Subject Closed


"Who do you think you are?"

The woman screamed it at Doyle. Doyle didn't answer and gave his captive a small shove towards the waiting car.

"I said who do you think you are, you... you thug? What's your name? Somebody should report you, manhandling people like that."

Doyle continued to ignore her and let the uniforms take the man away. Then he turned his back on the bystander who hadn't the faintest idea what was going on. Somebody else could sort her out. His patience with Joe - or Jane - Public had run out for one day.

She was still yelling at him when he got to the car.

"Who do you think you are?"

Bodie was there, doing a fairly good imitation of the high-pitched voice.

"Leave it, Bodie," he said. "Let's get out of here."

"Right you are. Good day, eh?"

Doyle answered Bodie with a brief jerk of his head that could have meant yes or no because he wasn't sure what he thought about it. It had been good that the arsehole they'd picked up hadn't actually fired the gun he was waving around like a lollipop before Doyle had floored him. And at least Britain was free of another two individuals who thought that blowing a few people up was a good way of making a point. And, of course, mustn't ever forget the sacred quest of making the place smell of roses.

"Home, James?" Bodie asked. "Cowley says the report'll do tomorrow."

Doyle nodded vaguely, deciding that this piece of information was also on the 'positive' side of the equation so yes, it had been a good day. Except for the screaming woman and the uniforms nearly blowing it by going in too early.

"Oi. Am I talkin' to meself?"

"Yeah. No, I mean. Drop me off, then." Doyle appeased.

"Thought so. You're off thinking deep philosophical thoughts again," Bodie said conversationally. "But it was a good day. Can't deny it."


"See? I was right. You know what your trouble is, don't you?"

"I think too much," Doyle said calmly. Agreeing with Bodie sometimes shut him up. And sometimes it didn't.

This time, though, it did. Doyle leaned back in the seat and watched people while Bodie waited for the traffic lights to change with his usual impatience.

What a 'good' day was had different connotations for different people, he supposed. For the shabbily dressed youth propping up the lamp post over there, for instance, a good day probably meant a trip to the dole office and not waiting all day for his turn at the window, and a couple of drinks at the pub.

What about the bird, though? The amateur terrorist's girlfriend? You'd have thought a good day for her would have been the hairdresser, clothes shopping, drinkies in a classy wine bar... not packing nails into makeshift bombs.

No. He had to stop this. Why couldn't he stop chewing stuff over and over? Just do his job, where a 'good day' just meant nobody got shot or knifed or bored to death on obbo, Cowley signed expense chitties and Bodie didn't get up his nose too much. It could be as easy as that, couldn't it?

But it wasn't. That was just the problem. He'd been thinking all day, on and off, mainly because he'd spent most of it stuck in a car without Bodie for once, so at least it'd been quiet. Thinking about classy women and career choices and stupid films and anything else that came to mind. And Bodie, of course. He'd thought about Bodie a lot, if he was honest: actually missing the running commentaries on whatever came to mind. At least that passed the time when the job meant sitting and waiting, and there was plenty of that involved if you'd signed your life away to a certain George Cowley.

Bodie was always telling him he thought too much. Maybe he was right - he'd often thought that himself, but you couldn't exactly switch it off, could you?

"Who do you think you are?" Bodie did the imitation again, almost to himself this time. "Silly cow."

Doyle grunted, wishing his partner would change tack or shut up.

Did Bodie ever indulge in deep philosophical thoughts? He'd often wondered. Just because he could rabbit on about anything at any time didn't mean he didn't think, right? Maybe he was doing just that right now - or maybe he wasn't thinking about anything more serious than the latest of his conquests. It was hard to know with Bodie, sometimes. Often, even.

The kid finally unwrapped himself from where he was leaning and trudged off, shoulders down. Poor bugger. He looked like Doyle had often felt when he went home, knowing it would be the same as it always was.

"Who do you think you are, you stupid little bastard? Get upstairs. Have you seen the time?

"Yeah. Sorry."

"You carrying a knife again?"

"No, dad. But..."

"No buts. Get yourself chucked in borstal, you will, if you get involved in any more fights. And don't give me that crap about self-defence. "

"But Dad..."

"Get it into your head. Keep out of trouble and you might just come to something. God knows what, mind. Now bugger off."

Doyle shook his head, the images vivid. His dad never called him anything but 'you little something' after the knife incident, although he'd used it often enough before.

The knife incident... that's what his dad called it. Doyle had dared challenge one of the glue-sniffers for giving it to little girls to get them hooked on it, and then rake in their dinner money when they were. It was wrong. Why couldn't they see that? He'd sniffed enough to know what it did to you and given it up. Couldn't afford what the gang asked for it anyway.

As for the knife, all the other kids all had them so he'd got one himself. Played with it, but never really imagined using it. It was just to show off, to be one of the crowd. Getting nicked and a warning from the local plods when he'd sent another kid to hospital for stitches in his arm had given him a bit of street cred in a funny sort of way as well. And even though he didn't carry it any more, the others didn't know that. They assumed he did, which was good enough to keep them off his back.

The kid's dad - a trade union big shot - had covered up for the glue racket but at least had smoothed the knifing over as well. Doyle's own dad, he remembered, didn't want to hear about rights and wrongs and glue and addiction - he just didn't want to lose his job.

Even on his bloody death bed, when Doyle had gone up there to see him, he hadn't changed much. The greeting as he'd arrived at the hospital had been 'Oh, it's you is it'.

The 'who do you think you are' had cropped up later, of course, because he'd dared to suggest his dad went a bit easier on his sister, flushed and nervous because the bus had been late and the kids were playing up.

She'd shrugged it off. "Come on dad, aren't you glad to see our Ray?"

His father hadn't answered.

He'd tried to talk, to tell his dad he was doing well, got into a new squad, but all that had got him was a disinterested shrug. His dad had never forgiven him for flatly refusing to go into a factory and going off to London instead. He should have settled down like his sister, apparently - with the greatest ambition in life being a fortnight's package tour to Majorca and the odd night out at a Bernie inn.

Well, he'd wanted something different - to be something different - and he'd got that all right. Whether it was what he wanted was a different matter, he supposed. He was working on it though, he'd told himself at the time. He was learning things, and not just how to run around waving a gun instead of a knife or later a truncheon, which was probably the way his father saw his choice of career. Those were early days in CI5, though. Before he'd lost a few illusions and found a new partner.

When it was all over, his sister had called him 'our Ray' a few more times, and scuttled back to her kids as soon as the quack had signed the death certificate.

Our Ray. She'd always called him that, just as his mother had disapproved of that. 'If I'd wanted to call him Ray, then fair enough. But I called him Raymond. That's his name'.

She'd used it, too, but she couldn't resist the 'who do you think you are' either.

"Raymond, who do you think you are? Art classes? How on earth are we going to pay for those?"

"But mum, when somebody says you've got real talent... Besides, I'll pay for them meself. Somehow."

"Well I hope this isn't a big mistake. And your father..."

"He doesn't need to know, mum."

"I'm not lying for you, Raymond. I won't do that and you know it. So just make sure that he never finds out about it."

Bless her, Doyle grinned to himself as Bodie started to irritate a few commuters who dared to think they could get one over him. She wasn't stupid. Still wasn't even now, and she still didn't want the details of things she didn't want to know about. "It's your life, Raymond. Whatever you make of it. You don't have to justify it to me."

What had he made of it, though? Well, those art lessons had a lot to answer for, for a start. He'd learned a bit about art history - mainly about the great masters, which he'd not particularly enjoyed but it was useful to show off about later. What he liked a whole lot better was learning about colours, about light and shade; about the caress of a brush or a stick of charcoal on paper. The curves of a human body.

And then he'd learned that his own body was a very useful commodity as a subject for life classes - which helped pay for his own lessons. Soon, he also discovered the middle-aged woman who enjoyed painting still life, but was in fact far more interested in the model for the class next door. She'd ogled him a couple of times as he pulled his jeans on at the end of the class, and finally ambushed him at the door. At least she'd paid him generously and taught him various... highly useful things, he remembered fondly.

"Still thinking?" Bodie asked suddenly. Doyle took pity on his partner because the traffic wasn't moving and Bodie was fidgeting. Talking to him to relieve the boredom would probably be a better bet than letting him reach for the light and the siren, or at least if he wanted to avoid Cowley's wrath over misappropriation of equipment and upsetting the population.

"Nah. Fancy eating out?"

"Maybe," Bodie said casually. "Steak?"

"Was thinking that Japanese place."

"Japanese?" Bodie's face registered horror. "Raw fish and chopsticks? And going home hungry?"

Bodie could be so predictable. And he, Doyle, could be such a bastard, he admitted to himself. He'd suggested that just for the reaction.

"Sorry. Forgot your lack of sophisticated tastes for a minute there. And you don't want to do the Mexican again?"

"Bloody Mexican," Bodie grumbled. "Idiot in a sombrero singin' stuff with a cockney accent. Spaghetti Bolognese tarted up as chilli con carne..."


"Too much..."

"... rice, not enough meat," Doyle answered for him.

"Right. I mean, takeaway's OK for emergencies, but..."

"Steak," Doyle nodded. "You're on."

Finally, the traffic eased and Bodie rambled happily away about bizarre tastes, liver paste, poncy waiters. He looked a happy man, and didn't even bring in the usual jibes about Doyle and his delusions of worldly savoir-faire.

"You paying?" Bodie asked at one point.

"No. Your turn. No argument."

"I love it when you're masterful, darling." Bodie adopted his camp voice. Doyle ignored him.

Darling. Yes. Ann had really liked to call him that, although it always sounded... false. No, affected. She didn't call him Ray very often, even when he was between her legs. Well, he hadn't complained. He'd always fancied classy birds, and if that meant being called darling, then fine.

In fact, he'd almost liked it. Ann was... respectable. Classy job, classy accent, classy clothes. Even sex had been... different from his usual partners. She never really thawed during that, but she never refused it and praised his staying power (darling) and his imagination, despite looking surprised at times (oh darling). Except, of course, when she drew the line and issued a sharp rebuke (oh really darling, that's hardly... who do you think you are? Some sort of caveman?)

Caveman Doyle, he grimaced to himself. He'd suggested 'masterful' and been treated to a lecture on etiquette and respect. She'd been good at those. In fact she'd had a definite air of superiority whether she was talking about literature or sex. Quite.. mistressful herself (Ann didn't like gender discrimination).

In fact, she'd probably have done quite a good job with a whip and wearing leather - or at least if that had been considered posh. As it was, she'd just gone for very expensive underwear: "You like it, darling?" To be honest, he couldn't have cared less but he'd said he did because he'd liked the idea of birds who went for silk and lace and pontificated about deep meanings in modern literature.

He was thinking too much again, Doyle chided himself. He'd been stupid, really stupid with Ann. Betrayed a bit too much of himself, and not just when it came to his feelings about the job. These days, he'd thought more than once that the big parting scene, as he'd come to remember it, was probably just a good excuse and not all about her dad. Sure, she didn't want a nosey thug who put her father away for a boyfriend but she probably didn't want an ex-copper from Derby either.

He'd tried harder with Anita, or at least on that score. Didn't even mention his past. He'd even bought some expensive underpants with some sort of designer name, which were bloody uncomfortable but sacrifices were essential. He'd talked about books he'd never read but at least he'd skimmed the covers. He'd taken her to a posh restaurant... and called her darling when he'd got her to bed. Then it had fallen apart when he'd let his exasperation show the day she'd done one Latin tantrum too many and he'd told her she was a spoiled brat - and then regretted it, true as it was.

"Who do you think you are, you... you peasant."

"Look, love..."

"I am not your
love. I am not your anything. I offered you my body but that is all."

Right. He wasn't exactly in the polo-playing, hunting. shooting and fishing league, was he? But dammit, he'd had a stab at that with... with... whatever her name was who had the horses. He'd never told her he learned to ride because he'd mucked out stables for a few quid and been paid handsomely for that and... a few other services as well.

Doyle grinned to himself, remembering the straw prickling his bum and the rank smell of sweaty horses, making a very ugly racehorse owner with a very great deal of money happy while he waited for an answer from the Met's recruitment office. The riding lessons had come free, too - at least those on horseback. That money had gone on paying the deposit on his first scruffy flat in London. At usual, his mother hadn't asked where it had come from. Had she ever guessed? Maybe.

But the stately home and all the trappings that went with... whatever she was called were soon history as well, after the bloodbath that weekend. Blood and terrorists and boyfriends who dug bullets out of people really didn't fit into it all. Judy - yes. That was the one.

Had she said 'who do you think you are'? Doyle searched his memory and thought it was highly probable. Maybe when he'd told her she didn't know much about the real world: the one where people worried about their pay packets more than whether the tapestries would need restoring this year or next.

Who do you think you are?

Christ, half the people he'd met asked him that, when he thought about it. Whatever name they gave him.

"Who do you think you are, Constable Doyle? Insubordination won't get you far."

"Who do you think you are, 4.5? A one-man army?"

"Who do you think you are, Mr Doyle? My name is Dr Ross, not Kate or love or anything else that springs to mind."

The good Doctor, yes. Jesus, she was a tough one. It was 'Doyle' when she was chummy - or as chummy as she ever got - and Mr Doyle the rest of the time.

Shrewd woman, though. She really did want to make people talk about who they thought they were, but he'd usually fobbed her off with his 'tough guy ex-cop with a passing knowledge of art for the creative, human angle'. Or thought he had, anyway.

"You're doing it again," Bodie said. "Aren't you?"

"Doing what?"


"Somebody's got to do it. When they've got you to put up with anyway."

"I think." Bodie sounded hurt, but that meant he probably wasn't.

"Really? Would that be twice a week, after meals?"

"Nah," Bodie chuckled. "Trying to cut down, y'know."

"Seriously, though. Do you ever... well... think? About who you are? That sort of thing?"

"Seriously? Life's too bloody serious to be taken seriously. Or to spend your life wishing you were somebody else - like you do half the time."

Doyle felt himself gape and had to look away. That was the trouble with Bodie: he read your mind when you were least expecting it.

"What makes you say that?" Doyle said, as soon as he thought he could manage to sound casual.

"Can see the cogs going round inside that head of yours sometimes. And that silly cow back there, with the 'who do you think you are'. Made me think a bit as well."


"But we all know what I am, right?"

"Mr Engagingly everything."

"Well, that. And the ex-merc who left school at 14 and wouldn't know what philosophy was if it hit 'im in the hooter. Liverpool Irish layabout who thumps people and talks later."

Doyle could feel another gape coming on, but didn't look away this time.

"That how you see yourself? Really?"

"Sometimes," Bodie nodded. "It used to bother me. Doesn't now. Not often, anyway."


"No. Decided that what other people think doesn't matter. Most people anyway."

Doyle digested that one for a bit.

"But for some people it does matter? What they think?"

Bodie cursed the car in front and suggested that the driver might find the accelerator on the floor, to the right.

Buying time, Doyle decided.

"Some people, yeah. Not many," Bodie answered eventually.

"Suppose you're right."

"Always am," Bodie said cheerfully. "Can't help it. So what set you off on a philosophical journey today, as we're exchanging confidences in the intimacy of London's traffic system?"

"Me?" Doyle said, uselessly, as though the car was full of fascinated onlookers.


"Dunno. That woman, partly. She pissed me off a bit - asking for my name and all that."

Understatement, Doyle realised. She'd made him feel like a nameless thug. He'd been so tempted to stand there and tell what he did for a living, and why, and exactly what the bombs they'd been making did to human bodies. Cowley would have loved that.

"Take it all to heart too much, you do," Bodie said. "Good thing you didn't give 'er your name though. I can see it now: 'er ringing the press, Cowley waving the Daily Mail under our noses. 'Mrs Sidebottom was horrified by the heartless attitude of Raymond Doyle, from the highly controversial crime-fighting unit whose methods rarely involve the use of kid gloves...'"

Doyle chuckled.

"'I like to paint in my spare time, Mr Doyle said when questioned,'" Bodie continued. "And my ambition is to make England a better place before retiring to a life of reflection and reading obscure books. Oh, and I think a lot.'"

"You forgot to add the bit about me marrying a posh bird," Doyle reminded him. "But not bad. That how I come over then?"

"Sometimes," Bodie said simply. "And sometimes you seem almost normal."

"Like you?"

"No, I'm far too perfect to be just normal."

"Right. Goes with the regal names, does it?"

"Names, yeah," Bodie grinned to himself. "Daft woman. That what got you thinking this time?"

"A bit. Partly." Doyle decided not to try and recap the whole extravaganza of his dad and and peasants and darlings and stables and whatever else had gone through his mind.

"Names can be a bloody nuisance. Know what me mum called me? At home?"

"Been known to wonder," Doyle grinned. "Willy? Even before she realised your obsession with it."

"Wrong," Bodie said airily. "She called me Andy Pandy. And if you ever tell anybody that..."

Doyle kept his face straight somehow.

"That was probably a good reason to run away to sea."

"It had some bearing on the matter."

"Andy Pandy," Doyle said, thoughtfully. "You don't look like 'im, if that helps. Maybe if you got a blue and white striped jumpsuit thing with a frill round the neck...? Could give you a more informed opinion then."

"Oh ta. Can you imagine what it was like at school once somebody found out and spread the word?"

"I think I can, yeah," Doyle said, with genuine sympathy.

"So, apart from the whole identity stuff, any more deep thoughts we need to thrash out?"

"Probably, but we'll save 'em for another day, maybe."

"Whenever you like, Raymond my lad. Always a pleasure exchanging our inmost secrets."

"Don't be so bloody..."

"Wasn't being sarcastic, as a matter of fact." Bodie said, a little curtly. "For once."

"Sorry." Doyle meant it. "I really..."

"No need to do a full-blown guilt trip. Those are even more irritating than watching you fall on your face over snooty birds."


"OK. Subject closed."

"Good. And I'm hungry. Put the siren on?"

"Oh, you wicked lad you," Bodie smirked happily and reached down. "Happy now?"

"Deliriously," Doyle nodded, leaning back to enjoy the ride.

"Who do you think you are?" Bodie said, almost to himself, and then grinned. "That's quite a question, innit? Possibly more important than knowing there's a hunk of cow with our names on it."

"Could be right," Doyle agreed, intrigued by this. "But I thought the subject was closed. Can't get enough philosophy now you've started?"

"Maybe. But my natural modesty prevents me from blinding you with brilliance most of the time."

"I never did agree with the 'modest' bit. And I'm not that sure about the brilliance. But if we're going to be serious, I never did think of you as stupid. It's just an act."

"Sure it is. Like pretending you actually understand what those arty films are about."

"Bloody cheek."

"Well, do you?"

"Not often," Doyle admitted. "Stupid, innit. Suppose it is a bit of an act, really."

"Sometimes it's important to put up a front, though," Bodie said. "Everybody does - everybody needs to. So yes, I do damn well think at times, so's you know, even if I play stupid. And if you want to make a show of liking arty films or posh birds or anything else, that's all right with me because - well - I know that's all just your front. But it's important to... to have people you don't need a front with. Really important. And that's enough philosophy for the next ten years, so as far as I'm concerned, the subject is finally, definitely closed, Ray."

It was probably the longest speech about anything private he'd ever heard Bodie utter, Doyle realised. And the 'Ray' at the end spoke volumes too... Bodie usually kept that for - well - when he was feeling worried or happy or... emotional.

"Fair enough," Doyle said quietly. "Thanks, Bodie."


He let Bodie manoeuvre the car to the restaurant without saying anything else. It didn't seem necessary.

"Oi, Doyle?"

Ah, back to normal, Doyle noticed from the tone and the grin.


"Coins for the meter. You can at least come up with that if I'm paying. And they'd better not have run out of those bloody big sirloins."

Doyle dug in his pockets dutifully.

"And chips," Bodie added. "Plenty of chips. A man needs chips, you know."

"A man could get a paunch like that."


"Like hell. I only pretend, remember. Chips sound just fine... Andy Pa-."

Doyle was out of the car before Bodie could thump him, but only just.

-- THE END -

July 2004

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