The Burden of Trust
Cowley fixed the man before him with his most glacial stare. The agent met the look with defiance.
"What d'you expect me to do about it--sir?"
Reining in his already-frayed temper, the controller replied, "He's your partner, Doyle. You know him better than anyone else."
"No one knows Bodie," Doyle contradicted. "Not really."
"Damn it!" Cowley slapped the desk in front of him, and shot to his feet. "I'm not asking, I'm ordering you, 4.5. Find 3.7 and bring him back to me!"
Doyle's eyes glittered dangerously, and when he spoke, his voice was pure ice. "With respect, sir, if Bodie doesn't want to be found, there's nothing anyone can do about it. He'll come back when he's ready."
Cowley had crossed to the cabinet where he poured two measures of whisky. He swung on his heel, and handed one to the agent. "Will he?" he asked. "I'm not so sure this time--" In his mind's eye, he could still see Bodie's expression of disgust as he made his report.
"She stood up and they shot her." Bodie shrugged. "That's all." And he had turned his back on the controller to walk away slowly, like a man tired beyond endurance, or someone in a great deal of pain.
"This business with Diana Molner--it's affected him badly." Cowley raised the drink to his lips. "Was he--involved--with her?"
Doyle's glass rapped sharply on the wood as he slammed it down. "No!" He glared at the older man.
They were both thinking of another time when a girl had been shot, and Bodie had stormed off to lick his wounds in private.
"Neither of us had set eyes on her before we picked her up at the hotel."
"And afterwards?" When they had taken her to their own special bolt- hole. Doyle looked incredulous. "Come on," he snorted, "there wasn't time--and you know it. Besides, I was with him all the time--"
"And he gave no indication--"
"Of what, sir?" Doyle scowled at his chief. "Are you saying that Bodie--"
"You tell me, Doyle." Cowley sipped at his whiskey. "How was he out there?"
"Angry," Doyle snapped. Then surprised, he added, "hurting."
"He was injured?" Cowley didn't mask the concern in his voice.
Doyle shook his head. "He was hurting inside--"
"Because of the girl?"
"I don't know--possibly. Like I said, with Bodie you never know." He tossed back his drink quickly, and set the glass on the desk. "If that's all, sir..."
"For now," Cowley allowed. "Let me know when you find him."
"If," Doyle amended cynically.
There was no mistaking that figure, the dejected set of the shoulders spoke of deep anguish, and for one terrified moment, Doyle wondered if Bodie was contemplating suicide. No, he reasoned, Bodie would know better than to throw himself into the river. If he went, it would be a quick, clean job.
Doyle drifted up behind him, watching his partner as Bodie watched the boats bobbing on the river.
"Had a feeling I'd find you out here," he remarked quietly.
Bodie didn't react visibly to the familiar voice. He kept his eyes on the undulating waves at the launch's bow.
"Cowley sent me to look for you. He's worried...."
"How nice of him." Bodie's reply was flat, almost indifferent.
Doyle stepped up to the wall, resting his elbows on the stonework. Silence reigned between them against the deeper drone of passing traffic.
At length, Bodie sighed; Doyle wasn't going to leave.
The question caught him unaware.
"Eh?" Bodie frowned at his partner. "What?"
"I know you're hurting--about the girl. So am I, but--"
"The girl?" Bodie turned to face his companion. "The girl's got sod-all to do with it!"
It was Doyle's turn to look puzzled. "Then why did you take off? Christ, you nearly gave the Old Man a heart attack--thought you'd gone and done something daft..."
"I already did," Bodie spoke softly, dropping his eyes. He wasn't quick enough to hide the pain there. "I trusted him."
"Cowley." Bodie turned back to the river. "I trusted him. Believed in him--that he would back us all the way. He was the only other person who knew about that train. He was the only one who could have told those bastards where we were..."
Doyle heaved a sigh; at the time, he had felt the betrayal more keenly than Bodie. To within minutes of annihilation at the hands of the men purported to be on the same side....
"His hands were tied, Bodie. He had to tell them where we were."
"No, he didn't," Bodie spat. "He could've given them the run-around--he's done that before."
"He's never had the charge of treason levelled at him before," Doyle responded angrily. "That's what the head of M.I. 17 threatened him with!"
Bodie bowed his head.
"Christ, what a bloody mess!"
"Yeah," Doyle breathed, "isn't it?"
There was a moment's silence--their future hung in the balance. Doyle knew he had succeeded when Bodie asked.
"Northcott has been removed from office--" He risked a hand on one brawny shoulder. "Look, sunshine, come back with me, and we'll talk."
For a second, Bodie hesitated. He glanced at the turgid waters once more before pushing off the wall and letting Doyle shepherd him to the waiting Capri.
Cowley snatched up the receiver halfway through the first ring. "4.5-- any news?"
"I found him--he's at my flat," Doyle reported.
"Did he tell you why he disappeared?"
"Yes, he's--" Doyle glanced towards the bathroom, where Bodie was making use of the facilities. "He thinks that you betrayed us by giving our location to M.I. 17."
"You explained the situation to him."
"Yes, sir. He's still deciding whether he should resign. I've tried to reason with him, but it'll take more than words to sort him out this time."
"Doyle," Cowley drew a calming breath, "I want you to do whatever it takes to get him to change his mind about going--I don't want to lose him."
"I'll do my best, sir," Doyle promised.
"I'll see you in my office tomorrow morning."
Acknowledging, Doyle replaced the receiver, and stood by the telephone, contemplating his next move. Bodie was not happy about the situation-- might still take off... Doyle knew that he had to find a way to rouse his partner's natural loyalty.
Cowley had hurt him, broken his trust--it would take a long time to overcome that rift, if indeed it ever healed. Bodie didn't hold with causes, so Doyle would have to play on the fact that Bodie valued individuals, not ideals, and appeal to his sense of duty. And suddenly, there was his answer: Doyle was Bodie's partner, his other half-- metaphorically speaking. Doyle had no qualms about trading on their friendship, on Bodie's trust in him, to bring his errant colleague back into the fold. It was just a matter of convincing him that he, Doyle, needed Bodie to stay...
Doyle ambled into the hallway to take up a position outside the bathroom door, prepared, if necessary, to bend the rules double to keep this annoying sod of a man in his life...
Cowley never asked either of them what arguments Doyle presented; it was enough that Bodie had chosen to stay for the time being. It was down to the controller to prove that his agents' trust had not been misplaced, and he was determined that none of his men should ever face such a dilemma again.
Doyle was well-contented with his lot. He had Bodie back as a partner to depend on, a friend to share experiences with, and as a lover whose loyalty bound him stronger than any written contract could....
-- THE END --