"Remember that Parsali case a couple of years back?"
Doyle's brow furrowed and the pint glass on the way to his mouth slowed.
"The protection one with the last minute switch?" Bodie prodded. The hand on the pint glass moved slower still. "Holding your hand on dum-dums? Pinky and Perky upstairs?"
Doyle's expression cleared. "The one where Macklin broke us into little pieces first?"
"Atta boy. That night, you asked why I joined CI5, and I told you it was--
"And you, bless your cotton socks, said there had to be something else, that it couldn't just be money?"
"Yeah, I remember. So?"
"Was, you know."
"Just the money. I know you think I was brushing you off with something cool at the time, but I wasn't."
"Not at all, mate. Really was the money. Well, that and doing something different." He nudged the nearest elbow and waggled his empty glass. When Doyle waved the barman over Bodie continued. "I mean, by that time I'd been in the Merchant Navy, right? The SAS, the Paras," said loudly and deliberately into Doyle's ear as Doyle had done the expected and snored theatrically. Not put off in the slightest Bodie grinned and waited until his partner's head came back up and a pint was slid in front of him. "Ta, ever so. Cheers."
"So when the Cow showed up and said 'Try this', all I thought was 'Why not?'" He leaned across a little, into the arm against his at the bar. "Didn't really have your moral code, sunshine. That right and wrong thing."
Doyle swallowed. "And now?"
"Ah, well, there's the rub. Bloody well got one now, haven't I?"
"Jesus, moral code, Doyle. Least you can do is keep up here."
"Right. With you. Moral code."
Bodie glared at him, hard. Not sure if the proverbial mickey was now being taken.
"Anyway," he drew it out, "like I was saying, got one now and it's not my fault."
Bodie took in the rather blank stare as the pint glass halted again and a plea for patience went up to a forgotten childhood saint.
"What I am trying to get into that thick skull of yours, is that it's hardly the money anymore, is it?" He made a sound, almost a laugh. "Would need my bloody head examining if it was."
Doyle acknowledged that with a clink of his glass on Bodie's.
"Think about it, four years and three months. With these hours? Nah, got to be more to it than the pay-slip, mate. Longest I've ever stuck with anything in my entire life. Same again?"
It was only later that Doyle did the maths and realised with a start that Bodie was not talking about his time with CI5. They had each been with CI5 for four years and nine months. The first six months had been training. He and Bodie had been in different groups and had not actually met until Cowley paired them up -- exactly four years and three months ago.
Doyle put his pint down slowly yet again as he realised what he'd just been told.
-- THE END --