strictly on outward appearance, Ignoring the thinking man inside. He and Haskins worked well together, and had several difficult cases to their credit. "Let's get back to headquarters. I don't want to waste any time."

Haskins merely nodded again and followed the Inspector out the door while the attendant shoved the drawer with Jane Doe's body back in.

Several days later, Ray called to 6.2 in the hallway, "Hey Murph!" When he'd caught up with the agent, he looked at him, challengingly. "Um... is that offer still open?"

Murphy grinned at him. "Sure is. Anytime."

Ray grinned back, cheekily. "How 'bout tonight, then?"

"Fine with me. My place?"

"Okay. What time?"

"Well, I'm off duty," he glanced at his watch, "as of fifteen minutes ago. What about you?"

"Yeah, I can leave anytime.."

"How about now, then? C'mon, I'll drive. We can pick up some takeaway on the way home."

"Fine." He agreed readily, but Murphy thought he sounded a bit doubtful.

"Look, you sure you want to do this? I'm not forcing you into anything." Murphy looked at him, amused.

"Yes. I'm sure. I want to do it."

"Okay. Then don't act like you're on your way to your own hanging. It isn't really a fate worse than death."

"I know. It's just, well, I'm a bit nervous."

"That's understandable. C'mon, let's go."

When they got to his flat, Murphy went to the kitchen to dish up the food, while Ray wandered around the sitting room, fidgeting, picking up and putting down half a dozen objects. Murphy called out, "Fix yourself a drink, if you like, and make me one, too."

Ray went over to the drinks table. He poured himself a large measure of whisky and drank it straight down, then poured a second, which he sipped. He poured one for Murphy, taking it out to him. "Not really hungry right now, mate. At least, I don't think I could eat anything."

"That's all right. I can keep it warm in the oven 'til we want it." Murphy suited his actions to his words, after which he took a swallow of his drink, set it down, and turned to the other man. He removed the glass from his hand and set it on the sink, pulling him into his arms. He stood there, body rigid in Murphy's embrace.

"Loosen up, I don't bite." He ran his hands down Ray's back until he relaxed. "That's better." He tipped the curly head up with one hand. "Look at me," he said, softly. Doyle looked at him -- eyes wide and slightly apprehensive. Murphy ran his fingers through the wild curls. "You look good enough to eat," he murmured, bending down to kiss the slightly parted lips, teasing with his tongue until he opened his mouth. He explored deep inside, savouring the unique taste of Ray mingled with that of the whisky.

Doyle tensed at first, then melted closer to the other man, putting his arms around his waist and holding him tightly. He could feel Murphy hard against him.

Murphy drew back, finally, and stood for a moment, breathing heavily. He leaned down and kissed Ray's eyes and the tip of his nose before claiming his mouth once more in a quick, soft kiss. "Mmm, let's go to bed."

Ray nodded, unable to speak. Murphy led the way to the bedroom. Flicking the bedside light on, he turned to the other man and kissed him tenderly. "Undress and get into bed. I'll be right back."

He went into the bathroom to give Doyle a few minutes alone, deciding to make his own undressing as erotic as possible. When he went back in, Ray's clothes were in a pile on the floor, and he was in bed with the covers pulled up to his chin. Murphy walked over to the bed. "Cold, are you, sunshine? I'll soon warm you up." He winked to relieve some of Ray"s tension.

Murphy sat down, leaned over and caressed Ray's curls, then bent down to remove shoes and socks. He slowly unbuttoned his shirt, took it off and folded it. Ray watched his every move, green eyes big and solemn. "Smile. This is supposed to be enjoyable, not some grim ordeal to be gotten through." Murphy lightly kissed the wide forehead, then got up to lay his shirt on his clothes rack. He came back to the bed and, watching Ray intently, unhurriedly unbuckled his belt, unbuttoned his trousers, and opened his zip. He put his thumbs in his waistband and inched down trousers and pants together, folding them. He put them on the rack, then moved back to the bed again and stood there, letting Ray look at him. His cock was throbbing at the thought of a naked Ray Doyle lying there in his bed, but he tried to ignore it.

"You gonna stand there all night?" Ray reached a hand out. "Thought you were coming to bed."

"Move over, then." Murphy slid under the covers, gathering Ray into his arms. A jolt like a mild electrical shock went through him at the feel of the lean body against his. "God!" Murphy held him tighter and buried his face in the soft curls.

"What's the matter?" Ray's voice was low in his ear.

"Absolutely nothing. You just feel so good, and I've wanted you for so long." He stroked Ray's back and cupped his arse in both hands. "I've wanted to do this for ages. He squeezed his arse gently. "Mmm, feels as good as it looks." He drew back a bit and looked at Ray who reddened at his words. "Don't tell me you don't know you've got a gorgeous arse -- drive strong men to drink, it would. Turns me on something fierce."

"Sod off," Ray protested, turning his head away.

"What's the matter? Don't you know the truth when you hear it? Or don't you want to hear it?" Murphy brushed Ray's cheek with the back of his hand. He threw back the covers and stroked down the length of Doyle's body, devouring him with his eyes. He caught his breath sharply, "Christ, you are beautiful."

"Murphy!" Ray protested again, half laughing. "Stop it. I'm not even good looking. Bodie's the one who's beautiful," he added thoughtlessly, then turned a deeper red. "God, I'm sorry, I..."

"Nah, of course Bodie's beautiful. I think so, too. But you've got an exotic look of your own that's tremendously exciting. Hasn't anyone ever told you that, before?"

Ray shook his head. "No blokes, anyway."

"Well, consider yourself told. I'll remind you from time to time, too." He caressed the side of Ray's face, and tangled fingers in his curls, then bent down and claimed the waiting mouth. This time, Ray opened for him eagerly. Murphy took it hungrily, twining the other's tongue with his own.

He held the kiss as long as he could, then pulled back to take several deep breaths. The taste of Ray was overwhelming, and he fought to control himself. He didn't want to scare Ray off. Finally he relaxed a bit as his breathing evened out.

"You okay?" Ray's own breathing was ragged.

Murphy chuckled. "Yeah, I'm fine. You shouldn't taste so bloody good, sunshine." And he nibbled down the other man"s throat and along his collarbone.

Ray moaned and tipped his head back to expose more of his throat. The larger man eagerly accommodated him -- the smell of heated skin intoxicating. He groaned as he kissed the pulse spot at the base of the long throat, then moved back up until he could run his tongue first around the edge of Ray's ear, and then deep inside.

Ray shivered. He pulled Murphy's face around and kissed him, exploring his mouth for the first time.

"Mmm, nice," Murphy murmured, when Ray finally released him. "Could stand to have more of that." And he lowered his mouth to the other man again, opening for his tongue and sucking it in greedily.

Ray ran his hands over the broad shoulders and down his back, then held him close.

Murphy forced himself away from Ray's mouth. As sweet as it was, there were other areas he wanted to investigate.

He trailed his fingers down the furry chest, running his palm over the fine hair, teasing a nipple with his fingers, then sucking it. Ray held his head down tighter, moaning in pleasure.


Murphy raised his head, "Like that, do you? I thought you might." He looked at the other man -- his face was flushed, and desire flickered in his eyes. Murphy smiled and moved across to the other nipple. He sucked gently at the small nub as it hardened, meanwhile running his fingers lightly along Doyle's sides, almost tickling him.

Ray squirmed and tried to move away from Murphy's hands, but the larger man easily held him in place while continuing to assault his senses with hands and mouth. He kissed down chest and stomach to his navel and dipped his tongue in, while stroking down his flanks and up along his inner thighs. Ray's cock was showing definite signs of arousal, and he set upon it with mouth and hands, caressing and licking it until it grew to its full length. His own cock was throbbing painfully, so that when the other man's hand brushed against it and he would have held it, Murphy removed the questing fingers firmly, kissing the palm.

"Not yet," he said softly, "I want to take care of you first." He sat up to have more freedom of movement and brushed feather touches across Ray's nipples with one hand, while cradling his cock with the other, rubbing the head with his thumb. It twitched at his touch and Ray groaned and tried, again, to pull away.

"You bastard! Stop it!"

"What's the matter, doesn't it feel good?"

"Yes, damn you. You know it does."

"Well, then, enjoy it." And he resumed his attack on Ray's senses, stroking inner thighs and balls with the hand he'd been using on his nipples, while continuing to play with his cock with the other.


"Yes? What do you want me to do?"

"I don't know. I..." Green eyes were glazed with desire.

"You want me to stop?" Murphy asked, amused.


"You want to come?"

"Yes! Damn you, yes!"

Murphy fondled Ray's cock, then cupped his balls, gently manipulating them. He leaned over to lick the swollen head causing the other man to jump, then took it into his mouth.

Ray arched up at the feel of the hot, wet mouth on him.

Murphy took him deeper inside, holding him for a long moment, then pulling back so he was only sucking on the head.

"God!" Ray groaned. "Don't stop!" His cock was throbbing now.

"Don't worry. I'm not stopping. Just making it last a bit longer."

"Now! I need it now! Jesus!"

"All right," Murphy soothed. "Whatever you want." He licked along the shaft before taking the throbbing organ into his mouth.

Ray arched up again. Suddenly he was coming, filling the other man's mouth and throat with his seed. Murphy swallowed, hurriedly, continuing to suck until his climax ended and he relaxed back onto the bed.

Murphy moved up so he could lie beside him. He kissed the tender mouth, then lay watching him, caressing him gently, his own swollen shaft pressing against his bedmate's thigh.

Ray lay limply, eyes closed. Finally he opened his eyes and looked up at Murphy.

"Christ! That was ... He couldn't finish the sentence.

"Liked it, did you?"

"Like,' s not the word for it. It was fantastic." He wrapped his arms around Murphy and hugged him tightly. "The only thing is ... well..." He sounded embarrassed, as if he didn't quite know how to continue.

"What? Tell me," Murphy's voice was soft.

"Well, I thought you wanted... I thought we ..." He flushed and couldn't bring himself to finish the sentence.

"You thought I wanted to fuck your arse," Murphy deliberately put it the crudest way he could.

Ray nodded.

"Is that what you want?"

"Well," Ray had a thread of voice back, "I'd like to know how it feels."

"I won't lie to you about it -- it hurts at first -- but then it feels great. Do you want me to do it to you?" He watched Ray carefully.

"You want to, don't you?"

"Don't be thick. Of course I do. That's what this is all about," Murphy answered harshly. "But I won't unless you really want to."

"I do," Ray's voice was so low Murphy wasn't sure he'd heard.

"Are you certain? Decide now. 'Cause I won't stop once I get started."

"Yes," Ray's voice grew more positive. "Fuck me, Murph. Now."

Murphy caught his breath at Ray's words, then kissed him and held him tightly for a moment. "I'll be as careful as I can, I promise." Murphy reached into the drawer of the bedside table and got out the tube of cream he kept there. He stroked it on himself and on his fingers, then put it away and knelt between Ray's legs. "Lift your legs up, so I can get at you. Rest 'em on my shoulders."

Ray did as he was told. "This okay?"

"Fine. Now relax as much as you can." Murphy ran his finger around the small opening, then pressed firmly against it. There was some resistance, but slowly it began to slip in. Ray gasped and tightened up at the first feel of the intruder.

"Relax. Take it easy." He moved his finger around; then, as he felt Ray relax, pushed in further until finally it was all the way in. He moved it in and out, slowly, accustoming the other man to having something inside him. As he felt him begin to respond, he slipped a second finger in and moved them both in and out at a faster pace. Ray slowly picked up the rhythm, moving to meet his fingers. Murphy continued for a few minutes, then stopped, pulling his fingers free.

"What? Why?" He reached for Murphy's hand to prevent him from stopping.

"Wait. It'll just be a minute. Relax." He lifted up Ray's hips and positioned himself, pressing against the muscle with his cock head. There was still resistance, but he kept up the pressure and finally the head slipped in. Ray gave a small cry and he stopped momentarily to let him accustom himself to the feel of it, then pushed in slowly, stopping from time to time to allow him to get used to the feeling. Ray was making noises indicative of discomfort and pain. He tried to move away, but Murphy easily held him in place.

When he was about half-way in, Ray cried out, sharply, "Wait! Stop, please! Don't!" There was an edge of anger to his voice.

Murphy stopped again, fighting for control. "Sorry, sunshine. It will get better. Take your time." He waited a few minutes until the other man had relaxed a bit, then continued to press forward, until finally he was all the way in. He stopped to rest, enjoying the feel of the tight, hot channel around him. He forced himself to relax his hold on Ray. He'd have bruises there, tomorrow, Murphy thought.

He reached over and brushed Ray's sweat-dampened hair away from his forehead, then can his finger down his cheek and across his lips.

"How you doin'?"

"I'm okay now." He nibbled on Murphy's finger.

"The worst is over. It improves from now on. Really." He ran his hand down Ray's body, enjoying the slightly furry feel of him. He pulled out until only the tip of his cock remained inside, waited, then moved back in again. He repeated the long, slow strokes for several minutes, using all his control to keep from coming, stopping whenever it seemed imminent.

Before long, Ray again picked up the rhythm, moving to meet him each time he re-entered. He began to make pleasured noises deep in his throat.

Murphy quickened his pace and the smaller man kept up with him, impaling himself time after time on his shaft.

He stopped once more to regain control and this time Ray protested. "More. Don't stop now." He kept moving against him.

Murphy chuckled and grinned down at him. "Changed your tune have you?" He started again, faster with each stroke, Ray keeping pace with him, until he was slamming into the other man. Finally he stiffened with a low cry, coming in long bursts, his climax triggering Ray's. He gripped Murphy's arms tightly and held on.

Murphy suddenly slumped down onto his bedmate, pressing his thighs back onto his chest.

"Sorry, know 'm heavy 'n' you're uncomfortable. I'll move in a minute," His voice was slurred with exhaustion.

"That's okay." Ray kissed the dark hair and tried to relax. He was a bit uncomfortable, but his position wasn't painful, only awkward.

After a few minutes Murphy moved off Ray, sliding out of him at the same time. He lay beside him and gathered him into his arms. "How do you feel now? Did you really enjoy it?" The words were slow and he sleepily kissed Ray between the questions.

"Mmm, very much, once the initial pain was over. You were right about that -- shouldn't hurt as much next time, should it?" He pillowed his head on Murphy's shoulder, hugging him.

"Next time? Want to do it again, do you? Nah. Next time won't be nearly as painful. The more you do it, the better it gets."

"In that case, I want it again -- and often. If you do, that is." He grinned at the other man challengingly, then reached up and kissed his chin.

"If? Raymond, my boy, you're everything I ever thought you'd be. If!" he laughed. "You,'ll have to fight to get away from me." He tangled his fingers in the unruly curls. "You satisfied your curiosity, then?"

"Almost." He tipped his head to see Murphy's face.

"Almost? What's left that you want to know about?" Murphy looked at him quizzically.

He turned away. "Well," he couldn't look at the other man, "could I do you?"

Murphy laughed, "Fuck me, do you mean?"

Ray just nodded.

Murphy laughed again. "Are you up to it, Raymond?" He reached down to feel Ray's cock. It was more than half hard already and at his touch it grew firmer. He stroked it a few times until it was rigid. "Well, I guess you are. Be my guest. I'm all yours." He grinned at his friend. "We'd better do it in a different position, though. I'm too heavy for you to do it the way I took you. Here." He handed Ray the tube of cream, then turned over on his stomach and got up on his knees, resting his head on his arms. "I'm afraid you'll have to do most of it yourself. I'm really knackered."

Ray spread the cream on himself, then copied what Murphy had done with him, using first one finger and then two before getting up on his knees and positioning his cock. He pressed against the muscle, finding some resistance but not much. He entered slowly but smoothly, stopping when he was fully inside to analyze the sensations. The channel was tight and hot -- quite different from being inside a bird, but very pleasurable. He tried the long, slow strokes Murphy had used with him, just a few and then he stopped -- the sensations threatening to overwhelm him.

"Feels good. You don't half learn quickly, mate. Carry on."

He started moving again, but he couldn't control his reactions like the other man could and soon found himself spiraling up to the edge of release and over. "God, I'm gonna come. I'm sorry." He groaned and bit his lip, pressing his body into Murphy's as tightly as he could, hanging onto his hips, trying to pull him even closer. "Murphy!" He felt his seed shooting deep into his body and his own body shook in reaction.

Minutes later he slumped down over the warm back. He lay there for a few minutes, bones and muscles melted, then slowly slid out and off. Murphy rolled him over, then gathered him into his arms again.

"Now are you satisfied?" He looked down at the limp bundle he held.

"Mmmm ..." even Ray's voice was done in.

"I take it that means yes?" He opened an eyelid and peered in, then let it close again.

"Mmmm ..."

"Can we go to sleep now?" he yawned.


"Okay. Sleep tight. We'll wash up in the morning."

"Mmmhmm. Nigh...," the word was a sigh.

Murphy pulled up the covers and turned off the light, then gathered Ray closer to him. He was asleep as soon as he closed his eyes.

Ray woke up first the next morning. It took him a few minutes to work out where he was. The hard length beside him certainly didn't feel like any bird. Christ, Murphy. His thought processes were still somewhat fuzzy, but he remembered everything. He stretched carefully. 'Probably be a bit stiff today, but it was definitely worth it. I was right -- been missin' out on something good.'

He lay still, musing. 'Was great with Murphy. What'd it be like with Bodie? Fantastic, I bet.' He smiled at the thought. 'Not yet, though. Not 'til I'm sure he wants me. Sure, he's bi. Doesn't mean he wants to be more'n friends, though. Like him too much to cock that up. This'll do me fine, for now. 'N' if he never wants me? Well,' he smiled again, 'It's no hardship bein' with Murph.'

He struggled up on one elbow so he could look closer at the sleeping man. The relaxed mouth drew him like a magnet and he became excited just at the thought of Murphy's kisses. He remembered how the feel of that mouth had set his whole body on fire. He leaned down and licked the other man's lips, kissing him softly.

The drowsy man opened his mouth for the kiss, then wrapped his arms around him, pulling Ray down on top of him, kissing him thoroughly, savouring all the sweetness of his mouth. When they finally came up for air, Ray drew back as much as the hands holding him would allow.

"Morning." Murphy ran his hands down Ray's back and cupped them around his arse. He drew one finger down the cleft between his cheeks just for the pleasure of making Ray squirm. "How do you feel this morning? Still satisfied?"

"Morning. I feel great. And my curiosity is definitely satisfied." He beamed at his friend. "Thanks. Uh ... did you mean what you said last night?"

"What, specifically?"

"About having to fight to get away from you."

"You'd better believe it. Do you want to get away?"

"Hell, no!"

"Good. Just give me a call when you're in the mood and if I'm not otherwise occupied I'll be happy to accommodate you." He pressed Ray down more firmly to him and moved slowly under him.

"Otherwise occupied?" Ray was distracted by what Murphy was doing, but tried hard to follow the conversation.

"Yeah. You're not exactly the love of my life, you know. You wouldn't want to come barging in when there's someone else in my bed, would you?"

"No ...." Ray admitted. He hadn't really thought beyond his own desires. Still, Murphy had implied at the beginning that he had other lovers. "Are you sure you have time for me?" he asked, sarkily.

"Don't worry, mate. I'll make time for you. I want you very much." He rolled over so they lay on their sides and kissed his eyes and nose. "You're very special to me, you're just not exclusive. I like you and I like going to bed with you. Isn't that enough?

"Yeah, I guess so." He thought about it. 'Murph's not the love of my life, either. Just...I like this. Want more. And Murph's the only one I can come to -- at least for now. Can't just go up to another guy and ask him to go to bed, like I would a bird -- at least, not as easily. Murph seems to want me, though -- said he wouldn't let me go. Guess that'll do.' He smiled at him and kissed him. "Sure. Anything you say."

"Good." Murphy hugged him. "Right now, mate, I say we'd better get cleaned up and eat. After all, we've got to stop by your place so you can change. You can hardly wear my clothes to work." He gave Ray another long kiss, then threw back the covers and swatted him on the arse. "You first for the shower. I'll start breakfast."

"Ta. Breakfast sounds great. Just realized we didn't eat dinner last night." He got out of bed and headed for the shower.

"I know -- ate you, instead, didn't I?" came the taunting response.

Ray turned at Murphy's words and saw him grinning at him. He grinned back and hurried on into the bathroom.

When they had cleaned up and were eating, Murphy looked across the table. "What about Bodie, Ray?"

"What about Bodie?"

"Well, are you going to want to go to bed with him?" Murphy stopped eating as he waited for the answer.

"With Bodie?" Ray's eyes grew soft at the thought, then he again rejected the idea. "Nah, you,'ll do me fine, mate."

"You sure?" The blue eyes narrowed.

"Yeah, Bodie and I are partners. That's all."

"Okay. Just thought perhaps he was the reason all this started." Murphy casually munched on a piece of toast.

"Look, what're you on about Bodie for? I thought you wanted me. Don't you?" Ray said angrily.

"You'd better believe it. Thought I proved that last night." He smiled at Ray.

"All right, then. Let's just leave Bodie out of it." Ray finished his coffee and stood up. "I think it's time we left. Need to stop by my flat, don't I?"

"Anything you say, Raymond." Murphy put down his toast, got to his feet, and walked around to Doyle. "Give us a kiss."

Ray came into his arms and raised his face. Afterwards he asked, "Can I see you tonight, again?"

"Sorry, I'm busy tonight. Tomorrow okay?" He ran his hand through Doyle's curls.

"Yeah. Tomorrow's fine. My place?"

"Sure. C'mon, let's go."

The newspaper headline shrieked "THIRD SCIENTIST ATTACKED THIS WEEK." The article continued, "Dr. Harold Owens, head of one of Britain's major chemical labs, was killed today when a parcel delivered to him at the lab exploded as he opened it. He was the second scientist to be killed in this manner in less than a week. A third scientist, Dr. David Morgan, was severely injured but not killed when his pet dog knocked a parcel out of his hands as he was opening it. Dr. Morgan is in critical condition at London General Hospital. He has not yet regained consciousness."

Inspector Walsh was furious as he stared at the new body. Another Jane Doe. This girl was dark-haired but otherwise the M.O. was the same. Two in less than a week. And he still hadn't a clue as to who the murderer was.

He didn't even know who the first girl was. He had run through all the routine procedures and found nothing -- no fingerprints, no missing persons report that matched, nothing.

And now there were two.

It was obvious there would be no quick solution to these crimes. Routine searching of files, comparing them for common denominators, that's what would solve them. Luckily, nowdays, computers could do much of the collating, searching for similarities between these crimes and any others, but it still took a human brain to make the intuitive jump a computer couldn't. And that meant reading files.

He glanced over at Haskins, who was looking at him, rather than the girl. "Come along, sergeant. It's back to the files for us." He turned and left, not waiting for Haskins' nod of acknowledgement.

Murphy was just putting the roast in the oven when Bodie rang the doorbell that evening. He buzzed the door open and proceeded to clean up the kitchen. He heard him enter, shut the door, and check the locks. Next thing he knew, two strong arms wrapped around his waist and Bodie stretched up to kiss the nape of his neck. He dropped the things he was holding on the sink and turned to face him, leaning down to kiss the pouting mouth. "H'lo, lover. Mmm, been lookin' forward to this." He ran his hands up under his mate's poloneck and across the smooth skin.

Bodie had meant to ask about Doyle, first thing, but the fiery touch made him forget everything else. He pulled off his shirt and leaned against the other man as he caressed him. "Love your hands," he murmured, "Wanna feel 'em all over me."

"Come to bed," Murphy said. "Now."

"Yeah," Bodie answered, heading for the bedroom. He unfastened his trousers as he went, and it was only a matter of seconds before he had all his clothes off and was in bed. Quickly throwing the covers back, he lay on his side, watching his lover remove the last of his clothing.

Murphy lay down and took him in his arms, stroking over his body -- back, flanks, cock, hair, cheeks, mouth. "You're so damn beautiful, Bodie ... even Ray thinks so."

'"Ray?!" He looked up, startled.

"Yeah," the larger man laughed. "He told me he thinks you're beautiful. We were making love at the time," Murph said, drily.

"How was it? Did he like it? What did you do?" Bodie pulled back so he could see his companion's face.

"C'mon, mate. I don't kiss and tell, not even you. But yes, he liked it ... and he wants more." Murphy paused. "Something else -- he came across the innocent with me, but he was hot for it, nonetheless. Knew what he wanted and meant to have it. Got his way, too. Determined little bugger is our Ray." He pulled Bodie back to him. "I know what I want. Am I going to get it?"

"Whatever you want." He put a hand up to caress his bedmate's face. "I'm in an accommodating mood tonight."

"Fuck me, lover. Take it slow, and make it last a long time. Will you do that?" He ran a finger over Bodie's lips, their eyes meeting in grave appraisal.

"With great pleasure. You know damn well how much I like that." He caught the finger between his teeth and nibbled it. "First, kiss me."

Murphy kissed the willful mouth again. Bodie opened for him, welcoming his tongue. It started the fire raging through his blood.

He rolled over, pinning the other man beneath him and ran a hand down his lover's body, fondling his throbbing cock. "Almost there, aren't you? You're really hot tonight."

He took one of Murphy's hands and slowly licked around every finger, then kissed the palm, open-mouthed -- tickling it with his tongue. He took the finger-tips one by one into his mouth and sucked and nibbled them, then licked delicately at the inside of his wrist, forearm and elbow. The other man groaned and tried to pull his arm away. "Oh, no. I'm not done yet." He licked on up his inner arm to his armpit and nuzzled there, causing him to groan again.

"Like that, don't you?"

"You know I do." His voice was rough.

"Yeah, just like to hear you say it," he murmured, then attacked the other arm.

"Damn you!" Murphy pulled his arm away, then sat up and reached for the sleek head, but Bodie moved out of reach.

"Something the matter, lover? Want something, do you?" voice all innocence.

"You know damn well what I want," his voice was harsh with need.

"Ask me nicely or you'll go on wanting." He ran his fingers lightly down the shaft and fondled the balls.

Murphy reached for himself, but Bodie blocked him easily.

"All right, then, damn it, if that's the way you want it. Suck me, please. I want your mouth on me. I want to feel you hot around me. I want to feel your tongue caressing me. Please, do it now... is that nice enough for you, then, you bastard?" He reached again for Bodie's head to push it down on his throbbing cock.

Bodie avoided him. "That's just fine. I'm more than happy to oblige."

He bent, taking Murphy's cock in his mouth, going as far down as he could, and then coming back up. He varied the pace, interspersing long, slow strokes with short, fast ones. Sometimes stopping completely when he sensed his lover was on the verge of climax.

"Ahhh, yes. Christ, your mouth is sinful. Don't stop. Not now. Ohh ..."

He continued sucking for several minutes, varying intensity as well as speed -- sometimes sucking very hard, sometimes barely touching it with his lips, teasing, taking him to the edge time after time but never letting him come. Murphy moaned in pleasure as Bodie sucked him. Finally, he couldn't stand it any longer.

"Now," the voice was a thread of sound, "Now. Damn it, let me come now. Please!"

"Right. Here we go, then." Bodie reached for the cream and smoothed it on both of them. He spread the long legs and knelt between them, then lifted them one at a time to his own shoulders. He took hold of his hips and pulled them onto his thighs, then positioned his cock head against the muscle and pushed.

He entered in a single long, slow stroke, pausing when he was fully in, then withdrawing the same way. He then repeated the whole procedure time after time, making the strokes as slow as he could, savouring the tight, hot channel, but he soon picked up the pace, moving faster and faster. His lover arched to meet him.

"God! Yes! Harder!"

He moved even faster until he was hitting him hard with each stroke. He could feel himself peaking to climax. "Gonna come. Now."

"Yeah, now! Now! Do it!" And Murphy stroked himself quickly, bringing himself to climax just as Bodie stiffened along him with a moan, cock pulsing inside the other man, before he slumped down onto him with another moan. They lay there, entangled, for long minutes. Finally Bodie slipped free and rolled over to his side. He kissed his lover, brushing his damp hair back off his forehead. Murphy took a deep breath and hugged him tightly.

"That was fantastic. It's been a long time since anyone's made me want it that badly. You're absolutely the best ever." Murphy smiled at the other man and kissed him. "Let's wash up, then eat. Missed my supper last night, I'm not going to do it again. I don't need to slim." He got up and headed for the bathroom, Bodie following closely. As he passed the airing, cupboard, he took out a robe and tossed it to him. "Don't bother getting dressed. I plan to fuck you silly just as soon as we eat."

After dinner, they relaxed in the lounge, drinking their coffee, chatting desultorily, when Murphy remembered something.

"Oh, by the way, there's a small complication in our plan with Ray."

"Yeah, what's that?"

"Well," he laughed, "he says he doesn't want to go to bed with you."

"He doesn't!" Bodie sat up, suddenly, almost spilling his coffee. "How do you know? What did he say? Did he say why?"

"Relax. Calm down. You're not listening to me. He wants to, all right, I could see it in his eyes when I mentioned your name. I'd say you're the one thing he wants out of life. However, he said he didn't want to."

"But why? If he wants me as much as you say, why not go to bed with me?"

"How should I know? Maybe he's afraid to jeopardize your friendship, I don't know. Anyway, It's a minor detail. We'll work it out. Right now, I want to go to bed with you. I've got plans for you." He leaned over and kissed Bodie lightly, then stood up. "Ready?"

"'M always ready for you."

They went into the bedroom, dropping their robes on the clothes rack on the way to the bed. Murphy turned on the bedside lamp, then took Bodie in his arms. "Look at me."

He raised his eyes to the other man's, and was immediately aroused by the desire he saw there. Murphy sank onto the bed, taking his lover with him, pulling him down on top of him. "Mmm, love the feel of you" He ran his fingers lightly across Bodie's back, laughing when he shivered. Rolling over, Murphy deposited him at his side. He stroked his body, then ran a finger along his cock. It twitched in response, already firm. "You're as hot for it as I was, aren't you? You don't even need my help." He leaned over and sucked a nipple. Bodie groaned and arched into his mouth. He teased it with his tongue then drew back. "How can I make it nice for you? What would you like me to do?"

"Suck me, lover. Love the feel of your mouth on me."

Murphy ruffled the short hair with the palm of his hand, enjoying the tickly sensation. He took his mouth, making a thorough job of it, then moved down so he could reach his cock. He licked the length of the shaft several times, then took just the tip into his mouth and touched the tiny opening, teasing at it, making him writhe in pleasure at his touch. Finally, he moved his mouth over the shaft, taking him in as deeply as he could.

"Oh, yeah."

He swirled his tongue around the shaft and sucked at the same time. Bodie thrust into his mouth. It didn't take long to bring him off. He exploded into the other man's throat, bucking helplessly, then sprawled limply on the bed.

"You all right?" Murphy ran his hand over his sweat-beaded body, soothing him.

"Fantastic,'' Bodie gasped. "Christ, you have a marvelous mouth."

Murphy grinned and kissed him, deeply. "My turn, now, mate."

Bodie looked up, exhausted. "I won't be much help."

"That's okay." He lifted Bodie's legs onto his shoulders and drew his hips up across his knees. He prepared them both, then entered in one swift thrust. When he was in as deep as possible, he stayed there holding his lover to him, relishing the feel of him surrounding his cock. His own need was so great that he didn't have his usual control. It took only a few swift, hard strokes to send him over the top, straining against the other man, holding him tightly, while he came deep inside him. When it was over, he collapsed on his chest and lay gasping for air. When his muscles co-ordinated enough to roll off, he pulled his lover into his arms and kissed him.

" Mmm. You're terrific," Bodie murmured, pillowing his head on Murphy's shoulder, with his arm across his chest.

"You're not bad, yourself, mate," Murphy answered, turning out the light.

Murphy woke up just before the alarm sounded. He reached over and shut it off, then smoothed Bodie's hair and ran a finger around his ear and down his cheek and chin. "Wakey, wakey," he said, softly. There was a muffled sound, as his lover stretched, then cuddled closer. "C'mon, mate, time to rise and shine." Murphy rolled over so he could get to him more easily, and kissed him slowly and thoroughly. "Mmm, you taste good. C'mon, you've got to pick up Ray this morning, don't you? Better get a move on, then." He stroked his bedmate's flank while he talked.

Bodie reluctantly opened his eyes. "Yeah, I guess so." He stretched, ran a hand over the other man's chest, then slipped it around his back and pulled him down onto him. "'Nother kiss," he said, lifting his face. "Mmm, love your kisses. D'we have time for a quickie? I'm half hard already."

"Yeah, so'm I. 'M squashin" you, though." He started to roll off.

Bodie held him tighter. "Nah, like it." He thrust against him, then reached up and ran his hand through the silky brown hair, pulling his head to him for another kiss. "Want you, lover." He thrust against him another time. "Won't take much."

Murphy kissed along the other man's jaw and down his neck and throat.

Bodie tipped his head back. "Ohh, yeahh. Nice, that."

"Wanna make it good for you."

"I can make it nice for you." He slid his hands down Murphy's back to his arse and cupped his hands around it, pulling him close. He ran a finger down the cleft to his center and pushed inwards, causing him to gasp and thrust against him. "Like that, hmm?"

He moved his finger inside Murphy, who groaned, "Now! I'm gonna come now!"

He felt the warm slickness on his stomach, and it set him off, also, over the top and spinning down.

Murphy purred in his lover's ear, "You really know how to turn me on."

"Yeah, don't forget who taught you, when you're teaching Ray tonight."

"I won't. Don't worry. He won't take your place. He couldn't. Anyway, we're gonna get him in your bed, too, remember?"

"I remember. Just be sure you do."

"I said, 'Don't worry."' Murphy kissed him lightly. "Now we really have to get a move on if you're going to pick him up on time."

Bodie jumped out of bed. "First dibs on the loo."

"Bugger. All right. I'll start breakfast. Don't take all day, sunshine."

The pale arse wiggled in response.

"Mr. Cowley, sir," the secretary announced as he moved aside for him to enter the office.

"Ah, George, good to see you. Have a seat." The Home Secretary gestured towards the seat across the desk from him.

"Mr. Secretary," Cowley acknowledged as he sat down.

"I won't keep you. I know you're as busy as I am. I just wanted to put you in the picture ahead of time because if this breaks the way I'm afraid it might, I probably won't have the time to talk to you then." He steepled his hands as he talked, tapping his forefingers together.

"I understand, sir. Is this about the scientists?" He sat, relaxed, under the Minister's stare.

"Yes, it is. I should have known you'd have it all worked out. I'm worried, George. Obviously, I don't like having our best scientific brains killed; but, also, I'm afraid the Opposition's going to ask a question, and the police haven't come up with anything so far. If there is a question, it'll be your baby. I just wanted you to be prepared."

"Thank you, sir. Is there anything else?"

"No, that's all. However, I have a bottle of a fine malt scotch here. You will have a drink with me, won't you?" He stood up and walked towards the bar at the back of the office.

"Yes, thank you." He took the glass from the Minister and sipped at it.

The Minister took a swallow of his own drink, looking at Cowley solemnly. "This madman has got to be stopped."

"He will be," Cowley answered, firmly.

"Good. I'll give you a call if the Opposition goes ahead." He finished his drink and set the glass down on the bar.

"I'll be ready, sir." He put down his glass and turned to go.

"Thank you. Good-bye, George."

"Good-bye, Mr. Secretary."

Superintendent Crane was not a very imposing man. He was plump with a round face surrounded by brown curls. His baby blue eyes gave him an innocent look that was anything but the truth. He was very soft-spoken and, when angered, his voice only got softer. At this point he was speaking in what, for him, was a normal tone of voice.

"I do understand, Walsh. I know you're doing your best with very little to go on, but I've got to have something to tell the Chief- Superintendent. Do you have anything?"

"Not much. There's the missing hair, of course, and they both had elevated blood-alcohol levels." Walsh was not unduly tense as he sat in the chair across the desk from the superintendent. He knew the man was exceedingly fair in his judgements. They were not, particularly, friends, but they'd worked together in the past. Crane would not get angry with him for lack of results as long as he wasn't slacking off. "We're searching the files for any criminals with a known hair fetish. Then we'll check them out individually. Unless some additional information comes up, there's not much else we can do, for now."

"I know, I've read the files. This is a particularly bad one. Keep at it and I'll do what I can for you with the Chief Superintendent. I can keep him off your back for a while longer, anyway, but I hope you come up with something, soon."

"So do I." Walsh allowed a little of his anger to show through, hitting his right fist into his left palm. "It's such a waste! Any murder's bad, but when they're that young..." He forced himself to calm down. "Sorry, sir."

"That's all right, Walsh. I feel the same way. Go on, get back to work. And let me know if you find out anything."

"Yes, sir. I will."

On the way home from work that night, Bodie turned to Ray. "Wanna stop for a pint?"

"No, thanks. I'd better get straight home."

"Oh, heavy date tonight?" Bodie glanced sideways at his partner.

Ray stared out the side window. "Yeah, you could say that."

"Any one I know?"

"Nah. Don't think so." He could feel his ears getting hot.

"What's the matter? She got two heads or somethin'? You're awfully close-mouthed about her." He risked another glance.

"Drop it, Bodie, all right? I just don't want to talk about it. Her." He glared at his partner, color high.

"Okay, okay. Whatever you say. Who d'you fancy for the World Cup, then?" And they discussed football for the rest of the way home.

When Bodie dropped Ray off he alluded to his date one more time. "Don't let her keep you up all night, now. Your turn to drive tomorrow, remember?"

"Yeah, I know. Don't worry. I'll pick you up on time. 'Night, Bodie."

"Night." Bodie drove off, smiling to himself.

Ray let himself into his flat and started fixing dinner, but couldn't keep his mind on it. 'Guess it's a good thing I'm not plannin' anything fancy -- roast with potatoes 'n' carrots. Dunno if I can handle that, even. Maybe I should call Murph and just tell him not to come. Nah, I really want him to come, but...' He was in a fine state of nerves by the time the doorbell rang. "Yeah?"


"C'mon in." He pushed the release and started back to the kitchen, then changed his mind and went towards the front door.

Murphy came in, smiling. He stepped towards Ray, who backed away.

"What's the matter? Changed your mind?"

"No. I ... I'm... just ...

"C'mere, then."

He didn't move.

Murphy put his hands on his hips. "I'm not gonna chase you. Come here if you want me. Otherwise I'll go."

Ray walked slowly over and stood in front of the other man, who reached out and took him in his arms, only to find him rigidly tense. "Relax. What's the matter?"


"Then relax." He tipped Ray's chin up and bent to kiss him.

Ray opened to him at the first feel of his tongue against his lips, and Murphy felt him yield against himself as the kiss continued.

"Mmmm." When he was released, he clung to the other man, afraid his legs wouldn't support him. "God," his voice was husky. "More ..." He lifted his face for another kiss. He could feel Murphy hard against him as fire sang in his veins. He ran his hands up under the big man's jumper, stroking the smooth skin.

"C'mere, lover." Murphy led him over to the settee and pulled him down on his lap, kissing his neck and unbuttoning his shirt.

Doyle rested his head on his shoulder, absorbing the sensations of his lover's hands and mouth. '"Lover." Yeah, like that. Murphy's lover. Like it even more if it were Bodie ... nah, mustn't think of that -- just concentrate on what Murphy's doin' to me. Very nice it is, too.' Murphy had Ray's shirt off, now, and was tracing patterns on his chest and playing with his nipples.

Ray shivered at the touch. He licked along the other man's jaw and down his throat to the collar of his jumper; then, frustrated by the material, he tugged impatiently at the bottom of it. "Take it off, mate. I can't get to you like this."

Murphy pulled his jumper off, then gathered Ray to him for another kiss. He threaded his fingers through his curls and held his head while he claimed his mouth.

Ray stroked the brown silk hair as he pressed close against him, savouring the feel of skin on skin, then moaned, softly, as the other's mouth left his, to drop a row of kisses from his throat to his nipple then begin sucking it. Ray arched his back; then, as the fire in his veins increased and centered in his groin, he pulled away. "Wait. Stop ... Lover? ... Wait a minute, please." He caressed Murphy's cheek and brushed back his hair as he used the endearment for the first time.

"What is it? What's the matter?"

He flushed, slightly. "It's these jeans. If I don't get 'em off, I'm gonna do myself a serious injury."

Murphy grinned at him and ran a hand down his chest to his waist. "Well, that can be easily remedied." He unfastened the press stud and slowly slid the zip down. The other man was wearing nothing underneath. He grinned again as he pulled them off. "Guess you weren't as nervous as all that, after all. All ready to go, aren't you? Don't want to waste any time, huh?

Ray colored, not knowing how to answer. "Well..."

"Ah, I'm just teasing. Don't mind me. I'm just as hot for it as you are." He ran a hand down Ray"s belly and along his engorged cock. "Here. Stand up a minute." When he did so, Murphy pulled off his own trousers, showing he wasn't wearing anything under them, either. He sat back down and pulled Ray back onto his lap. "Didn't want to waste any time, either, did I?"

He held Ray tightly to him, resting his head for, a moment on the unruly curls, then laced the fingers of one hand through them and drew his head back for a kiss, cradling his head with his hand. Eagerly, the other man sucked his tongue into his mouth and twined it with his own. He ran one hand through Murphy's hair and stroked his back with the other, moaning deep in his throat as his every sense was assaulted once again with the feel, taste and smell of his lover.

"Christ!" Ray suddenly pulled back from the kiss. "You make me lose all control. I want you. I want you to take me, now. It's all I've thought about all day. It's a good thing nothing dangerous happened today 'cause the only thing I could think about was the feel of you inside me and how much I wanted it." He reached down and stroked the other man's shaft once, then wrapped his arms around his neck, kissing his face and throat hungrily. It was not enough and he stood up, taking his hands and tugging at him. "Let's go to bed ..."

"Damn!" he swore as the telephone shrilled. He stalked across the room and picked up the receiver. "Yeah," he growled into it.

"4.5? This is Central. Alpha One wants you back at H.Q., soonest. General call-up. Oh, and has 6.2 arrived yet?"

"Yeah, he's here."

"Well, give him the same message, please. Central out."

He slammed the receiver down and stood staring at it.

Murphy crossed the room and put his arms around him, pulling him back against his chest. "What's the bad news, then?"

"Cowley. Bloody Cowley! Wants us back at H.Q. right away. General call-up." He tore himself away and started getting dressed, then went into the kitchen to put the food in the fridge.

Murphy could hear him slamming things around while he was getting dressed. He followed Ray in and took him in his arms, making him turn around and look at him. "That's life in C.I.5. mate."

"I know. But I don't have to like it." He took a ragged breath, forcing himself not to respond to Murphy's touch. "I want you."

"Yeah, I want you, too." He cupped Ray's face in his hands and kissed him lightly, then ran a hand through his curls. "As soon as this is over. I promise."

"I'll hold you to that. Go on. I'll meet you there." He took another deep breath and gave Murphy a small grin. "I'll be okay."

"Sure you will, sunshine. Don't be long."

"No. I'm right behind you." And he grabbed up his keys and followed Murphy out the door.

"Any questions?" Cowley had passed on to his agents all the information he had gotten from the police, which wasn't much. They'd been looking for anyone with a history of making letter bombs. C.I.5 would now take over the search. Their best bet was that Dr. Morgan would recover consciousness. The doctors were fairly confident of his eventual recovery as his vital signs were stabilizing. All they could do was wait.

"No? All right. We're going to concentrate most of our effort on this for the next little while. This is one case I want to solve Immediately. I'm afraid if we don't crack it right away, it will drag on for a very long time and I don't want that to happen. Neither does the Home Secretary. He's depending on us. Now, here are your new assignments." He spent the next several minutes reassigning most of the agents, leaving only the bare minimum to continue with current cases. "The computers are already running. Tomorrow morning when you come in you will each pick up a print-out sheet and start checking out names. That's all. Dismissed."

Bodie and Doyle walked out to the car park together.

"A bloody waste of time, that's what it is. Talk about a needle in a haystack." Bodie's feelings about police routine had not improved during his years in C.I.5.

"Yeah, well, he's got to be caught and there's no other way to do it, is there? Unless Morgan can help us. But who knows when that might happen." They had reached Ray's car by this time, and he quickly unlocked it and slid into the driver's seat.

"What's the rush? You're in an awful hurry, aren't you?" Bodie leaned on the car and grinned down at him.

"With a bit of luck, I might be able to pick up my date where I left off." He had caught Murphy's eye as he left the briefing room and the agent had winked at him. He was fairly confident the other man'd be waiting for him at his flat. "G'wan, move it. I wanta get out of here."

"All right. All right. Keep your hair on. I'll see you in the morning." Bodie moved slowly over to his own car, keeping his eyes on Ray's until it was out of sight.

James Farrell lounged in his favorite chair, watching the telly. The news was just going off. There wasn't much on it tonight about the scientists. Yesterday's news. The one in the hospital was still unconscious; therefore, still alive. The police were not ready to make an arrest.

He turned the set off and finished reading the paper. Not much in there, either. He clipped the small articles and moved to the table to put them in his scrapbook. That done, he fingered the two bookmarks -- long plaits, one gold and one dark. He ran them through his hands again, then put them back to mark the places, closed the book, turned out the light, and went to bed to dream of Bethy.

Bodie leaned back against the settee and took a long drink of his beer. He looked over at Murphy.

"Saw Ray again last night, did you?"

"Yeah," Murphy smiled at the memory. "He's very good. Not as good as you, lover. You know just what buttons to push. But he's a fast learner."

"Yeah, well, when am I gonna get to see for myself? It's been, what, three, four weeks now? This was supposed to be a joint effort." Bodie took another drink and set the can down with a thump. "I want him, Murph. He's my partner. I don't mind sharing, but I can't bear working with him all day knowing you have him and I don't." He clenched his fist in his lap.

"Relax. I never intended to monopolize him. I never dreamt he'd take the attitude he has. Whenever I mention your name, he just closes up. I'm sure he wants you, but I think he's afraid of jeopardizing your friendship." He reached over and took Bodie's fist in his hand, uncurling the fingers and stroking them. "Tell you what. I'll be unavailable for a while -- busy on the night he names, or called in to work at the last minute -- you know. You're with him all the time. When he starts hurting, you can be helpful. It shouldn't take long."

"Okay, give it a try. But if he doesn't come around soon, I might just throw him down and take him, whether he wants me or not." He grinned. "He just begs to be attacked." He relaxed under his lover's ministrations, twining their fingers together.

"Don't worry. As hot for it as he is, he won't last more than a few days without relief." He stroked Bodie's face with his free hand. "Enough about Ray -- unless you've gone off me for wanting him."

A slow smile lit up the blue eyes. "Never. C'mere, lover." And he pulled Murphy close and kissed him.

Cowley was angry. His agents knew they weren't the cause of his ice; nevertheless, they refrained from most of their horseplay when he was around.

C.I.5 had been on the case for weeks with no useful results. The computer-generated lists had not nearly been exhausted; many names had been crossed off, however many more were being elusive, and two more scientists had died. The Home Secretary was not pleased.

The bomber was following an odd pattern. The bombings were consecutively further apart in time. The first three had occurred within a week. It was another week before the fourth one and two more weeks before the fifth.

There were few similarities between the victims except that they were all scientists.

The bombs were in letters or small parcels, that much had been determined, but the postmen who delivered to the scientists' homes and labs had been questioned and didn't remember anything unusual.

C.I.5 was now checking parcel delivery services to see if they had any records of anything delivered to the various residences or labs at the right times.

Just in case, they had put a watch on the mall of all the scientists in the same fields as the ones who had been attacked, but that hadn't brought any results that they knew of, unless it was that that caused the bomber to slow down his activities.

Cowley spent every spare minute trying to work out the answer, but he just didn't have enough pieces of the puzzle yet.

Dr. Morgan had regained consciousness but was still of no help to them. He had been in a coma for the first three weeks, though with brain activity and responses to stimuli which led the doctors to predict that he would make a complete recovery.

Last week, he had finally opened his eyes, but it had been several more days before he could even glance around and focus on things in the room.

This week, he was actually noticing when people entered his room, and the nurses were able to feed him. The physical therapists had even set up a simple yes/no code which he could respond to; but so far, while he was aware of where he was, he had no recollection of the events which had put him there.

Inspector Walsh was very upset, also. Superintendent Crane had been as good as his word about keeping the higher-ups off his back as much as possible, but there had been two more bodies and no additional clues -- and they were still Jane Does.

The ages ranged between 16 and 23, so he seemed to go for young ones, unless that was just happenstance. And even if it were a deliberate choice, Walsh couldn't see how that bit of information could help.

The computer kept turning out more names of suspects for him to check out as it interfaced with other computers farther afield, but he hadn't yet come across the right one.

The only blessing was that the killer seemed to be waiting longer between each kill. Unless, of course, there were other bodies that hadn't been discovered yet.

He looked up from the latest files in disgust. Nothing there he didn't already know. Haskins looked up and caught his eye, shaking his head to indicate he, too, had found nothing.

"I don't know. Maybe we should just put out a bulletin asking all girls in their teens and twenties to cut their hair short. At least that would eliminate the potential victims." He looked over at Haskins for his response.

Haskins grinned at his superior's joke, then shook his head and re- applied himself to the file.

Walsh sighed and did the same.

"Murphy! Wait!"

Murphy paused with his hand on the car door and waited while Ray hurried up to him. "What's the matter?"

"That's what I want to know."

"Huh? Wha'd'ya mean?" Murphy looked at him innocently.

"C'mon, Murph. Don't give me that. You know damn good 'n' well what I mean. How come suddenly you never have any time for me? Gone off me, have you?" he said, belligerently, staring up at the other agent, chin stuck out and hands on hips. "Could at least tell me, if you have," he muttered.

"Now, Ray," Murphy was all sweet reasonableness. "You know it's not that."

"Well, it sure seems that way to me. What's it been? Two weeks? And you haven't had time to see me once." Ray's voice was low but furious. "You've had plenty of time to go boozing with Jax and Stuart."

"Hey! 'S not been all my fault, y' know." Murphy allowed a little of his own temper to show at the ostensibly unfair accusation. "I can't help it if Cowley calls me in when we have plans. It's happened to you, too."

"Yeah, I know." Ray calmed down a bit. He put a hand on Murphy's arm, gripping hard. "It's just ... damnit ... I miss you, mate. I enjoy your company."

"Don't you think I miss you, too? Look, I'm free this Thursday. Let's try for then, if Cowley co-operates. All right? I'll come over to your place."

"Okay. But ... four more days ... Christ!" Ray's voice was now unhappy and despondent.

"I'm sorry, lover, really. But it's the best I can do. I do want you." Murphy's voice was low and intimate.

"All right..."

"Hey, Doyle! Let's go!" Bodie's shout interrupted anything more Ray might be going to say.

"Coming!'' he called, and raised a hand in farewell to Murphy. "See ya Thursday."

"Right. By, mate." Murphy got into his car and drove off while Doyle trudged over to the silver Capri. He dropped into the passenger seat and slammed the door, then slumped against it.

Bodie looked at him, curious. "What was all that about, then?" he asked as he drove out of the car park. They were on their way to Manchester to check out reports that a will-o-the-wisp explosives expert had been seen there.

"Huh?" Doyle managed to direct a bit of his attention to Bodie. "Oh, nothing."

Bodie glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. "lt can't be 'nothing' if it's got you that upset. Murphy givin' you a hard time for some reason?"

"No! Leave it, Bodie!" Ray said, defensively.

"All right! Sorry I asked. I was just trying to help." Bodie looked back at the road and concentrated on his driving, ignoring his partner.

Slowly, it percolated through Ray's preoccupation with his own feelings that Bodie was also upset.

'Ya know, Bodie hasn't been himself for a while. in fact, he's really been antagonistic. Edgy, too. Giving me a lot of flack about my love life 'n' all that. He's a sharp-tongued bastard, too, when he wants to be. Been a bit more caring lately, though.

'Know I've been awfully moody. Bloody Murph. Bloody Cowley, too. Bodie's really been tolerant of me. Tries to make me smile -- plays the fool, dunne? Offers to help, too, if he thinks I need it. Then I snap his head off, like now. Hell! Not enough that somethin's wrong with Murph, seems like I've cocked up things with my partner, too.

'Still wonder if Murph and Bodie are lovers? Sure seems likely. God knows, they've known each other long enough. Wonder if Murph's said anything about me to Bodie? Nah, probably not, even if they are lovers. Bodie'd've said something if he had. After all, Murphy knew about Bodie and didn't say anything to me, 'til I asked. 'Probably just coincidence. I must've given off the wrong signals 'n' Bodie noticed. Yeah, he would, wouldn't he. He's been bristlin' like a dog with one bone. Don't suppose he wants me, do ya? Christ! One thing's sure, Raymond, me lad, if he hasn't moved on me yet, he's sure as hell not going to. If anyone's going to do anything, it'll have to be me. He'll hardly knock my block off. Probably take it as his due that I want him even if he doesn't want me.'

That settled, Ray found there was still one more question. Or, rather, two. What was he going to do? And when? First of all, he could stop acting like a sulky brat. And after that? Well, just play it as it came.

He sat up and looked over at the other man. Bodie was still staring straight ahead, seemingly engrossed in the road. "Bodie." His voice was soft, placating.

His partner looked wary.

"I'm sorry I snapped your head off. Been in a rotten mood and, as always, I've taken it out on you. Truce?" He smiled, hopefully.

Bodie smiled back. "Sure. After all, what're a few hard words between mates." He gave his attention back to the road again, but this time he was much more relaxed, turning on the radio and tapping his fingers on the steering wheel in time to the music. "D'you think the Cow has genuine info this time, or are we on another wild goose chase?"

"Dunno. But I'm gettin' tired of runnin' all over the countryside lookin' for 'im, or any of 'em for that matter." He glanced over at Bodie. "Nice spendin' the time with you, o'course," he added offhandedly. "Just wish we could nab 'em."

Bodie looked over at Ray. He wasn't sure he'd actually heard what he thought he had. But Ray's head was turned and he was staring intently out the side window. He considered thoughtfully. "Yeah," he replied. "'S nice havin' you around, too."

Ray kept the conversation light and general for the rest of the trip. After all, speeding down the motorway was no place to start anything.

When they got to Manchester, they found, to their disgust, that the explosives expect had slipped through their fingers once again. It couldn't just be co-incidence. They reported to Cowley, finding he was as frustrated as they were. They were getting near the end of the list and Farrell was one of the few people they hadn't been able to get hold of and investigate.

"Och, I know, Doyle. It's not your fault. I'm not blaming you. I'll see you back here at 8:00 tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, I'll start Murphy checking out all possible connections this man has."

"Right, sir. I'll tell Bodie." He hung up and turned to his partner. "Cowley doesn't want us back until tomorrow morning. What do you want to do? It's only 1:00." Doyle slanted an enigmatic look at Bodie as they walked towards the car. "Tell ya what. Let's pick up a quick snack now at the chippy down the road and when we get back I'll make us a decent dinner. How's that sound?"

"Fine with me. I'll get the takeaway, then, shall I? What d'ya want?" Bodie pulled out his car keys and dangled them from his finger as they walked along.

"Oh, I dunno. Mushroom fritters, I guess, if they've got 'em. Otherwise chicken & chips. What're you havin,'?"

"Faggots and chips, I s'pose, or sausages, and a shandy. Want one?"

"Yeah, sounds good." They'd reached the car by this time.

"Right." He tossed Doyle the keys. "I'll walk over and get 'em. Give me a few minutes, then bring the car around."

"Okay." Doyle opened the car door and got in while Bodie walked over to the chippy. He sat for a moment lost in the thought of what supper could lead to, then drove around the block and pulled up just as Bodie was coming out balancing two cornucopias of food and two cans of shandy. He slid over to the passenger seat to take the food, then held it while Bodie got in, and drove off.

"There's a little park back down this way I noticed as we drove in," Bodie said. "We can eat there." They arrived shortly and quickly polished off their food. Doyle was anxious to get home, but he didn't want to make it too obvious to his partner.

Traffic was heavy, and they didn't arrive back in London until 6:30.

"Well, that's not too bad, all things considered," Ray said, leading the way up to his flat. He had the door open by the time Bodie got there. "Make yourself comfortable," he continued, taking off his jacket and hanging it up.

He looked over at Bodie where he sat on the sofa, then went over to the drinks table and poured them both some Glenfiddich. "You look knackered, mate." He handed Bodie a glass. As his partner reached to take it, he made sure their hands touched, then held onto it for just a moment longer than necessary. "Just sit and relax while I get supper started. You should've let me do part of the driving." He went on into the kitchen without waiting for an answer, taking his drink with him.

Lamb chops, rice, and frozen peas, he thought. They'd cook quickly. He had them on in no time, put the plates in the warming oven, then dug through his cupboard. 'Ah, I thought so, Chocolate Angel Delight.' He stirred it up and spooned it into dishes, turned down the rice, set the timer, put the flatware and mint sauce on the table, and went back into the lounge.

Bodie was leaning back against the sofa, eyes closed. Ray walked softly around behind him and massaged his shoulders, watching as blue eyes snapped open and looked up and back at him, startled. Ray dug his fingers in again. "Relax." He smiled, and continued the massage, feeling the muscles loosen under his hands. A short time later, the timer rang and he went out to check on the food. It was all ready, so he turned everything off, buttered the rice and peas and called out, "Dinner's ready."

When Bodie arrived, he handed him a plate, again maneuvering so their hands touched. "Here, help yourself." Ray dished up what he wanted and took it over to the table. "What d'ya want to drink? I've got some plonk opened."

"That'll do. 'M not in the mood to appreciate the good stuff, anyway." He put his plate down and slumped into his chair, flexing his shoulder muscles. "It's just so damned frustrating! It's almost like he's a ghost."

Ray brought the wine and two glasses and sat down. "Yeah, I know. Here. Have some of this." He filled the glasses and handed one to Bodie who took it and drank it down, handing it back for a refill.

They didn't talk much during dinner. Bodie was still upset about their inability to question Farrell, and Ray was sitting across from him with an introspective look on his face.

Bodie looked at his partner curiously. 'Know he's as frustrated as me about Farrell, but it's got to be more'n that. Been broody all day he has -- since that scene with Murph, in fact. Odd looks, he's been givin' me, too. And the touching, not like him at all. I wonder...' He grinned to himself. 'Maybe it's worked, after all. I'll give him an opening, tonight, and see.'

They took their coffee into the lounge, but Ray couldn't settle. He got them brandy, put a record on, then went to close the blinds but he tangled the cords and stayed by the window fiddling with them, trying unsuccessfully to get them untangled. Finally Bodie went over to him. He took the cords from his hands, straightened them out, and closed the blinds.

Ray stood staring blankly out the window until the blinds closed, then shook his head and started back to the sofa. Bodie reached out and took the other man by the arm, stopping him; then turned him so they were face to face. He held him by the shoulders waiting for him to look up. Ray, however, stared fixedly at his partner's belt buckle.

At last Bodie said softly, "What is it, mate? What's bothering you? Can't you tell me?"

"I... it's..." He finally looked up at the other man's face and stared into his eyes, apparently mesmerized by what he saw there.

Bodie felt he was drowning in the sea-green pools staring at him. "What?" he asked, huskily. "It's ... what?"

"This." It was a whisper. Ray leaned forward as if compelled to do so and brushed his lips against Bodie's, then drew back and held his breath, waiting for lightning to strike.

"Ray?" 'Bingo' he told himself.

"I want you." It was a flat statement. He could have been discussing the weather. "I can't fight it anymore. You can go now, if you want to. You can," he swallowed, hard, "you can ask Cowley for a new partner, if you want." He looked into the blue eyes bleakly, then dropped his head forward and rested it on Bodie's shoulder, breathing deeply, holding himself rigid except for that.

"Now, why would I want to do that," Bodie murmured. He wrapped his arms around Doyle, pulling him closer, one hand going up to press his head to him, tangling in his hair. Then, as Ray suddenly relaxed, holding him tighter, supporting his weight. He murmured in pleasure as Ray slipped his arms around him, and rested his head against the soft curls for a moment, then tipped his head up and kissed him gently.

When they broke for air, Ray smiled at his partner -- Bodie did want him, after all.

"Christ, Ray. I've wanted you for months -- years, almost. I just didn't think you'd be interested." He inhaled sharply as firm hands slid up under his poloneck and caressed his bare skin, then groaned and bent his head for another kiss. He ran his tongue along soft lips and it was sucked inside, greedily. He pulled back, reluctantly, and stood, staring down at him, for a long moment. Green eyes mirrored the desire he felt. "Bed?"

Ray turned without answering and led the way to the bedroom, undressing as he went. When he got there, he turned the bedside light on, threw back the duvet, and sprawled on the bed, an open invitation to Bodie.

Bodie swiftly joined him, taking him in his arms and holding him tightly. "Ray, I ... "

"Not now. Later." He kissed Bodie long and hard, then pulled himself from his arms and proceeded to make love to him, using all the skills he had learned from Murphy.

He explored him with mouth and hands, finding out what, in particular, aroused him. It pleased him that Bodie liked to be touched - -- petted, caressed, stroked -- the feel of his lover's hands on any portion of his anatomy sending him flying, writhing on the bed, incoherent sounds of pleasure coming from him, as his eyes glazed with desire and need.

Ray followed his hands with his mouth, feasting on him -- licking along his jaw to his ear and probing it with his tongue, then down his neck and along his collarbone, sucking his nipples, dipping into his navel, nibbling down his belly to his groin where he nuzzled the wiry curls before sucking gently on his balls and then, finally, worshipping his cock with his mouth -- licking it like a candy stick, lightly teasing the head with his tongue, then, at last, taking it all into his mouth and sucking it as if trying to draw out his very essences by suction alone. Bodie was on sensory overload. Just when he felt he couldn't take it a moment longer, Ray stopped and sat back, giving one last, long caress down his torso.

Bodie groaned and lay panting, trying to catch his breath, eyes slowly focusing on Ray and his 'cat in the cream' expression. His cock throbbed and ached at the removal of the hot mouth from it. He took a deep breath and calmed himself down a bit, then clasped Ray's head in his hands, taking his mouth in a deep kiss.

Ray plastered himself to his lover wrapping himself around him, then rolled, pulling him over on top of him, gathering him close again for another, deeper kiss.

The touch of the hot body against his sent the fire singing through Bodie's veins, and he could feel the other man quivering under him. He rolled to one side and began to reciprocate the caresses Ray had lavished upon him, loving him with hands and mouth, delighted to finally show him how he much he wanted him. They were too emotionally charged for it to last long the first time, and they lay entangled when it was over, trying to catch their breath.

Bodie was the first to recover. He propped himself up on an elbow and grinned down at the other man. "Nice, that."

"Yeah. Why'd we wait so long?" He reached up and traced his eyebrows with a forefinger.

"Dunno. Was worth waiting for, though," Bodie answered, flinching at the ticklish sensation.

"Was, wasn't it." He stretched up for a kiss, then yawned.

Bodie stared into his mouth with interest. "Can practically see down to your toes, mate. C'mere" He pulled him close and cuddled him. "Looking forward to more of that, lover. Lots more."

"Mmm." Ray snuggled close. "Think that can be arranged."

Somehow they managed to get ready for work the next morning, hampered more than somewhat by the fact that they couldn't leave each other alone for more than a few minutes. Showering, shaving, fixing and eating breakfast -- it was amazing how many excuses they could find to touch one another. Bodie found a shirt of Ray's that fit him well enough, and they eventually were dressed and ready to go. They stopped at the door and looked at each other. "I have a feeling this is going to be a long day," Bodie said.

"A very long day," Ray agreed, and reached up to give his mate a last long kiss before shoving him out the door.

"I'm sorry, but death threats against the Prime Minister just can't be ignored. I know you don't like baby-sitting, Bodie, but that's just too bad. Even though it's probably a false alarm, we must take precautions. You'll be guarding No. 10, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day until further notice. Murphy will do the rest of the names on your list as soon as he finishes tracing Farrell's connections. You've done all the local ones, haven't you?"

"Yes, sir," replied Doyle. "The only ones left on our list are in the north of England and a couple in Scotland."

"All right, he can take a single long trip and check them all. When he returns I'll decide what to do next. Maybe one of them will be our man.

"Well, what're you waiting for? Get moving."

"Yes, sir. Right away, sir," the two agents chorused as they left.

Bodie suckled at his lover's nipples while stroking his inner thighs, and Ray arched into his mouth, clasping his head to himself tightly, only letting go when Bodie forcibly tore himself away so he could move further down the other man's body. He licked at his chest hair like a cat grooming a kitten and followed the trail of it down to his groin, but when he would have taken his shaft in his mouth, Ray restrained him.

"No, please. It's too much." His voice was hoarse as he propped himself up on his elbows so he could look into Bodie's eyes, seeing an answering need there.

With Murphy away they'd been spending virtually every night together -- especially since Cowley put them on a regular schedule Their love-making had been very intense, but they hadn't yet taken the final step -- neither of them admitting to the other they'd had previous experience. Now it seemed that this would be the night.

Ray spread his legs wide in invitation. "Take me," he pleaded, softly. "Now." He reached into the drawer of the nightstand, pulled out the tube of cream, and handed it to him.

Bodie accepted it wordlessly and spread it on himself. He took some on his finger and inserted it into Ray, feeling no resistance at all. He added another finger and stroked inside, touching his prostate and causing him to jerk and moan.

Ray reached down and grabbed his wrist. "Now," he demanded. "Do it now!"

Bodie withdrew his fingers and knelt between Ray's legs, lifting them up and resting them on his shoulders. He positioned himself and thrust into the tight channel, gently at first, then, feeling no resistance, harder.

Ray assisted him as much as he could in this position, moving his legs from his lover's shoulders to wrap them around his waist so he could pull the other man towards him. He almost wished he had turned over and presented himself that way as it would give him more leverage for thrusting; however, he wanted to see Bodie's face as he came, this first time, so he encouraged him, verbally. "More! Harder! Oh, God, yes! Yes!"

He reached for himself, but Bodie brushed his hand away, taking the hard shaft in his own hand and pumping it in the same rhythm as his own thrusts.

It was too much for Ray and he cried out as he came, pouring his cream onto his lover's hand and over his own belly and chest. The sight and sound of Ray's orgasm triggered Bodie's climax, and he arched his body back, shooting his seed into him in spasm after spasm. He fell forward, then, onto his hands, supporting his weight while he withdrew, then rolled to his side and took Ray in his arms, kissing him for a heart-stoppingly long moment, before moving onto his back and cuddling him while they both fell asleep.

Ray didn't sleep for very long. The window was open and the night breeze was cool against his body. He reached down for the duvet and pulled it up over them both, then snuggled closer. He could smell the fragrance of night-blooming flowers from outside mingling with the odor of sex and Bodie's own particular scent -- a heady mixture. His lover's scent, alone, was an aphrodisiac. He was ready to start all over again. He nuzzled at a nipple, but Bodie merely murmured in his sleep and pulled him closer, so he relaxed as much as he could and tried to ignore the throb of his cock against the other man's thigh.

His need notwithstanding, he felt more contented than he ever had before. If he were a cat, he would have purred. 'Can't believe how different Bodie is than Murph. Sex with Murph's fun, a game. With Bodie, though, it's more intense. Liked being with Murph, but with Bodie I feel ... complete -- like I've found something I didn't know I'd lost.' He smiled, happily. 'All the love I want's right here in bed with me. If only he feels the same. Like this new schedule. Gives us time to really explore what we feel.' He grinned as he leaned over to kiss his lover. 'Got a lot more exploring to do.'

Slowly, Bodie woke up, immediately aware that the warm body in his arms was Ray. He felt Ray's hardness against his leg and grinned to himself as he reached over and took it in his hand, causing his lover to give a pleasured cry and clutch at him. "Want more, do you?" he asked, softly.

"Yes. I want you. I want to take you," he demanded, fierce and loving, kissing Bodie hungrily.

"How do you want me then, love?" Bodie asked, giving himself freely to answer Ray's need.

At his reply Ray stopped, suddenly, hearing on mental replay what the other man had called him. He looked at Bodie with wonder. "Love?" He ran one finger down the side of his companion's face. "Do you love me?" he queried, and held his breath waiting for the answer.

"Yes," Bodie answered, gruffly. "I do."

Ray was almost incoherent with happiness. "So do I. I mean I..." He stopped for lack of air as Bodie hugged him breathless, laughing as he did so.

"I know what you mean, twit. I'm glad it's mutual." He hugged him again and kissed him. "Now, how do you want me?" He laughed again at the glowing expression on Ray's face.

He was still barely functional, but the throbbing between his legs was increasing and he finally answered. "Any way. Any way you'd like it." He was flying high on love, the expression on Bodie's face melting him inside.

"Like I took you, then. So I can look at you."

Beaming his pleasure at his lover's answer, Ray shoved down the duvet and reached for him, finding him as hard and as hot as he was himself. He kissed him, hard, then pushed him away slightly and laughed down at him, giddy with excitement. He licked his nipples which had already become little peaks before he touched them.

The larger man moaned and reached for Ray, pulling him over and onto himself.

"Now? Do you want it now?" Ray was reaching for the cream as he spoke, kneeling between the other man's legs.

"Yes! Hurry!"

He quickly smoothed the cream on himself then reached down to apply some to Bodie.

"No." Bodie stopped him. "Just take me. Now!" He pulled his legs up tightly to his chest, spreading them at the same time.

Catching his breath at the trust he was being offered, Ray then lifted his lover's hips and entered in one smooth stroke. He stopped, hardly daring to breathe, when he was fully in. It wasn't that the feel was so different from being in Murphy, it was the knowledge that he loved and was loved by this man that made it so overwhelming.

Bodie jolted him out of his reverie, wrapping his legs around him and saying, harshly, "Now! Damn it, Doyle! Do it. Do it!"

Slowly, Ray withdrew and re-entered. He tried to keep the strokes long and slow, but the feeling was too much for him and he was soon thrusting hard and slamming into the other man. He had taken Bodie's cock in his hand, and was grasping it almost roughly. His lover made no complaint, however, and thrust into his hand as fiercely and rapidly as Ray was into him. It took only a few moments for the wildfire in their blood to overwhelm them and then they were coming, together, consumed by flame and burnt to nothingness. When reality returned, they were inextricably wrapped around each other, a sated bundle of humanity.

Bodie recovered first, taking a deep breath -- he felt like he'd forgotten how to breathe. Once he had enough oxygen, he feathered kisses over Ray's face, coaxing him back to life.

"Christ!" The fire generated by his lover was now more the warmth of the hearth than the fierceness of a major conflagration, but it was still with him.

"I know." Bodie shook his head in disbelief that this could be happening.

Ray squirmed over to him and plastered himself along his lover's side. He lay there until he had gained a little strength back, then pried himself up on one elbow and looked down at Bodie -- rumpled, unshaven, and all; he was overwhelmed by his love for him. He fought off sleep as long as he could, wanting to savour the feeling of being loved, but he soon followed his lover into oblivion.

"Hey, Doyle. You heard anything from Murphy lately?" McCabe asked as he entered the rest room.

"Nah. He's still up north, far as I know." Doyle finished his cuppa in his own inimitable fashion and threw the disposable beaker away. He stretched and headed towards the door.

"He's been there for a while, hasn't he?" McCabe got himself some coffee and a digestive biscuit.

"Yeah. It's been, oh, gone two weeks now. Maybe he's found something. We haven't heard from our friend for a while, perhaps he's on the run." He paused as he reached the door. "If you see Bodie, tell him I've gone home, will ya?"

"Sure. No problem."

"Ta. So long."

Farrell was feeling complacent. It'd been several weeks and the police still didn't seem to be getting anywhere. He played with his bookmarks -- four of them now -- then put them away. Maybe it was time for a fifth, after all, he was one short. And, besides, Bethy'd be getting lonely.

He looked at the time, then put the bookmarks away quickly. 'Time to pick up Mother.' He smiled, gleefully. 'Yes, time to pick up Mother.'

Dr. Morgan was slowly beginning to speak, though the words were still garbled. He could make simple wants known if he concentrated hard, and his doctors were now positive he would make a full recovery. Unfortunately, he still had no distinct memories of the accident.

Jax spent many hours with him over a period of several days trying to jog his memory, but with no success.

Bodie woke first, just as dawn was coloring the sky. He smiled lovingly at the tousled curls tucked under his chin. Ray was curled up against him, one arm over his chest, and one leg between his -- not wanting to let go, even in sleep. Bodie felt almost dizzy with happiness.

He slid one hand down Ray's back and ran a finger across the small opening. He was still slick from the cream they'd used the night before. He slid his finger inside, stroking gently.

Ray blinked and opened his eyes. He caught his breath, instantly hard. He ran his hand across the smooth chest and fondled a nipple, pressing himself closer to his mate and rubbing against his thigh. "Jesus!" He kissed up Bodie's neck and along his jaw. "Don't stop, love. Are you gonna wake me up like this every morning?"

Arching into his caress, Bodie fingered Ray's nipple in reply. "D'you want me to?"

"Hell, yes!" he gasped. He summoned all his resolution and propped himself up on an elbow so he could look down at the other man. He smiled tenderly at the loving expression on Bodie's face and moaned softly as he took the eagerly opened mouth, hungrily exploring it anew. "Christ, I could eat you alive," he said softly, long moments later.

"Be my guest." Bodie rasped a hand down an unshaven cheek. "Just be gentle with me." He laughed up at his lover, then took his hand from his face and spread his legs wide. "I'm all yours."

Ray was having trouble breathing. "Bodie? I want to feel your mouth on me, too. Would you ... ?"

"Don't be daft. Move so I can get to you."

Before Bodie had finished speaking, Ray had squirmed around so his head rested on the other man's thigh. He quickly took his cock in his mouth, inserting a finger into him at the same time.

Bodie stiffened at the dual sensations, then eagerly engulfed Ray's cock, cherishing it with tongue and lips, mirroring what was being done to him. The combination of feelings was overwhelming, and all too soon he was helplessly coming in his lover's mouth, only to taste Ray's seed moments later. He swallowed it greedily, then pulled him up and plundered his mouth, tasting himself on Ray's tongue. When he finally pulled away, he was breathless, fighting for air -- Ray was in the same condition.

"Christ!" Ray gasped, when he could.

"I know," he sighed in return, hugging Ray tightly, then dropping his- arms back to the bed, suddenly bereft of strength.

Propping himself up a moment longer, Ray stared at the other man before letting himself fall onto him, blanketing him bonelessly.

Bodie felt a deep contentment that he was finally where he belonged - -- in Ray's arms. He had seen the same amazement on his lover's face he knew must be on his own. He lifted leaden arms to hold him, slowly stroking his back, then just lay quietly, trying to understand what had happened to the two of them.

'Murph 'n' I sure never dreamt it'd come to this. Jesus! Murphy! He's due back today. What'm I gonna do about him? Worry about that later. Right now, is all I can do t' cope with Ray. Don't know if I'll ever get enough of him. Look at me, still hot for him even though I couldn't do a thing if I tried. It's all happened so suddenly. Didn't realize I could love anybody this much. Didn't really want to. But now ... I want ... I need ... more. I want a commitment,' He laughed to himself. 'I can't believe this. Love 'em and leave 'em Bodie wanting to be tied down. Christ. I haven't been so starry-eyed in years, and Ray's acting the same way. We've got to talk. Today. Now. And we have to meet Cowley in -- shit! -- less than two hours.' "Ray?"

"Mmm?" Ray sounded as if he were barely conscious.

"Ray!" Rolling over on his side and taking Ray with him, Bodie kissed him gently. "We have to talk, love." He smiled at the look of utter contentment on the other man's face.

"Yeah, guess so." He smiled, ruefully. "Ridiculous, innit? I feel like a silly teenager. What're we gonna do, Bodie?"

"Now? Or in the long run?" He twisted a soft curl around his finger.

"Either. Both." Even the slight distraction of Bodie's hand in his hair was obviously making it hard for him to concentrate, judging by the abstracted tone of voice he was speaking in.

"I know what I want in the long run -- I want us to live together. I don't think I'll ever get enough of you. How do you feel about it?" He cupped Ray's face in his hands, gazing into his eyes, drowning in the love he saw there.

"Yes," Ray answered, simply. He pulled Bodie close and kissed him. "Only..."

"What?" Bodie asked, when his lover seemed unable or unwilling to continue. "Only what?"

"It's silly, I suppose," Ray said, softly. "It's just ... I wish we could make it legal."

"I know, love, I wish we could, too. But since we can't, we'll have to make do with what we can have -- each other. We can still say the words, if you like -- a pledge, if not a legal vow."

"I'd like that -- a pledge of fidelity -- not that I'd need one." His eyes shone with love as he looked at Bodie.

"Me neither, but I'll make one with you anytime." He tipped Ray's head up for another long kiss; finally, reluctantly, drawing back again. He laughed, "I thought I'd learned the trick to kissing and breathing years ago."

"Me, too," said Ray, just as breathlessly, planting little kisses on Bodie's face.

"Mmm," Bodie almost hummed with pleasure. He captured his lover's mouth again, swiftly, then pulled back. "Ray. Wait. Deciding the future is all well and good, but what're we gonna do now? Today?"

"Um ... I dunno. What d'you think we should do?" He looked at Bodie intently.

"Well, you may not like this, but I think we should tell Cowley, first thing." He held his breath, waiting for Ray's reaction.

"You're right. The reply was slow, but definite. "lt's only fair." He hesitated. "Bodie? What if he asks us to choose?"

"The job or us?"

Ray nodded.

Bodie didn't hesitate. "Us, of course. You?"

"Of course. Love you, Bodie."

"Love you, too." He was just going to tumble Ray over and show him how much when he caught sight of the clock. "Damn! We have to be there in an hour. C'mon, love. Time to get up." He rose reluctantly and pulled an equally reluctant Ray up with him.

Cowley was less than pleased at the news. "I might have expected something like this from you, Bodie, but Doyle...Well, I suppose there's nothing to be done about it now. And anything I say wouldn't make a bit of difference, would it?" He carried on, not giving them time to answer. "No, I thought not. Yes, yes, I'll keep you on, but don't think you're indispensable. It's just that it costs too much to train new agents, to let you go before it's necessary. But one sign of trouble, and you're out. I'll not have the department suffer because of you. Now, which of you is going to give up his flat?"

"Me, sir," Bodie gave him the answer they'd decided on on the way to work. "I've got less to move."

"Well, get on about it, then. You'll be no use to me today. Thank goodness that threat to the P.M.'s been taken care of. Two days should be sufficient, shouldn't it? Be back here at this time on Thursday with your keys, and mind you're not late.

"Bodie," he changed the subject, "before you go, find Murphy and tell him I want his report -- now.

"Well, what're you waiting for? On your bikes!"

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Running all the way, sir. He pushed Ray out the door ahead of himself. "You go on out to the car, Ray. I'll be there as soon as I see Murphy."

"Yeah, okay," Ray agreed, dazedly. Thursday. Murphy. Murphy usually came over on Thursday nights and Bodie would be moved in by then. He'd have to head Murphy off, but how? He wandered out to the car, trying to think of some way to talk to Murphy without having Bodie around.

"Murph." Bodie had tracked the other agent down in the rest room. "The Cow wants to see you."

"Huh? Oh, thanks, mate. Be right with you." He put the notes he had been perusing into his pocket, and followed Bodie out of the room.

When they passed an empty office, Bodie motioned Murphy in and followed -- shutting the door behind him. Murphy turned and took his lover in his arms as soon as the door was closed, kissing him soundly. Bodie kissed him back, but without much enthusiasm.

"All right, what's wrong'?" Murphy let go of him, leaned against the door, and looked at him, arms folded.

Bodie looked embarrassed. "It"s ... well ... it's Ray. He ... I ... We've been sleeping with each other."

"So? That's what we planned, innit? What's the problem?"

"Something we didn't anticipate." He put a hand on Murphy's arm. "I'm afraid ... I'm afraid I've fallen in love with him. We've told Cowley. I'm moving in with him, today." He looked at Murphy apprehensively to see how he'd take the news.

"That's all very sudden, innit?" Murphy replied, quietly.

"Yes, well ... I guess it's all been there waiting to happen. I'm sorry, lover."

"Am I? Your lover, that is. Sounds like off with the old, on with the new, to me. Is that it, Bodie? What about 'Don't worry, what we have is too good for me to throw it away'? Sounds like you've already done so. Is that what you want?" He stood very still, waiting for an answer.

Murphy's voice had been very soft, but Bodie could hear the hurt in it, and see it in his eyes. "No. Yes. I don't know," he answered, confusedly.

"You really know your own mind, don't you? Look me up when you decide." Murphy shrugged off the other man's hand and turned to go.

"Wait! Please!" Bodie grabbed him by the arm and pulled him around. "Look. Just ... give me some more time. I can't...I just can't make decisions now. You know I like you," he grinned. "You know I like what you do to me -- God knows I've shown you often enough -- but we never pretended we were in love, and now I am. I don't want to hurt you," he begged, "but I need some time to sort things out. To ... adjust. Don't make me decide now, please." He was holding Murphy by his upper arms so he couldn't leave easily.

Murphy looked down at the pleading expression on the face lifted to his. He drew him into his arms and kissed him on the forehead. "All right, Bodie. I do understand." His voice was gentle. "And I'm happy for you. Really. Only ... don't make me wait too long, okay? You really are very special to me." He kissed him lightly on the mouth and let him go. "Damn!" he laughed. "I usually see Ray on Thursday. I guess I can call and cancel again."

"No. I'm sure he'll want to talk to you. Look. Let me take your notes. When I get to the car I'll 'discover' them. I'm sure Ray'll offer to bring them back to you. That'll be better. Wait here for him. And, thanks, Murphy. I'll let you know what I decide as soon as possible." He reached up and kissed Murphy once more, then hurried out the door and down the hall.

Murphy watched him out of sight, a rueful expression on his face. Looked like he was going to end up with neither of them. it might have been better to have been satisfied with what he'd had. Bodie was very special. Oh, well, what's done is done and it wasn't that he had no other lovers, after all, just none like Bodie or Doyle. He sighed, sat down, and waited for Ray.

Murphy was ostensibly writing a report when Ray appeared a few moments later, papers in hand.

"H'lo, Murph." Doyle shut the door behind him as he entered the room. "Bodie said you might still be here. He took these accidentally."

Murphy looked up as Ray came in the door. "What? Oh. Thanks, Ray." He got up from the desk and was across the room in three strides, taking Ray in his arms and kissing him. Doyle stood, rigid, letting Murphy kiss him, but not responding. He let go and stood looking down at him. "What is it, Ray? What's wrong?"

Ray felt a bit nervous about Murphy's reaction, especially after the fuss he'd made the last time he'd seen him, but he stared at him defiantly. "I'm sorry, Murph. I ... it's Bodie."

"Bodie? What about Bodie?"

"I've been sleeping with him." He held his breath, waiting.

"Well? What does that have to do with anything? I sleep with other men. You know that. I don't mind if you sleep with Bodie. C'mere." Murphy reached for Ray again but he stepped back, avoiding his grasp.

"No, Murph, it's more than that. I ... I've fallen in love with him. We've told Cowley. Bodie's moving in with me today." Ray felt bad about hurting Murphy, but knew that he had to be told.

"Isn't this rather sudden? Not long ago you were begging me to make love to you."

"I know. I'm sorry, Murph. It's not something I planned. It just happened," Ray said, apologetically.

"So that's it, then?" Doyle could hear the ache in Murphy's voice. "Just 'So long, Murph. Thanks for the good time. See you around'?"

"No. Yes ... That's not what I mean." Ray's voice pleaded for understanding.

"Very decisive, Ray. Just what do you mean? Let me know when you find out." He turned away.

"Wait! Please!"

Murphy turned at Ray's cry, the pain showing in his face.

"I'm sorry, Murphy. Really. I didn't mean to hurt you. But Bodie ... " His face softened for a moment at the thought of the other man. "It's ... this feeling's just so new. It's all I can think about. After all," he tried a grin, "you did say I wasn't the love of your life."

"I know what I said, and it's true. You're not the love of my life. But you are special. I know we didn't make any commitments, but I thought we had something that was worth more than just 'Thanks, Murph, it's been fun'. "

"We did. I mean, we do. I mean..." He stopped and moved closer to the other man, putting his hand on his cheek. "I don't really know what I do mean." He curved his arm around Murphy's neck and rested his head against his shoulder.

"Give me a little time, lover," his voice was muffled by Murphy's shirt. "You're special to me, too, and I do like what we've had together, Very much. It's just that Bodie ... well ... I never dreamt I'd feel this way."

"All right, Ray. Take as much time as you need. I can understand how you feel and I'm glad for you." He took Ray's face in his hands and tipped it up so he could look at him. "I want your happiness. Just remember, you are special to me." He kissed Ray softly and stepped back, then brushed his hand down the other man's cheek. "Be happy."

Ray looked at him, gratefully. "Thanks." He caught Murphy's hand and kissed it. "I won't just keep you dangling."

"I know you won't. Go on, now. Bodie's gonna wonder what's keeping you."

"Yeah." He laughed. "Might be a bit hard to explain." His eyes were bright with affection and gratitude and he gave Murphy a brilliant smile as he left the room. "See ya, Murph," he said, his voice gentle.

"Sure. See you around." Murphy smiled back until Ray was out the door, then frowned. All he could do was wait and see what happened. What was it they said? 'A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush'? Guess he should have thought of that earlier. Trying to have it all, he'd lost his favorite lover, and he didn't even have a replacement.

BOMBER STRIKES AGAIN -- SIXTH SCIENTIST ATTACKED. The headline shrieked from every news agent's placard.

Cowley was furious. He considered it to be an attack on him, personally. C.I.5 had been on the case for six weeks, now, with no positive results. They had eliminated dozens of suspects but were no closer to finding the real culprit. They now had many pieces of the puzzle, but no pattern had yet appeared.

Forensics was inclined to think that the explosive was plastique, but so far they hadn't figured out its trigger mechanism.

There was nothing unusual about the packaging. The mailing envelopes could be purchased at any branch of W.H. Smith. Unfortunately, none of the labels had survived.

They hadn't found any parcel delivery service that had delivered anything to the scientists at the right time; so it was now assumed they had been hand-delivered -- most likely by someone following the postman. This implied the bomber either worked at night or was on the dole.

There also was still no common denominator for the victims except that they were all scientists. They were from varying fields of study and while most lived in London and the home counties, some lived in the outlying counties.

Cowley was still pinning his hopes on Dr. Morgan. His speech was improving, slowly, but his memory of the actual event continued to be elusive. He could now remember everything up to the actual day of the event. The doctors were still sure he would eventually regain full speech capabilities, but they could not say when or whether he'd have complete recall of the bombing. All they could do was to wait and hope.

He glared at the files on his desk. He wanted to assign more men to the investigation again, but he couldn't justify re-assigning the whole squad as he had before -- not with the new problems that were constantly coming along, most importantly a new set of threats and demands from a terrorist group. He'd put Bodie and Doyle on that and didn't really feel he could pull them off it. He took out the schedules to go over them one more time. There must be someone else who was free. As good as he was, Murphy couldn't handle the whole investigation by himself.

"Can I buy you a drink?" He moved over next to the little brunette.

"What? Oh, yeah, thanks." She smiled at him, attracted by his friendly expression. She'd always liked blue-eyed blonds. "I haven't seen you in here before."

"No, I'm looking for a flat in the neighborhood. You don't happen to know of a vacant one, do you?" he asked, casually.

"Gee, no, I don't. Sorry." She thought for a few minutes. "There might be one in my building soon, if you're not in a big hurry to move in."

"No, not particularly. Do you live near by?"

"Pretty close. Just a couple of blocks, really. My girlfriend and I didn't want to be too far from the shops." She grimaced. "I do enough walking during the day."

"You have a room-mate, do you? That's a nice arrangement. It's good to have a friend around." He smiled at her and took a drink of his lager...

"Well, we don't exactly live together. They're single flats. But she lives just down the hall from me. She's on vacation now, or she'd be here. I miss her a bit. 'S no fun doing things on my own." She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye.

"Yeah, I know what you mean." He turned to her, "I'm kind of at loose ends, too. How 'bout goin' to the cinema with me?"

"Gee, thanks. I'd like that."

"Good. Oh, my name's Jimmy. What's yours?"

"Sally." She grinned. "Nice to meet you."

"Yeah, nice to meet you, too. C'mon, drink up. We should be going." He drained his glass.

"Right." She finished her drink and the two of them went out into the night.

Another killing. Another dead girl. And still no more clues. Inspector Walsh looked at the report in despair. He'd go through the motions, of course, he had to. But the likelihood was that this case would be one of the many to end up as an unsolvable mystery. Left open, of course, as no murder file was ever closed, simply set aside as pressure of more immediate cases claimed their attention. He wished there were more that he could do. The computer was now turning out lists of names of suspects whose M.O.s were even vaguely similar, but they were becoming shorter and the similarities more tenuous. He sighed as he closed the file.

Haskins looked up from his own file. "No joy, huh? Pity it's not the same bloke who's offing those scientists. There's a hope they might find him."

"Right. And if wishes were horses ... C'mon, let's call it a day." He picked up the page of notes he'd made and the latest computer print-out, folded them, and put them in his pocket. He stood up, stretched, and turned out the light as they left the office. Tomorrow was another day, and there was always the possibility of a miracle.

Murphy was unhappy. It'd been over a month since Bodie and Doyle had fallen in love and started living together, and he missed them both. As far as he knew, they were perfectly content with one another and had no need for anyone else -- not even him.

He was brooding about this as he drove over to their flat to pick up some papers he needed. 'Shouldn't feel like this, I s'pose. 'S not as if I don't have any other lovers, after all. Just jealous, I guess, 'n' feelin' left out. Know it's not exactly nice, but... maybe it's time to tell Ray certain facts. Hell! What've I got to lose?'

As he rang the doorbell, he was still unsure about what, if anything, he was going to do.

Ray answered the door. "Hi, Murph," he said, smiling, as he let him in. He was still slightly uncomfortable around the other agent. After all, he had more or less used him to get to Bodie and then left him high and dry once he'd got what he wanted. But Murphy had been very nice about it and Ray couldn't be too sorry about anything that got him Bodie. "How's the case going? Anything new turn up?"

"Nah. Nothing but dead ends -- including mine, with all the driving I've done, chasing down leads that don't pan out. Cowley said you had some more print-outs for me, Bodie."

"I do. I don't know how much help they'll be, though. Just additional dead ends, probably. I never realized how many people in this country have the knowledge to make a small bomb. The more computers we access, the more we find. I guess we should be thankful a larger number of people don't actually make them." Bodie smiled at his friend.

"Right. At least our madman seems to have slowed down a bit. Three right in a row; two more, further apart, then that nice long gap before this most recent one. Not that the waiting period helped us at all. We aren't any further along now than we were a month ago." Murphy sounded discouraged.

"This last one has gotten you some more help, though, hasn't it?" Ray asked.

"Yeah. Jax and Stewart are back on the case again, but we're still going no-place."

"What about that bloke in the hospital?" Bodie asked. "Any help there?"

"No, not yet. He can remember leaving work, now, but there's the possibility that that's all he'll ever remember. We're still hoping, but that's about all we can do."

"Well, don't give up. It'll break eventually."

"I know. I just hope I'm alive to see it. Hey. Enough about me. I hear you did a great job with those terrorists you dug out. That got cleaned up quickly enough, anyway."

"Thanks. We just got lucky. Your turn'll come. Here. I'll go get those papers," Bodie said, and left the room.

Alone with Ray, Murphy went over to him, took him in his arms and kissed him soundly.

Ray bristled and roughly shoved him away. "Stop it, Murphy. Don't. Bodie'll be back any minute," he whispered fiercely.

"Think it'd bother him, do you?" Murphy said.

"I know it would," Ray replied.

Bodie came back just then with the papers for Murphy. He looked at them standing close together. "Here're your papers, Murph."

"Thanks." Murphy crossed over to Bodie, pulled him close, and kissed him thoroughly, then took his papers and left. "See ya, lovers," he said, as he went to the door. He turned and looked at Bodie. "He's as good as we thought he'd be, isn't he?" he said, closing the door behind him.

Bodie was bright red. He turned to Ray who was staring at him.

Bodie? What was that all about? Are you and Murphy lovers? What did he mean, I'm as good as you thought I'd be? Did you plan this whole thing with Murphy? Was it all just a plot to get me into your bed? I thought you loved me!" Ray's emotions ran the gamut from shock to anger to hurt.

Bodie quickly closed the gap between them. Taking Ray in his arms and holding him tightly, he answered the last statement first. "I do love you, Ray, with all my heart. Haven't I proved that to you in the last month? I love you more than life, itself. Please believe that."

Ray struggled to get away. "I do, Bodie. At least, I did. But if you feel that way, how could you plan something like that with Murphy? And you did, didn't you? Right from the beginning." He thought back. "Even to leaving the magazines out. You'd never done it before, why should you suddenly do it then? It was all a plot, wasn't it? You didn't really care for me at all -- either of you!" He pulled away from Bodie and stood staring at him, angrily.

"No, Ray, please. It wasn't like that, really. Or, only a little. Come and sit down, and I'll explain." He took Ray's hand and tugged him towards the sofa.

"All right. But it'd better be a bloody good explanation, is all I can say."

When they had sat down, Bodie turned to face Ray, keeping a firm hold on his hand, took a deep breath, and began. "Murphy and I were lovers for years. Note that I said, were," he emphasized, "I haven't slept with him since the first time you and I got together. I've been faithful to you, Ray, and I always will be. I promise."

"I believe you," Ray said, more quietly, "After all we've been living in each other's pockets almost twenty-four hours a day for the last month. You haven't had time to see anyone else. But you still haven't explained the rest."

"Well, I suppose it sounds stupid, now, but it didn't at the time. We were talking one day about people we would like to go to bed with if we could have anyone we wanted and, as it happened, both of us mentioned you. So we decided to try and see if we could interest you in it. We figured if you were terminally straight you'd ignore everything and we'd just forget about it. I was taking a risk with the magazines and letting Murphy tell you I was bi, but we didn't think you'd get too upset about my sexual preferences. We just didn't know if you'd want to play, yourself."

"Play!" Ray broke in. "Is that all it was to you? What about my feelings, didn't they count?" He felt a bit uncomfortable. This was all too close to his own plan for getting to Bodie

"No! Yes! Look." Bodie gathered his patience and began again. "All right. At the time, yes, it was all a game. That's what it's always been between Murph and me. And we were both attracted to you, and decided to see if you'd like to play, too, and you did. So what's the problem?"

"Why didn't you just ask?"

"C'mon, Ray, don't be thick. Sure, I'm going to walk up to my presumably straight partner and say 'How'd you like to go to bed with me?' Then by the time I'd picked myself up off the pavement, you'd already be in Cowley's office asking for another partner."

"Well ... okay, that makes sense. But why Murphy? Why not you?"

"I told you. We both wanted you. And we figured you might go with me just because I was your partner and not be interested in any other man, but if you went with Murphy, there was a pretty good chance I could have you, too. I know," he kept on as Ray tried to interrupt, "it all sounds very cold and calculating. But it only happened because we both like you. And," he cupped Ray's cheek with his hand, "I never dreamt I'd fall in love with you."

"But ... why haven't you told me in all this time?"

"I hoped maybe Murph'd keep quiet about it and you'd never find out. Silly, I suppose. Anyway, I knew how it would sound and I didn't know if you'd believe me. If it comes to that, how come you never told me about Murphy?" he demanded in return.

"Well, that's different." Ray was suddenly on the defensive. After all, he didn't want Bodie finding out what he'd planned, did he? "Murphy was my lover, sure, but I didn't plot with him about you. I knew you'd had other lovers, but I didn't care about them. I figured the only thing that counted was what we did after we got together, and I thought you'd think the same."

"You're right, of course. And I suppose I should say I'm sorry, but I'm really not. I'm sorry if you got hurt, because that was never our intention, but if Murph and I hadn't done it, you and I might never have gotten together, and that's what I'd really be sorry for." He looked at Ray ruefully. "Can you forgive me."

Ray turned his head and kissed the hand that was still resting on his Cheek. "Yes. I can and do," he said softly. 'I'd better,' he thought, 'after all, we're tarred with the same brush, even if Bodie doesn't know it.' Then his voice turned fierce. "But don't you ever dare to do anything like that again."

"I won't, love. I promise." Bodie's voice was solemn. "What about Murph? Are you still angry with him? It wasn't all his idea, after all."

"Nah. But you needn't run and tell him that. It won't hurt that great oaf to wonder for a while what's happening. And he was a great teacher." He grinned at Bodie. "Gives you a standard to meet, dunnit?"

"You, too, love. You're right. Murph's one of the best. I've always thought so, and he's a good friend, too. But I won't say anything to him. You work it out between you."

"Thanks. I'll just let him sweat a while and then make up with him. You're right, he is a good friend." His eyes softened and he leaned against his mate. "Hold me, please,"

"Gladly." He cuddled him close, and they sat, wrapped around each other, for a long time.

Dr. David Morgan blinked his eyes, slowly, as he awoke from his nap. He'd been dreaming, and something in the dream was very important. There was something that wasn't right. Something that was bothering him. It had been nagging at him for some time now. if only he could remember what it was.

"Bodie! Doyle!" Cowley called out their names as he came through the doors of the rest room. "Do either of you know where Murphy is?"

"Yes, sir," Bodie answered. "He's checking out some more names on that list of his. I think he was going to go back and re-check some of the early ones that the police checked out."

"Who, man? Did he say who?" Cowley asked, impatiently.

"I dunno for sure. Doyle? Did he tell you who he was going to see?"

"Yeah, he did. But I don't remember all the names. There were quite a few of them."

"Was one of them 'Farrell'? Think, man."

"'Farrell'? Possibly. I think it was."

"Were Stuart and Jax with him?" Cowley made an effort to control himself.

"No, I don't think so. I think they divided the names between them to cover more ground. Why? What's this all about?" Ray said, worriedly.

"Farrell's our man, and he's very dangerous. Here's the address. Get out there right now. We can't raise Murphy on his r/t. It may be too late, already. I'll send back-up right away."

"Murphy!" they chorused.

Bodie grabbed the slip of paper from Cowley's hand and set off for the car park at a dead run, Doyle right behind.

When they got to Farrell's house, everything seemed quiet. Murphy's car was parked near-by, but there was no sign of him. Visibility was limited as it was getting dusk, but there were no lighted windows, and it was still light enough to see that the house was closed up. They parked and got out, taking their torch with them, then trotted across the street to check out the house.

They went around the side of the semi-detached checking carefully for signs of life but all was still. in the long narrow garden in the back was a workshop that was equally still and dark.

"Let's check this out, first," Doyle said, moving around to the side where there was a good-sized window.

"Okay. I'll keep watch here in case anyone comes around. See what you can find out," Bodie answered.

Ray peered into the window. He saw nothing at first but an exceptionally tidy workbench and shed. As his eyes adjusted to the gloom, however, he noticed a pile of tarpaulin in the corner. Worth checking out, he thought.

He jiggled the window and felt it give a bit as the sash was loose in the frame, so he jiggled it a bit more until suddenly the catch gave and the bottom sash slid up. It stuck part-way, but he shoved hard and it went all the way to the top.

There was just enough room for him to climb in if he took it carefully. When he got inside, he opened the door for Bodie then turned on the torch and went to check out the pulled-up tarp. He shone the light on it as Bodie grabbed it and pulled it aside, then caught his breath and rushed forward as he saw what it was hiding., "Murphy!" The agent lay very still, his head covered in blood. Ray hurriedly checked for a pulse, holding his breath until he found it -- very weak - -- then remembering to breathe again. He grabbed the r/t from his pocket and switched it on. "4.5 here. Emergency. 6.2's seriously injured. Send an ambulance, immediately. And put me through to Alpha One."

"Alpha One here. Report, 4.5."

"Sir, our bird seems to have flown, but 6.2's here, badly injured. I've called for an ambulance."

"Right. Take this address down and check it out. Farrell just might have gone there. It's his mother's. Stuart should be with you any minute. Have him check out the neighbors, then join you. And he can have Jax follow you as soon as he arrives."

Doyle copied down the address, then Joined Bodie at Murphy's side.

Bodie had taken his jacket off and draped it over the injured agent. He looked at Doyle, face white with rage. "I'm going to get that bastard if it's the last thing I do," he said through clenched teeth. "That's Murphy down there. He's not going to get away with it. I'll see to that."

"Don't worry, we'll stop him." He put a hand on Bodie's arm, but before he could say anything else, he heard the sound of the ambulance in the distance. As they moved apart, Doyle gave Bodie's arm one last squeeze.

The ambulance and Stuart arrived at virtually the same time. The three men watched silently as Murphy was loaded into the ambulance, oxygen mask affixed to his face. One of the ambulance men turned to them. "I think we got here in time. With a little luck your friend should be okay. It depends on how much damage was done to his skull."

Bodie and Doyle exchanged looks of tempered relief as the ambulance drove away, then relayed Cowley's message to Stuart before leaving for Farrell's mother's house.

Farrell's mother lived in a row house. She, or someone, was home as the lights were on, and shapes were visible through the lace curtains.

Bodie and Doyle went to the door and used the lion's head knocker. A middle-aged lady answered the door. She seemed vaguely familiar.

"Mrs. Farrell?" Bodie asked.

"Yes. Do I know you, young man?" she replied.

"I don't think so. We'd like to ask you some questions. We're from C.I.5." He took out his I.D. to show her.

"Well, I don't know. That is ..."

"Please. It'll only take a few minutes." He put his hand on the door and, as she started to close it, pushed it open while Doyle grabbed her and pulled her out of the house.

"What? No! Please..." She struggled ineffectually against Doyle while Bodie entered the house, drawing his gun as he did so. He entered the lounge room carefully and looked around, seeing no- one, then spun suddenly as he heard a sound in the back of the house. He started to move in that direction when the door burst open and a man came through with a butcher knife in his hand, headed straight for him. A single shot rang out, and the knife flew from the man's hand. Bodie leaped forward and grabbed him, then looked back over his shoulder. "Thanks, mate."

Ray grinned. "Anytime, sunshine."

Bodie took Farrell out to the car and reported in to Cowley while Ray tried to calm down his mother. She was sobbing uncontrollably. Ray finally got her to sit down at the kitchen table while he put the kettle on. When Bodie returned, Ray was talking to her quietly, trying to make her understand.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Farrell, but we've got to take your son in for questioning. I'm afraid he's been responsible for the deaths of several scientists."

"Oh, but he can't have," she sobbed. "Jaime's always been such a quiet boy, so loving and sweet. Held never do anything like that. Never."

"I'm afraid he did, Mrs. Farrell." He looked at Bodie. "Why don't you see if you can find a neighbor to come in and stay with her?" he said.

"Good idea," replied Bodie and left.

While he was gone, Ray made some tea and poured a cup for Mrs. Farrell. As she sat drinking it, tears streaming down her face, he thought again that she seemed familiar.

As soon as Bodie returned with the next door neighbor, they returned to H.Q., radioing to Jax that he was no longer needed. They were almost there when Doyle gave an exclamation.

"What's up?" Bodie glanced at him out of the corner of his eye as he was driving.

"I just remembered where I've seen Mrs. Farrell."

"Where, then?"

"At C.I.5 She's one of the char ladies." He turned to look at Farrell to ask for confirmation only to find him staring off into space, oblivious to everything.

"Cowley'll want him checked out immediately," he said as they turned into the car park.

"Yeah. He's in cloud coo-coo land," Bodie agreed, helping to get Farrell out of the car and into headquarters.

"Inspector Walsh?"

"Yes. What can I do for you?" The Inspector looked up from the files he was studying to the two men who had entered his office.

"I think it's more a matter of what we can do for you,'' Bodie said, taking out his I.D. to show the Inspector, while Doyle did the same.

"C.I.5, huh? Have a seat," he waved his hand at the chairs in front of his desk. "And what can C.I.5 do for Scotland Yard?"

"It's about this case of yours. The series of young women who were killed and the locks of hair cut off." He reached into the bag he was carrying and pulled out five locks of hair of varying colors. "We've caught your killer."

"What?!" He stared at the hair in astonishment. "Since when does C.I.5 work on homicide cases? Not that I'm not grateful," he added hurriedly.

"Well, we weren't exactly working on homicide," Bodie replied. "We were after the bomber who was killing the scientists, the fact that he was your murderer was just an added bonus. We, found the hair when we searched the house, plus a scrapbook of clippings about both the scientists and the girls -- not that there were many articles on them."

"No, we tried to keep it as quiet as we could. What was the motive? Did he say?"

"He's not saying anything,'' Doyle replied. "But his mother said he'd recently lost his young wife in a chemical fire in a laboratory. It seems she was a lab assistant and in a freak accident a fire was started and she was trapped by it. She had long hair which she wore up on her head, but the pins had come loose and she was re-doing it just as the fire started. It caught her hair and she went up like a torch. Nobody could get to her in time. She was the only casualty. They'd just got back from their honeymoon."

"We may never know exactly what was in his mind when he killed either the girls or the scientists," continued Bodie. "We can surmise the scientists were for some kind of revenge. But the girls? I don't know. Company for his wife? His mother said Elizabeth was afraid of being alone. And he was wild about her long hair -- loved to run his fingers through it. But it's all conjecture. He's mental. Probably be locked up for the rest of his natural."

Walsh watched them as they explained, then looked down at the locks of hair on his desk. "Well, as long as he can't kill any more. That's the important thing." He looked at the hair again. "But there were six scientists attacked and only five girls -- probably why the computers never matched the killings."

"Yes, well, all we can think of is that maybe he only killed the girls if the attack on the scientist was successful. Who can say? And one scientist survived. He was the one who finally gave us the clue we needed to solve the case."

"And what was that?"

"Morgan finally remembered the accident," Bodie answered. "He was surprised because the return address on the parcel was C.I.5. Cowley cross-referenced the names on the list with employees of C.I.5 and came up with Farrell. His mother was always taking home mailing envelopes and other office supplies. She considered it one of the perks of the job. When Farrell decided to make his little presents, he just used the supplies he had handy to package them. He apparently figured no one'd hesitate to open a parcel from C.I.5, they'd be too curious to know what was inside it. And it seems to have worked except for Morgan, and he only survived because he'd been playing with his dog who jumped up to take the ball out of his hand and knocked the package out instead. It exploded when the dog picked it up."

"Well, I do thank you," said Walsh. "I really was afraid that this was one file that'd stay open indefinitely. It'll be good to close it." He stood up and shook hands with them as they left.

At home that night, Bodie was still shaken. "I thought he was dead, Ray. He still might die. I ... I'd miss him a lot if that happened."

Ray put his arms around Bodie and hugged him. "I know, love, so would I." He sat quietly, holding Bodie, for a while. "We're going to have to have a talk about Murphy, as soon as we hear from the hospital," he said, softly. He was almost as upset as Bodie at the thought of Murphy, dead.

"Where'd he get the plastique?" Murphy asked. He was still pale, but his color was much better than when they'd seen him last. He'd lost a patch of hair, and had gained seven stitches.

"It seems a member of his wife's car pool was in charge of the storage room where the experimental explosives were kept," answered Doyle. "He came over to commiserate with Farrell and ended up getting drunk. He passed out for a time and figures that while he was out Farcell must have made impressions of his keys. They were on the table when he woke up. Farrell was a good enough mechanic to cut his own keys."

"And he'd learned bomb disposal in the army," added Bodie. "He just worked the problem in reverse to make one."

"We found out why we couldn't catch up with him, too," put in Doyle. "It seems when he came to pick up his mother, he'd glance over whatever was on the desk tops. And once he found some of the access codes someone forgot to put away. From then on, he'd routinely read anything he could get access to. His mother was just pleased he was finally taking an interest in something again."

"Yeah," Bodie said, in disgust. "There we were, searching for him, and there he was, checking out what we were doing.

"How did he get you, though?" Ray asked.

"I hate to tell you, I was so thick. I'd checked him out, given him a clean bill of health, he seemed so innocuous. I'd checked the house and the workshop and there was nothing anywhere. As I turned to leave I saw the glint of something shiny under the workbench and bent to pick it up. It was a fuse. I stood looking at it in my hand and before I'd even realized what it was, he grabbed a wrench and hit me. Luckily I saw the blow coming and went with it, or I wouldn't be here now."

"Yeah, lucky for us, too," Bodie said, softly.

Murphy looked at him, not certain he'd heard what he thought he had, but Doyle claimed his attention.

"You doing anything Friday?"

"No, I don't think so, why?"

"Well, they're letting you out of here tomorrow. That'll give you three days to rest up. We'd like you to come to dinner on Friday. Six o'clock. Okay?" He smiled at Murphy.

"Sure, I guess so. I'd like that." He looked from one to the other, curiously.

"Good. We'll see you then. And you be sure you're all better, understand?" He took Murphy's hand and squeezed it, then went to stand by the door.

"Yeah. We want you all better by then." Bodie leaned down and kissed him lightly on the lips then turned to go but when he reached Ray, they exchanged a glance, then both of them turned and grinned at Murphy before they went out the door.

Murphy lay back and wondered just what was in store for him on Friday.

When the doorbell rang at 6:00 sharp, Ray was just putting the finishing touches on dinner. Bodie went to let Murphy in. He pushed the release button, then stood holding the door open for their friend. He shut the door behind him then turned and took Murphy in his arms, pulling his head down for a long kiss. When he finished, Doyle shoved him out of the way and hardly gave Murphy a chance to breathe before he was kissing him, too, only releasing him when they were in danger of asphyxiation.

When Ray let him go, Murphy stood dazedly looking at them standing in front of him, identical grins on their faces. "What was all that in aid of, then?" he asked, weakly.

"Get him a drink, Bodie. I think he needs one. In fact, get us all drinks," Ray said as he led Murphy over to the sofa. He sat down and pulled Murphy down beside him, leaving room for Bodie on Murphy's other side.

Bodie quickly brought the drinks and sat down beside Murphy. "Here. Drink up," he said, as he handed Murphy his glass. He gave a second to Doyle and kept the third for himself, drinking deeply.

Murphy took a long swig, then looked from one to the other. "All right, what's this all about?" he asked, again.

"Well...," Doyle hesitated, looking at Bodie, then plunged into the explanation. "It's like this. When we found you at Farrell's we thought you were dead and we realized how important you were to both of us. We talked it over and decided we have enough love to go around. In other words, if you want to, we'd like to have you make it a threesome any time you like."

"It doesn't need to be anything permanent and binding on you," Bodie added. "Just, any time you're interested, we'd love to have you join us. What do you say?"

"I ... I don't know," Murphy sounded bewildered. "I ... I'd have to think about it a bit."

"That's okay," Ray replied.

"Yeah," Bodie added. "Think about it while you're eating dinner."

"All right. I can take a hint." Ray got up from the sofa. "It's all ready to put on the table. Come along."

After dinner they were back in the lounge room with brandylaced coffee. Bodie and Murphy were on the sofa and Doyle on the floor at their feet. As Murphy finished his coffee, Bodie put his own mug down and took Murphy's away from him, then pulled the other man into his arms, and looked down at him. "What's it to be, then?" he asked, running a finger down Murphy's face.

"Yeah." Doyle turned around and threw an arm around Murphy's waist. "What's it to be."

Murphy looked up into Bodie's eyes, then turned his head so he could stare at Ray. "What d'you think, lovers?" he said, as he reached for them both.

-- THE END --

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