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The Things You Need Come Slow

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The Things You Need Come Slow
by Krisser

 

"A minding job?"

"Bloody hell." Doyle's exclamation was aimed more toward Bodie than Cowley.

"Punishment? What'd we do?" Bodie couldn't think of a thing other than expense sheets.

"Punishment? You consider your assignments as punishment?"

Bodie snapped to at the Controller's tone. "No sir, it's just, well, a minding job?" Bodie's tone was more baffled than argumentative.

"The Home Secretary requested my two best agents, knew you by name. Can't think why he'd put the two of you in that category. Want me to explain how you consider yourselves above a minding job?"

"Oh. No, sir." Bodie knew he'd put his foot in it.

Doyle spoke with disgust, "Politics."

"A game you'd best learn to play, 4.5." Cowley was well aware of his agent's opinion on the topic.

"Who are we minding and why?" Bodie asked to deflect Cowley's attention away from his partner.

"The Home Secretary's granddaughter and her friend, the daughter of an American senator."

"Bloody great!" Doyle's disgusted tone hadn't lessened a bit.

"Yes, well," Cowley looked over the top of his glasses at Doyle, who shuffled in his seat. "The American believes that there could be some trouble with an ex-boyfriend."

"This only gets worse," Doyle muttered as he looked over to Bodie for his agreement.

Bodie nodded and rolled his eyes. Doyle's expression warmed a smidgen with Bodie's accord.

"They want to tour parts of France, and, if time permits, return to the UK for a week in Scotland." Mr Cowley kept his head down as he read the proposed plans.

"Just how long are we speaking about?" Bodie asked with more respect than Doyle would have mastered, but just as incredulous.

"Four to six weeks."

"Six weeks?" Doyle's incredulity rose higher.

"Lucas and McCabe are better suited for that type of work." Bodie offered the alternative as he thought that it was indeed a long time to be off assignment.

Cowley almost hid his irritation. "The CI5 doctor now agrees with Dr Ross. The pair of you have been working too long without an extended break, which could undermine your effectiveness," Mr Cowley recited as if quoting. "You can treat this as a holiday of sorts."

"I'm not losing holiday time for a minding job." Doyle groused loudly as he leaned forward to add even more impact to his words.

"Ach, of course not." The tone stated clearly that he was a fool for thinking so. "CI5 will pay accommodation and two meals a day as well as the hire motor."

“And wages.” Doyle made direct eye contact with his boss.

“And wages.” Cowley agreed.

Doyle relaxed a bit as he sat back. Bodie, on the other hand, was already planning.

"The Home Secretary wishes to speak with you tomorrow morning. Nine a.m. Do not be late." He pinned both men with a fixed stare that promised dire circumstances if they were. "You leave the day after. Finish all reports outstanding. I will have your expense voucher tomorrow afternoon." His tone dismissed 4.5 and 3.7.

------------

Bodie pounded irregularly at the keyboard while Doyle muttered over applying Tipp-Ex to a mistake. They'd come in early to finish up but the reports that needed completion seemed to multiply over night. By the time they were due to leave their fingers felt worn to the nub, and both men actually hoped the meeting with the Home Secretary would take a while. They kept their grumbling to a minimum within CI5 walls – George Cowley had ears everywhere. Bodie didn't want an errant comment from his ratty partner to cock up this chance of a paid holiday of sorts.

They arrived ten minutes early. Neither wished to provoke the ire of the Home Secretary, or George Cowley by extension, if they were late. They checked in with the clerk and were directed upstairs. They climbed the stairs slowly, which kept their breathing even so as not to appear flustered or fatigued. There they were greeted by a secretary and told to sit and await their summons.

Bodie fiddled with the magazines, rearranged them several times, but never actually picked one up. Doyle reached for his gun with the idea of rechecking it, but thought better of the idea. He tapped his inside thigh with a regular beat instead.

The CI5 men waited just under ten minutes before they were called in, though both were convinced that it had been over an hour. They found themselves quite alone with the Home Secretary.

"Agents Bodie and Doyle."

"Good morning, sir," Bodie greeted him as he extended his hand. It was taken for a brief shake, as was Doyle's.

"I wanted to speak with you before your charges arrive. My granddaughter, Allison, is nineteen and her American friend, Lindsey, is twenty. They will want to visit some posh establishments, shops, clubs and, the sights with you as their escorts. Please do. It is my wish for you to provide them the opportunity to have fun, but at all times, remain law abiding. They will want to drink, but please keep them out of the tabloids." His tone impressed upon them just how serious he was.

"Yes, sir," Doyle answered seriously, all personal feelings absent from his expression.

"According to my granddaughter, all they want to do is 'get away from it all' by visiting art galleries and shop. But," the Home Secretary smiled, "Allison is not the demure girl she'd have me believe." His voice was full of the great affection he held for his granddaughter. "The two of you are good-looking enough in their eyes that they won't feel like you're their gaolers."

Doyle shivered and tried hard to forget the "good-looking" comment. Birds that young were more irritating than enticing.

"What exactly in the way of trouble, if any, do you expect?" Bodie queried.

"None."

"Then . . ." Doyle started to ask but Bodie kicked his foot to shut him up.

The Home Secretary smiled again, but this smile was quite different. Knowingly he ask, "Then why CI5?" He sat back in his chair.

Doyle just nodded, waiting and Bodie took a breath in relief that his partner hadn't pushed it.

"While, I feel that there is no real threat from an ex-boyfriend, there is a real threat that either of the girls could be waylaid for money or political pressure. Any concrete facts?" He forestalled their already forming questions with a raised hand, "No, but one can never be too careful. The girls want to be utterly free, and sadly, that just isn't possible. So, you are to trouble-shoot. But they don't want to feel like they are being guarded."

"Then how are we to do our jobs?" Doyle asked in a tone less sharp than he would have used on Bodie.

"You're CI5. I'm sure you'll find a way. George has great confidence in you both. I want to be sure that they are completely safe, with the two of you that is possible. I read the reports and I know what isn't said."

Doyle knew it was time to shut up. He nodded at Bodie so his partner could quit worrying that he'd commit any further transgressions. Doyle knew without a doubt that Bodie's humour would remain well hidden with the likes of the Home Secretary before him. Well, he was almost positive.

The intercom buzzed. The Home Secretary pushed the button without speaking. The professional voice of his secretary announced, "They're here."

"Send them in." The Home Secretary looked to the door with anticipation.

The door opened and the two young ladies who were to become their assignment and responsibility walked into the office. They were engaged in excited conversation. Both were blonde and smartly dressed for their generation. The American was several inches taller with shoulder-length hair. The Home Secretary's granddaughter had brown eyes, a snub nose and a genuine smile that was immediately directed to her grandfather.

Years of training kept the CI5 agents' faces devoid of reaction when one of the girls rushed up to the Home Secretary and hugged him tightly. Hearing him called 'grandpa' tested their training still further. Cowley would have been proud.

The Home Secretary bestowed an indulgent smile upon his granddaughter. The hug lasted a few more seconds before he cleared his throat.

His granddaughter backed up, "Sorry, grandpa, I forget."

"It's fine, my dear Allison. No harm." He turned her to face the two men who had stood up at the girls' entrance and had remained standing.

"Agents Bodie and Doyle. They will accompany you two throughout your journey." He looked at the two CI5 men. "May I present Allison Woodridge and her friend, Lindsey Applegate."

"Hallo, ladies." Doyle nodded with a slight smile.

"Pleasure, Miss Woodridge, Miss Applegate." Bodie smiled one of his moderate smiles, not about to give the Home Secretary the wrong idea.

"Lindsey's father has made a series of bookings," the Home Secretary started to explain but was interrupted by his granddaughter.

"Grandpa, the whole point is not to be on any kind of schedule." Allison's exasperated voice held more frustration than ire.

Lindsey waved her hand through the air attracting the attention she wanted. "That's just my father's way. He'd make a reservation for everything if he could, even his own funeral. He doesn't want us staying in dives. I made it clear that we have no pre-arranged schedule. He said it’s just in case. He's such a worry-wart." She looked the two bodyguards over. "We want to leave at nine a.m. tomorrow morning." Her tone indicated that she was used to issuing orders.

"Out of Heathrow," Doyle stated for confirmation, ignoring the tone.

Allison shook her head, "Oh no, we're not flying, we're driving. We want to use the ferry across."

"I've never been. We want to see the country between the coast and Paris," added Lindsey. "I'm used to driving as a way to see the country and Allison is willing to indulge me." She sent her friend a fond smile.

Bodie's ability to keep his face wiped clean of his thoughts stood him in good stead. Horror at the prospect of sharing a vehicle for several weeks did not show on his face or sound in his voice. "A Roller, I hope?"

"Separate cars," Allison shook her head again, "Grandpa promised." She looked at her grandfather with a beseeching expression that had obviously worked many times in the past.

Two sets of CI5 eyes turned to stare at the Home Secretary, who was growing less intimidating with each passing moment.

The man gave an apologetic shrug before confirming his granddaughter's statement. "Yes, indeed, the plan is for you to follow. You are the protection detail."

"Yes sir," Bodie answered for the two of them. Doyle appeared to be a bit shell-shocked.

"And, Allison, you must promise not to shake off your escorts. They are there for your protection, and my peace of mind." He looked every inch the Home Secretary, and worried grandfather.

"We promise, sir," Lindsey assured him.

They agreed to the meeting place, the car park for the car hire agency selected by the Home Secretary, before the CI5 agents took their leave.

Bodie hustled his partner out of the offices and the building before the angry tirade that was sure to be forthcoming could explode. He knew they needed to be out of earshot of any involved before this happened.

"Ross must be laughing her arse off. And what's Cowley thinking of? Politics! When in the hell has Cowley started playing politics? Throwing us to the wolves would be preferable than sweeping us under the carpet. Bodie, we're being bloody exiled. What the hell for? That's all I want to know. Why the fuck us?"

Bodie opened the passenger door and gently pushed his partner inside. He got in quickly, started the motor and swung into traffic.

"Ross and the Doc must have thought they saw something off. I worked too damn hard to get back to be put back on B Squad. Are they thinking I can't keep up?" Doyle turned to look at his partner.

"That has nothing to do with this. The Home Secretary has called in a favour and the Controller is stuck. No doublethink this time." Bodie kept his voice calm and even.

Doyle tuned away to face out. "Bloody, fucking hell," he mumbled more for himself than Bodie.

Bodie remained quiet until about half way back to headquarters. "I can't believe we're driving to Paris, but at least we're travelling in different motors. Hopefully one a bit more posh and comfortable than the standard CI5 issue," Bodie said only when he sensed that his partner was a bit calmer.

Or, then again, maybe he wasn't. "Six bloody weeks! Again, I ask you what in the hell is the Old Man thinking?" Doyle's tone continued in an escalating agitation. He slammed the dash, and swatted the air with his hand. His pent-up anger was almost palpable and Bodie ducked left to miss it.

"I think the old man's being quite decent actually. His hands are tied." Bodie looked over at Ray, "We must have time off. Regulations. He's done it in such a way that CI5 has to pay for it. We still get our regular holiday time only we don't have to use it now. Cowley doesn't believe that there is any danger to the birds. He's just using politics to keep Ross off his back."

"Bloody Ross."

"Yes, total agreement there, but look at it this way. We get to go to all those French museums and restaurants on someone else's ticket. Bring your camera, get some arty shots. Come on, Ray, this can be fun." Bodie pleaded for his partner to view the assignment more favourably. He was hoping the art museums would do the trick. With no real threat they could relax and enjoy the time away. Bodie knew his partner needed that, whether said partner and pain in the arse realised it or not.

Ray studied his partner. Bodie's voice indicated that he seemed almost eager for the assignment now. All those French restaurants must hold some draw. He looked closely at Bodie. It was possible that he could really use the break in routine. They had faced some harrowing situations of late and Bodie generally kept his opinions to himself. Doyle usually groused aloud, and usually it was Bodie on the receiving end. Doyle sighed deeply. He'd go without a fight and try to make sure that Bodie enjoyed it. However, it wouldn't do to give in too easily.

"Thinking with your stomach already? I suppose it would be cruel to deny your taste buds a new experience. Possibly even educate you on some of the finer pieces of art." He looked crosswise at his partner and thought better of it. "Maybe I should just hope for colour education."

"Oh, ta very much." Bodie affected a put-out tone but secretly he was pleased with Ray's capitulation. Ray truly needed a break even if he thought he was just doing it for him. A good partner he was.

---------

They headed back to headquarters, where, to both agents' amazement, an expense voucher awaited them. They cashed it straight away and divided the money between them. Bodie snagged additional tracking chits. He knew after the meeting this morning that they would be spending more than their allotment.

The two agents spent a better part of the afternoon finishing up reports and passing on notes for cases in progress. They were ready to vacate when notification came that Cowley wanted a word.

With Betty gone for the day, Bodie knocked on the door.

"Come in."

They entered.

"Ah, finally," Cowley waved them to seats.

"We just got word," Bodie felt the need to point out.

"The Home Secretary called. You managed to comport yourselves well and garnered a favourable impression."

Doyle raised his brows at Bodie but that was all the comment he made. His thoughts on the other hand, laughed with the possibility that his disgruntled attitude did not go unnoticed but that with the advent of Grandpa the Home Secretary chose to ignore it.

Bodie, after the one look at his partner, refused to even glance at him again, afraid he'd smile or even more possible, burst out laughing. He figured the kind words from the Home Secretary had more to do with the overt break from his official persona.

"Please check in with each new accommodation. Your charges are not to be dallied with no matter the provocation. I expect professional decorum in all your dealings with the young ladies." Cowley placed undue emphasis on the young.

"Yes sir," was forthcoming from both agents.

"The Home Secretary has secured permits for you both to carry your weapons at all times while in France. Though unnecessary as they may be, it's better to be prepared and it puts the Home Secretary at ease. Please keep in mind that though this is a simple minding job," he used their own words, "you will be expected to remain vigilant."

Both men nodded before leaving the office.

As the door closed behind them the Controller opened the file lying on his desk. Ross's report stated that both agents were at critical fatigue levels, implying that their efficiency levels would be compromised.

He hadn't seen any evidence that his agents were enervated, but, since Dr Philip Hedley had agreed that a break would be in order, Cowley had conceded. He hoped it proved as beneficial as Ross and Hedley expected.

-------------

The CI5 agents met up with the young ladies as arranged in front of the car hire establishment, but as a concession to the Home Secretary, their business was conducted in a private office.

Doyle watched as the girls pored over the maps, excitedly planning the first stages of their adventure. Bodie looked on, seemingly interested in the planning and destinations as well. Doyle rolled his eyes for no one to see. He was bored already.

He remembered that he had agreed yesterday to go along with this but it was damn hard. He just couldn't let it go. It had nagged at him all night; was he the only one who understood they were being exiled? Bodie, contrary to all that he was, seemed to be all excited about this obbo duty. The only, and Doyle meant only, consolation was they were being paid. Even through he drew hazard pay for the Mayli debacle, he had been sidelined for far too long while he waited to re-qualify for A squad once more. He'd only been back at full duty the last six months, and yes, while they had been hellish, he was positive that Cowley must think that he could not handle the stress. Doyle felt mollycoddled. Damn Cowley.

He watched Bodie's animated face as he jotted down notes about the trip, and he even interjected an opinion to the girls' planning. He was throwing himself into this venture.

Doyle sighed. The last six months had been hellish, and Bodie had been there, right beside him the whole time. His partner had also been by his side all through the Mayli shooting and the recuperation process. Bodie probably had a hellish time then as well. To be honest, Doyle knew that he had not been the easiest person to be around.

Maybe Bodie was truly excited at the prospect of the easy assignment. Maybe he wasn't looking at it as the exile it was but imagining it as a reward for hard work. Rat droppings! But maybe Bodie needed to view it that way rather than admit that he needed a break. Doyle swallowed a sigh and stepped up to the desk to sign the multitude of documents required. Bloody Cowley.

 

The hire motors, though not Bentleys, were quite comfortable. The agents opted for a Rover 3500 while the girls went with the blue Vauxhall; the American had never ridden in one.

Bodie hefted both Ray's and his own bags into the boot as his partner finished signing the vehicles out. Allison expected Bodie to do the same for her and watched as he placed her many pieces of luggage next to Lindsey's in the boot of their motor. He planned to let her know he was not a porter.

The route chosen was direct to Dover and they expected to make the twelve fifteen ferry, but as it ran once an hour it wasn't crucial as the American's father had made reservation for every hour, noon to five.

Doyle checked in by R/T before leaving London.

The traffic was moderate for a Wednesday morning. They made fairly good time from the A2 to the M2; hard not to the way the girls were driving, Allison was apparently a Le Mans hopeful.

"Why do you think Dr Hedley agreed with Ross?" Doyle asked once they had got under way.

Bodie mentally rolled his eyes. Ray could leave nothing alone. "Probably agreed that we have accrued too much holiday time."

"We had that two week holiday last year. We did that castle tour, 'member?"

"Yes, quite liked that. We've hardly had any time off since the New Year."

"That's only six months, Bodie." Doyle complained.

"Six months? Christ, Ray, that's a bloody long time without any real time down." Bodie sometimes wondered if Ray actually listened to himself.

"But don't you want to know what they saw to make them convinced that we need a break?"

"Our allotment balance? Doyle, stop! We're as fit as we've ever been but no R&R can make anyone sloppy. Cow doesn't want to see that happen. Selfish he is."

"Selfish?"

"Yeah, if you get injured he could lose us a lot longer than a holiday." Bodie paused a moment. "Like last time.

"But Bodie, four to six weeks?"

Bodie swallowed his exasperation. He didn't want to start a working holiday at each other's throats.

"The Home Secretary asked. We needed a break that Cowley could document. It has to be done, why not us? If some disaster happens, you know the Cow will recall us. So – let's just enjoy the assignment as much as possible."

Doyle heard what Bodie said and figured that he was right for the most part, but it still nagged at him. What had the doctors thought they'd seen? He took a peek at Bodie and saw the crossed-eyed Igor look and cackled. Doyle decided at the moment that if he still wanted to know when they got back he'd just pick Ross's lock. Satisfied with his plan, Ray relaxed and smiled in return at Bodie.

"France it is."

Bodie's answering smile contained his thoughts as well.

------------

Bodie followed as their charges chose the appropriate lane for ferry boarding. They had just passed the day only car park when both noted the dark vehicle opposite.

The dark motor on the opposing side of the road wasn't doing anything that would cause most to take note of it, so its move of turning sideways to block the girls' car happened quickly and quite unexpectedly.

The girls' vehicle skidded to a stop. They locked their doors and screamed as a man slid across the bonnet and stood on the passenger's side staring intently at Lindsey.

Bodie hard slammed their motor to a stop. Doyle was out before the motor finished rocking in gear. Doyle rushed at the culprit directly, as Bodie jumped out and moved in from behind. They had him down on the ground, subdued before he could utter a complaint. The girls watched with mesmerised attention.

Once Doyle had the bloke restrained and in handcuffs, Bodie made for the attendant's booth at a jog. He flashed his ID and called the local coppers to collect him. Returning to Doyle, he watched as Allison and Lindsey timidly joined his partner. Together, they turned to view their attacker. Lindsey stared directly at the man. With a shake of her head, Lindsey broke away.

"Jeremy Stanton! What in the hell do you think you're doing?" Lindsey yelled with fury at the restrained man.

The lanky man wasn't homely, but he truly wasn't memorable. His stance, even while cuffed, spoke of arrogance. His tone only confirmed it. "You girls don't mean it when you break up. Anyway, girls don't break up with me, especially you. I break it off when I decide."

"Shut-up, Jeremy, you're rambling like a fool." Lindsey was fed up with the irritating young man and angry that he had scared them. "You only care because of my father who was part of your upward mobility plan. Forget it, he saw through you faster than I did. Pulling stunts like this will only convince everyone that you are an idiot."

The local constabulary found them easily enough when they arrived. Doyle turned him over without fuss. He listed a few of the charges loud enough for Jeremy Stanton to hear.

"Reckless driving, public endangerment, attempted kidnapping of the Home Secretary's granddaughter and a foreign dignitary for starters."

"I claim diplomatic immunity," Jeremy yelled as he was dragged away.

"That only works if you're actually a diplomat." Bodie told the lad with great amusement.

Doyle pointed to the cuffs. "I'll want those back."

The CI5 agents turned their backs on the yelling Jeremy Stanton and signalled the girls to get back to their vehicle. Once the Met officers departed, after one constable returned Doyle's cuffs, the other motorists were allowed to move into their designated lanes. The remainder of their wait was uneventful.

Bodie recounted all that Alpha One had relayed and added his own summation. "We've checked resources here and abroad. There is no threat, overt or veiled. Miss Applegate refused a Secret Service detail and they were unconcerned with her refusal. It's a grandfather's worry, nothing more. Keep them out of trouble. He didn't tell us to stand down, but he's not unduly worried. He still wants change of accommodation reports for the Home Secretary."

"Sure hope we don't have to go to the shops every day," Doyle groused after he'd absorbed Bodie's information.

"They're birds." Bodie shrugged as he looked at his partner, what did he expect birds to do? He did have a small bit of encouraging news. "The Yank seemed very excited about visiting the Louvre at least."

"A lot to get excited about there," Doyle said with the first real enthusiasm of the journey.

Bodie noted that immediately and played on it. "Never been, myself."

"Hopefully we'll have several days to explore. Should suggest it to them. Do it in sections, too overwhelming if you try to do it all in one go." Doyle's animation was almost contagious.

Bodie knew that one day would be plenty, but for Doyle's sake he feigned a keen interest. Doyle could get lost in the explaining of the art and would relax without even knowing it.

 

They boarded the one-fifteen ferry without any additional problems occurring. The ferry had left the dock by the time they had locked up their cars and headed upward to the viewing deck.

“Best part of this ride is looking back at the cliffs,” Bodie explained as he pushed his partner ahead to the next stairwell. "Got your camera?"

"Right here." Doyle held up the camera bag strap for his partner's perusal.

“We’re going inside, but we’ll watch it from there,” Allison assured them as she held her hair in place while Lindsey moved to open the door. Bodie ahead and held the door. The two girls disappeared inside without further conversation.

The CI5 lads proceeded up the last set of stairs and made their way to the back of the ferry. The sea wind in their faces, they watched the rugged white cliffs startling in contrast to the sea and sky. It was one of Bodie’s favourite sights.

“There’ll be blue-birds over the white cliffs of Dover, tomorrow, just you wait and see.” Bodie softly sang the first lines of the 1942 Vera Lynn song.

Doyle answered with the second stanza. “There'll be love and laughter and peace ever after, tomorrow, when the world is free.” He took the lens cap off his camera.

Bodie turned his head to face his partner. He smiled with delight that Doyle knew the same song.

Doyle snapped a picture of a carefree Bodie. “We’d come here when I was a kid. It was just a place to run around. I like it much better now,” Doyle volunteered as he watched the cliffs grow smaller but longer.

“Saw them first time returning from France with army vehicles.” Bodie felt compelled to match Doyle’s confidence. He was half-afraid and half-expectant with the realisation that in the coming weeks that this kind of conversation would become commonplace. He warmed with the prospect of possibilities.

Bodie stood silent against the wind as his thoughts settled. It was odd to realise that with anyone but Doyle he wouldn’t even make the attempt to divulge any real information. But Doyle was different. He was his best mate, after all. Share and share alike.

While Bodie stood ruminating, Doyle left and returned with coffee for Bodie and tea for himself.

“Ta.” Bodie sipped the liquid, content in the moment.

The view of the cliff faded as the ferry sailed farther from the shore. Bodie knew that soon the French coast would become clear. He heard Doyle snap away with the camera, and smiled to himself. Midway across the channel he nudged his partner and they moved to the front of the ferry via the drinks counter inside. Bodie nodded to their charges on the way forward.

A coastline was a coastline but for the imagination. Knowing it was a different country created its own excitement. In a space of seconds their thoughts had turned to pirates.

"Arrgh, buried treasure is sure to be found!" Bodie exclaimed in his best pirate voice as he indicated a hollowed-out formation.

"Shiver me timbers! Are ye planning an expedition?" Doyle looked sideways at his partner with a mischievous glance.

"Ahoy matie, keep yer voice down. Don't want any bilge rats gettin' any ideas."

"Arrr! Then it'd be the plank for the mangy cur." Doyle's throaty laugh spoiled the whole effect.

"Aye, he'll be walking at the zenith of the moon." Bodie pointed to the imaginary plank.

"Ah, you're a smart pirate, are you?" Doyle couldn't stop himself from smiling. It was so reminiscent of play with his brother when he was just a lad.

"Of course, what other kind could I be?" Bodie pretended to preen his pirate coat.

"Most were not," Doyle reminded him.

"Would've been the captain of course!"

"Aye, Captain."

As they neared Calais the pirates transformed once more into CI5 agents, CI5 agents who felt like bodyguards. As bodyguards, they went in search of their charges hoping to discover just what the plans were for the rest of the day.

Allison was quite breezy in sharing her information. "We want to lunch in Calais. I was hoping to eat in the quay of the Tour de Guet."

Doyle's eyes flicked toward Bodie, who was able to supply the what.

"The Watchtower from before World War I, one of the only parts of Calais to stand unchanged after the bombing."

Doyle nodded his thanks to Bodie as he further questioned the girls, "And after?"

"We want to travel on to Côte d'Opale. Spend tonight and possibly tomorrow night there. Do some shopping and sightseeing." Allison answered.

"Do you have a booking?"

Lindsey laughed. "Yes, of course, but we picked it out. We're booked in the Hôtel Côte d'Opale, not my dad's booking, which had a golf course. I wanted something different. This one's got history. My dad may think I'm an airhead, and I haven't decided to let him think differently."

Both CI5 agents kept their expressions neutral and unchanging.

After a decent lunch of fish at the Tonnerre de Brest, they took a quick look around at the area. Doyle remembered seeing more war remnants on visits outside London as a child.

Bodie actually knew quite a bit about the tower. "The Tour du Guet is a 13th-century watchtower, located on Place d'Armes behind the Hotel de Ville, it is one hundred twenty-eight feet or thirty-nine metres in height, and features a dovecote for carrier pigeons. What an intriguing way to send messages. An innocent bird skirting the skies with intrigue tied to its ankle."

Doyle rolled his eyes at the romanticised idea. "I imagine lots of pigeon shit." Doyle laughed at his depiction.

"Way to spoil the mind's image. Anyway, in 1848, it became a watch tower; during World War I, it served as a military post," Bodie finished as he turned away from Doyle.

Sensing that his partner had distanced himself, Doyle tried to encourage more conversation. "Can see that its location to the sea would make it useful. And your accent is dreadful!"

Bodie's shoulders relaxed as he made a funny face at his partner before he nodded. He looked around. "Let's find our charges and see if we can continue on." Bodie put words into motion and walked in the direction he had last found them.

Baffled by the quicksilver mood change, Doyle shook his head and followed, all business.

Their charges were casually seated in a sidewalk café, coffees in hand and maps spread about the table. Bodie and Doyle joined them, ordered coffees and checked out the maps. After much discussion, they decided on a more picturesque coastal route in the direction of Boulogne-sur-Mer, in the heart of the Côte d'Opale. They would follow the D940, the best road that would keep to the coast for good long while. While slower, it would be easy for the Bodie and Doyle to keep them in view.

Their charges squealed in excitement as they made for their motor. Both agents once again schooled their features to share none of their true feelings. Shepherding cats on their hunt for mice.

 

Bodie elected to drive first, grabbing the keys out of Doyle's hand, hoping that his partner would want to use his camera. The coastal bluffs were different and familiar at the same time.

"You don't think that this is going to end up being one endless shopping venture, do you?" Doyle asked as his eyes followed their assignment for a bit, then turned to face Bodie.

"Could," Bodie shrugged his shoulders, hands still on the wheel. "Birds are birds. Day's not productive unless surrounded by new stuff," Bodie quipped. There wasn't another motor about and he relaxed his grip on the steering wheel.

Doyle looked ahead, and waved his hand about. "I know we're supposed to be taking this as a holiday, but we still have to stay fit. We continue this way, eat and no exercise and it won't take long to find us both unfit." Doyle turned away again from the view to look at Bodie.

"Ah, Doyle," Bodie shook his head, "you sure don't let relaxation hang on you for long. Didn't we circle the cemetery ten times just yesterday morning?" He kept his eyes on the road, afraid that Doyle might read the frustration in them. His partner had the hardest time rolling with the punches when he thought his reputation was on the line.

"Just saying we need to think about setting up a routine when we get to Paris. If we're there less than two weeks I'll be surprised." Doyle dogged on. He didn't want them to gain holiday weight. It was harder to lose, especially for his partner.

"Can't argue with you on that. They will want to see it all." Bodie nodded after the fact.

Doyle had been hoping that Bodie was agreeing on the exercise routine, not the birds' itinerary.

 

They followed the motorway to the coastal road D940. The girls veered off without hesitation and the agents followed suit. The road signs were clear and easy to decipher. Within minutes they were ambling down a road that mirrored the coast along the cliff tops.

Bodie was amazed that the coastline was dotted with the remains of the Atlantic Wall. "Know your history, Ray?" he asked. He nodded his head to the scenery.

"World War Two? Dunkirk and all that." Doyle answered as he counted the wall sections.

"Nazi Germany's line of fortifications and artillery emplacements built to prevent the Allied invasion," Bodie supplied the information from memory, not the brochure.

"That took place in Normandy. I know that much." Doyle smiled. Bodie loved his military history. He never tried to out-answer him even if he knew it as well.

"This is the Opal Coast – named for the ever-changing interplay of grays and blues in the sea and sky." Bodie paused dramatically and lowered his voice. "It features lofty chalk cliffs, rolling green hills, windswept beaches, scrub-dotted sand dunes and charming seaside towns." He grinned at Doyle.

"What did you do, memorise the travel guide?"

"The Côte d'Opale brochure." Bodie tried for a regal look but only managed mischievous.

"I take comfort in that you remember how to read," Doyle replied as he moved away from Bodie's playful hit.

Less than half an hour on the road and the girls' car pulled into a small side road that was just large enough to fit both vehicles. After a short pause as the girls changed their shoes, they scrambled out of their vehicle and dashed, cameras in hand, to the cliff side marker. Bodie and Doyle dutifully followed with an excited step, their own cameras in hand. There was not another soul around and the agents relaxed their guard enough to truly savour the surroundings.

The sign read 'Cap Blanc Nez'.

Bodie sucked in his breath. The white cliffs of the Cap Blanc-Nez looked almost exactly like the ones near Dover. The cliffs were so white and attractive, and made of chalk. They were a matched set to the cliffs that he had so fondly watched from the ferry. Bodie stood mesmerised by its beauty and enjoyed admiring it from different perspectives.

He was happy to hear Doyle clicking his camera. The shutter could hardly keep up to his fingering. Bodie snapped his own shots of the cliffs, beach, bunkers, and his partner. Bodie smiled to himself. His partner was lost in the arty craft of photography. Doyle's pleasure only enhanced his own.

Eventually they climbed up the hill to see the view above Cap Blanc-Nez. Besides the bunkers lining the beach, there were many bunkers on the way. Once at the top, the splendour of this region spoke for itself. Their charges, not far behind, seemed to be as enchanted as Bodie.

The wind was blustery as it blew the girls', and Doyle's, hair awry. Bodie only snapped photos of his partner. Finally, enough sand in the ears and hair made heading back to the motors a welcome idea.

The drive, while slower than the main motorway, was easy enough and quite relaxing. Bodie wasn't sure why he worried so much about Doyle's lack of ability to relax, but now his partner finally seemed to be doing just that. Doyle had been on his mind a lot of late. While in recovery, they had been together so much of the time, he missed some of that when all went back to normal. Only it hadn't felt normal the same way. He wondered if . . .

Doyle broke into his thoughts.

"Got to admit that this is a great view of the coast, both of France and England. Can't believe that Cowley foresaw this in the assignment," Doyle said as he snapped more pictures.

"Raaay. . ." The tone much more exasperated than warning.

"Not complaining exactly, just don't see our hard working boss approving this." Doyle was not being combative, just curious as his hand swept across the windscreen.

"He probably didn't see further than appeasing the Home Secretary. The girls wouldn't be allowed to have fun with MI5. So see it from a father's point of view, or grandfather, call in a few favours and be smart about it. We are good, we needed a holiday and Cowley gets a favour in return at some later date." Bodie saw it all with a pragmatic outlook, but he knew Ray had to be clubbed over the head many times to see it that way.

Doyle nodded his head. "Yeah, I believe that being owed a favour was a strong factor. Cowley wouldn't hesitate to call that in, I wager."

"Yup, we are but pawns in a giant chess game and we will never see the end result." Bodie tried for a sage-old voice.

"Then the Home Secretary picked wisely. I don't think MI5 can win at Draughts." Doyle cracked a smile that warmed Bodie's heart.

Less than twenty minutes later, the lead motor pulled over again.

"This is the other Cape. Cap Griz Nez." Bodie recognised instantly where they were. The Côte d'Opale brochure had been quite thorough.

"The gray nose cape. Let's go see why." Doyle matched action to his words. He was out of the car before it stopped, camera in tow. "This isn't nearly as large, but still the view is magnificent." He pointed across the water. "Look, crystal-clear views of the white cliffs of Dover." He smiled back at Bodie.

Bodie chuckled at Doyle's enthusiasm. He was aware of their charges, but kept his eyes on his partner. This was the most carefree he'd seen Doyle in a year, even before the shooting. There had been no down time during recovery and there had been times when he'd wondered if there ever would be again. He snapped pictures of his partner's antics, both with his camera and his mind's eye.

The afternoon sun was on its downward slope and Bodie suggested they head for the lodgings. The girls returned to their car and Bodie watched as Ray reluctantly returned to theirs.

"Got some nice shots, I think," Doyle said as he placed the camera beside him.

"As did I," Bodie agreed as he pulled back onto to the roadway.

The cars turned off at the signpost marker for Hôtel Côte d'Opale, Boulogne sur Mer. The signage was easy to understand though only in French.

The fishing port was more than decorative and the busy marina, while functional, tied the scenery to the town. While busy, the town didn't seem over crowded, nor threatening.

Hôtel Côte d'Opale was well above the pay- grade of a civil servant. Bodie looked over the list of available lodgings and knew that CI5's daily allotment would be blown in just a few days. He cocked his head to see Doyle as he suggested, "If we share accommodation we'll be able to spend more on meals." The wallet was the way to his partner's heart. Bodie found the idea of knowing just where Doyle was in a strange place comforting.

Doyle nodded his head to the suggestion. "I imagine we'll be visiting many a posh establishment well over the CI5 suggested budget." Getting the Cow to pay for as much as possible was a high point with Doyle. "Okay, then. I'll keep track of the chits." He stepped up to the counter and paid for their room.

Carrying the room key, Doyle led the way. Bodie wasn't surprised to find himself carrying their luggage as both girls managed to need two bellboys apiece and Doyle was carrying the key, after all.

The room was large and comfortable. Bodie chose the bed closest to the door as Doyle moved his bag atop the bed by the window. They didn't unpack. After a quick run-through of their facilities, they wanted to check the girls' room just for the differences in layout of the room. Force of habit would keep them safe and their heads in the game.

They knocked on the door directly across the hall. The American girl opened it with a smile. "No bad guys here."

"Yet," Allison called out from the bedroom.

This was a suite with a separate bedroom and living space. Lindsey already had the fixings for a drink ready on the counter.

"You lads want one?" she offered as she poured out two spiked teas.

Doyle shook his head for the both of them. "We're on duty."

"At least until we eat," Bodie added with a pleading smile.

"There's a seafood place on the waterfront. Seven okay? We want to relax until then." Allison's tone all but dismissed them.

Doyle dug his heels in. "Miss Woodridge, Miss Applegate, you must tell us if you even want to wander about the hotel. This you must promise."

"Fine, we promise." Allison complied.

"Only if you agree to call us Allison and Lindsey," Lindsey counter-offered.

Doyle nodded. "We can do that." He smiled before closing the door.

-------------

After a fine meal and walk around the quay, the girls adjourned for the evening, promising that they had no plans to ditch them.

"We'll save that for Paris," Lindsey quipped before she shut the door.

Bodie tapped Doyle on the shoulder and halted his move to key their room. "Want to grab a pint?"

"Too good an offer to refuse." He turn and followed his partner.

The hotel bar was busy enough that they were just two of many and they found a table away from a noisy party. The normalcy of sipping a pint made it easier to relax.

"Checked in with the Cow. His only command was to keep track of receipts." Bodie reported after they'd been served.

"Feels like we've been at it for a week, and we just left this morning." Doyle's tone was more weary than complaining.

"Can't argue that." Bodie's agreement was easy. "Let's take this up to the room and see if there are any sort of games on the box."

Doyle stood in accordance with Bodie's suggestion. Finishing a pint in the room seemed a more fitting end to the day.

 

Bodie lay on his back as he tried to figure out what woke him. No sounds save for his partner's regular breaths to fuss about. He looked toward the open window and his eyes were suddenly on alert. He moved to the window, and his eyes opened wide.

"Ray, come look." Bodie glanced over his shoulder for a second, beckoning before quickly turning back.

"What? What is it?" Doyle answered, groggy with sleep.

"Meteor shower. It's spectacular." Bodie ignored the verbal protests as his partner padded over to the window and stood at his side.

The complaints died a sudden death as he viewed the light display.

In that moment, Bodie was quite pleased that Ray was there to experience this with him. Better than anyone else that could have been here. He surveyed his partner's rapt expression and sighed contentedly to himself. He flicked his eyes skyward to the grand panorama.

Sleep was easier to attain afterward.

---------------

A day in a beach-side community should have been laid-back, enjoyable to a degree, one would think, but Ray Doyle's thoughts were not even close.

"How much bloody shopping can two birds accomplish in one day?" He held his arms out and colourful bags were draped across both.

"I’m carrying twice as much as you," Bodie groused as he followed in his partner's wake.

"It's supposed to be a nice town, but we wouldn't know it, only what a dozen different shops look like inside and out." Doyle's disgust was not feigned.

"You were yearning for exercise, Doyle, when was that?" Bodie perked up with the teasing. "Ah, yes, just yesterday it was. This must qualify as exercise."

"Not quite the type of exercise I had in mind!"

"Not like the exercise felt by their wallets," Bodie stated sardonically.

"Daddies' wallets," Doyle mocked lightly. They both laughed.

Somehow the shared laughter made the job easier for Bodie and he picked up his step.

 

Afternoon found the girls sunning at the beach, while Bodie sat on the terrace whenever Doyle was out snapping pictures. Otherwise they played Tripoley while minding the kids.

The night was a repeat of the last as far as the girls were concerned. Dinner, a walk, and back to the room. They wanted to spend the evening reviewing the day's purchases and packing for the morning departure.

The CI5 lads headed to the hotel bar once more.

"It was fun checking out the maps for the next section of the trip. Didn't travel as a kid. 'S probably why I ran off . . . yearned to see the world." Bodie sipped his beer quickly, not sure if he hoped Doyle was paying attention or not.

"That why you left home so early? To see the world?" Doyle proved he was more than paying attention.

"That may have had more to do with a wicked stepfather," Bodie admitted, not as reluctantly as he thought he'd feel.

"He hit you?" Doyle felt ready to do battle for the young Bodie.

"Tried. Left before he could do damage," Bodie replied honestly.

"What about your mum?" Doyle asked as he figured as well hanged for a sheep as a lamb.

"Wasn't ready to see it then. Thought I was wilful. Died before we could discuss it." Bodie found it didn't even hurt to talk about it. He'd found someone who did care what happened to him, even about the lad back then. Doyle did a lousy job of hiding his indignation. Made Bodie feel warm and special. Only had a few sips of beer as yet so he knew it wasn't the alcohol.

Doyle reached under the table and gripped Bodie's thigh, then patted it a few times, giving comfort as best he could. He sipped his drink a few times to control his voice. Bodie hardly ever shared real information, and never to this degree. Doyle didn't want to blow it with some platitude that would give no comfort today.

"My da expected obedience, and used the belt if he thought he wasn't getting it." Doyle figured an exchange would show how trusted he felt.

"You felt its sting, I take it," Bodie answered seriously.

"More than a few times. Didn't help much, my sisters felt it too. Didn't scar us. But I wouldn't use on a kid."

"You want kids?" Bodie asked, truly curious about the answer.

"Nah, never did." Doyle shrugged. "Want a home to welcome me at night, but on this job, a family is only a liability, and this job is not one I can just set aside. I learned something from Ann."

Bodie let out a breath slowly. Ann was not a memory he enjoyed. But he felt relieved that his partner wasn't yearning for that nine-to-five lifestyle.

"You, Bodie, what about kids?" Doyle asked after a full swallow of ale.

"Never seriously entertained the thought. Married to the job. What you said about a family as a liability is it exactly. Even the thought of a longtime bird like that puts me in a cold sweat. Never being able to talk about the job, never able to relax, can't see it." Bodie took another sip as he sat back. "Besides, who'd watch your back . . . obviously need a minder." Hand at his brow, Bodie slumped forward in mock exhaustion. He wanted the conversation to gain a lighter note. His joy at Doyle's revelation needed to be hidden in humour. He could ponder the why later.

"I might need a minder, but you need a zookeeper." Doyle one-upped him out of habit, contentment from truths shared lingering for a good long while.

 

The route for the day had been discussed at an early shared breakfast of bread and cheese. They would continue on the D940 through to Étaples. It was a planned stop for Allison, a promise to her grandfather.

The vehicles took several stops and short detours along the way for photographs or purchases. Doyle drove this leg of the journey and Bodie marvelled that his partner could rattle on endlessly about cheese. The voice soothed him as he concentrated on the tone and not the words. A few grunts here and there kept the discourse ongoing.

Right at this moment, Doyle was happy and relaxed, and Bodie knew that meant more to him than his own pleasure. He'd been feeling this way for a long time, though he couldn't put his finger on the precise moment it started. It had been a creeping realisation that Doyle was easier to be around than birds. Birds needed to be openly important to a bloke. He and Doyle were important to each other; they just didn't have to talk about it each time they were together.

Doyle broke into his thoughts. "We're stopping again. Wildflowers this time, I think."

"Not hopping out for a snapshot?" Bodie enquired as Doyle rolled down the window.

"Nah. That old barn looks more intriguing. It has something." Doyle explained as the shutter clicked away.

"Probably some of the pigeon shit you were going on about the other day." Bodie chuckled as he jumped out of the car to check on their charges' progress.

 

Two hours later, due to a multitude of stops, finally found them in a carpark. The girls quite liked the Les Trois Lanternes restaurant where they stopped for more food in the charming fishing port town of Étaples. The interior of the restaurant was quirky yet still maintained a homely feel. Doyle could understand the appeal to the girls.

Seated at separate tables, Doyle gave the order in French and waited until they were alone. He rolled his eyes. "This is only the third day. They shop like this each day, they'll be using our motor to lorry it back."

Bodie shuddered. "If we're in an accident, imagine what the coppers would be thinking with the feminine things strewn everywhere."

Doyle chuckled as he pushed Bodie sideways.

"Careful," Bodie camped, "you might hurt my nails." He looked down at his hand, wrist angled to display his nails. He blew on them as if they were still wet.

Doyle just laughed harder as he pushed Bodie's hands under the table.

When both parties were done with their meal, Allison and Lindsey joined them. Allison pushed a brochure for the Cimetière militaire d'Étaples across the table with the address circled.

"The Étaples Military Cemetery is located there. I want to look up a relative. He was Grandpa's favourite uncle," Allison explained. "I have a map, so I know where to look once we arrive."

Bodie checked the map. "Half an hour, tops, I expect."

The drive was made in less. Once parked, their charges seemed to know where they were going so Doyle followed his partner in. Bodie seemed familiar with the place as well.

"You been here before?"

"No, not here but some like it. This is a War Graves Commission cemetery. They have graveyards around the world built and maintained by the Commission. It's not just a place of rest. It's the scale of the slaughter they illustrate, the dignity of the design, the peace and the quality of upkeep that are extraordinary. Families could take comfort that even long after they are gone, the people buried here will be cared for." Bodie turned from the map and Doyle as he walked quietly among the headstones.

Doyle gave him a minute, then hurried to join him at his side. As far as Doyle could see, there were grave markers. Rolling hills on all sides, covered. So many dead in just this place, having given their lives in service. How many more were around the world? He hurried to Bodie's side. An experience this overpowering was better shared.

An hour later, they met up with subdued girls in the carpark. Bodie signalled that he wanted the keys, and they headed out for the next stop. They left the D940 for the D925 that would take them directly to Amiens.

Bodie remained quiet as he drove and Doyle found he was in need of conversation.

"Amiens is a big city, not as big as Paris, but still a huge place. They want to go to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens. It was built for John the Baptist. Catholic upbringing didn't go to waste apparently." Doyle chuckled.

"Always surprising what sticks." Bodie shook his head. Doyle was full of surprises.

"I can remember getting my knuckles rapped. Don't recall why, but I didn't go back." Doyle closed his eyes and scrunched his nose trying to remember. He shook his head. "Nope nothing."

"Now that is not surprising," Bodie commented.

"What? That I got my knuckles rapped?"

"No, that there is nothing in your head . . . that was what you were going on about? Right?" Bodie tried for innocent but his lips curved into a smile. Doyle went to slap him, but Bodie exclaimed, "Nope, driving here. Need to get there safe."

Amiens was slow moving. The traffic was thick through the city. When they finally reached their destination, getting two spaces in the carpark of the cathedral was rough going. Doyle hopped out and escorted the girls while Bodie continued to circle for a spot.

They met at the entrance. They agreed to meet up in an hour's time, both parties staying inside, rather than tripping over each other.

Inside the Nave, Doyle stopped to translate. "According to the panel, this gothic architecture is carried to a bold extreme. There are one hundred and twenty-six slender pillars. They arc to the ceiling centre and I have always wondered why it doesn't fall down. The cathedral was restored in 1850s. It has since survived the two world wars."

"Your mum probably wanted you to be an engineer," Bodie guessed.

"Actually she just wanted me not to land in gaol." Doyle smiled with a bow.

"You've done her proud. You put others there instead."

They wandered about together until Bodie stopped in front of the Weeping Angel sculpture. "I saw atrocities committed in the name of religion. Seen too much to believe in a benevolent deity. Actually it's people themselves who change their life and destiny. I admire those that pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and make things happen."

"They made me go, not believe." Doyle stepped up next to his partner.

Bodie nodded his understanding.

They followed as the girls wandered outside. More people milling about. Neither agent felt a danger but they still took their assignment seriously. They were happy to depart.

Back to the A16, the one plus hour to Beauvais was a straight shot and the girls didn't even make one stop. The objective was the Beauvais Cathedral. Beauvais was a much smaller town than Amiens and parking was not the same problem they had faced at the last cathedral.

The Beauvais Cathedral was another old Gothic cathedral, but it was known for its clocks. Doyle read the information off the area map. "Bodie, the medieval chiming clock outside here is the oldest in the world that still works, it started ticking in 1305." Doyle flipped the map and read more. "Let's go inside, that's the clock you want to see."

Bodie entered and stopped. He stood transfixed by the astronomical clock. Faces of the clock indicated the time, tides, and the movements of the stars. It had a solstice indicator, and a clock showing the age of the world.

Doyle wanted to tease him, but he found it just as fascinating. They waited there for the girls to join them when they were done.

They checked into the Hôtel de la Cathédrale. One of the many pre-arranged bookings by Lindsey's father, this was augmented to add the bodyguard's room. The entire bill had already been pre-paid, so the CI5 agents felt ahead of the travel chit game.

No sooner than they had placed their luggage on the beds than there was a knock at the door. Bodie opened it to both girls.

"We've already chosen a place to eat. Le Beauséjour. We called and reserved a table by the back window – so we can see the ducks and swans while we eat. You have one as well." Lindsey's eyes were lit with pleasure. "There's a hairstylist and manicurist here so we are headed there right now." The girls turned away and headed for the lift.

Bodie looked after them. Her tone was like she was talking to staff.

"After we check that they are where they say they are, let's go use the pool."

"And the sauna?" Bodie inquired.

"And the sauna." Doyle agreed.

-----
Bodie lay in bed, sleep eluding him. The swim and sauna had been relaxing. Doyle had lapped the pool several more times after Bodie had pulled himself out and plopped into the hot tub. But Doyle had not come into the hot tub, and kept the towel over his shoulder so his chest wasn't visible. He had kept it there while they sat in the sauna as well. He hoped Ray wasn't self conscious about the scar after all this time.

Doyle had looked in peak condition as he swam. The water rippled across his muscles, and he looked like he could rival any Olympic swimmer cutting through the water. Bodie turned over on his stomach and kicked the cover off. He was quite warm.

He listened to Ray breathe deeply, rhythmically. It was not a sound that he took for granted. Not any more! He shook his head to dispel those thoughts. Instead, he thought about how fit Ray was. The best to watch his back. Just as he watched Doyle's. And he did watch. Doyle looked fit both front and back. Bodie smiled to himself as he finally fell asleep.

 

Travelling day saw additional pieces of luggage added to the boot of the girls' motor. Bodie figured he hadn't been too far off the mark, fairly sure that their boot would end up with more than their own luggage.

The hour and a half drive to Paris was the only morning objective. The A16 was the most direct and fastest. The girls' car flew down the motorway. Doyle followed closely. The girls never really slowed until they turned into the Hotel Georges V.

"Phew!" Doyle said with admiration. "This is one high dollar place."

"One room again?" Bodie checked.

"Yeah. We saved a bundle on the last few nights, hopefully the Cow will give his blessing if we stay awhile." Doyle pulled up behind the girls and handed his key to the valet.

Bodie made sure to grab the bag with the extra weapons before following them inside. The bellmen handled the rest of the luggage.

They all went up together. The girls were shown their rooms with all the amenities first, then the CI5 Agents. As soon as the bellmen were tipped and away, Bodie answered the knock and opened his door to both girls.

"Rather a habit," Doyle said as Bodie ushered them in.

Lindsey spoke up immediately upon sitting. "We have hired a car and driver for getting around here in Paris. And yes, you are coming with."

"Grandpa didn't want either of us to negotiate the traffic here, much like London," Allison supplied.

"Today is just a grand tour. A drive about the city, soaking up the ambience, seeing places I've only seen in the movies." Lindsey was quite excited. "Allison is so patient with me."

"Many of the places I've never seen either." Allison gave her friend a smile.

Lindsey gave her an answering smile, as she continued. "On the docket for today are the biggies. Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Sacré-Cœur, Musée Picasso, Musée Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, The Île de la Cité," Lindsey ticked them off her fingers. "As well as Jardin du Luxembourg, Tuleries Garden, Champs-Élysées, and the Catacombs. This way we can decide what needs a closer look."

Allison interjected, "We will stop briefly at the Panthéon. It is in the Latin Quarter. It's an old church that's now a mausoleum where Voltaire is buried." The awe of Allison's voice gave away her adoration and reverence of the man or place.

"We'll get picked up in forty-five minutes out front. We'll have lunch at some point," Lindsey assured the group.

Bodie grinned at Doyle. Lunch was on the docket.

 

To say the day was a whirlwind of sights and impressions would be a dramatic understatement. Bodie never dreamed that they could see so much of iconic Paris in one day. He looked over at his partner, and Doyle looked as shell-shocked as he felt.

The early lunch had been the only stop. The chicken salad baguettes were a far cry from fish & chips, but Bodie managed to get it down. He knew from the last few days the girls were not into snacks.

Not having to negotiate the city traffic allowed both men to enjoy the sights. Bodie loved watching the delight that would touch Doyle's eyes as he gazed upon the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre.

The next time a stop was initiated their limo entered the carpark of the Panthéon. Bodie was gratified that he would finally get to stretch his legs. Doyle looked equally excited to be moving. Everyone made use of the toilets. Then Bodie waved the girls ahead with a hand gesture. They could have their privacy and their protection.

The girls dallied a bit with some of the signage before they moved directly to the trip objective. Voltaire, or his resting place to be more exact. The agents stood outside, took pictures and surveyed the area. Neither man sensed danger but it was better to stay sharp.

After the girls had vacated the crypt, the agents moved inside it and stood before the statue of Voltaire in the crypt of the Panthéon. Bodie closed his eyes for a moment to absorb just where he was standing. He was pretty awed himself. Bodie walked around the statue, as Doyle read the information.

"A man whose beliefs closely mirror my own," Bodie said quietly, thinking that Voltaire would have been considered as much a radical today as in his own time.

Doyle stood silently by his partner's side appreciating the moment. A quiet truth from Bodie was worth more than a hundred stories. He thought back to what he knew of Voltaire, a man known for his satirical wit and critiquing authority. Doyle could see why Bodie appreciated him.

Bodie had shared more about his life and thoughts in the last week than their years together. What was changing? It couldn't be just this obbo. Light work it might be, but Bodie hadn't let his guard down that much. But something was different. He couldn't pin it down. He had to ponder it more deeply, but he would figure it out.

---------

First night in Paris and the girls wanted to go clubbing. Not an unexpected request, but they did not want to frequent just any club, no, only Les Bains Douches Club would do. Both CI5 agents knew that their wardrobe was woefully unprepared for that class of establishment.

Evidently Lindsey and Allison were equally aware of the deficient state of their eveningwear. "Formal wear should already be waiting in your room. Don't worry, I cleared it with mean old Mr C."

"I'm sure he was delighted," Bodie said, more to his partner than the American girl.

 

Bodie felt very much the dumb bodyguard. Standing, watching people have fun was dead boring. Not even a lager to quench his thirst. The only relief thus far had been the chocolate digestive that Doyle passed surreptitiously when his stomach growled. Bodie flicked his eyes at Doyle and found him looking about, but equally bored.

Bodie shook his head slightly, as he thought back to the start of the evening. The formal wear had been there, as promised. Bodie had been impressed with the quality of the clothing. He had to help Doyle with his tie, as usual. But he hadn't been prepared for how well the suit had fitted his partner. Birds should be swarming him, he was looking his best. The bodyguard act must be keeping them away.

The girls were constantly surrounded. They must love the attention, being thought famous, with two bodyguards standing watch at either end of the horseshoe shaped booth. Wanna-be suitors came and went. Some stayed longer than others, but not by much. When what they wanted wasn't on offer they'd fade away.

The highlight of the evening thus far had been one blighter who thought he'd try it on with Allison. Doyle had turned lightning quick, bent the bloke's hand back at an awkward angle and put him in a headlock before Allison had moved away in reaction. Doyle kept the bloke in that same position as he led him outside the club. Bodie chuckled to himself. He knew without a doubt that his partner had way too much fun doing that.

The evening continued on in the same pattern until the girls were ready to leave which coincided with the closing of the club. The CI5 agents helped the more than tipsy girls to the limo. They shepherded them to their room and pushed them inside.

Doyle leaned against their door, but didn't insert the key dangling from his fingers. "Should we wait, make sure they don't do something stupid?"

Bodie nodded. "Yeah, they'll probably think they're invincible or they will crash." Bodie waved his finger in the air before he touched his head. He turned and knocked determinedly on the girls' door. "Had a thought," he told Doyle, who stood there looking amused.

"Bound to happen." Doyle leaned against the door smiling.

The door opened and Lindsey stood there. She cocked her head to the side. "Cute old ones!" she said over her shoulder to Allison

"Each of you drink a full glass of water before you go to sleep." Bodie sighed, their owlish expressions didn't make either girl look wise. "Helps with the morning hangover." Bodie supplied the answer to the silent question.

"'K." The door closed.

They stood outside the door for thirty minutes, just in case.

The next morning, the girls didn't join them for breakfast, but they didn't look worse for wear. The whole day had been set aside for Musée Louvre. They used the Metro to get there, as it was the easiest and closest way to get to the museum entrance.

The crowded train was an easy place for the agents to ascertain safety. While the girls garnered attention it was only due to their attractiveness, rather than a plot to nab them. The daily itineraries had been set up differently each day, so it would have been difficult for any adversary to second guess them.

The agents planned to loosely shadow their charges. The museum was a delight and dismay at the same time. A delight to the senses and dismay that one could not possibly see it all in one day. Bodie understood Doyle's desire to spend two days here. Wasn't on the girls' game plan, though.

Venus de Milo greeted them. The statue of Aphrodite was magnificent and worth the price of admission. Even Doyle wouldn't complain about Cowley not allowing the museum admission to be placed on a chit. Education is never free and all that. But this place went beyond that and Bodie promised himself that he would bring Doyle back so he could spend as much time here as he desired.

They wandered along at a gentle pace. Bodie entered the Great Gallery, then stood in place. From the parquet flooring to the ornate ceiling and open light, it was a sight to behold. Watching Doyle behold it was a joy unparalleled and Bodie knew there was something deeper at play here.

A sense of déjà vu captured his thoughts but he knew they misled him. He and Doyle had never been in this museum before. The Tate Museum had been the last museum outing together. Doyle had known one of the guest exhibitors. They had gone on the last night of the showing. Midwinter rain had kept many away but Bodie remembered the evening fondly.

Nothing extraordinary had occurred but the time spent had been comfortable. Bodie recalled that they had just finished a harrowing op, gunplay and the occasional explosion. Neither had been singed, but it had been close so that the quiet evening viewing art had been a welcome change to routine.

Birds had been unnecessary so the pub chosen after had been for atmosphere and not trolling. The conversation hadn't been startling or memorable, just the left-over feeling that it had been undemanding but pleasant.

Doyle's beckoning voice snapped the memory closed but the contented feeling lingered. Bodie followed along as they slowly travelled down the Grand Gallery hall.

The entire wing was a feast for the eyes. Bodie knew that for Doyle it was even more. There was a peaceful tranquillity in sharing something so visual with a valued mate. Bodie was surprised how often that type of thought had been invading his contemplation lately. He rarely took the time to work out the why and wherefore, but it was possible that this time he might need to think more about it. He felt on the edge of illumination and was undecided where to tread.

-----

Each wing had so much that needed a closer look, but sometimes, Doyle would just let a room speak to him. He was drawn into a room in the Richelieu Wing. Standing before a painting of Dublin Castle by Irish painter John Butler Yeats, Doyle cocked his head to the side. He stepped back, then back again. "It's almost like I'm there."

Bodie walked over and stood beside Doyle cocking his head as well. "I'd go. Nice to see that."

"We went to Ireland when I was a kid, to see my da's roots." Doyle smiled at the fond memory of his mother saying those exact words. "Travelled the rail to Glasgow first. Mum thought we were world travellers then."

Bodie grinned. "How many castles?"

"Mum would know. Christ, Bodie, we were lads. When mum told me I couldn't throw my brother into the moat I lost my interest in the old things."

"What, he didn't accidentally fall in?" Bodie's mischievous look sent the message of what he would have done back then.

"Not possible, mate, my da 'bout kept his hands fastened on my collar the whole time." Doyle chuckled at the long-forgotten memory.

Bodie schooled his voice to remain jocular. "Why didn't you say that castles weren't your favourite?" His remembrance of their own trip last year diminished with the news.

"Was a lad then, you moron. Enjoyed our trip. Care a bit more about history now than I did back then."

Bodie's day seemed brighter with Doyle's words.

----

Art provoked thought, or at least Doyle thought it should. The picture before them showed the plight of man. His look yearned for the water, but he had wife and kids surrounding him.

"Have you seriously considered all we give up for this job?" Doyle asked as he continued to look at the painting.

"You mean the birds?"

"Yeah, but that's only a small part of it. A normal type of life. I'm not talking a wife and two point four kids in an average suburban box, but the regular weekends, regular friends."

"Same as saying a routine nine to fiver. Boring office, boring wife. Probably brats as well. Those regular weekends would soon dry up and you'd be doing house chores. Maybe meet the lads on Boxing Day if you're lucky."

"Paint a sad picture."

"Not sad, realistic. Difference you know. Not all men are cut out for CI5 work, not just anyone would be a copper. Some actually want to be an accountant. Dead boring to me mate, I have talents and put them to use, good use in CI5."

"Using your talents? Need more than that, mate."

"Ray, we fight crime. How cliché is that? But it's what we do. Incorruptible we are. That should be enough."

"We won't reach old bones."

"Will if we watch each other's back. Trust you to watch mine."

Doyle looked at his partner, knew it was true. Knew it better than his bank number. "Never used to think about old bones. Recently, I find myself thinking about what we could do after."

"Don't you want to replace Cowley?"

"Not me, never."

"Thought you did, mate." Bodie's tone was surprised. "Anyway, Cow has been grooming you for years."

"Nah, too much politics. Don't want to adapt that much. Been thinking Jack's job wouldn't be too bad."

"Not Macklin's?" Bodie quipped as he seriously thought about Doyle's revelation.

"I'm not a sadistic bastard."

Bodie wanted to say that his ratty partner was no bastard, but that wouldn't be the truth. He settled for, "Not like Macklin, even if you taught, it wouldn't be to tear and break a man." Bodie knew those words were true. "Jack's would be just the thing."

-----

The Louvre trip ended with a visit to the Carrousel du Louvre, the underground plaza where gift shops abounded. Once all arms were laden with packages the four exited via the Porte Des Lions, so that they could view the Arc de Triomphe up close. Doyle managed to get pictures, packages or not.

They hailed a taxi back to the hotel. The girls informed them that they planned a night in, room service and a lot of pampering. Neither CI5 agents seemed disappointed with the news. They knew that there was a game on the box and room service sounded good to them as well.

 

Bodie awoke from a dream of mountain climbing. He'd been on the edge and needed to decide his destination. He went to the open window and looked down on the night-time lights adorning Paris. He turned from the window when he heard Ray deep in sleep. He stood there several minutes watching him slumber. Then a chill went up his spine.

He remembered another time when he had watched Ray sleep. That time he hadn't been sure that Ray would ever wake, but he did, and Bodie remembered.

Remembered how he felt those few hours when he thought Ray was lost to him, how simple his whole world became – Ray had been the only thing that had really mattered. He'd forgotten that until now, and as he watched Ray sleep he realised that nothing had changed, Ray was really the only thing that mattered now. Ray was more important than any job, or anyone. What should he do with knowledge like that?

--------

In the morning there was a message under the door that said they'd be travelling by taxi today. The CI5 lads hurried down to meet their charges for breakfast.

"Before we begin today, I really need to make a stop at a bank. The Banque de France will cash any check from my father, so that's the first stop today," Lindsey announced as they finished breakfast. "It's on the way to the Musée d'Orsay," she added for good measure.

Doyle imagined another dreaded day of shopping. Bodie imagined purchasing a soft green shirt for Doyle. He needed to add a little variety to his wardrobe.

Lindsey threw money on the table as Allison hailed a taxi. Agents Bodie and Doyle could do little other than follow the hurricane of girl activity.

"Banque de France, rue de Valois." Lindsey requested as Bodie closed the door.

The girls hurried inside, but both agents took a few moments to note the outside movement and placement of cars. Something pricked at Bodie but he couldn't place it. Doyle snapped pictures from all directions, feeling the same unease as his partner. Once they stepped inside, Doyle turned wordlessly to Bodie and tilted his head to the camera feed that was already taped over. Both men looked and catalogued the occupants of the bank.

Bodie calmed his breath as he nodded to his partner who had seen it as well. They had interrupted a robbery in progress, only most of the customers didn't know it.

Their charges were seated in front of the assistant manager's desk, while the men with guns stood in the vault box area. Bodie looked over and ascertained that there were five men in the raiding party. His partner confirmed his count with an open hand behind his back. Bodie took left, Doyle took right.

They weaved their way through the people, quietly suggesting they move to the far right, near where their charges continued to do business without any knowledge of the heist.

The two lookouts were too curious about what their cohorts were accomplishing to attend to their assigned tasks. Bodie was able to get the drop on one man as Doyle took out the other just as noiselessly. They removed their guns and stood on either side of the vault door.

The other three, finished filling their bags, and were pushing the manager out ahead of them. Bodie knocked him aside before he dropped and rolled into the legs of the first robber. That man went down with a thump and his gun clattered away. Once Bodie moved, Doyle sheathed his weapon, picked up the safety deposit box used for display and waited for Bodie to disarm the first man.

Doyle swung the metal box at the next target's head. He dropped like a stone in water. His fall pushed him back and into the last man, putting him off balance. Doyle followed through, hitting him twice and the thief was out before he could raise his hands in defence.

Bodie's gun was out of sight and he finished securing the unconscious men's hands behind their backs. Doyle and Bodie dragged the robbers into the vault and closed the door. The manager sat where Bodie had pushed him, a bewildered look on his face, seemingly unable to fathom where the help had come from.

Bodie nodded at him as he went to check on their charges. Doyle told him in English-accented French that he might want to ring for the police. He followed Bodie, now out the door and hailed a taxi as quickly as he could.

"Well, aren't you guys the unknown heroes of the story," Lindsey said as she sat back in the taxi.

"Why didn't you wait for the police?" Allison asked.

"We don't want the notoriety that comes along with it. We are trying to remain unknown to the papers," Bodie tried to explain.

"We should tell my grandfather," Allison suggested.

"Once you return you may do so, but for now let him continue to believe in his granddaughter's uneventful holiday," Doyle counter-suggested dryly.

"Most men I know would want to claim credit and ride the parade it would bring." Lindsey shook her head.

"We are not like most men," Bodie told her with an honesty that he felt bone deep.

"Most are not like us," Doyle added. "I think it's time for the Musée d'Orsay. He was quite looking forward to another deep foray into art.

Upon return to the hotel, Doyle overheard the desk clerks discussing the thwarted bank robbery. One clerk was sure that one of the crime stoppers resided there. Keeping his back to the clerks, Doyle hurried out front.

"We need to change hotels. One of the staff may be able to ID us," Doyle announced to the group but looked directly at Bodie.

"Great! Let's go to the L'Hotel La Rive Gauche," Allison nearly squealed. She added more calmly, "It's a Left Bank gem, and within walking distance of some of the smaller art galleries."

Bodie and Doyle exchanged a look, planning logistics of the move without argument and without being seen, not really listening to the girls chatter.

"Cute old ones, I know this isn't on Daddy's preferred list of hotels, but it's more upscale," Lindsey explained. "We have to change anyway . . ."

Doyle looked over to his partner with a worried look. He read upscale as very expensive. Bodie’s expression told him he’d follow his lead.

Lindsey read Doyle’s reaction, and the glance she saw pass between the keepers didn't look too positive. "Come on, there's a hot tub in each room. I'll pop for yours, so don't worry about mean Mr C. Just want a few days to veg-out. It was an emotionally wrought morning." The American girl sighed dramatically.

Agent Doyle looked like he was about to speak when the Home Secretary's granddaughter added her pleas.

"They have an exclusive spa. We can get a three-day regime. Eating will be the most difficult thing we do." Allison looked beseechingly at them.

Bodie put his hands up, warding off the barrage of further cajoling. "Fine, fine. The Hotel L'Hotel La Rive Gauche it is."

The girls smiled their appreciation before they approached the registration desk and dealt with all the changes, the new bookings, and arranged the move. After much conversation, the American girl broke away and beelined back toward the CI5 agents.

“They only have one more room with the hot tub besides ours. Do you two have any objections to sharing a room?”

Bodie looked to his partner and noted first his shrug then his nod of agreement. Bodie smiled. “We’ve shared this whole trip to make the expenses work. For a hot tub, we can most certainly do so again.” Bodie felt more content knowing his partner was just a bed away.

“Great!” She practically skipped back to the desk.

A hot tub and at least three days down time almost sounded like a holiday to Doyle. He knew Bodie could use it as well. The job had been taxing the last six months to say the least. This job had been taxing the last six days. He smiled so Bodie could see.

Bodie and Doyle watched from outside as the loaded trolley made its way across the lobby and into the waiting limo. It was quite nice not having to lift a finger this time. The new destination had porters waiting and they dispatched the removal of luggage. They just followed the staff to their new accommodation.

Once the door was opened, Bodie took in the single king size bed and automatically adjusted the sleeping accommodation in his head as he noted absently that it was easier to share a bed with Ray over most birds. Birds usually wanted to stay the night through and that wasn’t high on his list. With Ray, well it was different. Ray was his mate and backup; he always felt safer with Doyle in the room.

What really captured the attention of both men was the rock wall that had a waterfall cascading into a heated pool larger than most rooms that Cowley would allow in the expense sheets.

Bodie peeled his clothes off and tossed them onto the chair as he headed straight into the steaming water.

Doyle picked up the phone and dialled their charges' room. The squeal of delight in the background confirmed that the girls would be occupied until dinnertime. The American confirmed Doyle’s hypothesis. He hung up the phone and let his clothes lie where they fell as he crossed the room to the hot tub. He gave no thought to his naked body.

Bodie noted with satisfaction that the scars had healed nicely on Doyle’s chest. He watched all the skin until it disappeared under the water.

They finished submerging themselves only when the water was up to their chins. They each took a seat on the tub bench directly opposite one another, leg against leg, thigh against opposite thigh. Sighs of bliss as the hot water relaxed muscles they had forgotten were tense. The bonus was they knew even with eyes closed if the other slipped under the water.

“This sure beats laying it down in a club every night,” Doyle commented lazily as he waved his hand back and forth under the water.

“Agreed. Clubs are hell with minding jobs. Have to nurse the same drink the night through.” Bodie’s eyes remained closed but he pressed his leg against Doyle’s to physically acknowledge the mutual wavelength between them.

"The monkey suits are a new touch. Feel as though we were on display," Doyle murmured, as if he were speaking his thoughts aloud. He leaned back against the jet.

Bodie took extra care not to speak his thoughts aloud. He remembered that Doyle in the 'monkey suit' had been more than breathtaking.

"Felt like 007. Would have loved saying, shaken, not stirred." Bodie kept his eyes closed, but he could feel Doyle chuckle against his skin.

 

Doyle thought about the image, and Bodie did indeed look the role; rakish, debonair, quite luscious. He looked the same naked. Truly did, his naked form looked manly yet appealing. Doyle's cock hardened and he sat up so it wouldn't break the surface. His awareness of Bodie had reached a different level, and was betrayed by his own body. He stood and turned quickly to face away from Bodie, grabbing a towel and trying to hide his reaction.

Bodie's eyes were riveted though; Doyle could feel them. He trusted what he felt and turned back, minus the towel. His cock was hard, erect.

Bodie was mesmerised by Ray's cock, jutting out beautifully, wanting to touch. Bodie felt himself grow equally hard, all evidence just below the water line. He double checked to be sure.

His eyes snapped back up as Doyle stepped back into the hot tub, sat down right next to Bodie, thighs touching again. This time Doyle didn't stop his hand from exploring. Without thought or breath, Bodie wantonly spread his legs wider. Doyle's hand inched in closer as Bodie arched his back to bring his cock even closer to Doyle's hand.

"I stopped myself before because I thought I had overstepped some imaginary boundary," Doyle whispered. "But as soon as I stepped out of the water, I had an epiphany. We have no recognisable boundaries. We have always written our own rules. And we have been heading this way a long time."

"My life has never been more complete than when you are at my side. Together in everything is what feels right. And everything is exactly what I mean," Bodie whispered back.

Doyle closed the gap between his hand and Bodie's cock. If possible, Bodie's cock surged and engorged even more. Doyle wasted no time in working the full cock, his grip firm and knowing. He could read how close Bodie was to finishing and lightly grabbed his balls with the other hand. Bodie shot his climax, powerfully with a groan of pure joy.

Bodie reached for Doyle's cock and one caress and grip later, Doyle came over his hand and chest. They both sank deeper into the water, Doyle's leg atop Bodie's. Their fingers entwined, heads lolled back.

"No boundaries, I like that," Bodie said as he squeezed his partner's hand.

Doyle nodded gently, so as not to bump his head. "It explains a lot."

Bodie sat up as he nodded. "It does." He leaned in and kissed the lips he knew he wanted more than any bird's lips. He felt himself harden again.

Doyle drew back, devilment in his eyes as he stroked Bodie's burgeoning erection. He leaned back in and sucked Bodie's lips. "Bed, I think."

With a shuddering breath, Bodie pulled away. "Another fine idea." His voice was gravelly, and his breathing uneven. He stood up, water dripping from all parts exposed. He reached down and pulled the hand Doyle held up to him. Bodie curled his arm about Doyle's waist and drew Doyle close to him as he led them to bed. Their degree of wetness was no hindrance to him as he fell back onto the bed pulling Doyle atop him as he did. He resumed kissing as soon as his partner's lips were close enough.

 

The Palace of Versailles was as exquisite as all had proclaimed. The gardens begged to be investigated, the halls to be explored. Bodie did it all with a spring in his step.

This hyper-awareness of Doyle was extraordinary. It was just as satisfying to know that he could comport himself professionally when all he wanted to do was bury his fingers in Doyle's hair and kiss his lips soundly. It was equally intoxicating to know that Doyle was in the same place if the smouldering stares were anything to go by. Bodie was still stunned at how simple the answer had been. Doyle.

They could work, do the job, and they could love, have someone at home.

He smiled as he stepped up to admire the view with Doyle.

-----

The girls' door shut for the night. Doyle opened their own door; Bodie closed it with his foot. He pushed Doyle up against the wall and pressed his own body up close. He sought and captured lips that had teased him all day. He rotated his hips and found that Ray mirrored his hardness.

Lips devouring and being devoured, Bodie reached down and unbuttoned Ray's flies. He touched the hot flesh and cupped it fully. Ray rubbed and rotated against Bodie and arched as he came hard against him.

Ray slouched there just a few seconds. His eyes flew open when he heard Bodie lick his hand. Bodie's cock was still thick, hard pressed against the cloth of his trousers. Ray dropped to his knees and twisted Bodie against the wall as he opened his flies. The engorged cock popped out. No pants? Ray was getting hard again just thinking about Bodie untethered all day.

He sucked in the leaking cock and worked it only a few times when Bodie groaned and emptied himself down Ray's throat. Bodie slid, as if boneless, down the wall to join Ray on the floor.

"I haven't felt this randy since I was a teen," Bodie said as he leaned against Ray.

"I go off like a light, with barely a touch by you. I'd be almost embarrassed if you weren't the same," Doyle admitted.

"I can't believe how you make me feel . . . no bird has ever come close to creating that intensity." Bodie adjusted himself. "I'm getting hard, just thinking about how you get me going."

"Let's take this to the bed," Doyle suggested. "I fancy touching you a lot," he admitted as he pressed a hard kiss against Bodie's open lips.

Breathing hard, Bodie gulped in air. "I fancy you touching me. As long, as I get to touch back."

"Come on, lover, come and touch away."

--------

Agents Bodie, and Doyle emerged from the lift playing a swat each other game, childish energy abounding.

"How long have you two been an item?" Lindsey jested as she stepped up to greet them.

Bodie tilted his head as he looked at his partner a moment, then smiled. "A long time." For a second time stopped and his world shifted and realigned itself.

Lindsey looked back and forth between the two men.

"Partners that work exclusively together develop a non-verbal code that sees them through all sorts of emergencies," Doyle elaborated for the young lady.

"Like how you both took out the bank robbers without talking to each other?"

"Exactly." Doyle nodded his head before he turned and gave Bodie a twinkling smile.

"And what do we have on the agenda today?" Bodie rubbed his hands together in expectation.

-----------

 

Epilogue
4-6 weeks later

 

Mr Cowley picked up his private phone on the first ring. "Cowley."

"George," Dr Hedley spoke enthusiastically, "the holiday worked wonders for both Bodie and Doyle. They are in great condition. A1. They lost nothing while away. In fact, George, they gained more muscle tone. Jack says that they are more in-tune than ever. I'll send over my written report. Just wanted you to know the results as soon as possible."

"Thank you, Philip." George Cowley placed the phone in its cradle and opened the report from Jack Crane. Crane had even jested that they needed even fewer words to convey intentions than before. No other team touched their effectiveness. Philip and Jack were very pleased.

He looked over at the last folder and opened it. Only Dr Ross continued to see a problem in that very closeness. More intense than ever she claimed, sure to cause problems down the line when Doyle married.

Mr Cowley closed the folder, placed them all together within his desk and locked it. He sat back as he thought over his own hypothesis . . . he was quite sure he would no longer need to vet girlfriends for either Agents Bodie or Doyle.

fin