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And Then There Were Two

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Title: And Then There Were Two

Part I: Turner Wouldn’t Be Troubled

Raymond Doyle stood staring at the street scene outside the studio window. He had been trying to get the perspective right, but, after more than an hour, he was just about to give up. He kept staring at the big American car down the block that he was trying to fit into the scene of everyday life that he wanted to portray.

 

Sighing, he threw the pencil down and stared once again at the miserable overall effort that he had been wrestling with for several hours. He just couldn’t understand it; he’d always been good at perspective and landscapes while in art school, but now the only thing that he seemed to be able to draw and make look like something was . . . Bodie. Looking in his drawing book, he shook his head. He certainly could never show those to Bodie. Wondering why he could only draw Bodie naked, Doyle failed to hear the footsteps approaching him.

Suddenly, the essence of the man he loved overwhelmed him as the long arms surrounded his slender waist and two luscious lips cuddled up to his right ear with a whispery breath that smelled faintly of chocolate.

For a moment the two bodies cuddled together and then the voice that he knew so well asked, “Still havin’ trouble with the street, are ya?”

Doyle turned to look into the deep brown eyes and smiled, maybe it’s me havin’ a senior moment, but I just can’t seem to get that big American caddie right. Remember when I could do just about anything with a landscape while we were in art school?”

“Too right, my virtuoso of the English landscape. Remember when old Trewilliger used to hold up your sketches and say that all of us dolts should try to emulate your genius.”

Doyle laughed quietly, “Ha ha, he didn’t quite say that.”

Taking Doyle in his arms again, the tall man kissed the cupid’s bow lips that had seduced him from the first, “Oh that’s right, it was your bum that attracted old Trewilliger - - always tryin’ to get you to pose for the class in your birthday suit with that callipygian miracle on display for all of us to marvel at.”

Doyle gave him a look of total disbelief then whispered, “It wasn’t Trewilliger, who wanted me to strip and model me bum; it was you.”

“Oh, I guess you’re right. Well, how about you gettin’ ‘em off right now and I’ll show you just how appreciative I can be. I might even do a drawin’ of you like that to add to my collection.”

Once again Doyle gave his lover a slightly disbelieving look but started to remove his clothes in a slow, seductive way. Smiling, Doyle said in a voice full of affection, “You know it’s strange how much trouble you had drawin’ things while in school, but now you are very successful at it, and me, I can’t draw nothing.”

“Just lucky I guess. Now let’s forget about art and find something else to do, shall we?”

Several hours later, Doyle lay exhausted next to the muscular man who had him in a body-lock and even though the two figures were lathered in sweat and semen, Doyle was happy. He kept thinking about the luck that he had had recently when he had run into his former lover while trying to find something for Bodie’s birthday. Strangely enough both the ex-merc and the artist were fans of many of the same things, including miniatures.

Adam Trent had miniature soldiers and battle scenes all over his apartment. Although he was constantly on the go with his art and his exhibitions, he always managed to carry some of the miniatures with him. He said that they made him feel as if he were home.

Bodie, on the other hand, loved miniatures but hadn’t collected many of them. Until eight years ago, he had been constantly on the move and so he “packed” light. He was constantly looking in catalogues and magazines for new miniatures, but only recently had he started collecting a few. He had a gun collection as well, but he felt that “the little fellows” made for a “domesticated” Bodie which he also said should prove to Doyle that he wasn’t the uncivilized, savage misfit that Doyle had taken on so many years before.

Doyle felt very lucky that he had two such men in his life. Unfortunately, Adam was soon going on another one of his art trips so Doyle’s wonderland would plunge back into the streets of terrorists, thugs and CI5 which would keep him occupied until Adam’s return. That wasn’t completely true now, however, because it was Adam who had convinced Doyle to return to art and give his talents another try. Doyle had been reluctant and even more hesitant to tell Bodie that he was spending his extra time, trying his hand at art. Bodie knew that Doyle had gone to art school, but he thought he had given all of that up . . . and he had or thought he had, but after drawing a few sketches of Bodie (in the nude), he realized that those few doodles had rewarded him with a new feeling that he hadn’t had since he was a young man.

Doyle was nearing 40, and he had begun to feel the aches and pains of almost 20 years of life on the street. He knew that he could never make art his vocation, as Adam had, but it was nice to have an alternative interest available when Doyle left the streets for good. Sighing, Doyle looked over at his sleeping lover. He owed Adam a great deal so then why was he so reluctant to tell Bodie about him? Bodie knew that Doyle swung both ways and usually the two men kept few secrets from each other about who they were seeing, but as far as Bodie knew now, Doyle was having a serious affair with a tall, dark-haired air hostess with the longest legs and the biggest sexual appetite the world had ever known. Luckily, Bodie had never asked to meet her which was VERY unusual.

Doyle reached over and began to caress his lover. The man’s skin was exquisite, just as it had been when they were in art school. They hadn’t seen each other in almost 20 years and yet it had been very easy to take up again with the man. He had immediately set aside his studio for Doyle to use when he wasn’t working, and after several weeks of hesitation, Doyle had finally begun to use both water colour and oils, but he soon discovered that he was most happy using pencil, and somehow Bodie had become his most frequent subject. He didn’t need Bodie in front of him as his model; he only had to think of the ex-merc and something would pop into his mind, but the strangest thing was that he always saw Bodie in the nude and yet the only time he had ever seen his friend in such a state was in the shower at CI5. Why, he kept asking himself, could he only draw Bodie?

His lover began to stir as Doyle’s creative hands began to explore more intimate areas of the attractive body. “Hmmmmm, that feels good; you definitely got talent, Doyle. Now how about putting that mouth to work as well?”

Doyle smiled, immediately talking a mile a minute, keeping up the chatter for several seconds until Trent dragged him over onto his body and then crushed the breath out of him with a mind blowing kiss. The embrace broke up as both men needed air. Doyle’s green orbs stared at Trent with a lustful look in his eye, and with a completely faked Irish accent asked, “And now what would you be wantin’ from this innocent, young Irish lad?”

 

Trent snorted and laughed heavily into Doyle’s ear. “Innocent? You? Ha! You’ve taught me some things during our lovin’ that I’ve never heard of in all me days of lascivious livin’.”

Doyle stuck out his lower lip as if in a pout, “How can you say that? You’re the one who knows the Kama Sutra backwards and forwards.”

“You certainly have a silver tongue, me Irish lad; now why don’t you talk less and put that silver instrument to good use.” Smiling in his most licentious way, Doyle immediately followed those instructions to the letter.
Eight hours later, Trent had boarded a train, going north for a month’s trip to investigate new scenes to illustrate and new vendors to talk to. Doyle, on the other hand, had returned to his own flat. Trent’s final words to him rolling around in his mind, as well as his promise to his lover which was still fresh as well. Why did I promise Adam I would keep coming to the studio and work on my landscapes whenever I could? Maybe I could take me sketch pad to work. Heaven knows I’m tired of looking at those guys’ mugs all the time.

Little did Doyle realize that that promise would change his life forever.

BDBDBDBDBDBDBD

Doyle stood in the corridor outside of the restroom at CI5, trying to get the perspective right on the long hall that held a machine for tea and led to the inner sanctum of the Controller’s Office. The hallway had looked all right in his drawing until he had tried to insert the tea machine in the pencil illustration and then it had all gone wrong. He had been standing there for several minutes trying to work out what he was doing wrong when Anson wandered by, took one look at the drawing, and asked with a smirk on his face, “Hall of Mirrors, huh?”

Doyle looked up at the man whose IQ fluctuated between 0 and negative numbers and said, in his most sarcastic voice, “No, you moron, it’s the corridor you are now occupying so uselessly.”

For a moment Anson look confused (which was not an unusual occurrence) and then he broadcast, “Knew that.”

Doyle felt a headache coming on as Murphy now approached the two men. The tall, handsome Irishman took one look at the drawing and said, “Always been meanin’ to go to that Palace of Versailles (although he pronounced it, Ver-sallies). Doyle gave him an amazed look until he realized that he was being conned, especially when Murphy winked at him as he entered the doorway of the restroom.

Anson immediately began to pout as he said in an indignant voice, “And you called me a moron.”

Doyle sighed, closed his sketch pad and mumbled, “I give up.” Walking into the restroom, he immediately moved over to the oldest sofa in the Kingdom and flopped down on it. The fact that Murphy was stretched out trying to rest did not matter one bit.

“Uumph! Watch it, Doyle, you just came dangerously close to the family jewels.”

A little bird hidden in a large stuffed chair with its back to the majority of the room twittered, “Yeah, jewels that are selling for a ha-penny.”

Murphy looked up quickly and then recognizing the offending voice, asked, “Bodie, when did you get back into town?”

Doyle sat rigid as he realized that he had not sensed his partner’s presence in the room and began to squirm since he had the sketch pad in hand, but maybe if he kept quiet about it, Bodie wouldn’t notice.

His hopes and dreams came to naught, however, when Murphy blurted out, “Hey, 3.7, take a look at what your partner’s done; I didn’t know he’d ever been to that Ver-Sallies before, did you, Bodie?”

That remark made Doyle wish he had crushed the family jewels when he had had the chance and the look that he gave Murphy would have turned a lesser man into a statue of salt, but Murphy just kept on going and then another chorus jumped in when Anson whinged, “Yeah, Doyle, you keepin’ things secret from us? You going to give up this job of total luxury and begin paintin’ or something? I’ll bet it’s that Trent guy who’s talked you into it.”
Doyle’s face turned pale white as he slunk further down into the sofa. How did Anson even know about Trent? Then he remembered that one day while he and Adam were having a quick lunch at a nearby eaterie, McCabe and Lucas had wandered in and had purchased some takeaway. Doyle hadn’t thought they’d seen him, but with those loose lips they had definitely sunk the good ship, Doyle.

Now every agent in the room, including Bodie, was staring at Doyle. Doyle wished he could take his drawing, wad it up and swallow it like he had seen those spies in various movies do, but it was no good because Bodie had reacted so quickly that he was now standing over his slender partner, looking upside down at the drawing.

Bodie studied it for a few seconds and then said, “I thought you said it was the Palais de Versailles (haughtily pronouncing it in French)? You nitwit, Murphy, can’t you tell what this is?”

Murphy immediately retaliated after being called a nitwit and asked in his most sophisticated, upper crust accent, “And just what do you think it is, my good man?”

With a straight face, Bodie said clearly, “It’s that last long walk to the Lord High Executioner that all bad agents like you, Murphy, must take when they’ve irritated our lord and master.” With those words, Bodie turned and rushed out of the room.

Two hours later, Doyle was trying to get out of the building alive: Anson, Murphy and Bodie were all looking for him, but he had made it so far and was just getting ready to make his exit when he saw Fred, waiting to tell him something.

“Can’t stop now, Fred. Got a job to go to.”

“Sorry, Mr. Doyle, but Mr. Cowley told me to tell you that he wanted to see you before you left.”

Squirming like a rat in a trap, Doyle knew that the time had come for him to take that last walk to face the inscrutable Lord High Executioner.

Heading towards Cowley’s office, Doyle’s walk slowed as he got closer to Cowley’s domain, where Bodie ambushed him, “Hold up there, 4.5. I want to talk to you.”

“Can’t now, Bodie, got to see the Cow.”

A gleam came into Bodie’s eyes as he said quietly, “No, you don’t ‘cause it was me that told Fred to give you that message.”

“Whaat? Haven’t you got anything better to do than . . .?”

Bodie immediately went on the offensive, “Since when did you start drawin’ again and WHO is Adam Trent?”

“Well, while you were gone, I ACCIDENTALLY ran into Adam, and he told me about his art work. I sort of had kept up a bit with what he had been doin’ the last twenty years or so, and well . . . he asked me if I was still doin’ art and then he offered his studio to me to use to concentrate on me drawin’ - - only, well, as you saw, it’s not goin’ so good.”

“I thought your corridor was pretty good. At least, I could tell what it was, unlike that idiot Anson.”

Doyle’s eyebrow shot up as Doyle couldn’t quite believe his ears, “Well, I’ll tell you one thing, Turner wouldn’t be troubled by me as any competition.”

“Oh, is that John Turner or Bugsy Turner that you would be referrin’ to?”

“That’s Joseph Mallord William Turner, you cretin! One of the great landscape painters.” Doyle’s face had turned red due to Bodie’s less than proper respect for the man he so admired.

Bodie smiled and winked, “Don’t get your knickers in an uproar, Doyle, didn’t mean no disrespect to the gentleman. In fact, I was just drivin’ cross Westminster Bridge and thinkin’ of old JMW at the time, but why are you doin’ this stuff? Hasn’t the Cow been keepin’ you busy enough while I was gone?”

“Weren’t you listenin’?” Adam Trent’s a friend of mine from art school and he’s been encouragin’ me to ‘expand my potential’. After all, I’m not gettin’ any younger and I might want to leave the streets one of these days and have something to fall back on.”

Although Bodie’s thoughts swiftly turned to the beautiful bum that Doyle could certainly fall back on, Bodie suddenly turned serious, “You’ve never mentioned this Trent before. How come?”

Now Doyle was getting frustrated at the constant interrogation and barely managing to keep his legendary temper under control, especially since guilt played a major part in his motive for not keeping his partner informed. He quietly said, “I haven’t seen him in twenty years, THAT’S why I haven’t mentioned him.”

“Well, when am I goin’ to be meetin’ him, unless, of course, you’re ashamed of me or is it him?”

“You know you are almost as big a moron as Anson. Of course, you’re welcome to meet him, but I put him on a train goin’ north just a while ago. He’ll be gone for a month.”

“Oh, well, we’ll all have to get together when he gets back. Now, how about that luscious, long-legged beauty that you’ve been seein’?”

Doyle was tired of being on the defensive so he blurted out without really thinkin’, “Oh her, she found someone else - - haven’t seen her in several weeks.”

“What’d you do, stop bathing or something? Why’d you let her get away? She sounded like a really great wow.”

“I’ve got to go, Bodie. See you later.”

As Doyle hurriedly walked away, Bodie stood staring at the man who usually spent hours relating every sordid detail of his affairs to Bodie. A suspicion entered the deep blue eyes as 3.7 watched the most gorgeous bum in the Kingdom walk away.

BDBDBDBDBDDBD

The next month breezed by. Strangely enough Bodie didn’t really press his partner for further information about Adam Trent or about his artistic endeavours. As usual, Doyle spent a small amount of time each day either drawing landscapes or, as he preferred - - Bodie. It was amazing the difference in the quality of the two subjects. The landscapes looked stilted and like dead maggots, but the Bodie body lent itself to the realism that Doyle was able to convey in his drawings. Why couldn’t he do the same thing with his landscapes?

Once again, he was making an effort to portray the street outside Adam’s window. He had decided to try and be more formal by actually putting the sketch pad on an easel and stand in front of the large window which gave the room the perfect light for drawing. He was so absorbed in his efforts that he didn’t hear the door to the studio open; so he felt a touch of frisson as two arms suddenly surrounded his waist, but the delicious smell of the well-known aftershave as well as the essence of the man, immediately told Doyle who was behind him.

Doyle smiled while turning to throw his body into his lover’s arms. “Adam, you got home early!”

Adam’s eyes lit up as he looked at the curly haired man who occupied so much of his thoughts. “I thought I might get here so I could see you work. It does look like your street scene has improved somewhat. Have you been taking my advice about landscape?”

“Yes, but it never seems to turn out the same as I see it in my mind. I just don’t have your talent.”

“Well, I may have talent in the art area, but you definitely have fantastic capabilities in other areas.” The lascivious grin that Adam gave to Doyle spoke volumes about what kind of other talents Doyle possessed.

The look on Doyle’s face was very easy to read. He was very ready to demonstrate some of those talents. “Let me clean up here and we’ll share our multitude of skills with each other, shall we?”
“Sounds good to me.”

The formal loo was in Trent’s apartment next door so Doyle decided to go there where he could do more than wash his hands. While Doyle was gone, Trent thought it was a good time to look through his lover’s sketch book and see if he was making any progress. He knew that Doyle was a perfectionist, and he didn’t want his friend to become too depressed if he wasn’t able to achieve what he was trying to do

He picked up the sketch book of Doyle’s landscapes and looked at each drawing for a minute or so. Clearly, Doyle had improved his abilities, but he was still too rigid as well as having trouble with perspective. Trent was just about to put it back in the pile of sketch pads, sitting on the table when he noticed another pad that seemed to have some sketches in it. He hadn’t realized that Doyle had more landscapes available than he had already seen.

Opening up the pad, Trent was pleasantly surprised to see a sketch of himself. He was asleep in bed, and it was good . . . very good. Ray seemed to have a natural ability for drawing the naked male. Smiling, Trent was about ready to put the pad down when he noticed that there were some other sketches as well. Trent stopped and stared at the next sketch; his breathing halted as he looked carefully at the image of another nude male sprawled out on a bed, but it wasn’t Trent’s bed and it definitely wasn’t Trent. The man was easy to recognize, after all Trent had met him only a month before. It was Bodie, Ray’s partner, and the lifelike expression on Bodie’s face spoke volumes about Ray’s ability to draw this particular subject.

Quickly, Trent flipped through the other drawings. There must have been at least five more of them and they were all of Bodie, in various different poses and in the nude. Trent was shaken. He knew that Ray had had other lovers over the years. After all, he hadn’t seen the man in almost twenty years, but he had never expected an intimate relationship between his Ray and . . . and . . . Bodie. He had only met Bodie briefly, but Bodie and Ray didn’t act like former lovers. What was he going to do about this knowledge? Hearing Doyle returning to the studio, Trent carefully returned the sketch pad to its original place and then turned to take the clean smelling man into his arms. Burying his nose into Doyle’s fragrant curls, Trent squeezed his lover and whispered, “How about showing me how much you missed me?”

Hours later, Trent lay in the rather pungent smelling bed, watching the sleeping Doyle, who was exhausted after a particularly vigorous and affectionate piece of lovemaking. Doyle lay asleep in his arms so Trent had ample time to contemplate the recent turn of events. What was he going to do now that he knew that Doyle and Bodie had been intimate? Should he give up on Doyle and get out of town or should he fight for Doyle? Did Ray love Bodie? Did he love Bodie more than he loved Trent? Normally, Trent would have demanded the full story from Ray, but this time he was hesitant to push the man too far. He felt he had to know the truth but was that really in his best interest? What if Doyle turned those magnificent green eyes on him and admitted that he loved Bodie?

Even more important, was Ray in love with Bodie? Ray and he had been lovers twenty years ago, but there had been no broken hearts when they had gone their separate ways when Ray had left art school. What did Ray feel about Trent? They were good together and Ray had certainly been loving, but the nude pictures of Doyle’s partner disturbed him. How could he just give up on Ray – the answer clearly was that HE COULDN’T, but what could he do? Maybe . . . just maybe if he carefully watched the two partners together, he could get some hint about Doyle’s true feelings because Trent had a vague feeling that perhaps Ray didn’t know the truth himself.

The next morning, Doyle sat at the table in Trent’s apartment gulping down some toast before he had to leave for CI5. He stopped gulping, however, when Trent asked, in as neutral a voice as possible, “Now that I’m back for a while we can have Bodie over for a meal so that we can become better acquainted. When do you think he would be able to come over?”

Doyle almost choked on his toast; his entire throat threatening to slam shut in protest of the mere idea that Bodie would be able to interrogate Trent. “Ummmm, I’m not sure; we’re really busy right now, and I happen to know that Bodie’s been spending a lot of his time with this luscious redhead who is a real tiger who fulfills Bodie’s sexual appetite quite well. I’m sure he would much rather spend his time with her than with us.”

“Well, why don’t you invite both of them? I can have the meal catered, if you can’t get home in time to fix something - - that would be no problem.”

“Well, I’ll talk to Bodie about what he wants to do.” It was easy to promise this, but Doyle was determined not to talk to Bodie anytime soon.

For several weeks, Trent said nothing further to Doyle about having Bodie over to the apartment for a meal. He figured that he better let sleeping dogs lie and since Doyle seldom mentioned Bodie, maybe he was worrying over nothing.

Unfortunately, Doyle had continued to throw red herrings in Bodie’s path so that the ex-merc continued to think that Doyle was seeing the luscious air hostess. That continued lie led to a disaster of epic proportions thanks to a malfunctioning R/T.

Doyle had spent the night at Trent’s apartment. His run-in earlier in the day with Sam Swiggins and his mates had led to an all-out brawl which had resulted in his R/T being slammed against a wall along with Doyle’s slender body. While Cowley had insisted on Doyle going to the A & E to see if any damage had been done, the R/T was not given the same careful attention and in a most vital moment, the device failed to work. The fact that it failed to work while Doyle was in bed with Trent during some very successful “field” experiments didn’t help.

Bodie had been gun shy (to say the least) where Doyle was concerned since Mayli had shot Doyle in the back and heart. Bodie’s greatest fear had almost come true and when Doyle failed to answer his R/T after numerous notifications that Doyle was not answering the summons, Bodie’s heart began to race as he ran to his car after being alerted It was déjà vu all over again. Demanding to know where Ray was so that he could throttle him for scaring Bodie so much, he was told that 4.5 vaguely mentioned that he was going to try to overcome street blindness at the usual place.

Fortunately, Bodie understood the cryptic message since he was well aware of Doyle’s continued trouble getting the street scene to a level that met his perfectionist nature. Doyle had told him about the studio so he figured that Doyle had to be there, or, at least, he hoped he was there.

As Bodie arrived at the obviously expensive apartment, Bodie began to breathe again as he noticed Doyle’s car parked in front of Trent’s building. Bodie was in such a hurry to determine Doyle’s state of health that it really didn’t register with him that it was very early in the morning for Doyle to be doing his ‘art’ work.

Rushing to the door of the apartment, Bodie began to pound on the studio door, demanding to be let in. Both Trent and Doyle were sleeping after a “very late night” so, at first, they didn’t hear the loud voice. Doyle, however, had become attuned to his partner’s voice and managed to awaken rather rapidly. Realizing who was pounding on the door, Doyle immediately put on his jeans and a robe.

As Doyle headed for the door, his heart was pounding so loud that it was beating like a conga drum in his ears. He didn’t know why Bodie was pounding on Trent’s door at 4 00 in the morning, but he knew instinctively that it couldn’t be anything good.

As Doyle was opening the door, Bodie was preparing to do battle, so he slammed through the door, expecting to see Doyle held at gunpoint. It took very little time for Bodie to realize that Doyle was not in danger from anybody but himself, but it did take some seconds for Bodie to register that Doyle was barely dressed and was wearing a strange robe. The curly haired man also looked totally satiated. Bodie was no fool; he knew what Doyle’s groggy appearance meant.

“What the hell is going on? Why didn’t you answer your R/T? Cowley is ready to suspend you for life.”

“I didn’t hear the R/T.”

Bodie suddenly looked at Doyle with a great deal of contempt as he blurted out sarcastically, “Wonder what you were doing that caused you to be so deaf?”

Doyle’s temper was always on a short leash and at 4 00 in the morning, he was not prepared to be brow beaten by Bodie. “I TELL YOU THE R/T DIDN’T GO OFF!” Walking over to his jacket to get his R/T, Doyle put in a call to HQ but got no response. Turning to Bodie with the greatest contempt, his green eyes were shards of ice. “It’s not workin’, that’s why I didn’t hear the call.”

Bodie almost snarled as he whipped out the ugly words, “Yeah and maybe you were lettin’ that fag Trent stick it up you. You have got to be out of your mind. If Cowley hears about this, you’re finished with CI5.”

“Yeah, and are you going to tell him?”

“I’M NOT A NARC, but I don’t want to be workin’ with a nancy boy who is supposed to be covering me back out on the streets either.”

“Yeah, and just what does that mean?”

“You figure it out, Doyle; in the meantime, we got an all agents call out so get yourself over to HQ in ten minutes for a briefin’.” Bodie turned and walked out the door.

Doyle stood staring at the open door, his heart racing as the full impact of Bodie’s words slammed into Doyle. The man he had counted on for over eight years would go to Cowley and demand a new partner. The very real fear that had plagued Doyle for all that time had finally come to pass, and even more agonizing was Bodie’s reaction to the knowledge of Doyle’s affair with Trent. Why didn’t I tell him before? Why was I so stupid? Groaning, Doyle started stripping off his robe so that he could get dressed when he turned and noticed Trent standing in the doorway.

“What was all that shouting?” Trent could easily read the fear and despair in the green eyes, but he wanted to hear Doyle say it.

“My R/T must not have been working so Bodie came to tell me that we have a call-out . . . he didn’t like it when he realized what we . . . I was doing here.”

“YOU hadn’t told him before now?”

“Nah, I kind of let him think that I was datin’ this tall, leggy air hostess.”

Silence dominated the room as Trent stared at the slender man. Doyle knew that Trent was upset by his words, but the tone Trent used when he asked, “Why was that, Ray?” spoke volumes about how deeply disturbed Trent truly was.

Feeling his world collapsing around him, Doyle knew that he had to leave so he whispered, “I can’t talk now, Adam. I’ll stop by tonight and we’ll talk about this. Rushing into the bedroom, Doyle quickly dressed, grabbed his car keys, and returned to the studio where Trent was still standing.

Seeing the bewildered look on his lover’s face, Doyle walked up to kiss him, but when Trent turned his face away, Doyle said nothing, just walked out of the apartment, knowing his relationship with Trent had been had been badly damaged.

Back in the studio, Trent stood in the cold room feeling like an avalanche had just buried him. Seeing the fear and despair on Doyle’s face was an epiphany to the artist. He should have known. He had seen the drawings that Doyle had done of Bodie, and yet they still hadn’t opened his eyes to what was really going on. He had seen the nude of himself and those nudes of Bodie, and it hadn’t registered to the artist in him, the difference in the feelings that Doyle had for his two subjects. Looking at his own self, Trent now realized that the drawing of him in bed was a technical masterpiece. Doyle had included every detail of the scene. His mind’s eye had portrayed everything . . . in a very mechanical way - - very precise and scientific, but ALL of the portraits of Bodie had contained . . . LOVE.

Trent rubbed his forehead as if he had a headache. He had just been taught a rough lesson, but Trent was relieved that he had found out now. He hadn’t ever expected that Doyle and and he would live together for the rest of their lives, but he had been thinking of a future for them, at least, for a while. Sighing, Trent looked around the room and began to assess what the recent events now meant to his plans. Doyle had said that he wanted to talk to Trent - - what could Trent say to him? Ray, I know you love Bodie, and I’m sorry this happened. Perhaps it’s better if I step out of the picture?

That sounded so pathetic that Trent felt bile rise in his throat. How could he face Doyle with any sincerity ‘wish him luck’. No, it was better to be a coward now and remove himself from the situation. With those thoughts, Trent returned to his apartment and began to pack for a lengthy stay at his other home up north.

BDBDBDBDBDBDB

Doyle made it to the briefing with 10 seconds to spare. He looked around the room, but didn’t see Bodie. Spotting Murph, he wandered over to stand near the man, but was unable to say anything to him before Cowley’s word began to flow.

“CI5 has been told by a very reliable informant that certain members of the Royal Family are going to be attacked within the next two days. 3.7 and 8.1 have already been sent to liaise with the security forces for those members who we believe are the intended targets. I have created a roster with the times and designated individuals that each of you must safeguard. As of now the Protection Command has priority in all decisions made. CI5 is going to be there as back up until further clarification is obtained. I must tell you that this information did not come through from our sources; nevertheless, we must accept its validity until it is proven incorrect. On your bikes, agents. 4.5, I would like to speak with you, now.”

Doyle knew that he was in trouble. He had been unavailable due to carelessness of not checking his R/T, and then to have to have Bodie find him was unforgiveable. What had Bodie told Cowley? He said that he wasn’t going to narc, but would Bodie want to work with Doyle anymore, knowing what he now knew about Doyle?

Knocking on Cowley’s door and being given permission to enter, Doyle stood straight, head lifted as he tried to read Cowley’s demeanour. As usual, the Controller gave nothing away, but it was clear that Cowley was not a happy person, but was it because of Doyle or the threats to the Royal Family or both?

“Have you checked the board, 4.5?”

“Uh, no sir, I haven’t . . . I just got here . . . and . . . “

Cowley looked up, his blue eyes frozen on the face of the man who was one of his best agents, “And why was that? You were summoned in enough time to respond adequately.”

Doyle knew very well that Cowley was aware that Bodie had had to find the missing agent so this was either a trap or the first steps in firing the agent, but strangely enough Doyle only felt numbed by the loss of Bodie as a friend and partner. He had always assumed that Bodie would tolerate Doyle’s sexual tastes after the life the ex-merc had lived, but to have his contempt thrown into his face had really shaken Doyle. Nevertheless, he had to face Cowley, so he straightened his spine even further and said, “Sir, 3.7 informed me of the call out, but it took him a while to find me because my R/T was not working.”

If possible, Cowley’s blue eyes became even more glaciated. He stared at Doyle as if in disgust and then said, “I know that your equipment is the best that is available so why would your R/T not be working?”

“Negligence on my part, sir. During the op yesterday, before I went to hospital, I was thrown against a wall. I neglected to check the condition of my R/T before I went to the A&E and . . . I forgot about it afterwards.”

“You forgot?” The malevolence of Cowley’s voice was just below the surface so it was quite apparent that Cowley knew what Doyle had been doing.

“Yes, sir.”

“Very well, 4.5. I am going to go to see the Minister to coordinate the protection with his staff as well as the Protection Command. You will stay here and act as Alpha 2 until this crisis is over. At that time, you will be suspended for two weeks without pay. Is that understood?”

Doyle stood there in amazement. Cowley trusted him enough to make him Alpha 2? Of course, he deserved the suspension, but Cowley always confused him.

“Yes, sir.”

BDBDBDBDBDBDBDD

The next two days were chaos but in the end the so-called threat came to very little. The individuals who had threatened members of the Royal Family were carefully rounded up and found to be less of a threat than claimed. A drunken bragging contest had been the foundation of the whole problem and with some careful manipulation the situation was handled by the Protection Command. CI5 stayed on back up with Doyle handling the rotation of agents superbly, freeing Cowley to be overall liaison with all the forces involved.

Doyle was finally allowed to stand down when Cowley returned to CI5. It would have been a moment of great joy and pride, but Cowley reminded Doyle that he would not see him for two weeks due to the suspension. It was at that moment that Doyle began to think about a new future - - one without CI5 and . . . Bodie.

Doyle had had very little sleep due to tension and his thoughts about what had had happened with Bodie and with Trent. Doyle hadn’t even tried to contact Trent during the very long two days. He couldn’t really blame Trent if he never wanted to see Doyle again. Doyle was so exhausted that he felt like going directly home, but he knew that he had to find out about Trent before he began his two weeks of suspension.

Doyle entered the now-familiar building and knocked on the apartment door. The thought crowded into his mind that the relationship between him and Trent had deteriorated a great deal so even though he had his own key since he now felt the need to knock instead of just walking in.

Surprisingly, the door did open and there was Trent looking gorgeous but distinctly wary. “Ray . . . you look terrible.”

Strangely enough that statement pleased Doyle instead of offending him. Smiling slightly, Doyle made a motion, asking to enter and Trent readily motioned him in. Doyle walked in, barely able to stand, silently thankful that Trent hadn’t slammed the door on him. His voice distinctly hoarse, Doyle whispered, “Sorry, I couldn’t get here sooner . . . wasn’t the crisis we thought, but it took a bit of time. I wouldn’t have been surprised if you had left.” Now why did I say that?”

Trent smirked briefly, “Well, to tell you the truth, I was going to leave.” Here he stopped and leaned his head towards the luggage that sat near the furniture.

Doyle’s fatigue subsided as he studied Trent and then asked, “Well, why didn’t you leave?”

“Because you said that we would talk that night . . . well, I know it’s a bit later than that, but I figured you deserved the chance to explain . . . so here I am.”

Doyle smiled a sad smile, “I don’t know why I didn’t tell Bodie about us . . . well, actually I do know. I was scared that he would react exactly the way he did.”

Trent looked faintly confused – and concerned, “Whatta ya mean, he wouldn’t hurt you would he?”

“There are lots of ways a person can hurt,” Doyle said, not so cryptically.

“What do YOU mean then?”

“Bodie has always been an enigma; he’s the mystery man of CI5. I’m sure that Cowley knows all about him, but I chose not to look at all of his records, but I do know that he had a difficult life when he was young, and the years before he came to CI5 are the stuff that nightmares are made of. I knew he’s straight, so rigidly straight that he really wouldn’t take it very well if he knew that I had taken a male lover. “

“He doesn’t know you’re bi-sexual?”

“Oh yes, he knows that I swing both ways, but in the almost eight years we’ve been with CI5, I’ve only been seen with women. I told you that I let him think that I was dating an air hostess at the present time, so it was a major shock to find us together the other night. I haven’t talked to him since then so I really don’t know what’s going to happen.” Here Doyle stopped before he could tell even more of a lie. He knew; he just knew that Bodie would be requesting a new partner.

Trent studied the distraught man, knowing that Doyle didn’t know his partner as well as he thought he did. “Ray, I was looking at your landscape drawings the other day while you were taking a shower. You have improved quite a bit, but I also found your other sketch book.” Trent stopped to study the obvious unease in Doyle’s demeanour. He knew he was treading on very dangerous ground, but he had to say this. “Ray, I found the drawing of me that you did while I was in bed. It was very good, but then I turned the page and saw the drawings of Bodie, and I KNEW.”

Doyle scrunched up his forehead in wonderment: What did Adam know? Stuttering and stammering in an effort to overcome his confusion, Doyle’s green orbs studied his lover carefully then he finally found the voice to ask, “What did you know, Adam?”

Trent looked tired and slightly withdrawn as if this was torture for him and perhaps it was. “Ray, I put the drawing that you did of me and the ones you did of Bodie next to each other, and I could see why Bodie’s were so much better . . . it showed in the feelings that you conveyed in those drawings how much you love Bodie. They are filled with so much affection for the man that it practically radiates from every pencil stroke.”

Doyle began to shake his head in disbelief, but he became rooted to the spot when Trent continued, “I know you love me, Ray. That’s why your drawing of me is so good, but your sketches of Bodie say so much more; that is why each one is a minor masterpiece. You are in love with him, aren’t you?”
Doyle felt the compulsion to blurt out a hearty, “NO!” but then stopped as he realized that the whole situation was much more complicated than his need to deny his feelings for Bodie. Was he really in love with Bodie? He had known for a long time that he loved the crazy ex-merc, but he had always told himself that it was love for a partner, a man who had saved his life many times. The reality came blasting in as a hurricane often did: Bodie meant more to him than anyone in the world, and his feelings went far beyond just affection; he was indeed in love with his partner of eight years.

Doyle dropped his eyes for a moment only and then looked up into Trent’s brown ones and nodded, “Yeah, I guess I am, but it’s not going to get me anywhere; he’s so straight that he makes a rule stick look crooked.”

Trent smiled slightly as he tried to hide his amazement that Ray Doyle could be so naïve. “Ray, it is appalling to me that a man who has seen and done all that you have still can’t read people very well.”

“What are you talkin’ about? I have to be able to do that to do my job.”

“Well, maybe you can read strangers and hoodlums, but those who are near and dear to you – not so much.”

“What are you tryin’ to say?”

“I know I’m being foolish to give you this advice, but you need to go and talk to Bodie. Your relationship with him can’t get any worse, if you’re right about him wantin’ a new partner. You two need to be honest with each other.”

Doyle looked incredulous, “You think I’m going to stand there and let him call me fag and other things? He’ll probably lay me out with that right cross of his.”

Trent studied him for a minute, thinking that Bodie would most likely lay Doyle out, but hardly in the same way that Doyle meant. Taking a deep breath, Trent said bluntly, “Ray, we can’t be together anymore. I’ve heard from my former lover who I broke up with before I came to the Smoke. I realized that I hadn’t been very honest with him. I certainly have no right to tell you how to behave with Bodie when I’ve done such a bad job in dealing with Dave. I’m going to go have a talk with him, and I suggest that you do the same with Bodie.”
Doyle stared at Trent as if he were crazy. A headache roared through his tired mind. He had known that Adam had had other lovers, but now he realized that he had lost this wonderful man due to his own stupidity. Bodie didn’t want him. Bodie was straight. He should beg Adam Trent to stay with him, but he knew that he could never make Trent complete, feeling as he did about Bodie. It was like being slammed into a wall, but it was a decision that had to be made.

Doyle smiled, “You’re a pretty special guy and Dave’s lucky. I hope you and Dave can get together ‘cause you deserve some happiness.”

Trent smiled, taking Doyle into his arms, “So do you; now go talk to Bodie.”

Quickly clearing out his things that he had kept at Trent’s apartment, Doyle returned to his small flat. He kept thinking of things to do to put off taking the step which Doyle knew would destroy his last link with Bodie. Doyle didn’t think he could bear hearing Bodie tell him that he no longer wanted him for a partner and that he never wanted to see him again.

Doyle had always prided himself on the fact that he never ran away from a hard decision or a traumatic experience, but seeing Bodie one last time was both. Eight years of partnership with the ex-merc had taught him many things and now he had to go face Bodie and try to explain, but why should he? It was his lifestyle and if Bodie was intolerant of his preferences then it was Bodie who was the lesser individual, not him.

Doyle was dead tired so he headed to his own flat, telling himself what a coward he was. Bodie deserved to hear why Doyle had not told him about Trent before the other day and why he had lied to Bodie about who he was seeing. Sighing, Doyle fumbled with his key to get through the door with some of his junk without dropping it. The flat was cold and dismal, but Doyle knew there was someone in the lounge as soon as he entered the room. Within seconds, however, his Bodie radar was in full working order and he knew who the mysterious figure was that was occupying his home.

Dropping all of his extra gear, Doyle decided to take the bull by the horns and demanded in as steady a voice as possible, “Come by to give me back my extra key?”

For a second Bodie didn’t respond but then he said quietly, “Now why would I do that, MATE?”

Doyle could hear the sarcasm in the question, but he wasn’t about to step back from the edge now. “What’d Cowley say when you told him?”

In a voice, he could barely hear, Bodie whispered, “Told him what?”

Doyle’s patience was wearing thin. He was tired of playing games with Bodie - - after all, it was Bodie who had screamed those vile things at him. Why should Doyle apologise?

“You know bloody well, what you wanted to tell him. We can’t have a partner’s who’s a fag, can we?” The sarcasm was so thick on Doyle’s tongue that it almost choked him. Standing rigid, Doyle waited for Bodie to release his contempt against Doyle, just as he had done the other day.

But there was nothing - - nothing.

In the dimness of the room, Doyle could see Bodie slumped in the chair with his chin fallen against his chest. The man looked totally beaten, but now was not the time to feel sorry, Doyle had to remain firm and unrelenting if he was to survive the next few minutes.

Finally, Bodie looked up, his deep blue eyes hardly visible in his sheet white face. He whispered, “Ray?”

Doyle waited, but Bodie said nothing further so Doyle threw down the gauntlet. “Look, I’ll go see Cowley tomorrow and say that we agreed to split up as partners. That way you can go your way, and I’ll go mine and then you won’t have to contaminate yourself with a shirt lifter, will ya?”

If it was possible, Bodie’s face went even whiter. A look of agony distorted his handsome face into a mask of what it usually was. Bodie’s mouth moved up and down like an angelfish in a tank of water but nothing came out.

Finally, Doyle had reached his limit. Seeing Bodie hadn’t been easy for him, but they both had to face reality; Bodie’s homophobia had become a line which would forever separate the two men from being partners, friends, or lovers. Doyle hadn’t meant to say anything more, but his anger ripped through him like a tsunami through an island, “OH COME ON, BODIE. I’M THE BAD GUY HERE, REMEMBER? I’M THE FAG, THE SHIRTLIFTER, THE . . .” Doyle stopped as he saw the despair and something else on Bodie’s face. What was going on? Why didn’t Bodie just slug him and get the hell out of his sight?

Bodie tried to stand; his actions much like the efforts of a hundred year old man. He couldn’t seem to rise to face his accuser so he sat there, looking up at Doyle and asked a question that was totally unexpected, “Do you love him?”

“That’s none of your business, sunshine. Besides, don’t you know, we queers don’t love; we just have perversions. Now, why don’t you say what you came to say and then get out of here and out of my life?”

Bodie’s blue eyes expressed his misery better than any of his words could, but it was obvious that he had something to say and each breath was a struggle to get the words out, but he finally did, “Ray, no matter what you think, I am not a homophobe, and I don’t want any other partner but you, but I can’t continue to see you each and every day, if you intend to continue to live with Trent.”

At first, Doyle intended to deny that he was living with Trent, but then he realized that he would be playing Bodie’s game. He didn’t have to defend himself; he was comfortable with who he was, it was Bodie who had the problem, not himself.

Continuing to try to outstare each other, Bodie finally dropped his eyes to stare at the generic carpet that covered most of the CI5 flats. Finally, Bodie raised his dark head and whispered, “I could tell that Trent had some affection for you when I met him, but you were like a plaster statue, never giving away your feelings. I can’t hang around you as your partner if you and Trent continue to be lovers; it’s as simple as that.” Bodie stopped, drawing in a deep breath as if he hadn’t breathed in a very long time then he continued, “I’ll go tomorrow and tell Cowley that I want out of the partnership.” Staring at Doyle for a moment, Bodie stood up with some difficulty and headed towards the door.

For a moment, Doyle stared at Bodie’s back, watching the man who had meant everything to him for so many years walk out of his life. Without really planning to, Doyle uttered the words that were on his mind, “I’m not in love with him.”

Bodie slowly turned around, obviously disbelieving, “What does that mean? You just havin’ sex or what?”

“Is that what you think of me? I know I’ve slept with a lot of birds, and it’s meant nothing, but Trent has been my friend for a very long time. I love him, I guess, but I’m not in love with him. If that isn’t good enough for you, then that’s just too bad. ‘Sides, what difference does it make to you? You say you’re not a homophobe, but you sure as hell gave a pretty good performance of being a bigoted so and so, just the other day.”

Bodie gave a very tired smile, “You’re an idiot, Doyle. Can’t you tell jealousy when you see it? I spouted off because I wanted it to be me that you were having sex with. I want me to be the one that sends you into orbit with my mouth, my hands, and any other parts of my body that you’re willing to take.”

Doyle stood there stunned; his green eyes began to glitter with anger. Suddenly, his lithe, trim body was all action as it slammed Bodie’s larger frame against the wall by the door; his rage evident in every part of his body. “YOU BASTARD, YOU BASTARD! Jealous - - what are you talkin’ about? You called me a fag and about every other word you could think of, and it was all because you were jealous? You don’t know the meanin’ of jealousy. I never knew until that moment, Bodie, how much you hated me, but I do now. Now, get out of here before I can’t control myself.” Doyle released his hold on Bodie, but only stepped enough to let Bodie get through to the door. The slender body literally quivered with tension and despair.

Bodie’s face was white as snow as his powerful body seemed to crumble into itself. Somehow he managed to pull himself erect after a moment as he whispered, “I don’t hate you, Ray. I’m sorry for what I said to you. I guess I’ve hoped that somehow in these last eight years, you would have come to have feelings for me, but I’ve done a poor job of making you love me.”

Doyle’s face continued to be full of fury but his rigid body seemed to grow less tense as he listened to the words that began to infiltrate his fury.

Holding out his arm slightly as if to try to reach Doyle both physically as well as emotionally, Bodie continued, “All of my life I’ve been running scared. Every time I thought I loved someone, I ran. The girl in Africa, Marikka, Jimmy and others would try to get close to me, but something would always happen. You remember I told you that I really loved Mara, but then Krivas killed her because he wanted her?”

Doyle nodded but continued to say nothing.

“I’ve always been afraid of commitment and losing the person that I finally committed to. I lost all three of them so I kept telling myself that I didn’t love you that we were just partners, but when I saw you with Trent, I finally had to admit to myself that I loved you. I yelled the ugliest things I could at you, hoping to break the spell, but after I left, I looked at myself and knew that I was in love with you as well. I’ve felt like running from you so many times in the last eight years, but I couldn’t stand to lose you, and now I’ve killed whatever feelings you’ve had for me, haven’t I? I’m so sorry, Ray. I know I did everything I could to destroy your relationship with Ann Holly instead of telling you then how I felt about you, but I won’t bother you again. Tell Trent to take care of you or he’ll have to answer to me.”

Despite himself, Doyle’s heart felt lighter. The blockage in his throat disappeared as he saw how difficult Bodie’s last words had been for him. He stepped back to make room for Bodie to go to the door, but as the man actually seemed to be leaving him, Doyle took a deep breath and said, “Trent and I aren’t together anymore.”
Bodie turned to look at Doyle; his face totally drained of hope, but his deep blue eyes seemed to have a trace of confusion as he said, “I . . . I don’t understand.”

“It doesn’t really matter. He’s realized that he made a mistake and will be going back north to find some answers.”

Bodie stood there speechless for a second and then with an almost choked whisper, he declared, “Then he’s a fool; you’re the best.”

Doyle’s green orbs sparked as he heard those welcome words, but he didn’t know what to say. These didn’t sound like the words of a homophobe, but Doyle’s heart had been shattered by Bodie’s previous words, said with so much anger, that Doyle had to doubt the words he was hearing now.

When Doyle said nothing, Bodie turned towards the door hesitantly, stopping only when he heard Doyle challenge him with the words, “Running again?”

Bodie whirled on his ex-partner; his patience almost at an end, “Yeah, I’m running again - - as usual - - I hung around for eight years ‘cause of you, but YOU’RE the one who’s told me to get out this time. I told myself years ago that if you ever told me that, the partnership would be ended, and I’d stop being the blind bastard I’ve been. You’ve always been my weak spot, Doyle, and you’ve used it against me, and don’t bother to deny it. I hated Ann Holly, but I would have let you marry her, if that had made you happy. When you were shot, my greatest fear came true. I kept beggin’ you to live ‘cause without you, I don’t know what I’d do, but that’s all over now, Doyle. You’ve made your wishes known so I’m outta here.”

Doyle put his hands on his slender hips and challenged Bodie by getting into his face. “Oh, so now it’s my fault, is it? I sleep with someone and ‘cause you don’t like it, I’M THE ONE BREAKING UP THE PARTNERSHIP? Well, I’ll have you know Mr. William Andrew Philip Bodie that I’ve slept with men and women all my adult life, but you are the only one that I ever fell in love with. You think you’ve hung around CI5 because of me; well, let me tell you, that it was damned tough to get back into shape after being shot in the heart, but I did it, AND ONLY FOR ONE REASON – YOU! Do you think it was easy to do all that therapy and go through the nausea and pain I endured, but I kept imagining you out on the streets with another partner - - somebody who would let you get killed while I was strainin’ me guts to get back into shape.” Doyle suddenly stopped as if his explosion of emotion had exhausted him. He backed completely away, seemingly struggling to reach one of the chairs.

“Ray . . . why didn’t you tell me then?”

“What - - Mr. Gung Ho, you-can-do-it, Doyle; don’t be a wimp. How many times did I hear that over the months I was laid up?”

Bodie seemed near collapse as he desperately sought out the nearest place to sit down which happened to be the floor. He sat there for several minutes with his legs drawn up and his head lowered to his chest. Finally, he cleared his throat, moisture filling his eyes, “God, what we’ve done to each other over the years. Cowley called us chalk and cheese and I guess he was right. I kept hoping there could be more between us and now you tell me that you’ve fallen in love with me. I guess I’ve wanted to hear those words for so long that I really can’t take it in that you’ve said them. I love you so fuckin’ much, but just words can never heal the breach between us so tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.”

“I don’t know, Bodie. This isn’t just about what I want; you’re part of this. There’s lots of blame to share, but I know one thing: just loving one another isn’t enough. “

“What are you sayin’, do you think I should just walk away or what; I don’t understand.”

Doyle closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose as a headache seemed to take over his thoughts. “I guess I’m sayin’ we need to take our time about what we do. We could go to bed and fuck each other senseless, but I think that would eventually destroy whatever we have. I know we’ve been together for eight years, but you badly scared me when you found me with Trent. Along time ago, I told myself to keep my trap shut about how I felt about you ‘cause I thought you would run scared as you have done before, so I’m not sure what we should do. “

“We’ve waited eight years, let’s think about it and not rush it. This isn’t about just me goin’ to bed with you. I would like us to be exclusive and no more birds, but that’s as far as my thinkin’ goes, for now.”

“I can live with that, but to tell you the truth, Bodie; I need to regain my trust.”

“You can’t trust me?”

Doyle walked over close to his friend and put his arm around his neck and said in a quiet, intimate voice, “Of course I can trust you on the streets. I trust you with my life, but an intimate relationship goes beyond the streets. I don’t want you ever to be jealous or doubt me again so we’ve got to be sure.”

“I can’t promise to never be jealous, but I will promise to never doubt you again.”

Doyle leaned his forehead over to touch Bodie’s chest and whispered, “I love you, Bodie, but we’re both going to have to work at this.”

Bodie pulled the slender body into his arms and cuddled him close. “Don’t worry, Angelfish; we’ll work this out. After all I’ve hung around for eight years, I’m sure not going to give up now.”

END OF PART ONE

 

 

PART TWO: Running Scared - - Again
Just runnin' scared
Each place we go
So afraid
That he might show
Yeah, runnin' scared
What would I do
If he came back
And wanted you?

Music by Joe Melson and Roy Orbison

William Bodie had been running most of his life. Even in his younger days, he had run: first from schooling that seemed a waste of time, then from an abusive father, and finally from the dinge, and dismay of a life in Liverpool, but his travels had not ended there because he had never seemed to find what he was looking for. During the next decade after he had debarked from a merchant ship at the tender age of 16, he had found himself to be a much wiser man but something inside himself told him that it was not a change for the good. The brutality and despair of his next destinations had confirmed his suspicions and the roll call of Marikka, Mara, and Jimmy had further proven to him that there was no place, no comfort, and no affection which would ever be called his - - so he had finally returned home - - oh, not the home of his youth, Liverpool, but England, and there he had met George Cowley via his “stay” with the military.

 

Bodie had always planned to be long gone from CI5 after being with “the good guys” for a year or two, but he hadn’t planned on - - Ray Doyle. He expected to tell Cowley after their six months trial partnership that he wanted another partner. After all, a partnership was just another commitment and Bodie definitely didn’t want commitment, but he had taken on the slender, curly haired, bad tempered ex-copper, and he hadn’t dumped him six months out. How could he? How could he drop Ray and leave him out on the streets without his protection? It wasn’t that Ray couldn’t handle the streets since he had spent a lot of the last 15 years as a copper, dealing with the yobbos who had invaded the streets of London. No, Bodie had made the mistake that he had told himself that he would never make - - he had found someone who was more important to him than his own life, someone that he could love.

 

The last eight years had not been sheer bliss, nor had they always been the epitome of harmony between partners but Bodie had found some contentment. Ray Doyle had become Bodie’s answer to what had been missing in his life. Even when Ann Holly had pranced in and threatened all of his dreams, the partnership had held. Even two bullets in Doyle’s vulnerable body hadn’t ended their relationship. Ray had screamed at him that Bodie had been brutal in his demands for Doyle to recover from the nightmarish injury, and Doyle was right. Bodie had never let up for months - - he never let Ray contemplate for even one second that he would not make it back to duty. Bodie closed his eyes and rubbed his temples as he remembered those searing days of pain and fear. If ever Bodie had run absolutely scared, it was during those months when Doyle’s qualification to return to CI5 was truly on the line. Bodie admitted only to himself that he had needed Doyle to return more than Doyle probably wanted to.

 

And now . . . and now, Bodie had wrecked it all. Seeing a partially robed Doyle with Adam Trent had utterly smashed the carefully laid barrier that Bodie had erected over the years. Knowing that another man had had Doyle’s body in an obviously loving relationship had shaken Bodie to his core. So shaken had Bodie been that he had thrown out words that he had hidden deep within him, and now he could never retract them. Doyle had told him that he had fallen in love with him, but he had not renewed those words. Bodie knew that if he were to regain a welcome in Doyle’s world, he was going to have to tread very carefully and find the patience which he had always had in short supply. His biggest fear, however, was that while Bodie and Doyle were rebuilding what they had once taken for granted, Doyle would find someone else and realize that this new person offered so much more than the worn-out, brutal, ex-merc could ever possess.

 

Fortunately, the old relationship kicked in almost automatically. Once again Chalk and Cheese had become Cowley’s best, and very few people at CI5 even realized that the number one team had come very close to disintegration. One of the people who did realize it (besides Cowley), however, was Colin Thomas Murphy, a close friend to both men and the man who had had the unlucky task of serving as Bodie’s partner after Bodie had discovered Doyle’s affair with Trent.

 

Those had not been easy days for Bodie or Murphy and while Murphy did not know why the Bisto Kids were alienated, he had met Adam Trent and thus strongly suspected the real motive behind the near-breakup. Murphy had refused to take sides, but he quite often said in those gut-wrenching weeks that he would like to have busted those two idiots’ heads together so maybe some sense would drip in and if that didn’t work, Murphy would just pour it into those thick skulls.

 

Murphy had just about given up on the two agents ever getting back together when a seeming miracle had occurred and the two men became partners again. For the past three months, their relationship on the streets seemed to work. They were confident, efficient and the seeming disharmony had been laid to rest, at least that’s what Murphy hoped because he knew deep down how close the two men had come to ending their partnership.

 

What George Cowley knew or suspected was anybody’s guess, but for the moment, the team was back together and they seemed to have buried their hatchet, not in each other, but in the bad guys that they had been chasing during the past several months. George Cowley felt like celebrating the morning that Bodie and Doyle had reported for duty as a team several months ago, but he had said nothing. He suspected that much of the cause of the hostility was Adam Trent. Doyle, as per CI5 rules, had reported his relationship with Trent so that no blackmail could be threatened, but Cowley also suspected 3.7’s reception of that relationship was the catalyst which had created all the tension.

 

Cowley had been very honest with the two agents when they had returned for their first assignment since Doyle’s suspension. CI5 could not tolerate personal issues coming before the work of the squad. He needed the two men fully focused on the job, and if they forgot that again, they would be dismissed from the squad. It was that plain and simple. With those words, the two men received their new assignment.

 

Now almost three months later, the professional relationship between the two men had returned to its pre-hostilities level, but the same could not be said for their personal relationship. They seemed to be taking it day by day. Their after-work activities had been kept to a minimum. In fact, Doyle had been with Murphy far more often than with Bodie. The ex-merc knew that he had taken Doyle for granted, and it was time that he got his priorities straight. Bodie finally realized that there was no greater priority than Doyle, but that didn’t obliterate Bodie’s constant and greatest fear that someone would enter Doyle’s life and that his attractive partner who was like sex on two legs would prefer someone else.

 

This week Doyle had been assigned to a group of five new recruits as their “real-life” instructor. CI5 training had branched out of doors so that the lucky five were getting some training out on the streets and not just in the hallowed halls of CI5. Every moment that Doyle was out with the “babies”, as Bodie called them, tied his guts in knots. It was true that this was very limited training but anything could happen on the streets of the Smoke and Bodie well knew it.

 

The previous week Bodie and his partner had spent the time surveilling a small-time thug who was trying to make time with a gun running outfit. Normally, Bodie hated these types of jobs, but the dullness of the job allowed for a great deal of time to watch Doyle as he looked out the window, watching individuals come and go across the street. Those times became the stuff upon which Bodie’s dreams were built.

 

Wandering into the rest room, Bodie spotted the elegant Colin Murphy sitting on the most decrepit sofa in the realm, watching of all things, the biggest slob in the realm, Agent Keith Anson. Anson’s cigars were legendary, and they were the dread of every agent who worked with him. The gooey, thrown-off cigars that Anson was constantly leaving behind spread more revulsion that the plague ever could. What Bodie couldn’t understand, however, was why Murphy was watching Anson so intently at the moment.

 

“Ta, Murph, what are you and Anson doin’ in here?”

 

The handsome Irishman raised his eyebrows in confusion, responding in a highly indignant way, “What’s that supposed to mean?” And then in a highly dignified way with a fake upper crust accent, continued with, “I’m merely doing my duty as an upright citizen of this fair kingdom by checking to see if Anson is still alive, that’s all, don’t you know?”

 

Bodie’s forehead wrinkled as he attempted to understand what Murphy was talking about but finally gave up and said, “What ya nattering about, mate?”

 

Looking faintly hurt by Bodie’s lack of comprehension, Murphy looked up at the ex-merc and said, “It must be very plain to you who have had the unpleasant duty of being Anson’s partner on numerous occasions that the gentleman cannot do two things at once; therefore, when he smokes and tries to breathe at the same time, one of the two has to stop and you know damn well it ain’t goin’ to be the cigar smokin’, so I have to check and make sure that he hasn’t kicked his clogs and done got himself ready for the morgue.”

 

Bodie smiled affectionately at the Smurph as he said, “That’s mighty decent of you, Smurph; I know a lot of Anson’s previous partners wouldn’t bother to check to see if he was still alive, and that includes me.”

 

With those words, Anson finally broke out of his rigor mortis and said in a highly sarcastic way, “I’ll have you know that the only reason I smoke these cigars is to kill the smell of lover boy over there. He’s got a hot date tonight and must have dumped a whole bottle of that eau de cologne over himself.”

 

“That’s a lie, it’s just that Sheila likes me aroma. She says it really turns her on and since I’ve been on duty for the last ten days without respite, I felt that a little extra help in the aroma department wouldn’t hurt.”

 

Bodie smiled, “With your silver tongue I’m surprised that you have to use all those props, but since the Smelly Twins are cancelling each other out in the odourescence department, I guess everyone should be grateful. Have you seen Doyle? He mentioned something about meeting at his local later on today.”

 

Anson, still puffing away like an old dreadnought, giggled and didn’t bother to hide it. “Me thinks our curly-haired rooster is still leading his chicks around the building. I heard a rumour that . . .” Suddenly, noticing Murphy’s glare, Anson stopped in mid-sentence and went back to perusing the slightly salacious magazine that someone had left in the restroom.

 

Knowing that he would get nothing further out of the human chimney, Bodie’s left eyebrow shot up as he turned to Murphy and asked, “What’s HE nattering about?”

Murphy wiped his handsome face with his hand and then said, “Well, there’s a rumour, and mind you IT IS only a rumour that the chicks have something planned today for the head rooster, and maybe, just maybe, it might happen in the gym around about now.”

 

Bodie well remembered the time that he had been assigned to some other chicks several years ago. The legendary HARD MAN image of William Bodie had not survived his mentoring those chicks. Bodie knew several terrorists who couldn’t come up with better plans of sabotage than they had plotted against their mentor. It might be fun to drop by the gym and see what was going on.

 

For the past half hour or so Doyle had been putting the five recruits through their paces, having one on one combat practice in the gym. Two would be put through the paces and then two more and then Doyle would mix them up so that everyone would get a chance. He even took a few turns himself. As it got near the end of the session, however, THE WORM TURNED and all five jumped their erstwhile advisor in a moment of carelessness and the real brouhaha was on.

 

After several minutes, Doyle was able to finally put all five chicks down for the count, but it was far more due to Doyle’s use of some of the dirtiest street fighting that he had ever used than it was their lack of skill. As Doyle stood over the five immobile bodies, he felt a great deal of pride that they had done so well. His body felt as if it had been run over by a tank and then said-vehicle had reversed for a second go-around. He was about ready to collapse on the mat beside his “victims” when one W.A.P. Bodie showed up with a smirk on his face. Doyle couldn’t show his weakness to Bodie so he managed to stay standing, but his breathing was very ragged as Doyle merely glared at him, not daring to gasp a word.

 

Bodie, knowing Doyle too well, asked in a mocking voice, “See you had to use the dirty stuff to put them down, 4.5?”

 

Doyle’s green orbs radiated indignation as he spit out, “Teachin’ them how to really fight, not those namby pamby moves the military puts on you now days.”

 

It had been a bone of contention between the two partners for the past eight years about who had been taught better ways to fight in their early training, so it was quite obvious that Doyle was attempting to throw down the gauntlet of distraction so that Bodie would not notice how exhausted Doyle really was, but Bodie now noticed everything about his partner and he could readily see that his partner was barely on his feet. Noticing that the recruits were now stirring, Bodie turned to Doyle and said, “Me thinks your chickadees are coming to. Why don’t you send them on their way, and we’ll go out on the town and celebrate?”

 

Doyle knew that Bodie had seen through his pretense and was grateful that his partner had given him an out to get rid of the recruits for the moment and hopefully get to his car before he collapsed. Turning to the five who were up on their feet, he said, “That’s all for today. You’re meeting with Jack Crane at promptly 07 hundred hours tomorrow so be there or you’ll have to deal with me later in the day.”

 

The youngsters groggily left as Bodie and Doyle stood staring at them. After the door closed, Doyle started walking towards the showers but then stopped and headed towards the exit, knowing that if he didn’t get to his car, his knees would buckle. As he barely made it to the car, Bodie grabbed his keys and said, “I’ll drive. You’ve done enough destruction for one day.”

 

Too tired to retaliate Doyle got in the passenger’s side and promptly fell into a stupor. Within minutes they were at Doyle’s door so Bodie parked Doyle’s car and stood behind the wobbling man as he made his way to the front door. Doyle had managed to pull himself together slightly so he stopped while turning to face Bodie, “I CAN MAKE IT ON MY OWN.”

 

Bodie stood staring the obvious hurt evident in his deep blue eyes, “Sorry, I just thought I might get a lager or something before I headed on home. I’m parched and I have to walk all that way.”

 

Doyle’s face promptly registered that ‘Give us a break’ look as he said, “The last time I looked, I noticed that your flat was less than a half mile from here.”

 

“That’s true but . . . well, I’m still parched.”

 

“All right, here’s the key, open the door and get your lager.”

 

Doyle followed Bodie into his flat on his rather wobbly legs, silently grateful that Bodie was hanging around.

 

By the time that Doyle made it into the flat, Bodie was already guzzling his lager; Doyle almost plopped on the nearest furniture, but then straightened himself and headed for the bedroom. In a loud voice, he told Bodie that he was taking a shower so be sure to lock up on his way out. 15 minutes later, Bodie decided to leave but decided to check on Doyle before he left. Walking into the bedroom, Bodie found Doyle lying prone on the bed, still completely clothed, and asleep. For several minutes, Bodie stood staring at the beloved figure while affection radiated from his eyes.

 

Bodie knew how difficult it had been for Doyle to get back from being shot in the heart, and while he had passed the rigourous demands of CI5, Doyle was always too stubborn to admit the toll that the shooting had taken on him, but Bodie knew and had carried that burden with him every day of his life since the shooting. Shaking his head, Bodie smiled as he turned and headed towards the kitchen to prepare some food so that Doyle would have something to eat. Thanks to Bodie’s new awareness of his partner, Bodie knew that Doyle had lost more weight than he could really afford to lose. Stress and the energy, that Doyle poured into everything he did, had made the ex-copper a slender frame of muscle with nothing extra to spare.

 

Bodie decided to wait for Doyle to recover before he shoved off. Wandering around the flat, he found Doyle’s drawings and looked at them. The landscapes lacked a lot but the figures were good. Then, Bodie found the drawing of the naked Trent; bile rushed to his mouth as his guts tied themselves in knots. He threw the pad down on the floor shocked at how the mere discovery of visual confirmation of Doyle’s feelings for Trent hurt so much. Several pages had flipped over in the pad so that a new drawing was evident. It was a very intimate drawing of Bodie, totally nude, and looking directly at the artist with a wicked look in his eyes. Knowing that this scene had never taken place, Bodie was confused about why Doyle had drawn it. Looking quickly through the remaining drawings, Bodie found four more of himself in various poses and all in the nude. Why would Doyle draw these?

 

Bodie carefully replaced the pad in the exact position that he had found it and collapsed on the sofa, not knowing what to do. His confusion only increased his frustration. Why hadn’t Doyle told him about his feelings for his partner? The thought immediately entered his mind, however, that he should ask himself that very same question. Bodie wondered why he always hid his feelings and ran away from any sort of commitment in the 36 years that he had been on earth. Dropping his head to his chest, Bodie slumped back against the sofa deep in thought about the situation with Doyle.

 

Finally, Bodie heard Doyle stirring so he rushed to the kitchen to complete preparation for the one type of omelet that he knew Doyle liked and that he had the food resources for. Looking up, he saw Doyle’s sleepy face and satyr body standing in the doorway, looking so gorgeous that it was all Bodie could do to stop himself from throwing his partner to the floor and ravishing him right there.

 

With a faintly muffled voice, Doyle asked, “What you still doin’ here?”

Feeling a faint twinge of pain for the lack of interest that Doyle had put into the question, Bodie just stopped himself from smarting off to hurt Doyle as much as he had been hurt, but he stopped, smiled and said, “Thought you might be hungry when you woke up; I know I am.”

 

Doyle hesitated for a minute, trying to fathom the deep reaches of Bodie’s mind but then gave up and wandered over to the kitchen table and began to devour the mushroom and tomato omelet. Barely raising his head and with his mouth stuffed full of food, Doyle’s hesitant smile made Bodie’s heart turn over. “Thanks, mate. I was hungrier than I thought. Those chicks really keep you movin’”

 

“Yeah, I remember when I had my own bunch. They took out after me one day and chased me what seemed like miles and then they wanted to practice their newly found skills on the mats. “I thought I was dead by the time we got finished. They took a ten second breather and then headed to the showers, all the time talkin’ about going out on the town after they got done.”
Doyle smiled tiredly, “Yeah, I remember that; seems a long time ago now. I thought that I was going to have to give you mouth to mouth to revive you.” Doyle suddenly realized what he had said as his pale cheeks turned pink under his embarrassment.

 

Bodie immediately became extremely interested in the remaining food on his plate, saying nothing even though his thoughts were hardly printable. Doyle got up and began washing up the dishes while Bodie cleared the table. After finishing in the kitchen, Bodie headed for the lounge, looking for his coat.

 

Doyle stood in the doorway with his hips canted in that special way that he often used as a lure for whoever he was trying to attract at the moment. “Where you goin’, sunshine? You drove me home in my car.”

 

Bodie smiled wistfully, “It’s not that far. I can walk it. What time do you have to round-up your chicks, tomorrow?”

 

“Not ‘til later, they’re with Jack until noon or so. I can drive you in.”

 

“Don’t worry about it, Ray. I’ll take public transportation or something. You just sleep in late; you’re going to be sore tomorrow.” Going to the door, Bodie hesitated before opening it.

 

Doyle immediately saw his chance, “I . . . I was wondering; I am kind of sore, would you want to give me one of the Bodie Special Massages?”

“What . . . right now?”

 

Doyle couldn’t hold back the despair he felt from showing on his face. How far apart had he and Bodie become if Bodie would prefer to ride public transit than ride in with him? Bodie couldn’t even stand to give him a massage? Somehow Doyle found the courage to say, “Nah, forget it, don’t know what I was thinkin’. I’ll get me a hot bath and that will do me up fine. You better get goin’; maybe you can find a taxi.”

 

Cursing himself for his idiocy, Bodie moved away from the door and walked over to where Doyle was standing so hesitantly now - - no more canted hip or come hither look, just the slender figure wrapped in a cloak of misery.

 

Somehow, Bodie found the bravery to wrap his arms around Doyle and hold him in his arms. It wasn’t really as hard as he had expected. Dropping his nose into the bird’s nest of Doyle’s curls, Bodie whispered, “I’ll go run some water in the tub. You go get ready for the greatest massage you’ve ever had.”

 

Walking toward the bedroom, Doyle failed to lift his head, continuing to hide his face from Bodie. His slender frame was a mass of confused parts. Bodie had been so stand-offish for the past couple of months. They worked together but that was it, and now . . . maybe . . . just maybe, he and Bodie could take a step towards getting back together on a more personal level. Doyle freely admitted to himself that he had been a lot of the cause of the problem. He had always known how easy it was for him to wound Bodie, and he knew that his affair with Trent had hurt Bodie a great deal, but Doyle had always thought there could be no intimacy between them, but he wasn’t made to be alone and always have an empty bed just so his partner wouldn’t be upset. In fact, Doyle had always expected that Bodie would take off one day and then where would he be?

 

Removing his clothes, Doyle forgot his robe as he wandered into the warm, moist bathroom where Bodie was waiting for him. Modesty had never been one of Doyle’s faults and it wasn’t one now. Gingerly getting into the tub, Doyle let out an “ahhhhh” as the warmth of the water surrounded him. Bodie washed his back for him, carefully noticing several bruises which would be extremely visible tomorrow. Smiling at his partner, Bodie said, “Dip down in the water and I’ll wash that bird’s nest for you and then you can soak for a while.”

 

“Whatta ya mean,‘bird’s nest’?”

 

“Get on with it, and I’ll be back with the oil for your massage.”

“Bodie? Thanks.”

 

“Wait ‘til you get my bill, sunshine. My masseur charges aren’t cheap.”

 

Bodie waited for Doyle to dry and then come in and lay down on the bed in a prone position. The most gorgeous bum in the entire realm was on display and it was all Bodie could do to not touch and caress it. Shaking his head at his lascivious feelings for the callipygian attraction before him, Bodie took a deep breath and rubbed oil on his hands. Mounting the bed and placing his own knees so that Doyle lay between them, Bodie began to massage, gently talking to the quiet man.

 

After several minutes, Bodie had finished Doyle’s back side and moved off of him, quietly saying, “You can turn over, Angelfish.” Getting no response, Bodie looked carefully at the beautiful body and realized that Doyle was asleep. Smiling, Bodie began to rub his hands on a towel as he turned and took a step away from the bed. All of a sudden, Doyle stirred and turned slightly towards Bodie. In a confused, sleepy voice, Doyle asked, “Where goin’?”

 

“I got to be at headquarters by 10 00 hours tomorrow so I’m going to head on home.”

 

For a moment Doyle stared bleary-eyed at his partner; then said, “Don’t go. Stay here with me.”
With those words, Doyle threw back the covers on the other side of the bed. Smiling his most beguiling, Ray, looking like an angel, commanded, “Join me.”

 

For a moment Bodie hesitated, but then he walked to the bed and flopped down on it in a supine position, putting his folded arms under his head. For a moment, both men lay side by side, but after staring at Bodie for a while, Doyle asked, “How come one of us still has his clothes on?”

“I’m just restin’. In a little while I have to go and get my clean clothes from my flat.”

 

Doyle looked faintly disgusted as he said, “Get ‘em off; I don’t allow clothes in me bed.”

 

Bodie’s blue eyes gleamed as he asked, “Since when?”

 

“This is my bed and I make the rules so you have to do as I say, and Simon says, ‘Get ‘em off.’”

 

Bodie sat up and looked at his partner and asked, “And who is this Simon and is he joinin’ us?”

 

“No, you dumb crud, just get ‘em off so we can get some sleep.”

 

Without further ado, Bodie carefully removed his clothes and then laid back down several inches from Doyle’s body. Tension seemed to keep the two men away from each other . . . until Doyle fell asleep. In his sleep, Doyle began to move closer to Bodie and finally wrapped his long arms around his partner’s tense body. With his head buried in Bodie’s armpit, Doyle looked like a sleeping angel which Bodie stared at affectionately until he too fell asleep.

 

When Doyle woke up the next morning, Bodie was gone, but there was a note:

 

Dear Chauffeur,

 

I decided to get to my flat and change clothes, but I will expect you at 09 45 hours to pick me up, oh slave of mine. Be prompt because SOME OF US do have to get to work on time.

 

B.

 

Doyle smiled at the note. It was good to be able to banter again with Bodie. Thinking back on last night, Doyle sincerely wished that he hadn’t fallen asleep because he vaguely remembered cuddling in Bodie’s arms, but he could have been wrong.

 

Promptly at 09 45 Doyle pulled up in front of Bodie’s flat. Usually laying it very heavily on the horn, Doyle was just about ready to make his arrival known when the sexiest man on earth walked out of the door to his flat. Doyle felt like doing a wolf whistle but controlled himself for fear that Bodie would be embarrassed. The tight brown cords and beige pullover fit Bodie’s muscular shape to perfection.

 

Bodie stuck his head in the window before opening the door and with a mischievous grin said in a very haughty upper crust English accent, “Very good, James. To the office.”

 

Doyle smiled and said, “I’ll go ‘to the office’ with you, you dumb crud. I’m just doin’ this ‘cause Cowley’s called me in for a conference; no doubt he needs my advice on many important subjects.”

 

“Oh brother, Doyle, are you in dream land? I’ll bet the sanitary commissioner didn’t show up today so he needs someone to clean out the bogs, and, of course, he thought of you.”

“Ha, ha! You’ll see; while you and Jensen study locked doors from that cruddy excuse for a bedroom lookout, I’ll, no doubt, be dining with the Minister and giving them my golden words of wisdom.”

 

A very loud snort managed to break forth from Bodie’s hooter before a massive coughing fit took over his body. Finally, Bodie calmed down as his beet red face began to return to normal.

 

“I’m glad you can control yourself, now Minnehaha ‘cause I got somethin’ important to talk to you about.”

 

“And what would that be, my good man?”

 

“What are you plannin’ to get Murph for his birthday?”

 

“I didn’t even know Murph had birthdays; I thought he had been hatched full grown from a dinosaur egg eons ago.”

 

“He bought you something on your birthday so you have to re-cip-ro-cate.”

 

“I do wish you wouldn’t use those big words. What would you suggest?”

 

“How about a year’s subscription to some magazine?”

 

“How about – ‘Leprechauns and Other Irish Anomalies’? Murph might be in it.”

 

“Now who is usin’ big words? Sides, isn’t the Smurph too large for one of the little people?”

 

“Don’t let Murph hear you say that. You know how big his ego is about various parts of his body. Okay, okay, how about we ask Anson? After all he is Murph’s partner and he is, in theory, throwing the party.”

 

Doyle looked very skeptical but couldn’t think of a better plan so he quickly took it upon himself to seek out Anson (away from Murphy’s company) to make inquiries about a possible birthday pressie to be presented on the big day.

 

As usual, Anson was easy to find since he had claimed a decrepit old stuffed chair in the restroom as his personal domain. Doyle looked around the room carefully to make sure that there was no evidence of the Murphy body so that he could interrogate Anson most rigorously. Being a blunt man, Doyle got right to the point with the golden words, “Seeing as how Murph has a lackluster love life, how many French letters does he need?”

 

Anson stared at the ex-copper for a moment and then said, with some sarcasm, “I see Bodie’s been teaching you alliteration again.”

 

Now it was Doyle’s turn to stare because frankly he hadn’t even known that Anson knew such words as alliteration, but then he took control of himself and repeated, “Well, how many does he need?”

 

“I see you’ve heard about the break-up?”

 

“What????? He and the sexy Sheila have called it a day?”

 

“SHE called it a day after Murph had to skip a date for the fifth time. She gave him the heave-ho so I’m not sure that he will need French letters for a while, but I do have another suggestion.”

 

Doyle’s wariness immediately showed on his face as he asked hesitantly, “And what would that be?”

 

“You and Bodie pay up what you owe me for the party, and I’ll clue you in on a major hint for what you can get Murph.”

 

“I can pay my share, but Bodie-the-Moocher is going to have to come up with his own money.”

 

“Well, I’m sure not going to tell just you ‘cause you and Bodie will take advantage of me generous nature and try to get out of payin’ the rest.”

 

The snort that Doyle let out sounded like a herd of elephants running through the halls of CI5. The snort so irritated his throat that it took him a moment to clear it. Then he gasped, “YOU, with a generous nature - - ha!”

 

Fortunately, at that moment, the delinquent debtor entered the restroom and with his usual perception, realized that he was being denigrated. “What’s this then about me, the agent that has it all and is envied by thousands, if not millions?”

 

Both Doyle and Anson screwed their faces up with a disbelieving look, but Doyle remained silent while Anson took the offensive, “Yeah, you’ve got it all, all right ‘cause you haven’t paid me for the last three parties I’ve put on, nor Cowley’s group present from the last two Christmas.”

 

Bodie put on a totally innocent face and asked, “Who me?”

 

Both Anson and Doyle continued to stare at the inveterate moocher until Bodie finally dug into his billfold and pulled out a hefty sum. “You realize that I won’t have nothin’ to eat for the rest of the month?”

 

Anson took the money and carefully counted it, “You’re short 15 quid so I’ll put this on your account. Don’t try to make me feel sorry for you, either ‘cause I know you mooch your food off dumb Doyle here, who feeds you practically every night.”

 

Doyle suddenly sat up straight and looked belligerently into Anson’s face, “Whatta ya mean by dumb?”

 

“Well, you’re dumb enough to keep invitin’ the Moocher of Liverpool, London and all points around the globe so what does that make you?”

 

By now, Bodie was upset about being talked about in such a way and right in front of him so he broke up the mutual destruction conversation by asking, “Well, what did you tell Doyle that we could buy Murph for the big day?”

 

“I was just getting to that. I know that Murph wants this ‘cause he’s asked me about it several times. He said it was really hard to find, but he could get one.”

 

“And what would that be, oh swami?”

 

Anson sat up very straight (which wasn’t easy in the run-down chair he was sitting in) and smirked in the other two agents’ faces, “He wants Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony!!!!!!”

 

Bodie looked totally nonplussed as he asked, “He what?”

 

“Don’t you listen? He’s told me many times that it’s very expensive, and he would like money for Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony.”

 

Bodie’s handsome face was totally bewildered as he asked, “Are you sure; I didn’t know that Murph was interested in that kind of music at all.”

 

Neither Anson nor Bodie noticed that Doyle had remained absolutely silent, but if they had used their observation skills to carefully peruse the slender man they would have also noticed a gleam in his eyes and a knowing look on his face.

 

“Well, how much does something like that cost?”

 

“I figure it must be a bundle ‘cause I gave him 50 quid and he said that he needed a lot more.”

 

“Well, I’m cleaned out so if we’re going to do something like that, Doyle’s going to have to pick up the change.”

 

At that moment, Doyle stood up and said with sincerity oozing out of his mouth, “Thanks so much for the hint, Anson. Bodie and I will talk it over and let you know.”

 

“Okay, guys, but remember the Smurph’s birthday is less than five days away.”

 

As the two agents walked out of the restroom, Bodie could tell that Doyle was enjoying himself immensely. Finally, he became suspicious of the whole thing and said, “Okay, okay, tell me what’s so funny.”

 

“Bodie, you are an ignoramus - - Beethoven only wrote NINE SYMPHONIES!!!”

 

“Whatta ya mean, how could Murph want his Tenth Symphony then?”

 

“He couldn’t, but our Murph does love the horsies running the track, and I happen to know that Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony is running in a race right after Murph’s birthday. So what do you think he wants the money for?”

 

Bodie grinned at the ingenious plot that had been hatched by Murphy and then laughed out loud. “That Murph - - a man among men, but how do you know about this pony?”

 

“I have good friends who keep me apprised of the potential on the track. I don’t plan to be a poor, humble, government agent all me life, you know.”

 

The two agents continued to walk down the corridor as Bodie asked, “By the way, where is this little extravaganza being held?”

 

“At the usual brothel, . . . er pub, The Crow and The Fly.”

 

“Oh yummy, I can’t imagine Anson going in there to make the deal for the party.”

 

Doyle looked at his partner as if he had lost his mind, “Why shouldn’t Anson go in there?”

 

“Well, after all, crows and flies both like carrion and when Anson smokes those stinky cigars, he’s just one small step from being embalmed.”

 

Both agents broke out in laughter that became so painful that they had to bend over to avoid their stomachs crippling them with the pain. Almost gasping for breath, they headed towards the exit to the building when the five Doyle chicks suddenly appeared. Fresh from a confrontation with Jack Crane, they looked clean and fresh after showers and the rejuvenation of the antics that Crane put them through.

 

Jenkins, who was the oldest and most responsible of the chicks promptly said to Doyle, “We’re ready for you, sir.”

 

Doyle cringed as he heard the “sir”, and vowed he’d teach those smart alecks a thing or two, but before he could get anything out, Nolan, another chick, said to Bodie, “How does it feel to chauffeur the Controller around, Mr. Bodie?”

 

Bodie looked dumbfounded since he hadn’t had that chore for several months, in fact, well before the chicks had arrived. “Well, I haven’t had that privilege recently, but you have to be on your toes all the time because the Cow . . . Mr. Cowley notices everything.”

 

“Well, are you going to meet anybody important next Tuesday? I’ll bet Mr. Cowley never goes anywhere that he doesn’t meet important people.”

 

“What you nattering about? I don’t have to drive Cowley next Tuesday; I checked me schedule.”

 

Jackson, the youngest of the chicks with a scrubbed face that almost shone replied, “Oh yes you do Mr. Bodie, an agent had to have an emergency appendectomy, and you’re his replacement. Mr. Crane told us so.”

 

“Crane . . . Crane told you so? How would he know?”

 

“Well, it seems the agent was on a refresher course with Mr. Crane, and he suddenly came down with appendicitis and Mr. Cowley was there and . . . well, I guess your name got mentioned or something.”

 

Suddenly, Bodie’s face turned beet red as he turned to run back up the stairs towards the assignments’ board, roaring at the top of his lungs, “I’LL KILL HIM! I’LL KILL HIM!”

 

Bodie’s partner and the chicks continued to stand watching the maniac do the two minute mile for several seconds before Doyle said in a non-committal voice, “Guess we better get started. I don’t think we’ll hear from 3.7 in the near future.”

 

Needless to say, Bodie and Doyle did not contribute to the Beethoven fund and since Bodie would not be appearing at the party until later in the evening when Cowley made his formal appearance, Doyle was given the task of finding something for Murphy. Most of the gifts given to the birthday boy or girl of the day were gag gifts of a faintly (sometimes of the really raunchy) pornographic nature, but Doyle’s mind was a blank. Since Bodie had pegged out on supplying any money for the gift, Doyle decided to do a drawing and frame it. The only expense would be the frame and that way the Doyle finances would stay solvent even if the Bodie nest egg had gone the way of Humpty Dumpty.

 

The big day finally arrived and those agents who were not on duty managed to show up for the festivities. Murphy was a popular man so there was a crowd with a lot of pressies on display. Anson had done a good job with the decorations, but the biggest interest was, of course, the drinks that were available. Since Bodie would not be able to attend until later, Doyle felt that he had to make up for his partner’s absence.

 

Murphy was already feeling little pain. Fortunately, it had been agreed by one and all, due to previous near disastrous circumstances, that there would not be candles appropriate to Murphy’s vast age since the last party of such a nature had ended in a minor conflagration when the “birthday person” blew on the candles with his boozy breath and almost set the whole place aflame.

 

The party had been going on for a couple of hours when Doyle was informed that there was a phone message for him. Although feeling slightly woozy, Doyle could hold his drinks with the best of them so Murphy, who had managed to get his second wind in the drinks department saw Doyle getting ready to leave, he immediately asked in his usual, vibrant, efficient way, “What’s ya goin’, D’Oyley Carte?”

 

The phone call had sobered Doyle up quickly, “Smitty, my grass, just called. He’s finally got the information I’ve been wantin’ for three weeks. Gotta go, but it shouldn’t take too long. I’ll come back, if I can. You’ve got our pressie so tell Bodie what happened.” With those words, Doyle hastily departed.

 

The party continued with a few agents leaving but more coming in. Murphy being a good host promptly frisked each one of them for their pressie for himself and then tried to talk to them, but since he was holding onto the bar, while trying to talk to the double-images that were standing in front of him, his conversation lacked something to say the least.

 

Anson, trying to keep the birthday boy from visiting the land of the comatose, managed to get some coffee into the tall Irishman which helped revive him. Anson had managed to hold onto his sobriety because he knew that he was expected to drive Murphy home which really pissed him off. Anson was nattering to Murphy about their upcoming training session with Jack Crane when he noticed that he no longer had Murphy’s attention (which he really hadn’t had for a long time), but that Murphy now suddenly seemed totally focused on something at the door.

 

Anson, being totally amazed at Murphy’s ability to sober up so quickly, turned to see what he was staring at. The tall, dark haired, handsome man he saw meant nothing to him, but obviously Murphy knew him because he let out a booze-riddled breath as he said gasped, ADAM TRENT.”

 

Murphy’s heart felt like it had plummeted to his feet as he stared at the man that Doyle had introduced him to several months ago. Suddenly, Trent, who had been looking around the room, spotted Murphy and headed his way. Murphy felt paralyzed and was unable to avoid the fast approaching doom that Trent represented.

 

“Mr. Murphy, it appears that I have crashed some kind of party; I’m terribly sorry, but I was looking for Ray. I was told he might be here.”

 

Murphy’s vocal apparatus seemed frozen so Anson immediately came to the rescue with, “This here is a closed party to celebrate our Murph’s 91st. birthday so forgive him if he can’t talk. Doyle just left.”

 

Murphy managed to pull himself together and glared at Anson. Clearing his throat, Murphy said in a wavering voice, Ray left to go talk to someone. He might be back but I wouldn’t count on it. Can I help you?”

 

“No, no thanks, I’m back in town for a while, and I just wanted to see Ray and talk to him, but I’ll see him later.” Looking around the room and noticing the state of inebriation among the agents, Trent smiled and said, “I’m really sorry I broke into your party. Let me buy a round for everybody to honour you.”

 

“That’s very kind of you. You don’t have to, but it’s much appreciated.”

 

“Don’t mention it. I’m going to be around here for quite a while so I want to make a good impression on all Ray’s friends.”

 

Murphy suddenly remembered his manners and asked, “Since you’re buying the next round, won’t you join us?”

 

Trent hesitated and then said, “No thank you, it’s been a very long day. I drove down from the north today, and I just want to go home and relax. If you see Ray, will you tell him that I’m back in town and bunking down at my studio?”

 

“Of course, I will.” (Like hell I will, do you think I want to tell that to Doyle?)

 

“Well, good-bye then, and Happy Birthday.”

 

Murphy tried to smile but his face seemed paralyzed as he said, “Thanks again for the drinks.”

 

Anson and Murphy watched the artist leave the pub then Anson turned to Murphy and asked, “Who the hell was that?”

 

Murphy stared out in the space that the now-missing man had once occupied, and asked a question in a haunted voice, “Anson, do you know how to spell disaster?”

 

Anson grinned and started spelling, “d-i-s-s . . . no, d-e-s-a . . . no, d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r!” As Anson finished the word, he polished his fingers as he demonstrated how proud he was of himself for his spelling prowess.

 

“No, you dumb crud,” Murphy said as he stared at the confused Anson. Murphy’s entire face now wore an expression that actually terrified Anson; it was the face of true fear, but Anson couldn’t figure out why. He was just about ready to ask Murphy what he was so worried about when two men entered the pub. Murphy turned to stare at the two well-known men and as Murphy recognized them; his face turned an even more clammy shade of white.

 

The older man didn’t approach Murphy right away because he was shaking hands with some of his agents, but the taller, handsome younger man made a pathway right to Murphy, his deep blue eyes hard and cold. He stopped very close to Murphy’s body and asked, as if he didn’t want anyone else to hear, “Was that Trent?”

 

Murphy closed his eyes for a moment as pain shot through him. He had really hoped that Trent had left before Bodie and Cowley had approached the building, but no such luck. What could he do but tell the truth? “Yeah, he was here looking for Ray.”

 

Bodie said nothing, but Murphy who knew the ex-merc well could see the trapped rage dwelling within the man’s lethal body. Murphy hoped he could defuse the situation by saying something innocuous, “Maybe he’s just here to sell a painting,” but it didn’t work. Bodie turned away from Anson and Murphy since Cowley seemed to be approaching and began to prowl the crowded room.

 

After a few minutes with Cowley, who had delivered his best wishes and given Murphy a bottle of fine single malt, Bodie and Cowley had departed which left Murphy alone with Anson to continue the discussion they had been having before their arrival. Murphy took up just where the conversation had broken down. “You think you know how to spell disaster, Anson, but you don’t. It’s spelled: TRENT . . . ADAM TRENT!”

 

For several seconds, Anson stood there looking extremely confused but saying nothing, but he did know one thing: he felt as if something had just walked over his grave and the graves of everyone in the room.

 

Ray Doyle didn’t get back to the party. After talking to Smitty for an eternity, he decided to call it a day and returned to his flat. The phone was ringing as he entered. Rushing to the phone, he muttered his name and waited. Listening for a minute or two, his face turned pale but he only said one word, “Thanks.” Carefully, returning the phone to its cradle, Doyle felt lightheaded as he made his way to his sofa, lowering his head into his hands. Murphy had been concise with his message, ‘Adam Trent was back in town and Bodie had seen him.’

 

For what seemed like a lifetime, Doyle sat in his dreary, small lounge, a thousand thoughts going through his mind. He had recently seen a Star Wars movie with Bodie in which a really ugly creature named Jabba the Hutt had condemned the heroes to being devoured for a thousand years by some creature in the sand. That’s what Doyle was feeling like now. He was being consumed and there was no end to it. If Trent was back, what did he want? What was Bodie thinking? Did Doyle even want Trent back? Letting out a loud, long moan, Doyle collapsed back on the settee with his primary thought, ‘Why me?’ running through his head at the speed of light over and over again.

 

Part III: Days of Action

 

Just runnin' scared
Feelin' low
Runnin' scared
You love him so
Just runnin' scared
Afraid to lose

 

Ray Doyle did not sleep well that night. Thanks to Murphy he knew that Adam Trent was in town, but nothing else. Why was Adam back? He had thought that Adam and Dave would get back together and that would be that. Adam and he had parted as friends, so why was he back?

Although Doyle had been totally exhausted after spending several hours with the snitch, Smitty, he could not rest as his tired mind kept thinking about what might happen between himself and Trent, but even more disturbing was the knowledge that Bodie had seen Trent at the pub. Why hadn’t Bodie got in contact?

 

Finally, the very long night ended and Doyle rushed to CI5 so that he could find out what was going on. Checking the assignments board Doyle found, typed in indelible condemnation, what he had been afraid to voice, he and Bodie were not partners today. Sighing, Doyle headed straight for Cowley’s office to do battle.

 

Betty was not at her desk so Doyle took advantage of the fact to brazenly knock on the door and enter without Cowley’s permission. As Doyle rushed in, Cowley was, as usual, working at his desk, but Doyle had the distinct impression that Cowley had been expecting him and was quite prepared for this confrontation.

 

“Sir, why aren’t Bodie and me working together today? WE ARE PARTNERS.” Doyle’s voice had risen slightly at those words, but Cowley didn’t seem the least bit fazed.

 

Cowley, removing his glasses, looked up at Doyle and said, “I do not have to account to you, Doyle, for agents’ assignments. Bodie is still your partner, but he has been seconded to MI5 for approximately a week. They have managed to arrest a rather big fish and need Bodie’s language skills to aid them in their . . . interrogation of the suspect.”

 

“That’s pretty lame; can’t MI5 find their own translators?”

 

“Well, it seems that it isn’t only the language but the fact that Bodie is “acquainted” with the gentleman involved. There is often reciprocity involved in inter-agency dealing as you well know, 4.5 so you shouldn’t be surprised.”

 

“I know that, sir, but Bodie and I haven’t talked since . . . Well, I didn’t get to see Bodie at the party last night and I just wondered.”

 

“I understand, Doyle, but are you sure it isn’t because Adam Trent has returned that you and Bodie have been incommunicado, shall we say?”

 

Doyle didn’t know why he should be amazed that Cowley already knew about Trent’s return, but he certainly knew who had informed him of Trent’s advent - - a big, green Irishman with the initials, CTM.

 

“I was going to tell you, sir. I haven’t seen Trent, but I assure you that you will be the first to know if there is any change in our relationship.”

 

With a faint hint of menace, Cowley quietly replied, “I better be. And now if there is nothing else, here are your orders for the day, so how about giving CI5 some of your focus, Doyle?

 

“Running all the way, sir.” Doyle turned and promptly left the Controller’s office, but as he was rushing down the corridor and trying to read at the same time, Doyle stopped right in the middle of the vast hallway as a thought suddenly popped into his mind. Running all the way was Bodie’s favourite phrase and maybe, just maybe, that phrase reflected Bodie’s philosophy of life because he certainly did ‘run all the way’ when he was faced with tough going.

 

Looking at his upcoming assignments, Doyle noticed that he had been assigned another full week with the chicks since Bodie would not be available as a partner. Originally, he had had four days left to try and get the five recruits ready for their next phase of training.

 

Doyle was reasonably sure that Jenkins, Jackson, Nolan and Phillips were going to make it, but he was thinking seriously about not recommending Burton for further training. In the past several weeks, Burton had exhibited signs of hidden cruelty. Burton had used Phillips to hide some of the things that he had done. He was too eager and would do anything to get ahead of his fellow trainees. Doyle had already called him on his behaviour several times but nothing seemed to slow down his pace “to be the best”.

 

Rounding up his clutch of chicks, Doyle took them to the shooting range where all five did well, but Burton made sure that everyone knew of his superior scores. By the time the day was over, Doyle was totally worn out. It wasn’t that the day had been so active, but the tension that Doyle felt because of Bodie’s absence played heavily on his mind. Therefore, he was ready to call it a day well before the usual time.

 

Stopping to pick up some food so that he wouldn’t have to cook, Doyle finally reached his flat well after 18 00 hours, but he really didn’t feel hungry. In fact, he didn’t feel anything because of the deep-seated fear that this time Bodie wasn’t going to understand what was going on between him and Trent, if anything was going on since he hadn’t seen the man yet.

 

With that thought in mind, Doyle entered his flat and began to store his purchases when the door buzzer sounded. Walking to the door, Doyle was amazed to see the man that so many of his thoughts had lingered on. “Adam! How’d you find me?”

 

“Thanks to your friend, Mr. Murphy. I . . . uh, looked him up and he told me that you had moved since I’d seen you last.”

 

Trust good old Murphy to fuel the flames. Although that thought quickly whisked through Doyle’s mind, he wiped it out just as fast, knowing full well that he would have had to face Trent sooner or later.

 

“Aren’t you going to invite me in?”

 

“Of course, I’m sorry I just got in from work so I forgot my manners. Can I get you something?”

 

“No thanks, I just thought I should see you as soon as I could. You’re probably wondering why I’m here?’

 

“I guess; didn’t your visit with Dave go well?”

 

A grimace crossed Adam’s handsome face as he said, “I thought we were doing pretty well, but then I found out he was seeing someone else. I guess they’re pretty serious so I decided to come back down here. I’m really glad I crashed Murphy’s party last night because Mr. Murphy told me that I had just missed you, but it was only today that I found out where you live.

 

Doyle wasn’t about to tell him about Murphy’s phone call because Trent might wonder why Doyle hadn’t made an effort to contact him at his studio. In fact, Doyle felt as if he had been robbed of all speech, that the merest wrong word might cause many more problems, but he knew that he had to say something so he came out with, “I’m sorry that you and Dave couldn’t work it out.”

 

Trent smiled tiredly, “I should have known, but I can’t blame Dave; after all, I left him for several months, but I don’t want to talk about him.”

 

Doyle knew this was where he was supposed to ask: what do you want to talk about, but he couldn’t force himself to ask so he sat there and stared at the man who had occupied his bed for several months.

 

Trent had come to know Doyle very well, and he could read the silent misery in the green eyes.
The thought that Doyle was trying to hide something from him quickly came to mind. “What is it, Ray?”

 

Doyle had always seen himself as a blunt sort of man who didn’t put off the unpleasant, but this time he knew that he was trying to avoid the fact that his feelings had changed. “Well . . .”

 

Trent smiled, “Is it Bodie?”

 

Doyle’s curls bounced as his head rose up to look at the other man. “How did you know?”

 

“I knew Bodie loved you, but I wasn’t quite sure how you felt about him. Have you two got back together?”

 

“Not exactly, but we’re working on it. We’ve managed to work together for the last several months, but there’s been no intimacy or anything.”

 

Trent stared deeply into Doyle’s beautiful eyes and whispered, “But you want there to be, don’t you?”

 

“I am in love with him. I told him that, but it didn’t seem to set off fireworks or anything. First, I thought he was a homophobe, but now I just don’t know. Maybe all he wants from me is to be back out on the streets. But, you said that he loved me; how can you be sure?”

 

I told you when I saw him with you; I knew. The way he watches you and observes everything that you do. That tells me that it is much more than you being together as working partners on the street. Talk to him, Ray and I’ll bet you find out he feels the same way you do, but he’s running scared.”

 

“He won’t be back in town for a few more days so that’ll give me time to think of what I’m going to say.”

 

“Do you always rehearse what you’re going to say when you talk to Bodie?”

 

Without really thinking, Doyle burst forth with, “Nah, Bodie’s so easy to talk to and he just lets me rattle on about anything I want.”

 

“I thought so. That’s the way to talk to him now. He’s Bodie - - don’t forget that. He’ll want to hear those words so go to it.” Trent got up and walked to the door and opened it, still staring at the gorgeous man who had never really been his. “Bodie is a very lucky man.”

 

Trent started to walk out of the partly opened door, but Doyle stopped him. The two men stared at each other, remembering all the good times that they had had together. Suddenly, Doyle threw himself into Trent’s arms and hugged him - - hard, and then he whispered into Trent’s ear, “Good-bye, old friend.”

 

Trent smiled and then quickly walked away, not even noticing the man in the shadows of the entranceway of the building as Trent made his way out of the building.

 

Doyle spent the rest of the night, sleeping little and thinking a lot. It was not the first time in eight years that he had been nervous about talking to Bodie, but this was the first time that so much pressure lay on a conversation that the two men would have. It was readily apparent to Doyle that he had always taken Bodie’s forbearance and tolerance for granted but not this time. He wasn’t sure he even knew Bodie now; what if he said the wrong thing and lost the man forever?

 

After several hours of misery, Doyle threw back the cover, showered, and dressed so that he could get to CI5 early. He, somehow, had to get Cowley’s permission to contact Bodie now and not wait for him to return from his MI5 secondment.

 

Storming into the Controller’s office, he barreled past Betty’s unoccupied desk and opened the door to the inner sanctum with barely a perfunctory knock. Cowley looked undisturbed by the intrusion; in fact, once again he almost seemed to be expecting it. With a slight hint of sarcasm, Cowley put down his glasses and said, “Your grapevine is very good, 4.5. You should really let the other enforcement services know how you do it.”

 

Doyle stopped immediately, completely dumbfounded, especially since he did not know what Cowley was talking about. Stuttering, Doyle said, “I . . . sorry, sir to have interrupted, but . . . well, sir, I need . . . could you tell me . . .”

 

“Well, Doyle, this is hardly impressive. I’ve just complimented you on your intelligence work, and then you ruin your image - - SPIT IT OUT, MAN.”

 

“Sir, I want to contact Bodie. I need to talk to him right away.”

Cowley stared for a moment, faintly frustrated, “You mean that you haven’t talked to him in a week, and you have to explain to him something that you’ve done, is that it?”

 

“Well, sort of. I know he won’t be back from secondment for a day or so, but if you contact MI5, I know they’ll let me talk to him.”

 

“You’re wrong, 4.5, he finished his assignment just last evening, of course, now that doesn’t make any difference.”

 

“I don’t understand, sir.”

 

“You mean you aren’t aware that he has requested a permanent transfer to MI5 starting at the end of the month?”

 

“Whaaaaat? He can’t do that! Why?”

 

“He said that he had enjoyed his time with MI5 and that he felt it was time to move on from here. He’s requesting my approval so that his government service pension time will roll over without any trouble.”

 

With a look of hope, Doyle practically jumped on Cowley’s desk as he asked, “Then you can turn down the transfer?”

 

“Of course, but then why would I do that? It seems that he no longer wants to be with CI5. Could it have anything to do with you?” Cowley knew that he was being unnecessarily cruel to Doyle, but he was tired of his two best agents, acting like idiots. Something had to be done to bring them to their senses.

 

“But I haven’t seen him in a week, sir!!!!”

 

“And you’ve done nothing recently that would have caused him to want to leave our happy home?” If Doyle had been in a rational frame of mind, he would have cringed with the now heavy sarcasm that Cowley was laying on, but he was more focused on the devastating words that Cowley had delivered so blithely just minutes before.

 

“Where is he now?”

 

“I am not clairvoyant, but since he is still considered to be attached to MI5 for two more days, I believe he is planning to spend some time in preparation for his move to that establishment.”

 

“I’ve got to talk to him. I would like to take today to go and see him and maybe we can get this worked out?”

 

“I BELIEVE, Doyle that you have five gentlemen who are waiting for you and your unique way of training street agents. Your duty is to them, FIRST. You can talk to Bodie on your own time, is that clear?”

 

“Yes, sir, but will you give me permission to contact him at MI5, you know how starchy they are about security?”

 

“And well they should be. Come back about 18 00 hours and I’ll have something ready for you.”

 

Doyle left the Controller’s office with his mind in turmoil. Even if he wasn’t able to see Bodie in the next two days, he would return to CI5 for the rest of the month and he knew he could talk him out of this idiocy. But what if he had already signed his contract, could he get out of that? Doyle made up his mind that he had to see Bodie before the dumb crud signed his life away, but in the meantime, he had to go babysit the chicks.

 

The five young men were waiting for Doyle to see what he expected of them today. It didn’t take long to find out. After two hours of the most aggressive, exhausting mat work in the gymnasium, all six men were ready to go home. Even Burton was subdued and ready to leave without boasting about how well he had done in the exercises. His only comment was that he needed to stop by the bank because he planned to celebrate and needed some cash.

 

Since Doyle found that he shared the same branch with Burton, he offered to walk there with him. Doyle knew he would need some money if he was going to go see Bodie and try to convince that idiot not to leave CI5. The remaining four “chicks” volunteered to go along with Doyle and Burton since they had nothing else to do.

 

Doyle felt like laughing as he remembered when he was a recruit, he always had something to do when it finally reached Friday, but he showed no reaction because he didn’t want to hurt their feelings, but he had genuinely wanted to talk to Burton about his attitude. Doyle would no longer be his teacher and perhaps his next advisor would not be so patient with his constant mouthing off.

 

When they arrived at the bank, Doyle and Burton went inside since they had business to take care of while the others decided to cross the street and get some takeaway for all of them. As they stood inside the small shop, waiting for their orders, Jenkins suddenly shouted over the laughter and loud talk, “Hey, did you hear something?”

 

Looking around Jackson said, “Hey, over there at the bank, I think something’s wrong. Phillips, you get on the R/T and call it in to HQ. Let’s get over there, but be careful. That’s Doyle and Burton in there.”

 

It was indeed Doyle and Burton, and they had really stepped into it, due to the personality of Burton, who had been raised in one of the roughest sections of London. He had always boasted that he had never backed down from anything, and, unfortunately, that concept was definitely on his mind as he entered the bank and then all hell broke out.

 

Both Doyle and Burton were standing in line waiting to get some money when two individuals walked into the bank and within seconds had guns out and had ordered everyone to lie on the floor except the bank personnel who would deliver up the money from the tills and even more important from the vault. Everyone would have stayed nervous but quiet except Burton saw his chance to impress Doyle and gain the attention of Cowley by stopping the thugs there and then.

 

Doyle, the veteran, had carefully assessed the situation and knew that these young hoodlums were nervous and trigger-happy. Fortunately, they had not searched everybody in the bank so both Doyle and Burton were still carrying their weapons, but Doyle knew that guns didn’t always mean control if there were civilians threatened and the hoodlums had firepower as well, so he decided to play it low key and try to keep everybody alive, including the thugs so they could walk out of the bank without taking any hostages or injuring anybody.

 

Unfortunately, there was no way that Doyle could relay his thoughts to Burton because every time he tried to get near to Burton or give him a brief signal, the robbers seemed to suddenly notice Doyle, so he remained where he was and then the unimaginable happened just as both criminals slightly turned away from the customers in order to get into the vault.

 

Burton decided this was the moment to intervene. Using his well-practiced reflexes Burton moved, while pulling out his gun and immediately trying to hit both thugs at the same time. It didn’t work. Doyle shouted a warning to get down, but Burton’s reflexes weren’t fast enough and he fell to the floor with a bullet in his lower body.

 

Unfortunately, Doyle’s warning also told the two men that Doyle might be someone to reckon with so they began to fire at him as well. The hostages stayed low and tried to stay out of the way, but for several minutes there was screaming and chaos. Automatic devices were set off which would bring law enforcement on the run, but since the four chicks outside had already called it in, the police took much less time to arrive, but for the moment it was Doyle against two heavily armed, trigger-happy, immature individuals.

 

The four chicks desperately wanted to enter the fight, but had been taught over and over again to not enter a place where they were unsure of what was going on. Doyle would have been very proud of his students for following policy to the letter, if he had not been in a deadly fight at the moment.

 

Suddenly, there were two loud reports which the students outside could easily identify as Doyle’s gun, and then there was silence. For several seconds, no one moved and then Jenkins carefully moved to the doorway just as Doyle staggered over to open the locked door.

 

“It’s all over, Jenkins; secure the place.” It wasn’t until Doyle slid to the ground that Jenkins noticed the large area of blood on his left side.

 

Thanks to the quick action of the students, the police and members of CI5 were on the scene within moments. The four students had already secured the bank’s interior since 4.5 was just returning to consciousness. Burton wasn’t so lucky. He was taken to hospital as soon as an ambulance had appeared with a serious injury to his leg which caused him to remain unconscious.

 

Cowley had sent out Murphy to handle the situation from the CI5 point of view. The two young thugs were in no condition to tell their side of the story with Doyle’s bullets in both of them, so both police and CI5 interviewed the customers and bank employees while they were taking statements.

 

By the time Doyle and the two criminals had been taken away, Murphy had gained a pretty good idea about what had happened from the four new recruits as well as the people in the bank. Needless to say, Burton’s actions were primary in a lot of peoples’ minds. After contacting Cowley to let him know the status of the situation, appointing agents to continue the investigation, and deciding that he needed to talk to Doyle if he was able to do so; Murphy left the crime scene and headed to hospital where everyone had been taken.

Upon arrival, he found that Cowley was already there and quickly briefed him further. Burton was not available for an interview and Doyle was in the A & E. Both criminals were under arrest and on the operating table, having the injuries that 4.5 had given them removed.

 

Finally, after what seemed an eternity the doctor informed them that the two criminals had survived their surgery and were in custody in hospital, Burton had a severely damaged leg which would probably require further surgeries, and Doyle was in the A& E being his usual charming self. Of course, that was not exactly what the doctor had said, but since Dr. Thompson had treated many CI5 agents and especially one Raymond Doyle several times, he knew his man intimately and certainly knew that a wounded Doyle could be a pain in the arse. He had been hit in the arm and it had bled profusely, but most of the blood that covered his side had been from the two wounded criminals when he had relieved them of their guns and checked to see if they were alive.

 

Murphy gave a visual sigh of relief while Cowley took the news much more calmly in appearance if not in actuality since Murphy noticed Cowley’s white knuckles as he had clinched his fists, waiting for news.

 

Cowley talked to the doctor for a few more minutes then went to the A & E to see his wounded agent. Murphy stood there alone after making sure that the two bank robbers were properly taken care of, but he quickly was distracted when a tornado hurled through the doors to the waiting area - - the fact that the tornado looked a great deal like one William Andrew Philip Bodie did not surprise Murphy at all - - where Doyle was involved Bodie had super sensitive radar which had been well-honed after the Mayli incident.

 

“What the hell happened?”

 

“How did you know about it?”

 

Bodie looked as if he were about ready to chew nails, but calmed himself enough to enunciate, “Do you think that MI5 resides in the jungles of North London? We do manage to get jungle runners every once in a while, but to tell you the truth, I read the drums. Now, how’s Doyle?”
Murphy quickly realized that he had been stupid and he was now treading on very slippery ground. “He’s getting his injured flipper fixed up in the A & E and . . . “ Murphy got no further because he had lost his audience and could now only see Bodie’s back as the steamed up agent headed towards the entrance to the A & E. Shaking his head, Murphy was really glad he wasn’t in there with Doyle and Cowley.

 

Bodie rushed through the doors of the A & E and quickly burst into Doyle’s room with the friendly greeting, “YOU IDIOT!” Spotting Cowley standing talking to the man on the gurney, Bodie quickly swallowed his adam’s apple, managing to mumble something that sounded like, “Oh, damn!”

 

Cowley looked at Bodie and then said in an extra polite voice, “I’m happy to see you, Bodie. Did MI5 give you parole?”

 

“Uh, not exactly, Sir. I got lost driving around the training area that I was supposed to be checking out and wound up here.”

 

“I see.” Those two words spoke volumes even though they were said in a very neutral voice. George Cowley knew that he would have to intervene once more in his wandering agent’s behalf. George Cowley was already using triple think. Perhaps this “wandering” that Bodie had done might be the hook to bring his agent back home, and he had just the man to get him back.

 

Both men turned to Doyle who was sitting on a gurney without a shirt on but with a massive bandage, covering his entire right shoulder area. He had clearly been given some pain medicines because that’s the only way that he would have been so quiet. Cowley took the opportunity to say, “All right, 4.5, Murphy will take you home. We’ve got your preliminary report, and we’ll finish it up tomorrow. Don’t come back until the doctor says so.”

 

As Cowley left the room, the doctor entered and recognizing Bodie turned to Doyle and said, “I don’t like the idea of releasing you now; do you have someone who can stay with you for a day or so?”

 

Doyle replied, “Murph is going to go with me.”

 

“Good, he seems to be one of the saner agents.” For some reason the doctor stopped at that point and looked directly at Bodie as if he wasn’t in on that list. Fortunately, Murphy walked in about that time and picking up on the tension in the room said, “You ready to go, Doyle. I got a hot night planned.”

 

Both Bodie and the doctor turned to Murphy, but it was the doctor who said, “I’m sorry Agent Murphy, but I was given to understand that you were going with Doyle AND STAYING with him, aren’t you?”

 

With a sickly look on his face but a twinkle in his eye, Murphy immediately replied, “Oh sure, Doc, that’s just what I had in mind.”

 

Without another word, Bodie turned and walked out the door. Doyle sat and stared at his former partner’s back and then said, “Where’s my shirt?”

 

“You’ll have to use this tunic ‘cause your shirt is not in any shape to be worn.” Within a few minutes Murphy and Doyle were in the car, heading towards Doyle’s flat.

 

Doyle was very quiet as Murphy expected, but finally Doyle whispered, “How come Bodie was there?”

 

“He heard about the gunfight at the OK Corral and wanted to make sure you were all right.”

 

“I didn’t expect that. He’s probably steamin’ ‘cause I got shot. I should have let him take me home - - ‘course he might have killed me for hurtin’ my flipper, but it would have been worth it.”

“That was some mighty fancy shootin’ 4.5. I heard you got both of those hoodlums using your left hand?”

 

“Had to, dinnit I, after gettin’ hit in the right shoulder?” Within minutes the two were at Doyle’s door. Doyle was awake, but Murphy stayed close by him since he was slightly wobbly.

 

Getting Doyle inside, Murphy escorted him to the bedroom immediately so he could go to the loo and then rest for several hours. That would give Murphy time to plan how to get two of the biggest idiots and most stubborn men in the world back together again.

 

Part IV: WHICH ONE WILL HE CHOOSE?

 

If he came back
Which one would you choose
Then all at once he was standing there
So sure of himself, his head in the air

Figuring that Doyle would be hungry when he woke up, Murphy began preparing some cheese and pickle sandwiches for himself as well as Doyle. 4.5 didn’t have much food so Murphy was contemplating going to go re-supply when an epiphany hit him. Why should he have to re-supply the Doyle household when he knew someone else who would be quite willing to do so and might even volunteer to Doyle-sit? The only trouble was how to contact him?

Fortunately, Cowley’s triple think was coming into full play as Murphy contacted CI5 and found out (discreetly, of course) where a certain hot-tempered gentleman might be lurking. The fact that Murphy was able to find out this supposedly protected information rather easily, never dawned on him, but he should have known since Cowley was the only individual that was kept informed about where all his agents were at any moment.

 

Unfortunately, Murphy’s double think didn’t work because the hot head was not available so a message had to be left that he was needed at a certain residence. Murphy sat back in Doyle’s lounge, seeing his hot night going up in smoke. He told himself that Doyle would have done it for him, but then he remembered the time that Doyle had suckered him into going into work so that he could make time with one of Murphy’s throw offs (at least, that’s what Murphy told himself to soothe his injured ego). As the handsome Irishman relaxed while partaking of Doyle’s lager and the few snacks available, Murphy savoured thinking about that incident, involving Doyle and his former bird - - talk about luck, he didn’t think he would ever find some idiot to take her off his hands. Of course, Murphy would never admit that to Doyle, but if Doyle ever slept with her and heard her snoring like a full orchestra of drums, well those were the breaks.

 

Murphy’s stroll down memory lane was continuing when suddenly he got a call on his R/T demanding that all agents immediately return to headquarters due to the threat of a bombing. What was Murphy going to do? He had to go and yet Doyle needed a sitter. Murphy was just going to call HQ to find out what to do when he got the epiphany of his life. With one phone call and very little persuasion, Murphy had the whole situation fixed up. He couldn’t wait for his substitute to show up so he checked to see if Doyle was awake so he could give him a message. Fortunately, Doyle was stirring, but he was very groggy due to the pain killers.

 

“Doyle, listen up, I got an A7 call out, but not to worry. Got someone coming; I fixed sandwiches and put ‘em in the frig so you’ll be all right. I’ll stop by later if I can.” With those words Murphy rushed out of the flat.

 

Doyle’s brain did not process all that immediately, but he knew he had to go to the loo so he got up and headed for some relief. When he left the loo, however, he got a shock and a half which helped to wake him up since the adrenalin was really flowing because, there standing in his bedroom was Adam Trent.

 

Trent could read Doyle’s confusion so he helped Doyle to return to bed and then stood nearby and explained. “Murphy called me and explained that you had been hurt so I volunteered to come over and sit with you since those were the doctor’s orders.”

 

In a troubled, sleepy voice, Doyle asked, “Thought you were going back north?”

 

“Yeah, I am, but not for a few more days. Got a gallery show being set up so I have to stick around for a few more days. Murph said he had fixed you some cheese sandwiches, but I only saw one or two in there. Are you hungry?”

 

“Not yet, maybe later.”

 

“Okay, I brought some provisions with me so I’ll try to whip-up something hot. You rest. How’s your shoulder; do you need another painkiller?”

 

“What time is it?”

 

“Around 6 00 or so. I’ll be out in the lounge or kitchen so just holler if you need me.”

 

For the next hour, Trent fiddled in the kitchen making a one dish meal which was easy to prepare. He had heard Doyle moving around in the bedroom so figured that his timing was just about right. Walking out into the lounge, Doyle was about half clothed since his shoulder was very painful, but he was up and trying to adjust to the pain in his body, but within a moment or so, he felt the need to sit down in the big overstuffed chair. Trent came out to join him, promptly handing him a large glass of water so he wouldn’t dehydrate. Suddenly, however, the door to the flat opened with a bang as both Doyle and Trent looked up in surprise as each man registered a different reaction to the individual who was standing in the door frame. Doyle sat there; slightly confused with his mouth open resembling the angelfish that he was named for. Adam Trent, however, registered first dismay and then understanding as he saw his rival, standing there looking implacable, sinister, and totally irate.

 

“Mr. Bodie, come in,” said Trent with as much dignity as he could master.

 

Bodie focused his regard on Doyle as he entered slowly as if he was x-raying the man who had been his partner for eight years. “You okay?” was all that he could get out as he continued to stare at the man who looked in pain and exhausted.

 

“I’m fine, Bodie.”

 

That reply did nothing to reassure Bodie since his Angelfish would give the same answer even if he had just done self-amputation.

 

Trent tried to enter the conversation by saying, “Murphy couldn’t contact you so he called me to come over. He knew that I would happily come over to be with Ray.”

 

Neither Doyle nor Bodie took notice of Trent’s words because they seemed to only have eyes for each other so Trent tried again, “I’ve made some supper for Ray; would you like to join us?”

 

Finally, Trent got Bodie’s attention with those words which seemed to flaunt Trent’s place in Doyle’s life, “Murphy called me quite a while ago, but I couldn’t get here until now. Thanks for covering for me.” It was quite evident that Bodie had placed a slight emphasis on the last two words, but Trent seemed to ignore them.

 

Turning to Doyle, Trent asked, “Are you ready for some food; I’ll bring it in to you.”

 

Doyle had a headache but he knew he needed food as well. He refused to be coddled so he carefully lifted himself from the settee and started walking to the kitchen. “I’ll eat in the kitchen.” As he approached the kitchen, Doyle stopped and turned, asking Bodie, “Are you coming?”

 

It wasn’t a pleasant meal, but it did make Doyle feel better. He could feel the tension between the two men, but at the moment, he just wanted to take a shower, then climb into bed and get some rest.

 

Bodie had said very little the entire meal; he had just studied Doyle. He knew the man was hurtin’, but he also knew Doyle well enough that he knew the scrawny man would never admit it, so Bodie made the decision to say something, “Ray, why don’t you go take a shower; Trent and I will clean up.”

 

Doyle stared bleary-eyed for a moment and then started to nod, but changed his mind. Standing up wobbly, Doyle headed for the loo, brushing off Trent’s attempt to help.

 

Both men listened for the water to begin before they said anything to each other. Trent said quietly, “I’m sure you must be very busy; I don’t have anything to do so I’d be happy to stay with Ray this evening.”

 

Trent could practically hear Bodie grinding his teeth as he continued, “I don’t know what happened exactly, but Ray needs someone here with him all the time for the next couple of days. I’m sure he doesn’t want to bother you. It was very kind of you to drop by.”

 

“I’ll leave if Doyle tells me to; remember Murphy called me first.”

 

“What Doyle needs right now is reliable support which I am happy to provide.”

 

“I thought you were going back north in a day or so?”

 

“I can always put that off, after all Ray comes first with me.”

 

Once again both men could hear the emphasis that Trent placed on the last two words. Bodie was just about ready to say something when they heard a loud noise. Running to the loo, Bodie and Trent found the naked body of Ray Doyle curled up on the floor. “Ray!” Trent shouted, but Bodie bent immediately over checking his friend to see if he could determine what was wrong. Just as quickly, Bodie picked up the slender man and carried him out of the loo and into the bedroom where he could be made comfortable.

 

Covering Doyle up, Bodie rang up the CI5 doctor who promised to come right away. Trent felt extremely superfluous as Bodie swiftly and efficiently performed various tasks to make Doyle more comfortable.

 

By the time that the doctor had come and gone, Doyle was cuddled down in bed in a light doze after telling everyone that he had felt slightly dizzy and then he had blacked out. The doctor made a thorough examination and then left instructions that Doyle was not to be left alone for the next 24 hours and that he was to be contacted right away if Doyle had another episode.

 

Both Trent and Bodie sat down on opposing sides of the room to watch the sleeping man without saying anything to each other, but each man could tell what the other was thinking. Through their own stubbornness both men were prepared to wait indefinitely for Doyle to recover, but Ray Doyle, ever practical and pragmatic, spoke up as he roused himself from his sleep, quickly taking in the stand-off that was going on. “Mmmm, I don’t need two sitters at the same time, could one of you make some tea and the other one help me to the loo?”

 

Now it became a matter of who would do what, but Doyle sighed as he realized that he was going to have to assign tasks. “All right, you two morons; Bodie, make the tea and Trent help me to the loo.”

 

Within moments both tasks were accomplished so Doyle reclined back against several piled up pillows, preparing to talk to his two bodyguards. The conversation, however, became extremely one-sided as both Trent and Bodie answered in one syllable words, fearing that they might say something in front of their rival which would be detrimental. Doyle tried several times, but the information he procured for his efforts was so miniscule that it wouldn’t fit into his navel. Finally, Doyle gave up and cuddled down to sleep again. Only then did both men feel safe to leave the ailing Doyle alone.

 

The atmosphere in the lounge was colder than some parts of Antarctica in winter, but both men seemed determined to hang on for the duration. Bodie spread out his body in an overstuffed chair while Trent took the sofa. It wasn’t the best situation, but, at least, both men could say that they were on duty.

 

For several hours there was only peace in the flat. Bodie slept little due to his realization that he had virtually walked out of MI5 without notifying anyone where he would be. He had been missing several hours by this time; he wouldn’t be surprised if they hadn’t called an all-out alert for a missing agent.

 

Trent, on the other hand, didn’t have to worry about being considered AWOL but he was expected at an important meeting in two days and he had had plans to work on the arrangements right up to the last second. What was he going to do? He couldn’t be in two places at the same time, and yet he was determined not to leave Doyle alone to be exposed to the persuasive charms of that big lout he called a partner.

Suddenly, the peace in the flat was broken by several loud yells from the bedroom. The voice was clearly Doyle’s. Trent fell off the sofa as he tried to get up; while Bodie slid out of the chair onto his bum before his reflexes kicked in and he was swiftly on his way to the bedroom.

 

As the two men arrived at the door of the bedroom, they could see Doyle’s slender body wrestling around, trapped in the sheet that covered him. He seemed to be frantic and terrified at whatever he was experiencing. In an extremely piercing voice, Doyle kept crying out, “No, no, not him. It’s my fault; I’m to blame. Kill me, kill me. Noooooooooo!”

 

Trent seemed totally confused by what he was hearing as he stood near to the bed. In the last several months, he had slept with Doyle many times, but the man had never acted like that. Bodie, on the other hand, had experienced several of Doyle’s nightmares when they were on obbos together, but nothing like this one. Rushing to Doyle’s side, Bodie began to talk soothingly to the terrified man.

 

“Ssshhh, Angelfish, it’s all right. You’re okay. You’re safe in your own flat. Just relax.”

 

Upon hearing Bodie’s comforting words, Doyle seemed to relax a bit, but he was still extremely groggy and the nightmare was an especially vivid one. “Bodie, is zat you?”

 

“Of course, sunshine. I’m here safe and so are you. That must have been a really bad one?”

 

“They . . . they were hurtin’ you and it was my fault. I couldn’t stand it . . . I couldn’t stand it.” Doyle leaned over and buried his face in Bodie’s strong body. “I just couldn’t stand it . . . I wanted them to kill me; I was guilty and you were bein’ hurt. I couldn’t stand it.”

 

For the next several minutes Doyle lay in Bodie’s arms, saying nothing. Trent continued to stand near the bed for a minute or so, but he began to feel as if he were seeing something that he was not meant to see. The very intimacy between the two men was deeper and more meaningful than anything that he had ever shared with Doyle. Doyle might have needed Trent’s body physically, but it was Bodie that he needed in every way that mattered. Doyle may not recognize it at the moment, but he had made his choice. Quietly, Trent backed out of the bedroom door.

 

Doyle’s right shoulder and arm were aching dreadfully, but it was his once-wounded heart that felt it was bursting with emotions he couldn’t control that now dominated him. He was in Bodie’s arms, what could he say to make this all right?

What he chose to say would have fit no other relationship that he had ever had in his life - - only with Bodie, who was the key to the lock in his life, would understand, “You AWOL or what?”

 

Bodie smiled and gently kissed the sweaty forehead and the curls that adhered to the skin, “Yeah, probably am. When I heard you got hit again, I just left. Didn’t even think about it; never done that in my life. I’ll probably end up in the stockade for the next decade, but it was worth it, just to see you.”

 

“If they try and do that, I’ll break you out and we’ll go on the lam; I know places where we can go.”

 

Bodie was totally silent for the next several seconds, savouring the essence that was Ray Doyle. Finally, pulling the man he loved closer, he whispered in Doyle’s ear, “You sure about that, Angelfish? It’s a hell of a life, being on the run, I know. Seems like I’ve been on the go all of my life, until eight years ago when I met up with the scrawniest, mean-tempered, most lovable satyr on this earth.”

 

Doyle moved his head upward just enough so that he could see Bodie’s questioning face, “I’m sure, and what do you mean that I’m scrawny? This is all muscle and every bit of me loves you.”

 

An emotion so deep that it almost hurt reflected from Bodie’s blue eyes as he stared into Doyle’s green ones. “Ray, I don’t know what’s going to happen; I just want you to be happy, and I’m not sure if you’re going to find that with me.”

 

Doyle stopped Bodie from talking by placing his lips on Bodie’s, but his passion for the man beside him was so great that the kiss was broken as he began to strip Bodie of his clothes. “Hold still, sunshine. I’m already in my birthday suit, but you’re covered up better than an Eskimo in the heart of winter.”

 

The two men tried to wrestle Bodie free of his clothes as their emotions built to fever pitch, but it wasn’t easy for Doyle, especially especially since their bodies were reacting with a passion that neither had felt before. With Bodie lying on his back, Doyle lay half on his body, kissing and sucking each nipple and then began to trace the flawless chest with his kisses until he reached the dark hair which protected Bodie’s groin. Bodie smelled so good even there. Suddenly, Bodie’s manhood loomed large in front of Doyle, who promptly tamed it by licking the dripping tip and then gorging himself in the ecstasy of the blood-filled purple cock.

 

Their hearts beating loudly, their feelings so sensitive that it was pure agony not to be joined as one, created such a need that neither man was able to control. Doyle, in the hazy moment before orgasm, had told himself to go slow because this was Bodie and he needed everything to be right, but just the feel of Bodie’s sweat-slicked skin had created such a euphoria in Doyle’s body that he didn’t even feel the pain from his wound. He had the greatest medicine in the world as Bodie’s manhood was almost ready to enter him. Nothing but nothing was going to stop this joining.

 

Simultaneous orgasms hit both men as Bodie’s entrance hit Doyle’s prostate. Collapse was the only reaction as the two men entwined themselves, breathing heavily, reluctant for the physical parting to come.

 

After a few moments, Bodie leaned over and kissed the heavenly cupid’s bow lips and asked, “You okay, Angelfish?”

 

“I feel like I’m still in orbit. I’ve never felt like that before. Thanks.”

 

“We aim to please, but this is an exclusive service. Don’t do this for just anybody.”

 

“And you better not; I’m tellin’ you right now ‘cause I don’t share you with anybody.”
Doyle stopped right there, however, because he could read a strange look in Bodie’s eyes which he knew had to be answered if they were ever to regain the trust that had been threatened recently. Taking all his courage in his hands, Doyle voiced the question that he knew might end everything for them.

 

“Guess you think I’m a hypocrite, don’t you?”

 

Bodie looked genuinely confused, “Whatta ya mean, sunshine?”

 

Doyle grimaced as he heard the slight coldness in Bodie’s voice, “Go ahead and ask it. If I want us to be so exclusive with our bodies and feelings then how come I hooked up with Trent? Isn’t that what you’re thinkin’?”

 

“I wouldn’t say that’s the only thing I’m thinkin’, but it’s got to be in my top five.”

 

“Always the silver tongue, Bodie. Over the past eight years, I’ve hooked up with numerous birds and you never went haywire over them, but you catch me with Trent, and it almost ends our partnership, how come?”

 

Bodie stood staring at Doyle for several minutes then he said, “Birds are diseases of the skin, but for you and me and others like us, men are a disease of the heart and I was scared.”

Bodie’s blunt reply shook Doyle to his core. Now he could see in Bodie’s eyes how deeply terrified the man had been and like so many people when he was scared he retaliated with anger and prejudice. “I’m sorry, mate. I fell for you about ten minutes after I met you. I know it wasn’t easy for us early on. Sometimes I didn’t think we were even going to make it through our sixth month trial period, but I’ve known I loved you for the last seven years or so, but I also waited for you to give me some encouragement that you felt the same way, but . . . well, there was nothing - - just friendship and a working relationship, so when I ran into Trent, he sort of filled the emptiness that I felt. He gave me what no woman could give me. I figured if I couldn’t have you then Trent was a person I could trust. I trust you with my life, but Trent represented safety and a comfortable feeling.”

 

“Did you ever think about speaking up and not just waiting for me to do something?”

 

“I guess I was just as scared as you were. I couldn’t risk losing your friendship and our working relationship just because of my feelings for you. I figured I’d have to keep my mouth shut if I wanted to keep you in my life. That sure seemed to be the case when you screamed all those things at me.”

 

“You’re right about me, Ray. I’ve been scared all my life, but the thought of losing you sort of unhinged me. I’ve had my share of men and women, but you’re the only one that I’ve stuck around for. When I saw you with Trent, I felt like striking out, hurting you as much as I was hurting right then. All my life I’ve lost what I thought I loved, but my love for you was never in doubt. As soon as I saw you standing there in Cowley’s office, like a bantam rooster, I wanted you, and the more I worked with you, the more I needed you. I knew I couldn’t hang around CI5 anymore, if I had to see you every day and know that you were going home to Trent’s bed at night so I asked to be seconded to MI5.”

 

Pulling the muscular body into his arms, Doyle leaned over and kissed Bodie’s nipples and then licked the aureoles around each nipple. “You really are an idiot, Bodie. I’ll bet anybody in CI5 could tell you how I felt about you. Certainly Murphy could and even Trent told me to talk to you ‘cause he realized how I felt about you.”

 

Bodie kissed Doyle’s perfect nose and then asked, “Well, if he knew how you felt then why was he here when I arrived?”

 

“Murphy had to have somebody stay with me, but you weren’t available. I guess Trent was his last resort. I’m sorry about that, and I’m really sorry you found us together. I thought I had lost you for good when you wouldn’t talk to me.”

 

“What are we going to do now? I have to report to MI5 at the end of the month.”

 

Quickly kissing the handsome man, Doyle smiled and leered at the naked body wrapped in his arms, “I’m sure that the Cow can think of something.”

 

“Are you sure he wants me back?”

 

“Of course, I sometimes suspect that he would like to have you for more than just an agent.”

 

“You’re crazy. Just cause you hunger after this body doesn’t mean that Cowley does. Me and Annie are hardly in the same class.”

 

“Oh, I don’t know. I’ll bet Cowley could probably frisk her just as well as I did you a while ago, and just look at the material I have to work with. I’ll bet Cowley isn’t as straight as we might think, but you’re mine and if he doesn’t like it, we’ll go do something else.”

 

“Like what?”

 

“Have you no imagination, man?”

 

“Looking at your body gives me all sorts of very vivid visions in my mind.” Giving Doyle another breathtaking kiss, Bodie pulled back and asked, “Did you notice me alliteration just then?”

 

“Sorry, I was noticin’ some other things.”

 

Bodie grimaced and gave Doyle a squeeze. Unfortunately he managed to get dangerously close to Doyle’s wound which caused the slender body to react with pain.

 

Bodie’s face turned ashen as he demanded, “Sorry Angelfish, I forgot you were hurtin’. Did that bastard Burton really act like Mr. Gung-Ho?”

 

“I was too busy tryin’ to stay alive, but he pulled his gun with quite a few civilians around and then all hell broke out. I really should check on how he is.”

 

“Not right now, you aren’t. You’ve had a lot more exercise than the doctor would prescribe so it’s back to bed with you, while I figure out what story I’m going to give them for my disappearing act.”

 

A look of fear entered the green eyes as Doyle whispered, “Why don’t you go see Cowley first? I’m sure that he can triple think you into a situation where you’ll come up lookin’ and smellin’ like roses.”

 

“Ray, I’ve been missing for a lot of hours, do you really think the Cow will be able to get me out of this?”

 

“Just tell him that you’re in love with the best agent in CI5, and you had to come and protect him.”

 

“That sounds a lot narcissistic, 4.5.”

 

“What an ego, you dumb crud. I MEANT that you are in love with ME!” Doyle’s beautiful eyes clouded up with concern as he continued with, “You are, aren’t you?”

 

“Is Anson an idiot?”

 

Seeing the crest-fallen beloved face, Bodie quickly took Doyle in his arms and held him. “Of course, I am. Isn’t that what I’ve been tryin’ to tell you all these hours?”

 

Suddenly, Doyle’s face turned to confusion as he began to look around the room and then asked, “Where’d Adam go? I may have been on those painkillers, but I know he was here ‘cause you and him were acting like sixteen year olds, playing who’s is biggest?”

 

“I WAS NOT! He was tryin’ to grab you and since I had already staked my claim, I was just defendin’ my man.”

 

“When did you stake your claim?”

 

“Huh?”

 

“WHEN did you stake your claim?”

 

Bodie’s eyes filled with moisture and his voice filled with hoarseness as he whispered, “When you announced in that boat yard that I would come and save you if you got in trouble.”

 

“No, that’s when I staked my claim, only you were too dumb to know it. YOU staked your claim, you moron, when you stayed the course with me all those months I was laid up with those wounds from Mayli.”

 

“Bodie looked like he was going to cry, but he stopped himself and pulled Doyle into his arms. “I’ve been runnin’ scared all my life, Ray, but when I saw you bleedin’ so bad in your flat and I realized that I had left my R/T down in the car, I think that was the second most scared I was in my life. I couldn’t stand to lose you.”

 

For the next several minutes, the two men kissed and cuddled each other, experimenting with their bodies and their emotions, but finally Doyle moved back, while putting his calloused hand up to caress Bodie’s face, he asked, “Well, if that was number two, what was number one?”

 

“You must be gettin’ senile; I just had it . . . seein’ you with Trent. I thought I had really lost you this time.”

 

“I was scared too. I kept tellin’ myself that you didn’t care, but I need you so much. When I heard you were going over to MI5, I was ready to chuck it all in, maybe even see if I could get a job with them.”

Bodie smiled, “The Cow would never let you leave, Angelfish. You’re his fair haired boy, and one day you’ll grow up and become Alpha One.”

 

“You’re nuts. It’s you he wants. ‘Course, he can forget that, ‘cause I got dibs on you for the next 50 years.”

 

“That’ll make you 88 when you throw me over for a younger man. Hmmmmm, we’ll have to see about that. It better not be Trent ‘cause I’m not playing second fiddle to him.”

 

“No, of course, it isn’t Trent; it’s a tall, handsome . . .” Doyle stopped as he heard the buzzer on his door. After throwing on a robe, he walked over to the door, as he tried to make sure it wasn’t too obvious what he and Bodie had just been doing and then he asked on the intercom, “Who is it?”

 

A familiar voice came through, “The light of your life, lover mine.”

 

Bodie’s jaw dropped open as he realized who was talking. Doyle looked like he had shrunk five foot as he realized how this whole thing sounded. He hit the button hard and announced, “Come up, you moron.”

 

Opening the door, Doyle took one look at the tall, handsome, Irishman who stood blocking the doorway and said, “I’m on the injured list; Bodie’s seconded to MI5, and you’re supposed to be on some job, so, to put it short, what are you doin’ here?”

 

“Is that anyway to talk to the man who has come to liberate Trent from his babysitting? Anson and I captured our big, bad villain so I came back to sit with my favourite agent in the whole world.”

 

Doyle’s face looked like this was getting worse and worse so he was about to say something when Murphy looked at Bodie in confusion and added another nail to Doyle’s coffin, “Hey, what are you doin’ here, Bodie. I left Trent here; I thought we could make up a threesome and . . .”

 

Bodie’s temper was totally unleashed as he demanded, “Whaaaat? A threesome, like hell you are, not with my fella, you’re not!!!!”

 

“Your fella? Oh, is that the way the biscuit crumbles? Good to know; I wonder if Trent’s free?”

“Why don’t you go and find out, Murph? I know that Trent is planning to go north for a few days, but I’m sure he’d like to be with a big hunk like you.”

 

“Thanks, Ray, that’s very generous of you. Think I will go spread my charisma around a bit, after all the poor man has been havin’ to make do with a sod like you.”

 

“Thanks, Murph. You better get goin’ before you miss him.”

 

“Okay, I will.” Murphy headed for the door then stopped and whirled around, “Oh by the way, Bodie, I was told to tell you that the Cow wants to see you. It seems that MI5 is looking for their lost and wandering agent while the whole city is on the lookout for the vicious, AWOL ex-merc who hasn’t been seen in many, many hours.”

 

Bodie’s face turned deadly white as he heard those words. In a voice that sounded as sincere as a request for chronic dysentery, Bodie murmured, “Thanks, Murph.” Turning to Doyle, Bodie said in a less than confident voice, “Guess I better get going. I don’t know when I’ll get back. Think you can manage without me?”

 

The concern in Doyle’s eyes said everything. “Of course, I can take care of me self, but don’t you want me to go with you?”

 

“I don’t need you to hold me hand, but I might need you to hold something else later. You just go back to bed and rest ‘cause you might be called upon for a lot of exercise in the near future.”
Unspoken were the words, “If I’m not in the stockade.”

 

Doyle stood staring out the window of his flat for a long time after Bodie had left. Knowing that MI5 might not take too kindly to an agent going AWOL when he wasn’t yet under full contract, Doyle was fearful that the next time he heard from Bodie was while he was on his way to gaol or some such comforting place.

 

Bodie quickly drove to CI5 Headquarters. Knocking on Cowley’s door, he heard the sharp command, “Enter!” Entering Bodie looked around and spotted the head of MI5, a man named Tully who had been with the organization for a long time, even pre-dating the time when Manton had betrayed the agency and George Cowley had been set up to look like a traitor. Nodding his head at both men, Bodie turned to Cowley and asked, “You wanted to see me, sir?”

“WE both want to see you, Bodie.”

Bodie continued to stand at attention, expecting his doom at any moment. “Yes, sir.”

 

It was obvious that an agreement had been reached between the Cowley and Tully that Cowley would be the first to speak so Bodie waited.

 

“Mr. Tully and I have been discussing your case, and your absence without permission from MI5 headquarters. Do you have any explanation?”

 

Bodie knew that the correct answer was, “No excuse, sir,” but this was also George Cowley, the only other man he had ever given his total loyalty to until he had met Ray Doyle. Bodie suspected that Cowley knew very well why Bodie had rushed away from MI5 and Cowley deserved the truth. If the truth got him banned from MI5 or even CI5, so be it.

 

“Yes, sir. I was informed that 4.5, who had been wounded earlier, needed someone to stay with him while 6.2, who had been assigned that duty, was called out on another operation. I . . . I forgot to inform anyone of my whereabouts and just left . . . sir.”

 

Cowley took off his glasses and stared at Bodie with cold eyes which spoke of extreme anger but something else that Bodie couldn’t understand. “That was several hours ago, is Doyle so gravely injured that you couldn’t find the time to communicate with MI5 about your whereabouts?”

 

“No, sir. He’s recovering, but is still in a lot of pain and well . . . I forgot my duty and didn’t think about communicating my whereabouts, sir.”

 

From the corner of the room, Tully asked quietly, “Are you always so disrespectful to authority, Agent Bodie? I seem to remember when you and your partner went out on a limb to aid someone else years ago.”

 

Bodie didn’t turn around, but everyone in the room knew that Tully was referring the attempt to undermine both CI5 and MI5 by Manton. Drake and Cowley had hatched a plot to catch the traitor, while Bodie and Doyle were used as the muscle in the plan.

 

Bodie didn’t know what to say, but he was determined to make his position clear - - nothing came before Doyle - - nothing.

 

“Doyle is very important to me. I . . . I put him first, sir.”

 

Tully stood up at that point and said, “Well, George, I’ll let you take care of the situation as we discussed.”

 

After Tully left, Cowley made a motion Bodie to sit down. The two men stared at each other for another minute and then Cowley said in a brusque voice, “As of this moment, you are relieved from any further connection with MI5. It is obvious that your allegiance is no longer with this agency or any other intelligence group. Do you understand?”

 

Even though Bodie knew it was coming, the words still hurt. If he was out of MI5, what did that mean to Bodie’s future?

 

“Yes, sir. I understand.”

 

“Do you, Bodie? Would you care to give me an explanation? How could a man with the fine record of loyalty that you have shown to this country, so cavalierly walk out of MI5, seemingly forgetting your duty?”

 

For a moment, Bodie hesitated; he had already told Cowley and Tully that he had put Doyle first, what more did the man want? Then Bodie decided to take a chance, definitely not the first time, but maybe one of the most important times and tell Cowley the absolute truth.

 

“Sir, I am not making any excuses; I’ve always had my priorities and as I’ve changed so have my priorities. I’ve moved a long way from the streets of Liverpool to where I am now; maybe not in miles but in my thinking. You’re right my loyalty was to myself for many years, then this country and you, but now it’s Doyle, and I’m not going to change that. Doyle and I are involved in a relationship, sir, and I’m not about to throw that away.”

 

For a moment Cowley sat there seemingly stunned, but that was only in appearance, he had secretly suspected something like this was going to happen, but he was amazed that it was Bodie who was sitting in front of him and admitting that he was in a sexual relationship with another agent. Doyle had always been upfront with him, but Bodie had been very discreet about his many relationships.

 

Finally, Cowley looked at his former agent and asked, “When did this happen?”

“Very recently, sir. We want to be together and if it can’t be with CI5 or MI5 then we’ll find an alternative.”

 

“Are you sure that Doyle feels the same way?”

 

“Yes, sir, I am. We have discussed this.” Here Bodie stopped because while he gave voice to his confidence, his natural instinct for insecurity registered in the back of his mind as he realized that he was asking Doyle to give up CI5 if Cowley would not accept their relationship. Ever since he had met that stubborn ex-copper, Bodie had been astonished by Doyle’s loyalty and dedication to CI5’s founding purpose. Doyle’s innate integrity and dedication were what made him what he was and now Bodie was blithely assuring Cowley that Doyle would go along with throwing away his career just so he could have sex with Bodie. Bodie had often looked in the mirror at himself, not for narcissistic purposes but to ask himself why anyone, but especially Doyle, would want to shackle himself to someone who had done the things that Bodie had done in his almost 37 years of life?

 

Cowley was a master of triple think and he could see the second of fear in Bodie’s eyes before he vocalized his assurance about Doyle’s attitude, but Cowley had also read Ray Doyle very well, and he suspected that the ex-copper would indeed go along with Bodie’s assessment, so if he wanted to keep his best team intact, Cowley knew that he would have to be very careful with his reaction.

 

“Very well, Bodie. Doyle has an appointment with the doctor in three days. I will think about this and give you my answer at that time. Be here in my office at 11 00 that day.”

 

“Yes, sir.” Bodie stood and walked out the door without looking back at Cowley, who had already returned to work, but only for the time it had taken Bodie to leave his office. The non-fraternization policy had been written many years before to confront this type of situation, but Cowley had also turned a blind eye when various agents of both sexes had got together because it was what was right for the agency, but what was right now?

 

He was prepared to take the consequences of his actions, but he had always meant Doyle to take his place when he finally retired. Could Doyle’s sexual preferences endanger the very existence of CI5 and destroy the effort that had played a large part in Cowley’s life’s work? Perhaps he had been wrong not to discuss his plans for Doyle with the man soon after he had been shot. Bodie said that Doyle agreed with him about their relationship, but could it be that Doyle wasn’t as adamant as Bodie was? Perhaps it was time to get Doyle in here and discuss the realities of life with him. Sighing, Cowley felt both the burden of command and the weight of his 60+ years push harder on him. He would have to think long and hard on this question in the next three days.

Bodie knew that Doyle would be anxious to hear the results of his meeting with Cowley, but truthfully, he was reluctant to face the curly-haired satyr at the moment. What if Cowley were right? Was he as sure about Doyle as he tried to sound in Cowley’s office? Had he put Doyle into the position where Doyle felt compelled to choose Bodie over the man who had been his lover TWICE in the past two decades? Bodie honestly didn’t know the answer to those questions. He knew how he felt about Doyle, but was Doyle’s attraction for Bodie true love or just lust?

 

Finally, after walking around Doyle’s neighbourhood for a while, Bodie went to Doyle’s flat and, for some reason, knocked on the door. Quickly he could hear footsteps approaching, but he wasn’t prepared for the figure he saw when the door opened. Standing there looking faintly smug and confident - - stood Adam Trent!

 

Bodie felt his whole life passing in front of him. He felt himself reaching for his gun then realized that he hadn’t carried a gun on a regular basis since he had become attached to MI5. The one thought that kept going through his mind was, ‘What was Trent doing in Doyle’s flat?’

 

He didn’t know what to say so he decided to back off, “Sorry, I didn’t realize that Doyle had company.”

 

Trent said nothing as if he was glad to see Bodie go, but then Bodie heard Doyle’s tired voice ask, “Adam, who is it?”

 

Trent seemed to hesitate, but finally said, “It’s Bodie.”

 

Bodie was super sensitive to everything about Doyle so when he heard the pain in his voice, saying, “Isn’t he going to come in,” Bodie pushed past Trent and entered the flat. Doyle was sitting on the sofa, looking tired and in pain but strangely elated for some reason. Bodie’s radar was in high gear as he easily detected the euphoria that Doyle was reflecting at the moment. What had Trent and Doyle been doing while Bodie had been gone?

 

The green orbs studied Bodie carefully. Knowing his man very well after eight years, Doyle could clearly see Bodie’s suspicions on his handsome face. The mere fact that, once again, Bodie seemed not to trust Doyle infuriated the ex-copper. Why did he have to always justify his actions to Bodie all the time? Is this the way it was going to be in the future?

Practically gritting his teeth, Doyle stared at Bodie with a frozen expression, “Bodie, Adam came by to give me some good news. He showed one of my drawings to an art dealer he knows, and the guy liked it well enough to offer £100 for it. Isn’t that something?”

 

Bodie’s reaction wasn’t exactly what Doyle was hoping for as he asked, “I thought he was an artist; didn’t know he was a dealer as well.”

 

With a faintly smug expression, Trent remarked, “I’M a man of many talents as Ray well knows.”

 

Doyle did not like the innuendo in Trent’s words and Bodie liked it even less, but he had no right to question Doyle at this point. If Doyle wanted to choose Trent and the life that he offered, what could Bodie do about it?

 

“I’m very sure you are, Mr. Trent.” Then to give himself time, Bodie asked, “Can I see the drawing? I thought you had brought everything here when you . . . left the studio?”

 

“I did, but this is one that I gave Adam as sort of a gift, so he had it on his wall at the gallery that he uses sometimes. Kind of lucky, wasn’t it?”

 

There was a tiny amount of hope in Doyle’s question, but Bodie’s answer deflated that hope. “Very.” The tenor of Bodie’s response and the depth of its sarcasm clearly indicated Bodie’s true feelings.

 

Bodie tore open the package and saw a drawing of an older man, holding the small hand of a little boy. Although they were only seen from the back, it was clearly a grandfather and a curly-haired tyke walking together through a park on a fall afternoon. The drawing was truly remarkable because it was like a moment caught in time and somehow Bodie knew that the drawing of the small boy was Doyle many years ago. Looking at Doyle, Bodie said, “This is really great. I thought you said you had trouble with landscape?”

 

“I do, but . . . well, this was something special. It is the only memory I have of me grandfather. I was about six at the time and he took me for a walk. It was a clear, warm autumn day and we walked hand in hand all over the park. That evening, he said he was tired and went to bed early . . . he . . . never woke up again. Me dad blamed me for keeping the old man walking for so long. I remember him screaming at me that I killed gramps. Things weren’t so good from then on.”

There was silence in the room, then suddenly, Trent cleared his throat, “Gee, I’m sorry, Ray. I knew you didn’t get along with your dad, but I didn’t realize why. If that drawing was so precious to you, why did you give it to me?”

 

Doyle dropped his head and said in a quiet whisper, “You represented the old days, Adam, and I guess that drawing represented the same thing. The good times when I was younger; I guess I just wanted to remember the two people who meant so much to me then.”

 

Bodie went cold all over. Hearing those words, Bodie finally understood that he could never be to Doyle what Trent represented. Bodie had arrived long after the good times of Doyle’s youth so Bodie could never share in those memories that Doyle held so precious. Now, Bodie knew that he could never doubt the only decision that Doyle could make. Bodie had known extreme pain many times in his life - - physical pain had perhaps been the easiest to endure, but the emotional pain he was feeling right now cut so deeply into his body that he felt that he couldn’t endure it for even another breath. Bodie mumbled something about “Got to go,” and stumbled out of the flat.

 

Bodie spent much of the next three days, lying in bed, listening to the phone ring. After the first 15 times, he took the phone off the hook. He knew the pattern on the ceiling of his flat intimately, having studied it for hours on end. He refused to think about Doyle and all that he had lost. His last brief thought of the slender Doyle was when he remembered that he had not even trusted Doyle enough to give him the key to his flat. Obviously it didn’t make any difference to Doyle since he hadn’t come pounding on his door.

In less than an hour, he had to face Cowley and hear what the Controller of CI5’s decision was regarding his future. Bodie had not asked to return to CI5 when Tully had given him the heave-ho, so why should Cowley go out on a limb for Bodie? Why had he wasted these last three days just lying here awaiting his fate when he could have been quite a few miles away from the man he loved? Even after all this, Ray Doyle still weaved his hold over him. Sighing, Bodie got up and began to get dressed to go see Cowley.

 

V. MY HEART IS BREAKING

 

My heart was breaking, which one would it be?

 

Bodie arrived at Cowley’s office, frankly not knowing what was going to happen, but he was quite prepared to offer his resignation effective immediately. He had made that decision at the time he had asked to be seconded to MI5, because, as he had told Doyle, he couldn’t stand to hang around while Doyle occupied someone else’s bed. He knew he had several options for employment and since MI5 didn’t want him, he felt that he could be quite flexible in choosing his future, even if it was one without Doyle.

 

As he approached Betty’s desk, she looked up at Bodie and said in her usual professional voice, “He’s occupied at the moment. Sit down and wait.”

 

After a few moments, Betty was notified that Bodie could go in. As Bodie entered, he realized that Cowley was not alone; the Minister was there sitting across from Cowley. Both men looked at Bodie as Cowley indicated that Bodie should sit.

 

For a moment nothing was said, but the tension was so high in the room that Bodie felt like he was caught between a rock and a very hard place. This wasn’t going to be just a DUMP BODIE AND RUN meeting - - something big was up.

 

Cowley took the lead as he threw out a little gem, “I have shared our conversation with the Minister from three days ago. I felt that he should be aware of all sides in this matter.”

 

Bodie said nothing as he waited for Cowley to drop him in it. After all George Cowley spent his entire life throwing bombshells for the good of England, why should WAP Bodie be treated any differently than the toughest, sickest criminals in the kingdom?

 

The Minister knew very well how Cowley felt about Bodie. He knew that the older man was fond of his young agent, so the Minister decided to take the heat for Cowley by broaching the government’s attitude first. “Bodie, are you aware that we are planning to groom agent 4.5 for the position of Alpha One, when Mr. Cowley retires?”

 

Bodie’s head shot up as he had his first direct encounter with triple and quadruple think. In that moment of enlightenment, Bodie could clearly see the future and knew what that simple question’s implications were for his plans to stay on at CI5.

 

“No, sir, I was not, but you could not have chosen a better man.”

 

“Good, we’re glad to hear that, but you are a very intelligent man and must realize what this promotion will mean to Doyle and to CI5?”

 

Once again, Bodie said nothing, merely nodded.

The Minister and Cowley exchanged glances and then Cowley took over the agenda once again. “You told me some very personal things about your relationship with 4.5 recently; are those revelations . . . shall we say, up-to-date?”

 

Bodie could see the yawning abyss that lay before him as he responded, “No, sir. They are not.”

 

Bodie could literally see both men take a big sigh. He would have felt amused about their reaction, if the cause hadn’t been so devastating to him.

 

“As you can surely see, Bodie, while CI5 has no explicit policy against this kind of relationship, there is still the non-fraternization policy which, when written, never took into consideration such a . . . a”

 

Bodie’s left eyebrow shot up as he muttered the word, “Dilemma, sir?”

 

Finally, George Cowley looked faintly uneasy, but he nodded his head and said, “Yes, you’re correct. It would be especially difficult for the new Controller of CI5 to deal with the situation if he were himself engaged . . . engaged in such a relationship. I’m sure you understand what I mean?”

 

“Frankly, sir, I don’t see, but since I am no longer involved in such a relationship, it doesn’t affect me at all.”

 

“Very good, Bodie. Now as to the reason that you are here; I have been considering your continued employment in government service. The Minister and I have talked about the situation, and since you are no longer working for MI5, what is your attitude towards working, in some capacity, with CI5 for the foreseeable future?”

 

Bodie had grown tired of waiting for the axe to fall; he had been sure that he would be released, but now it seemed as if he might continue with CI5, IN SOME CAPACITY, but he had had enough. “Minister, Mr. Cowley, I wish to tender my resignation from CI5 effective immediately.”

 

Both older men sat there silently, faintly stunned; neither one had expected this. Bodie was just giving up without a fight. “I’m sorry to hear that, 3.7,” as Cowley fell into the rut of calling Bodie by his code. “But, if that is the decision you have made, then I think that I speak for the Minister as well as myself in telling you that we accept your resignation.”

 

Quickly, Bodie stood up. He had noticed that Cowley had not even had to look over at the Minister to get his okay to accept the resignation, so this whole thing had been triple and quadruple-thought to death. Bodie placed his gun and card on Cowley’s desk and turned toward the door. Only when he got to the door and opened it, did he turn around and say, “I would highly recommend that you revise your policy about fraternization between personnel and civilians immediately because I don’t think Adam Trent will be as accommodating as I have been. Good-bye, GENTLEMEN.”

 

Bodie closed the door behind him and headed quickly out of Cowley’s domain. He could not know that coming down the corridor from the direction of the Infirmary was Ray Doyle, the object of all the discussion that had just taken place.

 

This time there was no waiting in Cowley’s outer office; Doyle was immediately sent into the inner office, totally unaware of what had just taken place.

 

Betty was away from her desk and missed what happened ten minutes later as Doyle’s slender body came bursting out of Cowley’s office; his face red with fury. Rushing past Murphy, who was studying the assignments’ board, Doyle failed to acknowledge or even notice Murphy’s tall, handsome figure. Murphy stood staring down the corridor in which Doyle had created a vacuum; then he turned his head to study Cowley’s door, expecting someone to exit, but no one did. A vague sense of apprehension filled the Irishman’s body. It was difficult to avoid hearing rumours in a place like CI5, and there had been numerous questions for the last several days about the Bodie/Doyle partnership.

 

If Murphy had been able to hear the ensuing conversation inside of Cowley’s office, his apprehension would have been enough to set off the largest seismometer in the British Isles.
As Doyle had rampaged out of the office, its two remaining inhabitants stared at each other; then pragmatism and reality took over rapidly as the Minister observed, “Too bad, George, he would have made an excellent Alpha 1 in a few years’ time.”

 

“Och, the lad is a fool, but I canna say that I am surprised. I have suspected where Bodie’s allegiance lay for a verra long time, but I . . . I honestly didn’t realize that Doyle would make such a thoughtless choice.” Staring at the Minister, Cowley immediately returned to his most important priority, “At least we won’t have to deal with Adam Trent and the potential for scandal which Doyle’s activities could have brought upon us.”

The Minister had known George Cowley for a very long time and thought himself invulnerable to Cowley’s pragmatism and thinking, but hearing Cowley’s words just the minute before took the Minister’s breath away. How could the government ever hope to find a replacement for Cowley and his implacability?

 

VI. CONFRONTATION

 

You turned around and walked away with me.

 

Bodie had been expecting for several days that he would have to resign, so he had had his flat prepared. The few things that he had collected over the years were packed and ready to go. Since he no longer had a CI5 car, he had made two short trips to his major bolt hole where he kept his back-up car. Most of the things he would need were already here and by adding the few things from his flat, he was ready to head north where Jim Stovall was waiting for him with a new job. Thank goodness he had planned ahead; he had even saved quite a bit of his merc money so that he could live quite comfortably while he was sorting out his life.

 

Sorting out his life - - as Bodie thought about those words he gave out a bitter laugh; how could he sort out his life when the man who had become his life would now be bedding down with Adam Trent and would bear the title of Alpha One someday?

 

Throwing the remainder of his things in the car, he looked around the storage area to see if he had left anything. He had one more place where he stored things but that was further out of town so he could easily pick that up as he drove north. Sighing, he was just about ready to get into the car when a well-known voice shouted, “OPEN UP, YOU DUMB CRUD.”

 

Bodie grimaced as he realized that somehow Doyle had found him. He couldn’t bear to face the best friend that he had ever had, but he knew that Doyle wouldn’t go away so it was better to get this over quickly.

 

Opening the locked door, Bodie backed away quickly as an obviously furious Doyle rushed into the area. Bodie stared at Doyle, who was carrying a duffel bag and a suitcase. What the hell was the moron doing here?

 

Doyle opened the offensive, however, with the biting words, “You runnin’ off again, 3.7? Just leavin’ without a good-bye? I thought we had an understanding?”

Suddenly, Bodie felt very, very tired, “If we had an understandin’, it was mostly you who had the understandin’ then; I figured you’d be workin’ close with Cowley now that you’re going to be his pro-te-gé.”

 

The sarcasm in Bodie’s question smacked Doyle in the face and made him all the madder. “Oh, is that what you assume, you arsehole. Hasn’t anyone ever told you to never assume ‘cause then you make an ass out of u and me?”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“I turned down the job.”

 

Bodie stared at him like he hadn’t heard correctly. This reaction angered Doyle even further.
“Well, are you just going to stand there, saying nothing? Doesn’t it mean anything to you that I am NOT going to be Alpha One, and I never had any intention of being Alpha One?”

 

Bodie’s deep blue eyes turned glacial as he considered the options. His words clearly showed the bitterness of his thoughts, “Why, won’t Adam let you have that much power?”

 

Bodie suddenly found himself on-the-less-than-clean storage room floor - - a gift from Doyle’s well-known left fist. Deciding to stay on the ground for a few minutes until his head stopped spinning; Bodie looked up into green eyes which were throwing lightning bolts that Zeus would have been envious of.

 

Bodie could see that Doyle was having a difficult time controlling himself and that he wanted to throw his rapier thin body on top of the scumbag who had impugned him. Wiping the blood from his lip, Bodie asked very carefully, “What’s the matter? Are you and lover boy having trouble already?”

 

“That does it, you bastard. I came here to tell you that you weren’t getting away from me. Now, it’s a damn good thing that I turned in my gun or you’d have another hole in that thick skull of yours.”

 

Now Bodie was confused, but since his ears were still ringing from Doyle’s gift, he asked a really stupid question, “You mad at me?”

Doyle stood staring, rubbing the bridge of his nose as if he had a headache, shook his head in disbelief, “Why wouldn’t I be mad at you, you dumb crud? “I tell you I love you; we have sex, you go off to see Cowley; next thing I know you’ve left CI5 and are runnin’ out on me. Why wouldn’t I be angry?”

 

“’Cause you got a brand new job waitin’ for you, and you made it very clear how you feel about Adam Trent. You said it right in front of me; he’s what represents the good memories of your past. You even gave him that drawing of your grandda. I don’t have to be hit over the head to know that was a message to me to get the hell out of your life. I hope you two will be very happy together, and I know CI5 will be in good hands with you runnin’ it someday.”

 

“Are you totally deaf as well as IQ challenged, you numbskull? Didn’t you hear me tell you that I refused the job, and the only reason that I would turn in my gun was if I had RESIGNED from CI5? I’m through spreadin’ the lavender and roses, Bodie. I told the Minister and Cowley a few home truths and walked out, and I THOUGHT you might want me to go along with you wherever you’re going. It doesn’t matter where as long as you’ll let me stay with you.”

 

Bodie continued to sit on the cold floor with his knees drawn up. His eyes were beginning to focus and he could clearly see the sincerity in the beautiful green eyes, but he figured he would be safer on the floor in case Doyle decided to slug him again after he asked the next question. Looking up at Doyle with as much dignity as a man can who’s sitting on a storage room floor with a split lip and a bruise forming on his cheek, “What about Trent, is he going along with us?”

 

“You really are a moron. Guess who brought me here tonight since I’ve given up my CI5 car?”

 

Bodie suddenly looked around as if Trent had been standing right behind him, watching all the things that had been going on. “Not Trent?”

 

“No, but you’re close. After I left Cowley’s office, I was so furious that I walked right by the Smurph, but you know our gorgeous Irish boy, he could tell that I was mad so he followed me. After I told him about quittin’, he offered to help me pack up so I could get here as fast as possible. He’s putting my other things in storage until I know where I’m going to be.”

 

Bodie, looking as confused, as a driver going the wrong way on the M1, held up his hand and asked, “Might this lowly person with the negligible IQ ask a question?”

 

“What is it?”

“Why are you relating all this muck about Murphy to me; are you trying to tell me in a not so subtle way that you’re now planning to have a fling with the Smurph?”

 

Doyle stood there stunned and silent. If Bodie had been standing at that moment, Doyle would have throttled him. Instead he began to move towards the storage room door.

 

Realizing that Doyle was at the point of leaving, Bodie used his CI5-trained reflexes to rush to Doyle’s side, grabbed his arm, and turned him around to face him. “What has Murphy got to do with Trent?”

 

Doyle smiled that glorious smile that he usually reserved only for Bodie. “You wanna know why Murphy was so anxious to drop me off and get on his way? Well, my totally clueless mate, he’s planning to have a very hot night with one Adam Trent, and he didn’t want to be wastin’ time trying to help us patch up our differences.”

 

Bodie’s reaction was everything that Doyle had been hoping for; the younger man’s jaw dropped open, while Bodie’s mouth kept quivering much like an Angelfish. It took several seconds before Bodie could make a sensible response, “You mean that Murph and Trent are gettin’ it on? Boy that Trent is really fickle.”

 

“I don’t think he sees it that way. After all, I told him that there was only one idiotic competitor in this here contest and it wasn’t him. He got the message right away, and quickly noticed the tall Irishman, who had been drooling after him for several weeks.”

 

Bodie still looked amazed and then it was like a light turning on as Bodie smiled and asked, “Does this mean that you and Trent are through?”

 

“It does unless you want us to do a foursome.”

 

Never sure when Doyle was teasing, Bodie quickly shook his head no, and took the slender, much-adored body in his arms, kissing the cupid’s bow lips and each of Doyle’s ears. “I don’t share you with anybody; you hear that Angelfish?

 

“Good, ‘cause that’s the way I want it, now it’s gettin’ late, so what’s on our agenda?”

“Throw your bags in the car. I got one more bolt hole to get to and then we’re on our way up to Jim Stovall’s place. He’s offered me a good-payin’ job and I plan to check it out, if that’s okay with you?”

 

“You got another one of these hidey holes, lover?”

 

“That sounds naughty, Doyle, but I’ve run so much in my life that I always keep a couple of emergency places to go to where I can get the essentials I might need if I have to go on the lam. Speaking of that, HOW did you know about this one?”

 

“I didn’t really, but one night I followed you here.”

 

“Whaaatttt?”

 

“How come I didn’t pick up on that?”

 

“”Cause you were dreamin’ of my beautiful body, I guess, OR, I’m a much better tracker than you are.”

 

“Oh no, don’t shove that in my face. I’ve tracked all over Africa, the Middle East, and Ireland and nobody, but nobody is a better tracker than I am so I would have picked up on a left-footed, clumsy putz like you.”

 

“Well, if that’s true then I must have been right the first time: you were distracted by your thoughts of this gorgeous body which is all yours if you want it?”

 

“You said that you had a beautiful body, the first time; now, it’s a gorgeous body, which one is it?”

 

Doyle’s smile lit up the dimly lit storage space as he whispered into Bodie’s ear, “Maybe, it’s both?”

Bodie suddenly realized what was on offer so he grabbed Doyle and hugged him, “I’ll go along with that. We’ve got quite a distance to go tonight, and I got better plans about where to shag you than in this vehicle so we better get goin’.”

An hour later, they pulled into Bodie’s other bolt hole. They quickly threw the extra ammo and weapons into the car plus supplies. Unfortunately their packing of the car was definitely not de rigeur so Doyle’s suitcase got clobbered with a sharp impact which opened it up. Doyle’s sketch pad fell out on the floor and a naked Bodie body was promptly revealed. Bodie carefully picked up the pad and began to scan through it, noticing the many and varied positions that his remarkably lifelike body had achieved in Doyle’s imagination.

 

“Doyle, get your arse over here.”

 

“What now, master?” Doyle stopped there as he realized what Bodie was holding. He had never shown those drawings to Bodie, thanking heaven that he had removed the drawing of Trent and given it to the besotted Murphy as a gift.

 

“What are these?”

 

“Well, if my drawings are that bad that you can’t recognize ‘em. Don’t you see something similar every day in the mirror?”

 

“I’ve never posed for anything like these so where’d they come from?”

 

Doyle gave his most lascivious grin, “Well, I got them from my perverted, sex maniac mind, I guess.”

 

“But, you’ve never seen me like this.”

 

“Well, I had to make do with the showers at CI5, and, of course, my very vivid imagination. Maybe I won’t have to do that so much anymore. Don’t you like them? I know you don’t like to reveal that fantastic body to just anyone, but surely your lover has the right to see . . .” Doyle stopped as he was bein’ shaken in the grip of the other man.

 

“Ray, Ray, you made me into what I’m not. You’re looking at me through rose-coloured glasses. That’s not the real me, and I’m scared that one day you might find out that you don’t like what you’ve got yourself stuck with. I am truly ugly on the inside.”

 

Doyle became very somber as he gently caressed the troubled face. “Don’t you ever say that again about the man I love! You are not ugly; an ugly man does not carry a wounded assassin to an ambulance or go after justice for a friend who was beaten to death by a bike gang. Stop judging yourself; you’re not like that anymore, if you ever were. We have Cowley to thank for that; he gave you the opportunity to be better and you did it all on your own. I couldn’t love you so much if you hated yourself, so decide Bodie, right now, are we together in this or are you going to let your past destroy our future?”

 

“When did you get so smart, sunshine? It may have been Cowley who gave me the opportunity, but it was you who were my role model. I thought I didn’t care about anything, but you made me care ‘cause after workin’ with you, I didn’t want to do anything that would turn you against me; to make you think less of me, and then I go and lose it and call you all kinds of names.”

 

“Bodie, we all make mistakes, and unfortunately, you’ve done so much more with your life that those burdens have piled up on you, but now we’ve a new future to enjoy. That’s what’s important. Just think of all the things we’ve done that have made this island smell a little bit more like roses and lavender and start from there.”

 

The two men embraced; then broke apart as Doyle turned to go finish packing the car. When he came back to the side of the car where Bodie had dropped the drawing pad, he found his lover still staring at the various drawings of himself.

 

“Come one, handsome. I knew you were narcissistic, but give us a break; I’ll do the starin’ at that body from now on.”

 

Bodie, however, continued to stare at the drawings; then he gave the man he loved his sweetest smile and said, “You told me that you didn’t draw landscape very well, but I think you did a great job on these drawings. I don’t know if Turner - - that’s JOSEPH MALLORD WILLIAM TURNER would be troubled by these drawings, but I am definitely proud of you, but I want you to promise me that I will be your one and only model from now on. How about that, is it a deal?”

 

“I think I can deal with that concept, except for one thing.”

 

Bodie’s left eyebrow shot up again as he asked with a slight bit of hesitancy, “And what would that be?”

 

“Well, in every art school that I have heard of, it is the standard policy of the school that the artist and the models cannot fraternize with each other IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM. In the Doyle School of Art, I have no intention whatsoever of obeying such a policy, so you know what that means, oh model mine?”

 

Bodie grinned one of his most licentious smiles as he said, “No, what does that mean?”

 

“Get ‘em off, Bodie!”

 

Those four words quickly became the motto of the Doyle School of Art and were used in the ensuing years most effectively.

 

The End