An Evening in the Country


Doyle looked over the gate and heaved a deep, contented sigh as he gazed at the fields beyond.

"This," he proclaimed, "is the life! No work, all play -- suits this city boy down to the ground!"

Bodie looked disdainfully down his nose.

"Humph! May be all right for someone on his last legs, but I want a bit more ACTION. Country life," he continued, yawning exaggeratedly, "is dead bloody boring!"

"Boring, mate," Doyle disputed, "is crowd control at demos and rallies, being pelted with bricks and bottles during the race riots, and watching your mates getting injured when they can't fight back."

"Is that what happened to your face?" Bodie asked, without really thinking.

Doyle nodded, "Someone lobbed a brick -- Trafalgar Square, a peace rally, of all things -- that's why I can appreciate the finer things in life, like a quiet evening in the country."

Bodie considered: Doyle, as always, had a point, but he hated to admit it. He stood silently, wondering how best to extricate himself from the argument without conceding it. Doyle was watching him from the corner of one eye.

"You know I'm right," he sighed finally. "Don't you?"

Bodie nodded. "Yeah, you're right about the riots, although -- I still disagree about country life. It's TOO damn quiet." He adopted a plaintive tone. "I'm lonely out here - I miss me mates."

"I'M here, aren't I?" Doyle sounded indignant, and a little hurt.

Bodie turned his best pseudo-miserable look on him.

"True, but you're no fun to be with. You're always so bloody socially aware -- All those years with the Force have made you too serious. I want someone to have fun with..."

"It's better than being a brainless, half-Irish yahoo who can't think past his next meal!" Doyle countered hotly. "Service life's addled what little brain you did have! Bodie!" he called, as his companion turned and moved off. "Where are you going?"

"Decided I don't like the company," Bodie spoke over his shoulder. "Anyway, you can talk, with a name like Doyle! That makes you part Mick, too!"

Doyle was only too aware of the fact: most of his closest friends on the Met. were of Irish descent. None of them, however, had behaved anything like Bodie. Army training, he supposed.

"All right, I apologise. That was a little bit unfair... Come back, Bodie, please? We should be friends if we're going to be together for a while."

"That depends on what Major Cowley has in mind for us. Ours is not to reason why, Doyle. He owns us, body and soul, and don't you forget it!"

"He's ex-Army, too, isn't he?"

Bodie nodded, feeling a little more at ease now.

"Ex-Intelligence, I think. I'm Artillery myself. Met him at the Royal Tournament one year. I liked him -- it seemed to be mutual, so when I finally left -- here I am."

"You ware at the Royal? So was I! I was with the mounted skill-at-arms team for a couple of years. How come we didn't meet then?" Doyle sounded as if he were accusing Bodie of deliberately avoiding him.

"I WAS working," Bodie told him. "Hardest work of all, those two weeks. After your initial training, that is. Mind you," he reminisced, "the food was good!"

"Makes up for the hair-cut, does it?" teased Doyle.

"We can't all go round looking like hippies, Goldilocks!" retorted Bodie cheerfully. "Army life's a good life. Lots of mates, lots of excitement --" Some heartaches, too, but he wouldn't tell Doyle that...

"The Met's a bit like that. Good friends, being part of a team... the things we used to do...loved playing tricks on the new recruits..."

Bodie pricked up his ears.

"Really?" There was some hope for Doyle after all. "So did I!"

"I can imagine...We'd do it to wind them up. Old Murph and me, and a couple of the others -- "

"Murph? A tall, dark -- "

"You've seen him? Oh, at the Tournament..."

"Er, yeah... We had a slight disagreement with one another." Bodie indicated the shoulder which still bore the scar from that particular encounter,

"MURPH did that?"

"In passing. Mind you, he was limping after I got my own back!" Bodie snorted with amusement. "Oh, God, I hope the Major doesn't bring him here, too."

"Murphy's all right," Doyle defended his former colleague, although he felt a little protective towards Bodie. "You probably deserved it." He looked thoughtfully at the old injury. "Bad, was it?"

"Nearly cost me my life," Bodie informed him succinctly. "Cost me my career. Lost my place in the display team, and was pensioned off just afterwards. And me still in me prime!" he wailed.

Doyle touched the scar ever so gently.

"Never mind, at least you're still alive. You'll get used to the country life. And you've always got me..."

Bodie rubbed his cheek against Doyle's lightly.

"I know," he murmured. "I know..."

"BODIE! DOYLE!" The Major's voice carried over the meadow to where they stood together.

"Come on, Bodie!" Doyle swung round sharply. "I'll race you down to the Old Man." He leapt off into a run, and Bodie sprang after him, catching him and overtaking him easily. He slid to a halt on the damp grass by the fence, barely winded.

The Major was waiting for them, as was his custom every evening. Tonight, though, he was not alone. Doyle skidded to a stop beside his companion.

"Who's that," he wanted to know. Bodie squealed with delight.

"My old Captain!" He came smartly to attention. Doyle shouldered him aside unashamedly, demanding to be introduced to the Major's guest.

Cowley and the Captain laughed.

"I can see they're getting on very well, Major. I did have my doubts about old Bodie settling down, but --" he shook his head, beaming with delight, "he's looking tremendous. Bloody shame about that shoulder."

Cowley glanced at it, running a hand over the imperfection.

"It doesn't bother him, Captain Rossiter." He touched his other hand to Doyle's marred face. "It would have been a pity to lose either of them over something like this...."

"Lose?" Doyle looked at his companion. "Bodie?"

Bodie stepped forward, and Cowley patted the glossy bay neck, brushing his hand over the hogged mane, before turning his attention to Doyle, rubbing the satiny chestnut nose.

"Sure," replied Bodie. "They still shoot horses, don't they?"

-- THE END --

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