If There Be Vampires and Werewolves
Written for the "Discovered on All Hallow's Eve" challenge on the discoveredinalj livejournal community.
PR Zed deserves extra kudos for putting up with this fic not just once, but two years in a row... Thank you!
Wednesday October 31st, 1984
The moon was full, and it dripped blood. There was blood everywhere. He could see the bodies around him, flesh ripped out, gaping holes where their throats, their chests, their stomachs should be. There was a roaring in his ears, and his skin screamed with it. It was as if he could feel every hair on his body rise against the wind, feel his very fingernails growing, but mostly -- mostly he could smell the blood. He turned slowly in the wreck of the garden, seeing it all, seeing them all.
They were only kids.
Somewhere behind him he finally heard the growl of the Capri, brakes slammed hard on gravel, as Bodie arrived. He shouldn't see this.
No one should see this.
They'd all be here soon. What would he do then?
Footsteps behind him.
"Christ... Happy Halloween."
The rage inside him broke with a kind of moan, and he whipped around, grabbed Bodie by the shoulders, and let his momentum carry them both to the ground. He landed a couple of punches before Bodie managed to twist him under, and grab his fists. Eyes met, eyes held. Doyle felt the adrenalin begin to wash out of him, managed to choke out "What kind of a thing is that to say?" before he turned away, retching. Bodie held him while he was sick and, for just a while, he held him afterwards as well and they neither of them moved. Finally Doyle sat back on his heels, wiped the back of his hand over his mouth.
"'m sorry." He didn't look up.
"'s alright. Shock. Gets you in funny ways."
"I wasn't fast enough. I should've been here sooner. Could've..." He finally raised his eyes back to the garden, over Bodie's shoulder. Made himself meet Bodie's hard gaze again. "Maybe I could've stopped this."
"Maybe you could have."
Inside Doyle everything petrified. He couldn't take breath. Was it true? Bodie thought so. But he didn't even know...
"Oh come off it Doyle, how many phone calls like that does Central get every week, eh? Telling us that some idiot's got a gun or a grenade or a bomb? Ray?" Demanding his voice, to know that he was listening.
"We can't stop them all. We're just us."
Sirens rose in the background, distant, growing louder. Doyle got to his feet, let his shoulders slump, his head bow. He closed his eyes against the night, against the world, for just a moment, breathed in deeply through his nose. Out. Just us. "I know."
Then he retrieved the envelope from where it had fallen and passed it to Bodie.
Bodie stared. Arms twined around arms, and legs woven together, muscles straining, mouths reaching for mouths, and moans loud as fire. It was all there in black and white. It was grainy, and it was shadowed, and it was unmistakably them. He didn't know whether to be glad he had copies or whether to cry. "Jesus..."
"Yeah. It was on the hall table, waiting to be collected the kid reckoned."
"If we knew that..."
"We could kill him and have done with it."
"Yeah, I know. Must play nice with the blackmailing scum." He couldn't seem to take his eyes off the pictures. They looked... He looked... And Doyle looked. They confirmed one thing. He would never give Doyle up. They were too right together. Even extortion made them look good. "So what exactly did this kid say?"
Doyle paced the lawn, carefully turned away from the remains of the pergola, of the youngsters who'd been clustered so tightly, so fatally, together within. "He had my home number. He said they'd left it for the courier to collect, and that the negatives are probably in the safe. He said it was 'over'." He paused, clenched his fists on air, "I didn't know what he meant. I didn't think he meant this! How could he? How..."
"It was that night after the Gianetti trial," Bodie said, steering him back to the pictures. He wasn't yet convinced that one horror was worse than the other: the kids or the photographs. "It's the hotel in Mayfair."
"How could they know we were there? It was a fluke the trial ended early -- we didn't know we'd be there!"
"But Bentley's secretary gave evidence. He'd have known it was about to end."
"They must have been watching us for weeks, months, just waiting..."
"And we never noticed."
"In too deep. We..."
"And you couldn't get into the safe?" Bodie interrupted, determined that Doyle wouldn't finish that thought, wouldn't be allowed to be sensible, and practical, and end it all here. They could deal with this, he knew they could.
The first of the police -- or maybe it was Cowley already -- could be heard roaring up the drive now, through the oak and the beech and the elm, those lovely old trees dark against the moonlit fields.
"That's what I was trying to do when I 'eard the bomb go off. I'd nearly got it when..."
"Boom," Bodie finished for him absently, his gaze rising to the elegant walls of the house at their back. "And they think this'll be enough to make us kill Cowley."
"Kill Cowley, or the pictures go to the press," Doyle confirmed, glancing down at the note still clutched in one hand. The letters swirled off the page at him, black ink stark, every line and flourish a curse. "We've got until midnight tomorrow."
Behind them car doors were slamming, people were shouting. They had run out of time.
"Good god..." even Cowley, who had fought so long, had seen so much, sounded shocked by the extent of the carnage. He came to a halt behind them, actually reached out to Doyle's shoulder, leaned against him for a moment. His bad leg, surely.
Doyle swallowed again, determined to get a grip before he shamed them all. Bodie was right. It was just meat, that's all it was now. Maybe if he said it enough times he'd start to believe it.
Maybe it was finally time to turn vegetarian.
"Aimed at the Minister, you think, Sir?" Bodie asked brightly. Doyle couldn't decide whether he was being a genius or an idiot.
"I doubt it Bodie," Cowley was saying, "his official engagements are all a matter of record. Anyone who could arrange this could easily have found out that he'd be away from home tonight." He paused. "No, this was something else."
"Upset somebody lately, has he?"
"Aye well, it's too much of a coincidence -- the Minister's had his fingers in some very interesting pies of late..." Cowley turned a sharp-eyed look his way, and Doyle frowned to mask the flinch he felt inside. "You're sure you didn't recognize the voice?"
"No sir." Be sure, be steady. "Young, male. No one I know, I'd swear to it."
"Ach, I don't doubt it. And yet - why you? Why tell you unless you're someone known to them?"
The boy's voice echoed through his head: "It's not right what they're doing. Why can't they just let people be themselves? It's not right!"
"I don't know, sir." There, only one lie after all.
"A messenger maybe?" Bodie suggested. "Send in some unknown to hide the real villains? It's not any of the usual lot, we know that. No code before the warning."
"Wasn't what I'd call a warning either," Doyle said grimly. "Trouble is what he said, not bomb." One and a half lies.
"Maybe..." Cowley began, gazing absently up at the house. There was a shout behind them, and Doyle glanced to where the forensics team had gathered together in the now-floodlit garden. The white-coats were a cluster of apparent calm amongst the swarms of people who had appeared at the same time as Cowley. Crouched low, their voices rising now and then in measured volume after the initial excitement, they spoke in surprisingly matter-of-fact tones, considering the scale of the destruction.
"So exactly how sticky are the Minister's fingers?" Bodie asked, causing Cowley to turn and look long and hard at him. Something bad then, Doyle thought, something very bad if it was taking the Cow this long to answer.
"This goes no further." Cowley lowered his voice even further, and Doyle found himself leaning in towards him, their own cluster tight, almost furtive. "The fact that we've had no warning does not, this time, exclude the IRA from the list of suspects."
"A private grudge?" Bodie was frankly sceptical, "He doesn't look the type to get mixed up with anyone who doesn't drink their brandy from the right kind of glass."
"Nevertheless. We've had our eye on the Minister for quite some time, and his opposite number, Bentley. Anderson and Slade have been working the inside, and Payne is working deep undercover in the Irish community. There has been a great deal of contact between the Minister, Bentley and certain known individuals. There is strong indication that..."
"Sir!" It was the forensics team, Hedley standing now, summoning Cowley more with his tone of voice, than with the word itself. The others were dispersing to their gruesome task, and Doyle had to force himself to walk normally as he followed after the others, eyes on the ground, as though anything that lay in his path did not glisten wetly in the light, was not recognizable. Was not recognized.
"What is it, man?"
"I don't think the bomb was planted here." Hedley looked down at the ... remains... at his feet. He pointed briefly to its centre, to something dark but unmistakably metallic. "This is part of the device, or at least a part of the construction that held it all together."
Something inside Doyle's headclicked so loudly he was surprised nobody else heard. There'd been music as he rushed up the steps and into the house, he'd heard the sounds of the party in the back, had ignored it in his urgent need to get inside, to find the envelope, and then find the safe before anything else. After the explosion, with the faint and fading cries of the teenagers still echoing in his ears, he'd wondered if there had been a moment when his informer had implied murder, if he could have stopped him. And he wondered what he could possibly say to a murderer who knew their secret, had tried to help them, once they caught up with him.
"The bomb was strapped onto a body. Presumably while the person was still alive. The detonator -- here -- was a push button."
No need to wonder now. No need at all.
Bodie stood unobtrusively to one side of the house, surveying the garden with an impassive gaze. The bodies and other remains were being loaded into waiting ambulances, carefully ordered and organized for forensics to continue their work in a more impersonal environment. The bomb squad was going over the house, and belatedly the garden, verifying that there was nothing else waiting, ready to spit fire and nails into the frosted air. The local plod, called back from their own revelries, came and mostly went. Their job was back at the station, contacting the next of kin. The parents.
Bodie thought it would be worst when the parents arrived. He didn't mind the bodies, not really. He'd seen worse in Africa. He'd seen them when the sun, the flies, the dogs had been at them for a few days. What he minded most was the wailing, the weeping. The silences. What he minded was when the other people arrived, the non-professionals, when they knew.
He wanted to take Doyle and get out of there before the parents arrived, but there was no way. There would be no handing this one off to another department. It was the Minister's son who'd set the bomb. It was the Minister's son who had strapped it around his own body, a costume that wasn't, and gone dancing with the sexy witches and the hopeful warlocks. Who had summoned Doyle over the telephone. Who had left the envelope on the hall table, ready for Doyle to pick up on his way through the house to the safe.
Bodie's own part paused for now, waiting for the bomb squad to clear the house, he kept a weather eye on Ray. Doyle was still with Cowley, and Bodie could see that he was getting wound up again, going over and over the phone call, the sound of the boy's voice, the timing of it all, exactly why Doyle had set off to check on the lad himself. He'd been half way to the house by the time he'd radioed Central. Why was that? But Doyle had his mask on, his business stance. He would get through the rest of this night. Trouble was, Bodie knew what was spinning around in that head. And he knew that there was nothing they could do now. It had to wait until they were alone.
Another vehicle arrived, scrunching the gravel drive. Car doors slammed. It wasn't the parents surely? They'd been at some party halfway to the other end of the country, and fog had bound the helicopter there, stretching this night nerve-thin for them all. And not the press, not for a few more hours. CI5 didn't have all the I.D.s. They had yet to wash the blood into the well-kept lawn.
A dark-coated man, tall and thin, glided along the neatly bricked path to Cowley. Bodie caught a glimpse of a pale face, a flash of bared white teeth under the black bowler hat, and his own mouth twisted before he could help it. It was Bentley. The Shadow Minister. Christ, he was quick off the mark.
Doyle had slouched into the shadows of the garden wall, could be seen only as a brush of tawny brown against the dark ivy. How did no one else feel the tension radiating from him, loud as a shout to Bodie, even across the garden? Sudden sharp voices cut the air. Bentley, pulled papers from his coat, gesticulating with them and Doyle's head jerked slightly, just enough for Cowley to remember his presence and send him off with a tip of his head.
"We've got the all clear to go in and do the 'ouse," Doyle said, not pausing in his stride, but changing angle slightly when he reached Bodie, confident that he'd fall in step. And Bodie did, their feet in time, shoulders brushing.
"Took 'em long enough."
"Wanted to make sure there weren't any more surprises."
A pause. They stepped in through the back door, stood for a moment taking in the high kitchen ceilings, the cold stylish furniture and every modern appliance. Doyle was willing to bet the owners didn't cook there.
Bodie stood close, voice low. "What did that other ghoul want?"
Doyle frowned a warning. You never knew who was listening in a politician's house, snug in a van far away, and Stevens' team hadn't finished sweeping the place for bugs. "From Cowley? The usual. Answers. How did this happen? Why didn't CI5 know about the boy's terrorist leanings?"
"Terrorist leanings?" Bodie took the hint, "Did he 'ave connections then?"
Doyle thought back to the voice on the phone, husked with emotion. Fear? No. Desperation.
"My father. My father and Bentley left it there. It's supposed to be delivered by hand first thing tomorrow. I won't touch it. I don't have time to burn it. And the courier might come early to collect it. You have to come quickly. Thought I'd do one thing right before I go. You don't deserve that. No one does. I'm sorry you'll be the first one here. I really am. But I wanted to do this one thing right. The negatives are probably in the safe. Hurry. "
"What do you think?" his voice was harsher than he meant it to be.
"Could be where he got the bomb though," Bodie continued, apparently unabashed, "Radical bloody students." He stood close to Doyle, shoulders overlapping, spoke low with his lips barely moving, "I still can't see either of those bastards doing the dirty work, they're both wet as a week in Manchester."
"Not that wet." Doyle hissed back, raking him another look. He flattened himself against the wall as the last of the bomb squad passed them, and then pulled Bodie along the corridor, through the house, and out the other side. "They got us, didn't they? And the kid was -- what -- twenty?"
"He took out his own Halloween party with a nail bomb. Not exactly a young innocent."
Doyle shrugged. There was nothing he could say to that. And yet... He shook his head. Time enough for the business part of this. They were finally alone, no one, no walls in a fifteen foot radius.
"So what did that idiot Bentley want?" Bodie asked again in a low voice, narrowing his eyes.
"Nothing from us. Not yet, at any rate. He seemed... surprised. I don't think those kids were supposed to be involved. 'E doesn't know what's going on now, any more than we do, and it's made him edgy. He didn't even look at me. Like I didn't exist."
"The papers he was waving around?"
"Something to do with a big meeting with the Yanks tomorrow. Yeah, I thought it was more pictures as well." They shared a wry relieved grin. "But if they really want us to kill Cowley, they'll need to keep mum until we've done it. And they don't know that we know."
"Yet." Doyle grinned suddenly, blackly amused, "He must be wondering where that envelope's got to."
"Whether the courier got it, or whether CI5 did?" Bodie smiled back, patted his chest. The pictures were tucked safely into his shirt.
"Wonder 'ow long it'll take the Minister to get 'ere."
"Not long. We need those negatives."
"You reckon they're really in the safe?" Doyle asked, knowing that Bodie had no more idea than he did, wanting the comfort of the let's-pretend assurance that Bodie did so well.
"Don't see why the kid would go to all the bother of phoning to warn us, just to lie about it. You think you can get in if I keep the place clear?"
Doyle nodded. He thought back to the number of times Cowley had talked about keeping your own house in order. Cleaning your own doorstep. Somewhere along the line they'd been careless, a bare crack in a pair of curtains enough to make a right mess. Enough to bring down not just themselves, but Cowley and the whole of CI5 with them.
"Then we just 'ave to decide what to do about Their Nibs."
Bodie lifted his eyes to meet Doyle's, to catch the determination building there. If they could get into that safe they'd be in the clear this time, but it didn't change the fact that someone knew about them, that someone had caught them.
"Sounds like Cowley's onto something there," he suggested, wanting Doyle's thoughts to focus on the positive, on a way of neutralizing the threat. "Once they're discredited, and with no evidence to back them up, who'd believe anything they said?"
They turned as one, and Bodie felt the rush as they did so, of being in perfect accord. Don't let Ray spoil it, don't let him back off, not now...
Cowley was walking swiftly across the grass towards them, no sign of a limp tonight, his trench coat flapping around his knees. "What are you doing out here? I thought I told you to check the house?"
"We were just on our way..." Bodie began, hearing his own voice clipped, automatically in tone to reply to his superior, no matter that it was with excuses.
"Never mind that. Listen," he gestured them close again, sparing the empty space around them a quick glance. "I want you to search the place thoroughly, under guise of looking for clues as to the lad's motivation..."
"You're sure it was him?"
"Aye, as near as makes no difference at this stage," Cowley looked impatient at the interruption, explaining almost absently, "We've got IDs on most of the others now, and a positive ID on the phone line. Doyle's call came from this number. But I want you to keep an eye out for anything that you think might indicate a connection between the Minister and the IRA, or anything with even a whiff of the illegitimate about it."
"He'll keep that hidden well away," Bodie protested, barely daring to breathe. If they could just get absolution in the form of permission...
"Quite likely. A fine tooth comb should do the trick." Cowley started to move away, hesitated and then stepped back. "And keep your eyes open for anything that looks like it might have come from America while you're at it."
"America?" Doyle echoed back, frowning. Cowley, halfway back to the house, neither paused nor acknowledged him.
"The plot thickens..."
"Yeah. An' I'm not sure I like it. Not one bit." Doyle met his eyes again. "These guys are big-time Bodie. I don't like being in the middle of it, it's not somewhere we should be."
Bodie knew exactly where they should be -- in a pub somewhere, a few pints nearer oblivion, a few inches closer to each other, a few worlds away from this night.
"Bodie! This is too much. We have to get it sorted, and get it sorted fast."
And then he walked away, leaving Bodie on his own.
Cowley himself was hovering in the hallway, too close to the Minister's office, and so, frustrated, they took the stairs two at a time and peered into several guest rooms before finding the boy's bedroom. It was neat as a pin, the bed tidily made, although the dregs of a cup of tea sat on the dresser. It looked, unsurprisingly and incongruously, like any bedroom. The tension leeched through Doyle's veins, narrowed his eyes. He clamped his jaw hard. He had to stay calm. They were safe for now. Everything would be fine.
They busied themselves with cupboards and drawers for a while, with flicking through pockets and papers and books. Most of the books were medical texts. Notes written carefully, as any student might. It didn't make sense. He seemed normal. Surely someone who wanted to be a doctor must care about people? And yet in cold blood he had planned and plotted this gruesome way to cause pain, to kill. Somewhere deep down he had been a very different kind of creature.
Bodie saw him looking, caught his eye, shrugged. Who knew why people turned out the way they did, why some people had it backwards and inside out? But they should know. He needed to know, even if Bodie didn't. The boy had phoned him. Warned them. Peter. He had felt some kind of connection with them, perhaps recognized something of himself in them, and Peter had warned them.
"You know what," he said suddenly, realising what was missing from the little room, "There's no pictures. No notes. No phone messages. Nothing. He was nineteen. He lived here at home, not in digs. There should be something."
"A loner," Bodie suggested, understanding immediately. "So how come the party? Where'd he get those friends? And why blow them up once he'd got them?"
"'s not hard to throw a party when you're a student. You don't know half the people who turn up anyway. 's all word of mouth." He thought back to his own brief time in art school, the heady excitement of being where no one knew him, knowing he could do whatever he wanted, be whoever he wanted. "And it was still early. There were only a dozen or so of them." Fifteen. All dead. He'd checked himself in those first frantic minutes, spinning from body to body. Nothing much left of Peter at all.
Bodie threw himself down on the bed, hands behind his head, started backtracking. "The lonely minister's son does a kamikaze in the pergola at a party he's thrown."
"There's someone there he doesn't like?"
"But before he does the deed, he phones you to tell you that 'it's over'."
Only Bodie would have seen the twitch to Doyle's lip, and Doyle made sure he was carefully turned away. "Amongst other things."
A pause, Bodie apparently letting that sink in. "Amongst other things." he repeated. "And before he did that, he spent weeks figuring out how to make or buy a big, shiny nail bomb. It's not the sort of thing Minister's kids know. It doesn't make any sense."
"Unless he's involved with daddy's friends as well...nah," Doyle rejected the thought, "The kids at the party couldn't have had anything to do with all that..."
"Not terribly likely," Bodie agreed.
"And why didn't anyone notice what was going on? Why didn't anyone..?" His thoughts rushed on, and he stopped, swallowed it all down again. "Too many questions..."
"Not enough people to answer them," Bodie finished. "So where are they all?"
"On their way," Doyle said glumly. "This place is going to be crawling with even more people soon. It's going to get harder, not easier, to get into that safe before anyone else does."
"We need to do it before the Minister gets here." Bodie jumped up suddenly, came and stood close so that Doyle could feel the warmth radiating from him, could feel his breath as he spoke quietly into Doyle's ear. "Get your kit ready, I'll see who's downstairs, steer 'em away up here."
"There's an outer room to the office," Doyle dug into his jacket pocket for his lock-picks, thought back to where to he'd seen plastic gloves. "If you're searching that, openly, you can give me fair warning if anyone comes in an' I can get the safe shut." He'd been so close before the explosion, surely it wouldn't take that long...
"Come on then Raffles -- I think I hear a chopper in the distance."
He couldn't, not really, it was just Bodie being Bodie, but the thought sent strands of ice cold down Doyle's back just the same, and he followed him downstairs, dark foreboding close on his heels.
In the end it took less than three minutes. He really had been right on the brink, earlier. It never failed to amaze Doyle how easy it was to break into a house, an office, a safe. Even the supposedly high-tech ones were simple enough with a bit of inside information, and the Minister's office was anything but, for all the modern art he had plastered about. When the door clicked open he allowed himself a small sigh of relief, prepared to rifle through jewels and papers until he had the negatives, and any spare pictures safely in hand.
It was simpler than he could ever have hoped, and far more unthinkable. There was a pile of envelopes at the front of the safe, the top one containing negatives, and six underneath, sealed and addressed to various Sunday newspapers. And beneath all that was a list of the names, addresses and unlisted numbers of every active agent in CI5.
For the second time that night, Bodie stared in disbelief at the papers in front of him. Doyle was taking his turn in the outer office, the grand library, which books looked as though they'd never been touched since their original printing, and so Bodie closed his eyes, and clenched his fists, and leaned heavily against the table. Just for a moment. Then he opened his eyes again and let them wander over the photographs.
There was a set of six in each envelope, beautiful, dark, damning. And with each set, in each envelope, there was a brief letter to the editor, explaining exactly what the pictures were, who was in them, and why the corruption of CI5 went even deeper than its poor, revered, and deceased controller had known. They were dated Saturday 3rd November. The day after their supposed deadline for killing Cowley. The bastards were going to hand over the pictures, regardless, and bring down CI5 altogether.
He was going to lose Doyle.
There was a fireplace to one side of the room, and Bodie crouched in front of it with the cigarette lighter from the mantelpiece, burned first the negatives and then the photographs, one at a thorough time, and finally the letters, until they were nothing more than a pile of blackened ash in the grate. He used the brush to sweep them through the thick iron grid, collected them again, mixed with a thin layer of even older ash, in the tray underneath, and sifted them through once more, until he was absolutely satisfied that not a damning corner remained.
He was just sliding the tray back into place when the door behind him opened. He spun, metal scraping loudly as he dropped it, reaching for his gun.
"Christ Bodie, can you make a bit more noise?"
"If you didn't go around sneaking up on people..."
"You've..?" Doyle's gaze fell to the grate, looked enquiringly back at him.
"All done." Bodie tried to sound matter of fact about it. Problem over, everything solved. If there were no more pictures...
"I hope you've had some brilliant ideas, mate, while you were pottering around in here."
"All's well that ends well?" he found himself saying, wanted to kick himself as the words left his mouth. He was taking it seriously.
"Oh yeah, that's great that is." Doyle turned and kicked at the soft back of the armchair, "We can't ignore this, Bodie. We can't pretend it didn't happen! They're out for bigger blood than yours or mine, or even Cowley's. They want the squad gone, destroyed. God only knows why and I'm not sure I want to!"
"Well we can't exactly take it to Cowley either, can we? What do you suggest, 'Yes sir, it all came about because I was fucking Doyle here, sir, and it got a bit carried away?' That'd go down a treat, wouldn't it? We might as well have resigned in the first place!"
"We still could."
"Oh, that'd be helpful, that'd save CI5!" Bodie couldn't imagine it, couldn't even think about it. It would destroy them as surely as bullets would -- more surely, more slowly, in a relentless drip-drip of guilt and recrimination and hatred.
"We confront them."
"And warn them we're onto it. They'd just back off, try another way."
"Not if we had some other hold over them..."
It was desperation, he could hear the desperation in Doyle's voice, and it almost warmed him. Doyle didn't want to give them up either. If there was just something they could do.
"It'd take months to get enough on them, we don't have that kind of time."
"There's nothing, Doyle. It's classic. We neutralise the threat or we neutralise the blackmailers. You know what we have to..."
"Could you do that, Bodie?" Doyle's furious eyes met his, his voice a snarl, "Kill in cold blood?"
"We kill all the time. It's our job."
"Not in cold blood. What you're suggesting..."
"It's not like they've left us much choice! Go to Cowley and lose CI5 or go to them and watch CI5 destroyed -- that's it. Or do you think maybe we should gun for George instead?"
"Don't be ridiculous." A heavy pause. "I'm not a murderer, Bodie."
"No? What about all the people we've helped send back to the KGB, eh? You knew what would happen to them, it didn't stop you then, did it? You would have done worse to Parks -- he was gunning for CI5."
"These aren't blokes in off the street, they're in the government!"
"Which is even worse, isn't it?" Why couldn't Doyle see? He got up every morning prepared to sacrifice his own life for a greater cause - was it really worse to think of sacrificing somebody else's? "Look, even Cowley's not above shooting someone in the back for the greater good!"
"I'm not Cowley..."
"And I am?"
"Sometimes I wonder."
And there it was, that look, the one that Bodie would die for. Trouble was, he couldn't kill for it, because that would lose him Doyle as well. "Right." He let his shoulders slump. What did it matter?
"Look, we'll think of something. There's that list of addresses he shouldn't have. And Cowley's expecting us to find something... "
"Yeah." Bodie knew he sounded cold, knew he sounded empty too, but he couldn't help it. If it was that easy Cowley would have had the bastards weeks ago. " It's probably behind the fridge. I'll start there, shall I?"
And he left, because it was all he could think to do.
Bodie thought he was going to bottle out, he could see it in his eyes. How could he think that? Doyle kicked the armchair again, then turned off the light and opened the curtains. From here he had a view over the sweep of the driveway, across silvered fields and shadowed woods. Every now and then an agent would appear, looking for all the world as though they were out for a moonlight stroll.
It was a beautiful night for such desperate things to be showing themselves. Men and women who could snap your neck in an instant, or place a kick with just the right amount of force in just the right place over your heart to stop it forever. Cowley, with his insidious command over life and death. Bodie and himself -- more desperate than any of them now. And they were the good guys. How desperate had young Peter been? Doyle kept his eyes open, not wanting to see all that again.
A light in the sky resolved itself as the promised helicopter, and Doyle watched as it hovered, ugly-graceful, above the ground and then settled ponderously down. A dark suited figure stepped out, presented a white-gloved hand to the woman within, and helped her onto the grass of the field. They dashed, crouched against the slashing blades, to where the pale gravel began, and then stopped for a moment to speak. The Minister and his lady, presumably. There were a hundred things he should be doing, but Doyle remained still. He wanted to see this man, to see who wanted, so badly, to be the undoing of England.
Eventually the couple turned towards the house, and a figure emerged to meet them. Not Cowley, Doyle saw in surprise, but the Shadow Minister, Bentley. The woman continued her on her way, Bentley gestured in the opposite direction, to the opposite end of the house and followed the Minister into the darkness.
By the time Doyle reached that end of the house, sliding out the kitchen door and into the cover of the gloom and the rhododendrons, he was afraid they would have vanished, that everything important would have been said, but the two men were still there, their voices low but clear.
"... hanging around," Bentley was saying. "I couldn't get in, and I'd be surprised if you could."
"Oh, they have to let me in, it's my office."
"You'd be surprised what George Cowley thinks he can do. Look, it's too dangerous. You're the only person here they won't think of checking if it comes to that. You're above suspicion."
"I'm hardly going to kill my own son," the Minister agreed, "though he might have deserved it for this. But as you say, it doesn't have to effect us."
"We'll go ahead as planned," Bentley stated. "Everything is still ready for Sunday, by Monday it will all be over."
"Bar the tears and recriminations."
"Not ours." Bentley's teeth seemed to gleam in the moonlight. "Here, take this then. You can always claim you carry it for self-defence. Might be illegal, but somewhat understandable in this day and age. You'll get your wrist smacked, nothing more."
The Minister sniffed delicately and reached out a hand. "Quite correct in point of fact. I have every intention of defending myself against Donal Kelly and his friends if necessary." He looked briefly at the Smith and Wesson in his hand, before tucking it into a coat pocket.
"Well just remember that they will almost certainly be armed as well. And that this is a civilised negotiation between potential colleagues."
"Between employer and employee," the Minister corrected. "I suppose I'd better go and see what Cowley wants, be the grieving pater."
"Don't lay it on too thick, old man, you'll only make them suspicious. And you've wasted enough of that explosive as it is."
"Oh that's simple enough to come by," the Minister waved one hand, "And Kelly won't endanger his new funds by whining over a few lost pounds. It's almost worth it to be rid of the brat, at long last. Now that was an expensive mistake..."
As the two men passed out of sight and hearing, Doyle realised this fists were clenched hard by his side, his face pulled tight with the effort of staying still and silent.
He had to find Bodie.
As Bodie had feared, Cowley summoned them at last, now that Peter's parents had arrived. Bodie gathered himself at the door, prepared himself for an hour or so of why-him? and what-have-we-done? . Doyle turned up at last, stepped into the room at his side.
The Honourable and his Lady trembled slightly as Cowley told them how their son had died. They held hands. She pursed her lips. He turned his head.
"He was the one with the bomb, you say?" the Minister asked, one hand on the lapel of his dinner jacket, "There's no doubt?"
"I'm afraid not." Cowley managed, as always, to be both sympathetic and hard as nails. "You had no inkling yourselves that he..."
"None!" the wife spat in, "None at all. Peter is..." she looked staunchly to her husband, "He was... a strange child."
Cowley looked a question. Held on.
"He was... He was never affectionate. Always on his own. Although once he had a... an old dog for a while. Mangy old thing, but he wouldn't leave it alone."
"What happened to it?"
"Oh. It died, I think. Well, these things do, don't they?"
Bodie considered the mannequin before him, the cigarette dangling artfully from one hand, its perfect black dress, its flawless mask of powder and paint. So cold. Her husband perched on the arm of the settee, dinner jacket sleek. Yeah. Things did die in those sort of circumstances. He remembered he had. "So he didn't have any other friends?"
The perfect head turned. "Well... Some odd types hanging about, I suppose. He never introduced us. Teenagers don't." She took a pull on the cigarette, looked at him through hooded lashes.
"Odd types?" Cowley asked at once, without patience at her sudden fascination with Bodie, "What sort of odd types?"
"Well you know," the Minister said through his nose, "Characters, I suppose you would call them. Boys meet all sorts in the colleges, don't they? Irish some of them, nowadays."
"Yes, I believe so..."
He believed so. Bodie raised eyes at the same time Doyle did, caught across the Right Honourable's head. Ray's mouth was dangerously thin, despite the lush lips. Yeah. Enough to turn a fluffy bunny into a ravening wolf, these two. Bodie thought of the room upstairs, empty of all personality. All they knew about this kid was that on the same night that he killed his friends, he had saved them, had saved Cowley at the same time. From his own father.
"And of course he was failing his degree anyway," the Minister half-sniffed, "Oxford was a complete waste of time."
"You took a firm line with him then?" Cowley asked intuitively, leaning forward.
"Of course. Threatened to disinherit him, but it didn't help."
Your son is dead, Mr Right Honourable Your Wanker, Bodie thought viciously, he just murdered fourteen other kids. He clenched his fists by his sides to avoid throwing the man across the room and kept Ray in his peripheral vision, his reason to stay calm.
A fussing at the door; McCabe entered, barely glanced at the rest of them, aimed straight for Cowley and spoke low in his ear. Cowley looked a question, barked a whisper back, and then turned to the couple.
"I do apologise. My men are needed outside. I trust you will feel safe enough with me?"
The early morning air was cold, like a rush of life against Doyle's skin. The moon was low by now, the skeletal remains of the pergola a scar in its perfectly round face, and there was an almost-light to the east. The end of yet another eternal night.
He looked questioningly at McCabe, barely a half-breath ahead of Bodie's opened mouth.
"There's something happening in the woods. Probably not a big problem, but we scared off a bunch of kids an hour or so ago, and it seems like they didn't go home after all. Wondered what you wanted to do with them?"
"Well, are any of them girls?" Bodie asked, and Doyle rolled his eyes.
"What this idiot means is, how many of them were there?" he interrupted, casting an eye towards the distant deep-leafed trees. Black on black they brushed against the night, shushed a breeze into the early morning.
"Four or five. The thing is -- a couple of them looked to have shooters."
"Well why didn't you say so?" Doyle growled, glaring. More kids with guns, just what they needed. What the hell was going on tonight? For a moment he saw Diana Molner lying in the railway carriage, Mayli staring down at him. He didn't listen for McCabe's answer, strode towards the edge of the garden, knowing Bodie would be close behind.
It was darker among the trees than he'd imagined, despite the moon. Bodie's breath at his back, he pushed his way along deer-trails and fairy paths, nothing solid, nothing more than a slightly widened rut between branches. Then somewhere to their left there was a... something. Little more than an awareness of life -- something that made his shoulders shrug and the hairs on his neck rise. He didn't have to look back at Bodie to know that he felt it too. Then whispered voices, a giggle. He reached under his jacket, felt the reassuring heft as his fingers curled around cold metal and drew it out into the night.
Their feet stepped lightly, hearts beat. He glanced at Bodie, moved silently to the left, one hand brushing each tree he passed, one foot pausing before each stride across the wet autumn mulch. There. Four of them, badly dressed up as soldiers, complete with water guns. And a bottle of scotch. They turned away from him as Bodie loudly, deliberately clicked his safety back on, and they froze solid at Bodie's face, his eyes staring up at them past arched brows. Bodie looked like the devil incarnate, and they were only kids, high on the night, maybe scared for their friends.
Doyle stepped into the clearing. One of the boys let out a yell, rushed him, and he sidestepped neatly, let the lad's momentum push him into an old oak before swinging him around on the wrist he'd grabbed. "Anyone else?"
The girls gave startled squeaks, the other boy looked surprised but calm, lounging arrogantly against a tree. Doyle addressed him. "What are you doing out 'ere?"
"What's it to you?"
He pulled his I.D. from his back pocket, held it high, knowing it was too dim to be read. "You're trespassing. What are you doing out here?"
"Party... wanted to see Peter..." one of the girls near whispered, "The police said there'd been a fire, but..."
"But there's no smoke, you see," the boy drawled, raising the bottle to his lips.
"Friends of his were you?" Bodie asked, reaching the scotch from his hand, taking a swig. He made an appreciative face, kept hold of the bottle.
"Yes... no. I dunno," the girl said again, eyes on the gun still gripped in his other hand. Doyle caught his partner's eye, slid his own weapon away. He waited a moment until Bodie had done the same and then reached for the scotch himself. Christ but he needed a drink. Bodie's eyes looked a brief smile at him, and passed the bottle in a brush of fingers. Thus warmed, Doyle was able to look kindly at the girl.
"He didn't actually invite us himself," she managed, looking shyly back through her lashes, "But Mike told us to come..."
"Mike? Pete's mate?"
"Well -- not really..."
It took fifteen minutes and nearly a quarter of the bottle, but by the end of it Doyle's teeth were baring again. No one had liked Peter, the Minister's son. He was an oaf, an idiot, a weirdo. "Mike" thought it would be especially funny to go to a party thrown by the weirdo. Get him drunk. See what he would do. Nearly as funny as the day they had filled his locker with body parts, the night they had taken him around the queer bars, the time they had told the consultant on ward round that he was a bed-wetter and the proud owner of a teddy bear. The consultant had laughed.
Doyle's face hardened. No refuge for Peter, then. Not at home, not at university, not even at his own party. See what Peter would do, eh? A thought flashed through his mind, black as all pitch.
It seemed the joke was on Mike.
The walk back was silent, considering. When Bodie had been cornered like that, so long ago now, he'd run away. Doyle had hit out with knives and fists, but he had managed to channel the rage, Bodie thought, maybe even sometimes to still it. Eventually CI5 took them both, used them, channelled them. No such peace for Peter. Poor desperate Peter, with his ice-perfect parents.
They reached the edge of the woods behind the house, the opposite end of the trees to McCabe and the others by the gate, and a vision brought him up short. The Minister and the Shadow Minister, nicely silhouetted by the floodlights that faced into the garden, that dazzled the team still working there. Their heads were bent low together. The men who planned to have George Cowley killed. Who would pull CI5 apart, and take Ray Doyle from him.
An arm nudged his, and Bodie watched as Doyle reached into his jacket pocket, took out the gloves he'd worn to crack the safe. Then he pulled out an unfamiliar Smith and Wesson.
"Bentley's," Doyle replied to the raised eyebrow. "I lifted it from the Minister's coat pocket." He glanced down at it, back at Bodie, and for a long second they tested each other's souls, gazed long and hard at the creatures within. Words were, after all, just words. It was what they did, deep down, that was real.
Bodie nodded, just the once. He slid a hand across Doyle's chest, pulled Doyle's Browning from its holster. "On ten." Then he melted into the trees.
When the shots came, two in rapid succession, Bodie let loose with their own guns, fired high into the night, barked a shout so that Doyle would find him. And then they were running, a wild imaginary pursuit through oak and ash and beech, the scent of the night in their nostrils, their breath fast and hot in the chill air.
By the time they got back to the house, they were scratched and torn, faces flushed with effort. Cowley was standing over the dead men, staring at the neat holes in the back of each head, watching forensics go about their new business. He turned sharply at their approach.
"What happened out there?"
"Dunno, sir," Bodie managed to gasp, "Someone... Not the kids, we ... sent them packing."
"Anyone else hurt, sir?" Doyle asked, and Cowley have him a hard look.
"There were only two shots, weren't there?"
There was a sharp knock and McCabe stuck his head around the door, gave Cowley a single nod, and withdrew.
Cowley let out a breath, picked up a file and tapped it absently on his thigh.
"Sir?" Doyle finally asked, when it seemed that their boss was not going to speak at all. He had to know what this night was about.
Cowley laid the file back down. "It seems that the Minister has been in touch with our friends from the IRA for quite some time now. Not," he added, with a flicked glance at his agents, "In an official capacity."
"The investigation you were pulled off this evening, to come here -- at the PM's request -- well, we knew the men you were tracking had been in discussions with someone about obtaining international funding. Enough to build an armoury that would keep them going for years. The Minister..."
"...and the Shadow Minister," Doyle interrupted. He began to feel the slide of pieces falling into place, his eyes narrowed as the implications of it all started to sink in.
"But that's crazy," Bodie was saying, "Why would they risk everything they had..?"
"Och, Bodie, for the same reason everybody else does."
"Money?" Doyle hazarded. "It'd have to be a lot."
"It was. And brokering the deal together ensured that they would both be in positions of power, either in or out of government, for the rest of their lives." Cowley stared hard at them, clearly considering exactly how much to tell them. "This does not leave this room."
More secrets. Doyle stared as impassively as he could out the window, to where the night was grey now with advancing dawn. The outline of the trees, the woods, was coming clear, separating itself from the neat landscaping of the garden.
"Our government is in talks with the U.S. regarding a new defence contract. A big one. As it happens, certain of their officials are privately rather sympathetic to what they call the "Irish cause". We've always known this, of course, just as we've always known that a certain amount of the IRA's armaments have originated in America."
"They wanted us to lighten up in return for the contract," Bodie suggested.
"Something like that, yes. Not officially, of course. Officially the department in question disabused them of that idea immediately. Our informers, however, were able to tell us that the IRA have been very pleased about something of late, are building up to something big. It was only very recently that they heard hints that it involved someone actually in government."
"What does all this have to do with tonight's bomb, sir?" Bodie asked. He had fallen automatically into parade rest while Cowley spoke. From the corner of his eye, Doyle could see the small frown between his brows. He wanted to wipe it away.
"The bomb was meant to go off in the house. To distract CI5 from our investigations and thus give time for the deal to go through. A red herring if you like. It had nothing to do with young Peter. We're assuming he stumbled across it by accident, turned it to his own purpose. He was a disturbed young man. A tragedy of coincidence. If he had not been who he was..."
"Had the parents he had..." Doyle murmured. When they set the bomb, the Minister and his bloodless wife were at the other end of the country. They expected their son to be at home. If they thought of him at all.
"...then it might all have turned out very differently."
Some of the tension started to leech from Doyle's muscles when he heard the words spoken. Cowley didn't know how differently. No one would ever know, except himself and Bodie.
Suddenly all he wanted to do was get out into the clean, fresh air.
The moon was finally setting when they emerged from the house. Doyle paused on the sweep of steps to stretch, washing his face in its pale glow, shaking off the last of the night. He could feel Bodie's eyes on him, tired as his own.
"Cowley'll have his work cut out for him tomorrow," Bodie muttered, leaning back against the balustrade. "Especially since it happened right under his nose."
"Under our noses," Doyle corrected absently. "There's a certain Donal Kelly who might find himself slightly harassed an' all."
"Yeah. What do you reckon to the chances of us getting some decent kip anytime in the next week, eh?"
"Should make the most of the next few hours then," Doyle suggested.
"What, sleeping?" Bodie shook his head, "First thing to go, you know, your stamina." He flicked at Doyle's sideburns, "After that of course."
"Stamina, is it? Macklin'll have a field day with you sometime soon - I 'eard you breathing when we were in those woods."
There was quiet between them for a moment as they both looked away, then each back to the other. Doyle grinned, and slowly, Bodie did too.
"Bonfire night just around the corner," Doyle noted, "Bound to be excitement there."
"Ah, you never know, maybe we'll get the night off, get to eat a few toffee apples ourselves for a change." Bodie threw out his own arms in a stretch, brought one down behind Doyle and shoved him into movement. "Come on then, let's go practice making our own fireworks, eh?"
"No rest for the wicked," Doyle sighed, and followed him to the Capri.
-- THE END --