Perfect Alignment

by Slantedlight

There was silence in the office as they waited, but for the scratching of Cowley's fountain pen across page after page, and the occasional slap of rain against the windows. December, and by mid-afternoon the day was already over, the howl and moan of wind all that distinguished it from the day before. At least yesterday the rain had been steady, predictable; today it was all over the place, gale-tossed and vindictive.

Doyle stared glumly through the streaming glass, seeing and not seeing the room reflected golden-yellow back at him. Was it worth asking to be re-teamed yet? It was supposed to be a six-month trial, of which they'd barely survived four so far. Was it really worth risking their necks – and those of the hapless civilians who crossed their path – just to prove a point?

In front of him – behind him – the door finally opened, and Bodie stepped into the room, pausing only briefly as Cowley looked pointedly at his watch. He slid onto the chair beside Doyle, beamed at them both.

"Sorry sir, was…" Bodie paused, raised his hands to straighten his tie, "… well, delayed."

Suave bastard.

Doyle shot him a look of disgust, frowning when Bodie caught his eye, all but smirking. Marie probably, that new bird in Records - Doyle'd had his own aspirations there. The woman had only started work for CI5 this morning, for god's sake…

"Amy De Longford."

Doyle snapped his attention back to Cowley. "The Minister's daughter?" he asked quickly, before Bodie could speak. "Due to go up to Cambridge last year…"

"Disappointed her old man by swanning off to join Greenpeace instead," Bodie interrupted smoothly.

"CND," Doyle corrected immediately, with a smirk of his own.

"I think you'll find…"

"Thank you, gentlemen." Cowley managed to glare at both of them. "Miss De Longford was an active member of both those organisations, before moving on to the Animal Equality Organisation, and then the Peoples' Party for Palestine."

"Quite the social butterfly," Bodie murmured, quietly enough that Cowley could ignore him, and Doyle raised an unwilling half-smile.

"She has, however, recently turned up in one of our own investigations, albeit in a minor capacity. We were alerted to her presence by Benny, who…"

"But Benny's in Drugs…" Doyle said before he could help himself, confused at the apparent change of subject. Bloody Bodie, distracting him.

"Indeed he is. He's been undercover on the Kingston case for the past three months. Miss De Longford turned up amongst a new group of customers two weeks ago. At first we thought nothing of it…"

"Poor little rich girl!" Doyle muttered, with little patience for the moneyed echelons, winced inside again as Cowley looked up at him. Why couldn't he keep his mouth shut?

"Aye, there's enough of them about. But then he realised that she and her colleagues were involved not just as customers, but on the more commercial side of the venture."

Beside him, Bodie shifted restlessly in his seat, and Doyle didn't blame him. This was still not their territory, not what they were trained for, politician's daughter or no.

"Benny brought in Matthews, who was able to confirm today that Miss De Longford has recently become an active member of the Irish Liberation League."

This time Bodie and Doyle looked up at the same time, glanced briefly at each other, and spoke together.

"Mullan's gang...?"

"Don't they have something on the go…"

They trailed off under Cowley's steadfast gaze.

"Yes, on both counts. Derek Mullan, and they are, indeed, rumoured to have 'something on the go' – his people are buzzing about like flies. Unfortunately we've been unable to find out what that something is, and we’re running out of time before Christmas. Which is where you two come in."

Doyle felt his heart pound a little harder, a little faster. At last, after all these months, something decent to cut their teeth on. "Sir?"

"De Longford's modus operandi is to go straight for the leader of these groups, to use her… various charms and wiles to ingratiate herself as quickly as possible to a position of trust. So far she's had little success, which may be why she has continued to move through the radicals rather than sticking with any one cause. She does, however, rise a little higher with each new organisation she tries. She's young, idealistic, and very attractive…"

"And Mullan will eat her for breakfast."

Cowley nodded tersely, and eyed them both for a moment. "Aye. But you'll be going undercover to stop that happening." He rose stiffly. "Wait here a moment, gentlemen."

"Now what?" Doyle wondered out loud, but Bodie was ahead of him again.

"Undercover with Amy De Longford? You know what that means, don't you?"

"No, professor, what does it mean?" Doyle tried to imbue the question with as much sarcasm as possible, but it didn't seem to faze Bodie.

"Society!" he said, rubbing his hands together, "High society! The best clubs, the best restaurants, the best expenses…"

"Well, gentlemen?" Cowley asked from the door, hat and coat firmly in place, "Are you coming?"

~*o0o*~

"It's a caravan."

"Yes Doyle," Cowley looked less than impressed, "it's a caravan. And it will be your home for the foreseeable future, so you'd better familiarise yourselves with it as soon as possible. Make sure you have everything you need to convince De Longford that you've been unemployed and wandering the continent for several years, and then report to Betty. She'll give you the final details - contacts, codes and so on."

The only thing that stopped Doyle telling Cowley exactly what he could do with his caravan was the look on Bodie's face.

"What do you think?" he asked, as soon as their boss was out of earshot, "Shall we park up outside the Savoy, or Claridges?"

"Look this might be the sort of holiday you're used to, mate…"

"Could be worse – at least we'll 'ave a roof over our heads."

"A very small roof. I'm not used to sharing, you know," Bodie shot him a dark look as he pulled open the door of their new home. Oh yes, Doyle knew. " Oh bloody hell…"

The smell of old cooking and musty curtains wrapped tight around them as Doyle pushed into the caravan after his partner. "Very small" was, in fact, putting it kindly.

"It's alright for you," Bodie continued, "I 'ad plans for Christmas. And they did not include being crammed into this… oubliette with you!"

"Who were you planning on being crammed in with then?" Doyle asked, gritting his teeth, taking inventory. There was indeed just the one bed, a small double that filled the far end of the caravan. A beaded curtain – with half its beads missing – separated it from the rest of the space: a length of sideboard and cupboards with a two-ring gas cooker and a sink, a tiny closet that might just about be described as a bathroom, and a sort of table affair with orange vinyl benches on three sides.

"Rowena. And crammed in very nicely too. Her parents have got a spread over in Bucks."

"Sure thing, was she?" Doyle asked, as doubtfully as he could, eying the table. He seemed to remember from somewhere… Refusing to listen to Bodie's mournful description of Rowena's assets, he slid his hands along one side, found the catch and…

"Et voila!" he announced, "La pied-à-terre!"

Bodie covered his face with his hands, and Doyle let himself smile.

~*o0o*~

It took them two days, at barely over fifty miles per hour, to track down De Longford. A wrong lead had them halfway up the M1 heading to Stanwich before being told the radio room had misheard the location. Gritting his teeth against Bodie's complaints – the wind that had nowhere to go but through your bones, the eternally flat, eternally dull landscape, the stupidity of squaddies on manoeuvres – Doyle aimed for the next exit, swung them carefully off the roundabout and across the overpass, and raised two fingers as yet another lorry cut them off as he tried to merge back onto the motorway. Stonehenge it was, then.

Even so, he might have managed to stay calm if they hadn't blown a tyre on the caravan as they chugged down a B-road, on what Bodie'd insisted was a decent shortcut that'd get them to the bloody rocks in no time. And then discovered that no one at CI5 had thought to check the spare. By the time Doyle – who'd lost the toss – got back from a three mile walk to the next village to have the thing patched, not only was it dark, cold and chucking down rain again, but Bodie'd made himself comfortable in the bed, so that Doyle had to make do with the table.

He spent the night wide awake listening to Bodie's snores, tossing and turning on the thin vinyl mattress, and clutching his sleeping bag around him in the vain hope of keeping in some of the still-damp warmth from his clothes. Grit-eyed, he changed the tyre in the dark, early next morning, and they spent the next hour arguing over the details of their cover one last time. By the time they were approaching the small gathering near Stonehenge, his simmer had come to a steady boil and he considered he'd be more than justified in turning his dickhead of a partner over to Mullan himself.

The fact that Bodie pulled into a lay-by barely ten minutes from their final destination didn't help.

"Now what?" Doyle asked, tight-lipped with the effort of keeping his voice in control, professional. He would not lose his temper with the bastard, not before their first undercover op together. They just had to survive this, do a good enough job that Cowley didn't boot them both out and then he could ask for a re-teaming.

Without answering Bodie reached into the back seat of the battered Rover and pulled out their stash. Doyle's eyes narrowed as he sifted through the contents for a moment, finally selected one of the joints provided by Supplies, and held it out to him.

"And what the fuck do you want me to do with that?"

Bodie looked at him.

"We're about to go undercover and you expect me to smoke that?" Cowley'd bloody kill them if they blew the op before they'd even got started – because they were high. "Bodie…"

"Look, we're going into a camp of layabout bums, undercover as layabout bums, right?" Bodie snapped at him, "Well you're about as laid-back as nitro, which means we'll last as long as a glass of scotch in front of the Cow!"

"I don't need drugs to relax!"

"Well if I thought you could manage on your own I wouldn't suggest it, would I?"

"How do I know what you'd do?" Wrap up the case while Doyle was dreaming about flying toadstools probably…

"Look, we both need it. Not enough to incapacitate us, just enough to… blend in. Alright?"

Doyle eyed the rolled-up paper dubiously. Not once, no matter what, had he succumbed to anything worse than cigarettes and alcohol, not even undercover when he was in the Drug Squad.

"Doyle, I promise – it's harmless."

That brought another unwilling smile to his lips. "You sure you're playing on the right side?" he asked, watching as Bodie reached into the pocket of his jacket for matches and lit up. There was a vaguely pine-y, leather-y smell as Bodie exhaled, and Doyle caught his eye as he took the joint, their fingers brushing. Oh, what the hell… Bodie was right, he couldn’t go in like this, and short of either a decent work out or some available and energetic bird, this was probably the quickest – the only – way he'd avoid killing the next idiot who pissed him off…

"Will you stop staring at it and smoke the bloody thing!" But there was a half-smile playing around Bodie's mouth too, and so Doyle used his own lighter when he realised the joint'd gone out already, closed his eyes, and took a long drag. He'd be buggered if Bodie had an excuse to accuse him of… well of whatever. Bodie'd find something…

He opened his eyes again, became aware, as he waited for it to take effect, to feel different, of being stared at by Bodie's own blue, blue eyes. He tried to decide what was so odd about them, and then realised that it must be the lashes. Shouldn't really have such long lashes on a bloke…

"There," Bodie was saying, and then in a deep, ponderous voice, "You're one of us now…"

His skin stopped prickling all over, and Doyle found himself giggling. Whatever else his cretinous partner was, at least he had a sense of humour.

"Oh yeah, and who else is in this esteemed club then?" He took the joint back, inhaled again. Bodie'd been right, it was relaxing him, even he could see that… His whole body felt… better.

"Well, Betty's our leader, obviously…" Bodie was explaining, very seriously now, causing Doyle to giggle again. He didn't usually giggle, that was the drug too then… You'd think he'd've seen more people giggling with it, but then he'd skived off on his own, away from temptation, when his old mates had started up, and when he was in the Drug Squad they were usually past giggling when they realised they were busted…

"Not Cowley?"

"Nah. " Bodie shook his head sadly, "She's tried to get him to see the error of his ways, but he absolutely refuses a good smoke at work…"

"Waits 'til he gets home!" they said in unison, collapsing against the seats in fits of laughter.

When he was able to, Doyle wiped at his eyes and sat up a bit straighter, watching Bodie as he took a last drag and pinched out the roach. He really hadn't needed the drugs. If Bodie'd been like this on the drive down then he'd have been in a perfectly good mood this morning, flat tyre or not. Mind you, he did feel more relaxed, which was more in character, so it really wasn't such a bad idea to do this just before they went in… which they really should do.

It was just that he needed something to eat before they did.

Now this he remembered from the lectures, a definite side effect Doyle thought, as he turned around and stretched into the far corner of the back seat for that bag of chocolate he'd seen Bodie pick up at the last petrol station. He rummaged around for a moment, arse upthrust between the seats, and he wasn't really surprised when Bodie smacked him soundly, so that the smart and tingle stretched down his thighs, and… and went straight to his cock, carried on through his whole body, reverberations and echoes…

"Bastard," he said with less malice than he'd intended, dropping one of the Marathons into Bodie's lap. Only, as he twisted around again, reaching out to the dashboard for balance, Bodie's hand stretched out and rubbed apologetically at his bum, briskly really, only lingering just at the end, large and warm and… Doyle sat down hurriedly, feeling the drug send a flush and a heat to his cheeks, and concentrated on tearing open the wrapper.

"Right – we off then?" Bodie asked, turning the key before Doyle could swallow his mouthful of chocolate and think of anything smart to say. Didn't matter though. He settled himself more comfortably in the seat, one foot on the dash, cushioning his head against his arm. What he really needed was a bit of a kip before they were thrown into it all, but he'd have to make do with shutting his eyes for just five minutes before they got there…

The last thing he remembered was Bodie stopping at the farm gate to chat to the bloke who'd obligingly opened it for them. Bodie had wound down his window to speak to him, and a smile crossed the bearded face as warm, specially-scented air drifted out. The bloke looked him over and smiled at him too, before pointing back at the small cluster of caravans at the edge of the field. Doyle heard them talking about Cec – their reason for being there – and had just time to wonder how Bodie suddenly sounded so… so Scouse before sleep finally claimed him.

~*o0o*~

He woke to sugar-coated teeth, to clouds rushing across the sky, and to a cold that make him shiver, despite the two coats that someone – Bodie presumably – had thrown over him. He glanced blearily at this watch. Half ten - he'd been asleep for nearly two hours. His neck and back were stiff, and he winced as he sat up, took in their new home.

Bodie'd parked them slightly away from the other vehicles, but close enough that they were easy to watch from either the car itself or the doorway of their own caravan. There were only three of them, all simple things like theirs, grouped close together by a small hummock in a sort of semi-circle, with a single tepee off to one side. Smoke blew from a fire in front, over which hung a large silver kettle. As Doyle made the effort to stretch, someone emerged from the tepee with a mug, wandered over to the fire and poured himself a cup of tea. Now that was what he could do with…

He clambered awkwardly out of the car, pausing to stretch high and wide, and to pull on not only his own thin denim jacket, but Bodie's big woollen number over it – Christ but he was frozen - and then ambled towards the fire, where the tea-drinker was still standing, eying him frankly.

"Alright, mate?" he managed through chattering teeth, and nodded hopefully towards the mug. "Any chance?"

"Aye, aye," the bloke tipped his head towards a cardboard box full of cups, spoons, and tins of milk. "Help yourself. We don't stand on ceremony round here," he added with a wide grin. "Stretch or starve!"

Wigan, Doyle decided, after a moment's thought – or somewhere up that way, anyway. "Ta," he said, toasting him with the mug. "You've not seen my mate, 'ave you? Tall ugly bloke driving the car 'e abandoned me in?"

"Scouser with the fascist hairdo? Yeah, he went to help Mick and Beak get their van started. They got about ten minutes up the road last night, off to Rollright, and one of the pedals died. Couldn't do a thing with it."

"Rollright?"

"Watch the birds get their tits out," the bloke topped up his tea, waved it in Doyle's direction, and snorted at his blank face. "For fertility," he added, as if that explained everything.

Flying toadstools Doyle thought, nodding sagely. "Cec here yet?" he asked out loud.

"Who's asking?"

"Ray," he managed not to hold out a hand to shake, "Duncan. He said he'd be here by now. We've got summat for 'im…"

"Yeah well, you know Cec, probably got distracted on the way up…"

Doyle was saved from having to answer by a shout from the road, and he turned to see Bodie approaching in the thick of a small group, half a dozen of them, one arm slung around the shoulder of a bloke wearing a purple velvet trouser suit and bearing a distinct resemblance to Catweazle. Trust Bodie to pick out the most flamboyant one of the bunch – and he'd be outshining him any minute now, Doyle just knew it. Flash bastard, he thought, feeling the cold again, not liking the warm, jolly vision that Bodie made by comparison.

"Did they get away then?" his companion was asking, cynical and hopeful in the same breath.

"Yeah… Bodie 'ad the problem in a jiffy," Purple Velvet called back, patting him solidly on the chest before letting him go and reaching for the kettle.

Bodie? They were supposed to be undercover for Christ's sake… they had monikers they were supposed to be using…

Bodie caught his eye, grinning brightly. "'Bout time you woke up, Goldilocks. Some of us 'ave been hard at it!"

Doyle felt his face freeze. Relax, relax, you can do this. Stay in character…"What was it then?" he managed casually, supping his tea, as if it was the last thing he cared about.

"Accelerator cable. Piece o' cake. Except that Beauty here refused to give up her stockings or suspenders, so…"

Doyle looked beyond Bodie, to where a slightly dusty, but strikingly pretty blonde girl was giving him a good thump on the back. God, they were all over him… Then he took another look.

De Longford.

"So he jammed a bit of twig in there, gave 'em a bundle to use for spares, and now they don't even need an accelerator cable!" someone else said, with more excitement than Doyle felt the repair warranted. He hoped desperately that Mick and Beak weren't planning to use the motorway to get wherever it was.

"Any sign of Cec, then?" he asked Bodie instead, who shook his head.

"Told you we didn't need to hurry. The Gold waits for all men!" Bodie proclaimed grandly to Doyle, prompting a chorus of cheers and more back slapping.

Oh Christ! What was he doing, the Cow'd kill them if they had nothing left to return to Supplies at the end of this. Well he could put it in his bloody report.

"Macca's gonna be here today though," De Longford piped up. "He's still coming, isn't he Andy?"

"Last I heard," Doyle's companion said. "Told me t'get the beer in, anyway."

De Longford turned away, smiling, and pulled the other girl towards the middle caravan with her – a tall brunette, who'd had nothing to say for herself so far, and had even hung back from the general Bodie worship. Doyle decided he liked her.

"Just in time for solstice," Purple Velvet said approvingly, and Doyle watched Andy roll his eyes but let it pass. "You don't get many prepared to brave a bit of rain to be here. Summer? Summer's alright, everyone's here for the summer…"

"And a fine summer it was, man," Andy soothed him, as the group broke up suddenly, scurrying for shelter as if the clear skies were about to burst into rain. "Like of which we'll never see…"

"Yeah, but the barbed wire! Nazis put barbed wire everywhere. I'm telling you, it was Colditz…"

Bodie tipped his head at Doyle, and they wandered off to their own caravan, shoulder to shoulder, apparently amiable.

"Why the fuck didn't you wake me?" Doyle demanded, spinning around to face Bodie as soon as they were safely inside with the door shut.

"Keep your voice down," Bodie said calmly, lighting the flame under their own kettle and pulling out coffee and milk. "I tried waking you, you were well out of it. I thought you needed it after last night."

Doyle paused in his anger. Was that an apologetic note he detected? Not like Bodie… "Did you find out anything about De Longford?"

"Yeah. She's a talker." Bodie shot him a rueful grin. "I think you 'ad the best of it, mate. Can't get her to shut up once she's started. 'Macca' this and 'Macca' that…"

"Mullan?"

"McMullan to her apparently. Makes 'im more Irish or something she reckons."

Doyle snorted, took the cup of coffee that Bodie offered. "And?"

"And nothing. If she's planning on being a criminal mastermind when she grows up, she's going to have her work cut out for her. As far as she's concerned…"

"Or letting on…"

Bodie tipped his head to that, "…or letting on - he's a poor downtrodden lad who's sick of all the fascist violence."

"'See the violence inherent in the system'" Doyle muttered automatically.

"'Help, help, I'm being oppressed!'" Bodie responded instantly, and then he looked up sharply and grinned suddenly, all the way to his eyes. They'd seen that movie together.

Doyle found himself grinning back, leaned his shoulders to the wall, hips pushed forwards. "'S alright if he's the one doing the violence and oppressing though, is it?"

Bodie looked him up and down. "I'm not sure she's got a clue about him, you know. Picked up that he's a bit of a hero maybe, but doesn't really know why."

"How can she not know what his lot really are? What they're prepared to do for their cause?"

Bodie shrugged. "She's beautiful and rich, but she's not the brightest candle."

"Well she wouldn't be hanging around 'ere if she was, would she?" Doyle thought for a moment, ran his tongue absently over his lips. When he looked up Bodie was staring at him again. "So what d'you think he wants with her then?"

"Money? Connections? Her nubile young body? That, Raymond, is the question, innit?"

"Stick to the plan then?"

Bodie nodded slowly. "I've let them know we've been around a bit, managed to get hold of enough gear that we're looking to make some money off Cec while the price is right, and that our contact abroad is good for more. I reckon she'll pass it on to Mullan alright."

"See if he's still the same greedy bastard he always was." Doyle yawned loudly, tucked his hands into his jeans' pockets. "What are that lot up to now then?"

"Last I heard Vanessa was going to brew up a vat of tea."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah. From mushrooms. I don't suggest you try it." Bodie eyed the bed consideringly. "They won't be doing anything much for the next few hours. Might as well rest up for tonight."

Doyle, barely a foot closer, beat him to the bed, throwing himself down on it, arms wide open. Bodie stood over him, pouting, disconsolate.

And Doyle was a monkey's uncle. "Only fair," he said, "take it in turns."

"Oh I dunno…"

Doyle tensed, expecting to be grabbed and dragged, kicking, from the mattress. Instead the air was knocked out of him as Bodie fell unceremoniously onto the bed, landed heavily across his outstretched arm. "Bloody 'ell!" He pulled, found it thoroughly trapped. "Will you get off?"

Instead Bodie wiggled comfortably, and turned to face him, smirking. "Off what?" he asked innocently.

"Bo-die…"

"Oh, come on Ray, you're hardly the blushing virgin…"

A hand reached out to his jeans, caressing him through the denim, and Doyle had pushed forward into it before he could help it. He snatched himself back, appalled, managed to tug free and sat up in a rush. Not with Bodie. Not again.

"Fuck off!"

"Ray…"

"No!" He reached back a hand to push himself from the bed, even if it meant curling up on the table again, but Bodie grabbed his wrist, held him again.

"Alright. I'm sorry."

Doyle turned back to look at him.

"I'm sorry, alright?"

No. It wasn't.

"Look, I'll keep my hands to myself."

Doyle didn't move.

"I'll kip on the table if you want. You need the sleep more. Go on, get back into bed…"

Rotten bastard. "No, it's fine. Just… drop it Bodie, alright?"

"I said so, didn't I? Get back in, I'll pretend you're me brother, okay?"

"Thought you weren't used to sharing?"

"Yeah well, there were four of us boys, weren't there."

The real Bodie? A truce maybe. "Christ, I 'ad one brother, that was bad enough."

"Oh, they were alright. Got three sisters an' all."

"Back in Liverpool still?"

"Most of 'em. Shirley's in Australia. Nurse." Bodie yawned, wriggled around so that he could pull the blankets over himself, and Doyle did the same, heeling his trainers off at the same time, then tucking the edges tightly around, making sure it was tucked between them as well. "You're from Derby, aren't you?"

"Something like that," Doyle said evasively, as nonchalantly as he could, letting his eyes close. At least he was finally warm again.

"Oh yeah?" Bodie didn't miss much, but he gave up easily enough this time. "The Chatsworth Doyles, is it?"

"Yeah, that's right," he managed a grin, "now haven't you work to do, my man?"

"I'm doing it," Bodie declared. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight. And remember what you said." Bodie obligingly pulled his arms closer to his body, tucking in tightly upon himself. Doyle felt himself drifting off again, was on the edge of sleep when he realised what was wrong.

He was disappointed.

~*o0o*~

In the end neither of them slept long, waking to thin sunlight shining across a clear sky and through the side window, directly onto their faces. It turned Bodie's skin pale gold, smoothed his face until he was softer, no longer the brash jack-the-lad that Doyle was partnered with. His breath was soft too, quiet and even. He'd been like this that first time. No front, just… Bodie.

Doyle had felt the electricity between them as soon as they met. It was there in every move they made, every glance they shared. And the way they knew, just knew what the other was thinking. It hadn't taken them two weeks to become the perfect team. Suddenly the world was more real, he was more alive – they were more alive. And as usual, just as he always did – see it, want it, have it. So he had.

And they'd been just as good in bed as they were on the job. Every move the right move, every touch the right touch. Bodie'd been … gentle. Surprisingly gentle. Oh they'd tussled and fought and laughed and competed, but then their lips would meet here or their bodies would brush there, and the world slowed down again, pulled out of their way until it was just the two of them and their breath and their skin…

No.

That wasn't the real Bodie. The real Bodie was an arrogant bastard who thought he could just fuck Doyle and then carry on fucking his way through the rest of London.

Doyle frowned himself awake and sat up, pulling the blankets with him so that Bodie groaned in protest and reached out to drag them back.

"Oh no you don't – up an' at 'em, sunshine." If Doyle was awake then Bodie'd better be as well. Awake and focussed. They had a job to do. Grabbing the bottom of the covers, he yanked them free of both Bodie and the bed itself, dropping them on the table as he went past to the door.

He jumped down the step, Bodie cursing loudly after him, so that Doyle was grinning broadly as he surveyed the small camp. Amy and Vanessa were sitting on the step of the middle caravan, Andy and the other two young lads were smoking something in front of the fire, and a purple-clad leg protruded from the tepee. That was everyone; as mellow a scene as Doyle could imagine. Satisfied that they hadn't missed anything, he went behind the caravan to empty his bladder, and then back inside to find something else to fill it.

Bodie was not only still awake but busy setting up the radio, so Doyle emptied a couple of tins of soup into a saucepan, and turned on the gas ring. By the time he'd made tea, buttered bread and found spoons, Bodie had finished and was squeezing past him, hands around Doyle's waist to keep him in place, on his way to take his own turn out back. Doyle wriggled when he was gone, wished himself not hard.

"Not quite what you expect of international terrorists, are they?" Bodie said darkly when he returned, sliding onto the bench beside Doyle and pulling the second bowl towards him. They both stared out the window as they ate, watching the girls laugh together. Purple Velvet emerged from the tepee, stood briefly still on shaky legs, then wandered over to join the others at the fire.

"I think Cowley's barking up the wrong tree with this one. Mullan's using it as a cover while he's got his boys to do the dirty work back in town."

"Could be," Doyle conceded. "I dunno though, I've got a feeling…"

"Not your bloody copper's nose again – you sure you wouldn't be more at home out there, getting in touch with nature and all that crap?"

"Look, anyone can do detective work, what makes you good at it is…"

"Whether you've got half a brain or not," Bodie interrupted, "and anyone with half a brain could tell you this lot don't know a thing about who Mullan really is." He stood up, dropped his dishes into the washing up bowl, and stretched. "I reckon our best bet is De Longford – she'll at least know what his plans are."

"Maybe…"

"Maybe. Tell you what," he ruffled Doyle's hair, "I'll go see what I can convince her and her friend to…do for me, while you report in to the old man."

"Bo-die…" But it was too late, Bodie was down the steps and halfway to the fire before Doyle could stand up.

Fucking hell, first Marie, then that Rowena bird, a try for himself in the middle, and now De Longford and her friend? Didn't he ever slow up? Apart from anything else there'd be no woman left who Bodie hadn't been through… His stomach contracted suddenly at the thought of fucking a woman straight after Bodie had, of being deep inside her, surrounded by Bodie's own come, feeling it ease his way, coating his… Christ, now what was he thinking? That wasn't… He raked fingers through his hair, let out a breath.

Bodie was an irritating arrogant bastard, and that was not what he wanted from him. Right?

He frowned, and picked up the handset to call Cowley – instant cold water – and was patched through almost immediately.

"Well Mullan's not been seen in town," Cowley mused once he'd made his report. "If he's going to be with you tonight he could be coming from anywhere, be bringing anyone with him. It might be he's simply using De Longford for cover. His mob is certainly on the move here."

"No clue what for?"

"Ach Doyle, if I knew I would have said so!" Doyle could hear the frustration in Cowley's voice, could imagine his fist clenched white around the receiver. "And since there's barely four days until Christmas you'd better make some effort, hadn't you?"

"Yes sir…" But Cowley had hung up.

To make matters worse, by the time he'd packed the set away, returned it to its hiding place, and stepped out himself, Doyle was just in time to see Bodie disappear into the caravan opposite with Amy and Vanessa. Purple Velvet seemed to have chased the others away from the fire, so he wandered over and crouched by the small flames, gazed through the smoke to where Stonehenge itself stood stark against the pale blue sky.

"It's smaller than I thought it would be," he said vaguely in Purple Velvet's direction, not sure whether to expect any sensible response. To his surprise though, the man's voice was clear, he sounded lucid.

"Small but perfectly formed. That's where the true power is, you know, right there in the open where people can see it, not in some dark room in Westminster."

Well, almost lucid. "You here for the…" Doyle waved a hand, left his sentence unfinished.

"Midwinter, man. More power here than you can dream. In summer it's diluted, too many people siphoning it away, but now, in the winter… You wait until sunset tonight, then you'll feel the power…"

Sunset tonight? He glanced at his watch – yes, the solstice. Longest night, or furthest sun or whatever it was. But Purple Velvet was still talking.

"Walk with me, man. It's quiet over there now, we've got time."

Doyle allowed himself to be led across the field, towards the stones. "What time's the sun set?"

"Three thirty-two precisely, on the darkest, most powerful night of the year…"

"I thought that was Halloween?" he dredged up from some cobwebbed corner of his mind.

"Samhain," he was corrected gently. "The end of the old year. But Midwinter is when the sun reclaims his rule, brings his light back to the world…"

Oh, a right fruit and nut case this one. "You come here every year then?" he asked, trying to steer the conversation in some useful direction.

"Of course, you've got to…"

"What about that lot back there? They come too?"

"No!" At least he was easily distracted. "Andy knows, but he's not a true believer, and the kids are just playing at it, good excuse for some high old times," he said, with more insight than Doyle would have given him credit for.

"Not even your other mate? Macca? The one who's coming specially for it tonight?"

"Him?" Purple Velvet sniffed, "Not my mate – Andy knows him. I won't get my hopes up, he's never been here before."

They were amongst the stones by now, and Doyle let himself be distracted. They were bigger than they'd looked at a distance, but still not what he'd call impressive. Maybe if you tried to imagine them being rolled, one at a time, halfway across the country, and then pushed into place by men, using sheer muscle power… Vague images from the old movies vied with his own tangle of thoughts, and he saw Bodie in some sort of loincloth, straining against ropes wrapped around his arms and across his back, face a concentration, whole body sweat-covered in the heat…

"Feel it, man? Feel the power?" Purple Velvet had stopped when Doyle had, was gazing at him with a light in his eyes, "You do feel it, don't you? The stones…"

Managing not to laugh out loud – oh yeah, he was feeling something alright – Doyle turned his back, put his hand on one of the stones, felt its rough-smooth surface. On the other side of the circle a couple wandered, pausing now and then to kiss, and over by one of the lone, more distant standing stones someone was taking photographs. But for themselves and half a dozen ravens flapping from one perch to the next, it was almost quiet.

"I tell you man, this is England. When the fascists in London are long gone, this will still be standing, and the people…" Purple Velvet droned on, Doyle half-listening. This bloke didn't know Mullan, it was another dead end. Bodie was right, if they couldn't get anything out of De Longford – or Mullan himself, if he bothered to turn up – then they'd have nothing to show for themselves. And Cowley wouldn't be impressed by that.

Abruptly he turned and started walking back towards the camp, aware of Purple Velvet following behind only when he was brought to a stop by the man's hand on his shoulder.

"Look man – Goldilocks –" oh, he'd kill Bodie for that one, "- is it true you brought the Gold? Your friend said…"

"Wally," Doyle interrupted, smiling. "His name's Wally. And yeah, we've got it."

"Everyone's Wally, man!" Purple Velvet grinned back at him, leaving Doyle even more confused. It was beginning to feel like he wasn't even in control of conversations about Bodie.

But Purple Velvet was looking coy. "And do you…?" He left off, delicately.

"We've been known to share the joy, yeah. Later, eh? Sunset?"

Purple Velvet looked scandalised, "Sunset is for the pure. You shouldn't be siphoning the power, man. It's…"

"Tonight then," Doyle said hurriedly, "later tonight."

He was saved from more promises by the sound of an engine at the gate. An old Cortina pulled into the field, bright red against the green of the grass and the pale wash of sky, and roared over to park near the camp. Andy and the two young lads poked their heads out of the tepee, and after a moment the door of the middle caravan was flung wide, and a giggling Bodie emerged, a girl on either side of him. They hovered for a moment on the doorstep, tucked together and swaying. Doyle looked away, frowning.

When she saw the car Amy detached herself, running across the grass to where the driver was slamming the door, throwing her arms around his neck, and being pushed back for her troubles. She linked her arm through his anyway, walked with him over to the fire. Vanessa slipped away, ducking behind the other caravans, and Bodie ostentatiously straightened his clothes before swaggering, grinning broadly, to Doyle's side.

"So that's Mullan," he whispered, close to Doyle's ear, so that Doyle felt his breath, warm against his chilled skin.

"Large as life and twice as ugly," Doyle agreed, pulling away slightly. "He's not looking too fond of you, mind."

Mullan was, indeed, staring straight and hard at Bodie while Amy spoke to him in a low voice, shaking her head, one hand laid placatingly on Mullan's crossed arms. And then Andy, who had beckoned Purple Velvet over to meet Mullan, was talking too, a teasing smile across his face, and calling out to include them in the group.

"Bodie! Goldilocks! Come and meet Dezza, the last wandering minstrel!"

Shooting Bodie his own hard look, Doyle strolled across, preparing himself to be casual, to be matey with this bomber and wrecker and killer of families.

"Ray," he introduced himself more accurately, smiling broadly and reaching out a hand to shake Mullan's. Mullan stared at it a moment – oh, king of all he surveyed, this one – then took it, crushingly, in his own for a brief greeting. Doyle made himself accept it, look a bit cowed and in awe as he was released. At his shoulder, Bodie just nodded, looking, at least, relatively gormless, Doyle decided.

"You're just in time, man, just in time!" Purple Velvet was saying, "You gonna sing to the stones, man?"

Mullan seemed to consider him, slit-eyed, before twisting a lip in his direction, but his voice was surprisingly soft, melodic. "I've me own ritual to observe at sunset, but this is a night for music, and we should make sure we rouse the heavens with it."

Doyle eyed his watch. It was coming up for three, and the sun hung low in the sky, directly, he noticed, above the stone circle.

Purple Velvet saw him looking, clapped him excitedly on the back. "You'll be with us, won't you, Goldilocks?"

He rolled his eyes. "Yeah. Wouldn't miss it." One of them would keep the kids busy, while the other watched Mullan - not that he was likely to do anything tonight. He suffered Purple Velvet to ruffle his hair as well – bad enough when Bodie did it – before ducking away. The man took it in good part, punching his arm, before wandering off to the tepee. Andy pulled a half bottle of Teachers from the cardboard box by the fire, and set off to the stones, flanked by his two young shadows, and Mullan pulled De Longford into their caravan.

And at last they were all business. Doyle caught Bodie's eye, received a bare nod, and turned towards the stones, knowing that Bodie was settling himself beside the fire, for all the world as if he just wanted a cup of tea and a quiet few moments before watching the sunset.

The sky was coming alive with colour now, pale blue fading to peach and pink, the horizon stained purple with the oncoming night. He looked about for the evening star, couldn't see it. Maybe it wasn't even supposed to be there at this time of year. It was all so far away, Doyle thought, so distant and pointless and unhelpful to the people rushing about on their own solid earth. It didn't matter where the sun rose and set every day, not when there were idiots with bombs down here, trying to kill and maim and cause each other endless pain...

Andy and the lads had pulled themselves up onto one of the flat stones in the centre of the circle, and were swigging from their bottle, and so he slipped unseen into the shadows of the megalith, half listening as their voices floated – laughing and joking – across to him on the chill winter's breeze. There were one or two other visitors, strangers with cameras, but the place was virtually deserted. Most people, he thought, pulling his jacket closer about him, had the sense to be somewhere warmer.

Something was niggling at him though, and he surveyed the area around the stones, counting people, tracking their paths, their movement. A shadow caught his eye, and he tensed automatically, relaxing when he saw who it was – the girl, Vanessa – and then he saw her red nose, red eyes. She scrubbed at her face when she realised he was there, and ducked her head slightly, but she didn't leave.

"Hey, what's wrong?" he asked, unable to resist someone that miserable, and reached out to rub her back gently. Instead of pulling away, which he'd half expected, she let herself be held, and so he tipped her chin upwards, brushed her cheek. "What's wrong?" he asked again.

He thought she wasn't going to answer, but then she said, very softly, "Amy. And… and him."

Mullan? Had they been looking into the wrong girl? Was Vanessa an old flame, a jilted lover?

"It's just… I knew he was coming, and I knew she'd leave me then, but…"

Apparently not.

"It's just that it hurts when she looks so… so happy to have him there." She sniffed loudly, reached into a pocket for a handkerchief and blew her nose soundly. "She's only with him to piss off her father, because he thinks the Irish are… well…troublemakers. I know she likes me more, I know she does, I just…She hates him so much you see…But I don't understand why she can't see…"

Slightly bemused by the flow of words, Doyle pulled her closer for a moment, then held her away, until she looked up, met his eyes. "Maybe," he suggested, hoping desperately that he hadn't got the wrong end of the stick, "you should remind her that there are other things she could do to upset her old man…"

Vanessa blinked once, and her eyes widened, then a slightly tremulous but hopeful smile crossed her face. "That's… Oh yes! I should… Oh I knew you'd understand!" She started away from him, then suddenly turned back, kissed him soundly on the cheek, and darted off again in the direction of camp. Well at least he'd made one person happy…

"Playing cupid, are we?" Bodie appeared beside him from the shadows of the stones. "Why Doyle, I didn't think you had it in you…"

"Shut up, Bodie. Where's Mullan?"

"Headed this way with a bag of flowers and fairy cakes…"

"You're kidding?"

"Some ritual he wants to perform to bring the sun back or something, according to De Longford. Apparently our hard man is a bit soft in the head…"

"Well, as long as it keeps 'im off the streets, I suppose."

"Ah, but who's out on the streets instead?"

"Could be…"

"Come on, man! Goldilocks, you'll miss it!"

Doyle looked up to see Purple Velvet striding across the field at an angle, away from the stones. "Miss what? We're here!"

"You'll miss the sunset! You've got to see it through the stones…"

Doyle looked at Bodie, who shrugged. Purple Velvet seemed to be heading for a solitary standing stone not far from the road, almost closer to their camp than to the circle. By the time they reached him he was kneeling on the ground in front of it, whispering to himself, and they turned and looked back towards the stone circle, black now against the palely lit horizon.

"Has it gone already?" Doyle asked, looking sceptically at the man on the ground.

In reply Bodie pulled him slightly to the right, so that Doyle was standing in front of him, feeling the warmth of him all down his back. Then Bodie's arm reached over his shoulder, his leather jacket brushing his face, and he pointed.

A deep orange sun was sinking between the columns of the stones, too bright to look at, too gaudy and glorious not to.

Afterwards, Doyle never knew whether he'd swayed backwards, or whether Bodie had swayed forwards, but as the sun slipped finally below the horizon they found themselves pressed together, a single body against the oncoming night, and neither of them moved. There was a stillness about them as they stood joined, a quiet, and a rightness. He felt Bodie turn his head, as if to whisper again in his ear, and he leaned in to that too.

"That was amazing, man! There's not been a sunset here like that for… for years! Hey, Goldilocks!"

They jumped apart as guiltily as if something had happened, saw Purple Velvet with his eyes shining, a beatific smile on his lips.

"Did you feel it? The power of it? Pure and…" He seemed to realise that Bodie was there with them too, brought his tumble of words to a halt, and took a deep breath. "So, man, this Gold…"

"Yeah," Bodie was saying, "I think it might be time. Something to eat, something to drink, a little something to…"

"A celebration to see the night through, until the sun rises again!" Purple Velvet agreed, turning towards the camp.

"Hey, hang on…" Doyle paused, hand absently on Bodie's arm. He felt detached, a part of him still with Bodie, not just watching the sun, but feeling… something. And at the same time his mind was racing, fishing for patterns, making connections.

The others were wandering back to the caravans, the few strangers heading off to cars parked along the road, but a lone figure could be seen still at the stones, apparently crouched low as Purple Velvet had done, but... As they watched the figure straightened, black against the sky, and swung something up to rest on his shoulder. A shovel.

I tell you man, this is England.…

… right there in the open where people can see it…

I've me own ritual to observe at sunset…

Mullan set off for the camp, and Amy came running out to meet him again. This time he wrapped an arm around her and kissed her soundly before they disappeared into their caravan. Doyle wondered distantly where Vanessa had got to this time, but his mind was still speeding in a dozen directions, and he reached out to grip Purple Velvet's skinny wrist.

"What's Mullan doing with a shovel? You said flowers…"

"Sure, man," Purple Velvet shook himself free, "He was burying them at the quarters, powerful magic man, powerful…"

"Why did he have to bury them?"

"Not for me to know, everyone's got their own ritual…" Purple Velvet turned again, back to the fire, and the tepee and his long night of celebration.

Bodie was looking at him. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

"It's an icon, isn't it? A symbol of Britain. Think of the publicity after last summer. And it'd go on forever, every June 21 st someone would be remembering what it had been like when the stones were still there…"

"No security, no CI5… no crowds to worry about, no competition from the other groups…" Bodie was with him, knew exactly what Doyle knew.

"We've got to find the explosives, now while he's inside with Amy…" he started, turning back towards the stones.

"No! We don't know how they're detonated! If it's by remote and he saw us over there - all he'd have to do is flick the switch."

Doyle thought. "It's sunrise, it's got to be. So it's got to be a timer."

"Are you willing to take that chance? It could be sunrise on remote."

It could. "We've got all night. Call Cowley, get the Bomb Squad in, pick up Mullan while he's with the girl, while he's not expecting it."

"What if we're wrong? We'll have tipped him off."

"We're not wrong."

Bodie was staring at him again, as if he could see deep inside to the truth of everything. "Right then, let's call Cowley."

To decide was to move, and they raced across the field to their own caravan, ignoring the surprised looks the others gave them. Doyle left Bodie on the step, keeping an eye on Andy and Purple Velvet, and set up the radio impatiently, cursing every lead he had to attach, every second that delayed them. The results, when he did get through to Cowley to explain their reasoning, were much more satisfying, and less than five minutes later he was beside Bodie.

"We're to take him."

"Right."

They walked casually over to the fire, to where Purple Velvet was waxing lyrical about the sunset, to where the others, cans of beer in hand, but eyes slightly wild, didn't seem to care. Flying toadstools, Doyle thought again, drawing both his Browning and his I.D., but holding them low in case Mullan should peer out a window, seeing Bodie do the same. They waited to be noticed.

"Goldilocks, man, what…" There – that moment of realisation in Purple Velvet's eyes. A kind of disappointment.

"This isn't a bust," Bodie said quickly, "but if you don't get yourselves out of here fast, it might be."

"Ah man…"

"Look, your friend Dezza just buried your weight in explosives not too far from here. In about an hour this place will be swarming with coppers. Do you really want to stay?"

Andy rose to his feet, pulled out a set of car keys.

"No!" If he heard the engines Mullan would know something was up. Doyle snatched at the keys. "On foot. You can come back for everything tomorrow, but right now you need to get out of here."

Bodie snicked the safety on his Magnum, and that was enough. In a whisper of footsteps they were gone, fast across the grass towards the road.

"Think they'll keep going?"

"They'd better, if they know what's good for them," Doyle suggested, turning towards Mullan's caravan. The curtains were drawn against the dusk, but edges of light shone around them. "Oh bollocks."

"What?"

"Door opens outwards doesn't it?"

"Ah…" Bodie caught on, "If he's got it locked…"

"Which he will have."

"…which he will have… We should have kept one of the kids to call him out here."

"Too late now."

"Well I can't do it, he hates my guts."

"He's a man of taste. If you could manage to keep your trousers up every now and then you might find life easier, you know."

"Doyle…"

"Oh, shut up Bodie. Let's get this over with, eh?"

In the end it was almost disappointingly simple. Doyle knocked, mentioned the Gold, and Mullan's head was out the door and in the sights of two handguns five seconds later. Bodie dragged him out and against the side of the caravan, leaving Doyle to go and break the news to De Longford.

"Bloody hell!"

"Ray?"

"Get up here, Bodie!"

There was a scuffling at the door as Mullan was pushed inside first, arm twisted behind his back, gun still held close, and then Bodie was there beside him, seeing the same chaos, the same damning evidence that Doyle was.

Amy De Longford was tied up, unconscious, on the bed, and the table was a mess of bomb components and dismantled guns.

"Someone's been a naughty boy, haven’t they?"

Doyle shook his head, "Santa's not going to like him." He climbed over the bed to De Longford, felt her pulse even though he could see her breathing, checked her pupils. Just doped and shagged out probably, never even knew what Mullan had done. He pulled the ropes away, arranged her more comfortably on the bed, then turned to look scathingly at Mullan. "Enjoy picking on kids, do you?"

"She knew what she was doing," Mullan said in his sing-song voice. "No one's that innocent."

"Not after you've finished with them anyway." He busied himself wrapping the rope around Mullan's wrists, pushed him to the floor and stretched it to his feet as well, so that he was tied uncomfortably, half-crouched. Served him right.

Bodie was going through the bits on the table. "Timer, definitely." He turned to Mullan. "Sunrise?"

"Fuck you, you fascist bastard."

Bodie just smiled. "Now, now, where's all that Age of Aquarius bollocks you were spouting earlier, eh?"

"It'll be a new age one of these days alright, when the Irish are free and…"

"Yeah well, thing is not all the Irish see it like that, do they?" Bodie snapped back, sounding strangely harsh after his calm a moment ago. But then Bodie'd been in Belfast not all that long ago, hadn't he. "You can't…"

"Save it, Bodie," Doyle interrupted, "'Es never going to understand that there's more than one side."

"Yeah." Bodie looked at him strangely, turned away. He glared at Mullan for a moment, before pulling a pair of striped tights from the floor by the bench and gagging him tightly. "If you can't say anything nice…"

They left Mullan fuming on the floor, stepped outside. It was almost completely dark now, the untended fire a smoulder of orange, stars sharp in the still-clear sky.

"What about the girl?" Bodie asked, as they breathed in the fresh air, started to come down from the sudden adrenaline-filled rush.

Doyle stuck his head back around the door, ignoring Mullan. She hadn't moved. "She'll be alright for a while," he decided, "Probably sleep for hours. Long enough for us to call Cowley, anyway."

Bodie nodded, staring at the ground, then he looked up, and a smile crossed his face, slow and warm and for both of them. "I reckon we did it, sunshine. We got the villain, we got the bombs and we got the girl. First time out!"

They had. They actually had. Doyle found his own face relaxing, his own smile wide and joyous. Working together, just like it used to be. They'd done it. "Shall we check in with Cowley? Get all that embarrassing praise over and done with?"

Bodie sighed dramatically, clapped him on the back and let his hand rest there, pushing him in the direction of their caravan. "I suppose one has to put up with these things…"

They leaned together over the radio, heads close so that they could both speak if they needed to, straining to hear Cowley over the noise of the helicopter once they'd been patched through.

"We've got Mullan, sir."

"Aye, and about time too!"

"The bombs are on timers, buried near the stones. Probably set for sunrise. Do you want us to..?"

"No! Leave that to the professionals! Where’s the girl?"

"Unconscious. She'll be okay. She doesn't seem to have been involved."

"Well that's something, at any rate. Keep an eye on Mullan, we'll be there shortly." There was a click as transmission was cut off.

They looked at each other.

"Well…" Bodie began.

"Well."

"Yeah, well that was embarrassing. You could practically hear him getting all emotional about it."

"It was the way he said 'Aye'" Doyle agreed, "Could tell he was pleased as punch."

"Rotten bastard."

"Rotten old bastard."

Ah well. They knew they'd done a good job, and eventually even Cowley would admit it. He had to.

"We could always get Mullan to show us exactly where he planted the stuff, before they get here," Bodie suggested.

"It's pretty dark out there," Doyle said doubtfully. He supposed they could use headlights from the cars, but… "Besides, he practically ordered us to leave it alone."

"Yeah, suppose so. Come on then, let's go see what that toe rag will tell us…"

But when they got back to Mullan's caravan, the door was open, Mullan was gone, and so was the girl.

"Oh fuck!"

"We didn't hear a car – how far's he think he'll get without a car?"

Doyle raked fingers through his hair, staring first at the bed where De Longford had slept, then at the table with its dregs of wires and electronics. "He's finishing what he started," he realised abruptly. "Those timers can be re-set, can't they?"

Bodie's head jerked up, caught sight of the components on the table. "Yeah."

And then they were out of the caravan and racing over the ground, guns drawn; too fast, too much like flying to worry about a mis-step or a stumble. The world was black on dark on night, silent but for their own breath, their own footsteps.

They slowed as they neared the circle, and Doyle felt Bodie's hand tap his shoulder. They split up, moving carefully around the stones, peering through each gap. Mullan had to be here somewhere… unless… had he been wrong? Was he even now flagging down some lone car?

Then he saw the long bundle atop one of the flat stones in the centre of the circle – the altar stone, Purple Velvet had called it – De Longford, tied again, and properly out of it this time, or else Mullan was a fool. Served her right – it had to have been her untied him…

There. A tiny light moving about on the far side of the circle – closer to Bodie than to himself. Even as he thought it a gunshot rang out, ricocheted off one of the rocks somewhere. Not Bodie's Magnum. Damn, Mullan must have spotted him. The light had gone, and Doyle strained to see something – anything.

He resisted the urge to cut through the centre of the circle – Mullan was bound to spot him if he did that – and carried on the way he was going, stepping slightly more quickly now that he knew where Mullan had been. Another shot rang out, the same gun. Where the hell was Bodie? He hadn't heard a cry, surely that meant he was alright?

A tall figure appeared in front of him, backing around a stone, and he slipped further into his own shadow, willing the man to take one more step clear to where he could get a decent sight on him. Where was Bodie? But Mullan stepped forward again instead, disappearing, and firing once more at something – someone – unseen.

Holding his breath, Doyle peered cautiously around the other side of the standing stone to where Mullan should be. Sure enough there was the muzzle of a gun tucked against the lighter grey of the stone, fingers just visible holding it. He was barely six feet away, so close Doyle could almost reach out and grab him, but it was all wrong from this angle, all too easy to have him slip away again…

And then he saw Bodie, the other corner of a triangle, knew the moment that Bodie had spotted him. That was it. If he moved that way it would draw Mullan out, draw his attention, and one or the other of them would…

He pushed himself off from the stone, called Mullan's name as he fired and rolled all at once. A bullet streaked through the air above him, there was another shot loud in the cold night, and he came to a stop against the altar stone itself. Paused.

Someone was moaning, and there was whimpering from the stone above him, and then there was a rush of movement and he himself was grabbed, dragged upright with his back to the rock.

"What the fuck do you think you're playing at?" Bodie's face was close to his, his eyes a shout, his hands tight on Doyle's shirtfront. Doyle pulled himself free, tried to shove him off.

"I knew you had me covered…"

"What if I'd missed?" Bodie didn't move further away, didn't let him up, in fact he leaned in towards Doyle, so that his breath was a hard pant on Doyle's face, so that Doyle's very skin seemed to reach out towards him.

Alive.

Get a grip, Doyle. "Bodie…"

"If you ever do anything as stupid as that again…"

"Bodie! Listen!"

Helicopters, low in the sky, approaching fast.

"Is she alright? Oh god, is she alright?" Another voice cut between them, pulled them apart. Vanessa, appeared out of nowhere and bending over the shivering figure on the altar stone.

Doyle got to his feet, started pulling on the ropes binding De Longford's feet, as Bodie untied her hands. De Longford was in shock, but Vanessa was there before either of them, cradling her close, letting her clutch tightly at her arms, and sob.

A brilliant light crossed over them for a moment, and Doyle scrunched his face to it, waiting as the helicopter landed, listening to the shouts of the men racing towards them.

"He tried to kill me!" De Longford wailed suddenly, making him jump despite everything else. "He was g-going to blow me up!"

"Shhh," Vanessa hushed her, "it's all over now, you're safe…"

Light flooded the circle again, their night world become huge shadows and a Scots voice. "Bodie! Doyle!"

"Here sir!" he called, feeling Bodie's silence heavy beside him. Yeah. It was nearly all over.

Mopping up was surprising short and sweet this time, unlike the times they'd been called in to do it for some other team. Mullan was hauled off with a bullet in his leg and another in his gun hand, the bombs found with very little trouble and dismantled there and then. The caravans were gone through, evidence bagged, and De Longford and Vanessa were bundled into a corner of the helicopter, protesting their innocence of everything, and their worries and their fears. Maybe they'd even grow up a bit after this.

Finally Cowley stopped shouting at them for the pig's ear they'd made of things and stood glaring at them in the harsh light of the helicopter's beam. "And I want that vehicle and your reports back in London by five tomorrow, d'ye hear me?"

"Yes sir."

Christ, what a way to end an operation. Doyle felt his shoulders sagging. It wasn't fair, they'd done okay. They'd done it, hadn't they? Saved this bizarre bit of England for all the hippies and tourists of the future? He scowled as Cowley turned away from them, kicked at the grass in lieu of anything other than Bodie to punch. He'd probably get a chance to do that later.

"Oh and lads?" Cowley paused, half-turned back to look at them. "It was well done in the end. There might be a drink in it for you, back at HQ." And then he was off again, and the helicopter was lifting into the air, and they stood, alone, in the middle of the dark circle.

They walked back to the caravan in silence, Doyle's head a whirl of thoughts. It hadn't worked after all. Bodie hadn't known what he was doing. They'd get back and he'd ask to be re-teamed. He couldn't keep doing this, not wanting Bodie so badly, not watching Bodie want everybody else at the same time, and treating him like the village idiot.

So when he'd followed Bodie into the caravan, waited while Bodie flicked on their small battery-operated light, he wasn't surprised to find himself grabbed yet again, swung around so that his back was to the thin cold wall, and Bodie's eyes hard in front of him. Might as well get it over with.

He was surprised when Bodie kissed him. He was surprised when the kiss turned from savage to sweet, and he was even more surprised when Bodie broke it off, but lingered for a moment, gasping, forehead pressed to Doyle's. Then Bodie pulled away, caught his eyes and stared into them. A challenge.

Right, once and for all. Two could play at that game.

He reached up and slid one hand around Bodie's neck, pulling him back again, lips on lips, mouths open, then upped the ante by sliding his other arm around Bodie's waist, forcing them together, body against body.

Bodie was as hard as he was.

Doyle felt hands over him in their turn, pulling at his jacket, at the buttons of his shirt, at the – oh god – at the zip of his jeans. They stumbled towards the bed, gasps turning to moans, a trail of clothes behind them.

Something red caught Doyle's eye.

"Bodie?"

Bodie mumbled something against his throat, fingers twisting suddenly at his nipple, so that Doyle whimpered. No. Mustn't… be distracted from this.

"Bodie?"

"Mmmn?"

"Bodie… gerroff a minute." He managed to wriggle away from that mouth, to get one hand to Bodie's chest, and push him gently back. Not too far.

"Bodie, why are your toenails painted red?"

"Because…" Bodie paused to breathe ticklishly into his ear, "Because the girls wanted to… this afternoon…" He leaned down and bit gently at Doyle's neck, rubbed again at a nipple, pressed them closer together.

"What, in the middle of… oh god, do that again… while you were…"

Now, just when Doyle didn't want him to stop, it was Bodie who pulled away. "No. Not with you here. Not while I still want you."

"You want everyone … and you were…"

"Jealous, Ray?"

"Fuck off, Bodie," he managed between breaths, wanting to mean it. Just… not quite yet…

"No. There's two sides to every story, Doyle. Admit it, we're a team, whether you like it or not."

Doyle found himself whimpering again, his eyes closing, as Bodie slid a hand around his arse, both hands… "Mmmn?"

"I'll take that as a yes then, shall I?"

He opened his eyes again, caught Bodie's gaze and held it, though he gasped as Bodie slid a finger slowly down the cleft in his buttocks, paused briefly before reaching up to caress his balls.

"I'm going to make you come so hard…" Bodie murmured, lowering his eyes, brushing his lips across Doyle's again, reaching out with his tongue to lick them, letting his fingers slide back in the opposite direction, to pull his arse apart just slightly, just enough to make Doyle catch his breath again.

He let it out on a hard, quick sigh, but then he tensed, and opened his eyes, and caught Bodie with them. And issued his own challenge.

"You first."

In the dark of the longest night of the year their bodies slid hard together, breath was gasped, and breath was sighed. There was skin, and sweat, and the heat of Bodie's mouth around him, and the feel of Bodie's cock against his own tongue, between his own lips. There was so much pleasure it was almost painful, but even the twist of teeth on his nipples, of a finger, of two, up his arse, was better than anything he'd ever thought possible.

Just when Doyle thought he could stand it no longer, when he thought he had to come or die, he put his hand on Bodie's chest and pushed him away, and they lay, gasping for breath, side by side. After a moment he turned his head to look at Bodie, to find him looking softly back at him.

He couldn't do it, he couldn't. He didn't care who won. He wanted this man more than anything else in the world, and if he didn't have him right now…

Bodie rolled onto his side, facing him, and with his body screaming frustration Doyle met him halfway. He reached out a hand, intending to wrap it around Bodie, to kiss him to kingdom come, to… Instead, he found his hand grasped and held, his gaze caught and held, the electric stillness between them calming, quieting.

"Together?" Bodie whispered, and Doyle could hear him, barely breathing.

Yes.

"Together." He reached for him then, hands and mouth and cock, but slowly, so that every inch he touched meant something, sent shivers down his spine, or heat through his groin, or sweetness to somewhere he'd never known existed. It built up inside him, the sweetness, until there was nowhere for it to go, nothing for it to do, but to burst out in a blaze of fire and light and glory that seemed more than just coming, more than heaven itself.

They lay finally, quietly, under the covers, in perfect alignment, and outside the sun rose somewhere over the stones.

December 2006


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