Two Birds, No Stone
Sandy K. Herrold and Rosa Westphalen
It was all so familiar, Doyle thought, watching the ambulance men covering Tudman efficiently before taking him off. As always, Bodie was standing close, fidgeting, Bodies gun hand still twitching, though his gun was long since put away. The accustomed strong smell of cordite in the cold air, the slight numbness in his hand and wristgotta switch to an automatic, Doyle told himself, as he had twenty times beforesame old, same old. Just life on the firing line.
Cowley arrived, as he tended to do when there had been a fatal shooting, and gave him a close look before going off to talk to the police sergeant holding the perimeter. The scrutiny made Doyle pat his gun, nervously; checking that it was safe back in his holster. Bodie hadnt killed his man: good shot, though, hed bet Walker would never walk again. Ironic, that. But a good shotWalker could still give evidence.
But I blew it, Doyle thought guiltily. He could still hear Cowley explaining the case, his hope that Tudman would lead them to Connolly, the need to keep Tudman under watch at all times. Well, Tudman would never get to testify, never get a chance to see the Bodie and Doyle interrogation show, never try to shoot around a corner again. Should he have taken the extra microsecond to aim, when he saw Tudman aiming at Bodies back? Doyle wasnt looking forward to writing that part of the report; was glad that Cowley hadnt immediately demanded a preliminary report.
Funny, he could smell the crushed grass and Tudmans blood over the smell of the guns. His brain tended to work slowly after the adrenaline faded, but his nose was unusually acute. He could smell Bodiea little high now, almost Bodie squaredeven over the smell of cordite sticking to his own skin and clothes. He felt Bodie looking at him, though he didnt feel up to a response. He did turn, surprised, when Bodie walked off. Oh, yeah, Cowley. Bodies way of saying thank you, volunteering to go first and break the news. He watched the people; milling about like ants after a picnic, they were, dealing with the crumbs of death and evidence left behind. Twenty minutes ago, thered just been the five of them. Two against three; fair odds, Bodie had said.
Bodie wandered back, nothing left of his earlier energy but a small smile. "We didnt get tomorrow off," Bodie always rubbed his hands together when he had good news. Rather endearing. "But we dont have to be in until noon, and better yet, we dont have to do reports until tomorrow. He said with Tudman dead there wasnt much point."
"He angry?" Doyle didnt know if he cared, but it could be handy information.
"No, but MI6 will be. Willis had a whole new set of hot pincers and pokers heated up for Tudman."
"He can use them on Walker," Doyle said. He noticed that Bodie was sniffling in the bitter air, and handed him his handkerchief.
"Small fish, mate."
"As long as it isnt us." He let Bodie steer him toward the car, cutting through the boys in blue with no more than a wave.
"So, dinner? A little dancing? Its not often we get a Friday night free."
He watched Bodie get in on the drivers side before it occurred to him that it was his car. "Told you, Sarah gave me the push."
Bodie smiled disarmingly. "All of Londons out there, my son. We shall start anew; spread our custom out among the worthy."
As Bodie gestured grandly, Doyle could see a smear of blood on his knuckle; his own, or someone elses? "Uh, what happened to Laura?"
Bodie looked away. "She said I was beautiful, but not thick enough. Didnt want to ask her what she meant."
Snort. Doyle suspected he knew. When theyd first been assigned to each other, he had thought of Bodie as a perfect iceberg, less than one-tenth ever showing. The occasional hints of what lay below the waterline had been as disconcerting as intriguing.
Bodie was still pushing. "Remember that dance place you mentioned last week? You said Sarah wouldnt like it. Well, now she wont be asked to."
Checking to make sure Bodie was staring ahead, Doyle essayed a small smile. Their girls came and went. Their partnership continued. "Hmmm."
Bodie stared out the window, taking in the peaceful view of Doyles neighborhood at twilight, absently sipping some of Doyles Scotch, waiting for Doyle to finish preening. A long bath and some time alone hadnt begun to take the edge off his day, and it didnt look like it had done much for Doyle either.
Bodie rested his forehead against the cool windowpane. He didnt want to remember feeling his heart stop as he saw Tudmans gun, then watched him fall. Even with all that was between them lately, Doyle would never let him down, would always watch his back. A second sigh gusted mist on the glass as he reflected on his place in Doyles life. It was a bittersweet thing, their friendship. He shrugged, a half-smile lifting the corner of his mouth. More bitter than sweet.
He turned from the window as Doyle came into the room, looking around for something. Doyle wore black linen trousers with a forest-green silk shirt. A small tuft of chest hair showed, blossoming out from Doyles sternum. Bodie imagined kissing lightly all around the edges of Doyles chest hair, just before finding his pink aureole, which Bodie could see was erect against Doyles shirt. Clearing his throat, Bodie said, "Your shoes are by the door to the kitchen," knowing that absent casting about better than he cared to. Knew Doyle better than he cared to; or was that less than he cared to? He was never completely certain.
Even though he could predict Doyles response, he had to say it anyway. "You look terrific. Those trousers"
Doyle looked him right in the eyes and scowled. Bodie took no notice.
"make you look good enough to eat."
Covering the distance between him and Bodie in two steps, eyes wide with anger, Doyle hissed, "I told you not to bring that up ever again."
Bodie sighed again, this one much louder. I knew better, he thought, definitely knew better. Damn Doyle anyway. The way he looked in silk, one would think that Doyle wanted Bodie to notice. More likely, Doyle wanted some simple, attractive, relatively uncomplicated woman to notice. Bodie ruefully acknowledged it was an effective strategy; sex was a hell of a lot less complicated that way. He played it the same way, himself. Doyle or no Doyle, he was not cut out for the celibate life. Other fish in the sea and all that. With Doyles attitude, he was going to have to be content with what they had. It was, after all, better than nothing.
Doyle grabbed his shoes and flung himself down on the settee and said in a normal voice, "Im almost ready."
One thing about Doyle, he didnt linger over anger. His temper was like a lightning flash, bright, hot, and intimidating; and then it was gone, often leaving Bodie wondering whether Doyle really had been angry or not.
Mentally shaking himself, he stored Doyles gorgeous appearance in his memory for future reference and moved into prowling mode himself, making minuscule adjustments to his appearance. He knew he looked good in his white silk shirt, undone at the collar (just one button), snug black slacks, and black jacket. His last steady girlmore than three dateshad called him delectable when he wore this with her. Frowning, he tried to remember her name. That lasted about two seconds before he found himself wishing Doyle thought he looked delectable. Ah, well. He could still dream, and he did, often, and with knee-weakening effect. Not that Doyle needed to know that. Probably better for his health that Doyle didnt.
"You ready yet? Im not getting any younger standing here waiting for you." Bodie picked up his keys, smoothed his hair and started for the door. Doyle still hadnt responded. "Ill bring the car around, shall I? I had to park streets away. Someone in your building must be having a party."
"Nah, hang on a sec, Bodie, Im ready." Doyle grabbed his jacket and followed Bodie out the door.
The evening was crisp and clear after the chill drizzle of the day. Doyle stared out the window at the city lights reflected in the wet road, glad Bodie was driving. "Not our usual part of town."
Mumbling address numbers under his breath, Bodie evaded a couple of car-eating potholes, splashed the Capri through a huge puddle and pulled over to the high kerb. "I think were here."
Doyle understood Bodies doubtful air. This was the address hed taken from TimeOut, but it looked more like an abandoned warehouse. Oh well, he thought, if it wasnt there, theyd go find another place. He started to say this, with some annoyance, to Bodie, but Bodie was busy watching a slightly drunken party of five wander up to the huge warehouse door and be let inside. This was more than a little outside their usual style and suddenly Doyle wasnt even sure he wanted to be out tonight. Certainly after today he deserved some dancing and debauchery (to quote the club ad) but beer sounded too much like pissing all night and a headache tomorrow, and Bodies whispered cajoling, "girls, girls, girls" made him think of scrubbers on parade. He said as much.
"So," Bodie shrugged, "be adventurous, try something else. Be daring. Live a little, Doyle."
Rolling his eyes he followed Bodie in, a few steps behind. The place was huge, and not what hed expected; the roughness of the building was camouflaged by lots of lights and mirrors and large hanging pieces of fabric of all colors. The crowd was a little younger, and definitely wilder than their usual, including more than a few dressed-all-in-black arty-looking types, but he wasnt willing to put up with Bodies teasing if he backed out now. Truth be told, hed be happier to just spend the evening with the two of them stretched out on the sofa together, dozing off in front of a match or two. If Bodie would just leave off asking He shrugged his jacket off, not wanting to follow his thoughts any further.
He leaned on a rail and waited out Bodies usual hunt for the perfect pub table: good view of the room; neither of them having to sit back to the door; close to the bar; not too close to the as-yet-empty bandstand. He laughed when, as usual, Bodie decided on a table that met none of his criteria but was next to two available-looking women in the corner. He followed him over to the table, and turned slightly to better see his neighbors, Bodies intended prey.
They looked likely enough, he supposed. Certainly not scrubbers, and older than most of the crowd; a couple years younger than Bodie, hed guess. The redhead had beautifully long curly hair and looked like an athlete, with small but well-defined muscles at arm and calf. Her friend had almost boyishly short hair, but somehow it fit her face. He looked again, as casually as he could. He wasnt sure, her shirt seemed perfectly modest, but at the right angle, in the club lighting, he was almost certain he could see right through it. And he liked what he saw.
Bodie cocked an eyebrow at him, but he decided to answer a different question. "A pint. No, a Scotcha good one." He dodged Bodies mimed grab at his wallet.
Bodie made short work of the line at the bar, and, of course, managed to weave his way back directly past the girls table. Doyle held his breath. Would he? Doyle was hard pressed not to laugh out loud as Bodie "tripped" and spilled a bit of his beer near the redhead.
Doyle didnt have to listen. It was never in what Bodie said, but rather the way he said it; the quite sincere happiness of a kid in a toffee shop (and about that level of maturity) was what women responded to. Plus, as far as he could tell, women liked a man who liked to take control. Nothing wrong with thathe didnt look down on them for itbut it wasnt what he was looking for. Bodie seemed to like the amiable ones; always letting Bodie make all the decisions, all the moves. Doyle thought that most of Bodies women were pretty but boring. Not really to his taste. He wanted an independent woman. A woman not afraid to ask for what she wanted and say what she thought.
He obeyed Bodies "cmere," and came over and stood between Bodie and the blonde, smiling ruefully, as if to say, "yeah, hes an orangutan, but hes my mate, what can I do?"
"The more the merrier." The blonde smiled conspiratorially at her friend, who, tilting her head, eyed Doyle up and down carefully before nodding twice.
If he got to choose, hed take the redhead; he hoped Bodies seating had been random. Hiding that thought, he smiled impartially at the three of them, determined to join the party. He threw a matey arm around Bodies shoulder, and said, "Hi, Im Ray Doyle, and this clumsy baboon is my partner, Bodie."
"Im Torrie, short for Victoria," the redhead said, staring directly at him, "and this is my partner, Ellie, or Elizabeth if youre shouting at her." She laid an extra stress on partner. He wasnt sure whether she was laughing at him or not.
Bodie reclaimed her attention. "I have regal names myself."
Jesus, is there anything the man wont do for a chat up? This from the man who threatened Murphy with grievous bodily harm for merely mentioning that he had first names. He smiled inwardly at the enigma that was his best mate, even as he felt the tinge of competitiveness Bodie frequently roused in him. Grabbing the chair next to Bodie, he set himself to being charming, fighting the urge to stare at Ellies shirtfront. Hed found early on in his life that speaking to a womans breasts rarely won you any points.
"How was the first band?"
Now there were two likely women, Bodie thought. Didnt look like scrubbers and didnt look like Ann Holly. Though one had red hair and when Doyle was with a redhead it always made him a bit uncomfortable. So, he decided that the redhead was his and Doyle could take the blonde. They both looked like outdoor typescasual skirts and no make-upor perhaps it was supposed to look that way; the entire process was a mystery to him. The redhead had an open and friendly smile. The blonde seemed reserved, or distracted, but he hoped that a little of the Bodie and Doyle double act would bring her attention fully to them.
As he walked toward them, he noticed that they sat just a shade too close to each other, touching at thigh and upper arm as they talked. The music wasnt loud enough to justify such an invasion of an acquaintances body space. He smiled to himself, not above hoping for something interesting to come of the usual foursome-becomes-two-couples. Daring women were hard to find. He smiled to himself. A daring Bodie wasnt hard to find; he was already half-hard at the thought of seeing Doyle naked, caressing the blonde one. Such intoxicating images raced through his head that he nearly did trip and spill lager all over the smiling one. Even the enigmatic blonde gave him a tiny smile for that maneuver.
"Not a problem. Happens quite often you know." The woman with red hair gazed up at him, a half-knowing, amused look on her face.
Ooh, hazel eyes, Bodie observed, as he smiled apologetically and said, "Make it up to you."
"Maybe well make it up to you," the redhead replied, narrowing her eyes but smiling.
Her blonde friend blinked innocently up at him and said, "Would you care to join us?"
"Why yes. Uh, my friend, Ray..."
Doyle was of course watching the proceedings, and came on over as Bodie made himself comfortable.
"The more the merrier."
Doyle sat down between him and the blonde. Names having been exchanged, Bodie noticed clandestinely that Doyle was trying not to stare at Ellies breasts. He breathed a sigh of relief. That left Torrie for him, or he for her. It struck him as odd that even as he chatted up Torrie with a wild tale about skydivingonly half-falsehe was really talking to Doyle. He felt more in tune with Doyles responses right then than he had in a long while, even though Doyle barely cast a glance his way. That sixth sense that kept them each attuned to the other at work was always amplified after the kind of afternoon theyd had. It was harder and harder for Bodie to turn it off when he was off duty. He could feel a portion of Doyles attention on him, even as Doyle gave the appearance of rapt attention to Ellies every word. Torrie seemed interested in Bodie and, with an ease Bodie found both disarming and charming, responded in kind with an outrageous story about hiking along a nude beach in France. But Bodie never stopped being aware of Doyle at his side, not touching physically, but close, and of how the two women were touching one another, just barely, all the time. Oh, how he wished he was that close to Doyle.
As the next band began to warm up and the place began to get more crowded, Bodie noticed that Torrie looked a bit distracted. He watched her nudge Ellie and nod in the direction of the band. Rather than turn around, which was his first instinct, he took the moment to look at Doyle. Doyle looked a little uncomfortable and was still stealing furtive glances at Ellies chest. He had seen Torrie catch Doyle at that and wondered if women had a code to express to one another that a man was leering. The way these women interacted, one might think they were terribly close friends. Close enough to communicate without words. Like him and Doyle? The thought made him sad. He put it up to the stress of the day.
"So, what do you do?" he asked, hoping that wouldnt be as loaded a question for them as it had been for him and Doyle.
Torrie turned her attention back to Bodie, smiled, bit her bottom lip and ran her hand through her hair. She then stared fixedly at a point above Bodies head as Ellie replied, "Well, since you took the civil servant response, that just leaves us with librarians." She took on a pursed-lip parody of a librarians expression.
Librarians. Right. Bodie knew if he caught Doyles eye, hed laugh out loud.
"Yes," Torrie nodded, still not meeting Bodie or Doyles eyes. "At Queens College."
Doyle did laugh, and while Ellie smiled with him, Torrie said, "Its true you know. All day long, nothing but musty books and men with pens in their shirt pockets walking around looking for obscure manuscripts that make oblique references to the Holy Grail."
Ellie sighed soulfully. "Not an action man in the lot."
Bodie quelled his urge to rise to the bait, barely. He knew they were mocking him and Doyle somehow, but he couldnt quite place why. It didnt seem mean-spirited, them making a joke of some sort, but he could never tell with women. Too complicated by half. Fun though, Torrie especially had more potential than any woman hed chatted up in a long while. He put his suspicions aside and set himself to tell yet another hair-raising tale of adventure, to see if her smile would turn into a laugh. Hed only managed one from her so far, and, since he liked to make Doyle laugh, too, maybe he could get two for the price of one.
Doyles attention drifted as he let Bodie carry the conversational load for both of them. Bodie was laughing, almost euphoric, vibrantly alive. Amazing to realize Bodie had nearly died today. Bodies face was a little red from the heat, and Doyle noticed a small scrape on his forehead stabbing into his crooked eyebrow. Fuck! That scrape could have been Tudmans bulls-eye. Doyle took a deep swallow, washing his thoughts away, and deliberately started chatting with Ellie. His attention was caught when Torrie started talking karate.
"Need someone to work out with?" Bodie said it broadly with a nod and a wink, but Torrie answered Bodie semi-seriously.
"Ive been looking for a new sparring partner." She continued with a wink, "People at work wont play with me anymore."
Going for the laugh, Doyle couldnt resist, "Bodie has the same trouble."
Bodie kicked him under the table, not gently either, Doyle noted, and asked, "Wouldnt have thought karate was that popular with librarians."
The girls exchanged a speaking glance. Ellie said, "Youd be surprised. Did I mention were in acquisitions? Sometimes you have to fight tooth and nail for just the right book."
Everybody laughed, but Torrie stayed on track, "Anyway, if youre interested, I need someone whos good enough to give me a challenge, and not so macho Ill have to hurt him when Im beating him."
Doyle recognized a straight line when he heard one. "Macho? Bodie? How could you think such a thing?" and laughed along with the girls when Bodie flexed his arms and crossed his eyes, the very picture of an idiot muscle man.
Ellie said more seriously, "Shes been looking for a good partner for a while"
There was the stress on that word again, Doyle noticed.
"ever since Jeffrey hurt his hip. Would Bodie give her a good workout?"
Doyle thought he hid his doubt at the idea she could take Bodie, but as Torrie and Bodie started in with "how long have you been training?" and "which style," Ellie added quietly, "Shes fast, and getting stronger. Of course in competition she only fights her own weight class, but in practice Ive seen her take down men bigger than Bodie"
Bodie had obviously been keeping an ear on their conversation, and said in unison with Doyle, "But none so perfectly formed." The line wasnt that funny, but the perfect synchronization of the partners made them all laugh out loud.
"I dont doubt youre good, Torrie, but most women in martial arts seem to lack the killer instinct." Doyle put up his hands mock protectively.
Ellie reacted by growling threateningly and snapping her teeth at Doyle. Doyles pretend cower backed him into Bodie, who started making growling noises from his other side. Torrie laughed at their mock fight, and looked menacing in her turn.
Wonder if she really is any good? Nah, Doyle thought absently. Though Bodie seemed to be taking the idea of sparring with Torrie seriously. He snorted to himself. Doubtless it was like that blonde at work who dabbled at karate, the time Bodie had convinced him to throw the fight to win the birdjust a tactic, just part of the chase and retreat. However, this was looking like a good night, and with Torrie to occupy Bodies attention, Doyle felt a part of himself relax. For the first time in quite a while, the tension of being with Bodie wasnt so strong, and Bodies continual prurient interest in all things sexual had been diverted to safe areas, safe targets. As Bodie seemed so taken with Torrie (and she with him, from all appearances) Doyle decided to drop his original interest in pulling the red-head. Ellie was alluring and beautiful and he felt satisfied, if not happy, for the time being.
Doyle nursed the last of his third Scotch, noticing that the others were all in a similar place with their drinks, and resolved that Bodie was getting the next round, even though it was his turn. He was too content to move. He noticed Ellie smile at him before she turned to her friend.
"Torrie, I dont think theyre going to play again, do you?" Torrie had been sneaking surreptitious glances at the stage for the last few minutes. Ellie patted her forearm consolingly.
"I suppose youre right, Ellie. Well, then," Torrie sighed theatrically, "we shall have to make do with these two for a bit longer, eh?" Doyle watched her wink at Bodie. They really seemed to have hit it off.
Ellie nodded gravely, "Yes, I suppose we shall. Well, if I dont get to dance any more, I want sugar and I want it now!"
Doyle stared; hed heard those exact words at this time of night many times, but he wasnt used to hearing it in soprano. He saw Bodies smile, and cut in, "You are in luck. This man knows every late night bakery, wine bar and cake shop in town."
"Maybe." Torrie exchanged a rather amused glance with her partner. "You trust us, yes?" Doyle thought she was talking more to him than to Bodie, and wasnt quite sure why. "Weve got a favorite place; its close enough to walk if you want to join us?"
Doyle could feel Bodies grin without looking; high on Bodies list of rules was, "if they go with you anywhere, theyll go with you anywhere," and he bet Bodie would yet again be proven right.
The night was beautiful, but cool, and they walked quickly down to the wine bar that Torrie recommendedat a place that Bodie had in fact never heard of. No sooner had they arrived and been seated than the girls excused themselves. Doyle could tell Bodie was about to make a stupid "why do birds go to the bog in pairs" comment and kicked him under the table, giving the girls time to make a clean getaway.
He ignored the menu, figuring hed just steal a bit of whatever chocolate monstrosity Bodie ordered, and took a look around. If the dance club had been on the downscale side of hip, this place was its upscale cousin. The same tiny track lights and mirrors, but these lights shone on gleaming chrome accenting shiny black and white tiles. He noticed the girls hadnt made it very far; they seemed to be chatting with a rather nice-looking person in a waiters dinner jacket. Doyle was a little disconcerted not to be able to tell if the waiter was a man or a woman. Torrie seemed to be pointing the two of them out. Doyle resisted the urge to wave, but did nudge Bodie.
He watched them as they finally headed over to the lavatory. Torrie and Ellie had very different styles, but they were both a pleasure to watch walk away. He turned and caught Bodie watching too. He hoped his expression had been slightly more civilized than Bodies open greed. Bodie spied the dessert trolley, and the expression in his eyes hardly changed at all. Doyle would have sworn hed seen the same expression aimed at him. Cheerful gluttony. Quick satisfaction of an itch. He frowned, knowing better than to be thinking about it now after theyd been drinking.
"Your coffee." The voice was soft but husky, startling him. Doyle was about to say that he hadnt even ordered yet, but he recognized the waiter behind the drink tray as the person Torrie and Ellie had been talking to. Even up close, after hearing the voice, he was still completely unsure of the waiters sex. And he didnt like it. Hed never had a drag queen fool him in his entire time with the Met. He watched the waiter place crystal liquer glasses in front of Torries and Ellies seats and outsized cups of coffee in front of each of them, then an even larger gateau in front of Bodie. Doyle would have sworn she/he winked at him as she/he set down the cream, sugar, napkins and four forks.
"Theyre taking care of us, Ray. I could get used to this." Bodie looked like a happy tourist, enjoying the experience of being around people with ways different from his own. Doyle wished he could relax and join him. Instead he felt more like he was on a last-minute undercover job, trying frantically to fit in before someone discovered him and threw him out. Or worse.
He took a sip of the coffee and almost sputtered. "What have they put in this?"
"Id guess a leg-opener." Bodie grinned wickedly before trying his own drink. "Definitely some sort of liqueur. Not that they needed to, I come across pretty easy." Doyle frowned at Bodie giggling at his own questionable wit, and hissed, "Ssh," as he noticed Torrie and Ellie making their way back to the table.
To his surprise, Bodie stood as they approached the table, leaving him to follow awkwardly. He wanted to know why Bodie was having so much more fun than he was: pretty girls, great music, nice place, not particularly subtle hints that more was on offer; yet he was tempted to chuck it all in and let Bodie try and wangle a three-way. Oh, not really, but...they were so aggressive. Without so much as consulting with him or Bodie, they were calling all the shots. Picking the dessert place, ordering without asking either him or Bodie, obviously talking about them to the server. Jesus. They were probably feminists or something.
Torrie reached the table and smiled at them standing politely, turning back to Ellie to say, "They are wonderfully well trained, arent they?"
Doyle kept expecting Bodie to get annoyed at them, but it was almost as if Bodie was in on the joke, and he was the outsider. In fact, Bodie put on his dumb puppy look and panted lightly, letting his tongue stick out a little as he resumed his seat.
"Good boy. Ive a biscuit for you..." Torrie trailed her hand across the back of Bodies neck as she squeezed past to her own chair.
Doyle rolled his eyes, catching a quizzical glance from Ellie.
This is great, Bodie thought, surveying the coffee bar. Open, airy and well lit with quiet music playing in the background, it was a perfect contrast to the sheer volume of the club. He looked around, taking in the details and the elegance of the fixtures and the art. The food looked great, too, and the servers, dressed in dinner jackets, gave the place a style that he had always found attractive. It reminded him in an elusive way of a trip he had made to Paris on the way back from Africa. He had given himself a short holiday to celebrate leaving the bush, a stop on the way home for some civilization and carnal relaxation. It had been exotic, overwhelming, and most of all, fun. That brief time, much like tonight, had given him an opportunity to be different from his usual self. Smiling to himself, content in the moment with all he surveyed, he gestured with his fork at the others and started in on the gateau.
"Mmm." Torrie smiled widely at him, plunging her fork into the cake with gusto equal to his own.
"Cmon you two, youre gonna miss out." She nudged Ellie and looked at Doyle, narrowing her eyes. "We dont want to keep all the best bits to ourselves."
Bodie laughed. "No, we want to share the best bits with you, too."
"Id bet you like to share all the best bits, Bodie," Ellie said, making eye contact with him. She held his gaze for a minute and he realized it was the first time this evening she had done that.
Playing up to her attention, he replied, "Of course, Ellie. Best bits are only best cause theyre shared." However, he thought, this has gone on long enough. He was drunk enough to sound melancholy, and comfortable enough not to care. "Once, when I was in France, I was in a place rather like this. Company wasnt as nice," he nodded at the women and spared Doyle a cursory glance, "but it was" he paused, trying to get the elusive thought back. Why did I start this whole thing, he wondered? "elegant, like this."
He glanced at Doyle, whose eyebrows had disappeared into his hair. Bodie quickly returned his attention to Torrie, feeling quite off balance. "It was nice," he floundered. "Like this."
Appearing as though she hadnt noticed Bodies discomfort, or the fleeting look that the two men had exchanged, Ellie said, "Never made it to France, but I was in Greece once. Best coffee Ive ever had. Which is surprising."
"Why?" Torrie asked. "Its close enough to Turkey."
"But Turkish coffee is terrible!" Bodie interrupted. Doyle seemed happy just listening as the conversation wandered to coffee around the world, its production, various methods of preparation and effects. For librarians, Torrie and Ellie had been around; they seemed to have been in as many countries between them as he had. As the conversation wound down, Doyle finally joined back in and he and Ellie returned to their previous conversation about films or poetry, Bodie wasnt quite certain which.
Torrie winked at Bodie. "Did you do all that traveling as a civil servant?"
"You are a wicked woman, Torrie." He smiled warmly at her. "No, I was something of a free spirit then. How about you then, you always been a librarian?"
"Sorting books in my crib." They shared a smile. "So, you and Ray here been together long?" She nodded at Doyle.
Bodie noticed she imitated his style: deflect, attack. Maybe she would be a good sparring partner. "Partners five years."
"No, I mean together."
Bodie thought about what she said for a moment and let what she hadnt said dance around in the back of his mind. He darted a quick self-conscious look at Doyle. "Were not." He tried to say it casuallyman of the world, unoffended at things strange to him. From the look on her face, he didnt think he had succeeded. He took a deep breath. "You two?"
"Nearly four years. But we have open minds and wide horizons." She smiled openly at him.
"I wouldnt mind sharing horizons for a while." He didnt leer when he said that. He found that he really meant it. Shetheyreminded him of the days when hed been alive for more than just adrenaline, kind of a seven-wonders-of-the-world sort of feeling.
"Can tell. But youd be too easy. Hes," she nodded at Doyle intently listening to Ellie, who was gesticulating purposefully, "hes more what we had in mind."
Bodie realized he wasnt even surprised: thered been something off kilter about them from the beginning. He glanced again at Doyle, this time frowning, and thought, Doyle wont even know what to do with you two. The man would starve in the middle of a banquet if it wasnt the same old, same old. "Cant help but warn you Id be more fun." He leered extravagantly at her.
"First lesson in civil servant school is to accept that the taxpayer is always right." He sighed again, but met her smile with his own, open and sincere. "Tell me, why him?" His tone was light, inviting confidences.
She let out a deep breath, obviously deciding what to tell him. She leaned in closely, brushing his cheek with her lips; her scent filled his nostrils. He touched her hand, stroking it gently. Finally she said quietly, her lips lightly brushing against his ear, "Well, youre a lovely man, but what would be the point? Youd enjoy everything we did to you." She sat back a bit, looking in his eyes, smiling slightly, "Doyle, now, hes going to fight us almost every step of the way."
She winked and Bodie let out an explosive laugh. Doyle looked over, apparently wondering what was going on. Well, this was one punch line Doyle was going to have to wait for. "Im jealous," he said, still chortling.
"I dont blame you," Torrie consoled him.
"Blame him for what?" Doyle asked.
Bodie ignored him. To Torrie, he said, "Smug, arent you?" He sipped his coffee, wild images forming in his mind. Doyle could use some shaking up. Hed been acting like a prat ever since... Bodie shied away from naming it. Well, for weeks now.
Doyle thought it was a little early for Bodie to be sharing secrets with these girls, especially since Ellie apparently knew what they were talking about. Stupid to feel left out, he thought, theyre probably just making arrangements for the evening. But Bodies laughBodie wouldnt be crazy enough to try to take them both, would he? He was more than a little tired of Bodie always pushing him, and this competitiveness was an annoying piece of it.
Well, two could play at that game and if nothing else, it should make them laugh. He leaned back and stretched, thrusting his chest up just a bit to show off the patch of hair tufting out, catching everyones attention. He smiled seductively at them all, turned up the heat a little, and deliberately stole one of Bodies lines. "You two lovely things, its too cruel to make you decide which one has to martyr herself with this over-sized primate. Ill make it easy and invite you both back with me."
He was midway through a challenging smile at Bodie when Ellie said, "That would be lovely." To his amazement, both Ellie and Torrie seemed to be taking him seriously, smiling and getting their things together.
He looked to Bodie for some help, but Bodie had taken one look at his expression and was, predictably, laughing at his expense.
"Careful what you ask for, eh?"
"But, but" He wanted to think it was a jokehed bet Bodie still thought it wasbut, though smiling, Torrie seemed completely serious. And why wasnt Bodie pouting, saying "why him, why not me?" He wanted to say, "I dont want you both," but he could already see Bodie snickering, and anyway, he had asked them. It wasallegedlyhis idea. He didnt think expostulating, "it was a joke"would help matters any.
It was just thatthey looked so calm. No, in control. Almost smug. In fact, Torrie rather reminded him of Bodie right now. He hadnt noticed before how thick her neck was. Almost put him off.
He couldnt fool himself any longer. He was angry, at Bodie if no one else, but stillthe two of them all for him, an embarrassment of riches, all for him, and best, having Bodie know. Except what was the joy of having Bodie know if he wasnt going to be jealous? Bodie was taking it well so far. In fact, he was almost gracious, helping Torrie on with her jacket, kissing them each good night
"Wait, Bodie drove."
"Thats all right. Weve a motor ourselves."
"Dont worry, Doyle, theyll take good care of you." The leer was evident, but Torrie and Ellie clearly didnt mind; rather they were adding their share, looking him up and down as he stood there, awkwardly holding his jacket.
There was an air of unreality to it now; he kept waiting for "April Fools" or the man from Candid Camera, or at least for Bodie to get pissed off, but nothing of the sort happened. It was all very civilized as the four of them started back to the club and then past a bit to Bodies car. Bodie kissed each of the women good night again, and smiled at Doyle. In the dim street light, Doyle was hard-pressed to read that smile. Malicious? Wistful? He waved good night as Bodie drove off, and looked at Torrie and Ellie, standing expectantly next to him, and awkwardly put an arm around each of them. Hed never really felt the meaning of the phrase embarrassment of riches before.
Doyle drove into the CI5 car park lot four minutes before eleven a.m., wasting valuable seconds pulling all the way through to look for Bodies silver Capri. Not in sight. He bit back his surprise. Bodie had acted strangely about the whole thing. Maybe, strangest of all, he hadnt planned to ambush him and try to squeeze every possible detail of the night before. Doyle parked his car, locked it, and ran up the steps to the back entrance.
Bodies name wasnt on the sign-in. Doyle felt his tense shoulders loosen in relief. He started up the stairs and almost jumped when Bodie came around the corner.
"Good mornin mate. Is that a guilty look I see?" Bodie nudged him none too gently and looked more closely. "Or just tired?" He laughed lecherously. "Kept you up all night, I see." Doyle kept walking, pushing by him, ignoring Bodies lascivious grin and the host of questions he could see hovering on Bodies tongue.
"Hey, careful, you almost spilled me mug." Bodie took a sip of tea and openly stared.
Doyle knew he was looking for signs of the previous evenings activities.
"Fuck off, Bodie!" Doyle grabbed Bodies tea, took a drink, almost spit the nasty unsweetened stuff back out and swallowed hard. Winding his way to the restroom, he muttered darkly, "Wheres god-damned Cowley?" His head was beginning to throb, and his patience with his partner was at an all-time low.
"Now, now Raymond. Cowleys not likely to damn himself." Bodie was obviously smirking as he followed him into the room. That only threw Doyle further off balance. Off balance, and transparent, as if Bodie could see everything hed done; everything theyd done to him. He busied himself starting a new pot, but dropped his mug, almost knocking the kettle over as he tried to save it.
"Here, let me do it. Didnt you get any sleep?"
Doyle batted Bodies hands away, angrily. "Would you leave me alone?"
"Bodie, Doyle." Cowleys no-nonsense tones interrupted.
Damn, not even time for a cup of tea. Sleep-starved and annoyed that Bodie obviously either had plenty of sleep, or at least enough caffeine to hide the lack, Doyle sat through Cowleys five minute castigation quiet and resentful. Bodie, as usual, was the fair-haired boy for merely wounding his prey but damn it, would Cowley be happier if Tudman had lived and Bodie had died? He bit his tongue, but couldnt stop his frustrated internal dialogue.
"Well, enough. You know what youve done wrong, I know what youve done wrong, and," Cowley said more quietly, "MI6 will make sure that everyone else knows what youve done wrong, but whats done is done." Cowley pulled his glasses off and gave them a quick cleaning, a glad sign that the lecture was over.
"Bodie, Marriot needs someone to go down to Islington and make enquires about the Kieler shooting." Doyle relaxed a little, embarrassed at how happy he was to hear they had separate assignments. Of all the times hed sat in Cowleys office, had he ever been more self-conscious, more aware of his partner? He could sense Bodie beside him, could feel every shift of body weight, every squirm. Felt his aggrieved intake of breath, heard the leather in Bodies jacket creak in a way that betrayed his tension.
"What about Connolly?" Bodie asked. "Whod you assign to find him?"
Some part of him was still able to smile at Bodies fear that some other team was taking their operation.
"Apprehending John Connolly is currently not the responsibility of CI5," Cowley said dryly.
"MI6 has formally petitioned the Minister to take over the case." Cowley tapped on the file for emphasis. "We have just as formally objected. Until the Minister responds, there it sits."
"After all our work, that damned sneak"
Bodie shifted again in his chair, but said nothing further.
"Doyle," Cowley interrupted his musing. "Youve been summoned on the Wallace case. Once you finish your report on Connollybe sure to include full details on the Tudman shootingreacquaint yourself with the details of the Wallace operation. You will be called Wednesday or Thursday to testify."
Doyle nodded yes, reluctant to speak. Every time Cowley looked at him, he expected him to notice something different, as if those women had marked him physically in some way, as if anyone looking at him could see what theyd done, what hed done.
"And Doyle" Cowley waited for him to look up. "None of your tricks on the Connolly-Tudman report. The Minister has specifically requested it. Bring it to me for review before you type the final version." Cowleys phone rang, startling them all, and half a sentence into the conversation, Cowley waved them away, unceremoniously ending the briefing.
"Politics, it sounds like." Bodie opened the restroom door ahead of him.
"Huh?" Brushing past Bodie through the small entranceway, still desperate for morning caffeine, Cowleys hints were the last thing on his mind. Bodie crooked an eyebrow at him, and Doyle realized hed missed a cue. MI6 and the Minister himself getting involved? Doyle just couldnt make himself care.
When Bodie pushed him through the door, he jumped. He was all nerve endings and confusion, and felt guilty at Bodies questioning glance. But even that didnt distract Bodie from what seemed to be his only interest today. "Im still waiting for a little report from you myself." Bodie waggled his eyebrows at him. "You will tell me, later, wont you, Raymundo?" Bodies silky, semi-threatening voice held a little humor at Doyles expense. "I should think you would be eager to brag of your exploits."
Doyle looked straight at Bodie and almost said, "nothing about my sex life has anything to do with you." But theyd done enough fighting about it recently, and this was Bodie, after allsince when had any part of their lives been off limits to each other? He was too damn tired to make sense of his own thoughts. With a nod, he said, "Later, Bodie." Doing a poor imitation of Cowley, he continued, "On your bike, man," and almost smiled at Bodies two-fingered response.
"See you, sunshine."
Doyle watched without cheer as Bodie headed off to find Marriot. He knew Bodie would be back.
As he looked around for Marriot, Bodie reflected on Doyles lack of composure this morninghed seen raw recruits face Cowley better. Shaking his head at Doyles obviously relieved expression when Cowley sent them in separate directions for the day, Bodie wondered what hed done this time. As he spied Lucas at the end of the hall, laughing and chatting with McCabe, he tried to remember the last time he and Doyle had laughed together without the buffer of women between them. He couldnt. How could he have believed that he knew Doyle, that he was in tune with him, when he couldnt predict what would make Doyle snarl at him next? Express some interest in the situation hed been gracious enough to let Doyle have and Doyle acted like Bodie was putting grubby paws on Doyles mums fine lace. La-de-da, Doyle.
Bodie knew he was headed for a bad mood. At least he had Marriot to take it out on. Fucking Doyle, he thought, gets a mans wet dream and the next day acts like he was subjected to torture at the hands of the enemy. Well, Bodie snorted to himself, I have had enough of covering for Doyle in front of Cowley and putting up with this suffering martyrdom.
Doyle sat at his desk making little piles out of Bodies old toffee wrappers and bent paper clips. He eyed the files like the enemy they were. How to sum up the Tudman case? Four weeks of legwork and two weeks of nail-biting undercover and hed blown it all in a single shot.
Bodies eyes had been huge as Tudman fell. Doyle knew Bodie had known hed been about to die. Bodie would have, too, if Doyle had been a second later, or an inch off.
Doyle swallowed hard and opened the file, bent on getting it over with. Write it all down in appropriate governmentese, type it all up in sterile black and white, deposit it in the proper receptacle, and move onno questions asked, no explanations given. Hed learned that the hard way with the Schumann case. People die. Thats the way this high-stakes game is played. Sure, Doyle. He combined two of his paper clip piles, then separated them again. Aw, fuck it. He went back to laying out their notes on the case, his chicken scratchings only marginally easier to read than Bodies scribblings.
He was less than halfway through a timeline before the papers were swimming in front of his eyes. It was easier to shut his eyes and think of the mixed pleasures of last night, letting the last month disappear.
Hed always felt in charge while getting a blow job. It was something she, whoever she was, was giving him. Often kneeling at his feet, or at least below him in bed, it always felt like a not just pleasurable, but commanding position. But hed never had one like this. Torrie had drawn his arms up over his head to massage his biceps, and then knelt there above him on the long couch, kneeling lightly on his arms. Of course, he was certain he could free them, but why? If this was a test, he was determined he could pass it. She was leaning down, kissing him, her breasts touching the top of his head, her long hair veiling them both, her lips interestingly different upside down. Ellie was lying over his legs, effectively immobilizing them, and choosing exactly what she wanted to doevery flex of his hips was punished by less attention to his "good bits" as she called them. He thought he could dislodge her as well if he wanted to, but fighting the wanting was more fun. She stopped nibbling and licking from time to time and rubbed her short brush cut over his thighs and balls. Surprisingly erotic, but too ticklish and teasing. He wished shed get down to it.
He flashed on the conversation earlier in the evening, about Torrie being a black belt. Maybe he couldnt get away as easily as he had thought. He put some more resistance against the weight holding his arms above his head only to feel that pressure increased to match his. He tilted his head farther back, catching a nipple in his mouth and sucking it a little harder than he normally would. With a laugh, the breast was removed from his reach and the nipple replaced with lips and a tongue, plundering in, slowly exploring his teeth and meeting his tongue. As the other mouth blew gently across his testicles and came teasingly close to his cock, he moaned, fire surging through him, lost in the sensation, not knowing or caring where he ended and one of them began.
He looked up to find Murphy looking at him. "What!"
"Touchy." Murphy looked like hed been practicing Bodies smirk in the restroom mirror. He flicked a finger at Doyles report. "Heard youd cocked that up, and Bodied nobbled you with the writing."
"Nah, it was Cowley."
"Well, hes the fair-haired boy."
"Nah, hes darkgot the hairs in my shower drain to prove it."
Murphy pulled a curl lightly and said, "Kinky," waiting until his pun was grudgingly appreciated to let go. "Want some coffee?"
"Yeah." Doyle stood and stretched, dislodging a few of the papers on his desk.
"You look rather under-impressed with your achievement."
"Four weeks of my life on this, and at the end, some expense sheets and a booze-up or two. We caught the minnow, let the fucking shark go free" he looked down at the desk.
"Least you got Tudman." Murphy tapped on the file and said, "heard you picked him off at fifteen meters."
Doyle frowned; Bodie must have been telling tales. "He wouldnt have liked jail anyway." He followed Murphy into the rest room.
Murphy poured four coffees and handed him one before stacking the rest awkwardly together. "You up for afters? More of a late lunch. Its slowa bunch of us are talking about the Red Hare. Maybe twenty minutes?"
"Slow? Must be nice." Doyle pointed back to his office at the stack of papers on his desk and frowned at Murphys laugh.
"Want us to come get you?"
He followed Murphy out of the rest room. "Nah, Ill make my own way down." He drifted back to his desk, determined to get more done and not let his mind wander. Doyles coffee was cold before he thought of it again, and he grimaced as he sipped at the bitter, nasty stuff. Despite himself, he remembered the coffee the girls had made him last night.
"Nightcap, Ray?" Torrie asked from the kitchen.
"Yeah, white and sweet." Hed wandered into the living room behind Ellie as she turned on lights. Pretty place, he thought. Theyd almost wallpapered the place in books, but the odd bare spots were filled with art, and the floors were covered in thick, bright carpeting. Not much furniture, though.
"Here you go." Torrie held out a cup and kicked off her shoes.
Hed known she was short, but without the heels, she seemed to barely reach above his belt buckle. He took the cup, annoyed to see the darkness of the coffee.
"Try it. Its too easy to always do what youre used to."
He twisted his lips, but took a sip; it wasnt worth getting brassed off at. "Hmm "
"French roast. A couple of friends of ours own a shop."
Ellie kicked off her shoes as well, and sat down on a couch-like collection of pillows on a frame.
"What is this?" It didnt look comfortable or inviting to him. Hed rather expected a larger bed for their maneuvers.
"Its a futonits very comfortable," she hinted, patting the cushion next to her. He took another drink of the coffee, still not willing to admit how good it was without his usual milk and sugarand sank down into the soft cushion. Ellie took his cup and set it on the table out of the way, immediately leaning in for a kiss. Without stopping for breath, she was quickly on his lap, running her hands through his hair and undressing him. No, he realized, Torrie was undressing him. The feel of four hands on him, rubbing him, pulling his shirt off, his shoes... He broke from the kiss, panting, but Torrie pulled him down, murmuring, "my turn," into his open lips.
Next she gently licked and kissed his nipples, first one, then, upon abandoning it with her mouth, she teased it with her fingers as she kissed the other. Another set of hands, followed by a mouth, worked their way up his legs, skillfully removing his trousers and pants as he reached for any random breast, not wanting to feel so left behind. The hands on his legs reached his buttocks, and slid under them, squeezing them a bit roughly, almost painfully. He felt off-balance, dominated, as the pain felt like pleasure, and his control slipped further away. Her fingers on his arse crept toward the separation with each caress. He moaned, overwhelmed and unable to even begin keeping up.
"Ray, you ready?"
"What!" Doyle jerked at the desk, spilling the cold coffee over the report notes. "Damn it!" he yelled as he grabbed for some napkins. "Said Id make my own way!"
"All right," Murphy said, unapologetically. "See you there."
"Bodie, you coming to the pub for afters?" Lucas thought about food almost as much as Bodie did.
A broad smile came on to Bodies face. "Oh yeah." Then as quickly as it came, his smile disappeared and his face returned to his "Im thinking tough thoughts" scowl. Idly, Bodie wondered if Doyle would be there. If not, Bodie could really set him up. Make him the talk of the squad by tomorrow. Serve Doyle right for not coming in early to share the creme de la creme with him first. What the fuck was Doyles problem anyway? It wasnt enough time and exposure for even Doyle to fall in love with one of them. Nor could he see those two women hauling out the whips and chains, so that only meant that Doyle was being coy or secretive or just plain bloody minded. Well, well, well. Hed see about that.
Surveying the pub, teeming with CI5 agents as well as several other smaller groups of London business people and tourists, Bodie was elated to note Doyles absence. Bad timing though; as he approached the table they were talking about yesterdays shoot-out.
"Hey, Bodie. Heard Doyle saved your worthless hide again." Anson, always a bit too loud and too crass, blew smoke at Bodie.
"Yeah, and he didnt do it just to let you kill me by smoke inhalation," Bodie replied, waving the smoke out of his face. He pulled up the chair and dropped into it.
"Went to a new club last night," Bodie began at the next conversational lull. Murphy had sat down beside him and he and Anson provided a rapt audience. "Met some," he paused, appearing to think, "interesting women."
"Interesting, eh? How interesting?" Murphy was never shy about things sexual and never satisfied with insufficient detail.
"Yeah," Bodie drawled, "very knowledgeablecould answer any question."
"Oh. So they were teachers, then?"
"Nope. Though they may have taught Doyle a couple of things he didnt read in a book." Bodie chuckled at his own wit.
"Wait a minute Librarians?!" Murphy nearly spit beer at Bodie trying not to laugh too hard. "You and Doyle, and the best you could do is librarians. Youre losing your touch, mate."
"Nah, they were intriguing."
"Is that a word they taught you?" Anson butted in.
Bodie ignored him with lofty disdain. "Well-stacked shelves." He took a big bite of his sandwich, wiped his hands on a napkin and continued, waving his hands in an hourglass shape. "Fancy covers." He gave up the metaphor. "Shapely and," he cupped his hands in front of his pectorals, "muscular."
"Oh, go on, you lout, I dont believe it." Murphy shook his head. "Mousy women, thats librarians. After yesterday I would have thought you and Doyle would have tried to pick up something more challenging than that."
"Doyles age must be slowing the two of you down." Anson nudged Bodie companionably. "You should come with me sometime..."
"Not a chance." Bodie turned away from Anson and directed all his comments to Murphy. He knew Anson was not that easily put off, but he wanted to make him work a little. "These women werent what you two obvious illiterates would expect. Took pity on poor Doyle, they did, and took him off to teach him some new tricks." Bodie took a drink of his pint as Murphys eyes widened in shock.
"Two women, and youyou, Bodie, the Casanova of CI5let Doyle take both of em?" Murphy snorted. "Thats a load of shite, mate. Granted, most of your tales are, but this is too over the top. You neither one scored last night, did you?"
"Oh, Murph." Bodie delivered this in his most elevated and patient tones. "Poor Doyle, you know, being so ugly and all. These were the first real birds I didnt have to pull for him. Seemed only right to let the two women show the pathetic bloke a good time." Bodie oozed benevolence and good will. He nudged Murphy conspiratorially and continued, "Poor Doyle has a hard time, you know, getting laid." He whispered the last word in as honest a tone as he knew, seeing that Anson hadnt quite overheard, but knew that he could guess what Bodie had so secretly confided in Murphy. Should be all over the squad by dinner. Maybe even by teatime.
Murphy, oblivious to Bodies machinations, frowned doubtfully.
"I got the feeling," Bodie went on a bit louder, "Just from chatting em up, you see, that they were no amateurs at coming across."
"Doyle didnt mention anything outrageous to me, and I saw him all morning." Murphy shook his head. "So, what did he pay you to tell us that he pulled two birds last evening -- and what will he do to you for making up all the shite about you pulling all of his birds for him?" Murphy was chuckling now. "And what will you pay me not to tell him?"
"Murph," Bodie leaned away from him, "Im hurt, I am. As if I would do such a thing."
Murphy laughed loudly and clapped Bodie on the back. "Christ, Bodie, youre a piece of work, all right."
The conversation turned to other conquests and other problems. Lucas, always drawn into competition when the Bodie and Doyle show was on, was trying to convince McCabe and Murphy that hed once taken three Swedish stewardesses to Paris for a long weekend.
While Lucas was soundly mocked, Bodie plotted a phone call to Torrie. The thought of a workout with her interested him even more now, since Doyle wasnt telling and didnt appear willing to put in an appearance. Besides, she had implied that another time he might find himself in Doyles place. Maybe that other time should be as soon as possible...
Part 2 -- the thrilling conclusion...