Out Of The Past

by Joana Dey

 

 

Prologue

He stood in the shadows watching them. The anger was growing. It was a runaway cancer becoming more bloated every day. They were obviously in love, touching lightly, exchanging secret smiles, then --after a hurried glance around to ensure privacy-- a kiss, that slowly deepened. He could imagine their tongues entwined together and almost gagged. The imaginary vision of them in bed together, caressing each other was almost too much for him to bear.

After a while they broke apart and started to walk away, long, blonde hair bouncing against their backs, short skirts twirling, as their girlish laughter mingled together in a duet of happiness.

He stood in the shadows watching them for a moment longer before he began to follow.

*****

Monday, 7 a.m.

 

The sickeningly sweet stench of decay was almost overpowering in the small alley, and Doyle gagged, covering his nose and mouth with the palm of his hand.

"What's the matter, Doyle? Too much blood for you?" Bodie stood several yards away, outside the entrance, watching him thoughtfully. The covered mound at the end of the alley promised untold horrors, if the smell being emitted was anything to judge by. Bodie couldn't see the glare Doyle gave him, but from the stiffness of his neck and shoulders, figured it was a classic.

"Sir, there isn't any blood...sir." The young police constable's words dried up at the haughty look Bodie gave him before striding down to stand next to Doyle.

"Whew. May not be any blood, it's certainly something dead," Bodie glanced quickly at Ray, then took a closer look at the pinched, white face. "Ray?"

"Huh? Yeah, whatever it is, it's very dead." Doyle swallowed noisily, and took a deep breath, coughing. "Oh shit. Pick up the tarp, Bodie."

"Me?"

"Goddammit, Bodie..." Ignoring the astonished look Bodie gave him, Ray turned his back, leaning his forehead against the brick wall.

Jaw clenched, Bodie reached over and yanked at the dirt-encrusted tarp. It slid off smoothly, leaving behind three bodies, and Bodie's gaze wandered over them in the dawn light. Three men, no two men and one woman. Or was it two women and one man? He leaned in closer, puzzled.

"Christ, Ray."

"What?"

"Look."

He felt the heat from Doyle's body as he came over and stood next to him; any closer and they'd be sharing skin. Ray shivered and swallowed again. What the hell was wrong with him? Anybody'd think his ex-copper partner'd never seen a dead body before!

"Bodie? Jesus, Bodie, they're..." The shudder was so strong this time, Bodie's skin joined in sympathetic goosebumps.

"Kid was right. No blood." He made his voice as matter-of-fact as possible, given the disgusting sight before them, and Doyle's strange reaction. He trotted out to the front of the alley to have the PC get them more light, then went back to stand next to Ray, who hadn't moved an inch.

"What the hell's wrong with you?" He hissed, watching as two young constables came up with heavy-duty lamps. The hand he laid on the thin shoulder was quickly shrugged off, and Doyle moved several paces away, his mouth set in a thin line.

Bodie narrowed his eyes, then turned towards the men heading his way. He had them shine the lamps directly on the bodies, confirming what he'd suspected. One man, two women. The man was wearing-- it was the only way Bodie could think to describe it-- one of the female heads, long blonde hair tied in a bow at the top, and the breasts of the other. His penis and testicles had been removed and were attached to the pubic area of one woman, whose head was...

"They're all re-arranged; nobody's got the...they've each got the other's parts, heads...Jesus, what a mess." Ray had moved away from the wall and was staring down at the confusion, jaw clenched. "It's Police business, not CI5. Why'd Cowley send us?"

"Dunno, but we're gonna find out." Bodie turned away as the CI5 lab techs arrived to do the distasteful job of gathering evidence. "Don't know you're gonna find much, Davis, me lad. No blood; obviously did the dirty deed somewhere else."

"Ta ever so much, Bodie. Don't know what we'd do without you and your mate there, showing us how to do our job properly." Davis turned away, shrugging at the tight grin Bodie sent him.

Doyle stayed quiet on the ride to headquarters, ignoring all remarks, and grunting at each question till finally Bodie gave up in a huff. He was still pouting as they strode into Cowley's office. Doyle was given one or two penetrating looks as they walked in, then attention was transferred to Bodie. Keeping his face carefully blank, he asked why they'd been assigned to this case, resigned to the explosion he thought would be forthcoming. The quiet return query from his boss was unexpected.

"Did you ask 4.5?"

Confused, Bodie didn't know who to look at first. The day had begun with unusually strange behaviour from his supposedly tough, macho partner. Then, a gentle Cowley? Quietly quizzing him? And Doyle supposedly knowing the answer to 'why', already? He looked at the stony face next to him.

"Well, Doyle?"

Answering the question was the last thing Ray wanted to do, that was obvious from the rigid set of his shoulders, and the muscles bunched up around his jaw, but Bodie wasn't about to cut him any slack. He'd get to the bottom of this if it took the rest of the day and all night. Cowley leaned back in his chair, watching with a strange gleam in his eyes, as Bodie moved in closer.

"Well, Doyle? Are you going to tell me why? Or are you going to play twenty questions and let me guess the reason?" He watched in stupefaction as Ray totally ignored him and faced Cowley.

"What happened to the 'no personal involvement'? Sir?" Doyle's voice was desperate, low and cutting; Bodie felt raw as the words passed him. Ray seemed to be clutching at straws, needing Cowley to change his mind. "It was years ago. It has nothing to do with this case."

"I shall be the judge of that, Doyle. Not you." Cowley's face was implacable, and Bodie eyed Doyle warily as his face began to flush darkly.

"I don't want...I don't...I won't..." Breathing heavily, Doyle turned and stomped from the office, fierce anger radiating from every pore. Much to Bodie's astonishment, Cowley let him go.

Sighing, Cowley gathered up a slim folder from his desk and silently handed it to Bodie.

"Sit down, 3.7. There's explaining that needs to be done here." He waited till Bodie had settled uncomfortably into a chair, then began.

"Ten years ago, when Doyle was still a young constable, he was involved in a nasty case like this one. Victims were murdered, head and body parts re-arranged, and left. Only difference now is the lack of blood. This was obviously done elsewhere, and the bodies brought to the alley--"

"But Doyle...?" He wasn't terribly interested in the case details, only in what had made Doyle angry enough to rush out of the office.

"If ye'd let me finish! Two things. One, Doyle found the first two victims; very bloody, hidden under a tarp, much like the one today. Second, the last two victims were his cousin and a friend."

Bodie winced as his stomach twisted. "Personal involvement--"

"Doyle's the only one left from the original case. That precludes personal involvement. They're my rules, Bodie. I made them, I can break them. We've been asked to help. The PM wants this cleared up yesterday."

"Doyle isn't going to like this." Bodie wished he'd kept quiet the minute the first word left his mouth, as the earlier explosion he'd been expecting from Cowley burst out.

"It's not Doyle's job, or yours, Bodie, to 'like' anything. It's your job to do what you're told, when you're told. Without continually questioning me. Now go find Doyle."

Mouth tightly closed, Bodie did exactly as he was told.

Expecting to see Doyle waiting for him in the outer room, he was a little surprised to find Betty the only occupant. Following her pointing finger, he headed down the hallway to find Ray slouched against the panelling, arms crossed against his chest, eyes staring at the ceiling.

Silently peeling himself off the wall, he fell into step with Bodie, who kept stealing quick little glances over at him. Neither man spoke as they climbed into the car, and Bodie finally decided Doyle wasn't going to initiate a conversation he wasn't eager for in the first place. Making an arbitrary decision, Bodie decided they would peruse the file at Doyle's flat; hoping that being in his own place would make it easier for Ray to open up and talk about the case.

Doyle looked up amazed, as Bodie pulled into a surprisingly available spot in front of the tall brick building. He glanced at Bodie from the corner of his eye, before opening the door and sliding out of the Capri.

"I'm starving, could eat a horse!" Bodie trotted up the walk next to Doyle, ignoring the cold shoulder presented to him. "Got any decent nosh in there?"

"No."

"Oh." He watched as Ray struggled briefly with the locks, then followed him closely inside. "Order a delivery, then? Pizza? Whatcha think?"

He quieted as Doyle leaned against the wall, arms folded and regarded him with a partially amused, half frustrated face.

"Right now, I'm trying not to think. I don't care what you order. I'm not feeling very peckish right this instant. Stop trying so hard, mate. I'll tell you about it, just...give me some time, all right?"

His voice was calm, which surprised Bodie. He'd been expecting an explosion, one of Ray's famous 'why do we always get stuck...' tirades. His expression must have shown his amazement, for Doyle laughed rather bitterly, and marched into the sitting room, settling himself down on the end of the couch. Sighing, Bodie rummaged through the refrigerator for something edible, coming up with a hunk of orange cheese and a stale slice of bread. Obviously Doyle hadn't had a chance to stock up since the last time they ate here.

Ray didn't look up as Bodie came in with his toasted cheese, but he did stir enough to grasp the can of lager that was held out. Sinking into the other end of the couch, Bodie silently munched his makeshift meal, patiently waiting for Doyle to begin speaking.

He was extremely curious about Ray's background. Like himself, Doyle rarely spoke about the past, other than to brag about conquests at a young age, or when a current case brought up a memory that couldn't stay buried, such as the Ann Seaford murder. As much as he wanted to play twenty questions, he knew that once started, he'd be expected to reciprocate in kind, and Bodie wasn't quite ready --probably never would be-- to give details of his experiences prior to joining CI5.

Heaving a sigh so deep Bodie could smell the lager fumes at his end of the sofa, Doyle finally spoke up hesitantly.

"It wouldn't bother me now, not as much anyway. It was my first...I'd never seen so much blood in one place before."

Dead silence followed this small announcement and Bodie sincerely hoped it wasn't going to ome out in pieces like this. As patient as he was with Doyle, there was a limit, and he had no desire to reach it today. He wanted to get over this hurdle, read the files, then spend a few hours loving the demons out of Ray. Scooting down till he was close enough for touching, if needed, he quietly waited for the story to continue.

"I was twenty, I think, maybe twenty-one, young anyway. Got a call from a flat above the alley. Lots of noise, they wanted us to come and get rid of the yobbos. I was the nearest, so..." He swallowed and seemed to fold into himself, hugging his knees to his chest. Bodie moved closer, lightly running his hand up and down the arm nearest him.

"Jesus this is ridiculous." He took a deep breath and grimaced. "I can still smell the blood and stink of 'em. The bodies I found were covered in blood and gore. Whoever had done them, wasn't careful about how he did it."

Doyle leaned sideways and Bodie folded his arms around the slender body. Neither man said anything for a few moments as Bodie casually rubbed his cheek among the curls tickling his nose. Ray snuggled close, moulding his body against the warmth.

"I could stay here, forever," he sighed, before going on with his story in a firmer voice. "Threw up all over the 'evidence', forensics could've killed me by that time. I was mortified, of course!"

Bodie smiled at the vision of a young Ray spewing his guts. "And me not there to hold your head for you. A tragedy, that!"

Ray's shoulders shook, and Bodie glanced down quickly, making sure it was silent laughter and not tears causing the shudders. Emotions were always close to the surface for Doyle, and he was inclined to tears in certain private situations. Relieved at the small grin he saw, Bodie planted a kiss on the tip of his nose, encouraging Ray to continue.

"There isn't much left. We never caught the perps, and the last victim was my cousin and his lover. Said lover being a man, that is, although it didn't seem to have anything to do with being killed. The other victims were all mixed--" he paused, swallowing, nose wrinkled in distaste as he apparently realised what he'd been about to say.

"Male/Female couples, you mean?" Bodie asked helpfully.

"Some were just friends, not sexual couples. Made no sense. Still doesn't."

"Tell me about your cousin."

"Michael? He was the younger of two brothers. William was older by 5 years. Christ, he about went crazy when Michael was killed; kept after me for ages asking if we'd caught the guy yet, what 'clues' we had, shit like that. Michael and I were mates, getting into all sorts of messes together. William was seven years older then me, think he thought I was a bit of pest. I don't really know him very well, unfortunately-- he's been in the States for the last eight years."

Bodie's heart ached at the note of sadness echoing in the quiet voice. Lousy enough case for a young copper to land, made worse by the personal element. It was no wonder Doyle didn't want any part of it. The similarities between the two cases were dismaying.

"William spent a year or so in medical school, then decided to become a Priest. We thought it was pretty funny, him getting to hear confessions and all."

"Where's the rest of your family now?"

Slender fingers travelling slowly up his thigh distracted him briefly. Laughing, he grabbed hold of Ray's hand before it could pounce.

"Oh no, lover, you're not going to side-track me, here. We've gotta talk about this. When we're finished, you can do whatever you feel like doing to my poor, abused body." He released the hand, yelping at the retaliatory pinch.

"My parents have been dead since I was a little sprout; my aunt and uncle raised me. It was them, William, Michael and me. They emigrated to Australia after Michael was killed and died in a fire just before I joined CI5."

"So the only family you have is William, then?"

"I've got you--"

Before Ray could continue, the beeping R/T interrupted them, and Bodie dug around till he unearthed his from its hiding place under his jacket. He clicked the switch to hear the strident tones of their boss asking Doyle's whereabouts.

"Here with me sir, we're at his flat."

"Is there a reason he's not answering his R/T then?"

Doyle grimaced, and Bodie pictured the radio where Ray had left it on the floor of Bodie's car.

"Must be malfunctioning, sir, we'll have it checked out."

"See that you do that, 3.7. Have you managed to make it through the files, or have you been haring around all afternoon?"

There wasn't much Bodie could say to that, since they hadn't so much as glanced at any of the papers he'd carried home with them.

"Bodie."

"No, sir, we haven't gone through them all yet."

"We've got something back from forensics you might be interested in --assuming you're still interested in doing your job at all, that is."

"Sir." If Bodie'd been standing he would have been at attention.

"The decomposition status of the three bodies show they were each murdered at different times, probably one every other day. The man has been dead for about a week, the two women a day or two less than that, and a day or so apart."

"Explains the stink of 'em, then," Doyle muttered.

"Did you say something, 4.5?"

"Just clearing his throat, sir, he's got a tickle," Bodie grinned at the glower Doyle was giving him, and swatted at the pinching fingers.

"The police received a telephone call from one of the refuse collectors, and passed it on to us. Apparently the man saw a car moving away from the alley about 3 a.m. this morning, but didn't think anything of it until one of his mates mentioned all the activity later. I've sent Susan over to question him. She'll report anything of interest to me, if it's something you need to know, I'll pass it on to you. In the meantime, get those files read."

Doyle stared at the silent R/T as Bodie dumped it beside his jacket with a grimace.

"That was short--"

"But not very sweet," Doyle finished up.

"When was the last time you heard from Father William?" Bodie was like a dog with a bone who wouldn't let go.

"Oh, leave off, Bodie. We do the Christmas card bit every year, all right? And I send him my new address each time I move. We may not have much in common, but we are family."

"What happened to your parents?" Doyle pulled away from him, springing up from the settee and too late, Bodie realised he'd asked one question too many.

"What the bloody hell is this fascination with my childhood all of a sudden? It doesn't have a thing to do with anything. Michael was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got his parts re-arranged..." He stopped, swallowing thickly, leaving Bodie staring at a rigid spine and stiffly held shoulders.

"Ray--"

"Shuddup, Bodie, all right? We're stuck with this bloody case. I don't know what bee Cowley's got in his...I don't want this damn mess!" He started striding around the room in circles, arms pumping; his face was turning redder by the minute. If Bodie didn't calm him now, he'd soon work himself into one of his more spectacular Doyle-tantrums.

"Stop your bloody pacing and come sit down, for Christ's sake. You're making me dizzy with all this!" Bodie grabbed hold of one flailing arm as it passed by a second time, yanking Ray off balance and onto his lap. He grunted and let go with a shove as a pointed elbow rammed itself into his gut, bringing inadvertent tears to his eyes. Blinking rapidly, he scowled, glaring down at his feet where Doyle had landed in a jumbled pile of arms and legs.

"I fail to see what that accomplished, you shirty little twit."

"I'm not little. You ---"

"Ray--"

"You don't own me Bodie, I'm sick of you trying to control everything I do. I'm not your personal property..."

"Will you shut your mouth long enough to listen to me for one tiny second?" He waited until Ray gave a grudging nod. "I know you don't want to do this. I'm not fond of it myself, but when Cowley says jump, we do...right?"

A heavy sigh was the only acknowledgement he received from the bundle at his feet, and he reached down to ruffle the rather dejected curls. As Ray leaned his head into the caress, Bodie took heart and gave a gentle tug of invitation, smiling as Ray loosely slid up beside him.

"I'm sorry, Bodie..."

"Yeah, I know, me, too. This is gonna be tough for you, try and remember I'm here, right? You want to rant and rave, do it at me. You have nightmares, I'll wake you and cuddle them away. Just don't shut me out, Ray. I can't bear it when you do that."

"I don't mean to. Honest. Just, I don't know, too many bad memories mixed up with happy ones; remember what Michael looked like in all those pieces. Wouldn't ever want to shut you out, Bodie, you're my whole life, you know...."

Ray wasn't making a whole lot of sense at the moment, and Bodie randomly handed him half of the file. "Just read, sweetheart. The sooner we start , the faster we get it out of the way."

Ray couldn't keep still, and Bodie found it difficult to concentrate with all the squirming going on next to him, picking up then discarding page after page. Ray leaned into the corner of the couch, then sat up straight, his legs stretched in front of him. When he finally curled up next to Bodie's elbow, and was still, Bodie breathed a sigh of relief, and settled down to his own reading. There wasn't much, so it shouldn't take them long to finish.

They sat there, cuddled together for several hours, before Doyle threw down the papers he'd been re-reading for the nth time and stretched sinuously, joints cracking.

"There's nothing here. Never was. Don't know what Cowley expects us to find."

"Knowing The Cow, it's probably a miracle. Isn't that what he always expects from us?"

"Yeah, well, last time I looked neither one of us was sitting on the right hand of God. I'm really sick of this, Bodie, Cowley handing us shit no-one else is expected to solve, counting on us to do it."

"He's got good reason to assume we will, too, doesn't he? How often do we fail, sunshine?"

"I'm just tired of it, Bodie. Tired of the whole mess. Who are we to think we can save the world anyway? Bad guys are always going to be around, no matter what we do--"

"Ray." Bodie looked closely at the dark smudges beneath tired green eyes, and stood, hands on his hips. "I think you need a little bit of help from Bodie's bag of miracles, mate."

"Eh?"

Smiling, Bodie held out a hand, which Ray slowly grasped, allowing himself to be pulled up from the settee and into Bodie's waiting embrace. They stood together, Bodie's arms strong and firm around Doyle's shoulders, as he waited for the hands clutching at his shirt to relax. Gradually Ray released the material and slid his own arms around Bodie's neck, gently tugging at the short hair around the nape of his neck.

"Just what kind of miracles do you have in your bag, eh?" Ray whispered, mouth heading for an exposed ear. Lightly running his tongue around the edge, he laughed in delight at the resulting shiver under his arms.

Taking his ear out of reach of Doyle's talented tongue, Bodie grinned at him, hands sliding down to cup rounded buttocks. With a quick jerk, he pulled Ray's hips against his own, slowly grinding their cloth-covered genitals together. Bodie took a firmer hold as Doyle sagged against him, and he quickly folded him back onto the couch, hands reaching for the zipper on the jeans, foot subtly pushing the R/T back under his jacket, where it was soon hidden beneath two sets of hurriedly divested clothing.

 

Tuesday 3 a.m.

The loud scream jerked Bodie from a sound slumber. He sat upright, reaching for his gun before he realised the sounds came from the body next to him. He grabbed hold of Ray's shoulders, shaking him heavily until awareness started to come back into the green eyes, and the cries subsided to short panting breaths.

"Bit of a nasty one, angelfish?" Bodie asked quietly, pulling Doyle closer to him and wrapping his arms and legs about the slender, shaking body.

"I was in the alley again. Pulled off the tarp and it was you. Christ."

"Yeah."

The phone rang before he could say anything else, and he disentangled himself, answering irritably. "Bodie."

Silence on the other end, then a raspy voice mumbled something unintelligible, before breathing heavily into the phone. Bodie slammed the receiver back down, and reached for Ray, only to stop and curse as the phone shrilled again.

"Bodie."

More heavy breathing, then silence.

He hung it up again, switching the ringer off as he did so. Doyle opened his mouth, about to say something, then apparently thought better of it, and stayed silent. Bodie smiled in satisfaction, sliding back down to wrap himself about Ray.

"I'll keep those bad dreams away from you, sweetheart, just watch me." He hugged Ray tightly against him; not until he heard the quiet even breaths of sleep, did he finally close his own eyes.

 

Tuesday, 7 a.m

 

"Don't know who coined the term-- bright-eyed and bushy-tailed --but he never met the two of you!" Murphy stood in the kitchen, staring in amazement at the two men sitting at the table. "You up all night, or what?"

"Course we were! Studying the files like good little boys for father." Very carefully Bodie didn't look over at Ray, afraid he'd lose it if he did. Reading files all night was about the last thing they'd even thought of after tumbling off the sofa, and if Bodie looked half as exhausted as Doyle...

"Always do as we're told, don't we?" Ray piped up, if a bit groggily. "What're you doing here so bloody early anyway?"

" It's seven am, mate, and The Cow wants you," he pointed a stubby finger at Doyle, then Bodie, "and you, in front of his desk at eight. Sharp. 'Someone' turned off their R/T's last night, and decided not to answer the telephone, forcing meself to rise earlier than normal, and roust you! "

Bodie felt his face flush; he'd forgotten to turn the telephone back on when they woke up, or rescue his buried R/T. He glanced at the resigned look on Ray's face; just one more thing for The Cow to harp on.

"What's Cowley want with us, anyway?" Ray sounded no more pleased than Bodie felt, at being dragged in for a session with their inscrutable leader.

"No idea. Do I look like his Father confessor or what?" Murphy managed to look suitably affronted, at the same time snatching the last slice of toast from under Bodie's grasping fingertips.

Howling with laughter, Doyle got up and headed for the shower, mumbling something about Bodie having met his match; just before the door shut they heard him moaning that a bloke could starve to death around the two of them...

Bodie looked up from his empty plate to see Murphy eyeing him speculatively, and arched an eyebrow at him.

"My nose suddenly start growing or what?"

"Huh?"

"You're staring at me like you'd never seen me before. What's up?"

"You and Doyle're getting it on, aren't you?"

Bodie was --almost-- speechless. He and Ray had been so careful; how had Murphy managed to cotton on? "Don't be silly, Murph--"

"You can't deny it-- it shines from Doyle like a bloody light-bulb every time he talks about you, or looks at you. The man wears his emotions on his skin like an advert, Bodie, you can't deny it. And you! Pleased as punch, aren't you? Look what's mine, everybody...."

"Murph--"

"I won't tell anyone. What you two do in bed's your own business. Only, next time leave the R/T and telephone on, eh?" He winked and gulped down the last of Ray's tea, before heading out the door. "Cow's not stupid, you know!"

"Cow's not stupid about what?" Doyle padded into the kitchen, hair still damp, flopped down into a chair, grabbed his cup, and tilted it to look at what was left of his tea.

Catching the covetous glance Doyle shot towards his own cup, Bodie made a big show of gulping down the last few drops, and pushed away from the table, ignoring the question about Cowley.

"You want fresh tea, mate, boil more water! I'm going to have my own shower."

Will wonders never cease?' Bodie thought as he turned on the shower taps. Doyle actually left me some hot to go with the cold. He quickly stripped and slid under the cascading water, soaping and rinsing in a leisurely fashion. He wanted to get this case over with as soon as possible, especially since it all promised to be emotionally nasty for Ray.

He wondered if Doyle would bring up the subject of Cowley's stupidity --or lack of-- later. He didn't think the Cow had figured out, yet, that he and Doyle were in love; Bodie wasn't sure how Ray would react when that happened, for he was sure it would eventually. Especially if Murphy was already guessing correctly about them.

A rapid pounding on the door snapped him out of his reverie, and he shut off the cooling water, grabbing for a towel.

"All right, all right, hang on!"

"I was beginning to think you slipped through the drain, mate. Hurry it up. It's almost eight."

A rush of steam preceded Bodie out of the bathroom, and Doyle stepped back out of the way, chuckling at the towel-enfolded apparition that appeared. Bodie gave him an injured look and minced daintily towards the bedroom, hips wiggling outrageously, as he dropped towels in his wake. The door shut, then opened briefly, to allow one last towel to fly Doyle's way, before closing again on Bodie's laughter.

Emerging moments later fully clothed, to an empty hallway, he wandered back down to the kitchen to find Ray waiting impatiently by the back door, keys in his hand.

"Any time you're ready, mate. We should've been out of here ages ago," Bodie said blithely as he pushed past Doyle and stood outside on the step. "Don't just stand there. Let's go. We've got a lot to do today!"

With an aggrieved sigh, Ray followed him out, waiting while he double-checked the locks, then they both piled into the car and pulled carefully out into the early morning traffic.

 

Cowley was not happy, and it didn't take a genius to work it out. Bodie recognised the symptoms the minute he and Doyle walked through the door of the office. Betty staring at them in disgust had provided the first clue, and the complete inattention they were given from Cowley, confirmed it. He exchanged a quick glance with Ray, as both stood silently, waiting for their boss to notice them.

Finally, Cowley took off his glasses and looked at the two men standing sheepishly before him. Bodie's mouth began to open, then shut with a snap when an irate blue gaze transferred itself from Ray to him. Cowley's voice was surprisingly low and even when he spoke.

"I've no desire to know what the two of you were up to last night, or where you were. I do not expect your R/T's to 'malfunction' in the future, nor do I expect telephone calls to go unanswered. Do I make myself clear, 4.5? 3.7?"

Both heads nodded simultaneously, Bodie adding a vigorous "yes, Sir!" as Cowley continued eyeing them speculatively. Finally, he gestured for them to sit down.

"The refuse collector Susan spoke with claims to have seen an American Ford Pinto pulling away from the alley. It looked like one person in the car. He couldn't describe the person, but thinks the car might be red. Susan's running it through the computers now, looking for anyone who owns one. I want you two out there talking to the family and friends of the current murder victims."

"Did he catch the number plate..." Ray's voice trailed off at the scathing look Cowley gave him.

"If he had, 4.5, I would have given it to you. When Susan asked him about it, he said it reminded him of James Bond, but couldn't elaborate."

He handed a sheet of paper to Doyle, who glanced down at it briefly, Bodie peering over his shoulder; names and addresses of two women and one man. "The victims, sir?"

Cowley nodded. The parents of the two women, and the wife of the man, had all been down to identify the remains, once they'd been sorted out and re-attached.

"The two women knew each other...och, it's all down there on the paper; read it and get out there!" He put his glasses back on and started shuffling papers, dismissing Bodie and Doyle without another word.

Ray started to say something, only to have Bodie step heavily on his foot and drag him out of the office elbow first. Doyle put up with it just long enough to get through the door, before he angrily shook Bodie's hand off.

"Stop pulling me around. I'm not your damn dog on a lead, Bodie!"

"Well, you looked like you were about to start arguing in there; we got off pretty easy, didn't need you mucking things up."

"Ta, very much, mate. Maybe I just had a simple question to ask."

"Yeah? Like what?"

Ray just shrugged and headed off to the rest room. "Doesn't matter now, does it?"

Between cups of bad coffee, heads close together, they read the single piece of paper describing the victims. The two women had been young, only 19 and single, while the man had been in his thirties, married, with three children. Except that the two women had been friends, there was nothing to connect the three of them to each other, or the murders ten years ago.

"Start with the man or the two women?"

Anson stuck his head in the door before Bodie could answer. "Oi, Doyle, you've got a visitor. Know someone called William Thompson?"

Surprise, curiosity and something Bodie thought might be hope raced across Doyle's face. "It's my cousin."

"Yeah, well, he's out front chatting up Betty, looking for you. Might take your time going out, she's looking pretty pleased with 'im."

A nasty laugh trailed by foul cigar smoke followed Anson back out the door, and Doyle, shrugging, got up to follow him, Bodie fast on his heels.

To say Bodie felt surprise at his first sight of Ray's cousin, was a mild understatement. If he hadn't been told the two were related, he'd not have believed his eyes. William Thompson was 6 feet 2 at least, and outweighed Bodie by a good three stone, all of it muscle. The hair was straw blonde and perfectly straight. The only resemblance between the two were the green eyes that suddenly focused on Bodie, before switching immediately over to Doyle. Turning away from Betty, he held his arm out.

"Ray! You little sod, haven't changed a bit, have you?" William smiled, looking genuinely glad to see his younger cousin, and as he moved Bodie saw the clerical collar. Man really was a priest.

Vigorously shaking Doyle's hand, William continued chattering, and Bodie, smiling, realised a tendency toward aimless nattering was another similarity between the two.

"I've just been transferred to St John's parish; happened so fast, I didn't have time to let you know I was back. Been pretty busy getting settled in. Was going to ring you tonight, gambling that you hadn't been moved again, then this happened."

Ray was looking a bit shell-shocked, staring at his cousin dumbly, although happily. Nice to have family, thought Bodie. Since Ray had apparently lost the use of his vocal cords, Bodie took the initiative and introduced himself, finding his hand rapidly enveloped in the same crushing grip.

"Glad to meet you, Bodie. You're the one been taking care of young Ray, then?"

Young Ray? Bodie managed to keep his face straight with difficulty. File that one away for a future tease. There was something about William's voice that nagged at him, though...

"I understand you've been in the states the past few years? Where exactly?" Bodie could be extremely polite when the occasion warranted.

"Texas. Bigger than the whole United Kingdom. Quite a place."

That was it, then, a Dallas inflection in his voice. Curiosity appeased, Bodie was satisfied. Betty excused herself, leaving the three men standing in the hallway, conversation at a standstill.

Ray finally spoke up, very quietly, bringing the conversation back to England and CI5. "So what brings you down here?"

William immediately sobered. "One of my parishioners was murdered the other evening. His wife asked that I meet her here. I understand she had to identify his remains. A nasty thing to happen. I haven't even said my first Mass here, yet. I literally only did just arrive, day before yesterday. "

"The one murdered with the two women?" Bodie asked.

"David Leesan, yes."

"It's like Michael's death." Ray said it very softly, as if half-afraid of his cousin's reaction, but William only smiled sadly.

"Was a long time ago, Ray, and I'm over it, so don't worry. I shan't go off the deep end if you mention it. Hm, here comes Mrs. Leesan. I've heard a lot about you Bodie, looking forward to talking with you. We'll get together more often, now I'm back, eh, Ray?" He waited till Doyle nodded before heading over to a red-eyed woman standing a few paces away.

Bodie sighed. Not only was this David Leesan married with three children, but judging from the woman's protruding stomach he had another on the way. He wondered what they'd find when they interviewed the families of the two teen-age girls.

Tuesday 2 p.m.

What they found was nothing more than two sets of shocked, and grieving parents, finding it hard to believe their daughters had been murdered, let alone able to take in the desecration of their bodies. Ray shook his head in frustration as they walked away from the second unhappy interview.

"Two happy, healthy girls without an enemy in the world. Doesn't make sense Bodie."

"Yeah, everyone has enemies. How about we stop off for some nosh before we tackle the next one? Saw a cosy little take-a-way around the corner."

Ray reached around and swatted at Bodie's stomach. " It's not a good idea, mate. Noticed last night you were getting a bit soft; wouldn't hurt you to miss a few meals, get you in good shape like me!"

Bodie gave an injured sniff, setting his feet on a path for the take-a-way. "Wouldn't hurt you to add a few pounds to that skinny frame of yours either. Gonna do me an injury one of these days with those knotty knees and elbows!"

He grunted as one of the knotty elbows connected with his ribcage, before the body it was attached to took off at a run, laughing hysterically. Bodie just sighed and shook his head, smiling affectionately. God, how he loved that man. Ray in a good mood was unbeatable.

Walking slowly, Bodie took his time, enjoying the rare moment of quiet solitude. He liked the autumn months, the smell of the leaves, and the briskness of the air. Made him feel more alive, which was funny since everything else died in the fall. Would be a good place to retire --should he live so long-- he and Ray settled in a little townhouse with a tiny garden.

Good take-a-way around the corner, small grocery and news stand beyond that. Across the street was a small church, rather nice looking actually, should either one of them turn into a church-going man. Good place to bury them, anyway. Yes, all in all, a nice neighbourhood. He gave a little skip, kicking apart a pile of rustling leaves; he did like the autumn months.

When he got to the cafe, Ray was already inside, seated at a table piled high with fish and chips, talking to a young girl. He sat down across from his partner, giving him an inquiring glance.

"Bodie, this is Anna Smeed. Her sister Cathy was one of the murdered women. This is my partner, Bodie."

She smiled shyly, her face half-covered by long brown hair, fingers worrying at a piece of cod.

"Apparently there's a short-cut between her house and here, which she put to good use." Ray continued. "She must want to talk to us, right Anna?"

Hair flopped around as she nodded her head energetically. Bodie figured she was probably about 12 years old, but it was difficult to tell under all that fluff.

"Cathy and Amy were fucking each other."

Bodie almost choked on the chips he'd been stuffing into his mouth. That was the last word he'd have expected to come out of such a young mouth, and he exchanged a quick, rueful look with Ray.

"They were lovers, you mean?" Doyle, luckily, hadn't had anything in his mouth when the bombshell hit.

"Uh-huh. Mum an' daddy don't know, naturally! But I thought you should, 'cause it might be important. The detectives on telly always want to know every little detail about the victims, so I thought I should tell you this."

The fish in front of her had been reduced to a small pile of white mush by this time, and her voice was matter-of-fact and slightly breathless, as though she found the whole situation exciting.

"You don't sound terribly upset your sister's dead," Bodie said quietly, then pulled back as she pushed her hair away from her face and he felt the full effect of the large, intelligent blue eyes she turned on him.

"I'm not thinking about it; I'm pretending it's like on the telly, you know? An' she's an actress an' when the show is over, she'll get back up, ready for the next scene." She pushed her chair back, hair once again covering her face. " 've gotta go now or else mum will notice I'm gone and worry."

Without a backward glance, she was out the door, leaving Bodie and Doyle at the table with their mouths open, staring at each other incredulously.

"Well..." Bodie didn't know what to say.

"Yeah."

"You suppose maybe --what's his name-- Leesan, was having a bit on the side with another man?" Bodie wondered.

"No, he was too busy keeping his wife knocked up!" Ray laughed, then sobered. "I don't remember anyone saying anything about the sexual habits of the people who were murdered before; they seemed like regular people."

"Regular people? And what are we?"

"It's not what I meant, you twit. Maybe we should go back and re-question some of the people in the file, only this time be a bit more nosy about the victims sex lives." Doyle's nose wrinkled and Bodie spent a moment admiring it's flexibility.

"Sounds kinky, mate; didn't know you liked those kind of things." He laughed at the appalled expression on Doyle's face, but stopped as Ray got up from the table, and his parting words registered.

"Don't forget to pay the man for our meal, Bodie!" And he was out the front door before Bodie could answer.

Ray was sprawled in the passenger seat, eyes closed, one leg dangling from the open window, when Bodie got out to the car after settling with the cashier for their lunch. His other foot was planted squarely in the middle of the dashboard, and Bodie paused a moment to take in the sight of the Doyle family jewels bulging playfully up at him.

Quickly he reached through the window and patted the cloth-covered genitals, causing Ray to yelp loudly in surprise, eyelids shooting up.

"Leave an invitation like that, mate, I'm gonna take you up on it!" Bodie laughed at the flush spreading across Ray's cheekbones, as he wiggled his hips, before bringing his legs back together.

Bodie ducked the half-hearted swipe Ray aimed in the direction of his head, and crawled into the car, yelping as his earlier pat was reciprocated with tapping fingertips that reached between his legs and gave a gentle squeeze before letting go. Bodie looked down and smiled at the heavy-lidded green gaze Doyle was giving him, before starting the car and heading for the next interview.

*****

He watched them play together, Doyle as he flaunted himself, and Bodie taking advantage. And Doyle...and Doyle-- he grabbed him back. It was more than male tom-foolery. His stomach churned with disgust as he imagined the two of them in one bed, limbs tangled together. One on top of the other, pounding into flesh, sweating and grunting and...

He had to be sure. It was wrong to kill without reason and he could be wrong about them-- he hoped he was wrong-- but he didn't think so. Still, he would wait a little longer.

*****

Wednesday 9 a.m.

"So what do you think we'll get out of this one?" Bodie asked. They were on their way to talk with yet another family member of one of the old murder victims, and he was beginning to tire of the whole plodding procedure. If he'd wanted to be a copper in the first place....

"Probably more of the same nothing we got yesterday. Didn't feel especially welcomed m'self, did you?"

"We were bringing up the woman's dead husband, with number two sitting right next to her on the sofa. Guess I wouldn't like it much either." Bodie shrugged. "Hard to believe the man was the paragon of virtue she said he was, though."

"Yeah, Mass every Sunday, read the lesson twice a month, helped the priest with the youth group; we should've asked which parish they belonged to. Be a real hoot if it was St. John's."

"Lovely thought Raymond me boy, and who would do the arresting of your cousin, then?"

"That'd be the day, wouldn't it?" Ray laughed.

Bodie circled the block of flats, looking for a place to park, fingers tapping the steering wheel in frustration when he was forced to go round again. On the third circuit, he spotted a red BMW just pulling away from the kerb, and quickly swerved in to replace it, chuckling gleefully.

"Who're we seeing this time?" Bodie ignored the exaggerated whiplash gestures Doyle was making, and opened his car door.

Ray sent one last pained look his way before giving up. "David Harris. His brother, Steven was in the second set of people killed. The other one was their friend Mary Lewis."

"Anything in common with the other murders?" Bodie led the way up the sidewalk, stopping when he realised Ray wasn't right on his tail. He looked back enquiringly to find Doyle staring at him in a mixture of anger and exasperation. "What?"

"Christ, Bodie, you read the same papers I did, and if there had been anything to tie these murders together ten years ago --other than the ugly fact that someone had rearranged their body parts-- it would be in the bloody files!"

"All right, don't take my head off, I just asked..."

"You ask me about something that happened ten years ago, like I have the memories right at me fingertips, ready to hand to you. I don't remember!"

"You were there--"

"Yeah, I was there, and I spent a long time trying to forget. Just leave it, Bodie; whatever we found went in the file."

He stopped in front of number 14, and knocked on the door, effectively ending the conversation between them. The door was opened by a man in his mid-thirties, with thinning hair and rather nondescript looks, who looked at them curiously. Doyle introduced them, stated their business, and didn't act surprised when the man turned out to be Steven Harris.

"So, how can I help CI5?" He asked after they were seated in the small sitting room. "You don't handle parking tickets, and that's the only thing I've done wrong lately, so I can't imagine what you'd want from me."

Doyle was silent, which left explanations to Bodie. Harris sighed when he finished, but didn't look too amazed.

"I wondered when I saw the news on telly this morning if it had anything to do with David's murder. It's almost frightening how similar they are." He stopped, took a pair of glasses out of his breast pocket and peered closely at Doyle. "You're the young copper from before, aren't you? Came with the older man, and didn't say much. I'm right, aren't I?"

Ray nodded. "Is there anything you can think of that you didn't tell us ten years ago? Anything that might not have seemed important at the time, but does now?"

"Would you like a drink? Tea?"

Bodie wasn't sure if Harris was avoiding the question or using the time to refresh his memory. When they refused the drink offer, and he finally started speaking, Bodie decided it was a little of both.

"I don't know if this...in retrospect, this may have something to do with the murder, because of the way they were rearranged." He face twisted in aversion, but he continued. "We didn't talk about this at the time, because my parents were still living and...but they're both gone now, so I guess it doesn't really matter anymore, does it?"

Bodie had no idea what he was going on about, but agreed anyway in an effort to encourage him. Doyle wasn't so patient.

"It might matter quite a bit to the next set of people killed, if we don't catch this guy. What exactly are you referring to?"

Harris fidgeted in his seat a moment, picking at a small piece of thread hanging from his shirt cuff. He seemed fascinated with it, and Ray started to open his mouth again when Harris finally spoke up baldly.

"David was gay."

No one said a word. Bodie stared at Harris in astonishment, his mind slowly absorbing the implications of that statement. A connection. Finally, after ten years...his attention rapidly transferred to Doyle as he felt him stiffen, brows drawn together in an angry 'v' between his eyes.

"You knew this ten years ago, but decided not to mention it because you didn't think it was relevant? We had no leads at all, nothing that connected any of the victims. If you'd told us this small, irrelevant fact back then, it would have changed the questions we were asking, the type of person we were looking for, and we might have caught him before he killed MY COUSIN!"

"Ray!"

Bodie'd been trying unsuccessfully to shut him up, and now resorted to yelling himself. Harris was sitting there with a slightly shameful expression, although it was rapidly turning to anger as Doyle raged on. He grabbed Ray's arm tightly, fingers digging deep into the skin. He knew there'd be bruises later, but he didn't let go even as Doyle tried to pull away from him.

"Ray." Bodie had his attention now, and he loosened his grip, although he didn't completely let go. "Enough, Ray. Let it go, can't do any good now."

"But--"

"No! Hindsight, that's all it is. We know now, and can go from here." He watched closely as Ray's expression softened; waited for the guilt he knew would appear as soon as Doyle had a chance to realise what he'd said, and when it appeared, gave his arm a gentle squeeze.

"Sorry." It was grudgingly given, then Ray lifted his head, gazing sternly at Harris. "I'm not sorry for what I said, but the way I said it. You should have told us your brother was gay, it might have helped."

"Or it might not have. I'm sorry about your cousin, but you don't know that you would have caught the person doing it if I'd told you about David back then. He'd been seeing our priest about it, trying to cope, and I was hoping... Besides, it would have destroyed my parents, and David was dead, so it didn't seem to matter." Harris' tone was not particularly apologetic, and Bodie decided they should probably leave before Doyle's temper was irretrievably lost.

He stood, giving Doyle a tug to follow, and they preceded Harris out the door to the hallway. Bodie's attention was caught by an old, framed photo hanging on the wall showing a young man holding a rugby ball, posing proudly in front of a trophy. His interest was noticed by Harris.

"That's David. He was captain of our parish rugby team 12 years ago."

Something was clicking in the back of Bodie's mind. "Um, which parish was that?"

"St. Thomas Confessor. Just down the street. They won the championship for the first time that year; everyone was thrilled."

Doyle was gazing blankly at the photo, and Bodie elbowed him to get him moving again. Neither man said anything until they were back outside, and moving away from the flats.

"Ray--"

"You're wrong, Bodie. Shut-up."

"Ray--"

"A priest wouldn't do that, Bodie."

Bodie sighed. Doyle wasn't even gonna consider the idea that religion might have something to do with the murders. It wouldn't accomplish anything to start an argument in the middle of the neighbourhood, but since they were already here...

"I want to check out the church, find out who the priests were ten--"

"No."

"Ray."

"No."

"Goddammit Doyle! We have to eliminate! Cowley's gonna ask, you know that. At least this way we can say religion had nothing to do with it. Just because your cousin's a priest doesn't mean that all of them are cleaner than God."

"No."

"Christ. All right, you stay in the car, and I'll go in and check it out. I'm not asking your permission, Doyle, so don't even say it."

There was no response. Doyle sat there with his arms folded, teeth clenched so tight his jawbone was paling. Forcing back a sigh, Bodie got out of the car and trudged up the path to the rectory door, not liking himself very much at the moment.

He didn't like coincidences, and there were entirely too many of them jumping out at them now. He'd told Doyle the truth-- they needed to eliminate, and at the moment, religion mixed with sexuality was the only link.

The curator was a tiny, white-haired old gentleman, who'd been there 40 years and wanted to chat about all he remembered. With great difficulty, Bodie managed to get him back on track, and keep him there. Yes, he definitely remembered young David Harris, excellent rugby player.

"Such a shame, though, his murder. Parents never really recovered from the shock you know. And then to have her godchild murdered the same way a few months later...it was almost too much for her."

Bodie shook his head, confused. He'd no idea what the old man was going on about now. Ray had come up while the man was rambling on and apparently understood.

"Arthur Thomas?"

"Why yes, that was him. Lovely boy. Played on the rugby team with young Harris."

"You've been here so many years; have you had the same priest all this time?" Bodie carefully put congenial curiosity into his voice and nothing else. Doyle was so uptight, Bodie could almost feel the tension radiating from him.

"We had Father David with us...oh, since 1945. He passed on about 3 years ago, and Father Timothy took over. He's been good for our Parish. We've not had any discord for years. I do so hope he's with us for many more years."

"Is Father Timothy around? We'd like to talk to him--"

"He's in a meeting with the Fathers from several nearby parishes. Should be back sometime this afternoon."

He'd been pruning the rose bushes before Bodie interrupted him, and started making noises to get back to them. Bodie thanked him for his time, then he and Doyle tromped back to the car, Ray's step decidedly lighter than it had been.

"Happy now, sunshine?" Bodie asked, tossing the car keys into the air and catching them.

"I told you you were on the wrong track. I can't understand how we missed that link, though. Can't even remember it coming up that the two knew each other, and it definitely was not in the file." Ray grabbed the keys out of mid-air, juggling them back and forth between his own hands, laughing as they slipped through to land on the pavement, while Bodie fondly shook his head, a smile on his lips.

*****

He was hiding in the shadows again, watching. He had to be sure about them, there could be no doubt. He slid closer into the trees, gaze pinned on them as they came down the walk towards the car. Playing with something; he barely heard the jingle as it slid through fingers, falling to the ground. Keys. He watched as Doyle, laughing, bent from the waist to pick them up, bum wiggling provocatively in the air. Saw Bodie, after a quick glance around, slide his hands over buttocks and touch Doyle...touched him, there, with his hands. And so he knew. And so, too, they must give penance, just as the others had.

** ***

"Shall we go back to St Thomas' or just ring Father whosits up?" Bodie asked around the swiss roll he'd just stuffed in his mouth.

"Didn't mum teach you not to talk with your mouth full? You're spraying crumbs everywhere, you big slob." Ray made a huge show of wiping imaginary crumbs off his jeans, the steering wheel, Bodie's crotch...

"We'd better go back to the church; you're acting like you need to do a little penance, you naughty boy. Touching what doesn't belong to you--shame!"

" It does too belong to me...." Doyle mumbled under his breath, smiling. "Every little inch of it!"

"Little!"

"Just drive, Bodie. You worry too much."

"Hmph. Little. I'll show you little...." Pointing his offended nose to the sky, he ignored Ray's gleeful chuckling, heading the car south towards St Thomas the Confessor.

Father Timothy wasn't surprised to see them and had even prepared for it; two folders were on his desk labelled with the names of the two young rugby players. He rose from his chair as Bodie's eyes followed him up and up, head just missing the lampshade hanging from the ceiling fixture. He extended a hand first to Bodie, then Doyle before inviting them to sit down.

"I've been reviewing the notes Father David had concerning Harris and Thomas. I wasn't their confessor at the time; and even if I had been I couldn't reveal what's been told in the confessional."

"We can appreciate that, Father, and we're grateful to you for giving us some time." Ray was being ultra-polite, almost as if his Catholic upbringing had continued into adulthood. Bodie hid a smile, with difficulty, curious to see if it would continue.

"Were you aware that David Harris was gay?" Doyle continued, still in the same courteous tone.

Father Timothy showed no surprise. "Yes, as was Arthur; Father mentions in here that he'd recommended a counsellor for both of them; a Mr Patrick Reilly. I remember they both seemed ill-at-ease when the murders began, but I don't think they knew the victims."

"Do you have the address of this Dr Reilly?" Bodie asked, sighing as the Priest shook his head.

"Why did he send the boys to a counsellor?"

"They weren't accomplishing anything with Father David, and he felt they needed more help than he could give them. He was quite disappointed that he couldn't cure them."

"Cure them?" Bodie's voice was ice. "What 'disease' were they afflicted with, then?"

"Bodie..."

"Homosexuality, of course--" Father Timothy stopped at the look on Bodie's face, and Doyle stood, the other two quickly following his example.

"Let's go, Bodie."

"No, I'm curious. Was Father David disappointed enough to 'cure' them permanently? Maybe take care of the problem himself?"

"Shut-up, Bodie." Doyle grabbed at his arm, but Bodie shook him off. He was practically bouncing on his toes, nose as close to the priest's face as he could get, and a small puff of breath passed his cheek as Ray sighed in resignation.

"All the problems those two were probably having trying to understand their feelings, and there you were, telling them they were sick and perverted..."

Father Timothy's face was growing redder by the minute, obviously struggling to control his own temper. A slender body shoved itself between the two men, and Bodie focused reluctantly on the snapping green eyes now in front of him. Ray, obviously under the mistaken impression he could keep Bodie away from the priest, when all Bodie had to do was shove...

"Christ." He slumped, deflated, but didn't apologise.

Ray did. Bodie went outside, leaving Doyle to it.

He leaned against the bonnet of the car, staring mindlessly at a pile of dead leaves in the gutter. Cure them. As if being gay was a bloody disease. Ray was so far from being sick or perverted, it was almost funny. There were so many unhappy people in the world, and so many more hopping from one bed and partner to another. Church should encourage stable, monogamous relationships like his and Doyle's, instead of condemning them and accusing them of being dirty and...

Bodie sighed, and stirred the leaves with the toe of his shoe. Ray was gonna be hopping mad when he came out, and rightly so. But sometimes people's attitudes made him so bloody angry; loving Ray was beautiful, and he couldn't imagine life any other way now. He turned as trainer clad footsteps trotted up behind him, and grinned sheepishly at Doyle's stern look.

"That was a lovely display, that was. Yelling at a priest, for Christ's sake--" Ray paused, as what he was saying registered, then he smiled. "I'm the one supposed to go off half-cocked, you know. Gonna ruin my rep if you keep this up."

"His attitude--"

"Yeah, I know, it's lousy, but...he's a priest!

"Ray?"

"Hm?"

"Priests are as human as we are you know."

"Nope, can't be."

"Come on Doyle, you aren't that dim. They're just men who've felt drawn to a higher calling, 's all."

"Nope." Ray snickered.

Bodie eyed him doubtfully. "Why not?"

"Humans have sex."

 

 

Tuesday 10 p.m.

 

"Stay?" Doyle shut the door of his flat behind him and leaned against it, pasting his most provocative expression on his face. He grinned and wiggled one eyebrow suggestively.

Bodie laughed at him, then reached forward, eyes glued to his mouth. Sliding his arms around the strong neck, Ray melted against him, content for the moment to relax in the strength and heat that was Bodie. Laying his head down, he sighed as Bodie's arms tightened around him, wiggling happily at the fingers tap-dancing down his spine. Strangely, he wasn't in a big hurry to undress, and it was a curious feeling.

"What's wrong, sweetheart?" Bodie murmured. His breath stirred the curls round Doyle's ear, tickling and causing goosebumps to rise up along his arms.

"Don't laugh?"

"Never!" As a chuckle left his lips.

"Bodie!"

"Sorry, sunshine, go ahead. Would never laugh at something serious."

"Feel safe here."

"In your flat?"

"No!" Ray trod lightly on Bodie's feet, and squeezed tighter around his neck, giving a gentle shake. "Here."

"Ah, here, in me strong, manly arms?"

"Yeah," he held very still, waiting for a laugh of derision, which didn't materialise.

A gentle tug on his curls, and he raised his head, looking inquiringly at Bodie. The blue eyes were gazing at him with such a gentle, loving expression that Ray felt his breath catch. Strong hands cupped his head, and he leaned back into them, smiling, enjoying the roughness of thumbs working their way across his temples and through his hair.

"Feel safe in yours, too, sweetheart." Bodie spoke up softly, each word coming out slowly, with great precision. "Do you know how much I love you?"

"Hm," he nibbled his way up from the centre of Bodie's chin, teasingly ignoring Bodie's mouth as it tried to meet his, enjoying the tingle of beard stubble against his lips, before once again laying his head back on Bodie's shoulder and clasping him tightly.

"You're a silly little Golli-- know that?"

Doyle could hear the smile in the voice, and felt heat spreading through him like an internal blanket, all warm and fuzzy. This was what he wanted, what he needed, right now. Someone to hold him and just love him-- not make love to him, although that was high on his list, but just to be there. He couldn't put it into words, it was impossible. He just knew that loving Bodie --and being loved by Bodie-- meant more than just a wild tumble amongst the bedclothes.

"Bodie?"

"Hm?"

"Why do you love me?"

"Because you ask silly questions, you berk. What do you mean, why do I love you?"

Ray felt him start to pull back a little, and clasped him tighter. "I was just thinking --stop it, Bodie--" as slight tremors signalled the onslaught of laughter, "we're standing here, and suddenly thought I'd be happy just to stay here, and not hop right into bed. That if Cowley called or something and we couldn't...it's okay, not to always have sex...oh, bloody hell. Never mind."

And then Bodie did laugh. But Ray could sense the underlying love beneath the amusement, as strong arms tightened around him, holding him closer.

"Yeah, well, I love you too, sweetheart," Bodie gasped between chuckles. "And if you'll move away from the door, so I can set the locks, I'll stay."

As Ray pulled back, Bodie stopped him, and lightly brushed a kiss across his lips. "I'll even not make love to you, if you'd rather not; let you catch up on your beauty sleep."

"Don't be daft..."

Which of course, made Bodie laugh even harder.

 

Wednesday 4 a.m.

Ray lay quietly wrapped in his 'Bodie-blanket', head nestled beneath one armpit. Bodie had one heavy thigh thrown over Doyle's legs, an arm wrapped around his waist, his breath periodically ruffling the tips of Ray's curls. They'd made love earlier, languidly; neither of them feeling the need for a wild, wrestling match.

A rather nasty dream had woken him, luckily without disturbing Bodie this time. He'd be awfully glad when this case was finished. It was bringing back altogether too many memories --none of them happy.

The shrillness of the phone jerked him out of his reverie, and brought Bodie wide awake. They both reached for it, Ray lightly smacking the back of Bodie's grasping hand.

"Oi, it's my flat, mate! I'll answer my own telephone!" He laughed as he said it, though, not wanting Bodie to feel offended.

"Don't want you to stir your fragile self, flower, I've got it." Grinning, he wrestled the phone away before Ray could say anything else.

"Bodie." His expression was contemplative as he returned the telephone, and Ray looked at him, curious.

"Nobody there. Again. Get a lot of these calls?" Bodie's forehead creased, and Ray reached over, running a finger gently down the line, as if to eradicate it.

"Probably some kid, punching random numbers, getting his thrills, hoping a woman picks up."

"Ray--"

"Leave it, Bodie."

He curled up again next to Bodie, tucking his head back under a tense arm. Rubbing his curls against it until the muscles gradually relaxed, he felt Bodie's chest shake slightly as a deep rumbling laugh came out.

"What?" Ray wasn't sure if he should be insulted or not.

"You're like a cat, rubbing and purring. I love it."

"If you don't quit laughing, I'm gonna start hissing and scratching...."

Strong arms tightened around him, and Bodie's nose rooted around in his curls before lightly planting a kiss on his forehead. Ray smiled. And purred.

Wednesday 8 a.m.

"So what's on for today?" Bodie asked between bites of fried eggs, eyes on the lonely sausage sitting on Doyle's plate.

Ray absently tossed the sausage into the middle of Bodie's plate, laughing when bits of yolk splattered across his shirt.

"Hey! Gonna have to change me clothes now, you sod. Thanks."

"We're off to talk to Mr William Moore. His wife was in the group murdered just before Michael." He answered the question first, before acknowledging the clothes problem. "Lend you one of me own shirts, I would, except they'd probably be too tight around that wide tum."

"If you had any meat on those bones, your clothes wouldn't be so small! Just like a little elf, you are, with those slanted green eyes and that curly hair and..."

"Shut-up, Bodie. Or do you wanna sleep at your own place tonight? In that tiny, cold bed?" He laughed; Bodie's reaction to finding only a twin bed in the flat he'd been moved into last month still sent Doyle into hysterics whenever he thought about it.

"Ha, you'd miss me," he said haughtily, disappearing to change shirts.

 

Mr William Moore was not happy to open his door and find CI5 on his doorstep. It took Bodie about 3 seconds to connect their introductions with the sour-lemon look that flitted across the man's face. They were grudgingly invited in, and Bodie's gaze wandered around the bare hall as they followed their disgruntled host to the sitting room.

It was just as empty here. No paintings hanging on the wall, no photographs propped on the end tables, just a couch, two chairs and a lamp to go with the tables. Bodie looked askance at Moore; he rather matched his home-- bald head, plain white shirt, black trousers, no ring or watch-- a bare man in a bare house.

"It's been ten years, what could you possibly need from me now?" He grumbled, as he primly seated himself in one chair.

Bodie caught a quick glance from Doyle, before they both plopped onto the couch, ignoring the fact that they hadn't been invited to 'make themselves comfortable'. Pulling out pen and notebook, Bodie kept silent, allowing Ray the role of interrogator.

"There's been another set of murders; and in the course of this investigation, new information has come to light, forcing us to re-interview the people originally involved." Doyle was in his element here, the copper in him coming out full force, and Bodie smiled slightly.

"I can't imagine what I could tell you now, that I didn't back then."

Bodie glanced at Doyle, watching his Adam's apple as he swallowed, preparatory to asking the next --uncomfortable-- question, before pinning his eyes back on Moore.

"We've found that several of the victims had entered into a sexual liaison with..." he stopped before completing his sentence, astounded, as Moore's eyes bugged, and his face flushed.

"Who told you? My wife's affair had nothing to do with her murder; it was finished long before then, and we'd been having counselling. She was sorry for cheating, and it was just a silly little fling with an old school friend, and--"

"Mr Moore!"

He stopped. "What?"

Bodie had snagged a small comment from the rambling monologue. "You were seeing a marriage counsellor?"

"Nothing wrong with that. Lots of people do, who're having difficulties, and we were, a bit. He helped...eh?"

"What was his name?" Doyle repeated patiently.

"Oh. Hm, O'Riley? No, Reilly. Philip or some such."

"Patrick?"

"That's it, Patrick Reilly. But this has nothing to do with my wife's death. We were handling things wonderfully by then and, in fact, were planning to discontinue any more counselling."

Doyle stood, Bodie following him scant seconds later. A connection. Thank God. And one that had nothing to do with church or priests. Just to be on the safe-side, Bodie risked one last question as they headed out the door. Moore gave him a puzzled look, but answered readily enough.

"I'm Jewish, my wife was Methodist. We neither of us practised, why?"

"Just curious. Thanks very much for your help; sorry we had to bring up bad memories."

Doyle was grinning broadly as they climbed into the car, and wasted no time picking up the radio to contact HQ. Bodie watched him fondly, a warm feeling wending it's way through his chest. Acquiring the address and telephone number for Dr Patrick Reilly, he replaced the microphone, and turned towards Bodie, a triumphant expression spreading across his uneven features. Bodie waited for it.

"Told you so." Doyle was so happy he actually bounced in his seat, and Bodie burst out laughing.

"Yes, you did, sweetheart, and I'm glad you're turning out to be right after all." He could be magnanimous with no trouble in a case like this. "Do we call for an appointment with the dear doctor or just pop in?"

"Oh, let's surprise him." Doyle's eyes glittered; Bodie could almost see him smacking his lips in anticipation. The hunt was on, prey beware!

 

The prey had a formidable gatekeeper; Bodie would have sworn in court that he'd last seen her on stage in blonde braids wielding a sword, and carefully kept his eyes away from Doyle's. She glared at them with icy blue eyes, and Bodie resisted the urge to shiver. He would bet she was the kind who called Reilly 'Doctor', with a capital D.

"We'd like to see the doctor, please," Ray said pleasantly, holding his ID in front of her.

"You don't have an appointment."

"No, but there's nobody waiting here, either," he countered.

"Doctor is at lunch right now."

Bodie turned a chuckle into a cough, eyes watering, ignoring the curious look Doyle flashed him.

"Where exactly is he 'at lunch'?" Doyle was a persistent little bugger when he wanted to be.

Her lips thinned. "He's having his meal in today, but..."

"That the door?" Bodie pointed behind her.

She was silent, which he took for affirmation, and headed round the desk, Ray practically attached to his hip in his eagerness to get inside. They burst through the door, startling the grey-haired man seated by the window, sandwich half-way to his lips.

He blinked owlishly from behind heavy glasses, carefully setting his lunch back down on the table beside him, before wheeling over towards them.

Wheeling.

The Doctor was in a wheelchair.

Ray's disappointment was so thick, Bodie could almost taste it. He wanted to hug the slumping shoulders, and make the chair vanish.

"Something I can help you gentlemen with? It's all right, Penelope" --this last directed at the huffing matron who barrelled into the room after them, protective instincts in full throttle-- "I'll be fine, thank you."

Waiting until she'd gone back out and closed the door, Bodie gave the same tired explanation, every word engraved in his brain by now, the doctor listening patiently.

"You realise I can't give you any information on my clients, even though they are dead," he said, when Bodie had finished.

"Can you at least tell us if you recognise any of these names?" Doyle listlessly held out the paper containing the names of all the victims.

Taking it, Dr Reilly ran his eyes down through the names, stopping briefly at several, before going on to the end.

"The three you asked me about, of course-- Harris, Thomas and the Moores. Also Jane Littleton was a patient briefly. Those are the only ones."

"Jane Littleton was the woman murdered with Moore. You don't think it strange that four of your patients were killed?" Doyle was clinging to hope.

"Of course. But there were, how many? Fourteen or fifteen people killed? Plus the latest three? Four out of that many isn't unusual. Besides," he continued, his voice taking on an ironic tinge, "would be a bit difficult for me to murder all those people from my chair, here, wouldn't it? That is what you came barging in here to accuse me of, isn't it?" He eyed Doyle steadily.

Ray ignored the question. "Is it possible someone could have got to your records?"

"No."

"The secretary?"

"The nurse," he stressed, "is my wife."

"She looks strong."

"She has to be; I can't walk." It was said matter-of-factly. "She didn't kill anyone either."

"No, sir, of course not." Bodie said. "Let's go, Ray."

Doyle looked at him, mouth poised to argue, then closed it, nodding. He plucked the list of names out of Reilly's hand, putting it safely back in his pocket, before following Bodie out the door.

Doyle paused before getting into the car, eyes squinting at something in the sunlight, and he walked over to the side of the building.

"What is it?" Bodie waited a second before following him.

"Check this out, mate." Ray was standing next to a red Ford Pinto, face perking up again. "Think it belongs to Brunhilde in there?"

"Suits more than Penelope, doesn't it? Christ what an armful of woman!"

"I'll pop back in and ask, shall I?" Without waiting for an answer Doyle was through the office door.

And back out in record time, laughing heartily.

"Yep, it's hers. And isn't she spitting mad at us for disturbing 'Doctor' the way we did!"

"Better add counselling to the questions we're asking now," Bodie said, smiling fondly at Ray, as they finally piled into the car and took off.

The car radio crackled at them before they'd driven more than a few miles, and Ray picked it up, rolling his eyes as Cowley's voice came over.

"We have a list of five owners of an American Ford Pinto; I want you to see them today."

"Yes, sir." Ray answered, "in between the million and one other people," he added under his breath.

"Just put them at numbers one through five on that list Doyle. This is what you're paid to do remember."

Bodie quickly strangled the laugh trying to escape, as he noticed the glare Ray was giving him. He snatched the mike away from Doyle's fingers, assuring Cowley that they would be happy to interview the owners of the cars, ignoring the exaggerated grimaces from Doyle as he handed it back, letting Ray take note of names and addresses.

"Brunhilde there?" Bodie asked curiously.

"Yep. Leaves four."

Bodie laughed and spared a brief glance to the heavens. "Man knows his arithmetic!"

Doyle ignored him, haughtily, eyes on his scribbles. Glancing up he instructed Bodie to turn left.

"May as well talk to the first person on the list. Also happens to be the closest to us. Makes it nice."

Bodie waited for more, then when nothing else was forthcoming, sighed. "So who is it?"

"Eh? Oh, sorry. Sophie Tuppence, Mrs. Five-four, brunette, blue. Turn right."

"Mrs. huh? Too bad."

"Not for you, mate, you 're already taken!" He grinned, wiggling his eyebrows. They were driving down a street filled with Victorian homes that had been turned into separate flats. Ray pointed to a bright blue and pink facade.

"That should be it, there. Bit loud, isn't it?"

"Yeah, hurts me ears, it does. And no place to park, of course." He drove past the building till he found a small spot further down, grinning triumphantly as he squeezed the Capri in.

Ray laughed as he got out of the car. "Who's a clever lad, then?"

They sauntered up the sidewalk in congenial silence, arms lightly brushing. Bodie knocked firmly at flat 'A', bouncing a little on his heels.

The door was opened by a scowling young man, who's face wiped clean when he saw who was outside. He stood looking at them blankly.

"Expecting someone else?" Bodie asked.

"My wi...no. Who are you?"

"CI5, mate, and we're looking for Sophie Tuppence."

"Not here."

"As in, she's out at the moment, or as in, she doesn't live here anymore?" Ray asked mildly.

"She's out; doesn't live here anymore."

"So, which is it?" Doyle's voice was losing its tolerance.

"She's moved out. Last weekend. "

The man was being extremely unhelpful, and Bodie decided it was time for a sit-down chat. "Invite us in, then, would you? We need some answers to a few questions."

For a moment it looked like they would be refused entrance, then he stood back and let them through. Leading the way down a small hallway, he sat down defiantly on a chair in the sitting room, staring at them.

"Exactly who are you?" Bodie asked.

"Jim Tuppence."

"Sophie your wife?"

"Not for long."

"Having problems are you?" Doyle asked casually.

"She did a bunk on Sunday."

It would be easier to pull his teeth out one by one, Bodie thought in exasperation. At this rate they'd be here all night.

"Does she own a red Ford Pinto, license number JET 117, and how can we get in touch with her?" Obviously Doyle's patience wasn't much longer than Bodie's.

Tuppence squirmed uneasily. "I don't know where she is."

"You're kidding." Doyle's eyebrows disappeared under his hair. "Do you know if she has the car?"

"Yeah, she's got a red pinto; inherited it from her mother when she died. Cost us a packet to ship it here from the states, it did. Those Yanks don't think about stuff like that. Wasn't worth it, either, always breaking down."

"Your wife is American?"

"Yep. From the Big Apple."

"And she didn't tell you where she was going on Sunday when she did her 'bunk'?" Doyle was beginning to sound a little sceptical.

"Didn't exactly see her leave, did I?"

"I don't know, Mr. Tuppence, did you?"

If Bodie was a betting man, he'd give Tuppence about two more stupid answers before Doyle tried to tear him apart. He decided it would be prudent to step in and take over the questioning before that happened.

"What exactly happened this weekend, Mr Tuppence? We're a bit confused here." He ignored the glare Ray threw at him.

"We had an argument Saturday. When I came home Sunday from work, she was gone."

"Clothes packed, personal items gone?"

"No....she didn't take anything, thought maybe she'd just gone for a drive, clear her head, that sort of thing. But then she didn't come back."

"It didn't occur to you to report her missing?" Ray asked sarcastically.

"Thought she was just mad..."

"Do this often, does she? Take off like this?"

"No. Well, once before, but we've been seeing someone and things were better. I thought."

Jesus Christ, Bodie thought. Another one. "Who were you seeing?"

"Dr Reilly. He was close, easy to get to. It was my fault really. I was stupid, I see that now, had a little fling with a friend of hers, but it's been over for a long time now. She found out, and left for a while, moved in with a lady what works with her, but came back and I thought..." his voice petered out, and he sat there, staring.

"Mr. Tuppence, I think you'd better report your wife missing. Soon." Bodie's voice was firm, and he rose, Doyle following his lead. Tuppence didn't stir.

"Right. We'll see ourselves out."

"You got it wrong," Tuppence spoke up dully.

"Sorry?" Ray paused.

"The license number, it's 007."

"You sure?" Doyle looked again at the numbers he'd scribbled down earlier.

"007?" Tuppence asked in irritated amazement.

"Yeah, be kind've hard to forget that one," Doyle mumbled under his breath as he trampled over Bodie's feet on their way out the door.

"James Bond," Ray mused as he climbed into the car.

"Eh?"

"James Bond. Rubbish man said the car reminded him of James Bond."

"007?"

"You think?"

Bodie swallowed sourly. "I hope she's not the next mis-matched body we find, that's for sure."

"Good chance of it though, especially if Brunhilde used Sophie's car Monday morning." Ray obviously had the case solved, and the suspect convicted.

Bodie decided against arguing with him. "How about some Chinese?"

Thursday 10 a.m.

The rest room was filled with the smell of cigars, cigarettes and hard-working men. Doyle plopped himself down on the settee, giving Anson a shove with his hip to make room for Bodie, who ambled over with a cup of coffee in each hand.

"At the rate we're going, mate, it's gonna take us the next three weeks to interview all the people connected with the old murders; what say we split 'em?" Doyle asked as he slurped at his cup.

"Hm, it's all right with me."

Just then Betty stuck her head in the door, one small hand fanning the air in front of her nose. "Telephone, 4.5. You are in here, somewhere, aren't you?"

"Right here, luv, hiding behind Anson's cigar smoke. Ta." He struggled out from between Bodie and Anson, helped by a caressing push on his bum from the ever-helpful Bodie, and looked down at him, grinning. "Any excuse, eh?"

Bodie laughed, as Anson looked alternately confused, then disgusted. "Couple a goons, you two. Deserve each other."

Ray picked up the extension on the far side of the room to find William on the other end, extending an invitation to he and Bodie for tea this afternoon. Doyle couldn't think of a reason not to accept --they did have to eat-- so promised his cousin they'd be there around 5 p.m., then hung up the telephone, mouth pursed.

He turned around to find Bodie watching him in amusement. "Could've told him we had to work, you know."

"Yeah, might be rather nice to get to know him better as an adult, though. Let's get out of here, Bodie, before I choke to death."

"Very funny, Doyle. I'll probably outlive you both." Anson took a deep drag on his cigar, before blowing an extra puff of smoke towards Ray's face.

Bodie stood up quickly, blocking Doyle's path toward the settee. "Leave it, Ray. Just cause you're in a pet over all this, doesn't mean you need to take it out on Anson. And you shuddup, Anson."

They quickly divided the rest of the people they still needed to talk with, before they separated, Ray heading off to check out a car, and Bodie riding off in his Capri.

 

The first two homes he tried were vacant, both families apparently gone for the afternoon, but the third door he knocked on was opened by a tow-headed youngster who looked up at him with large blue eyes.

"Is your mum in?"

"Yes." The child made no move towards finding said mum.

"May I see her, please?"

"Nope."

Bodie took a calming breath and hunched down so he was on a level with the small door-keeper. " 'tis important I see your mum, luv, if you could just tell her I'm here?"

"She's having a sore head and I'm not to disturb her convenses."

Her what? Oh. "Her convalescence?"

"It's what I said."

"Elizabeth!"

"Oh!" Her eyes widening, she dashed for the other room, leaving Bodie hunkered down in the doorway. He glanced up at the woman slowly climbing down the stairs and straightened.

"Apparently she wasn't supposed to answer the door either?" He smiled.

"No, she was supposed to be having a lie-down, next to me." She walked towards him, absently rubbing her head. "How can I help you?"

"Bodie, CI5." He held out his ID. "We're investigating some recent murders that happened last week, that are similar to...Are you all right?"

She'd gone very pale; Bodie reached over and clutched her arm, hoping she wasn't about to pass out on him. She made a vague motion toward the sitting room, and Bodie helped her over to the couch, sitting quietly until she opened her eyes and smiled, colour beginning to return to her cheeks.

"I'm sorry. Yes, I saw it on the news. It's the same people who killed my father isn't it?"

"You're father was Charles Mathews?"

"Yes. I'm sorry. Again. I'm Anne Perri. I inherited the flat when my mother passed away last year; that's probably who you were expecting wasn't it?"

Bodie nodded. "I have to ask a couple of questions-- they aren't pleasant, and I want to apologise now. New information popped up with these last murders, and we're having to re-question everyone from before."

"Murder's not pleasant in itself, Mr. Bodie."

"No. Do you know if you're father was having an affair with another woman? Or man?" He cringed as her eyes widened in shock.

"Well, you weren't kidding were you? That's certainly blunt. Ten years ago I was 17; teenagers are very self-centred, so at the time I wouldn't have noticed what either of my parents were doing-- to each other or anyone else." She stopped.

"At the time?" Bodie prodded.

"When my mother passed away last year, I found out more about my parents than I ever needed to know. Her diary, records --she kept the receipts of every bill she'd ever paid-- I'm still not completely finished going through everything."

Bodie noticed movement out of the corner of his eye and moved slightly so he could see better. A small blonde head was peaking around the corner of the doorjamb , curiosity bright in the blue eyes. Anne noticed his movement and without even looking, called out to her daughter to get right back into her room-- naptime wasn't over yet.

Grinning, Bodie exchanged an amused look with the mother, as small steps scurried back up the stairs. "Mums really do have eyes in the back of their heads then, do they?"

"This one does. Back to my parents; I've an awful headache and would like to get back to my bed." She smiled slightly, taking the sting out of her words. "My dad did have an affair --with another woman-- and my parents had just started counselling when he was killed."

Bodie carefully kept his face blank. "Do you know who the doctor was?"

"How funny. Yes, I do. Those were the receipts I was going through last night. It was a Dr Reilly."

Yes! Bodie could have danced a jig right at that moment, preferably one with Ray joining him.

"Do you know why they chose him?"

"Said in my mom's diary that her sister's friend recommended him. Apparently the friend's sister and husband had been seeing him for the same reason."

"Did it mention their names?"

"Whose? The sister's, the sister's friend, or the friend's sister and husband?" She laughed, wincing at the pain it must have caused in her head.

"I'll take the friend's sister's husband's mother, if you have it...." He grinned back at her.

"I'll pass on the mother, but the couple's last name was Moore. Was all mum had written down. Don't know if she knew anymore or not."

She was quite pasty by this time, and Bodie quickly took his leave. He had what he needed, and was eager to share it with Ray. It was close enough to five; he could head over to William's, and fill Doyle in when he got there. He could picture the look on Ray's face: the eyes would widen and light up, mouth stretching into a grin, showing off the chipped tooth Bodie loved to flick his tongue over...

 

Doyle had drawn the sister of the third man murdered. He couldn't remember speaking with her ten years ago, nor was an interview with her included in the files. Her address was a flat near Covent Garden, and he cursed, knowing he'd probably have a hard time finding a parking spot.

It started to rain as he stopped the car --several blocks from the address-- and he got out of the car, grumbling under his breath. Bodie had the umbrella. He ran the four blocks, almost passing the correct number before he saw it. It was a lovely little townhouse, and he rang the buzzer on the front door, shivering.

A middle-aged woman answered, grey-streaked long hair hanging free, and the most incredible brown eyes Doyle had ever seen looked out at him. For a moment he was speechless, before his wits came back to him and he introduced himself, asking if she was Jane Stevensson.

"Yes, I am." She moved aside to let him in, and he stood inside the front door, dripping, as she excused herself to get him a towel.

After he'd dried off, and they were comfortably ensconced in a small sitting room, he asked her why she hadn't been interviewed ten years ago.

"Because I was in France when my brother was killed. I came back for the funeral of course, but I was studying at the Sorbonne back then. I guess no one thought I'd have anything of interest to impart and ignored me."

"Did you?"

"Not really. I guess the fact that my brother was gay didn't have anything to do with it since the newspapers never mentioned it."

Doyle groaned inaudibly. The newspapers hadn't mentioned it because no one had told the police that small fact; and, of course, they hadn't known to ask that particular question.

"We're finding out that the victims' sexual preferences may have had everything to do with their deaths. None of the victims were known gays, and the family members didn't see fit to let us in on the secret. In fact, some of them didn't know themselves-- parents in particular."

She rolled her eyes, laughing. It wasn't a kind laugh. "Our parents knew. My mum spent her declining years on her knees in church praying for Peter's soul, she was so sure he was going to Hell. The priest had her lighting candles and saying so many prayers it's a wonder she had time for anything else. Drove my dad crazy, him not being a church-going man."

Ray's stomach lurched queasily: church and priests. Again. He was almost afraid to ask the obvious question, but did so, holding his breath as she answered.

"I'm not actually sure which church she went to. I know it was one of the Catholic ones. It would probably be in her records somewhere. I can look if you'd like and ring you when I find it?"

"I can save you the trouble, Jane."

Standing in the doorway was an elderly man, perhaps in his seventies; wispy white hair carefully combed over the top of his head. It was obvious from whom Jane had inherited her eyes. The man leaning on the cane was staring at Doyle from an identical pair.

*

Bodie casually parked his car on the street in front of St John's, rather pleased to see it was the same church he'd been day-dreaming about on his way to the take-a-way to meet Doyle. Retire, and have family near-by also. Nice. He was in high spirits --and hungry-- as he knocked on the parish door, smiling when it opened.

"I'm a bit earlier, I know, but I was in this part of town, so....." Bodie could look both angelic and apologetic when he put his mind to it.

"Come on in. Just talked to Ray. He's gonna be a little late; said to start without him."

Bodie was surprised at the inside of the house, although he wasn't entirely sure what he'd been expecting. More hominess, maybe? The walls were bare, the furniture plain -almost austere- and not a knick-knack in sight. He couldn't help but compare it to the cosy clutter of Ray's flat, deciding he'd definitely fallen in love with the right cousin.

"Haven't got all my things unpacked yet." He must have noticed Bodie's little glances around. "Sit, and I'll get the tea ready."

Bodie planted himself in the middle of the sofa, noticing a large photo album on the tea table in front, and he picked it up, idly leafing through it. Photos, newspaper clippings; was this a young Ray? He quickly snapped it shut, embarrassed as William came back into the room smiling, carrying the tray, small sandwiches laid out in a circle on a paper doily. The milk and sugar were in mis-matched containers, and the cups were all different, although Thompson had apparently done his best to make everything look appealing.

*****

"This is my father, Mr Doyle. He's with CI5, dad, here about Peter."

"I was listening." He hobbled into the room, cane tapping against the wood floor. "More murders. Think you'll get them this time?"

"We hope so--"

"Yes, I'm sure you do. One of 'em was your relation wasn't he? Laughed meself silly when I heard he'd bought it too--"

"Dad."

"--priest of a brother egging me wife on -- deserved what he got..."

"Dad."

"Excuse me, sir. Mr Stevensson." Doyle was trying to sort out the rapid statements from Jane's horrified exclamations, and not succeeding very well. "If you could both please be quiet for a moment."

Two pairs of wide, brown eyes gazed at him. Jane finally looked way, embarrassed, gnawing at her lower lip.

"Now, sir, if you'll just tell me again about your wife's priest, a little slower this time, please?" Doyle kept his voice polite with an effort. His head was beginning to pound heavily and all he wanted at the moment was to be home, cuddled next to Bodie...

"Friend of m' wife's took her to mass one day. St. Thomas the Confessor or some such. She talked to a priest there. Was still wet behind the ears, barely out of school. Told her Peter was going to Hell for his sins if he didn't do penance; wife spent the next five years praying for him, even after he was killed."

"Do you remember the name of the priest?"

"No, but I do remember when the last murder happened; was your cousin, wasn't it? Anna got all upset that her priest's brother'd been killed same as Peter."

Ray almost couldn't hear the words through the pounding in his head. William knew the mother of one victim. William knew the last victim. William was a priest. William...

William was his cousin. Their mothers were sisters; they'd grown up together. William and Michael were brothers. William had broken his face...

*****

"Old memories there." William nodded at the album, as he set the tray down next to it. He carefully poured tea into two cups, and Bodie couldn't help comparing his thick-fingered hands with Ray's slender, graceful digits. "Might even be some of Ray in there before he smashed his face."

Bodie almost choked on his tea; hadn't expected that. Casually he reached down for a sandwich --watercress-- and nibbled at it; wasn't one of his favourites. Was he actually going to get the answer to how Ray's face had been damaged? He grinned; there were some good possibilities here for inside information.

"Here we are. He was about ten, Michael was 12, which would have made me around 17. Poor little bugger was trying to slide down the banister, and he took a tumble partway, smacking his face at the end. Never saw so much blood."

William turned the album so Bodie could see better. A little sprite with big eyes and a mop of unruly curls looked out at him. Two round cheeks on either side of an unchipped grin made Bodie smile gently in response. Casually he turned more pages, as William refilled his cup with tea and sugar.

*****

"Mr Doyle?"

Ray shook his head slightly, wincing at the sharp stabs of pain the movement entailed. He had to get out of here before he threw up all over the floor. Gasping, he stood, shaking off the helping hand Jane put on his arm.

"Sorry. I'm all right, but I've got to find my partner." He took a deep breath, trying to restore his equilibrium, happy when his voice came out a bit more in control. "Thank you for the information. I'm sure it's not easy for you to relive old horrors like this."

"Or you either, Mr Doyle," Jane said astutely, as she followed him to the door.

He was so preoccupied, he didn't notice that the rain had stopped. Before he knew it, he was back at his car; he knew what he had to do, but didn't want to. Fingers tapping absently on the steering wheel, he started the car and pulled out into traffic, heading for St Thomas Confessor and the elderly curator.

Doyle stopped the car in front of the Church with a jerk, jumping out and making straight for the curator's office. He rounded the corner, almost bowling over the elderly man, catching him just in time by the arm.

"Here, here, laddie, no need to run me over. I'm not going anywhere, now am I?" He frowned at Doyle, then seemed to recognise him.

"There was something my partner and I forgot to ask you when we were here before. When you had the championship Rugby team-- who coached it?" He knew the answer already, but needed confirmation.

"We started out with Father Abraham, but he was transferred to another parish. Until the new, permanent replacement came, we had a young priest, just out of seminary...um, William, I believe his name was. He...oh."

Doyle didn't wait for anything else, and took off for the car, leaving the curator standing with his sentence half-finished. Climbing into the car, he pulled out his R/T, trying to get hold of Bodie. When that failed, he rang through to Headquarters, demanding to speak to Cowley at once.

"This better be important, 4.5, I'm on my way to a meeting with..."

"Bodie's missing." Ray interrupted. "I mean, I think I know where he is, but he's not answering the R/T, and..."

"Slow down, man, you're not making any sense. Start again."

"My cousin, William, I think he's....he might know something about the murders. We were to have tea with him today, and I'm late and I can't reach Bodie." He started the car, heading for St John's and his cousin's cottage.

"You were having tea with a suspect? This still isn't clear, Doyle."

"Before we figured it out, sir. I only just now copped, and Bodie had no idea. We were supposed to be there at 5, and it's half past now. I'm on my way."

"I'll send Murphy and Jax out for backup. Don't go in until they get there, Doyle, do you understand? I'll have no heroics on Bodie's behalf. Doyle? 4.5 did you hear..."

He clicked the radio off. No heroics. Right. No way was he going to let his cousin cut off pieces of Bodie and put them elsewhere. No way in hell. He stepped harder on the accelerator, urging the car to go faster.

This was his fault. If he'd paid attention to Bodie at the beginning, when he was suggesting religion might be a link... He refused to contemplate the possibility that he might be too late, that William may have already killed Bodie and was even now slicing him up. The tires squealed as he took a corner too quickly, and he clutched the wheel tighter, palms sweaty.

*****

"There's some of him still in nappies with his parents, before they were killed. That was sad; they were so young. Ray was lucky he wasn't killed also."

Bodie paused in his page turning, and blinked his eyes to focus better on a photo of a group of young men. Looked to him like a rugby team or...

"Ah, you found the championship team, did you? My one claim to glory, it was." William smiled. "I was temporary coach for the rugby team my first year as a priest. Was the only year St Thomas ever won the championship."

Bodie started to ask something else, when his stomach gave a lurch and his vision blurred. He looked down a very long tunnel to see Thompson grinning at him, as his vision dimmed in and out. Bodie's last thought, before the buzzing in his head overrode everything else, was how very wrong he and Doyle had been...

*****

He'd been blind. Just because William was a priest--didn't mean anything. Like Bodie'd said, priests were human, too. Oh God. Bodie. Should have done something. Should have told him it was William broke his face. Made sense now, it did.

Slammed on the brakes at a red light, fingers tapping impatiently on the wheel. How could he have forgotten that? He and Michael were wanking together over a Mayfair, laughing, only to have William walk in on them like the wrath of God. Smacking them both, sending Ray flying against the bed post, face first. Oh Christ, Bodie. Told everyone he fell down the stairs

Bloody light. Now-- go. He shot ahead of the rest of the traffic, wishing they hadn't replaced the roundabout with the traffic light. William had screamed at them, while he was waving his fists around, before Ray had lost consciousness completely. Raving that they would go to hell for this, it was unnatural, they were perverted freaks...

In his childish innocence, Doyle had thought he was referring to the masturbation. Hindsight was wonderful, indeed; William must have had some suspicion of Michael even then-- he'd been calling them homosexual. It was that 'sin' he was crazed about, not the boyish giggling over a girlie magazine.

Bodie was indestructible. Bodie was strong. Bodie would be fine, he'd be all right. He was probably sitting in front of William right now, gun in hand, waiting for Ray to show up for tea. Bodie would be fine. He was indestructible. Nothing could beat him. Bodie was strong. Bodie was... Bodie... Bodie.Bodie.Bodie.Bodie...

*****

He couldn't move his head. His stomach pitched, and spewed it's contents down the front of his shirt. Bodie spared a brief moment to be grateful he was apparently sitting up, before his vision blurred again, and he closed his eyes, waiting for his head to clear.

His next coherent thought was that he still couldn't move his head, and included his arms and legs in the lack of mobility. Gradually he became aware that someone was speaking to him from the other side of the world, and he tried to focus on the voice, not recognising it.

"Was beginning to think you were out for the count, Mister, you've been under for ages." It was a female voice, none too steady, and Bodie just grunted in response.

"Open your eyes, please, we're in trouble. Open your eyes. Bodie." Voice went on and on saying his name repeatedly in an ugly American accent --not at all like the lovely way Ray said it-- when all Bodie wanted to do was sleep away the nausea jumping around in his stomach.

"There's a dead woman sitting in the corner next to ya."

That did it, and slowly he turned his eyes till they met the blind gaze of an extremely aromatic, female corpse. He let his eyes fall shut, dread burning its way through his veins. They were in for it now.

"Bodie!"

He jerked his lids open again, and positioned his tongue into words. "I'm here. Who the hell are you, and how do you know my name?"

"It's what he called you, isn't it?"

Bodie tried to focus on the voice in front of him, and gradually the images coalesced into a young brunette, her hands and feet tied together. She looked very frightened, and Bodie tried to gentle his voice.

"Yes, it's my name. How long have you been here?"

"About two days, I guess. That...she...was here already. Think he's gonna waste us too?" This last was asked in a tiny little voice.

Bodie ignored the question, instead concentrating on trying to move, before he realised he was firmly attached to the wall behind him by either very hard leather, or something metal, wrapped across his shoulders, waist and forehead keeping him immobile.

They were silent as the door opened and Thompson came lumbering through, looking pleased when he saw they were awake, if not completely coherent.

"Oh lovely, you're awake. Was afraid I might have given you too much." He walked over to Bodie, and knelt down, grabbing his jaw in a bruising grip. "You're fucking my cousin."

There was a surprised squeak from the girl, but Bodie ignored it, keeping his eyes on the man in front of him. The grip tightened, and Bodie tried to move, but was prevented by whatever was wrapped around his forehead.

"Aren't you?"

"Aren't you?"

"Aren't you?"

Each time the question was repeated, the grip on his chin tightened, and Bodie finally gasped out a reluctant 'yes', deciding it wouldn't do any good to deny it.

Thompson sat back, a satisfied expression on his face. "Did you fuck Michael, too? Did you turn my brother into a pansy-flower? 'm gonna turn you into a woman, make it right. It's not right, two blokes together."

"Didn't want to kill Michael, not really. I tried to punish the others, but Michael didn't see his sin. I finally had to save him myself. Didn't know about Ray till a few months ago, he kept talking about you, on the phone, in his letters; like he would a wife or girlfriend. So I watched you, when I came back, before I let him know I was here. I've been back since last month, you know. No, you didn't know, of course not. I told Ray I got here a few days ago, didn't I? Yes. "

He settled more solidly in front of Bodie, and continued his mostly one-sided conversation. "I was hoping I was wrong, you know, about you and Ray. But the way you moved together, and stood so close-- and you were always at his flat, no matter what time I rang up, you answered."

Bodie groaned, remembering how he grabbed the phone from Doyle that last time to answer it. He tried to salvage something. "We stay at each other's flat all the time. It's easier to work that way."

"No, I watched you, you see. I saw you at the church, in the car, touching each other. You touched where two men shouldn't." He paused, his gaze turning inward. "I'll be sorry to kill Ray, you know. He was a lovely little boy. His face was an accident, but it was his own fault. He shouldn't have been playing games with himself, he and Michael, making me mad like that."

William was mumbling now, and Bodie was finding it difficult to understand what he was saying.

"You said he fell down the stairs..."

"What?"

"Ray's face-- you said he broke it falling down the stairs, then you started talking about him and Michael, making you angry--oh!"

Standing, he kicked Bodie directly in the stomach, causing him to jerk against the restraints, gasping, acidic bile rising part way up his throat. Thompson laughed, watching as Bodie coughed and choked, tears of rage and pain sliding down his face.

"Have you and Sophie been getting to know each other? She left her husband and took up with a woman. Of course, he'll have to do penance also, but that's for later. He committed the sin of adultery, you know. Or did you know? And the lovely Mary, here," he rambled on as his foot twitched out to poke the corpse next to Bodie, "she'll be partners for Ray."

"You're a sick bastard, Thompson, know that?"

"Me? You're the sick one; you and my cousin and all the other perverts out there. You'll contaminate the world if I don't fix you. Turn everyone into perverted rubbish."

He kicked out, catching Bodie on the side of the head, and Sophie started screaming, her shrill voice cutting through the blackness Bodie'd begun to disappear into. The screams stopped abruptly, replaced by a strange gurgling sound, and reluctantly Bodie opened his eyes.

Ray's cousin had slit her throat.

 

"Doyle! Wait!" Murphy came running over the church lawn, grabbing Doyle's arm to stop his headlong flight to the cottage. Ray jerked his arm out of the strong grip, barely catching himself as he started a punch with his left.

"Oi! Watch it, mate, we're all on the same side here." Jax trotted up behind Murphy, ready to lend a hand if needed.

"He's got Bodie. It's nothing to keep him from killing him just like the others, and if we don't get in there, Bodie's gonna be in pieces..."

His voice cracked on the last word, and Murphy looked at him in sympathy. Was hard enough to have a partner in trouble, but if these two really had been carrying on a sexual relationship-- Christ, Ray must be torn to pieces inside.

"Right, but do you know exactly where they are?"

Curls flopped negatively.

"Have you ever been inside the church or the cottage?"

Another negative shake, this time accompanied by drooping shoulders.

A car pulled up and parked behind Murph's, and the three men watched as Cowley, Anson and Susan poured out. Quickly, Cowley took over, directing his men to different portions of the grounds, leaving Doyle standing impatiently by his side.

"Sir.."

"You stay right here, 4.5, I don't want you going off half-cocked."

"I have to find Bodie--"

"Which is exactly what your colleagues are doing; or don't you trust them to do what they've been trained to do?"

"Yes, sir." He glanced over to where Bodie's car was sitting, quietly waiting the return of it's driver. "I can't wait, sir."

"Doyle!"

Ray ignored him, running for the back of the cottage. He had to find Bodie, he had to find him now, before it was too late. If they waited, there'd be nothing to find but pieces...A shrill screaming made his legs pump even faster, and he tore through the side door, eyes racing around the kitchen.

*****

William quickly turned and knelt down. Bodie watched, helpless, and thought of how Ray was going to feel when he found Bodie's body decorated with a woman's breasts...and the woman sporting Bodie's penis...oh Christ.

That there was still anything in his stomach to heave out was surprising enough, and Bodie wished he was alert enough to register the look on Thompson's face as his vomit landed all over him. He closed his eyes then, not wanting that face to be the one he carried to Hell with him....

*****

Murphy and Jax suddenly materialised behind him, and Ray headed purposefully for what appeared to be the door to a cellar. The stench that floated up the stairs when he opened the door took him back to the alley, back ten years ago to his cousin, back to the first alley and the first bodies and all he could think was --BodieBodieBodie.

He was sitting strapped to the wall, with William bent over him, something glinting in his right hand. Murphy shoved past Doyle, gun out, calling for Jax to follow and slammed against the priest, knocking him off balance.

Leaving Bodie to Doyle, who shakily took one step, then another towards the wall, where Bodie was chained, eyes closed. Please Bodie, open your eyes--look at me, Bodie, Bodie please!

*****

...and blinked them open again to find tear-filled green eyes staring at him in a mixture of fright and love, gentle hands undoing buckles and leather, holding him firmly as he sagged away from the wall. Gratefully he leaned his head against a warm cotton-covered shoulder, and sighed in relief, listening to Ray's soft voice murmuring comfort and reassurance into his ear. The sound of Thompson being restrained, faded. Bodie thought he heard Cowley's voice chewing someone out, then his only reality became the man holding him safe and close, until even that was swallowed by darkness.

 

Doyle tensed as Bodie's eyes closed again, but when the even breathing didn't change, he gradually relaxed, slumping against the wall, still clutching his precious burden. The ambulance had arrived, and the attendants were trying to pry Ray loose, but he wasn't about to let go. Not now, not ever. His lips drew back, and he growled at the man who dared lay a hand on his arm.

Cowley hunkered down in front of Doyle, eyes calm, voice gentle. "Need to let the medics take him to hospital lad, he needs attention. You can ride with them, just let them take him."

Doyle pulled Bodie closer against him, eyes snapping angrily, fingers absently petting the dark head, before gently handing him over. He stayed glued to the side of the gurney however, climbing into the ambulance as soon as Bodie was loaded.

EPILOGUE

Doyle decided it was Bodie's turn to be engulfed in a 'blanket of Ray' and curled all around him, arms and legs clutching him as close as possible, head nestled under his chin. He listened to Bodie's quiet snores, trying not to remember how close he'd come to losing him.

He'd brought Bodie home from hospital this afternoon, recovered from the concussion he'd got when William had booted him in the head, but he was still a bit weak, and Doyle had spent the evening catering to his every whim. His stomach was still bruised and tender, also from William's kick, and Ray brushed his fingers lightly over the rainbow encircling Bodie's navel.

Cowley hadn't been pleased to have his suspicions regarding his two best agents confirmed, but agreed to ignore it as long as they kept their relationship quiet. He didn't think they'd have anything to worry about with the trial-- it would focus primarily on the murder victims, and in all probability, William would be deemed unfit anyway.

Doyle shivered, thinking of his cousin spending his days in a mental institution, locked away forever. It was no more than he deserved though, for killing Michael and trying to kill Bodie. He tightened his grip, unknowingly, and Bodie stirred in protest, eyes opening blearily.

"Still awake?"

"Was thinking."

"It's dangerous you know-- you thinking."

"Prat. Was thinking about you. And me. And us. And how much I love you. Couldn't stand it if something happened to you, I..."

"Ray."

"What?"

"Anybody ever tell you, you talk to much?"

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