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The Long Game

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.. .. ..

Cowley was watching Bodie carefully, determined to catch every nuance of the man's reaction. He had just laid on the table a set of documents for Bodie to read, documents that had turned his own stomach when he'd first seen them. Irrefutable proof that Doyle was the source of the past year's series of leaks and betrayals. That Doyle had been on a plane to Brazil that morning with his ill-gotten gains.

"He wouldn't," Bodie said firmly. For the moment he looked unshaken, his world unperturbed, simply unable to believe such a thing of his partner. "Course he wouldn't. Not if they offered him a million pounds."

"And it's quite unlikely they would have got him on ideological grounds," Cowley offered.

"Course not."

Bodie was studying the documents now, though without going so far as to pick them up. The only expression Cowley could read on his face was a growing outrage that anyone could have dared to cast doubts on Doyle's good name.

Cowley sat back in his chair, and folded his hands together, waiting. He had called Bodie here to determine to what extent Bodie had been aware of or even involved in Doyle's actions. For the moment that was still completely unclear, and Cowley found himself hoping fervently that Bodie, at least, was completely innocent. There was no material proof against Bodie so far, and Cowley found it difficult to cast his favourite agent in the role of a traitor. But then, he'd thought the same of Doyle until last night.

Bodie was still just standing there, staring silently down at the documents. Was he struggling to take in the truth -- or was he busy preparing lies to cover up his own part in the matter? Cowley felt sick to his stomach.

"There is another way of turning a man," he said after the silence had stretched on long enough. "Besides money and ideology, that is to say."

Bodie's head came up. The muscles around his eyes had tightened, but he said nothing. Cowley suspected he already knew what was coming next.

"Blackmail," Cowley said flatly.

Bodie shook his head at that.

"Doyle wouldn't bow to blackmail."

"I didn't think he would, and I still think it unlikely. However, the fact remains that there was at least one aspect of his... lifestyle that made him susceptible to blackmail."

He was watching Bodie even more closely now. This time, Bodie's expression didn't flicker. Cowley was pleased. Bodie'd been well trained. However, Cowley was quite sure that behind that blank facade, Bodie was beginning to get an inkling of where this was leading, and there was no point beating about the bush. He pressed on.

"I am referring, of course, to his homosexuality, and in particular to his sexual relationship with you."

A heavy silence filled the room, thick and tense as the seconds before a gunfight. Bodie's face was still blank, but he had let escape one tiny hint of a reaction: a convulsive swallow. Cowley couldn't blame him. It would have taken a man of stone not to.

Besides that, Bodie didn't respond. Nor did he protest the characterisation of his relationship with Doyle.

Interesting.

Cowley'd had his eye on the two of them almost since the start, observing the slow but inevitable deepening of the ties that bound them. He had decided, on reflection, not to interfere. He'd trusted them to be discreet. He hoped he wasn't going to regret that now.

He glanced at the tape recorder that lay on his desk, wondering whether to switch it on. For the moment, he decided against it. Later. He cleared his throat.

"3.7, I need you to ask you a question. Have you and 4.5 ever behaved in such a way as to furnish potential blackmailers with compromising material?"

Bodie stared at him mutely. Cowley was not surprised he wasn't tripping over himself to speak. To fully answer the question would be to admit the truth of the allegation, and it still wasn't too late for him to swear blind it was all lies, and that he'd never so much as looked at Doyle sideways in the showers.

When he did finally speak, it wasn't to answer the question at all.

"Look, sir, what the hell is this?" He gestured at the documents, and Cowley could detect in his voice the beginnings of a shift from stupefaction to anger. "Doyle's in Nottingham, not bloody Rio de Janeiro."

"The evidence is irrefutable, Bodie. Doyle is the mole we've been searching for all year."

"He's been set up."

"It's quite obvious he left the country of his own free will yesterday afternoon. And there are things in this file that no one exterior to CI5 could have falsified."

Bodie shook his head.

"He wouldn't. He wouldn't."

Up till that point, Cowley hadn't been sure whether he was witnessing a man complicit in and covering up for his partner's crime, or a man discovering his lover's betrayal. He beginning to think it was the latter, and his heart, such as it was, went out to Bodie.

"Which is why I return to the blackmail angle. I asked you a question just now: Have you ever behaved in such a way as to provide material that could be used against you?"

There was a long, charged pause. Bodie's mouth was pressed in a thin, hard line, and it seemed to be even odds whether he would storm out or start smashing the furniture. Then, before Cowley's eyes, the anger drained from Bodie. He slumped back into his chair.

"We've always been careful as hell," he said quietly. "Paranoid as can be. Though actually, we weren't ever even really thinking of blackmail by enemy agents, nothing like that." He turned his head away suddenly, his gaze on the view out the window instead of on Cowley. "We more thinking of -- what would happen if our own lot ever found out."

He came to a halt, still glowering at some distance point beyond the window. The room was completely silent. It was probably the first time Bodie had acknowledged the relationship out loud to anyone but Doyle himself, Cowley thought.

"I see," he said, more gently than he had intended.

He sat there for a moment, swiftly running over the situation in his mind once more. He had now all but discarded his first theory, or more accurately his first fear, that Bodie had been complicit in Doyle's betrayal from the start. It had always seemed unlikely, since there was plenty of evidence against Doyle and none at all against Bodie. But how, then, had Bodie completely missed any signs of wrongdoing in someone he was so close to?

Cowley reached out and switched on the tape recorder.

"Nine thirty am, fourth of April 1980," he said briskly. "Questioning of Agent 3.7 regarding the 4.5 affair."

Bodie's eyes widened. It clearly hadn't yet occurred to him that he too could be under suspicion. In fact, Cowley suspected that it hadn't even quite sunk in that Doyle was guilty.

He began the questioning.

"Have you been approached by potential blackmailers at any time since you joined CI5?"

"No, sir," Bodie said dully.

Cowley took a deep breath, and moved on to a more difficult question.

"You are of the opinion that Doyle is unlikely to bow to blackmail, and I agree. However, what if the threat were to you and not him?"

Bodie gave a start at that.

"He still wouldn't, sir." He stirred suddenly, anger breaking through his dazed facade again. "Look, he hasn't been blackmailed. I've already told you they can't have anything to blackmail him with."

"Yet the fact remains that he's now in South America."

That shut Bodie up.

Time to change tack a little, Cowley thought.

"Did you know Doyle was leaving the country?"

Bodie's scowl deepened.

"He said he was going to visit his granny in Nottingham. He was supposed to be back this afternoon."

Cowley pressed on with the interrogation.

Did you know he was meeting Charlie Wills on an irregular basis in a pub in Shepherd's Bush? Did you know he'd opened a second bank account? Did you notice he seemed to have more money than usual? Did you know he hadn't returned the Blum case files until two days after he should have? Were you present when he cut a deal with Murray and Lambeth?

Bodie went on saying No, no, no in a sullen voice

Finally Cowley switched off the tape recorder, suppressing the impulse to sigh.

"It's not impossible that your 'million pounds' was more attractive to Doyle than you think," he said, almost gently.

Bodie scowled murderously at the floor before his feet.

Cowley didn't want to push him any further today. He was clearly on the edge of breaking, and Cowley himself was fighting a headache that had been building since he was alerted to the Doyle problem at half past five that morning.

"That will be all, 3.7."

After Bodie had left, Cowley let out a long, deep breath.

This morning he'd feared he'd lost two agents. Now, he was almost certainly only one of them had turned. But how long would Bodie survive on his own?

.. .. ..

Jax put down the binoculars, and stood up to stretch, accompanying the movement with a groan of relief.

"You're up, mate," he said, but Bodie had already moved to replace him by the window.

Jax went to the makeshift table they'd built in the corner, and unscrewed the top off the thermos flask.

"Tea?"

"No thanks," Bodie said shortly.

It was only the second time Bodie'd spoken since they'd started their shift. He'd spent the rest of the evening cloaked in the same dark, dour mood he'd been wearing for the whole two weeks they'd been partnered.

Jax had been pleased to be partnered with Bodie, until he discovered the full truth of the matter -- until he'd learnt that the arrangement wasn't temporary, and that Doyle hadn't just gone undercover for a while, as Jax had assumed.

Jax was dying with curiosity about exactly what had happened with Doyle. He hadn't dared ask Bodie, though, of course. He'd picked up most of the details via Rest Room gossip. It was the biggest thing to have happened in CI5 in years: Ray Doyle discovered to have been the long-sought leak, the mole in the department, the man responsible for all the operations ruined and suspects lost over the past eight months. And Doyle himself now somewhere in South America, apparently.

It had been hard to believe. At first, Jax had wondered if it was all some sort of elaborate ruse, one of Cowley's triple-thinks. But it had been confirmed soon enough -- Doyle's flat turned upside-down, and two agents set to rake over his life, his financial history, and his recent associates.

What really convinced Jax of the truth of the matter, however, was Bodie's reaction. According to those in the know, Bodie had been completely cleared of any wrongdoing. Since then, he'd been walking round HQ in a foul mood, ready to bite your head off if you so much as spoke to him -- looking, in fact, like he probably would have if Doyle were dead.

Most people just avoided him, lucky sods. Jax couldn't -- he was obliged to work with the grumpy bastard. It was a shame, really, Jax thought, when he remembered the charming, good-natured Bodie of last month.

Bodie's mind was still on the job, all right, though. Jax still trusted Bodie to watch his back, otherwise he'd have been pretty vocal about demanding a new partner.

Jax had had several partners, none of them for very long. He'd never lost a partner, thank God, but Parker had been invalided out, Billie Smith had decided to pack it in and get married, and Harrap and Wainworth had only ever been temporary arrangements anyway. And he hadn't had a partner at all during the year and a half he'd spent undercover in Rotherham. They were a mixed bag, his former partners. Some had been easier to work with than others. Some had been competent but a right pain in the arse. Others had been easygoing, but ultimately not cut out for life in CI5. Over the years, Jax had built up a sort of checklist in his head of the ideal partner.

Top of the list, of course, was that they should be good, really good. He wasn't keen on getting himself killed or injured through a partner's stupidity. After that, he looked for someone who liked a laugh and a bit of fun. Someone up for a night out or even a weekend spent together when they were both girlfriend-less. He wasn't going to get that from Bodie, that was clear.

"Postman just brought three or four small white envelopes letters and a big brown one," Bodie said suddenly, waking Jax from his reverie.

He put down his tea cup in a hurry and went to write that in the log.

"Bet the brown one's a dirty magazine," he said. "Would have thought the old codger was past it."

Bodie didn't answer.

Jax shrugged, and started to unwrap a sandwich. If Bodie didn't want cheering up, that was Bodie's lookout.

He started to sort through the magazines in the corner, amusing himself by guessing who was responsible for each one. Melody Maker -- probably Marriott. Boxing News -- Anson. Radio Times -- could be anyone. Smash Hits... He stared at that one for a few seconds in amazement. Who the hell had bought that? Then curiosity got the better of him, and he started to read it.

He had to suffer a ribbing and a half from Lewis and McCabe when they arrived and caught him with it, but it'd certainly made the time pass.

Bodie didn't join in the fun, of course. Lewis and McCabe took over, and Bodie followed Jax out to the car, parked a few streets away.

"I'm going out for a drink," Jax said. "Want to come?"

Bodie shook his head, of course.

"Drop me at home, will you?"

.. .. ..

Bodie stood in the doorway, watching his partner. Doyle's head was bent over the desk, all his attention on the file he was studying. There was an enormous stack of files at his elbow, still to be read.

Bodie cleared his throat. Doyle looked up over his shoulder, gave Bodie his best glower, and then returned to his work.

"Stop skiving off, Bodie."

Bodie gave the back of Doyle's head a broad smile.

"Come on, let's get out of here."

"Can't."

"Oh, but we can. Just saw Cowley. He doesn't need us after all. We're free for the rest of the day."

Doyle raised his head, turning in his seat at the same time.

Bodie watched him closely, waiting for it. Doyle's smile appeared slowly, disbelieving grin spreading into wide, toothy leer. Bodie knew its path by heart. He loved it.

"You -- How'd you manage that?"

Bodie winked at him.

Doyle got to his feet, grabbing his jacket. He came right up to Bodie, still grinning at him.

"Well done, mate," he said, putting a hand on Bodie's arm. "I reckon that deserves a reward."

He slid a hand around the back of Bodie's neck, and pulled their mouths together in a kiss.

Suddenly, a surreal note seemed to have crept into the room. They were at HQ, they shouldn't be doing this, but somehow it didn't matter, it was all right. Doyle was pressed up against him now, his hands on Bodie's arse, his tongue caressing Bodie's.

That was when Bodie woke.

He put out a hand automatically, reaching for the place where Doyle used to sleep. But he was alone in bed, and Doyle was thousands of miles away, and farther than the grave.

God help him, but sometimes he felt like Doyle would be closer if he was dead.

.. .. ..

Jax came slowly up the stairs, carrying his overnight bag. He'd spent the last ten minutes arguing with the duty officer in Accommodations, and now he was facing the prospect of a night in whatever cheap hotel room CI5 would stretch to paying for.

If he was still with Carol, he could have gone to her place. But three weeks ago Carol had told him in no uncertain terms that she'd had enough of his last-minute cancellations and that the only thing that really surprised her was that she'd put up with it for as long as three months. It was a shame -- he'd really liked Carol, who was smart and pretty and a lot of fun. But he couldn't pretend he hadn't seen that one coming.

He met Bodie at the top of the stairs.

"Been looking for you," Bodie said. "Got some reports for you to sign." He took in Jax's bulging bag. "You going away somewhere?"

Jax scowled.

"Burst pipes in my place. And Accommodations can't put me anywhere else until tomorrow at the earliest."

"Oh," Bodie said. After a pause, he added, "Better come back to my place, I suppose. You can sleep on my couch."

He didn't sound the slightest bit welcoming, in fact he sounded downright reluctant, but Jax didn't care. An evening on his own in a hotel would probably be more comfortable than an evening with his dour partner, but he was curious to see Bodie's place, maybe try and get a bit of insight on the man. He could even use this opportunity to start a campaign of trying to get Bodie to relax and open up a bit, make him pleasanter to work with.

"Great, thanks, mate," he said cheerfully.

Bodie's flat was impeccably clean and tidy, just as Jax had expected. The only thing out of place was a pile of four or five big cardboard boxes stacked in the corner.

Jax stared at them.

"You still haven't finished unpacking yet? Thought you'd been here for months?"

Now that he looked closer, he could see the boxes bore yellow stickers that he recognised as those used for labelling evidence in CI5; at one point the boxes had been impounded at HQ.

Jax suddenly realised it was Doyle's stuff, which Bodie must have saved from destruction after the investigation into Doyle was closed.

He looked up, and caught Bodie glaring at him, daring him to comment.

"Lucky you've got a big sitting room," he said lightly, turning away from the boxes. "You said something about a drink?"

He wasn't sure whether he was being thoughtful or just cowardly, but in any case provoking Bodie's ire formed no part of his plans for this evening.

And the evening, in fact, turned out well enough in the end. Bodie stuck something frozen in the oven, they watched telly instead of talking, and then Bodie got him sheets and a pillow without even seeming grudging about it.

When he extended an invitation to the pub to Bodie a week later, though, he wasn't surprised to be turned down as usual.

They spent the next week following a minor member of the Soviet Embassy's staff around London. B-squad work, normally, except that Cowley was expecting trouble from this job. And trouble was what they got, when a firefight suddenly blossomed in front of their eyes, eight days into the job.

They'd followed the man to a multistorey carpark near Heathrow, and so, apparently, had two gunmen in a nondescript white Transit van, who opened fire as soon as they came within range.

The attache turned out to be surprisingly proficient with a handgun for a bureaucrat supposedly specialising in agricultural affairs. For all his skill, though, he still ended up with a bullet in the heart.

The other injury was to Jax, who went over a low ledge when rolling to avoid a bullet, and hit his head on bare concrete, twisting his knee at the same time.

The paramedics carted him off to hospital with all the classic signs of concussion. Despite the aching head and the queasy stomach, however, he was feeling quite cheerful. Only now did he realise he'd had a niggling doubt in the back of his mind for the last few weeks, a doubt that had now disappeared. He and Bodie had come under live fire together for the first time, and they'd worked perfectly together. Bodie and Doyle's near-telepathy had been legendary, but at least Jax could now be sure it hadn't spoilt Bodie for working with anybody else. He didn't expect he'd ever have a rapport like that with any partner he worked with, now or in the future, but he was satisfied knowing neither he nor Bodie was likely to wind up dead through miscommunication.

Jax ended up spending the night in hospital, under observation. Bodie came to see him in the evening, bringing him a change of clothes from his CI5 locker.

"Want me to pick you up tomorrow morning?" Bodie asked, dumping Jax's bag at the foot of the bed.

Jax stared in surprise. He hadn't been expecting that. Dropping in to see if he was all right was one thing, and more or less a partner's duty, but he hadn't expected Bodie to stretch to a second visit.

"Oh, I don't think I'll want to leave," he joked, to cover his surprise. "Haven't you seen the duty nurse yet?"

Jax went back on active duty as soon as he could run again, but he still had physiotherapy for his knee once a week, at one of the Joint Services medical centres. That was where he met Sandra, who was smart and vivacious and with whom he spent an extremely enjoyable evening at a concert and then dinner. When he suggested meeting up again soon, though, she produced her diary, obviously chock-full of engagements, and proposed a date two and a half weeks into the future. He agreed, of course, but inside he was depressed. First off, it didn't do wonders for his self-esteem to hear he'd made so little impression she could easily wait half a month before seeing him again. Besides, he was starting to think he might like something a little more stable and serious. Sandra obviously wasn't it. It hardly seemed worthwhile chancing his arm on getting invited back to her place that night.

.. .. ..

Bodie came through to the sitting room, towelling his hair as he walked. He found Doyle sprawled on the sofa, leafing through a magazine.

"You leave me any hot water?" Doyle said without looking up.

"Would I do that to you, mate?"

Doyle grunted.

It was true that Doyle had found himself rinsing in cold water just yesterday, but then if the little beggar didn't have such long hair he wouldn't need so much water.

Bodie hung his towel over the back of a chair and headed for the kitchen.

"More to the point, did you leave me any breakfast?"

Doyle snorted.

"You should be so lucky."

He raised his head as Bodie passed, and Bodie bent to give him a kiss on the lips.

In the kitchen he found that contrary to his words, Doyle had left him a pile of bacon under the grill, and coffee in the pot. He grinned to himself, stuck some bread in the toaster and sat down to get stuck in.

They had the day off, and nothing much planned except a nice lazy afternoon in the country. Doyle wanted to stop off at his flat to pick up some things, and then they were headed for the Surrey hills.

Doyle spent very little time at his own flat nowadays. In fact, by Bodie's reckoning Doyle hadn't even been there in over a week now, and Bodie was pretty happy with that state of affairs.

He was even happier when Doyle appeared in the kitchen doorway ten minutes later, with nothing on except a towel.

"How much of a hurry are we in, exactly?

Bodie closed the window blinds.

.. .. ..

When Bodie woke he didn't reach out for Doyle. He'd managed to break that habit after a month or so. He couldn't control his dreams, though.

.. .. ..

Jax pulled up outside Bodie's flat, double parked, and ran up the building's front steps. He buzzed Bodie's door to let him know he was there. He was surprised when, instead of Bodie saying, "I'm on my way," he said, "You'd better come up."

When he got to the top of the stairs, Bodie was already at the door to let him in. He did have keys to Bodie's flat, of course, but he didn't yet feel comfortable using them.

Bodie was only half dressed, his shirt and belt undone, and the reason was obvious. His hand, which yesterday had seemed only slightly bruised, had now swelled up like a balloon. His fingers were a reddish black colour, and he clearly couldn't bend or move them.

Jax let out a low whistle.

"You hit a brick wall instead of Fowler's jaw yesterday?"

"Give us a hand, will you, mate? Can't do bloody anything by myself."

"You need to get that seen to -- in hospital."

Bodie grimaced.

"I'll see what the medicos at HQ have to say about it first."

Jax shrugged. He did up Bodie's shirt and belt, and then handed him his jacket.

"Ready to go?"

"Just give me a minute. Everything's taking twice as long this morning." He disappeared into the kitchen. "Want some toast?" he shouted back out after a minute.

"No thanks."

Jax waited out in the sitting room. Shamelessly, he took the opportunity to have a better look around than he had last time he was here. Doyle's boxes were still in the corner, and the rest of the room was still painfully clean and tidy. There was something new hanging on the wall by the bookshelves, and Jax stepped closer for better look. It was a poem, written out and framed. Jax raised his eyebrows as he read the advice to go placidly amid the noise and haste, avoid aggressive people, and keep peace in one's soul. It didn't seem like Bodie's kind of thing, somehow, and Jax wondered where he'd got it.

He sat down on the sofa to wait, and that was when some of the jackets by the door caught his eye. He was pretty sure they were Doyle's, not Bodie's. Or maybe Doyle had been in the habit of wearing Bodie's clothes. Funny, that. He wondered just how much time they'd spent together.

He couldn't help feeling a bit jealous, in fact. Christ, he was even starting to find himself missing Teddy now. And to think that a month ago he'd thought himself well rid of Teddy Wainworth, his last partner, who'd been a right prick most of the time, but who'd always been good for a few pints or a Sunday morning jog. Teddy was partner in a security firm in New Zealand now, and not missing England a bit, the last Jax had heard.

Bodie came back into the sitting room.

"Come on, let's go," he said.

They were only five minutes late to work in the end. Frank on the door told them to go straight down to the interrogation rooms. Murphy and Cowley were waiting for them in the corridor, deep in conversation.

Murphy was looking very pleased with himself.

"That's Lenny Crick in there," he said, nodding at the door to the nearest room.

"The gun-runner?" Jax knew Murphy had been working on that case for weeks now. He and Bodie had been involved on and off where needed, providing backup for Murphy.

"Ran into him this morning with a very interesting cargo in the back of his lorry," Murphy said with satisfaction.

Jax took a peek through the window set into the interrogation room door. A stout, middle-aged man in a crumpled suit was sitting on the edge of his chair, his face set into an expression of misery. Jax knew Crick had a fairly senior position in his organisation, and he'd been expecting someone with a little more spine.

"He's the kind to be easily intimidated by a show of force," Cowley said. "So go in there and give him one.

The three agents held a quick conference on tactics first, before joining Crick in the interrogation room. Bodie took up a position by the door, arms crossed, face set in his best thuggish glare. Jax took a seat at the desk beside Murphy and opposite Crick. He sprawled casually while Murphy sat upright, one hand on the tape-recorder.

Crick's gaze flickered nervously from one to the other.

"Good morning, Lenny," Murphy said smoothly. "Shall we begin?"

In the end, the intimidation tactics hardly seemed to be necessary. Crick was happy to spill his guts out, with lists of names, places and prices. It seemed he'd been feeling nervous about his place in the gang after a few recent cock-ups -- "Not my fault!" he said, "but everyone thought it was." -- and switching loyalties seemed to be the best idea right now.

"I'll get protection, right?" he repeated several times. "You'll look after me?"

"Only if you sing nicely," Murphy said. "Now what happened exactly during that shipment in January? You seem to have evaded the roadblocks very easily."

"Oh, well that was because of the man we had on the inside. Inside CI5, I mean." He grinned around at them, a quick, nervous flicker. "I don't mind saying that, since he's gone now anyway, isn't he?"

Jax stiffened involuntarily. Not noticeably, he hoped. The first thing that popped into his mind was Doyle. Could it be -- ? He was careful not to glance at Bodie.

"Oh, is that right?" Murphy said calmly. "Well, let's talk about what happened after, at Calais -- "

After a few minutes, he brought the questioning carefully round again to the one thing that was on all three agents' minds.

"And that was thanks to your man on the inside?"

"Yeah, that's right. And very helpful he was too," Crick added with a knowing wink and a leer, looking around for Jax and Bodie to share the joke.

"But not any more?"

"Not since February, no. That's when you caught onto him, I suppose."

"Exactly," Murphy lied smoothly.

"It was a pity, that."

"I'm sure it was. But that's not what we're interested in today. Tell me about these warehouses on the Continent."

Surely it couldn't be anyone but Doyle? Jax thought.

Murphy was busy following another line of questioning. It wouldn't do to alert Crick to the fact that they were particularly interested in this man on the inside -- and that they knew far less about the matter than he seemed to think.

After a few minutes Jax stood up and slipped out. He went to tell Cowley that what Crick had to say might turn out to be even more interesting than they'd first thought.

By that evening it was all over HQ that there was someone in the basement who had first-hand -- or at least second-hand -- details of Ray Doyle's treachery.

Jax and Bodie arrived in the Rest Room just in time to hear a blow-by-blow account of the Doyle affair, given by Lewis to one of the newer agents on the A-squad.

Jax shot a sideways glance at Bodie. His face was set in stone, but he didn't say anything, just crossed the room to put the kettle on. And if there was a tightly controlled violence in the way he slammed the teamugs down, Jax wasn't surprised.

Jax took the one remaining chair, which was next to Lewis.

"Never would have thought it," Lewis was saying to the new bloke. "Knew him for years. Of course, there was always something a bit funny about Doyle. Christ, I could tell you stories -- "

"Enjoying stirring up the mud again, are you, Lewis?" Jax said mildly.

Lewis ignored him.

Bodie returned at the point, and handed Jax his mug of tea.

"Ah, and this is Bodie!" Lewis exclaimed, delighted. "Bodie was partnered with him for years. Completely exonerated, of course, weren't you, Bodie?"

Bodie just glowered at him.

Wilks came up to join the group at that point, carrying his own mug of tea.

"I always wondered about that," he chipped in. "How come you never noticed anything funny, Bodie? I thought you two were pretty much living in each other's pockets. He must have had you running on a pretty tight leash."

Bodie stiffened, and Jax could see this escalating.

"You've left the milk out, Wilks," he said easily.

Wilks looked round at him, startled, and then at the table, where he had indeed left a pint of milk.

"Let's get out of here," Jax said quietly to Bodie while Wilks was distracted.

To his relief, Bodie didn't protest, just nodded, and they both slipped out of the Rest Room.

They'd come in Jax's car that morning, and Bodie followed him silently to the carpark.

As soon as they were in the car, Jax turned to Bodie. He had something to say, and he was going to say it now. He wasn't going to risk Bodie disappearing off at the first chance he got.

"Look, Bodie -- "

He had no idea how to go about this, so he started with the easiest bit.

"If you don't want to be on the Crick case, just say so. I'll back you up. We've already got enough on our plate, and Murphy is more or less lead agent there anyway, not us."

"Why wouldn't I want to be in on the Crick case?"

So he was going to be like that, was he? Jax screwed up his courage and went for the jugular.

"So you're trying to pretend you enjoy hearing all the details of Doyle's dirty dealings?"

"I don't give a damn what Doyle did or didn't do," Bodie said tightly.

Jax took a deep breath.

"Look, I know you and Doyle were close, partners for years -- "

"You don't have the first clue what me and Doyle were -- "

Bodie cut himself off, took a deep breath and let it out slowly in a sigh.

"Look, I'll make my own way home, thanks," he said, voice tightly controlled and deliberately civil.

He got out of the car and walked away while Jax was still trying to think of what to say.

.. .. ..

Jax signed the last page of the report, and bundled all the sheets of paper into a neat stack.

"I think I've got typist's wrist," he said with a groan. "That'll do wonders for my marksmanship in the refresher tomorrow morning, won't it?"

Of course, he could have avoided the past hour of work if he'd taken Bodie up on his offer.

"You go on," Bodie had said. "I'll finish up this stuff."

Bodie often made him offers like that, trying to let him off the hook while Bodie worked late, alone. Jax usually tried not to take him up on it. He knew Bodie wasn't doing it because he liked Jax so much, but rather out of some sort of strange plan he seemed to have to work himself to death. Double shifts, overtime... he was always volunteering for it, these days.

On the one hand Jax was certainly tempted to take advantage of it, whatever Bodie's motivation. On the other hand he'd rather have the old playboy Bodie back, the one who was always hurrying off to see some girl or other, and who consequently was in a much better mood when he was at work. In the end, Jax's inconvenient conscience usually won out, and he ended up staying to work alongside Bodie.

Bodie took the stack of paper out of his hand.

"I'll leave this in the pigeonhole," he said. "See you tomorrow, mate."

And just like that, he was gone.

Jax got his coat, and headed down to the Lion, where he knew a bunch of the lads from the squad had already gathered.

He found them in a corner booth, already several rounds in. There was Lewis, Anson, Burnard and Burnard's new partner Waits. Anson left early -- off to see his fiancee, lucky bastard. The rest of them soon got chatting to a bunch of girls who were obviously on the prowl, just as they were.

Lewis soon disappeared off with one of them. One of her friends seemed very interested in Jax. She had scooted up right next to him on the bench seat, and was shooting him coy looks out of the corner of her eye every so often. He was most definitely tempted. It was almost two months since Carol had dumped him, and he wasn't used to long barren spells like that.

He never had trouble finding a girl, in fact. He knew how to make the best of his good looks, and how to turn on the charm. Even after excluding all the women who thought he was too black, or too white, the pool was pretty full.

Tonight, however, something stopped him making a move, though he didn't really understand what that something was. He just didn't feel like a fling. He wanted... not a long-term relationship, exactly. That felt like a bit too much to ask for with his record. But someone steady, at least for a little while.

He ended up going home alone, and falling asleep reading a Stephen King novel.

.. .. ..

Bodie was standing on a metal fire-escape, high above a huge open expanse of concrete and weeds, littered with the rusting remains of someone's bankrupted export business.

Doyle was down there, somewhere, and Bodie was hurrying after him now, down the steps and across the concrete, feeling exposed to rooftop snipers. Then he was across, and in among the wreckage on the far side, a rusting maze of containers and portakabins.

He could hear footsteps, and gunshots, but every time he turned a corner, Doyle was already gone.

.. .. ..

Jax sat in his car, parked down the street from Bodie's flat, and tried to get his thoughts in order. This wasn't going to be an easy conversation, and he wanted to sort out in advance exactly what he was going to say to Bodie.

On his lap lay the folder he'd found in among a stack of others he'd been working through this evening. It contained a few sheets of paper covered in Bodie's handwriting, and copies of a whole series of files they weren't supposed to have access to. Files about Doyle, every single one of them.

Jax's first thought had been that Bodie was simply satisfying his curiosity, with a dose of masochism, or trying to finally convince himself of Doyle's betrayal. When he'd read Bodie's notes, though, he'd got a different picture -- a picture of Bodie desperately trying to find some way for Doyle to be innocent after all.

He sighed, and got out of the car, folder tucked under his arm. Bodie answered straight away when he buzzed the intercom.

"It's me, Jax," he said. "Can I come up?"

Bodie was surprised, of course, but let him in. When he got upstairs, he found Bodie'd been in the middle of dinner. A plate of steak and chips lay on the coffee table in front of the telly, an open can of beer beside it.

"Sorry," he said, nodding at Bodie's plate.

Bodie ignored that.

"What's the matter?" he said, his voice not unfriendly but not exactly welcoming either.

"It's about this."

Jax held up the paper folder. Bodie obviously didn't recognise it at first. It was a brown paper folder like all their others. Jax flicked open the cover so that the first document was visible: the sheet of paper covered in Bodie's handwriting.

Bodie's mouth compressed into a thin line, like he was trying to keep himself from swearing.

"How'd you end up with that?"

"I picked it up off your backseat this afternoon. Thought I was taking the Kreuzlingen file."

Bodie didn't answer. His face was an expressionless mask, but underneath it, something grim and ominous lurked. Jax's resolution wavered, and he reminded himself of the speech he'd prepared.

"So you're looking into Doyle's case?"

"Obviously." Bodie's tone was curt.

"Trying to... clear his name?"

"What's it look like to you?"

"Bodie, that case is closed, and these are files neither of us are supposed to have access to."

"Suppose you'd better hurry off to HQ and turn me in then, hadn't you?"

Jax shook his head, frustrated. He let the folder fall onto the coffee table, and took a seat, hoping Bodie would sit too and that would bring down the tension in the room. At the moment he felt like he was in the middle of a firefight or a hostage negotiation.

"The case against Doyle seems pretty solid to me, from what I read here," he said cautiously.

"It does, does it?"

Jax was beginning to get irritated by Bodie's blank defiance.

"Yeah, it does," he said sharply. "And I know it seems that way to you too. You've read a million case files, just like I have. Why are you being such a bloody idiot about this?"

To his surprise, instead of matching his raised voice, Bodie said quietly, "He can't have turned. I know him."

"Look, I know you find it hard to accept -- "

Bodie snorted, and turned away.

For a minute or so the room was silent. Bodie was by the window. He was standing staring out, probably not seeing anything. His back was ramrod straight.

Jax took a deep breath. He got to his feet, and took a step closer to Bodie. He tried to block all the irritation from his voice, and sound understanding instead.

"I was thinking maybe, I dunno -- I mean, if you feel like getting it all off your chest -- ?"

Bodie rounded on him, suddenly and viciously.

"What are you, an amateur psychologist? Or a Boy Scout doing your good deed for the day?"

Tightly controlled anger ran through his voice.

Jax stood his ground.

"I've had partners flake out on me in the past. Partners that turned out to be unreliable, or just not able to watch my back. That was bad enough, but it wasn't hard to shrug off. But if my partner -- if my partner did what Doyle did, I'd find it pretty hard to take too."

"Doyle. Didn't. Fucking. Do. Anything."

Jax had just been accused of being an amateur psychologist, and he certainly wasn't that, but he did know enough to recognise denial when he saw it.

"People can surprise you. Sometimes it turns out you didn't know them as well as you thought."

Bodie's face was black with anger now.

"Look, I knew Doyle, alright? I knew everything about him. I knew him and I loved him, alright? I loved him and I knew him inside out."

Jax stared, caught off balance. Bodie took a step forward, his expression fierce.

Jax took a step backward, and then regretted it. He felt like an injured prey, whose attacker had sensed blood.

"Weren't expecting that, were you?" Bodie said viciously. "And I'll tell something else for free. When I say I loved him, I don't just mean like you love your pet canary. We'd been fucking for years."

Jax realised his jaw was hanging slackly, and shut his mouth with a snap.

Bodie scowled at him.

"Happy now?"

Instead of dealing with that revelation, which he wasn't nearly ready to do, Jax opened his mouth and said the first thing that came into his head.

"You talk about him as if he was dead."

For a second, he thought Bodie was going to haul off and hit him.

Then Bodie's rigid posture slumped, as though his strings had been cut, and he sank on the couch.

"Sometimes I'm afraid he is."

Jax cautiously skirted around Bodie, and took the chair he'd had before, on the other side of the coffee table. Bodie was sitting staring down at his feet. After a few moments, he looked up at Jax.

"Look, if you accept the premise that he didn't sell out, that he wasn't the mole -- "

He held up a hand, as though to forestall any objections Jax might make to what he was about to say, and gave Jax a challenging look.

"Okay, let's talk hypothetically," Jax said cautiously.

"Well then. Let's say he didn't sell out. But he has definitely disappeared. So why hasn't anyone heard a peep out of him since? Where is he?"

A few possibilities crossed Jax's mind, such as six feet under, or at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Instead, he said, "He got on that plane of his own free will, Bodie. The ground staff and flight attendants remembered him clearly."

He wasn't sure whether that was supposed to be a comfort to Bodie or not.

They sat there in silence for a minute or two. Finally, Bodie spoke up.

"Look, Jax, I want to ask you a favour. Before you go blabbing off to the rest of the lads, just -- give me a few weeks. I can't work on this thing -- " He gestured at the papers on the table, " -- if I've got the whole Squad turned against me."

"Blabbing to the lads?" Jax echoed.

It took him a few seconds to catch onto what Bodie even meant, and he realised he had no intention at all of doing as Bodie feared. Yeah, of course, a few months ago it would have been a different story. If he'd, say, caught Bodie and Doyle snogging in the changing rooms, he certainly wouldn't have been slow about spreading that juicy piece of gossip around HQ. But the idea of doing that now, in the face of Bodie's obvious grief... it was unthinkable.

"Cowley already knows, by the way," Bodie added. "You needn't worry about that."

Jax nodded in acknowledgement. After a moment, he shrugged.

"You can have months, if you want. Or years."

"What?"

"I wasn't planning on going blabbing to the lads, as you call it."

"You weren't?"

Jax shook his head.

"So long as Cowley knows," he added. "And I am going to go and see him, by the way. I mean, it's relevant, isn't it? I'm sorry, mate. But I have to be sure he knows. Especially with -- "

He paused. Bodie no longer seemed to be a hair's width away from exploding, but this was something Jax didn't particularly want to say.

"You mean if Doyle has sold out, and Doyle and me were doing the nasty, then that's something that should have been taken into account during the investigation?" Bodie grimaced. "Yeah, I know. And it was, and I was cleared anyway, but yeah... Go and see Cowley." He paused. "You going to tell him about the files too?"

Jax picked up the file from the coffee table.

"I'm going to burn these copies, that's all."

Bodie didn't thank him, not that Jax had expected him to. Jax got to his feet.

"See you tomorrow morning, then?"

Bodie nodded.

Before Jax left, he couldn't resist saying one last thing.

"If you did manage to prove Doyle innocent, I'd be the first to celebrate. But you won't. You're chasing rainbows, mate."

Bodie didn't answer, and Jax let himself out.

.. .. ..

Next morning Jax suffered through an uncomfortable ten minutes in Cowley's office. Something that would have been so easy to write in a report -- "Agent 3.7 confessed to long-term sexual liaison with Agent 4.5" -- was really rather difficult to say baldly to Cowley's face, without feeling like the class tattletale.

Cowley managed to give the impression he was simultaneously shocked that Jax could imagine such a thing could have escaped his knowledge, and satisfied that Jax had followed security procedures. Then he sent him off with a flea in his ear.

Jax and Bodie spent most of the day doing paperwork, and managed to clock out at the very reasonable hour of five thirty. Jax dropped Bodie off at his flat, and headed home to phone his mother: it was her birthday.

She lived on the outskirts of Peterborough, which wasn't even that far to drive from London, but he never seemed to get home as often as he intended.

"Wilfred!" she exclaimed. "You just caught me. I'll be out the door in ten minutes."

"Pam taking you out, is she?" he asked, Pam being his sister.

His mother spent the next few minutes on a description of the restaurant they were going to, an old favourite which was apparently now under new management, and a discussion of whether they'd still be serving those little onion tarts she always ordered.

That was only the prelude, however, to what she always really wanted to talk about -- whether Jax had been injured recently and how exactly.

"I'm on stakeout at the moment," he said instead of answering. "You know, just sitting at the window all day. Not out on the streets at all."

"Hmm," she said, clearly not convinced. "You know, I met Mr Whitehead the other day. You remember, your father's friend from the hill-walking club. He says he's looking for someone to manage his Loughborough concession."

"Is he?" said Jax, in as unenthusiastic a tone as possible.

"He remembers your father with great fondness. And you know, Dad always had nothing but good to say about Mr Whitehead."

Jax's father had been dead for almost a decade now. He'd been the first black lecturer at his Midlands polytech, and Jax had been used to comments about what a success and a role model his father was. Ironically enough, Jax senior had actually wanted to be a concert pianist. He'd been bemused by his son's stint in the fire-brigade, and displeased by his signing up to the army. It was probably a good thing he hadn't lived to see him join CI5.

"So when is Pam coming to pick you up?" Jax asked, changing the subject.

The stakeout went on for another long, rather dull week after that. That was also the week Jax met Connie O'Loughlin.

"As in Concepta, not as in Constance," she said ruefully. "I got off lightly. It was originally going to be Assumpta."

She was a hospital pharmacist. Funnily enough, though, given Jax's propensity for spending time in hospitals, that wasn't where they met. Instead, they both went for the same Heinlein novel in a secondhand bookshop on the Clerkenwell Road. They talked in whispers until the bookshop owner began to clear his throat and talk about closing for lunch. Out on the street, the novel tucked under her arm, Connie suggested she could pass it on to him once she'd finished, and Jax took that as a clear invitation to ask for her phone number.

They went out for dinner the following evening, at a small Italian place around the corner from Connie's hospital. They got off to a somewhat rocky start. It wasn't easy to artificially rekindle the non-stop, flowing conversation they'd naturally fallen into in the bookshop. But they had goodwill and hope on their side, and the first few awkward minutes were soon forgotten.

Connie seemed to have an inexhaustible stock of amusing stories about the hospital, and the stupid things doctors and nurses did to drive the pharmacists crazy. Jax didn't talk about his own job, of course, but he had enough pastimes to be able to make entertaining conversation all the same. They stayed so late the owner almost had to kick them out, and it was Connie who suggested they should do this again, sometime soon.

They went out several more times together over the next few weeks. They turned out to have very similar taste in music, and rather different taste in films, identical taste in food -- except for Jax's irrational dislike of shellfish -- and a shared loathing of long country walks.

The first few times they went out, Jax just dropped her home afterwards with a goodnight kiss.

The fourth time, however, Connie turned to him as soon as they got into the car, and put a hand on his arm to stop him turning on the ignition.

"I've got a room-mate," she said. "She starts work at six in the morning so she's probably already asleep by now. But if you've got a place of your own..." Her voice trailed off, the sentence ending in a question mark.

Jax leant across to her and planted a big kiss on her lips.

"I do indeed," he said. "Want to come and see it?"

The very next day, Jax was disgusted to learn that he and Bodie were being sent up north for a week, to beef up the security at an international summit in some castle or other in the Scottish Borders.

The time away from London seemed to do Bodie some good, however. He unbent a little more than before, and even went out for a drink with Jax and Murphy once they were back in London, after a near brush with death for all three of them.

Jax took his leave after they'd all stood each other a round each.

"Got a pressing appointment elsewhere, I suppose?" Murphy said with a wink.

"Still seeing that doctor, are you?" Bodie asked.

"Pharmacist," Jax corrected him.

Bodie whistled.

"Over a month? Didn't know you had it in you."

"You trying to say I've got a reputation for being unsteady?"

Murphy gave him a good-natured shove in the direction of the door.

"Go on, get a move on, or she'll start wondering where you've got to."

The following month Jax and Bodie were sent down to Kent for their annual refresher course, a two-week stint. He'd been worried that his thing with Connie might peter out while he was away -- it had happened to him before, when he'd had to go away for work, and the girl he was with at the time didn't seem particularly upset to see him leave. But Connie extracted a promise from him to call as often as he could, and in the end he spent most of his free time each evening on the phone to her.

The week they got back held a brief stint in hospital for Bodie, with a stab wound in the calf and a couple of cracked ribs -- not his first by a long shot, of course.

"You again?" he said in mock-surprise, when Jax came to see him for a second time. "Is this the hospital where your girl works or something?"

"No, she's at Guy's." Jax held up a bag of Mars bars and Bodie's other favourites. "I managed to smuggle this in."

"God bless you, my son," Bodie said fervently, holding out his hand.

He got stuck in straight away -- he'd already been on hospital food for two days by now, after all. Jax picked out a Marathon bar, and sat down in the chair by the bed.

To his surprise, Bodie soon brought the conversation round to Connie again.

"Nice girl, is she, this pharmacist?"

"I think so," Jax said with a grin.

Normally he would have suggested a double date by now, but he'd noticed Bodie didn't seem to date any more, even before he'd found out why.

"It's serious, then?"

Jax shrugged.

"I wouldn't say that, but..." He hesitated. He didn't want to sound silly, and a few months ago he would never have dreamt of discussing this with Bodie at all. "I'd like it to be, I think."

Bodie gave him his best mock-avuncular look.

"Want to settle down, eh? Someone to come home to at night?"

Bodie's voice had started off teasing, but by the end it had trailed off into something more serious and more pensive.

It was only now, stupidly, that Jax realised Bodie knew exactly what he was talking about.

Up till now, Jax had given very little thought to the idea of Bodie and Doyle, together. Not that it bothered him, exactly; he just found it difficult to get his head around. They'd both had such a long string of girlfriends that he couldn't quite manage to think about them any other way.

It was only now that it really sunk in just what kind of a relationship Bodie had been talking about. Years, Bodie had said. Bodie knew what it meant to be in love with the same person for years.

He glanced across at Bodie, who was now staring at the magnolia-painted wall opposite him, an odd, reflective look on his face. After a second he seemed to come back to himself, and turned to Jax.

"Want another choccie bar?" he said, his tone light and seemingly carefree.

.. .. ..

They were in one of Doyle's old flats, a high-ceilinged Victorian conversion in Chipping. The heating hadn't worked for the entire four winter months Doyle lived there, and he and Bodie had slept huddled together under an enormous heap of blankets -- or more often, slept at Bodie's place.

In the dream, Doyle was curled up on the sofa, reading a paperback; standing by the bed in his boxers, stretching his arms and back after a good night's sleep; sitting at the old melamine kitchen table, eating takeaway chips with his fingers.

And every time Bodie tried to kiss Doyle, Doyle somehow slipped away.

.. .. ..

Jax was halfway to Connie's place when the R/T in his car went off. It was Control.

"Alpha wants to see you at HQ, straight away."

Jax grimaced.

"All right, on my way. And hang on a minute, Control -- can you put me through to a landline number?"

Connie sounded disappointed but not particularly annoyed to hear he couldn't make it.

"You sure you don't mind?" Jax asked doubtfully.

He could hear her laughing.

"I did the same thing to you twice already, didn't I?"

So she had, now that she mentioned it. She seemed to be on call almost as often as he was.

"You free on Thursday evening, by any chance?" he said hopefully, and she was.

The call turned out to be a request for backup from Aniston and Lewis, whose current job had gone suddenly and disastrously wrong when the visiting diplomat they were guarding abruptly decided to go over to the other side. Now they were both in Guy's Hospital and Bodie and Jax spent the next few days reinforcing security for the diplomat's colleagues, who were all running scared.

He and Bodie both came through that one uninjured, except for a nice collection of bruises each, and a dent to Jax's pride because he'd somehow managed to lose his footing on a wet slipway and end up in the Thames.

The following day, finally, the diplomatic team left, and Bodie and Jax were off the case. They'd accumulated a lot of equipment in Bodie's flat over the past week, and Jax came up with Bodie to help him disassemble it and pack it up.

"Help yourself to a drink," Bodie said, before disappearing into the bedroom. "I think there's some bread in the kitchen too."

The bread was stale, of course, but it was half eight at night and Jax hadn't eaten since eleven that morning.

Bodie soon joined him, and they sat on the sofa and packed electronic equipment into polystyrene foam-lined boxes while wolfing down bread and cheese.

They were about halfway through the task when Jax heard the sound of a key turning in the front door lock.

He came instantly to his feet, hand going to his gun. Behind him, he could hear Bodie moving round the back of the couch to cover the door from the other angle. They were both in position, guns drawn, by the time the front door opened, and Ray Doyle walked in.

Jax blinked, frozen in place for a split second of total astonishment.

Doyle's gaze flickered over Bodie and fell on Jax.

"Fuck," he said.

Out of the corner of his eye, Jax could see Bodie was just standing there, frozen, his posture rigid but his gun still trained steadily on Doyle. Behind Doyle, another man had come into the room, a tall, lanky type in a suit. Jax turned just a fraction of a degree so that he had the newcomer covered, while Bodie still covered Doyle.

The man in the suit looked at Bodie, and then Jax.

"Who's that?" he demanded.

Doyle was standing in a slouch with his hands in his jacket pockets, apparently unperturbed by having two guns trained on him.

"That's Wilfred Jax, CI5 A-squad," he said shortly.

The other man let out an irritated snort.

"Great. Just great. This was a bright idea of yours, Doyle."

"Didn't think anyone else'd be here, did I?" Doyle said with a grimace.

"Who's your friend, Doyle?" Bodie said truculently.

Doyle looked back over his shoulder at his companion. Jax couldn't see Doyle's expression, but he saw the other man nod. So that was who was giving the orders, and Doyle was following them. Jax didn't like that at all.

Doyle turned back to face the room.

"You can put the guns away, mates. He's MI5."

Bodie snorted.

"So you say."

The man cast Bodie a supercilious look that seemed to sit very well on his face, like he wore it a lot.

"Going to shoot me if I put my hand inside my coat, Bodie?"

"Do it slowly," Bodie said coolly.

The man slid his hand into his inner coat pocket, and produced a leather wallet. He held it up to show an MI5 ID in the name of Henry Spencer.

Bodie and Jax exchanged glances, and then reluctantly lowered their guns. Jax caught a glimpse of an odd expression that flittered quickly across Doyle's face as he watched Bodie. It felt wrong, somehow, being in sync with Bodie like that while Doyle was in the room.

"Shall we sit down?" Spencer suggested.

Jax didn't particularly like the way the man was taking control of the situation. Neither did Bodie, clearly, because he shook his head.

"Turn around," he said, backing the words up with a jab of his gun. "Hands against the wall. You too, Doyle."

Spencer grimaced, but did as he was told. Bodie patted Spencer down, leaving Doyle to Jax. Their haul was two hand guns, a fake British passport for Doyle in the name of Ronald Pearson, and another for Spencer in the name of Peter Corr.

"This as real as the MI5 ID, is it?" Jax said dryly, flipping the Corr passport with his fingernail.

Spencer -- or Corr -- ignored that.

"Perhaps we can sit down now?" he said. "A drink wouldn't go amiss either. We've been travelling since last night." He raised an eyebrow at Bodie.

"Just shut the fuck up and sit down," Bodie said harshly.

Spencer raised the other eyebrow to match.

"This is Doyle's flat too, if I understand correctly? Surely he can -- "

Doyle cut him off, his voice harsh.

"Don't push it, Spencer."

There was clearly no love lost between Doyle and Spencer, Jax thought, even if Doyle was toeing the line for the moment.

They sat, Bodie blocking the entrance to the kitchen, Jax to the front door, and Doyle and Spencer -- weaponless -- in between. Spencer sat upright, almost primly, and Doyle sprawled back in his seat, legs thrown open, one arm hooked over the side of the chair. His posture was one of complete and utter relaxation, but his eyes were wary, and his face was pinched and drawn. He looked about five years older than he had the last time Jax saw him.

Jax looked from Doyle to Spencer and back.

"If he's really MI5 -- then this whole thing with you being a mole was just one of Cowley's triplethinks?"

"Not exactly," Doyle said.

He was watching Bodie, but Bodie wasn't watching him. He was frowning at Spencer, and his hand was still on the butt of his gun. He clearly wasn't intending to contribute to the conversation, so Jax went on.

"Cowley even know you're back?"

Doyle grimaced at that, and shook his head.

Spencer leant forward.

"Before we go any further, we need to deal with one problem first."

He was looking pointedly at Jax.

"Me, you mean?" Jax said. "I obviously wasn't part of the plan for this evening, was I? Whatever the plan is."

Doyle shrugged.

"You are now."

Spencer looked alarmed at that, the most animated his haughty face had been since he arrived.

"Now hold on a minute -- "

"What do you suggest we do with him, then?" Doyle said. "Keep him locked up for the next week? Bump him off?"

His words sent a chill through Jax, even though he knew -- or was pretty sure -- that Doyle spoke in sarcasm. Doyle had always been a master of the cold, callous tone of voice.

Spencer gave a small, irritated snort.

Doyle went on, "The only way to get him to keep his mouth shut will be to convince him it's the right thing to do. Right, Jax?"

Jax shrugged.

"Try me."

Spencer relaxed back into his seat, seeming to accept that.

"Why don't you do the talking, Doyle?" he suggested.

Doyle looked down, playing with the tab of his jacket zipper, obviously gathering his thoughts. Finally he began.

"For the last three months I've been on the Continent. Drug-running, mostly. With a stopover in Brazil before that, of course."

"Yeah, Cowley traced you as far as Rio," Jax said. "Or further, maybe, but that's all us minions know about."

"Yeah, the trip to Rio was just a blind. People had plans for me here in Europe."

"People meaning MI5?"

"Not exactly. Spencer here was pulling the strings, along with a few close friends. They've spent the past three or four years studying and infiltrating an enormous international organised crime network, based here in Britain."

Jax frowned.

"Organised crime is not MI5's business."

Spencer leant forward to join in the conversation.

"No, it isn't. Not even when the criminals have as many political connections and political customers as this particular group do. No, in this case what we're interested in is not so much the criminals themselves, as the many friends they have in high places here in Britain. Very high places, in some cases."

Doyle took up the thread again.

"In order words, a whole string of moles in the security services here in Britain -- some of which are actually triple agents working for Spencer here and friends."

"Like you?" Jax said cautiously, because he still had no idea who was on which side, or what the sides even were.

Doyle waggled his hand, signalling ambiguity.

"Not exactly. The original triple agent was Pertwee. Remember him?"

Of course Jax did. He was a B-squad agent killed in the line of duty a few weeks before Doyle disappeared.

"He spent a year leaking low and medium-level material to the crime gang. The idea was he should win their trust, and that would get him an in with the drug-running branch of the operation on the Continent. You know, spy on them from the inside. Then Pertwee coincidentally and inconveniently took a bullet and Spencer recruited me at the last minute to replace him."

Bodie spoke up for the first time in several minutes.

"And why were you dancing to their tune?"

"Why d'you think?" Doyle said, his tone as cool and hard as Bodie's had been. It was the first time he'd addressed Bodie directly since he'd arrived.

Bodie's eyes narrowed.

"Lots of ways to persuade a man to do something."

"MI5's favourite," Doyle said, making a gesture like a thumbscrew. "They had me where they wanted me, didn't they?"

Jax could buy that. Never for a minute had he thought Doyle would have sold out for money. But what could make him a subject for blackmail? Unless... he remembered Bodie saying it. We've been fucking for years.

Bodie didn't seem to think that was it, however.

"But what -- ?" he said. "I mean they can't have -- "

Doyle's expression closed down. He shook his head.

"Yeah, it's not what you're thinking. Look, don't push it, Bodie."

Bodie's frown deepened, but he subsided back into his seat.

Doyle went on.

"So they've got this complicated network of triple agents set up, unbeknownst to the heads of any of the security forces here. But there's one real mole, one real traitor, the big fish, the one this whole thing is set up to catch."

"Unbeknownst to the heads of the security forces?" Jax echoed. "Why isn't Cowley in on this?"

Spencer shifted in his seat, and Doyle's face darkened. That had clearly touched a sore point.

"That big fish I mentioned?" Doyle said sourly. "He thinks it's Cowley."

Spencer didn't have the grace to look uncomfortable at that.

"Maybe you can see why I didn't want half Cowley's A-squad involved," he said, shooting a glance at Jax.

Especially one you don't have a hold over, Jax thought, and then, Christ, I hope that's true.

Spencer was still speaking.

"I've managed to narrow things down considerably over the past few months. The evidence points to one of two people: George Cowley... or my own boss."

"Winshaw?"

Spencer nodded.

"That's why we've been acting without official support, and with very few resources. Perhaps you can see why I had to resort to... unusual methods to get the cooperation of Doyle here."

"Oh, isn't that SOP round MI5 way?" Doyle said bitterly.

Spencer ignored him, and turned to Jax.

"Well, Jax? Now you're in the picture. What do you intend to do about it?"

Jax took a long moment to think before he answered.

This was the kind of thing he hated most about being in the Services. Worse than being shot at, worse even than shooting someone. This double and triple-think, this lack of trust and crippling paranoia. He trusted Cowley; how could he work for him otherwise? He trusted Bodie. But he'd trusted Doyle too, and even if it now appeared Doyle had been on the side of the angels all along after all, that didn't help matters. Because if he went along with Doyle now, that meant admitting he didn't completely trust Cowley after all.

"Okay," he said finally. "At least, I'll keep my mouth shut. I won't bring this up with Cowley yet."

"After you've sniffed around MI5 and checked me out, I presume," Spencer said.

Jax didn't even bother to answer that. By now he'd more or less accepted that Spencer really was from Five, but that didn't mean he was going to take him on his word.

Spencer and Doyle both turned to Bodie, but it was Spencer who spoke.

"And you, Bodie?"

Bodie didn't answer. After a moment's silence, he said, "Why are you back in London now?"

Doyle and Spencer exchanged glances. Spencer spoke up.

"Something's happening next week which is the perfect opportunity to trap the mole," he said. He paused for a second, as though deciding how much detail to reveal. "We'll have two traps, in fact: one for Cowley and one for Winshaw. We'll see which one of them falls for it."

He paused for a second, and Jax wondered just what he must be feeling right now. If what Spencer said was true, he must have been working on this investigation for several years, with a tiny group of co-conspirators, and successfully keeping the whole thing from his boss. Jax still didn't like Spencer, but he couldn't help feeling a certain respect for him. On the other hand, maybe he was a power-hungry maniac who was just looking to stick a knife in his boss Winshaw's back.

Spencer went on, "Now, I can take care of the trap for Winshaw. I've got several men in MI5 besides myself. But with Pertwee dead and Doyle gone I've no-one in CI5."

"And that's why you're here to see me tonight?" Bodie said. His tone had taken a sudden turn for the vicious.

Spencer nodded.

"Well, you're wasting your time. There's no way I'll set Cowley up for a fall."

Out of the corner of his eye, Jax saw Doyle tense. Spencer raised an eyebrow at Bodie.

"So loyal? Blindly, unquestioningly loyal? That's a little blinkered, isn't it?"

"Because you'd rather throw Cowley to the dogs, would you?" Bodie said harshly. "I'd have thought it'd be Winshaw you'd be gunning for. Got your eye on his job, have you?"

Spencer remained unruffled.

"I just want the truth," he said, in the same affected drawl he'd been using all evening. It made it impossible to judge what he was really thinking. "If you won't help, maybe Jax will."

Jax was taken aback.

"Now wait a minute -- "

Spencer held up a hand to stop him.

"But I'm sure it won't come to that." He looked from Doyle to Bodie and back again. "I believe you'll want to discuss this without me present."

He got to his feet, and gave Bodie one of those prim, seemingly cordial smiles that seemed to be his speciality.

"I think you'll find yourself agreeing to cooperate after all, once Doyle has explained the situation to you," he said. "I'll let myself out, shall I?"

"Yeah, you do that," Bodie said sourly.

After the door clicked shut, the three of them sat there in silence. The air in the room seemed to have grown heavy and close all of a sudden, and Jax's skin itched. Bodie got up, crossed the room quietly and wrenched open the front door. The corridor outside was empty, however, and Spencer was really gone.

He shut the door and turned back to face the room. Jax glanced from Bodie to Doyle, who was still seated, his gaze fixed on the floor. Neither of them spoke. The back of Jax's neck prickled, as with electricity before a storm.

Jax felt he should stay, and talk through this problem without Spencer present, but he didn't particularly want to be caught in the fallout when the storm came.

"I'm going to take off too," he said. "I don't want to be any more involved than I have to be."

Bodie nodded.

"Call me if you need me," Jax added.

He looked back just before he left, at Bodie and Doyle together in the silent room, Doyle sprawled on the couch, and Bodie standing rigid, neither of them looking at the other.

.. .. ..

Jax set his alarm clock early the next day. He and Bodie had the day off, and his plan was to get up as early as possible, and spend the time with Connie, who was going to be on call that night, and therefore insisted on sleeping alone in her own flat. Jax hadn't yet managed to persuade her that he absolutely didn't mind being woken in the middle of the night by emergency phone calls -- in fact that he was used to it. He thought she'd probably only come round to the idea the first time she was woken by one of his emergency phone calls.

Jax was very much looking forward to the day. He hadn't seen Connie since Tuesday evening, when they'd had a quick meal together at her place before he'd left for a stakeout. As soon as they started to spend more than the occasional evening together, they'd quickly discovered that their work schedules didn't overlap nearly as well as they'd have liked. Connie hadn't seemed discouraged, though. Just determined to make the best of it, which Jax took as a very good sign indeed.

Jax couldn't help worrying about what he'd learnt from Spencer and Doyle the previous night -- it was in the back of his mind the whole day. A large part of him was wondering whether he'd made the right decision, or whether he should go straight to Cowley.

He managed to keep it from spoiling his time with Connie, however. They spent the morning in the music shops on Denmark Streets, had lunch in a cafe in Soho, and took the Tube back to Jax's current flat.

"You've moved?" Connie exclaimed when they took the Tube in the opposite direction to what she'd been expecting.

"Yeah, couple of days ago."

She gave him a surprised look.

"Didn't know you were planning that."

"Well -- I wasn't, actually."

He hesitated, feeling challenged by her obvious surprise. Understandable surprise, too. If she herself had been spending half her spare time on the time-consuming, exhausting business that was finding a new flat in London, it certainly would have cropped up in conversation between them.

Jax hadn't told Connie much about his work yet, except that he was in security, and would probably sometimes get called in unexpectedly. Standard advice was to fob a girl off with half-truths for as long as possible, but then tell her the whole story as soon as she started to guess. Better for her to be warned to keep her mouth shut, than for her to go blabbing to her girlfriends and colleagues about the strange behaviour of her new boyfriend. It had been almost three years since Jax had got close enough to anyone for him to consider telling her about CI5.

The Tube, in any case, was not the place to have that conversation.

"It's not really my flat at all, actually," he said easily. "Organised by my work, and they tend to move me around a lot." They were approaching the stop where they should change lines, and he used the break to direct the conversation to other topics.

Once they were back in his flat, though, he brought the subject up again. No sense in beating around the bush.

"You wondering why I haven't got the same furnishings as last time?"

She was looking around her, and obviously wondering exactly that.

"You always rent fully furnished places? Isn't that very expensive?"

"Furnished by work," he explained. "They make us move around for security reasons. I'm in CI5, you see."

"Oh," she said, and then, with hardly a pause in between, "Well, that explains the R/T in your car."

"Ah -- yes, it does," said Jax, taken aback. That wasn't the reaction he expected.

"Yeah, I've only ever seen them in ambulances before." After a moment, she added, "You're looking at me like I said the wrong thing."

"No, I just... people tend to react in all sorts of different ways. I wasn't really sure how you would." When she didn't answer, he went on, "In fact, I'm still not really sure how you're reacting now."

"Oh!" She gave a small, uncertain laugh. "Yeah, sorry, just a bit surprised. And I can't pretend I'm overjoyed to hear you've such a dangerous job." She gave him a rueful smile. "Or maybe you're one of the guys who sits in a back office and does the paperwork?"

"No. Sorry."

"In fact, you're probably one of those men who's always ending up on the private ward at Guy's?"

Jax nodded, ruefully.

"Dosed up on oxycodone and morphine because they've been shot or stabbed or something?"

He nodded again, his rueful expression deepening.

"Hmm," she said.

Most people didn't really have a very clear idea of what being a CI5 agent actually meant, and tended to fix on one particular aspect of it, usually the one they found the most abhorrent: sometimes it was the guns and killing, sometimes the surveillance and invasion of privacy, sometimes the interrogations and -- alleged -- torture. Connie seemed to have fixed on the danger to Jax himself, which really had to be a good sign.

After a moment's silence, Connie picked up the bag with the records they'd bought that morning.

"You haven't unpacked your record player yet, have you?"

"I have, it's under that stack of winter blankets."

Jax recognised her impulse to change the subject, to give herself time to think. However, reluctant as he too was to continue the conversation, he couldn't let it end there.

"Connie," he added as she started to set up the record player.

She looked up, obviously having heard the serious note in his voice.

"There are a few other things we should talk about, regarding CI5," he said carefully. "I hope it goes without saying that you should keep mum about what I do for a living -- even to your parents."

He was eying her warily as he spoke. One girl, years ago, had started screaming at this point that he didn't trust her, and stormed out.

"Yeah, okay," Connie said.

"If you have to tell them something, you can say I work for the Home Office. It's true, actually, sort of." He stopped to think. "What else? I'm not in the habit of leaving classified documents lying about, but if by chance you did come across something, or overhear a telephone conversation, or whatever else, then remember... well, not to be overly dramatic about it, but often lives could depend on you keeping it to yourself."

She nodded, looking serious now.

"I don't have to sign the Official Secrets Act or something?"

"No, only if -- "

Only if we moved in together, he was about to say, but it seemed a bit early for that. They'd already tested their relationship enough for one day.

"No, you don't," he said instead. "Now, how about these records?"

They got the record player set up, and then sat down on the sofa together, Jax's arm around Connie's shoulders, to the strains of ELO.

Later in the afternoon, just when they were starting to talk about dinner, the phone rang. It was Doyle.

"How'd you get my new number?" Jax demanded.

"Spencer has his resources. Listen, I'm in a phone box at the end of your street. You haven't got anyone else from CI5 round, have you?"

"No, but -- "

"Okay, good. See you in a minute."

This was followed by a click and the sound of the dial tone.

Jax scowled, and hung up too.

"I've got someone from work coming round, I'm afraid," he said. "Hope I'll be able to get rid of him again quickly."

Doyle arrived barely five minutes later. His gaze fell on Connie first.

"Do you mind, love?" he said, jerking his head towards the door.

Jax shot him a frown. He would have liked that said with a bit more finesse. Moreover, he hadn't expected this problem to come up with Connie quite so soon. But maybe it was a good thing they'd had that conversation today, because she seemed a lot less put out than he'd expected.

"This something I'm going to have to get used to, is it?" she said, only a faint tinge of annoyance in her voice. "I'll pop down to the shops and get some stuff for dinner, shall I?"

She came to give Jax a kiss, and then got her coat and left. As soon as she was out the door, Doyle got straight to the point.

"Bodie's out of the picture," he said briefly. "You'll have to do it."

Jax wasn't entirely surprised. He'd already guessed that was the purpose of Doyle's visit.

Deliberately not answering straight away, he sat down in one of the kitchen chairs, and waited for Doyle to do the same. He was familiar with Doyle in steam-roller mode, and he'd managed to resist him in the past.

"Look, Doyle," he said finally. "I don't think Cowley is guilty any more than Bodie does."

Doyle shrugged.

"Doesn't matter if you do or don't. It's still got to be checked, doesn't it? In our line of work we shouldn't trust anybody, really."

"You seem to be trusting me," Jax pointed out.

"Well, I don't have much choice, do I?" He stopped short then, and grimaced. "I didn't mean that the way it sounded, Jax."

"Yeah, don't worry," Jax said easily. "I know what you mean. You're a good mate, Ray. I trust you too. But if it came to a choice between you and someone else -- well, there are some people I'd choose to trust over you. Like you'd trust Bodie. It's not like you and I were ever partners, or -- "

He came to a sudden stop.

Doyle's eyes narrowed.

"Or what?"

Jax hesitated. He'd didn't know exactly what word to put on Bodie and Doyle, and he didn't want to get into that conversation just now anyway.

"Why is Bodie out of the picture, exactly?" he said abruptly.

Doyle shrugged. He'd started to pick at a tiny tear in the waxed cloth covering the kitchen table, worrying at it without looking at it.

"He just doesn't want to do it. Look, what difference does it make? Someone's got to do this, and if it's not Bodie it's got to be you."

"I thought this was Spencer's fight, Doyle, not yours. Why are you fighting it? Or do you think Cowley's the mole too?"

Doyle scowled at him without answering.

"Look, why are you playing along with Spencer?" Jax pressed him. "He's got something on you, obviously, but what?"

Doyle gave him a scornful look.

"You forgotten the way blackmail works, or what?" he said, as though he were talking to a child. "Usually the person being blackmailed has some secret they, you know, don't want anyone else to know about."

Jax flinched. He'd deserved that, but now he pressed on anyway.

"Because, if it's about this thing between you and Bodie..."

Doyle's eyes widened. It only took him a split second to recover and come back, though.

"What thing?"

Great, Jax thought. Now what I am supposed to call it?

"I know you were living together, sort of." He paused. "Sleeping together."

"You got proof of that?"

Jax was taken aback by the viciousness in Doyle's tone. Doyle noticed, and grimaced again.

"Sorry, Jax. I'm feeling a bit paranoid at the moment. No, it's not that. But just drop it, okay?

Jax shrugged, spreading his hands wide.

"Okay, okay."

Doyle got up, and began to pace the narrow space between the kitchen table and sink.

"So you'll do it?"

"Just on Spencer's say so?"

"He may have coerced me into this mess, but that doesn't mean he's wrong."

Jax frowned. He felt like he needed an extra twenty-four hours or so to think about this.

"You trust Spencer over Cowley?"

"I wouldn't trust Spencer with the change from a lollypop," Doyle said bluntly. "But it can't just be about blind trust in our line of work. You're loyal to Cowley personally. So is Bodie. So am I, when it comes down to it, but that doesn't mean we don't have a duty to check him out if there's a suspicion." He paused. "Look, Jax, I've seen the case Spencer has built up -- hell, what I was doing undercover on the Continent got him some of the pieces. I hope Winshaw is the mole, but it could just as easily point to Cowley."

Jax swallowed.

"Yeah, okay," he said in a rush. "I'll do it."

Doyle stared at him for a second, as though he could hardly believe what he'd heard. Then he dropped back into the chair opposite Jax.

"Great. Here's how it'll work. In Wakefield at the moment there's a maximum-security prisoner, someone who's very high up in this organisation Spencer's trying to break. Next week he'll be transferred to the new prison up near Durham -- Frankland. That's why we're back in England this week."

"You're expecting his friends to try to spring him?"

"They're bound to. Now there are plenty of different routes the prison van could take between Wakefield and Frankland: the main ones are via Harrogate, via York, or along the A1. So there'll be three vans, two decoys and one real. That's already been planned, and Cowley and Winshaw know all about it.

"Now comes Spencer's own additions to the plan. Almost the last minute, someone will tell Winshaw that there's been a change of plan, and the real prisoner has been transferred to a different van. Someone -- you -- will tell Cowley the same thing, but mentioning the third van. I say 'almost' at the last minute, because the mole will need time to contact his friends and let them know about the change of plan.

"And then we just sit back and see which van is attacked?" Jax finished.

Doyle nodded, and Jax shook his head.

"I can't see Cowley falling into the trap that easily. Why would he -- why would any mole pass along information that would point straight back to him?"

"He won't know that it does. He and Winshaw won't have any reason to suspect they're the only person with that information. They'll assume dozens of people do -- all the people who knew about the first van."

"And it will be coming from someone they trust," Jax added bitterly.

"That's right."

Jax slumped back in the kitchen chair, staring blindly out the window. He felt sick.

"And when will you tell me which van is supposedly holding the prisoner? Which van I should tell Cowley about?"

"A few hours before the transfer, no more."

"Okay, great," Jax said dully.

Doyle got to his feet, like he was going to take off as abruptly as he'd arrived.

Jax looked up, distracted from his own woes by another thought. He still didn't know what had happened between Doyle and Bodie last night, or what kind of Bodie he was going to meet on Monday morning. He spoke up quickly.

"Doyle, about Bodie -- "

"What about Bodie?" Doyle snapped, and his tone of voice didn't exactly invite a response.

In the past, Jax had always got on better with Doyle than Bodie, but that wasn't helping him much just now. He felt like he was picking his way through a minefield. Christ, even talking to Bodie at his worst was easier than this.

"Look, Doyle, I dunno what went down between the two of you last night, but -- " He broke off and tried again. "When you left like that, when all the sordid details came out... Bodie took it hard. He really -- "

Missed you? Wanted you back? Jax didn't think he could say either of those things, not with Doyle standing right in front of him, and looking like he was more likely to punch Jax than thank him.

"He took it hard," he ended up repeating, lamely. "I don't know who blames who for what, but you could maybe cut him some slack."

To his surprise, Doyle let out one of his sudden, sharp laughs.

"Who d'you think you are, Cilla Black, matchmaker supreme?"

Jax ignored this.

"He thought you were dead, Doyle. That's got to excuse a lot."

Doyle turned away, but not before Jax had seen the bleak expression cross his face.

"I'll let myself out, eh?" he said, and then he was gone.

.. .. ..

Bodie was on his third pint of the day, and wondering whether he should move on to something stronger. It was only four in the afternoon and the pub was almost empty. He was alone at the bar, there was another man at a table in the corner with a pint and the Mirror, and that was it.

He'd spent the morning on a long, mind-numbing run. Now his body was aching and exhausted, but his thoughts kept returning to the previous night.

After Jax had left he'd found himself unable to speak, unable to look at Doyle. Inside him, closing his throat tight, swirled a mixture of joy and anger. Joy because Doyle was back, Doyle was still alive, Doyle was not a traitor -- at least, not a traitor to his country. But to Bodie, personally... that was where the anger came from.

Doyle was sitting looking at his hands. His face was in shadow, but what Bodie could see of his expression matched the cold, hard voice Doyle had been using all evening. He didn't look like he was about to speak up any time soon.

Bodie managed to force out one word.

"Why?" Why didn't you tell me what was going on? Why didn't you tell me where you were?

Doyle shrugged, still staring down at his feet.

Inside Bodie, anger won. How could Doyle sit there like that, like he wouldn't have cared if Bodie'd disappeared for three months, and didn't really see why Bodie would?

"Why, Doyle?" he repeated, savagely.

Finally, Doyle looked up.

"They had me over a barrel," he said, in a quieter, calmer voice than Bodie'd been expecting. "Wanted me out of the country that very day. They made damn sure not to give me a chance to contact you or anyone else."

"And you couldn't do it later, when you were on the Continent?"

"Spencer was giving the orders. And Spencer said no. Afraid you would blab to Cowley."

Bodie was getting impatient with Doyle's quiet, neutral voice.

"And you couldn't find a way around that, smart fellow like you? Didn't get a single opportunity in three months?"

"The stakes were pretty high, Bodie. I didn't want to take the risk."

Bodie let out a long, explosive sigh. Now they were finally getting to the heart of the matter.

"What has he got on you, Doyle?"

For a moment, he thought Doyle was going to dodge the question again. But finally, he answered.

"Breach of the Sexual Offences Act."

Bodie's blood ran cold.

"But we never -- we were always so careful. They can't have -- "

Doyle interrupted him, abrupt now.

"Just you, Bodie, not me. You weren't with me."

"I -- what?"

"Remember Robert?"

Doyle's voice was still quiet and calm.

It took Bodie a little while to even place the name. The Paras, a smiling, freckled face and a thick Lancashire accent.

"That was years ago!"

"Yeah, well, not so long ago that Spencer didn't manage to dig it all up again. He's got statements from dear Robert himself and from half the other members of your company."

Bodie felt like he'd been sucker-punched. He'd imagined a lot of things in the past three months, from the absurd to the horrific, but he hadn't seen this one this coming.

"Like I said, he had me over a barrel," Doyle said.

"Had you over a barrel?"

Doyle looked up, briefly.

"Why, you think I would have left you out to dry?" He shook his head. "Nah, Spencer knew what he was doing all right. Knew what my weak point was."

Bodie frowned, thinking back to the time he'd known Robert. Nice bloke, though he was never the first thing that crossed Bodie's mind when he thought about those years in the Paras. He didn't think he'd done anything prosecutable, actually, and it hadn't been during his time at CI5 either. That didn't mean Spencer couldn't make use of it anyway, though.

My fault, he thought. My fault Ray's in this mess.

Contradictory impulses waged war in his mind. On the one hand he wanted to deny all responsibility. On the other, he wanted to beg Ray to forgive him for something he hadn't even really done.

He said nothing, held back by Ray's cold attitude, and by his own pride.

My weak point, Doyle had called him. Was that how he saw it? Did Doyle resent him?

"You should have told Spencer to go fuck himself," he burst out.

"Yeah, well, in hindsight maybe I should have," Doyle said coolly.

I wasn't worth the sacrifice, was I? Bodie thought.

After a moment's silence Doyle sighed, and shook his head.

"Someone with Spencer's sphere of influence, with material like that? He'd know exactly where to send it so it hurt. Christ, you'd never get a job in any of the Services ever again."

"So? You think my job is worth three months of you having to do God knows what in a drug-smuggling ring? Three months of not knowing where the hell you were?"

Doyle stared. For the first time since Bodie had pulled that gun on him, he thought he saw the old affection in Doyle's eyes.

Then Doyle seemed to shake himself, and said briskly, "So, about this plan to trap the mole. You'll do it?"

Bodie stared, thrown by the abrupt change in conversation.

"You know damn well Cowley's not the mole, Doyle," he snapped.

Doyle raised his eyebrows. His voice took on an edge that hadn't been there before.

"So Cowley could never be a traitor, but I could?"

"I never thought you were."

Doyle gave him a strange look, impossible to interpret.

"Never for a second?"

Bodie didn't answer. In fact he couldn't have denied it even if he wanted to; he'd been holding a gun on Doyle not half an hour ago.

Doyle's lip curled. He turned away. Suddenly, Bodie felt like he was finally getting the key to the mystery, the explanation for the cool surface and tightly wound interior Doyle had been showing since he'd arrived.

"Here, hang on a minute. You're the one who disappeared, remember? And I was supposed to sit here waiting, like some faithful pet dog -- ?"

"But were you?"

"What?"

"Faithful."

"I didn't sleep around, if that's what you mean."

Abruptly, the spark went out of Doyle's eye, and his shoulders slumped a tiny fraction.

"That wasn't what I was asking. Christ, Bodie, I wouldn't mind as much if you had slept around. Not if you could look me in the eye and tell you'd always been a hundred percent sure I wasn't a traitor."

Bodie couldn't keep a scowl off his face.

"Look, it wasn't easy -- I never wanted to believe -- but Cowley showed me the evidence. I wanted to believe in you -- even did my own investigation, trying to find something that would clear your name. But in the end -- "

He looked away, horrified to hear his voice crack a little.

"In the end it was easier to believe the accusations were true. Because if you weren't a traitor, you were probably dead."

"Jesus, Bodie," Doyle said in a low voice, etched with pain.

Bodie didn't dare look up at him, because he knew that if he did, then he'd crack. He just wanted to take Doyle into his arms, and lead him to the bed that had been so cold and empty these past three months.

But the gulf between them seemed to have widened so far this evening that he couldn't bridge it.

Before, he'd thought that what they had together was so solid nothing could shake it. And then, during those long, empty months, he'd thought that if only he could find Doyle alive, everything would be all right again, no matter what Doyle had done.

Now, Doyle was here, he wasn't a traitor, and everything was going wrong.

The horrible part of it was, he could see things perfectly well from Doyle's point of view. Could see how it must have felt, sacrificing everything for Bodie, being forced undercover, and coming home to find himself looking down the barrel of a gun. To find Bodie hadn't had as much faith in him as he'd expected.

The rub of it was, he knew that there was still a good chance they could come back from this. He knew Doyle loved him. Knew Doyle could forgive him this.

Except that now Bodie was about to add the crowning blow to the injury.

He took a deep breath, and did it anyway.

"Well, you can tell Spencer to go fuck himself now."

Doyle stared.

"What?"

"I won't do it. I won't set Cowley up for a fall."

Doyle looked dumb-stricken. Bodie's words hung heavy in the air between them.

Yeah, so it was all for nothing, mate, Bodie thought. Doyle's sacrifices for nothing, because Bodie was determined to be loyal to Cowley.

"Why?" Doyle said finally, that one short word laced with ice.

Bodie wished Doyle would be hot and furious. He wished they could fight this out, but Doyle was too angry for that

"It's too risky, Ray. You know Cowley plays the long game. There've been plenty of times in the past where he did stuff that someone could call treacherous in the short term, but all for the greater good."

He wondered whether Doyle would try to persuade him, talk him into this. But instead Doyle shot to his feet, and turned towards the door, so fast he almost overbalanced.

"I'd better go," he tossed over his shoulder, and the door slammed behind him.

Since Jax left, Bodie had been expecting an explosive fight.

Now he felt drained and empty. He sank into his seat, feeling Doyle was more lost to him than ever before.

.. .. ..

As it turned out, Jax didn't see Bodie on Monday morning, because Cowley sent them both out separately. Jax spent the day guarding a rather junior member of the government who'd been receiving death threats. He also managed to find the time to do some checking on his own account. It turned out Spencer was indeed an MI5 man, and pretty high up in the organisation to boot.

When he got back to HQ that evening, he ran into Bodie in the locker room. Jax eyed him warily, but Bodie just nodded at him.

"All right, Bodie?" Jax said, something that could be taken as a query or just a greeting.

Bodie grunted. He was covered in ash and bits of leaf. Jax had heard he'd been at an incinerator down near Dover somewhere.

"We're on the Hammersmith job together tomorrow, right?" Jax said.

"Yeah." Bodie turned to face him. "Listen, I'm sorry about Saturday night."

Sorry you got involved, Jax guessed he meant. Christ, mate, you have no idea just how involved I'm going to be involved.

He wondered how much Bodie knew, exactly.

"Listen, Bodie -- " he began, but the CI5 locker room certainly wasn't the place for this conversation. "No, never mind, forget it."

Bodie finished stripping off his ash-covered clothes in silence, while Jax pulled a new, clean white shirt out of his locker.

"Going round to Connie's place tonight?" Bodie asked, nodding at the shirt.

Jax nodded.

Bodie summoned up a smile for him.

"Well, have a nice time, mate."

"Thanks, Bodie. And -- I'm sorry about Saturday night too."

Bodie shrugged.

"None of it's your fault, Jax."

That evening, Jax's thoughts were dominated by this thing with Doyle and Spencer. He felt sick in the pit of his stomach every time he remembered what he'd agreed to do.

Connie's voice broke into his thoughts as they were doing the dishes after dinner.

"Are you all right?"

He made an effort to smile at her.

"Problems at work, that's all."

"Something to do with that bloke yesterday afternoon?"

Jax hesitated, unable to suppress a frown. Was this going to be difficult after all?

Connie caught his expression, and screwed up her nose in a grimace.

"Yeah, all right, I get it. Don't ask questions that you can't answer."

She sounded more resigned than annoyed.

They looked at each other for a long, drawn-out moment.

"I'm sorry," Jax said. "But this is what it's going to be like as long as I work for CI5."

"It's okay, I said I get it." Her words were irritated but her tone wasn't.

Jax felt a wave of gratitude towards her.

Connie bent to put away the plates in a low cupboard. When she'd straightened up again, she said in a different tone, "Perhaps this isn't the best time to ask you, but..." Her voice trailed away.

"Ask me what?"

"My parents want to invite you for dinner on Saturday."

"Oh," said Jax. And then he grinned, and said, "Oh," again, in a much happier tone. He gave her a genuine smile, feeling ridiculously pleased. "That would be nice."

"Good." She gave him a sideways look, almost like she was about to start teasing him. "Of course they won't be too happy when they hear the details. The only thing they know so far is your name. When they hear the rest... well, I don't know how they're going to react."

Jax felt his eyes widen. He'd run into unpleasantness with white girls' white parents before now, but surely --

But Connie was grinning.

"The thing is, they're all staunch Wolves supporters, and when they hear you're a West Brom man... Well, I don't think my Dad will be able to put up with having one in the house."

Jax relaxed.

"I don't think I could switch sides at this stage in life," he protested, half-laughing. "Not even for your father!"

They finished tidying away the dishes, and came back out into the sitting room.

"By the way," Connie added in a more serious tone. "About my parents... they're going to be picturing wedding bells within the year, and they won't hesitate to let you know, but don't feel pushed, okay? I'm certainly not pushing you."

He leant over to kiss her.

"Don't worry. I don't feel pushed." He paused. "I wouldn't be opposed to the idea in principle, though."

A sudden, soft smile spread across her face.

"Neither would I."

They switched on the telly and sat down on the sofa, Jax with his arm around Connie. As they watched the two Ronnies deliver the evening news, Jax thought of Bodie and Doyle: grim-faced Bodie, and cold and bitter Doyle. They should have been at home on the sofa together watching the telly too.

Connie snuggled closer to him, her arms tucked around his waist. Soon her head began to grow heavy on his shoulder as she drifted into a doze.

Jax smiled down at her, suddenly feeling incredibly lucky.

"You should be in bed," he said softly. "What time are you in work tomorrow morning?"

"Urgh... same as this morning, too early." She groaned as Jax got up and pulled her to her feet. "Can't I just sleep on the sofa?"

"Come on," Jax said, planting a kiss on her forehead. "Time for bed."

.. .. ..

Three days later, Cowley called six members of the A-squad into his office to brief them on an upcoming prisoner transfer -- the very same one Jax already knew all about.

Jax spent the whole meeting on edge, but Bodie said absolutely nothing beyond, "Yes, sir." Jax decided it was possible Doyle hadn't let him in on the details, and he didn't know this was the trap.

"It's part of the wholescale transfer of prisoners to the new maximum security prison Frankland," Cowley was busy explaining. "It'll be a joint MI5-CI5-led operation. If Reynolds' associates do attack the transfer van, they're going to do it in force. In the past, they've shown they don't have any compunctions about killing whoever gets in their way, so we'll need a significant force of men on our side too."

Cowley spread out a map across his desk.

"The van carrying Reynolds himself will go via one of these three routes, here, here or here. There'll also be two decoy vans." He looked up from the map. "Information about which van Reynolds is really in will be on a need-to-know basis only. There'll be three teams to cover the three routes, mostly made up of men from the West Yorkshire Metropolitan Police. You'll be divided up among them, along with some men from MI5, and you'll follow the vans unobtrusively. We don't want to draw attention to any one van in particular. Jax, you'll be my driver."

Jax's heart sank. He'd been hoping he'd be assigned somewhere else, so that he could lie to Cowley over R/T. Now, he'd be doing it face-to-face.

Cowley folded up the map.

"We leave at five tomorrow morning."

Jax drove Cowley to one of the places where the CI5 and MI5 men were stationed, just off a small country road a few miles north of Leeds. Half a dozen cars had been parked on a rough dirt track, concealed from the road by bushes, and ready to move out at a moment's notice. One of the prison vans would pass close by here, though Jax himself didn't know whether it would contain the prisoner or not.

The men were milling around beside the cars, smoking and drinking coffee from flasks. Cowley called them all together for a last-minute briefing.

Jax leant up against a fence-post, with a cup of coffee scrounged off one of the CI5 men. Someone caught his arm. Jax turned, and recognized the man Doyle had described to him over the telephone last night. He was from MI5, one of Spencer's loyal little band.

"Message from Spencer," the man said softly. "Tell him it's the Harrogate van."

"Now?"

The man nodded, and slipped away.

Jax took a swallow of coffee to steady himself, and looked around. Cowley was over by the first few cars, speaking to the two lead agents. Jax went first to the front seat of Cowley's car, so that it would look like he was receiving a message over the R/T from Control. Then he took a deep breath, and went to take Cowley aside and tell him there'd been a last-minute change of plan.

"All right," Cowley said, clearly already busy rethinking his strategy. "Get half the men ready to move to another position."

He made for his car, while Jax went to speak to the other two A-squad men on the scene.

When he glanced back over his shoulder at the car, Cowley was on the R/T. He must surely be ordering a redeployment of troops. That would make sense. However, Jax couldn't help thinking he could also be sending a message via secret channels to his collaborators.

He shook his head, trying to shake off the thought. He refused to believe it.

.. .. ..

At the same time, Bodie was leaning on the bonnet of his own car and drinking his own coffee, off the A1 just north of Wetherby. Most of the men around him were from MI5, but McCabe and Anson were there too. McCabe was in contact with the helicopter by radio.

Bodie was on edge. He knew that Reynolds, the prisoner being transferred, had plenty of links to the drug-smugglers Doyle had been undercover with on the Continent, and he couldn't help thinking Spencer and Doyle's sudden return to England was in some way connected with what was happening here today.

He noticed McCabe signalling to him and Anson.

"The van will be going past in ten minutes," McCabe reported. "Better get everyone ready to move out."

It was a solid blue Transit van, with reinforced sides and with a pair of police motorbikes in front and behind. Bodie pulled into place behind the cavalcade, knowing the other three cars would be following a mile back. He kept his distance from the van, trying not to draw attention to himself, and relying on McCabe's radio contact with the helicopter to let him know the van was sticking to the pre-arranged route.

They were just coming up on Sinderby when the order came over the radio.

"Move in, move in! Attack in progress."

Bodie put his foot down. McCabe swore.

"And here I was hoping we were following one of the decoys," he muttered.

Within a minute, they'd rounded a bend in the road and caught up with the cavalcade. Two plain white Ford Escorts had boxed in the prison van in front and behind. It looked like they contained at least four men each, all armed with machine guns. The police motorcyclists had taken up defensive positions, but one of them was already down.

The A1 was two lanes in each direction at that point, and luckily traffic was fairly light on the road at this time of the morning. Bodie slewed the car across both lanes, to block oncoming traffic from behind.

He shoved open the car door, and took up a position behind it, gun in hand. Before he himself could aim, he was already under fire.

The next few minutes were hell. The CI5 men and the police had one set of attackers trapped between them, but that didn't put them in a dominant position -- not when the other side was armed with sub-machine guns.

They were up against a force that left Bodie wishing the army were here instead of the police. Kneeling behind the meagre protection of the car door, Bodie's unpleasant task was to draw fire off the police motorcyclists, and their protected van. He was less than twenty yards from the enemy, but all he could see of them was black balaclavas, and the barrels of their guns.

It felt like hours before he finally heard the squeal of tyres behind him. The reinforcements had arrived, and the tide began to turn.

A few minutes more, and the shooting finally died down, the attackers throwing down their guns.

Bodie took a deep breath, coming down from a high to that familiar heady feeling of relief and joy at still being alive. For a few minutes there he'd been thinking he wasn't going to come out of this one alive.

As the other agents subdued and handcuffed the remaining attackers, Bodie made for the prison van. Gun still in hand, he got the back door open, sprang up onto the backboard and looked inside. The van contained one nervous-looking prison guard and no one else.

McCabe had come up behind him, and was looking over his shoulder.

"It's not Reynolds," Bodie said in disbelief.

"What the hell?"

They stared at each other in confusion.

Ambulances were starting to arrive on the scene, along with the first local journalists. Bodie holstered his gun, jumped down from the back of the van, and went to the car to call Control. At some point the window on the driver's side had been shattered, and he had to brush a pile of tiny pieces of glass off the seat. As he made his report, he spotted Winshaw, the head of MI5, getting out of a sleek black Rover.

A minute later he noticed another new arrival: Spencer. He was approaching Winshaw with a determined air, flanked by two other men.

Suddenly, Bodie understood. He'd been right. This was the trap for Winshaw, and for Cowley. What was it, exactly? They had told Winshaw the prisoner would be in this van, and he'd passed on the false information?

It looked like Spencer was now accusing him outright.

Winshaw was staring coldly at Spencer, his expression a mixture of indignation and not-so-subtle menace. Bodie was quite sure Winshaw was saying heads would roll for this, starting with Spencer's own.

Then Spencer bent down to murmur something in Winshaw's ear. Winshaw went pale, all the fight gone out of him.

Bodie felt himself relax, tension he hadn't even noticed draining out of his shoulders and clenched hands. Winshaw was the mole, and Cowley was in the clear.

.. .. ..

It all came out in the wash over the next few weeks. Reynolds arrived safely at HMP Frankland. Winshaw disappeared from circulation, and Jax was glad he didn't have to worry about the details of that particular thorny investigation.

Jax himself was called into Cowley's office the day after the shoot-out. He stepped into the room with trepidation in his heart. This would be the first time he spoke directly to Cowley since lying to his face. To his surprise, Cowley seemed almost to be in a good mood. Jax found himself congratulated for his 'integrity'.

"Ah, thank you, sir," he said cautiously.

Cowley was giving him one of those long, steady looks that Jax could never interpret.

"So long as you didn't enjoy it," he said sternly.

"Not a bit," Jax said in heartfelt tones.

Cowley made a harrumphing noise, and picked up a file folder from his desk.

"Now, your next assignment -- "

Jax was still partnered with Bodie. Doyle had quickly been reinstated into the A-squad, but he was being sent to Sussex for accelerated testing and requalification.

The following weekend Jax finally got to meet Connie's parents, after a cancellation due to an unexpected call-in at work. He dressed up in his best suit and drove out to Peckham with Connie, eying the R/T nervously all the way. There was no emergency call from Control, however, thank goodness. And the afternoon seemed to go well -- Connie's mother plied him with tea and he had a long chat with her brother about motorbikes in general and his new Kawasaki in particular.

A weeks later Connie's flatmate announced she was moving out to live with her boyfriend, which left Connie with the options of finding a replacement... or of moving in with Jax.

"We'll have to move house at least every six months," Jax warned her. "And CI5 will do a background check on you."

"Oh no, I hadn't thought of that," she said, sounding dismayed. "I, um, have a lot of parking tickets, from when I was at Great Ormond Street. There was never enough parking at the hospital. And I had a speeding ticket a few years ago too."

Jax had to laugh at that. He decided not to tell her about the informal tally at CI5 of which agents had collected the most speeding and parking tickets. Cowley strongly disapproved of the tally, and was a stickler for only paying those which had been obtained in the line of duty -- which was most of them, to be fair.

"Don't worry about that. It's more about whether you've got any dodgy connections. Former flatmates with criminal records, black sheep in the family, that kind of thing. Actually, speaking of your family... I don't mean to suggest that, just because you're Irish -- "

"I don't have any cousins in the IRA, if that's what you're asking."

Jax breathed a sigh of relief.

Connie smiled at him.

"Yeah, I suppose your bosses wouldn't have been too happy about that."

On the contrary, they would have been delighted, Jax thought. That was just the problem. Connie wouldn't have been the first girlfriend or wife exploited for her connections.

Jax set the paperwork in motion the very next day. That evening, he went out for a drink with some of the A-squad. Bodie was there and so was Doyle, just back from requalification.

Everyone now knew Doyle's supposed betrayal had been a set up after all, though only Jax and Bodie knew Cowley hadn't been in on it. In any case, the lads had welcomed him back with open arms. Tonight, however, Doyle seemed quiet, almost withdrawn. Bodie was the life of the party, but Jax knew him well enough now to sense that that was only a mask. Underneath it, Bodie was preoccupied by something, though whether good or bad Jax couldn't tell.

He glanced from Bodie to Doyle and back. Had they patched things up? It was impossible to say. And it was none of his business either, but he couldn't bear to see Bodie and Doyle crash and burn when he himself was so happy.

Jax had tried to have a word with Bodie last week about him and Doyle. It had been an awkward conversation. He wasn't exactly used to giving Agony Aunt advice to two of his mates. In the end he'd been so oblique he didn't even think Bodie had understood what he was on about.

Now Bodie and Doyle were sitting on opposite ends of the table. Bodie was deep in conversation with Murphy, and Doyle was listening to Anson and McCabe's argument, and putting in the occasional sentence.

When Bodie got up to leave, however, he looked straight at Doyle. Jax had no idea what was passing between them, but finally, Doyle nodded. He got to his feet too, and the two of them left together.

Jax himself left soon afterwards. Connie would be home from work around nine that evening, he knew, and he wanted to be there before her, since CI5 hadn't yet cleared her for her own key.

That night, curled up in bed with Connie, his last thought before he drifted happily off to sleep was that this would soon be her flat too.

.. .. ..

Bodie woke from confused dreams of Doyle, years ago in Southend-on-Sea, scowling at the way the wind on the seafront ruffled his hair. Bodie reached out, and there was Doyle, warm and solid in the bed beside him. He could still hardly believe that this time, he wasn't alone. It was true, though -- and Doyle's elbow was digging sharply into a sensitive spot under his ribcage. He shifted to a more comfortable position, and Doyle stirred.

"Bodie?" he said sleepily, his hand reaching out.

Bodie slid his arm over Doyle's shoulder, and Doyle turned into the embrace.

They'd had a long conversation last night, longer than they'd ever had before. It had been rough going at times, but as Doyle said at one point, half-joking and half-serious: "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger."

Bodie wasn't sure about that, but he clung to the fact that when Doyle came back from requalification, the first thing he did was to head for Bodie's flat. That, and the fact that Doyle was still here with him now.

He slid his hand into Doyle's curls, and let his fingers tangle up in them, the way he always used to. He gave a gentle tug, and Doyle grunted in sleepy irritation.

"That supposed to convince me this is not a dream?"

It was an uncanny echo of Bodie's own thoughts.

"I dreamt about you all the time, you know," he said abruptly.

Doyle's eyes flickered open, so that he was looking straight into Bodie's.

"Yeah, me too, mate."

Last night they hadn't precisely exchanged apologies, nor promises. They'd just acknowledged the truth that they couldn't live apart.

"We've been together too long to give up now, eh?" Doyle had said, and that was only the half of it. The whole of it was too big for words.

Now, Doyle rolled over so that he was on top of Bodie, propped up on his elbows and looking down into Bodie's face.

"No more dreams, thank Christ."

Bodie shook his head. He had a bit of a lump in his throat, and to shake it off he said, "I might still have nightmares, though. You know, where you've polished off all the chocolate digestives again."

Doyle burst into one of his sudden, explosive laughs, the first time Bodie'd seen or heard it in months. He felt his own mouth widen in response, as Doyle came down to kiss him.

END