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SnarkyLlama's Fics
Fiction by the fangirl currently known as SnarkyLlama
Completed fic - Much Ado about Nothing - Professionals slash 
29th-Aug-2006 01:40 pm
I heart Newt
A Professionals fic by Snarky Llama
For thoraarwin, as part of the summer_of_78

Rating: Not suitable for those under 15 (just like the DVDs)
Author's notes:
(1) This fic follows the production-order timeline and takes place between "Rogue" and "Hunter/Hunted."
(2) Jackie Holmes is borrowed from Victor J. Banis' Man from C.A.M.P novels.


Doyle was busy making connections. One of his grasses had hinted at a link between a certain ambassador and a suspected arms dealer. So far, the link was tenuous, but it looked promising--as did his chances of making a connection between the sheets with the new girl in Records, whose fingers had a way of flipping through the files that tickled his fancy.

Someone had to find out what else those fingers could do and, as Bodie was still on medical leave, the task obviously fell to him. He was just about to convince her to have dinner with him when Anson stuck his head in the door.

"There you are, Ray. I was--"

"Just ignore 'im," Doyle whispered.

The new girl glanced at Anson and bit her lip.

She had very pretty lips. They were full and painted a slick, wet pink that made him think of pleasantly kinky sex. Tonight, he'd find out if they were talented, too.

He leaned closer and touched the corner of her mouth.

"He'll go away if you ignore him."

"No, I shouldn't..."

"He won't mind, love. Birds give him the cold shoulder all the time. So, do--"

"Oh, nice," Anson said. "Why don't you pack it--"

Doyle followed his own advice and ignored him.

"--do you like Italian? I know this great place, the spaghetti's--"

"Oh, for God's sake... C'mon, Romeo, the Cow wants you."

Bloody Anson.

Whatever it was, it wasn't urgent and Anson bloody well knew it.

Cowley knew where Doyle was, and he would have picked up the phone--or an R/T--if it were urgent. He only sent messenger boys when he wanted to keep idle hands busy.

"Come back and find me in five minutes," Doyle told him without taking his eyes off the lovely Sarah.

It was Sarah, wasn't it? Or was it Sally? Or ... maybe Sandra?

"Fine," Anson snapped. "It's your hide."

He banged the door shut, and Maybe-Sandra frowned at it.

"You should go," she said.

"Not until you agree to have dinner with me tonight."

"I don't--"

"Ah, be careful now," Doyle said. "My career's on the line."

She blinked.

"How's that?"

"Cowley doesn't like to be kept waiting."

He grinned at her, and she laughed and shoved him away.

"You're impossible!"

"It's a date?"

"It's a date," she agreed.

"Great!" He caught her round the waist and spun her around. "We could go dancing, too, but first I have a date with Cowley."

"Ah. Cheating on me already?" She swatted at him. "Well, go on then!"

*


Alone in the hallway, Doyle rubbed his hands together in anticipation and then laughed at himself when he realized what he was doing. Did he miss working with Bodie that much? How many more of Bodie's mannerisms would he adopt before Bodie was back on the duty roster?

Ah, but she was worth the gesture. She promised to be a right little handful.

It was too bad, though that Bodie wasn't around to appreciate his latest conquest. He would have enjoyed it. They both would have enjoyed it.

And Bodie would have known her name, too. Now, he had to learn it before this evening--without it getting back to her that he'd been asking.

Ah, well. Work before pleasure. He'd better go see Cowley.

*


Ruth wasn't at her desk, and the door to Cowley's office was slightly ajar. That was a bit unusual, and it made Doyle pause. Had Cowley really summoned him? Would Anson have made it up? He wasn't one of the usual mischief-makers in this mob, but only a fool would trust him when there was a pretty girl at stake.

He decided to knock just in case.

At the first tap of his fist, the door swung open to reveal Bodie. But if he remembered correctly--and Doyle knew that he did, because he made a special point of tracking Bodie's appointments every time he got laid up because the stupid git thought he was indestructible and would overdo it if Doyle let him--Bodie should have been getting the stitches out of his shoulder.

Maybe the doctor had already seen him and declared him fit? But then, Bodie would be on his way to a refresher, not standing here looking coolly handsome in his best grey suit...

"Och, don't just stand there, 4.5. Come in and close the door!"

At Cowley's command, a man Doyle hadn't noticed leapt up and spun around. His eyes swept over Doyle, and he gushed, "Oooh, now that's more like it! Can I have him instead?"

Doyle stepped forward, ready to snarl at the man and inform him, in no uncertain terms, that he was nobody's to have, when he caught sight of a fleeting expression on Bodie's face that left him stunned.

Bodie didn't want him here.

That look hadn't been directed his way since the first month of their partnership, but there was no doubting it. Bodie was wishing him anywhere but here.

He stared at Bodie, suddenly feeling like he was the one who'd just been knifed by a trusted friend.

Cowley answered the man in a dry tone. "No, Mr Holmes, I'm afraid 4.5 is not on offer. 3.7 is free for this assignment."

The man started to protest, but Cowley held up his hand and continued.

"Don't be mistaken, I'm not foisting my first available agent off on you. 3.7 is one of my best men, and it's fortuitous that he's free just now. You will find that he's the best man for this job... Isn't that right, Bodie?"

Bodie's eyes flicked from Doyle to Cowley and back again, and sent him a message that Doyle was too bewildered to understand. Then Bodie's lashes came down, veiling his eyes, and he turned away from Doyle.

"Yes, sir. You're probably right."

"'Probably?'" Cowley huffed. "I'm a better judge of your abilities than you are, laddie! You are not to give this mission less than your best."

The stranger began clapping.

"Oh, marvellous, George!"

George? When he didn't instantly receive a that's Mr Cowley, Doyle stole a good, hard look at the man.

He was the sort of ageless blonde one associated with Hollywood. He could just as easily be thirty as fifty. There had to be facelifts and hair dye involved for anyone to be that good-looking, but it still looked natural--and that took an obscene amount of money. If he was a politician, he had to be corrupt, but--

The stranger put his hands on his hips and smiled at Cowley.

--But Cowley couldn't abide corruption, and he was too... swishy to be a politician.

"You're magnificent, George. If I were ten years older--"

"That's enough of that, Mr Holmes."

"Oh, please call me Jackie."

Jackie was Cowley's height, but he ducked his head, brushed his hair from his face, and positively simpered up at Cowley. Doyle shot a look at Bodie, but only got Bodie's best impression of a stone wall in return.

"Save your flattery for younger men, Mr Holmes, or better yet, your target."

"Oh, very well." Jackie sighed, then shimmered across to where Bodie was standing and held out his hand.

"I'm not foolish enough to doubt George Cowley's judgement. You must be the best man for the job, even though you're far too pretty for it."

Bodie took his hand and held it for a long moment while an amused smile played over his lips.

"Don't worry," he told Jackie. "Next time, I'll muss myself up a bit so you can be the prettiest girl at the ball."

Jackie laughed with delight.

"'Next time'? Oh, sugar." He reached up and patted Bodie's cheek. "You're pretty, but you're not that pretty."

Bodie's answering smile was smugly sweet. "I hope you lie better than that once we're undercover."

"Oh, I've never had any complaints about my skill under the covers."

Though he might have used the same line himself, Doyle cringed.

Bodie looked at the man thoughtfully. "No," he said without a trace of camp. "I bet you haven't."

Something twisted in Doyle's gut.

"Well, gentlemen." Cowley pulled out his desk chair. "Now that you're acquainted, you can make the necessary arrangements elsewhere. Isn't that right, Mr Holmes?"

"Ah, yes, George, but parting is such sweet--"

"3.7," Cowley said, "you'll be under Mr Holmes' direction for the duration of this assignment."

"Yes, sir."

"But try not to overact as much as he does."

Bodie's lips twitched.

"That's right," Jackie said. "You're adorable, sugar, but you should leave being fabulous to me."

"Indeed," Cowley said. "And Bodie..."

"Yes, sir?"

Cowley seemed to be choosing his words carefully. "I know it goes against the grain, but--"

"It's--" Bodie started to say.

"--find yourself some clothing like 4.5's here and outfit yourself accordingly."

"I should get hazard pay for that, but--"

"Hey!" Doyle said.

"--I'll endure, sir." Bodie nodded at Cowley and then turned to leave without looking at Doyle.

"Really," Jackie said, following him. "The two of you don't know what you're talking about. He's so perfectly butch, he makes my heart palpitate."

Doyle didn't know about palpitations, but at that moment, he wanted to give the little ponce a heart attack. He started to follow them out.

His hand was on the door when Cowley stopped him.

"Ah, Doyle. You're not dismissed."

Doyle's knuckles turned white as he fought his impulse to slam the door. He stared straight ahead, trying to gather the reins on his temper. Then Jackie patted Bodie's bum as they left the outer office together.

He slammed it.

"What are you thinking?"

"Are you questioning me, 4.5?"

"Bodie's not certified for duty!"

Cowley gave Doyle one of his best fatherly looks. It would have been reassuring, if Doyle hadn't seen him use it so many times down in the interrogation rooms.

Doyle took a deep, steadying breath and tried again.

"He's not been certified, sir."

"This is the controller's desk, is it not, 4.5?"

"Yes."

"Good." Cowley sat down. "Make no mistake. I sit behind this desk. I am the controller, and I clear people for duty. Oh, I may consult doctors or other experts, but my word is law."

"And what did the experts say, sir, before you began laying down the law?"

"Oh, sit down, man. I've enough to do without straining my neck looking up at you."

Doyle complied.

"And stop acting like a hen with only one chick. Bodie's not one hundred percent, but he doesn't need to be for this."

"But that's when you need a partner the most, sir. And not that... that poof! He needs a real partner, one who knows him well."

"You will not use that word in my hearing again, 4.5. Jackie Holmes is an agent--a very good agent. He works for an organization with a very limited focus. It's an intriguing notion, actually--far too narrow for our purposes, but interesting nonetheless--"

Doyle shifted impatiently. What did this have to do with Bodie?

"But that will keep for another time," Cowley said. "The important thing is that their pockets are deep and their information network is vast. I've wanted them to owe me a favour for some time now, and this is my chance."

"A favour?" Doyle jumped up and slammed his hands on the desk. "You're risking Bodie for a favour?"

"Sit down, 4.5!"

Doyle glared at him, but the fire in Cowley's eyes matched his own. He sat.

"And be careful with my desk," Cowley said. "Replacements are expensive. The same goes for my men. I'm not risking Bodie. It's a simple undercover operation."

"Undercover? As what? Cinderella? You've said yourself that Bodie isn't an actor."

"You disappoint me, Doyle. I thought you had a better mind for details."

Cowley pulled a pad of paper out from a drawer, slipped on his glasses, and jotted something down.

"Sir?"

"That's not what I've said. Bodie--" He was still writing. "--is not entirely adept at hiding that he knows something when he knows it."

"He'd never--"

"Hold your tongue until I'm finished! I'm not accusing him of having loose lips, rather the contrary. Under torture, he'd hold out longer than any of my men. But they'd keep trying longer with him, wouldn't they?"

Cowley put his pen down.

"But I didn't call you here to talk about Bodie. We're talking about you, 4.5, and if you knew him half as well as you claim, you'd know that he's a natural at seeming to be something... other than he is."

Christ, it was a straight out of bleedin' story book! His partner was off with the fairies, and Cowley was talking in riddles like Rumplestiltskin.

"He and Jackie will work well together, as you and Jax have worked well together recently."

"Thank you, sir."

"In fact, I'm temporarily partnering you. At 0800 tomorrow, you're to show up at the training centre together."

"But Bodie's my--"

"You both belong to CI5, not each other. Understood?"

Doyle set his jaw and said nothing.

"Good." Cowley picked up a folder. "Jax is a promising agent. I want him to have more experience working with a partner."

"Sir--"

"You're dismissed, 4.5."

*


Dismissed, but not off duty, Doyle spent the afternoon following up on his leads about the ambassador.

After the third person told him that the ambassador "was never same after that Annette Clare," Doyle ran a routine check on the woman. He learned that while there were no official records for her, her name had cropped up in several investigations. For a bird who didn't exist, she seemed to have an interesting hobby: dating men with access to restricted information.

Cowley would definitely want to meet her.

He continued his inquiries, but his mind wasn't on his work. Cowley may have said that his reassignment was temporary, but Doyle knew that could change without notice. Cowley was the controller, after all. His whims were law.

Jax was a good man--and a good man to work with. But Doyle already had a partner. And as much as Bodie got up his nose, he was... irreplaceable.

He'd work with whoever he had to, but Bodie was his. Unless...

Did Bodie want a new partner?

He might.

Doyle had failed him rather spectacularly. First, by letting Barry Martin get the drop on him, and then by not being able to shoot him, even when his knife was buried in Bodie's shoulder.

Cowley had said that Doyle's hesitation was understandable. Bodie hadn't said a word. Maybe he knew...

If Culbertson's men hadn't killed Barry, Doyle wasn't certain that he could have done it.

Doyle wouldn't blame him if he wanted a new partner.

*


Doyle called his report in that evening. He headed for Bodie's, then thought twice and rang him from a callbox about mile from his flat.

"They haven't moved you into an undercover flat yet?" he asked.

"A flat? How quaint. No, tomorrow night, I shall be flying into Heathrow and living it up in style at the best hotels in town."

"Dressed like me?" Doyle laughed. "I don't think so. They won't let you past the service entrance."

"That's not your clothes. They just don't like you."

"Ah, who cares about them? They've obviously no taste. What about you?"

"What?"

"Will you let me past your entrance?"

There was a moment of silence in which Doyle could almost hear the gears grinding in Bodie's head.

"My what?"

"Your bloody front door, mate. Do you have plans for tonight? I could bring beer."

"Nah," Bodie said. "I have beer. Bring food."

*


Twenty minutes later, Bodie buzzed him in. He was sporting the beginnings of a black eye.

"Where'd you get that beauty?" Doyle asked while juggling their precariously-balanced dinner. "No, don't tell me." He shoved a carton of curried rice at him. "Marks and Sparks?"

"Nah, they're too--" Bodie caught one of the bags as it fell. "Christ, Ray, do you think you bought enough?"

"I couldn't make up my mind."

Bodie shook his head and relieved him of more of his burden.

"It's amazing you're allowed out on your own." He took the food into the kitchen. "Anyway, no, Marks and Sparks is far too upscale if I'm supposed to dress like you."

Bodie returned and stood in the doorway, grinning at him. Doyle poked a finger at his gut.

"That's very funny," he said, "coming from a man who'd wear nothing but cardies if given half a chance." He put his hand flat on Bodie's belly and steered him back into the kitchen. "So, what really happened?"

Bodie's good eye twinkled.

"So... I mugged some bin men for their clothes."

Doyle waited, stone-faced, just long enough for Bodie's grin to falter, then dropped the rest of the bags and pounced.

"You berk."

Bodie instantly danced away, but Doyle was quicker. He pinned him easily against the fridge. Bodie laughed and raised his hands in surrender.

"It's me first offence, guv. Be gentle with me?"

"Oh, cool it, sunshine. You know I don't pick fights with the halt and the lame."

"Regular Samaritan you are."

"Nah, it's..."

Doyle was wearing his boots, so he was taller than Bodie at the moment. It made him feel a little off-kilter, seeing him at a strange angle while being so close. Was Bodie's bottom lip always that full or was it swollen from the same abuse his eye had suffered?

"It's... uh... conservation of energy, isn't it?"

"Is it?" Bodie shifted, and his thigh pressed against Doyle's groin.

Doyle eased back.

"Yeah, I... uh..." He opened the cupboard where the plates were kept. "I wait until they fall down on their own--"

"And then you kick 'em? Ah, I've taught you well, lad."

Bodie reached out to pat him, and Doyle side-stepped away. He couldn't have Bodie touching him right now. He needed to keep his head clear.

He pulled out two plates, and then asked, "What really happened?"

Bodie didn't answer. Doyle glanced over at him, and he seemed to be staring at Doyle's feet.

"Bodie?"

He still didn't answer.

Doyle looked down at the toes of his boots. "What? Did I step in something?"

"Jackie gave it to me."

"He what?"

Bodie picked up a can from the counter and held it out to him.

"Beer?"

His eyes were flat. It was the look he gave most of the world, but not Doyle--at least not before today.

"Bodie!"

Bodie cracked the can open and offered it again. Doyle waved it away. Bodie shrugged and drank from it.

"Bodie! If you don't tell me, I swear--"

"Don't have a fit, Ray. It was an accident--no, it wasn't an accident, that'll just make you fret more, won't it?" Bodie set his beer down and began divvying up their takeout. "It was my fault. I wanted to see what I was getting into, right? So I asked him to spar with me, and he surprised me. He's not bad for a little guy. Not bad at all."

"What are you getting into?"

Bodie handed him their plates and then grabbed a couple more beers.

"Let's eat in front of the box."

"Are you avoiding the subject or can't you tell me?"

"Christ, Ray, I'm just hungry. Can't we eat first? Interrogations put me off my feed."

They sat together on the couch. Bodie shovelled his food in, and Doyle picked at his and brooded. When Bodie had cleared half of his plate, he set it down, took up his beer, and began to explain.

Jackie was beginning a long-term undercover assignment. They knew some of the minor players in an international smuggling ring, and Jackie was going to work his way up until he knew who was in charge. Bodie was simply going to help him establish his identity for a week or two, and that was it.

"'That's that'? That doesn't tell me anything. How are you establishing it? What do you have to do?"

"He's assuming someone else's identity. They've got the real guy in custody somewhere. Some Yank crime lord's queer little brother or uncle or something like that."

"So, he's not really..." Doyle waved his hand vaguely.

"Who? Jackie?"

"Yeah, he's not really a--"

"Oh, no." Bodie chuckled. "You've got the wrong end of the stick, mate. I'd bet a month's salary that we met the real Jackie today."

"Bloody hell."

"He's not that bad."

"'Not that bad'? His hands were all over you!"

"Maybe... but he was thinking of you the whole time." Bodie looked him over in a perfect imitation of the way Jackie's eyes had devoured him earlier, and then batted his lashes at him. "You're very inspiring."

"That's not what I meant."

"Well, go on then. Explain yourself."

Doyle pushed a bit of stir-fried chicken around his plate while he gathered his thoughts. Several things were bothering him, but which was the most important?

He didn't trust Jackie. Even if that poof could protect Bodie, would he? He didn't strike Doyle as the sort of professional who would put duty before the distractions of tall, dark, and handsome here.

Putting aside Bodie's attractions for anyone bent that way, Doyle still wouldn't trust anyone else with him. Hell, he didn't even trust himself, did he? Not after Barry...

No, Doyle couldn't explain himself.

"You still haven't told me what part you're playing."

"Oh," Bodie said lightly, "the real guy has a reputation of going through bodyguards the way you go through birds."

"'Bodyguards'? Did the doctor clear you for that sort of thing?"

"They're not real bodyguards, Ray. They're just his... fucks."

"Sure of that, are you?"

"'Course I am."

Doyle turned and drew his legs up under him so he was kneeling beside Bodie.

"Take off your shirt."

"What?"

"C'mon. I want to see your shoulder."

"What? Are you a doctor now?"

"I've played one often enough, haven't I?" He tugged at Bodie's shirt. "C'mon, get it off."

"Nice technique. 's that what you tell your birds?"

"Don't need to, do I? They can't get their kit off fast enough when they see me."

Bodie laughed and crossed his arms over his chest.

"Well, I'm not encouraging your delusions. You want it off, you get it off."

"Fine," Doyle said and attacked the first button. "I could strip a nun, you know. You're no challenge at all."

Bodie didn't say anything.

When Doyle got to the third button, he began to wonder what he was doing. He'd done this before, when Bodie was hurt or too drunk to do it himself, but this was something else entirely...

He glanced up at Bodie, but he was staring resolutely at the television. There was something about how Bodie wouldn't look at him...

Something hot and uneasy flip-flopped in Doyle's gut, and his cock twitched.

Christ.

It was just nerves, but it was crazy getting bothered like this.

He unfolded Bodie's arms and tackled the last buttons. Then he pushed the shirt open and discovered another fresh bruise. This one was over Bodie's ribs. He touched it carefully, barely skimming his fingers over the skin, and Bodie's nipple hardened.

Doyle had to look away.

"Jackie again?"

"Yeah," Bodie said. "He's a slippery little bastard, knows some great moves."

Oh, Doyle bet he did. He swallowed his retort and forced himself to look back at Bodie.

Bodie met his gaze. There were shadows in his eyes.

"Well," Bodie said when Doyle didn’t do anything. "Do I pass inspection?"

"Hang on."

Doyle peeled the shirt from Bodie's shoulder. The stitches were out, and the scar--while still an ugly, painful red--was smaller than Doyle had thought it was. He had a sudden urge to check the newest scars on Bodie's back, too, but that would be pushing his luck.

"Yeah," he said, his voice unaccountably rough. "You'll do."

*


There was an old black-and-white movie playing on the telly. Doyle had no idea what it was, but he stayed to watch it with Bodie. He told Bodie about the training centre, and Bodie plied him with beer to help "put him out of his misery." He didn't tell him about Jax. He didn't think he could, not yet.

Later, Doyle wasn't drunk, so much as very relaxed, when Bodie handed him yet another beer. He promptly managed to spill it all over his lap and the couch. He jumped up, then stood staring stupidly at the couch while Bodie mopped at it with a towel.

"I was going to sleep on that couch," he said morosely.

"You can sleep on the bed with me," Bodie said.

"Yeah? You sure?"

"Don't be stupid, of course I am." Bodie straightened up and gave the wet towel a disgusted look. "Consider it practice for my new role."

Christ, Doyle was stupid. Why hadn't he thought of that?

He grabbed Bodie's arm.

"You're not going to have to sleep with him, are you?"

"I might. I suppose we'll have to play it by ear."

"Sleep with him, Bodie? Or sleep with him?"

Bodie laughed.

"Ah, mate, don't you know the grown-up words for that yet?"

"You shouldn't have to."

"In most circumstances," Bodie said seriously, "we could fake it. If not, I'm sure we could get by without much more than a wank. You've done more for the job."

That didn't make it any better.

"Oh, come on, Doyle. I promise you, my virtue is safe."

"Didn't think you had any of that left."

"Exactly." Bodie wrapped his arm around Doyle's shoulders and led him to the bathroom. "Now get 'em off."

"Nice," Doyle said. "'s that what you tell all your birds?"

"Nah, that's just what I tell my partner when he's threatening to be cold and clammy in bed."

Doyle rubbed at the wet stain on his thigh. "But I smell like beer. Shouldn't that be an... an aphrodisiac?"

"You tell me." Bodie threw the beer-soaked towel at him and left the room.

*


Doyle woke with a start.

"Shit!"

"Hmm?"

"I had a date tonight."

"Who's the lucky girl?" Bodie asked. He didn't sound like he'd been sleeping.

"Unlucky, don't you mean? I stood her up."

"That's why she's lucky. Had a near miss, didn't she?"

"I'll show you a near miss!" He grabbed at Bodie and threw a leg over him.

Bodie twisted away. "Careful!"

"Damn, where'd I get you? Your ribs?"

Doyle tried to find the lamp.

"No, I'm okay."

"You sure?"

"Will you stop asking that?" Bodie snapped.

Doyle backed off.

"Yeah. Sorry."

He lay in the dark, feeling more alone than he ever would have thought possible with Bodie only inches away.

After a while, Bodie asked, "Who was she?"'

"I don't know. You were supposed to tell me."

"I what?"

Doyle chuckled.

"See? I can't get on without you, mate. It's that new girl in Records. I don't know her name."

"The redhead?"

"There's a new redhead in Records?"

"Ah, you mean Sylvie, then."

"Sylvie?"

"Yeah."

"I knew it was an S."

"She's cute," Bodie said.

"Yeah."

"Too tiny for me, though."

"Good. She's not--"

"I like having something solid to hang onto in bed."

"Ah. That explains the big gymnast, then."

"Mmm."

They were quiet.

"She's never going to talk to me again," Doyle said.

"Nope."

"Bloody Cowley."

"It's not Cowley's fault you stood her up."

Yes, it was. How could he think about a bird when Cowley might take Bodie away from him?

He started to doze off again when he remembered something else.

"Bodie? Did you set the alarm?"

"It's on your side."

"It's your alarm. I don't know how to work it, not in the dark."

Bodie sighed, then rolled over and reached for it. He was warm and heavy all along Doyle's left side.

It felt good.

"Bodie?"

He touched the arm bridging his chest and traced the curve of a muscle.

"Hmm?"

"Do you want a new partner?"

Bodie stilled for a second, then there was a click from the alarm, and Bodie's lips brushed against Doyle's forehead and left a quick kiss.

"Get some kip, old son. You have a busy day tomorrow."

Bodie moved away, and Doyle felt even lonelier than before.

*


Doyle arrived at the training centre a few minutes early. Jax was already there waiting in his car. Doyle went over to tap on his window, and then saw the man standing at the centre's entrance.

He groaned.

Jax opened his car door, and Doyle grabbed it, keeping him from getting out.

"Quick, Jax, let's get out of here while we still can."

"What?" Jax looked at him like he was crazy.

Doyle jerked his head toward the centre. "That's Macklin."

"Yeah?"

"Don't you know him?"

"Never had the pleasure."

Doyle laughed.

"Oh, no, no, no. There's no pleasure about it. He's a nutter, a right sadistic bastard, and he's going to be worse than usual."

"Why?"

"He was a trainer under Barry Martin, specialized in unarmed combat--you really never had him?"

"No."

"Jammy bastard."

Jax pushed his door completely open.

"Oh, we're in for it," Doyle said. "Martin's position is open, and Macklin's going to be making a name for himself, aiming for the promotion."

"We can handle it."

"Oh, yeah, it's you and me against Atilla the Hun," Doyle muttered, but he followed Jax over to where Macklin was standing.

"Well, Doyle, it's good to see you again." Macklin grinned and clapped him on the back. "And you must be Jax. I hear you'll be joining the A-squad. Congratulations."

"Thank you, sir."

"Well... Let me tell you what's on the agenda before we go in there and begin." Macklin put his hands on his hips and looked them both over.

"This was a bit of a special request from Cowley, but we've got some other training going on right now--a whole batch of new recruits. So, for three days, you'll be working with me, have a bit of a refresher, and do some team building. Then I'm shipping you off with the new boys for five days of combat training with Jack Craine."

Macklin grinned again, showing his teeth.

"Then, two more days with me, and if you can still stand upright after that, we'll decide where to go from there. How does that sound?"

Jax looked distinctly pale. It was probably Macklin's cheerfulness that got to him. It was rather unnerving.

Doyle patted his back. "We can handle it."

*


Only, they couldn't handle it. Or, more precisely, Doyle couldn't.

They were fine one-on-one. In fact, Doyle excelled. It was an outlet for his excess nervous energy. He thought he may have even surprised Macklin a time or two. But during team exercises, they were as raw as the new recruits.

As the senior agent, Doyle knew it was his fault, but he couldn’t seem to work around it. Try as he might, he kept remembering that Jax wasn't Bodie.

Jax was eyeing him warily now, probably wondering what his problem was. They'd worked well together before when Doyle had been after those responsible for nearly killing Bodie.

At the end of the second day, they were no better than they'd been at the start of the first. Doyle slipped away after supper for a shower, and encountered Macklin deep in conversation with another trainer in the hallway.

"Don't know what to do," Macklin was saying. "It's a new pairing and it's not working."

Doyle hesitated. He didn't want to know what they were talking about... but he thought he already knew.

"It could work," Macklin said, "if I told him, but my orders are not to--"

Doyle decided to skip the shower and ducked back into the barracks.

He wasn't taking this seriously enough because he was assuming that he'd be back with Bodie before too long. But, if this was permanent--and it seemed that it would be--he owed it to Jax and himself to do better.

He resolved to double his efforts and put Bodie from his mind.

Their teamwork improved by leaps and bounds over the next few days, though Bodie was never far from his thoughts. Little things would catch him unexpectedly.

Jax reached down to give him a hand as they were scaling wall, and Doyle remembered how effortlessly Bodie could do it--and how he'd secretly thrill at Bodie's strength while he purposely held back and let Bodie pull him up.

Jax steadied Doyle when he almost tripped on the obstacle course, and his hand brushed Doyle's arse. Jax didn't seem to notice, and Doyle couldn't help but compare that to Bodie and himself. Even after an accidental touch, their eyes were always meeting, always sharing this spark of... something. What was it? Awareness?

He'd been jealous of Jackie Holmes, angry that he could flirt so openly with Bodie, without even realizing how very much he and Bodie flirted with each other. It was flirting, wasn't it? That spark?

It got worse when the exercises let up enough that his mind could wander without risking serious bodily injury. What were Bodie and Jackie doing right now, and more importantly, was Bodie enjoying it?

Worst of all was at night, during the few hours Macklin allowed them to grab some desperately-needed sleep. Doyle's sleep was fitful. He was plagued by the thought that Jackie had more to offer Bodie than he did. It was ridiculous. Doyle couldn't think of anything Jackie could offer his partner that he couldn't, except for... well, maybe... sex without consequences. But Bodie wouldn't want that.

Yeah, right. Bodie not wanting sex was like the sun not wanting to rise, but Bodie wasn't bent.

Or was he? What had Cowley's riddle meant? What was Bodie hiding?

He told himself not to speculate, but still, it kept bothering him.

If Bodie was bent... would he want what Doyle could offer?

*


It was a near thing, but on the tenth day, they were still standing. Macklin called a halt to the day early.

"I'd like to keep you longer, boys, but Cowley just called. He wants you right away, Doyle."

Doyle stared at him. He felt like he'd been run over by a tank battalion and now he was supposed to drive?

"I don't suppose you want to stay on with me for a few more days?" Macklin asked Jax.

"Oh, I would, sir. But I, uh... I think I better drive Ray back to HQ."

"Ah, well. Maybe next time." He gave them both a hearty pat on the back, and Doyle stumbled. "Don't keep Cowley waiting, lads."

Once they were in the car, Doyle turned to Jax.

"You're an angel of mercy, Jax."

And, just like that, he was asleep.

*


"Ah, Doyle," Cowley said when he saw him. "You look well."

The kip in the car had helped, but it couldn't have helped that much.

"When was the last time your eyes were examined, sir?"

Cowley chuckled.

"No, lad. You look keen, fit. Brian did a good job with you. I think I'll send you along with Bodie when his op's over."

"Bodie?"

"Or perhaps Brian rattled your brain a little too hard. You remember Bodie, your partner?"

"Not Jax?"

"Oh, your ears need examining more than my eyes do! I told you that was temporary."

"But--"

Bloody Macklin.

That conversation in the hallway had to have been staged! And he'd fallen for it, suckered in by that bastard's mind games.

"Yes, 4.5?"

Doyle grinned. Bodie was still his!

"Nothing, sir."

All that worrying had been for nothing!

Well, no... He still wasn't sure if Bodie was happy with their partnership, but he could handle that. He'd had his fill of worrying about it instead of doing something about it. He'd find the problem and fix it.

"Good," Cowley said. "Now, Bodie hasn't reported in for two days--"

Doyle lost his grin.

"And you've waited this long to do something about it? You said you wouldn't risk him!"

"He's not in danger. We know where he is."

"Where--"

"Now, Doyle, you need to understand the delicate nature of this operation. As far as Jackie Holmes and his people are aware, Bodie is completely at their disposal."

"You're killing two birds with one stone, aren't you, sir? Get them owing you a favour while you're busy digging for dirt on them."

"I prefer 'mining for information,'" Cowley said. "There's nothing dirty about it."

"Oh, that's all well and good, but meanwhile, Bodie's--"

"We've had visual confirmation of 3.7's wellbeing. He's fine, but he must be under constant surveillance, either from Mr. Holmes' group or their targets. You're to make contact with him and get his report. Jackie's met you, so he won't question your presence."

"Won't he? It sounds like you don't trust him."

"I trust him as much as I trust anybody, but he's not the enemy. A healthy curiosity about their methods is a far cry from suspicion."

"Curiosity killed the cat, sir."

"Oh, very droll, 4.5." Cowley handed him a file. "Now get on with it. I'll leave the details up to you. Do whatever needs done to make contact, but don't burn your bridges. You may need to do it again."

*


Doyle started to read the briefing and the transcripts of Bodie's reports, but it wasn't long before he realized he'd better take it home and read it there. It wouldn't do to be caught giggling all alone in the rest room. But there was a beautiful irony in the thought of Bodie--who often seemed to ask no more of women than that they have big tits--surrounded by a sea of false knockers. For what else could there be when you were chasing a mob using transvestites for mules?

He grabbed the file and his jacket, and almost crashed into Anson on his way out the door.

"Oh, sorry, mate."

"Doyle, I thought you'd disappeared."

"No such luck."

Speaking of luck, he wondered...

"So how'd you make out with the lovely Sylvie?"

Anson's eyes widened.

"How'd you know?"

Doyle tapped the side of his nose.

"She's fine," Anson said. "No thanks to you."

"'No thanks'? C'mon, you owe me one for that. She wouldn't have given you the time of day if I hadn't been such a cad."

"I don't think so."

"Then let me owe you one, mate. I need a lift home."

*


Doyle decided his best chance would be to pick Bodie up at one of the clubs he and Jackie were frequenting. But depending on how closely Bodie was "guarding" Jackie, it might be difficult to get him alone. It still had to be better than staking out their hotel and hoping to catch him that way. It seemed like they weren't spending much time there at all.

He'd just have to brazen it out.

If Bodie was playing the dutiful bodyguard cum plaything, believably catching Bodie's eye would be more of a challenge. He'd have to be really something to cause the faithful boy toy to stray.

Well, it was a good thing then that he was really something.

If Jackie had liked him before, his eyes would pop out of their sockets now. And Bodie... Well, if nothing else, they'd have a good laugh over it later.

He set his alarm so he could sleep a bit more, but being alone finally after days of sleeping six to a room meant he still couldn't sleep--especially not with the evening's activities before him.

He stared at the ceiling and thought about the look he sometimes caught in Bodie's eyes, and the way Bodie smelled, and what Bodie's thigh felt like pressed between his. He closed his eyes, slipped his hand into his pants, and remembered being nineteen and kissing a man. He remembered Bodie pratting around and grabbing his arse. He remembered the sight of Bodie's nipple hardening because of his touch.

He stroked himself and hated Jackie--not for being with Bodie, but for being who and what he was. Doyle couldn't even indulge himself with the one man who meant so much to him, and yet Jackie could be an agent respected by Cowley even while he paraded around flaunting his perversions.

*


The "lady" at the club's entrance gave him a once over and then raised one of his artfully plucked brows.

"If you're here for the shows, you're out of luck, butch."

Doyle returned his appraisal. He wondered, idly, if his falsies had ever been filled with heroin. He could easily hide a couple kilos in there.

"Me, darling?" Doyle asked. "I'm never out of luck."

"It's Tuesday."

"So it is."

"Only our regulars come on Tuesdays. There's no shows, not until tomorrow."

"I am a regular. You just don't recognize me without my wig."

He stared pointedly at all the hair displayed by Doyle's open shirt.

"You never."

"No, you've got me. I've never." Doyle smoothed a hand over his curls. "Been blessed by nature, haven't I? Would be a crime to cover it up."

"Blessed with cheek, I'd say."

"You haven't seen my cheeks, yet. Or have you got a hidden mirror somewhere?" Doyle turned around and pretended to look.

"Oh, go inside, sweetheart. Tuesdays are our best night, if you ask me."

"But I'm having plenty of fun right here."

"Oh, go on!" He smacked Doyle's arse. "I'll never hear the end of it if I monopolize you."

Doyle went inside, rubbing the sting from his cheek.

He might have to rethink his opinion of Jackie. Wearing makeup and frills hadn't softened that bloke's wallop any.

*


For an off night, it seemed crowded. Doyle got a drink and slowly circled the main room, dancing and mingling while he got a feel for the place. He divided his attention equally between the blokes and the... blokes in dresses, but he deliberately displayed a bit more interest in anyone who matched Bodie's general description. If anyone was paying attention, he wanted them to know that he had a type and Bodie fit it to a tee.

He made two full circuits without spotting Bodie or Jackie. He was ready for another drink--and debating with himself about how long he should wait before trying a different club--when he heard a distinctive laugh.

He turned just in time to see Jackie entering the room from the hall leading backstage.

Jackie's arm was around a stunning woman. With dusky skin and a sleek fall of black hair, she looked incredibly exotic set against Jackie's comparatively bland blondeness. Had Doyle seen her anywhere else, he never would have questioned her gender.

Bodie stepped out from behind them, and Doyle shook himself. He wasn't here to gawk at women, no matter what surprises they might keep tucked in their knickers.

They crossed to a table which seemed to have been reserved for them. Who had rated that honour, the man Jackie was supposed to be or the woman with them?

Jackie and the woman sat, and Bodie planted his hand on the back of Jackie's chair and leaned down to say something to him.

Doyle's eyes widened.

Was that Bodie's idea of dressing like he did?

Sure, Doyle wore his jeans tight, but he wouldn't wear them so tightly if he filled them the way Bodie did. And Bodie couldn't be wearing anything underneath them, not with the way the worn denim strained to separate and display the full roundness of each cheek.

Doyle slipped a hand down to adjust his own trousers. It was no wonder, then, why Bodie favoured long jackets. They kept him from being arrested for inciting public acts of indecency.

Bodie headed towards the bar, and Doyle drifted back into the crowd. It wouldn't do to meet up with him too soon.

Bodie moved comfortably through the outskirts of the crowd. He didn't dance, but he didn't need to. He drew enough attention without it, and laughed easily when the more adventurous groped him. He even copped a feel or two, himself. Doyle was surprised, but he shouldn't have been. It was always nice to be admired, wasn't it? It didn't make much of a difference who was doing the admiring.

But while he was waiting for his drinks, a slender, brown-haired man began to chat up Bodie. Instead of simply laughing, as he'd done on the dance floor, Bodie shifted to make more room for the man. He returned his attention, touching first his arm and then his hand, and looking up at him with such a light in his eyes that Doyle reached for his gun before remembering that it was in his boot.

In that second, he could have happily shot them both.

He didn't care what Cowley said. Bodie was no actor. He couldn't fake that look if his life depended on it.

There were only three things that lit up Bodie's face with that particularly goofy and besotted look: a woman with big tits walking towards him, anyone bringing him food or a free drink, and, occasionally, Doyle for no particular reason at all. Bodie was a great big kid, and those were the things that made him happy. And since Doyle was the only one who received that look on a regular basis, he'd foolishly considered that look his own.

Yeah, well... Bodie was a kid, all right, but Doyle had obviously read the look wrong. If Bodie was bent, that look was reserved for everything he considered edible, and Doyle wasn't nearly as unique as he'd thought.

Bodie made his way back round to the table, and Doyle decided not to wait any longer.

He went to the bar and ordered one of the fruity drinks that Bodie liked so much. (That should have been a clue right there, he told himself.) He took enough of a sip that he wouldn't spill it, and crossed through the middle of the dance floor, focussed solely on Bodie's table. He wove easily through the dancers, melding his movements to theirs, and didn't spill a drop.

Jackie and the woman were deep in conversation and didn't notice his approach, but Doyle knew the instant Bodie saw him. He sat up taller, and panic flared for a moment in his expression.

That's right, mate. I'm on to you.

With Bodie's eyes locked on him, he stopped and took a long swallow from the glass. It wasn't to his taste, but it was cool and wet, and it put a taste on his lips that was just for Bodie to lick off. And Bodie would know it. Doyle never ordered such drinks for himself.

He licked his lips, and then raised his brows in invitation. Bodie shook his head "no" in one of those minute gestures that added to their reputation as mind readers.

Well, if he was going to be difficult...

Doyle finished his journey and set the drink down in front of Bodie.

"Is this a ménage à trois?" he asked Bodie. "Or can anyone cut in?"

"That depends on which of us you want," Jackie said.

He flicked his eyes over to Jackie.

"I would think that was obvious."

"He's with me," Jackie said.

"He doesn't look like he's with you. You're with the lady, and he's..." He turned back to Bodie. "I saw you earlier, don't you dance?"

"No."

Doyle hooked his thumbs on his belt.

"Best looking man in the place and you don't dance? That's not right."

"I don't dance," Bodie said flatly.

That was true enough. He didn't enjoy it the way Doyle did. He just used it as an excuse to get close to his birds.

"That's okay," Doyle said. "I can teach you. I've always fancied myself as a bit of a Henry Higgins. You should see what I can do with sow's ears."

Bodie inspected the drink that Doyle had brought him. He picked it up, sniffed at it, then drank while inspecting Doyle in much the same manner.

"No," he said finally. "I'd be a waste of your time." He turned to the woman and explained, "I'm already a silk purse."

Jackie laughed.

"Don't let him fool you, love. He's an insatiable brute."

"'Maybe," Doyle said. "Or maybe you don't have what it takes to wear him out."

That earned him a sharp look from Jackie and a speculative one from their companion.

"Phil," she said. (Even hearing her voice didn't help Doyle decide if she were real or not.) "You should dance with him. You never get to have any fun."

"'Phil'?" Doyle grinned, and Bodie shot him death threats with his eyes. "After the way you fill your trousers?"

"You think he's fun?" Bodie asked. "With jokes like that?"

"Oh, honey, just keep his mouth occupied." She tapped Jackie's arm. "See what you've done? You've kept him locked up so long, he's forgotten the basics."

"But I look so good in chains," Bodie said sweetly.

Jackie howled with laughter.

"Oh, he does! Makes me--"

"Damn," Doyle said. He began unbuckling his belt.

Everyone at the table watched avidly for a moment, until Bodie broke the spell.

"'ere, mate, what do you think you're doing? The loo's that way."

"Don't stop him!" the others commanded.

Doyle grinned and then yanked his belt free from its loops with a single dramatic tug.

"I seem to have left my chains in my other jacket, but if this'll do?" He draped the belt around Bodie's neck.

Bodie stood up abruptly and trapped him against the table. He slipped the belt from his shoulders and began to roll it into a coil.

"Nice," he said. "Very supple."

He looked Doyle over again, very slowly, while he handled the leather. Doyle's pulse pounded in his ears, as well as much, much lower.

"I may have to use this on your backside later," Bodie said.

He dropped the belt on the table, and the clink of its buckle hitting a glass seemed unnaturally loud in the sudden hush around their table.

"I don't know about that..." Doyle traced a line along the front of Bodie's jeans, from one empty belt loop to another. "Seems like you don't know how to use a belt."

He fingered the button at Bodie's waist. Bodie's hand covered his, and Doyle's heart leapt. Could it really be this easy? Would Bodie let--

"Oh my god," the woman told Jackie. "It's a live sex show, just for us!"

Bodie grabbed Doyle's wrist and dragged him away from their audience.

*


"What are you doing?" Bodie hissed when they were lost in the anonymity of the dance floor.

"Trying to dance without breaking my wrist. What does it look like?"

Bodie released him, and Doyle instantly pressed closer.

"You're supposed to elevate a sprained wrist, aren't you?"

He propped his wrist on Bodie's shoulder and curled his fingers into the hair that brushed Bodie's collar.

Bodie wasn't amused.

"What are you doing here? Cowley said--"

Even in a room packed with sweaty bodies, Bodie's hair felt cool and thick and soft... like petting a mink in winter. Doyle smiled at the indulgent thought and wrapped himself around Bodie.

Gotta be cool, he thought, remembering their first meeting.

And Bodie was cool like an oasis in a desert, like a refuge from his weeks of worry.

Weeks? More like months, really. Months filled with worrying that Bodie would die after the stabbing at the cock pit, that Bodie wouldn't trust him after Barry's betrayal, that Bodie was being taken from him by Cowley and Jackie...

No, no more of that. He took a deep, cleansing breath.

God, Bodie smelled good. What would Bodie do if he buried his face in Bodie's neck and filled his lungs with the scent of him? And how would it feel to be cheek-to-cheek with what looked like two days' growth of beard?

He pressed even closer to find out, but Bodie held him at bay.

"Have you heard a word I've said?"

Doyle rasped his knuckles along Bodie's jaw, and shivered, imagining that sensation against other bits of skin--his cheek, his neck, his thighs...

"Hmm?"

"You stoned?" Bodie grabbed a fistful of curls and yanked Doyle's head back.

Doyle tried to retaliate, but Bodie's hair slipped through his fingers without much effect so he dug his fingers hard into Bodie's good shoulder until the pain in his scalp eased.

"That's better." He rubbed Bodie's shoulder where he'd clawed him. "You've gotta stop doing that, sunshine. You'll turn my hair grey."

"More grey," Bodie said.

Doyle cuffed him.

"Show more respect for your elders--and if you haven't figured it out yet, I'm making contact with you."

Bodie laughed, but it was an ugly sound.

"Cowley sent you."

"Yeah."

"The old bastard said he wouldn't. He said--"

They were drawing stares because they'd stopped doing anything even vaguely like dancing. Bodie realized this at the same time Doyle did, and they moved in unison to the edge of the crowd.

"Here," Bodie said. He drew Doyle into an alcove that held nothing but a couple of sandwich-board signs advertising drag revues.

"Why did Cowley say--?"

Bodie cut him off.

"Never mind Cowley. Since when did you take 'making contact' so literally?"

"Since I could?"

"You're plastering yourself over me!"

Doyle grinned.

"Maybe I want to play Doctor with you."

Bodie didn't smile.

"Doctor," Doyle said. "You know. Plasters, doctors..."

"Christ."

"Hey, it wasn't that bad--"

"You're trying it on with me."

"You don't have to make it sound like--"

"I don't believe it. You're serious."

"Bodie--"

"'How I Phil my trousers'--that was awful."

Doyle's confusion must have been apparent. While Bodie still kept him at arm's length, his face softened and he explained.

"I know you, mate. You can chat up birds like no one else until you're serious about 'em."

"And then?" Doyle asked.

"Then, your lines are the worst clunkers--like the ones you've used on me tonight." Bodie shook his head. "You still pull 'em, though. I'll give you that."

He brushed a curl away from Doyle's face.

"They must all take pity on you. 'Poor lad,' they say. 'He's frightfully sexy, but he must never get girls, not with lines like that.'"

"I don't want pity."

"No," Bodie agreed.

Doyle stared at him, wanting him and wanting what he thought tonight might offer, but even more than that, he simply wanted Bodie by his side.

Was there regret in Bodie's eyes?

"Do you think I'm 'frightfully sexy'?" he asked.

Yeah, there was regret. Bodie wasn't going to act like those birds and take pity on him.

After a long moment, Bodie dropped his gaze. His lashes didn't veil his eyes so much as lower an iron gate to keep Doyle out.

Doyle wanted nothing more than to be allowed inside that gate.

"You can see your nipples through that shirt," Bodie said.

"Yeah, I know."

Doyle smoothed a palm over his chest. If Bodie wanted to lighten the mood, he could play along. He flicked open another button.

"You complainin'?"

"You know," Bodie said, "very little frightens me."

"Yeah, I know."

"And I've been to places like this before."

Doyle waited for what he'd say next, and Bodie plucked at Doyle's shirt.

"But even I'm not brave enough to wear a thing like this here."

Doyle shrugged.

"I'm not a coward."

"Aren't you?" Bodie asked.

"No!" Doyle shoved him against the wall. "I'm--"

Bodie--the insufferable prat--continued like Doyle hadn't done anything at all.

"Or maybe not... You come in here--without a jacket, so you're showing off. You look like a target with two bull's eyes in this shirt." Bodie pressed a finger against one of the 'targets.'

"Bang," Doyle whispered.

Something flickered deep in Bodie's eyes.

"And they're flat like little copper pennies, aren't they? Half the men here are wondering just how to get them hard enough that they're poking through your shirt, begging to be bitten."

"Bodie--"

"But I know. I know exactly what'll get you going."

Bodie brushed the fabric over his other nipple, and Doyle smiled.

The bloody know-it-all. That wouldn't do it; his nipples weren't sensitive. But Bodie left them alone after that.

Bodie reached around him and drew his thumb nail down the line of Doyle's back. It felt like a knife for a second, and Doyle gasped before his blood surged and his nipples peaked.

Bodie laughed softly in his ear. He hooked his thumb in the waistband of Doyle's trousers and danced his fingers along the back seam.

"And if I licked behind your ear now, all of you would stand at attention, wouldn't it? Not just your tits--"

"Bodie--"

"See what I do to you?" Bodie said. "Why haven't you done this sooner?"

"I didn't know."

"Didn't know what? That you wanted me? Then you've been lying to yourself. You're a liar and a coward."

"I didn't know you were bent."

"And that's why you're a coward. You should've tried it on anyway, 'cause now? I'm not interested."

Doyle thrust his hips against Bodie's.

"'Not interested?' You're the bloody liar."

"I'm not interested in playing games with you."

"Good," Doyle said. "I'm not playing games. You said yourself, I'm serious."

"'Course you are, mate. Missed that shag before you went off to Macklin, didn't you? You haven't had your leg over in nearly a fortnight."

"That's nothing to do with it."

"You're a randy little bastard, and I'm not having it."

"You've no idea--"

"I've plenty. Cowley breaks his promise and sends you here. You get an eyeful and decide 'Bodie's bent, so I'm going to try it on just this once.' And why not? You can get away with it here, can't you? It doesn't have to mean anything. Hell, it can't mean anything--it's all part of being undercover, being someone else."

Doyle wished that Bodie would sound angrier and less like this was a disappointment he had anticipated. He reached for him.

"It's not--"

Bodie knocked his hand away.

"Well, forget it. I'm not yours--not for 'just once.' If you want that, go to Jackie. He's the one who makes a notch for every straight man he bags. He'd love to cut your notch."

"My 'notch,'" Doyle said quietly.

"Yeah, your..." Bodie thought about it for a moment, and then smiled. "Didn't mean it quite like that, mate."

Doyle reached out again, and Bodie didn't stop him. He touched his thumb to the corner of Bodie's smile.

"I kissed a man, once."

He traced the shape of Bodie's lips. He had very nice lips. They were full and softer than his vague memories of that other man's lips. They made him think of all of the times that he had made Bodie laugh. They made him remember how many times they'd been comfortably silent together and all the times they'd made jokes about things that would've been too painful to bear otherwise.

With crystal clarity, he thought I love Bodie and I'm scared out of my mind.

Bodie licked his lips then. The touch of his tongue on Doyle's fingers was too much.

Doyle wanted him, but this wasn't the right time. Right now, he was running on fumes and acting out of his fear of losing Bodie.

"Just one man?" Bodie asked.

"Yeah--and we only kissed. My notch is still free for the... cutting."

Bodie sniffed.

"Men these days," he camped. "They're so vulgar."

"This man wants to kiss you."

Bodie started to say something, so Doyle hurried to interrupt.

"But not here. That would be just a step above shagging in the men's toilet, wouldn't it?"

"This isn't that sort of establishment," Bodie said primly.

"Right."

"C'mon." Bodie twined their fingers together and led him down the hall that he and Jackie had entered from earlier. They passed several doors, till Bodie pressed his ear to one and listened. "Okay."

They stepped into a well-appointed office.

"Make it quick, though." Bodie closed the door and leaned against it. "Annette will have our bollocks if she catches us here."

"Oh, that won't do. I like them right where they are."

"Yours or mine?"

"Both."

"That makes it sound like we've only one each," Bodie said.

Doyle shook his head.

"Thanks to those jeans, I think we all know that you're intact."

"Perfect specimen, I am."

"Mmm," Doyle agreed, but he was busy looking at his partner as if it were the first time.

"Aren't you going to kiss me?"

"In a minute, I'm thinking."

Bodie rolled his eyes.

"They work exactly the same."

"What?"

"You don't have to read an instruction manual. My lips work just like a bird's."

"Berk." Doyle stepped close, and Bodie folded his arms around him. "That's not what I was thinking."

"Enlighten me?"

"This isn't 'cause you're bent," Doyle said. "You're my partner, and I don't want you just once."

"Just twice?"

"Shut up."

Doyle kissed him.

(Years later, Doyle always wished that he could say that it was the most memorable kiss ever, the kiss to top all other kisses. Instead, he was simply lucky--extremely lucky--that it was the first of many. No one was their best after Macklin. What he could remember was that--)

It was sweet and hot.

Bodie's lips clung to his and then opened, and Doyle couldn't believe that he was finally getting to taste him. He angled his head, wanting to delve deeper, and then realized that Bodie was smiling into the kiss. He pulled away far enough to press words onto Bodie's lips.

"You were right."

"Mmm..."

"I was a coward."

Bodie's hands explored his backside.

"But I'm feeling brave now."

"Shut up, Ray."

Doyle returned to more important things, until--

"Shit!"

"Here we go again," Bodie muttered.

"Did you say 'Annette'?"

"Do we have to talk about Jackie's little friend right now?"

"Annette Clare?"

"Yeah."

"Does Cowley know her name?"

"Damn," Bodie sighed. "I was enjoying that kiss."

"He doesn't, does he?"

"Haven't been able to report in, have I? Does he need to know?"

"Is she a he?"

"Couldn't you tell?"

"Is she?"

"Yeah."

"Everything with the ambassador makes sense now."

Bodie blinked.

"You don't know about that case. I'll explain it later, but Jackie's little friend is into more than drug smuggling."

"How much more?"

"Arms dealing and blackmail, I'd say for a start. Maybe trading in restricted information..."

"Damn," Bodie said again.

"Yeah."

"You better get back to the Cow."

Doyle pressed a quick kiss on Bodie's lips.

"I'll make it up to you later."

"Oh, joy!" Bodie clapped his hands. "You're sending me a greetings telegram?"

"Only the best for you, mate."

"Oh, no," Bodie laughed. "Don't change now."

Doyle pounced, and Bodie dove for the door.

*


Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.


[end: Much Ado about Nothing]

(This was a pinch hit, so it doesn't end quite like I hoped it would.)
Comments 
30th-Dec-2013 03:57 pm (UTC)
Wot no comments? Perhaps you got comments in one of the comms? But here is a comment here, however belated.

Really enjoyed this! No idea about Jackie Holmes (although most intrigued), but it didn't matter at all. I loved Doyle's confusion and growing realisation, and then his behaviour in the club - that's my Doyle, brazening things out. And Bodie's reaction, particularly his suspicion - entirely plausible, I reckon!

Thanks for this - and for leaving it up for people like me to find seven years later!
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