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Just a Kiss

As light and frothy as an Aero mousse. And as sweet.


It was a very exclusive party. Exclusive in the sense of 'CI5 personnel only'. The mirrored room whirled with noise and effervescent party sparkle as fifty people met and mingled and passed on, laughing; high spirits, affection, camaraderie, a common bond and a release from tension: all those things were there in full measure and champagne flowed like Cowley's abuse after a bungled job.

Ray Doyle, pressed by a passing flow of people against a wall, where he reposed on a low cushioned couch, was having a particularly good time. He and Bodie had, with foresight, sandwiched themselves between two pretty girls, and he had been kissing the one beside him. Bodie, presumably, had been likewise engaged; at least, he had half-turned away from his partner, but the pressure of his thigh against Doyle's was reassuring of his continued presence. Doyle liked to have Bodie somewhere close on occasions such as these, when partnership seemed a rare and beautiful thing when he was overflowing with warm affection and champagne and love for the world. He squinted down at his girl, wanting to kiss her again. She was asleep, her pretty pouting mouth set in a droop, her head on his shoulder. She looked very appealing. He tugged on something he presumed was part of Bodie.


Bodie didn't hear the word, but he felt the tug and turned obediently Doyle's way, waiting with what he hoped was an expression of devoted interest in whatever Doyle had to say. It wasn't too complicated. He was having trouble keeping his eyelids up.

Doyle looked up at him, owlishly. "Look a' this." Bodie leant over him. It made him rather dizzy so he rested his chin on Doyle's shoulder to steady his gaze.

"Sweet," rhapsodized Doyle, looking at the tousled blonde hair, the childlike curl of the fingers.

Bodie agreed. "Sweet ... like you," he added, looking up at his partner's chin with warmth.

Doyle tried to arrange his features into a reproving scowl. "M'not sweet. You're drunk," he added accusingly.

Bodie thought about it. "Yes." And another beatific smile appeared.

"I'm not," said Doyle, with indignation, and he looked around. "Need another drink."

As he sat up straighter, the girl fell off his shoulder to the couch, mumbled something and went back to sleep.

"Jus' grab a passing bottle," Bodie came out with carefully, after applying his mind seriously to the problem of Doyle's declared sobriety.

Doyle giggled, and hiccupped: "Bottles don't pass."

Bodie squinted up at him. He liked looking at Doyle from this position; it was totally new. "Don't they?"

"No legs," explained Doyle with profundity; as if unfolding the mystery of the universe.

"Just necks," retorted Bodie; as if discovering a new angle on it.

They laughed together, faces very close, breathing warm alcoholic fumes. Someone stopped for a passing chat. He was as drunk as they were, so it was hardly the most edifyingly meaningful conversation ever to have taken place beneath this particular roof; however, they all felt when it ended somehow deeply satisfied with the communication that had flowed between them. Doyle was getting sleepy. He was trying to keep his eyes open, but it wasn't easy. There was an arm around his shoulders and he leaned into it, wanting closeness and the acceptance of another warm responsive human being. He let his eyes shut.



"You asleep?"

"'Course not," said Doyle, affronted, and he forced his eyelids up to look into muzzy blue eyes. He knew those eyes. "Fancy meetin' you 'ere," he mumbled, and felt a surge of mirth at his own wit threaten to overcome him. More, he improved on it; "D'you c'm'ere often?"

Bodie was put out by the tremors of hiccupy laughter running through his partner. He shook him. "Doyle. M'serious."

"Oh. Yeah." Doyle wiped the smile off his face and scowled instead. Bodie stared down into his eyes with great solemnity. Somewhere, very close, there was a loud sing-song going on but he ignored it manfully. He had his mind on the high things in life.

"You're my partner - " Bodie began.

"Was's morning," Doyle agreed.

"An' partners should stick together. Forget the bloody SAS. Mers'naries can go fuck themselves. Partners are better. Is better."

Doyle was sure he fully agreed with this, whatever it was. So he nodded and the room began to spin. "Yourright. Wanna go to sleep now."

Bodie shook him again, annoyed. But Doyle was limp and touchingly relaxed against him, he smelt of aftershave and sweat, and Bodie was overwhelmed with maudlin affection. "Partners." He prodded Doyle hard, needing feedback for all this love running loose in him. "I said, partners."


"Wassup with you f'chrissake?" said Bodie, irritated that all his emotional outpouring was going so unheeded. He hooked a hand beneath Doyle's chin and tilted his head back. Doyle's heavy eyelids fell open, revealing big fuzzy pools of green. Bodie smiled at him, a big warm smile, absurdly charmed. It all fitted in with the way he was feeling. There was a lot of noise and movement in the room, but he and Doyle needed none of it. They had each other, and they were partners. Doyle's mouth moved, but Bodie didn't catch the words beneath the raucous strains of the Birdie Song - grown men were crowing and flapping about. Ridiculous, he thought with monumental disdain, and put his head closer to the only other sane man in the room. "What?"

"I said, what you smilin' for."

Bodie frowned. "M'not smiling."

"You were," Doyle accused. "Great big daft smile, it was."

"Can't remember."

"Oh. Thought you must have scored, or somethin'." That struck Doyle as funny, and he chuckled throatily, his eyes closing and unclosing at random.

Bodie fumbled for the threads of his thoughts. "We're partners - " he started off again.

Doyle groaned, and turned his face into Bodie's shoulder. "Don' keep saying that. I know what we are."

"M'jus' trying to say," said Bodie with great dignity, "if you didn't keep in'trupting - " and he gave Doyle another admonitory shake - "that I'm glad we are. Partners."

"Me too."

Bodie felt a warm wave of love washing over him again, coming and going like a great ebb tide of foaming affection on a champagne sea. He wanted to express it. He slid his arm more carefully around Doyle, noting with abstract pleasure how the thin shirt let through Doyle's own body warmth, and kissed his partner's head.

Doyle turned his face up. "What you doin'?"

"Kissing you," explained Bodie.


Bodie kissed him again, on the temple. The other man's skin was soft. "S'nice, s'why."

"Cowley wouldn't like it," said Doyle, after much struggling thought. Nevertheless, he withdrew his forgotten, numb arm from where it lay across the legs of his dormant girl, and put it around Bodie instead.

"C'n kiss my own partner, if I want to," said Bodie, aggrieved at his boss' putative displeasure. "No rule says I can't kiss him. Not even Cowley."

"You wouldn't want to." Doyle shook his head.

"Want to what?"

"Kiss Cowley."

"You," said Bodie, after putting some time into disentangling this and failing, "are drunk. Very drunk. So jus' shuttup." Holding him carefully, he kissed each long-lashed eye in turn, then the soft sculpted mouth, then round the cheek.

Doyle decided he liked it. With an 'mm' of pleasure he pressed himself up against Bodie and opened his mouth for Bodie's softly stroking tongue. It felt perfectly right, and natural, and exactly what he needed at this stage of the evening.

There was plenty going on in the centre of the room; dancing, singing, shouting, the clinking of glasses as the celebration reached its height. Plenty round the edges, too, where various couples, overcome by the quantities of free champagne cuddled, or slept, openmouthed. Most people were quite merry enough to accept the most unusual happenings as not out of place; even when one of the unusual happenings was agents 3.7 and 4.5 draped around one another exchanging drowsy loving kisses at 2 am.

Most, but not all.

Bodie strode into the hallowed corridors of CI5 more through sheer willpower than innate energy. He had one hell of a hangover, which appeared to shoot down comprehensively the theory about champagne being a fast lift and a gentle let-down. Someone nudged him in the ribs by the door.

"Good party last night, eh?"

"You should know," growled Bodie, "you were there."

The man winked eloquently at him. "Nothing like champagne, is there. Jill - you know Jill? Well - " He made an all-male gesture, fist thrusting upwards.

"The lucky, lucky girl," said Bodie with heavy sarcasm, and made as if to walk on.

"Hear you got on all right last night," said the other, grabbing his arm to hold him back and winking slyly. "That right, son? Unconventional tastes, I hear?"

"Ey?" said Bodie, perplexed.

"Wey-hey-hey." Laughing, the man disappeared, which was just as well because Bodie had been beginning to find him an annoyance. Bloody idiot. Still drunk, probably. Bodie shrugged it off, and went on.

Everyone he met was the same. Sly glances, meaningful winks, the odd hint of what looked like disapproval seemed to be the order of the day. Bodie began to wonder exactly what he'd done at this party last night. Taken off all his clothes? Sung a very rude song about George? Got carried away with that girl who'd been cuddling up to him early in the evening?

He dismissed it all as unlikely. He'd been with Ray all the time - had woken up with Doyle on top of him - and his partner would have kept him out of trouble.

Or egged him on, maybe, if he'd been equally drunk.

He'd have to see what Doyle remembered. All Bodie hazily recalled was the whole lot of them being thrown out onto the streets at dawn, going home in a daze, and pitching into bed. He pushed open the door of the restroom and was met by a haze of smoke, noise, and whistles as his colleagues took note of who had entered.

Bodie pushed his way past everyone to find his partner. Doyle was sitting at a desk, head down, furiously going through a file. Bodie perched on a corner, ruffled his hair. "Lo, Goldilocks."

Doyle's reaction was impressive. He jerked away from Bodie's hand, scowled up with a face like thunder and yelled, "Don't you bloody start."

The response from the interested roomful was immediate.

"Lover's quarrel? And the honeymoon's hardly started."

"Claws in, tomcats."

"Don't be such a bitch to him, he's very sensitive..."

In answer, Doyle swept up his file and marched out of the room, not looking back.

"Bye bye, sweetie."

"Don't trip over the eyelashes."

"Give us a twirl?"

The door slammed shut. Bodie stared round at everyone, dumbfounded. "What the hell's got into everyone this morning?"

"We know what's got into your partner, anyway," commented McCabe snidely. "Or was it the other way round?"

Bodie finally twigged. Everyone was hooting or sniggering. Bodie put a stop to that by reaching out one long arm and jerking McCabe to his feet. "Take it back."

"Ah, c'mon Bodie, only a joke."

"I don't," snapped Bodie, "find it funny." He shook McCabe about a bit and then dropped him, glaring around. "Next one to make a fuckin' queer joke in my hearing or Doyle's is gonna regret it. You're all bloody round the twist. What they spike that champagne with - LSD?"

With that, he left the room to follow his partner. "No smoke without fire," muttered Lewis, pulling McCabe to his feet. But Bodie's outburst of temper had killed the humour, and they all went back to work with no further reference to the purported events of the night before.

Bodie ran Doyle to ground in one of the corridors, staring out of the window. "What's all this about?" he asked, without preamble.

Doyle shrugged. The whole line of his body, in jeans and thin shirt, spoke of fury. Bodie moved in, put his hands on his shoulders. "Come on, give. What's got into 'em all?"

Doyle shrugged again, but he didn't move away. "I dunno. Something you and I did at the party."

"What, for chrissake?"

"I told you, I don't know. Can't remember much about it."

"Me neither," said Bodie with feeling. He had that crawly out-of-synch sensation this morning that spoke of dehydration, and the events of the previous evening were a haze. "I tell you who'll know," he said as a sudden thought struck him. "And who'll make sure we know."

With him, Doyle grimaced.

Bodie was right. At the end of their briefing concerning the new assignment, Cowley had a little addendum for them. He related, with icy precision, exactly what he had been told; and Bodie's sluggish memory stirred and began to supply foggy details to go along with Cowley's account.

Cowley did not seem to be best pleased. Bodie turned defensive, not daring to look at his partner.

"I was only kissing him, sir."

"Aye!" Cowley blazed. "Kissing him! You want to kiss him, 3.7, you take him to the privacy of your own home! You don't drool over him in full view of the entire ranks of CI5!"

"They were all drunk, sir. And I wasn't drooling." Bodie's mouth drooped in distaste.

Cowley glared at him. "From the sound of it, you were eating him up." He rounded on Doyle. "And you weren't protesting!" Doyle said nothing, just watched him with wary, cool eyes.

"I don't make a habit of it, sir. Just got carried away," said Bodie, anxious to get the point home. "Too much of the Auld Lang Syne spirit in the air, sir."

"Aye, well get carried away somewhere else next time. Or say goodbye to CI5, laddie," promised Cowley grimly, and the interview was at an end.

Outside the door, Bodie exhaled. "Jesus," he muttered, then shook his head. "'Next time'; christ."

"Well, so now we know."

"Yeah." Bodie darted him a quick glance. "I do remember it - vaguely." Impossible to believe, that this man striding out at his side, had last night been wrapped up in his arms, being kissed by him... he could remember, all overlaid by hazy noise and cloudy vision, the taste of his mouth, the feel of the soft skin beneath his lips and tongue, the hard body in his hands...

"Yeah, so do I." Then, in a sudden rush of irascibility: "Hell, Bodie! What you wanna do a crazy thing like that for!" He rubbed a hand through his hair slowly, on a little memory trip of his own. "Now they're gonna be making bloody pansy jokes every time you and I walk through the door."

"I don't remember you putting up much a fight," said Bodie, roused in turn. They glared at each other; then Doyle turned away. "Oh, forget it."

"Doesn't matter if they do make cracks," said Bodie, losing his own anger and wanting somehow to make it up to him. "We know it's not true and that's what matters."

"That's what matters, is it?" Doyle glanced at him. "Nah, don't agree. Be better if it were true."

"What?" said Bodie, disbelieving his own ears.

"Wouldn't care what they said if it were true. It's the bloody injustice of it that gets to me. I mean, all we were doing was kissing, f'godsake, and they assume from that we must be havin' it off, the full Sodom-and-Gomorrah, I'm-as-camp-as-a-row-of-tents, bit."

"Well, but look at it from their point of view, mate," pointed out Bodie, continuing, perhaps unwisely: "Wasn't a normal thing to do, was it. They were plenty raving pissed last night but as far as I can make out you and I were the only two blokes who got into a heavy clinch."

"What are you sayin', Bodie? That we're sittin' on repressed desires or somethin'?" Doyle's voice had changed; he gave Bodie a wide, measuring stare, looking him up and down as if assessing the other man's potential desirability. Lack of appreciation visibly informed his every feature to Bodie's relief. At least, he supposed it was relief.

"Hell, I dunno. Maybe we are," he said belligerently. "Have to ask a psychologist I s'pose, if we wanted the low-down on it. Probably better not to find out," he added.

"No, I dunno. I want to find out. If I've got repressed desires towards you I want to be the first to know," said Doyle; he glanced around the corridor leading to the stationery store just to be sure. Bodie eyed him warily, wondering for a brief moment if Ray Doyle was about to experiment here and now - he was just about crazy enough - pull him close and kiss him, totally sober in the harsh light of day. The thought sent unclassified shivers running up and down his spine, and he tensed. But Doyle didn't touch him, just leaned against the wall, arms akimbo.

"What was going through your head? When you started kissing me?"

Bodie glowered at him. Sometimes his partner's obsessive desire for self-knowledge got a bit much, especially when it involved Bodie himself. On the other hand, knowing Doyle it would be better to go along with him. Once Doyle got an idea into his head he wouldn't let it go until he was satisfied. So he thought back, to the night before. Hazy memories filtered back - Doyle, soft and heavy and familiar to his every sense; sight, touch, smell. The usual inhibitions removed by the glow of champagne. The desire for closeness; it had seemed the most natural thing in the world to hold his best mate close. He had wanted to show him how much he - how much he liked him, so he had kissed him. Simple as that.

"Hell, Doyle," he said irritably, "I don't know. I just don't know. I wanted to be - close to you. That's all." He looked away, angry with himself for getting embarrassed. But Doyle wasn't jeering at him; not this time.

"Yeah," he said thoughtfully, "I was feelin' the same way." He eyed Bodie again; and this time Bodie thought he saw a light of speculation leap into the wide green eyes.

"No way," he growled, and would have backed away had the corridor not been so narrow. "I dunno what you've got in mind, but no way." And then grudgingly, "Look mate, sometimes it doesn't do to think too much about these things, you know?"

Doyle shook his head. "You're wrong. I think we ought to think about it. It might happen again."

Bodie stared at him. "Probably will," continued Doyle. "There's been times I've thought you were going to do it before."

Bodie was absolutely dumbfounded. "Wha -?"

"Yeah. Just sometimes.. you get in really close and look at me in a sort of deep way.. and I've thought.. Christ, he's going to kiss me."

Bodie turned on his heel, too angry to speak. Doyle caught his arm, faced him, put both hands on the bigger man's hips. He stared into Bodie's face. A little smile curled on his lips, revealing uneven teeth; his eyes looked big and appealing. "Hey, c'mon. Don't run away from me. You started it. Would it be so bad - ?"

"I don't want to find out," stated Bodie, but for some reason he didn't want to move away, either.

Doyle watched him, catching every flicker of expression; saw Bodie's wavering uncertainty. Then he grinned, and released him.

"Okay. Play it your way. In any case, I don't fancy doin' it standing up in this poky corridor with my back to the wall of Cowley's office."

Bodie had recovered himself by now. "Can be done though," he challenged, hoping to get a rise out of Doyle - a small return for the embarrassment he'd just been put through.

Doyle only grinned again. "I'll bet it can. You can show me sometime." Bodie caught a wicked flash of sensual provocation; and then Doyle motioned him out into the main corridor with exaggerated courtesy.

Stunned past the point of rational thought, it took Bodie some moments to realize that he was strongly sexually aroused.

Bodie's phone rang at 5:35 am. Groaning, he put out a hand and dragged the receiver into bed with him.

"Mornin'," came a cheery voice.

"Fuck off, Doyle."

"Pick you up in twenty minutes. Track suit and trainers."

"Not a bloody run!" moaned Bodie in disbelief.

"You got it."

The line went dead. Muttering evil things, Bodie dragged himself out of bed.

It was a beautiful morning. Sunny, with a hint of the warmth to come, the air was clear and bright. Bodie was lounging lazily on the wall when Doyle's car rolled into view dead on time, for all the world as if he'd been there an hour.

"What kept you?" he drawled.

Doyle turned his eyes up expressively and leaned over to open the passenger door. Bodie got in and they drove through the awakening streets for some moments in silence. Doyle turned the car onto the familiar road.

"Where we going?" asked Bodie pointlessly, since he knew.


His partner was wearing his loose grey tracksuit over a sage T-shirt; he looked fresh, unsmiling, and aloof. As Bodie watched him, hardly able to believe that he had actually dared to kiss such a remote being, Doyle pulled the car into the cemetery and jerked on the handbrake. He glanced over at Bodie, hands still on the steering wheel, and grinned.

Suddenly he didn't look untouchable any more. He looked like Ray Doyle, Bodie's rag-and-taggle urchin mate. Bodie reached out and thumped him on the knee. "How many?"

"At least five."


They ran, quite fast, five circuits of the spiked graveyard scenario; and then, without speaking, Doyle turned off the track into a field. Bodie followed, an appreciative eye on the lithe athletic grace of Doyle running. At the edge of the field, Doyle vaulted the barbed wire; and they were in a wood.

Doyle must have gone into a sprint; Bodie had lost him. But as he rounded a clump of fir trees he saw him, at the foot of a spreading Wellingtonia, leaning back against its immensely thick trunk. He looked up at Bodie's approach; he was frowning slightly against the glare of the sun.

After a moment, Bodie sat down beside him, wordless.

"Good run," said Doyle; he seemed hardly out of breath.


Doyle reached out a lazy hand, traced a finger down the back of Bodie's neck. The ex-mercenary tensed up, snapped his head round to meet smiling green eyes. "You weren't skivin' off the way you usually do," said Doyle softly, neither of them taking much notice of the spoken conversation, concentrating rather on unspoken signals, assessing each other, sensing acceptance. Then Doyle took his hand away, moved it to the cord tie of his tracksuit top, pulled it loose and dragged it over his head.

Bodie watched the struggling mass of grey fabric in silence. Then his partner reappeared, touselheaded, bare-armed, one narrow wrist adorned with a thin circlet of silver.

"Hot," he explained; and gave Bodie an unfathomable look from beneath his lashes. Then he stuffed the rolled-up top behind his head in a hollow between two gnarled roots and lay down, shutting his eyes.

Bodie watched him silently. His mate's moss-green T shirt was clinging to him; a sweat-dark line running centrally down to his midriff; the small points of his nipples, erect from the chill of cooling sweat were clearly visible. His face was a little flushed from the exertion, damp curls clustering over his forehead; his mouth was set in a full pout. He looked like some sensual dryad of the forest, sleeping in purity as he dreamed of wanton things; a fiery innocent waiting to be awakened.

Bodie's heart was thundering in his chest, and it was no longer the exertion of the run. He leant over him, and Doyle tensed a little, the whole lean strength of him reacting to the other man's movement; but he didn't open his eyes, the lashes lying on his cheek stirring only with the breeze.

Bodie experienced a shockingly sudden surge of pure lust. He wanted to seize him by the bare flesh of his upper arms and take him, make him his own, merge his heat in the cool sensuality that was Ray Doyle; urge forth the response of his own innate sexuality, know all of him and own him completely.

Instead, he reached out one hand, shakily touched the cool metal of Doyle's silver bangle; it was a poor alternative to warm flesh, but infinitely less dangerous. Doyle's eyes flicked open; he looked straight at him.

"Why - do you wear this?" Bodie asked. It was difficult to speak over the racing thoughts, the thunder of his own pulse.

Doyle didn't answer; he looked elusive, faintly mysterious, a subtle stranger. Bodie hesitated, unsure; and then Doyle grinned at him and it was once more the man he had been drawn to at the party, the man he was closest to in the world. Very carefully, he put one hand on Doyle's shoulder, caressing the curve of bone under bare skin; and leant over to touch his mouth to Doyle's soft, slightly parted lips, wide awake, totally sober, and in full light of day. Doyle shut his eyes.

The only sound was birdsong and the wind in the trees. They were, if not exactly exposed, hardly invisible to anyone who might be out walking the dog. Bodie said, against the corner of his mouth: "You think anyone will come?" in a voice that was low and urgent.

"Yeah..." Doyle said, soft and reflective; and Bodie took a moment to comprehend. When he understood, his breath caught in his throat, and he felt the other man's body press upwards into his, hands coming up to grip Bodie's shoulders. It had begun; there would be no turning back. Innocent as children, knowing as satyrs, they kissed for a long while, slow and gentle, making up for lost time as soft lip nuzzled soft lip, tasted gentle liquid fire. Don't know what I'm doing, thought Bodie dazedly, what to do next... Doyle's tongue rubbed against his, pushed inside his mouth; he held Doyle very carefully, one hand on the curve of his chest, the other behind his head to support him. It felt - good. Peaceful, natural and right; he felt as if he had done it a thousand times before. The warm sun was beginning to filter through onto Bodie's back; and he suddenly knew what he was doing, after all. Loving him. He was loving him. Flooded with sudden tenderness, his hand slid down Doyle's bare arm and took his hand. His befuddled senses two nights ago had given his love away, before he himself had recognised it.

Eventually, Doyle pulled away from Bodie's mouth with an inarticulate murmur; Bodie watched him. His partner's skin was flushed, his lips swollen and set in a sensual droop; without opening his eyes he took Bodie's head in gentle hands and eased him down, pulling up his own T shirt impatiently, wriggling his trousers free, desperate to have Bodie touch him.

For a moment, the sight of his very masculine nakedness startled Bodie; the soft dark hair curling on the sternum, the demanding curve of flesh over his flat belly; but Doyle's hands in his hair urged him on as he whispered, "Please. Bodie, please..." and Bodie lost his hesitation, all trace of reluctance gone. He found he knew exactly what to do, and it was easy. Doyle was touchingly vocal about the pleasure the warm wet haven of Bodie's mouth was giving him; he arched and sobbed and felt himself touch the sun as Bodie's searching tongue made him come, too much sweetness to bear...

"Love you," he murmured through the receding sunflower bursts of pleasure, "love you, love you, love you." And heard Bodie answer, pressing suddenly close against his calf; he felt the leap and pulse of the other man's body and knew the union was complete.

He felt himself slip from Bodie's parted mouth, and Bodie, sighing, moved his head up to rest on his chest. He held Bodie close, not speaking.

"Don't go to sleep on me."

He must have been drifting off. He opened his eyes and looked into smiling blue, deeper than the sky. He hugged him again, and planted an emphatic kiss on Bodie's hair. "Didn't mean to do that," he muttered, abashed. "At least - at least, I didn't mean for you to have to - "

"S'all right. Was - nice - "

They were perfectly attuned right now, understanding every half-spoken truth. "I'll do it for you," Doyle murmured fiercely into salty hair. "I'll do anything you want."

"Yeah." They lay for a little longer, quiet. Bodie felt tired, and a little melancholy, a little awkward now it was all over. He said, suddenly breaking the silence, "We gotta be at work in an hour."

"Yeah, I know." But Doyle didn't want to move, and when Bodie made as if to, he held him back needing something more. "Bodie -?" He searched the hard, unreadable face of his partner; and did not see what he was looking for. So he let him go - stupid bastard. Not worth tears, mate, he told himself roughly - and turned his attention to rearranging his clothing.

Bodie was stickily uncomfortable inside his. He stared at Doyle's back; the T-shirt was covered with dust and bits of twig. Suddenly remorseful Bodie dusted him off; then he slid his hands up to hold Doyle's shoulder and kissed the nape of his neck. "Sorry."

"S'all right." But Doyle still wouldn't turn. Bodie slipped his arms around him, pulled him back against his chest and murmured into tumbled sun-warmed curls: "I love you."

Doyle relaxed, a little bit. He twisted to look into Bodie's face. "Do you?"


"And - ?"

Bodie was mock-affronted. "And, what more do you want? I don't say that to everyone, you know."

Doyle suddenly began to feel that everything might, after all, be wonderfully right with the strange new world they had created from the old one; he laughed up at him. Then with a quick movement, he freed himself and was on his feet, hands on hips, looking down. For a moment, he looked youthful, pagan; very appealing. Bodie made a grab for him.

"Catch me," said Doyle, poised; and then he was gone.

Bodie caught him before he had gone fifteen yards; dragging him to a halt enfolding him close for a bruising kiss, asserting his possession. And Doyle kissed him back, his whole body pressing close in a wild writhing of abandoned caution, lost independence.

Their union was sealed, as it had begun, with a kiss.

-- THE END --