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Simple Twist of Fate

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October

Ray Doyle woke up on the concrete in front of headquarters. His first hazy thought was that he usually picked more convenient places to have a kip. The second was that he was glad he hadn't fallen on the side of his face he'd broken once already.

Then everything else kicked in--the screams, the sirens, the smell of smoke and charred meat. In a sudden burst of adrenalin he climbed to his feet and wavered there, taking in the carnage that had formerly been a quiet London street.

Every car on the road had crashed. There were people on the pavement sitting up, looking as dazed as he did. There were others who weren't moving yet, and still others that he didn't imagine were ever going to move again.

Bomb. Had to be a bomb of some kind, suicide or planted. Could be a dirty bomb--there was no way to tell until they got the bomb squad out here with their Geiger counters. He ought to report the explosion in to CI5, but since he was standing right in front of the building, he imagined that they already knew.

On the street in front of the building, a man was yanking at the crushed side door of his car, shouting that his kid was inside. If he had noticed that he was bleeding where his head had hit the dash, he didn't seem to care.

Doyle jumped down off the steps of the building, tugging his jacket off as he went. He wrapped it around his arm and bashed open the cracked window of the car. The little boy in the safety seat was wailing in terror, but he seemed all right otherwise. Doyle murmured comforting nonsense while he knocked the rest of the glass out of the window and wriggled his upper body inside.

"Hey, there, lad. It's all right. We're going to get you out of here, don't worry..." The car-seat was at the far end of the car, which had fetched up against the side of a building, so Doyle had to reach to unfasten the seat. "Come on, out you go," Doyle said, lifting him out of the seat and pulling him carefully out of the broken car window.

Doyle handed the child over to his father, only half-registering the man's thanks, and looked around for the next person he could help.

Four cars were on fire, and people were gathered around them like fools. Doyle herded them away, knowing that the petrol tanks could go at any time if the fire department didn't get there soon.

Where the hell was everyone? The fire department, the ambulance-men, the police, the rest of CI-bloody-5 for that matter? He didn't have any idea what was going on, but he was doing something, in contrast to most of the other people in the street, and so they assumed that he must know what had happened.

"Was it a bomb?" somebody asked.

Doyle shook his head as he looked in the window of one car--nothing he could do there. "I don't know." A bomb was the most likely explanation, but it didn't quite fit. They should all have been half-deafened by the noise of the blast, for one. And he hadn't seen anything that resembled the centre of a blast radius. "What do you remember from before it happened?"

The woman shrugged. "I was just walking, and then I woke up on the pavement. If I'd been crossing the street..." She looked a little sick as she gazed at the dozens of wrecked cars.

"Lucky you weren't, eh?" he said. She gave him a shaky smile, and he moved on.

In CI5, you saw a lot of things you never wanted to see. These weren't the first mangled bodies Doyle had passed by to get to the people who could still be helped. He knew it would come back to haunt him later--the first night after a hard job was always sleepless--but he didn't have time for introspection now.

The voices around him began to grow in number and volume, until Doyle had to say something to get them to stop following him through the debris like an apocalyptic pied piper. "I can't tell you what happened yet, because I don't know. Just stay calm, all right? Everything's going to be all ri--"

"How the hell is it going to be all right?" an American voice screeched. "Look at that!"

Doyle looked in the direction she was pointing, and had to admit that he wasn't at all sure anymore.

Big Ben was on fire.

Something must have crashed into it, a helicopter or a small aircraft. Coordinated attack, he thought. They'd hit a ground target, at least one aerial target, and they'd probably planned for the Underground, too. An EMP, maybe? That would explain the crashed helicopter and the cars, but it wouldn't have knocked out the people on the pavement. Gas? But then why non-fatal gas?

He wondered where Bodie had been when all this had happened.

Not hoping for much, Doyle pulled out his mobile and rang him. Engaged. He couldn't be chatting with a girl--Bodie could be a bit single-minded when it came to the pursuit of women, but he'd hardly be able to ignore the fact that someone--likely several someones--had just bombed a large portion of London.

No, more likely the lines were jammed by people calling family members and loved ones. Maybe Bodie was ringing his mum, and that was why he hadn't answered.

Or maybe he'd been in the Underground when the bombs had gone off, or driving somewhere in a blast zone, or--

Doyle wrenched himself back to the present. He could help here. Worrying about his partner wasn't going to do anyone any good. He left a brief message on Bodie's mobile, saying he was at headquarters and to ring him as soon as possible. Then he hung up and went back to the job. He made his way slowly down the street, checking cars and damaged buildings for injured people, and he resolutely did not worry about Bodie. Nor did he check his mobile every few minutes for messages.

They weren't even close, the two of them, but as he bound up wounds and pulled people from mangled cars, he couldn't quite stop thinking about all the things that might have gone wrong. Sometimes Bodie's old SAS mates went skydiving together on off-days. Suppose they'd been on a jump when this had happened? What if it was their bloody plane that had crashed into Big Ben? But it didn't have to be as dramatic as that. Bodie could have died in a smash-up on the motorway, and it might be days before Doyle found out.

It had been an hour or more since the--whatever it was. Doyle was bent almost double, peering into an empty, overturned car, when he heard a footstep crunch on the broken glass behind him.

"You planning to save London all on your own, mate?"

Doyle turned around to see Bodie standing in front of him, pale and soot-streaked, but in one piece. Without a second's hesitation he grabbed Bodie in a tight hug, and was surprised to find it returned. Maybe he wasn't the only one overwhelmed by all of this.

When Doyle pulled back, he saw the blood staining the side of Bodie's black polo-neck. "Christ," he muttered, reaching for him again, this time in triage mode.

Bodie caught his hand. "It's not mine," he said grimly.

"Yeah? What about this?" Doyle poked at a cut on Bodie's forehead, and he flinched back.

"All right, that bit is. I was in the kitchen; think I must've hit me head on the worktop when I went down. All this--" he gestured to his jumper-- "belonged to the bloke downstairs. He was in the back garden when it hit, fell on the shears he was using."

Doyle grimaced. "Has he got a chance?"

Bodie shook his head. "He was dead when I got to him. Never even woke up."

"Poor bastard," Doyle muttered. "I can't figure this out. It can't have been a regular bomb--a pulse bomb and gas, maybe? Take out the airplanes in the area, any cars with computerised systems, and then gas to knock the rest of us out. But why this part of London? It doesn't--"

Bodie shook his head. "It's not just London."

"What?"

"A couple of the news stations are still up. I passed an electronics shop on the way down here. France, Russia, America--it's the same everywhere."

"Everywhere," Doyle echoed hollowly.

"Yeah. Has the Cow given us any orders?"

Doyle shook his head. "Haven't heard a word. I was just leaving when it happened. Woke up in front of headquarters, and I came out here instead of going back inside for orders. I assumed they already knew."

"Maybe we should go in and che--"

The dull crump of an explosion sent them both ducking down, reaching out to cover each other, and they looked up to see that another wrecked car had gone up in flames. Without a word, they took off in the direction of the explosion.

They barely spoke over the next several hours, moving along at a crawling pace, exploring buildings and pitch-dark streets for injured survivors. Doyle had spent most of his life, and all of his career, more concerned with the possibility of violent death than accident; he'd never really considered how many truly mundane ways there were to die. Car crashes, for example, or falls. Three of the buildings on the first street had bodies at the foot of the stairs.

Just before midnight, both mobiles beeped at the same time. Alpha wants you at HQ in 30. --Betty.

They glanced up at each other, nodded, and then went back to work.

***

They were among the last to arrive at headquarters, having detoured down a side road after hearing someone cry out. No one chided them for being late.

The first thing Cowley did was order the gathered agents to stand down for a six-hour rest.

"But, sir--"

"Cowley!"

Bodie and Doyle weren't the only ones to protest, but Bodie was the loudest, and Doyle the least polite.

Cowley shook his head. "I'll not have you working yourselves into exhaustion out there. Let the others take your place for a few hours, lads." His tone was level, even kind, in a way, but the look in his eyes implied that further argument would be utterly in vain. So they subsided and let him get on with the briefing.

There was more information to be had than Doyle had expected; after all, six hours had passed since the event, although it had felt both longer and shorter than that.

"I'm sure you will have worked out some of this for yourselves, but I'm going to give you everything we know at this time. The incident appears to have been both worldwide and simultaneous. The nature of the event is not known--it appears to have affected only people, not animals, and any damage done to property or machinery was incidental. Casualties will be difficult to determine for a number of weeks, although they're likely to be lesser in non-industrialized countries, as well as in any nation where the event occurred during the night. The Prime Minister has been reported to be safe, and so have the Queen and Prince Charles. There is no word yet on Princes William or Harry."

He paused. "It appears, however, that three of our own agents have been lost in the disaster. Matheson and King were on a flight to Moscow that had left only half an hour before the event. Their plane went down in North Sea. Tony Miller was tailing a drugs suspect at the time, and his car veered into a barrier when he lost consciousness."

Doyle winced, his hands clenching into helpless fists. Matheson and King had been in the job longer than he had, and they knew all the risks that the job entailed. But Tony? Tony had hardly been a fully-fledged member of the squad for twenty-four hours; tailing the drugs man had been his very first job. He hadn't been more than--what, twenty-five, twenty-six? Just a kid, and now...

Bodie nudged him gently, and Doyle forced his attention back onto Cowley, who had already moved on. "...the aftermath of this event is clearly our foremost concern, but its duration is also to be considered. Some members of other agencies are reporting memories from the time that they were unconscious. If any of you remembers anything, an image or a date, we need to know it."

Murphy frowned. "You think there's more to it than dreams, sir?"

"There's a remarkable synchronicity between accounts," Cowley replied. "One of our MI6 agents reported a vision of a meeting with an American called Al Gough, whom she had never met; before she could find him to ask, he called her and reported a vision that perfectly matched hers."

"Coincidence," Bodie muttered.

"We cannot afford to exclude any possibilities," Cowley countered. "If you remember anything, I want to know about it."

Murphy volunteered something about an obbo, a job that didn't yet exist. "Gun runners, I think, in Birmingham. Jax and I were coming off the overnight shift--April 30, I remember. I had a date that night, so I'll want the evening off, sir."

Half-hearted chuckles were heard around the room. Cowley made a note and then turned to the next agent. "Three-seven?"

Bodie shook his head. "Nothing." He leaned back against the wall, letting his eyes fall closed, and Doyle sucked in a breath at the weight of a sudden memory.

Of course Cowley caught the reaction, though thankfully he made no connection to Bodie. "Four-five? Anything to add?"

Doyle frowned. "Not much, sir. Just the time: six am. I was--" he half-smiled, "turning off my alarm clock, trying to cadge a few extra minutes of sleep before coming in here..."

Murphy laughed. "Now when you're late that day, you won't be able to make an excuse."

Doyle grinned, but he wondered at how they'd so easily accepted the idea that these visions were prophetic.

"All right, lads, get some rest," Cowley ordered. "If you remember anything else, come to me."

***

Bodie had lost out on the first round of showers, and Doyle was sitting in the ready room when Bodie wandered back in. Doyle was half-curled on the sofa, his attention focused on the stunned reporters on the television screen, but Bodie's presence was obvious at the corner of his eye. He looked somewhat less exhausted now, and he'd found a black t-shirt to replace the bloodstained jumper.

"Ray?"

Doyle blinked and looked up; Bodie didn't make a habit of using his given name. "Yeah?"

"Need to talk to you--unless you're really planning to sleep?"

He shook his head. "Every time I close my eyes, I just see..." He trailed off with a vague gesture towards the screen. "Doesn't matter." He got up from the sofa to fill the kettle and plug it in.

Bodie stuffed his hands in his pockets and stood in the centre of the room, drawn inexorably to the dire news reports still sounding from the telly. He jumped when Doyle thrust a cup of heavily-milked tea at him.

"Ta."

Doyle sat down, picked up the remote, and turned the television off. "So talk."

Bodie settled on the other end of the sofa, his mug looking absurdly small cradled in his hands. "Look. I'm not close with my family, but my mum's still around, in Liverpool. I'll write down the address for you--you'll check in on her, won't you? Just now and then, make sure she's getting on all right. I've got things set so she shouldn't ever have trouble, but I want to make sure there's someone to look after her. And I've got a drop, in the city--cash, guns, passport, car key--that you'll want to clean out, so that nobody gets hold of it who shouldn't. The car's in good shape, you could probably sell it. As for the rest of it, I don't much care. Burn the lot, if you like."

Doyle gave him a searching look. "What's brought this on, then?" Everything that had happened tonight could easily have anyone pondering their own mortality, but he knew Bodie well enough to know there had to be something more to it than that.

"I didn't see anything," Bodie said flatly. "Everybody else saw something. Murphy, Betty. Jax just called in from the conference in Paris and corroborated Murphy's story--the gun-runners' obbo, even Murph's date that night. You saw something, too. The thirtieth of April, six a.m. Saw where you were, what you were doing. And I saw nothing. Not hard to figure out what that means, is it?"

"Maybe you were asleep. Six a.m., that wouldn't be unusual, would it?"

"Sure," he said, obviously unconvinced. "Or I could be dead."

Doyle shook his head. "Don't start thinking like that, Bodie. We don't know anything about these visions, if they even are visions. It could all be nonsense. Mass hallucinations, only as real as we let them be."

"Or they could be the future."

"I don't believe in predestination," he said flatly.

Bodie chuckled. "You trying to convince me, or yourself?"

"Maybe both of us." Doyle took a long slurp of tea. "Don't let it get to you, mate. You're going to be around for a while. April and a long time after, I know it."

"Yeah?" Bodie snapped. "And how the hell would you know that?"

Doyle gave him a shaky smile. "Just trust me, all right?"

***

The alarm bleats insistently; Doyle slaps the snooze timer with the easy aim of long practice, and he shivers. Last day of April--ought to be spring by now, but the breeze from the half-open window is cold. There will be frost in the garden when he leaves.

But the bed's warm, and so is the person beside him. Still asleep, so he'd got to the alarm in time. He spends a moment studying his lover's profile, the long lashes resting on pale cheeks.

Doyle slides his arm around Bodie's bare hip and settles in for another eight minutes of sleep.

***

They hardly had time to worry about their visions, or lack thereof; it seemed like Doyle had barely closed his eyes on the sofa when he was being nudged awake again.

"Come on, sunshine," Bodie muttered. "It's our turn."

A six-hour rest followed by a twelve-hour shift. It was CI5 emergency procedure, and everyone was aware of that, but it didn't make it any easier crawling out from under the thin, fleecy blanket. "What time is it?" he asked, the words breaking over a yawn.

"Just gone six." Bodie gave him a faintly amused look. "Coffee?"

"God, yes."

He stood up and crossed the rest-room towards the kettle. Doyle heard the slosh of water and the faint ring of coffee mugs on the countertop, and finally heaved himself upright.

"At last, Sleeping Beauty awakes," Bodie said brightly, holding out a mug. Doyle took a careful sip of coffee and found that it helped somewhat.

He rubbed a hand across his face, wincing as his palm rasped over the cuts and bruises he'd got falling down during the blackout. Bodie caught Doyle's chin and tipped his head to one side, examining the injuries. "How's your face?"

"Feels about how it looks, I expect."

"You should get that checked out--might have got a concussion."

Doyle shrugged, using it as an excuse to gently pull away from Bodie. "If I haven't died of a haemorrhage yet, I doubt I'm going to."

"And your cheekbone's always been out of place, then, has it?" he teased.

Doyle aimed a half-hearted cuff at Bodie's shoulder. Trust Bodie to know he was the only one who could get away with making a joke about Doyle's broken cheekbone, and to abuse that fact at every opportunity.

"What about you?" Doyle asked. "I didn't knock my head against a kitchen worktop like some people I know."

Bodie made a face. "I'm all right. With a head hard as mine, it'd take a lot more than that to do me any damage."

"Fair point, that."

Bodie clapped him on the shoulder and stood up. "Finish that fast," he said, pointing at Doyle's coffee. "We're meant to be back on the job in ten minutes."

Doyle promptly scalded his mouth on the coffee and spent a great deal of the ensuing ten minutes cursing Bodie creatively.

But he quietened as they walked down the hall towards the front door. It was morning now, after all, and a vague apprehension gnawed at his stomach. It didn't make sense; it wasn't going to be any worse out there than it had been the night before. Still, he wasn't sure he wanted to know what the city looked like in the daylight.

Bodie gave him a playful shove out of the door. "Come on, then. No point putting it off any longer, is there?"

Doyle grimaced, wondering when exactly Bodie had learned to read him so well. They stood on the front steps of CI5 headquarters and surveyed the street in front of them.

It wasn't any worse than Doyle had expected, but it was no better, either. There was still a smoky scent to the air, but the car fires had burnt themselves out by now, only a few left smouldering sullenly in the sunrise. But the air still smelled like smoke, and the eerie silence of the street was broken only by a last lonely car-alarm wailing in the distance.

Some of the bodies had been removed--Doyle wondered what would happen when the mortuaries were full. Others were still lying in the street, covered with sheets or blankets in an improbable range of colours. One very small blanket had a pattern of dinosaurs on it, and Doyle looked away.

They were meant to spend the day going door-to-door through a nearby neighbourhood, checking up on the residents of each flat and making note of the numbers where nobody answered. It was "police work," as Bodie muttered with distaste.

Of course they were also to be on the watch for looters and thieves, though Doyle didn't expect that it would be much of a problem. The day was warm for October, so they'd left their jackets behind, and the sight of the guns in their shoulder rigs should be enough to deter most would-be criminals. Things in London hadn't deteriorated to the point of martial law--other cities in other countries had been less fortunate--but the weight of the guns was a familiar comfort.

Bodie, as always, had to make a sarky comment. "So how does it feel to be back on the beat, PC Doyle?"

"Fuck you," Doyle replied without heat.

"Thought your walk was around here."

He shook his head. "Nah. But I grew up just a few blocks over. I remember some of the riots, when I was little, the smell of the smoke from the burning cars. That's what all this reminds me of--the aftermath."

Bodie didn't say anything for a few moments, and Doyle realized that he'd actually surprised his partner. "Anyway, my beat was in a lousy neighbourhood, but I never had to patrol an apocalyptic wasteland."

Bodie didn't even crack a smile. "You think that's what this is, then? Apocalypse?"

"What? No. I'm sure there are loonies out there who think it's the End Times, same as there's loonies who think it's aliens, but I'm not one of them."

"I can understand why they think that, though," Bodie said. "The loonies."

"Mate, I've never expected you to have any trouble relating to loonies."

Bodie dug an elbow into his side. "It's comforting. They want to think there's a plan to it all, don't they? Of course, it also relieves them of any responsibility, which is a bit cowardly, but..."

"But it makes sense."

"Yeah. Almost wish I could believe in that, you know?"

Doyle nodded. "So do I."

***

It had been more than forty-eight hours since the blackout when they were finally given a full day's rest. All Doyle wanted after a night--and a day, and a night, and another day--like this was a drink. He gave Bodie a sidelong glance as he shrugged on his coat. "Red Lion?"

Bodie shook his head. "Won't be open. Nothing is."

"Back to mine, then? I've got beer in, and some Top Gear recorded from...before, if the power's back. You can fall asleep watching like you always do--I won't tell."

"Kind of you," Bodie said dryly. "But I should go back to my own flat..."

"And what, sit in the dark and pity yourself because you didn't see anything during the blackout?"

Bodie's lip twisted. "That, and clean the blood off the kitchen worktop where I hit it."

"It can wait, can't it?"

"The worktop, or the pity?"

"Both," Doyle said. "Come on. The roads should be clear enough to drive now, and we're allowed." It was stretching the notion of 'emergency vehicles' rather far, in Doyle's opinion, but Cowley had handed over the keys himself.

He walked down the street to the car park with Bodie, and their boots crunched on the broken glass that still lay scattered across the pavement. The streetlights were back on, and the light caught the shards, making them flash and glitter in the dark. Almost pretty, if you forgot how they came to be littering the streets. If you forgot the fear and the panic and confusion and suffering--and the fact that there was still no explanation for what had happened, and no guarantee that it wouldn't happen again.

Doyle looked down at the key in his hand and laughed. "Christ, I'm going paranoid already."

"Hm? Why?"

"What if it all happens again? Don't tell me you haven't thought about it. Maybe it wasn't a one-time thing; maybe it could happen again, at any time."

"Like while we're driving back to your flat?"

"Yeah," he said ruefully.

"Then we'll wrap the car around a lamppost, and that'll be the end of it. Come on."

Doyle glared at him. "You don't mean that."

Bodie rolled his eyes. "Of course I don't mean it. But think about it, Ray," he said gently. "If it keeps happening, over and over...then it's only a matter of time, really."

"You think it's going to?"

"I don't know. But worrying about it all the time will just drive us mad that much faster."

"I don't think I'd notice if you went mad. You're close enough as it is."

Bodie grinned and snatched the keys from Doyle's hand. "Exactly. And if you can't bring yourself to do the driving, let the madman do it, eh?"

Doyle chuckled and surrendered, moving round to the passenger side. "Has anyone ever told you," he said, slamming the car door, "that you're a very pushy individual?"

"You know you love it," Bodie simpered.

"Oh yes, I live for it, you prat."

Bodie turned the key, and the radio blared to life along with the engine.

--engines stop running, the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error, but I have no fear
'Cause London is drowning, and I, I live by the river!

Somewhere in London, a disc jockey was about to lose his job. Doyle looked over at Bodie, met an answering expression of disbelief on his partner's face...and burst into helpless, wracking laughter.

It seemed to go on for hours, until they were slumped breathless in their seats, still giggling on the very edge of hysteria. The song had long ended by the time they calmed down enough to consider actually putting the car in gear.

Finally Bodie pulled out of the car park, navigating around the cars that still littered the streets. Every half-mile or so, Doyle would start to hum the tune again, without realizing it, and Bodie would reach over to smack him. "Don't you bloody start or I will, too, and then we really will crash."

But they didn't; after most of an hour, they made it to Doyle's flat. Bodie found an unmarred stretch of kerb to park the car, and they went upstairs.

Doyle opened a window to relieve the stuffiness of the flat, even though it was starting to get cold outside. He scrounged around in the cupboards and came up with the fixings for a decent meal while Bodie took a quick shower. He had a few things stowed in Doyle's flat, the same as Doyle had a few things of his at Bodie's--some nights it was easier to crash at one flat than to drive back separately, especially when they often had six hours or less between one long job and the next.

When Bodie wandered into the kitchen, damp hair dripping onto his shirt, Doyle handed him the spoon, ordered him to stir, and then headed for the shower himself.

He washed in a hurry, well aware that Bodie's cooking skills didn't extend much beyond beans on toast and the numbers of the local takeaways. It was still nice to have a shower that wasn't tepid, to put on clothes that weren't musty from being kept stored in the lockers, to drink a cup of tea at his own table--even if the milk had started to go off. He dressed in a t-shirt and a pair of tracksuit bottoms and made his way back to the kitchen barefoot.

The sauce hadn't burned, but it was no thanks to Bodie. The shaky levity of the car had worn off, and he was staring off into space, so distracted that he didn't even hear Doyle's approach until he was halfway across the kitchen. Doyle grabbed the spoon from him and nudged him in the direction of a kitchen chair. "Stop moping, will you?"

Bodie dropped into the seat with a mild glare. "Bugger off. I've got a bloody good reason to mope, and you know it."

"No, I don't know it--and neither do you. None of us know anything about all this. You could have been asleep, Bodie. At six a.m., that would be perfectly normal. Shagged-out, hung-over, and fast asleep. Nothing to remember."

"Then why wasn't I dreaming?"

"I don't know," Doyle sighed, switching off the stove. "Maybe you were, and forgot it when you woke up from the blackout. Or maybe it wasn't REM sleep--you only dream during REM sleep, right? So it doesn't mean anything."

Bodie shook his head. "No. I'd rather meet it head-on than spend the next six months--or six days--trying to find loopholes."

"So you're just going to resign yourself to a death that might not even happen."

"Sure. That way, if it happens, I won't be disappointed. And if it doesn't, then I'll be pleasantly surprised."

Doyle dumped pasta and sauce onto two plates and set one down in front of Bodie with a little more than the necessary force. He grimaced at the look on Bodie's face--the sarky talk was mostly bravado. Bodie was as worried as Doyle had ever seen him.

He gave him a little nudge on one shoulder. "Come on, Bodie. Do you think I'd let anything happen to you?"

Doyle could see him planning to argue, to start naming the myriad deaths from which Doyle wouldn't be able to save him. And then he saw Bodie's lips curve into a small smile, accepting the question as it was intended. "Nah," he said. "You need me for the rifle-work, don't you?"

"Exactly." Doyle pulled two slightly-warm cans of beer from the refrigerator and slid one over to him, and they ate.

Just as predicted, Bodie fell asleep on Doyle's sofa before the programme was over--though Doyle couldn't really blame him. He could barely remember the name of the show himself, let alone what had happened on it. He switched off the telly, draped a blanket over his partner, and slipped off to bed.

He woke slowly the next morning, vaguely aware that he'd pre-empted the alarm by a few moments at least. He reached out beside him, half-expecting to find--

Nothing. The alarm blared, and he jolted, waking up entirely. He slapped the timer and sat up, raking a hand through tangled curls. He knew exactly what--or rather, who--he'd expected to find in bed with him.

That was just what he needed, recurring dreams about what he'd seen in his vision. He snagged a robe from the back of the door and knotted the tie. Did he even bloody want to sleep with Bodie? He hadn't exactly had trouble coming to terms with his vision. But if it was nothing more than acceptance, the old keep-calm-and-carry-on, then why would his subconscious bring it up again?

Well, considering the other things he'd seen in the past few days, it was certainly one of the more pleasurable images his mind could drag up. He ought to be grateful on that basis alone. He could have dreamed about far worse things than waking up warm next to--

He shook his head and padded to the loo, turning the shower on and hoping that the stinging spray of hot water would keep him from thinking. It didn't.

He sighed. It wasn't that strange, a dream like that. He'd been with men in the past--after all, it wasn't illegal, was it? Of course, it was still frowned upon in some areas, and even considered something of a blackmail risk, so he'd curtailed any activity of that sort once he'd joined CI5. It was part of his record; Cowley knew, and Doyle rather suspected that Bodie did, too. But if he did, he'd never said anything about it.

And it would be a lie to say he'd never looked at Bodie and wondered, but it had never gone beyond idle speculation. Sure, he wasn't hard to look at, but partners were off-limits; you didn't mix the job with pleasure unless you were looking for trouble. And the job gave them quite enough trouble as it was.

He dressed and crossed the flat to plug the kettle in. Bodie was already gone, the blanket folded neatly and lying over the back of the sofa. Doyle wasn't surprised, but he was faintly disappointed. It looked like the bakery across the way was open again, and he'd been planning to needle Bodie into buying them both breakfast.

Doyle looked outside to find that Bodie had, of course, taken the car with him. Doyle hoped he was planning to change at his flat and then come back to pick him up; it would be a long walk otherwise.

But even as he considered the distance, the car made its careful way down the debris-strewn road and stopped in front of Doyle's building. Doyle pulled on his rig, snagged his jacket from the back of the sofa, and darted down the stairs to meet Bodie.

***

Within a week, London had started to show signs of its former self. The roads were cleared, downed power-lines fixed, and damaged buildings cordoned off for repair or scheduled for demolition. If you ignored the prevalence of funeral processions, London was all but back to normal.

Normal enough, in fact, for Cowley to call the agents in for a meeting before the shifts changed.

But when Bodie and Doyle slipped into the back of room, Cowley wasn't alone at the other end. There was a woman with him, a vaguely familiar figure with curly brown hair.

Cowley glanced over at Bodie and Doyle with a wry expression, as though they'd been the last to arrive and the rest had been waiting on them--and they probably had. Cowley's gaze shifted, and he addressed the gathered agents.

"I've had you all meet here for a briefing on what we know so far about the blackout event. This is Fiona Banks, from MI6."

She stepped forward, a wry smile on her face. "Thank you all for repressing your groans. I understand that the relations between our agencies have often been strained, but in the aftermath of this event, I think we are all going to need to work together.

"At the moment, of course, our priority is to keep the peace and help restore London to its status pre-blackout. Any other concerns must be secondary to the safety of the public, and I expect it will be at least another week before normality is fully restored."

She took a deep breath. "As for the event itself, I wish I had more to tell you, but I'm afraid I can only corroborate what you no doubt already know. The blackout occurred at the same instant all over the world, and we do not know what caused it. As far as we know, no one was left unaffected by the event, although we have put out appeals for any such people to come forward.

"We've also begun using the Internet as a way to collect and examine the data that each person's blackout memory--or flash-forward--contained, searching for patterns and key terms. The Americans at the FBI office in Los Angeles are at the head of the program, which they are calling the Mosaic Collective. I encourage you all to submit an account of what you saw; the FBI has promised to alert us in case they discover reports of future crimes or accidents."

Doyle frowned. "What exactly are you planning to do about reports of future crimes?" he asked. "You can't very well arrest someone for something they haven't done yet--and may have no intention of actually doing."

"Of course not," Fiona said smoothly, "but if we're in the proper area at the proper time, we may be able to prevent the crime entirely."

Doyle nodded, not entirely reassured, and he was aware that Bodie was looking askance at him. Fiona took up her talk again, making more noises about teamwork and cooperation that her own people probably resented just as much when she gave them the speech. A half-hour later they were dismissed, and Doyle stepped outside into the wan sunlight, aware that Bodie had followed him.

"What were you arguing with her for, anyway?"

"I wasn't arguing. I was just trying to be sure of where MI6 stands on this whole business. We start arresting people for things they might do in the future, and this whole thing turns into a Philip Dick novel."

"You're paranoid, sunshine."

Doyle smiled thinly. "Doesn't mean I'm wrong, does it?"

"I suppose not." Bodie sighed. "So do you want to pick me up this evening, or shall I swing round your place?"

"For what?"

He shook his head. "For an ex-copper, you rate pretty low in observation, mate. Tony's funeral is tonight--Cowley's taken us all off our jobs to attend."

"Nice of him," Doyle said ungraciously.

"It is nice. With things still as they are, even giving us two hours is a lot to ask."

"Sure it is."

Bodie rolled his eyes. "Just try to look like you haven't just rolled out of bed, eh?"

"Fuck off," Doyle said, aware that Bodie would do no such thing. He fished his keys out of his coat pocket and stalked off to the car.

***

Contrary to the beliefs of everyone in CI5, Doyle did in fact own a suit. A nice suit, even, though it didn't hold a candle to Bodie's, the vain bastard. Doyle didn't have a clue where he got the money, and he probably didn't want to know, but the suit was immaculate and fitted him perfectly.

He looked bloody good in it.

This was not, exactly, an appropriate thought to be having while one was walking into the church for a friend's funeral. The guilt distracted him quite nicely from his contemplation of Bodie's appearance, and he didn't think any more about it.

It wasn't the first CI5 funeral they'd been to and Doyle supposed with a chill that it wouldn't be the last. The bit in the church and churchyard was mostly for the family; for the other agents, the real ceremony was held at the Red Lion afterwards. They toasted Tony's memory, but it was something of a subdued gathering. Tony had so recently joined the squad that they only had a few stories to tell, and none of them really racy enough to get much of a laugh.

Given the situation, Tony probably would have forgiven them for the conversation turning from him to the blackout in general after the third or fourth round.

"Are you going to add your vision to that Mosaic thing?" Bodie asked, sliding a pint over to Doyle.

Doyle snorted. "What would be the point?"

"I don't know. Maybe you weren't alone in bed...might have had a bird with you."

"Think I'd have noticed that, wouldn't I?" he said blandly, looking away. Bodie was entirely too close to the truth, and he had no idea of it.

"Maybe not. You're not your best in the morning, sunshine."

"Oh, this from the one who's had to be dragged out of his own bed more than once?" Doyle jeered.

Bodie smiled smugly. "If you'd spent the previous night with a pair of Irish twins, you'd never want to get out of bed, either."

"Oh yeah? Girl twins, boy twins, or one of each?"

"Wouldn't you like to know?"

Doyle snorted. After a moment, he frowned. "What do you reckon the Cow saw?"

"Even if he told us, do you think we could believe him?"

"Fair point."

"Bet he was at his desk, anyhow," Bodie said. "Hardly ever leaves headquarters--and that was before the blackout."

There wasn't much more to be said. After a last round and a toast to Tony's memory, the gathering broke up. After all, they had work to do in the morning.

***

As soon as Bodie and Doyle arrived in the morning, they were called in to Cowley's office.

"We have had a number of clues concerning the case that Jax and Murphy reported in their vision," Cowley said without preamble. It was too early in the day for him to offer them scotch, but it didn't stop a bloke from hoping.

"The arms case, sir?" Bodie asked.

No, the drugs case from their other vision, Doyle thought sourly.

Cowley nodded. "Other agents have traced some of the details, and the individual elements all check out. We've learned that a wealthy Saudi Arabian expatriate has been receiving funds from overseas, which he has in turn been funnelling into a project of unknown intent. We are going to ferret out the details of that project, and we are going to do it without drawing attention to ourselves."

"Sir?" Doyle asked. "Are you saying that we're basing this case on clues that we don't have yet, because Murphy and Jax saw them in a vision?"

Cowley eyed him coolly. "If you are refusing to participate in this operation, four-five, please be clear."

"No, sir. Not refusing, just...commenting."

"Indeed. The suspect is using several small businesses as a front for his operations. I want the two of you to examine his shipping business in Liverpool."

They groaned. "But sir, that's hours away," Bodie added.

"Then you'd best get on your bikes, hadn't you? Go on, lads, and see what you can turn up."

Dismissed, they headed out to the car. After three consecutive ties, Bodie won a last heated round of rock, paper, scissors and slid into the driver's seat. He leaned his head on the steering wheel in mock-despair and sighed. "Liverpool."

"Home, sweet home?"

"Fuck you."

Doyle snorted. "I'm less worried about the location than about the fact that we're doing this at all. How can we even be working on this case? We're not supposed to know any of this yet!"

"Or maybe the only reason we're on the case in Murphy's vision is because we saw the clues from the flash-forward."

Doyle groaned and dropped his head into his hands.

Bodie patted him on the shoulder. "Don't think about it too hard, sunshine. It just makes you dizzy, and frowning gives you wrinkles."

Doyle gave him a quick thump on one shoulder, then Bodie started up the car and peeled out into the rainy morning.

***

Liverpool's weather was no more pleasant than London; heavy clouds occasionally let loose a burst of cold rain, so that by the time Bodie and Doyle had finished circling the warehouse they were both wet through.

The only activity they found was at the back of the building, where crates were being moved inside at a rapid pace. Doyle checked the shipping manifest they'd been given--there were no deliveries scheduled for today.

Bodie gave Doyle a level look, but the excitement behind it was obvious. This was the part he lived for--and Doyle had to admit that there was something of a thrill to it for him, too.

"Shall we give the front door a knock?" Doyle asked, after the last crate had vanished inside the warehouse.

"Nah, let's go in round the back."

"If that's how you like it," Doyle purred, earning a smack on the head. They circled the warehouse again, examining the windows for surveillance and the possibility of snipers.

The paused on either side of the rear door, and Bodie glanced over as he switched off the safety on his gun. "Now, Raymond, just because you saw something in your vision, that's no reason to get careless."

"And just because you didn't see anything--it's no reason to be stupid. Deal?"

"Deal." Bodie reached out and knocked on the door.

There was a flurry of sound from inside, but no response. Bodie knocked again. "CI5," he said loudly. "Like to have a word with you."

Still nothing. Doyle looked over at him. "On three?"

"Yeah."

"One, two--three." Bodie took a step back and kicked at the door. It gave way, and they broke to opposite sides as they dived for cover. The machine gun fire was a few seconds late, shredding a stack of empty crates and giving away the gunner's location.

Bodie and Doyle sent out occasional bursts of fire to keep the gunner from advancing, but there was too much empty space between to risk going out after him. After a few minutes of standoff, the gunner seemed to think the better of the situation. He abandoned his post and darted towards the front door, weaving among boxes and crates as he went. Doyle sent a couple of half-hearted shots after him, but the man vanished around a corner and outside. A moment later a squeal of tyres announced the escape of the whole crew.

They checked the warehouse to be sure that no one had decided to stay behind and surprise them, and then they pried the lids off a few of the crates.

There were enough guns inside to start a small war--and undoubtedly that was their purpose. Bodie's somewhat shady history included gun-running in Africa, so Doyle left it to him to examine the pieces and catalogue them. He looked like a kid on a very twisted sort of Christmas morning.

Doyle holstered his gun. "I'll go out and report in, check and make sure they haven't sent someone round to slash the tires on the car. Or blow it up," he added as an afterthought.

Bodie shook his head. "No C4 in the crates."

"Not a chance I'm willing to take, mate," Doyle said. He stepped out behind the warehouse and rang headquarters. Cowley himself picked up on the second ring. "Four-five?"

"Well, sir, I think it's safe to say that there is something to those visions. We went in to check out the warehouse and nearly got a faceful of automatic fire."

"Good, good. We know they're up to something now." Only Cowley could consider a hail of bullets to be good.

"They dropped the guns and ran as soon as we found decent cover. Left behind a few boxes of automatic weapons, too. Might want to send out a forensics team, too, to see if they've left anything else behind."

"Thank you, four-five," Cowley said, very drily. "I shall take it under consideration."

Doyle rolled his eyes and ended the call without waiting for Cowley to summon them back to London. They might as well find a pub and have lunch while they were here. Bodie would probably know a decent place. Or maybe... Doyle concealed what might have been a wicked grin and headed back out to the car. After all, it was his turn to drive.

The car hadn't been tampered with since they'd gone into the warehouse, and Bodie came out to wait with him for the retrieval team. Fortunately, they weren't coming all the way from London, or it would have been a very long wait indeed.

By the time the team had arrived to relieve them, Bodie was dozing in the passenger seat, and five minutes after they'd left the warehouse, he was asleep. Doyle pressed a few icons on the GPS screen, and he grinned. Half an hour's drive, that was all. It even looked like the weather might clear.

Bodie didn't wake up until Doyle stopped the car outside a low brick-fronted house. He sat up, blinking. "Ray, where are w--oh, bloody hell."

"We weren't far. Thought you'd want to stop by."

He scrubbed a hand across his face. "No, you didn't. If you thought I'd want to stop, you'd have asked. Instead, you shanghaied me."

"Yep," Doyle said brightly. "Go on, go see your mum. I'll find a coffee shop, and you can ring me when you're done."

"Hell, no," Bodie countered. "If I have to go in, then so do you."

"Bodie--"

"I mean it. This way she'll know you, when..."

"If," Doyle insisted.

"Fine, if something happens."

"All right." Doyle turned off the car and climbed out, then followed Bodie up the narrow walk to the door. Bodie sighed, shot another quick glare at Doyle, and knocked on the door.

A moment later, they heard the sound of footsteps, and the door opened to reveal a woman with flyaway hair that was once dark and was now mostly grey. But her eyes were the same dark blue as her son's. Her gaze lit on Bodie, and she grinned, pulling him into a tight hug.

"Billy!"

Bodie tried not to cringe at the nickname; he was not entirely successful. "Mum." He returned the hug and then stepped back.

"Well, come in, already," his mother said, stepping back to let them inside.

Bodie nodded to Ray. "Mum, this is Ray Doyle, my partner at CI5."

Doyle held out a hand. "Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Bodie."

"Just Lydia, please," she said, clearly charmed. "No need to be formal here. Go on and sit down--I'll just put the kettle on." She darted off to the kitchen, leaving Bodie looking incredulously at Doyle.

"Since when do you have manners?"

"Since always," Doyle said. "I just don't bother wasting them on you."

They sat on a comfortable, faded sofa, and Bodie's mum brought in the tea things. "So what brings you all the way out here, then?"

"The job," Bodie said, giving no details of the op itself. "And since we were here, we thought we'd stop by."

Lydia rolled her eyes. "We. I suppose I've you to thank for it?" she asked, turning to Doyle.

"Yes, ma'a--er, Lydia. I kidnapped him for you."

She grinned at him. "Oh, I like him," she told Bodie. "You might have mentioned he was gorgeous, though."

"For Christ's sake, Mum!"

"Well, he is." She turned back to Doyle, who was trying not to flush and failing. "I'm very glad to meet you at last, Mr. Doyle, and even gladder to see you're in one piece. Billy called me up after it happened, you know, and then he all but hung up on me, he was so worried about you."

"I did not hang up on you."

"I'm not criticizing. I thought it was sweet that you were worried about him."

Doyle suppressed a chuckle. Bodie was many things, but sweet was not often among the terms used to describe him. "We'll have Cowley put that in your file, Bodie. 'Agent three-seven is sweet when concerned.'"

"You do that, and I'll show you what an inappropriate description of my character it really is, you b--"

"Billy."

Bodie trailed off under his mother's glare, and Doyle couldn't help laughing at him. Bodie gave him a poisonous look, but before he could say anything else, his mobile buzzed. Bodie pulled it out to check the number.

"Cowley?" Doyle asked, resigned.

Bodie shook his head, his eyes alight. "Susan. Be right back." He stepped out into the kitchen to answer the call.

Lydia turned to Doyle with a wry smile on her face. "Girlfriend?"

"Apparently. She's also a CI5 agent."

"Is that going to get him into trouble?"

"It should, but it won't. He's our boss's favourite, you know."

Lydia chuckled and filled Doyle's teacup again. "He's always had more charm than was good for him."

"Don't I know it," Doyle muttered, more to himself than anyone else.

"I haven't asked him what he saw...do you know?"

"He...hasn't said much about it," Doyle said diplomatically. "But I do try and look out for him, just as he does me. We're partners, after all."

"Good," she said firmly. "I hate to think of the work you have to do, how dangerous it must be. I'm glad you lads have each other."

"Yeah," Doyle said. The temptation to unburden himself was almost as unbearable as it was absurd--By the way, Mrs. Bodie, I'm going to be sleeping with your son in the future; were you very set on grandchildren?

But Bodie chose that moment to return, a trace of a smug smile on his face.

"Got a date, have you?" Doyle asked.

"Not your business," Bodie said coolly. "But I'm afraid we've got to go. Cowley caught Sue on the phone and told her to remind me that we still have reports to make tonight."

They could be back to London by ten o'clock, maybe--sooner, if the traffic wasn't bad. Doyle sighed and climbed to his feet. "Glad to have met you, Lydia."

"You too, Ray. Thank you for dragging my son over to see me."

"Any time," Doyle said over Bodie's protest. "Come on, sunshine. Those reports won't write themselves."

Bodie allowed his mum to kiss his cheek, laughed and shoved Doyle when he tried to do the same, and followed his partner out to the car.

Doyle was grinning when he climbed into the car. All in all, it had been a good afternoon's work.

***

November

When the shooting range was booked, and they felt like specifically irritating the neighbours, Doyle and Bodie would go out to the back garden at headquarters and practice shooting, with tin cans as targets. In the first few weeks after the blackout they had refrained, figuring that the last thing the shaken citizens needed was a sound of gunfire echoing around the buildings, but things had calmed sufficiently that they felt justified in stirring them up a bit.

As usual, they matched each other shot for shot, and Doyle was attempting to figure out how to make the contest more difficult when Cowley called to them from the back gate. They lowered their guns and looked up.

"Sir?" Bodie asked.

"There's an FBI agent in California who fell from a seventeen-storey building."

Bodie shrugged. "That's FBI business, then, isn't it?"

"He jumped from the roof."

"That's his business, then," Doyle corrected, with an entirely inappropriate smirk in Bodie's direction.

Cowley's eyes narrowed. "He killed himself in direct contradiction to the images he had seen during his flash-forward."

Doyle whipped round to look at Cowley again. "Sir? He had a vision, and he--"

"Killed himself to prevent it. Aye, that's how it seems. Do I have your attention now, lads?"

"Yes, sir," Bodie said.

"The agent's name was Al Gough. Betty will be in charge of liaising with the FBI's Los Angeles branch. If she needs your assistance, she'll ask for it." Cowley turned and went back inside the building.

"If Betty's going to be running the op, why'd he come out and tell us?" Bodie asked.

"Are you really that oblivious? He wanted you to know that the visions can change. I think he's worried about you."

Bodie rolled his eyes. "He's worried, you're worried--I'm not. I wish like hell you'd all stop trying to make me feel better about this."

"Cowley wouldn't have told us if it wasn't significant. And why shouldn't you feel better about it? If you can kill yourself to stop a vision happening, maybe you can survive even if you didn't have a vision to begin with."

Bodie holstered his gun and started picking up the cans they'd shot from the wall. "I wish you'd stop playing cheerleader, Doyle. I doubt you've got the legs for one of those miniskirts."

"You wouldn't know, would you?"

"Nah, I know. Seen you in the lockers after a workout, haven't I?"

Doyle posed. "See something you like, then, lover?"

Bodie fought to keep glaring, but a faint smile stole across his face. "I'm not that hard up yet."

"But you'll let me know when you are, eh?"

"You'll be the first to know, petal." Bodie winked at him, and Doyle laughed.

"Come on, maybe we can fit in a cup of tea before London needs saving again."

But of course they couldn't even have that without interruptions. A few minutes after they'd sat down, Murphy leaned in through the ready room doorway. "Oi, Bodie. Dr. Ross wants to see you." He ducked back down the hall before Bodie could find anything suitable to throw at him.

Bodie slumped back onto the sofa and swore.

"Don't worry," Doyle said, "it's nothing special. She's been having us all in, to talk about the 'trauma' of the blackout."

"Yeah, but you saw something, Doyle. She has to know that I didn't."

"So?"

"Oh, never mind."

Bodie was nearly always like this when it came to interviews with the CI5 psychologist, and Doyle had never quite understood why. "You don't even complain this much when we get sent to Macklin."

"Yeah, because I know what Macklin's doing--nice, straightforward, brutal training. Shrinks are always thinking in circles around you, trying to get you to admit to things that aren't even true. It's like being on the wrong side of a bloody interrogation."

"Then be a good lad and crack early. Save us all a lot of time and effort, and then we can go down the pub." He stole Bodie's tea and took a noisy slurp as Bodie left the room.

***

It was more than an hour before Bodie reappeared.

"How'd it go?" Doyle asked, a little more sympathetic than he'd been before.

"I think she's mad at me," Bodie said.

"Can't be. Dr. Ross doesn't get mad. She's a psychiatrist; they don't have real emotions. Sometimes I'm fair sure our Katie's a Cylon."

"A bad 80s Cylon or a sexy new Cylon?"

"New. You've seen her legs."

"Yeah," Bodie said. "Pity about the robot-bent-on-human-eradication thing."

"A tragedy," Doyle replied morosely. "I'll meet you at the pub in ten minutes. I need a drink."

"You do?" Bodie fished the keys out of his pocket and disappeared into the hall. Doyle waited.

Two minutes later, Dr. Ross stalked into the ready room and made for the kettle. She gave Doyle a grim look. "That partner of yours," she warned, dumping sugar into a teacup.

"Still flirting with you, is he? I told you, a knee to the goolies will settle him down right--"

"He's not dealing with his flash-forward, Doyle."

"You mean his lack thereof."

"Exactly. There are stages, you know, and he seems to have skipped them all and just settled on Acceptance."

Doyle shrugged. "Bodie's not really one to do things by the book. Watch, he'll start with Acceptance, then go back through Denial, Bargaining, Sleepy, Doc, and Dopey in his own time."

She didn't even crack a smile. "He's going to have to come to terms with this, or it will all come crashing down on him at the worst possible time."

"That's not going to happen. Look, the bravado--it's a cover, all right? He really is worried about it. He just doesn't like anyone else to see it."

She shook her head. "I can't just take your word about another agent's mental state."

"Give him some time, all right? He'll come around."

"He's had nearly two months now. Doyle, I can't recommend that Cowley keep an active agent who might suffer a breakdown at any time."

"You'd have him taken off the squad?"

"I'd recommend that Cowley remove him from the field until May, or..."

"Or until he dies, you mean," Doyle snapped. "You can't do that to him--it isn't fair."

"Then convince him to deal with his flash-forward. If he doesn't, then I won't have any choice."

"Right." Doyle picked up his jacket and walked out of the ready room. If he hadn't wanted a drink before, he certainly did now.

He found Bodie at a corner table in the Red Lion--even off-duty, they didn't like having their backs to the room--and set the brimming pint glass down in front of him.

"Play along," he said.

Bodie looked up at him. "Huh?"

"The next time Dr. Ross calls you in. Play along, tell her you're worried about things. Don't just act like you've accepted the flash-forward."

"I have accepted it, you berk. You're the one who--"

"Yeah, well, Katie thinks you're on the verge of a bloody breakdown, Bodie. She's going to have Cowley take you off the squad if you don't show some sign of a 'proper grieving process.'"

"She can't do that!"

"You willing to stake your job on that?"

Bodie grumbled into his glass. "Not bloody fair that I should have to play-act, just because I've got used to the idea of dying."

Doyle cut off the instinctive protest--you're not going to die, Bodie--before it could start a row. Bodie would only ask how he knew that, and Doyle wouldn't be able to tell him.

Of course, he could tell Dr. Ross...just walk into her office and say, "Don't worry, I saw Bodie in bed with me in my flash-forward, so everything will be all right." Only Ross would tell Cowley, if she didn't tell Bodie outright, and everything would go to hell.

He held off on the urge to say something about it--to someone, to anyone--until he got back to his flat that night. Then he gave in.

He sat down at his computer and pulled up the Mosaic Collective.

First, the program asked for his name. He checked and found that there were already thirty-six posts by Ray or Raymond Doyles, but he still wasn't willing to risk the chance that Betty's scanning program would pick up on his post. He chose an alias instead, one that he'd used on an op with Bodie not long before the blackout--Mark Layton.

The prompt that followed was simple, black text above a white box: What did you see? Doyle hesitated, then settled his fingers on the keys and began to type.

Six a.m., April 30: It was cold in my flat. I was in bed with my partner from work. He has no idea; he slept through the entire time of the vision. And I can't forget--

Doyle paused, frowning at the screen. He couldn't quite put a word to the warmth of the vision, the comfort and the peace of it all.

Or perhaps he could, and he was terrified of what it might mean. He shook his head and deliberately weakened the statement. I can't forget how fucking happy I was.

Without giving himself a chance to think the better of the matter and delete the whole thing, he pressed Enter and added his note to the Mosaic. Then he carefully deleted the browser history--it paid to be paranoid in this line of work--shut down the computer, and went to bed.

***

December

Early December brought a news conference from a pair of physicists, admitting that they had been responsible for the blackout. Doyle vaguely recognized the shorter one--Simon Campos, the world's first rock-star physicist, according to himself at least.

"Well," Bodie said, rising from the ready-room sofa. "At least we know it won't happen again."

"Are you sure?"

"Nobody's going to fund a research project that's already killed twenty million people. Not even if it does give you a glimpse of the future."

"Nobody legitimate, anyway," Bodie countered. "A handful of anarchists or fanatics could pick up Simcoe or Campos, torture them until they agreed to recreate the experiment..."

"The day that a handful of anarchists get hold of a supercollider is going to be a very bad day, whether they have Campos prisoner or not."

"Fair point," Doyle said. "Let's hope it never comes to that, eh?"

But someone got hold of Simcoe and Campos. A few days after the announcement, both of them had vanished from public eye. They might have been taken into protective custody, or they might have been held by more sinister agents.

Then again, maybe a grieving family member of a blackout victim had gone in for a bit of vigilante justice. Whatever the reason, Simcoe and Campos were nowhere to be found, and their whereabouts were MI6's concern. Doyle couldn't say he was disappointed to be left out; they had quite enough work to be getting on with as it was.

***

It was a damned cold London winter, with more snow than any year Doyle could remember. But he still slogged through four slushy inches of it on Christmas Eve to get to Bodie's flat.

He had to lean on the bell for a good thirty seconds before Bodie buzzed him up. The door opened before he could knock, and Bodie gave him a puzzled look. "The hell are you doing here?"

"Yeah, happy Christmas to you, too." Doyle pushed past him to get inside, unzipping his jacket. He shrugged it off and threw it over the back of the sofa.

"Not that I'm not happy to see you, but how did you know I'd even be here?"

"Didn't, did I? But Susan's out at her parents' place, so I thought unless you'd gone up to see your mum, you might be around. And anyway, had to drop something off, didn't I?"

Doyle settled himself on the arm of the sofa and tossed a wrapped box at Bodie. "Happy Christmas."

"You--" He looked up at Doyle. "I didn't know you were getting me anything."

Doyle grinned. "Is that an unsubtle way of saying 'I didn't get you anything'?"

"Maybe."

"Who cares? Open it, you berk."

Bodie tore at the green paper like the overgrown kid he was, and pulled out a set of DVDs. "The Terminator films?"

"Yeah. Knew you liked them, and--well, it seemed appropriate."

"Appropriate?"

"No future but what we make," he quoted.

Bodie stared at him for a moment and then grinned, so bright and sudden that Doyle almost thought Bodie would kiss him. "You," he said instead, "are absolutely daft."

Doyle's face warmed, and he looked away. "Sorry, I didn't mean to be--"

Bodie nudged him. "Shut up and grab us some beers. I think there's popcorn in the cupboard, too."

"Anything else, my liege?"

"Nah, I'll just put the DVD in."

"Don't strain yourself," Doyle said dryly.

It wasn't exactly a typical Christmas. But then, CI5 agents didn't lead what one could call 'typical' lives. It was good enough for them, and that was what mattered.

***

January

The arms case had cooled down, and most of their time was spent on unrelated matters. Such as putting away a trio of small-time bombers with delusions of grandeur.

Cowley had sent three pairs of agents to deal with the group. They'd got two of them without trouble, but the third had eluded them for half an hour or so. When they finally caught up to him, he tried to run, and Anson's rather enthusiastic tackle had knocked the kid out cold.

So there was no one to warn them when an explosion from the street blew out the windows in the bombers' ratty flat.

Bodie and Doyle exchanged glances, then dashed out to the front, leaving the three bombers handcuffed on the floor.

One of the CI5 cars was in flames. Doyle looked around, counting heads, and came up one short.

"Oh, Christ. Where's Tommy?"

The look on Anson's face was answer enough.

Doyle glanced over at Bodie, whose expression was blank and cold. Doyle knew exactly what he was thinking: Tommy McKay had been the only other CI5 agents without a flash-forward.

All the hope of the last few months--Gough, Simcoe, even the bloody Terminator films--for naught. Now Bodie was even more certain that he was going to die.

Doyle should have told him. He should have said it right at the start, everything he'd seen. Even if it had lost him his partner, at least he wouldn't have to look at the empty, hopeless expression on Bodie's face.

If he tried now, Bodie would never believe him. He'd think Doyle was making it all up, now that he'd waited so long. Thanks, mate, he'd say, but you don't have to lie to make me feel better. It was too bloody late to help.

Another crew arrived, forensics and the coroner for Tommy, and Cowley sent Bodie and Doyle and the other lads back to the station to make their reports. Bodie scooped up a laptop and retreated to a corner, a bleak look on his face.

"Hey," Doyle said.

"Don't want to talk about it," he replied flatly. Doyle held up his hands in surrender and left the room. When he finished his report, he checked the ready room, but Bodie was nowhere to be found.

Doyle decided he'd drive past Bodie's place and see if the lights were on. He got all the way out to his car before the mobile in his jacket pocket buzzed loudly. He pulled it out and found a text message from his errant partner.

@ red loin. get here fast. yr round.

Well, that was clear enough. He turned up his collar against the cold January wind and made his way down to the pub.

The warmth and light of the Red Lion was disorienting after the dark and cold of the street, and it took Doyle a moment to find his partner among the crowd. Eventually he caught sight of him, standing towards the back of the room--evidently they'd not been lucky enough to get a table. Doyle picked up the next round and wended his way back towards Bodie, managing not to spill the drinks despite the jostling mob around them.

Bodie's eyes lit up at the sight of him--or the sight of the drinks, at any rate. If he was still upset over what had happened to Tommy, he was hiding it well. Doyle passed him one of the pints.

"You took your time getting here," Bodie said. "Thought I was going to die of thirst."

"You're welcome. You do realise that when you texted me, you actually texted red loin? Seemed a bit Freudian to me."

Bodie made a face. "It's not like the mobile has a bloody spell-checker."

"And even if it did, loin's a word. Just not quite the one you were after--or was it, darling?"

"In your fondest dreams, Ray."

That was a bit too close to the truth for comfort. Doyle changed the subject rapidly. "Why'd you call me, anyway? I thought you were meant to be out with Susan tonight."

"Ah. We decided it would be better to leave off before anyone got their feelings hurt."

"Right. No point in bothering with a long-term relationship when you're convinced you'll be dead in three months' time."

Bodie threw him a disbelieving look. "Ray, it's me. When have you ever known me to bother with a 'long-term relationship'? That's your style, sunshine."

Doyle weathered the shot at his romantic inclinations with the forbearance of someone who'd heard the same thing a hundred times and would probably hear it a thousand more.

Bodie left off the teasing. "Anyway, there wouldn't be much point in trying to keep things going. Susan was making coffee at her flat in her vision...and there was an engagement ring on her hand."

"And you're not likely to be the one who put it there, are you?"

"Not exactly." Bodie took another sip of his pint and nearly choked on it. "Hang on. She was making coffee, and you were just waking up. Maybe the person who put that ring on her finger was--"

"No way, Bodie. I've got more sense than that."

"Oi! Are you saying I've got poor taste?"

"No. And in another situation, I'd be happy to take Susan out for dinner. But I'm not you, so I couldn't get away with it."

Bodie looked at him blankly.

"Look, Cowley tolerates you dating all the other agents because you're his favourite. I'd be kicked off the squad so quickly I wouldn't have time to get my coat."

"Well, that makes less competition for me, doesn't it?"

"So long as you're happy," Doyle said dryly.

"And I am. Or I would be, if I could get Betty to come across..."

Doyle sighed and drained his glass. It was going to be a long evening.

***

February

February was quiet, except for the slowly building tension that Doyle could see in his partner. Murphy and Jax's arms case had hit dead end after dead end--even Murphy was beginning to lose faith in what he'd seen in his flash-forward.

At the same time, Bodie seemed to be even more certain about his own fate. He was winding himself up somehow, always tense and still. There were days when Doyle felt that a tap on the shoulder might set him off.

He started looking for ways to burn off tension and get Bodie to relax, if only a little.

"Off tomorrow," Doyle said, squeezing into the ready room. It seemed like half the A squad was fighting over the tepid contents of the kettle. "You want to play some squash?"

Bodie shook his head. "Nah. Some of the old crew are doing a jump."

Doyle stared. "You didn't have a flash-forward. And you want to go skydiving."

"Well, what do you want me to do, wrap meself in cotton wool and wait for the end? I've done almost six hundred jumps, Ray, and never so much as twisted an ankle."

Doyle was vaguely aware that the other agents were making for the door--apparently he wasn't the only one who'd been anticipating a fight. "Isn't that a bit like...tempting fate, though?"

"Look, if it's going to happen, it's going to happen. I'm going to enjoy myself until it does." Bodie tried to brush past him into the hall.

"If it's going to happen, it's going to happen? What's wrong with you, Bodie?"

"There's nothing wrong with me," he snapped. "You're the one who can't accept the fucking future."

"Yeah, well maybe I'm not quite ready to give up on you," Doyle snapped.

"Who asked you?"

"Damn it, I'm not going to sit back and watch you kill yourself, Bodie!"

"So that's it, then?" he snapped. "Going to Cowley for a reassignment?"

"No," Doyle said, resolve forming as he spoke. "I'm going with you."

Bodie looked at him for a second, and then he burst out laughing. "You. Skydiving?'

He shrugged. "Somebody's got to watch your back."

"But you hate heights, Ray! The last time you had to take the helicopter I thought you were going to be sick all over the instrument panel."

"It didn't have doors. I'm fine on an aeroplane, as long as they have doors."

"You know they have to open the door for you to jump out of it, right?"

"Yeah, I know."

"You're really serious about this."

Doyle wasn't quite sure, but he nodded anyway. He couldn't back down now.

"All right. I'll pick you up at eight tomorrow."

***

There were half a dozen of them, Bodie's old mates from the SAS, and they'd each spent more time jumping from planes than Doyle had spent in one. Doyle got a much-accelerated lesson in the theory and practice of skydiving, courtesy of one of the group's older members, a man called Harris.

"Safe as houses, really," Harris said at last. "The chutes have an automated release now, just in case you panic and forget to pull it."

"Yours, too?" Doyle asked, glancing over at Bodie.

"Yeah, even ours," Harris said. "No matter how some of us hate it." He winked at Bodie.

Bodie helped Doyle with his gear, a set borrowed from the facility that owned the plane they'd be using.

"You've checked it?"

Bodie slapped the plastic of Doyle's helmet. "Of course I've checked it. Who's going to put up with me on obbo if I let you make your own little crater out there?"

"Right." Doyle wiggled, shifting the weight of the parachute until it sat more comfortably on his back.

"You ready?" Bodie asked.

"Probably not. Let's go."

They climbed into the small plane with the others and sat along the wall. Doyle's stomach lurched as the plane left the ground. They were ascending at a nice, gradual pace, but they wouldn't be coming down the same way.

He closed his eyes. After a few seconds he felt Bodie nudge his shoulder, and he looked over at him.

"Listen," Bodie said. "If you don't want to do this..."

"If you're jumping, then so am I."

He shrugged. "Then I won't. I'll sit this one out and we'll ride back down with the pilot."

"No," Doyle said. "I can do this. We'll get to the ground faster this way, at least."

Bodie laughed, and Doyle silently recounted the rules the instructor had given him before they'd taken off.

They reached the jump point, and the side door of the plane opened. Doyle was set to go third, with Bodie following, and a couple of experienced jumpers after him. Bodie said they'd be able to catch up with him if something went wrong, by dropping headfirst and making themselves more aerodynamic. As reassurances went, it wasn't bad.

Then it was their shot, and he was standing at the open side of the plane, with Bodie beside him. The wind screamed past, and the ground was very, very far away.

Bodie gave him a look that said are you really sure, and Doyle ignored it. He watched as Bodie raised a hand and counted down.

Three--two--one.

Doyle jumped. Well, fell forward, really, which was how he'd been told to do it. The sensation of falling lasted only a few seconds, which was more than enough. Then he hit terminal velocity and it only felt like a high wind rushing past him.

He opened his eyes and wished he hadn't. The winter-brown fields below were absurdly far away, but getting closer at something more than a hundred miles an hour. He turned to look for Bodie and found him only a couple of feet away, grinning brightly even as the wind tore at his clothes. "Nutter!" Doyle shouted, but the word didn't make it across even the few inches between them.

As if he'd heard, Bodie executed a smooth flip in the air. Doyle gave him a gesture that carried very easily across the space between them, and if anything Bodie's grin widened.

Doyle looked down again. There was the wide sand landing area, roughly below him. He glanced down at the altimeter strapped to his glove and braced himself as he pulled the cord.

The parachute unfurled, jerking at the harness as Doyle's descent slowed.

Bodie waited longer to release his chute, and for seven seconds Doyle entirely forgot his own fear as he waited for the parachute to bloom behind the rapidly dropping figure of his partner.

Then it did, and he went back to being terrified with an absurd sense of relief.

He steered himself towards the landing site, now on a level with the trees across the field. He bent his knees to absorb the shock of landing, but he slipped and fell gracelessly to his hands and knees, skidding a few feet through the thick sand.

He'd never been happier to feel solid ground beneath him.

Bodie was crossing the field towards him almost before Doyle had stopped sliding. "You all right?"

Doyle nodded and glared up at him. "Never, ever again."

"You volunteered, sunshine." Bodie held out a hand and helped him to his feet. "Come on. There's a pub down the road, and you look like you could use a drink."

"You're buying," Doyle said.

"I know."

"Forever."

Bodie chuckled. "We'll see."

Doyle knew it probably wouldn't last, but the tension had disappeared from his partner. He'd never, ever tell Bodie, but if that was what it took to keep him from worrying, Doyle would jump with him every day until the flash-forwards were past.

***

March

Doyle had barely poured his first cup of tea when Bodie burst into the ready room. "The arms case. We've got a break in it--one of Anson's grasses came through."

"And what, we're supposed to solve it before Murph and Jax ever get their flash-forward obbo?"

"Why not? That ought to be worth a pay rise, don't you think? Outsmarting the future? Come on." Bodie was already halfway to the door as he spoke.

Doyle looked longingly at his tea, then scooped up his jacket and followed Bodie out to the car park.

 

The warehouses in London didn't look much different from the ones in Liverpool--anonymous greying buildings covered in graffiti, with dirty windows that kept Bodie and Doyle from getting a good look inside. They spotted a broken window along the way, about seven feet above the ground. Bodie found an empty crate and dragged it over to give Doyle a better vantage point, and Doyle noticed that he stayed close enough to break his fall in case the rickety wood of the crate gave way.

"Looks like Anson's grass had it right," he told Bodie. "There's something going on in there."

It seemed as though they'd learned a little from the incident in Liverpool. There were guards this time, each holding an Armalite at the ready. The crates were never left unguarded.

"Do you recognise any of them?" Bodie said.

"Nah. Here, you have a look." Doyle hopped down from the crate and let Bodie take his place.

"Can't be sure from here, but they don't look familiar."

"New players? Or just old players that are too good to be caught?"

"Now that is an unpleasant thought, Raymond." Bodie climbed off the crate. "What do you think? Wait until they're done, and when they split up, follow the smallest group?"

"Sounds good. You want the front or back?"

"I'll take the back. Call me if they come your way."

Doyle watched Bodie disappear around the far end of the warehouse, more than a little unhappy with the situation. He trusted his flash-forward--mostly--but he still didn't like jobs that forced them to split up.

Half an hour later, the front door of the warehouse opened, and Doyle ducked back to call Bodie. He watched Bodie come around the corner of the building with more relief than he'd expected.

A pair of the gunmen broke off from the group, waving casual farewells as though they'd met for lunch instead of guarding an arms shipment. Bodie took point, keeping the warehouse between them and the guards as long as they could.

Neither one of them made a sound; they were just unlucky enough to pick a paranoid set of gunmen. One turned to glance behind them and caught something--a flash of metal, a stray curl of Doyle's, it didn't matter what.

He turned and loosed a spray of automatic fire at them, and they ran. Doyle ducked out from behind cover to chase them, Bodie a step behind. The guard turned around again, and they ducked aside as another handful of rounds came their way.

The shots were low, meant to cripple rather than kill. The bullets kicked up dirt around their feet, and one ricocheted off the brick of the building with a high-pitched sound.

Bodie stumbled behind him. "Fuck," he said.

Doyle turned back. "You all right?"

"Keep going," he snapped, so Doyle did, with Bodie close on his heels.

They ran for a long time, weaving through abandoned warehouses and rusting railyards, but they were beginning to gain on the guards. Soon they'd be in easy range of those Armalites again--they'd have to find decent cover and hope they could manage to take one of them down without killing him...

Bodie swore again and stopped. "Ray, I think I've...got a bit of a problem here, mate."

Doyle turned around. Bodie was leaning against the wall of a warehouse, looking even paler than usual. The dark corduroy of his trousers was stained even darker, starting just above his right knee.

The slushy patch of snow he was standing on was tinged faintly pink. Without the slightest thought for the suspects now making a clean getaway, Doyle ran back to his partner.

As soon as he got there, Bodie sort of slid to the ground, the brick wall behind him scuffing the leather of his jacket. Doyle followed him down, dropping to his knees in the melting snow.

"Think I might need to sit down," Bodie said seriously.

Doyle choked back a half-hysterical giggle. "You already are sitting down."

He opened his eyes and looked around, surprised. "Oh. Right."

Doyle tried to keep his voice even. "Here, let me have a look, will you?" Without waiting for an answer, He gently pulled the blood-soaked fabric away from the wound.

The graze wasn't deep, but it was long. And the last time they'd been under fire was-- "Christ, Bodie, you've been bleeding for a whole fucking hour and you didn't say anything?"

"Did say something. Said 'fuck.'"

"Something a bit more descriptive, then. Something along the lines of 'Fuck, I've been grazed by a bullet, and it seems to be bleeding rather badly, Doyle.'" He pulled off his jacket and folded it over, pressing it against the graze to help with the bleeding.

"Yeah, yeah. Wait, Ray--what about the gun runners? You're going to lose them."

"Forget them," Doyle said. He pulled out his mobile, praying for a signal, and got one tiny bar of reception. He called for an ambulance--what kind of job were they in, where the 9 button was worn from so many emergency calls?--and snapped at them to hurry. The GPS in the mobile would give their location.

Even dazed as he was, Bodie picked up on the fear in Doyle's voice. "You're...never going to let me live this down, are you? Killed by a bloody graze. Prob'ly put it on my headstone."

Doyle's grip tightened on Bodie's shoulder. "Shut up, Bodie. You're not going to die."

"Bet Tommy thought the same thing."

"Yeah, but I know better." Panic and frustration made the confession simple. "Because in my flash-forward, when I wake up, you're in bed with me."

Bodie blinked. "Why, did you forget to put the heating on?"

"Sure, mate, if that's what you want to think. But the point is, I saw you, all right? So we've got an appointment. It'd be rude of you to die before then, wouldn't it?"

He sighed. "Nice try. Really--it's nice of you to make something up."

"I'm not making it up, Bodie. I swear, in my flash-forward, you're with me. Trust me, will you?"

"All right, 'f you insist."

"The ambulance will be here soon. So just sit tight and don't go anywhere."

"Haven't got anywhere to go," Bodie mumbled, and he didn't say anything more after that.

It felt like years before the wail of the ambulance's siren began to echo among the warehouses, and another century at least before the ambulance itself appeared. Bodie protested vaguely when he was lifted onto the gurney, but he didn't even open his eyes.

The ambulance-men assured Doyle that they'd call him immediately "in the event of any change in condition," which probably just meant "we'll call you if he dies." Then they shut the ambulance doors in his face and blared off onto the road.

Doyle resisted the urge to follow and instead made his way back to CI5 to report on the situation.

Cowley, of course, was irate.

"They'll know we're onto them, now. They'll go to ground, and we'll spend months digging them up again!"

"That's not true, sir," Doyle said evenly.

"No?"

"We'll have them on our radar in two weeks, when Murphy and Jax have their obbo. If you believe in the flash-forwards, that is." After all, they had only based their entire investigation on that belief.

"We could have used the information that the guards would have supplied us."

Doyle's temper flared. "So I should have let Bodie die, is that it? I should have just let him bleed to death in the fucking snow to go after a pair of small-time muscle who might be able to lead us to the bigger fish? If that's what you want from me, sir, then you'll have my resignation by morning."

"Ah, there's no need to be so dramatic, Doyle." Cowley waved towards the scotch in the cabinet, and Doyle pointedly did not thank him as he poured himself a drink.

"You handled the situation well enough. You made a call, and you carried through with it. I'd expect nothing else of you, lad. Go on, then--you can make the official report in the morning."

"Thank you, sir." Doyle tossed back the rest of the drink and set the empty glass on the table.

"And when you see three-seven, tell him he'll have an appointment with Brian Macklin as soon as he's recovered."

Doyle hid a grin as he walked out of headquarters. Sometimes it was downright fun to be the bearer of bad news.

Since he could only assume that no response from the hospital meant that Bodie was doing well, he wasn't terribly upset about having to call the hospital himself to check up on Bodie's condition. It only took a small bit of flattery and a few invocations of CI5 to get through to the doctor responsible for his partner.

He was surprised at the way the tension left him when he heard the prognosis--significant blood loss, but no major damage. The doctor said they'd keep him overnight, for the sake of observation, but they'd release him in the morning. Apparently he was already lucid, and no lasting effects were expected.

Doyle was fairly certain she just didn't want to put up with Bodie's complaining--and his attempts to seduce her--any longer than absolutely necessary.

***

At four the next afternoon, the buzzer rang in Doyle's flat, a single long tone that was as irritating as it was recognizable. He buzzed Bodie up and opened the door as soon as he heard the slightly off-beat footsteps in the hall.

Doyle gave him an appreciative once-over. Aside from the crutches, he looked perfectly well. "You're looking good, for someone who was convinced he was going to die twenty-four hours ago."

Bodie made a face and swung inside. "Yeah, I know. I panicked and let the stupid flash-forward get to me."

"I noticed."

He sat down on the sofa with relief. "Thanks for putting up with me. You could have called the ambulance and then gone off after the gun-runners, you know."

"No," Doyle said. "Wasn't going to leave you there, was I?"

"I guess not." He pulled absently at a loose thread on the arm of the sofa. "Look, I wasn't really...focused, for a while there, and I know I went on a bit. I don't remember what it was you said to shut me up. But I do remember that...I thought it was going to be all right, after that."

Doyle's heart sank unaccountably. After all, he ought to have been relieved that Bodie didn't remember him confessing the contents of his own flash-forward. But he had been content with the idea of Bodie knowing, with no longer having to keep secrets from him.

And of course all he had to do was stop keeping the secret, to tell Bodie what he'd said while they were waiting for the ambulance, and they could move on from there. He opened his mouth to do just that, but Bodie was already making a limping path towards the drinks table--without the sticks, of course. Bloody idiot. "You want a drink, Ray?"

"Oh yes, I'd love a glass of my own scotch. And help yourself too, of course."

"Ta."

Doyle frowned. "Hang about, are you even allowed alcohol? You're just out of hospital!"

"They didn't give me anything but antibiotics for the leg. Apparently, they're under the impression that if my leg doesn't hurt, I'll go about using it normally, and then I'll do more damage to it."

"Where on earth could they have got such an idea as that?" Doyle said dryly.

"Not a clue, mate," Bodie said, handing a glass to him. He sat back down on the sofa, not quite masking a wince as he did.

"That'll teach you to walk around without the sticks," Doyle said piously.

Bodie flipped two fingers at him and took a drink. "I really thought that was it, you know," he admitted.

"I know," Doyle said. "You kept rabbiting on about it. And it wouldn't have been such a problem if you'd just told me what happened. You should have stopped and called an ambulance instead of running on with me."

"And leave you outnumbered?"

"You could have called for backup along with the ambulance."

Bodie sighed. "I suppose so."

"This doesn't happen again," Doyle said flatly. "Next time you get hurt, you tell me, Bodie. I don't care if it's a graze or a fucking splinter."

"All right."

"Promise?"

He rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I fucking promise."

Bodie returned to headquarters the following week, facing three weeks of light duties before the refresher course with Macklin.

His return to full duty was scheduled for April 28.

***

April

"Babysitting duty?"

"Do you consider the safeguarding of an FBI agent--who has already suffered one direct attack on her life in the previous six months--to be beneath your capabilities, Bodie?"

"No, sir," he ground out, clearly meaning yes, sir.

"Agent Janis Hawk of the FBI. You will meet her at the airport tonight and escort her to this evening's meeting with MI6. You are dismissed."

Doyle followed Bodie out into the corridor, waiting for the explosion. He didn't have to wait long.

"This is ridiculous. I passed fit yesterday, there's no call to give us an easy job like this. Either Cowley doesn't believe Macklin's report, or he's trying to...I don't know, protect me from the future."

"Would that be such a bad thing?" Doyle asked mildly.

"It wouldn't work. If it's going to happen, it will, and it won't matter if we're babysitting an FBI agent or having a shoot-out with a bunch of Iranian gun-nutters. And if it's not going to happen, then he might as well have us doing something useful with our time."

"You heard Cowley. Somebody's already tried to do her in once. Sounds like she's worth protecting. Come on. I'll drive."

They passed Betty in the computer lab, and Bodie stopped, as usual, to try his luck. Considering the date, Doyle was mildly surprised that Bodie hadn't gone for a last-night-on-earth tactic.

"You're picking up our FBI agent at the airport?" Betty asked over a patter of laptop keys.

"Yup."

"Say hello to her for me, will you?"

"Why don't you say hello to her yourself? Trade you the pick-up," Bodie offered hopefully.

She grinned. "Because Cowley would never find out that we're swapping duties."

"Can't blame a bloke for trying, can you?"

"Bye, Bodie," Betty said sweetly, and went back to work.

 

Doyle drove to the airport through heavy Friday-afternoon traffic. Every few minutes he caught sight of Bodie from the corner of his eye, fiddling with the lay of his gun in its shoulder rig.

"I'm going to take that thing away from you if you don't stop playing with it," he warned.

Bodie folded his hands guiltily in his lap, away from the reassuring metal of his gun. "I just like to know it's there."

"Sort of a twisted kind of security blanket, isn't it?"

"Sort of a twisted kind of job we've got," Bodie countered, and Doyle had to admit it was true. But Bodie left the gun alone once they reached the airport, letting the half-zipped black leather jacket hide it from general view.

They were half an hour early for the plane, and when it finally arrived they couldn't quite pick out their FBI agent from among the passengers.

So she found them, instead. A visibly pregnant woman in a business suit approached them. "Are you Bodie and Doyle?"

"Erm," Bodie said.

Doyle recovered equilibrium first. "Yeah. I'm Doyle, he's Bodie. Agent Hawk, right?"

"Yeah. Nice to meet you two."

"Likewise," Bodie said. "Our boss might have forgot to mention a few things, though."

Janis gave her stomach a wry look. "Oh. Yeah. That's why I'm doing liaison things, meetings and stuff. But don't worry, I'm not going to make you pull off the highway for pickles and ice cream or anything."

"Motorway," Bodie supplied helpfully. "We call it a motorway over here."

Doyle fished the keys out of his pocket. "I'll pull the car round to the front..."

Janis rolled her eyes. "I can walk just fine. When I get to the point where I can't even waddle, I'll take my maternity leave. Just lead the way, will you?"

It had started to rain while they were in the airport, and the lowering evening cast everything beyond the car into gloom. "Sorry there's not much of a view," Doyle said, pulling out onto the road.

"No, it's nice. Very...atmospheric." Janis drummed her fingers once on the arm-rest. "So if you guys are CI5...you know Betty, right?"

"Not as well as I'd like," Bodie said significantly.

"Oi," Doyle said, glancing in the mirror. "Behave. Yeah, we know Betty. Why?"

"I was just wondering what kind of...I mean, does she like Italian food?"

"I've never heard her say she doesn't."

"Okay," Janis said. As conversations went, it wasn't exactly the weirdest that Bodie and Doyle had ever had.

The MI6 office had decided that soonest begun was soonest done, and so they had decided to start the meetings right away--without giving Janis time to stop at the hotel first. It was a lucky thing she seemed to travel light.

"Oh," Janis said. "Your boss did tell you tomorrow's meeting has been moved to eight AM, right?"

"Yeah."

"Sorry about that--I've kind of got an appointment at six."

"Don't we all," Doyle said with a half-smile. In the back seat, Bodie went tense--well, more tense--and Doyle regretted saying anything.

"No, I mean I've literally got an appointment. In my flash-forward, I was getting an ultrasound. My doctor said I should have one this week, and when I knew the meeting schedules I called an office in London, a twenty-four hour clinic...and they told me I'd been on the schedule for months. The tech had put the appointment down in October."

"Her vision too, then."

"Yeah."

Bodie frowned. "But you wouldn't have been coming out here if Gough hadn't--"

"Exactly. Kind of blows your mind, doesn't it?" she asked wryly.

"It really does," Doyle said. "So what were you doing at the FBI before you got chained to a desk?"

"I was helping head the Mosaic Collective, researching the blackouts. Oh, and I babysat Simon Campos for a while."

Ah, so the FBI had ended up with him after all. "How was that?"

"Interesting. Actually, it got to be kind of fun, outsmarting the world's smartest man, you know?"

"Bet that does wonders for the ego," Doyle said.

"He's a brilliant guy, but he's a total asshole." She was silent for a minute. "I'm just hoping the brains are nature and the attitude is nurture."

Bodie caught on first. "Bloody hell, you slept with Simon Cam--"

She flinched. "Oh, God, no! I made a deal with him. A donation, in exchange for some off-the-record FBI help. Trust me, Campos is...really, really not my type."

"So you're going it alone, then?" Doyle asked.

Janis smiled and glanced out the window. "We'll see."

They reached MI6 headquarters a few minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start. Doyle waited in the car with Janis while Bodie made sure that there was no ambush set up for them. He was tense, almost nervous, and it showed.

"So what's eating him, anyway?" Janis asked.

Doyle sighed. "You'd be worried, too, if you didn't have a flash-forward," he said simply.

"Yeah, I guess so."

Bodie signalled that the car park was clear, and they escorted Janis into the building with no trouble. At that point, MI6 agents took over the security, and their sneering silence convinced Doyle that there was no point in lingering. He retreated to an empty hall and rang CI5 headquarters.

Cowley picked up on the second ring. "Go ahead, four-five."

"We've delivered Agent Hawk to the briefing, but we've had a bit of a chilly welcome from our opposite numbers in MI6. They've said they'll take care of getting her back to the hotel tonight--I don't think we're needed here any longer, sir. Permission to stand down?"

For a moment he thought that Cowley as going to insist that they wear out their welcome with MI6 and chauffeur Agent Hawk back to her hotel, but he relented. "Aye, permission granted. You and three-seven can return to headquarters now."

"Actually--"

There was an expectant silence on the other end of the line, and Doyle took a deep breath. "Sir, I'd like to request that Bodie and I be allowed the rest of the evening off."

"For what reason?"

"You know Bodie didn't see anything during the blackout, sir. And everyone else's visions took place on the morning of April 30--tomorrow. Bodie's not going to be any good to you until the time in the visions is past."

"That explains your reasoning for requesting Bodie's time off; it does not explain why you extended the request for yourself, as well."

Doyle's grip on the phone tightened. "Because he shouldn't be alone tonight, sir," he said simply.

He expected to have to argue the point, but Cowley merely said, "Very well. I'll see you both at seven-thirty, before you escort Agent Hawk to the day's meeting."

Doyle didn't bother to question his luck; he just closed the phone and went round to collect his partner.

Bodie was standing stiffly at the door to the meeting room, weathering the glares of a pair of MI6 agents with cool superiority. At the first sound of Doyle's footsteps in the hall, he tensed and turned--altogether too jumpy.

Doyle just shook his head. "Come on, they don't need us here. We're off for the night."

"For the night?"

"Yeah. You're not the only one who can wheedle a favour out of the old man, you know."

Bodie's expression suggested that he doubted that, but he didn't argue further as they left the building and wound their way through the echoing car park.

Bodie climbed into the passenger seat of the car and leaned back, closing his eyes. Doyle threw the car into gear and pulled out onto the road.

"What do you want to do, Bodie?"

"Hmm," he said.

Doyle reached over and slapped his shoulder lightly. "Come on. If you're really convinced you're going to die by morning, then we'll do...whatever you want to do, tonight. You want to fly to Paris, spend the night with a can-can girl? Go skydiving again? We've got eleven hours, Bodie. Tell me what you want to do."

There was a brief stretch of silence, broken only by the rumble of the engine as they idled at a stoplight.

"Let's get a Chinese and go back to yours," Bodie said.

Doyle threw him an incredulous look. "Back to mine? I just said we could go anywhere you wanted, and you want to go back to mine."

"Yeah, for a bit. We can still fly to Paris if I change my mind, right?"

"We could fly to China itself to get your Chinese food, if you wanted it." But Doyle swung onto a roundabout and turned them towards his flat.

They got takeaway at a tiny place around the corner from Doyle's flat, and it was still too hot to eat by the time they got inside. That didn't stop them trying, though, and the next few minutes were spent alternately eating and cursing the unusually spicy shrimp.

Doyle cleared away the cartons and pulled a bottle of scotch from the cupboard. "You want a drink?"

"You'd think, after two years, you'd know me well enough not to ask that question anymore."

"Fair enough. Better question, then--you want a double?"

"Absolutely."

Doyle handed Bodie a glass, then as an afterthought he picked up the bottle and set it on the table between them.

Bodie didn't waste much time finishing his drink, but he didn't pour another, either. "I'm scared," he said, very quietly.

"I know."

"I mean, I'm always scared, one way or another...but it's always been something we can take on. Usually something we can shoot at."

"Usually it's something that's shooting back at us, too," Doyle countered.

"Yeah. But this is different. I can't do anything about it--and I hate feeling helpless, worse than anything."

"It'll be all right, Bodie. Promise."

Bodie shook his head, slumping lower on the sofa. Doyle reached out and plucked the empty glass from his hand. "Come on, you'll fall asleep on the sofa if you stay there any longer."

"Oh, so the condemned man gets the bed, eh?"

"Half the bed," Doyle corrected. "Only half of us think you're condemned. And this way if you decide to lie awake all night worrying, I'll know."

Doyle set the locks and walked down the hall to the bedroom; he glanced over his shoulder and caught Bodie checking them, just to be sure.

The bedroom was still and warm. Doyle opened the bedroom window a few inches, letting in a chilly breeze. They took turns in the loo, changing into tracksuit bottoms for propriety's sake.

They climbed into bed and Doyle reached up to switch off the lamp, leaving the room in darkness save for the faint glow of a streetlamp outside. The room was quiet for a moment.

"Ray?"

Doyle turned over, and Bodie kissed him. Doyle froze for a half-second, sure that it had somehow been an accident, a mistake, but then Bodie's hand settled tentatively on his hip. Doyle wrapped an arm around Bodie's waist and pulled him closer, tasting the faint sweetness of toothpaste on Bodie's tongue.

Doyle had said anything you want, but this was something Bodie wouldn't--or couldn't--find the words to ask for. Something Doyle was entirely too happy to give him.

He found the waistband of Bodie's tracksuit bottoms and tugged, lifting up as Bodie reached out to do the same. Doyle curled his hand around Bodie's cock, sliding up and down the hard length of it, and Bodie dropped back against the mattress, thrusting up into Doyle's grip.

Doyle's hand slowed, and he bent his head to lick at the tip of Bodie's cock. Bodie groaned and pushed him back, rolling to lie on top of Doyle. Doyle arched up against him, revelling in the weight and heat of Bodie's body above him.

Bodie rocked against him gently, teasing. "Turn over?" It was a request, not a demand. Doyle leaned up to kiss him and then twisted round onto his stomach.

Bodie's hands slid down to Doyle's hips, and Doyle felt a soft touch at the base of his neck. Bodie began to kiss his way down the ridges of Doyle's spine, warm and slow, as though they had all the time in the world.

He stopped at the small of Doyle's back; Doyle could feel the warmth of Bodie's breath against his skin. "Have you got anything..."

Doyle looked up over his shoulder. "Bedside table."

Bodie nodded and reached over to open the drawer. Doyle heard the crinkle of a foil packet and the quiet pop of the flip-top bottle. He rose up onto his hands and knees, waiting.

The first touch of the lube was cold, and Doyle shivered. Bodie moved slowly, working one finger into him before drawing back to add another. Doyle wiggled, trying to change the angle just a little, just enough...

Bodie pulled away again, and Doyle groaned. "That's enough, Bodie, get on with it."

Bodie picked up the lube again. One hand settled on Doyle's hip, his thumb tracing smooth arcs over the bone as Bodie began to push inside. Doyle bowed forward and forced himself to relax, to wait while his body adjusted.

"You all right?"

Doyle pushed back against him a little, experimentally, and the friction made his breath catch. Bodie started moving in slow, shallow thrusts, as careful as everything else he'd done tonight. Doyle clenched his hands in the sheet and shoved back again, harder, wanting more, and Bodie's hands tightened on his hips, pulling him close in a rough, deep thrust that sent pleasure sparking along the length of Doyle's spine.

They didn't speak; their ragged breathing was the only sound. The cool air from the window dried the sweat on Doyle's skin and rasped at his throat, burning with each deep breath. He was close, so fucking close, but he couldn't spare a hand to take care of himself. Finally one of Bodie's hands left his hip, skimming across Doyle's stomach to wrap around his cock. He stroked hard and fast while Doyle pushed back against Bodie's cock and forward into the tight grip of his hand.

Overwhelmed, Doyle had nowhere to go but over the edge, gasping and shaking as his arms threatened to give out beneath him.

He was dimly aware of Bodie's hand tightening on his hip, the half-choked groan that escaped him as his cock pulsed inside Doyle. Bodie bent forward, draped heavily over Doyle's back, and Doyle eased them down onto the bed in a slow-motion tumble.

Bodie reached out and Doyle curled against him, sparing a half-regretful thought for the blanket that they'd kicked down to the foot of the bed. It would be cold in the morning, and they'd wish they had it...

Bodie struggled back from the edge of sleep, a faint frown crossing his face, like he'd suddenly remembered that he ought to be worried about something.

Doyle kissed him lightly. "Go to sleep, Bodie. I'll be right here."

He waited until Bodie was well asleep. Then he set the alarm and let himself rest.

The alarm cut viciously through the edge of a dream. Without bothering to open his eyes, Doyle slapped the snooze button, silencing it. The room was bloody freezing. But then, he was the one who had left the window open, wasn't he? Just before he and Bodie had--

He opened his eyes a fraction to see Bodie sprawled on the bed beside him, still fast asleep. Too shagged-out to notice the alarm, or so it seemed.

The deja-vu was almost dizzying. Every detail was exactly like his vision, down to the faint, fantastic ache that meant he'd been extremely well-fucked the night before.

That was one aspect of the flash-forward that he had not deigned to share with Cowley or the Mosaic Collective. He'd barely even admitted it to himself.

But they still had another few minutes before the alarm went off again. Doyle slid a little closer to Bodie, settled an arm around Bodie's hip, and dozed.

He knew exactly when Bodie woke up by the sudden tension in his body. "What time is it?" he asked, his eyes still shut tight.

"Six-fifteen," Doyle said, sleepy and smug.

"Six--" Bodie turned over, glancing first at the clock and then down at Doyle. A flash of giddy relief crossed his face, and was replaced almost immediately by a guarded blankness. He looked at Doyle for a long moment. "You knew."

"Yeah," Doyle said quietly. He couldn't lie about it, not now.

"From the start?"

He nodded, closing his eyes against the betrayed look on Bodie's face. He should have expected this.

"Christ, Ray, why didn't you tell me? Why'd you let me spend six months thinking I was going to--"

"I did tell you," he said defensively.

"I think I'd have remembered that."

"No, you wouldn't. It was when you got yourself shot, and you were bleeding all over the snow. You were going on and on about how you were going to die, so I told you that you weren't. I told you what I saw, right before you passed out. And then you forgot."

"And you didn't feel like reminding me?"

Doyle sighed. "What did you want me to say? 'See you tomorrow, mate, and oh, by the way, six months from now we'll be fucking.' Would you even have believed me?"

"You could have at least tried."

"You'd have gone straight to Cowley for a reassignment. Don't pretend you wouldn't have."

"Speaking of Cowley, we're wanted at seven-thirty," Bodie said, pointedly ignoring Doyle's accusation. He sat up, flung the blanket back, and reached for his trousers. "I'll stop back at mine for a wash and a change of clothes. Meet you and headquarters and we'll go deliver Janis to her meeting."

"Could get another half-hour's sleep if you just stayed," Doyle pointed out.

Bodie shook his head. "No."

"That bad, was it?"

Bodie's shoulders tensed. "Look, you got what you wanted, what you saw in the flash-forward, so it's done now. Leave it."

"I got what I wanted--and you didn't? Because I seem to remember that you were the one who started all this last night."

"Thought I was going to die, didn't I?" Bodie countered viciously. "Would have fucked anyone in that situation."

Doyle stood up and turned away. "I'll see you at headquarters, Bodie," he said coldly, lifting his bathrobe from the hook on the door. He closed the door of the loo behind him and leaned against it, waiting. There was a moment of silence, followed by rapid footsteps and the slamming of the front door.

Doyle stood under the shower long after the spray had turned cool, trying to sort out the last twelve hours in his mind.

Until Bodie had kissed him, he hadn't really believed that the flash-forward was going to happen. He'd known better than to try to instigate it himself; he just let it play out as Bodie wanted, and everything had happened exactly as the flash-forward had shown him.

The vision hadn't got quite as far as the argument, though. Bodie had every right to be angry at him, and for that matter, Doyle was angry with himself. He should have told Bodie everything, right from the start. And he didn't have any right to be disappointed that Bodie only saw it as a one-off. Bodie had wanted comfort, and Doyle had been there to give it to him. That was all. He'd do better to forget it ever happened.

***

He got to headquarters well before Bodie and actually had a chance to drink most of a cup of tea this time. His mobile buzzed, and he set the teacup in the sink before he looked at the message. Here was all it said, and Doyle sighed as he dashed out to the car park. Bodie was always terse in text messages. It didn't mean he was still upset.

The strained silence that lasted the entire drive suggested otherwise. Doyle sighed. What had he expected? One desperate last-chance shag, and then he and Bodie would be picking out curtains together? It wasn't Bodie's fault that he'd got in over his head. Hell, he'd been in over his head for months now, ever since he realised that the warm comfort of the flash-forward had been more than afterglow.

Bodie's mobile rang, and he handed it to Doyle without looking away from the road. Doyle hit the speaker button. "Four-five."

"This is three-seven's mobile," Cowley said.

"Yeah, well, he's driving at the moment. Say hello, Bodie."

Bodie said nothing, as Doyle had expected.

Cowley apparently accepted the sullen silence without question. "The pair of you are to pick up Agent Hawk and escort her to her meeting at MI6 as planned. After that, you're to go to Birmingham and relieve the team on observation there."

Obbo. A six-hour shift of staring at a window in this same miserable silence. "Yes, sir," Doyle said. He closed the mobile and handed it back to Bodie.

The silence finally ended when they pulled up in front of the hotel, where Janis was waiting for them. Doyle switched out to sit in the back.

"Everything all right?" he asked, with a significant glance towards Janis' belly.

"It's a girl," she said, her voice tight and proud. "I knew it was going to be, but hearing it for real..."

"Congratulations," Bodie said.

"Thanks."

They pulled out into traffic, and the miserable silence fell again. They were waiting at a traffic light when Janis cracked. "Okay, what is going on?"

"Nothing," Bodie said, too sharply.

"Are you guys okay?" She craned her neck to glance from Doyle to Bodie and back again

Doyle blinked. "Hm? Yeah."

"Sorry, I was just expecting a little more cheerfulness, considering that one of you didn't have a vision and yet here you are, both alive."

"Didn't sleep much last night," Bodie said flatly, and Doyle nearly covered a wince.

"Right," she said, still sounding suspicious. "I'm just getting a lot of really cold silence in the car here, and it's freaking me out a little."

Doyle made an attempt at a smile. "Nothing to worry about," he said as they pulled up in front of MI6 headquarters. "Listen, do you know when the meeting will be over? We've got an assignment, but we'll call in and make sure there's someone here to pick you up."

Janis fidgeted. "Uh, that's okay. Betty's going to pick me up--we're going to have dinner, and then see Hamlet."

"That sounds almost like a date," Bodie said.

"Brilliant deduction, Sherlock. I can see why CI5 gives you the tough jobs." She rolled her eyes as she climbed out of the car, and she gave them a wave as she walked inside.

Bodie glanced back at Doyle, a bemused smile on his face, and for half a second it was almost like the last twenty-four hours hadn't happened. Then Bodie looked away, and the illusion was lost. Doyle climbed out of the car to switch to the front seat again, and he thought he caught Bodie glancing at him as he sat down.

Surely he couldn't be worried about what they'd done--worried that Doyle had been hurt?

If he had been feeling more charitable at the moment, he might have reassured Bodie on that account. Instead, he said nothing--let Bodie think he was hurting. It was true enough, just not in the way that Bodie supposed.

The silence stayed cool and unbroken all the way out to the obbo site. It was nearly noon by that time, and they were set to relieve the team that had replaced Murphy and Jax early that morning. Doyle wondered if Murph really did have a date tonight, and if Cowley was going to give him the evening off.

The flat was a sad, airless room on the fifth floor, with an easy view down into the fourth-floor window of a flat across the way. The street between the buildings was perfectly normal--cars gliding up and down the road, people walking briskly along the pavement. Doyle didn't know what he'd expected to change. The newspapers scattered across the table in the flat were full of over-dramatic headlines like 'Day of Reckoning' and 'The Future Is Here,' but most of England, it seemed, was simply carrying on.

They traded positions every half-hour, to keep from getting so tired of the window's view that they ceased to notice any change in it. It wasn't until the fourth or fifth switch--Doyle had lost count--that Bodie bothered to make conversation.

He didn't notice Bodie crossing the room until he was almost at Doyle's shoulder. Bodie looked out of the window, careful not to touch him even though they were standing so close together. He'd never been careful like that before.

"It's a new world, isn't it?" Bodie asked. "Nobody's got any excuses anymore."

Doyle slid away from the window and passed the binoculars over. Their hands did not touch. "Yeah. And there are a lot of frightened people out there."

"Frightened?"

"Think about it. For six months they've had proof of the future--good or bad, they knew what was coming. Now they've got nothing. They've forgotten how to live without that reassurance."

"Unless they never had it to begin with," Bodie muttered.

"You know what I mean."

"Yeah, I know."

The next fifteen minutes passed in silence. Ordinarily Doyle would dig out a crossword from one of the papers and annoy Bodie by making up rude answers to the clues, but he couldn't find the point in it just now.

"Is that why you let me do it, then?" Bodie asked, his voice low. "Because, good or bad, you knew it was coming?"

Doyle looked up sharply, but Bodie was still at the window, and he couldn't see his face. "No, that isn't why."

"Then--"

"It doesn't matter, Bodie. You made your own reasons very clear this morning, so there's no point discussing it any further."

"Right."

Doyle's mobile rang, and he scooped it up to answer. He set the speaker so they could both hear Cowley's voice on the other end of the line.

"Four-five?"

"Yes, sir."

"Stuart and Anson will be relieving you in one hour. Return to headquarters for debriefing when they arrive."

"Yes, sir," Doyle said again. "And, er, tell Betty we said to have a nice evening." He looked up and caught the merest edge of a smile before Bodie managed to hide it.

It was the last thing they had to smile about all evening. The drive back to headquarters was as silent as the drive out, and they parted ways without saying good night.

***

May

The rest of the week was a dull echo of Saturday, full of silence and strained conversation. They were as distant as they'd been when Cowley had first partnered them--more so, even, because at least then they had been trying to get to know each other, to figure the other out. Now they knew each other entirely too well, knew every button to push to irritate and infuriate. They were still the best team CI5 had, but the cracks were beginning to show. If they kept this up much longer, Cowley would pick up on it, and it would only be a matter of time before he reassigned them.

Doyle knew that might be for the best, but something still rebelled at the thought of being split from Bodie. They were a team, damn it--a team with some very severe issues, but still a team. They'd sort this out. They had to.

But he was damned if he knew how.

Friday morning, Doyle found an email from Betty's address in his inbox. It read--

Make up with him already, asshole.

Love, Janis

If only it were that bloody simple.

That afternoon, Cowley caught him on the way to the ready room. "Doyle, my office, ten minutes. Find your partner, I want to see him, too."

Thank God. That had to mean Cowley had an assignment for them. He didn't care if it was another obbo--anything had to be better than sitting around headquarters trying to keep away from Bodie.

He leaned into the ready room, where Bodie was sitting on the sofa with a laptop on his knees. The lid of the laptop banged down as Doyle reached the doorway. "Porn on the job, three-seven? Cowley won't like that."

"Fuck off."

"And speaking of Cowley, he wants to see us in ten--well, five now."

"Right."

Doyle hesitated, on the verge of saying something more, but he just walked away. He hated how flat Bodie could make his voice, how empty and cold. He'd seen Bodie switch from mate to merc on the job, to go from joking with him to threatening a stubborn grass, but he'd never really expected to hear Bodie use that expressionless tone on him.

Bodie caught up to him outside the office door. They stood in front of Cowley's desk like a pair of truant schoolboys, waiting for the hammer to fall.

At least they didn't have to wait long.

"I do not know," Cowley said flatly, "what is the matter with the pair of you. But I will not have it affecting your work in this agency. You have forty-eight hours to sort yourselves out, or I will sort you out. Is that understood?"

Doyle nodded. Bodie murmured a listless "Yes, sir."

"Go on, then."

Doyle was the first one out of the office, and he beat Bodie to the ready room by a few lengths. He poured himself a cup of tea without looking back, but he could feel Bodie watching him from the doorway, an itch on the back of his neck. He turned around. "What do you want?"

Bodie looked away sharply. "Nothing." He sat down on the sofa.

"Right." Doyle poured another cup of tea, added a considerable amount of milk, and passed it to Bodie. He sat down on the far end of the sofa and took a deep breath. "What are we going to do, Bodie?"

He shrugged.

"If we don't do something, the Cow's going to reassign us."

"Isn't that what you want?"

"No," Doyle said, startled. "Is it what you want?"

Bodie didn't answer. He didn't say anything at all for a minute, just cradled his mug of cooling tea in both hands. "You jumped out of a plane with me."

Doyle raised an eyebrow. That was not exactly the response he'd expected. "Yeah."

"You did something you didn't have to do--something risky, something you knew you'd hate--just to look out for me."

"Yeah. So?"

"I should have realised it then, but I wasn't sure until I found..." He sighed and took a sip of tea. "It was clever, you know, hiding the post under Layton's name. Took me hours to guess that."

The Mosaic. So that was what Bodie had been doing on the laptop. Doyle's face warmed. "I should never have posted that."

"Was it true?" Bodie said. "You said you were happy, in the flash-forward."

"Yeah," Doyle said bleakly. "Yeah, it was all true."

"I didn't know. I thought you'd only--"

"Lain back and thought of England? Must not have made much of a show of myself then."

"No, you did," Bodie said quietly. "You know, I'd thought about it before--the two of us. Thought we'd probably make a hell of a pair."

"Did you?"

"Yeah. And we really did, till I went and ruined it all with what I said. Ray, I didn't mean it--that it could have been anybody. Christ, I--well, you said I could do anything I wanted, if it was my last night on earth. And what I really wanted was you. Never bloody dreamed you'd want me back, so I took advantage of your offer. Of you."

"I don't remember complaining about it."

"No, me neither." Bodie almost smiled for a moment, but the expression faded swiftly. "You still lied to me. And I'm still not happy about it."

"I know. You've every right."

"But I don't know if I'd have done differently, if it had been me. I want to be bloody furious at you, Ray, but now that it comes to it, I'd rather kiss you than fight about it."

Doyle looked up and met Bodie's eyes. "You mean that?"

"Yeah."

Doyle set down his mug with a thunk. "So what the hell are you waiting for, then?"

Bodie reached out and pulled Doyle to him, knocking against the low table and sloshing tea over the rim of Doyle's cup. Doyle kissed him, leaning Bodie back against the arm of the sofa, careless of the fact that they were still at headquarters, that anyone might walk into the ready room...

"Ray," Bodie muttered.

"Mm?"

"We can't do this here. Someone's going to see."

"Let them. It's not illegal, is it?" But he pulled back, still sitting much too close to Bodie.

"The Cow gave us two days to sort ourselves out," Bodie said.

Doyle reached out to trace the outline of Bodie's cock through his trousers, and Bodie made a soft sound. "Yeah, seems like you could use a bit of...sorting out."

Bodie groaned and pushed his hand away. "So what the hell are you waiting for?" he echoed. "Come on, Ray. Let's go home."