At First Light


Doyle yawned, scowled and rolled onto his back to glare up at the ceiling. He knew every crack, every speck, every miniscule, unexciting feature of it, having spent the last few hours studying it. Not that there had been much of the night left to sleep anyway; his new boss, George Cowley, had had him out on a job until the small hours, trying to spring a bunch of diplomats from a seemingly impenetrable castle.

It was the first time he'd killed anybody in cold blood - and he wasn't quite sure what he was feeling, or even what he SHOULD be feeling. Remorse, regret at a life wasted so - pointlessly. Satisfaction at a job well done ... anger; that the situation had happened at all.

He squirmed over onto his belly, punching the pillow until it felt almost comfortable under him. He laid his head down. Of course, there had been exceptional circumstances, which called for drastic measures. Two men with special skills ... He put another dent in the pillow with his fist.

That bastard Bodie, leaving him in the lurch like that so that HE'D had to make the shot ... Doyle buried his face in the sweat- damp cotton ... If Cowley keeps him on, he swore, I'll cancel my application.

Bodie sat hunched over his coffee. It was going to be one of those days - the morning after the night before. He smiled ruefully at the thought - Christ, what a night! That flight - the exhilaration, the excitement of travelling into the unknown...the almost-fear as he'd come in to land on the battlements, unseen in the darkness. The delicious feeling of anticipation as he crept into the castle proper, despatching the enemy systematically with a jungle-fighter's ruthless efficiency...And that sudden strange joy at seeing his partner, this D.C. Doyle, had made it through...

Bodie sipped at the sickly-sweet brew. He had no qualms about killing anyone - he'd done it often enough in his past - was good at it, too - but the previous night haunted him. The memories it revived were less than pleasant: seeing the knowledge in the she- devil's eyes that she was about to die, and overlaying that image of hatred, the face of the girl he had loved and lost so long ago...It shouldn't've hurt anymore - funny, he reflected, the way that some pain never goes away, especially when it came in conjunction with another loved one's suffering...

He swallowed another mouthful of the tepid liquid, lost in the memory. He didn't pity the woman - she was a terrorist, the enemy, and her suffering was of no import. Bodie was recalling the stricken look in the emerald eyes after Doyle loosed the spear... "I've never killed a man before."

Bodie winced inwardly at the words. Fine time to find THAT out, he'd thought at the time, but he knew that he'd been to blame - she had turned, and he had frozen when he should have fired, and it was Doyle who had had to take her down...

Bodie knew he owed the other man an explanation. Afterwards, he had caught up with the young detective who was stalking away into the night.

"Doyle." He had put a hand on the bony shoulder.

Doyle shook him off.

"Wait!" Bodie softened the order. "Please?"

The policeman spun around to face him, eyes sparking emerald fire in the harsh glare from the spotlights that now enveloped the castle.


Bodie flinched and changed his mind about the explanation.

"Are you staying in the village?"

"Yeah, why?"

"I'll walk down with you..."

And that had been the sum total of their conversation.

Bodie drained his cup and looked up, hoping to catch the waitress' eye. Doyle was standing in the doorway, scowling at him. With a sigh, Bodie gestured to the empty seat opposite...


Cowley turned away from the dining room, a rather smug expression on his face. The young man who was loitering in the reception area knew - and distrusted - that look.

Cowley limped across to the desk and handed an envelope to the clerk.

"See that - Mr. Bodie gets this before he leaves."

The woman smiled and assured him it would be delivered.

Cowley turned to his young aide.

"Well, you know the man, Mac. D'you think he'll accept?"

The sergeant considered for a moment.

"He'd be a fool not to - and for all his clowning around, Bodie's anything but." He scratched his ear before adding a warning. "He can be a bit of a handful. You might have to sit on him sometimes, sir, quite hard." He had memories of doing that - literally - not so long before.

Cowley smiled, following his thoughts with no trouble.

"I trust I won't have to employ martial arts to control him - though I'll bear it in mind if he gets difficult!"

Mackay refrained from remarking that Bodie started difficult and progressed to impossible. Let the Major find out for himself about the Wildman of Wallesey. He noticed the mischievous gleam in the older man's eyes and his heart skipped a beat.

"You aren't SERIOUSLY considering keeping him teamed with Doyle, sir?"

"Why not? As I said last night, a lot of good marriages begin with a certain degree of - friction."

Mackay shook his head in disbelief.

"It'll never work..."

In the dining room, the atmosphere was beginning to thaw just a little...

-- THE END --

dedicated to J.P.A. who proved them wrong!
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