Actions

Work Header

Straighten Up And Fly Right

Work Text:

straightenupbanner045.png

Doyle ruffles his luxuriant auburn wings and sighs contentedly. He has everything he wants: a fabulous flat in London, a grand job he likes, and a wonderful, steady bloke. He smiles. He thinks he's ready to settle down.

No, make that he is ready to settle down. He's 29, after all, and it's time. His mum would be thrilled. She's not the "I must have a grandchild" kind of lady. She only wants Doyle's happiness.

"Raymie," mum often says, "you need someone to come home to, someone to count on, someone to love."

His answer is always the same. "Mum, I hate when you call me Raymie! I'm not six any more!"

She pinches his cheeks, strokes his feathers (which makes him feel adored,) and grins at him, with her missing-one-front-tooth-grin. He loves his mum. She still has nice brown and grey wings even though she's heading into sixty. Mum takes care of herself. (Exercises twice a week, at the local church hall. Free, with a real fitness coach, she tells him often.)

Doyle doesn't hear the front door open, but he hears his beloved say, "Home!"

"Leslie!" Doyle calls out. "In the bedroom."

Leslie appears, his wings a reflection of his blond colouring. They're gorgeous, with a touch of tan and white running through the blond. Leslie is amazing. Tall, slim, handsome. A hard worker whose career is on the fast-track to the stars. Doyle wonders what Leslie sees in him, a copper on the beat. It will be another few years before he's in line for a promotion. Then he'll be eligible to apply to the Mounted Unit. He'd kill to be in that group!

Leslie walks over to Doyle, kissing him. "How was your day?"

Doyle returns the kiss, his wings quivering with happiness. "I should ask you how your day was. You've been at work for hours."

Leslie smiles. "It's not like you won't be leaving for your shift shortly. My day was fantastic. Closed on a property on Bayswater. The commission will be three grand."

"Wow. That's what I make in a month! Congratulations."

"Cheers, love. I've two more closings at the end of the month, so this will be a cracker of a quarter for my portfolio."

"You're doing so well!"

Leslie smiles, taking Doyle's praises as his due. "I won't see you in the morning before I leave for Dublin."

"Oh right. The conference." Damn. It will be lonely without Leslie. Doyle looks away, his wings drooping.

"Don't be like that. You know this is important to my career. I have to keep my fingers in the pie."

"Or risk getting them bitten off," Doyle offers. "Yes, I know. I don't mean to be so..." He waves a hand in the air.

"Possessive?" Leslie finishes.

Doyle shrugs and tells himself to buck up. He straightens up his back, his wings. "I'll miss you."

"I'll be back before you know it. You'll be busy anyway. It's not like you have a holiday coming soon," Leslie says, his tone accusatory. "Sorry," he adds quickly. "That's not fair. You work hard at a dangerous job. You keep people safe. I merely find them homes." He leans in for another kiss.

Doyle accepts the sign of affection. He finishes dressing: crisply pressed trousers and shirt, recently dry-cleaned uniform coat (buttons polished to shiny gold goodness), and his cap. He slips the cap under his arm and stands smartly, saluting.

Leslie looks him up and down. "You'll do."

He grins. "Ta, luv."

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

Doyle finishes his shift at 8 am. He heads home, remembering he's alone when he walks in. The flat seems more empty than usual even though Leslie would have been at his office anyway. He stands still for a moment before he heads to their bedroom. Undressing, he hangs his jacket and trousers (still clean!) on a wooden hanger to keep them from wrinkling. The knees on the trousers will need a quick press before he leaves for his shift tonight, but for now, he wants a shower.

In the bathroom, he inspects himself in the mirror. He might have been handsome (or at least cute) if not for the broken cheekbone. It doesn't make him look rakish; it makes him look crooked. With a sigh, he brushes his teeth and hops into the shower, washing his hair. It was a good night. Quiet. Only one arrest, and that was a lad who had too much to drink and tried to fly through the fountain in Trafalgar Square. He was unhurt but wet, with bedraggled drab brown wings. In the end, Doyle was tempted to release him (he looked like he had a problem with alcohol but what could he do?). His partner on the beat wanted the bust on his record to hasten his promotion. Doyle let him have the arrest.

Clean, Doyle fixes himself a nice pot of tea and a pile of toast. He opens a jar of raspberry jam and crunches through four slices while he peruses the morning paper that he'd picked up on his way home. Sipping the nicely brewed tea (splash of milk, no sugar), he gulps, choking slightly on an errant bread crumb.

'Dublin prepares for Equal Wing Love Day Celebrations! The annual Equal Wing Love Day Celebration that occurs once every four years (February 29th!) kicks off on Sunday evening in beautiful Dublin! As all winged lovers know, Equal Wing Love Day is the day for all of you forlorn lovers to approach your (hopefully soon!) better halves and ask for their hand in marriage. A centuries' old tradition, history buffs will recall this started when the poorer and smaller winged folk of bygone days had to wait until their better winged lovers asked them to marry. It was strictly forbidden for them to do so, except on one day every four years the unfortunates could to ask for the hand of their beloved.'

Doyle's hand pauses on the way to his mouth, teacup shaking. He doesn't read the rest of the article but focuses on the idea that is the main focus. It was silly. It was dumb. It was laughable. But could he do this? Could he ask Leslie to marry him? He isn't a "smaller winged" man. Those prejudices are long past, thank the gods! He knows he and Leslie are comparable in size. But he feels "smaller" because Leslie makes more money, is happy as things are, has never seemed eager to marry. Neither wanted children, Leslie had explained, so there was no reason to tie themselves up in legalities. But Doyle wants legalities. He wants to belong. He wants more.

He sits back, interested in his own conclusions. He wants more. Questions arise. Should he want more? More what? What more is there than an intelligent, handsome lover who is a great shag. More than a fantastic flat (with access to a private garden) in a lovely part of town. More than... What? Something is missing, and Doyle can't put a finger on exactly what it is.

Maybe it is marriage, after all.

"I'm going to Dublin! I’ll ask Leslie to marry me." That Leslie might not agree doesn't enter his one-way conversation. He leaps up, rinses his dish and cup, makes a call to HQ to request family emergency days (they grant him four!) and dashes to pack. He calls a friend (travel agent!) who books him an airline ticket for counter pickup and hails a cab.

Wings. He has wings. Everybody has wings unless there was some horrible tragedy at birth or an accident, much like when somebody looses an arm or leg. He gets a plane ticket because that is how it's done. Silly, that, he thinks. People fly all the time! Well, not a lot. He knows it's considered dangerous to fly about the city with power lines and tall buildings and helicopters about. Let's not forget about flying too high. Lack of oxygen isn't pleasant. Get dizzy enough and well, splat. Oh, a bit is okay. Two roads over to your mate's. A quick hop to the supermarket is fine. Outside of the city, in the countryside, it's more... acceptable. Done more. And he still practices flying long distances several times a year. Keeps him in shape, and he enjoys it, seeing the world from above. Villages, lakes, fields, sheep. Musing in the taxi until he disembarks at Gatwick, he hums happily, not paying attention to the rain pelting down on him.

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

The flight from Gatwick to Dublin is terrible. While Doyle was happy to get a seat on short notice, he is not at all happy with the weather. It is storming, lightning crackling far too close to the plane for his comfort. He is not a fearful flyer but in this, everyone is unsettled. The pilot is also tense when his voice sounds over the tinny speaker: "This is your captain speaking. Dublin airport has been closed because of inclement weather. For everyone's safety, we will land in Cardiff, Wales."

Groans fill the air, but after the next hard bump (and a few screams), everybody is more than happy to be landing, including Doyle. Sort of. What the heck is he supposed to do in Cardiff? He needs to be in Dublin, not Wales! Still, it is with a glorious of relief that the plane lands safely. He peers out the window but even here, the weather is horrid, with torrents of rain streaming down the glass.

Doyle disembarks with the rest of the passenger and walks... into chaos. The terminal is teaming with stranded passengers. Children run wild, playing tag and laughing. One child tries to fly indoors, with disastrous results. More kids cry at the incident, and parents try to calm them. Every clap of thunder adds to the cacophony. The adults aren't any better, shouting at each other. Chairs are at a premium. Even floor space is limited.

"Excuse me," Doyle says to the haggard desk clerk. "I need to get to Dublin."

The woman looks at him, then at her colleague. She cocks her head at him. "He needs to get to Dublin."

The other woman snickers.

"Today, please," Doyle says firmly.

The first clerk, Amanda her badge reads, looks directly at Doyle but speaks to the second woman (Gloria), "Gloria, luv, please ring up the gods in Heaven and tell them this bloke needs to get to Dublin. Today."

"Right away," Gloria responds cheekily. "That will stop this storm in its tracks, I'm sure."

Doyle sighs. He's being a prat, but he's desperate. He turns away and scans the room before turning back. "Can you tell me how I could get the ferry from here to Dublin? Please?" he asks nicely, trying to be pleasant.

"Of course, sir," Amanda says. "You'd book the bus or a car to Holyhead and then buy a ticket for the ferry to Dublin."

"Thank you. Where may I do that, please?"

Gloria snickers again. Doyle looks at her before returning his attention to Amanda. He hates being a source of amusement, but in all fairness, it isn't anybody's fault the weather has turned nasty. He schools his face into a pleasing demeanour. More flies with honey, his mum always says.

"Sir, the ferry isn't running because of the bad weather. It's too dangerous. There may be a bus leaving later on tonight or first thing in the morning when the forecasts predicts a clearing. There is a car hire counter in the next terminal. I have no way of knowing if they have any vehicles to let."

Doyle shifts his bag from one hand to another. "If I stay here tonight (God forbid!), will I get on the first plane tomorrow for Dublin?"

"We can't promise to get you to Dublin tomorrow, sir. We'll do our best. Once the weather clears and Dublin reopens."

The women look at each other and Doyle reads their glances as, "Fat chance this bloke gets out of here before next week!" They seem pleased at their exchange, smiling at each other.

No sense fighting, Doyle reckons. He nods tiredly. "Thanks for your help."

He turns and surveys the mayhem. His head is throbbing, and he's hungry. He will find something to eat and then consider his options. Walking towards the cafe area, he says to himself, "The best laid schemes o' Mice and' Men, gang aft agley." He smirks to himself. Awry doesn't begin to explain this debacle. It has been a hell of a day. He can only hope that the rest of the day goes more smoothly. With less lightning, thunder and torrential rain. Not much to ask, is it?

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

Standing at the window, Doyle surveys his world. The rain streaks down the glass, giving him a distorted view of the tarmac. The planes are getting a good wash, he tells himself with a dry chuckle. At least his belly is full. He is inordinately happy about that. The bowl of hot, steamy of cawl, along with a crusty roll, hit the spot, as did the pot of tea and a serving of amber pudding. The food revives him, and with his strength returning he makes a decision that is this side of insane.

He will fly to Ireland! Not by plane, but with his very own wings. He has wings. He can fly.
His wings are lean. Strong. Fit. Full.

He will fly.

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

It is still storming so Doyle waits for a sign, a slight break in the storm, as an indication that he should leave. He has only a small overnight bag that he firmly anchors to his body. He ties the hood of his raincoat around his head and adds a woollen scarf to anchor it. His trainers are firmly double-tied and he has tucked a newly purchased map of Ireland into an inner pocket. He has studied the map carefully, making sure he will not wander into Dublin air space. That could be disastrous even though the airport is closed. He chooses an area of the city for his heading by the name alone (because it makes him smile): Ballsbridge. Balls... bollocks... Leslie. Makes perfect sense.

He exits the airport terminal, walks to the end of the pavement, and waits under a canopy, watching the sky. People rush past him, heads down, as they hurry inside out of the inclement weather. It's forty-five minutes before the clouds scuttle away and the sky clears.

Now, he tells himself. He spreads his wings, feels the air under them. Times his assent. Soars upwards, using the wind to lift him higher and higher, beating his wings in a slow, rhythmic fashion.

And he is airborne. Carefully, he checks his bearings. He has a better than average sense of direction, and he turns confidently towards his destination. To be safe, he scans the sky for any aeroplanes; listens as well. He hears the wind. At the moment, there is no lightning or thunder, and no planes. His plan is to stay close to land for as long as possible, skirting the coast of Wales. Then he will turn north, cut across St George's Channel and follow the Irish coast until he reaches his destination.

His wings beat strongly as he makes excellent progress for the first hour. It is a lengthy flight, almost four hours by plane. Doyle has high hopes to make the journey eight, with a cooperative tail wind. He flies on, feeling the wind moving him quickly in the correct direction. Using the lift, he glides as often as he can, reserving his strength for the long trip. He sees the North Atlantic under him. He crosses towards Rosslare Harbour, feeling vulnerable in the open with no land in sight.

Doyle perseveres. He is tough, a copper. He will do this.

The weather, which had been relatively clear until now, darkens again. The wind picks up. He can see waves, white caps, below. The wind pushes him, off course he feels. He beats his wings furiously, peering down. He's beginning to tire but he can't stop, can't give into fatigue. He continues on. He has no other choice.

Gathering his reserves, Doyle flies on. He does not know where he is, but he must endure. His strength is waning when he sees something ahead. A light! He heads towards the light. It disappears. He is bereft for a moment before the light reappears. He stares. It disappears again, reappears rhythmically. A lighthouse! Yes! He knows where he is. Not where he wanted to be, but he is happy. He will survive. Reinvigorated temporarily, he follows the welcoming light to Hook Island.

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

Doyle lands ungracefully on the beach near the lighthouse. He lies on the sand for a few minutes, resting. He can hear the Atlantic waves crash onto the sand close to where he lays. Finally, he sits up and looks about. There are no seagulls screeching in the brooding sky. They're smart enough to have sought a safe harbour during the storm. A wary sandpiper runs along the sand, searching and finding something it considers a meal. It picks up its dinner, eats it, then darts away, leaving him alone.

Taking his precious map from his inner pocket, where it has stayed (thankfully) dry and readable, he searches and finds the nearest village, about 10 kilometres north-east of his present location. He glances around but there is no one to ask for a lift, no convenient taxi waiting. Blast. He considers flying, but his wings are battered. He is so tired, and it's raining (of course), making him all the more miserable. With no other options, he moves one foot, then the other, until he is walking towards the village.

It is dark when he sees the lights ahead. He hurries as much as his weary body allows, and it is with much relief that he pushes open the door to the pub and walks into the wonderful warmth of a heated building.

Doyle stands about three feet inside the room, dripping water onto the floor. His wings droop and he's shivering. It is warm, which feels wonderful. It is an old building, all worn wood and rusty tin signs advertising lager and whisky nailed to the walls. The ceiling is low, with darkened beams. The floor is wood, with boards worn to whiteness from the tread of many shoes. There is a bar with the usual beer taps. A mirror decorates the back wall, surrounded by shelves full of liquor bottles, glasses and a scattering of gold football and rugby trophies.

"Get you something?" a man's voice calls out.

Doyle wipes the rainwater from his dripping hair out of his eyes and looks around. He sees four or five people sitting at tables, and one at the bar. He is dumb with cold.

"Are you going to order or what? This isn’t a coach stand!"

He turns his head towards the sound of the voice. He sees a man, a handsome man, leaning insolently against the frame of an open doorway behind the bar. He stares rudely at the man, unable to look away. Something inside him does a flip. The bloke is... amazing. About his height, a bit heavier, with dark brown (almost black) hair that curls around his ears and makes an adorable fringe on his forehead. He is staring back at Doyle with brilliant blue eyes, dark and smoky.

The stranger's (bartender?) wings are beautiful. From afar, they seem to match his hair wonderfully, all glossy darkness with what looks like sapphire blue streaks throughout. They are the most beautiful wings Doyle has ever seen. His heart pounds and he is suddenly light-headed. Swaying slightly, he involuntarily he holds his breath. The room spins; voices muffle.

"Are you daft?"

Doyle jerks in surprise. The man is standing inches from him, hands on hips. He looks ready to fight. His lips are a thin line. Those snapping blue eyes are more amazing up close. His voice is husky, deep, sexy.

Sexy? Where did that thought come from?

"Oi. Cloth ears! Do I need to repeat meself?" he says. He's holding a bar rag, which he tosses onto his shoulder.

"Sor- sorry," Doyle blurts out. His wings quiver; water drips onto the floor. "Sorry." He should explain, ask for help, for a drink, for a bite to eat, for a bed. He should... He blinks slowly, gives the annoyed man a wan smile, and crumbles to the floor.

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

When he wakes, he knows immediately that he is warm and dry. He is comfortable. He is lying down, covered with a duvet.

He is naked.

Doyle's eyes open. He looks around. He's alone, in a room, an extremely small room, barely big enough for the single bed upon which he lays, a small chest of drawers, a chifforobe (no closets in old houses!) and a tiny night stand next to his elbow. The bed is pushed up against the wall on his right, and the door to the hallway (he guesses since it's the only door in the room). He is so happy to be here. He's alive!

And he needs to urinate.

Cautiously, he pushes back the duvet and swings his feet to the floor. He tests his equilibrium. Not too bad. He's not dizzy, but he's a trifle off overall. Hungry and thirsty. On the small night stand he sees a glass of water. Gratefully he drinks all of it. His body is happy to receive the life-giving liquid.

Once he's on his feet, Doyle looks down at himself. Definitely can't go searching for a loo this way. He knows he has track suit bottoms in his bag. Then he sees a robe hanging on the back of the door and reaches for it. His wings are still damp on the underside so he opens them to give them a good shake. Mistake. The ends brush a photo frame off the dresser. It lands on the floor with the sound of breaking glass.

"Shit," he exclaims, pivoting. Another mistake. He sends the glass, along with a small lamp, into the air. The inevitable happens. They crash to the floor, making a horrid racket.

He stands still, hand over his mouth. He tucks his wings tightly to his body and leans to grab the photo frame. The door opens, banging him on top of the head.

"Ow," he cries, standing to glare into the opening.

The man. That man! From the bar. He stands there, looking annoyed.

"What the hell are you doing?" he says hotly. "Jesus," he adds once he's looked past Doyle to the mess.

"Sorry. I didn't mean- I was just- Sorry," Doyle said curtly, more angry than contrite. "It's a tight space."

"It's the only room that was vacant," the stranger explains. "You're lucky I had some place to dump your skinny arse!" His eyes flash blue-black and his wings tremble.

The man is not happy. Doyle realises he's being discourteous. The bloke didn't have to help him. Scrape him off the floor (apparently) and tuck him into bed. Naked.

Naked! Doyle remembers he's starkers. He looks down at the robe clutched in his hand, and puts it on quickly.

"Don't worry. I've seen better," the man snaps.

"Arsehole," Doyle mutters.

"I'm not the one wrecking the place! I'll add the breakage to your bill, along with the room. And the food." The man pushes past Doyle and puts the tray he's been holding on the dresser. "Cheese and pickle. The kitchen's been closed for hours. Brandy." He lets out a huffy breath. "Move back."

Doyle does as bid. He finds a square foot of floor that is free from with the evidence of his clumsiness. His caretaker fetches a broom and dustpan. He sweeps the floor, silently. His wings are stiff, tucked tightly to his body. He's got a right to be angry with his uninvited guest, Doyle reckons. He puts the lamp back on the table and clicks it. It still works. That makes Doyle feel marginally better.

"Listen," Doyle says. It wasn't- whoever's fault he'd fucked up. "I'm sorry. Truly. I'll be happy to pay. Thank you."

When the proprietor stands up, finished with his task, Doyle holds out his hand.

The man looks at the hand for a split second before he takes it. "Cheers."

"Mr...?"

"Bodie. Just Bodie."

"Ray Doyle. Thanks again. Ah, where exactly am I?"

"In me pub."

Doyle laughs. "Yes, I figured that. But where exactly? How far from Dublin am I?"

"Dublin?" Bodie echoes, snorting with amusement. "Why would you want to go to Dublin? Cities..." He pauses, then says, "It's about five hours on not-so-great roads on a halfway decent day. But with all this flooding along the coast, the roads that are quickest are impassable right now." Bodie taps his chin. "Maybe seven, eight hours, give or take. If the inland roads are usable. Lots of dirt and mud with this weather."

The bloke sounds like the local weather reporter. Doyle wants to ask more questions but his kidneys throb painfully. He grimaces.

"You all right?"

"Need the toilet."

"Go on then. Down the hall. Towels in the airing cupboard." Bodie gives him another look, which Doyle can't decipher, and leaves.

Doyle hurries to the toilet, relieves himself, splashes water on his face and returns to devour the sandwich. When he finishes, he sighs with happiness at the relief he feels, both in body and soul. He is safe and dry and full. He takes off the robe, pulls on his track suit bottoms, then he takes the brandy to bed, slipping under the duvet. He sips the brandy slowly, savouring the richness of the liquor. He'll make plans in the morning, when he's not so exhausted. Finishing the liquor, he carefully sets the glass down (no more accidents!), rolls over and tumbles into sleep.

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

Doyle dresses. Thankfully he has dry jeans, underpants, vest, and his favourite red and black striped rugby jersey in his bag. His shoes are still damp but he put on dry socks so he'll survive. He glances in the mirror. Leslie hates this shirt, but Doyle loves it. It is comfy and looks good on his trim frame. He smiles, thinking of Leslie, when another face, another body jumps out of his subconscious. Bodie.

Bloody Bodie. He pushes away the errant thought and heads downstairs.

Bodie is wiping down tables. There is a mop and bucket waiting patiently nearby. He stands up, cocks his head when he realises that Doyle has come into the room.

"Morning," Doyle says.

Doyle must passed muster because Bodie gives a curt nod and says, "Morning. Coffee in the kitchen. If you want tea, you'll have to make your own. Bread, butter and jam on the bench. Help yourself." He flicks the rag in the direction of the door behind the bar before he returns to his task.

Doyle's belly rumbles. He heads towards the door and opens it. The kitchen is small but clean. There is a cooker, fridge, wine cooler and a large metal sink with a window above it. There are shelves holding plates, cups, pans. A small wood table with two chairs occupies a piece of floor space. Opening a green-painted door, he sees it leads to the outside. The fragrant aroma of fresh coffee brings Doyle back to the cooker. On it rests a metal percolator. He snags a mug from a shelf and pours the dark, rich brew into it. He sniffs, then sips. Nice. It will be perfect with a splash of milk, which he finds in the fridge (of course!).

The toaster waits for his instructions. He slips two pieces of bread from the package left for him into the slots and gets a plate. The toast pops. He spreads butter and blackcurrant jam onto them. Plate and cup in hand, he wanders out to the main room and puts his breakfast on the bar. Munching, he watches Bodie clean.

Doyle remembers observing Bodie last evening and this morning's perusal only adds to his appreciation of Bodie's physical appearance. He is handsome. No, make that gorgeous. The man is lean, and as he mops the floor, his arm muscles flex below his black t-shirt sleeves. His legs are long, with heavy thighs that fit him perfectly. His hair is a cap of darkest brown, with the ends curling around his ears, along his neckline and on his forehead.

Bodie lifts his face from his task, gives Doyle a curious look and smiles. Doyle's heart thumps. He wants this man. Bloody hell. He's engaged (or hopes to be soon!) to Leslie. He loves Leslie. Doesn't he? Not willing to give in to examining his feelings for his lover, Doyle eats the last piece of toast. He's still hungry.

Bodie picks up the bucket and mop. "I'm done here for now. Do you want something more substantial for breakfast?"

Doyle brushes the crumbs from his hands. "Please." He hastily adds, "I'll pay."

Bodie shrugs. "Fine." He skirts the bar and goes into the kitchen. "Come on, then." He puts the bucket and mop outside the back door and washes his hands. "More coffee?"

"Is it all right if I put the kettle on?"

"Sure. I drink tea but first thing in the morning I like a coffee. Put out two cups." Bodie fetches a frying pan, eggs and the loaf of sliced bread.

While Doyle makes tea and sets the table, Bodie fries half a dozen eggs in butter and then fries four slices of white bread. He piles three eggs on one slice and then tops it with another.

"Ready," Bodie says, setting the plates down on the small table.

Doyle pours tea. "Milk?"

"Yes. Two sugars."

"Two?"

Bodie looks at him. "Yes, mum."

Doyle shrugs; what this bloke eats or doesn't eat isn't his worry. "Sorry." He fixes his own with milk, and Bodie's as requested. He sits.

"Cheers," he says to Bodie, and digs in. He doesn't reference all the fat and calories he's consuming, not to mention the two slices of toast with butter and jam he'd eaten earlier. He is hungry; the food is good. Yesterday, he must have used every calorie in his body on his wild and crazy flight. Today he's sore and tired, but he'll recover quickly, especially if he eats like this for another day or two.

Any more than that and he'll put on weight.

Finished, he stands. "Is there a cab service to take me into Dublin?"

Bodie says, "There's a cab. Number's next to the phone in the pub." He slants his head in that direction.

"Cheers." Doyle rinses his plate and cup. He heads out into the pub. On the wall is the pay phone. Astonishingly, he finds the correct coin in the front pocket of his jeans (must have put them through the wash with change in his pocket) and peers at the number written on a slip of paper thumb-tacked to the wall over the phone. He dials when the phone rings, he pushes in the coin, and hears the ringing from outside the receiver. Swivelling his head quickly, he sees Bodie once more lounging in the kitchen doorway, green phone in his hand. That is the phone that is ringing.

With a devilish grin, he answers, "Bob's Taxi Service. How may I help you?"

"Moron." Doyle slams the phone down. "You could have just said."

"Nah. This was more fun," Bodie says with a cackle at his own humour.

Doyle sighs. "All right. It was funny. Sort of." He pauses. "Will you drive me to Dublin?"

Bodie hangs up the phone. "Nope. Hate Dublin."

"But you're a taxi service!"

"Right. Here's the deal. I'll take you to the train station next town over. That and the room and the breakage," he pauses, raising an eyebrow, "and the food will cost you a hundred and twenty-five pounds." He gazes at Doyle with that same grin that makes Doyle want to smack his face. "Not including VAT, of course."

"Of course," Doyle snarls. This Bodie is the most infuriating man he's ever met! He's so happy Leslie isn't anything like him. Leslie is steady, kind, calm. Leslie treats him well.

"One hundred even, with VAT included," Doyle counters.

"Done," Bodie says in a tone that implies he's won the bidding competition. That he would have settled for seventy-five. "In advance."

"Fine." Doyle pulls out his credit card.

"Cash only."

Bloody hell. Doyle knows he's got about eighty pounds in cash. In the City, he uses his card for everything. Still, he counts out the seventy-five and hands it to Bodie, who grins and pockets the money.

Berk.

"We'll leave in half an hour. I have to call Angie to come open for the lunch trade." Bodie begins to dial the number on the phone he's still holding.

Doyle fetches his bag, packs his damp clothing from yesterday in the bottom, leaving his clean dress trousers and button-down shirt on top. He puts his track suit bottoms between them as a barrier to keep them dry. Another quick glance and he's got everything; shaving kit stowed, wallet in his back pocket, coat (still damp but not much he can do now) over his arm. He's ready to go to Leslie!

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

crazymini.png

"This is not a whole car," Doyle says unkindly, standing and staring at the Austin Mini. "I can't fit in there."

Bodie huffs out an annoyed breath, rolling his eyes. "You are a fucking prima donna! First you pass out on me floor, then you destroy the room I kindly let you use-

"I paid for that room!"

"Then," Bodie continues without missing a beat, "you eat my food, drink my brandy, and to top it all off, you disparage Hilda!"

"Eh?" Doyle looks over the roof at Bodie, who is actually stroking the car as if it were a bird... or bloke he loved.

"Hilda?"

Bodie points a finger. "Get in or walk," he snarls. "Makes no never-mind to me."

"I'm not paying you fifty pounds to ride in this. Twenty-five."

"Thirty."

"Moron," Doyle mutters, opening the door to little Hilda. He puts his bag in what is laughingly called the back seat if you were toddler-sized, and folds his wings tightly to his back. He slides in, shifting to get comfortable. Which, in this sardine can, is next to impossible.

Bodie gets in, turns the ignition. The car sputters, coughs, and then starts. He casts Doyle a toothy grin, puts the car into first, and peels (as much as this tiny car can peel) out of the car park. He gleefully stomps the accelerator, and the car shudders once before it agrees to hurry forward.

Doyle looks about. The car is plain, not even a radio in sight. Bodie shifts up to fourth and they're flying down a dirt road with hedgerows on either side. They tower over the car. Doyle looks at them for a minute before he glances away. The motion makes him dizzy.

During the first thirty minutes, no-one speaks. The weather is cloudy, a touch cool, but not raining. The dirt roads are muddy in places. Bodie slides through the mud with glee, grinning like a nutter when the little car swerves. Doyle does not respond to this obvious ploy to make him frightened (or angry).

Bodie slows down when he finally reaches tarmac and drives like a normal person. He gives Doyle a sideways glance.

"What's in Dublin?" Bodie asks, breaking the silence.

"Not that it's any of your business, but my partner. I want to ask Leslie to marry me."

"Eh?" Bodie looks over at Doyle before turning back to the road. "Why go all the way to Dublin? Couldn't you ask Leslie to marry you when you were in London?"

Doyle rubs his finger on his upper lip. "It's an Irish tradition. Monday is Equal Wing Love Day. It's a day that in bygone days the small wings could ask the regular wings to marry." He turns slightly towards Bodie. "Can you imagine the prejudice? It was illegal for small wings to ask anyone with larger wings to marry but for one day a year, here in Ireland."

Bodie furrows his brow. "I've never heard such balderdash before."

"It's true. I researched it.” Doyle glances at the side of Bodie’s head. “Besides, you’re not Irish."

"Your wings aren't smaller. Mine and yours are the same size. Are Leslie's big then?"

"No, not at all." Doyle shakes his head. "You're missing the point. It's a traditional day to ask someone you love to marry you, and I want to ask Leslie."

"I'm still confused, but no matter. Seems like a lot of trouble when you could've done it in the comfort of your flat at home. But good luck with that, if that's what you want." Bodie stops at a junction before turning right.

"Ta. Honestly, it was a whim. I thought it would be romantic." Doyle pauses. Something makes him forge on. "We've been together three years and so far, Leslie says we really don't need any sort of legal permanence."

Bodie downshifts on a corner. "And you want it to be permanent?"

Doyle hesitates. "Yes. Of course."

"You don't sound sure."

"I am!" he says much too loudly. "I am," he says in a quieter voice.

Bodie shrugs. "If I were in love, marriage wouldn't matter. It's being together that counts."

"Have you?"

"Eh?" Bodie asks, casting him a quick glance.

"Been in love?"

"Yeah. Once. A long time ago. And before you ask, she died."

"Oh. Sorry." Doyle studies the side of Bodie's face. He's a good-looking bloke. Powerful features, except for that one crooked eyebrow. He likes the eyebrow. It gives Bodie a rakish charm. He smiles to himself. Then he wonders why he’s studying Bodie in the first place when he’s already got a lover.

"Damn."

What?" Doyle looks ahead.

They are heading up a hill and as they make it most of the way up, he sees that the road is blocked with sheep. A lot of sheep and one dog. The dog glares at them.

Bodie steps on the brake, then turns off the ignition.

"Blow your horn," Doyle commands.

"Won't do any good. They're used to cars. They'll move when they like, and not a second before." Bodie leans back, crosses his arms. He looks like he's settling in for a nap.

Doyle scowls and gets out. He ruffles his wings. They're tight from being in the cramped car and it feels nice giving them some air. He gives the sheep a baleful eye.

"You're nothing but mutton chops and leg of lamb," he mutters. He walks forward, waving his arms. The dog growls. He stops. "Move it!" he shouts. The sheep do not look his way. The dog does. He raises his hackles, his growl deepening.

"Leave it!" Bodie calls, climbing out from behind the wheel. He gives his wings a shake and sighs appreciatively.

"I want to get to the train station sometime today," Doyle said, a whining tone in his voice that he dislikes.

Bodie must dislike it as well because he looks at Doyle like he's a naughty toddler. He rolls his eyes. "You must be a joy to live with."

"Not that you'll ever find out," Doyle snaps. He waves his arms again, without much enthusiasm. "At least it isn't raining."

"True."

Doyle looks down the hill. The vista is pretty, greenery from the rain a deep colour. He glanced about, over Bodie's shoulder. He stands frozen in place for a split second before he yells, "Bodie!" He points.

Bodie spins around.

The little car is moving backwards down the hill. Doyle lets out a shout. He spreads his wings and flies after the car. He does the first thing he can think of: he alights on the roof.

Bodie joins him in flight. He lands on the bonnet, hanging on for dear life as the little car sways and swerves its way down the hill. Doyle doesn't have time to wonder what the heck he was thinking as he shouts aloud during the wild ride. The car leaves the road, crashes through a gate and once in the field, comes to an abrupt halt in the muddy ground.

Doyle leaps off, hovering over the car. Bodie is still clutching the bonnet, his fingers dug into the windscreen wiper channel.

"Are you okay?" Doyle asks.

Bodie slowly moves his hands and flexes his fingers. "Yeah, I think so."

"You forgot to set the brake! You're an idiot!" Doyle shouts.

"I did not!" Bodie looks into the window. "It's set. Must have failed."

"Wonderful. Ta for the lift," Doyle says uncharitably.

As Doyle watches, the car is slowly sinking into the mire. All the rain has rendered the field a swamp. "Jesus!" He flies over, opens the door before he can’t get inside, and snatches out his bag. He goes to the road to land beside Bodie, and they watch the little car sink to its axels. It finally stops.

Doyle looks at Bodie. Bodie looks at Doyle. Doyle snickers. Bodie chuckles. Soon Doyle is belly laughing along with Bodie. He clutches his sides, laughing riotously. Bodie does the same. It is many minutes before he pauses, hiccuping.

"I'm so sorry," Doyle said sincerely. "I'll pay for the tow."

Bodie wipes his eyes. "Nah. Not your fault." He looks around.

Doyle follows his gaze. No sheep or dog can be seen. The road is empty of life, of cars. "How far to the train station?"

Bodie shades his eyes, looking uphill. "Walking? Maybe an hour, but in the mud, two."

"We could fly. Be faster," Doyle suggests.

"Let's walk for a bit. Work out the kinks."

"Okay." Doyle gives Bodie a side-long look. "Unless you want to head back towards home."

"Nah," Bodie says with a shrug. "See you to the station. I said I would. Don't want you wandering in the wilds with rabid sheep and smelly dogs, now, do I?"

Doyle grins. Bodie grins back. Doyle likes Bodie's smile. He likes his dancing blue eyes and his snappy comebacks. He likes Bodie. Not that he'd ever tell the bloke.

Bodie starts up the hill. Doyle hurries to catch up with him. They pass the time chatting (like friends!) about philosophy, books, music. Doyle doesn't mention Leslie and Bodie does not mention any special bird (or fella). It is nice being with Bodie, and the idea makes him feel like he's being disloyal to Leslie.

After all, he loves Leslie.

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

Doyle enjoys the walk despite the mucky unpaved road they're on. They see more sheep, a few horses, and a cottage set back in the woods, smoke slowly drifting from its chimney.

"There is it," Bodie says, looking ahead.

Doyle shades his eyes. "We made it."

"Seems so."

Doyle hurries ahead. He trots up the train depot steps and enters the small waiting room. A man is behind the ticket counter. He looks up.

"Good afternoon."

"Hello," Doyle says. "I'd like a ticket to Dublin, please."

The man, older, about fifty, graying hair and friendly brown eyes, shakes his head sadly. He rustles his wings. They're the same colour as his eyes, and nice for an older person. Sometimes people lose feathers as they age. It's a lot like going bald. "Sorry, sir. Tracks washed out on a portion of the track. There won't be a train until it’s repaired."

"Bollocks!" Doyle snaps. The man's eyes narrow. "Sorry. Darn," he amends his curse. "When will that be?"

"A week. Maybe two. More rain is coming, more flooding." The man looks at Bodie.

"I'm just making sure he gets on the proper train," Bodie offers, explaining his presence.

"Ah." The man (Morris Barlow, his name tag reads) nods. "There's a bus that will take you to Dublin."

"Great!" Doyle says happily. "When can I get it?" He looks around. "Where's the stop?"

"Next town over."

"Oh," Doyle says, his enthusiasm dampened slightly. "And how far is that? Is there a taxi?"

"Sorry, no," Mr Barlow explains, "and it only runs Monday through Friday. Today’s Saturday so you’ll be waiting, unless you want to chance flying into Dublin." Mr Barlow rubs his chin. "No taxi. It's twelve miles."

Bodie looks at Doyle. "If we start now, we'll make it before dark, especially if we wing it."

Outside, an enormous clap of thunder rolls, and rain begins. It slowly builds until it is pelting the metal roof of the building.

"Guess we're not going anywhere tonight," Doyle says wearily.

"I'm guessing there's no lodging in the village," Bodie says.

"Not much of a village any ways," Barlow says.

Doyle is hungry and tired, and feels defeated. "May we camp out here?"

"No facilities, if you know what I mean. I've got to walk to home when I have a nature call," Mr Barlow says. "Say, you lads looks like you could use a good meal."

Bodie perks up. "Is there a pub?"

"No, no pub, but me wife sets a fine table, if you're interested."

Doyle brightens. "Really? You'd trust us in your home?" He is happy at the prospect of hot food.

"We've an extra room. Rent it out to ramblers occasionally," Mr Barlow explains. "The missus enjoys the company."

"We've love to!" Doyle says, ruffling his wings. He's feeling better by the minute. "Bodie?"

"Fine with me."

"I'll close up in an hour. I'm still on duty even if the train isn't running," Mr Barlow explains. "Make yourself comfortable and I'll take you home when my shift is up." Mr Barlow turns to a device on his counter. It looks like a typewriter with a telephone on it. He types into it. Waits. Types again. Waits. Types again.

When he's finished, he says, "The missus says you're both welcome. Thirty-eight years come Christmas."

Doyle smiles. Thirty-eight years. He's not made thirty-eight months in any relationship. He looks at Bodie, who tosses him a grin. "Sorry, mate. I didn't mean to drag you into this mess."

"I'll call the pub and ask Angela to cover for me."

Doyle gets that same warm feeling as he watches Bodie stand at the counter, using the telephone. His wings are so beautiful, the darkest brown imaginable, shiny and well cared for. He wonders what it would be like to have them wrapped around him. He has a sensual vision. He's naked and hard. Bodie is close, wings spread. He kisses Doyle lightly and with a loving smile, Bodie wraps those wonderful wings around him. The tips tickle his flesh. They caress him, sending shivers through his body. Eyes closed, he shivers for real.

"Cold?"

Doyle jumps. Bodie has finished his phone call and is standing right next to him, his gaze quizzical. "Y-yeah," Doyle mutters. It's a lie. (If only Bodie knew!) Would Bodie thump him or would Bodie wrap those sensuous wings around him, holding him close?

Doyle would never know. For a moment, that makes him incredibly sad.

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

"This is Mrs Barlow," Mr Barlow introduces his guests. He signs to Mrs Barlow. She grins and signs back. "She says hello and welcome! Wash your hands. Supper in ten minutes."

Doyle gives Mrs Barlow a wave and a nod. "Thank you," he says, speaking directly to her. She preens. Really preens. Her wings flutter, gray shot with a beautiful silvery brown.

"Ta," Bodie says, giving her one of his charming smiles. "You're a trooper for taking us in."

Mrs Barlow blushes. She shrugs one shoulder; looks pleased. She waves them off.

"Toilet is down the hall on the left," Mr Barlow says. "You'll have the room at the end."

Doyle heads off with Bodie following. He pokes his head into the bathroom. Perfectly serviceable and spotless. Bodie goes into their room.

"Only a double," he informs Doyle.

Doyle slides past him to drop his bag on the floor. "We'll flip for it."

"We can't share?"

"Not a chance," Doyle insists. "Heads."

"Tails, we share."

Doyle sighs. "Right." He tosses. "Bloody tails."

Bodie gleefully rubs his hands together.

"Do not get excited," Doyle said. "We're sharing, is all. Sleep, nothing else!"

Bodie looks affronted. With his hand over his heart, he says innocently, "What else is there?"

"Yeah, right. Go use the toilet first, if you like. Wash your hands." Doyle turns away. He feels hot already, and it's not from the heat in the cottage. It's from the thought of Bodie that close to him. He will be sleeping in a full track suit. As if that and the Great Wall of China would keep him... What? Safe? Safe from Bodie? Or from himself? With an annoyed grunt, he heads out to wash up for dinner.

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

Dinner is delicious. Hearty vegetable stew, thick with gravy. Warm caraway soda bread to dip into the juices. Tea with honey (from me own bees, Mr Barlow had said proudly) and an apple traybake for dessert. He's full and drowsy as he lies on the bed. Well, on his side of it. He's wearing his trainer bottoms, a vest and a trainer jacket, zipped up to his chin. And socks. He's clean and dry and comfortable.

Until Bodie comes into the room. His hair is damp and he towels it with vigour. His wings glisten from his bath. Damn, but those wings are amazingly gorgeous. Doyle wants those wings for his own. He wants Bodie. Now. Horrified, Doyle looks away. He rolls to face the wall and closes his eyes. He'll never sleep tonight with Bodie so close. Why is he so attracted to this man? He loves Leslie! As he keeps reminding himself ad nauseam.

The light goes out. Bodie's side of the bed dips. He adjusts, then settles in.

Doyle is rigid, apprehensive. Afraid Bodie will touch him. Afraid he'll touch Bodie. Afraid Bodie won't touch him. Afraid he'll touch Bodie. Bloody hell! It goes around and around in his brain until he drifts off to sleep. He dreams of Bodie touching him. He reciprocates.

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

Doyle wakes in the morning. He's surprised he feels rested after the dreams of he and Bodie. As he wakes, the dreams drift off into his subconscious. His conscious perks up. Bodie's sleeping still, his body pressed along Doyle's back. Bodie's wing is over him, covering him, keeping him safe. It feels wonderful.

Until he remembers Leslie. He carefully slips from the bed. He is successful in not disturbing Bodie. His mistake is turning to look down at his companion. Bodie is sleeping peacefully. His dark lashes feather against his pale skin. He looks so sodding beautiful laying there. Doyle slowly breathes in and exhales quietly. He has to get a handle on this- this infatuation. Now.

With a force of will, he turns away from the vision before him. He finds clean, dry clothes in his bag and hurries out of the room to change in the bathroom. He refuses to allow the thought that he doesn't trust himself with Bodie. Can one refuse a thought they're already thinking? He glares at himself in the mirror, brushes his teeth, urinates and leaves his tracksuit folded on the small table for stowing later. No way in hell is he going back to the bedroom, even fully dressed.

Doyle tells himself he is a prat of the highest order.

In the kitchen, Mrs Barlow is fussing with breakfast. She smiles when she sees Doyle hovering in the doorway. He waves. She indicates he should take a seat. With a warm smile and a nod of thanks (he wishes he knew how to at least sign 'please' and 'thank you'), he sits. She puts a steaming bowl of porridge before him. He digs in. It is creamy and delicious, a little sweet from her honey, and crunchy as well. He likes it.

Doyle looks up at Mrs Barlow. "It's delicious."

She beams.

"What makes it crunch?"

She shows him a pan of toasted oats that she's caramelised and points to her honey pot.

"Wonderful."

Again she smiles, pouring him tea and pushing a plate of toast his way. He fixes his tea to taste and enjoys two slices of hot, buttered toast. She offers more. He pats his belly.

"Thank you. You're very kind."

Mrs Barlow signs something that he doesn’t understand.

"She's telling you it's her pleasure," Mr Barlow says, coming in from the back. He washes his hands at the sink and dries them. He joins Doyle, eating his own breakfast.

Bodie comes into the kitchen, rubbing his hands together. "I'm starving."

Mrs Barlow pats his arm and signs to Mr Barlow. He tells them, "She likes boys with good appetites."

Bodie does justice to the excellent food and helps clear up when he's finished. Mrs Barlow smiles at him constantly. Doyle expects that Bodie makes conquests with the ladies (and gents) easily.

Mr and Mrs Barlow talk for a minute before Mr Barlow explains, "Mother will pack you a lunch. She says it's too nice a day for guests to be inside, underfoot."

Doyle laughs. "Cheers. I'd love a vigorous walk. Stretch the legs. Bodie?"

"Sounds good to me, especially the part about the packed lunch."

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

The countryside is beautiful, glistening with silvery drops of liquid from the recent rains. Some of the track Doyle leads Bodie down is muddy. He tries to stay out of the worst of it and wishes he had good hiking boots instead of trainers. They're quiet for a good while, enjoying bird song and sheep baaing.

"Look." Doyle points up a large hill.

Looming at the crest are the ruins of an ancient castle. He can see arches and tumbled turrets from where they stand.

bally.png

"My wings need airing. You?" Bodie asks.

"Race you."

"You're on." Bodie takes off.

"Hey!" Doyle shouts. "No fair!" He launches himself skyward. He's slower than Bodie, hampered by the basket Mrs Barlow had packed for their lunch.

He follows Bodie, enjoying the way his wings quickly carry him up the hill. He flies smoothly, his wings fitting his weight and height perfectly. Doyle admires a well-made set of wings and Bodie's are among the best he's seen. His own wings beat rhythmically, covering the distance quickly. He keeps fit; he's in the best shape he's ever been. Bodie is as well. They are perfectly matched.

Bodie lands on top of a crumbling pile of stones. He perches precariously, keeping his balance by spreading his wings. Doyle laughs, hovering a few feet away. Bodie grins, spreading his arms.

"I'm king of the world!" he shouts.

Doyle rolls his eyes. "What am I?"

"Queen?"

"Not bloody likely!" Doyle shouts back. He's still holding the basket so he lands on an even area, resting the basket on a flat rock. Then he flies back to where Bodie has (apparently) conquered the world.

Bodie takes to the air, and together they circle the ruins, inspecting the various bits and bobs. Doyle flies through a sizable hole in one wall that is still standing. He barrels out the other side, does a roll or two before he turns back. Bodie is grinning at him from only a few feet away. They continue their crazy flying, doing rolls and dives.

Doyle lands first at the foot of the ruins. He stands, hands on his hips, feet spread, wings open, as he surveys the countryside below. The grass is bright green, the deep colour broken by grey weathered stones, intermixed with white sheep that look like cotton wool balls dotting the vista before him.

"Beautiful."

Doyle turns to gaze at Bodie. He nods. "Lush from the rain."

"Wasn't talking about the view," Bodie says.

"Oh." Doyle looks away, heated at Bodie's admission. His pulse races, and his heart pounds. He can't hear over the roaring of his blood in his ears.

Or maybe he can't hear because of the huge peel of thunder that echoes through the valley. The ground seems to tremble at the force of it. He peers up. He hadn't noticed the storm clouds gathering and now they're directly under an angry sky. Rain starts. A few drops at first, then a deluge.

"Come on!" Bodie shouts, grabbing Doyle's hand.

Bodie tucks his wings tightly to his body. Doyle does the same and lets Bodie drag him along. Rain is pelting down, and he's surprised Bodie can see anything. Finally, Bodie pulls him out of the rain. He swiped his hands down his face and inspects his surroundings. They're in a tunnel of sorts. An arch under the castle made of huge gray rock. It is dryer when they move away from the entrance.

"You okay?" Bodie asks.

"Yeah. You?"

"Marvellous." Bodie suddenly looks forlorn. "Lunch?"

Doyle shakes his head, holds out his hands. "On that rock where I put it."

"Drats. And I'm starving."

"I could eat," Doyle agrees. He goes to the other side of the arch. "There."

Bodie nods. "I'll get it."

"Not in this lightning! Too dangerous." Doyle grabs Bodie's sleeve. "I'm not that hungry."

"I am!"

Doyle yells but Bodie ignores him. He dashes out, slips, falls. Gets up and runs to the rock. He grabs the basket and hurtles back, sliding on the grass until he falls again. Doyle runs out and latches onto Bodie's elbow. He hauls Bodie back under cover.

"You're a bloody moron!" Doyle yells.

"Ta, mate! That was close!" he admits.

Bodie's grinning, His hair is plastered to his head. He has mud and grass on his clothing and wings. Doyle is so exasperated he wants to hit the pillock. Instead, he fists Bodie's lapels and hauls him close to kiss Bodie roughly. After a few moments, he pushes Bodie away.

Bodie's hand covers his mouth, his eyes wide. Doyle stumbles backwards. He bumps into the wall and slides to his bum. His own hand goes to his mouth. He meets Bodie's surprised gaze.

"S-sorry," Doyle mutters.

Bodie drops the basket. He falls to his knees, latches onto Doyle's jacket and kisses him. It's a fabulous kiss. Doyle likes it. Bodie's mouth is cool. It is hungry. Demanding. Doyle wants more.

Bodie pulls back, gaze searching Doyle's face intently. Doyle knows he's flushed. His eyes are probably wide with a million questions. But at the moment, he doesn't want answers.

Doyle wants Bodie.

The sex is rough and sweet. It's dirty from mud and cold from rain, and hot from their hands on each other. Bodie pushes Doyle to the ground, unzips him and draws out his cock. He holds it in his hand, staring at it before he raises his head to look down at Doyle.

Doyle reaches up, runs the back of his fingers down Bodie's cheek, and smiles. Bodie accepts the invitation, leaning down to lick and kiss Doyle's cock. Doyle gasps as his cock fills, the foreskin receding. Bodie chuckles, wraps a firm hand around Doyle's prick and gently sucks the now visible head into his mouth.

With a cry of pleasure, Doyle holds Bodie's head in his hands, urging him on. Bodie strokes Doyle while he nibbles and licks any skin not covered by his hand. It feels fantastic. Wonderful. Delicious. Doyle holds his breath when he knows he's coming. Bodie is happily sucking him. Should he warn him? No need. Bodie lifts his head, thumbs the sensitive glans and laughs aloud, keeping his attention firmly on Doyle's face when Doyle comes all over his hand.

"Jesus," Doyle whispers. "Bloody fucking fantastic." He grins lazily. "Come here." He holds out his arms.

Bodie comes willingly and they kiss again, deeply. Doyle fucks Bodie's mouth with his tongue. Bodie is shivering, shaking as he leans on his hands.

"You're not heavy," Doyle says. "Lay on me. Want to feel you." With a soft sigh, Bodie snuggles in. His hard cock presses into Doyle's belly. "You want me to take care of that?" he asks, sliding his hand between their bodies to palm Bodie's prick.

"Please," Bodie pleads.

"Roll over."

Bodie flips so quickly to the ground that Doyle is surprised he doesn't hurt something. With a dirty laugh, Doyle straddles Bodie's thighs. He tucks himself back into his pants, unzips Bodie and reaches inside.

"No pants? You're such a naughty boy!" Doyle says with delight.

Bodie lifts his hips slightly so Doyle can draw out the thick penis. "You're cut."

"And you're not."

"It's pretty," Doyle says, examining the hard flesh in his hands. "Smooth," he explains as he runs his fingers over warm skin. He leans down, licks. "... and tasty."

"Christ, Ray, get on with it!" Bodie demands, his eyes wild, his breath shaky.

"That's the first time you've called me Ray. Sounds nice when you say it." Doyle smiles. Bodie groans, making Doyle chuckle. "Impatient sod, aren't you?"

Bodie nods vehemently. Without further words, Doyle leans down and takes as much of Bodie into his mouth as he can. He loves the feel of cock in his mouth, and he knows he gives an enjoyable blow job. He intends to drive Bodie mad with desire, with lust.

Doyle works Bodie's cock like a maestro works an orchestra. He licks and sucks, tongues and nibbles, all the while massaging Bodie's bollocks. Bodie is sweating; his eyes are closed. His head his thrown back. Doyle keeps Bodie on the edge of orgasm for as long as possible until he finally lets Bodie fall.

Bodie cries loudly when he comes. Doyle is pleased with himself. He feels Bodie is also pleased. He sits back on Bodie's thighs, admiring the satiated man before him. He's bloody handsome, that chocolate-dark hair that wants to curl on the ends and those eyes. They are beautiful. Sapphiric. That's the word he'd use if he were writing a poem. Not that he wrote poetry, but for Bodie, he might try it. Bodie's body is nice. His cock is excellent. Doyle is exceedingly happy for a full minute until he remembers.

Doyle remembers Leslie. His next thought is why did he forget Leslie in the first place?

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

"Hey," Bodie says from behind him. "You hungry?"

"No," Doyle answers curtly. He holds his breath. If Bodie touches him, he'll melt. Right here and now. But Bodie moves away. Doyle glances back. Bodie is hunkered over the food basket. His wings are drooping. Doyle realises that he's hurt Bodie by not saying something, anything about the sex.

He wanders over to Bodie. "It was nice."

Bodie looks up at him. "Yeah. It was. Fun."

"Fun," Doyle echoes, hoping Bodie understands that he's already committed to someone else. But why doesn't he feel committed. Why does he feel... What? Ambivalent? That's the word. Ambivalent. He rolls it over his brain.

"I don't want to come between you and your girl," Bodie explains.

Doyle knows he must look puzzled when he says, "Eh?"

"You know, Leslie. The woman you’re asking to marry you. Remember? Wing whatever?"

"Oh! Leslie! Oh! No, mate, you've got it wrong. Leslie's a bloke. After that," he waves to the spot on the ground where they'd had sex. More than that. Shared something. More than just sex. "It was fun," he repeats, sounding lame to himself. "I prefer blokes."

Bodie nods enthusiastically. "Right. Me too, as you might have noticed." He opens the food basket and settles down with a sandwich. "It was fun."

Sitting down, Doyle reckons he hates that particular phrase. He wraps his wings around himself for comfort. 'It was fun'. It was more than 'fun. It was wonderful. And he wants to do it again, but he knows he can't. He watches Bodie. Bodie munches happily on his meal, his wings once more perky. He's accepted that what they'd shared was a one off. He's okay with that. Doyle feels a sense of relief, mixed with sadness. His emotions are a bloody mess so he pushes them aside, accepting Bodie's effortless way of dismissing the sex as casual. What else can he do?

"Why are you tending bar in an Irish pub?" Doyle asks. "Sorry. Not my business," he adds hastily.

"Nah," Bodie says, crunching into a carrot. "It's fine. It's temporary. Me uncle asked me to look after the place while he and my auntie went to Australia. Cousin's having her first and they want to be there to help with the kid for a few months. I was between jobs so I said yes."

"Where are you from then?"

"Liverpool. You?"

"London, with a few short stints in the countryside. But London is me home."

"And you're a copper."

"Yes. You? Besides bartender?"

"All sorts. Mercenary in my wild days of youth, then SAS, Paras."

"Military?" Doyle asks, surprised.

"What? I don't look the type?" Bodie asks, hand on heart. "I'm wounded. I'm a very militaristic man."

Doyle laughs. "Is that a word?"

Bodie shrugs. "Do you like policing?"

"Yes, but..." Doyle brushes the crumbs from his fingers. "Too many bent coppers. I don't fit in."

"Don't like a bit of extra cash in your pocket?" Bodie raises an eyebrow.

Doyle snorts in derision. "Not my scene. I have higher aspirations."

"Oh?" Bodie encourages.

"Heard about that new mob, CI5? Criminal Intelligence 5, special duties. Special assignments."

"You're a copper. You should apply."

"Oh, you don't apply. They find you."

Bodie pauses in his carrot crunching. "Really? Interesting. Tell me more."

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

"We'd best get back," Doyle says, when the weather clears.

"I suppose," Bodie says unenthusiastic ally. "I like it here."

"It's nice, but it's almost dark."

"You afraid of the dark?" Bodie says, standing beside Doyle as Doyle surveys the countryside from their vantage point.

"Sometimes." Doyle laughs. "No, you moron, I'm not afraid of the dark. I want a piss and I want a shower."

"Can piss right here." Bodie waggles his eyebrow.

"Are you kinky?" Doyle asks.

Bodie guffaws. "Fly or walk?"

"Fly."

Doyle takes off, a lazy, slow flight. He doesn't want to walk beside Bodie, doesn't want to talk any more. Bodie throws him off balance, but this relaxed flight is meant to be friendly. Right. He likes Bodie. He wants to be friendly. No more sex, just... friends.

Bodie glides beside him, throwing him grins. Doyle laughs when Bodie flies upside down. He seems to want to entertain Doyle, to make him laugh. It works. Bodie looks silly, and he makes faces and feigns awkward patterns. Bodie is a good flyer and Doyle can tell that Bodie appreciates his attention.

Doyle is not hungry when Mrs Barlow sets the table. The food looks and smells appetising, but he picks at it.

"Is my cooking not to your liking, Mr Doyle?" she signs, and Mr Barlow interprets.

"No, not at all. Your meals are wonderful. I'm tired, is all." Doyle yawns. "Think I'll turn in."

He stands, puts his plate on the sideboard and then says, "Thanks for everything. You've both been wonderful." With a glance at Bodie, whose head is bent as he shovels food into his gob, Doyle smiles at his hosts and leaves the kitchen.

The shower is nice, although he wonders why he needs more water after today. He'd been wet for most of it. He'd already had a wash when he and Bodie returned from their adventure. But it feels good on his wings and he wants some comfort. His emotions are in a turmoil. He knows what's wrong, but he doesn't know what to do. He's only known Bodie for a few days and yet, there's something there. Something more than with Leslie.

Towelling off, he slips his tracksuit bottoms on and returns to the bedroom. The double bed looks so small when he inspects it. But he refuses to be a moron. How he feels isn't Bodie's fault. It wouldn't be right to chuck him out of the bedroom. Doyle slides under the covers, keeping well to his side. He adjusts the pillow and lays quietly, forcing himself to relax. When the door snicks open and then closed, he tenses.

A hand touches his head. "I can sleep in the hayloft."

Doyle grabs Bodie's hand. "Silly sod. Don't. I won't bother you. Promise."

Bodie shucks out of his clothes. He'd showered earlier, so he merely hops into bed in his briefs. Doyle knows Bodie put on the underpants as a shield. He quickly realises that Bodie is being careful not to touch him.

"I won't dissolve into tears," Doyle whispers. "I'm not a bird."

"Blokes cry, mate," Bodie says philosophically. "I've cried before."

"When?"

"Hmmm. 1963?"

"You're a moron." Chuckling, Doyle asks, "Cat get run down?"

"How'd you guess?"

Relaxing now, Doyle sighs. "Bodie."

"Haven't gone anywhere, Ray."

"It was great. Today. You know, was nice."

"Yes, it was. Happy to oblige."

Doyle hears a note of satisfaction in Bodie's tone. He also hears something else. Sadness? Longing? Thinking about Bodie, Doyle falls asleep.

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

The bus ride is long and slow. It stops at every village and hamlet on the way to Dublin. Luckily Mrs Barlow fixed another nice basket of vittles. Bodie is munching already, a pasty of some sort. Doyle smells cinnamon. Must be a sweet one, apple or berry.

He thinks back to the Barlows. He really liked them. They both refused to take much cash for their hospitality. Forty pounds didn't seem like enough for two nights' lodging, tea, meals, showers, and companionship. Doyle sneaked back to the bedroom while Bodie is bidding the couple farewell on the pretext of needing the loo. He slipped another ten pounds under the doily on the dresser. Mrs Barlow is a fastidious housekeeper. When she dusts after they're gone, she'll find the money. With no forwarding address, she can't return it, and Doyle feels good about his subterfuge.

He looks out the window. They've stopped again at a village. There are a few cottages, a pub, a post office that doubles as a bus stop and grocery store, and a village green with some wooden benches. A lad of about ten is herding sheep through the green. Rather, the dog is herding the sheep. The boy is flicking the grass with a long stick as he meanders after the animals.

"You didn't have to do that," Doyle says, sitting on the bench outside the post office/bus stop.

Bodie shrugs. "You paid for the bus ticket."

"They took my card."

"I know. But I'm not the Bank of England. Hard cash for me. Besides, I haven't been to Dublin in a while, and..."

"And?" Doyle prompts.

"You're good company," Bodie admits, smiling and ruffling Doyle's hair.

Doyle bats Bodie's hand away, grinning. His heart thumps happily. He likes Bodie, even if the bloke is a prat at times. They wait in companionable silence until the bus arrives.

Doyle takes a seat at a window. He expects Bodie will sit in a row by himself, but Bodie sits next to him. He looks down at his hands, smiling. After the driver visits the loo, he gets on with a bottle of Coca-Cola and a pack of biscuits. "Heading to Dublin, with three stops along the way," he announces to the passengers, and starts the ignition.

Doyle doesn't mind the lengthy drive. He gets to spend a few more hours with Bodie before he meets up with Leslie. The idea doesn't excite him any longer. He's not looking forward to it. He is not happy about Bodie leaving. He's thought about turning around and going home, but he's almost to his destination. Might as well meet up with Leslie. The idea of Equal Wing Love Day is pushed aside. He will not ask Leslie to marry him. He's decided. It's his first step towards something else. He will lose Bodie, but he will not stay with Leslie.

With a glance at Bodie, he sees the velvety blue eyes of his companion studying him.

"What?" Doyle asks.

Bodie holds his gaze for many seconds. "I- It was- Well, fuck. Sorry."

"No worries, mate." Doyle smiles before returning to his perusal of the countryside.

"Maybe I can look you up when I get to London," Bodie offers.

"We can go to the shooting range. I like to keep my skills honed."

"That'd be good. We can get motorbikes and do a road trip. Cornwall. Maybe Newcastle."

"Sounds good." Doyle nods his agreement.

Bodie beams, and eats an apple.

"I'll have one of those," Doyle says. He crunches away down to the core before he tosses it out the window.

Doyle knows they're getting closer. There is more traffic, more houses, more shops, more people. Cities are like that, he reckons. It isn't long before they wind their way into Dublin. He takes in the sites. He's never been, and he likes cities. The bus pulls into the depot. He turns to Bodie, who is fast asleep.

Doyle elbows him. "Wakey, wakey."

Bodie wakes with a start. He rubs his ribs. "Oi. You're a rough one." He waggles his eyebrow. "I like that in a bloke"

With a snort, Doyle pushes his shoulder. "You're full of shite. You know that, don't you?" When Bodie merely grins, Doyle guffaws. He likes Bodie more and more with each passing minute. Sure, he's annoying and arrogant, but there is something... Doyle pushes his musings aside. "Come on. I'll buy you a pint."

Bodie gleefully rubs his hands together. "Now you're talking me language!"

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

Doyle rubs his belly as he and Bodie walk towards The Shelbourne Hotel, where Leslie is staying. Doyle hasn't been to The Shelbourne and he's duly impressed when the fully liveried doorman nods to them.

"Good afternoon, gentlemen," he says as he opens the door, touching the brim of his hat.

Doyle nods back while Bodie says, "Cheers."

He looks at Doyle, eyes wide. "Fancy," he says.

"Yeah," Doyle agrees.

"You haven't stayed here with him before?"

"No. He travels on his own. I've me own work. Copper, remember?" Doyle says. He pauses, taking in the ambiance.

It's a grand place. White columns and marble floors. Sparkling crystal chandeliers. Urns of fresh flowers (the air is sweet with their fragrance). Bellman in fancy uniforms hurrying about. Guests walking through the ostentatious lobby.

"Bodie," Doyle says, turning to his companion. "Listen. I'd like to keep in touch."

Bodie's gaze meets Doyle's. Bodie gives him a look of confusion, curiosity and cautiousness all at the same time. "I- Sure. You owe me for... Whatever. But you're involved."

Doyle shuffles his feet. "I owe you more than money. I know I'm involved, but I want more."

"More?" Bodie asks, looking wary. He waves a hand. "You have all of this."

"I don't want all of this," Doyle hisses. "I want-"

"Raymond!"

Doyle jerks at the sound of his name and spins on his heels. Leslie is rushing towards him, looking amazing in a well-made dark blue suit. His wings are spread in happiness, and his face is alight. He reaches Doyle and puts a hand on his shoulder. Leslie is not the hugging type.

"Leslie," Doyle says. He glances back. Bodie is standing still, hands in pockets. Doyle thinks he looks sad, but only for a moment. Then his face is a cool, unemotional mask.

"What are you doing here?" Leslie asks.

"I- ah, wanted to see this grand hotel. Check out Dublin. I've never been before." Doyle looks around, feigning admiration of his surroundings. It is a beautiful place, but he has no interest in the grandeur. His only interest is in Bodie.

Bodie.

"Leslie, this is Bodie." Doyle turns to where Bodie is standing. "He saved my life."

"Oh?" Leslie says. "Well in that case, he's due a reward!"

Bodie glares at Leslie. His lips are thin and his eyes are narrowed.

"I owe him," Doyle starts to explain but before he can list all the things Bodie has done, Leslie is pulling a wad of cash from his pocket. It is clasped in a gold money clip and quite thick.

"How much?" Leslie asks.

"Two-" Doyle says before Bodie steps forward, hand out. "Five hundred," Bodie says curtly, his wings stiffly held close to his body. “Me car is still buried up to her bum in mud.”

"Yes, five hundred," Doyle echoes. Bodie is angry. He tries to catch Bodie's gaze but Bodie keeps his attention on Leslie.

Leslie unhesitatingly pulls the money from his clip. "Raymond's life is worth every penny."

Bodie takes the cash and pushes it into his jacket pocket. "Cheers." He finally looks at Doyle, waiting.

Doyle can see the expectation in Bodie's eyes. He sees what Bodie desires. He knows what Bodie wants this instant. Tell him. Tell him about us. Tell him...

"Raymond, I have the most glorious news!" Leslie says. He moves closer to Doyle and keeps his voice low. "I've been offered a promotion. A partnership, really. In a new company, at double my salary!" He touches Doyle's sleeve. "We're moving to Australia!"

"What?" Doyle blurts out. "Australia?"

"Yes!" Leslie's wings quiver with excitement. Leslie is not usually a man who prattles. "It's more than I could have dreamed. And they're happy I have a partner. Makes one more stable, in their opinion. In fact," Leslie falls to one knee in the middle of the fancy reception area of The Shelbourne, "Raymond Doyle, will you marry me?"

Doyle's mouth falls open. The thing he'd dreamed about for so long is coming true! Leslie wants to marry him! His own wings shiver, shudder, and he pulls them close. He feels disoriented. His brain is racing.

Does he want to marry Leslie? Isn't this what the entire trip was about? Isn't this his heart's desire?

Leslie looks confused. He's still on one knee, staring up at Doyle. Doyle can tell that Leslie is surprised he didn't say yes instantly. That he's not jumping up and down with glee. Leslie knows Doyle wants marriage. He'd told Leslie it often enough, back in London. Before Bodie.

Uncomfortable, Doyle looks around. He knows that he wants. With a lightning strike to his heart, he knows. He wants Bodie, not Leslie. His heart lurches when he realises that Bodie is not standing beside him. Bodie is not standing behind him or in front of him. Bodie is no longer with him.

Bodie is gone.

"Raymond?"

Doyle turns back to Leslie. He's alone. He's hurting. He's confused. Take the uncomplicated way. Stick with what you know, what is comfortable, he tells himself. "Yes, Leslie, I will marry you."

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

Several months later...

Doyle is so happy he can barely sit still. He tucks his wings close to keep them from shaking with joy. He is here. Here! CI5 HQ. He's in training! His controller, George Cowley, is at the front of the room.

The Controller peers intently at the eighteen fresh recruits seated at desks in the training room. Doyle opens his notebook and pulls the top from his Biro. There is so much information that he wants to remember. He watches George Cowley intently. This man is the stuff of legends. Doyle intends to learn every single thing he can glean from Cowley. Mr Cowley...

Cowley writes on the blackboard while Doyle studies the man. He is a slim, almost slight. Gray hair, glasses, neat tan suit, trimmed, well-controlled wings, a light brown shot with silver. They are the wings of a leader. He has an air of command about him. Doyle knows he will follow Cowley into the mouth of hell, if asked.

Cowley speaks as he writes, "CI5. Criminal Intelligence. The Action Squad. The Big A. The Squad." He underlines the last words before he tosses the chalk onto the rim of the board. He brushes off his hands, facing his men. "All right, so we may have half a dozen names, but only one job: To see that no- one messes on our doorstep. And that means preventive detection, preventive action. " Cowley picks up a sheet of paper and reads, "To detect, deter and prevent, and or take suitable action and or actions against those transgressors against the law outside the norm of criminal activity. To contain and render ineffective such by whatever means necessary."

Cowley removes his spectacles and looks directly into the eyes of each man in turn. "That's our official brief: by any means necessary. That's our loophole. Now I'll tell you my interpretation, I'll tell you what it's really going to be like. You'll be paired off, and from then on, you're the Bisto Kids. The slightest whiff of anything and you move in. Shake 'em down, crush 'em before they even start to grow, like an alley fight. And that's what this is, an alley fight. So kick him in the goolies first. Do unto others now what they're still thinking about. Oh, there'll be squeals. And once in a while, you'll turn a law-abiding citizen into an authority-hating anarchist. There'll be squeals and letters to MPs. But that's the price they have, and we have, to pay to keep this island clean and smelling-even if ever so faintly- of roses and lavender. You make a mistake like that and I'll back you to the hilt. Make the other kind of mistake, the kind that ends up with innocent people bleeding all over the High Street, and the only backing you'll get is with my boot and right out of this organisation. Any questions?"

Doyle makes notes when the other recruits ask about pairs, partners, rank. He'll have a partner, then.

Cowley dismisses the men. Doyle stands, curious about his new partner. Cowley has told the recruits that after he has reviewed and observed training, the partnership pairings would be posted to the bulletin board in the restroom by end of the week. A partner! He's happy about that. Someone to watch your back is important. Someone whose back he will watch with every fibre of his being. He hopes he and his partner will get along, be mates.

The men are filing out. Doyle stands, stretches, gathers his jacket, notebook and pen. He turns, and stops in his tracks. His heart thuds as his wings quake. He stares at the man lounging insolently on the wall at the back of the room, hands in his pockets. His wings are that special chocolate-dark colour, luxurious. His hair is matches his wings perfectly, a cap of darkest brown with curling ends and a sweet fringe. His eyes are a smoky blue. He loves those eyes.

"Bodie," Doyle whispers.

Bodie grins. "Doyle."

together002.png

Doyle rushes to him. "What are you doing here?"

Bodie shrugs, feigning nonchalance that Doyle sees is teasing. "Got recruited."

"How long? Why? What? Jesus!" Doyle blurts out, words tumbling over each other. His wings threaten to spread and wrap Bodie up in a tight hug. He manages to control himself.

"Although I must say, I'm surprised to see you here. Saw your name on the intake roster and said to meself: Bodie, old son, that's another Raymond Doyle. Your Doyle is in Australia."

Doyle's mouth falls open. He closes it with a click of teeth. "Your Doyle? Is that... me?"

"Eh?"

"Am I your Doyle?" he whispers.

Bodie is serious, and this time there is no effort at indifference, Doyle notices.

"Are you?" Bodie asks.

"Bodie! Doyle! Firearms training. Now!" Cowley shouts from the doorway.

Doyle starts. "Yes, sir!"

"Sir," Bodie says, hurrying out of the room after Doyle.

Doyle looks over his shoulder to reassure himself he isn't hallucinating. It really is Bodie. He is surprised that Bodie can't hear his heart thudding. He is so happy he laughs.

"Firearms training isn't that funny," Bodie says.

Doyle laughs louder. Nothing can dampen his joy. "When can we get together?"

"Tonight? If we're still alive, that is." Bodie grins.

"It's a date."

"Are we dating?"

Doyle shrugs. "Seems that way. Best pay attention," he adds as they enter the firing range.

Bodie nods, looking pleased before he turns his gaze to the instructor.

Doyle peers discreetly at Bodie while the instructor, a bloke named Harding, demonstrates the preferred weapon of CI5. Doyle is drawn into the lessons. When it comes time to learn how to dissemble, clean and reassemble a weapon, he is quick and neat, and when the actual shooting comes, Harding declares Doyle is "a natural". Doyle hopes being singled out doesn't mean harassment by other recruits. He had enough of that as a lad in school. But his fellow trainees thump him on the back or tell him 'good job'. He's happy but tired by the time they're released for the day.

After a pint at the CI5 local, Doyle bids Bodie a good night. Bodie nods at him. "Night."

Doyle doesn't look back on his way out of the pub. He knows Bodie is watching him. He hopes he's enjoying the view.

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

The next week tests Doyle's reserves. There are all sorts of drills, through woods, over obstacle courses, down country lanes, into disused warehouses. Endless hours of running, training. Several forms of karate and self-defence. Courses in weapons knowledge and use. He hopes he doesn't need to use the bomb disposal information. Mundane things such as automotive mechanics and computer usage. By Friday, he's tired and bruised, and his feet hurt.

In the restroom at HQ after a long day, one of the senior agents named Murphy sticks his head in. "Check the bulletin boards."

Doyle makes his way to the board on the far wall. Bodie follows, and along with six other agents, they crowd together, reading.

"Fellows (9.7) and Barkley (2.3)," Doyle reads aloud. There are two other groupings. Then he sees it. the last two names on the list: "Bodie (3.7) and Doyle (4.5)." He turns to Bodie, grabbing his shoulders. "We're partners."

"So it seems," Bodie says flippantly, but Doyle can see the pleasure in his eyes. "Partner." He punches Doyle in the arm. "I'm starving!"

Doyle laughs. Bodie has his priorities. "Takeaway?"

Bodie nods. Doyle saunters to the door. He knows Bodie will follow. He looks over his shoulder. They're far enough from the other agents. "My place. We'll talk."

"And eat." Bodie waggles his eyebrow.

"Of course. And eat." Doyle feels his wings flutter. He's so bloody happy. He's in a job he's been dreaming about. He's doing well. He's got a new partner, and it's Bodie. Life is perfect.

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

The evening is better than Doyle can imagine. He likes that they eat and talk and talk and drink. Not too much drinking though. They have to report to Cowley by 7 am tomorrow, so two beers each with food.

"Do you think we'll be suitable partners?" Bodie asks.

"I... I hope you're all right with it." Doyle feels raw. Everything is so new, happening so quickly.

"What the bloody hell are you talking about?" Bodie asks, putting down his can of beer.

"This is a big chance for you. Recent job. Fresh life. You might not-"

"You're such a moron," Bodie says affectionately, ruffling Doyle's hair. "I want.” Bodie pauses. "Might be better if we weren't partnered. We might look out for each other to the detriment of some innocent lad or lass."

"Might." Doyle meets Bodie's gaze. "Might not. Might give us that edge." He watches Bodie. Sees Bodie studying him, sees him consider what to say, or ask. "Spit it out before you break something," Doyle encourages.

"You're not in Australia," Bodie finally says.

Doyle rolls his eyes. "You'll make a brilliant agent with those powers of deduction. I am not in Australia. Maybe you didn't notice that I've been here all week. Training, remember?"

"Doyle, don't make me pull every single syllable out of your mouth!"

"Might make you pull something else out of me mouth," he mutters.

"Eh?" Bodie asks, looking confused. "Oh!" he says as the light bulb clicks on over his head.

"Sorry. You were being serious. You've been close-mouthed about asking me personal things all week, and I appreciate that. I am a free man. Well, I'm free as far as Leslie goes. I was wondering when you'd ask. Took your time. Listen. We decided he would be better off in Australia, or anywhere else, without me." Doyle shrugs. "I wanted something completely different from my life. Policing wasn't something Leslie took to. He's more of a finance or corporate man."

"Ah. Are you... totally gutted?" Bodie asks.

"Funny, that. I was more relieved than anything. Except for you running out on me back in Dublin." Doyle takes a swallow of beer. "Gone warm."

"Good English beer is always warm."

"True." He drinks again. "Where was I?"

"You mentioned something about me running out on you. However, in my defence," Bodie says dramatically, hand over heart, "you had a fairly good looking bloke down on one knee asking you to marry him. You'd told me that the reason you were in Ireland was to ask that same man to marry you." Bodie spreads out his arms, "Hence, you got your wish. Case closed. Bodie moves on."

"You're such a rubbish liar." Doyle moves closer to Bodie, leans in, and kisses him.

Bodie makes an appreciative sound, pulls Doyle even closer and returns the kiss.

Doyle crawls on top of Bodie and plunges his tongue into his mouth.

Bodie opens his mouth, clamps his hands on Doyle's waist, and holds on.

Doyle is breathless when they finally pause. "Christ."

Bodie lies under him, looking up. He's lips are swollen; his eyes are glassy. He's breathing hard. His cock is full under Doyle's belly.

Bodie licks his lips and whispers, "Fuck me. Now."

"No."

"Eh?" He blinks, confusion evident.

Doyle thinks he looks adorable. Good enough to eat.

"Bodie, we need to talk," Doyle insists. (Jesus, he wants to shag, not talk but...)

"After."

"Promise," Doyle states. It is not a question.

"Ray, hear this. I think I'm in love with you. So either you fuck me now, or..."

"Or what?" Doyle asks when Bodie doesn't finish his sentence.

"Or I'll have to do meself, and that's not nearly as fun as it will be with you!" Bodie practically shouts. "I'm hurting here!" He runs the backs of his fingers down Doyle's cheek. "And I want you."

With a nod, Doyle climbs off the sofa. He starts down the corridor towards the bedroom, shedding clothes. "I need a shower."

"No."

Doyle looks over his shoulder. Bodie is following, stripping as he walks. He tosses his vest to the floor.

"No?"

Shaking his head, Bodie unbuckles his belt and toes off his shoes. He pushes down his trousers. Doyle watches, his mouth open. Bodie's cock is pushing against his dark green briefs, and there is a darker coloured spot on the front of them. Bodie's leaking like a tap.

"Want you like this." Bodie reaches the spot where Doyle is standing. He leans in to lick Doyle's neck. "Sweaty from a day's work."

Doyle shivers, his wings quivering. Bodie pushes down Doyle's trousers and briefs in one go. Doyle had taken off his trainers earlier while they were eating, so he's able to kick off the garments easily. He leaves his socks on. Bodie smiles, takes off his pants and throws them over his shoulder. Then he does something that Doyle has been dying to do, to feel. Bodie wraps his wings around Doyle and envelopes both of them.

Doyle almost comes right then. The smell of Bodie's feathers swamps him. It is an aphrodisiac. His knees shake. His cock surges; he closes his eyes. He had never believed the stories about bonding, mating. How one knows instantly. He's dismissed those tales as folklore. Now he knows. He has never smelt anything so fabulous. His brain tells him that this is what he needs, where he belongs. His body agrees. He would have come in the hallway, if not for Bodie's hand grasping his balls and tugging them.

"Not yet. You're not in me," Bodie explains softly, nuzzling Doyle's neck, nibbling, then nipping his ear.

Doyle yelps. "Zombie." He puts both hands on Bodie's head and kisses him. Hard and long and deep. When he releases Bodie, he says, "Bed. Now."

Doyle lets out a small sob as Bodie closes his wings. He feels abandoned.

"I know," Bodie says.

Doyle meets Bodie's gaze. Bodie is on the edge. His eyes are wild. His body is shuddering. Doyle takes his hand and leads him to the bedroom. Bodie doesn't need any encouragement. He climbs on the bed and onto his hands and knees. He looks over his shoulder at Doyle. He need not speak. The desire is clear.

On trembling legs, Doyle walks the few steps to the bedside table. He retrieves lube and for a second, struggles with the new packaging. He uses his teeth, and growls in frustration. Finally it opens, spurting lubricate everywhere. It coats his hand with more than he needs, but he doesn't pause. He gets behind Bodie, coats his cock (holding his breath and biting his lower lip not to come!) and pushes as much as he can into Bodie's arse.

"Jesus, Ray!" Bodie cries at the touch of Doyle's fingers. He has his wings tucked tightly on his back. They are compact, not in the way of Doyle's hands.

Doyle runs his fingernails down the place on Bodie's back where wings meet skin. It is a pleasure zone capable of reducing the strongest bloke (or bird) to jelly. Bodie screams. Doyle pushes in, seats himself in one smooth, well-lubed move.

Panting to keep himself from coming, Doyle pauses, catching his breath. Bodie clenches him like a vice. After a few breaths in and out, he holds Bodie's hips and slides out. Then in. Gently but firmly until his lover is keening constantly, arse muscles grabbing and releasing. Doyle sets up a rhythm that Bodie must find pleasing because he falls to his elbows and opens his legs as far as possible. Doyle pushes in a fraction more, out again. He looks down, watching his own cock, thick and hard, as it pleasures his mate.

Doyle's been silent so far. He's been concentrating on Bodie's body and has forgotten to speak. He doesn't even know if Bodie likes words during love making but he knows he does.

"You're beautiful, Bodie," Doyle whispers, leaning down to lick his neck.

"Ray," Bodie says. "Ah. Ray. God."

Doyle is pleased that Bodie is incoherent but for a blurted word or two. He raises back up. He's at that point where it can't prolong this. His orgasm is inevitable. As inevitable as his love for this man. And he understands at that moment that this is love. Doyle pushes back in deeply, pulls out and then in, and comes hard. He releases everything he has into Bodie, marking him for his own.

Bodie moans, dips to one side. Doyle realises he's trying to reach his prick. He's probably waited too long, has passed from pleasure to the edge of pain. He's waited, Doyle realises, until Doyle has come before he thinks his own pleasure. Doyle wants to cry with the perfectness of it all.

Doyle pulls out gently, reaches between Bodie's legs and finds that hard cock. When he touches it, Bodie lets out a cry, shuddering. Glad that his hand is still coated with lube, he gently massages Bodie's flesh, his hand sliding up and down. He knows Bodie is hovering between pleasure and pain, and he doesn't want to give anything but relief to this wonderful man. He reaches his free hand to Bodie's back and gently scrapes his nails down the wing-line. Bodie has pushed his face into the pillow and he lets out a muffled scream, coming hard. He spurts hot semen everywhere on the counterpane, before he collapses into the mess he's just made. He lays sprawled on the bed, unmoving except for his ragged breathing.

Doyle crawls up beside Bodie and lays down. Eventually, they must get up, clean themselves and change the bed covers. But not yet.

"You're amazing," Doyle tells his lover. "That was fantastic." He strokes Bodie's flank, seeking to soothe. That's what he senses Bodie needs at the moment.

Bodie relaxes under Doyle's ministrations. His breathing slows. He shivers once, his wings that had been tight to his back begin to loosen up. His eyes are closed. He smiles.

"Wow," Bodie says.

Doyle laughs, sliding his hand onto the back of Bodie's neck. He palms the warm flesh. "Cheers."

"Hmmmm," Bodie mumbles.

"Don't fall asleep."

"Mmmm," he responds.

"Bed's a mess. Come on. Shift."

Bodie is a lump. He's almost asleep, Doyle realises. No way he's letting his lover sleep until he changes the sheets, or at least tucks a towel under Bodie. He looks into his beloved's face. Bodie is such a handsome bloke, all creamy skin and long lashes. Doyle runs his fingers through his lover’s hair. Bodie gives a snore.

With an affectionate pat of Bodie's bum, Doyle climbs from the bed. He visits the loo, washes his face and runs a wet flannel over his cock, smiling as he remembers plunging it into Bodie. Grabbing a fluffy yellow towel from the rack and a warm flannel, he returns to their bed. He gently cleans his lover before rolling the lump of snoring flesh over. Bodie flings himself to his back, arms stretched out. He gives a snort, barely stirring. Doyle shakes his head, spreads the towel over the come, and gets back into bed on the towel-covered sheet. He snuggles close to Bodie, turns out the lamp on the bedside table, and sleeps.

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

"Yes? What is it?" Cowley asks, looking up from his paperwork. He removes his glasses and waits.

"Sir, we have something to tell you," Doyle says.

Cowley leans back. He looks at Doyle, then at Bodie. For a full minute, he studies both men before he tosses the glasses onto the desktop. "Well, this is interesting."

"Sir?" Bodie says.

"Mated, have we? Without my permission, it seems." Cowley scowls.

Doyle reckons he looks flabbergasted. Cowley's wings do not tell his mood. He seems annoyed but his wings are calm, relaxed even. What is going on? He glances at Bodie, who also looks surprised.

"Sir?" Doyle says.

"I wasn't born yesterday, Doyle. Nor am I dead just yet." He sniffs the air. "I'm quite capable of smelling out a mating."

Bodie shuffles his feet. "Sorry, sir."

"Are you now?" Cowley asks. "And why is that?"

"The permission, sir. Didn't ask. Didn't even think about it," Bodie explains. He casts a sidelong look at Doyle.

"Didn't know we needed it," Doyle says. "Sir. It just happened."

"Just happened." Cowley waits.

Doyle shifts. Cowley knows how to stretch the silence. He makes sure his own wings don't give away his reactions or the many questions he wants to ask.

"Sir?" Bodie finally asks.

"Be quiet, Bodie." Cowley returns to his paperwork. He shuffles several pages before he must have found the one he needed. He peers at it, then looks up at his men. He returns to his reading.

Doyle is learning something. Cowley is the master at playing games. Doyle understands what his boss is doing. He's letting all manner of ideas (good and not so good!) course through their brains while he lets them consider what will come next. It is many minutes before he returns his attention to his agents.

"You're partners. You're having sex. It seems to be more from what I can see. So I use that partnership to CI5’s advantage. I will have special assignments for you both, and you will obey my orders without question. Do you both understand?"

Doyle responds, "Yes, sir."

Bodie nods curtly.

"You may speak, 3.7," Cowley says.

"Yes, sir. Fine, sir. We're happy to take whatever assignments you deem necessary."

Cowley stands. "And so you will."

Doyle doesn't like the tone of that! He wonders if he and Bodie will draw the worse, seediest, most dangerous assignments, but when he glances over at his partner, he sees Bodie grinning. He returns it.
Cowley walks over to a cabinet. He opens it and extracts a bottle and three glasses. He limps back over to the desk, his wings fluttering slightly, rubbing together. It's a sound of satisfaction, Doyle reckons. Cowley pours three drams and hands one to Bodie, then Doyle.

"Cheers." Bodie holds up his glass.

"Sir," Doyle says, holding up his.

"To both of you, a valuable and fruitful relationship with CI5." Cowley lifts his glass and drinks.

Doyle sips his. It is a fine whisky, and he savours the burn. Bodie has tossed his back like it's cheap booze. He coughs once.

"Your first assignment." Cowley slips a folder across the desk. Bodie picks it up. "R/Ts from supply Guns from the armoury. Motor from the car pool." He looks at each man in turn. "Well? On your bikes!" He points to the door.

Bodie scurries over, opens the door and waves Doyle through.

"And don't forget!"

Doyle pauses, peering back at his controller. "Sir?"

"Reports every day, in triplicate. And expense chits weekly, or no reimbursement."

Doyle nods. "Thank you, sir." (Doyle wants to kiss Cowley, but he doesn't think that would go over very well.)

Doyle closes the door. Bodie grins at him and playfully punches his arm. Doyle grins back. They're doing a lot of grinning today. Doyle looks at the door. The plaque reads, "George Cowley, Controller."

Bodie snorts, and raps his knuckles on the door. His beautiful wings shake, mimicking his quiet laughter. To the sounds of Cowley yelling, "Come in!" he hurries away.

As always, Doyle is at his side. He spreads a wing and lovingly raps Bodie on the head with the tip. He is ready for his new life with Bodie and with CI5. With a warm smile, he affectionately says, "Troublemaker."

Bodie preens, his wings flutter. "Always. But I'm your troublemaker."

Doyle's wings quiver with happiness.

finalbannerend.png