Bodie pressed the buzzer for the third time. "Come on, Doyle. What're you doing in there?" They were already pushing it--he had arrived at Doyle's flat with barely enough time to reach headquarters for the briefing, if his partner was ready to go. Which apparently he was not.
"Bloody hell." Bodie had been on the receiving end of Cowley's displeasure far too often, and didn't fancy repeating the experience. Especially when Doyle was the one holding things up. He added a fierce kick to his continued attack on the unresponsive door. Then a tingle of apprehension suddenly shot through him as he recalled the last time he'd pounded at Ray's door and gotten no answer. The memory from nearly a year ago, of finding him lying on the floor, bleeding his life away, still stood all too sharply in his mind. He clenched his teeth. Couldn't possibly happen twice...or could it?
He added a fist to his efforts.
To his immense relief, the intercom buzzed and Doyle's voice crackled through. "All right, keep your shirt on. I'm coming."
The door opened and Doyle waved him into the flat, then strode off towards his bedroom.
"Aren't you ready?" Bodie followed him, his impatience rising. It gave way to surprise when he found that a cyclone had hit Doyle's room, or at least, something closely resembling one. Clothes had been scattered wildly about the bed, chair, desk, floor--everywhere but the chest of drawers, which stood open and emptied. Doyle sat hunched at the cupboard, flinging boots, boxes, and more clothes into the room with reckless abandon. "What the hell are you doing?" As far as Bodie could tell, Doyle was fully dressed down to his shoes, and even had on his jacket.
"Can't find my muffler," Doyle replied.
A shirt flew past Bodie's head. A muffler? What did the idiot want with a muffler? For mid-September, Bodie admitted, it was a tad cold, but not that cold, and it would surely warm up as the day progressed. Must be some other explanation. Maybe Doyle felt under the weather. "Are you coming down with something?" he asked solicitously.
The clothes ceased flying abruptly. Doyle stood, staring at him with an odd, wary expression. "I feel fine," he snapped, crossing to the desk to snatch up his keys. "Forget the muffler. Let's just go."
"Ray, wait--" What had gotten into him?
But Doyle had already hurried past him, heading for the door. "Come on, Bodie. We're going to be late."
He was right.
They arrived, after a struggle through heavy traffic, at the CI5 briefing room in time to catch Cowley wrapping up his report. Bodie heard him give the usual warnings and reminders, and listened to his summary of the latest terrorist activity. The same old story, he thought wearily. It would never end. He glanced at Doyle, who leaned against the wall close beside him, arms crossed over his chest, one leg bent, his hips tilted in that unselfconsciously provocative stance he seemed to have patented. He didn't return Bodie's look; his eyes were focused intently on Cowley and the large ops board. Their boss was jotting notes on the new assignments for the various agents in the room. A few minutes later Cowley set down the chalk, rubbed his hands, and waved his dismissal. Bodie noted that neither agent 3.7 nor agent 4.5 was listed on the board.
He grinned, nudging Doyle's shoulder. "Looks like we're getting a holiday, mate."
Doyle sighed, straightening his stance. "No, the Old Man's up to something."
As the rest of the agents filed out of the room, Bodie tugged at Doyle's jacket sleeve and headed with the flow. "Come on--"
"Hold up, you two." Cowley's commanding voice stopped Bodie short of the door.
"Damn." Bodie turned around with a smile on his face. "Yes, sir? You wanted us?"
"Aye, Bodie. Doyle. Have a seat." He gestured at two chairs near the front of the room.
Reluctantly Bodie sat down, resigned to another assignment. It had been a long time since they'd gotten more than a day or two off here and there, and he didn't much care for the way the Cow had been pushing them in the past few months. What was it, three now? He glanced at the calendar behind the desk where Cowley was busy shuffling folders. Yes--three months to the day since Doyle had been certified fit for active duty. And nearly a year since the shooting. Doyle sprawled in the chair beside his, looking healthy and at ease. Either the strain of the last three months really hadn't gotten to him, or else he was simply determined not to show it. Doyle had pushed himself damn hard to get back. Too damned hard, Bodie thought, though he had never said so. And ever since they'd been active together again, Doyle had shown a stubborn need to out-shoot, out-run, out-everything everybody as if he were a good ten years younger. Which he wasn't.
"Ah, here we are." Cowley handed a file across to Doyle. "Now, then, I believe things have been somewhat hectic of late. Wouldn't you agree?"
Bodie frowned. What was Cowley up to? It was eerie the way he could read minds. Opting for the nonchalant approach, Bodie shrugged. "Nah, only the usual load of bomb-happy thugs plus your occasional solitary nutter having a go at mass murder. Nothing out of the ordinary."
"Bit early in the day for flippancy, isn't it, 3.7?" Cowley looked pointedly at the clock, which had just gone ten. "Or perhaps a bit late, for you two. You seem to have missed the first part of our little briefing."
Bodie coughed and straightened in his chair. "Traffic."
"What's this about, sir?" Doyle interrupted, looking up from the folder with a puzzled expression.
"What does it look like, 4.5?"
Doyle handed the file to Bodie. "It looks like a local matter. Police in Penzance should be handling it."
"They are," Cowley replied. "We're merely offering assistance."
Bodie quickly absorbed the main points in the file. "A man was robbed and beaten to death on a hiking path. What's the CI5 connection?"
Cowley leaned back in his chair. "There is none. I'm having you to look into this matter. The victim was a friend of mine."
Bodie checked the file again. "Gregory Davis, age fifty- three, lived in Penzance where he worked as a private investigator. Widower, no kids. No other family except a brother in Canada. There's not much else."
"We worked in the service together oh, must be twenty years ago. Davis was a good man, and we've kept in touch. He retired about five years ago after his wife died--that's when he set up his own detective agency. And was doing quite well, the last I heard." Cowley leaned forward, steepling his fingers. "A man with that sort of background does not fall victim to an attack on a public footpath in broad daylight merely for money. No, there's something else at work here, and I want to know what that something is."
"Was he on a case?" Bodie asked.
"No one knows. There was no record of one in his office. But he must have been. There's no other explanation."
Doyle shook his head. "I still don't get it, sir. Why us?" He nodded at the board of assignments. "It's not as urgent as any of those ops."
Bodie felt like kicking him, but managed to restrain himself. Here they were finally getting a break in the nonstop action, a cushy number away from Town, and Doyle was bloody well complaining. Didn't he ever want a rest? It wasn't exactly a holiday, but it was damn close.
"No, it's not urgent," Cowley said. "But it is important, at least to me. Think of it as a respite. You've both been working very hard."
"Sounds good to me," Bodie put in quickly, before Doyle could protest again. He was rewarded with a scowl from his partner.
"I'm glad to hear it," Cowley replied with a slight smile, "considering that arrangements have already been made." He gave Bodie a slip of paper. "This is the hotel where you'll be staying in Penzance." To Doyle he handed a road map. "In case you have trouble finding your way about. Report to Detective Superintendent Keaton when you get in. Take as much time as you need. That will be all."
"That will be all, 4.5."
"Yes, sir." There was a note of disgust in Doyle's tone which went unremarked by Cowley.
Bodie followed Doyle out, then scrambled to catch him up as he fairly sprinted down the corridor. "Hey--" He tugged at Doyle's sleeve, bringing him to a halt. "Where're you rushing off to?"
"Pub," Doyle snapped, shaking his arm free. "I need a drink."
"Too early," Bodie pointed out. "Nothing's open yet, you idiot." He studied Doyle's flushed face and angry eyes. "What's up, Ray? It's not as if Cowley hasn't sent us on personal jobs before."
"Well, I don't like it," Doyle said. "You saw that ops board- -there's a hell of a lot going on and barely enough men to go around, and he sends us off on some small-time investigation at the other end of the bloody country because he thinks we need a rest, for chrissakes. What does he think we are?"
"Not me, mate." Doyle headed on down the corridor, though he slowed his pace.
Bodie walked alongside quietly for a while, then said, "Why do you have to push yourself so hard, Ray?"
"I'm not pushing. All I want is to do my job."
"We've been doing it. More than our share, if you ask me."
They had reached the top of the stairs, and Doyle paused to give Bodie a look of surprise. "More than our share? You're daft, mate. He's been going easier and easier on us. And you're right about the personal stuff, except he's been doin' it more often."
Bodie raised one quizzical eyebrow. "Has he?"
"You've got a short memory." Doyle jabbed a finger at Bodie's shoulder. "Susan Grant--what about her? Hanging about babysitting some frightened rich bird simply 'cause Cowley knows her mum. How many ruddy friends in trouble has he got, anyway?" He turned and started down the stairs.
Bodie followed glumly, mulling over what Doyle had said. Cowley still considered them his top team. He had told them as much, after Doyle had come back on duty. Nothing had changed. They certainly hadn't always gone on every big op before the shooting; they'd been given the easier route from time to time, same as now, to break up the action. Doyle was imagining a plot where none existed, and Bodie thought he knew the reason. Everything was different now--every time anyone gave him a hand or eased up on him, it wasn't, in Doyle's mind, done so because that was the way it had always been in CI5. No, now they eased up because he'd been shot and had nearly died. And they didn't think he could take the heat any more. Yes, that was the way Doyle would see it. But he was wrong.
They left the building, and Doyle veered off towards the car park. "Wait up," Bodie called after him. "I'm not ready for a long drive yet."
"What do you mean?" Doyle hesitated.
Bodie stretched, then rubbed at his lower back. "Need to work out a few kinks first. Feel a bit stiff from last night."
For the first time that day, Doyle smiled. "Oh, yeah? And what were you up to last night, then?"
"What do you think?" Bodie thumped him lightly on the shoulder. "Come on, what do you say to a workout? Keep it short and simple, then a nice long lie-down in the sauna. A pub lunch for afters, and then we can pack our gear and head out. Okay?"
Doyle looked thoughtful. "Doesn't sound too bad."
"Good." Bodie clapped him on the back. "Let's go work off some of that boundless energy of yours, eh?"
"Yeah, okay." Doyle smiled again. "I'm sorry if I was being stroppy earlier. You really do want a break, don't you?"
"I wouldn't mind. Believe it or not, we all have to take it easy once in a while." Even you, he left unsaid.
Doyle nodded. "Let's go have that workout then. Two out of three on the mat, loser buys lunch."
"You're on," Bodie agreed, feeling happier than he had in quite some time.
Doyle wondered, not for the first time, why he had let Bodie talk him into taking the coastal road. All he could see was gray; he flicked the wipers on as large fat drops began pelting the windscreen.
"It's raining," he muttered, tightening his grip on the wheel as he steered the Escort along yet another winding series of curves. Leisurely drive, Bodie had said. Get us into the proper relaxed mood, he'd said. Think of it as a holiday, he'd said. "Gonna spoil our 'holiday'," Doyle added glumly.
"Don't worry," Bodie replied cheerfully. "I checked the forecast before we left. It'll be warm and sunny by the time we reach Cornwall."
"At this rate, it'll be dark by the time we reach Cornwall."
"Nah, we'll make it in time for a late supper. 'Sides, remember what the Cow said--no rush." Bodie twisted in his seat and stretched behind it. "Which means it must be time for an afternoon snack." He rummaged through their pile of holdalls and bags, pulling out a slightly mashed package. "Want some biscuits?"
"What kind are they?"
"Crumbly," Bodie replied as he pawed through the contents. "Hang about." He found a nearly intact one and bit into it. "Chocolate and walnuts."
"No, thanks." Doyle glanced across to see Bodie stuffing broken pieces into his mouth, crumbs spewing everywhere. "Good, are they?"
Bodie grinned at him. "Delicious," he mumbled, thrusting the bag towards Doyle. "Sure you don't want one?"
Doyle waved it away. "Yeah. Eat 'em in good health." He focused on the road as another series of curves approached.
"Got a few other things here, too." Bodie dug through the back some more. "Oranges, couple of bananas, few packets of crisps, tin of nuts, carton of Swiss rolls, and a flask of coffee."
Doyle fought the urge to turn and gape at him; he didn't want to run the car into a ditch. "We'll be there tonight, Bodie!"
"Well, you never know when you're going to get stranded somewhere, do you?"
"Survival rations?" Doyle shook his head, amused at Bodie's preparedness for any and all disasters.
"Never go anywhere without 'em."
"What else did you bring--tent, maybe? And sleeping bags, in case all the hotels and B&B's in Penzance are suddenly closed up?"
"Now, there's a thought," Bodie said between bites of more biscuit. "We could've camped out on the beach. It's a wonder Cowley didn't think of it, save CI5's budget a few pounds." He paused. "Not that he should be using CI5 money on personal errands in the first place."
"No, he shouldn't." Doyle let out a sigh. "How long do you reckon he'll keep us on this job?"
"We haven't even started." Bodie yanked a newspaper from the back and folded it to the crossword. "Relax." He settled down to work the puzzle.
Relax. Doyle frowned. Bodie seemed determined to enjoy this ridiculous venture. It didn't fit. Bodie was always the one who wanted to be in the thick of things, ready to jump into the action. He hated stakeouts and surveillance jobs, he loathed legwork, he fairly frothed at the bit during babysitting ops. Preliminaries bored him; he itched to be in the fray. Which is why I worked so hard to get back to the top.
No, dammit, he inwardly cursed himself for the thought. He'd been striving to keep it pushed back. He had worked hard for himself, for his own reasons, not just for Bodie's sake. Yet he couldn't entirely deny the fears that had nagged at the back of his mind--that if he couldn't make it, if he were downgraded, he and Bodie would be given easier and easier ops. And that Bodie would quickly tire of it, Bodie would want to be in the thick of the action, that he would ask for a new partner....
Don't think it, he mentally chastised himself. We're okay- -the Cow knows I'm fit, he knows I can handle anything he throws our way, we're still his top team. So why this op--why now?
It was just a break, that was all, exactly as Cowley had said. He was working himself up over nothing. Bodie certainly hadn't thought twice about it, didn't honestly seem to mind. What if all their assignments were like this, though? What if Cowley really was planning to slowly take them off the main ops--would Bodie mind it then? Doyle knew that he would.
"Penny for 'em." Bodie's voice came soft and low.
"Hm? Oh, wasn't thinking much of anything." Doyle kept his eyes firmly on the road.
"Come on," Bodie said amiably, "I can tell, you know--you had that look in your eyes."
"Oh? And what look is that?"
"The one where you're trying far too hard to figure something out," Bodie replied easily.
Doyle knew he shouldn't be surprised; Bodie knew him better than anyone. "Trying too hard?" he repeated.
"Yeah. It's really not all that complicated, mate."
"Life," Bodie said.
Doyle suppressed a laugh. "Got it all worked out, 'ave you?" He took a quick look over at Bodie's composed face. "Right, give over, then. The secret of life, in twenty-five words or less."
"Twenty-five words or fewer," Bodie corrected.
"Don't give me that--you never even finished school."
"Nope," Bodie agreed. "But I had this drill sergeant once who was a right nutter over grammar."
"You're stalling," Doyle accused.
"No, I'm not. Told you, it's quite simple."
"Eat well, sleep tight, and screw as often as possible," Bodie replied.
"What more do you want?"
Doyle let out a long-suffering sigh. "I dunno." Then he smiled. "How 'bout, 'Eat well, sleep tight, screw as often as possible, and always get someone else to drive in the rain'?"
"Damn." Bodie grunted. "Knew I should've kept me mouth shut." He tossed the newspaper in the back. "Pull over, then."
Doyle didn't argue. "Serves you right," he said as he found a turn-out and brought the car to a stop. "You were having too much fun there."
"Was not," Bodie said as they got out to switch places. "Only managed two clues."
"Yeah?" Doyle snatched up the paper before settling into the passenger seat. "I'll just have to finish it for you then, won't I?"
"Be my guest." Bodie pulled out onto the roadway.
Doyle felt better somehow. Yes, they were still heading to Cornwall on an op they could probably handle blindfolded, but at least they were doing it together. That was the main thing, to stay together, no matter what.
He made a start on the crossword, but hadn't got more than a few words written in when Bodie nudged his shoulder. "What?"
"Look at that."
Doyle looked up. The rain had already lightened, and not far in the distance the sky was clear and bright.
Bodie grinned. "What did I tell you?"
"Bastard," Doyle said warmly. Just like Bodie to get out of driving in the ruddy rain.
"Luck of the Irish," Bodie explained.
"Half-Irish," Doyle replied. "Half-mad, too."
"What, only half?" Bodie made a tsk-tsking sound. "And I've been working so hard on that."
Doyle smiled at him, then returned to the crossword, pushing all his worries, at least for the moment, far away.
"And this is a brochure on Newlyn--lovely art galleries there, part of the marine school of painting, lovely views." The hotel clerk had flung a pile of guidebooks on the registration counter as soon as Bodie and Doyle arrived to check in, and now the elderly woman thrust them into Doyle's hand with enthusiasm. "Oh, you have to visit the Mount, that's a must. St. Michael's Mount--you can just see it down the coast if you look out your balcony--the little island off Marazion, it has a castle on top, very famous trading spot, lovely buildings, lovely views. Ah, and here's some information on Land's End--only nine miles away, lovely cliffs, lovely beaches, and still unspoiled. The coach leaves regularly from just up the street or you can easily take your motor. Here, take this, too--you'll want to go to St. Ives as long as you've come this far, won't you? Lovely seaside resort, that is."
Bodie tapped his fingers impatiently on the counter. Not only was Doyle taking it all in, he actually looked pleased at getting the brochures. Perhaps he'd finally taken to heart the repeated instruction to relax, and was planning to go sight-seeing. Or else he was merely being polite.
"...with an optional day tour of Falmouth and Truro--lovely harbor in Falmouth, lovely cathedral in Truro...." The clerk rattled on while Doyle nodded happily.
Bodie tapped his fingers a bit harder.
"This looks handy." Doyle waved a guidebook in Bodie's face.
"I'm sure it's all lovely," Bodie replied.
"And then there's our own little town," the clerk said, oblivious to Bodie's glower. "Penzance is a wonderful place to simply wander about in, and when you get tired of touring, you can come back to the hotel for relaxation. Let me tell you about our amenities--"
The old woman droned on. Bodie gave up his tapping to consider his next tactic. A bit of shin-kicking? Huge yawns? Take the room keys and do a bolt, leaving Doyle to his own devices? Bodie opened his mouth gaping wide and prepared to let loose.
"--and our famous cream tea is served every afternoon in the dining room."
Bodie's mouth stopped mid-yawn. "Cream tea?"
The clerk smiled broadly at him. "Our specialty, young man. A rich black tea served with our homemade scones and clotted cream, so sinfully rich that one tiny bite will put you in heaven."
"It sounds good--"
"It sounds unhealthy," Doyle said.
Bodie sighed. If he heard one more lecture on the possible state of his cholesterol levels.... "I like it unhealthy," he said with a slight touch of menace, "and I'm bloody well going to drink the stuff."
"Fine." Doyle shrugged. "They're your arteries."
"Got it in one, mate." Bodie turned to the desk clerk. "Can we have our keys, please? Ta." He snatched the room keys, grabbed his holdall and marched off to the lift.
Doyle followed, and they rode up to their rooms on the third floor. Bodie plopped his bags on the bed in his room, then checked out the adjoining door. He found Doyle pawing through the huge stack of brochures. "What did you get that lot for?"
"Reference," Doyle replied. "I like to be familiar with the territory. Have you ever been out here before?"
"Nope." Bodie picked up a map and unfolded it across Doyle's bed. He whistled. "Look at all these coves and beaches. I heard it stays warm out here this time of year. And most of the ruddy tourists will be gone. Should've packed a beach towel or two."
"Bodie, we're here to work, not have a holiday."
So much for his theory that Doyle was finally relaxing. Bodie folded the map up, dropping it onto Doyle's pile. "Can't do anything tonight." He crossed to the room's wide windows and pulled the drapes apart. The hotel stood on a steep hill overlooking the harbor; a promenade stretched along the waterfront below. The sun was setting, streaking the clouds purple and rose. "Superintendent Keaton will have gone home by now if he has any sense. I say we get some supper, have a pint, maybe take a stroll around the town to get the feel of things. We can check in with Keaton in the morning."
Doyle rose to join him at the window, leaning against the frame. "Nothing more than a sleepy, seaside tourist town."
"Sort of place where secret service agents go to retire," Bodie said. He watched the figures of people far below walking along the promenade. "Looks peaceful enough."
"Bet that's what Gregory Davis thought right before he went on his final hike."
"Yeah," Bodie said, "just goes to show--you're never safe anywhere."
"You got that right."
Doyle sagged against the window frame and closed his eyes briefly, and when he opened them again, Bodie was struck by how weary he suddenly appeared. He swallowed hard as a tingling spread along his spine. Yeah, it could happen anywhere, all right, and anytime. Like on a lazy, off-duty afternoon, in your own flat, coming home from a few simple errands....
They had never talked at length about the shooting. A few words here, a brief conversation there--but nothing more. Bodie had tried to get him to talk about it, but Doyle steadfastly kept whatever he was feeling deep inside. And that was unusual for him, to keep his emotions hidden so well. It was pretty damned obvious, though, that he had been constantly frustrated and angry--from the way he spent every minute in hospital complaining, from the frequent outbursts of temper during the long months of post-hospital recovery--he'd been near impossible to put up with. He was angry at himself for being lax in the first place, angry with his body for tiring too easily and not bouncing back more quickly, angry with CI5 and the entire world for going on about its business without him, as if he didn't matter.
You matter to me. Bodie had tried to tell him that, but the words had never come out quite the way he wanted. So he tried instead to show him, by simply being there whenever he could, by putting up with the tantrums and the moodiness and that exhausting, over-the-top need to get back to work. It was odd, that relentless resolve of Doyle's to return to a job he had complained about often enough in the past. Was he really that devoted to CI5? Dedicated, yes. A good agent, certainly. But so devoted to doing the job that he wouldn't let such a close brush with death slow him down? It hadn't, as far as Bodie could see, even made him think twice about what they were doing with their lives.
Though it had definitely made him think twice. And then some. The image of Doyle lying there, so motionless, while the blood pooled on the carpet--it was burned into Bodie's memory. And the fear...the cold that had clutched at him, deep down ice- cold, when the world had stopped and everything had fled but the one thought: don't let him die.
Bodie looked at the man who meant more than anything or anyone to him, the one person he wanted simply to be there, to be with, to be around...no one had ever touched him like this before. But after all those months of missing the closeness they had as partners, now that they had been working together again, it scared Bodie that something wasn't right yet--that they might be drifting apart in some other way that he couldn't put a name to. He'd always felt, before, that they could be just as comfortable in silence as in speech and didn't need to talk to know each other well. Not now, though. They had talked a great deal during Doyle's recovery, about a lot of things-- everything but the shooting itself, it seemed. More recently, though, since being back on the squad, Doyle had turned quiet and inward. Doyle's silence had taken a toll on Bodie, and it was time to end it, whether Doyle liked it or not. A little digging here and there, a bit of prodding now and then, and he would eventually work to the surface whatever Doyle was trying to bury away.
"You've gone quiet." Doyle looked at him, eyes searching Bodie's face.
"I'm a bit tired from the drive." Bodie yawned and stretched.
Doyle nodded towards the bathroom. "Have a shower before we go out--might perk you up."
"What about you?"
"Oh, I'm fine." Doyle crossed back to the bed to pick up a guidebook. "I'll find a restaurant for us, okay?"
This wasn't the time to start the questioning, Bodie decided. Later. This would be an easy op, and they'd have plenty of time on their hands here. "Okay. I won't be long." He headed for the bath, ruffling Doyle's curls as he passed, and paused at the doorway long enough to catch the smile on his partner's face.
Detective Superintendent Edward E. Keaton looked far too cheerful to be a policeman, especially one who must have been at it for many years. Of all the older cops Doyle had known during his career at the Met, only one had been truly happy all the time, and that was because he took prescription drugs in large doses. The rest, after ten, fifteen, twenty years of exposure to the streets and the filth that continuously crawled thereon, wound up bitter and depressed, and generally had a worn-down, tired-of- life look to them.
But Keaton positively beamed with good health and happiness. He must have been near retirement, late fifties or early sixties, yet he looked fit and tan, with a full head of reddish-blond hair and one of those round, ageless faces whose only wrinkles were caused by laugh-lines. He sat behind a cluttered desk in a small, cramped office, where filing cabinets vied for space with huge wall charts which looked suspiciously unrelated to police work. The one nearest Doyle's chair had a family tree mapped out on it, with the name Keaton in bold letters at the top.
"Bodie and Doyle." Keaton's voice sounded annoyingly hearty. "Irish extraction, both of you. Am I correct?" He leaned back precariously in his creaky swivel chair and locked his fingers across his abdomen.
"Er, yeah," Bodie replied. "Half, anyway, more or less."
"I'm an Englishman myself, through and through. Wrights, Browns, Williamses, Atterberrys--I see you've noticed one of my little charts, Mr. Doyle. Family history is a hobby of mine. Fascinating stuff, absolutely fascinating. We do have a minor line of Irish ancestors via Scotland, left in the 1740s for obvious reasons--have you got any Houstons or McCullochs in your family?"
Doyle stared at him. "Uh, I'm not really sure." It was not a subject he had ever bothered to question his family about. In fact, as far as he was concerned, the fewer members of his family he came into contact with, the better.
"Sorry," Bodie added. "Got some Evanses floating around somewhere, though."
"That's Welsh," Keaton replied. He shrugged. "Ah, well, never mind. We are probably all related somewhere along the line. Have you ever stopped to wonder if you might not be the sixth cousin of some poor bloke you were slamming into the pavement for resisting arrest?"
"Can't say as I have," Bodie said. "Do you do that often?"
"Slam blokes into the pavement," Bodie said coolly.
"Ha." Keaton broke into a grin. "Clever lad, aren't you? But then, you're CI5." He sat up, resting his arms on a stack of papers atop the desk. "Recruited from the top of the line, eh? Come down to give the gits in the country a hand with their boot- lacing, have you? Don't think we can solve one little murder, do you, seeing as how we don't get that sort of thing around here every day like you lot, is that right?"
Doyle rolled his eyes. "No, sir. We've been asked to take a look, that's all."
Keaton studied him for a moment, then burst into a deep, rumbling laugh. "Got you, lad. Easy to stir up, aren't you?" He grinned again. "Son, I don't give two rat's arses what you do on my patch of ground--bust every shoplifter on Alderton Street if you like, hand out tickets to all the bloody tourists who park in the no-park zones, it makes no nevermind to me. It makes me happy when other people do my work, yes, indeedy." He leaned back again in his chair. "You've got one long leg to pull, you'd better watch that."
It made sense to Doyle now. Keaton was a cheerful cop because he was round the bloody twist. "I see, sir. It's just that most police don't care for interference in their area."
"Well, it's no piss out of my prick." Keaton slapped his thigh for emphasis. "Come on, we're going for a walk."
He bolted out of the chair before Doyle had time to blink. "Where're we going?" he asked, following the whirlwind Keaton out of the office, Bodie right behind him.
"Scene of the crime, man, scene of the crime!" Keaton bellowed as he strode briskly through the police station and out to the street. "Step lively, now, we haven't got all damn day!"
Doyle sighed, and gave Bodie a look. "He's a nutter," he whispered as they trod behind the flying back of the superintendent, who was cutting a swath through the early morning crowd of businessmen and women arriving for work on the main streets of Penzance.
"Makes me pine for Cowley," Bodie replied.
They kept a breakneck pace all the way down the hilly, narrow streets of the city, twisting this way and that until they reached the outskirts of town, where the land leveled off. They raced past the train station and on towards the cliffs that banked up again, curving high above the beach. Keaton came to an abrupt halt near a plain wooden signpost where the street hit a dead end. PUBLIC FOOTPATH it read in faded letters, and it pointed to a sandy trail barely wide enough for one person, which snaked its way along the cliff top.
Keaton gave them both a quick once-over. "City boys," he grunted. "Don't get out in the sun much, do you? Never mind. I expect you can manage a two-mile hike, eh?"
"No problem," Doyle said, hoping the fool picked up on the bite in his tone.
"Then let's get a move on!" Keaton clapped his hands briskly and stormed off up the path.
"Christ," Doyle muttered. He gestured for Bodie to go first. "Single file, mate--be my guest."
"Oh, no, I'm in no hurry, you go ahead." Bodie waved him on.
"Coward." Doyle smiled and took off after Keaton. "Good thing we ate a large breakfast," he called back.
"Yeah," Bodie grunted behind him. "Just wish I hadn't drunk quite so much coffee."
Doyle groaned. "Don't remind me. If I don't think about it, it'll be okay. Anyway, if worse comes to worst, there's nobody about, is there?"
"Nope. Only you, me, and the Mad Hatter."
"Terrific." Doyle trudged onwards. The path stayed close to the cliff edge, and he slowed from time to time to get a glance at the dramatic drop-off. The sheer face fell straight to the choppy blue waters below, foaming as the waves hit the rocks. Occasionally a sandy cove broke into view, where the cliffs curved inward for a brief spell. The cliff top itself was edged with a variety of long grasses and short, gnarled trees, and beyond stretched rolling land, some of it still in the hands of private farmers. At one point the public path took a detour right through a cabbage patch before emerging back by the cliff top. Doyle had never hiked anywhere like this before, and was enjoying the novelty, if not the company of the madman ahead.
He liked looking out at the ocean, with its blue-gray water as far as he could see. Land's End wasn't far from here, the farthest point one could go in England...and then the endless sea. The sound of the ocean was strong, yet calming--the call of the waves rolling towards shore, breaking and ebbing, the tides pulling and pushing against the earth, and the wind blowing freely, no tower blocks to turn the wind in on itself, it blew free and fierce and clean. That was something, too--the smell of the air, the freshness of sea spray and dew-covered grass. Clear skies above, with terns circling overhead instead of turbojets. It made a nice change, though he didn't know if he would like so much peacefulness all the time.
As they rounded another bend in the path, Doyle caught a glimpse of a tiny island jutting up ahead, maybe two miles further along, lying just off shore. He mentally ran through the guidebooks he'd pored over last night--Marazion, that was the town they were heading towards, and St. Michael's Mount. He recalled that there was a castle on the island, and that it had its own harbor. A smuggler's haunt, once. But then, all of Cornwall had been smuggling country long ago. The coves they'd passed by had probably concealed many a cargo of illicit wine or silk in those days. Now there was an intriguing history--much more intriguing than Keaton's lineage. Doyle wondered if the man had any books on local history, but decided it would be prudent not to ask. He didn't really want to get to know the Superintendent better.
"Ah, we're getting close, lads." Keaton slowed up as they approached a wider area of the path. "Yes, here we are. We had to open the path again yesterday, but naturally we had a thorough search of the spot first. Nothing."
Doyle and Bodie moved in beside him for a closer look at the undisturbed, sandy stretch of the path. "Where was he found?" Doyle asked.
To his astonishment, Keaton turned around and flung himself to the ground, and then positioned himself off to one side of the path, one leg crooked up, arms flung over his head. He lay face down in their direction, his curled-up fists not far from Doyle's feet. "Like this!" he shouted, then lay still.
Bodie made a little cough. "Very interesting." He raised an eyebrow at Doyle and whispered, "Not firing on all cylinders, is he?"
Keaton leapt up and brushed the sand off his clothes. "Davis was coshed," he announced, tapping the left side of his own head above the ear. "Bam! Snuck up on him from behind, by the look of things. Don't know what with--plenty of rocks about, but may also have had something to hand. Walking stick, that's my theory."
"Why?" Doyle asked as he walked carefully around the area, searching the ground. He didn't expect to find anything, but it gave him something to do other than fret over the state of Keaton's mental health.
"Ah, I'll tell you in a minute. Look over there, lad!"
Doyle followed Keaton's pointing finger along the coastline to the tiny island. "That's St. Michael's Mount, isn't it?" He felt pleased with himself for having read the guidebooks.
"Bloody great rock, that's what it is." Keaton kicked at something nonexistent on the path. "Yes, that's the Mount. Great big bloody tourist attraction, national trust, boring old castle up top, quaint little boring village on the bottom, overpriced tours. Town across the way is Marazion--bloody boring place. That's where he was walking from." He gazed down at the spot he had lain in. "Only made it halfway, didn't he?" He looked up. "Four miles between Penzance and Marazion--most fools take the coach over. Some tourists still know how to use their legs, though. But tourist season is over, now we just get local fools mucking about, the ones who have been waiting for the crowds to leave so they can enjoy the damn beaches in peace and quiet. Warm here through October, most years. See those palm trees?"
Doyle sighed as Keaton waved excitedly back the way they had come, to three small palms jutting out above the cliff. If this was Cowley's idea of relaxation, he had another think coming. "Yes, sir. Didn't know they grew out here."
"Well, son, they don't call this the English Riviera for no damn good reason, do they? Palm trees in England. Of course it's bloody daft." Keaton grinned. "But there they are. Tons of the damn things back in town. And flowers. Bloom practically the year round, screws up my sinuses something fierce."
Having given up on figuring out the point of Keaton's travelogue, Doyle went back to searching the ground.
"Won't find anything down there, lad."
Bodie coughed again. "There were no witnesses, I take it?"
"You take it right. Almost." Keaton waved his arms at the surrounding area in general. "Picturesque spot, isn't it? But as I was saying, the tourists were gone. The locals were busy soaking up the sun on the beaches. Not many people traipsing about on this path, right?"
"Right," Bodie echoed.
"It happened oh, six or so in the evening. Davis had been slogging about the beach at Marazion all afternoon. Rounded up a few people down there who remembered seeing him. Up and down the beach, back and forth, just meandering about for no damn good reason we could sniff out. People remembered he had a camera bag, and a pair of binoculars. Figured he was a birdwatcher and ignored the fool."
"Did he go over to the island?" Bodie asked.
Keaton shrugged. "Don't know. Nobody over there remembered seeing him. Castle is still open to tourists, but the tour guides said the traffic was pretty low."
"So nobody knows what he was up to in Marazion?" Doyle said.
"We went through his home, his office, everybody who knew him, everybody we could find in the shops over there, everybody on the beach--nothing. Davis was a nondescript, middle-aged bloke with no fashion sense, so why would anybody remember him anyway?"
"Somebody noticed him," Doyle pointed out.
"Yeah, or somebody just wanted a new camera." Keaton rubbed absently at the side of his head. "Happened Wednesday evening, right? Right. Been two days already, we've got fuck-all to work with. Even the bloody witness was no bloody help."
Doyle stared at him. "Witness?" He tried to control the sudden urge to throttle the superintendent.
"Keep your shirt on, lad. Was after the fact. Two old ladies found him lying there, locals, pair of sisters named Carter. Live on one of the farms round here, were heading into town for their evening tot of gin. Davis was still alive. One of them took off for help, other one stayed with him." Keaton gestured for them to move in closer, even though the path stood utterly devoid of hikers. "He said something to her." Keaton spoke in hushed, conspiratorial tones.
Doyle and Bodie waited for the grand revelation.
"What he said was this--" Keaton paused to look around in all directions, then bent forward, leaning in towards them. "Golden kuh," he said.
At least, that was what it sounded like to Doyle's ears. "Golden what?" he asked impatiently.
"Kuh," Keaton repeated. "Like a k, or a hard c. That's as far as he got, you see, before he bought it." He drew a line across his throat. "Dead. Stone cold. Well, still warm, actually, but you get the idea. Not another syllable out of the bloke. Like he started a second word, but couldn't finish. Stupid bastard."
Doyle bristled. "He was a man, just like you or me."
"Yeah, yeah, I'm sure he was the nicest guy you'd ever want to have a pint with, but he wasn't much of a detective if he couldn't even give a good clue to his killer, was he?"
As Doyle started to protest, Bodie kicked his shin. "Save it, Ray."
He had to admit it was pointless to defend Davis against the likes of Keaton. "What do you think it meant, then?"
"Killer came at him from behind and the side. Maybe Davis caught a glimpse of something right before the blow. Something gold. A cane, perhaps--the tip of it, at least. Could've been trying to say 'golden cane'. Walking cane, walking stick, whatever you want, it might have been the murder weapon."
"Or it could have meant something else entirely," Bodie said.
Keaton squinted at him. "Naturally. Come on, we're heading back." He took off in a rush down the path.
Doyle shook his head and trudged after him, Bodie at his heels. "You think maybe next time we could volunteer to hunt terrorists?" he shot backwards.
"Cheer up," Bodie replied. "It's got to get better soon."
"Why?" Doyle stopped to turn wide eyes on him.
"Because," Bodie said, "it can't possibly get any worse."
Bodie gave him a shove. "Hurry up, he's getting away from us!"
Doyle picked up the chase again, not so sure that losing sight of Superintendent Edward E. Keaton wasn't such a bad idea.
Gregory Davis' office, nothing more than a tiny room above a chemist's along one of the town's winding side streets, had a stifled, stuffy feeling that made Doyle feel tired. It was only ten in the morning, but over-exposure to Keaton had already made him weary, and cramming the three of them into this small space was hardly helping. He sat at the chair behind Davis' desk, the only spot with a little breathing room, and waited patiently for Bodie to finish going through the last of Davis' file folders. Keaton leaned against the filing cabinet, picking at his nails.
They had already been to Davis' home, a tidy cottage perched near the outskirts of town which had provided nothing of interest. Neither did the office seem promising. Keaton's men had been over both places before. Davis was a very neat person, everything kept where it should be. Doyle had looked through the desk drawers and found only well-organized office supplies. On the desk top sat a phone, a local directory, a pad of unused paper and a pen, and a three-day-old newspaper. Doyle picked the paper up and leafed through it.
"We looked at that, of course," Keaton said.
"I'm sure you did," Doyle replied testily.
"He marked the tides. Back page."
Frowning, Doyle turned to the last page and noted the small box near the bottom where the times for incoming and outgoing tides were listed. It was circled in red. He glanced at the pen on the desk top again. Red ink. "Okay, so he was interested in the tides. Why?"
"Probably because of the causeway. Thought you'd read up on The Mount, son."
Doyle bit his lower lip and counted slowly to ten. It didn't make him feel any calmer. "Sorry, I must have missed that section."
Keaton stopped picking at his nails and waved his arm through the air, as if drawing a picture. "St. Michael's Mount. Right? Quarter-mile off land." He drew a flat line. "Causeway. Connects the Mount to the mainland, made of flagstones, 'bout four feet wide. You can walk right across to the island. But only at low tide." He made a whooshing sound, accompanied by violent hand flutters. "Tide comes in, covers up the causeway. No way over except by boat." Keaton settled back against the filing cabinet.
"I see," Doyle said, having decided that it was best to humor the man. "So perhaps Davis did go over to the island, when the tide was out. The fact that no one remembers seeing him over there doesn't mean he didn't go."
Keaton shrugged. "Perhaps he did. Anybody can go over if they want to, it's public land. Doesn't help find his killer, does it?"
"Don't know. If we can find out why he went there, maybe it will."
"He was a robbery victim," Keaton insisted. "Simple. Just a common, ordinary thug out getting his daily cash."
"And what else?" Bodie asked as he slammed the last file drawer shut and moved over to sit on the desk corner. "What was taken?"
"Wallet, wristwatch, camera. Near as we can figure, that is, seeing as how nobody around here knew him well enough to say what he had with him that day. Wallet--everybody has one, right? But there wasn't one on him, and it didn't turn up here or at his home. Camera--people on the beach at Marazion remembered seeing one. It's gone. Wristwatch--uncertain, but there were marks on his skin indicating he'd worn one, with a metal band. But whoever did it left the binoculars behind--expensive pair, too. Then there's his gun. He owned a pistol, had it registered. We haven't found it anywhere."
"Terrific," Bodie murmured.
"Wonder what he was taking pictures of," Doyle said.
"You've seen the files," Keaton replied. "No recent cases. Last one he had was what, two months back? Simple divorce thing, wife wanted some photos of the philandering husband. We checked it out. Those pictures had already been taken, developed, and delivered. Husband has been in Bermuda for the last month, he's clear. That's it. Greg Davis was retired, more or less, he wasn't exactly out pounding the pavement for business. This was his hobby."
"Yeah," Doyle said, feeling the weariness wash over him again. "You could be right. It could all be very simple. Cowley won't like it, though."
"Well, he'll just have to get used to not liking it, won't he?" Keaton straightened. "I've got other work to do, gentlemen. If you get any bright ideas, do let me know." He headed towards the door.
"Think we'll go over to the Mount, look around," Doyle said.
"You do that. Door lock is set, just shut it on your way out." With that, Keaton was gone.
Doyle let out the longest sigh he had ever let out in his life. "I need a drink."
Bodie smiled. "At ten in the morning? Is this becoming a habit for you?"
"Only under extreme duress." Doyle rubbed his eyes and yawned. "Or maybe I need more coffee instead."
"Or a nap."
Doyle shook his head vigorously. "Oh, no, mate. The day I start needing naps is the day I hang up me holster." He absently patted the gun lying snug beneath his jacket.
"Yeah." Bodie gave him an odd, slightly puzzled look, one that Doyle found unsettling.
"Nothing." Bodie looked away, out the open office door, which led to a dusty hallway. "Not much of a spot to spend your last years." He gazed around the empty office walls. "No pictures, no personal mementos, same as his house. No family to speak of, no close friends. What kind of life is that?"
Doyle, startled by Bodie's uncharacteristic pondering, simply shook his head. "I don't know." Since when had Bodie bothered with such questions? He never spent much time wondering about the victims or their lives; all he wanted to know was who to track down and when to start shooting. "Someone must've cared about him. Cowley did."
"Cowley probably wrote him a letter every year at Christmas," Bodie replied. "That's not 'close', Ray." He got up off the desk corner to pace about the small space, before settling in the room's one other chair.
He looked far away, lost in his own thoughts, and Doyle felt a peculiar wrench in his gut. Bodie didn't have moods--that was his territory. But something odd had come over Bodie in the past few weeks, maybe even months. Doyle hadn't been paying enough attention, too intent on his own needs and desires, afraid to think about what Bodie wanted...or didn't want. Things would be fine for a while, and then suddenly, everything would change-- Bodie would turn distant and moody on him--and he didn't know why. Unless...Doyle shivered as a wave of fear hit him. Oh, christ--did Bodie know? Had he figured out what Doyle was feeling towards him? Doyle found himself gripping the edge of the desk and forced himself to relax, dropping his hands into his lap. It wasn't possible--he had given no clues, done nothing, said nothing--and surely Bodie would have lashed out at him the second he suspected anything.... Doyle sighed again. It couldn't be that. He closed his eyes, tired of it all, wanting only to go back to London and jump into the thick of things again so he wouldn't have to think about loving Bodie, or about anything else, for that matter.
"Do you ever wonder where you'll be then?" Bodie's quiet voice broke into Doyle's reverie, and he opened his eyes. "Twenty years from now, I mean?"
Doyle blinked, then stared down at his hands, rubbing at his fingers with his thumbs. "No."
"Never?" Bodie persisted.
"Twenty years?" Doyle repeated, actually thinking about it. "I'd be in my fifties...." He gazed dully around the barren office. Davis had been fifty-three and retired. And alone.
"If you live that long," Bodie said.
Doyle's eyes widened in astonishment. "Christ, Bodie!"
"I'm sorry." Bodie looked genuinely contrite. "I didn't mean it to come out like that." He rubbed his forehead. "Oh, hell."
"Well, don't fucking say things like that." Anger welled up within Doyle, mixed with fear as the memories from the shooting flooded back. "I'm not planning to make a habit of being gunned down, you know. Christ."
"Nobody makes a habit of it, Ray, it just damn well happens, doesn't it? Anytime, anywhere--and just because it happened to you once doesn't make you immune, either." Bodie pushed himself up from the chair and crossed to the open doorway, the farthest spot in the room from Doyle. He leaned his head against the frame.
Doyle started up, then abruptly sat down again, unsure of Bodie's mood. "What's got into you?"
"You wha--" Doyle had barely heard the choked admission, couldn't believe it. Bodie? Scared? "Of what? Of dying?"
"No." Bodie didn't turn around, didn't look at him. "Of waking up some day and not having you here."
Doyle felt more confused than ever. "Not planning on going anywhere." He rose again, this time crossing over to where Bodie stood, but before he reached him, something down the hallway caught his eye. Someone was walking their way. "Got company," he said.
Bodie lifted his head to look out the doorway. "Hell." He sighed and went to the desk, propping himself on the corner once more. "Some folks have terrific timing, don't they?"
"Yeah." Doyle wanted to say something more, but couldn't think what, and decided to let it rest for now. He waited at the open door, watching a young woman approach. She saw him and stopped, then hesitantly came forward.
She paused at the threshold. "Is Mr. Davis in?"
Doyle automatically sized her up. Early twenties, pretty but a bit on the thin side, with small, pointed features and overly large brown eyes. Her mousy, dark blonde hair hung limply about her shoulders, she had a woebegone air about her, down to the plain beige dress and matching handbag. No jewelry, no hair clips, no makeup--if she were trying to fade into the background of life, she was doing a very good job.
"I'm afraid not." Doyle waved her inside. "Perhaps we can help--please, have a seat."
She sat in the chair beside the desk, giving Bodie a narrow- eyed look. Bodie moved to the chair behind the desk.
Doyle leaned against the filing cabinet. "I'm Ray Doyle, that's Bodie. We're friends of Mr. Davis. Were you planning to hire him, Miss--?"
"Fielding. Kate Fielding." She held the handbag in her lap and clutched it tightly. "I already hired him. He was supposed to call me yesterday and he didn't--" She paused, glancing warily from one to the other and then to the door, which Doyle had left open. "Maybe I should just leave."
"No, it's all right." Too nervous by half, Doyle thought. But then, she was a young woman sitting alone in an out-of-the- way office with two strange men, so he could hardly blame her. He took out his wallet to show his ID card. "We're with CI5, in London. I'm afraid Mr. Davis had...an accident."
"Oh, my God." She put a hand to her mouth.
"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid he's dead."
Her big eyes opened wider; she bit one of her knuckles and shook her head. "Oh, no...that can't be...."
Bodie offered her a handkerchief, which she refused. "Do you listen to the news?" he asked. "Or read the papers?" Word of Davis' murder had certainly gone out.
"No, I never do." She looked up at him. "What happened to him? It wasn't my fault, it couldn't have been my fault--"
Doyle decided to leave the news of murder for a while, until he got as much from her as he could. "When did you hire him? There's no record of it here."
"One week ago. I asked him to keep it quiet...because I was hoping it was really nothing and if it got out I'd look such a fool, and Jack would be so angry--that's my brother. I didn't want him to know anything about it."
Bodie took the pad of paper and pen from Davis' desk and jotted down notes. "Jack Fielding?"
"Yes. This is all so awful." She went back to clutching her handbag. Then she gave Bodie a puzzled look. "CI5? But why are you here?"
Doyle considered his reply, and opted for semi-honesty. "Davis was once with the secret service. It's standard procedure to look into his death." Before she could question him further, he tried diverting her. "You said your brother would be upset-- can you tell us what this is all about?"
"I don't know...do I have to? Are the police involved?"
"Yes," Bodie admitted. "It would be best if we took you to see Superintendent Keaton at the station."
She sagged into the chair, giving out a little moan. "I didn't mean for anything bad to happen. All I wanted was to find out what Jack was doing." She looked up at Doyle. "He's been acting odd, saying things that scared me, about money and getting rich quick and never having to work again." Her nose wrinkled. "Not that he ever worked much, anyway."
"Your brother lives here in town?" Doyle asked.
"No, Marazion. Well, the Mount, actually. In the village there."
Doyle glanced over at Bodie. So Davis probably had gone over to the island the day he was killed. To spy on Jack Fielding. And perhaps Jack Fielding hadn't cared much for the idea. "What does he do?"
"Odd jobs, here and there. In the tourist season, helps run one of the boats over. That's for when the tide is in, and people need to get on or off the Mount--tourists often go over on the causeway, you see, and then get stuck up there when it gets covered over, and the only way back is by boat. It's not much of a way to make money, though. Jack never had much of anything. We neither of us did--our folks were pretty poor, and dad took off when we were young. Mum died last year." She looked back down at her handbag.
"You have a job though?" Doyle asked. It was a familiar story to him--one sibling a layabout, the other hardworking and responsible. Inevitably, there would be problems over money. The lazy one demanding loans, the other getting angry when they weren't repaid.
Kate nodded. "I work at Hodgson, Hodgson and Phelps, Solicitors. I'm a secretary." She raised her chin proudly. "Four years last spring. I'm not working this week, though--I asked for the time off because of Jack."
"What exactly has he done?" Bodie asked.
"I don't know. But a few months ago, he suddenly stopped asking for money. He always does, every week or so. Just a little to tide him over, he always says, until he gets more work, but he never does. I come to expect it. But it stopped, and when I saw him he told me not to worry about him anymore, he was set for life. I asked how, but he wouldn't tell me, just said he was working on something that would make him rich, and he couldn't talk about it yet because he didn't want to risk spoiling it. And then he got secretive and wouldn't talk to me at all anymore. He's never been like this before and it scared me something fierce that he'd gotten in with a bad lot, and was planning a crime. Why else wouldn't he talk about it?"
"Maybe it was some kind of inheritance," Bodie suggested, "and he wanted to surprise you."
"No." She shook her head firmly. "It couldn't be. We haven't got any relations with money. Our father...well, because he abandoned us, grandfather left him out of his will, and gave everything to our aunt, and she only gives us little amounts now and then. We're poor."
"Yes, all right," Doyle said. "So you asked Mr. Davis to look into your brother's affairs, is that it?"
"I only wanted to know who he was hanging about with, that's all. And Mr. Davis called me on Monday with some information, said he was going to check it out further, and then he'd call me again. But he never did."
"What sort of information?" Bodie said, still jotting down his notes.
"He'd seen Jack talking in a cafe in Marazion with an older woman, and followed her to a small B and B here in Penzance--it's called Camberwell's and it's on Adelaide Street. But he couldn't find out her name or anything else about her, and was going to work on that. There was nothing else."
"All right," Doyle said. "You've been a great help, Miss Fielding."
She frowned. "I want to know about the accident. I want to know what happened."
Great. Doyle decided it was time for the truth, even though it would likely send her into crying fits. "Mr. Davis was attacked and robbed while walking on the cliff path."
Her mouth opened wide and her face flushed, but Doyle had underestimated Kate Fielding. "You bastards!" She rose quickly, slinging the handbag over her shoulder. "You said it was an accident just to get me to talk--you underhanded bastards!" She stomped her way to the door. "My brother had nothing to do with it, and I'm not saying one more word, not to you, not to the police, not anyone." Then she stormed off down the hallway.
Bodie raised his eyebrows at Doyle. "Well, she's got some spirit after all."
"Yeah, had me fooled." Doyle cleared his throat. "Which one of us is going to tell Keaton?"
"Not me, mate. You're the one with the tact."
"Oh, ta very much." Doyle shifted. "Come on, then, might as well get it over with."
They left Davis' office building and headed down the narrow streets to the Penzance police station. Bodie waited outside while Doyle went in to give Keaton the news. It took a while, and when Doyle came back out, there was no sign of his partner. Terrific. He scanned the street while pacing in front of the station, wondering where Bodie would have wandered off to. Then remembered it had been three hours since breakfast. He checked the street again, spotted the newsagent's across the way, and headed over.
Bodie had just finished paying for his packet of cheese crackers and was on his way out. "Oh, you've finally finished, have you?" he asked, after nearly bowling Doyle over in the doorway. "Want one?" He held out the opened package while munching away on a cracker.
"No." Doyle poked a finger below Bodie's ribs. "You're gonna get a paunch someday, you know."
"Nah." Bodie glanced down at his abdomen. "Flat, that is. All it takes is exercising."
They left the shop, walking aimlessly along the pavement. "You hate exercising," Doyle pointed out.
"I know. But there's more than one way to work off calories, isn't there?" Bodie winked at him.
"Hedonist." Doyle paused when they reached the corner. "Where we goin'?"
"Camberwell's B and B?"
Doyle shook his head. "Keaton said he'd send one of his men round to check it out. He wasn't too pleased with my report, wanted to know why we hadn't simply brought Kate Fielding straight to his office for questioning. Shouldn't be hard for him to track her down, though." He scratched absently at his nose. "Last I saw Keaton, he was thumbing through one of his old genealogy books, muttering 'Fielding' over and over."
"Oh, great. He's going to draw up her family tree for her-- wonderful."
Doyle took a deep breath, inhaling the clean, fresh air of the sea. The day was warm and sunny, enough to make him feel more relaxed than he had before. Maybe he did need to take it easier. "How about walking off those crackers?"
"Hm?" Bodie's mouth was full of food.
"Take the cliff path over to Marazion instead of driving. Come on, it's only four miles." Doyle struck off towards the cliffs.
"She was right," Bodie said amiably as he caught Doyle up. "You are a bastard."
Doyle grinned at him. "I know."
"You enjoy tormenting me."
"I do. That's what mates are for."
Bodie grinned back. "And here I thought you were hangin' about with me for my wit, charm, and good looks."
"Nah," Doyle said as they neared the edge of town, "I hang about with you 'cause you're the only one who'll put up with me."
"It's mutual," Bodie replied.
Doyle came to a halt near the Public Footpath sign. He nodded at the hill in front of them, which leveled off a hundred yards or so up. "Race you to the top."
"Loser buys lunch?"
"Hang on." Doyle quickly checked the contents of his wallet. "Okay."
"Right. On three, then--"
They took off up the path.
He mulled over his defeat all the way to Marazion. It took them an hour to reach the town, and Doyle headed straight towards the beach below it. "Can have lunch when we get back," he announced.
"From where?" Bodie asked.
"There." Doyle stopped. Looming out of the ocean, St. Michael's Mount stood before them, the quarter-mile causeway bridging the gap from shore to shore.
"Just a great big bloody rock," Bodie said, echoing Keaton's sentiments. It looked fairly barren, with sparse trees and low brush dotting the steep hillside. The castle jutted from the top, an unimpressive looking structure of beige brick. And at the bottom of the Mount he could make out the small harbor with its surrounding village. "You reckon Jack Fielding's over there?"
"Don't know. Maybe."
"Keaton won't like it if we talk to him first."
"Why don't we play it by ear, then," Doyle said. "Go over, have a look around. Following in Davis' footsteps, that's all we're doing."
Bodie eyed the causeway with distrust. "Wonder when the tide comes in," he murmured as they set off across it.
It was easy going, the flagstones wide and flat and dry. Bodie didn't see any tourists about, and as they reached the island shore, he scanned the rocky beach and the deserted village streets nearby. "Bit lonely over here, isn't it?"
"Look at this--might explain it." Doyle had found a path leading up the steep hillside, and at its base stood a sign.
"'Renovations scheduled'," Bodie read. "'The castle will be closed after Sunday, 20 September, until further notice'. This is only Friday, though."
Doyle looked over the empty beach. "Maybe tourists can't read. Come on, let's check out the castle."
The path to the top was steep, narrow, and rocky, and Bodie couldn't help but wonder how anyone managed to consider this a fun way to spend a holiday. Tourist attractions rarely held any interest for him, and he especially objected to the fact that so many of them seemed to involve hiking up numerous flights of stairs or up ruddy great hills. Cathedrals, castles, ancient monuments--all required exertion, and bored him as well. "Waste of time," he grumbled as he slogged up the hillside.
"Not getting tired, are you?" Doyle called from above.
"No." Bodie very nearly wished he hadn't eaten that entire packet of crackers. He picked up his pace.
"Oi, we're there."
"Oh, yeah?" Bodie came round the final turn to find Doyle waiting for him on the wide stone steps leading to the castle entrance. "Good. Can we go back now?"
Doyle laughed. "You're impossible. Don't you want to go inside?"
"Nah. Seen one castle, you've seen 'em all."
"Not big on history, are you?" Doyle didn't wait for an answer, going on ahead.
Boring, Bodie thought as he followed Doyle into the entrance hall. They were met by a woman whose sole function was to take their money.
"It's a self-guided tour," she explained, handing them each a guidebook. "Map is on the inside front cover. Simply follow the indicated route. Gift shop is below the Garrison Room. Have a pleasant tour."
"Thanks," Bodie said less than enthusiastically. He had little patience for museums or castles or cathedrals or famous estates, nor for anything which reminded him of Mr. Frobisher, the teacher who had droned on at him monotonously about this king and that king and who succeeded who and why and even managed to make the endless battles they fought sound so mind-numbingly dull that Bodie had ceremoniously and joyfully set fire to his history text and burnt it to a crisp the evening before running away from home. History. Bah.
They walked into the first room on the tour. "Armory," Doyle announced.
"Oh." Well, that was all right. Bodie quickly revised his opinions on touring castles as he perused the walls, where a variety of muskets and swords were hung. "Nice. Hey, look at this crossbow."
"Don't touch it."
Bodie took his hand away. "Spoilsport. I wasn't going to fire it, you know." He carefully examined the swords, visions of swashbuckling movies dancing in his head. Now there was history. Pirates sailing the open seas, cargos of gold doubloons, fierce fights, cannon broadsides...he would have made a good pirate. "Do you suppose there are any cannons about?" he asked, bending down to examine a drum sitting on the floor, with a bugle laying atop it. The call to arms. He looked up when he didn't get an answer. Doyle had scarpered.
Giving out an exasperated sigh, Bodie stood, checked his guidebook, and followed the route through a series of dull rooms- -a bedroom for the lord of the castle, two dining rooms, and a small, den-like place called the Smoking Room. The place was big on heavy-looking furniture and high, wood-beamed ceilings which he paused to glance up at for a second or two before moving on. He came outside onto a wide terrace, and for the first time spotted tourists--two middle-aged women walking about together and a solitary, older man with a large backpack. Doyle stood at the wall, his back to Bodie, lounging between its crenelated top.
Bodie stopped short, suddenly struck by the view. But it wasn't the blue water of the harbor below, or the cliffs across the way, which drew his admiration. No, it was Doyle's rear end, sheathed in tight denim, and the slim hips and lithely muscled legs, all perfectly outlined as Doyle leaned over, stretching through the opening between the stones for a better view.
Gulping, Bodie took a few calming breaths. Doyle's body had affected him this way before, here and there, now and then, over the years they'd been friends and partners. The way he walked, the way he leaned against doorways, the tilt of the hips--and that air of confident sexuality he exuded as easily as breathing. It was damned hard to ignore, and sometimes he didn't. But he hadn't thought anything more about those little lapses, had never seen them as more than a flicker of attraction to someone who was off limits. Sex with his best mate was nothing more than an absurd passing thought, which he had always instantly dismissed before going off to find some willing bird to screw through the mattress.
Everyone occasionally had thoughts like that. Didn't they? Bodie sighed as he watched Doyle shift his weight from one leg to the other, hips tilting to a new slant. Everything had changed in the past year. Doyle had nearly died, and Bodie had spent every hour of every day that he possibly could watching over him, needing him to be well and whole, needing him in his life again, an inextricable part of what made his life worth living. And that was when he came to realize that Ray Doyle meant more to him than anyone else ever had before, that he wanted to always keep Doyle close. He had never told him so.
During the long months of Doyle's recovery there had been an initial awkwardness, a hesitancy between them which puzzled Bodie. It took a while for him to figure out its cause. This was the first time they had interacted over a long period of time simply as friends. The job made a difference. When they worked together day in and day out, on the streets and under stress, they related to each other almost as if they could read the other's mind. They were both highly trained and had been partnered long enough to act intuitively on the job, knowing ninety-nine percent of the time exactly what the other would say or do in any situation. Their conversations tended to be brief.
They also spent time together outside the job, but they used it mainly to relax, release the tension, have a good time. Neither one of them was big on personal revelations, and it had surprised Bodie, during the past year, to find out just how little he did know about his best mate. Childhood, family, school, their lives after leaving home--it had only come up before as a tidbit here, a morsel there. Then suddenly they had a hell of a lot of time together and nothing much to talk about. Bodie had opted for light duties during Doyle's recovery, and came by Doyle's flat nearly every evening and weekend, for simple companionship. The awkwardness stemmed from their inability to talk about anything other than birds, soccer, alcohol, and ammo. Once he had figured that out, Bodie determined to change it.
He worked slowly at it, opening up bit by bit about his own past until Doyle gradually relaxed and loosened up, eventually telling Bodie more about himself in a few months than Bodie had learned in as many years. The one subject which remained off limits was the shooting. But the general awkwardness vanished, and the more they revealed to each other the more Bodie recognized something new in his feelings for Doyle--more than friendship, more than affection. He had resisted calling it love. But it really didn't have any other name.
Yet to add the physical side as well...love was one thing, Bodie thought, and sex was quite another. You could certainly have one without the other; he'd spent a lifetime proving that. He couldn't help but wonder, though, what it would be like to have them both.
Yes, everything had changed. And now when he looked at the slim body before him, Bodie knew the attraction he felt was no longer a passing fancy.
The real question, of course, was whether Doyle would beat him senseless when he told him, or just quietly walk out of his life forever. But no...it wouldn't be that way. Bodie knew Doyle well enough to know he would do neither, yet he still wasn't ready to risk finding out precisely what Doyle would do. Someday, though, he would damn well have to tell him. Just not now.
He walked over to the wall. Doyle straightened and turned round at his approach.
Doyle smiled and winked. "We must stop meeting like this."
Bodie started, afraid for one insane moment that Doyle had read his thoughts. Then he came to his senses. Just the usual teasing, you idiot. Relax. "Sh," he replied with a finger to his lips, "the walls might be bugged, sunshine." He casually jostled Doyle aside so he could get a look over the parapet. Another terrace lay directly below, with cannons lining its walls. "Let's go down there." Turning to give Doyle's jacket a quick tug, he strode off briskly before Doyle could object.
The lower terrace stood empty of tourists. Bodie surveyed the cannons ranged along the walls, jutting out through the openings in the stone. He went up to the nearest one to run his hand along its cool metal surface. Be fun to fire one, he thought, though he doubted they were still functional. As he gazed out again at the water below, he wondered what the cannon were protecting the Mount from. Bodie frowned. Good old Mr. Frobisher would have known. Spanish Armada, maybe. There were a few things in history class which had stuck a bit. Pirates, perhaps?
Doyle strolled up, nose in his guidebook. "Doesn't say anything about them," he said.
"Guarding the place against pirates," Bodie suggested. "We are near Penzance, right?"
"Always thought that was fiction," Doyle replied. "Don't think they really had pirates around here. Just a lot of smugglers."
"Pirates, smugglers, what's the difference." Bodie didn't care to have his swashbuckling illusions shattered.
Doyle rolled his eyes. "Smugglers stayed on land, for one thing."
"Oh." So much for sailing the open seas. "Where did they get the goods, then?"
"France, I think." Doyle pursed his lips. "Saw a movie about it once, though it's a bit hazy now. Wine was the main cargo, to avoid the alcohol tax or something like that. French ships would bring the stuff over and the people here would unload the booze and hide it in the coves and tin mines 'til they could sell it off. Always had to keep an eye out for the tax men. The locals pretty much supported the smugglers, helped 'em out, 'cause they wanted cheap drink."
"I suppose if we'd been around back then, we'd be the ones trying to track 'em down, eh?" Bodie touched the cannon again. "Think I'd rather have been a smuggler."
Doyle nodded. "Always did think you understood the criminal mind a bit too well." He grinned.
"Look who's talking." Bodie grinned back. "Just plain luck that you never got nicked as a kid."
"That's true enough. Just naturally attracted to danger, I reckon."
"Adrenaline rush," Bodie agreed. "Adds that special 'kick' to life, doesn't it."
"Yeah." Doyle abruptly sobered, turning away to look solemnly at the water far below them.
Bodie wondered if he were thinking about the other side of the coin--when, despite all the training and experience in the world, they suddenly wound up victim instead of victor. Yet they kept coming back for more. So far. The relative calm Bodie had felt during Doyle's recovery had been surprisingly comfortable, and returning to the streets had been harder than it had ever been in the past. The rush had faded.
"Ray," he asked, "do you ever feel old?" He didn't know why he said it, and when he saw the look of astonishment on Doyle's face as he turned around, he wished he hadn't.
"Don't be absurd." Doyle moved away to start a slow circuit of the terrace.
Sighing, Bodie followed along. Obviously it wasn't a topic to pursue at the moment. "So," he said briskly, "what is it we're looking for out here?"
"Don't know." Doyle kicked at a pebble, sending it skittering across the wide, flat stones of the terrace grounds. "Whatever Gregory Davis was looking for."
"He was just following Jack Fielding around. Why don't we go down to the island village, see if he's there?"
"Because Keaton will throttle us if we do," Doyle replied. He headed up the steps to the main terrace.
"Yeah, well, he's a lead, and we should bloody well follow it- -" Bodie stopped as Doyle waved him back down the steps. "What's up?" He kept his voice low.
Doyle moved behind the wall lining the upper terrace, cautiously peering around the corner. He motioned Bodie to join him there.
Bodie crept up alongside and took a quick look. The two women he'd seen earlier were gone, leaving the older man alone there. The pack he'd been wearing lay open on the ground, and the fellow now held some kind of device. Bodie couldn't quite make it out from this angle. The man moved rapidly in circles around the terrace. As he turned towards them, Bodie moved back out of sight, but he'd caught a good view of the device.
"Metal detector," he whispered. He shifted carefully to let Doyle get another look.
"Isn't that intriguing," Doyle said. "Not exactly legal here, is it?"
"Not the last time I checked."
They took turns watching. The man hurriedly finished his circuit, not finding anything as far as they could tell. Then he repacked his equipment and took off for the castle proper.
Carefully staying just out of view, they followed him through the castle rooms, through the gift shop, and outside to the path leading down the hillside. Here they had to slow up, for while the old fellow seemed fairly spry, he still took his time getting down the steep, narrow path.
They came to a halt before the final downward turn through the village to the beach. "What now?" Bodie asked. "We can't hide on the causeway."
"Maybe it's time to introduce ourselves, then," Doyle said.
"How do you want to play it?"
"Travel writers?" Doyle suggested.
Bodie nodded, and they hurried on down to the beach. Their quarry stood at the head of the causeway, removing his shoes. "Hell," Bodie said as he looked out at the water. It had risen to near the top of the causeway. "Damn tide's coming in."
The old man spotted them. "Better take off your shoes if you're planning to go across."
Bodie eyed the flagstones dubiously as the water began lapping at their edges. He didn't fancy a dunking.
"It's perfectly safe," the fellow added. He pulled off his socks and rolled up his trouser legs. "So long as you don't slip off." With that he strode out onto the causeway.
"Could always hire a boat to take us back," Bodie said.
Doyle was already taking his shoes off. "You don't like water, do you?"
"'Course I do." Bodie reluctantly removed his footwear. "So long as I'm on top of it, that is." He rolled up his trousers to his knees and followed Doyle onto the flat stones.
They were perfectly dry at first, but it wasn't long before Doyle stopped. "Stand still."
The tide came flowing in, washing over the top of the causeway, water coming up to Bodie's ankles. Then it ebbed out again, leaving the surface of the flagstones momentarily clear. They quickly moved on another fifty feet before the tide returned. This time the water reached Bodie's mid-calf. "Shit," he said as he stood there waiting for it to flow out again. He concentrated on keeping his feet firmly on the stones.
The tide flowed out once more. "Go faster!" he shouted at Doyle. "I don't fancy swimming to shore!"
They were forced to stop three more times. During the final halt, the water rushed up to Bodie's knees and it took all his balancing skills to stay upright. But when it cleared again, they were finally able to reach the shore, where the old man stood waiting, giving them a round of applause.
"Well done, gentlemen. I always believe in avoiding the extortionate price of hiring a boat from the village, no matter what. I congratulate you on doing the same."
"Thanks." Bodie rolled his slightly damp trousers back down. He sat on a large rock to wipe the sand from the beach off his feet.
"I'm Mark Layton," Doyle said, offering his hand. "That's David Bentley. Might we have a word with you? We're working on a travel book called 'See England First.' Are you a tourist here, Mr.--"
"Oliver. Sidney Melton Oliver the Third." He shook Doyle's hand, then came over to shake Bodie's.
He was a skinny little guy, probably in his early seventies, with a thatch of thick white hair and thin-rimmed, round eyeglasses. His three-piece brown tweed suit hung loosely about his bony frame. What Bodie found the most peculiar, however, was Oliver's habit of thrusting his head forward on his neck--with his heavy V-shaped white eyebrows and prominent Adam's apple, he very much resembled a vulture.
Yet he seemed friendly enough. "I'm a native to these parts," he told them. "Been hiking about Cornwall and Devon for over sixty years, since I was a lad. You should call your book 'See Cornwall First'. Finest county in all of England."
"We'd love to chat with you about it, if you've got the time," Doyle said. "Over a cup of tea, perhaps?"
"Delighted to, Mr. Layton."
They made their way up the beach to Marazion, where they found a cafe serving tea and scones. Sidney Melton Oliver the Third turned out to be a talkative fellow, rattling on with great enthusiasm about the best hiking paths, the most picturesque coves and fishing villages, the most beautiful cliffs, the best places to get cream teas. Bodie dutifully pretended to be jotting it all down as Doyle asked his travel writer questions. After an hour of this, Doyle finally managed to direct the conversation to the more personal. "You seem to have a great deal of time for touring," he said. "I take it you're retired?"
"Oh, yes, indeed," Oliver replied as he sipped at his fourth cup of tea and munched on his third scone, which Bodie hoped was coming out of Cowley's budget and not theirs. "I used to teach, you know, up at Middleburg College. When I say teach, I don't mean a regular professorship, no, nothing so formal, but rather the occasional lecture, based on my expertise and experience, on a special area of history which Middleburg was enlightened enough to give some slight attention to--the field of numismatics."
Bodie frowned, then some long-forgotten piece of trivia clicked in his mind. "Coins?"
"I have spent decades studying and collecting them," Oliver said. "A fascinating hobby at which I have become quite expert. My private collection of Roman coins is one of the finest in Britain."
"You do your collecting while hiking, do you?" Bodie asked.
"Yes." He patted his pack. "Carry a metal detector wherever I go. You simply never know where something might turn up."
"What about around here?" Doyle said. "Do you think there might be coins to be found in Marazion, or out at the Mount?"
"Oh, possibly." Oliver produced an innocent-looking smile which Bodie didn't believe for one second. "But of course, only certain areas can be searched legally. The Mount is off limits, I'm afraid. National Trust property."
"I see," Doyle replied. "Tell me, have you ever run across a really big find? A hidden horde of gold, say?"
Oliver seemed momentarily startled, but recovered quickly. "Buried treasure?" He chuckled. "No, Mr. Layton, that's the stuff of fiction." He set his tea cup down and pushed his plate aside. "I've had a most enjoyable time, but I really must be going. Thank you for the tea. Good day, gentlemen."
Bodie watched him gather up his things and scurry out. "In a bit of a hurry to leave, wasn't he?"
"Definitely up to something," Doyle replied.
"Coins...." Bodie mulled over Davis' final words. "Gold coins. Golden 'k'...golden coins?"
"What, you think he bashed Davis with his metal detector?"
"Make a handy weapon, that."
"Why would his dying words be 'golden coins', though?" Doyle asked. "He probably would have said, 'metal', or 'old guy' instead."
Bodie leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms behind his head. "Well, what else begins with a 'k' or hard 'c' sound, then?"
"Yeah, but it doesn't make sense with the 'golden' part. Might make sense if she were a blonde, or wore gold jewelry or something. Go on, have another stab at it."
Doyle's brow creased in concentration. "Cave...cove...cabbages and kings."
"Creep," Bodie added, feeling silly. "Um, kid...cap? Maybe it was a juvenile."
"Who managed to waylay an ex-service man?" Doyle said. "No, I don't think so." He picked up the scone he'd been eating and nibbled at its edges. "Um, let's see...cake...crumbs...coffee pot...canine...."
"The dog did it," Bodie replied. They both laughed. "We need a dictionary." He stared up at the ceiling. "Ketch. Kerb. Kettle."
"Carpet. Cash. Coat? Someone wearing a gold-colored coat?"
"Should keep an eye out for one," Bodie said. "What else?"
Doyle rubbed his chin. "Cat...comb...car...castle...." He raised an eyebrow. "Castle...golden castle--"
"It's beige," Bodie said.
"No, wait. Gold, castle--" Doyle dropped the last remnant of scone on his plate and whirled on Bodie. "Gold in castle. Not 'golden', gold in."
Bodie stared at him. He brought his arms down and sat up straight. "You could have something there. Davis wasn't necessarily giving a clue to his killer, but to why he was killed."
"Buried treasure," Doyle said. "The stuff of fiction."
"Right. Except that I doubt our friend Oliver was scouring the grounds over there for a dropped cufflink."
"You'd think anything valuable in the castle would have been found by now, though," Doyle replied. "Or it would have to be very well hidden."
"We'd better tell Keaton about Sidney Melton Oliver the Third." Bodie shoved his chair back and stood. "Don't know how it ties in with Jack Fielding."
"He might have caught Oliver snooping round the island with his metal detector, and threatened him into talking about the gold."
"If there really is gold hidden there. We're jumping to conclusions, Ray."
"No, just trying out theories. Fielding could've demanded a share. Then Davis starts spying on him, finds out what's going on, and Fielding decides to take him out."
"Not our friend Sidney?"
"Didn't strike me as the murderous type." Doyle rose, picking up the bill. "Who's getting this?"
"You are. I'm buying lunch, remember?"
Doyle scowled. "They're bloody expensive scones. Lunch isn't going to cost this much." Nonetheless, he dug through his wallet to pay for it.
"Charge it to Cowley," Bodie suggested. "That's what I'm going to do."
"Yeah, yeah." Doyle made sure he got a receipt. "You think he'd reimburse us for a pint or two?"
Bodie considered. "Before or after lunch?"
"How about during?" Doyle said. "That way we can add it onto the meal receipt and it might slip past as a legitimate expense."
"See? I was right," Bodie replied as they headed out of the cafe, "about our mutual ability to understand the criminal mind."
"Isn't criminal," Doyle protested. "Merely...slightly underhanded."
Bodie smiled. "I like that."
They hiked off towards the cliff path. Slightly underhanded...well, Bodie thought, it never hurt, when tracking down criminals, to possess a devious mind, to be able to think the way they did. He wondered, as they reached the path and started the trek back to Penzance, what Davis' killer had been thinking as he walked along this same path. Stop Davis from returning to town...why? Because he'd seen something through those binoculars of his? Or overheard something he shouldn't have? Or both. So the killer had followed him along the path, caught up to him at a lonely stretch, and bashed his skull in. With what? Finding the murder weapon would be a tremendous help. Except that it could be as simple as picking up one of the rocks strewn along the way. The killer had probably tossed it over the side of the cliff afterwards. Nothing down there but water. Or he could have used something else and tossed it over...and maybe it would eventually wash up in one of the nearby coves...surely Keaton would have searched them, though.
They neared the spot of the murder, where Bodie stopped. "Ray, did you get a good look at the police report?"
"Yeah. Why?" Doyle came up beside him at the cliff edge.
Bodie pointed downward. "Did they search below the cliffs?"
"Not that I recall. Nothing there but rocks."
"Any beaches near here? Or coves? Anywhere something could wash up?"
"Could be," Doyle replied. "Hang on." He dug into his jacket pocket and pulled out the hiking map he'd taken to carrying with him. "Let's see--there's a few places where the cliffs aren't as sheer, where you can get down to some of the coves."
Bodie looked over his shoulder. "Is that one?" He jabbed at a jagged, dotted line near their current location.
"Yeah. Looks like the closest spot we can get down. Should be about twenty feet ahead." He folded the map away. "You really think we'll find anything?"
"The killer could have tossed the weapon over. I say it's worth checking."
"Thought you'd had your fill of climbing today."
"I have," Bodie said glumly. He walked on up the path, scouting for the right spot. Doyle was right--when he stopped twenty feet along and looked over, the descent was not as steep. Between the rocks snaked a rough passageway, leading down to a sandy stretch of shore.
They carefully wended their way down, half-slipping and sliding in spots, but finally making it to the bottom without bodily harm, though their clothes came away a bit ragged. The sandy cove pushed deep into the cliff face, its beach scattered with boulders. They made a systematic search, Bodie taking the left side, Doyle the right, working from the wide opening to the narrow rear where the cove met cliff face. Bodie was very near to concluding he had torn his jacket sleeve for no good reason when Doyle called out.
"Over here!" Doyle waved him to a clump of rocks near the cliff wall.
Wedged between them was a camera bag, open and empty. A wallet lay on the sand nearby. "Well, will you look at that." Bodie knelt to take a closer look. "Both pretty damp. Been in the water a while before coming ashore." He carefully used one finger to flip the wallet open, not that he really needed to worry about destroying prints on something that had been in the ocean for a day or two. He squinted at the ID photo inside. "Davis, all right. Got anything we can put these in?"
"No," Doyle said. "Use your jacket--it's shot anyway."
"Think I could charge a new one to Cowley?" Bodie took it off and wrapped it round the bag and wallet, tying the sleeves for a makeshift bundle. He made a final circuit of the cove. "No weapon." The killer probably had simply used a rock. "Guess you can't have everything."
"Never mind." Doyle nodded at the bundle. "Should make Keaton's day, that. Tossing evidence over the cliff--who'd have believed it?"
"I would," Bodie replied as he eyed the rocky ascent. "There's one aspect of the criminal mind I don't have an understanding of."
"What's that?" Doyle asked.
"Stupidity." Bodie shifted the bundle to one hand and began to climb.
"My, haven't we been busy." Detective Superintendent Keaton peered at them from between two towering piles of books on his desk. The camera bag and wallet lay in what little space remained there; Bodie had taken back his jacket.
Keaton picked the wallet up and opened it. "Grained leather is a very poor surface for retaining fingerprints. Did you know that?"
"Yeah," Doyle replied, instantly irritated. From his seat, he could barely see Keaton. He craned his neck for a better view. "I did know that. Anyway, it's been in the water, prints will've washed off." He'd come into the office determined to behave professionally and not become annoyed, but Keaton wasn't making it easy.
"Of course they've bloody well washed off, son--why do you bloody well think I'm handling the damn thing?" He pulled out a wad of soggy bills. "Twenty-three quid. Now, most robbers I know tend to take money when the opportunity presents itself. Who do you suppose would want to kill poor Mr. Davis if they didn't plan to rob him, hm? Our friend Jack Fielding? Or your friend Oliver?"
"Have you brought Fielding in?" Bodie asked.
"We can't find the bastard." Keaton poked around more in the wallet, then set it down. "But we will, we will. His sister wasn't terribly cooperative."
"You brought Kate in for questioning?" Doyle could well imagine her mood after their little encounter.
Keaton looked inside the open camera bag. "Damn right I did. Wouldn't say a thing." He tossed the empty bag aside and glared through the book stacks at them. "Except to express her displeasure at your methods. Do you always handle potential witnesses with such aplomb?"
Act in a professional manner.... Doyle gritted his teeth. He glanced at Bodie, who glowered back at Keaton. "We handled it the best we could, sir. I think she told us all she knew."
"Which wasn't a hell of a lot," Keaton said. "Davis saw Jack Fielding having lunch with an older woman. Big effing deal."
"Did you find out who she is?" Doyle asked patiently.
"Camberwell's Bed and Breakfast is small," Keaton replied, "and has only one guest at this time. So yes, we did find out who she is. Haven't yet met the lady, however, as she is out for the day, mucking about looking at ruins. Amateur archaeologist, apparently, or that's what she told the landlady. Been here a fortnight. Name of Jewell. Margaret Jewell."
"Jewell?" Doyle repeated. "Jewell--gold, golden?"
Keaton tapped his fingers on the desk top. "Son, if Davis knew his killer's surname, he'd bloody well have said it, not made some sort of cryptic reference just to leave us a bloody great puzzle."
Doyle strove to maintain his composure. "Thinking out loud, that's all. Sorry."
"You were talking out loud," Keaton said. "Thinking is what you do in silence. Keep it that way in future."
Doyle didn't reply, for fear of making things worse. He looked at Bodie, who had a smirk on his face and was obviously trying very hard not to laugh.
"Now, then," Keaton continued, "Margaret Jewell does not speak much with her landlady. What we have gleaned so far is that she comes from Devon and was widowed last year. Her husband had a dairy farm which she is currently running. No mention of children. Mrs. Jewell is in her late forties, dyes her hair, and has tasteful but inexpensive clothing. She drives a blue Volvo. She has very regular habits and should, according to our esteemed landlady, be back at six this evening for supper, a meal for which she has been joining the Camberwell family. One of my men will be waiting for her return, and will question her about Jack Fielding. You two can spend the rest of the day and evening any damn way you please, but I'd better not see you within a hundred yards of that B and B. Have I made myself understood?"
"Thought you wanted our help," Bodie put in.
Doyle waited for the explosion. It didn't take long.
"Help?" Keaton flung his pen across the room, where it bounced off a filing cabinet. "Of course I bloody well want help! What I don't want is you two getting in the damn way and pissing the damn witnesses off and coming up with half-baked theories about damn buried treasure. Gold in the castle, for chrissakes. Have you two been drinking?"
Not yet, Doyle thought. But damn soon. "I think this Oliver character bears checking out."
"Why? The old fart was probably searching for coins accidentally dropped by other bloody tourists. There's no gold buried on St. Michael's Mount. Where the hell would it have come from?"
"Smugglers?" Bodie offered.
Keaton stared at him. "Nobody smuggled gold, son. Wine, brandy, silk. Why the hell would anybody smuggle gold into England? You must have been home ill the day they covered Cornwall in your history class."
Doyle smiled. About time he stopped receiving the brunt of Keaton's irritation. Bodie failed to offer more suggestions on the Gold Theory.
"I guess we've settled that, then, haven't we?" Keaton said. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have work to do." He reached to grab the top book off one of the piles.
They left the station and ambled off towards their hotel. "It's past lunch time," Doyle pointed out. "Want to eat in the hotel dining room? You could try out their cream tea."
"Got a better idea," Bodie replied. "It's warm, it's sunny-- why not have a picnic lunch? Could pick up a few things at the grocery, find a nice bottle of wine, grab one of the blankets from our rooms, and go down to the beach."
Doyle liked the idea. It was quite warm, and getter warmer. There didn't seem much point in carrying on with the investigation today. They'd done everything they could and Keaton didn't want them doing more. This wasn't exactly his idea of the proper way to work on an op, and despite Cowley's injunction to take it easy, he couldn't quite believe that afternoon sunning on the beach was what their boss had in mind. Still, unless something new cropped up, they might as well take it easy whatever way they pleased. "You going to work on your tan?" he teased, poking Bodie in the ribs. Few in CI5 could compete with Bodie in the pale department.
Bodie looked down at his own body. "Why change what's already perfect?"
Privately, Doyle couldn't agree more. But he merely smiled and walked on.
The beach stretched below the steep, hilly streets of Penzance, wide and flat along the harbor, then narrowing where the cliffs loomed up at the edge of town. They took pains to avoid the most popular section, and after hiking a bit, they lucked onto a secluded cove. The afternoon sun hit the sand full force there, while a soft ocean breeze drifted along the curving rock walls that sheltered the spot. Bodie spread out the lightweight hotel blanket, pulling off shoes and socks before taking up his position on it.
Doyle did the same, and then grabbed the large sack containing their provisions, lining the items up neatly on the blanket. Fresh-baked bread, a chunk of cheddar, salami, paper napkins. "Did you bring a knife?"
Bodie produced a dinner knife. "Nicked it from the hotel dining room."
"Criminal mind," Doyle replied. "You nick any butter while you were at it?"
"Sorry." Bodie deposited a few foil-wrapped squares onto the blanket. "All they had left was margarine."
Doyle wouldn't have been surprised to learn he'd stolen the wine as well; it was a rather expensive bottle. "Corkscrew?" he asked.
"Didn't need to steal that." Bodie pulled out his pocket army knife and found the requisite tool. He set to work on the wine while Doyle fixed up the sandwiches.
Bodie rummaged in the sack, retrieving two plastic cups. "Thought of everything, didn't I?" he said as he poured out the wine.
"Yeah, including saving a quid or two." Doyle took his wine and handed over a sandwich. "Bet this didn't cost as much as a restaurant meal."
"Not quite." Bodie smiled and raised his cup. "A toast?"
"To getting out of London." Bodie touched his plastic cup to Doyle's.
Doyle sipped at the wine. "I suppose this is all right for a while. Wouldn't want to live anywhere this small, though. Too slow-paced." He picked up his sandwich and attacked it with gusto. He was starving.
"Oh, I don't know," Bodie said slowly between bites. "Some days I think I could get used to a slower pace in life."
Doyle nearly choked. Bodie? Slow-paced? He managed to recover his composure. "One week of this and you'd be round the bloody twist, mate. I know you."
Or at least, he thought he did. Lately, Bodie had been downright unpredictable. His wanting to come out here on this op in the first place without protest had been unusual, and now there was all this talk of taking things easy, getting away from the streets of London. Then there were his odd questions earlier today--asking him where he thought he'd be in twenty years, asking him if he ever felt old. Just what had gotten into Bodie? He couldn't possibly be tired of CI5. Bodie craved action, had spent his whole life in one high-risk pursuit after another. No, it had to be related to the shooting, there was no other explanation. It must have shaken Bodie worse than Doyle had realized. But he was the one who had nearly died, and he was damn well ready to do the job again. If Bodie was worried about him, then he was wasting his time.
Doyle quietly finished eating his sandwich, and drank his wine. With the warmth of the sun beating down and a full stomach, he began to feel drowsy. "Going to have a lie-down," he announced. He bunched his jacket into a makeshift pillow and unbuttoned his shirt. As he slipped it off, he caught Bodie staring at him. "It's too warm," he said, adding the neatly folded shirt on top of his jacket before settling down, stretching out on his back with his arms behind his head. He wriggled his toes as a breeze wafted past. "There's no one around, you know. Could probably go starkers if we wanted."
"Oh, no," Bodie replied, "not if we want to go on living. Can just see Cowley's face when he opens the paper. 'CI5 men caught nude bathing on public beach'."
"Give him an attack, that would." Doyle smiled at the image. "This feels good, though--try it. Get out of that ruddy poloneck, you must be sweltering in there."
Bodie went quiet, and Doyle shrugged and closed his eyes, enjoying the warm air tickling over his bare chest. A few moments later he heard a soft rustle, and opened one eye to see Bodie pulling off his top. Good. Too modest by half, Bodie was, when it came to clothing. Covered himself up far too much. Doyle watched him fold the poloneck into a pillow and turn over, lying face down on it. Bodie rested his head on his folded arms, face turned towards Doyle. The watchful gaze disturbed Doyle; he looked away, closing his eyes against the sun.
Bodie.... Doyle thought about the man lying beside him, and how he had changed this past year. And how he had changed. He didn't really want to think about that, but found he couldn't help it. His relationship with Bodie had been so different during those long months when he was regaining his strength. They had spent so much time together doing nothing more than talking. He had learned a lot about the man to whom, for many years, he had entrusted his life. The sense of closeness he felt with Bodie intensified. And with it, old longings resurfaced, feelings he thought he had buried once and for all. At first he put the desire he felt down to simple lack of female companionship, and as soon as he was well enough he headed out to the nearest bar to pick up a bird for the night. And the next night, and the next.... But he quickly realized the emptiness of such "companionship", and found it didn't satisfy. He stopped going out as often, preferring Bodie's company. Yet he still wanted more, something solid he could hold onto. Another Ann, perhaps...but that thought had not lasted very long. He knew that wasn't what he wanted. He wanted Bodie.
It was wrong.... Doyle had thought he'd convinced himself, a long, long time ago, that the past didn't matter, that he had never been guilty of any wrong--and yet he couldn't free himself completely from the boy he had been, no matter how hard he tried. For whenever he thought about wanting Bodie physically, all the old, painful memories flooded back unbidden.
Fourteen years old, fooling around with his best friend...he and Davy had grown up together, been next-door neighbors. They had played together, gone to school together, gotten into trouble together. And when they grew older and their bodies began changing, they wound up experimenting together. Nothing more than some harmless fun, a bit of mutual education--or at least, that was the way Doyle viewed it until the afternoon when his father came home unexpectedly and caught them at it. Drunker than usual, he had first thrown Davy out and then beaten Ray literally to within an inch of his life. The broken cheekbone, skull fracture, and cracked ribs landed him in the casualty ward, and after making it through surgery he spent another month in hospital. On his release he was sent to stay with an aunt and uncle in another town, and he never saw his friend again.
He had buried it all as hard and as deep as he could. The last thing he wanted was to have those memories come back now, to still allow himself to be affected by them. But he wanted to tell Bodie how he felt, and found that he couldn't, that the very thought of telling him twisted his stomach into knots. The past still held power over him, and he had no idea how to fight something so intangible.
Doyle wondered if Bodie was still watching him, and felt a tingle along his spine at the thought. He opened his eyes to glance over. Bodie's eyes were narrow slits, and Doyle couldn't quite tell if he was looking at him or not. Feeling abnormally self-conscious, Doyle shifted to roll over onto his stomach and resettled, head turned away from Bodie.
He lost track of time as he drifted in and out of a fitful doze. He allowed the sound of the waves to lull him towards sleep, only to encounter unpleasant images--of his father's furious, reddened face, of the hospital ward--they tugged at him sharply, keeping him from the oblivion of slumber. As he stirred and shifted about, he heard movement beside him. Doyle turned his head and looked up at Bodie, who sat propped on one arm, gazing down at him with a worried face.
"Why so restless?"
"Don't know," Doyle lied. "Can't seem to relax, that's all."
Bodie moved closer. "How about a bit of massage, then? Loosen up those muscles."
Before Doyle could protest, Bodie's hands were on his shoulders, gently kneading them. The firm, smooth strokes were instantly soothing, putting a quick end to Doyle's resistance. He relaxed into the touch, allowing the strong, supple fingers to ease his tension, relishing the contact. After thoroughly manipulating Doyle's shoulders, Bodie massaged his neck briefly, then moved on to his spine, alternately rubbing and caressing the taut muscles on either side.
"Um," Doyle murmured, luxuriating in the contrast of strength with gentleness.
"Good, is it?"
Bodie moved ever downward, keeping up a rhythmic, circular stroking. When he reached Doyle's lower back, a flicker of arousal passed through Doyle's groin. Christ... He mentally wished Bodie to leave off that area, though he dared not say anything aloud. A few moments later Bodie finished with Doyle's lower back and stroked slowly up to the top. The danger was past.
The massage ended all too soon. Doyle contentedly mumbled his thanks and rolled over onto his back, shading his eyes with his forearm. Bodie sat cross-legged beside him with a distant, far- away expression. "What are you thinking?"
Bodie blinked. "Hm? Oh, I was just thinking about you and me."
Doyle felt a lurch in his gut and struggled to stay calm. Surely he didn't mean--no, of course he didn't. Probably had to do with Bodie's inexplicable desire for the slow-paced life. "What do you mean?"
"I mean you and me and the work we do." Bodie looked away. "I find myself thinking about the odds more and more," he said softly. "The longer we stay out there on the streets, the less likely we are to come back in one piece."
"But you get bored if you have to sit on one spot for more than an hour," Doyle replied. He raised himself up on his elbows. "You're not seriously saying you'd be happy with less than the top assignments?"
Bodie looked at him, the expression on his face unreadable. His hesitation in responding stretched out uncomfortably. Doyle couldn't believe Bodie was serious, and the more he talked about taking it easy, the more confused and irritated it made him feel. Especially after he'd worked so damn hard to get back on the squad. "Well?" he prompted.
Bodie sighed. "Yes," he said. "I'm serious."
The irritation gave way to anger. "Since when?" Doyle just couldn't believe this. "Since the shooting? Is that it? Since I came back? Why--don't you think I can cut it anymore?"
"No, let me explain--"
"Don't fucking lie to me, Bodie. You're worried that I'm going to screw up, aren't you, that you'll have to watch every bloody move I make. Well, I can handle myself just fine, you won't be in any danger because of me--"
"Will you shut up?"
The utter outrage in Bodie's voice shocked Doyle into silence.
"I am not worried about that," Bodie said. "You've spent the last three months proving to everybody in the whole damn world that you're one hundred percent and then some--gone out of your way to prove it. You're just as good as you ever were, and I haven't for one second been worried about who's watching my back. But yes, it does have to do with the shooting--christ, Ray, it is the shooting. Don't you understand, I almost lost you. I don't ever want to feel like that again." He abruptly rose and strode off down the beach. He stopped, staring out at the sea.
Doyle lay there, stunned. Why hadn't Bodie said any of that before? How long had he been keeping it all inside? He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. What had Bodie said that morning, back in Davis' office...that he was scared of waking up some day and not finding him there. Doyle shook his head. Of course he knew Bodie cared about him, but he was talking about changing his whole life because of him. Bodie needed to be active, he couldn't be happy without it--he had to be mad to think he could. And Bodie didn't form strong attachments to people for that very reason--he didn't want anyone changing his life, he needed to keep control of it. Bloody hell, surely he didn't mean that much to Bodie. It didn't make any sense.
Of course, on the other hand, Bodie meant that much to him, so why shouldn't it work both ways...except that it was different for him. Doyle had a habit of forming strong attachments. He did, in fact, love the contrary bastard. And it was a love that couldn't possibly be returned. Or could it? Doyle closed his eyes and sighed. When he opened them, Bodie was still standing out there.
He slowly got to his feet and walked across the sand. He came up beside Bodie, crossed his arms against his chest, and looked out at the ocean. "The reason I worked so hard to come back," he said carefully, continuing to stare straight ahead, "was because of you. I did it for us, for the partnership. I was afraid that if I didn't make it back to the top, that you wouldn't want to go down with me. Cowley would put me on all the slower ops, and you'd be bored out of your skull in no time. I thought you'd want out, want to be in on the big stuff, either alone or with a new partner. And I couldn't stand the thought of not being with you, and that's why I drove so hard." He paused, looking down at his own bare feet. He wasn't used to making speeches, and certainly wasn't used to making confessions. It wasn't easy for him to tell Bodie how much he needed him. "If I'd known how you felt...about not wanting to be in the thick of things any more...oh, christ." It was too damned ironic--him pushing harder than he ever had to do the job, for Bodie's sake, and all the while Bodie didn't want it. He let out another sigh and looked back out at the water. "All those months we spent talking, finally getting to really know each other well, and we damn well forgot to say the most important things."
"I guess we did," Bodie said. "For one thing, you're an idiot."
Doyle looked at him, eyebrows raised. "Oh, yeah?"
"Yeah." Bodie's eyes were smiling as he said it. "I would never work in CI5 with anyone else. Even if they demoted you to the ruddy file room, I'd be right there beside you."
"But I didn't think--" Doyle stopped, caught short by the open tenderness of Bodie's expression. "Since when did you start caring so much?" he asked, his voice in danger of breaking.
"Ever since I figured out I loved you," Bodie replied. Then he turned and walked back to the blanket.
Doyle stared after him, until his mind started working again, and then he hurried across the sand. Sinking down onto the blanket beside Bodie, hope and fear struggling within him, he said cautiously, "Just how do you mean that?"
Bodie picked up his poloneck and pulled it on. "How do you think?"
He looked directly at Doyle, and Doyle saw the fear in Bodie's eyes and realized that he was as scared of admitting anything deeper between them as he was. "I don't know," he said, unwilling to be the first to take the plunge.
Bodie studied Doyle's face for what seemed a very long time. Then he reached out to brush his fingers gently across Doyle's cheek. "Don't know why I let you get to me." He smiled, letting his hand drop. "Too stubborn by half." He turned away to grab the sack and began stuffing their leftover food into it.
Doyle knew the potential moment for confession had been lost, Bodie's cleaning-up efforts effectively changing the mood. They had both been on the verge, though, he sensed that. But uncertainty and fear forced them to hold back. Maybe it simply wasn't meant to happen. After all, to love Bodie the way he truly wanted to would be mad.
He picked up his shirt and put it on. "Don't think I know much of anything else," he said.
"Jobs. Work." Doyle finished buttoning his shirt and stood to tuck it into his jeans. "If we really don't stick to what we're doing, then what are we going to do for a living?" He bent to snatch up his jacket, shaking it out.
"Hadn't thought that far," Bodie replied. He stood to help Doyle fold up the blanket. "Figured you were so set on staying on the squad, that it was hopeless even trying to talk about quitting."
"Don't want to quit," Doyle said as they slowly ambled up the beach. "He may be a ruthless bastard at times, but I like working for Cowley."
"Yeah, he's not bad," Bodie agreed. "Guess we'd better have a little chat with him. Maybe he'll think of something for us other than the file room."
"No more ops?" Doyle asked. "You want totally out of that?" It seemed strange to think of truly leaving the streets. He felt strong and fit--in better shape, even, then he'd been in before the shooting. Sitting behind a desk held no appeal.
Bodie nodded. "We've both been hurt too many times, Ray. I'm tired of it." He came to a sudden halt, shaking his head. "Never thought I'd hear myself say that."
"Never thought I'd hear you say it," Doyle said. "Bodie, are you sure? Are you really sure? It's not simply a job you're talking about changing. It's your whole way of life."
"Yeah, I know it is." Bodie started walking again. "I knew all along, in the back of my mind, that it would have to end sooner or later. Just didn't think it would be quite this soon."
"No." Doyle thought back to Bodie's earlier questions. "I don't feel old, you know. Want to keep doing something where I get to move around."
"Well, I don't think Cowley will put us in the CI5 Senior Agents Home," Bodie said.
"Neither do I. Maybe we shouldn't worry about it too much, at least not 'til we're done here, okay?"
They reached the promenade along the main part of the beach, and turned to hike up the steep streets to the hotel.
Bodie dropped the blanket in the hallway near his door. "Don't think I want to sleep with the sand," he said before going inside.
Doyle followed him, crossing to the adjoining door. "Gonna have a quick wash," he said, disappearing into his own room.
Too close, Bodie thought as he sank onto the bed, rubbing his eyes. He had never been so near to saying it...hell, he had said it, had told Doyle he loved him. And had managed not to say anything more, not to admit he wanted to make love to him, that it wasn't merely friendship. He was such a bloody coward. Doyle wouldn't have punched him out for it, he could see that. What was he so afraid of then--rejection? He sighed. Doyle had been just as tentative, fishing for the truth but not willing to come right out and ask. Bodie couldn't tell how Doyle felt about it at all, or if he had even guessed the entire truth. They were both running away from the whole question just as hard and as fast as they could.
Stupid, Bodie chastised himself. Ask him, tell him, do something...or it's going to go on for bloody ever. Too stubborn by half. Yeah, well, Doyle wasn't the only one. They could grow white-haired and wrinkled by the time they decided to stop waiting for the other one to confess first.
Bodie sat staring at the dull hotel room walls, at the lifeless pictures put up for decoration. Boring. He got up and pulled a chair over to the windows, and sat looking out at the promenade and the ocean beyond. The late afternoon sun made its slow progress down the sky, and one small boat bobbed on the water, heading into the harbor. Slow pace. He thought about what Doyle had told him, about why he had worked so hard to stay on the squad. Because he thought I'd be bored by ops like this. Bodie knew it would take time to get used to a new life. But he had no doubts about the rightness of it. Not only because he couldn't handle seeing Doyle hurt that badly again, but because he didn't care for the possibility of Doyle going through the same hell he had gone through. He knew Doyle cared about him just as deeply.
Could Doyle love him as deeply? Bodie didn't know. He was damn well going to stop acting the coward and find out.
As he turned towards the adjoining door, the phone rang. Hell. He reluctantly picked it up. "Bodie." Better be important.
"Keaton here. I need you two, now. Be outside the hotel in two minutes, with your guns. You did bring guns, didn't you?"
"Quiet, son, and listen to me. Two of my constables have cornered Jack Fielding in a building, and he may be armed. They're not. I'm short of manpower and you two are well trained for this sort of activity, so get your damn arses down there, now." He rang off.
Bodie stared at the receiver. "Bastard," he muttered, slamming it down. When he looked up, he saw Doyle leaning in the open doorway.
"Grab your holster, mate. We're going on an adventure, courtesy of Detective Superintendent Keaton. He's trying to bring in Jack Fielding." He smiled. "And he's having a spot of trouble."
"Oh, and he wants our help, does he? Few hours ago he couldn't wait to see the back of us."
"They only love us when they need us," Bodie replied. He unlocked the case he'd been keeping his gun in and slipped the shoulder holster on.
Two minutes later they walked out the main hotel door in time to see Keaton roaring down the street in a huge, battered four- door. He brought it to a screeching halt in front of them.
"What the hell is this?" Bodie asked as they climbed inside.
"American," Keaton said as he took off. "Oldsmobile."
Old is right, Bodie thought as he listened to the car's various rattles and clanks as Keaton navigated the streets at top speed.
"Where's Fielding?" Doyle asked.
"Holed up inside an antiques store. Big place on the edge of town, been closed up this past year, old guy who runs it took ill. Fielding worked there one summer, knows it well."
"And how did he wind up there?"
Keaton shrugged. "We've been watching for him at a car park in Marazion, he pays for a space there by the month. When he turned up, my men moved in. Don't think they did anything to spook him, but he bolted anyway. They followed him over here, finally trapped him in an alley near the store. Guess he knew how to get inside, 'cause that's where he went. One of my men spotted a glint of metal under Fielding's jacket, said it looked like a gun. Didn't want to take any chances." He'd reached the edge of town and turned down a road lined with warehouses and furniture stores. "Should be close--yeah, there they are."
They pulled in behind a police car parked near the entrance to a large, rambling wooden building. A uniformed man stood by the car, watching the front door of the place. Bodie got out and looked up at the weathered lettering. Oltman's Antique Emporium. The two-story building was as weathered as the lettering, the paint peeling from its wooden walls, cracks showing between many of the boards, the few tiny windows boarded over haphazardly. There was a smell of mildew in the air. He wrinkled his nose. Terrific. A musty old building jammed full of dusty junk--that would go over well with his sinuses.
Doyle came up beside him. "Looks like it ought to be condemned."
"Should still be stable," Keaton replied. "More or less." He waved the constable over. "Report, son."
"Yes, sir," the young man said. "Suspect went in by this door about half an hour ago. I've been watching it since, and Constable Perkins has been at the back exit. No other doors. Two floors inside and an attic, no basement."
"How do you know that?" Bodie asked.
"Man who owns the warehouse across the street came over to see what was going on. Said he'd been inside the place often, he's a friend of Mr. Oltman."
"You hear anything in there?" Keaton asked.
"You sure he didn't run right through and out the back before Perkins got there?"
"Don't think so, sir."
"Okay, son, you stay right where you are. I'll take the rear, Perkins will stay on the outside. You two take the front. Ground floor, first floor, attic, front-to-back sweep." He reached inside his coat to pull out a nine-millimeter automatic. "Got top place in the annual target matches in this county three years running." He checked his watch. "Move on that door in sixty seconds." Then he loped off round the side of the building towards the rear.
"Short and to the point," Doyle said. "You want the left side or the right?"
"I'll take the right." Bodie moved up to the entrance and took out his gun. The wood around the door's keyhole was splintered and the door stood ajar. "Fielding do this?"
"Yes," the constable said. "Smashed it in and dashed inside before we could reach him. It's pretty rotten wood."
"What's Fielding like?" Doyle asked. "Big, small, muscular, what?"
The constable rubbed his chin, frowning. "Tall and thin, not muscular, but quick-moving. Young--I'd say early twenties. Wearing jeans, a dark shirt, and a dark-colored jacket. Dark hair, too."
"Great," Bodie said. "He'll be so easy to spot. Have you got a torch? Or better yet, two?"
"Yes." The constable went to his patrol car, returning with the two torches, handing one to each of them.
"Been over sixty seconds," Doyle pointed out.
"Hell. Come on, then, let's get it over with." Bodie pushed the door open further, and they slid inside.
Doyle immediately slipped off to the left-hand side of the immense, one-room interior. Bodie moved slowly off to the right. The place was packed with furniture; rows of wardrobes lined up side by side made it difficult to see far. He didn't want to use the torch unless absolutely necessary, and enough light flickered through the cracks in the wooden walls to make out the paths between the furniture, though barely. And the sun was setting; the light wouldn't last much longer.
He reached the end of the wardrobes and turned along the side wall. The next row over consisted of a hodgepodge of desks, vanities, and chests of drawers. After it came a jumbled row of chairs of all shapes and sizes. He moved on down the side wall, watching for any sign of movement along the lines of furniture. Nothing.
The rear of the ground floor was stacked with sideboards and china cabinets. Bodie made his way among them, looking for hiding spots behind or between the larger pieces. Dust got up his nose, and he stifled a sneeze.
"Bodie? 's that you?" The whisper came from his left.
"Doyle? Where are you?"
Bodie cautiously stepped around a massive cabinet and spotted Doyle's curly head peering above a tallboy. "Nothing," he whispered. "Where's Keaton?"
"Don't know." Doyle moved out into the aisle. "Haven't seen him."
"Great. You seen any stairs?"
"Yeah, they're this way." Doyle headed off towards the left- hand wall.
They took the stairs to the next floor, entering the new room slowly. Bodie froze a few feet in at the sound of steps above him. Another flight of steps led up to the attic.
Doyle, who was standing directly below the stairway, pointed upwards. Their quarry was on the stairs. Bodie moved forward, towards the bottom landing. Doyle edged out from under the staircase.
The steps creaked; he was heading down. Bodie found a pillar near the bottom and waited behind it, gun ready. Doyle stayed to the rear, hugging the side of the staircase, gun aimed where the quarry's back would be when he hit the landing.
Bodie waited for the man to come down out of the darkness. Another footfall, and another....
And then Keaton came into view on the steps.
"Damn," Bodie said, lowering his gun. He cautiously emerged from behind the pillar. "It's okay, Ray, it's only Keaton."
Doyle came forward to the landing. "Thought we were doing a systematic search, one floor at a time, together."
Keaton had reholstered his own gun. "Well, I got tired of waiting for you boys."
"You've already searched this floor and the attic?" Bodie found it hard to credit.
"I did, and there's no one here. I'm telling you, Fielding ran straight through the building and out the back exit before Perkins got there. He's long gone."
"If you don't mind," Doyle said, irritation evident in his tone, "we'd like to take a second look."
"Be my guest." Keaton waved at the room. "Waste of time, though." He turned and tromped down the stairs.
"Shit." Bodie never thought he'd ever feel quite this grateful to have someone like Cowley for a boss. "What do you think?"
"I think he's an idiot," Doyle said.
"Got it in one, mate." Bodie scanned the room. No neat rows here, just massive piles of junk--crates, trunks, bookcases, racks of clothes, rugs, stacks of paintings, even outdoor statuary.
"You could hide the entire Cornwall constabulary in here," Doyle said.
"Plus an elephant or two." Bodie silently moved off towards the left side of the room, and Doyle moved off towards the right.
Bodie nearly tripped over the head of a bearskin rug. He flicked on the torch, keeping it aimed low. It was much more cramped in here, and what little light came through was fading quickly. He tried to keep close to the wall, running the torch over the stacks and towering piles of junk.
As his torch played over a massive bed, dark velvet draping down from its canopy, a pair of glowing eyes glittered back from between the folds. He started, then carefully pushed the material aside for a closer look at the unnatural, tiny golden eyes. Propped on top of the pillows sat a stuffed weasel. Great. Rugs with bear heads, stuffed weasels--what next? Bodie stepped away from the bed, and turned to find himself facing the glass doors of a curio cabinet. The shelves were laden with animal skulls, most of large rodents, by the look of them. No wonder this Oltman had shut up the shop--it probably wasn't illness, but lack of business. Who would want to buy stuff like this?
Bodie shook his head, and moved on. His shoulder brushed up against a rack of old, musty clothes. He paused, carefully pawing through the row of suits and coats, which made a perfect hiding spot. But there was no sign of Fielding. Perhaps Keaton was right, and he had fled through the back. Bodie ran the torchlight across a stack of empty picture frames, then along a row of bookcases. No luck there.
As he worked his way further along, the space grew tighter, more furniture blocking the path. He turned sideways to wedge his way between two wardrobes, belatedly realizing that a man could certainly fit inside one. With barely enough room to manoeuver, he shifted just past the doors and lay the torch on the floor, holding his gun in one hand while quickly pulling open a door with the other. The inside of the wardrobe was black, empty space. He shut the door and tried the one on the other wardrobe, but it was locked. Fine. Sighing, he retrieved his torch and moved on.
He weaved his way through a conglomeration of hatstands, lamps, rolled-up carpets, and a slew of gargoyle statues. He neared the back wall, which was hung ceiling-to-floor with oversized paintings. Ahead of him, along the right-hand wall of the room, stood more wardrobes, six of them lined up side by side. Where had Doyle got to? He stopped to listen. Something small scurried past him. A flick of the torch caught the tail end of a rat disappearing into the pile of carpets. He could see its tiny track trailing through the dust on the floor.
Bodie felt another sneeze coming on. As he set the torch down on a nearby bookcase in order to put his hand over his nose, he saw Doyle moving up along the line of wardrobes, opening each in turn. The powerful sneeze couldn't be held back, and he let loose. The wardrobe door one up from Doyle flew open and a tall figure tumbled out in a diving roll.
Fielding. Damn. Bodie snatched up the torch and sprinted towards Doyle, barely able to make out the shapes in the gloom, the pencil-thin line of light from the torch not much help. He heard Doyle yell out to Fielding to stop, then a fleeing figure rushed close by him, but before he could make a move, the man was gone, swallowed up by the jumbled mass that filled the center of the room.
"Ray?" He caught Doyle's form in the torchlight as Doyle moved towards him.
"He does move quick," Doyle said as he came up beside Bodie. "Took off out of that roll like a pro. Think he'll go for the stairs?"
"I think he'll want us to think that. You take the stairs, I'll take the mess." Bodie moved off into the piles, working his way through as quickly as he could while still being careful. He heard movement ahead and slid behind a bookcase. "Fielding!" he shouted into the darkness. "There's no way out--all the exits are covered. All we want to do is talk, so why don't you come on out." He waited. Nothing. "Listen, Fielding," he went on, "we're not ordinary cops, we're CI5. And we're both armed. Don't be stupid. Give yourself up."
Still nothing. Bodie stepped from behind the bookcase and headed towards a rack of clothes. As he reached it, he heard a rustle of cloth from the far end of the rack. Bodie squatted until he could see beneath the bottom of the clothes, and briefly shone the torch along the floor. He spotted the pair of legs; Fielding stood about twenty feet away, right on the other end of the rack. Bodie looked at the bottom of the metal rack and saw that it had wheels. Perfect.
He slowly stood up, pocketed the torch, and got a good grip on the metal pole running up the center of the rack. Then he heaved as hard as he could, giving it one, solid push forward.
Fielding let out a yelp as the rack knocked into him. Bodie dashed down to the other end. It hadn't been enough to knock Fielding all the way down, but he was staggering, and Bodie easily finished the job, with a hard jab to the back. Fielding collapsed onto all fours. Bodie grabbed an arm and twisted it behind Fielding's back just as Doyle arrived. "Wouldn't have any cuffs on you, would you?"
"Sorry," Doyle said, bending down to help keep Fielding subdued. "Left home without 'em." He performed a frisk, and pulled a gun from Fielding's jacket pocket. "Naughty, naughty."
They hauled the man to his feet; he didn't struggle. "Going to play nice, now, are you?" Bodie said.
"I don't want to get shot," Fielding replied.
"You could have surrendered," Doyle said as they manoeuvered him to the stairs.
Fielding remained silent, and kept up his silence all the way down the stairs and through the ground floor. When they came outside, they were greeted by a surprised Superintendent Keaton, who put down the car radio he'd been talking into. "I'll be damned." He snapped his fingers at the constable. "Son, get some cuffs on this man."
"Yes, sir." The constable put handcuffs on Fielding, and helped bundle him into the back of the patrol car.
"Found this on him." Doyle handed Keaton the gun. "He was hiding on the first floor, in case you're wondering."
Keaton looked at him, then Bodie, narrow-eyed, for a long moment. "All right," he finally said, "you did a good job. You proved me wrong. Fine. Let's just move on, then, shall we?" He turned away, then paused and turned back. "Come on, if you're coming. You do want to be in on the questioning, don't you?"
"Well, well," Bodie said under his breath as they followed Keaton back to his Oldsmobile. "Isn't that nice of him. Guess that means he likes us now, hm?"
Doyle sighed. "I think I preferred it when he was ignoring us."
They climbed into the car and Keaton roared off towards town.
"I was scared," Jack Fielding said.
He was young, Doyle thought. Twenty-two, according to the notes Keaton had gathered on him beforehand. Physical age didn't always mean much--he'd known fifteen, sixteen-year-old kids who knew more about the ways of the world than some fifty-year-olds. But this guy really did seem young, in every sense of the word. He sat slumped in the chair, hands clasped in his lap, and his wispy, dark brown hair fell over wide, frightened eyes. Keaton had taken the cuffs off. It wasn't likely Fielding would try anything here, in Keaton's office, with two CI5 agents hovering near the door.
Keaton sat behind his desk, tapping on a file folder.
"That's why I ran," Fielding said.
"Because you were scared?" Keaton asked.
Fielding nodded, staring down at his hands.
Keaton tapped some more. "According to my constable, all he did at the car park was get out of his patrol car and start towards your vehicle. At which point you bolted. Now, why would that scare you, Jack?"
"Been busted before," Fielding replied. "Thought they were coming to bust me again."
"Why?" Bodie put in. "Have you done something wrong?"
Fielding's head snapped up. "No! I haven't done anything."
Keaton flicked open the file folder. "Three counts of petty theft, two counts of B and E, one count of burglary, three counts of vandalism, one count of auto theft. And all before the age of eighteen." He smiled. "Spent a lot of time in juvenile remand homes, didn't you?"
"That was different." Fielding straightened in his chair. "Was running with a bad crowd then. Things are different now."
"Are they? I've got a report here from two years ago, when you worked at Oltman's place. Says you were dismissed after a number of items mysteriously disappeared. No charges filed. Pity."
Fielding kept sullenly silent, glaring warily from one to the other of them.
Keaton closed the folder and leaned his arms forward on the desk, hands clasped. "Where were you this past Wednesday evening, between five and seven?"
Doyle watched Fielding's face carefully, but no surprise registered. Keaton had given him his rights earlier, and Fielding hadn't asked for a solicitor.
"Wednesday?" Fielding repeated. "I was in Marazion. Had tea at the Cliff-Top Cafe with my aunt. Think we met around four- thirty. Stayed about an hour. Then I went home. I live on the Mount."
"Your aunt?" Keaton prompted.
"Yeah, Aunt Maggie. Her name's Margaret Jewell. She's staying at Camberwell's B and B here. We've met at the cafe a few times since she's been visiting here. Why don't you go and ask her."
"Oh, we will," Keaton said.
"Why do you want to know?"
"Just my boundless curiosity, Jack. Have you seen your sister lately?"
"No." Fielding frowned. "What's Kate got to do with this?"
Doyle recognized Keaton's interrogation technique, of asking seemingly unrelated questions designed to keep the suspect off- balance and unnerved. Hard to tell if it was working, though.
"Your sister seems to think that you're up to something," Keaton replied.
Fielding looked at him with disbelief. "Are you nuts? Why the hell have you been talking to Kate? What is going on here?"
"Do you always carry a gun about?" Keaton placed the .45 army service revolver on the desk top. It had already been determined that the gun was not Davis'; he had owned a .38 automatic. "Not exactly legal, Jack."
"My uncle gave it to me. It's not loaded."
"I noticed that," Keaton said. "What did you and your aunt talk about?"
Fielding fidgeted in his chair. "Don't know what business it is of yours."
"Everything is my business," Keaton said. "Do you know a man named Gregory Davis?"
"No." Fielding's big eyes suddenly got bigger. "Shit. The guy that was killed, that was him, wasn't it? The guy out hiking? You don't think I had anything to do with that? I didn't even know the guy."
"Your sister did." Keaton's voice was utterly calm.
"Well, maybe you should ask her where the hell she was Wednesday night, then."
Doyle looked sharply at Keaton. Nice of him to keep that information to himself. He nudged Bodie's shoulder.
Bodie nodded. "Yeah, I know," he whispered. "Give me Cowley any day."
"Did you know that Davis was watching you?" Keaton asked.
Fielding shook his head. "Don't know what you mean."
"I mean your sister hired Davis to find out what you were up to. I mean that Gregory Davis was probably watching you last Wednesday in Marazion. Do you like the idea of people spying on you, Jack?"
"'Course I don't. Kate's crazy. I'm not up to anything."
"No? What about all this money you've been talking about, how you're going to be rich. Where's this money coming from, then?"
Fielding laughed, a short, harsh sound. "I don't believe this. Kate's got one hell of an imagination."
"You didn't brag about getting money?"
"Yeah, I did. Should've kept my damn mouth shut. I'm not planning to rob a bank, if that's what you're thinking. It's a bloody inheritance, that's all. Aunt Maggie told me a few weeks back, that's why she came to see me, to get me to sign some papers. Then I can get the money. It was Uncle John's money."
Keaton leaned back in his chair. "Your uncle died a year ago."
"Really?" Fielding looked more confident now. "Gosh, I didn't know that."
"Why did it take so long to get the inheritance?" Keaton asked patiently.
Fielding shrugged. "Aunt Maggie said it took a long time to find all his money. He used to go around opening up accounts in different banks all the time, would have a dozen or more at once. And safe deposit boxes, too. He had a bunch of them scattered about. Didn't keep good records, so she hired someone to search for all his accounts. She said another one turned up recently, a safe deposit box with a couple thousand quid in cash inside. And there was a statement with it saying the money should go to me."
"Why didn't you tell Kate about this?" Keaton asked.
"'Cause she'd get mad and jealous. She didn't get anything from Uncle John." Fielding smiled. "I was his favorite."
Doyle couldn't imagine why. There was something about Jack Fielding he didn't like, and he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
"Your aunt has been in Penzance for a fortnight," Keaton said. "Has she spent all this time getting you to sign papers?"
"She said she came to see this dig going on at some cairn near here, didn't come just to see me. Aunt Maggie's into archaeology, likes to muck about old ruins and crap. It's her hobby."
Doyle's ears pricked up. Digging...old ruins--old coins? "Jack," he interrupted, ignoring Keaton's angry gaze. "Did your aunt ever mention a fellow named Oliver? Sidney Melton Oliver the Third?"
"Funny name," Fielding replied. "Think I'd remember it. But I don't." He looked back at Keaton. "Are you charging me with anything?"
"Oh, I'm sure I could think of something. Don't see much point in wasting the taxpayers' money on you, though. We'll just keep the gun, if you don't mind."
"It's an heirloom. My uncle had it during the war."
"Well, we'll see about getting it back to you sometime, after you've filed the proper ownership paperwork. You can go now, Jack. We appreciate your assistance."
"Yeah, right. I got bruises from that clothes rack, you know." He gave Bodie an unfriendly look as he stood to leave.
"Oh, are we going to cry 'police brutality'?" Keaton asked smoothly. "Because these men aren't police, Jack. They're CI5, and they operate under different rules."
Bodie, who stood blocking the door, stared intently at Fielding. "Very different," he said, his tone laced with menace. Then he stepped aside and pulled the door open.
Fielding paused, looking from Bodie to Doyle and back again. "I don't care what you do," he said defiantly. "Just so long as you leave me the hell alone." He turned and walked out of the office.
"Odd young man," Bodie said as he shut the door, leaning back against it. "Do you think he killed Greg Davis?"
"Whoever killed Davis didn't do it for the money," Keaton replied. "It was done because Davis knew something. Who could he have known something about?"
"Jack Fielding," Davis said.
"Or Margaret Jewell," Bodie added. "She should have returned to her B and B by now."
"I've got a man there. He'll report in. Did you believe what Fielding said about his uncle's money?"
"Sounded plausible," Doyle said. "He'd have to know we'd check it out with the aunt. So if it's a lie, we'll find out soon enough. Unless she's in on it, too."
"In on what?" Keaton asked.
"Whatever money-making scheme Fielding really has going. Kate said he talked about being set for life. On a couple thousand quid inheritance? Not bloody likely."
"Unless," Bodie put in, "Kate is lying."
"Oh, great," Doyle said. "Why?"
"To try to get her brother into trouble for some reason. There doesn't seem to be much sibling affection there."
Doyle sighed. "Yeah, okay. Maybe we should just assume everybody's lying to us."
"Always a good assumption, son." Keaton took Fielding's revolver and locked it in his top desk drawer. "Why don't you two call it a day, hm? I'll let you know if anything comes up."
"Fine." Bodie opened the door again, gesturing for Doyle to go first. "We'll check in first thing tomorrow morning."
"I doubt there will be anything for you to do," Keaton replied. "I have things covered."
Doyle paused on the threshold, wanting desperately to say something about the way Keaton had "covered" things so far. But he caught Bodie's slight shake of the head, and the look in his eyes that said, let it pass.
He silently walked on out.
Bodie sat on his hotel room bed, receiver to his ear, waiting patiently for the call to headquarters to get through to Cowley. Doyle sat at the room's tiny writing table, jotting down notes from the Fielding interview. As Bodie watched Doyle's bent head, and noted his intent concentration on his work, he knew the timing for personal revelations was all wrong. He'd been so damn close before they'd gotten the call about Fielding. But now the doubts were creeping in again. Doyle couldn't possibly want him, not really...besides, Ray liked birds far too much. Except that he hadn't been paying much attention to them these past months. Bodie frowned. Did that mean something? Or had Doyle simply been driving himself so hard that he hadn't had the time? Well, they weren't working hard now. Maybe it would be wise to put Doyle's current interest in women to the test before Bodie blurted out any further confessions to him.
Further speculation was cut short by the CI5 receptionist announcing Cowley was now ready to take the call. The familiar voice came on the line. "What have you found, then?"
Bodie gave him a thorough report on Greg Davis' murder, and their progress, what little there had been. "That's all we've got," he said when he'd finished. "There simply isn't enough to go on. No witnesses, no proof. Fielding is the only one with a possible motive, and it could take weeks of surveillance to find anything on him. Davis' final words haven't helped yet, either. Keaton said he'd put a man on Fielding and one on Margaret Jewell. He hasn't been that easy to work with, sir."
"I see," Cowley replied. "Well, as I only asked you to check into the death, and you've done so, there's no need to do more at this point. Best let Keaton handle things his own way for a while, see if he turns anything up."
"We've been at it one day, sir," Bodie pointed out. "We could keep working on it. Or do you need us back in London?"
"No, things are quiet here at the moment. Why don't you two take a holiday, you've certainly earned it these past few months."
Bodie nearly dropped the phone. He couldn't possibly have heard that correctly.
"Still there, Bodie?"
"Um, yes, sir. Did you say 'holiday', sir?"
"Aye, one week, possibly two--perhaps you'd like to stay out there, see the sights in Cornwall."
Now it made more sense. "And keep our ears and eyes open while we're here, in case anything new turns up on the Davis case?"
"Oh, I suppose that would be handy," Cowley said.
"Without annoying Keaton." Or having Keaton annoy us. Bodie had to admire Cowley's thinking. "Are you going to tell him we're not officially working with him on the case, or shall we do it?"
"I'll give him a ring in the morning. Do enjoy yourselves."
"Thank you, sir." Bodie hung up quickly, before Cowley could change his mind and haul them back to Town.
Doyle looked up from his notes. "What did he say?"
"Told us to take some time off."
Bodie shook his head. "One to two weeks, he said. We don't have to deal with Keaton any more."
"I can't believe this." Doyle tossed his pen hard on the table; it bounced onto the floor. "He sent us all the way out here, he can't take us off it now. We've barely got started. We've got work to do."
"Will you relax?" Bodie felt mildly exasperated at Doyle's sense of dedication. "He also told us to stay out here and keep our eyes open."
"Oh." Doyle considered this information. "He wants us to look into things without Keaton getting in our way, is that it? Why can't we just read Keaton the CI5 brief and take over the investigation?"
Because then we'd bloody well have more work to do, Bodie thought, his exasperation increasing. Aloud, he said, "Cowley doesn't need to step on anyone's toes. Keaton's all right on basic investigation and legwork. So he's not exactly the brightest thing in shoe leather, that's no reason to pull rank."
"Bet he'll figure it out, though," Doyle replied. "We go on 'holiday' and still stick around? He'll know we're up to something."
Bodie propped the bed pillow up and stretched back against it. "So we spend the first couple of days as a genuine holiday, and do a bit of sightseeing until Keaton stops worrying about us. Cowley said to take it easy. He's not expecting a lot on this one. Think he really wants us to take a break."
"You're sure he doesn't want us back in London?"
"Oh, for chrissakes." Bodie rubbed his hands over his eyes. "Yes, I'm sure. What's the matter with you?"
Doyle bent to retrieve his pen, placing it neatly alongside his notebook. "I don't like it. Since when does Cowley go easy on us? He's planning something, Bodie. It's as if he's trying to get us off the squad before we've even told him we want to leave."
Bodie found Doyle's concern puzzling. "So? It's fine by me if he's read our minds and figured out what we want. Even if he hasn't, we'd have to tell him when we get back anyway." He was struck by a new, unsettling thought. "Have you changed your mind, Ray? About not staying on?"
Doyle stared silently at him for far too long. "I just don't know," he said at last, his voice hesitant. "Bodie, I don't know any other kind of work. This is all I've ever done, in the Met, in CI5. When I think about making a change, it scares me." He stood and crossed to the night stand near the bed, leaning back against it, arms wrapped around his chest. "That search for Fielding, and chasing him down--the rush was there, the excitement. I think I'd miss that."
"Yeah," Bodie replied, "and if he'd had a loaded gun instead, and managed to shoot one of us, would it still be exciting?"
"'Course not. Dammit, you know what I mean. Sometimes it's the only way to feel really alive."
"I know what you mean," Bodie said. "And I don't need it any more. It isn't worth it any more."
Doyle lapsed into silence again.
Bodie knew that pushing wouldn't do any good; Doyle, being stubborn, would simply push back. "I'm not out to force you into anything, Ray. If you want to stay on, then do it."
"But you won't be there with me."
"No." Bodie knew it was a lie the second he spoke the word. Whatever Doyle did, he would want to be with him. "I mean, yes." He looked up at Doyle. "I'd be there."
Doyle took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Thanks, mate." He shifted, stretching his arms above his head. "Well, I'm not about to make any decisions tonight. S'pose we should start our 'holiday'." He relaxed his arms and checked his watch. "Still early--what do you want to do?"
"Don't care," Bodie said with a sense of relief that the subject had changed. "Does this place have a night life?"
"Good question. Must be a pub or two about. Dinner, game of darts, couple of pints?"
"Okay." Bodie suddenly recalled his earlier resolve to check on Doyle's feelings about the female sex. Cautiously, he added, "Might even find a bird or two worth chatting up."
Doyle looked at him blankly. "Maybe," he said, his tone neutral.
Well, there would probably be opportunities at the pub for further exploration. Bodie swung his legs off the bed and stood, snatching up his jacket. "C'mon, then. First round's on me."
Doyle's eyes widened. "You're mad." He went quickly for his jacket. "And you're on!"
Doyle sat at the small corner table, waiting. Dinner was long finished, as well as their first pints, and he was waiting for his second round. Two out of three at the darts board for drinks, and it was his lucky night. Bodie stood in line at the bar for their pints. Doyle watched him catch the attention of the blonde barmaid and hold it. Was he serious about chatting up birds tonight?
He felt utterly confused by Bodie, ever since that moment on the beach. Since when did you start caring so much.... Maybe it would have been better if he had never asked that question. After all, he'd known for years that Bodie did care about him a great deal, that they were closer to each other than to anyone else. It would have been simple for Bodie to fall back on that, to tell him he cared because they were best mates. But no. Ever since I figured out I loved you. One hell of an admission from a man who kept his feelings tightly shut away.
Had he really meant more than friendship? Doyle knew, had sensed at the time, that he had, but had hurriedly backed out of any further confession. Which made perfect sense--the whole idea scared Doyle enough, it would have to have the same effect on Bodie. Doyle wanted it and he didn't want it, constantly feeling a pushing towards and a pulling away. One misstep and it could all go so wrong.
He looked at where Bodie stood, and saw the barmaid lean over the counter, pressing herself against it to push her breasts forward, smiling. He could only see Bodie from the side, as he leaned over as well, and it looked as if he whispered something into her ear. Then they both laughed.
What's he's doing chatting up a ruddy barmaid? Does he really think I'd be interested?
Well, he wasn't. Doyle tapped his fingers on the table top, feeling impatient. He didn't care what Bodie had planned, or was trying to do. He had his own ideas for the rest of the evening, and they didn't involve birds. His intuition regarding Bodie had rarely failed him, and even if Bodie didn't know for sure what he meant back there on the beach, Doyle did. Love, in every sense of the word. It still scared him, and trying to actually do something about it scared him even more. But staying forever in limbo held no appeal at all.
Bodie finally got their drinks and strolled back to the table, setting the large, heavy glasses down with a triumphant thump, and rubbing his hands together as he sat across from Doyle. "We're in there, mate," he said, grinning as he nodded towards the bar. "She gets off before closing, and so does her roommate. What do you say?"
"Sorry," Doyle replied. He took a sip, then leaned back in his chair. "Don't feel up to anything. Tiring day."
Bodie's smile faded. "You sure?"
"Yeah, I'm sure. But if you want to have some fun, go ahead." Doyle didn't want him to, and didn't expect him to agree.
"No, that's okay." Bodie picked up his glass and drank. "Doesn't matter that much."
"Good." Doyle relaxed, more confident now that Bodie hadn't really been all that serious about chatting up birds. "Let's just have a couple of pints and talk."
Bodie cradled his glass against his chest, taking occasional sips. "What do you want to talk about?"
"You and me." Doyle caught the flicker of wariness on Bodie's face. "And CI5," he added, watching Bodie relax. "And what we're going to do if we're not on the squad any more."
"No." Bodie shook his head firmly. "I'm not discussing that again today. Had enough of it."
"But nothing, Ray. I don't want to talk about it, I don't want to think about it. Not now. We've both had a long day, and I want to unwind."
Doyle started to give it one more try, but the narrow-eyed look he got told him to stop. Bodie never did care for serious discussions. It had taken such a long time, and such painful circumstances, to get him to open up at all, back when Doyle had been recovering from the shooting. They had wound up in various pubs many, many evenings, and often sat quietly together, with only a few words passing between them. But every once in a while, Bodie would suddenly start talking about his past, and Doyle had been grateful for every word. He recalled one evening in particular, early on in those days, when Bodie first began telling him about his family, and the way he'd been raised, and the expectations his parents had. It had been an evening much like this, in a strange pub they hadn't tried out before, just sitting at a small table away from the crowd, sipping their pints and quietly relaxing. The bar telly was on, with a quiz show playing, and they could just make out the questions between the lulls of pub noise. One came up on a piece of poetry, and the contestants appeared stumped. Bodie shook his head sadly, and said, "Keats, you idiots." And he had been right.
"How'd you know that?" Doyle had asked, realizing it wasn't the first time Bodie had impulsively spouted out such knowledge. He'd even heard him quoting lines of poetry before.
"Oh, used to have to memorize all that stuff when I was a kid," Bodie replied.
"For school, you mean?"
Bodie had looked a bit uncomfortable, but continued with the explanation. "No, not really. My parents thought it would impress our teachers--my older sister and me. Forced us to recite something new every week, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, the lot. I hated it. Beth didn't. She loved the attention it got her. 'Look at how clever your sister is', that sort of rubbish."
"Sounds like me and Brian." Doyle had told Bodie earlier about the endless comparisons made between him and his older brother. And of the hurt that he'd felt, of never being good enough. Bodie must have felt the same pain. "Why were they so keen on impressing your teachers?"
"Wanted us to do what they hadn't done. Go to university, get fancy degrees. Beth did it, too. Got a scholarship, wound up at St. John's at Cambridge. Stuck it out there the whole way, got her doctorate in history."
Doyle had trouble believing that. "Your sister's a ruddy Ph.D.?"
"Yeah." Bodie smiled. "Doctor Elizabeth Bodie. Well, Elizabeth Hancock, actually. Married a guy just like her-- driven. Ph.D., too. They're busy raising two perfect, driven children." He made a face. "Can't stand any of 'em."
"But you rebelled." Doyle tried to imagine what might have happened had Bodie followed his parents' wishes. "Didn't you want to be Doctor Bodie, too?"
Bodie laughed. "Could you see me in an ivy-covered building lecturing on Keats?"
"No." Doyle laughed as well. "Doesn't suit you at all."
"Never has gone down well with any of my family," Bodie admitted. "Going into the army, even the SAS, didn't impress them."
"Is that why you left home? Because they pushed you the wrong way?" Bodie had only ever spoken of it briefly before, of running away at fourteen, jumping on board a merchant ship.
Bodie nodded. "More or less. I kept getting into all the sports at school instead of the poetry club. My folks didn't like that, so they kept finding ways to pull me off the teams. Bloody well pissed me off. But I didn't get pissed off enough to leave until the day they got me taken off the football team right before the big match between us and our most-hated rival. You know, I never meant to leave for good--was only planning to bolt for a few days or a week, just to give them a good scare. But one thing happened after another, started having all these wild adventures. And the longer I stayed away and the farther I went, the less I felt like ever going back."
They had talked a lot more that night, about many different things. But it was Bodie's family tale that stuck most in Doyle's mind. He had left home himself any number of times, tired of being compared to his brother, tired of his father's drunken rages. He hadn't left for good until the age of sixteen, and had certainly never had the adventures Bodie had, nor ever ventured so far away--had never even left Britain.
Had never even been to Cornwall before, for that matter. Doyle gazed round the pub walls, which were hung with antique prints of rocky coves, of harbors filled with fishing boats, of the cliffs. A picturesque place--he wouldn't mind sketching here sometime.
Bodie tapped him on the arm. "You're miles away, you know."
"Sorry." Doyle tried to remember what little else Bodie had told him about his family. "Doesn't your sister live around here?"
"What, Beth?" Bodie looked puzzled. "No. She lives in Bath. Why?"
"No reason. Just thought it was more out this way." Doyle paused, aware he was being clumsy with his questions. "You never see her, do you?"
Bodie fingered the rim of his glass. "Send 'em a Christmas card every year. That's good enough. You never see your family."
"True." Even after he had nearly died, when he'd been in hospital all that time, his mother had come to visit twice, his brother not even once. "Got a call a couple months back, from Brian. He and his wife had another baby."
"Thought he already had plenty of kids."
"He does. I couldn't get worked up about it, think he got insulted."
"I can never get worked up about family stuff," Bodie replied.
Doyle studied Bodie carefully. "You ever thought about it?"
"Family. You know, marriage, raising kids, all that."
Bodie stared blankly at him for a second, then laughed. "Me? Are you mad?"
"I was only asking," Doyle said.
"Well, the answer is definitely no. I mean, kids are okay-- for about fifteen minutes."
"And provided they belong to somebody else," Doyle added.
"Right." Bodie smiled tolerantly at him. "What brought that on?"
"Oh, I don't know. Was just wondering." Doyle decided to probe Bodie's attitude a little further. "I mean, isn't it what we're here for, to keep things going?"
"Christ, are you gonna get philosophical on me? Thought we settled that the other day."
"Settled what?" Doyle asked.
"The meaning of life," Bodie said. "The purpose of being here--I told you in the car, remember?"
Doyle knitted his brow in concentration. "That's right, I remember now. What was it--eat well--"
"Eat well, sleep tight, and--"
"--screw as often as possible."
"--and screw as often as possible."
They spoke the final phrase together, Doyle noting a slight hesitancy in Bodie's voice. "And that's it, nothing more?"
"Nope." Bodie took a large swallow of his beer. "I'm here to have a good time. There isn't anything else, mate."
"Has to be," Doyle said, not really expecting a reply.
Bodie shrugged. "Can't think what."
Love, for one thing. Doyle didn't say it. He silently sipped at his drink. He knew Bodie didn't mean anything of the sort, not after the concerns he'd shown lately. "You asked me this morning where I thought I'd be in twenty years' time. What about you?"
"You're in a funny mood tonight. Thought we came here to relax."
Doyle knew an evasion when he heard one. "You didn't answer the question."
"Yeah, well, I don't know the answer, any more than you do," Bodie replied defensively. "Take each day as it comes, that's all I do."
"For chrissakes, you have to get serious about something once in a while."
Bodie downed the rest of his drink. "I do," he replied quietly. "Had some pretty serious thoughts about you when I thought you were dying." He pushed his chair back and stood. "I'm going to get a large whisky. You want something?"
It took a moment for Doyle to recover his equilibrium. "But you got the first two rounds."
"I don't mind."
"Fine. I'll have a whisky, too." Doyle watched him head off towards the bar. Hell. Why did Bodie keep blurting things out and then walking away? It was driving him crazy. Just what kind of serious thoughts did he mean?
The evening was not going well. Doyle felt as if they were sparring, not conversing. Maybe Bodie was right, maybe this was simply the wrong time and place for a serious discussion. But they needed to have one soon, instead of all these false starts.
Bodie returned with the two large whiskys. They both drank silently for a while, though it wasn't the companionable silence that Doyle was used to. A sense of unease permeated the atmosphere around the tiny table.
When they were both nearly finished with their drinks, Bodie said, "So where do you want to go tomorrow?"
"Hm? Oh, you mean on 'holiday'?" Doyle glanced up at the print nearest their table. A wide, sandy beach, a town full of narrow, winding streets. He leaned closer, studying the inscription beneath. "St. Ives. That looks nice."
"How's that rhyme go," Doyle persisted, despite Bodie's lack of enthusiasm. "'As I was going to St. Ives'--"
"'I met a man with seven wives'," Bodie finished. "You want the rest? I'm sure I could drudge it up from memory."
Doyle bit his lower lip. Memory...right. As in being forced to memorize poetry...stupid of him to bring it up. Of course the first things Bodie's mother would have pushed on him would have been nursery rhymes. Not even allowed to enjoy a child's poetry. "Nah, that's okay." He paused, feeling awkward in the face of Bodie's downcast expression. "We can go somewhere else, doesn't matter. Anywhere."
"How about just motoring along the coast, then. See what we run into."
"Great." Doyle looked up at the print. "You know, I was thinking, it's a pity I didn't bring my sketch pad along. Haven't done any drawing in ages."
"Buy one. Can't cost that much, can it?"
"You wouldn't mind?" Doyle immediately wished he hadn't asked. Since when did Bodie ever mind what he did, and since when did he ever have to ask Bodie's permission. The faint look of surprise on Bodie's face told him he was right. They were slipping badly, not even coming close to the camaraderie they once had. "I mean," he went on, "it'd mean stopping a while if I found a spot I wanted to sketch." He felt his grip tightening on the glass and consciously relaxed it.
"Yeah, I know," Bodie replied. "No, I don't mind." He looked away, out into the pub crowd.
Doyle sighed. He focused on his whisky, finishing it off in a few gulps. Bodie seemed so far away, unreachable. When they were working together, things were so different. They were tuned to each other's thoughts and actions; they moved as one. Doyle feared the loss of that; he worried that without CI5 holding them together, the closeness they shared would gradually fade away. And he needed to keep Bodie close. There was no one else.
"Every once in a while," he said, hoping to regain Bodie's attention, "I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't become a cop."
Bodie turned away from his survey of the pub, facing Doyle with a puzzled frown. "You mean, if you had gone on with your art studies?"
"Don't think I would have done that." Doyle had been well aware of his limitations at the time. "Did okay, but I was never good enough to make a living at it."
"Probably would have wound up at the shop, working with Brian." His brother had taken over their family's hardware business after their father got into one too many pub brawls. Brian had even proposed a partnership, but Doyle had already been in the Met by then and had no intention of leaving for the dull life of a shopkeeper. The business had never held any appeal for him; he had worked at it after school for years, stocking shelves, fetching things for customers, sweeping and dusting, sometimes even running the till. It was all done "for the good of the family," which meant he never got paid for his efforts.
"But I thought you hated that sort of life," Bodie said.
Doyle shrugged. "What else could I have done?"
"Anything," Bodie said. "Hell, you could have joined the army."
"Ah, like you did?" Doyle couldn't remember ever considering it, and to his mind, being a cop was quite different. He envisioned the army as one large group acting en masse against other groups; as a policeman, he had been part of a group, but acted as one person to another. CI5 fit somewhere in between. "Do you suppose you would have joined up whether you'd gone off at fourteen or not? If you'd come back and finished school, you'd have still gone into the army?"
"Yeah, I think I would have." Bodie suddenly frowned, then he sighed and shook his head. "You're a devious, underhanded bastard."
Doyle's eyebrows shot up. "Why?"
"You know perfectly well. This little chat about what you would have done with your life if you hadn't joined the Met, and what would I have done if I hadn't done a bolt at fourteen. I know what the next question is--what would we have done if we hadn't joined CI5. Which is one step shy of asking what we'll do if we aren't in CI5 any more. Very clever. Going to get me to talk about it after all, weren't you?" Bodie drank the rest of his whisky and set the glass down firmly on the table. "Well, I'm not playing, is that clear? Will you just leave it alone?"
"Sorry," Doyle replied. "But it's been on my mind."
"Can't think why," Bodie said. "You can't even figure out if you want off the squad or not, let alone work out anything else."
Doyle bristled. "Yeah, well, maybe I can't make life-changing decisions just like that." He snapped his fingers. "I told you before, this is all I've ever known, the Met, CI5. But you, christ, to listen to your stories--merchant ship, bouncer, gun runner, smuggling, merc, army, paras, SAS--you must have switched careers every six damned months. In fact, I'm surprised you've stayed with Cowley so long."
"I haven't stayed on for Cowley," Bodie snapped. "And you damn well know that."
Yes, Doyle did know it, but he liked hearing Bodie say it all the same, even in irritation. He did not reply, but simply sat there, staring at Bodie, wondering how they were ever going to sort this out. If only he could get Bodie to stop hedging and tell him the whole truth about those "serious thoughts" of his. After far too long a silence, Doyle asked softly, "What do you want, Bodie?"
"I want to go back to the hotel."
"You know what I meant." Doyle held Bodie's eyes, and saw the same wariness there he'd seen on the beach, the fear of saying too much too soon. And then it fled, replaced by an expression of acceptance.
"Yeah, I know what you meant," Bodie said. "And I don't want to talk any more here. Let's go back to our rooms."
A shiver of apprehension tingled along Doyle's spine. No more hiding. "Okay. Anytime." He set his glass down and reached for his jacket.
No one, Bodie thought, could worry a question to death as well as Ray Doyle. Bodie couldn't quite fathom what Doyle was so concerned about. Whatever they ended up doing, they would do it together, and that was all that truly mattered. He thought he'd made that clear.
When they returned to the hotel, each went into his own room, but Bodie immediately opened the adjoining door a crack. Then he took off his jacket and crossed to the wide window to gaze out at the night. A half-moon hung among the bright stars, a clearer sky than any he would ever see over London. A few lights sprinkled the promenade and harbor. It was a quiet night; everything in the town had a tucked-away feel to it now that the pubs were closing. Most of his life, wherever he had lived, the darkness meant be on your guard. Here it seemed benign, though Bodie was well aware that appearances were often deceiving.
He waited for the door between their rooms to open further. It wasn't long before he heard it, followed by soft footsteps. Bodie didn't turn around. He waited.
Doyle came up to stand beside him, close, their shoulders nearly touching. He looked out at the night. "You ever learn the constellations?" he asked.
"Only ones I remember are the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, and Orion. The Hunter." Bodie searched the stars, spotted the line of Orion's belt. "There."
"I see it."
"Used to know a lot more, when I was in Africa. Spent more than a few nights staring up at the sky. Always clear there, too. Sometimes thought I must be seeing a million stars at once, sky was so full of lights. Whole bands of them. Never seen anything like it here." It was likely the only thing he had ever missed from that sojourn. Bodie found the curtain-pull and drew the curtains to. He still didn't look at Doyle, feeling an odd paralysis of mind and body. He knew what he wanted--to take Doyle in his arms, to take him to his bed--but no words came, and all his limbs felt frozen.
Bodie started as a hand touched his shoulder, and then Doyle moved silently behind him, slipping his arms down and around Bodie's waist. Bodie gasped and closed his eyes, every muscle tensing as Doyle rested his head on his shoulder and tightened his hold. A knot of anxiety formed in Bodie's abdomen even as he brought his own arms up to wrap around Doyle's, pressing his hands on top of Doyle's hands, feeling the press of Doyle's body against his back.
"Nothing makes any sense to me," Doyle whispered, his breath warm against Bodie's cheek. "Except that I need you. And I can't figure out how I ever managed to live most of my life without you."
The tension gripping him fled, replaced by a shivering anticipation, heat rising as Doyle continued to hold him. "Does that mean you love me?" Bodie opened his eyes and turned his head, eyes boring directly into Doyle's.
"I want to," Doyle said, and Bodie felt the tremor run through Doyle's frame. "But I don't know if I can."
Bodie lifted a hand to Doyle's face, brushing his fingers across Doyle's cheek. "Try," he whispered, and leaned in to kiss him.
The touch of lips to lips electrified him. Bodie turned his body into Doyle's, face to face, his arms encircling Doyle's back, stroking and caressing him there. His mouth pushed against Doyle's firm, full lips, and they opened, inviting him in. "Oh, god," Bodie murmured, sensation overwhelming him as he felt tongue against tongue, warm velvet smoothness thrusting, exploring, wanting. He broke away, sucked at Doyle's lower lip, then pushed his tongue in again. Doyle's arms held him, he felt Doyle's hands pull and tug at his shirt, slipping inside, a warm palm sliding against his bare chest. Bodie broke the kiss, rubbing his cheek against Doyle's. "Christ, Ray..."
Doyle held his hand steady against Bodie's chest and looked at him, eyes searching. "We're mad," he said. "Aren't we?"
Flushed and aroused, Bodie nodded. "I reckon we are." He started unbuttoning Doyle's shirt, striving to quell his nervousness as he did so, and fumbling awkwardly with the small buttons nonetheless. "Give me a hand here."
Doyle smiled. "You're such a romantic bloke," he said as he undid his cuffs and raised his arms so Bodie could pull the shirt over his head. "'s that better?"
"Oh, yeah." Bodie casually tossed the shirt aside, feeling a bit calmer. If Doyle could tease him, even now, then it would be all right. It was what they had needed for some time, the old bantering camaraderie. He loved it when they were easy with each other--relaxed and close, and free to say or do whatever they pleased. The warmth of it drew him in, away from the outside world and all its cares. Bodie touched Doyle's chest, running his fingers through the tufts of dark hair, which seemed thinner now, no doubt from being shaved for the surgery. He traced the lines of scar tissue around Doyle's heart. Then he bent his head to place an ear against the spot, listening to the rapid beat. A beautiful sound. He raised his head, smiling. "Sounds a tad excited in there, mate."
"I'm not surprised." Doyle looked a bit calmer as well. He tugged Bodie's shirt. "Your turn."
Bodie helped him remove it, and threw it to join Doyle's on the floor. He pulled Doyle close again, embracing him, revelling in the feel of smooth muscle and taut flesh. Their hips met, and he rubbed his groin against Doyle's, gasping as he touched the answering hardness. "Oh, God...." he breathed, kissing Doyle's face all over, mouth, chin, cheeks, nose, eyebrows, forehead. There wasn't enough of him. He ran his fingers through Doyle's thick curls, then down his back, stroking, caressing. He slid his hand beneath the waistband of Doyle's jeans and paused to take a deep breath. "Gonna help me with this, too?"
"Always did work best as a team," Doyle replied huskily. He wriggled his hips, sending a new jolt of arousal through Bodie.
"Don't...." Bodie pulled away, aching to stay close but afraid of losing all control. "Want to go slow."
"Slow is nice." Doyle ran one finger down the length of Bodie's chest. "Fast and furious is good, too."
Bodie closed his eyes, swaying gently, hands clutching Doyle's hips. "I don't know." He was caught on a wave of sheer desire. "I don't know...I want it to be right."
He felt Doyle's lips brush his eyelids. "It will be. I'm scared too, you know."
Bodie opened his eyes, found himself gazing at a glistening, near-feverish face, Doyle's green eyes bright and intent. "Good," he said as he slid his hands round to the belt buckle of Doyle's jeans. As he worked it free, Doyle reciprocated on Bodie's belt, then the zip, and together they pushed each other's trousers down, pausing only to kick their shoes off before disentangling themselves from the trouser legs. Bodie shook his head in amusement at the sight of Doyle in nothing but pants and well-worn, faded blue socks, one of which drooped. "My, my," he said, making a tsk-tsking sound, "aren't you the picture of sensuality?"
Doyle put hands on hips and gave Bodie a once-over. "Look who's talking."
"Eh?" Bodie glanced down at his trim black pants and matching socks. "Nothing wrong there, mate. At least me socks are the same height."
"That's just it. Those socks. Set off those legs like a zebra crossing. I've never seen paler skin in my life."
Bodie looked at the offending socks again. "Guess I'll have to take 'em off, then."
"I was gettin' to that. Don't know about you, but I don't get off on footwear." Doyle grasped Bodie by the wrist and pulled him towards the bed. "Come 'ere. Be easier sitting down."
Nervousness returned as Bodie sank onto the soft mattress. He immediately set about yanking the covers back, fussing over them, and then began fluffing up the pillows.
"Hey." Doyle's arms snaked around his waist from behind, stilling his movements. "Remember me?"
Bodie took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "Can I put the lamp out?"
"No." Doyle let go and turned away. "Want to see everything." He flopped down onto his back, stretching out on the bed. Bodie stayed where he was, sitting beside him, watching as Doyle stroked his own chest all too briefly before moving down towards the blue pants. The prominent bulge gave proof to Doyle's arousal, and Bodie swallowed hard as Doyle drew his hand across the tight cotton, lightly caressing himself through the cloth. Doyle moaned softly. "Bodie--" His eyes were half- lidded, his gaze languid. "Touch me...please."
Bodie slowly stretched out to lie on his side, close but not quite touching Doyle's body. His own cock pressed hard against his snug pants, but he forced himself to focus on giving pleasure instead of taking. He lay his free hand on Doyle's taut abdomen, making a gentle circular motion over smooth flesh as Doyle continued to rub at his own groin, still sheathed in the blue cotton.
"Ah," Doyle sighed, "more...."
Bodie leaned over to kiss the hollow of Doyle's throat, lapping at the tiny beads of sweat there. Then he sucked and kissed his way down Doyle's chest, pausing to lick at each nipple in turn, stroking them into hard nubs with his tongue.
"Oh, my God." Doyle tossed his head back on the pillow, eyes closed. "Are you sure...you want it slow--" He gasped as Bodie's roving hand inched downward. "Sure you don't want it...fast and furious--" He gasped again when Bodie's hand joined his, pressing it against the burgeoning flesh beneath the cloth.
"Maybe a bit of both." Bodie shoved Doyle's hand aside and grabbed at the pants, swiftly pulling them down.
Doyle shifted his hips and legs to aid him, and Bodie quickly got the pants off, pausing at Doyle's feet to yank off the sagging socks as well.
Doyle wriggled his toes. "Um, that feels nice."
Bodie put a hand on the foot nearest him, stroking the top lightly. Then he ran his hand along the inside of Doyle's calf, and up his thigh towards the dark thatch of curly hair from which his erect cock jutted. Bodie rested his palm against the inside of Doyle's thigh where it met his groin, tentatively caressing the tight sac, palming Doyle's balls. Doyle jerked, his whole body trembling at the touch.
"Like that, do you?"
Doyle replied by grabbing Bodie's hand and pushing it harder against his balls. He moaned, and his hips bucked, as Bodie rubbed and stroked him. Then Bodie moved on to Doyle's straining cock, hesitantly wrapping his hand around the thick shaft.
"No...." Doyle lifted his head. "Not fair." He reached for Bodie's pants.
Bodie let go his hold to lend Doyle a hand in taking off his pants.
"Much better." Doyle lightly stroked the underside of Bodie's engorged cock, sending a quivering wave of pleasure through him. Bodie touched Doyle in turn, and then, longing for more contact, he flung his leg over Doyle's and rubbed his entire body against him, chest against chest, belly on belly, thighs pushing against each other. Doyle's arms wrapped around him, pulling them even closer together, and Bodie took Doyle's mouth in a long, bruising kiss. As their bodies moved in rhythms of push and pull, Bodie's cock thrust against Doyle's cock, and against his smooth, muscled abdomen, bringing him nearer to the edge.
Too fast. Bodie pulled back a bit, breathing hard, and gazed at Doyle's flushed and glistening face. He brushed a sweat-damp curl from his forehead, then kissed the warm skin.
Doyle smiled softly. "Tell me what you want." His arms still tightly encircled Bodie, and he ran his hands across Bodie's lower back, and down to press his buttocks.
"Ah...." Bodie moaned and shook his head. "Anything...everything. I don't care...." He gasped as Doyle's hand slid into the cleft, one finger gently probing the opening there, not far, but enough to send a shockwave up Bodie's spine, and he cried out, a choked-off sound of surprise.
Doyle quickly withdrew. "Next time," he whispered in Bodie's ear. "Right?"
Bodie heard the concern in Doyle's tone, and knew he wanted to know that there would be a next time. "Yes," he replied, putting a lifetime of promise in the word.
Doyle sighed. "That's all right, then." He slipped his hand a bit further down, sliding between Bodie's upper thighs, brushing through to cup Bodie's balls, massaging them with a firm pressure.
"Christ, Ray...." Bodie felt overwhelmed as Doyle thrust his body against his, a rush of tingling sensation building as they both stroked each other in every place they could reach. He roamed over Doyle's flesh with lips and tongue and hands, no longer aware of their separate bodies but moving and feeling and merging as one. All of his fantasies of wanting Doyle dissolved before the reality of knowing him, of having him. Doyle's strength and warmth and passion joined his own, the physical need far surpassed by bare emotion, by loving and being loved.
Doyle suddenly jerked and Bodie felt warm fluid spurting against his belly as Doyle came, his body bucking wildly as he thrust again and again, head arched back, eyes squeezed shut, lips parted. Bodie held him tightly, stroking his back, amazed at how easy it was to accept all this, at the joy he felt at Doyle's pleasure. He continued his caresses as Doyle quieted, limp and relaxed in Bodie's hold, a soft moan escaping his lips.
Bodie blew a light breath across Doyle's closed eyes, and they opened for him. "I love you," Bodie whispered.
"Mmmm." Doyle smiled softly. "Love you, too." He put a hand around Bodie's cock and pumped it, one swift, firm movement capped by a quick brush of his thumb across the head.
"Oh, God--" Bodie cried out, the urgency building beyond control. "Again," he pleaded, gripping Doyle's shoulders, arching back. "Again--"
Doyle obliged, pumping and stroking Bodie to the point where all his energies were centered and, in a wild, surging burst he came, shuddering into Doyle's hands. He revelled in the long, rolling climax, Doyle's hands on him, Doyle's body pressed close, the feel of him driving Bodie beyond release into pure ecstasy.
Afterwards, as his mind and body slowly relaxed, it began to dawn on Bodie just how remarkable it was to be lying there with Ray Doyle by his side, and how breathtaking it was to see the look of contentment on his face. What Doyle had done for him...what they had done for each other.... And all because Doyle had finally taken a chance and pushed the unspoken question he himself had been afraid to face. Bodie lay there, holding him, watching his sleepy, half-closed eyes. Doyle stretched, then resettled.
"Incredible," Bodie said, touching his face, "It's really you...I can't believe you're here, I can't believe we just did what we did."
"Um," Doyle replied, "was fantastic. You're beautiful." He kissed the tip of Bodie's nose, making Bodie laugh.
"Yeah, right." Bodie grinned, happy at the ease of it all. "And tall, and dark, and handsome." He kissed Doyle's nose in return. "Don't feel silly doing that. Odd, isn't it?"
"Very." Doyle snuggled against him, then made a face. "Um. 's a bit damp here and there."
"Oh." Bodie reached for the nightstand, where the hotel staff had thoughtfully placed a box of tissues. He deftly dabbed up the minor mess they had made between them, and tossed the tissues in the general direction of the waste bin. Then he pulled the covers up around them. "That's better." He brushed his fingers across Doyle's face, pausing briefly on the damaged cheekbone. It made for such a contrast at times, when seeing him from only one side or the other--his face rough and hard on the marred side, softer and gentler on the other. As he rested his fingertips there, Doyle suddenly flinched, then put his hand on Bodie's to move it away.
"Sorry," Bodie said. "does that bother you?"
"No...it's all right." There was a hesitancy in Doyle's voice.
"Ray, just tell me. Please."
Doyle rested his head on Bodie's shoulder, and Bodie felt the slight tremor through his body. "It's nothing. Don't like to be reminded of it, that's all."
"You sure?" Doyle had told him how he'd gotten the broken cheekbone, that his father had hit him in a drunken rage, but he had not said anything more than that, never told him why his father had been so furious with him. Bodie knew there was something more, but didn't want to really push it, not right now.
"Yeah, it's okay." Doyle lightly kissed his shoulder. "You can turn off the lamp now if you want."
Bodie smiled as he reached to switch it out, plunging the room into darkness.
Doyle's night began in pleasant slumber, images of Bodie uppermost in his mind. But partway through the night, his dreams turned restless and uneasy, with unwanted visions of childhood intruding, of his friend Davy, of a drunken, angry voice and a strong, pummeling fist. The pain returned, and the fear, and he thrashed about, trying to get away, knowing in some part of his mind that it couldn't be real, struggling to wake.
A hand clasped his shoulder and Doyle twisted away, arms flailing. Two strong arms grabbed him, trying to hold him down. "No! I didn't do anything--please!"
"Ray! Wake up--"
A familiar voice.... Doyle sagged against the mattress, no longer fighting as he finally reached consciousness. "Bodie?" He opened his eyes, unable to see much in the darkened room.
The lamp flicked on, making everything too bright. He turned his face into the pillow. "Shut it off." His own voice sounded odd, shaky, and he belatedly became aware that he was shivering.
Bodie turned off the light. "It's all right," he whispered, "you were dreaming." He put his arms around Doyle, pulling him into an embrace. "Hm? Okay now?"
Doyle felt the smooth, reassuring touches across his back. He took a few steadying breaths, and let the warmth and caresses soothe the trembling away.
"Yeah," he said softly. "I'm okay."
"You want to tell me what it was about?"
"No." He shook his head firmly, then waited for the inevitable protest, for Bodie to make his usual demand to know more about anything and everything that concerned him.
"All right," Bodie replied.
Doyle frowned. What happened to the pleading? "You don't want to know?"
"'Course I want to know," Bodie said. "But if you don't want to tell me, that's fine."
Shifting away from Bodie's embrace, Doyle sat up. He reached across to switch the lamp on and then stared down at Bodie. "When did you become so agreeable?"
Bodie glanced at the clock on the nightstand. "About four hours ago."
Doyle rolled his eyes. It wouldn't last. "You idiot. I like it when you're disagreeable, don't you know that?"
"'Cause then I can be disagreeable back, of course." Doyle grinned. "Thought you'd figured that out by now."
Bodie smiled and pulled him down on top of him, wrapping his arms around his waist. "Yeah, okay. Tell me about your dream, then."
"Don't want to," Doyle said.
Bodie let out a lengthy sigh. Then he rolled Doyle off onto his back and propped himself up on one elbow to look down at him. "Ray, it's three o'clock in the morning. How 'bout if we only torment each other at reasonable hours, say, between noon and teatime."
"Yeah, I might give it a try." Doyle knew that he would agree to anything under the scrutiny of that intense blue gaze.
Bodie lightly caressed his chest, and Doyle felt a tremor run through him. "You're sure you're okay?" Bodie asked.
The dream images washed back over Doyle. He closed his eyes, trying to drive the pain and the fear back where they belonged, to the past, to another lifetime. "More or less," he said.
Bodie's hand stilled on his chest and Doyle lay his own hand on top. "I need to know," Bodie's voice sounded hesitant. "Was it just a bad dream, or did it have something to do with us? What we did--"
"No." Doyle opened his eyes to give Bodie a reassuring look, and squeezed his hand. "No," he repeated, "it was a long time ago." He shivered briefly, then stilled under Bodie's touch. "It's as if it happened to someone else, to someone I don't know any more. But it happened to me...." Doyle swallowed hard. He had never told anyone this before, had lied to the doctors and nurses at the hospital, had lied to his teachers and friends about what had really happened. He brought Bodie's hand up to his own face, to lightly press the fingertips against the damaged cheekbone, then drew their hands away again, to lie upon his chest. "Told you how that happened once," he said slowly, not sure how to say it. "But not everything, not why it happened." He paused, feeling the hurt he thought he'd buried long ago welling up again. No, he willed his own mind, it shouldn't hurt anymore, not now, not after all this time.
"Ray?" Bodie moved his hand beneath his, gently massaging him. "Your father hit you," he prompted. "I know that--"
"It was Davy," Doyle finally got the words out. "My best friend...he caught us together, we were just fooling around." He took a deep breath, clasped Bodie's hand tighter. "You know how it is--we were kids, we didn't know anything, we only wanted to find out...." He shook his head, trying to banish the images that barely seemed real anymore. "I don't want to think about it...I don't think about it, not even when I look in the mirror. The memories don't come back, because it wasn't me...it doesn't seem as if it was me, anyway--I see myself back then and it's like watching a stranger."
"But the memories came back last night?" Bodie's voice was low, comforting.
Doyle nodded. "It only happens once in a while, that they come back, like when you touched me before there. I wish I could just wipe them out forever. They're not me."
"I know." Bodie stroked him, pulled him into an embrace, kissed his forehead. "I know. It's all right."
Doyle relished the contact, and kissed him back. He knew Bodie must have been through more than a few bad times when he was young, when he'd first gone to Africa, that he couldn't or wouldn't talk about, memories that were just as unwanted. But this was different, because the pain returned when all he wanted was to love someone. "I didn't even think I could be with you, could love you, because of what happened...and I hate that." Anger rose inside, at an enemy he couldn't touch, couldn't see, couldn't kill. "It's not right...I can't stand feeling bad about it, because I didn't damn well do anything wrong, but I do...and I hate that."
Bodie simply kept stroking him, holding him. "We did all right last night together," he said. "It'll be okay."
"Hope so." Doyle remembered how he had felt, the closeness, the warmth, the strength of Bodie against his own...but he also remembered the high he'd been on, from sheer adrenalin, and how it had made him act with what was probably false bravado. "I'm not sure, Bodie...it scares me."
"Just keep talking to me, sunshine." Bodie pulled the mussed up bed covers up around them. "Anywhere, anytime you need to, talk to me, tell me--don't hold it in, don't hold back." He smiled. "That's what I'm good at, remember?"
Doyle relaxed into his embrace. "Yeah, well, don't you hold things back, either." He laid his head on Bodie's chest, one arm wrapped tightly around his waist. "And turn that ruddy lamp off."
Bodie stretched to reach it without disturbing him, and the room fell into darkness again.
As he lay there against the lightly rising and falling chest, Doyle realized that Bodie hadn't really said much, hadn't asked much, had simply been there for him, reassured him quietly and calmly. He hadn't realized how much he needed such solid comfort in his life. "Bodie?"
Doyle smiled, and closed his eyes once more.
"They all look the same to me." Bodie eyed the rows and rows of pencils and shook his head in noncomprehension as Doyle lingered over each selection. He had already spent a good twenty minutes picking out a pad of sketch paper. "I mean, paper is paper, and pencils are pencils, right?"
"Wrong." Doyle picked up a pencil that looked like every other pencil in the bins and eyed it carefully. "There's a range of leads, from soft to hard."
"So?" Bodie asked.
"You get a different line with each one, of course. Soft line, hard line." Doyle picked out a second pencil.
Bodie studied the little numbered cards marking each bin. 8H. 6B. 4H. 2B. H for hard? And B for.... He scratched his head. He didn't understand art. Then he spied the bin with the designation simply HB. Plucking out a pencil from it, he handed it to Doyle. "Here you go. One right in the middle."
Doyle fingered the pencil. "Yeah," he said, "that's good. Now I only need a soft one and a hard one. Three should do. But should I get a 2B, or a 4B?"
Rolling his eyes, Bodie turned to look out the art shop window at the shops across the road. "I'm going across the street." He nodded towards a newsagent's. "Be back in a little while."
"What?" Doyle frowned at him. "You can't have already gone through all the snacks we brought in the car."
Bodie put on an affronted expression. "Perhaps I was going to get a magazine to read while you're busy sketching." He stalked off, not really pissed off but deciding to give that impression just in case Doyle thought he was being too agreeable.
He spent only a few minutes leafing through the magazine rack at the newsagent's and, not finding anything there of interest, picked up a copy of the Daily Mail instead. Then he wandered next door to the chemist's and roamed its aisles, but he didn't see what he was looking for. Glancing over at the counter, he saw a middle-aged woman leafing through a romance magazine with lurid covers. Should he just ask her? Bodie decided to roam the aisles a bit more.
He came across the suntan oil. Yes, that should do. Picking up a bottle, he read the ingredients thoroughly, as he didn't fancy getting any alcohol stings where they didn't belong. Bodie happily made his purchase and returned to the art shop, where Doyle had finally made his way to the counter, with no less than five pencils to buy.
"What did you get?" Doyle glanced at the small bag in Bodie's hands.
"Oh," Bodie said casually, "only some suntan oil." Then he gave Doyle a half-smile and a wink out of sight of the clerk. "You know, in case we go to the beach."
"You'll want to go today," the clerk put in as she took Doyle's money. "Weather report says it's going to be blazing hot this afternoon."
Bodie had every intention of getting hot that afternoon, though how much the weather would have to do with it, he couldn't say. Better steal some more towels from the hotel room before they headed out.
Doyle gave him a curious look as they walked out of the shop. "Suntan oil?" he asked as they made their way back to the hotel to pick up the rest of their gear. "If I didn't know you better, I'd think you had designs on me body."
"You do know me better," Bodie replied. "And I do have designs on your body."
Doyle laughed softly. "You're mad," he said. "Couldn't you find anything better than suntan oil? Haven't you ever heard of K-Y?"
Bodie glanced quickly around the street, but there was no one there, and Doyle hadn't spoken that loudly. He straightened his shoulders and raised his chin. "Of course I have. But they were all sold out."
"Really?" Doyle looked dubious. "This town must have a wilder nightlife than we thought."
Bodie merely shrugged, and they walked on.
Bodie put the Daily Mail down. He'd read nearly every line in it twice, as well as had a go at the crossword. He looked at Doyle, who sat nearby on the beach happily sketching away.
They were at St. Ives. Bodie had talked a reluctant Doyle into coming, insisting the place held no unpleasant memories for him at all; a children's rhyme was hardly likely to make him hate a town he'd never been to. It turned out to be a pleasant enough place, with cobblestone streets and rows of shops lining a wide, sandy beach. They had hiked down to the less populated end and Doyle found a spot where he had a good view of the water hitting the cliffs beyond the end of the beach. They lay their towels down side by side and Doyle quietly drew.
Bodie leaned over to see how it was going. The sketch looked finished to him, the detailed cliff face rendered with loving care. But Doyle kept fussing over the waves, erasing and sketching them in again and again. "Looks good," Bodie said.
Doyle shook his head vigorously. "No, no. It's not right." He looked at the waves, looked at his pad, looked at the cliffs. "I can never draw water." Sighing, he took his eraser to the paper once more, then suddenly cursed. "Think I've worn it through." He stopped erasing, studied the spot, ran his finger lightly over the paper. "Yeah. Surface is gone." Frowning, he held the drawing away at arm's length. "Well, it's not too awful." He lay the sketch pad and pencils aside to stretch his arms, twisting his waist as he did so.
Bodie caught his breath at the sight. Doyle's thin cotton shirt hugged his chest tightly and he had undone the top few buttons. As he twisted towards Bodie one of his nipples showed. Bodie's insides gave a little lurch. He'd certainly seen Doyle like this before, but today he looked at him as a lover, and the sight took his breath away. Ray Doyle loved him.
He had touched that chest, run his hands across that smooth, muscular flesh, sucked those nipples....
"Ray," he whispered, voice barely under control. He had no idea what he wanted to say. Doyle seemed so casual, so accepting of their new relationship, and yet for Bodie it felt so incredible. His life, his whole world, had turned upside down in a single night.
Doyle stopped stretching and smiled softly at him. "What is it? You bored?"
Bodie merely gazed at him, aware, in a small part in the back of his mind, that he no doubt looked like a complete love-struck idiot. "Never," he replied.
Doyle stared in surprise, then laughed lightly. "C'mon, Bodie, I'm not that lovable."
"Yes, you are." Bodie lay a hand on Doyle's thigh.
"No." Doyle looked away.
Bodie gently squeezed the thigh. He wished he could put into words how different he felt this morning, how this was far from a simple relationship, but he was wary of Doyle's reaction. He needed to know if Doyle felt the same way. "Ray," he said cautiously, "how many times have you fallen in love?"
"What?" Doyle turned back. He studied Bodie's face for a long moment. "That was different," he said.
"How?" Bodie inevitably thought of Ann Holly.
"'Cause I only wanted to think I was in love." Doyle spoke hesitantly. "But I don't think it was real. Most of the time it was just lust. Every once in a while I'd find someone and think, maybe this is different, but it never was, because we were never really friends. I mean, we were lovers first, then we'd try to become friends, and it should've been the other way around."
"We were friends first."
"Right." Doyle put his hand on top of Bodie's. "And that's why it feels different. We've been close for years. All we did was add the physical part." He lightly squeezed Bodie's fingers. "Was lookin' in the wrong direction before, wasn't I?"
"Well," Bodie replied, "I'm not exactly the right sex."
"Yeah, I noticed." Doyle smiled. "But you're the right person."
Bodie smiled back. "Wonder if we could find a quieter beach somewhere." He gazed intently at Doyle, letting his eyes travel from face to chest to groin.
"Thought you loved me for my mind," Doyle said.
"Oh, I do. There are, however, a few other bits I'm very fond of, too." He slid his hand up Doyle's thigh.
Doyle pinched it.
"Ow." Bodie quickly withdrew his hand, rubbing at the sore spot.
"We're on a public beach, you maniac."
Bodie looked up and down the sparsely populated stretch of sand. "Which is why," he said as he started gathering up their things, "we should go exploring."
They hiked along the coastal path until they found a secluded cove below the cliffs. There they spread out the large bath towels next to each other. The noontime sun hit the cove, warming the sand.
Doyle set his art supplies off to one side, then turned to find Bodie already stretched out on the towels, gazing at him with an intensely sensual look. "That's subtle, that is," he said, hands on hips.
Bodie calmly undid the buttons of his shirt and slipped it off.
"You know," Doyle said, moving closer, his pulse quickening, "this may be a remote area, but it's not exactly a private beach."
"No, it isn't." Bodie took off his shoes and socks. "Anyone could come along at any moment."
"Yeah, they could." Doyle unbuttoned his own shirt and took it off, casually tossing it onto the sand. He slipped his shoes and socks off and stepped onto the towels, gazing down at Bodie, who was busy working the belt of his trousers loose and sliding the zip down. Doyle swallowed hard, the heat of arousal rising as he looked at the bulge beneath Bodie's pants. "Gives it a certain element of risk, doesn't it," he said as he moved in close.
"Which I find quite exciting." Bodie reached up to touch Doyle's calf.
Doyle knelt between Bodie's legs and pushed him down onto his back. Supporting himself with his arms, he leaned over Bodie to kiss him, hot and deep and long.
"Um...." Doyle pulled back a bit. "Not a bad start." He rubbed his groin against Bodie's, feeling the press of their cocks through the fabric. "Ought to free 'em, don't you think?"
"Bloody well goin' to burst through if we don't," Bodie replied huskily.
They rapidly shed the rest of their clothing, and wound up lying side by side. Doyle thought about the suntan oil Bodie had purchased earlier, and a tremor ran through him.
"You cold?" Bodie asked.
"Excited." Doyle lightly stroked Bodie's chest. "I want to fuck you."
Bodie ran his hand along Doyle's thigh. "Good," he whispered. "'Cause I want you to fuck me."
"Yeah?" Doyle was surprised by the easy acquiescence. "You know, I think I'm gettin' used to you being agreeable."
They caressed each other with hands and mouths and lips, lapping, sucking, kissing, building rapidly to a fever pitch. The sound of the waves crashing against the rocks echoed in Doyle's mind, and then all sense of his surroundings fled as he became lost in a haze of pleasure. There was nothing but the feel of Bodie's strong flesh against his, pressing, stroking, rubbing. Just as Doyle reached the point where he thought he would go over the edge, he heard Bodie's impassioned voice, whispering harshly into his ear.
"Do it, Ray...do it now. Fuck me."
The desire to take Bodie warred with the urgent need for release. "Can't," Doyle managed to mutter, "too close."
He abruptly found himself flat on his back, bereft of Bodie's embrace.
"Better cool you down, then," Bodie said, sitting beside him.
The loss of contact brought Doyle slowly back from the edge.
"I want you." Bodie touched Doyle's chest. "I want you in me."
Doyle smiled softly. "Better find that suntan oil, then, hadn't you?"
Bodie rummaged about in their things and produced the tube. "Let me rub some on you."
"You do and I'm liable to explode." Doyle sat up, snatching the tube from him.
Bodie looked distinctly disappointed. "But I want to."
"Don't worry. You'll enjoy watching almost as much." The teasing had calmed Doyle's excitement, as well as his nerves. He gently pushed Bodie back down. "Go on, just lie there and watch. I like it when you look at me."
"Yeah." Bodie stretched out on his side, propping his head on one elbow to gaze at Doyle. "Suspected as much last night. You were getting quite excited when I was just sitting there, looking at you touching yourself. You ever do that for the birds?"
"Not very often." Doyle remained sitting beside Bodie, cross- legged, as he squeezed the suntan oil onto his palm. "Must be the opposite of a voyeur, I guess. What would you call it-- exhibitionist?" He gently touched the tip of his cock with his palm, then stroked down the length of the shaft, moaning softly. "Ah...feels good...." Looking down at Bodie, he saw the intense desire in his expression, a reflection of his own. "You want me...I can see it in your eyes." He rubbed more oil on his hard, jutting cock, then cupped his balls, moaning again with the pleasure of touching them. The tightening pressure threatened to overwhelm him, and he reluctantly drew his hand away.
"Touch me, too," Bodie said, "Please...." He rolled onto his stomach and relaxed his arm, resting his head on it. He crooked one knee, bending the leg upward. "Stop teasing and do it--I'm hot, Ray...I want you."
Doyle poured more oil onto his hands, then quickly ran them down Bodie's back to the cleft, probing the opening there briefly with the tip of one finger. Bodie gasped, his whole body quivering and then relaxing.
"More?" Doyle asked.
"Impatient bastard, aren't you?" Doyle grinned at the resulting groan from his partner. "Thought you liked to go slow."
"That was last night," Bodie said, "want it fast this time."
"Yeah, well, I've never done this before, mate--gonna take me time."
"Hell." Bodie reached back to grab Doyle's hand, grasping two of the fingers together, and shoved them at his arse. "Do I have to do it myself? Just get the fuck in there. With your cock. Now."
Amused more than irritated, Doyle batted the guiding hand aside. "Been fucked before, 'aven't you?"
"Yeah, I have." Bodie sounded resigned. "And I liked it, but I don't like it slow."
Doyle sighed. "Well, as you're on the receiving end, you can have it any way you want it. But when it comes to my turn to be in your position, you're gonna do it slow, right? 'Cause I've never bloody well had a cock thrust up me arse and I'm not having you tearing through me like a bulldog on heat."
"Ray." The dulcet tone didn't fool Doyle for a second; Bodie was getting impatient.
"What?" he replied sweetly.
"Shut up and fuck me."
"Right." Doyle quickly positioned himself between Bodie's thighs, spread his cheeks, and rammed his cock into him. Bodie cried out, in pleasure or pain, Doyle couldn't tell. The tight passage resisted entry, but Doyle pressed on, thrusting harder, losing control as waves of increasing arousal passed through him. He pulled out and pushed in repeatedly, seeking deeper contact. Bodie bucked back against him, heightening the sensation as Doyle drove his cock further, burying himself in the snug hollow within. His balls slapped furiously against Bodie's buttocks as he rapidly pumped in and out, building up to climax, no longer aware of his surroundings, only vaguely hearing Bodie's moans, and then he felt the ecstasy of release, orgasm sending him into total bliss, and Doyle let loose a wild, animal cry as his seed spurted into Bodie.
He gradually came down from the high, slowly slid out, and flopped onto his back, sated. As the intensity faded, his thoughts turned to his lover, and Doyle guiltily turned onto his side to face him. "Hey...what about you?"
Bodie mumbled something into the towel, then slowly rolled onto his back, and Doyle saw the flaccid penis and telltale dampness.
"When did that happen?" He felt vaguely disappointed, having thoroughly enjoyed watching Bodie come the night before.
"Not too long ago," Bodie replied. "Felt good. You follow instructions very well, mate. Thanks." He leaned over to plant a light kiss on Doyle's lips.
"Um," Doyle pulled him into an embrace for a longer exploration of each other's mouths. "You're welcome," he said when they parted. "Wasn't too rough for you, then, eh?"
Bodie shook his head. "Like it that way."
Doyle hadn't felt surprised by Bodie's earlier admission that he'd had sex with men before, perhaps because he had seemed fairly experienced last night. "They do that in the mercs, do they?"
"Yeah, sometimes. Got lonely, got tired of my own hand. You do some bloke, he gets to do you." Bodie paused, studying Doyle intently. "Never tried it with someone I loved." He smiled. "Never loved another bloke, though, either. Might be okay, to do it slow, just didn't think of doing it any other way."
"We'll have to work at figuring out the best pace, won't we?" Doyle smiled back. "Practice makes perfect." He sobered a bit, then, as he thought of the next step--his turn to be on the receiving end. "I've never done anything with a man before you," he said carefully. "Fooled around with my friend Davy as a kid, but that's not the same thing."
Bodie rested his hand on Doyle's thigh. "It feels fantastic. Can't describe it...sends shockwaves up your spine like you wouldn't believe, that spread out through your whole body...really incredible waves, like...like--oh, hell, you'll just have to feel it for yourself." He squeezed Doyle's thigh. "Trust me."
"Maybe try it tonight," Doyle said. "Hm?" When they did do it, he wanted to be in a bed, with a bit more cushioning than sand.
"Anytime, anywhere. S'pose you'd like to try it with mirrors all round, wouldn't you?"
Doyle frowned. "Why?"
"So you can watch me watching you, of course. Intriguing little habit, that."
"Oh." Doyle was annoyed at the slight blush he felt creep into his cheeks.
"You really get off on touching yourself in front of people?"
Doyle frowned. "No." He paused. "Only certain people."
"I don't know." Doyle shrugged. "Never thought about it. Just know I like it."
Bodie persisted. "Aren't you even a little curious about why you like it?"
Doyle rolled his eyes. "What do you want me to do, tell Dr. Ross all about it? I don't want to be analyzed. I want to enjoy myself." It was time to turn the tables on Bodie. "Why are you so interested?"
"'Cause I want to know everything that turns you on," Bodie replied simply.
"Ah, that makes sense. Was wondering if you thought I'd gone peculiar on you or something."
"Nah," Bodie said reassuringly. "Everybody's got their own little preferences. Whatever makes it all more, um, intriguing. What else haven't you told me about?"
"Nothing," Doyle protested. Then he thought back over the countless stream of birds he'd had, most of them blurred together in his mind. "Well, there was this one bird." He hesitated.
"Go on," Bodie prompted.
Doyle's eyes narrowed. "What about you?"
"No fair. You first."
"And then you'll 'fess up, too?" Doyle certainly wanted to know if Bodie had any special ways of being aroused.
"Absolutely." Bodie placed his palm on his heart. "I swear."
"Okay." Doyle still felt a bit silly, but went ahead anyway. "There was this bird...can't remember her name--"
"You gonna keep interrupting?"
"No, no, not at all."
"Fine." Doyle waited, just to make sure.
"Get on with it, then, stop teasing."
Doyle grinned. "Yeah, yeah. It's not that exciting, mate. All she did was drape this silk scarf across me."
"Is that it?" Bodie groaned. "Details, Ray, details. You were in bed, I take it?"
"'Course I was in bed. She'd bought me this scarf, must've been me birthday or something. Red silk. Looked a right fool in it. Took it off and forgot about it. Then we made out, and then I fell asleep--"
"Tower of stamina."
"Shut up," Doyle said amiably. "Bet you fall asleep all the time."
"We'll see about that." Doyle ran his fingers lightly down Bodie's chest. "Anyway, it was a warm night, had the bed covers pushed down, lying there exposed, I was, sort of dozing, drifting in and out, when I felt this soft, smooth touch across my chest, and then it moved down to my belly, real gentle...opened my eyes and saw her drawing the scarf across me, like a feather--"
"Should try it with a feather," Bodie said.
"Or a piece of velvet...or soft-tanned leather--"
"You're interrupting again."
"Thought you were finished."
"Well, all right," Doyle conceded. "Besides, she did try a feather, but that was later. Tickles a bit, but it's not unpleasant. It's...stimulating." Doyle waited, but Bodie didn't utter a sound, his lips tightly sealed and an offended expression on his face. "You berk. I'm done now."
"Just wanted to make sure," Bodie said. "Is that all? A little stroking with silk? That, and wanting me to watch you play with yourself is the sum total of your kinkiness?"
Doyle nodded. "Sorry. What d'you want--me swinging from a chandelier wearing leather pants?"
Bodie looked as if he were giving this some serious thought. "Sounds okay."
"C'mon." Doyle thumped Bodie's shoulder. "Your turn. Out with it."
"Already told you about it," Bodie replied casually.
"Last year. Sylvia."
Doyle let out a long-suffering sigh. "This may come as a shock to your ego, mate, but I do not keep all your conquests filed away in my memory as 'items never to forget.' Who the bloody hell is Sylvia?"
"Sylvia," Bodie explained, "is the bird who asked me to tie her by the wrists to the bedposts."
"Oh, her," Doyle said with some chagrin. He did remember Bodie's tale of that particular exploit quite clearly, since it had been a tad out of the ordinary. "And you complied. Drove her wild, you said."
"Yeah. Nearly gave me a hernia, trying to keep up with her thrashing about." He eyed Doyle speculatively. "You fixing to tie me up some night? Want me to tie you up?"
Tying Bodie up did hold a certain appeal. Power games, however, didn't interest Doyle, and he wouldn't want to risk hurting the sense of balance they had. "Maybe we can try it in about thirty years from now," he replied, his tone quite serious, "when we begin to get just slightly bored with the normal stuff."
Bodie drew in his breath. "Thirty years...."
"That's right." Doyle kept his voice low and firm. "Remember when you asked me where I thought I'd be years and years from now? Well, it doesn't matter at all, so long as you're right beside me. Does that sound too sentimental?"
"No." Bodie gazed at him, love showing vividly in his eyes. "It sounds wonderful."
"Good." Doyle drew in close for another kiss, then abruptly pulled back when he saw something bobbing out on the water. He tried to make out what it was.
"Why'd you stop?" Bodie twisted to look in the same direction.
"Fishing boat. Bloody 'ell." Doyle hurriedly gathered up his scattered clothes.
Bodie didn't move a muscle. "It's got to be a mile out. They can't see us. Relax."
"You're forgetting one thing," Doyle said as he pulled on his pants.
"People on boats tend to carry binoculars."
As Bodie drove along the winding coastal road, he occasionally glanced over at Doyle, who dozed away beside him. He smiled. Tower of stamina, all right.
Thirty years...or even more. Bodie found it odd that such commitment didn't intimidate him. It wasn't exactly a concept he was used to; he'd always been a loner, preferring solitary ways. Even in the mercs and the army, he'd kept to himself. He'd always found it easy to engage in camaraderie with his fellow soldiers, but it existed only on the surface, only in social situations. When he was apart from them, he was truly apart: self-contained, self-reliant, not needing anyone. But now...now the thought of spending the rest of his life alone scared him far more than he would have ever thought possible.
How had this happened--was it simply a factor of growing older? Bodie frowned. He wasn't that old. So what was it, then? Was it because Doyle was special? He had already committed to Doyle as a friend, a long time ago. He had allowed him into his life from very early on in their partnership, without really thinking twice about letting someone in close. It felt so natural to care about Ray Doyle, to hurt when he hurt, to feel joy when he was happy. Doyle was so concerned about other people's troubles, so caught up in righting wrongs, so emotionally involved with the job that he neglected looking after himself and his own needs. Bodie suddenly realized that he had, unconsciously perhaps, taken on that task. He'd been looking after Doyle's needs all this time, often simply by being there to talk to, other times by steering him towards the nearest pub for a much-needed drink, or even finding him a date. It was a two- way street, though. He hadn't let Doyle in close without Doyle wanting to be close. Bodie knew Doyle had been as much of a loner as he had. During his police days, after the loss of his partner, Doyle had asked for solo assignments and later, on the drug and vice squads, he had done undercover work, alone. Neither one of them had been thrilled at the idea of having a partner when they joined CI5. Yet it worked, because Doyle needed him, and he needed Doyle. They looked after each other in more ways than one, in ways that went far beyond merely watching each other's backs.
Doyle suddenly made soft moaning sounds, and when Bodie glanced over, he saw a flicker of movement under Doyle's closed eyelids. What was he dreaming about...sex on the beach? His own dreams tended to be more mundane--chasing people, being chased, being late to work, showing up in just his pants.
Bodie drove round a sharp curve, the motion jostling Doyle abruptly awake. He rubbed at his eyes, letting out a huge yawn.
"You were dreaming," Bodie said.
"Um...I know. Was right in the middle of the best part, too."
"Yeah? Is that the part where we fuck each other senseless?"
Doyle laughed. "Romantic bastard, aren't you? Got sex on the brain, you have."
"And you don't?" Bodie didn't believe it for a second.
"Well...." Doyle grinned. "Maybe a bit."
"Uh-huh. So what was this incredible moment in your dream, then?"
"Oh, that. Was just about to cross the finish line. Dreamed I was racing in the Grand Prix. Out-drove everybody, virtually flew down the track. Great fun. 'Til you took that ruddy curve too fast."
"Did not," Bodie protested, offended at the slight against his driving skills. "Nobody could take that curve without careening, too damn sharp. Maybe you'd like to take the wheel?"
"Nah, was only teasing. Did I miss anything interesting?"
Bodie had only been driving about half an hour since they'd left the beach, and with all the curves in the road, he hadn't made much progress. "You missed a lighthouse, a half-ruined church steeple, and a tractor doing fifteen miles per hour."
"Very exciting." Doyle let out another yawn.
"You need some coffee."
"I need lunch," Doyle replied. "I'm starvin'."
"Okay." It pleased Bodie that Doyle had been the one to bring up lunch; he was hungry, too, but didn't want to be the first to mention eating, as Doyle derived far too much pleasure from teasing him about his seemingly endless pursuit of food. "Saw a sign for St. Just, shouldn't be too far."
He kept a close lookout for more road signs as he drove, but the next one he spotted wasn't for St. Just. It was, however, worth pulling off to the side, and he did so.
"What's up?" Doyle peered at the small, weather-beaten, wooden post. "St. Urban's something--"
"St. Urban University Archaeological Site." Bodie looked down the narrow, unpaved road leading off from the sign, but couldn't see anything for the hill in the way. "You reckon that's where Margaret Jewell is hanging about?"
"Oh. Forgot all about her," Doyle admitted. "Let's go have a look."
Bodie turned down the road and drove about half a mile along the bumpy lane before spotting a large, flat area which looked like the site. A large tent stood off to the left, a half dozen cars to the right, and ahead lay a roped-off spot where people milled about what appeared to be nothing more than a large stack of rocks. "Shall we go into travel writer guise?"
"Yeah, why not." Doyle frowned. "Have we got a note pad in here?" He rummaged about in the glove box. "Might as well look the part. More or less." He pulled out a battered, dog-eared spiral notebook covered with coffee stains and thrust it at Bodie. "Here. You're good at taking notes."
"Oh, ta very much." Bodie idly flipped through it, looking for a clean page. It was thoroughly scribbled with barely readable notes on various cases from the past few months, some jottings taken during briefings, and more than a couple sketches of Cowley with intriguing adornments, including a daisy headband and cowbell. "This must be yours."
Doyle leaned over to look at the Cow sketch. "Got bored one day. And don't you even think about holding that to ransom."
Bodie had been thinking exactly that. "Who, me?" he said innocently. "Wouldn't dream of it, mate."
"Oi, they've noticed us." Doyle nodded towards the tent, where a man had emerged and was heading their way.
"Come on, then, Layton, old son, let's go plug 'See England First'."
They got out of the car and went to greet the fellow, a forty- ish, large and burly man who did not fit Bodie's idea of an academic at all, but looked more like a wrestler.
"I'm Dr. Belmont, I'm in charge of this dig. And who might you be?"
"David Bentley." Bodie offered his hand, and Belmont shook it, barely managing not to crush Bodie's fingers. "This is Mark Layton. We're travel writers, working on a piece about Cornwall."
"Ah, I see."
"Saw the sign down the road," Doyle put in, "thought it might be something of interest. Is this site open to tourists?"
Belmont nodded. "If they have a serious interest in bronze age cairns, they're welcome to have a look, with my permission, of course. There is, however, a much better example not far from here, the Ballowall Barrow at Carn Gloose. That is open to the public. Have you seen it?"
"No." Bodie shook his head. "It was next on our list of places to check out, though."
"You have a particular interest in things archaeological?"
Bodie looked over at the heap of rocks. "Not really. We're simply keeping an eye out for anything our readers might find out of the ordinary. Do you mind if we go over for a closer look?"
"Be my guests." Belmont turned back towards the tent. "But don't touch anything," he called out as he went.
"You'd think it was a pile of gold," Bodie said as they trekked over to the site. He ducked under the rope guarding it, holding it up for Doyle.
"You see who I see?" Doyle asked as they walked over towards the cairn.
"Sidney Melton Oliver the Third." Bodie had spotted the white haired, tweed-suited fellow right off. He waved to get the old bloke's attention.
Oliver waved back, and strolled over to meet them. "Mr. Benson, isn't it? You're the tour guide writers."
"Bentley," Bodie corrected. "Nice to see you again."
"Sorry, never been any good with names." He squinted at Doyle. "Mr. Laymon, isn't it?"
"Close," Doyle replied. "Layton. Have you been having a go at this place with your metal detector?"
"Oh, yes, indeed," Oliver said. "Haven't found anything yet, though. Would have to turn it over to the university, anyway. Pity. It's very difficult to add on to a private collection these days, you can't just go mucking about anywhere you please and take home whatever you want." He sighed, shaking his head. "Doesn't make treasure hunting much fun."
Bodie tried to suppress a grin at this; Oliver sounded like a disappointed child who wasn't allowed to dig in his neighbor's garden. "What is this place, exactly?"
"Hm? Oh, it's a burial spot. Late Bronze age cairn. Bit dull looking, isn't it? Not like stumbling over a Roman villa...now that would be something."
Doyle moved closer to the structure, peering at the closely- packed, flat stones. "No bodies left lying about, are there?"
"Cremation was common in this period," Oliver said. "Goods left behind with the deceased have long since been stolen, nothing left but an occasional potsherd. Not much here to attract tourists."
Bodie shrugged. "You never know what people are intrigued by."
"Absolutely true. Take my good friend Maggie over there." Oliver nodded at a stocky, middle-aged woman bending over a broken-down pile of rocks near the far end of the cairn. "She and I have been on many digs together in our time. She comes at dawn, leaves at dusk, rarely takes a rest. Loves every minute of back-breaking labor. Haven't seen that sort of devotion this side of a church."
Could only be Margaret Jewell, Bodie knew, unless there was an amazing coincidence of people named Maggie being interested in archaeology. "Do you think she'd want to talk to us?"
"She'll always talk about digging, to anyone who'll listen. Come along, then, I'll introduce you."
They followed after Oliver to the other end of the cairn, where he introduced them to Margaret Jewell, managing to get both their names right. She was a very hearty looking woman in her early fifties, with jet black hair tucked under a red scarf, wearing an oversized man's blue shirt over baggy jeans. Her face was plain, and like Kate, she had small, undistinguished features, but unlike Kate, she did not fade into the background. There was a liveliness in her eyes which Kate had lacked, a floridness to her gestures and expressions. Bodie liked her instinctively, even though he knew better than to trust first impressions.
"Travel writers?" she said after shaking their hands, her voice a near bellow. "Every guide talks about Ballowall Barrow, but this is a real find. When I say find, well, I mean it's been here for ages, and people knew about it, of course, but we've finally gotten some real funding to do a proper excavation, and let me tell you, it is fascinating work. Would you like to see the potsherds I've unearthed?"
Bodie pursed his lips. "Perhaps a bit later...do you think tourists would be interested in such a place? Or only those who are into archaeology?"
Margaret Jewell gave the pile of rocks a quick once-over. "Well, I think it's beautiful. Don't you?"
"Yeah," Doyle put in quickly, "it's amazing."
Bodie nodded in agreement, grateful for Doyle's ability to lie at a moment's notice. "Very nice," he said. "And are you an archaeologist, then?"
"Strictly an amateur," she replied. "Never had a chance to go to university. Went and got married instead. No regrets there, but now John's passed on, I get a chance to indulge my love of digging up old things. Sidney here is much better trained than I am, and quite the expert on old coins."
"Ah, but you have me matched and then some when it comes to enthusiasm," Oliver said.
Maggie briskly rubbed her hands together. "Got to have something to keep you going when you get to my age."
Bodie opted for flattery. "Surely you're not that much older than us--"
She laughed. "Old enough to be your mother." She paused, giving Bodie and Doyle a more careful scrutiny. "Well, just about. My son would have been twenty-five this year."
"Would have?" Doyle asked. "I'm sorry--"
"Oh, why should you be sorry for someone you never knew?" She sounded perfectly at ease with the subject. "Dear little lad was only eight when he died. Tractor accident." She shook her head, the only concession to the solemnity of such an event. "Such a waste." She brightened. "At least I had Jack to keep me company. That's my brother's boy, he and Ned used to play together all the time. Quite a charmer, is Jack. Never was taken care of properly, always felt good to step in whenever I could to lend a hand."
Bodie tried to reconcile Jack the Charmer with the sullen Jack Fielding he had met, and failed. "Nice to have kids about," he said vaguely, able to lie as blithely as Doyle. "Does your nephew share your interest in old things?"
"Sorry, I do love to rattle on about my family," Maggie said. "Dear Jack had a lovely job at an antiques store not too long back. Wish he'd kept on at that. Not quite archaeology, but more interesting than most other trades, don't you think? What could be more fascinating than learning about the grandeur of the past?"
"Oh, I don't know," Bodie said congenially, "travel writing?"
Maggie laughed again. "You enjoy your work, do you?"
"Good. People should be happy in their work. They spend so much of their lives at it."
"You've got that right," Doyle put in. "Pity that so many people can't muck about doing what they really want."
"Oh, I know." She nodded, eyebrows briefly knitting together. "I feel quite fortunate, having the money John left, and the dairy farm is still doing quite well, got a good fellow managing it...sorry, I was about to rattle on again. But then, I did put my years in on the farm, sometimes you simply have to do that so you can enjoy life later on. Most people, of course, don't have any idea how fortunate they are simply by living in the twentieth century. They should think more about those poor souls--" She waved at the cairn. "Most only living to thirty, if they were lucky. Hard life, and short. You think they had much time to 'muck about' doing what they liked?"
"No," Doyle replied, "don't reckon they did."
"You have to take the good things in life where and when you can," Maggie said. "That's my philosophy. Don't you agree, Sidney?" She gave the fellow, who had stood quietly beside her throughout the conversation, a hearty clap on the shoulder.
"Hm?" He roused himself. "Oh, by all means. Marvelous to be able to do what you love best, isn't it? Like coins...the study of coins is ever so fascinating. Have you got an interest in coins, Mr. Bentley?"
Bodie shook his head. "Only when I can spend them. Sorry."
"Well, your readers might be interested, don't you think? Now, there's a wonderful museum over in Porthlevan which you should inform them of, has a lovely collection of Roman coins." He frowned. "I believe they have other things there, too."
"Of course they have other things," Maggie put in. "Don't be so single-minded, Sidney. Best thing in that place is the display on smuggling." She smiled proudly. "One of my Fielding ancestors was a well-known smuggler in these parts. Great piece of history, that era, full of grand tales of adventure. Your readers would love it."
"We'll take a look," Doyle said.
"Good." She clapped her hands. "But first, you must take a look at my potsherds. Come along, this way."
Bodie gave Doyle a look which he hoped would convey his extreme disinterest in potsherds. Doyle merely smiled sweetly, and said, "Get ready to take notes, David."
Sighing, Bodie got out the notebook and trotted after Margaret Jewell.
An hour later they made their escape from the cairn, stopped in St. Just for a quick pub lunch, and then drove on to Porthlevan and the museum.
"Smuggling should be more fun than burial spots," Doyle said as they entered the rambling, fake Tudor building and paid their entrance fee. "We can skip the coins."
"Too bloody right," Bodie agreed, visions of Mr. Frobisher rising unbidden. History again. Everywhere he went, it reared its unpleasant head. "Ray, tell me something."
"What?" Doyle was bent over a table with a glassed-in top, peering at a collection of daggers.
"Did you like history when you were in school?"
"Yeah, it was great." He moved on to a display of old gloves.
Bodie stared at the daggers for a few seconds, then followed to stare at the gloves, which completely failed to capture his interest. He wondered if they had any good antique guns about. "Why?" he asked.
Doyle looked at him quizzically. "What do you mean, why? History is full of great stories, that's why."
"It bored me to tears." Bodie moved past him to the next item, a suit of armor which was missing major portions. "Couldn't care less who reigned when and what parliament was up to and who was fighting who or why. Same old thing, over and over, with a whole lot of ruddy dates to memorize. Boring."
"Must of been because of Mrs. White," Doyle replied. He came over to look at the armor. "She taught history, and doubled as the drama teacher. Think acting was her first love. Very vibrant old gal, wore the most outrageous hats. Anyway, she used to make us act stuff out all the time--Julius Caesar getting his, crusaders battling the Turks, Galileo on trial, the entire battle of Hastings, and lots of beheadings...it's amazing what you can do with a cabbage, a wig, and some tomato sauce."
Bodie gaped at him. "Tomato sauce? Are you serious?"
"Completely. I got to play Sir Walter Raleigh once."
"No." Bodie tried to picture the youthful Ray Doyle in Elizabethan tights. "Must have looked smashing."
"All the girls were after me for weeks." Doyle sighed. "Pity you didn't have Mrs. White. It's all ruined for you now, isn't it?"
Bodie nodded. "Mr. Frobisher's lectures were so exciting he could have put himself to sleep. Sometimes I think he did, his pauses were so long."
Doyle tugged at his sleeve, pulling him down towards a diorama depicting the coast of Cornwall, with miniature sailing ships dotting the plaster waves. "You could always start over from scratch, pretend Mr. Frobisher never existed, erase boring history lectures from your memory."
"Pirates are okay," Bodie said, peering at the tiny ships. "I could get into reading about pirates and swashbuckling adventures--"
"Those are smugglers." Doyle pointed out the plaque describing the diorama.
Bodie preferred pirates by far. "Can't I have a few illusions?"
"Probably got more than a few," Doyle replied. "Come on, let's find out all about the history of smuggling in Cornwall, okay?" He dragged Bodie towards a second diorama.
This one had little men moving boxes of goods into coves and tin mines for safekeeping. "'Hiding from the excisemen'," Bodie read from the description. "'The smugglers were often abetted by the local farmers and townspeople, who wanted to keep in good stead with them, for they provided smuggled wine, brandy, silk, and other expensive items at an affordable price. Most smugglers lived in the towns and many were upstanding citizens. This made the job of the excisemen most difficult as well as dangerous.'"
"Nobody likes the tax man," Doyle said. He bent close to the glassed-in display, his nose pressed against it.
"Bet they got bribed a lot." Bodie leaned in beside him. "Could probably do all right by yourself that way."
Doyle grinned. "There you go again, insights into the criminal mind. You sure you wound up on the right side of the law on purpose?"
"Nope." Bodie shifted his weight so that his hip brushed Doyle's. "Strictly an accident of fate."
"You sure you've got enough room there?" Doyle asked, pressing his hip back against Bodie's.
"Oh, yeah," Bodie replied, pretending to be fascinated by the tiny figures behind the glass. "Got a perfect spot here."
"Uh-huh." Doyle straightened. "Live dangerously, you do--got a talent for misbehaving in public."
Bodie raised his eyebrows. "Haven't done anything. Yet."
Doyle shook his head. "You will, sooner or later. Natural born mischief maker. You know, with a few minor twists of that fate of yours, we might have wound up on opposite sides, you and me." He paused. "Unless, of course, I'd ended up on the wrong side, too...wouldn't have been too difficult."
"Nah, not you, mate." Bodie could see a very youthful Doyle getting into trouble, but not the adult. "You like people too damned much to be a criminal."
"Oh, is that what it is?"
Bodie nodded. "You go around empathizing with victims left and right. You even empathize with the ruddy suspects. Sometimes I wonder about you."
Doyle smiled. "It's mutual, trust me." He tugged at Bodie's sleeve. "Come on, let's see the next one."
They moved on, looking over the rest of the smuggling displays, reading all of the plaques. Bodie's interest in things historical perked up solely because of Doyle's boundless enthusiasm, as he gestured excitedly at every display and artifact, hypothesizing wildly and making up tales as he went. When they reached the final display case, Bodie even felt a tinge of regret that their tour was over, for watching Doyle's pleasure more than made up for the dullness he had always associated with museums. But he needn't have worried--Doyle dashed off through a side door, yanking on Bodie's jacket as he did so, exclaiming over the gift shop which lay beyond.
Bodie should have guessed. All those brochures and travel guides Doyle had picked up at the hotel when they'd first arrived, claiming they were for research--no such thing. Doyle had a hitherto unbeknownst penchant for sightseeing which went above and beyond the call of duty.
He calmly followed the whirlwind into the gift shop. Postcards, keychains, knickknacks, cheap replicas, Doyle pawed over all of it, then moved on to a shelf of books. Bodie checked his watch, wondering if they would make it back to Penzance in time for tea. He hadn't had a chance yet to test out the famous cream tea the proprietress had advertised so warmly. A nice hot cup of tea and some fat-laden scones would sit very well right about now.
Doyle studiously examined the works of local history, flipping through each volume with total absorption. Bodie wandered over to a rack of calendars, picked out one full of picturesque fishing villages and thrust it under Doyle's nose. "Why don't you get this?"
"No." Doyle batted it away. "This looks interesting." He showed Bodie the oversized book's cover, which depicted a band of smugglers heaving crates up a rocky shore while a storm raged overhead and a ship tossed on frothy waves.
"How much is it?" Bodie couldn't help noticing that the tome was rife with color plates.
Doyle looked at the tag and whistled. "Twenty quid. What have you got on you?"
"Me?" Bodie feigned utter shock. "You want me to buy your smuggling book?"
"Early Christmas present?" Doyle suggested.
"Not on your life. Haven't you got any money at all?"
"Maybe." Doyle dug through his wallet, producing one crumpled five-pound note, two mangled ones, and a fifty pence piece. "That's it. Early Christmas and birthday present?"
Bodie tried thrusting the calendar at him again. "This is only four quid."
The look of dismay on Doyle's face almost managed to sway Bodie, but not quite. He wasn't ready to be manipulated so easily, even if he did love the underhanded little sod. He sternly shook his head.
"A loan, then?" Doyle queried.
"Persistent, aren't you." Bodie reached for his wallet. A loan he could handle, and it would give him something to tease Doyle about later. He tried to hand over the money, but Doyle's nose was buried in the book. "Oi, wake up."
"Look at this." Doyle pointed out a section of the text. "John Carter Fielding. You reckon that's Maggie's ancestor? There's a whole chapter on him in here."
"Bet Keaton would know," Bodie replied, "with all his family history research."
"Yeah, but do you really want to ask him?"
Bodie shuddered. "No, I don't. Come on, let's pay for this thing and get going."
Doyle's face suddenly lit up. "Wait--if this guy really is related to Margaret Jewell, and to Jack and Kate, then we can call it research material and charge it back to CI5."
Bodie rolled his eyes. "Cowley will never go for that."
"And we can purchase whatever else has got information on Fielding as well," Doyle went on cheerfully. He shoved the book into Bodie's hands and started grabbing more off the shelf, leafing eagerly through their indexes.
"But, Ray--" Visions of one irate Scotsman rose in Bodie's mind, of Cowley going over their expense chits item-by-unnecessary-item.
"Here, take this one. And this." Doyle piled books onto Bodie's arms, loading him down until he felt like a pack mule.
"Ray, he'll make us take these out of our wages, I know he will. Besides--" Bodie grunted as three more fat books were tossed his way. "--I haven't got his much cash on me."
Doyle grabbed a slim pamphlet and carried it to the counter, while Bodie staggered behind him. "Got your charge card, haven't you?"
"Great. Yeah, I've got it." Bodie dumped the stack on the counter top. "But I'm telling you, if Cowley doesn't reimburse this lot, your Christmas and birthday presents are used up for the next five years."
Doyle merely smiled, and held out his hand for the card.
"'Footprints of Former Men in Far Cornwall'," Doyle read off the spine, "'by Robert Stephen Hawker, a reprint of the classic 1870 edition'. Interesting title, isn't it?" He looked across the hotel dining room table at Bodie, who sipped slowly at his tea, the Daily Mail spread out beside his plate of Napoleons, opened to the crossword, which he was having a second go at. It seemed to be taking up all of his powers of concentration.
"Um-hm," Bodie mumbled, apparently considering it a proper response. "What's a four-letter word for 'Pakistani language'?"
"How should I know?" Doyle flipped through the book, looking for the parts on John Carter Fielding. Bodie's disinterest failed to deter his own enthusiasm. Perhaps Bodie was simply no longer interested in the case, taking their "holiday" too much to heart. Well, that wasn't going to stop him enjoying himself with a bit of detecting. Bodie had his puzzle, and Doyle had his mystery, and hopefully both would be solved.
"Urdu," Bodie announced.
Doyle frowned. "Urdu?"
"Pakistani language. Figured it out from the clues going across."
"Very good. Care to hear about John Fielding's exploits?"
Bodie took a long drink of his tea and smacked his lips. "You don't honestly think it has any bearing on the Davis case, do you?"
"It might. You never know. Look at what we've got." He numbered the items on his fingers. "One, an area once renowned for its smugglers. Two, a castle in that area which Davis probably went over to check out. Three, Oliver prospecting for coins at that same castle. Four, Jack Fielding, who lives on the island and was the object of Davis' investigation, was known to talk about getting rich quick. Five, Oliver just happens to know Jack's aunt, who just happens to have a well-known smuggler in her family history." Doyle stopped, not entirely sure where he was leading with all these points. Then he remembered Davis' final words. "Golden something, or gold in something, maybe the castle...suppose there really is a buried treasure on the Mount?"
Bodie tapped his pen on the table top. "You're making up stories, like your old history teacher. Where did this gold come from? You heard what Keaton said, they didn't smuggle gold. What do your books have to say about that?"
"They had to get paid something for the goods," Doyle said. "That's where the gold came from."
"And this John Carter Fielding went around burying his money instead of spending it? Is that what you're suggesting?"
Doyle flipped to the index of his book. "Let's find out, shall we? Can't very well solve a murder without a bit of theorizing, you know." He found the entry for Fielding and looked up the pages and set about reading them, silently.
Bodie shoved his crossword aside and leaned back, arms crossed against his chest. "One," he said pointedly, "Smuggling has nothing to do with the current situation and is nothing more than a romantic notion on your part. Two, Greg Davis may or may not have gone over to the Mount, but if he did, he was probably just tailing Jack or chatting up Jack's neighbors. Three, Sidney Melton Oliver the Third was looking for coins dropped by tourists. Four, Jack Fielding talked about getting rich because his aunt had found some money left to him by his uncle. Five, Oliver knows Margaret Jewell because they both share an interest in archaeology, and did not hire him to search the castle grounds for mysterious missing treasure left behind by her great-great whatever ancestor John the Smuggler Fielding because it's all in your bloody overimaginative head. And Greg Davis was coshed by someone who took a fancy to his camera. See? Simple." He leaned forward again to grab a Napoleon.
Having ignored the attempt to distract him, Doyle continued plowing through the chapter on John Carter Fielding and, when he had finished, he triumphantly shut the book. "Wrong," he said, timing it to match the entry of the Napoleon into Bodie's wide open mouth.
"Umpf," Bodie replied as he tried to talk and chew at the same time. "What d'you...um...mean, wrong?" Crumbs sprayed the air.
"I mean," Doyle said, utterly failing to keep the smugness out of his tone, "that according to 'Footprints of Former Men in Far Cornwall', John Carter Fielding was tighter with his money than Cowley, made a fortune from smuggling, and was known to keep his wealth stored in his attic in the form of gold guineas." He paused, allowing this information to sink in. "And furthermore," he said, enjoying every moment, "when he died, no gold guineas were found anywhere in his home."
Bodie stared at him for a long time, his mouth slowly working on the Napoleon. At last he swallowed, washed it down with more tea, and then replied, "Oh."
"Yeah, oh." Doyle picked up the second book from his stack and pushed it across the table top. "Here, have a go." He took the next book and began searching its pages.
"Okay, okay, you win." Bodie shoved his newspaper and plate aside and took up the book. "I still think it's a far-fetched theory. Buried gold. Besides, I like Maggie. She wouldn't bash Davis over the head."
Doyle shook his head sadly. "Getting soft in your old age."
"Do you think she'd bash him over the head?"
"No," Doyle replied honestly. "But my intuition has been wrong before."
"Yeah," Bodie said solemnly. "Me, too." He set to work reading.
Two hours later, after going through every reference in every book and jotting down everything related to Fielding, they ordered dinner and then set about comparing notes.
"John Carter Fielding," Doyle said, "was born in 1731 and died in 1799. Well, they think he died then. He vanished without a trace one stormy night while crossing the causeway to the Mount."
"Knew that damn thing was dangerous," Bodie put in.
"Yeah, yeah. As I was saying," Doyle said pointedly, "Fielding had a small farm near Marazion which never fared terribly well. So he took to smuggling as a more profitable livelihood."
"And he married the only daughter of the mayor of Marazion," Bodie said. "A wise move. Always handy to have influence in high places."
Doyle thumbed through his notes. "Looks as if he spent close to forty years as a successful smuggler of brandy and wine, the most popular goods to bring in from France. By avoiding the proper trade route, he also avoided the high alcohol tax, which was the main reason behind smuggling. Fielding, like other smugglers, then sold the goods to local innkeepers and other merchants, who had a high and steady demand for cheap booze."
"And he kept most of his proceeds in gold guineas."
"Right. I found three separate references to that," Doyle said. "His miserly habits were apparently the talk of the town. Everyone was keen on finding out how much gold he had stashed away and where."
Bodie shuffled through his notebook. "One very popular and very intriguing theory, according to the author of 'The True History of the Cornish Smuggling Trade', is that Fielding systematically transported his horde, near the end of his life, to the island of St. Michael's Mount, where he had a secret spot for the cache."
"Buried treasure," Doyle replied. He resisted the urge to say, I told you so.
"Yeah, all right," Bodie conceded. "Maybe your imagination isn't so far-fetched after all. Fielding could have buried it somewhere, I suppose. There's no mention of it in the books I read, just that nobody ever located the horde."
"Well, I found something equally intriguing," Doyle said. "It's in the last book I looked at--'Dangerous Men: The Lives and Times of the Cornish Free Traders'. Had a long chapter on our friend Fielding, and this author did a lot of research. Managed to track down old letters, journals, newspaper accounts, including a bundle of letters written by Molly Fielding, the wife, to her brother's family. One letter in particular, written in 1796, just three years before Fielding died, is very interesting. There are complaints about her husband's stinginess, which apparently were made frequently. And then Molly writes about John being nicked by the excisemen, also a not infrequent occurrence, which was usually solved either by mayoral influence or bribery. At this time, however, Molly's father was long since retired, and the tax men were unusually honest. So John had to spend some months in prison."
"Happens to the best of us," Bodie said.
"And the worst." Doyle grinned. "Anyway, John kept all his 'free trade' transactions and arrangements in a diary, in a special code of his own devising. Due to his occasional 'indispositions', he had entrusted the diary to Molly and taught her the code so that she could continue the business in his absence. She did so, according to this author, with great gusto, since it provided an opportunity to get hold of John's money and squirrel away some for herself."
"Good for Molly. Maggie seems to have acquired some of the Fielding spirit. Too bad Kate is such a bland young woman. Wonder what happened there?"
"Well, she did show a bit of pluck when she found out we were CI5." Doyle wasn't certain how he felt yet about Kate Fielding, she wasn't easy to pin down. "Don't write her off yet, she may surprise us."
"Women often have," Bodie said.
"You don't need to remind me."
Doyle shrugged. "It's not easy to judge people on short acquaintance. Everybody has their hidden side. Look at you."
"Me?" Bodie looked the picture of innocence.
"Yeah, you. Look how long it took me to dig below the surface, and I'm your best mate. I knew you what, seven years, before I even knew you had a sister."
"You didn't ask."
Doyle couldn't believe it. Surely in all those years, at least once, he had asked Bodie about his family. "Yes, I did."
Bodie shook his head slowly and firmly. "Never. Kept waitin' for it, too. There you were, completely fascinated by the entire life history of every terrorist and nut case we had to deal with 'cause you had to know what made them tick, all concerned about how they got to be what they were, and when you had finished exhausting yourself by psychoanalyzing every suspect, witness, and criminal in sight, you turned to me and said, 'let's go for a drink', or 'is there a good game on the box?' And then you'd sit there and brood all evening over the world's inequities. When you weren't busy chatting up birds, that is. No, sorry mate, but half that battle to dig below my surface was your doing, not mine."
Taken aback, Doyle simply stared at Bodie as the truth of what he'd said sank in. All the years of their friendship, of working together, had he really taken Bodie so much for granted? Had he really given his concern freely to other people, and had nothing left over for the person closest to him? No, of course he had cared deeply for Bodie. But perhaps he had never shown it in the right ways. Why was it so much simpler to give of himself to strangers? He spoke the question aloud.
"Because it's safer," Bodie replied. But further conversation stopped as the waitress arrived with their meals. After she left, Bodie continued. "It's easy to care about someone you're not likely to ever see again, no major commitment there. Most of the time it didn't matter that much to me, but every once in a while I needed that same concern you gave to every nobody you came across, and you weren't there."
Doyle looked blankly at his dinner plate, thinking back over the years. Marikka. Krivas. King Billy. He hadn't known how to deal with a Bodie who needed him. Had he been afraid of giving too much, of not wanting Bodie to find out how strongly he felt about him? "Too close," he said, looking up. "I was too close to you. Too risky to let things show. You'd still be there next week, next month, next year, always there, knowing too much about me." Bodie was right--keeping everything which truly meant something locked inside was the only way for Doyle to make sure he never revealed too much to the one person to whom it would have mattered. Until recently, after the shooting, when it suddenly became important to reach out to someone who, unlike the strangers he had cared about, might reach back.
"You know," Doyle said, "this past year, when you first started telling me about yourself, it surprised the hell out of me. Thought you had gone round the twist."
"No," Bodie replied softly, "just got tired of the silence. Wasn't easy. It took me a long time to work out where the trouble lay. You see, where I come from, caring about someone is practically a crime."
Doyle wished, as he saw the longing in Bodie's eyes, that he could reach across the table and take Bodie's hand in his. He held back the regret he felt at not being able to do so. "I've let you down," he said.
"No." Bodie smiled, his eyes bright. "It's always been a two-way street, Ray. No blame, no regrets. Let's just be glad we figured it out before it was too late." He picked up his knife and fork. "And let's eat our damn food before it gets cold."
"Okay." Doyle gratefully focused on his food, shoving other issues aside for the time being. It wasn't until he had eaten his meal and turned down dessert that he realized they had never finished the Fielding discussion. He tried to remember where they had left off. Molly Fielding, John's coded diary. "Never got done telling you about John Fielding's diary," Doyle said.
Bodie's slice of apple pie arrived. "There's more, is there? You want some of this?"
"Yeah. I mean, no, I don't want any, and yes, there was more. Molly wrote about her husband's increasingly frequent trips to the Mount, and his increasing secrecy. She'd found a separate page in the back of his diary, with a coded message, but it was in a new code he had never taught to her."
"Is that all?" Bodie asked.
"That's it. Fielding died, or rather disappeared, in 1799, Molly inherited, but the money he left amounted to what would be around fifty quid today. There was plenty of speculation over what he'd done with his wealth, but nothing came of it. There's no further mention of the diary. I guess it must have passed on to the oldest child and on down the line."
"So there's a missing fortune, possibly hidden on the Mount, which belongs to the Fielding family." Bodie ate the last bite of his pie. "Didn't Kate say something about being disinherited?"
"You're right." Doyle sipped at his coffee. "Something about their grandfather not leaving their father anything in his will, it all went to Aunt Maggie. She kept going on about how poor the family was."
"Let me think about this," Bodie said. "Let's say she and Jack and Maggie really are all direct descendants of John Carter Fielding, but when Jack and Kate's father lost out, anything passed on down the line, like a diary, passed on to Maggie instead. She did say she was a Fielding. So if that diary really still exists, she's the one who could have it. Right?"
"So if dad hadn't been cut out, the diary would have passed on to Jack, or to Kate. Maybe one of them found out how important that diary might be, and felt cheated."
Doyle wasn't entirely sure where Bodie was going with this. "How'd they find out, though? If Maggie knew what it was, wouldn't she have turned it over to a museum or something? Or maybe she didn't know it was important, but somehow Jack did, and stole it from her."
Doyle shook his head. "We need more than theories. We might check the county vital records, see if we can find a relationship between John Carter and Maggie, and how close it is."
"It's Saturday night. Nothing will be open until Monday. Keaton knows enough about family history research to do that sort of checking, but are you ready to bother with him again?"
"No," Doyle said. "Could just ask Maggie if she's a descendant, and if she ever inherited anything from him."
"Yeah, but if she happens to be the criminal," Bodie pointed out, "we'll instantly alert her that we're on the right track."
Doyle drank the rest of his coffee. "Okay, so we'll have to work on theory after all, at least for now. Let's say Jack found out about the diary, and decided it was rightfully his. He either stole or borrowed it, and is now trying to work out the code on the assumption it tells where the gold is hidden." He felt quite pleased with himself for finding a possible solution.
Bodie instantly shot it down. "There's a less complicated theory. If Maggie inherited the diary, she could have decided to find the gold for herself. She's got motive--a life of hard work and delayed dreams--money would allow her to pursue her archaeology passion without ever working again. She's got the knowledge, and a friend who knows how to look for metal coins."
"Thought you liked Maggie," Doyle protested, vastly preferring Jack Fielding as a suspect.
"I do. Can't let my personal feelings get in the way, though. Told you, we have to view her as a suspect, not give anything away. Or to the others. Unless we think we can use it to break them down into confessing, of course. Kate probably would. Might try it with her."
"Okay. Still think Jack's the most suspicious one of the lot, though," Doyle said.
"True," Bodie replied. "Jack, however, hasn't got the brains to figure out a code."
Doyle agreed with that assessment. "What about Kate?"
"Maybe. But why would she hire Davis to find out what Jack was up to if she was the one with the diary?"
Bodie sighed. "Too complicated. In fact, it's all too complicated. Gold buried on the Mount, a secret code, a disinherited family, a diary which may not even exist. Even if it were true, and even if Jack, or Maggie, or Kate, actually located the gold, how would they get it off the island? There's nothing on that rock except the village and the castle grounds. If it's hidden in the village, the people there would probably notice someone digging up their gardens, and if it's on the castle grounds, there are tourists running about--" He stopped abruptly, frowning.
"What is it?" Doyle asked. "You got a brilliant notion or something?"
"Remember that sign we saw on the island?" Bodie said. "About the castle being closed for renovations?"
"Yeah. Closes Sunday, I think."
"At which point the tourists won't be a problem."
"Be easier to go digging around the grounds," Doyle replied. "Could even pretend to be part of the renovation crew. Hope Keaton keeps a close eye on our suspects this weekend."
"Maybe we should tell him our little theory."
"Later," Doyle said. "I've got plans for the next--" He checked his watch. It had just gone eight. "--oh, twelve hours or so, which definitely have nothing to do with solving murder cases." The look he favored Bodie with was as sexy as he dared in a public place.
Bodie visibly swallowed. Then he turned a smoldering, sensual gaze on Doyle. "Does that mean you're ready to retire for the night?"
"I know it's early," Doyle said, "but there are times when it's never too early to go to bed. And there won't be anything retiring about it."
"Oh?" Bodie displayed a devilish grin. "You sure you won't fall asleep on me with that towering stamina of yours?"
"That was different," Doyle protested, recalling his drowsiness after their afternoon encounter on the beach. "You laid there while I did all the work."
Bodie laughed. "Guess I'll have to give you the easy part tonight, then."
A tingle shot up Doyle's spine. He'd been thinking about what it would be like, what it would feel like to have Bodie fuck him, and it produced a strong mix of anticipation and fear. Bodie wouldn't rush it, though, not the way it had gone at the cove. It would be slow. He needed it slow, he needed to have it last. "You want me, you've got me."
"I want you," Bodie replied.
Doyle signalled the waitress for their bill.
"Hope you've got some of that suntan oil left," Doyle said as he lay on the bed, quite naked, watching Bodie remove the last of his clothes. One sock, two socks, pants went flying. "Especially if you're planning on putting that up me bum."
Bodie glanced down at his erection. "Nice, isn't it?"
"It's lovely. Now go find the oil."
Bodie dutifully padded off to the bathroom, returning a moment later with the bottle. He stretched out on the bed alongside Doyle and handed the suntan oil to him. "Care to rub some on me?"
"Not yet." Doyle set it on the night stand. "Just wanted to make sure we had it at the proper time. First, I want a good, long kiss. So come here." He pulled Bodie into an embrace, and kissed him on the lips, then their mouths opened to each other for a languorous exploration.
Bodie stroked and caressed Doyle's back, and he returned the favor, luxuriating in the touch. Doyle relinquished Bodie's mouth, moving on to neck, throat, and chest. They spent a long time simply holding each other, quietly touching and kissing every inch of each other's bodies, letting arousal build slowly, drawing it out. And Doyle was amazed to realize that if all they ever did in bed was this, he would be satisfied, for it gave him such a heady sense of loving Bodie, of feeling whole in their togetherness.
"Um," he murmured into Bodie's ear after giving it a nibble, "could do this all night."
"Me, too." Bodie's tongue made deft circles around Doyle's nipple. "Could do something more, though, too."
Doyle wondered if Bodie felt the same sense of completeness that he did. "But you wouldn't have to have more, would you?"
"Don't know...sometimes think I could get off just on looking at you...want to love you every way that I can." He left off his attentions to Doyle's chest for a brief kiss. "Are you trying to tell me you don't want to fuck tonight after all?"
"No." He still wanted it, needed to experience it. "But would it matter?"
"Don't think it would," Bodie said. "There are lots of ways to love someone." He brushed his lips across Doyle's forehead. "Maybe I get a bit eager at times...like on the beach today." He frowned. "It was good, wasn't it?"
Doyle nodded. "Fantastic. I'm not complaining. Wanted to know if you felt the way I did."
"And how's that?" Bodie asked as he left a trail of little kisses down Doyle's nose.
Doyle laughed softly. "You got a nose fetish I don't know about?"
"It's a beautiful nose," Bodie replied. "Utterly perfect."
"Don't be daft. Got these bloody great big nostrils."
"Are they?" Doyle studied the area in question. "Never noticed." He planted a kiss on the tip. "'Sides, you know what they say about blokes with large noses...." He glanced down at Bodie's fully erect and quite impressive cock.
Bodie shook his head sadly. "That's long noses, you idiot, not noses with bloody huge nostrils." His gaze followed Doyle's look downward. "On the other hand...."
"It's big," Doyle confirmed. He touched one finger to the tip of Bodie's cock, which twitched in response. "And it's eager."
"So is yours." Bodie ran his hand along Doyle's chest and abdomen, then wrapped firm fingers around Doyle's straining shaft. He gently pumped it.
Doyle moaned as waves of pleasure shot through him. "Again...."
Bodie complied, stroking strongly and rhythmically. "Don't let go all the way yet, I've got further plans for you."
"Better hurry, then." Doyle found it increasingly hard to think, let alone speak. And then all attempts at coherence fled as Bodie's hand left off, replaced by Bodie's lips, his tongue lapping along his cock from the base to the tip. His mouth opened to take Doyle in, sucking at the head, and taking more of him as Doyle thrust, unable to control the surging need.
He grasped Bodie's shoulders, fingers pressing into his back, moaning wildly as the warm, wet mouth welcomed his cock. Bodie's roving hands found Doyle's taut balls, and he rubbed them with a steady, circular motion, sending shivering waves through Doyle's abdomen which rose to an unbearable crest of pleasure. Then the twin sensations caused by Bodie's skilled mouth and hands met, overwhelming him, and Doyle came, spilling into Bodie's mouth in a reckless thrusting which went on and on until Bodie pulled away at last and Doyle rolled onto his back, unaware of anything save release.
Gradually he become conscious of a hand caressing his belly. "Um," he managed, not sure he could articulate further.
"Good?" Bodie's voice drifted through to him.
"Not falling asleep on me, are you?"
"Uh-uh." Doyle struggled towards wakefulness. "I feel incredible...thanks." He took Bodie's hand in his and squeezed it.
"You're welcome." Bodie leaned over to blow a warm breath across Doyle's forehead, fluttering the sweat-damp curls. "You know, you taste different than I expected. Not so salty. Bit sweet."
Doyle raised his eyebrows. "Yeah?" He wondered what Bodie would taste like--something else to try in the future. The very near future, if he had anything to say about it.
"Yeah. Must be all those vitamins you take."
"Nah. I'm just naturally sweet all over."
Bodie laughed. "In your dreams, sunshine."
"Oi." Doyle squeezed Bodie's hand harder. "Thought when you loved someone, you were supposed to agree with silly statements like that."
"Let go." Bodie pinched Doyle's wrist, gaining a speedy release of his hand. "That only applies to lovers you're trying to appease. Like birds who develop sudden urges to wash their hair instead of hopping into bed."
"Oh." Doyle rolled back onto his side to face him. "In that case, I hope you keep on being contrary. Appeasement doesn't sound like much fun." He lay his hand on Bodie's chest, then bent to kiss each nipple. "So how do you want me?"
"Slow," Bodie replied. "And easy."
"Good." Doyle reached over to the night stand for the lotion. He poured some onto his palm, and then he caressed Bodie's cock, rubbing the smooth oil up, down, and around the hard, thick shaft, with one final cupping of his palm over the head. Bodie shivered at each touch, small moans escaping his lips. "Think we'd better move on," Doyle said, handing the bottle over. "Want me the same way I had you? Or 'ave you got something different in mind?"
"Let's stick to something simple," Bodie said, passion making his voice husky. "Same as before. We can try the fancy stuff later."
"Like what?" Doyle asked as he turned onto his stomach and drew one leg up, propping his head on his arms against the pillow. "Rings and a trampoline, maybe?"
"You and your imagination."
"Or maybe a leather harness and--"
Doyle smiled into the pillow, relaxed by the teasing. "Okay. Ordinary, everyday screwing is fine by me."
He felt Bodie's hands on his back, massaging him, stroking first his shoulders and then down along his spine, pressing smoothly, further relaxing him. The motion gently soothed away the tension within his body, and by the time Bodie reached his lower back, Doyle felt completely at ease. And then he heard Bodie fumbling with the bottle of suntan oil, knew he was getting ready, and anticipation coursed through him as Bodie eased himself between his thighs.
"One finger first, Ray," Bodie whispered.
The cool, oil-slick fingertip entered him, probing the opening, and Doyle felt his muscles clamp, automatically resisting the intruder. He took a deep breath, and another, willing himself to relax. Bodie pushed further in, working him, and as Doyle became familiar with the odd sensation, his muscles loosened to allow more access.
Then the finger withdrew. "Two fingers now, okay?" Bodie asked.
"Okay," Doyle mumbled into the pillow, nodding.
It went more slowly this time, as Bodie pushed inside the tight passage, despite Doyle's concentrated efforts to open up. The fingers were slick with lotion, but there were still twinges of pain which he fought to ignore, focusing on the pure sensation as Bodie stroked and rubbed him deep inside.
"More?" Bodie's breaths came harsh and ragged.
Doyle knew Bodie must be close already. "No, that's enough," he said thickly. "Want you in me." He felt anxious, despite his earlier desire to take things slowly, to have the full experience and to have it now, before his body's resistance grew. "Come on, do it, get in there."
"Raise up a bit, it'll be easier." Bodie slid one arm beneath his hips, balancing above Doyle with his other arm. "That's it. Breathe deep, don't fight it."
Doyle burrowed into the pillow as Bodie penetrated him, the blunt head of his cock fighting past the opening to push inside. It hurt. He gasped, unable to focus on breathing properly, aware only of the extreme fullness and discomfort.
"Ray? Should I stop?"
"Yes...no...I don't know...." He wanted it, he wanted Bodie, but it hurt.
Bodie eased out a ways, then slowly pushed back in. "Tell me what you want, Ray."
"I don't know." Doyle shook his head. "Keep going...." He cried out as Bodie thrust inside him, and a shock of intense pleasure suddenly mixed with the pain. "Christ...how did you do that...."
"Not me," Bodie said between panting breaths. "You. Hit the right spot. Move with me, Ray, push back against me."
He did, shoving his hips against Bodie's, and the incredible wave of pleasure returned with each thrust of Bodie's cock, shooting electric quivers up his spine and outward, tingling along his entire body, out to his very fingertips and down to his toes. The pain subsided, leaving him in a haze of pure bliss. Bodie was in him, deep within, moving in an ever-increasing rhythm which built to a frenzy. His own cock twitched in response; he was far too sated to do any more, but revelled in the state of near-arousal. As Bodie gripped him, a fevered pitch to his thrusts, Doyle shouted for him to push harder, deeper, longer, and then, with an ecstatic cry, Bodie pumped his seed into him, filling him, warmth flowing inside.
Doyle let out a long, low moan as Bodie withdrew, feeling the loss of contact keenly. He shifted onto his side as Bodie limply rolled onto his back, and watched the huge smile lighting Bodie's face.
"I love you," Doyle whispered, kissing the curved lips.
"Oh...." Bodie looked surprised, then smiled again and kissed him back. "Thought I'd done it all wrong, went too fast."
"Almost," Doyle admitted, recalling his struggle against the pain. He curled his body against Bodie's, one leg thrown over Bodie's thigh, arm thrown across his chest. He rested his head against Bodie's shoulder. "Came close to giving up on it, but then this incredible sensation hit me...like having a whole bunch of little orgasms in a row, every time you thrust in there...no wonder blokes like it."
"Good both ways," Bodie said, "getting and giving." He pulled the covers up around them, then brought his arms around Doyle, holding him tightly. "I love you, too, by the way."
"Yeah, I thought as much." Doyle closed his eyes, feeling warm and comfortable and drowsy, despite the early hour. He waited for Bodie to make some comment about his stamina, and he didn't have to wait long.
Bodie poked his shoulder. "You know, some blokes can do it all night long."
"Do what?" Doyle refused to open his eyes. "Annoy their bedmates?"
"Yeah," Bodie agreed amiably.
"I'm only resting," Doyle said, although he wasn't entirely certain that sleep wasn't creeping up on him. The day had started early and been quite full, and an unusual tiredness fought for control of his body. He would never have retired this early in the evening before...Doyle mentally shook himself, not wanting to think about it but unable to fend off the idea that he really could be less than a hundred per cent since the shooting. They hadn't done anything that strenuous today, certainly nothing as rigorous as many of the ops they'd been on in the past few months. And he hadn't been unduly tired out during any of those assignments. Perhaps it was some kind of cumulative effect, though--something that was building gradually over time. The more he strained his body, the easier it would give out on him. The more he pushed himself, the more damage he did, only realizing the extent of the problem when his body reached its limits and refused to cooperate.
"Ray?" Bodie softly stroked his back. "Are you really asleep?"
"No." He opened his eyes, found himself looking at a wide- awake Bodie.
"What are you thinking about?"
Doyle sighed, unsure he even knew the answer. He tried to make his vague worry take form. "Remember when we were talking about what to do, whether we should quit the squad...I know you don't want to talk about it, but I was thinking about something just now, something that really matters...I told you that I didn't feel old, that I wanted to keep doing something active." He took a calming breath, then plunged on, an uncertain ache settling inside, a yearning for something lost. "I'm not so sure of myself any more. I don't know what I can or can't do, because I feel great one day but the next it's not so good. I still don't feel old, it's just that...it's just...." He paused, the ache washing over him in a cold, dark wave. "I always used to know where I was going, what my next step would be, what I wanted to do. Everything was so clear. And now there's nothing certain any more. Do you know what I mean?"
Bodie laced his fingers through Doyle's hair, gently brushing through the curls. "I've had that feeling more times than I can tell. Like being on a strange road, not knowing where any of the exits go. And not knowing which way is home."
Doyle's arms tightened around Bodie's waist. All these years, he'd always thought Bodie was so sure of himself, so confident and self-contained. "I'm glad you're here." He kissed Bodie's cheek.
"Me, too." Bodie left off caressing Doyle's hair and started on his back. "Things'll work out. But I know what you mean. I never used to wonder about the future as much as I do now. Used to change jobs so often I didn't know if I was coming or going, didn't get to know people until I was out the door. Didn't matter, always found something interesting to do, never thought much about the next adventure. Got into CI5, figured I'd be happy as long as the pay was halfway decent, didn't care much about anything else. Just take the orders, do the job, go home afterwards and forget about it 'til the next day. And spend as many nights as I could with a willing bird."
"Eat well, sleep tight, and screw as often as possible," Doyle said. "The secret of life." He smiled. "You never really believed in that for a second, did you?"
"Well, maybe for a second." Bodie lifted Doyle's chin to kiss him lightly on the lips. "What do you think?"
"What do I think about what?"
"The secret of life," Bodie replied. He paused. "You still believe in God, don't you?"
Doyle nodded. "Sometimes I have to." He knew Bodie didn't have any illusions there, that he only believed in what he could see with his own eyes. "If I really believed that the bastards who get away with some of the things I've seen would never be punished, I might go mad."
"You mean you'd like to imagine their souls rotting in hell some day, is that it?" Bodie shook his head. "No, I don't need to believe that. Death alone is a good enough punishment for anyone, in my book. I don't need to worry about what happens afterwards. 'Cause there isn't any afterwards."
"Don't say things like that." Doyle felt distinctly uncomfortable at the very somber turn of their conversation. "Too depressing to think about."
Bodie smiled softly. "Sorry. It's okay, you and me are going to live forever, don't you know that?"
Doyle shut his eyes tightly, fighting back a surge of emotion. It was a potent desire, to want to live for as long as he could love. "Yeah, I know that." He forced away the melancholy thoughts he had of Bodie dying before he did, or dying first and leaving him alone. "Can we talk about something else?"
"You brought it up," Bodie pointed out.
"Did not. You asked what I was thinking about, and that's what I happened to be thinking."
"So that makes it all my fault?" Bodie asked, a playful tone in his voice. "Do you always think dreary thoughts after making wild, passionate love?"
Doyle considered this carefully. "As a matter of fact, yeah, I usually do. But generally along the line of 'how am I going to drop this bird before she gets serious'."
"That's not dreary," Bodie replied warmly, "that's simply expedient."
"Well, won't have to worry about that any more anyway, will I?"
"Not if I have anything to do with it, you won't." Bodie grinned. "As long as I'm loving, attentive, and gorgeous, you'll stick around."
Doyle thumped him.
They made love again later that night, then fell into sleep. Bodie dreamed he was a smuggler unloading casks of brandy under cover of fog on a rocky shore. He dreamed the tax men rode up on black horses with steaming nostrils, chasing him along the winding cliff top. He stumbled before the wild, beating hooves, losing his footing, falling and falling down and down. He heard a cry as he fell, a call for help that wasn't his own, and as he sank below the cold water he wondered if it had been his own cry after all.
He found he could breathe underwater, and swam for a long, long way before breaking the surface and struggling to the shore, where he lay down to rest. Another cry disturbed him, and Bodie fought to wake, and then the dream faded as he truly woke up, in the hotel room bed, to find Doyle restlessly turning and moaning in his sleep.
"Ray." He wrapped his arms around him, trying to soothe away the anxiety he felt within Doyle. He stroked Doyle's back until the restless moaning stopped.
Doyle burrowed deeper into the embrace. "Bodie?"
"Who else? You okay?"
"Another bad dream?" Bodie asked, thinking about Doyle's previous nightmare.
"Yeah." Doyle stretched and yawned, then resettled. "Wasn't as bad as last night, though."
"You reckon they'll go away completely some day?"
"God, I hope so." Doyle trembled. "They're too real by half. Don't care much for waking up in the middle of the night, either. Or waking you up. Sorry."
"No need to be," Bodie replied smoothly. "Plenty of interesting things to do when we're both awake."
Doyle mumbled something unintelligible.
"What's that in English?" Bodie asked.
"Priapismic monster," Doyle said.
Bodie tweaked a curl, and got his hand slapped in response. "You're the one who wanted to go to bed so bloody early. Are you really going back to sleep?"
"I like sleep."
Sighing, Bodie closed his eyes. "Okay, I can take a hint."
"'Sides," Doyle added, "I read once where the average bloke has sex three times a week--"
"With someone other than himself?" Bodie broke in.
"Right. So if you count this afternoon, and tonight, we've used up a whole week's quota in one day."
"Yeah, well, I've got news for you, sunshine," Bodie replied. "I'm not your average bloke."
Doyle kissed his shoulder. "No, you're not."
"Neither are you."
"Thanks. I'm still going back to sleep, though."
"Pleasant dreams," Bodie whispered. Before long the darkness and the quiet, rhythmic breathing of the man beside him lulled him down into a deep slumber, unbroken until the morning.
Bodie eyed the last sausage sitting forlornly on Doyle's breakfast plate. The hotel kitchen cooked the most mouth- watering, meaty sausage he had ever encountered, and there Doyle sat, sipping his tea and nibbling on a slice of boring toast while the succulent treat lay ignored, no doubt growing cooler by the second. Bodie's own breakfast of fried eggs, sausage, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, fried potatoes, and toast had long since been disposed of, filling him with a warm and comfortable sense of languor. One more sausage would make his satisfaction complete.
Somehow, in their years of friendship, Bodie had never particularly noticed Doyle being a picky eater. Usually their meals were taken on the run, consumed in haste and without discussion. During their frequent get-togethers off the job, they often settled for takeaway food, simply ordering lots of everything and never paying much attention to who was eating from which container. Occasionally they managed a sit-down restaurant meal, usually with birds in tow, but Bodie paid more attention to whatever his girlfriend of the evening, who was inevitably dieting, was leaving behind on her plate than what Doyle was or wasn't eating.
Lately, however, he found himself paying close attention to everything Doyle did--his growing love for him put even the most mundane activities in a new light. A year ago, he would never imagine being entranced by the sight of Doyle shaving, or brushing his hair, or trying to tie a tie. But now, he could probably watch Doyle clip his toenails in happy fascination. He wanted to know all about the man he was planning to spend the rest of his life with, no matter how trivial, and regardless of its irritation value. Like the way Doyle ate. No doubt Doyle's blatant disregard for perfectly good food would ultimately drive him round the twist, but in the meantime, he was enjoying each new discovery about Ray Doyle immensely, glad simply to have him sitting there across the table, and knowing he would keep on adoring the sausage-ignoring sod no matter what new traits he revealed.
Bodie shook his head at this sentimental train of thought. Christ, he was far gone. He wondered if Doyle were harboring any similar illusions about him. Was Doyle covertly watching him trim his nails, and enjoying himself? Was he thinking about Bodie's taste for highly caloric meals, and deciding it was a wonderful thing? Did he find joy in Bodie's daily teeth-brushing efforts?
"I'm an idiot," Bodie announced, his voice suddenly sounding far too loud in near-empty dining room.
Doyle raised his eyebrows. "Yeah? What brought about that startling conclusion?"
"Have you ever made a fool of yourself over some bird?" Bodie replied.
Doyle looked as if he were giving the question profound consideration. "Once in a while," he said at length.
"Not me. Never." Bodie gazed mournfully at the sausage, yearning to rescue it from a callous discarding into the kitchen waste bin.
"Oi," Doyle said, "are you feeling all right?"
Bodie ran his tongue around his lips. "Would you ever make a fool of yourself over me?" he asked.
"You mean," Doyle answered calmly, "would I ever go about looking like a dog waitin' on its supper like you happen to look right now, with me tongue hangin' out over the leavings?"
"Something like that," Bodie admitted. "Can I have your sausage?"
Doyle deftly speared it with his fork and dislodged it onto Bodie's plate. "You've got a very odd way of getting to the point, mate."
"The point," Bodie said between delicious mouthfuls of still- warm meat, "is that I've been sitting here thinking about how you brushed your hair this morning."
"That tears it," Doyle replied firmly. "I'm calling for a doctor--"
"And the way you shaved," Bodie rattled on, oblivious, "and the way you ate your breakfast by carefully chewing one bite of egg, and then one piece of toast, and then one bit of sausage, and then took a sip of tea, and then back you went to the egg. It's absolutely priceless."
Doyle stared at him, wide-eyed, then burst into laughter. "You're mad, you do know that?"
Bodie grinned. "Yeah." He finished off the sausage. "So what do you want to do today?"
"You mean besides taking you to the nearest psychiatrist?"
"I'm hopeless," Bodie said. "There's no known cure." Not that he wanted a cure for the way he felt, even if he did make a fool of himself, because he felt quite wonderful.
"Better wipe that idiot grin off your face," Doyle said, looking past Bodie to the dining room entrance. "'Cause there's trouble heading our way."
Bodie turned his head to see Detective Superintendent Edward E. Keaton striding purposefully towards their table. "Terrific. How do you want to play it?"
"Innocent. We're on holiday."
Keaton yanked a chair from a nearby table, dragged it over, and sat down. He shoved a jam jar and a napkin holder aside to prop his arms on the table top.
"Hello," Bodie said coolly, "why don't you join us?"
Keaton glanced from one empty plate to the other. "Looks as if you're finished."
"Very observant," Doyle said.
"Little hobby of mine," Keaton replied, "observing people. You want to know what other fascinating things I've observed of late? Yes, I'll bet you do." He picked up one of the paper napkins, took out a pen, and began doodling. "I observed that you two have gone on 'holiday', right here in our own cozy neighborhood. Nice place, Cornwall. We get lots of tourists here."
Bodie watched the lines of Keaton's doodling take on form, turning into a rough outline of the coast between Penzance and Marazion. "Yeah," he said, "nice place."
"Where did you go yesterday?" Keaton asked, gazing intently at his napkin drawing. He put the pen between his teeth, frowning.
"We went to St. Ives," Doyle said. "And drove back around the coast."
Keaton put pen to paper again. "Nice place, St. Ives." He drew in a tiny blob and a line near Marazion.
Bodie looked at the map. The blob was the Mount, the line was the causeway. "We liked it well enough."
"You didn't happen to stop anywhere on the way back, did you?"
Bodie glanced at Doyle, who shrugged. "Maybe," Bodie said. "Are we being officially interrogated?"
"Oh, possibly." Keaton flipped the napkin over, started sketching a face. "You didn't happen to stop at the St. Urban University archaeological dig, by any chance? And you didn't happen to introduce yourselves under false names, pretending to be travel writers, did you? Hm? And you didn't happen to have a little chat with Margaret Jewell and Sidney Melton Oliver the Third while you were there?" He looked up, smiling.
The face he had sketched bore a resemblance to Oliver. Bodie wondered how the hell Keaton knew so much about their activities. Certainly they would have noticed a tail. "Since you know so much about it, why are you bothering to ask?"
"Curiosity," Keaton said. "Endless curiosity. What did you talk to Oliver about?"
"Barely said hello to him," Doyle replied. "Spoke with Maggie about the dig. Why?"
"Because," Keaton said as he turned the napkin back over to the map and made a large X on the island near the causeway. "Late last night, Sidney Melton Oliver the Third was found by an island villager lying at the bottom of the castle path, with his head gashed open."
Bodie swallowed hard. "Bloody hell." He liked the old guy. "How bad?"
"Alive," Keaton replied. "In hospital with a skull fracture, some bruised ribs, and a lot of scrapes and scratches. Hasn't regained consciousness yet, but expected to pull through. We decided not to risk endangering him further, however, and put the word about that he was dead."
"Good," Doyle said, visibly relieved.
Bodie silently agreed. Using Oliver as a lure, trying to get the attacker to make another attempt, was sometimes the best way to catch a killer, but in this case he, too, would rather keep Oliver safely out of harm's way. "You think it was meant to be a lethal attack?"
"Yes, I think it was. He must have fallen a good fifty feet down that steep, rocky path, and was left there. Whether someone hit him on the head first, or he hit his head on the way down, we can't tell. Now, I suppose he could have simply stumbled in the dark, but the bloke who found him reported seeing somebody running off across the causeway. The would-be killer had probably been in the process of checking on his success, heard this bloke coming along, and bolted."
"Was it a man, then?" Bodie asked.
Keaton shook his head. "Don't know. Too far away by the time the bloke noticed, and too dark. Not to mention the effect of a bit too much lager on our witness' senses."
At least Bodie now knew how Keaton had found out about their visit to the dig. He hadn't been tailing them. He'd simply been checking up on Oliver's movements, and someone at the site remembered the travel writers. "What else have you discovered about Oliver's whereabouts yesterday?"
"Oh, are you interested in the case again?" Keaton replied. "The Davis case? The one you stopped working on to have a 'holiday'?"
"Shove it," Doyle said. "You know we're still working on it."
"I know it, son." Keaton leaned back, crossing his arms. "You just don't want to work on it with me. Right?"
Bodie decided it was time for complete honesty. "That's right. We don't care for the way you do things."
Keaton laughed. "Well, son, I don't care for the way you've been sneaking around behind my back, but if you two clowns insist on mucking about in my case on your own, you go on ahead. I don't have time to babysit, anyway, or play CI5 chauffeur. Investigate all you want. Just don't tell me you're on a fucking holiday while you're doing it."
Well, Bodie thought, Keaton was entitled to a bit of ranting. Which didn't negate the fact that the guy was fairly useless as a detective. "Okay, so we're not really on holiday. We'll do our best not to get in your way."
"Generous of you."
"I take it," Doyle interrupted, "that you believe the two attacks are connected."
Keaton stared at him. "Of course they're bloody well connected. Oliver is a close friend of Margaret Jewell, who is just coincidentally related to our chief suspect--hell, yes, there's a connection."
"That's funny," Doyle replied. "Last time we mentioned Sidney Oliver the Third in your presence, you practically laughed us out of your office."
"That's because you had some damn fool notion about Oliver searching for buried treasure."
"We've still got that damn fool notion," Bodie put in. "Precisely what was Oliver doing on the castle path late at night, hm? Wouldn't the castle be long closed up?"
"He was at the cairn until six," Keaton said. "He then had dinner in Penzance with Margaret Jewell. Mrs. Jewell then went off to visit her niece. Oliver did mention to her, as he was leaving, that he planned to go out to the Mount, but did not say why. They parted company around eight in the evening. We've been unsuccessful in tracking his movements from then until his fall, which occurred around midnight."
Bodie briefly contemplated telling Keaton about the recent smuggling-related theories he and Doyle had been toying with. Keaton would no doubt laugh himself hoarse. On the other hand, Keaton was a family history buff, and might very well have access to the records they needed in order to check on John Carter Fielding's descendants. "Why do you suppose Oliver was up on the castle path at that hour? Did he have his metal detector?"
Keaton nodded. "He had it. Maybe he was looking for coins. The kind that tourists occasionally lose, not the kind you find in buried treasure troves."
"You never can tell," Doyle said. "Maybe he was looking for the famous Fielding gold."
"In 1799," Doyle persisted, "John Carter Fielding, an infamous and very successful smuggler in these parts, vanished without a trace after a lifetime of hording his ill-gotten wealth, which he kept in the form of gold guineas. Which were never found. He did, however, leave behind his diary, and the whereabouts of his fortune may very well have been written down there, in code. Intriguing mystery, isn't it?"
The look on Keaton's face was one of sheer incredulity. "Seventeen hundred and ninety-nine," he said slowly. "Are you seriously trying to imply that Gregory Davis was murdered because of something that happened nearly two centuries ago?"
Bodie shrugged. Good detectives, he thought, always kept themselves open-minded on potential solutions, but he wasn't going to push honesty that far and actually say so. Instead, he said, "Maggie Jewell mentioned having a smuggler in her family history. She was born a Fielding. Isn't it remotely possible there's a connection somewhere? Do you have any sources we could check?"
Keaton tapped his pen on the table top. "I have more reference works on local family histories in my office than the library and county records office combined. What a pity that you don't want to work with me on this case, otherwise I could show them to you."
Bodie started to call Keaton a smug sonofabitch, but stopped when Doyle's foot connected with his shin.
"Never mind," Doyle said to Keaton. "We'll do our own research."
"Good luck, son."
"Thanks," Doyle replied, without an iota of gratitude in his tone.
"As long as you're being so helpful," Bodie said, "would you mind telling us where Jack Fielding was during the attack on Oliver?"
Keaton fidgeted in his chair. "He was at the island village's only pub from seven in the evening until closing. Due to a certain lack of enforcement, this particular pub stays open until one or two in the morning depending on the number and relative sobriety of its customers. Last night it closed at one-thirty."
"You had a man on him, then?" Doyle asked.
"Outside the pub, yes."
Bodie sighed. "This pub wouldn't happen to have a rear door, would it?"
"It does." Keaton looked momentarily abashed, then suddenly rallied. "Listen, I haven't got the manpower of CI5, it's not as if I can spare two or three men per suspect around here. My man did his level best to keep an eye on that place, but yes, Fielding could have snuck out through the back. He went in at the front, and came out at the front, but whether he stayed the whole bloody time inside is open to question. I've got a man over there now, asking the barkeep and anyone else who was there, but people who drink a lot get fuzzy memories pretty damn quickly."
"Great," Doyle said. "What about Kate Fielding? Did you have only one man on her as well?"
"She's not at the top of my suspect list," Keaton replied.
"Did you have even one man on her?" Bodie demanded.
"Yes, dammit, and don't use that bloody tone with me. Kate Fielding was at her home all night, had the visit from her aunt, who left at ten. And yes, there's a bloody back door to her place. And no, I didn't have anyone tailing Margaret Jewell because I bloody well didn't have anyone left."
"That's okay," Doyle replied, "Maggie's not at the top of our suspect list."
"No, of course not," Keaton said, "your suspect list is composed entirely of eighteenth-century smugglers." He shoved his chair back and stood. "Do have a good time tracking them down." He stormed out of the dining room.
Bodie bent down to rub his shin. "Gosh, that was pleasant. Did you have to kick me? That bastard deserves to be called names."
"Sorry." Doyle looked genuinely contrite.
"That's okay. I still love you."
"Oh, good." Doyle smiled. "I was worried there for a minute."
"Yeah, yeah. Take a bit more than a bruised shin. Which does not mean you can feel free to thump me whenever you like."
"Don't worry," Doyle said. "I'll only thump you when you deserve it."
Bodie frowned. That could turn out to be fairly often. "Are you sure you can't practice a bit of restraint? I'm not the most considerate bloke at times. Might get annoying."
"What?" Doyle asked, clearly amused, "you being inconsiderate, or me thumpin' you for being inconsiderate?"
"Both," Bodie said. "Guess I'll have to work on keeping you happy, eh?"
"Sounds good to me." Doyle pushed his chair back. "Our holiday seems to be off. What do you want to do?"
"Let's scout round here first, maybe see Kate, then go visit the hospital. When we're done here we can go to Marazion and the Mount, see what Jack is up to. Oliver must have found something up there at the castle, something someone didn't feel like sharing with him."
"You reckon Jack hired Oliver to find the gold?" Doyle asked.
"Yeah. Or Maggie. Or Kate." Bodie got up from the table. "Let's go find out, shall we?"
Kate Fielding lived in a one-room flat in the back of a private home, where she shared kitchen and bath privileges with the family there. Doyle imagined she did it to save money; she seemed to be the thrifty, hard-working sort. Probably didn't have much of a social life, either, and didn't need a place to entertain friends. As he leaned against the small desk in a corner of the room, he thought what a lonely time she must be having.
The furnishings were clean and strictly utilitarian--a single bed, neatly made up with plain covers, a small chest of drawers with a tiny mirror, the desk, a lamp, and a wardrobe. There was nothing else to distinguish the room as hers--no pictures, no souvenirs, no knickknacks. One short pile of books lay atop the desk, two mystery novels and a romance.
Kate Fielding sat primly on the bed, hands clasped in her lap, staring at them. Bodie lounged in the outer doorway--there were two doors, one leading to a small porch and home's back garden, the interior door leading to a hallway. They had already checked out the house's layout, and it was entirely possible to walk down that hallway to the main living area and out the front door if one wanted to avoid being seen leaving. Keaton still had a man on the house, watching the back door, which wouldn't do a great deal of good.
They had got past saying hello, which was as far as things went before Kate protested that she had already been interrogated by the police. "I don't know anything about this man Oliver. My aunt knew him. I don't know him. Why are you bothering me with this again?"
"We think it's related to the Davis case," Doyle said. "Surely Detective Superintendent Keaton mentioned that?"
"He did. But I don't see how it relates to me."
"Neither do we," Bodie replied. "We're only checking into all the possibilities. You spent last night here, is that right?"
She brushed a strand of mousy hair behind her ear. "Yes. My aunt came by around eight, and stayed until ten. Then I retired."
Retiring was the proper word for her, Doyle thought. He wondered if any of that brief show of temperament she had displayed on their first meeting would appear. What would it take to ruffle her placid surface? "What did you do earlier in the day?" he asked.
Her eyes widened. The question had surprised her; could Keaton really have been so thoughtless as to overlook it? "When do you mean?"
Stalling, Doyle decided. "I mean the whole day. What did you do?"
"Well, I...I went shopping."
Doyle gazed round the spartan room. "What did you buy?"
"Nothing. Only looked."
"And what did you do after your 'shopping'?" Bodie asked.
She fussed with her hair again, nervously trying to smooth its wispy ends into place. "I...came back here to get my book." She nodded towards the stack on the desk. "And I went out to the park to read for the afternoon."
"Pleasant weather for that," Doyle remarked. "Wasn't it?"
Kate bit her lower lip. "Yes. It was quite nice."
"Then what did you do?" Bodie said.
"Came home again. I had supper here, and then waited for Aunt Maggie."
"You didn't go out again?"
"No. I don't go out much."
Doyle believed that. Kate Fielding was a dull young woman leading a dull life. He tried another line of questioning. "Have you seen or heard from your brother lately?"
She started, and Doyle noted the brief flash of wariness in her eyes. "No. I rarely talk to Jack. Why?"
"Thought he might have a few words with you over Davis. Jack knows you hired Davis to follow him, because we told him, you see."
A faint hint of temper flared in her face, but this time she controlled herself. "It must be CI5 policy to stir up trouble whenever possible," she said with a hint of rancor. "Why don't you leave our family alone?"
"I'm afraid we can't do that," Bodie replied. "We find your family utterly fascinating. Don't we, Ray?"
Doyle picked up on the direction Bodie was leading. "Oh, yeah, definitely. Lots of interesting history to your family, isn't there?" He decided to take a chance that they were right about their theories on the gold. "Tell me, Ms. Fielding, have you ever read up on your ancestor, John Carter Fielding, the smuggler?"
As much as she strove to hide it, Doyle still caught the look of surprise, and the fear behind it. She quickly turned her face away, pretending to cough, and when she looked back, she was utterly in control. "I've never been particularly interested in family history," she said calmly. "You should ask Aunt Maggie. She's the one who loves the past."
"We might just do that," Bodie replied. "Is that what you and your aunt talked about last night--the past?"
"I beg your pardon?" She seemed genuinely confused.
Bodie smiled, without warmth. "During that two hours you spent with your aunt last night, what did you talk about?"
She shook her head. "Nothing that concerns you. In fact, nothing at all, simply idle chatter."
Doyle couldn't imagine that Kate had much to say to anyone about anything which would spark an intriguing conversation. She had nothing but her job, her bland little room, and her reading. "Did your aunt mention the money she was giving to your brother? It was recently uncovered in one of her husband's bank accounts."
Kate bit her lower lip again. "Yes, she told me about it."
"Could that be the money Jack was bragging about?"
"I don't know. Why don't you ask him?"
Bodie straightened from his door-lounging position. "We've already done that." He gave Doyle a let's get out of here look, which Doyle read instantly. "Been nice chatting with you."
They left through the back garden, and walked along the narrow city streets towards the town's hospital. "She's hiding something," Doyle said as they strolled along in the bright morning sunlight.
"It did cross my mind." Bodie kicked a stray pebble down the pavement. "She could have done it."
"Opportunity, means, motive," Doyle said. "Let's go over it. Maggie knew that Oliver was heading out to the island. She could have mentioned it to Kate during their meeting. There are two exits from her room, only one was being watched. As for means, well, it doesn't take much to push a seventy-year-old bloke down a steep path in the dark."
"Seventy-two," Bodie replied.
Doyle deftly intercepted the pebble Bodie was still busy with, kicking it away from him. "Is that right?"
"That's right." Bodie got into a foot battle with him for control of the errant stone. "Keaton said so." He succeeded in getting the pebble back.
Doyle nimbly took it away again, then lost his balance and nearly tripped over Bodie's foot. Bodie grabbed his arm to keep him from falling. "Thanks," Doyle said.
"You're welcome. Can I have my rock back now?"
"Here." Doyle kicked it over to him. "It's all yours."
Bodie happily gave it a whacking great kick, sending it off across the street and down a hill into oblivion. "Should've seen me on the soccer field when I was a kid. Had all the best moves."
"Bet they make more money than we do," Doyle said. "Soccer players."
"Yeah, but they burn out young, don't they." Bodie made it a statement.
Doyle sighed. "Lots of people do." He didn't want to think about that right now. Burning out, not being able to do the job any more, it was too much on his mind. "Can we get back to Kate Fielding?"
"Sure," Bodie replied. "Motive?"
"Well, that's the weakest part," Doyle said. "She somehow knew about the Fielding legacy, and hired Oliver to find it? And last night he succeeded, and after telling her where it was, she pushed him down the path?"
Bodie shook his head. "Surely Oliver would have talked to Maggie about what he was doing. Wouldn't he? I mean, even if Kate asked him to keep quiet about it, he wouldn't agree. He's a good friend of Maggie's, and she may have just as much right to that gold as Kate does. He'd tell her."
"Yeah." Doyle knew Bodie was right. "So she had some other reason for going after Oliver...I don't know. More likely to be Jack, I suppose."
"One problem with that, though."
Doyle raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"The witness," Bodie said. "The guy who found Oliver. He saw a figure fleeing across the causeway, right? Back to Marazion. There must have been a lot of fuss and furor going on after Oliver was found--people milling about, help coming over, plenty of activity on the causeway. And at one-thirty in the morning, Jack Fielding was seen leaving the island's pub by Keaton's man. So if he did attack Oliver, and escaped to Marazion, how did he get back without being noticed?"
It was a damn good question. "By boat?" Doyle suggested. "He's got one--Kate said he ran tourists over when the tide was in. I mean, he'd be most likely to keep it moored on the island, but maybe it happened to be anchored over on the mainland side that night."
"Someone probably would have remembered a boat arriving in the harbor at that hour, don't you think?"
"Maybe," Doyle replied. "We can ask around when we go over there." He felt suddenly frustrated by the lack of solid evidence or clues. Things seemed a hell of a lot simpler in London, where they could simply bug a suspect's phone or watch a flat through binoculars to get what they wanted. "I hope we're not completely wrong about all this gold nonsense. It's got to lead somewhere."
They reached the front of the Penzance hospital. Doyle held the door open for Bodie, and they went off in search of Sidney Melton Oliver the Third.
The constable guarding the door to the private room wasn't terribly impressed by their CI5 identification cards. "Heard about you two from the super. Doesn't think much of you. Not sure I should even let you inside."
Doyle rolled his eyes while Bodie gave the man a menacing glare. "C'mon," Doyle said, "it's our case, too. He told us as much. Give him a call if you like."
"That's all right. But there's someone else in there, you see, and I shouldn't let you interrupt, now, should I?"
Bodie's glare got a good deal fiercer. "Who the hell did you let in there?"
"Give it a rest," the constable replied. "You could get eyestrain that way."
Doyle inched closer to the man. "Who?" he repeated.
"Christ, you don't half like to threaten folks, do you? It's only Mrs. Jewell. Super okay'ed it."
"Jesus" Bodie exploded. "And she's in there with him alone?" He pushed past the constable to the hospital room door, Doyle right on his heels. When they entered the room, they found Maggie Jewell quietly sitting in a chair by Oliver's bed, holding his hand. She looked up at them and smiled.
"Hello, there. Good of you to come, on such short acquaintance with dear Sidney."
The constable loomed in the doorway behind them. "You mind if they come in, ma'am?"
"Not at all, dear boy, heaven's no." She waved them in further.
"Well, I guess that's all right, then." The constable gave them a final sneer and shut the door behind him on his way out.
Doyle took a deep breath. Keaton was going to get an earful from him, if he ever got the chance. So much for pretending Oliver was dead, and for keeping their suspects in the dark. He crossed to a wide window sill and perched on it while Bodie took the only other chair in the room. "How is he?"
"Still out, I'm afraid." She looked lovingly at Oliver, whose head was swathed in bandages. "But his eyelids have flickered from time to time. I think he'll come back to us soon."
"I'm sure he'll be fine," Bodie said. He cleared his throat. "I'm afraid I've got something to tell you about us." He looked over at Doyle, who nodded go ahead. "We're not really travel writers."
"Oh?" She gazed intently from one to the other. "Touring Cornwall under false pretenses, are you?" She laughed lightly. "I've run into all sorts of eccentric people out here, but I've never encountered spies before. That must be what you're up to, isn't it? Spying?"
"Sort of," Doyle admitted.
"On the dig?" she asked. "It's not exactly Tutankhamen, is it?"
Doyle rubbed absently at his nose. "No, we weren't spying on the dig. Um, we were spying on the people there."
She clasped her hand to her breast. "On me? And Sidney?" Then she laughed again, louder this time. "Oh, that's too wonderful! Sidney will be so excited. He loves espionage thrillers."
"He might not be that happy about it," Bodie replied.
"Why? Do you suspect us of some heinous crime?" Her eyes sparkled with amusement; she was obviously enjoying the whole game immensely. "Who are you two?"
Doyle showed her his ID. "CI5. I'm Doyle, that's Bodie."
Maggie frowned. "I liked your travel writer names better. More dignified."
"What is it that you think we've done, then?"
It was difficult for Doyle to believe that Maggie Jewell was capable of murder, and especially hard to believe she would try to kill Oliver. And it was very unlikely she would then turn up at Oliver's bedside. Still, he had to keep a small degree of suspicion in his mind. "How did you know Mr. Oliver was here in hospital?"
"Oh, it was quite simple," she explained. "A constable came to the site this morning to tell us poor Sidney had a terrible accident the night before, that he'd taken a bad fall which had proven fatal. Well, naturally I didn't believe it for one second." She patted Oliver's hand. "Sidney would never die without telling me."
Doyle blinked at her in disbelief. "You came here to find him even though you'd been told he was dead?"
"Intuition." She tapped at her forehead. "Always done well by it." She nodded at Oliver. "And I was right, wasn't I? Now why ever would the police lie about such a thing? It's not very nice."
"It is, actually," Bodie said. "You see, whoever attacked Mr. Oliver might try again if they find out he's still alive."
Doyle put a finger to his lips and made a sshing sound.
"I won't breathe a word of it," Maggie said. "I swear. Attacked, you say? Not a fall? Goodness, that's simply dreadful. Who would want to hurt such a dear, sweet man? You know, my uncle Derwent was always falling off things and getting horrid great lumps on his head. I swear we thought he'd gone and killed himself twelve times over--he fell out of trees and off roofs and once he went right off the back of a lorry and then there was the incident with the trampoline--my dear little Ned did so take after him. Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to go on there, habit of mine."
"That's all right," Bodie said. "Tell me, can you think of anyone who would want to hurt Mr. Oliver?"
"Heaven's, no. I don't keep company with villains."
Oliver suddenly moaned, twisting his head on the pillow, eyelids fluttering.
"Sidney, dear." Maggie spoke softly into his ear while patting his hand. "Wake up, Sidney. Tell Maggie all about it."
Doyle wondered just how close the relationship was. There was a twenty-year age gap between them, but that didn't necessarily mean anything. He cleared his throat. "Mrs. Jewell--"
"Oh, please call me Maggie."
"Um, Maggie...can I ask what you and Mr. Oliver--"
"--you and Sidney, that is, what your relationship is?"
She smiled sweetly at Oliver. "Do you mean, are we lovers?"
"Yeah," Bodie replied bluntly. "Are you?"
"I'm quite fond of dear Sidney," she said. "But no, we're not romantically inclined. We have much better things to do with our time."
Doyle hoped he never reached an age where digging through large rock piles was more thrilling than sex. "I see. Where did you go last night after you left your niece's place?"
"Goodness, you really have been spying on me. I went to my B and B. You can ask Mrs. Camberwell."
Oliver stirred again, and this time his eyes actually opened. It was a while before he recovered enough to speak, and when he did, his voice sounded slow and groggy. "Maggie? That you?"
"Well, it's about time you decided to rejoin the living. I'll bet you hurt like hell."
"All over," he mumbled.
Maggie squeezed his hand. "I'll go find the nurse, shall I? Be right back. Oh, and those nice travel writers are here to see you, too, they're very concerned about you." She rose, winking at Doyle. "Don't tire dear Sidney out, now." She walked out of the room.
Doyle took her vacated chair. "Sorry to bother you, Mr. Oliver, but can you tell us what happened? Mr. Bentley here and I would love to go find the bastard who did this and thump him for you."
He moaned, reaching to rub at his head. "How long...what time is it?"
"Half past ten," Doyle replied. "Sunday morning. You've had a pretty nasty fall. Do you remember anything? Why were you up at the castle so late?"
Oliver looked over at Bodie, then back to Doyle. "You won't tell the police?"
Doyle shrugged. "Why should we? We're only trying to help. Besides, we had a slight run-in with that superintendent bloke, don't get on with him at all."
"Yeah," Bodie added, "no love lost there. We won't tell him anything. You worried about being on National Trust property illegally, is that it? Were you looking for something up there?"
Oliver nodded. "Was only a little thing, didn't seem like a crime. A lost watch, that's all."
"A watch?" Doyle found the explanation hard to fathom. "Yours?"
"No...Jack's watch. Paid me to look for it."
That sounded more promising. "Jack Fielding?"
"Yes." Oliver took a few deep breaths. "Said he'd lost a gold watch on the grounds, and the Trust people weren't of any use, so could I use my detector to look for it after hours. Didn't want anyone to know, of course...trespassing and all. But he paid me, and rather handsomely. Said it was an heirloom, had sentimental value."
And made of gold, Doyle thought. Clever lie, to make Oliver search for the buried gold without realizing what he was doing. "Did you see who pushed you?"
Oliver shook his head. "No. Dark, came from behind." He rubbed at his head again. "Hurts...."
The door opened and Maggie came in with the nurse, who ordered Doyle out of the way in order to tend to her charge. Doyle crossed to where Bodie stood and whispered, "Jack has a lot of questions to answer."
"Yeah. Unless, of course, he really did want to find a lost watch."
Doyle rolled his eyes. Trust Bodie to be contrary for the sake of argument. He moved close to the bed again to ask Oliver if he'd succeeded last night in finding something, but the nurse waved him away.
"Mr. Oliver needs his rest, young man."
"I only have a quick question--"
"I'm sorry, but I've given him a sedative. You'll have to come back later."
Doyle saw Oliver's eyes closing. Damn. "When will he wake?"
Bodie nudged Doyle's shoulder. "Come on."
Doyle followed him out and down the corridor. "Where to now-- the Mount?"
"Yeah. Let's go find Jack."
"And we'll not bother to stop by the police station on our way out to tell Keaton what we've found, right?"
"No, we won't tell him." Bodie grinned. "We promised Oliver we wouldn't talk, and we can't possibly go back on a promise."
"Certainly not," Doyle agreed cheerfully. "Would set a very bad precedent, that would, two CI5 agents going around lying to people." He grinned as well. "Can't have that."
As they walked out of the hospital, Bodie asked, "Drive or walk to Marazion?"
Doyle didn't think it mattered much. He felt no sense of urgency about this case. They'd been handling things in an easy manner all along, why change now? "Let's hike over. I'm not in any hurry."
"Okay. Better stop at the hotel first."
Bodie patted his jacket near his shoulder. "Guns."
"Oh." Doyle had been enjoying their "holiday" in more ways than one, and didn't care to be reminded that violence might be thrust back into his life all too soon. "Okay, guess we'd better." He sighed. "You know, sometimes I wish I weren't so good at my job."
"Eh?" Bodie looked shocked. "Why?"
"'Cause then it would be a lot easier to give up doing it." He paused. "Sounds a bit egotistical, doesn't it?"
"Just a bit." Bodie reached out to give Doyle's hair a quick ruffle. "Amazing that I can put up with you."
"Yeah, I've often wondered how you manage it."
Bodie smiled. "I have an incredibly patient and tolerant nature."
Doyle widened his eyes in mock astonishment. "Is that what it takes? And here all this time I thought you put up with me because bein' my partner made you look so much better--" He nimbly sidestepped the punch aimed at his shoulder and broke into a light run.
Bodie chased him all the way back to the hotel.
Bodie was not thinking profound thoughts as he followed behind Doyle along the narrow footpath. With that incredible rear end in his face, it was all he could do to think at all. Thoughts of last night's loving flooded his mind, of that gorgeous body close to his, of their merging. He didn't really care how they made love, who did what to whom or who got the most pleasure from it-- all of this could have easily turned into a competition, a struggle for domination between two strong men, but it hadn't, and he knew it wouldn't, and he felt grateful for that. Nothing mattered so much as simply being together.
As he walked on, Bodie looked out across the water to where the Mount rose in the distance, the blocky outline of the castle dark against the sky. It didn't seem the most hospitable place, and hardly a good location for a showdown, if it came to that. Not that there were any truly good places to confront a criminal. Even when you had all the advantages, things could go wrong. Or when you were least expecting trouble, it would abruptly appear, destroying any illusion that there were safe havens in this crazy world. After all, this very path, in its quiet serenity, had been the site of violent death. Bodie shivered, despite the sun's warmth. They had just passed the midway point, close to where Davis had been attacked. The man must have had a few dreams left--his outer life had appeared unrewarding, but everyone needed something to live for--what had kept Davis going? Whatever those hopes and dreams were, they were lost forever.
Bodie tried to shake the gloomy thoughts from his mind. He focused on Doyle's lithe movement, watching the way his easy stride carried him briskly along the winding path. The sunlight glinted off his auburn curls while a light breeze ruffled them. He wore a lightweight brown jacket whose leather shimmered, the patterns of brightness and shadow shifting along its creases each time Doyle's shoulders moved. The skin-tight jeans outlined every curve of flesh and muscle beneath, sheer perfection in every stretch of cloth. Just when Bodie didn't think he could take it any longer, Doyle stopped and turned to face him, tilting his hips and hooking his thumbs in his jeans pockets, utterly wanton and utterly breathtaking. He opened his mouth to speak but Bodie didn't let him get out so much as a syllable, grabbing Doyle's shoulders and pulling him close for a rushed, frantic kiss.
Doyle sank into his embrace, mouth hot and needing. Then he jerked away, gasping. "Are you mad? Someone could come along."
"Don't care." Bodie wrapped his arms tightly around him, clutching wildly at Doyle's hair, pushed his head forward for another fierce kiss, intense but all too brief. He broke away, gazed into Doyle's flushed face. "Sorry. Couldn't help it." He let go and brushed at Doyle's hair in an ineffective effort to make it settle in place.
Doyle swallowed. "What got into you?" He grabbed Bodie's hand and pushed it away from his hair. "Stop that."
"Sorry." Bodie left off touching him and simply stood there, staring at Doyle with a sense of yearning aching inside, stronger than any he had ever known. "I love you."
For an unbearable moment Bodie thought, by the flush on Doyle's cheeks, that he was going to get a punch, just on the general principle of not being soppy on public footpaths. Instead, Doyle pulled him into a tight hug.
"You idiot." He paused to kiss the tip of Bodie's nose before breaking away. "I love you too, but you've got one 'orrible sense of timing, mate."
"Yeah, well, it was all your doing." Bodie smiled at Doyle's affronted expression. "You should see yourself from behind sometime--walking the way you do, and looking as good as you do, it's a wonder I didn't leap on you a lot sooner."
Doyle laughed. "Was that it? My bum? And here I thought it was my sparkling personality you were in love with."
"It's a package deal," Bodie said. "And I like the whole package."
"Glad to hear it. But you don't get to unwrap it in public places." Doyle moved behind him. "Go on, you're walking in front."
Bodie obeyed, knowing it would be the safest thing to do, though he knew he'd miss that lovely view. "Getting a good eyeful back there, are you?" He'd worn a short jacket today, over his tight cream cords, which should have provided Doyle with plenty to look at.
"Oh, it's a great view," Doyle replied. "Sea, sand, castle in the distance--"
Yeah, right. Bodie whipped his head round in time to catch Doyle staring, not at the scenery, but directly at his rear end. "Thought so," he said smugly, and walked confidently on down the path.
They reached Marazion without further incident and walked through the small town to the beach. The causeway lay high and dry, the tide well out, for which Bodie felt grateful. He just hoped, as they crossed it, that it would stay obliging until their safe return.
The island's tiny village stood quiet and peaceful, and there were only a few tourists in sight, hiking up the Mount's steep side towards the castle.
"Shouldn't be too difficult to find Jack's place," Bodie said. He clapped Doyle on the back. "Let's go get him."
The ease of finding their quarry worked well in theory, they soon discovered, but not so well in practice.
Jack Fielding wasn't home.
"Well," Bodie said as he peered through the tiny window in the cottage's back door, "I guess we should've rung him up first, let him know we were coming."
"It's one of those unfortunate facts of life," Doyle replied, peeking through another window further along, "that sometimes the ruddy suspects just plain aren't to home."
"How unaccommodating." Bodie rapped on the door again, not expecting a response. They had already thoroughly pounded on the front door, and peered and tapped at all the windows. There was absolutely no sign of habitation. He gave one final thump to the door. "Wherever he's got to, I hope Keaton's man isn't far behind."
"Wouldn't count on it."
"I'm not." Bodie went to stand by Doyle, who was using his hand to polish a rather grimy window.
"Not much to see." Doyle moved aside to let Bodie have a look.
Probably the cottage's main room, Bodie thought. It contained a small sofa bed which hadn't been made up, a table littered with magazines, frozen dinner trays, and beer cans, a chair with its stuffing popping out, and a television set. "Can't say much for his housekeeping." He straightened, stifling a sneeze from the dirt and dust still caked on the window's edge. "Shall we try the neighbors?"
They failed to find anyone at home who knew where Jack Fielding had gone. They moved on to the pub, which was open but empty, devoid even of a barkeep.
"Funny way of doing business," Bodie said as he searched the tiny building without luck. He eyed the row of bottles behind the counter, thinking this would be an excellent time for a drink. "Very trusting. Wonder if anyone would mind if we helped ourselves?"
"Don't think it would go down a treat," Doyle replied.
Bodie ignored the comment and scooted behind the bar, where he had one hand on a glass and the other on the beer pull when the back door slammed open. "Hell." He hastily let go and scurried round to the front of the counter, trying to look nonchalant. Doyle already had a head start on him, lounging there propped on one elbow, grinning for all he was worth.
A tall, skinny fellow with wisps of gray hair and a frayed look about him came through into the bar proper. "Ah, hello there," he boomed in a husky voice which didn't go at all with his frail appearance. "Didn't think anyone was about, only stepped away for some much needed supplies." He pulled three tins of cat food from his coat pockets and slapped them on the bar top. "Won't be half a tick." He rummaged beneath the counter and produced an opener. The second he applied it to the first lid, three very large black cats appeared from nowhere to leap onto the counter, purring madly.
The proprietor emptied the contents of the tins onto a dinner plate which he then placed on the floor. The cats jumped down to feast, leaving paw prints and cat hair on the bar top.
"Now, then, what'll it be?" The fellow rested his arms on the counter, right where the cats had been. "A pint to start with? Got a lovely ale here, finest in the whole of Cornwall, home brewed, it is." He rose to grab two glasses, wiping his hands on an apron front which Bodie didn't think had begun life with that peculiar brownish-gray tint.
"Er, no, thanks," he said hurriedly. Apparently Jack Fielding wasn't the only islander with a cleanliness problem. "I'll have a whisky, please." Safer to get something from a bottle which hadn't been brewed here, and strong enough to kill any germs in the glass.
"Aye, got a fine whisky here. And for you, son?"
"The same," Doyle replied instantly.
A moment later two glasses of amber liquid were set in front of them. Bodie picked his up, inspecting it carefully for cat hair.
"Are you the owner?" Doyle asked.
"Oh, only for the past--" The fellow paused, brow furrowed. "--twenty-three and a half years. Name of Herbert." He thrust out a hand.
Doyle shook it gingerly. "I'm Doyle. That's Bodie."
Bodie reluctantly shook hands, noting a lingering odor of cat food. He wondered if Herbert was the fellow's first name or second, and decided it didn't matter.
"You're not from around here," Herbert observed.
"London," Bodie admitted. "We were hoping to find Jack Fielding at home."
"Can't. Jack's gone up north."
"Where up north?" Bodie asked.
"Don't know. Not far. Said he'd be back by sunset."
Bodie felt something brush against him and looked down to see a huge dark feline sidling between his legs.
"Did he say what he was doing up north?" Doyle asked.
"Nope. Expect he's gone to see Nick."
The sidling cat was joined by a second. Bodie edged down the counter a ways. The cats followed him. He glared at Doyle, who didn't seem to be an attraction for feline attentions. Lucky sod. Bodie wished he hadn't worn his cream trousers. "Nice cats," he told Herbert.
"Oh, they're devious little bastards," Herbert cheerfully replied. "Purr at you one minute and growl the next, just as soon bite you as look at you."
The two monsters twined round Bodie's legs hissed at each other, proving Herbert's words. Bodie took a large gulp of his whisky. "Who's Nick?"
Herbert looked from Bodie to Doyle and back again. "What do London cops want with our Jack, then?"
Bodie sighed, knowing there wouldn't be much point in denying who they were. "We're with CI5, actually. All we want is to ask him a few questions about a watch he lost. Might not sound like CI5 business, but you never know where the simplest clues might lead."
"A watch." Herbert pursed his lips. "Jack never wears one. What's he care what time it is? Lazes about all day, works when he feels like it. Doesn't always pay his tab, neither."
"If you help us find him," Doyle put in, "maybe we'll give him a little nudge to pay up, hm?"
"You could do that," Herbert agreed. "But I can't help you lads. Don't know where he is."
One of the two cats had taken up residence on Bodie's shoes, squatting down there very contentedly while the second cat paced in a semi-circle behind Bodie's legs, ears back and tail twitching. Bodie wished he knew where the third black beast had got to. "Um, this Nick bloke, who's he when he's at home?"
"Nick Richards, lives over in Marazion. Helps run the tour boat with Jack when Jack has a mind to do something for a living. Best mates, they are. Always in here, got their own table there in the corner, where that stack of puzzle magazines is sitting."
"Puzzles?" Doyle asked.
Herbert pursed his lips again. "Nick is mad about them. Sits there working away at 'em all day long, all night, too, if he don't get too drunk. A regular whiz. Won a contest once, got a hundred quid."
Puzzles. Bodie could see Doyle's imagination working overtime right now, putting together a coded diary with a puzzle maniac who happened to be best friends with the chief suspect...it did make for intriguing possibilities. "What sorts of puzzles? Crosswords?"
"Oh, those, and anything else he could find to challenge himself with. Anacrostics, cryptograms, mazes, riddles, you name it."
A knowledge of cryptography would go a long way towards breaking a secret code, all right. "When did Nick leave for up north? And why?"
Herbert squinted up at the ceiling, as if to find the answer there. "Left earlier this week. Said something about visiting an ill relative. Didn't believe him, of course. Very handy, unwell relatives, for when you want to get up to a spot of trouble."
Bodie silently agreed. He'd certainly used the ailing aunt or uncle routine more than once to get away from London and Cowley from time to time. He'd already killed off most of his family, though, and some of them twice over, so he doubted he would ever be able to make use of that ruse again. Not that he would ever need to. No, now it would require more creativity to come up with ways for both he and Doyle to escape from Cowley's watchful eye...too dangerous to spend all their time together in London. But inventing clever lies shouldn't prove too difficult; he had a lifetime of practice at it.
"Do you know when Nick's expected back?" Doyle asked.
"Nope. Shouldn't think there would be a need for him to, what with the castle shutting down after tomorrow's last tour. No tourists, no tour boats."
"I see." Doyle finished off his whisky. "Jack was in here last night, wasn't he?"
"Right at his corner table."
"All night?" Bodie asked.
Herbert rubbed his chin. "Was full up in here most of the night. Saturday, you see. Nothing else to do here on the island. Far as I know he was there all night, though a bloke's entitled to visit the bog once in a while, isn't he?"
"Mind if I visit it now?" Bodie hoped he could disentangle himself from the cats. "In the back?"
"Be my guest." Herbert waved him through to the rear.
Bodie shook the feline from his feet and made a dash for the narrow hallway, which led to a kitchen on the left and a single all-purpose toilet on the right. A tiny room, it had a solitary window too far up and too small for escaping through, but the hallway itself led to the rear door of the pub, and with a busy Saturday night crowd, someone might not be missed for a while. Bodie walked down to open the back door. A quiet, narrow alley led off towards the main beach. Perfect.
Something hissed at his feet. Bodie looked down to find all three of the monsters curling around his legs. "Don't you want to go outside?" he coaxed. "Chase some nice lazy island mice?"
A black paw batted at his trouser leg, a paw with very sharp claws attached. "Nice kitty." Bodie backed away as he shut the door. The cats stayed resolutely beside him as he returned to the bar, all three batting at his legs. "Can we go now?" Bodie pleaded to Doyle.
Doyle stifled a laugh as he glanced at Bodie's feet. "Haven't finished your whisky yet."
Bodie heard a rip from down below. He grabbed his glass and downed its contents in one gulp. "Can we go now?"
"Sure." Doyle lost the battle to keep the smirk off his face. "Soon as you pay for the drinks. I'm a bit short."
Another ripping sound made Bodie grit his teeth. His favorite pair of trousers...at least the beasts hadn't drawn blood yet. He quickly tossed the money on the counter and ran for the pub door, dislodging cats as he went.
"Want to stop at a tailor's on the way back?" Doyle asked sweetly as soon as they were safely away. "Looks as if you could use one."
Bodie gazed mournfully at his shredded trouser leg. "Why me? I'm wearing expensive trousers and you're wearing patched jeans-- it's not bloody fair."
"You should be flattered," Doyle said. "It's a sign of affection with cats, rubbing up against you. Even biting can mean they really like you."
"Is that right? They must've bloody well been in love with me, then." Bodie gave Doyle a suspicious look. "And if you're planning to bite me in the middle of the night, you can think again. That sort of affection I can live without, thank you very much."
"Not even a love bite?" Doyle sounded hurt. "I'd be very gentle."
Bodie tried to picture Doyle coming after his neck with that chipped tooth of his. "If you do, stick to somewhere with a lot of padding."
"Like your bum?"
"Why, you rotten little--" Bodie stopped, catching the mischievous glint in Doyle's eye. "--lying so-and-so. Couldn't take your eyes off it this afternoon."
"Got plans for it tonight, too."
Bodie trembled with suppressed excitement. He loved the way Doyle felt inside him...but it wouldn't do to get worked up about that this early in the day. And he had no idea what they would be doing tonight--a stakeout seemed very likely, and not in a Penzance hotel. "I hate to spoil your plans, but we might be stuck on this rock tonight. Whoever was following Oliver about last night may be back, especially if he found out what he wanted to know, which seems quite likely, considering he tried to shut Oliver up about it."
"Just call 'him' Jack," Doyle replied. They had reached the end of the village and the beach, and started back across the causeway.
"Jack," Bodie agreed, "as our most likely suspect, could have followed Oliver up to the castle grounds. Oliver found something. Jack made a note of the spot, then followed Oliver back down and gave him a push so he wouldn't tell anyone else about the spot. Oliver had promised to keep quite about the whole thing, but Jack couldn't take that chance. But why has he gone up to see his friend Nick? You reckon Nick worked out the coded diary for Jack?"
"Must have done," Doyle said. "Why'd Nick leave town, though? Didn't want to have anything more to do with it? Was afraid of Jack? Really does have an ailing relative?"
Bodie pondered the questions until they reached the Marazion beach. "Doesn't make any sense. Something's not right with the whole mess. I don't think I like this damn case one bit."
"Sooner we're done with it, the better," Doyle agreed. "Let's get back to Penzance. Be lunch time when we get there."
That thought cheered Bodie up immensely.
After their pub lunch, during which Doyle revealed he had money all along, they returned to the hospital, but Oliver hadn't woken yet.
Maggie still sat devotedly at the bedside. Doyle took the chair opposite and asked how Oliver was faring.
"He's been resting so peacefully," she said. "He looks just like Uncle Derwent."
"About your family--"
"Oh, I wasn't going to rattle on about them again."
"That's what I want, though," Doyle replied. "I'm curious about this smuggling ancestor of yours."
She looked pleased at this invitation. "That would be John Carter Fielding. Very well known in these parts. Kept his poor wife in cast-off clothes while he horded his wealth, and she was the mayor's daughter, used to finery. Imagine how she must have felt, married to the biggest miser in town. I'm happy to say I don't take after the likes of him. All he's really good for are a few stirring stories to frighten children with." She paused. "Oh, and the sideboard."
"The what?" Bodie asked.
"It came down to me, a very fine piece of furniture, Queen Anne period. Belonged to John Carter Fielding. Well, to Molly, really, who inherited it from her father. I love furniture with a history, don't you?"
Doyle knew she loved anything with a past, so he wasn't about to disagree, though his own tastes ran to modern decor. "Absolutely. Must be fascinating. How did you come by it?"
"It was with my father's things when he passed on a few years back. He gave me all his belongings--wonderful things. Fieldings never throw anything away. Two garages full of antiques and boxes and boxes of knickknacks and old books and papers. I kept nearly everything, even though I haven't the room."
"Books?" Doyle asked. "Could any of those have belonged to John Carter?"
"I haven't the faintest. Falling apart, most of them, or reeking of mildew. I'm afraid I'm not much of a reader, else I might have tried fixing them up."
Doyle felt certain he was on the trail of the diary. "What did you do with them, then?"
"Brought them here to Penzance, to sell at Oltman's. Jack was working there at the time. I wouldn't trust an antiques dealer anywhere to give me a fair price, but I thought with my nephew standing right there while Oltman looked things over, that he might give me what they were really worth."
One more piece fell into place. If Fielding's diary had been in that box of musty old books, here was the link they needed to tie it to Jack.
He had no more questions for the time being. The three of them chatted idly, waiting for Sidney to come round, which took a good hour. When he did, Doyle was finally able to ask about his success in finding gold.
"I did find something," Oliver told him. "But I'm not sure what. Lots of mixed signals on the detector. Pretty certain there was brass down there, maybe some iron. Very odd."
This case was growing more curious by the minute, Doyle thought. "Whereabouts did you find this?"
"On the hillside just below the south terrace, on a line beneath the fourth cannon from the west side. Whatever it is, it's buried a good four feet down."
"Could it be a box, or a chest?" Bodie asked.
Oliver nodded. "That would be my guess."
Maggie stared at him, then at Doyle. "Are you two after buried treasure or something?"
"We don't know what we're after," Bodie said. "Except an answer to why Sidney here was pushed down a hill."
"Well, I think you're both quite mad."
"That thought," Doyle replied, smiling up at Bodie, "has occurred to me on more than one occasion."
"What we could do," Doyle said, "is stake out Jack's house tonight."
They had returned to the hotel for a break, and were sitting on the bed in Bodie's room, shoes and jackets removed. "We could," Bodie replied. "But if we're wrong, and it's not Jack, it won't do us much good."
"I hate when that happens," Doyle said.
"When we make a mistake."
"Doesn't happen often."
"No, it doesn't." Doyle knew there were very few times when he or Bodie actually screwed up on the job. "We're very good."
Bodie raised an eyebrow. "Oh, are you including me now in that assessment?"
Doyle recalled his earlier teasing of him, about how being his partner made Bodie look better. "Yeah, guess I'm not as egotistical as I thought."
"It's really important to you, though, isn't it?" There was a serious edge to Bodie's voice. "Being the best, being at the top. Just how important is it?"
"Means a lot to me," Doyle admitted. He didn't look at Bodie. "Must go back to my family--was always trying to prove myself when I was a kid, 'cause Brian, being the oldest, was always one step ahead of me. Everything seemed so much easier for him, got things handed to him while I had to work twice as hard to get half the attention. Been trying to prove I'm good enough ever since. Second best won't do."
"You'll never be that," Bodie said softly. He put a hand on Doyle's thigh and squeezed it.
Doyle looked at him, and saw the love in Bodie's eyes. "You're biased, you know."
"Terribly." Bodie leaned in to kiss him, a sweet, gentle touch. "You don't ever have to prove anything to me."
"I know." It was one of the many things that let him relax around Bodie to an extent he had rarely done with anyone else. "You understand what I mean, though, about not settling for less than the top?"
"Yeah, I do. Spent enough years doing the same thing, trying to show my parents I was as good as my sister. Or better. Finally realized the only person I had to prove anything to was me."
Doyle knew the truth of that, and nodded. "But that makes it even harder, don't you see? Failing my folks hurt, but failing myself--" He paused, not wanting to think about the times he'd fallen short of his own standards, but the memories were there, unavoidable. "I can't afford to slip up, ever, because it can cause so much pain. Yeah, it means something to me to be the best at what I do. People can damn well die if I don't do my job properly--it's happened, and I don't like living with that."
Trust Bodie to come up with a simple answer. He didn't often deal in shades of gray, and there were times when Doyle envied his ability to see the world so clearly. "But the good still outweighs the bad, Bodie. Maybe it sounds idealistic, but if there's a little less hurt in the world because I'm out on the streets being the best at what I do, then that makes the bad times worth it."
Bodie took a long, deep breath and let it out slowly. "And if you're not the best any more?" he said gently.
"No!" It wasn't what Doyle needed to hear. He got off the bed, stood with his back to Bodie, not wanting to let the anger show. "I haven't fallen apart, dammit, I can still do the job."
"That's not what I meant, Ray."
Doyle shut his eyes tightly, crossed his arms against his chest. He shook his head, unable to focus his thoughts.
He heard the bedsprings creak, heard the soft padding of Bodie's feet, and then strong arms encircled him, stroking him. "You have to stop someday, you know," Bodie whispered in his ear.
"I know." Doyle leaned back against him, wanting nothing more than to drown in Bodie's touch. But he couldn't let go, couldn't forget reality. "I know, but I can't do it...it scares me too much." How could he explain the ache he felt whenever he thought of quitting...of giving up and admitting he wasn't good enough any more. "It's like I've spent all my life fighting whatever causes hurt in the world," he said, "and if I stop, it's like letting the hurt win." He twisted in Bodie's grasp, turning to look into his eyes.
Bodie let out a deep sigh. "You're only one person, Ray. Let somebody else fight for a while." He brushed Doyle's damaged cheek. "You can't right every wrong."
"Of course not." Doyle didn't know how long he could take looking into those blue eyes. "But I can do something."
"At what cost?"
Doyle twisted away from him, strode a few paces, then turned back to the end of the bed, sitting down hard on its edge. "I don't know." He felt lost there, not knowing what he wanted, not knowing what to do.
Bodie crossed to the windows, where the bright afternoon sunlight shone through, and pulled the curtains to. They weren't thick enough to turn the room dark, leaving it in a pale, shadowy softness. He stood there a moment, then moved to the bed, climbing on to sit behind Doyle. He began massaging his neck and shoulders, fingers smoothing over the tense muscles. "Sometimes I wish," he said, "that you didn't care so damn much for other people. Except it's one of the things that made me fall for you. Admired you for it, 'cause you were able to help them and I rarely could. And you never did it on purpose--I've known people who only leant a hand or a kind ear when it suited them to, when someone else was watching, when their 'good deeds' might impress others. But not you. You just helped people whenever you saw the need, without thinking about why you were doing it. Not ever expecting any reward, often didn't even get any gratitude. That's what you mean when you say you've been fighting the hurt and the pain in the world, isn't it--and you need to go on showing that you care, and doing what you do is the only way you know how."
"Christ, Bodie...." Doyle trembled, shaken by how well Bodie knew him, by how much he saw. "Tell me what to do...."
"No," Bodie said. "That's not my job."
He was right, it was hardly fair to ask Bodie to make his decisions for him. "Sorry." Doyle tried to relax into the massage, tried to shut the world out for a while. "Why does it seem so simple for you?"
"Making up your mind, changing your life."
"It isn't," Bodie replied. "I only act as if it is." He turned Doyle towards him, reached up to cup his face in his hands. "Clever of me, hm?" He smiled, and kissed Doyle's forehead.
"Clever bastard," Doyle said. "Don't let anyone in close that way, putting on acts."
"I let you in close."
Doyle pulled him down onto the pillows. "Damn glad you did."
After a lengthy kissing session, during which Doyle got to every inch of Bodie's exposed flesh, he decided Bodie wasn't exposing quite enough. "Get 'em off," he said, tugging at Bodie's clothing.
"Oh, you ordering me about now?" Bodie grabbed a handful of Doyle's shirt and yanked it free of his jeans.
"I meant get yours off." Doyle slapped Bodie's roving hands away. "Come on--wanna watch you undress."
Bodie laughed lightly. "You want to watch me? Thought you got off on me watching you."
"I do. But I want to see what it's like from the other side."
"Okay, have it your way." Bodie sat up to undo his shirt buttons. "You want me to touch myself as I go along?"
"Yeah...." Doyle propped his head on his elbow to watch, enjoying every moment as Bodie slowly worked the shirt free, caressing his smooth chest as he went. Bodie paused to run his fingers around his nipples, then pressed them each in turn. Doyle licked his lips.
"Want to help?" Bodie asked.
"Not yet." Doyle swallowed as Bodie slid a hand beneath his own waistband. "I think...."
Bodie smiled. "You want what's down here, do you? Getting ready for you, all right...nice and hard and hot." He used his other hand to undo the belt and zip, wriggling his hips as he slid both hands inside, stroking himself.
Doyle wanted to touch him, too. It was tantalizingly near. He loved watching Bodie when he looked so on fire, and all for him. "Let me...." He reached for him.
"Greedy bastard." Bodie amiably pushed him back.
But Doyle wasn't having any of that. He was done playing, and he knew what he wanted--a fully naked Bodie. He leaped on him, wrestling for control of the trousers, tugging away at them in between fending off Bodie's half-hearted efforts to dislodge him. Somehow, by the time he'd got Bodie's trousers and pants off after a prolonged struggle, Bodie had managed to get most of his clothes removed as well. Doyle helped him finish.
"Very sly," he panted, thoroughly excited by their little exercise. He straddled Bodie's hips as he lay flat beneath him. Their aroused cocks touched, and Doyle rocked back and forth, rubbing against him in a heated rhythm. It was too much too quickly; he rolled away onto his side, breathing raggedly.
"Suck me," Bodie whispered, reaching out to him, pulling him close. "Want that mouth on me...so beautiful...."
Doyle kissed his lips, then moved on to suck and nibble at throat, chest, nipples, anywhere he could get. As he drew close to his goal, he felt Bodie shifting and turning about. "What're you doin'?"
"Want to suck you, too," he replied.
Well, Doyle thought, this could get interesting. He waited while Bodie finished turning around, and then found himself staring at Bodie's kneecaps. "Are you sure you've got this right?"
"Move down a bit."
"Your smelly feet are on my pillow--"
Doyle moved down, and found himself staring at Bodie's groin, which was a significant improvement. He put his hand between Bodie's thighs, sliding it up until it met taut balls, which he squeezed lightly.
"Yeah," Doyle murmured, "think we're getting the hang of this."
Bodie's hand moved over Doyle's hip and around to stroke his bum, while his tongue made forays around the tip of Doyle's cock, tantalizing and teasing. Doyle arched his hips, thrusting towards him, trying to get him to put more of his mouth around him. Then he gave Bodie a taste of what he wanted by licking the underside of Bodie's cock, running his tongue up to the head and taking it in.
He felt Bodie's mouth engulf him at the same time, and the sensation of sucking while being sucked nearly pushed Doyle over the edge right there and then. Trying to focus on Bodie's cock, and on giving him pleasure, Doyle wrapped his hand around its base, pumping it as he sucked. Then he pulled away, briefly lapping at the head before darting down to Bodie's balls, mouthing them while he slipped one finger into the nearby opening. Bodie moaned and jerked, and then Doyle gasped as a finger entered him while moist lips touched his sac...everything he was doing to Bodie, Bodie was doing to him...Doyle revelled in the intense sharing, the feeling of acting as one together as they brought each other to the same heights. Tension mounted within him as he turned his attention back to Bodie's straining cock, and sucked again, taking in more each time, and simultaneously thrusting into Bodie's mouth as he took him in. They built a cadence of thrust and pull, while their hands roamed over each other's backsides, exploring and stroking at whim, building to a crescendo.
He came seconds before Bodie did, spilling into his mouth, struggling to keep control of Bodie's cock, feeling the warm liquid against the back of his throat even as he shuddered through the final moments of orgasm, and then it was over, slipping out of each other's mouths and arms, falling away in sheer dissipation.
Doyle lay quietly on his back for a long time, drifting in a limbo of hazy pleasure, utterly contented and unwilling to think, speak, or move. He was aware of Bodie stretched out alongside him, equally silent. Companionship was all they needed.
After what seemed a luxuriously lengthy rest, Doyle slowly stretched one arm above his head, then the other, then stretched his legs, wriggling his toes in turn. "Um," he murmured, "you alive over there?"
"Barely." Bodie shifted about, stretching and yawning, finally sitting up. He put his hand on Doyle's belly, giving it a circling caress. "That was incredible."
Doyle could still taste Bodie's seed; he ran his tongue around his lips to make sure he got the last delicious drop. "You do have the best ideas sometimes."
"Need to practice it more, though."
"Oh, we definitely need to do that," Doyle said. He took Bodie's hand in his, squeezed his fingers, and then pulled himself up to embrace him. They kissed, sharing the taste of each other, loving each other.
Doyle finally broke away. "Making love in the afternoon is becoming a habit with us, isn't it?"
"Nice habit," Bodie replied, gently stroking Doyle's arms.
"Um-hm," Doyle agreed. Then he sighed. "Nevertheless...."
"...we're supposed to be working," Bodie finished. "Yeah, I know. Wouldn't do to have to explain in our report why we spent the rest of the day in bed."
"So we'd better not."
They reluctantly searched out their scattered clothing and dressed, Bodie finding another pair of trousers to replace his shredded ones. "Think I could charge the damage to CI5?" he asked, holding up the claw-marked, cat hair-covered cream cords.
Doyle grinned. "During an interrogation, agent 3.7 suffered a vicious attack by three hostile onlookers, suffering irreparable damage to a very expensive pair of cream colored trousers. Neither agent 3.7 nor agent 4.5 was able to apprehend said hostile onlookers, who made a clean getaway."
"I like it," Bodie said. "Will you write my entire report for me?"
Doyle threw a bed pillow at him, making a direct hit on Bodie's head.
The castle closed its doors to visitors each day at six o'clock in the evening, and at five minutes to six Bodie and Doyle were following Mrs. Beaton, the head of the staff, around the interior as she checked the security of every door and window.
They had called earlier to arrange an overnight stay, and had, by the strength of their CI5 IDs, convinced Mrs. Beaton that it was all in the national interest. Keeping an eye on the suspects in the case seemed a waste of time when they could keep an eye instead on the spot most likely to lure the killer. Whoever it was who'd been searching for buried gold would have to come and try to dig it up, and tonight was the most likely night for that very event to happen.
"We're all leaving," Mrs. Beaton had told them, "the staff that usually stays on at the castle every night--we've all packed up and tonight we'll be on the mainland. Had to have everything out for the restoration crew. And they'll be here in the morning, and then all through the next month."
Bodie watched her now, checking the latch on one of the armory room windows. The one night when the place would be empty--or so their killer would believe. He and Doyle had snuck over the causeway and on up here with the last group of tourists two hours ago, bringing torches, their guns, a pair of binoculars, and a few rations for the long night ahead. The tourists had all trotted back down the hill, the rest of the staff had gone a short while later. Hopefully no one had noticed two people coming in who hadn't gone back out.
"Storm coming in tonight," Mrs. Beaton announced, moving along from window to window.
"Terrific." Doyle peered out. "Looks clear enough to me."
"Aye, but do you see down there near the beach at Marazion?"
Bodie came over for a look. He could barely make out the beach, let alone anything on it. "What's there?"
"Birds," she said. "Lots of sea birds heading in to shore for shelter. Never need a weather report to know when a bad storm is heading in, all you have to do is watch the wildlife around here for fifty-eight years, as I have done."
Doyle nudged Bodie's shoulder. "Didn't bring your Wellies, did you?"
"Nope." Bodie studied the lightly overcast sky. "Mrs. Beaton--"
"I take it the causeway is dangerous in storms?"
She nodded vigorously. "You wouldn't want to cross it with the waves coming in, there's those that have drowned out there even in calmer weather."
So, Bodie thought, if they happened to get into trouble out here, they were dependent on the villagers for help. "When's the next high tide?"
"Should be about midnight." She moved on to the door. "This is the last room, I've checked them all."
They followed her into the little entryway, where she handed them a key ring. "That big silver one is the master key for the castle. Mind you lock this door behind me, now. And good luck to you two."
"Thanks," Doyle replied. "We'll need it."
She picked up a large holdall and headed out the door and down the path, and Doyle dutifully closed and locked the main door behind her.
"A storm," Bodie muttered. "That's just lovely." Their suspect wasn't likely to turn up until after dark, which was bad enough, but now they would probably have to deal with him in the wind and rain as well as the dark. "You reckon this place ever gets struck by lightning?"
"Cheer up," Doyle said. "Could be worse."
"Could be winter."
True enough, Bodie thought, glad that it was warm both outside and inside the damn place. He rubbed his hands together as he thought of one other benefit to being stuck in a castle all night. "Where's the map of this place?"
Doyle handed him one of the guidebooks from the entryway table. "What are you after?"
"Wine cellar." Bodie headed off in the direction of the kitchens.
An hour later they had made themselves quite comfortable, set up in a bedroom on the top floor whose window overlooked the south terrace and the cannons below. Bodie had shoved two large, comfortable chairs next to the window for ultimate ease in spying, and grabbed two bed pillows to set on the stone casement for foot rests. He lounged there with a glass of very fine champagne in hand. If every stakeout could be like this, he would always be the first to volunteer.
Doyle sat hunched forward, staring out the window through the binoculars. They had a fairly good angle on the hillside which stretched beneath the row of cannons, and also could get a glimpse of the top of the path leading up to the main castle door, but come nightfall it would be difficult to see anything out there. The castle had few outside lights, and these had been left on, but vision would be limited. They had switched all the interior lights off.
"Can't see a thing," Doyle said. He cracked the window open. "Nobody will be able to see it this far up." He peered through the opening.
"Any better?" Bodie asked. "Want me to have a go?"
"No, I think it's hopeless." Doyle set the binoculars on the window ledge. "We'll have to rely on our ears." He pushed the window open wider. "If someone tries to dig up whatever's down there, we should be able to hear it."
"Unless that storm comes in," Bodie reminded him.
"Damn. Forgot about that." Doyle glanced up at the sky. "It is getting cloudier out there. Windier, too. Bloody 'ell."
Bodie proffered the bottle of champagne. "Let's not worry about it until it gets dark, okay?"
Doyle let him fill up a glass, then he clinked it against Bodie's. "To a peaceful night."
"Absolutely." Bodie drank. Then he sighed. "Not bloody likely, though."
"No, I s'pose not."
Bodie leaned back, sipping at his drink and thinking solemnly about what the night might hold in store for them. Murderers seldom gave themselves up without a fight, at least, not the sort they normally wound up chasing down. Would this one be any different? He glanced over at Doyle, who was staring out the window, his brow creased. Was he thinking about the same thing?
Usually Bodie tried to distract himself before a potential showdown with the criminals, determinedly focusing on the latest bird he'd been screwing or the latest sporting event he'd placed a bet on, and staying far away from thoughts of guns and shootouts. All the important things, like where the suspects were hiding, where the best entry points were located, and what the best method of approach would be--that got filed away automatically, settled in the back of his mind in the same category as how to drive a car or make a cup of coffee. He didn't consciously dwell on it. Nor did he allow himself to be fretful over possible outcomes--he just did the job, and whatever happened, happened.
But this time, he couldn't keep unpleasant thoughts at bay. Would there be violence tonight...would someone be hurt? It wasn't that he didn't feel confident of his or Doyle's abilities. He knew they could take Jack Fielding if need be, but the oncoming storm would make things much trickier. Anything could happen under these conditions, and that did worry him. Not that life in CI5 was ever certain, but this time, at this moment, here and now, as he studied Doyle's face and felt the surge of yearning within, Bodie realized with startling clarity that he didn't want to do this any more.
"Ray?" He set his glass down and reached out to touch Doyle's arm.
Doyle turned away from the window, and smiled softly. "Hm?"
"What are you thinking about?"
"Wasn't really thinking about anything...worrying a bit, that's all."
Bodie stroked his hand. "Me, too." He looked out the window. "I'm not scared...well, not any more than usual. But I'm tired of doing this, Ray. I don't think the fight's gone out of me-- I'm still ready to take on the world if I need to--but right now, all I want to do is forget that the world even exists." He paused. "Well, except for the part that you're in, of course."
"Thanks." Doyle clasped his hand, then nodded towards the room's huge bed. "You ever made love in a castle before?"
"No...." Bodie gasped as Doyle quickly pulled him up and led him to the velvet-covered mattress. "Thought we were going to have a serious discussion--"
Doyle tugged him down onto the bed, making fast work of Bodie's shirt buttons. "You mean, about life and death and how much you want me to leave the squad?"
"Right--" Bodie moaned as Doyle slid a hand down his torso and under the waistband of his pants. "--but I guess we're not going to...."
"Wanna make love instead." Doyle kissed him, long and hot and sweet. "Be hours yet before dark...nobody's going to come up here until then...love me, Bodie, please--"
He didn't have to ask twice.
Bodie had never known such an intense loving, their bodies coming together in a furious, frenzied passion unlike anything he'd ever dreamed of, the adrenalin pumping to heights he could barely endure. Doyle was wild with him, tumbling and rolling about on the plush bed with abandon, and Bodie desperately followed his lead, inflamed by a powerful need. They clutched madly at each other, stroking and thrusting and driving each other on...Bodie loved him, messily, frantically, urgently loved him, and when the climax came it was nearly an anticlimax, the loving had been so fierce. He didn't want it to end, though how he could have gone on, he didn't know.
Depleted, he lay there, eyes closed, beyond sensation, and fought off the world's return for as long as he could. When he heard the first thunderclap, Bodie gradually gave in and opened his eyes. He felt a tickling near his toes, and looked down to see Doyle sitting at the other end of the bed, gently rubbing his feet.
"Gonna quit CI5," Bodie said, "and open up a massage parlor, just for you and me." He struggled to sit up, then pulled Doyle into an embrace, kissing him ever so lightly. "Storm's coming in."
"Yeah, I heard." Doyle held his hand to Bodie's chest for a long moment, then sighed. "Better get dressed."
It took them a while to find all their clothing in the tangle of bed covers, but eventually they were both fully dressed and back at the window. Bodie gazed out at the darkening sky, not liking what he saw one bit. Menacing black clouds were rolling in from the sea, and the wind battered against the window pane. He pulled it shut and latched it. "Won't be able to hear anything, anyway."
A fat drop of rain splattered the pane a second later, followed by another, and another, and then the torrent hit, streaking the window so that nothing could be seen but the gray- black wetness. A flash of white suddenly lit the gloom outside, and mere seconds later the thunder boomed again.
"Nobody would go out in that," Doyle said. He frowned. "Would they?"
Bodie didn't want to count on that. "If they do, the only way we'll see or hear them way down on that hillside is if we're out there, too."
"I was afraid you'd say that," Doyle replied. He checked his watch. "It's just gone eight."
"Didn't bring my Wellies." Bodie looked around the room. "You reckon anyone left any rain gear hanging about this place?"
Doyle shrugged. "Maybe."
"Well, I'm not setting one foot outside until we've looked."
They headed off for a search of the castle.
It was growing colder.
Bodie shivered inside the thin anorak he'd found in the servants' quarters. The thing looked as if it had been left behind for a good reason--patched up on both elbows, worn thin just about everywhere, a few non-patched holes here and there. Doyle had fared a little better with a mackintosh, though it had also seen better days. There were no boots anywhere in the castle.
They were outside, in the wind and rain, huddling against the stone wall on the south terrace, right beside the fourth cannon from the left side. They'd brought their torches, but the provisions they'd packed for the stakeout were gone, sandwiches consumed in haste before the rain could turn the bread soggy.
Bodie fervently wished he hadn't thought up this idiotic plan of staking out the castle grounds in the first place. He even began having fond thoughts of the island's pub, much more willing to face the monster cats than a night in this gale. Well, maybe the winds weren't quite up to gale force yet, but hell, they were getting damned close.
They could barely talk over it, and not wanting to shout for fear of warning the criminal, should that worthy ever deign to turn up, they'd forgone conversation after a few desultory remarks on the weather, which was the last thing Bodie wanted to talk about. But now he was just about ready to give it another go, intensely bored by watching the waves of rainwater washing across the terrace stones, and counting the seconds between lightning flashes and thunderclaps hadn't kept him occupied long. Nor had he done himself any favors by checking his watch every ten minutes, convinced that surely another hour had passed only to be monumentally disappointed.
It was, in fact, only ten o'clock, a mere two hours since they'd parked themselves here. I'm going to go mad, Bodie thought, if I have to stay here until dawn...will bloody well go down and dig the damn chest up myself just to have it over with. He wondered if they should go ahead and do that if the criminal never bothered to make a showing. He was sorely tempted to do it right now. Wouldn't take long, the earth should be nicely loosened up with all this bloody rain...wouldn't be surprised, he thought, if the whole bloody hillside collapsed beneath them.
His bum felt good and damp. He shifted a bit, trying to get closer to the slightly drier patch of ground beneath the cannon. It didn't help. He shifted back, close to where Doyle sat shivering, as close as he could get without toppling Doyle over, and stuck his face in his, noses nearly touching. "Oi, can we go home yet?"
"Well, can we at least go back up to the bedroom and screw some more?"
Doyle thumped his shoulder. "That was making love, not screwing."
What a time for semantics. "Okay," Bodie said, "can we go back to the bedroom and make love?"
Bodie touched noses with him. "Can we at least talk, then? I'm bored out of my wits."
Doyle gave him a kiss with rain-wet lips. "What do you want to talk about?"
A huge gust of wind blew across the terrace; Bodie waited for it to pass. When there was a lull, he said, "Oh, I don't know. What to do with the rest of our lives."
"Be together," Doyle replied simply.
He had no doubts on that score, but Bodie had other things to worry over. "And what about all this?" He waved his arm at the terrace. "Stakeouts. Chases. Catching killers. You still want this, don't you?"
"Not at this particular moment." Doyle wiped a wet hand at his wet nose.
"In general, you idiot. You still bloody well want to go on fighting the good bloody fight--"
"Yes. No. Maybe--" Doyle sneezed, wiped at his nose again. "Christ, Bodie, I don't damn well know."
Bodie took him by the shoulders and shook him. "I need to know!"
"Why?" Doyle shouted over the boom of thunder, "You've already made up your mind--you said you were tired of it, you don't want to go on--well, fine, quit the squad, then."
"Not if you stay on, I won't," Bodie shouted back.
Doyle gripped him by the arms, hard. "I'm not bloody well having that! Dammit, Bodie, if you want to leave, you leave, don't lay guilt on me if I want to stay--"
"I'm not trying to do anything, I just want to be wherever you are--"
"Exactly!" Doyle yelled. "And if I stay, you'll stay, even though you don't want to, and that's not fair!"
"Fuck 'fair'," Bodie said, angry more at himself than at Doyle, but frustrated by the whole absurd situation. He twisted away from him, scooted back towards the cannon, wrapping his arms tightly around his chest, face turned away. He didn't want to force a decision on Doyle, whether directly or indirectly, but he also wanted to be with him, no matter what he chose. He couldn't help feeling that way. But he didn't want Doyle to quit just to please him--it had to be something he truly wanted to do.
He stayed in his isolated huddle for what seemed like ages, while Doyle sat solemnly ignoring him. One of them would have to make a move towards apologizing soon; he sure as hell wasn't going to leave it where it lay, not with the uncertainties of the night ahead. If only the damn wind would die down, and they could talk without shouting.
Not long after, Bodie was surprised to find the wind doing exactly that. The storm clouds were moving away from them, still active but definitely abating. The rain lightened, and the thunder sounded so faintly in the distance it barely registered. Relieved, Bodie gave up his solitude and moved back over to Doyle.
"Hello, there," he said.
"Hi." Doyle sniffed. "Think I'm getting a cold."
"Bad idea, this," Bodie replied. "Sorry." He paused, then plunged on. "And I'm sorry for yelling at you. Don't want to have a fight, not now. Bad timing."
Doyle hugged him. "Yeah, I know. I'm sorry, too. We'll work it out. I promise."
Bodie was about to kiss him when the clang of metal on rock stopped him short. "Did you hear that?" he whispered.
Doyle nodded. "Digging?"
There was a second clang, very near by, then a third. "Let's take a look."
He and Doyle very slowly and very carefully stood up, trying not to make a sound as they peered over the parapet. Directly below them, some twenty feet down the hillside, a dark-clad figure plunged a shovel into the earth. Whoever it was had their back towards them, and was so heavily clothed against the storm that Bodie couldn't even tell whether it was a man or a woman. A lantern stood near the spot, illuminating nothing more than the hole which the digger had started.
Bodie slid back down to a sitting position, pulling Doyle down with him. "Hasn't got very far."
"No. How long you reckon it'll take to dig four feet down?"
"Don't know. An hour? Wet out there, but sounds rocky." He heard another clang as the shovel hit stone instead of dirt. "We could just take 'im now."
Doyle shook his head. "Let's wait 'til he finds something. Or she--I couldn't tell who it is."
They waited, listening to the sounds of digging. They had already scouted out the terrace earlier, and had found the closest paths to the hillside--there was a small, narrow stairwell on the far right which led onto a path skirting the outer parapet wall, and a twin stairwell on the far left. The plan was to split up to make a flanking attack from both sides, to meet their quarry in the center of the hill.
Bodie found himself checking his watch again. Eleven. Eleven-fifteen. Half past. A quarter of...how bloody long did it take to dig up one bloody chest of buried treasure?
A short time later, just as he was about to check his watch one more time, Bodie heard a thump from below, and then another. He looked at Doyle. "Chest?" he whispered. A shovel hitting wood might sound like that.
Doyle nodded. "Let's go get 'im, eh?"
"'Bout bloody time." Bodie slowly stood up, feeling soaked through. His legs and back ached from sitting on damp stone. "I'll take the right side." He picked up his torch.
"Okay. See you in a bit." Doyle headed off towards the left side of the terrace.
The rain had picked up again, keeping visibility low. Bodie quietly but quickly made his way to the stairway, only flicking his torch on when he reached the steps, which lay in utter darkness. It was a good twenty steps down. As he hit the final one, he clicked the torch off. He stood there a moment, peering out at the black, rain-shrouded hill side, trying to spot the lantern light.
And then a woman screamed.
Bodie scrambled along the hill top, slipping and sliding in the muddy earth. He pulled out his gun, flicked the torch on, swept the ground with it. Then he saw them--two people struggling near a knocked-over lantern, and when they turned his way, his light flicked over their faces. Jack Fielding had his sister pinioned in his arms from behind. They momentarily froze in the torch light.
She must have followed him here, Bodie thought, tried to stop him. He held his gun steady. "Let her go, Jack!"
"No! I can't--"
Bodie saw Kate slam her elbow into Jack's stomach, and Jack reeled back, gasping. Bodie kept his gun aimed at the young man, and saw the gun in Kate's hands a fraction of a second too late.
He heard the shot, felt the burning sting in his arm, and staggered in surprise, losing his footing on the slippery earth. As he started to tumble, he caught sight of Doyle racing from the other side, and shouted a warning as he fell, rolling and sliding down the hill.
Two more shots rang out. Bodie finally stopped and, desperate to get back to Doyle, ignored the pain he felt, clambering furiously upwards. Near the top he started to slip back, but a hand clasped his and he was yanked up to level ground, and immediately taken in a bruising hug by his partner.
"Christ, Bodie--" Doyle stood back to examine him. "Heard the shot, saw you fall--" He was panting. "I thought--oh, christ." He hugged him again.
"You might ask if I'm hurt," Bodie managed to gasp.
Doyle instantly let go. "Are you?"
Bodie explored his upper arm, found that while it was bleeding a little, the bullet had merely nicked the flesh in passing. "Not much. Got some bruises going down that hill, probably hurt a lot worse than this." Now that Doyle was no longer in his face, Bodie could see they were alone. "Where'd everybody go? And those other shots--"
"Kate and I had a little exchange," Doyle replied. "No damage done--thanks for the warning. Was sure it was Jack."
"So was I."
"He's gone after her," Doyle said. "Down the path to the beach. Come on, we'd better catch them up." He paused. "You sure you're all right?"
Bodie felt a bit battered, but no worse than after an average workout in the CI5 gym. "I'm fine. Let's go get Kate."
They half-ran, half-scrabbled down the steep path, down to the village, which lay silent and empty. A short run brought them to the rocky beach, where Jack stood waving at the head of the causeway, shouting his sister's name.
He turned at their approach. "She's crazy. Trying to go across--you've got to stop her!"
Bodie looked out at the choppy waves washing over the flagstones, spotted the small figure struggling across, already halfway over but obviously in serious trouble. He didn't relish going after her.
"I'll go," Doyle said, and took off before Bodie could stop him.
"Ray!" Bodie jogged after him, slowed up by the increasing pains from his fall. His ribs ached, as well as his left hip and knee, and his right ankle. Doyle got a good head start on him across the causeway.
The tide was rolling in rapidly, covering the stones deeper with each new wave. Bodie could barely tell where he was walking as he slogged across, fighting to keep his balance against the rising water. He could see Doyle up ahead, gaining on Kate.
Another wave came in. Bodie halted, unable to go on until it washed out again. He managed to make it a few feet further along until the next churning mass of water hit his legs. His feet wobbled on the stones, straining to keep their purchase.
Then he heard Kate scream, and saw her fall into the water. And then Doyle leaped in after.
Oh, God.... Bodie splashed madly along the causeway, fear twisting in his gut as he lost sight of them both. Suddenly the tide surged in on him and he lost control, swept off the flagstones into deep, cold water.
As he strove for the surface there was only one thought in his mind. Ray...find Ray. He broke the surface and frantically scanned the wind and rain-swept water, shouting for Doyle, seeing only darkness. Then he saw something small and pale--it was a hand, waving. Bodie tore through the water towards it. The hand vanished beneath the waves just as he reached the spot. No.... Bodie dove, reaching and grabbing blindly, got a grip on the sinking body and drove for the top, thinking desperately, Please let it be Ray and not Kate, and then he was there, shouting for joy as a mass of incredibly wonderful wet curls slapped him, and he was looking into Doyle's face.
Doyle choked and gasped against him, clutching at his shoulders. "Couldn't...reach her...." He went limp in Bodie's arms.
They were still a good hundred feet from shore, the danger far from over. Bodie got an arm under Doyle, keeping his head up, and stroked hard towards the beach, but the waters were churning so strongly that every few feet he went forward, he was pushed and tugged nearly the same distance back. With all his strength he struggled onward, striving to reach solid ground, an icy dread forming within that he wasn't going to make it, that they were going to drown in this wretched place...weariness took hold on him with each new effort against the power of the sea, and when his legs gave in to exhaustion, there was still far too much water between him and the shore.
No...not like this...not bloody fair... Angry tears stung his face. For Ray, for himself, for the utter stupidity of dying this way--he clung to Doyle, flailing helplessly with his free arm, and shouted an obscenity at the universe.
And out of the black, wet night, a voice shouted back.
Bodie cried out with relief as he spotted the figures on the beach. With a final effort, he got his body to move again, straining forward as he shouted at the top of his lungs. And then two men plunged into the water towards him, swam to meet him, and he ceased his struggles, letting them haul him and Doyle to safety.
He collapsed onto the welcoming sand, his entire body aching more than he thought was possible. He shook Doyle gently, heard him cough, a beautiful sound to his ears. "Ray...."
One of their rescuers knelt beside him, and Bodie found himself looking into the concerned eyes of Edward Keaton. "I've sent my constable for an ambulance."
"Thanks," was all Bodie managed to get out. He sat up, pulling Ray into his arms.
Doyle gasped and coughed, head buried in Bodie's shoulder, hand clutching his shirt, his body shaking. Bodie rubbed his back, trying to keep him warm until help arrived. Then he looked back up at Keaton. "Kate Fielding...she was out there."
"I'll look for her." Keaton was up and off, scurrying down the beach.
Bodie held Doyle tightly, and waited.
Doyle thought he knew, not that he had ever wanted to know, precisely what it felt like to be a drowned rat.
He sat against the pillows on his hotel room bed, with all the covers from Bodie's bed as well as his own piled up on top of him, convinced he would never get completely dry or completely warm no matter what he tried. He'd spent four hours at the hospital hacking up seawater while various doctors and nurses ran an array of tests, poked and prodded him, ignored his requests for coffee, and went through ten large bath towels trying to get him dry. Finally he was declared well enough to leave, and was allowed to trot down to the room where Bodie was being given a similar treatment, with extra attention for his arm wound and the nasty series of bruises he'd suffered. It took another hour to talk the staff into letting Bodie leave as well, and another hour to get one of Keaton's men to run round the hotel to bring back clean clothes so they wouldn't have to expose themselves in public in nothing but hospital gowns.
All Doyle wanted to do was sleep, but he wanted Bodie in his arms first, and the idiot was having a bath. Why in the world he would want to soak in more water after the night they'd had was beyond Doyle, though he supposed hot, steamy water was a bit of an improvement. And it would feel good to soak those bruised limbs. Doyle sighed, and sank a little further down on his pillows, closing his eyes for only a few seconds....
He woke to find Bodie wrapped around him, caressing him. Doyle smiled and snuggled in tighter. "What time is it?" The sun shone through the curtains, all sign of the storm gone.
"Seven," Bodie said. "How do you feel?"
Doyle stifled a sneeze. "Think my cold's gonna get worse. How 'bout you?"
"Sore. Stiff. And very glad to be alive."
"So am I," Doyle replied. The fear he had felt last night, first at seeing Bodie fall on the hill, and later in the water, when he felt the cold pulling them both down, was unlike any he had known before. In all his years fighting criminals, of being shot at, injured, chased, even when he'd been held captive, he had never felt such a bone-chilling dread that his life was about to end. "Always thought I was fairly brave," he said. "Could face whatever came, could handle the risks." It wasn't that he had never thought about dying; he had spent more than his fair share dwelling on death. "Always thought I'd be strong when it happened...I mean, if I truly believed death was coming...and I have believed that, more than once in the past. All I really remember thinking is, this is it, and being afraid, but not like last night. Never regretted the loss before...do you understand? I love life, Bodie, but I never mourned it so much as I did when I realized it wasn't just me I'd be losing...would be losing you, too."
He was greeted by complete silence, and for a moment Doyle thought, after all that, Bodie had gone to sleep on him, but he couldn't have--not with those bright blue eyes so wide open. "Bodie?"
"I'm just stunned, that's all." Bodie touched his lips to Doyle's forehead. "You said it so beautifully...how I feel. About how much I love you, how much I feared losing you. Christ." He lay his head on Doyle's chest. "Want to hold you forever...."
Doyle heard a soft sob, felt a slight tickle of dampness on his chest. He couldn't believe it. "Are you crying?"
The dark head nodded. "Been savin' it up." Bodie lifted his chin, his mouth in a wide grin. He wiped his hand across his eyes. "Can't help it. Too happy."
Doyle laughed, and kissed him, on the lips this time. "I love you."
"Love you, too."
"Good," Doyle said. "Can we go to sleep now?"
Bodie settled back down on Doyle's chest. "Anytime you like."
Doyle felt sleep pull him under as soon as he closed his eyes.
They woke around noon, dressed, and went down to the hotel dining room for lunch. As they were finishing off the last of a very hearty meal, Superintendent Keaton arrived and sat down to their table.
Doyle hadn't had a chance to thank him yet for saving their lives. He started in on a profuse speech of gratitude, but Keaton held up his hand to stop him.
"All in the line of duty," he said.
"But nothing, son. Shut up and finish your coffee."
Doyle gave up. He wished he could apologize to the man for his and Bodie's less-than-patient behavior towards him throughout the week, but had a feeling Keaton would put a stop to that as well.
"I'd like to know," Bodie said, "how you knew where we were last night."
"Only a matter of good timing," Keaton replied. "Happened to figure out who the killer was, and where she had gone, just when you happened to be taking your little dip in the ocean."
"And just how did you find out about Kate?" Doyle asked. She had not been found last night; they were now waiting for her body to wash ashore.
Keaton tapped his coat pocket. "Evidence, son, evidence. While you two were busy gallivanting around the countryside, theorizing your heads off, I was busy doing what policemen do-- gathering hard, physical evidence. You see, I had sent all of the clothes Davis was wearing when he met his end off to the lab in Exeter." He pulled a clear plastic bag from inside his coat and dangled it in front of them. "What they found on Davis' coat was this."
Doyle peered closely at the bag. A long, light-brown strand of hair lay inside. "Kate's?"
"Aye. Matches up with one we took from her hairbrush perfectly. You see, that's one of the other little things I was occupying my time with while you were frolicking about--obtaining hair samples from the top three suspects. Margaret Jewell's from a brush left at her B and B, Kate's from her room, and Jack's from right here in this office." Keaton smiled. "He sheds a lot. Handy, that."
Bodie stared at him. "You just waltzed into people's homes and ransacked their bathrooms for hairbrushes? Have you ever thought of joining CI5?"
Keaton put the bag back inside his pocket. "As a matter of fact, no. Don't approve of your methods. I did not just waltz in, as you put it. I got warrants first. You might try it sometime."
"Thanks for the advice," Doyle said. "So you decided Kate made a good suspect after all. When was this?"
"Final report on the match came through late last night," Keaton replied. "We went straight round to her room to ask her more questions, and discovered she had given my man there the slip. When we searched the area, we found that the garden shed belonging to the house's owners had been broken into, and a shovel gone missing. Recalling your rather fanciful ideas regarding buried treasure on the Mount, I ordered my men to Marazion. Turned out lucky for you, didn't it?"
"Very," Bodie agreed. "Have you been up there yet?"
Keaton nodded. "Extremely interesting, what we found. But I believe you should see for yourselves."
"Don't fancy going back over there right now," Doyle said. "Maybe a bit later."
"Suits me fine. I've got a nervous Jack Fielding back at the station, who's been wanting to talk to me all night. But I've been saving his revelations for you two as well."
Doyle definitely had more than a few questions for Jack, who obviously had known more about Kate's activities than he'd bothered to tell them earlier. "Thanks. How about right now?"
They headed out of the restaurant for the police station.
Jack Fielding looked younger and more scared than he had the last time Doyle had seen him in Keaton's office, nervously twisting his fingers together in his lap as he sat in the hard- backed chair across from Keaton's desk. Keaton had scrounged up two more chairs for him and Bodie, and they made a semi-circle of interrogators. Fielding had not been charged with anything yet, though obstructing justice was probable, and Doyle was sure Keaton could come up with a few other things. He was eager to talk, however, and had waived his right to a solicitor.
"My men found a gun washed up on the Marazion beach this morning," Keaton began. "Belonged to Gregory Davis. More recently in the possession of your sister. Did your sister kill Mr. Davis, Jack?"
He stared down at his hands. "Yes, sir."
"Did she confess that to you, son?"
Jack shook his head. "No, sir. But she didn't deny it when I confronted her about it. Just got angry and threatened to kill me, too." He finally looked up at them, his eyes red-rimmed. "Kate's crazy. Always been touched. Angry inside. Keeps it all in there, and that's bad. Acted real quiet most of the time, you'd never know a thing was wrong, but every once in a while, she'd suddenly burst out, get so fierce so fast, you'd think she'd explode. And then stop just as suddenly, and go back to being quiet again. She really scared me sometimes."
Doyle wondered how two siblings could turn out so differently; then he remembered his own brother, and Bodie's sister, and stopped wondering. "Jack, was it your idea to find the gold?"
"Yes." He rubbed a hand across his nose. "It was in the book I found, long time ago, when I was working at Mr. Oltman's place. Aunt Maggie brought these boxes in, and Mr. Oltman bought them, and he didn't want this one because the cover and some of the pages were missing, but I noticed there was a kind of code inside, so I kept it for Nick. Nick Richards, he's my best mate. Loves to work out puzzles, thought he might like to take a look at this thing."
"But that was a couple of years ago, wasn't it?" Bodie asked.
He looked surprised at this knowledge. "That's right. Nick set it aside, was more interested in all these contests he was entering. Forgot about it until a few months back, and then he picked it up again. Worked out the code, took him a while. And when he figured out what it was about, he told me, and we worked out that it was talking about John Carter Fielding's missing money. Buried up at the castle, but the page saying exactly where was too faded to read."
"So you hired Mr. Oliver," Keaton said.
"Yes, sir. Told him I'd lost a watch."
"Was Nick in with you on this scheme to dig up the gold?" Doyle asked. "Why did he leave town?"
"He wanted to split it with me," Jack replied. "But Nick drinks too much, and he talks when he drinks." He looked down at his hands again. "That's how it all went wrong. Mr. Davis saw me up at the castle, talking with Mr. Oliver. Then he went to the pub and found Nick there, drinking, and asked him if he knew what I was up to, and bought him a bunch of drinks, and Nick told him everything." Jack frowned, and wrapped his arms around his chest, rocking softly back and forth in the chair. "The damn fool ruined it all for us."
Doyle shook his head sadly. No one had 'ruined' anything; it was an insane scheme from the very start. "So you sent Nick away?"
"Told him to go visit his family up in Bristol for a while. Was too late, though. Davis went right to Kate and told her what he'd found out. And she came straight to me, demanding her part of the gold." He trembled, and wrapped his arms round himself tighter. "She scared me. I didn't know what to do. She was screaming at me, all about how hard she worked and how she got nothing for it, and how lazy I was and didn't deserve to get anything at all, and how she wasn't putting up with it any more. So I had to agree to give her part of the money, if we found it. But then she said Davis had told her he was planning to report me to the authorities, since it wasn't legal to dig that stuff up. I said she'd have to stop that, but I didn't mean anything violent, I swear I didn't. Only meant for her to try bribing him or something. But she didn't see it that way. Next thing I heard, he was dead." He bit at his lower lip, still trembling. "Tried to confront her about it, but she got so angry. Told me to keep my mouth shut or I'd be dead, too. I'm sorry--" His voice broke. "I'm so sorry. I didn't want to hurt anyone."
"You could have come to us," Keaton said. "We would have given you protection."
"Had too many run-ins with your lot before."
Right, Doyle thought cynically, and you also still wanted the gold. "What about Sidney's fall down the path? Do you know anything about that?"
"No. Was in the pub all that night. Had to be Kate, must've followed him and seen where he'd found something. She must've wanted the gold all for herself. After I heard he'd been killed, I knew I had to stop it somehow. Went up to Bristol to see Nick, asked him to come back and help me. But he didn't want anything more to do with the whole mess."
"You'll be happy to know, son," Keaton told him, "that Mr. Oliver is very much alive."
Fielding's face lit up. "He is? He's really okay?"
"We lied about his condition to keep him safe."
"Thank God." He sounded genuinely relieved. "I really like the old guy."
"What happened after you got back from Bristol?" Bodie asked.
"Went home. Didn't know what to do. Thought she might try to dig the gold up that night, but was afraid to go up there and see. And then that storm came in. Kept going outside, thinking about it, how greedy she was, would she try to kill me anyway even if I did keep quiet...and then I'd get scared again and go back home, but finally I just had to go up there." He dropped his head again. "Just couldn't take being such a coward any more."
"And you came upon her just as she found the chest?" Keaton asked.
"She screamed for some reason. Don't know why. Saw her staggering back away from the hole, practically ran right into me. Grabbed her, but she tried to get away, and then you two turned up."
Doyle was now intensely curious about what Kate had found. He looked at Keaton. "Can we go over there?"
Bodie smiled at him. "Thought you weren't ready yet."
"I'm ready," Doyle replied.
"Then let's get a move on," Keaton said. He waved at Jack Fielding. "You too, son. I'm sure you'll want to see what's at the bottom of all this grief."
Doyle had a sneaking suspicion, as they left for Marazion, that whatever they found at the castle, it wasn't going to be a pile of gold.
Bodie trekked across the causeway, feeling quite secure with the sun shining brightly overhead, and no wind, no rain, and the tide all the way out. He paused partway over to gaze back at the shore, where a bevy of Keaton's men were searching pockets and pools of leftover tide water between the rocks and sand. Doyle stopped alongside him. "Could've been us they were looking for," Bodie said.
"Looks so peaceful out here now," Doyle replied. "Like nothing ever happened."
"I know." Bodie shivered. "Makes you wonder about all the other peaceful little places you encounter, doesn't it?"
Doyle nodded solemnly. "No havens anywhere. Learned that lesson a long time ago, mate."
"Yeah." Bodie walked on, letting Keaton and Jack get a ways ahead, ambling slowly behind, out of hearing range, Doyle by his side. "What about our nice cove?"
"Hm? Oh, that nice cove...well, it was peaceful enough until that fishing boat turned up."
"True." Bodie fondly recalled their love-making on the sun- warmed beach, their energetic encounter...maybe it wasn't a safe haven, but it was close enough. "Wouldn't mind trying it again sometime."
"Anytime you want," Doyle said.
Bodie laughed. "What about your fishing boats? Not worried?"
Doyle shook his head. "I like living dangerously." He hesitated. "Up to a point, that is."
"Then I say we go back there when we're finished here. Beach should be just about the right warmth soon."
Bodie reached over to ruffle his hair. "Come on, let's get this over with, then."
They hurried to catch up, and joined Keaton and Jack at the base of the hill. They hiked up the narrow path in single file, Keaton leading the way. When they reached the top, Bodie saw that the area surrounding the hole had been roped off, and a constable stood guarding it.
They slowly made their way to the spot across the rocky, uneven hillside. Keaton held up the rope so they could go under, and then Bodie found himself staring down at the gutted earth, the tipped-over lantern and the shovel still lying beside the hole. Inside the hole sat a chest, wooden with what looked like brass and iron fittings. Good old Oliver had been right. The lid was partially askew, but he couldn't see inside, as if it had been opened and then hastily dropped back down.
Keaton leaped down into the hole. "This," he said, getting a grip on the lid, "is why Kate Fielding screamed." He lifted it off.
"Jesus," Jack muttered.
"Bloody hell," Bodie agreed.
The chest's sole contents were a pile of human bones.
"In 1799," Doyle said, "John Carter Fielding vanished without a trace."
He lay on a towel, quite naked, stretched out on the warm sand, soaking in the heat of the afternoon sun. As far as he was concerned, their job here was finished, and the mystery surrounding the skeleton in the chest could be solved by someone else. But he didn't mind a little idle speculation, which was easy enough. "I reckon Molly got fed up with his stingy ways and finally did him in."
"Well," an equally naked Bodie replied from the towel next door, "I wouldn't bet against you on that one."
"And she buried him where he had intended to hide his gold. Wonder what she did with it?"
"Doubt we'll ever know."
Doyle wished that so many people hadn't been hurt over nothing more than a load of rotting bones. Must have been a shock to Kate, finding out what she had killed for. And eventually died for--the call from Keaton had come a few minutes before he and Bodie had headed out here. Kate Fielding's body had been found, washed ashore midway between Marazion and Penzance. Keaton also told them that Jack had finally been charged with obstruction and, because Keaton didn't feel like charging Oliver with trespassing, he had laid that on Jack as well.
They had put in a brief call to Cowley, who seemed satisfied with their report. He had rescinded their holiday, and ordered them to return to London in the morning.
Doyle had decided the news he had for Cowley could wait until then. But he hadn't told Bodie yet either, and this was as good a time and place as any. They had found their sandy cove just as private and peaceful as before, and there wasn't a fishing boat in sight. He rolled onto his side to face Bodie, who lay on his back, eyes closed against the sun.
"So," he said casually, "what do you think Cowley can find for us to do that doesn't involve being shot at every day?"
Bodie half-opened one eye. "Is that your roundabout way of saying you've finally made up your mind?"
"Yeah. I'd like to stay on in CI5--"
Both blue eyes opened wide.
"--but, not doing what we're doing now."
Bodie visibly relaxed. "And that's what you really want, Ray?"
"Yes. I can't say I wasn't thinking about you when I made up my mind, 'cause I was." Doyle knew he never wanted to go through the uncertainty and fear he'd experienced last night ever again. "Thought a lot about what you said, about letting someone else do the fighting, and not being able to do it all on my own. I'm not going to stop wanting to help people." He smiled. "Seems to be in my nature. But I'm tired of being hurt, and I'm tired of seeing people I care about hurt. So I want to find a way to go on helping without paying for it with so much pain."
"Sounds good to me." Bodie reached out to touch Doyle's chest, tracing the lines of scarring around his heart. "Tore me apart, this did."
Doyle swallowed hard. "Weren't even lovers then."
"No," Bodie replied. "But it still tore me apart, thinking I might have to go on without you."
The depth of Bodie's love for him overwhelmed Doyle; he only wished he had known of it sooner. "How come you never told me that back then?"
"'Cause I was being an idiot," Bodie said. "Thought you'd just laugh at me for being so sentimental. Know better now."
"Good. I like it when you're sentimental." He shifted closer, and kissed Bodie's smooth chest, licking round his nipples. Then he surveyed the purple bruise running along Bodie's ribs. "Bet that still hurts."
"Aches a bit," Bodie admitted. "I'm definitely not up to anything terribly athletic."
Doyle still felt a little stiff from his encounter with the water. "That's okay. I'm not up to much of anything, either. How 'bout a lot of simple rubbing and stroking, hm?"
"Think I can handle that."
Doyle made him stay right where he was, and gave him a full body rub, avoiding the injured areas. It didn't take long before they were both aroused. When Doyle finished with the last little toe on the last foot, Bodie sat up and patted the towel.
"Come and sit here in front of me, facing me, as close as you can get."
"You havin' another one of your interesting ideas?" Doyle fondly remembered their recent sixty-nine experiment. He scooted over to sit as Bodie instructed, practically in his lap.
Bodie wrapped his hand around Doyle's hardening cock. "Since we can't do much of anything else...."
"I like it." Doyle took hold of Bodie's straining shaft. "Enjoy doing the same things to each other. But this is better than before."
"'Cause we're face to face." Doyle leaned in to kiss him, opening to Bodie's warm mouth, letting him in. As their hands worked each other in a steady rhythm, their mouths joined in a mutual exploration. It was gentle and slow, and took a long, sweet time to build to climax. And when they did, it was so drawn out, so incredibly intense that Doyle nearly couldn't endure so much pleasure.
But eventually the high subsided, and he slowly came down to earth to find his body enclosed in Bodie's arms, Bodie leisurely massaging his back. "Um," Doyle said, "be nice if we could always make it last like that."
"Oh, I don't know. Last night was good, too."
Doyle thought back to their passionate love-making at the castle, when they'd been so wild and so frenzied. "Yeah. So many different ways to make it good. Want to try every way we can think of."
"Might take a while," Bodie replied. "What with that imagination of yours. Years and years."
Bodie took a corner of his towel to dab them both dry. Then they lay back down, close in each other's arms, to enjoy what was, Doyle thought, very likely the last summer sun they would see this year.
He breathed in the scent of the sea, mixed with the scent of Bodie, and a hint of sweat lingering in the air from their recent exertions. He rolled it all about in his mind, wanting to remember it, to always associate the salty, tangy air with love and warmth and not with the dread of his near-drowning. Here there was life, and the much-needed strength of the man in his arms, and it made him feel strong and whole to lie here doing nothing more than holding each other close.
As the sun began its descent the air cooled, and they finally gave in to the necessity of putting on clothes.
"S'pose we ought to head back," Bodie said as he pulled on his shoes. "Dinner at the hotel, maybe a drink at the pub, and then an early night?"
"Okay." Doyle sighed. "Have to go home tomorrow."
"Yeah. And then what?"
"Don't know." Doyle intended to tell Cowley straight away about the decision to leave the squad. "Wait and see what the Old Man says, I guess."
Bodie folded up their towels. "Been thinking about that. How do you feel about asking Cowley if he can find a spot for us at the training center? We've certainly got the expertise, and it would give us variety and action without the danger."
Doyle liked the idea. "Be doin' something important, too."
"Right. If we can't be the best on the streets any more, at least we can be the best at training other blokes to be as good as we were." He smiled. "Has other advantages--won't need such secure flats, no more moving about. Could arrange to get flats close to each other."
"You know something," Doyle said, "I've been liking your ideas a lot lately."
"Thanks," Bodie replied. "And there's another thing. It could mean regular hours. At least, most of the time."
Doyle stared at him, his eyes widening at the impact of such a simple statement of fact. "You mean, start each morning at the same time, and come back home at the same time each evening?"
"Yeah. Startling thought, isn't it?"
It amazed Doyle to realize that he had never had a regular job with a regular schedule his whole life. Most people spent all their time living like that, always knowing when they'd be home for supper. "Don't know if I can handle that." Except that it had one major advantage--he and Bodie would be arriving home every day together. "On the other hand...hell, do you really think Cowley will go for it?" Now that he truly wanted to give it a go, he was worried they wouldn't have the chance.
"We'll work it out with him," Bodie said. "We've given our all for him, and then some. I'm not saying he owes us, 'cause I don't think of it that way, but I do think he'll be good to us."
"Yeah?" Doyle hoped he was right. "You do the talking. Cowley's got a soft spot for you."
"I know." Bodie grinned. "Let's me get away with murder sometimes. Figuratively speaking, that is." He shoved a towel into Doyle's arms. "Old Man should've kicked me out ages ago."
Doyle followed him along the path to the cliff top. "Damn good thing he didn't." He thought of how different his life would have been without Bodie as his partner all these years. There was a very good chance he wouldn't even be alive now; their survival had depended so much on their mutual talent, skill, and compatibility. It was hard to imagine that anyone else would have been as perfect, so solidly and so meaningfully there for him.
And no one could ever replace Bodie in his heart. He and Bodie belonged together, it was simple as that.
"Hey," he said as they walked towards their car, "you feel like coming out this way again sometime, for a proper holiday?"
Bodie slid into the driver's seat. "How 'bout next summer? Or how 'bout every summer?"
Doyle slid in beside him. He smiled. "Until the end of time?"
"Romantic sod." Bodie looked round the empty road, then leaned over for a quick kiss. "Yeah," he said as he pulled out onto the roadway. "Until the end of time."
As they drove back towards Penzance, the sunset streaked the sky with a blaze of purple and rose, and Doyle only made Bodie stop at eight different spots to watch it, and Bodie only complained of the delay at every other one.
-- THE END --
Originally published as a zine novel, Deathless Pros Press, 1995