Mere Anarchy
By Rebelcat

“How is your appetite?”

He was leaning against her filing cabinet, picking absentmindedly at the bandages around his wrists. “Fine.”

“Any trouble sleeping?”

“Like an infant.” He paused. “And, no I don’t mean I’m crying all night either. I’m sleeping perfectly well.”

“Troubling thoughts?”

“Not a one.”

Ross put her pen down, and regarded Bodie sceptically. He was pointedly not looking in her direction, to all appearances fully occupied with destroying his doctor’s neat work. Bits of plaster had landed on his shoes, white against the polished black leather. The bruised side of his face was turned away from her, though not out of any consideration for her sensibilities, she was certain of that. “Look here, you were only released from the hospital today...”

“Two hours ago. I came straight here. Couldn’t bear to go another minute without seeing your lovely face.”

Ross made a note on her clipboard. Directly below ‘notable lack of emotional affect’, she wrote ‘avoidance techniques - verbal.’ She said, “Anyone would be unsettled by what you’ve been through.”

His jaw tightened. “Knew the risks before I joined this mob.”

“You were assaulted.”

Now, finally, he looked at her. Blood vessels had broken and bled, rimming the iris of his right eye in red. The smile he gave her sent a chill up her spine. “I was raped. Can’t you say it?” His expression was challenging, and deadly. “Raped.”

It was a dangerous moment, and though Ross prided herself on her ability to handle any situation, she nonetheless found herself shaken. This man was a professional killer, and he had dropped the charming mask he habitually wore in a deliberate attempt to frighten her.

But then his expression shifted indefinably, becoming blandly pleasant once more. “Been beaten. Stabbed. Shot. It’s just one more... fascinating life experience, innit?”

“It’s not the same,” said Ross, as she wrote ‘minimizing impact of trauma’. The slight delay gave her a moment to collect herself, and she felt her heart return to its normal pace.

“Don’t see why not,” he said, mulishly.

“You may find yourself having difficulty with intimate relationships.”

He didn’t miss a beat. “Offering to help me with that, are you?”

“If you would feel more comfortable talking to a male counsellor...”

He frowned at her. Ross wondered whether he was reacting to the idea of having to talk to someone else, or the possibility of more sessions.

“I’m talking to you, aren’t I?” asked Bodie.

“You’re not talking to me, you’re blowing a lot of macho smoke and dodging the real issues.” Ross checked her watch. Forty-five minutes wasted. “I must have your co-operation, if I am to make any sort of decision regarding your fitness for the field.” She reached for her appointment book. “We’re out of time today. I’ll see if I can fit you in tomorrow.”

His voice rose an octave. “You’re not going to pass me?”

Ross regarded him with frustration. She thought, the man is raped and shows no emotional reaction, but threaten to take away his guns and he panics. “I’d say the question of whether you are fit for the field is irrelevant. You’re still on medical leave.”

Bodie scowled, but Ross was unmoved. This was her area of expertise, the position in which she held all the power.

“Tomorrow. Friday, 1:15.”

“How did it go?” asked Doyle. “She called the men in white coats yet?”

Bodie ignored the jab. “That...” He shook his head, then winced. “She’s not going to give up until she finds something wrong. I keep telling her I’m fine but...” He pinched the bridge of his nose, and then started rummaging around in his pockets.

Doyle grimaced sympathetically. “Headache?” The doctor had said Bodie’s concussion was mild, but Doyle knew from experience that even mild concussions could leave some nasty effects behind.

“Yeah. I’m going to go take a pill. Mind?”

“Nah. Your chauffeur will wait for you here.” It was an old routine, one with which they were both far too familiar.

“Ta. Thanks, mate.”

Doyle watched Bodie walk down the corridor, waiting until he was out of sight before he let himself slump back against the wall with a sigh. He rubbed his face wearily. Bodie was handling all of this with unnerving good cheer.

He couldn’t keep it up forever. Sooner or later, something would have to break.

Lost in thought, Doyle was only peripherally aware of Cowley’s approach.

“Where’s Bodie?” asked Cowley, sharply.

Doyle gestured over his shoulder, in the general direction of the bathroom. “His head was bothering him. He went to take a pill.”

Cowley barely broke step as he passed Doyle and headed down the hall. “I told you to keep an eye on him!”

“He’s in the bathroom!”

Cowley threw open the bathroom door, revealing an empty room. Impatiently he turned back to confront Doyle. “Since when does Bodie ever admit to being in pain?”

Doyle grimaced, suddenly realizing the enormity of his error. Bodie ran out on me!

“He’s your partner, you should know him better than that!”

For a moment Doyle felt sick horror in the pit of his stomach, remembering others who had seemed to be coping fine, right up until the moment they put a bullet through their own head, or swallowed the whole bottle of pills. Despite Ross’s considerable talents, the ranks of CI5 had seen more than one suicide. But no. That wasn’t Bodie’s style. He wasn’t the type to turn on himself. He’d turn that destructive rage outwards, at others.

Doyle said, “He’ll want them all dead.” And I might have helped him, if he’d bothered to ask.

“A task mostly accomplished already,” said Cowley, grimly. “Three of the five died during the initial raid, the last executed by Bodie himself.”

“That was self-defence,” protested Doyle. “He had a gun...”

“It’s not like you to leave an armed opponent at your back.”

“I was distracted.”

“Sloppy. Don’t let it happen again.” Cowley gave Doyle a narrow look that said he knew perfectly well what had transpired in that basement room. “Two left. One remains at large, and one is in critical condition...”

“ the hospital.”

Cowley nodded, decisively. “And there’s where we’ll find Bodie.”

The intensive care ward was busy, but not unusually so, no signs of any commotion. Doyle searched for Bodie, while Cowley intercepted a doctor and inquired as to the status of the prisoner.

Doyle paused as he heard the doctor say, “He died just over half an hour ago.”

Bodie was talking to Ross half an hour ago, thought Doyle, relieved.

“Died?” asked Cowley, sharply. “What cause?”

The doctor seemed puzzled by Cowley’s tone. “Massive organ failure. Your lads put four bullets in him. What did you expect?”

“And why was I not notified of his death immediately?”

“I just talked to your man!”

Doyle left Cowley to his conversation with the doctor. As he walked down the hall towards the exit, peering around corners and into rooms, he composed a mental list of appropriately descriptive words for his missing partner. Egotistical, smug, thoughtless, moronic, homicidal... prick! He repeated that last word over to himself several times. Prick. Bastard, too. For a fleeting moment he wondered how it was that Bodie managed to get up his nose more than anyone else he knew, but then he decided he didn’t care.

Doyle was torn between wanting to comfort Bodie, and wanting to kill him. Of course, technically speaking, the one did not rule out the other, so long as he didn’t kill him before he comforted him.

He found Bodie leaning against the wall outside the emergency entrance, his arms crossed over his chest and his lips pursed thoughtfully.

Bodie said, “I didn’t kill him.”

Doyle exploded. “But you would have! You left me holding the bag, Bodie! ‘Where’s Bodie’, Cowley says. ‘In the bathroom,’ I say. But no, he’s actually off on a nice little mission of vengeance, going to murder a man in his hospital bed. I looked like a right fool, I did!”

Bodie smirked humourlessly. “You mean more than usual?”

“Oh, you’re hilarious,” snarled Doyle. “I swear, Bodie, if you vanish on me again, I’ll... I’ll...”

“You’ll what? Handcuff me to the bed?”

Doyle blanched, the memory hitting him with visceral force. Bodie handcuffed to a filthy bed, wrists bleeding into the bare mattress, blood on his haunches, the smell of vomit strong in the room...

Bodie’s grim voice brought him back to the present. “It’d take more than just the one of you, sunshine.”

Doyle’s fists clenched. Injured or not, there was only so much he should have to take from the overgrown idiot. Bodie met his glare with a manic grin, inviting him to try it on. They’d scrapped before with far less provocation.

Cowley spoke from the doorway, startling them both. “Are you finished?”

The moment shattered, they backed away from each other.

“Sir,” said Bodie, all traces of menace vanishing. To Doyle’s eyes he now looked like nothing so much as a sulky school kid, determined not to apologize for what he’d done wrong.

“My sympathies only extend so far, 3.7. You will allow 4.5 to take you home, and you will stay there, not to leave unless you are attending your doctor’s appointments. 4.5 will stay with you, to ensure your compliance with my orders.”

Doyle straightened. It was a bad sign when Cowley used their call signs to their faces. It was a clear reminder that their lives were not their own. They belonged to CI5, and insubordination would be tolerated so far and no further.

“Sir...” Bodie protested.

Cowley cut him off. “If I find you’ve disobeyed me, I’ll not hesitate to have you thrown into a holding cell!”

Bodie was outraged. “You’d lock me up?”

“Try me, laddie.”

Bodie sputtered briefly and then subsided, defeated.

Cowley nodded once, satisfied. “Now, where are you going?” His voice was sharp, a Major demanding a proper response from a subordinate officer.

Trained to respond to the tone, Bodie snapped to attention. “Home sir, to rest as per my doctor’s orders.”

“Very good!” Turning to Doyle, Cowley said, “I trust there’ll be no repeat of this afternoon’s events?”

“No, sir,” said Doyle.

They stood in silence for a few moments after Cowley left. Doyle had the distinct impression that they’d both had a very narrow escape.

Bodie said, “You don’t think he’d really put me in the lock-up, do you?”

Doyle shook his head at Bodie’s naiveté. “Do you need to ask? In a heartbeat.”

Bodie looked unsettled, but by the time they reached Doyle’s car, he’d recovered his equilibrium. Doyle watched as Bodie very deliberately did not ease himself into the passenger seat. The impassivity of his face revealed his discomfort just as clearly as any wince, or expression of pain. He stood it for five minutes, and then began discreetly shifting onto his hip, in an effort to find a comfortable position in which to sit.

Doyle paid close attention to the traffic, trying to avoid potholes, and very deliberately not looking at Bodie. He felt a simmering resentment at the role he’d been forced into. Bodie was a grown man, he shouldn’t need a keeper. Doyle could be out there right at this minute, tracking down the last of them...

“They get a name on that last one?” Bodie’s tone was a shade too casual for Doyle’s liking.

“Why do you want to know?”

A plaintive note crept into Bodie’s voice. “Look, I’ve been shelved. Stuck having to sit on my... hip. The least you can do is keep me informed.”

Doyle softened marginally. It was hard to deny Bodie anything, considering the circumstances. “His name’s Andy Burgess, but listen Bodie, Cowley needs him alive. You weren’t their first victim.”

“The ambassador’s daughter?”

It was the whole reason they had been drawn into this miserable case in the first place, and the reason why Bodie’d had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, clubbed across the side of his head with a two-by-four.

It was also the first time since everything went to hell that Bodie had asked about her. Doyle thought reassurance might be in order, though Bodie had given no indication he felt any guilt over the failure of the mission. “She didn’t make it. She was dead long before they grabbed you.”

Bodie hooked his arm over the edge of the window, taking some more of the weight off his rear end. He said only, “Figured that was it.”

“But they took photos, Bodie. Lots of them. Men and women, some of them young. We don’t know how many of them are alive. They raped... I don’t know. They might have murdered dozens.”

“Ambitious little buggers, weren’t they?” commented Bodie, his light words in stark contrast to Doyle’s serious tone. “How did they get away with it for so long?”

“The usual,” said Doyle, pausing at an intersection to let a lorry pull through. “They picked their victims from the lowest orders of society. Prostitutes, drunks. No one anyone would miss. They made a mistake with the ambassador’s daughter, but with the way she dressed and the clubs she frequented, they probably didn’t know what they’d done until it was too late. And, of course, she was black.” Just a rebellious young daughter, a pretty girl, looking for excitement in London’s nightclubs, thought Doyle, regretfully.

Bodie seemed lost in his own thoughts.

After a moment, Doyle continued, “That’s why Cowley was so upset when we managed to kill most of them. Their other victims might have been almost invisible to society, but they all had families. There’s people out there who need to know where their sister or son is buried.”

“I hate this,” said Bodie, harshly.


“I didn’t sign up to be a copper. If we know who the villains are, we should take them down. Permanently. Even if he’s convicted - and there’s no promising he will be these days - the police will spend years kissing his arse as he hands over one body at a time. How’s that going to help the families?”

“It’s the rule of law, Bodie. It’s called being civilized. You’d have us, what? Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth?”

“Civilization is over-rated.”

“Maybe, but it’s our job to defend it.” Dole glanced over at Bodie. Their eyes met, and he could read Bodie’s lack of conviction clearly. He wondered what Bodie read in his.

“You still alive in there?”

Bode sighed. “Yes!”

“Right, just checking.”

There was a pause. Bodie heard floorboards outside the bathroom door creak as Doyle paced across them. A few steps away, returning, and then off again. Bodie thought, Go away, please just go away.



“Before you take your shower, let me know, okay? I’ve got something to cover those stitches on your wrists.”

Bodie groaned, letting his face drop into his hands. “Yeah, okay.” Even with all the meds his doctor had him on, to soften things up and keep them moving, this still felt like a hot poker burning up his rear end. He bit his lower lip, trying not to put any pressure on the stitches. Don’t let them rip, please don’t let them rip...

By the time he was done, his heart was pounding and he’d broken out in a cold sweat. Licking the blood off of his lip, he reached behind to flush, too weary to stand.

He mused to himself that re-certifying for the field - namely kicking the arse of every man in CI5 in order to prove that he was still just as much a hard man as he ever was - was going to be a walk in the park after this. He reminded himself that the only people who knew for sure what had happened to him were a handful of doctors, Cowley, Ross, and Doyle.

But the others had to have guessed. It was written all over his face, wasn’t it?

Doyle knocked again. “Tell me you didn’t accidentally flush yourself down the loo.”

“I’m fine!” Bodie hoisted himself to his feet and pulled his trousers back up. Opening the door, he said, “Don’t you think you’re taking Cowley’s orders a little too much to heart?”

Doyle ignored him. “Give me your wrists.”

Before Bodie realized what was happening, Doyle had slipped a plastic bag over his hand and begun wrapping surgical tape around his wrist.

“’Ey! How am I going to wash my hair with my hands in these?”

“Don’t think you’ve got so much hair you really need worry about it.” Doyle finished the second hand. “There! It’s a good thing you didn’t make such a hash out of your ankles, too.”

Bodie looks at hands dubiously. “I’ll drop the soap.” He stopped, abruptly. Just one stupid, thoughtless comment and it was suddenly there, between them, the things they’d done with each other and the things that had been done to him. For all that he believed it wasn’t the same, somehow it still mattered.

He looked up to see a stricken look on Doyle’s face. Bodie felt something sour turn in his stomach. He gave Doyle a bland smile. “Suppose I’ll cope.”

He wondered why it felt like cowardice when he closed the bathroom door.

The first call Doyle made was to the Chinese takeaway place. His second was to Murphy.

The sound of Bodie’s shower was a reassuring cover against being overheard, but he still lowered his voice.

“Murph? Doyle, here.”

“How’s Bodie?” Murphy sounded curious.

“Pissed off that Cowley’s yanked him off the op,” said Doyle succinctly. “How’s your end? Any leads?”

“We’re close, but Doyle you know I can’t say more. Cowley’d...”

“I know,” interrupted Doyle. “Just tell me what you can.”

“Well, turns out the mad bastards come from money. Posh, well-educated, all graduated from the same university. We’ve one set of parents screaming at us now, about the fact that their poor darling is dead. Haven’t heard from the others and their lawyers yet, but you know we will...”

Doyle heard Murphy pause a moment before continuing. “Bodie might be asked to testify. It all depends on whether the last one talks, and what he says. If they don’t get anything else, they’ll have to charge him on Bodie and the girl.”

“Damn,” said Doyle, suddenly depressed. So much for trying to protect Bodie’s privacy.

Murphy’s next words confirmed just how much more he’d guessed. “Listen, I don’t know how you can tell him, but some way he’s got to know that no one thinks any less of him for what happened. It could have been any of us. Five against one... He didn’t have a chance, did he?”

For a moment, Doyle wanted to deny it. It didn’t happen. But Murphy was trying to be kind, so instead he said, “Yeah. Thanks.”

Hanging up the phone, he thought, Christ. Murphy knows, or thinks he does, anyway. How many of the rest of them?

It could have been worse. If he hadn’t chased that one bastard down the basement steps...

Doyle leaned forward on the couch, resting his chin on his clenched hands. He forced himself to look at the raw memories.

He’d tackled the man from the bottom steps, knocking him right through a flimsy wooden door. For a moment all he’d cared about was taking him down, disarming him, and making sure he stayed down. But then he’d glanced up and seen...


If the others had seen him then, there’d be no question of what had been done to him. Cuffed wrist and ankle to the bed, his shirt ripped up the back and his trousers hiked down to his knees. And the blood...

Doyle’s first move had been to slam the door shut. As he pulled out the R/T, he heard the cuffs rattle against the bed posts.

“Get them off!” Bodie’s voice was hoarse, badly strained. Doyle fumbled one-handed for his cuff key, trying not to think of how Bodie could have done that to his voice in so short a period of time. Out here, no one would have heard him scream.

He had to struggle to keep his voice steady, as he pressed the transmit button on the R/T. “Control, I’ve found 3.7. The cellar’s secured.”

He could hear the concern in Cowley’s voice as he said, “Acknowledged 4.5. Does 3.7 require immediate medical attention?”

Doyle hesitated. He couldn’t let them see Bodie like this. “Not... immediately.” Bodie was swearing at him now, pleading with him to get the cuffs off.

“Then sit tight. We’ll pick you up once the house has been cleared. Control, out.”

Finally, Doyle could focus his full attention on the cuffs holding Bodie. He tried not to look at anything else, the blood too red on skin too pale. Get the cuffs off, get his trousers back on... All he wanted to do was fix the situation, erase it, make it never have happened.

As the first cuff came free, Bodie snapped, “Will you hurry up, these things hurt!” He yanked again on his other hand, succeeding only in further mangling his wrist and knocking the key out of Doyle’s hand onto the bed.

“Stop moving,” bellowed Doyle. Fear, anger, and sorrow buffeted him, knocking him off balance. His voice cracked, as he said, “Oh, Bodie...”

But Bodie’s response was a deep snarl, as he said, “Don’t you start. Not now. I’m still alive, aren’t I?” The second cuff came free. “Damn it! Take it easy. Feels like you almost took my wrist off.”

Bodie’s ankles were in better shape, protected by his socks. He’d somehow managed not to dislocate any limbs, though given enough time Doyle was quite certain he’d have managed to do that, too. Bodie had been clearly determined to try everything short of gnawing off his own foot to free himself, stopping at that only because he couldn’t reach it with his teeth.

Seated now on Bodie’s sofa, Doyle took a long, shaking breath and scrubbed his face with both hands. He hadn’t been able to help crying, not then. But he’d be damned if he’d do it here, now, in Bodie’s living room.

Trying to distract himself, Doyle looked around the room. Centrefolds torn from Mayfair held equal billing with erotic art prints and a bizarre East Indian bas relief. Interspersed with these were informational posters on guns and aeroplanes. Violence, and sex... and food. Bodie’s interests were reassuringly straightforward.

We’ve had sex twice, thought Doyle. Said some things the last time... after I punched him, and he punched me... But it’s not a relationship. He says it’s love, but it sure as hell isn’t a love affair. We’ve both got girlfriends. And now this...

I should never have agreed to it in the first place, Doyle told himself, miserably. This would be so much easier if we’d just stayed mates.

It was over. They might have had the beginnings of something once, but there was no chance now that it would ever become anything more. After what Bodie had been through...

The doorbell rang. Grateful for the distraction, Doyle paid for the takeaway. As he was arranging the bags on the kitchen counter, Bodie stuck his head around the corner. He was clearly delighted by the sight of food.

“Is that Chinese I smell?”

“I’m charging it to expenses,” said Doyle, because that was what Bodie would expect.

“You'll be lucky.” Bodie began poking into the bags. He was wrapped in his bathrobe, his towel still draped over his shoulders.

“You’re dripping on the food!” Doyle swatted him away.

Grinning, Bodie stepped back and began vigorously towelling his hair. Doyle noticed that the plastic bags had been removed.

“Here, let me see your bandages.”

“Yes, mum.” Bodie held out his hands. “See? Dry as a bone.”

Doyle looked him over carefully. “Still pissing blood?”

Bodie looked offended. “That’s a bit personal, don’t you think?” When Doyle continued to stare at him unyieldingly, he sighed. “Just a little, better than before. It's on the mend.”

“Good!” Doyle turned back to the table and began pulling out paper cartons. “Let’s eat.”

“I think I’ve lost my appetite.”

That earned Bodie a deeply sceptical look.

“Okay, not really.” Bodie snagged one of the cartons off of the top of the pile, along with a fork. He began to eat, still standing, leaning against the wall.

Under other circumstances, with any other injury to that part of his anatomy, Doyle would have teased him about his inability to sit down. This time, however, he couldn’t see anything amusing about it at all. He ate his own meal standing up in the kitchen as well.

After dinner they watched a bit of TV, with Bodie hanging over the back of the couch. When he began yawning repeatedly and saying, “Eh?” to everything Doyle said, Ray chased him off to bed.

Bodie wanted to sleep, he really did. He stripped down and got into bed with the best of intentions. Several hours later he was still lying there, wide awake, and utterly disgusted with himself.

He meant what he’d told Ross. Rape was just another kind of violence. No reason he should get any more upset over it than he did being tortured or shot. He knew it had nothing to do with sex, though he didn’t bother trying to explain that one to Ross. He could just imagine her reaction if he explained that once you’ve seen a woman thrown bleeding raw to the side of dusty African road, you know there’s a world of difference between making love to her and raping her.

So why couldn’t he sleep?

Something oozed out of the murky depths of his past. A voice. He refused to listen, but he heard anyway.

“Fucked to death.”

And with that Bodie was abruptly back in that other time, so much darker even than this one. The boy’s corpse was turning black and bloated in the heat, and the smell was sweet and rotten, and they still wouldn’t come to take him away. The bars were rusted but solid, and there was nowhere to go to escape it.

Bodie buried his face in his pillow, trying to shake the memories. Gradually, the scent of lavender eased its way into his consciousness. On the pillow, he could smell faint traces of... what was her name? Andrea. Jolly, good-natured Andrea.

It wasn’t too late. He could call Andrea. She’d come over, he would fuck her, and then he’d be able to tell Ross that his sex life was right back on track, thank you very much.

The best cure for bad sex, Bodie decided, had to be lots of good sex. It only made sense.

Except that Andrea would want to know where all his bruises came from, and what if she noticed the ones on his hips? Or worse, felt the sutures in his arse?

Okay, so Andrea was out. Birds were out, at least for now.

What about Ray, then? Bodie sighed, thoroughly depressed. Before all of this, he’d been happily convinced that things were heating up nicely between himself and Ray. Prickly little sod, he’d been damned difficult to get into bed, but once there the effort was more than worth it. The first time had been an experiment - which turned out quite satisfactorily - and the second was more than worth the price of a black eye. Last week his biggest concern had been how to get Ray into bed a third time.

Well, it looked like he could forget ever having sex with Ray again.

Because now any time Bodie got anywhere near the subject, Ray acted as if he’d been kicked in the gut. What a cock-up, Bodie thought. Then he smiled grimly to himself. No, that’s the whole problem, innit? There’s no cocks up, not a one, and I get to lie here, alone.

Bollocks to that. Bodie pushed himself up, and eased out of bed. He was stiff and sore, but if he lay there any longer he was going to explode with frustration. His mind was cluttered, going six ways at once, and he didn’t like the feeling. He needed something to distract himself.

As he pulled on his tracksuit - his oldest and softest, easy on the bruised bits, because after all it wasn’t like he was going to be pulling any birds tonight - Bodie considered his options. Really there was only one; tracking down Burgess and killing him. Slowly. That would definitely provide a satisfactory distraction. Might even be better than sex, depending how he went about it.

And if Cowley wanted information, well, Bodie figured he was more than capable of keeping the little weasel alive long enough to squeeze it out of him. He smiled to himself in the darkness. It was a good plan.

Doyle was an indefinable lump on the couch, a blanket pulled over his shoulders. The TV glowed in the dark, a little girl with a blackboard. Bodie had hardly stepped into the room when Ray stirred.


He stopped. Grimaced. “S’me.”

Ray sat up and snapped on the light. “Where are you going?”

“The loo. Mind?”

“Right. And you needed to get dressed in order to walk from your room to the bathroom.” Doyle’s voice was rising gradually as he woke up. “You were going to sneak out again!”

Nicked, thought Bodie. Maybe he should have said he was going for a walk? Nah, Ray wouldn’t have bought that either. Uneasily, he shifted his weight, feeling the ache of exhaustion in every part of his body, from the backs of his calves up through his shoulders.

“Admit it!” barked Doyle.

“Yeah, okay, you’re right. But I’ve got to do something!” Bodie was annoyed at the desperation he heard in his voice. He rubbed his face with both hands, trying to clear his head. This was a good plan, wasn’t it? For some reason, he couldn’t quite remember why he’d thought so.

Ray got up to stand in front of him, his hands on his hips. “What you’ve got to do is go back to bed. Look at you! You’re exhausted.”

Bodie heard that particular mix of affection and annoyance that meant he was mostly forgiven - assuming he promptly did as he was told. Resentful of the fact that he most likely would, Bodie crossed his arms and leaned against the door. The back of his right calf started to knot into a cramp, and he felt his mood sour further. Even his own body was conspiring against him, keeping him from doing what he needed to do.

“Tell me what’s going on in that head of yours,” said Doyle.

“Oh, no you don’t,” shot back Bodie, promptly. “I already had Ross mucking around in there today, I don’t need you as well.”

“Which is why you’re standing here at two-thirty in the morning with some half-arsed plan to commit murder.”

“Wasn’t half-arsed,” grumbled Bodie. “I was going to get that information out of him first.”

Doyle made a noise that was almost a chuckle. “You’re a moron. Cowley’d still have your balls for it.”

“He’d be the only one wanting them, these days,” said Bodie, without thinking.

The silence was deafening. Doyle’s eyes were wide, shocked.

Bloody hell, thought Bodie. Did I just say that?

He was still frantically trying to think of something to change the subject, when Doyle finally spoke. “You don’t mean that.”

The look on Bodie’s face must have said he did, because Doyle sliced the air between them with the edge of his hand, a gesture of sharp negation. “You were gang-raped not three days ago!”

Sourly, Bodie said, “I noticed.”

“You can’t honestly be wanting sex! You’re still pissing blood. I’d be surprised if you were even capable!”

Now there was a side of things that hadn’t occurred to Bodie. He felt a stab of worry at the idea. There had never been a time in his adult life when he wasn’t capable, and he sincerely didn’t want to start now.

No, not a chance. Of course he was capable. They couldn’t take that away from him.

“And what about your… Bodie, you don’t even know what diseases you might be walking around with right now.”

Or perhaps they had.

Bodie felt as if the ground was falling out beneath him. Everything was coming apart, and he had nothing left to hang onto. Sick at heart, he shoved his hands into his pockets, and stared at the air over Doyle’s left shoulder. Ray said he wanted to know what was going on in his head. Telling him shouldn’t be so hard. It was simply a matter of saying the words, one following another. A physical task, and a lot more basic than many he’d mastered.

Except right now he’d have more success disarming an atom bomb while simultaneously juggling six live grenades, than finding the right words for this.

So it was a damned good thing that Doyle seemed to have suddenly discovered a talent for mind-reading.

Or not.

“You’re lonely!” Ray said in a tone of sudden revelation.

“Am not!” Bodie protested.

“Yeah, you are. You don’t want sex. What you want is…” Doyle paused thoughtfully. Then, very deliberately he said, “What you want is a nice cuddle.”

Bodie felt his jaw drop. This was entirely too much. He was not going to stand here and be patronized by Ray Doyle. It was humiliating was what it was.

“I do not need a fucking cuddle!” he snapped. Bodie pushed himself away from the wall, and strode for the door, shouldering past Ray. The hell with this. Sex was off the menu, and sleep was impossible, so he was damn well going to go and kill Andy Burgess, and Ray could...

“Bloody hell!” The cramped muscle in his right calf suddenly tightened excruciatingly. Bodie stumbled, knocking sideways into Doyle. He was aware of Ray trying to catch him, and felt the physical contact like an electric shock through his system, his teeth instantly on edge. He pushed himself back. Unfortunately that left him without support, and Bodie had no choice left but to sit down on the couch.

On his arse. Hard.

He didn’t scream. He was proud of himself for that. But the room suddenly lost colour, and grey static began to bleed in from the periphery of his vision. Distantly, through the roaring in his ears, he could hear Ray saying, “Put your head down, you stupid git...”

His head spinning, and his arse throbbing painfully, Bodie began to laugh. Because it was the only thing he could do. He heard himself say, mocking himself, “Fainting like a schoolgirl with the vapours...”

“You’d make a damned ugly schoolgirl,” said Ray, and Bodie laughed harder. Salt stung his eyes, but it was sweat, not tears, because Bodie didn’t cry, not ever. And he wasn’t crying now.

“Come on, let’s get you back to bed,” said Doyle, once Bodie’s hysteria seemed to have eased a bit. Not that ‘hysteria’ was a word he’d ever have used in Bodie’s hearing – he valued his life more than that – but he knew a man on the edge of a breakdown when he saw one.

He’s tired, that’s all, thought Doyle. Tired, and lonely, and... oh christ, what am I supposed to do about this?

Bodie stood, and immediately stumbled. Doyle caught him before he could fall back onto the couch, pulling Bodie’s arm across his shoulder. Bodie didn’t shove him away this time, but Doyle could feel fine tremors coursing through his body, vibrating like a live electric current.

“Fucking cramp!” snarled Bodie, balancing on one leg. He sounded furious, and more than a little desperate.

“Bed,” said Doyle, firmly. Ignoring Bodie’s imaginative - if anatomically improbable - cursing, he steered him back into the bedroom. “Strip down.”

Doyle wouldn’t have thought it possible for Bodie to tense up any further, but he did. And then, ridiculously, Bodie leered and said, “You first.”

“If that’s intended to be an invitation, you’re out of your mind,” said Doyle, crossing his arms. Dozy sod thinks sex fixes everything.

Bodie no doubt thought he was hiding his reaction, but his eyes gave him away. They were wide and dark, betraying equal amounts of panic and pain. Doyle felt like the world’s biggest bastard. “I don’t mean forever,” he said. “I just mean... you need to give yourself time to heal.”

Surrendering, Bodie pulled his shirt off. His voice was muffled by the fabric, but Doyle caught something about, “Typhoid Mary...”

“More like Typhoid Marty,” said Doyle, because it was obvious that the last thing Bodie needed, or wanted, was sympathy.

Bodie’s chuckle sounded somewhat forced. But he stumbled over to ease himself face down on his bed. Doyle felt a sympathetic twinge, knowing all too well how agonizing cramp could be. He had vivid memories of being hit with one during a workout, and spending the next twenty minutes writhing on the mat, clutching his calf in helpless agony.

He stopped at the edge of the bed and looked down at his partner, who was lying tensely on his stomach and, consciously or not, managing to be the very antithesis of sex appeal.

Sex with him now, when he’s like this, would be next to raping him all over again.

Aloud, Doyle said, “I would very much appreciate it if you would take your gun out from under your pillow.”

“Oh.” Bodie blinked at him over his shoulder. “Why?”

“Well,” said Doyle. “I thought I might try to work out that cramp in your leg. It’s going to hurt, and I don’t want you trying to shoot me.”

As Bodie put his gun on the dresser - in easy arm’s reach, Doyle noted - he said “This is all some kind of elaborate seduction, isn’t it?” Despite his humorous tone, there was a clear undercurrent of anxiety in his voice.

Doyle sighed. It was push and pull. Wanting to be with someone, but not wanting to be touched... Likely Bodie didn’t know what he wanted.

“Relax.” Doyle sat down on the bed beside Bodie. He cracked his knuckles and ostentatiously flexed his hands, by way of giving as much warning as he possibly could before laying a light non-threatening hand on Bodie’s calf. He could feel the muscle coiled tight just under the skin, vibrating with suppressed energy. Doyle gave it a light squeeze and felt Bodie twitch. “Easy.”

Idiot or not, Bodie had almost the right idea. Sex wouldn’t help, but the right kind of touch could go a long way toward getting him to settle down. With both hands, Doyle began to knead Bodie’s calf, finding the knots in the muscle and forcing them to give way.

Bodie took a deep breath, clearly making an effort to relax. “There’s this bird works at the Royal Oak, gives great massages.” His voice was strained, as if it was severely taxing his concentration to relax, talk and breathe all at the same time.

“Which one? The redhead?” Doyle shifted until he was kneeling beside Bodie. This was going to take some real strength - it was like working with iron.

“Nah, the brunette with the big... ow!”

Doyle pressed his thumb into the large knot he’d just discovered. “Her? I thought she didn’t date customers.”

Bodie groaned, but continued the conversation gamely. “It was me native charm, wasn’t it? Could hardly help herself.”

Doyle kept the conversation light and inconsequential as he worked his way up the back of Bodie’s leg.

It was a severe test of his self-control to keep his own anger from bleeding through into his voice or his hands. He’d protested strongly when Cowley had pulled him off the investigation in order to keep an eye on Bodie. At that time, Doyle had believed he could help Bodie more by catching the man who’d hurt him.

But there was more to it, Doyle could see that now. He hadn’t wanted to know what had been done to Bodie. Didn’t want to acknowledge it. Even when it was staring him in the face, in that filthy little basement. Or now, as he looked at Bodie’s back, cataloguing each bruise, his mind automatically classifying them into ‘boot’, ‘pipe’, ‘fist’...

The smallest bruises, the finger-shaped ones on Bodie’s hips, right at the waistband of his briefs, were the hardest to look at.

Terribly eager to hand him over to the nurses, weren’t you?

Doyle had finished with Bodie’s leg now. If he went any higher he’d be venturing into territory usually reserved for well-endowed barmaids with a talent for massage. He hesitated, unsure of what to do next.

“You’re good at that,” said Bodie, reflectively.


“Mmm. Think I got some spots in my back could use some work, too. And the other leg. Don’t want it to feel left out.”

“Slave to your whim, that’s me,” said Doyle. He wasn’t complaining. Or at least, he wouldn’t, so long as Bodie didn’t try anything.

But Bodie seemed finally content to simply accept whatever Doyle was willing to give.

Gradually, as Doyle’s own tension faded, he felt Bodie relax under his hands, his breath slowing as he eased closer to sleep.

Doyle kept his touch impersonal, suppressing an urge to soothe and caress. Poor bastard... But Bodie likely wouldn’t appreciate the sympathy, and his body might read the signals wrongly. The last thing Doyle wanted was to undo all the work of the past half hour.

“The birds can’t know,” said Bodie, sleepily. “S’bad enough already with the others.”

“Someone give you a hard time?” Doyle tried not to let too much of an edge into his voice. How far had the rumours spread? If Murphy had...

“No, but they will. Going to have to knock some heads together.”

“Well, you’ve got the second best scores in the Squad.”

Bodie rolled his head to the side, predictably rising to the bait. “Second best! I was on top last time round and you know it.”

“I distinctly remember beating you on the obstacle course.”

“Wasn’t my fault, that other bloke got in my way. An’ anyway, I got better scores on the range.”

“My point being, your record stands for itself. Cowley’ll have the head of anyone who says otherwise.”

“Won’t go running to Cowley, can handle it myself.”

“You think he won’t know?”

The pause that followed was lengthy enough that Doyle began to wonder if Bodie had fallen asleep. He leaned forward and saw that Bodie’s eyes were closed. But then Bodie said, “You think he knows about us?”

Is there an ‘us’, wondered Doyle. What they’d had before had been undefined, and it was anyone’s guess what they had now. Aloud, he said, “Cowley knows what side of the bed we get out on in the morning.”

“And with whom,” finished Bodie. He smiled drowsily, not bothering to open his eyes.

By the time Doyle finished, Bodie was deeply unconscious. Doyle remained where he was, watching him sleep. Infuriating, frustrating, utterly daft... and yet somehow this man had insinuated himself right into the very core of Doyle’s life. Losing him would be like losing his right arm, or both his legs. An inconceivable loss. And it was far too late to do anything about it.

It was not a comfortable thought, and it was exactly what he’d been trying not to acknowledge earlier when he’d fought with Cowley over having to baby-sit Bodie.

Doyle quietly left the bedroom, and once more stretched out on the couch, feeling strangely melancholy.

I never asked for this.

Hot. Dark. Not a breath of air. He could feel the damp cement blocks at his back and the grit of the packed dirt floor under his hands. The flies were buzzing loudly, and someone was crying. The boy’s corpse lay in the corner of the cell, black and bloated, and he tried to pretend that he didn’t care. He heard Krivas laugh, and turned to see him grinning in the dim light.

“Fucked to death,” Krivas said. “What a way to go. Quite the little raver he was, or so I heard.”

“He’s not dead,” said Bodie. And to his horror, he realized he was right. The boy’s head rolled loosely on his neck, and turned towards him at an impossible angle.

His eyes opened.


Sudden brightness seared his eyes. He threw his arm across his face.


Someone grabbed his shoulder. Seizing the arm, he rolled abruptly to the side, throwing his attacker off and putting distance between the two of them in a single move. But instead of hard dirt beneath him and a wall behind, he felt himself roll off something soft, followed by a jarring, disorienting drop.

In a tangle of sheets, Bodie hit the floor on the far side of his bed. Heart pounding he looked over the edge, and found Ray looking back at him in open astonishment.

“You were having a nightmare,” said Ray, unnecessarily.

Caught between terror and relief, Bodie’s heart pounded so loudly in his ears that he almost couldn’t hear himself speak. “I thought I was going to have to kill him again.”

“Who?” Ray’s voice was sharp.

“Just... Nobody. A long time ago.” He pushed himself to his feet, and swayed unsteadily for a moment before finding his balance. “I...”

Doyle was watching him intently.

“I need a drink.”

“Hot milk, then.”

“Milk?” asked Bodie, plaintively.

“Alcohol will interfere with your antibiotics, you’re out of cocoa, and you don’t need coffee when you’re supposed to be sleeping. Milk.”

Ray grabbed him by the arm, hauled him to his feet, and all but dragged him into the living room. The couch presented a bit of a problem, but Bodie resolved that by curling up on his side, pulling his feet underneath him. Ray dropped a blanket over him before heading for the kitchen.

Bodie listened to Ray clattering around in the kitchen. He was still partially back in Africa, the smell of rotting flesh strong in his nose. He fingered the soft fabric of the blanket, trying to erase the feel of dirt. It’s not real, he told himself.

Doyle stared determinedly down at the milk in the pan. It was just beginning to steam and had to be watched carefully. If it boiled, he’d have a nasty time scraping the bottom of the pan clean.

“I thought I was going to have to kill him again.”

What did Bodie mean? Kill who? Bodie claimed not to like killing, but it certainly never seemed to trouble his conscience. He'd put a round through a hostage, if he thought it was his only chance at taking down the hostage taker.

He certainly didn’t hesitate...

Doyle was no longer seeing the milk in the pan. He was remembering the feel of Bodie, slumped in his arms, as he struggled to get his trousers up over his hips. Bodie’s initial alertness had faded. He now seemed barely conscious, drifting in and out of coherency, sometimes still asking Doyle to take the cuffs off, though they had long since been removed and thrown across the room. It frightened Doyle, he imagined Bodie bleeding into his brain, a fatal head injury.

Doyle had just decided that he would get back on the R/T and demand more immediate help, when he felt a tug on his holster. Bodie suddenly stiffened, pulling back, Doyle’s gun in his hand and his arm extended. Doyle had just enough time to register that Bodie was aiming at the unconscious man slumped in the far corner of the room. Then Bodie pulled the trigger. The body jerked once, a neat black hole suddenly opening between his eyes, and a much messier explosion of blood and grey matter hitting the wall behind.

Bodie looked Doyle in the eye. “That’s better,” he said. For an instant, his eyes were clear, his expression almost jubilant. Then, abruptly, his eyes rolled back in his head and Doyle had to struggle to catch him as he went limp. The gun clattered to the floor, unheeded.

Shock, the doctors said later. Combined with the concussion, it was remarkable he’d had any periods of lucidity at all, much less been capable of acting with deliberate purpose. Doyle, for his part, had simply returned the weapon to the corpse, and written his report. For once he felt no guilt over falsifying events.

Doyle suddenly realized the milk was bubbling. He snatched it off the stove and poured it into a mug. The bottom of the pan had turned an ominous brown. Doyle put it in the sink and ran some water.

Whatever Bodie had meant by “kill him again” he couldn’t be referring to the man he’d shot in the basement. That wasn’t the kind of thing Bodie would regret. Bodie’s primary emotion, however muted, had been anger and a desire for vengeance.

Which meant that the dream was more likely connected with some other trauma in Bodie’s notoriously murky past. Maybe something similar to the rape? Another rape? Another revenge killing?

God, Doyle thought. I hope I’m wrong.

Bodie took the drink and looked at it dubiously. Regarding his half-closed eyes, heavy-lidded with exhaustion, Doyle was tempted to just let it go. But that wouldn’t solve anything. His best chance at getting a straight answer was now, while Bodie’s defences were down. If he waited until morning, it would be like trying to bottle fog.

Doyle sat down on the coffee table, facing Bodie. “What did you mean, ‘kill him again’? Kill who?”

“Nobody you know.” Bodie cautiously sipped his milk. “Gah, this is revolting!”

“Tell me.”

Bodie ignored him, staring into his cup instead. “Couldn’t you have put some rum in it?”

Doyle took a deep breath. Might as well jump into the deep end. “Bodie, were you raped?”

That earned him an incredulous look. But at least Bodie was reacting.

“I mean, when you were a kid, or back in Africa. Before,” clarified Doyle. “Is that what you were dreaming about?”

There was no humour in Bodie’s bark of laughter. “No. No, this was the first time for my pure virgin arse. A brand new experience.”

Doyle’s relief was muted by a growing frustration. “Then what is it? You know, I’ve had a long day too, and I wouldn’t mind some sleep myself. I don’t much appreciate being woken up by your nightmares only to have you try to throw me across the room!” He was nearly shouting by the end of his speech.

Bodie’s answer was immediate, and just as heated. “Ever see a man die of a perforated bowel? It’s not a pretty sight!”

Bewildered, Doyle said, “But you’re okay. That didn’t happen to you.”

“I’m not talking about me,” growled Bodie.

“Someone you knew?”

“In a way.” Bodie quirked an eyebrow, his expression sardonic. “It’s hard to claim you’re strangers once you’ve killed a man, eh? Kind of personal, that. Right up there with fucking him.”

Very carefully, Doyle asked, “Which did you do? Kill him, or fuck him?” Please god, he thought, don’t let it be both.

“Everyone else fucked him,” said Bodie, wearily. “I only killed him.” Handing his mug to Doyle, he pushed himself to his feet and left the room.

Doyle looked at the cup, and realized that Bodie had hardly touched any of it. He took a swallow, and grimaced. He’s right, Doyle thought, this tastes terrible.

He poured the milk into the kitchen sink and stayed to watch it vanish down the drain.

Bodie let his forehead touch the window, the feel of the cool glass little comfort and less distraction. He was only vaguely aware of the street outside. He was too tired to think, too tired to cope, and much too tired to sleep.

He heard Ray stop at the door to the bedroom.

“Why’d you kill him?” Ray’s voice was level and measured.

“Because he wouldn’t stop screaming.”

“Any other reason?”

“Because he was already dead, he was just too stupid to realize it.” Bodie pushed himself back from the window, straightening. He continued to stare outside.


Something cracked inside of Bodie. How much more did Doyle want from him? Turning, he said, “I wanted them to leave him alone!”

Ray stepped forward to face him, carefully, as if he thought Bodie might bolt. “No wonder you’re a mess,” he said. “You thought you were going to die the same way.”

Bodie took a chance and met Ray’s eyes. He found pain there, but no accusation.

“But it would have been worse,” said Ray.

Bodie started to shake his head, but Ray wasn’t done.

“Worse,” he said. “Because there was no one there who would have cared enough to put you out of your misery.”

Bodie blinked. I cared?

“Never thought of it that way, did you?”

No, he never had.

Ray snorted impatiently, shattering the moment. “Oh, shut your mouth. You look like a guppy. Come on, lie down. You’re beyond exhausted.”

It took Bodie a moment to adjust to the apparent mercurial change in Doyle’s mood. He snapped his mouth closed, and then immediately had to open it again to say “I don’t...”

“Fine. I’m lying down, feel free to join me or not, as you please.” Doyle threw himself onto Bodie’s bed. Clearly he had decided that the conversation had gone as far as it needed to.

“You’re sleeping here?” Bodie moved over to the side of the bed, and stared down at him in disbelief. They’d only slept in the same bed once, and that was after sex. This had a much more premeditated feel about it, and strangely, felt somehow more intimate because of that. All this despite the fact that Ray was still in his flannel shirt and jeans.

“I think I deserve something a little better than the couch. After all, I’ve been up all night soothing you out of screaming nightmares...”

“I don’t scream!” protested Bodie, indignantly. He eased himself down onto his stomach, mindful of his bruises.

“That’s what you think. Slaving over the stove, making hot milk...”

“That was your idea, not mine!” This bickering felt better, felt good. Bodie relaxed slightly, grateful for what Doyle was offering him - a chance to pretend that everything was really alright.

“Listening to another of your interminable tales out of Africa...” Doyle opened one eye, clearly wanting to see Bodie’s response to this statement.

Falling into the familiar routine, Bodie faked outrage. “I’ll have you know...”


Bodie couldn’t think of any way to finish that statement. He reached up to turn off the light instead. “Oh, never mind. Shove over. With my luck you’ll turn out to be a blanket hog.”

Ray looked satisfied. “I also kick like a mule. Or so my girlfriends say.”

Lying in bed next to Ray was surprisingly comfortable. He wasn’t a cuddler - not like a bird anyway. He stayed on his side of the bed. But that bony back radiated surprising heat.

With his gun on one side, and his partner on the other, Bodie felt good. Safe.

For a long time he lay on his stomach and simply looked at the shadowed shape of Ray outlined against the darkness. Sleep continued to elude him, but at least his anxiety had eased. He turned over the events of the evening, and cautiously poked at the sore places in his mind and memory. The dream had finally retreated into reassuring vagueness, the visceral details fading. And the memories, having been aired, if only briefly, could now be tucked safely away and ignored once more.

Bodie thought, Warm milk. He chuckled silently, and the bed shook. Immediately the body beside him stiffened, and he realized he wasn’t the only one lying awake.

Okay, so perhaps Ray wasn’t quite as cool about all of this as he’d been pretending. He was only pretending to sleep. Bodie had a feeling Ray was probably going over the events of the night as well, and knowing him, he was criticizing himself for one thing or another.

Bloody perfectionist, thought Bodie. He needs looking after, too. That was a heartening thought. Bodie didn’t want to be the only person in this partnership currently in the process of losing his mind.

Carefully, he rolled back onto his side. Ray didn’t move. Bodie slid closer until he was nearly touching Ray’s back. Ray still didn’t move. Bodie reached across Ray’s waist and pulled him back against his chest. Ray tensed, but didn’t struggle. He seemed to be waiting for Bodie’s next move. Bodie could almost feel the suspicion thrumming through the tight body.

It was about as comfortable as trying to cuddle an anti-personnel mine. Bodie waited patiently.

After several minutes, Doyle finally seemed to realize that Bodie had no intention of taking the embrace any further. With a sigh, he relaxed. Bodie shifted up on his pillow, settling Ray more comfortably against himself. He rested his chin on the top of Ray’s head, enjoying the scent of his shampoo and the sensation of curls against his skin. Though, Bodie speculated, it had the potential to put a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘he gets up my nose’. He moved his chin slightly more to the side, and felt Ray shift in response.

Ray’s shirt and t-shirt had come untucked somehow, but Bodie virtuously didn’t explore beneath. Instead, he simply laid his palm on Ray’s stomach and enjoyed the rise and fall of his breathing.

He was pressed so close he felt the vibration in his own body, when Ray said, “Next chance I get, I’m buying you a teddy bear.”

“Like you better,” mumbled Bodie, as he finally slid into sleep.

“What are you doing?”

Bodie glanced down at the sausage links sizzling in the pan and then back up at Ray. If this was a trick question, he wasn’t getting it. “What does it look like? Making us some breakfast.” He stabbed one of the sausages with his fork and watched with satisfaction as liquid fat fountained out in a nice long arc, narrowly missing the next gas-ring. Not the most impressive geyser he’d managed, but certainly satisfactory.

“You’re ruining them!” Ray grabbed the fork out of Bodie’s hand, and shouldered him away from the pan.

“Eh?” Bodie stepped back as Ray gestured with the greasy fork, narrowly missing his nose.

“Never poke them! Lets all the juices out and they dry right up. Makes them tasteless.” Ray was gently rolling the sausages over now, one at a time. He scowled as the first one turned up black on the bottom. “I’m never letting you cook sausages again. You can’t be trusted.”

“But, poking them’s the best part,” Bodie’s protest was token. He was perfectly happy to let Ray make breakfast. It occurred to him that if he ruined one or two more dishes, he might get out of cooking altogether.

Ray looked at the long streamers of fat spattered wantonly across the surface of the stove, and shook his head. “Freud would have a field day with your psyche, my son.”

Bodie leaned back against the counter and regarded his partner - Ray Doyle, ex-cop, hard man, pride of CI5, bent over the stove fussing over a few battered sausages, the very picture of domesticity. Bodie admired the view a moment, before saying, “Can’t imagine what Freud would say about you, then.”

That statement earned him a narrowly suspicious glance from Ray. Bodie smirked, and said solicitously, “Was someone mean to your sausage when you were a child, is that it? So you’ve got to make up for it by coddling it now?”

You--!” Abandoning the sausages, Ray attacked Bodie with a mock flurry of punches aimed at his mid-section.

Bodie was laughing almost too hard to fend him off. Not that Ray was serious - and good thing, too, or Bodie likely would have found the sausages shoved up somewhere extremely embarrassing.

Or would, under different circumstances.

Happily, Bodie decided that given what he’d just been through, he could probably get away with murder where Ray was concerned. Come to think of it, he already had got away with murder...

Bodie hooked his arm over Ray’s neck, trying to pull him into a headlock. One good hard rub and he’d have the bionic golliwog looking like he’d stuck his tongue in the electrical outlet.

If only he wasn’t so damned wiggly...

Bodie gradually realized that Ray was trying to tell him something. Had been for a while. He looked down at his partner, confused.

“Phone!” shouted Ray, obviously at the limits of his patience.

Belatedly, Bodie realized that the noise he’d been hearing was not in his head after all. An understandable mistake, considering the way his ears had been ringing off and on the last couple of days. Releasing Ray, he scrambled for the handset.

He was panting when he picked up the phone. “Yeah?”

“Bodie! Are you all right?” Cowley said.

Bodie automatically straightened, though Cowley certainly couldn’t see him over the phone. He tried to bring his breathing back under control. “Yessir. Ray doesn’t like how I cook sausages.”

“You’re feeling reasonably fit, then?”

“Fit as a fiddle,” Bodie responded. Silently, he amended that statement with, not looking forward to my next bowel movement, and I hope I won’t have to sit on any hard chairs, but other than that...

“I doubt that, but if you and Doyle are up to some light duty, I’d like to see you in my office.”

“Running all the way, sir!” said Bodie, happily.

“No. You will walk, as per your doctor’s orders. If the exertion of frying sausages is enough to have you gasping like an asthmatic, I hardly want to see what a long jog will do to you.”

“I’m perfectly all right!” protested Bodie. But Cowley had already hung up the phone.

“Was that the Cow?” asked Doyle.

Bodie rubbed his hands together, gleefully. “He’s pulling us in!” If this morning could get any better, he didn’t know how. A nice long kip, the mucky bits in his mind nicely sorted and shuffled back out of sight, waking up with Ray in his arms, breakfast, and back on the job.

Bodie decided he must have been a very good lad, at some point in time, to have earned all this. Pity he couldn’t remember when exactly.

Cowley met them in the hallway in front of his office.

“Bodie, Doyle, with me.”

They fell in on either side of him, a step behind.

“What’s happening?” Doyle asked. There was an air of suppressed excitement about the building, though they hadn’t had a chance to speak to anyone about it yet.

“We got our man,” said Cowley. He stopped and handed Bodie a file. Bodie opened it and held it so that Doyle could read as well. The first page was an arrest report, with a mug shot stapled to the top left corner.

“Andrew Burgess.” Bodie’s voice was flat.

The second page appeared to have biographical information. Doyle noted that Burgess had the same kind of background as the others. Money, but relatively new. His father had made a fortune in South Africa, diamond mining from the look of it.

Cowley’s next words caught Doyle’s attention. “I’ll have no murderers in my department, Bodie.”

“Been thinking,” said Bodie, slowly. “Maybe there’s worse things than death.”

So, that’s what he took from our talk last night, thought Doyle. Interesting. He was reasonably confident that Bodie was neither a rapist nor a torturer, so what did he have in mind that was worse than killing the man?

“Ah, now that attitude might be useful to us, Bodie. Burgess has been remarkably resistant to interrogation. Seems to think we can’t touch him, that his father’s money entitles him to do as he pleases.” Cowley shook his head, disgusted. “I thought seeing you, Bodie, might unsettle him a bit.” He paused. “If you think you can control yourself.”

“Won’t put a mark on him,” promised Bodie, an anticipatory gleam in his eye.

“Good lad,” said Cowley, apparently satisfied.

Inside the holding cell, Doyle got his first look at Andy Burgess. He was an average looking man, nothing distinguishing about him at all, except for an air of general annoyance at being detained.

Burgess spotted Bodie and his eyes narrowed for a moment in recognition. One brief smile and then he focused on Cowley, clearly dismissing Bodie as unimportant.

“Really,” he said. “This is unforgivable. I’ve had no phone call, and I’ve not been allowed to speak to my lawyer. I don’t know what kind of outfit you’re running here.”

Cowley ignored Burgess, instead looking over at Bodie. “I believe you have already met agent 3.7. We’ve been having some disciplinary problems with him since that... unfortunate incident.”

Burgess sneered. “The hoi polloi have never been known for their discipline. Though they do satisfy some baser instincts.”

Doyle felt himself flush angrily, but Bodie said nothing. He simply stood at parade rest, looking into the air just over Burgess’s head, waiting patiently for instructions from Cowley.

Cowley smiled pleasantly. “I’m sure you won’t do anything to annoy him while we’re gone. It’d be a shame if you were hurt during an escape attempt.”

Burgess looked as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “You’re not going to leave me here with that... that neanderthal!”

Cowley opened the door.

“This is government sanctioned murder!”

“Now, lad, I’m a busy man,” said Cowley with a benign smile. “Unless you have something else you wish to say to me...?”

“I have a right to a lawyer,” bellowed Burgess. “You can’t keep me here! I’ll have your whole fascist mob shut down!”

Cowley nodded. “4.5, with me.”

“Sir?” Doyle glanced first at Cowley and then at Bodie, who hadn’t moved.


Doyle followed Cowley into the hall. As the door closed behind them, he said. “Are you certain you want to do this? Bodie’s been through a lot...”

“You underestimate your partner.” Cowley led him into the next room, where Doyle found one of the boffins diligently watching a camera feed. Cowley dismissed him and took over his seat at the bank of monitoring equipment. Doyle found a second chair, and pulled it over.

“You’ve had cameras installed,” said Doyle, surprised.

“I considered it prudent,” said Cowley. “Under the circumstances.” He leaned forward and adjusted the volume.

The voices were muffled, but clear. The video quality was fairly good. The camera was positioned so that it focused solely on Burgess’ face. All that could be seen of Bodie was a portion of his back, a dark outline from right shoulder to hip.

“You haven’t got the balls,” sneered Burgess, with obvious bravado.

“Oh,” came Bodie’s voice, with what Doyle thought was unnatural calm. “I’ve killed better men than you. A lady lawyer once asked me how many. I had to tell her I’d lost count.”

“You’re bluffing.” But Burgess’s words shook slightly.

“Thing is,” said Bodie. “I don’t want to kill you.”

“See!” Burgess was triumphant. “I knew it! You’d lose your job!”

“Nah. That's not why. It’d be easy.” For the first time since he entered the room, Bodie moved. The line of his back straightened, and his arm came down to his side. As if making a report to a superior officer, Bodie said, “Sir, I don’t know what happened. All of a sudden, he just snapped. Tried to make a break for it. I attempted to restrain him, but he tripped and banged his head against that table. I don’t know how he broke his neck. Just bad luck, I suppose.”

Bodie stepped forward suddenly and slapped his hands down on the surface of the table. Burgess jumped at the crack of his palms against the wood. Doyle leaned forward in his chair, wishing he could see Bodie’s face.

“Do you really believe anyone’s going to miss a piece of shit like you?” Bodie snarled. “You think you’ve got some kind of power here, because of who your father is? That might work with some people, but it’s got no hold on us. We can hold you without a warrant. We can bury you so deep you’ll never see the light of day again.”

Bodie’s voice was rich with promise, as he said, “But I’ve got an even better idea for what to do with you.”

“You... you said you didn’t want to kill me.”

“Nah, I’ve got something... more appropriate in mind.”

Burgess’ eyes widened. “You're not serious!”

Doyle saw a quiver run through Bodie’s back and realized he was laughing, quietly. “I’m not the rapist, Mr Burgess. No, you’re going to prison. But not a nice cushy one like we’ve got here. Do you know whose daughter that was you kidnapped last?”

Burgess didn’t answer. He was watching Bodie with an expression of fascination. Like a cornered rat, thought Doyle.

“That was the Angolan ambassador’s daughter. He’s expressed a desire to see you tried in his own country, and considering the grief you and your late friends have caused him, we’re strongly inclined to grant him his wish.” Bodie hiked one hip up onto the table, and leaned down until he was all but talking into Burgess’s ear. It was a grim parody of the way a close friend might offer advice. Quietly he asked, “Have you ever been in an Angolan prison?”

Burgess shook his head, wordlessly.

Bodie’s next words were barely audible. “Ever seen a man fucked to death?”

Doyle swore under his breath, suddenly very aware that Bodie had no way of knowing that he was being taped, and little reason to guard his words. If this tape got out to the rest of CI5...

Well, Bodie certainly wasn’t going to have to worry about his reputation as a hard man.

Cowley watched, apparently unperturbed.

Giving every appearance of enjoying himself, Bodie began to explain prison conditions in Africa, sanitation, food, and the ways and means desperate men have of entertaining themselves. He then moved on to assorted sexually transmitted diseases, and the results when left untreated. He described a man whose face had been eaten away by syphilis. He was halfway through a graphic description of the symptoms of a perforated bowel when the prisoner finally cracked.

Doyle, his stomach churning, was impressed Burgess lasted even that long.

Cowley took over the interrogation at that point, leaving Bodie to join Doyle in the hall.

Bodie took a few steps towards the exit, then stopped and turned back. Then he changed his mind and headed for the exit again. He seemed to have lost his moorings, uncharacteristically uncertain and unhappy.

Doyle finally stopped trying to follow him and stood in the centre of the hall, waiting for Bodie to walk off some of the excess energy he’d obviously built up during the interrogation. The next time Bodie circled within reasonable distance, he said, “There was a camera in the room with you.”

Bodie stopped. Blinked. “Where?”

“Near the door. Right side.” Doyle paused. “Room was bugged, too.”

“Oh.” Bodie didn’t seem to know what to think of that bit of news.

Doyle said, “I believe Cowley’s exact words were, ‘very effective.’ And something else about expecting you found the whole process rather cathartic.”

Bodie nodded. “Suppose I did, at that.” An expression of deep chagrin crossed his face. “Never stopped to think that you all were listening to every word I said.”

Doyle said, “I’m trying to imagine which poor girl in the typing pool is going to get stuck transcribing it. She’ll have nightmares for a week.”

Bodie grimaced.

“No worries. Cowley will look after it, I’m sure.” Doyle paused. “It’s all over.”

“It doesn’t feel that way,” confessed Bodie. “I don’t like letting him get away with what he did, just because he’s got some information Cowley wants.”

Doyle mulled over this for a moment. “Well, the Angolan ambassador might still be able to work out some sort of deal. But even if he doesn’t... would several decades in solitary satisfy your need for vengeance?”

“Might,” said Bodie, cautiously.

“Rapists are never popular, and given who Burgess and his buddies were preying on, it’s good odds that some of the dead have relatives in prison.” Doyle snagged Bodie’s elbow and dragged him over to the recording room. Pulling the door open he greeted the man inside. “We’re going to listen in for a minute. You mind?”

The tech slid his chair over. “Go ahead.”

Doyle waited, watching Bodie rather than the screen. Bodie was tired, his face was drawn and his expression grim. Burgess was describing to Cowley how his friends had killed their first man before they were eighteen, an old tramp who slept in the park behind their school. “It was Alain, he said he wanted to plan the perfect murder. It wasn’t as if the old man had any kind of life anyway. We were just cleaning up the rubbish. We buried him behind the tennis courts...”

“He can deny that it was his idea all he wants,” said Doyle. “But once they start digging up the bodies, he’ll be going away for the rest of his life. It’s an open and shut case, more potential charges than we’ll ever need.” And Bodie won’t have to testify, thought Doyle, immensely relieved.

“Right,” said Bodie. “I’ve seen enough.” He left abruptly. Doyle had to scramble to catch up with him in the hall.

Behind him, the tech shouted, “Hey, close the door!”

“I need a drink,” said Bodie, as they neared the exit.

“Sure,” said Doyle, agreeably. “We’ll stop at the pub. I’ll buy you a Shirley Temple.”


“You’re still on meds, remember? No alcohol.”

“A pint won’t hurt!” Bodie was outraged.

“Sorry my lad, but for the present you’re strictly a teetotaller.”

Bodie scowled at him threateningly. “Who made you my keeper?”

Doyle was unmoved. “Cowley, remember?”

“Yeah, but that was...”

“He’s not given me word to stand down, has he?”

“I’d think that would be understood!”

“Besides,” said Doyle. “Just look at yourself. Half a morning at work, and you’re all done in. You can’t even sit down!”

Bodie checked his watch. “There’s no sense going home. I’m seeing Ross in an hour. And I never had any intention of sitting at the bar, anyway. I was going to stand, looking dark, mysterious and handsome.” He sighed, and then gave Doyle a crooked smile. “Let’s go anyway, Ray. You can buy me an orange squash, if you won’t buy me a beer. Besides, a case is never closed until we’ve drunk on it, you know that.”

“Is the case closed?” asked Doyle, hoping Bodie would understand what he meant.

Bodie’s answer was all Doyle could have hope for, and more.

“It is for me,” said Bodie.

It was a different man sitting in front of Ross. He was as smug and pleased with himself as an overfed moggie. She wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see him licking cream off his whiskers, had he any.

“So you say you’re dating again,” said Ross.

“That’s right,” said Bodie.

“Has the doctor talked to you about...?”

Bodie waved her off. “I know. No sex until the test results come back. Maybe I’ll have to take some pills. But once I get that sorted out, don't worry, it’s going to be better than ever.”

Strangely, she found herself believing him. It was unexpected, but Bodie seemed to have come through the events of the past week stronger than ever. The only explanation for it had to be that at some point over the last twenty-four hours he had resolved something critical.

“All right, I’ll accept that you aren’t currently feeling any negative effect from your experiences, but keep in mind that sometimes psychological reactions can be delayed.” Ross tapped her notepad with her pen. “Months, even years may go by, and then a related event will trigger a crisis. You might end up incapable of dealing with the trigger, until you’ve resolved the older issues. Or you may end up over-reacting to the new situation - or reacting inappropriately.”

“I don’t think that will be a problem,” said Bodie, confidently.

“I’ll tell you frankly, I have serious reservations regarding your mental fitness. How will you cope, if you fall into unfriendly hands again? If you are restrained against your will?”

He lost his smile. “I’ve managed perfectly well up to now. Why should the next time be any different?”

“And if you are raped again?” asked Ross, bluntly.

She was expecting a macho denial of the possibility. Men don’t get raped, or if they do, they pretend it never happened.

Bodie surprised her. “Well, next time it won’t be as much of a shock, will it?”

Thoughtfully, Ross drummed her fingers on the surface of her desk. “No, I suppose it won’t.” She gave him a quizzical look. “So you’ve accepted the fact this could happen again.”

“I could also get shot, or stabbed, or tortured,” he said. “I know the risks.”

“A sane man would resign and chose a safer occupation.”

Bodie waited, his eyes locked on her, expectantly. It would be cruel to keep him waiting any longer.

Ross said, “I’m going to recommend you be reinstated in the field, once your doctor clears you and you’ve passed the re-certification course. Sanity is obviously not a prerequisite, and possibly not even to be encouraged in this business.”

He seemed a little stunned. “I pass?”

“You pass. Get out of here.”

Bodie bounced out of the room, and she heard him shout to his partner, just outside the door. Ross made a note of that in Bodie’s file. Her rational mind was warning her that when partners became too enmeshed in each other’s lives, their effectiveness as a team could suffer. But, hearing Bodie’s voice, Ross thought she had the answer to his unexpected resilience. And she felt a stab of envy.

The two weeks that followed were hectic ones for Doyle. CI5 was down a man as long as Bodie remained on medical leave, and Doyle had to do his part in covering the short fall. He had almost no time to see Bodie, though the other man assured him he was doing just fine. Bored stiff, mind - but definitely fine. The usual crises ensued, one following close on the heels of the other, and come the final Friday, Doyle was thinking of nothing more than staggering home and collapsing into bed.

He certainly wasn’t expecting to find a jubilant Bodie on his doorstep.

“Oh, sod off. I’m tired.” Doyle tried to shut the door in Bodie’s face, but the other man muscled past him.

“Just listen!”

“If I do, will you go away?”

“It’s my blood test, Ray! I’m clear!”

Doyle finally looked at Bodie properly. He was like a big kid standing there, all eagerness and anxiety. “I’m happy for you. Get your love life nicely back on track, won’t it?”

“Well, actually...” Bodie looked faintly embarrassed.

“Oh, no! No, no, no!” Ray shook his head emphatically. “I’ve been working twenty hours straight, and I’m near dead on my feet.”

“I didn’t mean right now!” Bodie grabbed his arm and propelled him over to the sofa. “Listen Ray, I know you’ve been working your arse off this week. I owe you, and I’m here to make good on that.”

Doyle squinted up at Bodie, trying to figure out what he was on about.

Bodie beamed. “If I remember correctly, I owe you an order of takeaway, a back rub, and a glass of warm milk.”

“Not the warm milk!”

“Oh, but I owe you most of all for that one.” Bodie’s expression was wicked.

“This is revenge, isn’t it?”

Bodie sobered. “No, it’s an elaborate seduction, is what it is.”

Doyle rubbed his face. He could not cope with this. Not now. Not on four hours sleep.

“Right,” said Bodie, sounding crestfallen. “Bloody awful timing, eh?”

Doyle knew he was being played. He knew it, and he was sorely tempted to call Bodie’s bluff. Just send him packing. On the other hand, he was also aware that he was being a miserable bastard. A clean bill of health - that was a bleeding miracle. And he was throwing it right back into Bodie’s face.

Bodie was halfway to the door when Doyle caved. “Stop. Just tell me...” Why have you been chasing me, why were we having sex, why did I give you that massage and make you that godawful warm milk, and why did I miss you so badly these last two weeks?

It was too much to put into words.

Bodie’s only goal that evening had been finding someone to celebrate the good news with him. He’d gone through his options and realized that the only person who would understand what it meant was Ray. It was true he wouldn’t mind a leg over if he could get it – after all, it had been almost three weeks now and a bloke could get a bit weary of his own hand – but he wasn’t intending to push things.

He’d just wanted a friend.

But now Ray was looking at him with that same stricken expression, the one Bodie had never seen until finding himself cuffed to a bed in a filthy little basement.

Ray said, “Why?”

Bodie was close to panic. It might have been one word, but it felt like the longest, most complicated question he’d ever been asked. And he wasn’t even sure of the stakes, except that he knew they were high.

Why? Why what, exactly? “I don’t know!”

“That’s not an answer.” Doyle crossed his arms, stubbornly.

Bodie groaned.

“That’s not one either.”

Hand grenades and atom bombs. This had so much potential to blow up in his face. But Ray wanted an explanation, and Bodie supposed he was entitled to one. Praying that this was, after all, about the sex, and not about some indefinable relationship thing (but Ray wasn’t a bird, he wouldn’t be after that, would he?), Bodie said “Okay, uh... Because I want to, and you want to, and why not?”

But Ray was shaking his head. Bodie pursed his lips, wishing he was better at this kind of thing. This really was as bad as when a bird wanted to know how a bloke felt. He stopped. Birds and blokes... Right. He said “Because it’s different with a bloke. Birds are...”

Bodie paused, thinking of soft touches and softer curves, and light, high voices. “Birds are like dessert.”

Bodie was pleased with that analogy, but Ray just looked baffled, so he tried to explain further. “They’re sweet, right? Don’t always want that, can’t always get it. A bloke’s...”

He squinted, trying to get the rest of the analogy right. He thought of firm hands, a solid presence, a feeling of solidity. Ray. “A bloke’s like meat and potatoes. He’s straight nutrition, no messing around.”

Doyle wasn’t impressed. “Trust you to bring it all back to food. Then why don’t you just go and get yourself a bloke down Soho?” He waved his finger at Bodie, “And don’t go telling me you aren’t bent.”

“Well, I’m not!” protested Bodie. “I like birds.”

“For dessert, apparently.”

“Got a sweet tooth.”

“So why me?” asked Doyle, relentless.

“I don’t know!” Bodie threw up his hands, helplessly. “I just like you. Though I can’t say why at the moment.” Sarky little sod, he thought. Why do I like him anyway?

But then Ray smiled at him, a real smile, and Bodie remembered exactly why he loved this man.

“No warm milk,” Ray said, his head falling back against the couch and his eyes closing. “Please.”

“What if I put rum in it?” asked Bodie.

Ray made a gesture that Bodie decided to interpret as a promise, rather than a threat.

Doyle listened, eyes still closed, as Bodie ordered takeaway from the Chinese place down the road. “I just like you.” Whether Bodie realized it or not, he’d given Doyle the answer he was looking for. It wasn’t about the sex.

Damn good thing, too. Considering that Doyle wasn’t convinced yet that he would agree to sex with Bodie again.

It wasn’t about the job, either. Though it was a sure thing they’d never have become friends if CI5 hadn’t tied them together in the first place. Doyle smiled ruefully to himself, remembering the early days of their partnership.

“What are you grinning about?” asked Bodie, startling Doyle slightly. He hadn’t realized he was standing so close.

Doyle answered without opening his eyes. “Remembering when Cowley paired us. Didn’t think it would work.”

“Really?” Bodie sounded slightly hurt, and out of curiosity Doyle opened his eyes.

Bodie was leaning over the back of the couch looking at him. He said, “I wanted you for my partner from the start. You were the best.” He paused and lifted one eyebrow. “Barring me, of course.”

“Was your remarkable humility changed my mind, of course,” said Doyle.

“That and my stunning good looks,” agreed Bodie.

Doyle snorted, but he was smiling as well. A feeling of tender affection warmed his heart.

Because it was about this. About the easy give and take, about the fact that they could be miserable bastards and know that the other would forgive.

It was about knowing that when everything was falling apart, and it felt like anarchy ruled, there would always be someone to help pick up the pieces and put them back in place.

“Thought of something,” said Bodie, his breath warm on Doyle’s ear.

Doyle remained still, suddenly very aware of Bodie’s proximity. Christ, he hasn’t even touched me yet. So much for self-control.

“Considering me delicate physical and emotional state, I think I should be on top from now on.”

That... bastard!