In The Course of Action
The heels of Doyle's shoes clicked against the floor of the CI5 corridor. They clicked at a faster and harder pace than was his usual. He was all but running the last few feet to Cowley's office. He walked right in, as the door was open to Betty's desk; this time round, Cowley had an inner office.
"He's expecting you." Betty nodded, her eyes shifted to the side telling him to go right in.
Doyle knocked anyway. He knocked hard.
He opened the door, stepped in and without preamble asked, "Where's Bodie? This is Friday, he should have returned Wednesday. We had plans."
"Are you his keeper?"
"No, but. . . "
"No." Doyle paused for just a second. "Well, yes, you are. You usually know where we all are, even off duty or when on holiday," he amended.
Cowley conceded the point with a nod.
"Do you know where your partner went?" Cowley asked, watching Doyle closely.
A sore spot and bone of contention, Doyle's expression was closed off as he stated what little he knew. "He was meeting with one of his old mates from his merc days." His tone was unable to hide his opinion of those lads.
"Yes. Well, they're not all like Krivas." Cowley fingered a single piece of paper as he continued to watch his agent. "He went to Glasgow." He barely caught the hurt expression that flitted across Doyle's face before it was instantly hidden. Cowley knew then that Doyle didn't know any more, less in fact, than he did. He'd be working blind.
"Bodie phoned five days ago. Said one of his mates had fallen in with a bad crowd and he would get details if he couldn't prevent it."
"Fallen in with a bad crowd? That could mean anything in Bodie vernacular. He has a tendency to downplay serious situations." Doyle's tone was didactic at best and scathing at its worst.
"Well aware, Doyle." Cowley's tone indicated the redundancy. "Only additional message was in yesterday's paper." He pushed the single page he'd been holding across the desk.
-Cows needed. Very expensive transport. Black George VI Bull only. TD&B-
"Cows needed. He's asking for help. TD&B. Tall, dark, and beautiful. What's the other? A code you military types recognise?" Doyle looked up from the paper.
"Something Bodie has used before. Here," he pointed to the paper. "Black George VI Bull only. Black Bull pub at six p.m. each evening, George is as soon as possible. Only is one person alone. Very expensive transport. Need to extract someone and provide some money," Cowley translated.
"Yes. But I need more than blasphemy from you, 4.5."
"Bodie's in trouble. I'll go." Doyle shot up and headed for the door.
"Sit down, lad." Cowley pushed a map across to Doyle. "Can't go in there guns blazing. Undercover. Silent. We don't know how Bodie's playing this."
"Dangerous if he's asking for help."
Cowley nodded his agreement. "I have already arranged a room in Ray Duncan's name for a week. You can add time if you need more. Leave a note in the room tea box if it must be hidden. I'll have someone check daily."
The head of CI5 opened one of the side drawers of his antique desk and took out two guns; a Luger and Walther P38. He placed them both in front of Doyle. "These are not registered with the armoury. Leave your CI5 identification behind. Use the call box outside of the rooming house. Stay in touch."
Doyle picked up the weapons. He felt their weight before he gripped both with one hand. He curled the hand close to his body while he waited for his boss to finish.
Cowley took off his glasses. He squeezed the bridge of his nose for several seconds before he slowly replaced them. He tapped the map. "We don't know what he's involved in. He's asked for aid and I will grant it, but we must proceed with all caution. Anson is on assignment up north. I'll send additional agents as well."
"Yes, sir," Doyle answered automatically, thinking that bit was obvious, but the warning in itself let him know that Cowley was worried as well. He left with the maps, guns, and note. He blew by Betty, lost in his own thoughts and concerns.
Bloody hell. Bodie's old mates seem to cause nothing but trouble each time they got together.
Doyle walked with anger. Every step conveyed the strength of said anger and it wasn't abating.
Didn't Bodie know better by now? He should have been with him.
Doyle passed the lift without hesitation and headed straight for the stairs. He wanted to slam the door and pound his way down the stairs. That action was more inviting than the speed of the lift. Slamming the door reverberated through the stairwell, and it gave him a moment's satisfaction. It didn't erase his anger, though, only seemed to feed it.
Doyle was well and truly angry.
Angry that the Cow had to be the one to tell him where his partner was. Angry that the Cow had to be the one who told him that his partner was in trouble. Angry that Bodie's old life was back for another round of trouble. Angry because Bodie reached out to Cowley instead of him. Angry that Bodie hadn't even offered him the chance to go along. Angry that Bodie didn't call him.
The squealing tyres as he accelerated out of the car park would have no one in doubt as to his emotions.
Eight Days Ago.
Bodie exited the train station briskly with duffel in hand. A steady throng of people followed. He looked out over the mass of people, checking out of habit to see if he recognised anyone. On holiday or not, he didn't want to run into anyone unprepared. He smiled to himself, happy with this bit of freedom no matter how chilly it was. The Cow couldn't just call him back. It would be perfect if Doyle were here, but the toe-rag couldn't keep his opinions of his old mates to himself, so the weekend would be easier without him.
He headed for the car hire desk. He had elected to decline Bale's invitation of a pickup. He wanted his own vehicle in case he had to depart sooner than expected. In all reality, he was never far enough away from Cowley's purview.
Bodie checked his A-Zed guide and found the pub, The Black Bull, where he was staying and meeting up with Bale. Bale was the only mate from that first mob that he cared about. It would be nice to catch up. Travel in the unfamiliar area kept his thoughts focused on the drive.
Thirty minutes later found him in the car park, and checked in. He dropped his things in the room and headed to the pub area with a spring in his step. He paid for his beer and found a table in the back with a view of the door.
Erin Bale, still looking as Irish as ever, looked older, but to be fair so was he. They had been but kids when they jumped ship in Dakar and figured they were wise enough to tackle the world. They had learned hard and fast it was worse than the Merchant Navy. Together they had survived the first posting in Africa without mishap. Bale had liked to fight and stayed with that group. Bodie had yearned for more adventure and set off for Angola.
Bodie stood to get his attention. Bale, still standing by the door, smiled and hurried to greet his old friend.
"Bale, you ol' reprobate, looking good for an adult." Bodie embraced his mate. After a couple of back slaps they stepped apart.
"You still look good, Bodie." Bale answered with a bright smile.
"Tall, dark and beautiful, that's me."
"Still modest as well." Bale laughed.
Bodie shrugged. "Some things never change." His smile was genuine. "What you drinking?"
"Lager will do." Bale sat as Bodie headed to get the lager and a refill for himself.
The weekend passed with more beer and reminiscing. It was late Sunday afternoon when Bodie discovered all wasn't as it seemed.
"'Member Carson and Dixon?" Bale asked with a hesitation that hadn't been on display since he was sixteen.
A sense of foreboding fell on Bodie's shoulders in addition to a tight feeling at the base of his neck. "Hard to forget. Carson was frightening at times. Dixon was just a bastard."
Bale grew more uncomfortable with Bodie's description. "Yeah, well, they looked me up and offered an opportunity that I couldn't pass up." His voice didn't display any joy with this happenstance.
Bodie shook his head as he read between the lines. "Did you really have a choice?" Instinct was already telling him no.
"Well, not so much. But the pay off is large and would have set me up."
"What's the job?" Bodie asked bluntly.
"Weapons movement, like we did before."
"That was in a different country and for a cause," Bodie reminded his old mate.
"I'm sure they have a cause."
Bale looked over his shoulder, searching the room.
Bodie turned and did as well, instinct again. This time it was telling him to be wary. "Why tell me this?"
Bale sighed as his shoulders slumped. "Dixon was looking to recruit another and I mentioned I was meeting up with you. They said you'd do," Bale confessed.
"Did you tell them what I do?" Bodie was more alarmed than he let on.
"NO! Well, they didn't ask. Wouldn't anyway. Knew you left that mob because of them."
"But you volunteered me anyway . . ." Bodie was waiting for the full story.
"I knew I couldn't say no. I don't want to get into real trouble . . . I've got a girl . . ." Bale's voice trailed off.
"Of course you do." Bodie sat silent and still for several moments. His thoughts were running wild, though. He put bits of information together with what he knew of his old mate and the other men from his past. None of it spoke well to what was to come. Bodie's only movement was to close his eyes. "This weekend wasn't just a reunion." Bale's downcast eyes were answer enough. "You want help? Escape? What?"
"Yes. Mostly, I want to live and these guys don't keep their partners alive long." Erin Bale checked the pub again to be sure they were alone before he could feel the relief of talking with Bodie.
Bodie sighed, all sense of freedom gone. "What time are we supposed to meet?" As Bale's gaze immediately dropped, Bodie knew he had read his old mate's body language correctly.
"And you waited until now to mention this?"
"Didn't want to spoil the weekend."
Bodie mentally rolled his eyes before he finished his beer. He stood up and tapped the table twice. "Stay here." He walked outside to the call box half way down into the next block. He left a message and location for Cowley, disappointed that he couldn't speak with him personally. He stopped at his vehicle, and turned his head casually all the while checking to see if he was still alone. He unlocked the boot and retrieved two knives. His gun was up in his room, his ID was back in London. He was grateful for that.
Bodie locked his car, took a deep breath and wished Doyle were here. He shook his head and changed his posture. He walked back into the pub and back into the past.
Doyle walked out of the airport and immediately spotted Anson leaning against a Vauxhall, smoking a cigar. Bodie wasn't far wrong when he'd said that Anson's mouth must be like an ashtray.
Anson waved him over as he pushed himself off the vehicle and moved directly to the boot. He had it open as Doyle arrived and he dropped his carryall inside.
"Cowley's got you a room at Strathduie. Murphy and Stuart will meet us there," Anson said as he opened the driver's door.
Doyle pulled open the passenger door and waited for Anson to sit before asking, "Is it close to where Bodie's staying?" Cowley had not been forthcoming, as usual. Doyle blew on his fingers and rubbed his hands together.
"Not really, but walkable – our stakeout flat is though, and Lewis is just setting that one up. The Cow pulled us off another job for this and we don't even know what this is. Well, except it has something to do with Bodie."
"Man never tells the whole story." Doyle was irritated with his boss yet again. "This time there isn't much more. One of Bodie's old mates could be in trouble and we're here to help."
"Why?" Anson asked, truly perplexed.
Incredulous, Anson repeated, "Our Bodie asked for help?"
"Yeah. For a mate. Not himself, mind." Doyle's exasperation quite evident as he added under his breath, "Even when he should have asked me, at least."
Anson parked the car in front of the lightly refurbished brick building, but Doyle checked in alone. Cowley had already paid for a week but there was still paperwork. Doyle dropped his carryall to rest against his leg as he signed his name and picked up the key. He picked up his bag and headed up the stairs. He thought of the many times he'd managed to get Bodie to be the one who carried all the luggage.
Why had he not called? He should have been the first call that Bodie made. He would have helped no matter who it was. Bodie should have realised that. Doyle was offended.
Doyle opened the door to Murphy and his gun. Murph put it away with a quick smile. Doyle kicked the door closed, placed his carryall on the bed and looked over at the table covered in maps and sandwiches. He grabbed up a cheese and Branston and munched as he studied the pathways and escape routes out of the area.
Eight days ago
Bodie watched as men from his past entered the pub. Carson was still blond but his hair was much shorter than before. He looked fitter but they all had been just kids at the time. He pushed folk aside as he made his way, just as he remembered. So, he was as mean as ever. Dixon was obviously still a rat-bastard. He walked in as if he owned the place, and didn't like anyone in it. The illusion of neatness that his close cropped hair gave was lost once the eyes picked up his thick, unruly moustache.
Bodie watched as they spotted Bale and then searched for him. He wasn't glad to see them and wouldn't pretend he was. They wouldn't expect him to anyway.
"Bodie." Carson's tone had no joy of greeting in it.
"Look what a bad wind brought in." Bodie lifted his mug in acknowledgement before taking a sip of beer.
"Could be the winds of change." Dixon sat as Carson went for drinks.
Bodie said nothing but looked expectant when all he really wanted to do was punch the guy out. Time had not softened any memories of the man.
"Bodie, Bale said you might be interested in a quick pay day. End of next week we've got a bit of the old planned. Could use another man." Carson stood behind Dixon as Dixon did the talking.
"How much are we talking about?"
"Same old Bodie, wants his money." Dixon's tone was all sneer.
"Know my priorities."
"Forty large apiece. Easy money." Carson dangled the amount in front of both men.
Bodie knew that nothing was easy and more than likely they'd end up dead. In Africa, they had to keep the team alive. Too dangerous for a two-man operation there, but here they could find lackeys for pay every day.
"It's enough to make me listen." Bodie didn't appear eager, just curious.
Dixon nodded, like he knew Bodie was in.
Carson asked, "Heard you were a civil servant."
"Yup. I stay current on Africa."
"We're well out of there," Carson said.
Dixon finished his beer. "Other places to make money."
"So you say." Doubt coloured Bodie's voice.
"You'll be on board!" Dixon all but ordered.
They parted with plans to meet midweek.
Bodie rose early the next day to take a run. He headed out. Unfamiliar with the area, he knew the run would help him learn it. He watched his breath move in the cold air as he noted as much as he could around him. One mile in he knew he had a tail. He'd seen the Citroen back at the pub and he was sure it was the same one.
So, someone was keeping tabs and that made the call box dangerous. Well, he'd wait to find out what the job was then contact Cowley again. With these blokes he was glad that Doyle was well out of it. He was too much of a looker for those bastards.
Bodie nursed his drink slowly since it was early enough and he was still alone. Carson and Dixon wouldn't actually show until food was available.
Bodie knew that while they might not be here in person, they were still watching. Paranoid much?
Bodie chuckled to himself. He wasn't sure if they were paranoid or he was.
No matter the cold, he'd been running each morning this week and every time he had felt the tail and seen the Citroen. Even Tuesday at the museum with Bale, he knew they had a tail.
When he heard the basics of the plan on Wednesday evening, Bodie knew that Cowley would be interested. Just the amount of weapons being moved into the country was daunting, let alone what their intended use was to be.
He wasn't sure Bale was going to hold it together long enough to extract him. Ten years could change one's outlook and Bale alongside himself was proof of that. The difference was Bale couldn't bluff well and he was afraid.
He knew that his old mate was worried about his girl. He got the information on Juliet Moore from him and had told him that she could be protected until Bale was picked up. He had worded the request for help in a code for Cowley. Printed clearly with the money folded inside, he had been able to drop it off in the time it would take to buy an out- of- country paper. His tail never entered the building.
Now, he sat hoping his boss would have someone here tonight.
While Bodie knew that Cowley had many on-going operations in Scotland, he was still sure that Doyle would be the one to show up. He hadn't called to cancel their motorbiking plans and he knew that his golly was already angry.
Bodie had really been looking forward to the outing even though they spent half their lives together in CI5. He found he enjoyed spending time with his partner alone, off the job. Never had to pretend to be nice after a bad obbo. Could talk about the job without treading on the Official Secrets Act. Had someone his equal for all their activities.
Surprisingly, even after all these years, Doyle was still good company. The one person he really wanted to spend time with on and off the job. Couldn't be said for many in his life.
He was easy on the eyes, but most importantly, he trusted Doyle like no one else.
Cowley he trusted to do what was right for the job, Queen and country, even the world, but the individual agent was always expendable.
Bodie half-smiled to himself as he thought of that old Yank TV show – As always, should you or any of your agents be caught or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. . . .
The Cow was like that. But Doyle wasn't, he had his back, even when he had tried to keep him well out of his business. So, he knew it would be Doyle walking in here tonight or tomorrow night, though probably tonight.
Carson and Dixon entered the pub and changed the direction of Bodie's thoughts. He watched them check out the patrons. Some were looked at as potential danger, others as potential bed partners. Bodie knew that he would have to lay claim to Doyle immediately to protect him from Dixon. Doyle would hate that, being protected from Dixon, but that man broke people, even one-offs.
Then the two men headed directly for his table, jostling people out of the way, and joined him unasked. Bodie finished half his drink in one swallow. He sat back and smiled at them. He knew that it always unnerved them, the not knowing or being able to read what he was thinking.
Bodie had learned early in his life not to let what he was thinking or feeling show on his face. It was a lesson that had helped him more often than hindered.
His father, like Dixon, had hated it, but Bodie knew he would have caught more wrath if either had known his real thoughts.
Bodie completely cleared his thoughts as Bale joined them with a round of drinks for all.
After they had all finished eating, Carson leaned forward and said in a low voice, "We fly out on Monday. So enjoy your weekend." His tone almost conveyed that it might be their last. Bodie's neck hairs stood on end. "We're now in the room next to yours." Carson's smile was not pleasant.
Bodie sat back again and grinned at Carson. His eyes shifted automatically to the door as it opened. Doyle and Murphy walked in talking animatedly to each other.
Bodie no longer heard Carson or Dixon, his eyes were riveted on Ray Doyle. The part of himself that he had locked away since Africa openly watched Doyle with a longing that was visibly etched on his face for Dixon and Carson to recognise.
Doyle was all male, and yet fey at the same time. He walked with a grace envied by many males and females alike. It was far more than just Bodie's undercover persona that wanted to reach out and touch. His greatest fear was that if he started he might not be able to stop.
He watched as Ray Doyle picked up his beer and headed for an open table. He never looked his way, but Bodie knew that his partner was well aware of where he was.
Bodie's eyes followed his every movement. Doyle wore a new pair of painted on jeans. He found he missed the patch and hole. The green shirt he wore was the one that enhanced the colour of his eyes. He sipped his drink as he continued to stare at his partner. The longing was more than needed for the job.
Carson, Dixon, and Bale continued an aimless conversation. Nothing of importance was relayed and it didn't require any input from him so he openly watched Doyle and Murphy.
After an hour had gone by, Susan walked in and joined their table after she hugged and kissed Murphy. They talked for half an hour more before Murphy and Susan stood to say good-by. Doyle went to the counter for another beer.
Bodie sat up straight and made a motion that he wanted to stand.
"On the hunt, Bodie?" From anyone else it might have seemed like an innocent query, but from Dixon the tone was all derision.
"A rose is a rose is a rose." Bodie shrugged with a smile.
"Up to your old tricks again, Bodie?"
"You know I was never gender fussy."
"Always a looker, though." Dixon's eyes rested a moment on Doyle before he turned back to Bodie.
"Always had standards." While he faced Dixon, Bodie's smile was lascivious but as he turned to face Doyle, his eyes instantly changed, imploring his partner not to give away the game.
He joined him at the counter and ordered another beer.
"Your friends deserted you." Bodie tried for small talk. He saw that Dixon was headed to the counter even though he had a full mug of beer.
"Not really, just a quick visit as I passed through on holiday."
"Oh, where you from?" Bodie asked as he followed Doyle back to his table, leaving Dixon behind.
"What's your destination?" Bodie asked.
"Hiking in the moors."
"And you are?" Bodie held out his hand.
Taking it, Doyle replied, "Ray Duncan." He waited but nothing was forthcoming. "So what's your name?"
Doyle tilted his head to the side. "Bodie what?"
"Just Bodie. I like to create an air of mystery."
"Or got stuck with a stupid given name." Doyle smiled and Bodie was caught in the net that Doyle cast.
"Something like that." Bodie smiled. It was a genuine smile that reached his eyes.
They talked about Doyle's pretend holiday. They talked of Bodie's pretend job. Through all the conversation, he felt Dixon's eyes on him. He knew that to keep Ray safe as he could, he would have to play the poof card.
He bent close to Doyle, smiling. He whispered in his ear, "I need to pick you up and take you up to my room."
Doyle's eyes widened in surprise. He sat back with his head down so the men across the pub couldn't see his expression. He knew now which way his partner wanted to play this. Damn Bodie and his mates. But, besides being his partner, Bodie was his best mate, and he wouldn't leave him without protection, so he schooled his expression to shy acceptance.
Bodie's grateful smile was a just reward for his agreement.
"My holiday has no firm plans. I have time for some local exploration." He looked at Bodie and smiled in return.
Bodie rose from the table and without a look back ushered Doyle to the door and stairs that led to his room.
On the landing, after checking that they weren't followed Bodie said in a low voice, "I can't be sure that my room isn't bugged."
"What does that mean for the night?" He wanted Bodie to spell out exactly what he expected.
"We can talk in the bathroom with the water running so we can set up some plans. The bog should be safe from bugs, but you never know." The tone of Bodie's voice implied there was more to come. Bodie stopped at his door and turned around to face his partner. "We will need some sounds of sex. Just enough for Carson to hear, he's the one that will be listening. If you trust me, to touch you that is, we can pull it off and you can think of Claire, or George and England."
Doyle sighed, knowing what was being asked of him. "Claire over George any day!"
Bodie gave a clear nod. He turned and opened the door.
Bodie motioned Doyle inside and locked the door behind them.
"I have whiskey if you like it neat." Bodie offered.
"Neat is just fine."
Bodie poured two half glasses of George Cowley's finest. He had nicked it the last time he had been in the old man's office. He was sure it would eventually come out of his pay.
Doyle took the glass from Bodie's hand and sipped the amber liquid." Good, this."
"Only the finest."
They grinned at each other before tipping back their glass to finish off their drinks. Bodie tilted his head in the direction of the loo.
"I think we need a shower."
"Is that an offer?"
"Most definitely." Bodie led the way.
Bodie collected his sponge bag, as did Doyle. Bodie opened the door and checked that the coast was clear. They entered the facility, located directly across from the room, one at a time.
Inside the bathroom, Bodie reached over and turned on the shower, letting it run full out. He turned on the washbasin as well for good measure.
Doyle closed the door hard and addressed what annoyed him most first. "You didn't call!"
Bodie put his hands up. "They have been watching me since Sunday. Only got the one call off. Knew since that I was soloing, the old man would have the personals checked daily like we'd done before. Habit."
"Still, I'm your partner; you should have called me." Doyle understood, but still couldn't let it go.
"Fine!" Bodie said to shut him up, yet pleased at the same time that Doyle cared.
"So, what mess are you in now?" Doyle smiled to take any sting from the words.
"Erin Bale, old mate from Africa, roped me in because he's scared and doesn't want to become a criminal."
"He know what you do?"
"He thinks I'm a kind of cop." Bodie had an innocent look on his face.
"You are a kind of cop." Doyle grinned.
Bodie grinned back. "He has a bird he's worried about, Juliet Moore. He's really frightened of Carson and Dixon."
"Okay, who are we dealing with and what's the job?"
"Blond is James Carson. Mean looking bastard is Richard Dixon. Worked with them in Dakar, when I first got there. Erin Bale is the one we need to get out of here. You can take his place."
Doyle cocked his head, "Doing what?"
"Far as I can tell, moving guns and a lot of them. We pick up in Amsterdam. They haven't given me any more than that."
"Moving guns into Scotland?"
"Yup, that's as much as I've learned. They are paranoid buggers. If I asked for more they'd get suspicious. They still think of me as I was in Africa a lifetime ago."
Bodie didn't elaborate but Doyle was thinking about asking for more when Bodie changed subjects.
"I've been followed by a Citroen, never seen the driver. Licence number K00466T. How do you contact the others?"
"I have a room at the Strathduie, two streets over in Blackfriars and can leave a note there. Murph, Anson, Stuart are on stakeout nearby. Susan will be taking the film back to Cowley."
Bodie closed his eyes and stretched his head back to think. This loo, while it was nicer than many, still didn't afford much room for two men. Bodie sat on the toilet and looked up at Doyle leaning against the shower.
"If we go running in the morning, we can stop at your place, exchange messages and get you a change of clothes. But after that, this crew will be watching you and your place. We should also arrange to go to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and get Anson or Stuart to meet us there. Remember they've already seen Murphy."
"Did it hurt?"
"Did what hurt?"
"All that thinking, could have strained yourself." Doyle was openly smiling at his partner.
"You’re a funny man all of a sudden." Bodie shook his head in wonder.
"Funny guy all the time." Doyle was mock-offended by Bodie's lack of respect.
"The plans, Benny Hill?"
"Okay. Now, I'm going to take a shower for real, before the hot water is gone."
As Doyle showered, Bodie shaved. They still had to get through the second half of the evening's entertainment.
Bodie rested his hands on the side of the basin, looked at himself in the mirror, took a deep breath, and closed his eyes. He was going to have to tap into something he had hidden away for nearly a decade. And, for Ray Doyle to be the catalyst, well he was afraid it would be almost impossible to go back. He would have to tread carefully to make sure that he didn't give his own game away. Ah, but he would cherish every moment spent with his sensuous partner.
Bodie finished shaving as Doyle dried off.
Doyle dried his hair enough to stop the dripping down his back. He wrapped the dryer towel around his waist. He looked in the mirror around Bodie, trying to decide to shave, but Bodie tugged on his hand and pulled him back across the hall, into the room. Bodie pressed a finger to his own lips to remind Doyle they could no longer talk.
Bodie gently pushed him down into the plush chair and moved around to the back of the chair behind Doyle. He cupped Doyle's damp hair into a towel and delicately dried the riotous curls. The easy massage like movements were soothing and Doyle let himself enjoy every minute of the luxurious treatment.
Before Bodie moved away from his drying duty, he leaned in close to Doyle's ear and whispered, "Keep your eyes closed and trust me."
Doyle answered only with, "Hmmm."
The sound of true pleasure made Bodie smile.
Bodie side stepped around the chair and gripped Doyle's shoulders. His hands moved in circles over the ball joints and he could feel his partner relax. He started to massage the top of the shoulders and neck. When he heard the first groan, he smiled to himself. He was doing a good job. He moved to the arms and squeezed each bicep in even, circular movements, the same as he'd done to the shoulders. He slowly worked his way down each arm, but spent longer intervals on the wrists; they'd been more sensitive since the Ojuka op. He ended by tracing the tops of the palms. Doyle shivered, but didn't move his hands.
Bodie turned both hands over and knuckled the backs of each hand in methodical order from the wrists to the fingertips, again and again. He finished by squeezing each finger from base to end, like pushing out all the stress.
It was easy to see that Doyle was completely relaxed. His arms draped over the armrests, his legs open in a natural spread.
Bodie decided to continue to use massage as the way in to what needed to be done. He moved back up to Ray's chest, but hesitated for a few moments as he looked at the healed skin closely. The bullet scar was still visible even under the grown in hair. He wanted to touch it, lay his hand over the beating heart, but he resisted the urge. Instead, he used both his thumbs in half- arc sweeps across both sides of Ray's chest with enough pressure to relax, not stimulate.
His partner hadn't changed position. He had only uttered a few more groans and ahhs, so Bodie figured he really was on the right track. He was counting on his partner's hedonist view of pleasure to see him through.
As he progressed slowly down Ray's chest, he allowed himself to relish the feel of the chest hairs. He was able to card through them under the guise of massage. Ray's nipples stood erect and Bodie flicked them occasionally, as though by accident. Ray's boneless press against the chair was admission enough of his pleasure.
Bodie worked his way down in a slow but steady descending trek. He brushed up near and against the towel several times before pushing it aside. The towel, untucked by the ministrations, fell open, and with no protest from Ray, Bodie pushed it to the side out of the way.
Bodie cupped his hands around his partner's waist and as Ray arched forward, Bodie slid them behind his lower back. His fingers pushed against a knot in the lower spine and that elicited the first real loud groan. Bodie worked that area for just a bit longer before bringing his hand straight back around to brush against Ray's muscular abdomen.
A slight arch of Ray's back and half- filling of his cock made Bodie bolder. Fingers splayed wide, he cupped the entire groin region with movements more massage than erotic, and held his breath. No protest forthcoming, no eye opening to break the spell, Bodie revelled in the magnificence that was Ray.
Bodie grasped the balls that were now growing taut. He stretched and pulled them in a way that only a man knows how to do to extract the most pleasure. He rubbed them through his fingertips as he watched the half- hard cock grow to its full measure.
Bodie, never ceasing his movement, took a moment to memorise the sight of a debauched Ray Doyle open to him. Bodie let his hand move from massage to caress in that half- second before he sucked most of Ray's organ deep into his mouth and throat.
Ray's throaty growl and groan were of pleasure. Bodie had heard it before when they'd double dated and ended up at the same flat. He had never forgotten that sound and now he was the cause of it. His own pleasure soared.
Bodie knew this may be the only time he would get to create this experience, and if it was, he wanted it to be good. He alternated between sucking and pressing the smooth skin of the full hardness against his teeth and throat. He inhaled deep breaths and his nose was filled with the scent of Ray's musky odour.
Bodie was hard as a rock under his own towel, the scent and sight of Ray only fuelled his ardour. With his free hand he touched his own balls to mirror his hold on Ray.
Bodie cupped Ray's taut sac and his own and squeezed both as his throat closed in tighter around Ray's cock. Ray's hips arched, but Bodie kept him in his seat with his forehead.
Ray's throated growls changed and was warning enough that his orgasm was imminent. Bodie closed his mouth tighter, so Ray Doyle spurted his essence into Bodie's throat. He sucked with abandon and waited until Ray's last spurt and thrust before he touched his own hardness. The release was cataclysmic and his essence spurted out strong against his hand and the floor.
When Ray's cock went flaccid in his mouth, Bodie released it gently. He took a deep, long breath, as if to capture the scent in his memory before he sat back. He covered Doyle's exposed genitals with his towel. He wiped the floor of his fluids with his own towel, then Bodie stood and made his way to the loo.
Doyle remained motionless, unsure if he was even capable of moving just yet. To say he was stunned would have been a gross understatement. He couldn't recall a single experience in his life that had produced an orgasm of that intensity.
Boneless and on fire, no other way described how he felt. He had never dreamed that Bodie's fingers could create such magic. The massage would rival any professional and when the hands had changed to caressing he had already been lost in the spell those hands had created.
The only enigma for Doyle, Claire had been nowhere in his thoughts whatsoever. In fact, not a single bird had been in his thoughts. It had been all Bodie, the entire time. He realised that he must really trust his partner down to his core.
Bodie rinsed his mouth reluctantly. He foolishly wanted the remembrance but knew that the aftertaste was too tinny. He replaced the towel around his waist with a clean one and headed back to the room.
He smiled to himself. Ray was still draped in, or better yet, across the chair, no movement discernible.
He nudged Ray gently. "Come on sleepy head, into bed."
Ray got up slowly, seemingly not in complete control of his limbs, ignored the towel dropping and let Bodie guide him into bed. He turned on his side and was out before Bodie pulled the duvet up over him.
Bodie turned out the light, dropped his towel and crawled into bed. He turned on his side, far away from his partner. He wished . . . Bodie didn't let himself finish the thought. It would only lead down a dangerous path.
Morning was the same that it had always been between them when they'd shared a room. The bathroom routine went unchanged from the shower, shave, shave, shower; no awkward moments or looks. Bodie was so relieved, he was actually looked forward to evening.
Ablutions completed, they stored their gear back in the room and headed down for breakfast together. It was still quite early, and it appeared that they had the dining room to themselves. Bodie opted for the full brekkie, whereas Doyle went with fruit and cereal.
Bale and Dixon never showed but Carson appeared and sat just as they were finishing.
"Got yourself a groaner there, Bodie. Better than a screamer, I wager." His gibe loud enough that both men were sure to hear.
Bodie had to resist smashing the bloke's face in and went with a haughty tone. "Better than sleeping alone." He followed Doyle to the counter for more coffee. They moved as far away as they could. They chose a window seat and read the paper. They spent enough time to digest breakfast and let it warm up a bit before they started for their jog.
Their morning run had only two real purposes, to set a pattern and to make contact. It was more leisurely than back home.
Doyle followed Bodie's lead of the route and changed it when they needed to head to his room. He noticed the Citroen, the same as Bodie.
Doyle slowed in front of The Strathduie. He bent at the waist stretching his back and waited for Bodie to do the same. "Shame we can't throw 'em off, but that would be suspicious." Doyle pressed in close to Bodie. He looked around, then leaned in, and kissed him on the lips.
It was quick and short and Bodie stood there nonplussed.
"Figure it'd give our tail ideas about the time we spend here, give us enough time to talk," Doyle explained in a low voice with barely moving lips.
Bodie squashed his disappointment with the logical reason for the unexpected kiss. His partner was all about the job. He needed to get a grip and remember that any flirting and advances were all part of the job as well.
He followed Doyle in without a word. It was definitely warmer inside than out and Bodie peeled off his sweatshirt and threw it on the chair.
Doyle went straight to the bed and took out his R/T from his luggage first thing upon entering his room. He fingered the button. "4.5 – 6.2, home." He looked at his partner.
"6.2 – 4.5, arriving." Murph's voice floated out of the R/T.
"Now we can make some plans." Doyle took off his sweatshirt and placed it on top of Bodie's. He filled the water pot then plugged it in and flipped the on switch. He prepared cups for both of them.
Doyle handed Bodie his cup, fixed the way he took it, and they sat, waiting for the other agents. They had only indulged in one sip of tea when there came a patterned knock at the door.
"Must be the B squad." Bodie said it loud enough to heard through the door.
"Or those on the Cow's shit list." Doyle chuckled at his own funny.
Doyle opened it to Murphy and Anson.
"Could you pick a colder place?" Anson groused by way of a greeting.
Doyle turned to face Bodie and they said together, "Cow's shit list." They laughed.
Bodie looked at Anson. "Blame the Cow, he's the one that let me have the holiday. It's not one now, of course, but I bet the old man still docks me for the holiday time." Bodie pouted with the unfairness of how his boss viewed work.
"Have your friend excuse himself to the gents just after eight tomorrow evening and we'll get him away." Anson was all business before he pulled out his cigar.
Murphy finished checking the room. "Susan and I will get the girl."
"Juliet Moore. Lives here in Glasgow."
"I'll call it in to Cowley." Murph assured him.
"Know we're moving on Monday. Know we're heading to Amsterdam. Know we're moving a lot of weapons, but that's all I know." Bodie was disappointed with what he had. "Going to try to get Doyle added for the missing Bale."
"I've got an idea 'bout that. Get a picture of a wife and kid; my wife and kid. Give 'm a chance to blackmail me into working." Doyle looked at Bodie. He nodded his agreement to the idea.
"James Carson. Richard Dixon – old mates of Bodie's." Some of Doyle's opinion leaked through.
"Not mates. Never were. Worked together once over fourteen years ago. Not sure where they call home," Bodie clarified.
"Their pictures have already been sent to Cowley. You have a third man out there," Murphy disclosed.
Bodie snapped his fingers, "The bloke in the Citroen." He shook his head, unable to guess at his identity.
"Stuart got a picture of him with the two that were with you last night," Murphy assured them.
"We're going to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum on Arglye this afternoon. Doyle could call Cowley from there claiming he was talking with the wife," Bodie suggested.
"Someone will be there." Anson knew how Cowley worked.
"Figure we will be here tomorrow, but after Bale goes, they may get more paranoid even for them," Bodie said, planning ahead. "Don't know yet when we leave on Monday."
Doyle took his and Bodie's cups to the sink and washed them. He spoke over his shoulder, "Bodie says this place will be gone over so take my R/T with you. I'll take the guns with me."
Bodie raised his brows but made no comment.
While Doyle changed into fresh clothes and packed a bag with additional clothes and the weapons, Murphy showed Bodie the phoney teabags where they would leave information if the place was indeed too heavily watched.
After confirming plans, Bodie and Doyle left first, knowing that the tail would most likely follow them. On the off chance that the tail would check out the place now, Anson planned to loiter awhile.
The CI5 lads walked back to Bodie's pub and up to his room so that Bodie could don fresh clothes and Doyle stored his. He silently pointed out to Doyle that his stuff had been moved. He showed him the indicators that he always set so he could tell if things had been searched under the pretence of making room for Doyle's stuff.
They took a cab to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The drive along the River Kelvin was pleasant and took less than a half-hour. They acted the tourist for the driver, just in case.
They entered the vast museum and Bodie pointed to the arms and armour exhibit. "This is one I would enjoy."
"The Salvador Dali masterpiece ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ is here." Doyle's love of art engaged his enthusiasm.
"The nutter painted his nightmares," Bodie, art critic, stated frankly.
"I'm sure your nightmares would be just as frightening."
"Exactly my point." Bodie shuddered.
Doyle pointed to the call box and wandered that way.
Bodie saw the man that Anson had photographed and knew their tail was here. He followed Doyle.
Doyle put his coins in the payphone and punched in Cowley's direct number. It was picked up on the first ring. "Ello luv."
"Really 4.5, I didn't think we were that close," Cowley responded proving that he indeed did posses a sense of humour. "Interpol would love a chance at Bodie's ex-mates. I don't care who gets the credit. I want them stopped."
"Yes, dear. I'll probably be away longer than I planned," Doyle added just in case someone was nearby and listening.
"Keep in touch." Cowley was gone.
"Love you as well, dear." Doyle said to the dial tone.
He joined Bodie by the "Fossil Water Scorpion" in Creatures of the Past exhibit. He leaned in close to Bodie. "The Cow says Interpol wants your mates."
"They can have them. And, Doyle, they are not my friends." There may have been a smile on his face but his eyes conveyed that he wasn't joking. He stepped back from his partner.
Tail or no tail, for the rest of the afternoon, they had an enjoyable time exploring Nakht's coffin, the armoury, and the art work.
Bodie and Doyle returned to The Black Bull after the museum's closing time to find Bale drinking alone. They each got a lager and joined Bale at his table.
"Your bird is fine. Tomorrow night, just after eight, make your way into the gents." Bodie looked straight at his old mate. He watched as understanding dawned.
"Yes. Thank you." The sincerity of the two words was enough for Bodie.
Doyle pumped Bale for a few old stories. He heard a retelling of some of Bodie's tales and wondered which was closer to the truth. They didn't have much time alone, to their disappointment. Carson and Dixon joined them within the hour. Bodie and Doyle made quick work of their meal. With a lascivious grin directed at the interlopers, Bodie ushered Doyle up to their room.
Bodie signalled that he was off for a shower. Doyle knew that Dixon and Carson were downstairs eating, so he decided to search their room.
The locks were easy to pick and he was in and had the door closed in a matter of seconds. He paused by the door, listening to be sure that he was alone. He looked the room over. The room was neat, too neat. Something Bodie had showed him came to mind. How to tell if someone had searched your room. The few possessions placed very specifically, the paper sticking out from the dresser, and the odd folding of clothing. The only object out of place was a pad of paper on the nightstand. Doyle ripped off the top sheet and quietly left the way he came.
When Bodie returned from the loo Doyle had already gently rubbed the sheet with a pencil to see the lettering from the sheet that had been above this one.
Bodie recognised the name and pointed. "Hotel in Amsterdam. Probably where we're staying. Where'd you get that?"
"Did a little of the ol' B&E next door."
"I knew I kept you around for more than your looks."
Doyle fluffed his hair as though preening. Smelled himself and grimaced. "I need a shower." He grabbed his gear and headed to the loo.
He showered and shaved automatically, his thoughts preoccupied by what he knew was upcoming. Perfect word, that, upcoming. Described exactly what he was thinking about. He chuckled to himself. Bodie'd love the play on words as well.
Just thinking about what Bodie would be doing next had him half hard. And, his partner sure knew what he was doing. Doyle had worked with Bodie long enough to realise that his partner could sell whatever undercover persona he wanted. He didn't think that even the Cow realised just how good Bodie was at this type of work.
Not that he wasn't as good as Bodie, he knew he was. Better than he'd even realised, though, in how he had responded to Bodie's massage therapy. Sex was after all just sex. Sex with trust was obviously better as Bodie had proven. He wrapped a towel around his waist and with that anticipation, he headed back to the room.
Bodie was waiting for him, his own towel around his waist. He was hovering about the chair but Doyle loosened the towel and sat on the bed instead. Bodie smiled indulgently and joined him. He motioned that Doyle should lie back and he placed a dry towel under his hair.
Bodie's hands and fingers were assured and bold in their massaging this time. He moved up and down Doyle's torso with a deft, smooth, sure motion. Almost hypnotic. Bodie's thumbnails traced over his nipples several times and he felt them harden. It was surprisingly pleasant instead of being gnawed on, as some birds had done. He was hoping it would happen again. He waited, and waited and yes, again and a little harder. He made a yum sound just so Bodie would know it was okay.
Neck to belly, neck to belly, his skin was on fire. Bodie teased the skin above the towel. Doyle knew that the towel was already tented, his cock was looking forward to what it had yesterday night, and there was no use hiding it. Bodie understood. It was all part of the undercover.
Bodie finally pushed the towel aside and Doyle arched slightly in the freedom. He wasn't shy about pleasure. Bodie cupped and pulled on his balls. That felt so good. His blood was on fire. Birds never understood how to hold them, pull and squeeze. Ah, but Bodie did. Then he lost all sense of self as Bodie's mouth plunged down on his cock. His fingers knotted in the sheets and he wanted to pump his hips, get in deeper, but Bodie held him down and near tortured him into a frenzy of need. To the edge and back, again and again. Then he was gone, floating on the clouds nowhere near earth.
Doyle was hazily aware that the duvet was pulled up over him and the light went out. He was glad he trusted his partner.
Sunlight filtered into the room as dawn took over the sky. Bodie woke up plastered to Doyle's backside. His cock was practically wedged in the crackline, and his arm was draped over Doyle's side and worst of all, his hand cupped his partner's hard cock. Randy bastard. He wasn't sure whom he meant.
He felt Doyle push against his groin and fully expected to feel him pull away to increase the distance between them. But Doyle pushed into his hand and then again into his groin. Randy bastard didn't care how he got it. Instinct took over and Bodie pulled Doyle in closer and pushed harder into his backside and pulled on the erect cock in his hand. Rhythmic movement in sync, older than time, was automatic, and pressure built until fluids burst like geysers. Groans and sleepy sounds filled the room, then snuffles as the men slipped back into sleep.
Doyle was in the bathroom when Bodie woke the second time. He looked at his watch and realised that if they hurried, there was still time for breakfast. He knocked on the loo door and Doyle unlocked it. He was ignoring the dawn dalliance and hoped that his partner did as well.
Bodie shaved as Doyle finished his shower. They switched and the morning ritual went smoothly.
They caught the tailend of breakfast and sat with Bale. Carson was just leaving and he gave Bodie a smarmy smile at his exit. Bodie was sure that he was the one listening.
Bodie had watched Doyle ogle the brochure of The Burrell Collection yesterday and knew that his partner would love the art there. He felt indulgent.
"The Burrell Collection houses a unique collection of over 8,000 objects gifted to Glasgow by Sir William Burrell in 1944. It includes work by major artists including Rodin, Degas, and Cézanne,." he read aloud.
Doyle's head whipped around, eyes alight. "What about it? You taking tour services as a fall back?"
"No, just thought we could visit today as we leave tomorrow."
"Quite like that," Doyle admitted.
"Erin, you should come as well." Bodie wasn't sure that the man could maintain another day alone.
"Yeah, like that." Grateful all over again to Bodie.
The Burrell Collection was even better than expected. They took in the famous Warwick Vase, the Egyptian stone sculptures, and the Greek and Roman vases. Bodie quite liked the Roman sculptures, they reminded him of Doyle. Whereas Doyle was taken by the Roman jewellery, he could quite imagine placing them on a slave of Bodie's physique. Luristan bronzes were Bale's favourite; he was looking forward to sharing this with his girl.
Even with the knowledge that they were being followed, the day was splendid. The three men returned to The Black Bull relaxed and able to withstand the malicious teasing of Carson.
Both agents stayed in the pub, in sight of Carson and Dixon. They watched a game on a small box, none caring who was playing. Bale got more jumpy as evening drew near.
The regulars were on hand even after the game ended and kept the place noisy. Close to eight, when Dixon weaved his way to buy another drink, Bodie nodded at Bale. It was time to go.
Bale threw a grateful look at his old friend and got up and made his way to the gents.
Bodie challenged Carson to a dart game and they were waiting their turn when a pub regular burst into the main room from the loo. "That guy, Bale's just been nabbed and dragged out of here."
Bodie threw a dark look at Dixon as he jumped up from the table and dashed to the loo and out behind the pub. He heard a car engine tearing away, but nothing else. He hurried back inside. He joined Doyle in the group listening to the tale.
Bobby, who had been in a stall at the time of the nabbing, now sat on a stool, beer in hand.
"There was two of 'em; they made so much noise that I peeked over the top. I could see that they were all dressed in black, ski masks on their faces. They had Bale pushed up against the mirror, he was hardly breathing by this time. They were telling him that you can't be late with 'is payments. He tried to tell that he'd have the money this week but they didn't care. Late's late, and much too late for him. It was time to meet his maker. That's when they saw me. I thought I was dead, sure enough, I did. One of them blokes said to me, 'You follow, I kill you'. I didn't."
Dixon exclaimed, "Bloody hell."
Bodie looked over at Dixon, "You do that?"
"Hell no. Sure explains why he was so jumpy this week." Dixon shook his head.
"Now we're down a man." Carson didn't seem to care anything about the plight of Bale whatsoever.
"I'm sure it'll be easy for you to find another," Bodie commented airily.
"Think I already have." He watched Bodie closely before he looked past him to Doyle.
"Nah, Duncan's just on holiday," Bodie objected. "He's not part of that."
Bodie turned Doyle to return to the table, darts forgotten.
Dixon looked past Bodie. "Say, Duncan, you have a nice chat with your wife yesterday? You know, at the museum."
Ray Duncan paled. He turned contrite eyes immediately to Bodie, who appeared surprised by the news.
Dixon smiled, "I'm sure if you spend the rest of your holiday working with us, your wife need never know of this diversion." He spoke to Duncan, but this time he watched Bodie.
"That's blackmail." Ray Duncan's tone was both incredulous and offended.
"That's right." Dixon sat back, unrepentant.
Bodie sat silent and unmoving during the entire by play. He knew, as sure as he took breath, that Dixon had no plans to pay them, and that neither of them would live to see Ray's fictional wife. Bale had been right to drag him in. He was relieved that Bale was well out of it.
Bodie gripped Ray's hand under the table, but so Dixon could see. "It'll be okay." He showed a bit of apprehension for Dixon's sake.
"We leave tomorrow at noon," Dixon commanded.
Bodie and Doyle stood slowly, making to go to Bodie's room.
"I'll check out of my room and pick up my stuff after our run," Ray said.
"Let's run before brekkie. Who knows when we'll eat a good meal again," Bodie prattled for Dixon's benefit. Once out of ear- shot, Bodie whispered, "Bale is well out of it. Dixon plans to kill us."
"He doesn't look quite sane."
"A real nutter."
"You know interesting people."
"At least you didn't call him a mate."
They reached their door and ceased their conversation.
Bodie closed the door, pressed his ear to the hard surface, and waited. He knew that one of the mad crew would be along shortly and he wanted to hear them coming. Ten minutes later, the door next to their room opened, and Bodie knew someone was listening.
He signalled to Doyle that they had company and to begin their act.
"What have I been forced to sign on to, Bodie?"
"I think that this time we're just the labour, only some of it legal. Did it for years, nothing to it."
"If you say so. I don't like being forced to do this."
"You didn't mention a wife." Bodie began a different conversation,
"Didn't think we'd be together all that long for it to matter," the Ray Duncan persona answered realistically.
"Thought . . . well, doesn't matter what I thought now." Bodie paused to change his tone before he added, "We just enjoy this time we have." That response being the Bodie that Dixon thought he knew.
Doyle knew they were being watched or eaves-dropped on or both. Duncan wouldn't be staying again unless it was for sex so he knew what was expected.
"I think I need to apologise."
"'S okay, Ray. I understand having to hide in plain sight."
Doyle smiled at his partner. He was being graceful under fire, giving him an out. But Bodie had been able to pleasure him under scrutiny as part of the op and he could do no less for his partner.
"No, I'm sure I should apologise."
The look that Bodie associated with sensuous Doyle or hedonistic Doyle was all over his face. He held his breath and waited.
Doyle moved directly in front of Bodie to reach out and pull him closer. He started with the buttons on his shirt. He opened each button slowly, pulled the shirt from his trousers, and placed it across the back of the chair. He unbuttoned his own shirt and placed it on top of Bodie's. He undid his flies and slipped off his jeans, easier than putting on. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Bodie doing the same.
Bodie pointed him to the chair and Doyle shook his head no. He pointed that Bodie should sit on the bed. His stunned expression made Doyle all the more eager to pleasure Bodie.
Bodie sat on the bed and swung his legs over as Doyle indicated. Doyle climbed up beside him, rested his weight on his knees, and gently closed his eyes. He leaned over Bodie and did something they hadn't really done yet; kiss.
It was an experienced kiss, meant to excite and excite it did.
Bodie felt his cock fill and before he could ponder his joy, he felt Ray grasp their cocks together. Leaking fluids made both erections slick and Ray's hand glided smoothly over sensitive skin. His hands pumped their cocks together as his lips plundered Bodie's mouth.
It was all too much for Bodie, two erotic assaults from his own erotic fantasy, and he pumped hard spurts onto their chests. He was almost sure that through the fog of stimulus he had heard a groan of delight coming from his partner.
While taking deep breaths, he felt Doyle use a flannel, drop the duvet over him, and lastly felt just his pillow.
Bodie woke up plastered to Doyle's backside, again. His cock was wedged along Doyle's crack, again, and his arm was again draped over Doyle's side. His hand was also cupped around his partner's hard cock that was already leaking fluid.
This time, though, there was no fear. Doyle hadn't objected yesterday, so Bodie was going to indulge himself.
Bodie knew the pressure points to enhance the pleasure experience. He pushed and squeezed and pulled and he could feel Ray build to climax. Ray's sleepy growl of "Yeah," pushed them both over the edge. He fell back asleep without moving.
Their second waking was only an hour later. This time they popped out of bed quickly, took a leak, and donned their running clothes. They got outside without seeing anyone. It was important to get to Doyle's place, pack him up completely, leave messages, and hopefully exchange intel.
The jog was easy with so few people on the road.
"I miss our cemetery," Bodie mused as they rounded a corner.
"Because of the noise and exhaust?"
"Yeah, we were alone there, well, except for the occasional man from the Home Office." Bodie smiled.
"We're alone now." Doyle reminded him.
"Yeah, but our breath doesn't freeze into popsicles there." Bodie demonstrated. "Our tail has arrived, by the way." He motioned with his head.
"I think he knew where we were headed." Doyle slowed to a walk. They entered the building. He didn't even have the chance to take out his key, the door opened. Murphy smiled. Anson scowled.
"Too bloody early. It's cold out there."
"Poor child. Well, you'll like Amsterdam. We're most likely staying at the Westpoorweg. How's Bale?"
"Went off like clockwork. His bird is fine, same story over there. They are with Cowley today," Murphy assured the worried agent
"Stuart and I are the only ones going. We can contact Interpol if we need help, per Cowley." Anson updated.
During the information exchange Doyle packed up. "I want my guns once we get there. See what you can do." He was worried about the next part. He didn't know the location.
Murphy handed them passports so they could be tracked and he held out a few bugs for Bodie's use. "Those won't do any good until you land," Murphy cautioned.
They left within fifteen minutes of entering. Doyle checked out officially while Murph and Anson slipped out the back way. Bodie waited out front and they walked back to the Black Bull.
They showered, shaved, and Bodie packed with economy. They managed breakfast before they left England with Carson and Dixon.
Amsterdam, the city of carnal knowledge, or possibly city of anything goes. Those thoughts flitted through Bodie's mind as the plane circled in for a landing. It had been awhile since last he was here. Last time was with SAS mates, but no one special. This time they were here on bad business, but with someone special. Odd that, how life was.
A limo awaited them as they exited the terminal, for Dixon, as the name on the card indicated but they all fit. Doyle sat as far away from Carson as he could. Bodie sat between them and gave Carson dirty looks as often as he could. The chauffeur pointed out important sights before he pulled up to the hotel. They were dropped off in style. The doorman waited on them and took care of their luggage.
The hotel Westpoortweg was situated on a busy road near the water. It was also located in close proximity to the red light district. The street was as busy as any in London yet it still felt foreign. It was more than the signs and spoken language, Bodie just wasn't sure he could pinpoint the difference he felt.
Inside, Anson was sitting in the lobby, reading a paper and smoking a cigar. The ashtray closest was half full with his butts. He never even looked up when they entered the lobby. Bodie and Doyle exchanged a look between themselves that back up was near.
Their second floor room had the bare essentials, only one bed, but it was ensuite. They checked out the room and noted it had a fire escape, and a window that didn't lock.
They'd kept silent since entering, not knowing yet what bugging devices Dixon might have already had placed.
Doyle unpacked his bag in full view of whatever might be in the room, then moved into the loo. He lifted out the bag's false bottom where he had hid his guns. He motioned Bodie over and offered one to him. Bodie accepted the Sig. While keeping his back to the room, he checked the weapon to see if it was loaded. He took the proffered box of ammo his partner held out with a smile. He loaded the weapon, then handed it back to Doyle with his index finger up in a wait-one-moment gesture. He walked back to the bed to pick up his bag.
He opened the bag in front of Doyle and silently offered him an ankle holster. Doyle took one and Bodie pulled out the other. Then he, too, opened the false bottom and offered Doyle his choice of knives.
Doyle took two. He weighted them in his hand, nearly perfect. He flashed a look of respect at his partner. He had a surprising number of weapons that weren't noted in any of his files.
Bodie strapped the holster to his lower calf, very glad of the flared trousers to hide the bulge. Doyle's jeans were too tight so instead he strapped the holster inside the top of his boot. He'd know it was there but it was not uncomfortable enough to bother him.
Doyle moved back into the room and plugged in the water pot. He wanted a cup of tea.
Bodie pulled out the brochures that he'd picked up at the airport. He would have enjoyed the chance to wander the canals, eat, and drink, but he knew that Doyle would love the opportunity to see a couple of the museums here. Their short stay wouldn't afford any other chances to sightsee. With his partner's pleasure in mind, he pulled those specific brochures out.
"The Rijksmuseum possesses the largest and most important collection of classical Dutch art. The home of lots of Rembrandt, of course, his masterpiece De Nachtwacht (the Night Watch) is on display." He handed the leaflet to Doyle, then read from the other one. "The Van Gogh museum is here because he lived in Amsterdam for a short while and the museum is dedicated to his work. Ooh, like the Aardappeleters (The Potato Eaters) and Zonnebloemen (Sunflowers)."
Doyle took that leaflet that was offered. "How cultured you've become." He tilted his head. "So what's the catch?" He waited with an expectant look.
"Tonight I want to try one of the clubs on the Reguliersdwarsstraat."
"Red light district?" Doyle thought he had read that. He cocked his head at Bodie. "Did you practice that?"
Bodie grinned. "Actually, the underground culture of the love that dares not speak its name." Bodie blinked owlishly at his partner.
"Might be fun."
If their tail followed, he had a day of more culture than he was used to. They had made one additional stop at a large department store, the De Bijenkorf. There they purchased two leather jackets and some clubbing clothes.
They returned to the hotel between late afternoon and early evening. Anson was still seated in the lobby, his ashtray now full.
In their room, Doyle made another cup of tea for them so he could retrieve the note from the tea box. He walked into the loo and turned on the water, and read the note. He motioned Bodie over. Once in, he closed the door.
"Anson says that the room has both audio and video surveillance. Loo is clear. Also said that Dixon is planning a meet at eightish."
Bodie nodded. "I've got an idea."
They placed their own note in the tea box explaining what they were planning and what they needed. They kissed for the camera. Bodie nearly lost himself and wanted to remain, but Doyle gave him an earthy chuckle and pushed him out the door. They headed downstairs to kill some time and to be seen.
They had a second copy of their plans tucked in the matchbook that Bodie dropped near enough for Anson to retrieve easily.
They stopped at the bar and ordered. They looked for a separate table and found none free, so opted for bar stools. Carson and Dixon joined them within ten minutes of their sitting down. They acknowledged one another with nods, but nobody spoke. At seven o'clock, the CI5 lads stood up.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Dixon demanded.
“Out. Unless you're holding us at gunpoint, we are going to a club where we can have some fun,” Bodie told him with a bland face. His voice made it clear he wasn't asking.
"Our job's at ten tomorrow morning. I want you alert."
Bodie just opened the door and Doyle followed him out.
They started their walk fairly sure they were going to be followed. Knowing that determined their choice of clothing for the evening. Leather jackets and tight jeans for both would help them blend in. If the club Leidseplein was half of what was said, it should be wall to wall men. Gay men. They would blend in, and that would allow them to duck out and double back and follow Dixon. Their tail would be none the wiser.
Inside the club, the air was thick with the scent of smoke, cologne, and sex. The crowded nature of the club and pounding noise of loud music made it impossible to talk. They had to squeeze their way through the throng of men to the back of the building. As they followed the corridor past the gents they found the way out to the alley.
"I don't think I have ever been felt up so much in such a short period of time." Bodie brushed himself off as if brushing off handprints.
Doyle had encountered the same treatment, but found he was out of sorts that Bodie had been man- handled by so many. His sense of humour reared and pushed aside the uncomfortable thoughts.
"We were 'man' handled." Doyle guffawed at his own pun.
Bodie rolled his eyes and shushed his partner. They took off their jackets. Bodie donned a hat, and
Doyle pulled back his hair. Carefully, they retraced their way back to the hotel.
Stuart found them outside. "Those two just called for a cab. Your driver's right there." He pointed to an out of service cab with Anson at the wheel. The CI5 lads hopped in and waited for Carson and Dixon to depart.
Anson had no trouble tailing the cab in the slow moving traffic. The most difficult was the crossing onto the dock.
The CI5 agents held back and watched with binoculars. Anson had his long lens camera and shot pictures of the people Dixon and Carson spoke with throughout the evening.
Money and a key were exchanged with only one man and Anson pushed Bodie and Doyle out of the cab so he could follow him.
3.7 and 4.5 kept out of sight while Dixon and Carson quickly headed to one of the storage bays. They spent less than ten minutes inside. When they emerged, they checked out the boat as well. Both men climbed into the boat and appeared to be checking for listening devices. Task completed, they returned to their waiting cab and left.
Bodie and Doyle remained in their hiding place well after they saw Dixon and Carson depart. Bodie knew that Dixon was paranoid enough to double back on the off chance that he had been followed.
Twenty minutes later, the CI5 agents approached the boat. Doyle took pictures of the name and vin number, while Bodie placed a bug in the wheelhouse and a tracking device of their own in the mooring ties. Doyle checked the mic and placed a bug there as well.
They climbed back onto the dock and walked over to the storage bay that Dixon had entered. Doyle picked the lock as Bodie kept a watchful eye.
Doyle opened the door and Bodie's eyes opened wide at the sheer number of crates. They discovered thirty crates full of weapons and twenty full of grenades. They only had two tracking devices left and both agreed with a silent nod that they should be left here, one in a crate of guns and one in a crate of grenades.
Bodie wanted to unpin a grenade and destroy the lot but he knew that they wouldn't discover where they were headed or what they were intended for.
Leaving everything almost as they found it, they walked back up to the road and hailed a cab. They had the driver return them close to the alley of the club Leidseplein, the same route that they had left by. They donned their leather jackets and Doyle fluffed his hair. Retracing their exit, they re-entered the crowded dance floor. They danced hard and furious to the raging beat. The sweat moistened their skin and clothes. It would be difficult to know how long they had been there.
Bodie used the opportunity this club afforded to dance close to Doyle, touching, rubbing. No matter the club at home, they would have never been permitted this liberty. The freedom to just dance with his partner was another treasured joy to revisit later.
Doyle moved with a masculine grace. He seemed almost fluid as he weaved back and forth to the music. He created a web of magic and Bodie knew he wasn't the only man watching him. His possessive streak awakened and he grabbed Doyle by his bum, squeezed and pulled him even closer.
Doyle was abandon personified. He saddled up closer to Bodie and slid his body all over him. He pushed his leg between Bodie's thighs, then with arms entwined and bodies pressed close, they undulated together on the floor. Their burgeoning groins, unnoticed by either man, were not an uncommon sight in this club.
Under the haze of the sensuous spell woven around them on the dance floor, they needed more. They wanted more. They needed to leave so they hurried out, still wrapped up in each other and the throng of men seemed to open the way. They hailed a cab and returned to the Westpoortweg.
They saw no one but themselves in the lobby mirrors and climbed the flight of stairs to their room. The audio-visual equipment was not on their minds as they undressed and fell onto the bed. Sleep was not on the docket either.
They kissed. Bodie couldn't get enough of Doyle's lips. He memorised every bit of skin inside and out.
His hands rubbed and touched with erotic movements, shoulder, chest, hips. He teased the skin around the base of his neck before he forced his lips from Ray's, then licked and sucked his own way down his body. Skin was both soft and rough beneath his touch. But strong, he could feel the strength beneath the skin, a strength that could match his own. No need to be timid.
He rested his nose in Ray's groin, drinking in the rich, musky scent that was all Ray. He paused a moment to bask in the wonder of where he was before he bent and sucked Ray's cock deep into his throat. His hand strayed down so his fingers could roll the taut sacks in rhythm with the way he worked the cock in his mouth.
Bodie's eyes and mouth twisted to the side as one. He saw the ring of skin in the bright lights of the room and knew he had to try one more thing, he had to give Doyle everything he could. He rubbed his finger over his own leaking cock and used the fluids to moisten the area around the hole. He pressed his finger against it. Ray's gasp of pleasure made Bodie even bolder. Milking more fluid from himself, he coated his middle finger and gently pushed into the puckered hole. The canal seemed to suck his finger in. He almost forgot the engorged cock in his mouth. Erotic fantasies were never as wild as this.
His finger continued in slowly, as he monitored Ray's reactions closely. His cock never lost its girth and Bodie pushed in until he found what he sought.
Ray bucked and thrust as he growled, "More."
Bodie obliged. He sucked with his throat muscles as his finger grazed against the inner hardness. He wanted this to last longer but Doyle's thrusting and noises conveyed it wasn't to be. As Ray arched in orgasm Bodie used his other hand to bring himself off as he watched.
Both men spent, Bodie released the softening organ and crawled up beside Ray. He pulled the duvet up and slept, even with the light on.
Bodie's last thought before true slumber was a bittersweet realisation. He knew that this was what he wanted for the rest of his life and it just wasn't to be.
Down in the basement, Dixon and Carson watched the video recording.
"That certainly wasn't faked." Dixon felt reassured by what he saw.
Carson nodded his head in complete agreement as his eyes never left the screen that was still framed on the pair.
"No it was not. Thank you. There is nothing quite as good as real sex for my customers. As always, you bring vicissitude." The heavily accented English was understood.
Dixon shook his hand and left the room with more money in his account and satisfied that Bodie really hadn't changed much in his estimation and was what he appeared to be. Still a poof.
Next morning, they were rousted out of bed by Carson's hammering on their door at seven thirty and were only given enough time to clean up before heading out.
Each agent put on his weapons in the loo, so whoever was watching wouldn't know how tooled up they were. Bodie also brought what he dubbed his survival pack. He wasn't sure they were returning and he absolutely didn't trust Dixon.
He made Doyle take his heavy jacket and he did the same. Bodie grabbed all the apples by the water pots as he crossed the lobby. He took the tea bags as well. He had a feeling, couldn't pin it down, but knew they would need extra supplies.
The cab van that picked them all up arrived a little after eight. It took the most direct route to the docks. Though the cab passed some historical sites, neither Bodie nor Doyle noticed. Doyle watched Bodie and Bodie kept his eyes on Dixon.
To Bodie, Dixon was getting twitchy, and that could only mean that someone would soon be dead. He didn't want it to be him or his partner, but he was sure that it was Dixon's plan.
Once at the docks, they were out of the vehicles and the four men loaded the two boats with all the crates that had been housed at the storage bay. They went back and forth many times for the better part of an hour until the boats were sitting heavy in the water. Bodie made sure that he hopped on the boat that he had bugged. Dixon planned on piloting that one.
Carson was piloting the other and he had Doyle load crates with him. Once on the move, a third boat pulled in behind them. It held three men with guns. One of the men was recognised as their tail.
Carson was thrilled that he finally had Ray to himself. They were travelling slowly enough that talking was possible, and Carson took advantage of finally having the attractive man alone.
He pressed himself close and spoke right into his ear. "I'm not gender fussy, same as Bodie."
"Excuse me?" Doyle looked surprised.
"I appreciate a good package or a good hole. Never fussy, either sex was good. Bodie taught me that when we first met. You could miss out on so much." Carson ran his hand down Doyle's arm.
He pulled away. "I'm with Bodie. Plus, you're forcing me to work with you."
"You could travel with me. Forget the flight. My fuck will make you forget Bodie."
"Bodie suits me fine." He kept his head and eyes facing out over the water. Bodie was right, there was something frightening about him.
"You'll be sorry." Carson turned his back on Doyle and moved in behind Dixon's boat.
Doyle was sure he wouldn't be.
The two boats traversed the channel way until they entered the residential area. Bodie couldn't help but marvel at its architecture. Amsterdam really was like Venice, the multiple rings of the canals that encircled the city on three sides were brilliant in their simplicity. They entered the first of the three residential canal rings. They had the larger homes with more property and it was difficult to distinguish one property from another. Dixon and Carson slowed the boats so they wouldn't draw undue attention and finally stopped at a dock that worked as a private airstrip.
A plane sat waiting on the tarmac. No pilot, no crew, the place appeared completely empty.
Seven men off- loaded the crates and filled the cargo hold of the plane. It took a better part of an hour to get the crates off the boats and situated inside the cargo nets. Once completed, one of the unknown faces broke off from the group and did a plane check before he crawled into the cockpit.
The other unknown face walked over to the plane and reached inside the cargo door and pulled out a metal valise. He opened it and waited for Dixon to walk over and check it. Dixon closed the case and lifted it up. He placed it back inside the cargo door.
That man walked away from the plane. A car came into sight, seemingly from nowhere and slowed near the man. A door opened and without a backward look the man entered the car. The car executed a U-turn and drove away.
Carson watched the exchange intently, then he and their tail walked back to the dock. They each took a boat and headed back out the way they came. Bodie and Doyle were left near the plane with Dixon.
Bodie looked at Dixon questioningly.
"He's meeting us at our destination."
"Scotland, of course."
Bodie and Doyle exchanged a look before they followed Dixon to the plane. Both men knew they were now expendable, and dumping a passenger from a plane the easiest way to lose a body or two.
Dixon crawled in next to the pilot, while Bodie and Doyle climbed into the cargo hold and belted themselves into the seats by the door. The plane took off but didn't climb much. It righted itself almost immediately. The objective was obviously to stay under the radar.
An hour into the flight, Bodie watched Dixon and calculated that they didn't have much time left. The flight was just under ninety minutes and the man he knew from Africa wouldn't wait that long to remove them. He leaned over and whispered into Doyle's ear. "Cut the lines of the cargo chutes."
Doyle nodded his understanding. He was out of the line of sight from the cockpit. He moved with the minimum of sound, even though the roar of the engines would more than likely drown out most sound he made. He was afraid that too much movement would catch Dixon's eye.
He cut the chute line in each corner, but draped the top edge over with a fold so unless Dixon actually rechecked his handiwork he couldn't see it and the crates wouldn't be launching as planned.
Bodie searched for the parachutes. He could find only one. Dixon was a bastard, even the pilot wouldn't get out alive. He moved it behind his pack.
He did locate the money case the other man had delivered. He remembered seeing Carson give a key to the gun dealers at the dock, so this had to be something else. He pulled the case closer.
Bodie looked over at his partner and signalled that he wanted to open a grenade crate and leave a prezzie. Doyle nodded as he started to work on what he called his delayed timing device. He pulled a pin from a grenade, but kept his finger firmly on the lever. He looped a bootlace around the lever with several matchbooks wedged in at different distances. He lit one match.
Doyle figured he could provide some cover if he were closer. He moved all the way forward to ask about a loo. He hoped to distract Dixon and the pilot long enough.
Dixon saw him coming and stood to intercept him. He hand signalled for Doyle to precede him. As he turned, Doyle caught the movement of Dixon's rising arm out of the corner of his eye. It gave him just enough time to turn so that he only received a glancing blow to the back of his head. The thump was hard enough to drive him to his knees though. Dixon used Doyle's inattention to step up close behind him and press a gun to the back of his head. The watching pilot tossed Dixon some duct tape and he wrapped Doyle's hands tight in front so he could maintain control of him. He taped his legs together under the knees as well. He removed the knife and gun he found on his person.
Dixon knew that Bodie had to be up to something so he yanked a cobbled Doyle to his feet and pushed him toward the back of the cargo hold. Doyle couldn't catch his feet and pitched forward.
With Doyle's predicament, Bodie saw the change of circumstances and took the offensive to keep his partner near the door. He marched forward. "Where's our parachutes, you bastard?" Bodie demanded.
"I'm the only one walking out. You and your nancy boy here are going down with the plane." He pushed the crouching Doyle to the floor hard, then pointed his gun at Bodie's chest to halt his forward movement. "Throw out your gun. I know you have one." Bodie complied.
Dixon kicked Bodie's gun to the side, then signalled with his gun for Bodie to move next to the already restrained Doyle. "Don't get any ideas. I will have no problem shooting you before the crash."
Bodie collapsed in front of Doyle. His hands were still up but he knew that Doyle would be able to see the knife resting against the small of his back.
"I figured after you disappeared Bale that you were planning to kill the rest of your partners." Bodie spoke just to give Doyle time to get the knife.
"Fool. Knew the thought of all that money would get you here." Dixon searched for the solitary chute. He grabbed it from Bodie's hiding place.
"The pilot know you have no plan to share with him?"
"Don't worry about the pilot, he'll go down with his machine." He hit the latch to open the cargo door.
"Bastard." Bodie felt the knife removal. He gathered himself to stand as the rushing air made moving more difficult. Dixon turned to shoot the pilot from where he stood. Bodie lunged and Dixon shot wide. He shot at the pilot again and hit his target. Bodie tackled Dixon with all the hate he had stored, and tugged the chute away. He tossed the chute closer to the cargo door. His fist connected to Dixon's face with a crack. As the man slumped Bodie turned to check on Doyle's progress.
The injured pilot took the plane much higher. "What the fuck you doing back there? I'm hit . . . need help."
Doyle had the knife in his now free hands and was cutting though the tape around his legs.
Bodie moved to the chute and started to put it on. Dixon slid toward Bodie as the plane tipped because the now unconscious pilot's weight turned the wheel and put the climbing plane off course.
Dixon's body knocked Bodie and Bodie reached out to brace himself against the sides.
"Doyle, get over here."
Doyle moved toward him but fell back as the plane tipped again.
Dixon moved slowly as he turned to look at Bodie's partner, "I knew that you and your nancy boy were trouble."
"So who's the fool?"
Dixon kicked out with the last vestiges of his strength and pushed an unprepared Bodie to the opening.
Bodie stood at the open cargo door, fingers desperately gripping the edges trying to get Doyle close enough so he could get hooked in before jumping. Dixon had other plans. He reached out and encircled Doyle's ankle with his hand. Doyle pitched forward, knocking into Bodie and shoving him off balance. Only partially in the chute, Bodie was struggling to stay in the plane but Doyle's continued scuffle with Dixon was making it difficult.
Doyle kicked out at Dixon and wrenched himself free, knocking into Bodie harder and this time Bodie couldn't keep himself inside the plane.
"JUMP! Doyle. I will get you. Trust me!" Bodie yelled as he was swept up and away
Bodie was forced into the wind and began his downward descent. He tugged at the chute to get it turned around correctly and closed the fastener. He stretched to increase his surface area and decrease his speed, if just a bit.
Inside the plane, Dixon was reaching again for Doyle and Doyle smashed his foot on the wrist and kicked him in the head. He turned and without thinking jumped out of the cargo door and into the sky. Bodie was below him, spread-eagle.
He yelled, "Bodie!" but the wind carried his voice away. He fell past Bodie at a faster speed than his partner. Doyle tried, but couldn't reach out to grab on. He just closed his eyes.
Waiting for Doyle to pass by was hard, he knew they only had about two minutes of freefalling time. So, as soon as Doyle passed him, Bodie instantly pulled his arms and legs tight to his body and directed himself downward to intersect the falling man. He opened his legs at the last moment and wrapped them around his partner, the shock and weight was almost too much for his hold. Doyle's instinct to live had him automatically gripping onto Bodie in return. They spun around and around. Bodie arched himself and Doyle backward to slow the spin. He immediately reached out and clipped the harness cord onto Doyle's belt. He pulled the ripcord and the chute opening pulled them upward toward the heavens. He kept his legs still tight about Doyle lest his belt ripped.
Doyle fully expected to feel that roller coaster drop in his stomach but it didn't happen. Really, as soon as Bodie had him, it was almost fun. The opening rip of the chute was different. It was a cross between jumping feet-first into a pool of water and someone playing tug of war with his body. The swoosh up was its own adrenaline buzz and he had to admit he was kind of enjoying it.
Bodie never got tired flying through the sky. It was just the exhilarating feeling of dancing on the wind. He still loved it and having Doyle at his side was another fantasy come true.
Bodie checked the harness cord once more then held on to enjoy the ride.
The two men floated down into the Scottish wilderness.
Bodie had many years of practice under his belt and he still couldn't be assured of a perfect landing. With the added weight of his partner Bodie couldn't be choosy about the landing site. Then there was Doyle, a complete novice, not even in his own chute, well, Bodie was worried how to guide him. Even with practice, landings were sometimes hard.
The ground was getting closer and Bodie had to decide how to approach. There was open space and trees. He was hoping they could miss the trees. Wish granted, they passed the trees but floated higher up the mountain in an updraft. The ground appeared to be rocky even from up high. He tried to guide them but the added weight really made it more difficult.
"Ray, I need you to tuck and roll which ever way I do. It will be a little rough but we will be okay."
Doyle nodded his understanding as he looked out. Then, in the blink of an eye, it seemed that the ground was closing in fast.
Bodie reached around and pulled Doyle closer to his body.
"Hell of a time to get fresh, sunshine," Doyle commented dryly, hoping to elicit an explanation.
"One takes the opportunities when he can." Bodie shifted his weight. "After the first touch, we'll bounce. We need to roll our bodies with the next ground contact. Hell of a time to learn, but we can do it. Follow with me."
"Crash course on landing." Doyle snorted, he couldn't help himself.
Bodie let loose a harsh bark of laughter, then focused. The ground looked clear and Bodie bent them as he yelled out, "Here we go."
The first contact felt like jumping from the third story window. They bounced up, but not before a shooting pain shot up Doyle's left leg.
At the next contact with the ground, Bodie rolled them both and they stayed down. Bodie gathered the billowing chute in closer. It covered them, protected them from the light dusting of snow, and prevented more rocks from cutting them as they slowed and rolled to a stop.
With an ease born of practice, Bodie untangled himself from Doyle and the chute. He rolled the lines up tighter. As soon as it was close enough to handle he unclasped the hooks holding him and Doyle together. Bodie then rolled himself onto his knees and dusted off the snow and dirt. All the while his eyes checked out Doyle.
He smiled, happy that they were still alive. "Don't look worse for wear."
Doyle sat breathless for a moment. The silence and beauty of the fall had been abruptly shattered by contact with the ground. It didn't stop him from turning his head and grinning at Bodie. "I could be persuaded to try that again."
Bodie's smile was wide and genuine.
Doyle moved to roll himself up and off the snow when his ankle let it be known that it had no intention of supporting his weight. "Ah bugger! Did something to my ankle on the landing." Doyle gingerly stuck out his left leg in front of him, and rested it on the heel of his right boot, remaining still.
"Leave that boot on until we get bedded down for the night, we'll have to check it out later. Do you have your gloves?" Bodie pulled out his from his pocket, but didn't put them on yet. He scanned the sky for the plane. He opened his pack, took out the compass, and checked where they were.
Bodie turned, pointing west when all of a sudden the sky was filled with the sounds of an explosion, and a smoke cloud. That was soon followed by the sounds from the blast of a second explosion when the plane crashed into the ground. Flying debris could be seen and heard. The black smoke billowing gave testimony to its exact location. Before he could say anything a third and fourth explosion could be heard. More smoke billowed and was pushed farther out.
"Guess we don't have to worry about the sale of those weapons." Doyle shrugged with a grin.
Bodie snorted, rolled his eyes, and shook his head at his partner's sense of humour. And Cowley thought his humour was black. He looked at his watch. "Eight minutes. The plane crashed enough off course that it could give us a couple of days head start. We just won't be getting anywhere fast."
"Head start? From who? Dixon died on that plane." Doyle only felt relief that Dixon was dead.
"Yeah, bastard deserved it. But Carson will get there tomorrow and will want the money once he discovers that his mate is dead and our bodies are not in the wreckage."
"Money?" Doyle was puzzled.
"Case is in my pack."
"Wouldn't they expect it to have burned in the explosion?" Doyle couldn't imagine that much could be salvaged after the third explosion.
"Money was enclosed in a bomb proof/fireproof case. Would have survived that. We can't be positive that all the weapons were destroyed, even with my prezzies, and neither can they. They'll try to pursue us." Bodie reached into his pack and pulled out a clean rag. He wrapped it around Doyle's ankle and tied it under his boot. "Anson's tracking device will let him know where the plane was when it exploded, so they'll have a head start, but Carson was already on his way to meet him. He won't be too far behind. A day at most. Our mob won't know to wait for Carson's arrival."
"So where are we going to go?"
Bodie pulled out his map and laid it on the ground. "Sorry, Ray, I know we should go the easier direct route for your ankle, but it's too dangerous."
"Oh yeah!" Bodie didn't comment further as he knew he'd have said the same. "It's just past noon and it'll start getting dark by half three for sure. The descent will be steep, but we need to drop to that valley as quick as we can, too cold to be up here tonight, but the forest, there," he pointed to the greenish area north of his thumb, "Might even do better. I think we are about here on Slioch." He pointed to the mountain designation on his map. "The closest town of any size is Kinlochewe to the east, they all would expect us to go there. The only other of any size is Gairloch to the southwest, but that's too close to where the plane went down."
"So of course, we're not going to either."
"Very good, Doyle. You really aren't just a pretty face."
Bodie looked around at the very steep slope and rugged, coarse ground. The area yielded no possible walking sticks. If any were covered in snow, he'd have no luck finding them. They were probably too high for any unless wind blew up. He walked around vetting the possible routes down. He located several animal trackways and chose the least steep of the possibilities, which wasn't saying much.
Bodie kept out the compass and map, closed up his pack. He re-rolled the chute so Doyle could wear it like a pack. He helped his partner stand up, threw his arm under Doyle's left shoulder and they started their trek down.
The pace was slower than either would have liked. Bodie stopped to change how they travelled. He stepped in front of Doyle, who then gripped his shoulder, and followed in his steps. They slipped a bit on occasion, but Bodie kept his body turned sideways to prevent full on slides.
Without injury they'd have been down by late afternoon. But Doyle, gritting his teeth the whole way, knew he wasn't capable of that speed presently. They didn't talk, conserving their breath. Each exhale was easily seen, but the constant movement kept them warm enough. The larger rock edges were clearly visible and easy to avoid. The rocks just barely covered by the snow were the problems. They weren't covered enough to tread on solidly and the false steps slowed their progress even more.
Just one hour later, even though it felt like six, Bodie called a stop. Doyle dropped down gratefully. Bodie pulled out several chocolate bars and handed two to Doyle. Without a grouse or complaint, Ray Doyle accepted them readily. He attacked them as if he hadn't eaten in days.
Bodie chuckled, usually this was the other way around. "Not going to steal them back." Bodie ate his just a bit more slowly than Doyle.
"Just wanted to do something else with my teeth besides grinding them together. "'S good, this." Doyle put the empty wrappers in his pocket. He eyed Bodie's.
Bodie was tempted to offer up his, but the survivalist part of him knew they both had to eat and drink. He knew he had the skills to do well with what little they had, if he didn't go soft. The chocolate bars would give them immediate energy. He'd save the apples for later.
"Can you make it to that forest line?" He pointed to the green area that broke up the white. He took a sip from the canteen, then passed it to Doyle.
"Yeah, not dead. Ankle's going to hurt no matter what I do, or the snow will freeze me bum." He didn't want to hold them back. He took two gulps before he handed it back.
"Can spend the night in there, more sheltered and in the morning, no search plane will see us." Bodie was already straightening up. He replaced the canteen and trash into his pack. "We'll pass by the west end of a loch on the way, so that's our next stop."
"Can do it, mate. Not a babe in a pram."
Bodie ignored the comment, they both knew it for what it was. He paused a moment as Doyle worked out the best way to move. The grimace telling enough on the pain his partner felt. He looked about slowly as he waited.
The view of the rugged mountains around him was breathtaking in spite of the cold. They looked clear but that could change at any moment, he knew before sunset that the winds could kick up and he needed to get them sheltered.
Doyle took a deep breath.,He really wanted to stick his ankle in the snow and let it freeze a bit, but he knew it wasn't practical. Instead, he reached his arm up for Bodie's help. He knew that Bodie would carry him if he had to.
They started downward again. Doyle's hand gripped onto Bodie's shoulder. His body knew what to do so Doyle let his thoughts return to his partner. Bodie was one of the better people he had known in his life. Back at the Met, Sid had been a good guy. Trained him well. He had been an all round decent bloke. But, would he have trusted him with his life? Maybe, back then, before his run-ins with the many bent coppers.
Now, he knew that even the blokes you should be able to trust your life to, such as fellow agents, weren't always a dead cert. Hell, even the Cow had been fooled by Barry Martin.
Bodie once told him that in the course of action you see what a bloke is made of, and will learn who will really have your back. Some stand and fight, some flee, and there are the few that will stay even if it means death. He said that some of the green agents or the newly enlisted military men might have to learn to face their own fear before they can back up others. But there are always the few, when under fire, think of themselves first and foremost.
Bodie wasn't one of those. Bodie was one of the few that would stay even if it meant death. He knew that as sure as he took breath. And Doyle knew himself; he would stay with Bodie. Trust. They had that. Now he knew that they had sex as well. Doyle laughed at himself, he didn't really require much trust to get off, but enough to believe they wouldn't kill him in his sleep.
With Bodie the sex had been different, had to be the trust.
Bodie yelling his name broke into his reverie. Bodie was fiddling with the chute he carried.
"Wind storm. We'll be blinded. Come on, get down." He pushed a preoccupied Doyle down. He whipped the chute around them and anchored it with his feet and wrapped it tighter still. Both were seated by a bolder, totally enclosed by the parachute. The wind battered at the material, the whistling sound battered their ears. Bodie pulled his partner closed and held on tight.
It felt like hours, but less than fifteen minutes elapsed before the buffeting wind died down. They unwrapped themselves and looked out over the mountainside and the valley below. Where boulders and outcroppings had been visible before, the entire mountainside was blanketed in white.
"Guess our trail thus far doesn't exist anymore." Doyle grinned at his partner.
"Look at you, sound just like Pollyanna. Little Ray of sunshine." Bodie couldn't help the smile that lit his face. He really had expected more from the snarky side.
"Yeah, well. . . not so much of the little." His grin more sardonic this time.
"We are safer by far." Bodie pulled out his compass to check his bearings. Some of the landmarks he had established were snow covered, so he rechecked the route. He knew that at this pace the loch was an hour yet. At least two and a half before they hit the top end of the forest. He reached into his pack again for the canteen and handed it to Doyle first. Then he drew out two apples and handed one to Doyle. "Here, keep the doctor away for a bit longer."
"Is that all it takes? Where were these at the start of our day?" Doyle munched happily. He took a drink and passed over the canteen. Only a short descent and he was famished. Well it was rather steep and his ankle was hurting more than he let on. He really wanted to pack it with snow, but he knew that would only leave his foot wet and that would be worse. Sitting on the chute helped at this stop. His bum was cold but not wet.
Bodie nudged Doyle off and rolled the chute up once more as a pack and his partner slipped it on. Bodie pulled his jacket closed up to his chin and slipped his pack on. It kept his back warm enough as the chute did Doyle's.
Doyle stood, hooked his hand under one of the pack straps and held tight. The slope wasn't as steep as when they started out and hoped they'd make better time. It galled him to know they could have been almost down by now except for his ankle.
Bodie took slow careful steps; with the snow covering the ground, he wanted to make certain that he had safe foot placement. A bad step and he'd take Doyle with him. Their survival paramount in his mind, he pushed everything else aside.
Doyle watched the fierce concentration of Bodie's expression. He wanted to reach out and smooth the lines away. It was an act of tenderness that Bodie would be surprised to receive from him. That the compulsion to do so was strong surprised him as well.
A misstep on his part caused a shot of intense pain to shoot up his leg and he nearly fell. Bodie grabbed him and held him upright. He pushed his errant thoughts aside and concentrated on foot placement.
Step, check, trudge. Step, check, trudge. The stop at the loch was a welcome respite. Bodie filled the canteens first, then he searched for some edible plants that he knew he would probably find along the snow-free banks. He brushed the light dusting of snow aside and found what he was sure should be there. He filled his pockets with clover, dandelion, and pennycress. He'd hunt if he had to, but sound carried far and a gunshot would stand out.
They regrouped and began the last part of the day's journey. It felt like early evening but it was just quarter past three. It would be dark before they reached the forest edge. The slope was easier by far on this leg from the loch to the forest. It looked odd from afar, like a stand of trees in the middle of nowhere, but as they drew closer it looked immense.
Bodie stopped, so Doyle stopped. Bodie turned and said. "Stay here." He dashed to the side and picked up a long stick with a smile on his face. He held it up like a weapon. "Walking stick. Should help some with balance."
Doyle grabbed it from him. "Thanks, mate." He pushed it into the ground and stood confidently on his own.
Now Bodie could walk without having to counter his weight. They were able to move a tiny bit faster.
Bodie had his two torches out before they reached the forest. He wanted them well inside the thick canopy before they stopped for the night. A snow free zone was most welcome as darkness was upon them. They weren't far in when they noticed how different it felt to their feet. The moss covered duff, felt squishy, almost like bouncing on thick foam.
Doyle tested each step with the stick, and it was slow going, but their slow pace made it easier to navigate. When they reached what seemed to be the middle of the thick canopy, Bodie looked about for what could work as a camping area.
He chose to be close to the trees. He took the chute off from Doyle's back and tossed it out to unfold it. He attached it to two of the trees to create a shelter and curled the rest around to make a ground cover. Economical movements without hesitation make it look like quite work. Bodie finished tying off the ends to anchor the shelter in place.
Doyle, grateful to finally rest, sat at the edge of the chute so he could start a fire in the dirt.
Bodie handed his pack over to his partner as he set off to find some wood, dry peat, and a place to relieve himself. The first completed, the wood gathering wasn't too difficult. He searched for fallen trees as the wood was easier to handle. Limbs that were already down and broken into pieces saved having to cut smaller chunks.
He found several fallen trees and he located the driest. He scooped up an armful and made his way back to Doyle. He dropped that armload and made three more trips to arm them with enough fuel for the night. He was happy when he found an armful of peat clumps. They'd keep the fire going even if they fell asleep. He spotted some wood sorrel and collected that as well.
Doyle was still working on the fire by torch. His fingers were stiff and cold. They didn't respond as well as they should.
"You were supposed to kip after the fire was roaring." He dropped the last of his haul by Doyle.
"Oh, is that what I'm doing wrong?" Doyle used Bodie standing there to block the wind and got the fire going. Doyle curried the embers and fed them bark scraps. He waited for the fire to achieve roaring status before he looked to add a larger piece of wood.
Bodie reached around Doyle and pulled his pack to him. He reached in and produced a small pot that had collapsible cups. He pulled out the two canteens of water and filled the pot. He reached back in the pack and pulled out what looked like a metal bar. He twisted it and it folded out into a tripod. He placed it in the fire and set the pot of water on top.
"Tea first, then some soup." Bodie looked to Doyle to see if he was agreeable.
"You'll make a good wife one day, mate," Doyle commented as he held his hands up to the fire.
"Hardly that." He pulled out more food from his pack. "Soup, apples, and some old jerky. Should hold us."
Doyle watched the water until it was just ready to boil. He took the edge of his jacket and gripped the pot handle. He poured water into both cups.
Bodie was ready with the dry soup packet as Doyle poured more water into the pot. He added the wood sorrel.
Doyle looked at him like he was bananas.
"Great source of vitamin C. The roots once boiled are a bit starchy and taste somewhat like a potato. Something to chew anyway." Bodie reached in and pulled the other plants from his pocket and laid them before his partner. "Clover, dandelion, and pennycress, didn't want to hunt, we have the jerky."
"Mountain man Bodie is healthy Bodie. What happens when we're home?"
"Go back to normal grub!" Bodie's tone let Doyle know which he preferred.
The fire burned nicely, he was getting warmer, so Doyle looked about at his surroundings.
"Well, at least we won't be bothered by the midges."
"Aye, the scourge of Scotland."
"And here I thought that was George Cowley." Doyle declared wide-eyed.
"I wouldn't call him that to his face." Bodie's half- smile indicated that he would still be thinking it.
Doyle drank his tea, and wished for more. They shared the soup pot as they munched on the jerky, apples, and assorted greens. Bodie wiped the pot and set about heating more water.
While he waited for the water to boil, Doyle got up so he could make more room for the tea.
"Need a hand?" Bodie offered, but didn't move, like he already guessed the answer.
"Nah, think I can do this on me own," Doyle retorted automatically.
Bodie watched his stubborn partner limp away to do his business. He was serious, he would have held it for him. He was going to miss that. The op was all but over so the intimate part was for sure done. He was disappointed in himself for feeling that loss so keenly. He knew it going in, warned himself. Did he listen? It was just that it all felt so natural, loving Doyle. Now, he had to hide it away. Locked up deep inside so no one could see.
Doyle returned as Bodie poured the water into the cups, and pumped the teabags. The warm cups felt good on his hands. The night was cold except around the fire.
They lay together by the fire, Doyle's back to Bodie's front, huddled as close as they could to the fire and each other. Bodie had placed the peat in and knew it would last until morning. So, with heads resting on Bodie's pack and legs entwined for comfort, they tried to sleep.
Doyle slept until he tried to move and ankle pain awoke him. He had turned some time during his sleep. He was plastered to Bodie, front to front, and his body was quite happy about it.
This wasn't part of the job and his body was still quite happy about it. He was actually quite happy at where he was. He didn't want to move . . . he wanted . . . He rolled over and pressed back into Bodie's warmth. He thought about the last week, well, not even that.
He though about the last few days and he felt a warmth spread throughout his body as he replayed the memories of what he had shared with Bodie. There really was no other way to think about it. They did share the experience. He already missed it and it had only been a day.
He never really missed the birds after . . . oh he had a few birds that he had longer than average, but still he never missed them. He did miss Bodie. Of course he did. Bodie was his partner, his friend, his equal.
His conscience nagged at him. It was more than that. But what was it . . . that was the question. The whole, deep relationship aspect had eluded him. Not for lack of trying, but they didn't work out. His job, the hours, the dedication to the job was a deal breaker most of the time.
There was always the problem of not being able to talk about the job, official secrets, and all that. Only when he and Bodie caught a meal, they could discuss the case, the inadequacies of the job, grouse about the Cow. He trusted Bodie. His partner always had his back.
Now, they also had the sex, and the sex was better than he could remember having. Where did that leave him? Did that make him not gender fussy as well?
He remembered the gentleness with which Bodie had performed each sexual act. The gentleness was there behind the passion, passion that was more intense than the assignment had warranted. Bodie had given pleasure but had not asked for any in return. He had reciprocated though, for the camera, for himself. Bodie most definitely hadn't been thinking of Claire nor England. It had been his name that he whispered at climax. It warmed him still, remembering that.
He pressed closer to Bodie. He stayed like that for less than a minute before he draped his arm over Bodie's hip, his fingers teasing the groin area. He was already hard.
"We're not on film any more, Doyle." Bodie brushed the hand away.
Stunned, Doyle found himself very disappointed. "Is that all it was?"
"It was an assignment, we made the best of it."
"Are you saying you didn't like it?" Doyle knew that wasn't true. Bodie wasn't gender fussy, as he put it. So did Carson, as a matter of fact. So Bodie was holding back for another reason.
"No. Didn't say that."
"Then what are you saying? Don't bother lying, mate."
"You randy, looking to get a leg over?" Bodie wasn't about to tell his partner he was his walking dream.
"Don't try and pull that. What are you saying?" Doyle leaned up onto his elbow so he could look around to Bodie's face.
"I'm saying . . ." Bodie thought better of trying to put his jumbled thoughts into words for Doyle to pick apart. "I'm saying what I'm saying." He turned his head away, but he didn't pull his body away.
"Nothing, then. You're saying nothing. Come on, Bodie, this is the time to do this." Doyle's frustration coloured his voice. He didn't know quite what he was expecting but he did know now was the time to discuss their feelings. He pushed at Bodie's hip, then used it to sit up, still keeping the body contact.
"We aren't going to die, Doyle, no death bed confessions are needed. Save it." Bodie dropped his head.
"Not worried about dying, you prat, 'm worried about living." Doyle sat up, bent his leg, ankle be damned and turned so he was facing Bodie eye to eye. "Woke up next to you and I was happy. Not just wanting to have sex with you, happy that it was you."
Bodie opened his mouth to say something, but Doyle placed his fingers across his lips.
"Wait, let me say this. Fine detective I am, I've been trying to figure out why the sex was better with you, why I liked waking in bed with you in the morning. Not like that with the birds, even the fine ones. I thought it was trust, and while it plays a part, I'd be lying to say that's all it was. So, I asked myself for the truth, it's love, you dumb crud."
Bodie's face was blank, and Doyle didn't want to take the chance that Bodie was talking himself out of this. "Bodie. . . dammit, Bodie." Doyle turned, captured his partner's face between his hands, and kissed him. A kiss that was returned with the same intensity it was given.
Bodie felt like he had just had all his Christmas and birthday wishes come true in one fell swoop. His chest felt like it would burst and remembered to take a breath. "Not nice to call your intended names." Bodie blushed but reached in to continue the kiss.
"I'm sure I'll call you a lot worse at times, but I'll be loving you as well."
"Ah, so nothing much will change."
Doyle smiled. He loved their exchanges. "Just that we'll greet the days together." He reached for Bodie's flies, undid them and slipped his hand inside before Bodie could come up with a logical reason that this was unpractical. His fingers gripped the shaft and didn't have to work it much before Bodie's head lay back and he groaned. Doyle took out his hand and wiped it with the rag he had tied around his boot. He tidied Bodie up and zipped him closed. "Something like that."
Dazed, Bodie asked, "Something like what?"
"The way we'll greet the day together."
Bodie smiled indulgently and shook his head at his partner. "Could get used to that."
They hugged carefully, but Doyle knew he needed to move, his ankle was killing him. Bodie held him still and cocked his head to the side, instinct for survival still paramount.
"Shush. . . I hear bells. Like goat or sheep bells." Bodie extracted himself from his partner's limbs and stood. He followed the direction of the sounds. He went toward the edge of the forest they hadn't been to yet. He could see sheep, lots, and lots of sheep. Chances were that out here there would be herder or two.
He raced back to Doyle. "You douse the fire and pack the gear. I will get the herder to call Cowley." He reached into the pack and pulled out a small pad and pencil. He tore off a sheet and scribbled Cowley's phone number, and a short note. He put his gun into his pocket, just in case. "He's about a half mile away."
Doyle nodded, already breaking camp.
Bodie walked. He didn't want to alert the herders of his coming until he was sure that they were who he thought they were. As he got closer Bodie hailed the sheepherder, he could see that he was a lad in his early teens.
The lad moved to meet him. "Don't see many folk in these parts," he greeted Bodie enthusiastically.
"We were hiking and my friend got hurt. Do you have a phone in the village?"
"Aye, we have a phone in our wee village, made up mostly of Clan Mackenzie crofters, it is. The Mr van Vlissingen owns this all now, but he's a decent sort. So, now we have a working phone." The lad smiled brightly.
"I don't want to leave my injured friend for long. Would you be able to run to your village and place a call for me?"
"Aye, of course."
Bodie pulled out his note. "Here's the number. Ask for Cowley, George Cowley. Tell you're calling for Bodie. Baddies going to crash site. And describe where we are."
The lad interrupted, "Och, I can tell him where yee are. That's no trouble."
"Thank you." Bodie put his hand out to shake the lad's.
"You're Bodie?" At the nod, he added, "I'm Robbie. I'll be back quick, you keep an eye on my sheep." The lad took off, not waiting for an answer.
Bodie stood there looking at the sheep, knowing that at the start of this op watching sheep had never been on the itinerary. He laughed at himself. There was no way he was feeling bad, he was flying on the top of the world. Doyle and him, together in a way he never thought possible. His thoughts whirled with plans.
Not more than thirty minutes had passed when he heard the lad approaching. He was talking to his sheep. Barely out of breath, he stopped in front of Bodie.
"You didna tell me that Mr Cowley was a Scot. Fine man. He said he'd dispatch army helicopters for pick up. Quoted him, I did. Around thirty minutes." His grin was large and infectious.
"Thank you, Robbie. I appreciate it." Bodie grinned back at the lad. "I will go get my friend and wait by the forest edge just in case the baddies are searching." Bodie nodded at the lad.
"My pleasure, don't you worry." Robbie turned back to his sheep and wandered away.
Bodie headed back to Doyle.
Doyle had moved half the distance to the forest edge by his return. They walked slowly together the rest of the way. They sat and waited just inside the canopy, still being careful of possible searchers.
"What do you want to do when we get back home?" Doyle asked, curious as to what Bodie wanted to do about the change in their relationship.
"Well, we can't just tell him, but we can let him know by asking to share accommodations, and by changing our 'in case of' information," Bodie told him, like he'd been thinking about it.
"So you do want to live together?" Doyle was just checking, glad that they were thinking the same.
"Of course. Best way to work it. Only way really. Just us, no others." Bodie leaned in and stole another kiss.
"Just us." Doyle agreed.
Thirty minutes later they heard the rotating blades of the helicopter at the same time. They stood up, gathered the pack and chute, and headed out at a slow pace into the open to await the Cowley-sent transport.
As the helicopter set down Bodie looked back and smiled. "Let's go home." Bodie squeezed his hand then Doyle pushed him ahead.
Doyle couldn't believe that in the course of action, as Bodie would say, that he'd found trust and with that – love.