You and Me Against the World
by Brenda K
Cowley can't be bloody serious.
Can't be. He's sitting there looking like the straight man from some sort of nightclub act, telling me I have to work with Bodie.
Bodie, William Arthur Philip. Cross between Ape Man and Casanova.
I suppose there's not much point expecting the funny half of the double act will come skipping along and tell me it's all just a joke, because Cowley doesn't have a partner. Lucky sod.
Bodie looks totally impassive - that's another of his rather dubious talents. He changes from glowering to neutral to grinning like a bloody banshee just like he changes from broad Liverpudlian to BBC English at the drop of a hat.
Can't figure him out at all, and here's Cowley trotting out clichs about partners like "two of us against the world".
Well, we all knew we were going to get partners. I expect we've all wondered all through the training who we'd end up with. Me, I'd decided right from the start that out of all the group, there was only one who would get up my nose and he's the one standing there beside me, in a suit, looking like he's got a ramrod stuck up his bum.
So we're supposed to work together. It doesn't mean we have to like each other. I expect they can both see that from my face, much as I'm trying to hide it. I don't do impassive very well.
Bodie suggests a drink, which is very magnanimous of him. Hope he's paying.
He drives us to the pub, and I roll my eyes at his rather loose interpretation of the Highway Code. Mind, if this is normal driving he could come in useful when we're in a hurry, so I keep my mouth shut.
In fact, I suppose he does have some redeeming features. He's good in a fight - I discovered that when that sadist Macklin paired us up one day.
It was a bit like being up against a battering ram, but - as I commented to him as we were called off the mat - bulk doesn't always mean speed. It was harshly said, but I was secretly glad he hadn't flattened me, not to mention proud.
So Bodie went for me again, I ducked, and we started over. And still neither of us got the upper hand.
Macklin told us this wasn't kindergarten and to put a stop to it or he'd personally demolish us one after the other.
Reluctantly, we called it a day because we've both seen - and felt - Macklin carry out that kind of threat. Pride's one thing, masochism's another. At least we both seemed to share that brilliant conclusion.
Bodie's final comment to me, as we showered, was that we'd have another go sometime when he wasn't hung over and shagged out. I snapped back that I could hardly wait, but as he always seemed to be one or the other I'd have plenty of time.
Surprisingly, though, he just laughed at that which probably stopped me trying for a third go at him. And probably prevented us both from being chucked of the entire course.
We found ourselves competing on the firing range as well. I admit it - I showed off when it came to pistols and expected him to look sour. He didn't, and even nodded approvingly, although he wasn't bad himself. Then we got onto rifles and I was frankly amazed. For all the brute force in him, he handled it... well... delicately. Accurately. In fact he was bloody first class.
In the end, our overall scores were identical and we were both pissed off because they wouldn't let us do a shoot-off.
I suppose that was the nearest we ever got to any sort of mutual respect - fighting and shooting. Because we certainly didn't like each other, and that hasn't changed now just because Cowley had some bloody stupid idea of us 'complementing each other's talents.'
I just can't imagine us ever having a decent conversation. We have nothing in common. Bodie lays every woman he sees and seems to have a very intimate relationship with greasy food. I'm in a serious relationship and value my arteries. That's just for starters.
Then there's the superiority that gets up my nose. If I've heard his opinion of "Plods" once, I've heard it a thousand times since we started training.
My standard retort's always been that I'm hardly lost in admiration for thick-headed squaddies who are about as streetwise as tanks. Or subtle variations thereof.
That probably hasn't done a lot towards the friendship potential in our partnership, either.
No, the idea of being subjected to that supercilious grin day in, day out, doesn't enthral me. In fact I can't really see us getting into chummy conversations about anything at all, to be honest.
The general impression of doom increases as we roll into the pub and see Murphy. Murphy-who-doesn't-have-a-partner. Lucky sod. What makes him so different?
Well, I know that. His partner died, and Cowley hasn't found him anybody else yet.
No, I'm not going to hope that Bodie dies. I'm not that bloody vicious. I'd just have been happier if they'd let me be the odd man out. Or Bodie.
I could have put up with Murphy, I decide. He might be ex-army, but he's not quite as loud as Bodie. He does join in the joking, though, like a few of the others in there who are discovering their new pairings.
Some look glum, some don't. I expect I look bloody furious, but Bodie's grinning all over his face, swapping jokes with Murphy and giving me the odd glance.
I'm not going to be goaded now. I'll save that for another time, because I'm quite sure there'll be plenty of opportunities.
So I glance around the place, only half listening to Bodie's teasing and Murphy retorting that my 'partner' only has such short hair because he needs to get supplies from the barber all the time.
"Something for the weekend, sir?" Murphy chuckles. "One barber I went to was offering fluorescent ones."
Bodie immediately follows that up with comments about long-haired poofters who don't even understand the phrase. Who never need condoms anyway, as they're probably not getting laid. He immediately shoots me a look to see how I take that.
"Me, I just buy them in bulk," I say airily. "Not always easy to get extra-large, see."
That seems to pass muster, and we've approached the bar. In fact, Bodie even offers to buy. Then I put my foot in it and ask for a gin and tonic.
Bodie roars with laughter, shoves a pint over to Murphy and then picks up the offending drink with little finger raised eloquently.
"Does sir like a twist of lemon with that? Or a cherry and a little umbrella, perhaps?"
Jesus, if I didn't want the job so much I'd have told Cowley where he could stick this partnership business.
Okay, I've had partners before but never one that thinks policing was some sort of recreational pursuit. That the only sort of acceptable action involves bombs, bloodshed and if possible a jungle thrown in.
I am not going to tiptoe around this guy. I refuse to play the meek little ex-copper.
He says I'm bad-tempered. I feel like telling him that I have reason to be. Life isn't just a succession of one-night stands and finding the nearest supplier of sticky cakes. Or of looking menacing and throwing a few punches.
I did tell him that a little thinking can come in handy the other day, to which he said he thought I was there for that.
I suppose telling him he was a lazy bastard didn't help.
Okay, so I don't have the sweetest nature in the universe, but he doesn't make much effort to do his share of stuff that doesn't interest him, so why should I be Mr. Charming?
The friction seems to have got even worse now that Cowley's finally found us a job that involves more than routine stuff.
Bodie's quite happy to do his 'navigation-by-chip-shop' routine and fling the car around London. Or to stand behind me and look menacing when we're asking questions. Give him a report to pull apart, though, and he's got a glazed look on his face within minutes.
He's not stupid, though. Neither in terms of 'uneducated' nor 'lacking in good sense'. He just thinks it's all one big joke.
Wish I could do that.
At this moment, he's grinning again because he had to hotwire the car this morning. Cowley would go ballistic if he knew that Bodie's latest conquest had gone off with the keys in her pocket and we'd had to chase round there and get them back before starting work.
I've not been feeling particularly happy today either, I'll admit, as I'm slowly coming to realise that 'serious relationship' and 'CI5 working hours' are two items within my life that are not wholly compatible.
So, I've probably been even stroppier than usual.
Make a lovely pair, we do. Me bitching about him losing CI5 property and him just letting it sail over his head with the exception of a few stray comments on the case in that innocent voice that needles me even more.
As I said, he's no fool. Has this ability to pinpoint exactly what's bugging me about the drugs haul and that photograph album we found in the suspect's flat yesterday.
I knew enough about the stuff they were dealing to find one link in the chain - I wasn't in the drugs squad to stand in the middle of the road and direct traffic, whatever Bodie says.
What's really pissing me off, though, is the instinctive conclusion he's drawn, simply because he's absolutely right and I didn't find the answer myself. The connection he made with the snapshot and the names on the consignment was exactly what we needed to break it right open. Where the hell did he learn Spanish? Well, I'm certainly not going to ask.
I console myself that I'd have got there myself given time. While I was working on the background to it all and jotting down snippets of information, Bodie looked as though he had his head in the clouds.
In truth, he'd obviously been thinking for once and then fitted the puzzle together from the elements I'd been collecting.
My anger starts to melt a bit as a small voice creeps in. Telling me that somehow, it works, Bodie and I. It's just that we're like oil and water and neither of us wants to back down even an inch.
Well, it's quiet now. We've got a half-hour drive, so I have a brilliant idea. We'll talk about it. This "you and me against the world" stuff.
I'll be reasonable, like the friendly neighbourhood copper. Extend an olive branch.
But I don't. I lose my temper.
I explain to my partner that we need to take a more co-ordinated approach to our work. Take it more seriously. Forget a few of the chip shops.
Bodie casually informs me that life's too serious to be taken seriously. And I snap back that being serious might just save him from stopping a bullet at some point.
He says I'm a boring, self-centred, temperamental prat and I call him an arrogant, careless, food-obsessed hedonist.
Then we stare at each other, almost in horror.
The truth hurts, they say.
It certainly hurts us both to the point that conversation stops entirely. For some reason, Bodie seems almost more dangerous when he's driving like an elderly nanny than when he's terrorising the rest of the world. He's staring straight ahead, and so am I.
Just before we get out of the car, he looks me in the eye.
"You only got one thing wrong, Doyle. I'm not careless."
I can't answer that - partly because all his adjectives to describe me were right and I'm too proud to admit it, but also because we're now due to move in to what our CI5 training called a "potentially life-threatening situation." And apparently there's no backup available and it's urgent, so would we please proceed.
I take a deep breath, determined that Bodie isn't going to see I'm nervous.
"I'll cover you," I say briskly when he says he's going in.
Better get this right, then. Suddenly it really is a case of just him and me there.
I watch Bodie move, grudgingly realising that he's rapid and efficient as he approaches. He gets in there smoothly and the R/T crackles encouragingly.
"Got 'im. Bringing 'im out. Keep your eyes peeled."
They emerge, and a shot rings out. I wheel, fire, and a man drops. Bodie crouches, never losing his grip on our prey, and we haul our prisoner away, whimpering with fear.
Sliding my gun back into the holster I feel a tap on my shoulder.
Is this a truce?
Whatever it is we don't have much time to discuss it as more shooting starts in earnest. Worse, they're blocking the exit and we can't make a run for it with our prisoner.
Damn. The adrenaline's flowing freely as we both take cover behind the car, and Bodie motions me to break away and get them from the flank.
I don't argue. I run like hell and pray I can dodge the bullets. Now it's me trusting Bodie - but he trusted me.
In the end I make it to a pile of oil drums and see that Bodie's got one of them down. Excellent. That's what I call covering fire.
Bodie leans out to check my position, and I see a rifle aiming at him and snap one off instinctively. The guy crashes to the floor and Bodie throws me a look of gratitude, although I was sure I saw him jerk as the shot fired.
I was sure that the firing was coming from at least three angles, though, so where's the other guy?
I find out when something slams into my back and head and I topple forward, grunting in surprise, dropping my gun and expecting a bullet through my brain any second.
But no, it's a hand-to-hand job as the guy seems to prefer the more physical approach.
A few more shots are being fired, which means Bodie's still busy and my count of three was wrong. Worse, this guy's built like a gorilla. If Bodie's Ape man, then this one's King fucking Kong.
I'm not getting very far, mainly because I'm seeing more stars than there are on the wrapper of a Galaxy bar. Then he gets me in the solar plexus and I sag forward and wait for the one that'll put me out of my misery.
Instead, I hear another, single shot and only seconds afterwards a hand reaches out to me.
I get my head up to see a pair of blue eyes and a face that isn't smiling at all.
"You all right?"
"Course I am," I snap. Then I think better of being so irritable. I know bloody well that my legs are like jelly, my guts are on fire, and Bodie has just got me out of deep trouble.
"Thanks," I mutter, rather glad of the supporting arm although I don't want to admit it.
Bodie just nods and gets on the R/T to find Cowley's on his way already.
By the time he arrives, I've thrown up twice and Bodie's still fingering the ruined sleeve of his suit. It's only nicked his arm but he looks a lot more worried about the jacket.
"Think I can claim it on expenses?" he asks me thoughtfully, passing me a handkerchief after the second round.
Is that concern in his eyes?
"Dunno. Worth trying," I mutter. "Sorry... about..."
"Might want to get checked over," he says casually. "Saw him land that one in the guts."
"Could have been worse," I say truthfully. Then attempt a grin. "Hope Cowley's impressed."
Bodie grins back.
"Don't count on it."
Cowley's finally finished the catalogue of all the things we did wrong, and Bodie's still standing there, ramrod straight. I'm trying to lean on something because I'm still sore, but it looks like the old man's finally finished.
Bodie's done most of the talking, preferring the upper-crust accent today.
He slides the comment about his suit in skilfully, just as Cowley admits that all things considered, we could have handled it worse.
Cowley just glares at him, then at me, and tells him that he has the choice of paying for having the suit replaced or the bullet holes in the CI5 vehicle repaired.
So the old man does have a sense of humour after all, although he's a stingy old bastard.
Bodie rolls his eyes and glances over at me before turning a wounded expression towards Cowley. He does that look particularly well.
"Och, very well. Put in a chitty for invisible mending."
"Very generous, sir," Bodie says with a total lack of sincerity.
"And I suppose you want to claim for something while you're at it, Doyle?" There's a definite twinge of amusement in the Scots burr now.
"A haircut?" Bodie suggests, helpfully, then chuckles. "Well it is Friday and the weekend's coming up."
I decline with thanks, and politely suggest to Cowley that since my pay doesn't run to suits, let alone invisible mending, I'll pass this time.
If I'm not mistaken, Bodie's suppressing a snort of amusement. Cowley tries to look frosty but repeats that we seem to have 'co-ordinated well.'
Outside the office, Bodie and I exchange amused glances and we set off towards the pub. I can't remember who suggested it, or maybe it was just telepathic.
"Haircut?" I ask him lightly, pointing to the barber's shop across the road as we park. Bodie's driving is back to lethal, which seems almost comforting.
"Nah. Or drink first, anyway."
I nod, and go up to the bar.
"That'll be a pint for me. And the gentlemen would like a Pimms. Lots of fruit, a straw, and one of those little umbrellas, please."
Bodie stares at me, then grins. A fully-fledged grin that stretches from ear to ear, almost.
"OK, Doyle. Thirty all."
"Nah, mate," I tell him. "We're supposed to be the same side of the net, remember?"
"Yeah," Bodie says, picking up the tall glass with evident distaste. "You an' me against the world, eh?"
-- THE END --