A Crook in the Path
Written for Discovered on May Day, on the discoveredinalj livejournal community.
Sequel to Perfect Alignment
There'd been silence in the office as they read, but for the rustling of pages in files, the occasional disbelieving snort from Bodie, and his own sniffs as he read some of the more insalubrious details of the case. Outside the day was clear and spring-bright, at odds with the reports, the coroner's photographs, the images of blood and bruise and pain that were being conjured over Cowley's desk.
"And we've no idea how they're getting the kids out of the country?" Doyle asked at last, not quite believing that so big an operation could go unseen, undetected by their own agencies and by Interpol.
"Or the weapons in," Cowley frowned through his glasses at the reports. "All we know is that they're here and the children are gone, and that the exchanges have been going on for months now. Oh, and we have a name." He passed a piece of paper to Bodie, and Doyle leaned over to read it at the same time, so close that he could feel the lift of Bodie's chest as he breathed in, the warmth that Bodie emanated, could smell the leather and the soap and the life that meant him. "Matthew Turnabbot, small-time villain, no real form, but some connection."
"They contracted out," Bodie suggested, letting Doyle take the sheet, stare harder at the face of the man, who looked like nobody, like someone you'd pass on the street without a thought. Someone your sister might bring home, someone you might play darts with in a pub. And yet...
"Aye, quite likely," Cowley was saying, "He's always been jack-the-lad, but just recently his associates have been harder men, people with connections to Chamier, and he's been flashing his money around bold as brass."
"He thinks he's got protection."
"He thinks Chamier will protect him." Cowley nodded, "But Chamier will protect his reputation above all, his career, his political prospects, and that means that we have a chance. Turnabbot could turn out to be Chamier's biggest mistake."
"If we can prove the connection."
"If you two can prove the connection, and find out how Turnabbot is doing it."
"Which means..." Undercover? Together or separately?
"Stakeout. We've got the address of...och, that'll be enough of that," Cowley paused as they groaned in unison. Doyle rolled his eyes for extra effect, but it might as well have been genuine. He did it -- they all did it -- but he hated stakeout above all things; usually cold, probably wet and almost always uncomfortable, but worst of all having to stay still, for hours on end. "This is the address of Turnabbot's mother..."
Turnabbot's mother was a white-haired lady of sixty-something, who wore bright red lipstick on her still-wide mouth, a plastic rain scarf across her curls, and pulled a trolley behind her to go to the shops. She was also nobody's fool, and quite likely the source of all Turnabbot's success and bravado. She let no metre-men into the house, and calling Doyle a hooligan right there in the street was the least of it, but at last they managed to get in unseen, and to search the place, and find the address of a farmhouse in the rural wilderness, scrawled in large letters on a scrap of paper under the telephone.
And so they lay flat on the ground, and around them the English countryside stretched, peaceful in the mid-morning. Birds sang in the trees, trilling their hearts to the blue skies, to sunshine and to the glory of being alive on this day, the grass was soft and brilliant green, and whenever a breeze nudged the branches above them, somewhere, gently, a spring-white blossom would detach and slide through the air adding to the carpet that was slowly growing around them. Not far away, an early bumblebee set up a low buzzing, in contented harmony with its world.
It was a good job Doyle couldn't hear a stream babbling merrily on its way, because then he'd really have to be sick.
Beside him Bodie shifted, rearranging stones and rocks and other discomforts beneath him no doubt, his thigh nudging at Doyle's, his elbow settling back at Doyle's ribs as he leant up to watch through the binoculars. Doyle knew what discomfort he'd like to be shifting, but there wasn't much chance of that at the moment.
"Are we sure they're in there?" he asked again, frowning as a petal swooped low, practically brushing his cheek. He swatted at it, turning his head just in time to see Bodie grimacing back at him and rolling his eyes.
"Look, if Cowley says they're in there, they're in there. How often have you known him to be wrong?"
Doyle grunted, and rested his own chin back on crossed arms. "Be nice if they'd move around a little..."
"What, give us a decent target to aim at?"
"Yeah, why not?"
"We could just shoot the whole lot," Bodie suggested happily, "Men, women, doddering old ladies..."
"Elma Turnabbot was not a doddering old lady," Doyle reminded him indignantly. He still had the bruises from that little encounter. "She was..."
"A good aim with a handbag?"
"She 'ad a brick in that handbag!"
"She was five foot nothing!"
"And five stone heavier than me..."
"Should have got out of the way quicker, shouldn't you?"
"You could've done better, I suppose?"
"Cowley could have done better..."
Doyle grinned suddenly, "Now that I'd like to see - Cowley up against her some day..."
"What? Cowley and a woman? No chance!"
Doyle's turn to make a face, but he thought about it for a moment. "Well I can't see him with a bloke either, can you?"
Bodie was silent, and Doyle turned to stare at him disbelievingly. "You don't..."
"The Cow?" he denied quickly enough, "Not in this lifetime, mate." Another grimace. "But then plenty of people'd say they same about us, wouldn't they?"
"Wouldn't they, though," he agreed happily, catching sight of Bodie's lips quirking upwards into a smile, and pressing back against his leg just a little harder. It could be worse, he thought, he could have been out here with Anson, or Williams, or Blaydon. At least he had Bodie to be miserable with, in the glorious spring weather.
And of course it was then that he heard the sharp c-lick of a revolver being cocked behind them.
They rolled out of the way, of course, opposite directions, drawing their weapons, but all that achieved was getting them off the ground. They were, unbelievably, surrounded, and out-gunned six to one - thirty-six to one if you counted the fact that one of their assailants was holding an FN. They all wore masks, balaclavas in khaki or black, and none of them said anything.
"Nice day for it..." Bodie tried, loosening his hold on his own Browning.
Doyle glanced over at Bodie - don't try anything, there's too many of them, just don't try anything - and threw his own Magnum to the grass, not far enough away that he couldn't reach it given a chance, but not close enough to look suspicious. Didn't work though.
The bloke with the assault rifle gestured to one of his mates, who crouched down to pick up their guns, with his own still steadily aimed at them. Careful, this lot. Very careful.
"Look, I know poaching's not strictly legal..."
"Shut up," FN growled, clearly unamused by Bodie's attempts to distract them. He gestured again, and, hands in the air, they let themselves be herded down the hill, into the farmhouse, and downstairs into the cellar. A small cellar, with one barred window, solid concrete walls, and a single door for entry. The perfect prison.
"Don't bother trying the door - there'll be someone outside it with orders to shoot you rather than look at you. You're not that valuable."
And then they were left alone.
"Window?" Bodie suggested, with a resigned lift of one eyebrow.
"Window," Doyle agreed, knowing that if their captors had been this thorough already, there was little chance they'd have overlooked anything so simple. Sure enough, in front of the glass the bars were firm, the concrete they were set in fresh and solid, and even as they stood staring at it, out past the flat dusty yard, across to the distant tree line and the April-blue sky, a pair of denim clad legs approached the window from outside, and a square of heavy plywood was dropped into place. The room fell to further shadow, and Doyle scowled.
"What's that all about?" Maybe it'd be worth smashing the glass now, at least get that part over with. Pretend it was done in a fit of temper, if nothing else it'd be one barrier less for later. They'd be able to tip off the cover easily enough, maybe they could work on the bars while it was up...
"Something they don't want us to see."
"Oh brilliant, Sherlock. So why keep us alive at all?"
"Your man with the big gun didn't sound particularly delicate," Doyle retorted, still running his hands around the bars, his mind racing. "More likely they've got plans... Hostages?"
"They haven't even asked us where we're from yet."
"Maybe they've been too busy..." At least if they were hostages they'd be kept alive.
"Maybe we know something they want to know?"
Doyle tipped his head. "Maybe... Suppose we'll 'ave to wait and see..."
"Well, there is something else we can do," Bodie said, and Doyle could hear the grin even if he could barely see it, then a faint rustle of clothes, and Bodie's RT was in his hand. "They're not that thorough..."
"Ah, but is there a signal?" Wouldn't do to let Bodie know he was too impressed. "Just our luck, the one time you remember to bring it with you there'll be no signal."
"Let's find out, shall we?" Bodie fiddled with the settings briefly, turning down the volume, then thumbed the transmitter. "3.7 to Base."
A brief and hushed burst of static.
"3.7 to Base, do you read me? Over."
"We read you, 3.7, proceed."
The door above them crashed open, there was a shot, a cry from Bodie and the RT dropped loudly to the ground. Doyle started forward automatically, only to freeze as the gun was aimed in his direction, and two men clattered down the stairs. He raised his hands and backed off, managing at least to get between the men and Bodie.
"Kick it over here!"
Doyle did so, trying to ignore Bodie's heavy breathing behind him, trying to watch both figures in the dim light, trying to think.
He was given no time - as the butt of a revolver cut dark and hard towards his head he reacted uselessly, too late, too little, too afraid that Bodie would be shot again, and there was pain and then there was nothing.
He dreamed of engines, of aeroplanes diving and streaking through desperately blue skies, of the screams of children, and the scrape of something bad approaching. In the dream he couldn't move, was frozen with indecision, and the thing that finally woke him with a gasp was knowing that Bodie had been killed...
There were no clear skies when he opened his eyes, darkness from the outside as true as the darkness that still stabbed at his guts, though he knew it was a dream, he knew it now, but... He tried to open his eyes wider, to see anything, tried to lift himself from the hard ground.
Bodie. "Bodie, are you..." His eyes adjusted, he could see the shape that was Bodie beside him, leaning closer towards him, the slits of daylight at either side of the window, where the wood was leaning, a pale line opposite and above, the door to the cellar.
"I'm fine." A hand, warm and heavy across his forehead, around to the back of his head, but no matter how gentle it was, he winced as it found the edge of the lump that felt the size of a cricket ball. Another hand beneath his shoulder, helping him sit up, an arm giving him something to lean against.
"They missed?" He'd heard the cry, they hadn't missed...
"Crease," Bodie said dismissively, "Bloody amateurs. Stings, that's all."
"How long've I been out?"
"Couple'f hours. Was starting to think your head might not be as thick as I always reckoned it was."
"Feels pretty thick right now," Doyle admitted. It throbbed, and he wanted nothing more than to close his eyes and be lying at home with Bodie, somewhere soft, somewhere warm. Instead he made himself pull away, turned to look at him as best he could. "You sure you're alright?" he asked, reaching out to run his hands over Bodie's shoulders, down his arms - there was the wound, his jumper stiff and still slightly wet over it, and Bodie winced. He shifted his arm away easily enough though, raised it to place a restraining hand over Doyle's and move it away.
"Bloodied but undaunted," Bodie said with a grin, but he kept hold of Doyle's hand, pressed it into his lap, and they sat there for a moment, catching up on thoughts, on worries, on needs.
"What happened after I took the count?" Doyle asked at last. They were still alive, that had to be a good sign.
"They took the RT, frisked you over in case you had one too, made a couple of threats, and then vanished again. About half an hour ago there was a lot of noise outside - 'planes somewhere close, landing and taking off again." He paused, and Doyle felt his hand pressed just a little harder, "And there were kids shouting, three, maybe four. Think they were here all the time, gone now."
"Christ, they've done it again." Right under their noses.
"Yeah. I reckon they'll be back soon too."
"We'll find out what they want then..." If they lived long enough.
"Funny thing..." Bodie began, then paused. Doyle waited while he thought it out. "I recognised one of the voices - not the bloke who bashed you, the other one. He was busy telling me what'd happen if CI5 turned up to rescue us, and I'd swear I've heard his voice before.
"He knew who we were, then," Doyle realised, "Knew we were CI5."
"Yeah. And from his tone of voice he's not particularly keen."
"Well, most villains aren't. If you could remember who it was..."
"No - d'you think that'd help? I was gonna try and wipe him from me mind."
"What passes for your mind... Hang about..." A vehicle pulled up outside, and there was a slamming of car doors, then a clattering above them. Four men? Five? If they really had left one upstairs that'd account for all of them. Unless they'd brought in someone else, of course...
"Wouldn't it be nice if one of those was Chamier?"
"Be even nicer if it was Matheson and King..."
"Even McCabe and Lucas," Bodie agreed, tensing as the footsteps seemed to move towards their door. "You up to having a go if we get the chance?"
"Try me." He'd get these bastards if it was the last thing he did. The gun smuggling was bad enough, the slave trade was worse, but shooting Bodie'd sealed their fate even if it had turned out to be a surface wound. He pushed himself off the floor, stood on shaky legs, tried to stretch himself back to normal. Bodie stood up beside him, shoulder to shoulder, and they both kept their eyes on the light beneath the door. After a moment there was a grinding of locks, and it swung back.
The muzzle of the FN appeared first, then an arm snaked along the wall, and brilliant yellow light flooded the room. Doyle blinked, squinted into it. Of course there was a light switch...
"Don't try anything," a voice ordered, then there was silence but for footsteps down the stairs. Three men, and another left at the top, just inside the door that was closed behind him. Doyle realised with a catch to his breath that they hadn't bothered to wear masks this time.
The shorter bloke with the FN strode across and stood in front of them, flanked by his companions. It was Turnabbot. Neither of the others were British - or looked it - and they were both armed and hard-faced.
"You haven't told us what you want yet," Bodie said, managing to sound arrogant and somehow in charge of the whole situation. They wouldn't like that, what hell was he playing at?
Sure enough, Turnabbot left the rifle hanging from one shoulder, squared up to Bodie to look him right in the eyes, then drew his fist back and hit him hard in the stomach. Bodie doubled over briefly, then straightened and glowered back at Turnabbot, uncowed.
"He's right though - what do you want?" Doyle interrupted, wanting to refocus Turnabbot's attention, to get on with whatever it was that was going to happen. They knew it was CI5, and they weren't wearing their masks any more. "You must want something, or we wouldn't be here."
"Oh we want something," Turnabbot agreed stonily, "We want a bit of respect, and a bit of cooperation." He lifted the rifle to Doyle's forehead, pressed it so that Doyle could feel the circle of metal hard against his skin, sharp counterpoint to the dull pain in the back of his head. "Now what do you think's the best way of getting that?"
Doyle had closed his eyes automatically, pursed his lips in anticipation of a shot, of pain and of oblivion. When nothing happened he looked up, staring under the muzzle of the gun at Turnabbot, but Turnabbot's attention had moved back to Bodie.
"What do you think's the best way to get your cooperation, hard man?" The muzzle wavered slightly, traced its way down Doyle's face to his neck, paused, crossed to one shoulder, then another, then down to his stomach, his groin, and back up again, pausing now and then as if to familiarise itself with his body. "Take this one apart, bit by bit? Fill him full of metal until he's screaming? Friend of yours, isn't he?"
Bodie said nothing. Doyle could feel him, tense with the effort not to move, not to swing for Turnabbot, not blink at him.
"On your knees, both of you! Hands on your heads."
Bodie went first, immediately, still silent, face grim, and as the FN was pulled away Doyle followed, so that they knelt in front of Turnabbot and his men.
"Hoi, Trevor," Turnabbot half-turned to the man at the top of the stairs, "This one's for you mate." He waved a hand to indicate Bodie and Doyle, humbled before him. "You tipped us off, they're on their knees for you!"
"About time the tables were turned," Trevor said, his voice surprisingly soft, though there was an edge to it, and something familiar, as Bodie had said, something...
Purple Velvet .
Doyle stared up at the figure, trying to recognise the man that he'd met less than a year ago. The face was the same, though the whiskers were gone, the hair was short, and his eyes were hard. Dirty jeans, a t-shirt and bomber jacket - none of the flamboyance, it could have been anyone. Had he been fooling them all along?
"Eyes down!" Turnabbot cuffed him with the flat of his hand, and Doyle saw stars as pain flashed anew across his head. He wavered towards the floor, felt nausea take him, wondered if he would be sick at the feet of this man. Not that, not that. With an effort he swallowed it down again, pulled his face to stone, lifted his head back up.
"Yeah, well," Turnabbot smiled unpleasantly, "Trev here doesn't like CI5, and all the boss said was to keep you alive for when he gets here tonight, so I'm giving him the pleasure of your company 'til then. Sorry I can't stay, I'm sure it'll be... entertaining." He tilted his head, spoke past the silent guards to Purple Velvet - Trevor - "You want them chained?"
"Why not?" Trevor came down the steps to stand beside Turnabbot, gun steady, eyeing the agents, face blank.
"See? You're going to have a great time. You know where to meet us tomorrow, Trevor. I'll leave you to it."
Doyle managed to stay up on his knees until Turnabbot's men took his arms, and dragged him to the rough wall. Trevor's gun was on Bodie, Doyle sagged, let them do what they would. There was some disagreement about how they'd be restrained, but in the end they fetched a length of chain and slung it around the bars of the window, locked the ends together, then handcuffed his hands either side of it, so that he could move enough to stand or sit, or even lie down, but short of picking the locks couldn't leave the area by the window. Once he was secure Trevor placed his own revolver at Doyle's head, and they cuffed Bodie beside him, then left, as silently as they had arrived.
Trevor was slow to remove the gun.
"You were working for Mullan all along," Bodie snarled when they were alone. "You were right in it, weren't you?"
The wall was cold on his back, the floor hard under him. Doyle didn't know whether he was more disgusted with Trevor, or with himself for falling for it. He thought back, remembered sun and stones, ravens overhead, and a strange man who believed in something. Had it really all been an act?
Trevor was shaking his head.
" I tell you man, this is England ."
Something bad was coming...
"Oh, don't give me that - at least have the guts to admit it..."
"No, I had no idea what Derek was doing. None of us did. Not me, not the girls, not Andy or the young uns. Didn't matter to you though, did it?"
"So you had to walk a few miles to the nearest pub..."
"Oh, we didn't get that far. Your lot picked us up half way there."
"Night in the cells was it?" Bodie asked, without much sympathy.
"Three months," Trevor said, voice flat. "Andy's still in, turned out he was carrying. Sid and Jim were on their third warning, they got six months each. Sid got himself knifed in Wandsworth. Kidneys. He's alive, but he won't be going up to Cambridge this year. And of course you know what happened to Amy."
Doyle didn't. You couldn't keep track of everyone you got involved with, not every kid you managed to save.
"Alright, I'll bite," Bodie said easily, "What happened to Amy? Daddy mad with her?"
"Daddy disowned her. She's pregnant now, living in a council flat in Peckham, and her feller knocks her around."
The other one - what was her name? He'd never known Trevor's name... "Vanessa?"
"Gone. She and Amy had a big fight, she just left. No one knew where."
Maybe she was alright then. Maybe she'd made it out. Doyle's head throbbed. It felt too heavy to hold up, but it was too tender to lean back against the wall, and he let his eyes close. After a moment he pulled his legs towards him, leaned his arms across his knees and let his head fall forwards. Cowley'd given them their first scotch. They'd cocked it up after all.
"You can't hold us responsible for what they did with their lives," Bodie was saying. "We didn't force-feed you dope, we didn't ask Andy to deal, and we sure as hell didn't get Amy De Longford pregnant."
"None of those things would have happened if you hadn't marched us out at gunpoint, and sent your mates to pick us up!"
"We were trying to protect you! Mullan would have blown you to pieces!"
"Dez wouldn't have done that."
"So you were in it together."
"Stop twisting my words!"
"They're your words!"
Doyle groaned, lifted his head. This wasn't getting them anywhere. "Bodie..."
"Don't start defending him, Ray, he's not worth it..."
"Bo-die!" It came out a growl, sent the world spinning, but Bodie turned and looked at him.
"Christ, Doyle, what..." he broke off, shifted suddenly in a rattle of chains, and Doyle found his chin cupped and his head tilted back. A thumb pulled at his eyelids, and he tried to shake himself free, which just set the spinning off again.
"Why the hell didn't you say something before?" Bodie turned to Trevor, "Get us out of these things, and call an ambulance. Doyle, stay awake for me, alright..."
It was a quiet voice, it was pitched low, and it was certain.
"What do you mean, "No"?"
"Won't be my fault if he dies."
"You..." Bodie rose to his feet, Doyle could feel the pull of the chain, but couldn't be bothered protesting as his hands were dragged upwards. It rattled his muscles, his nerves, he wanted to cry out, but he wouldn't shame Bodie...
"Think about it." Footsteps up the stairs.
Doyle had closed his eyes again - much better in the dark - but suddenly there was movement, he was being moved, and then he was leaning sideways against something soft, and fingers were threading gently through his hair, too close to where he'd been hit, and he cringed away without knowing what he was doing. No good, Bodie was holding him, there wasn't anywhere to go.
"Doyle? Come on Doyle, don't go to sleep, okay?"
"Mmn." He'd try. It'd be easy to sleep, lying there against Bodie, breathing in the smell of Bodie - a slightly dusty, sweaty Bodie - but if Bodie asked him not to...
"No, Doyle, I mean it! Come on, talk to me, Ray, talk to me?"
Bodie almost sounded like he was pleading with him, but Bodie wouldn't do that, so Doyle half-smiled at the foolishness of the thought, and tried to think of something to say.
"Cocked it up, didn't we?"
"Eh? What'd we cock up?"
"Amy... Amy and Purple Velvet and..."
"Look, whatever they did, they did it to themselves, Ray. It's not our fault."
"Wouldn't have happened if..."
"It's not our fault, Ray. Look, we need to get out of here."
"Not really up to running," Doyle managed, slightly surprised that he was confessing to such a thing. But if he could just rest for a bit, then he'd be able to concentrate properly, and help Bodie to... help Bodie to what?
"Alright mate, I know. Okay, how about this - they've left our legs free, if I can get him close enough I should be able to get the gun off him, maybe find the key..."
"Don' hurt him, Bodie."
"What? Why not?'
"'S been hurt enough... 'S not Purple Velvet anymore..."
"No, he's just another pillock who thinks having a gun gives him some sort of power."
"No! Not like us!" Bodie was almost shouting. Loud voice, too loud, and the movement was making him feel sick.
"Shhh," he managed, "Shhhh, f'r a bit, Bodie." He'd just close his eyes for a minute...
The cool dim dark receded again, and he frowned. "Hmmn..?"
"Ray, stay awake!"
He tried to stay awake, he really did, but...
When next he came round he was stiff all over, his legs were cold, and the only light this time came from the door above the stairs. He couldn't see Bodie at all, but he could feel him, all around him, warm and hard and soft, and so, as he might on any morning, he tilted his head to reach the nearest skin, and kissed him.
"Ray, you awake?"
"Yeah..." And then he really was, awake and remembering, and he shifted properly so that Bodie's arms fell from around him, and he sat himself up.
"How's your head, mate?"
"Still there..." It ached still, but dull, and in the back of his head. He'd suffered minor concussion before, no doubt would again. The nausea was gone, the spinning. "I think I might live."
"Just as well, I don't fancy trying to get your corpse out of these chains."
Bodie'd take him anyway, even if he was dead? Nah, 'course he wouldn't, he was just saying it... Doyle shook off a bit more sleep, sniffed in the cold night air. "Trevor come back?"
"Bastard never did," Bodie said bitterly, "He's up there though, I can hear him."
"Turnabbot said Chamier was coming tonight, didn't he?"
"Yeah. No sign of him yet. And it's coming on midnight."
"No wonder its cold..."
"Just as well you didn't bust that window."
"Look, Doyle, if we get Trevor down here and close, I can take him, alright?"
"Yeah..." But there was something wrong with that, something... "They could have just handcuffed us to the window."
"What? Yeah, so what?"
"Trevor made them go up and get chain, so that we could sit down."
"Bodie, just don't kill 'im, alright?" He could feel Bodie staring at him. "He's not like the rest of 'em..."
"Don't start that again, Ray. He'd've let you die down here."
"I don't think he would..."
"You were fucking unconscious, how would you know?"
They glared at one another through the dark. Bodie'd spent as much time with Purple Velvet as he had, why didn't he understand?
"He had a hard time because of us, and it wasn't..."
"Christ Doyle, I always knew you had a tendency to be a bleeding heart, but this is ridiculous. He's changed - if he was ever soft to start with, he's not now, right?"
"We don't know what he's doing with Turnabbot..."
"Which proves my point. He's with Turnabbot."
"Well if you'd ease up we might be able to change his mind!"
Silence. Then, quietly, "You'd better make up your mind. When the time comes you'd better know whose side you're on, because I don't want to be taking bullets while you're figuring out what's going on!"
It felt strangely like a blow to the stomach, winding, so that Doyle couldn't quite breathe properly, so that he wanted to wrap his arms around himself, and back off while he recovered. He couldn't speak, didn't know whether it was shock, or anger, he just knew that he wanted to hit Bodie, and hit him hard, to make him realise... Christ, he was as bad as Turnabbot...
"It's..." he began, but Bodie didn't let him finish. It's always you, you know it's always you.
"If I let you have a go, and it doesn't work, will you do it my way without arguing?"
If Bodie let him? "Since when did you let me do anything?"
"Alright. Alright, if I can't convince him, then..."
There was a scraping at the door - Christ, were they too late? Was Chamier here? He'd not heard a vehicle, but... They wouldn't leave that encounter alive, Purple Velvet or not, not when they'd been allowed to see the lot of them.
They scrambled to their feet again, stretching as best they could to loosen their muscles, to ready themselves for something. Chamier was just some fat businessman, if they could take Trevor they could take them both, given a decent opening. They'd have to put Trevor down after all.
But when the door opened, and light came on again, half-blinding them, Trevor was on his own, his gun tucked into his trousers, a strange look on his face.
"You're off the hook. The Boss can't make it after all."
For a moment Doyle's hope surged, then he remembered. It wasn't just Chamier, Turnabbot had let them see the whole gang, there was only one consequence to that.
"So you're going to kill us," he said out loud, and was gratified to see Trevor flinch.
"I'm going to leave you," he corrected, after a pause, "Why would I kill you?"
"We've seen you," Doyle pointed out, "We know who you are. Leave us alive and we'll find you."
"Nah," Trevor shook his head, "You won't find me."
"You seem fairly confident for a man involved in smuggling guns and selling children."
"Selling children? What are you talking about?"
"Oh, you expect us to believe that?" Bodie interrupted, looked away when Doyle glared at him. You promised...
"There aren't any children here. The guns, yeah, and why not? If the only way to get rid of pigs like you and the rest of CI5 is revolution, then we need every bit of help we can get."
Oh, and Bodie thought he was an idealist? There were limits... "Turnabbot isn't just paying money for those weapons, you know. His currency is kids, the younger the better, taken away overseas, sold to the highest bidder..."
"I don't believe you."
"You'd better believe us," Bodie interrupted again, "Because that's what we'll have you for, when we catch you. Kidnapping, slavery, accessory to murder..."
"There's no children here!"
"Not now. I heard them, just after the planes came in!"
"That was a delivery..."
"And a pick up. Where were you?"
Doyle stared hard at Trevor's face, saw disbelief, and saw disgust too, though whether it was aimed at them or at the idea...
"You can check it out, easily enough," he said, hoping that Bodie had been right, "Search this place. There were kids here, and you'll find something to prove it."
"Lying pigs!" Trevor spat at them, and moved back to the stairs. He paused halfway up, turned his head just a little, "You'll say anything, won't you? I believed in you, back then, you know." He turned properly, took a couple of steps back down, and looked hard into Doyle's eyes. Just for a moment, Purple Velvet was there again. "You saw it, man, you watched the sun rise, and you felt it."
Doyle shifted next to Bodie, their shoulders, their hips brushing as they stood together.
"And then you threw it all away. Gave it all up. At least I believe in something!"
Doyle closed his eyes, took a deep breath as Trevor all but ran back upstairs, turning off the light again, plunging them into night. He felt Bodie turn to him, the shift of air that came with his words.
"It's bollocks, Ray, don't let him get to you."
What did Bodie think he was, soft or something? "Don't be a bloody idiot!"
"It didn't work... I'm sorry, but..."
"Shut up, Bodie." You're not sorry, you're not sorry at all. Have you always been such a completely heartless bastard?
Bodie had shut up, strangely obedient, and so they heard the door above open again, quietly, looked up to see Trevor's silhouette, looming dark at the top of the stairs. Doyle tensed as Trevor held out a hand, but it was empty, reaching for the light switch. There was a soft thud, as something was thrown down to them, landing at their feet, skidding on the grit and dust of the floor.
It was a child's white trainer.
Doyle stared at it, listening absently to Trevor's footsteps as he trod heavily down the stairs. There was a dull thump, Trevor sitting down hard on the bottom step, leaning forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and then a long, drawn-out breath. Doyle watched him, they both watched him. Ready to move.
When Trevor did get up they tensed, he walked over to them, just stood there for a moment, and then reached into his pocket.
Where was the gun?
With another sigh, Trevor pulled out some keys, chose one, and applied it to Doyle's handcuffs. When he was loose, he dropped the keys into his hand, left Doyle to undo Bodie, and went back to sitting on the step.
Doyle caught Bodie's eye, and they went and stood beside him.
" Helmer Road, W11" Trevor said, eventually. "Third floor flat of the big white building. That's where you'll find them tonight, living it up. You'd better get a move on, they fly to France tomorrow."
"What about you? Were you joining them?"
Trevor shook his head slowly. "Can't go tomorrow, not tomorrow, man."
"Why not tomorrow?" Doyle asked gently, "They expect you still to be here?"
"Nah. The boss was supposed to be here a couple of hours ago. He was going to take you away with him, make you see sense, and dump you somewhere."
Dump their bodies somewhere, in any case.
"So what've you got on tomorrow?"
Trevor took a breath. "Look, do me a favour man."
Doyle caught Bodie's eye, frowned him to silence. "What sort of favour?"
"It's May Day..."
"Sorry! Sorry for breathing. But if this involves dancing around a maypole..."
Trevor shot him a withering look, and Doyle hid a smile.
"Should be may-ing in the woods... the village going out to gather the hawthorn, to decorate the streets and houses with," Trevor explained, seeing their raised eyebrows. "It's all about the spring, and fresh beginnings..."
"Shagging in the forest, more like!"
"Bodie!" Doyle growled again, sure he was going to put the man off, not wanting to rush the moment when they had to break up his dreams again, to drag him off to Cowley.
"No, he's right, it was about shagging in the forest. It's all about fertility. Renewal of life." A whisper. "Fresh beginnings..."
This was the Purple Velvet he remembered, right here. Stark, staring, bloody mad.
"So why the guns? What was this "revolution" you were going to hold?"
"Not here. It was to help the brothers in Wales..."
"They're as oppressed as anyone else in this country, by people like you. Like your precious CI5."
"Look, sunshine, no one in Wales is ever going to see those weapons, let alone start a revolution."
Trevor was quiet, taking that in. The wind seemed gone from him, he wasn't hard any more, he wasn't blank, he was... hollowed. Lost. "I've been a fool then?"
"Look, mate, is there a telephone here?" Bodie asked, taking the moment, making it all business. As it should be.
Doyle shook himself. "If we're gonna catch up with your friends..."
"Upstairs," Trevor stood, started leading the way, and they followed him, as they would follow anyone. He wasn't going to run. "No phone, but there's a shortwave - that's how we heard your radio..."
He'd forgotten the RT. They'd even got through, so where the hell was their backup? Unless the dozy operator had just ignored the call. Doyle tried to remember who had been on the other end. Sandra? Fiona? One of the girls, anyway.
Incongruously the radio was sitting in the middle of a table that looked as if it had been set for afternoon tea. The cups had saucers, the sugar was in a cut glass bowl, and what was left of the Battenberg slices were on a plate. Rising above it all was a vase of flowers - hawthorn blossoms - and the shortwave radio transmitter.
Doyle left it to Bodie to fiddle with dials and switches - he was usually better at that sort of thing - and sidled over to where Trevor's Hi-Power lay on the shelves in one corner of the room. He froze as Trevor turned towards him, tried to look innocent.
"Take it, man."
Doyle did, checking the clip, tucking it into the back of his jeans.
"Truth is, I don't really know how to use it."
"I'm starting to think we should lock you up for your own safety, you know."
There was a burst of noise from the table, and unexpectedly Cowley's voice sounded loud and clear: "Jax, you can take charge of the clean-up. Make sure the locals know what's been going on."
"Sir. Shall I send Evans out to find Bodie and Doyle?"
"Aye, they must be holed up around here somewhere. Keep one of the ambulances on standby, they might need it."
Doyle exchanged a startled glance with Bodie.
"I shall be with the Minister if you need me urgently, trying to explain why one of his top aides will not be into work tomorrow morning."
"Didn't need us after all," Bodie stared gloomily at the receiver, "Sods have wrapped it up without us!"
They had heard then. They had come. No glory in it for them this time, but Doyle found himself relieved anyway. Not nice to think you might languish in handcuffs with no one caring where you were, even with Bodie right there beside him.
"That deal," Trevor said urgently, "We need to talk, before you call your boss."
"You've already told us where they are - and it doesn't sound like we needed that."
"There's more, I can tell you more!"
"Can you?" Not if you thought you were protecting the Welsh...
"Names, deliveries... more addresses! Just... give me a little time before you hand me over."
"Why should we do anything for you?" Bodie sounded hard again suddenly, "You'd have let Doyle die this afternoon."
"I knew he was alright."
"And how did you know that?"
"I drive an ambulance..."
"I knew it wasn't serious! Just a bump on the head!"
"He could have had internal bleeding!"
Ah, Bodie. "What is it you want to do?" he asked Trevor.
"There's a standing stone, just up the hill a ways."
Doyle nodded slowly. Of course there was.
"I'll... I'll gather the hawthorn before dawn, decorate the stone. Invoke the god and goddess. That's all. For fresh beginnings."
They took nearly two hours getting to the hill, managing to evade Jax and his clean-up operation, having left a note on the table of the farmhouse for Evans to find. It was a bit like skiving off school when he was a kid, although this time he had Bodie along with him. And a madman wanting to frolic in the sunrise... New beginnings, he reminded himself.
He'd left Bodie huddled under the trees in the dim pre-dawn light, knowing he was still tense, knowing he'd rather have handed Trevor over without any of this... palaver. And it was a joke, Doyle knew it was a joke, but... he still didn't even know Trevor's surname.
Or maybe it was just the headache that still thrummed in the corners of his brain, or the fact that he was exhausted, his eyes red and scratchy, his body stiff and sore. This one last thing, for Purple Velvet, and then they could go home.
Trevor had finished draping flowers and greenery around the single granite stone that stood atop the hill. Most lay around the base, but he'd woven some of the branches together so that they made a precarious crown, and as Doyle wandered over to sit down next to Bodie, Trevor knelt in front of it all, held his arms up towards the sky, and closed his eyes.
Doyle leaned back, pressed his shoulder to Bodie's, and closed his eyes. "I know you think I'm losing my marbles..."
"Never thought you had 'em," Bodie said quickly, which he'd half-expected.
"Yeah, but... Don't you ever wonder how it must feel to be one of them?"
"What, a loony?"
Doyle snorted. "One of them. Someone who didn't make it out."
"He made it out, he's an ambulance driver. He just went back in again."
"Funny sort of ambulance driver, doped up to his eyeballs half the time. Not who I'd want coming to my rescue."
"You've got me for that," Doyle said absently, feeling himself blush as he realised how it sounded. Oh bugger it, he didn't care how it sounded, they were partners, they were supposed to watch each other's back. He rushed on, wanting Bodie to understand. "But there he was, living his life, just like the rest of them, and we come along and..."
"And if he'd been clean it wouldn't have mattered if he'd been picked up, would it? If De Longford had stayed at home with daddy in the first place, instead of mucking about with Mullan and god knows who else, she wouldn't have got herself pregnant, would she?"
"It takes two..."
"You know what I mean!"
Doyle paused. He did know what Bodie meant, he just wished... He wished Bodie knew what he meant. "So you don't feel sorry for him at all?"
"You pay your money... Just like we have." A pause. "You could have died in there, you know."
He could have. "That's my money."
He loved this job. They both did.
Trevor's voice came to them from the stone, a low muttering, growing louder, and then it stopped altogether. There was silence for a moment, and then the stone, and the flowers, and Trevor himself were bathed golden as the sun rose.
So that was that. He lifted himself from the cold ground, felt Bodie's hand heavy on his shoulder as he too stood and balanced stiff limbs, and then Trevor was beside them, normal once again, a thin man in jeans, with his hands tucked into his jacket pockets, waiting to be taken away.
Right then. If they hurried they'd maybe find a road before rush hour, flag down a passing motorist to take them to the nearest nick. He wished he could believe that Trevor would come out feeling less bitter this time. He brought it on himself. He didn't have to choose... But still he couldn't look him in the eye, wanted to put it off just a little longer.
Tipping his head to Bodie, out of habit he strolled behind the trees to relieve himself, looking sideways while he stood, out over the valley below. Hard to believe, at this time of morning, that there was a whole world down there, though even as he thought it he caught a glimpse in the sun of a silver-ribboning motorway, off in the distance, snaking its way towards London, as most of them eventually did. Civilisation, that's what he was fighting for, roses and lavender and motorways. Even Purple Velvet couldn't be allowed to threaten that. Right then.
When he came back Bodie was alone in the dim morning light, leaning nonchalantly against the granite, hands in pockets. Doyle looked around.
"Where is 'e?"
"What do you mean, ah..?"
"Got away, didn't he? Overcame me, and legged it down the hill. I chased him of course..."
"But the bugger's quick, and I came a cropper in a rabbit hole."
He wasn't out of breath. Or covered in dew and muck.
"Well..." Bodie didn't look sheepish, exactly, more like a kid who'd done something bad, but knew he'd done it charmingly. "I don't suppose he's the biggest villain of this lot, and we got the rest alright."
"I suppose so."
"We can always tell Cowley he'll make a decent informer if we ever come across him again."
"Yeah..." He'd done it. Bodie'd actually let him go...
"Besides, better to lose him than to lose... you know, anything else."
"Fresh beginnings, eh?"
"Nah," Bodie shook his head, looked him straight in the eye. "Don't need one, myself, do you?"
Doyle opened his mouth, but Bodie beat him to it. "Fancy being my May queen then?"
"I'm nobody's queen, mate," he growled, at the same time letting Bodie kiss him, pull their bodies close together. He let Bodie flick open his jeans too, run his hands around the waistband and push them down, insinuate his fingers between the cleft of his buttocks, and start a rhythm that was just theirs, that couldn't be resisted. Well, maybe just this once...
And as they moved against the stone, breeze whispering across bare skin and hot breath, yet another blossom of white hawthorn loosened, and petals fell, and the sun rose palely higher above the horizon in the east.
-- THE END --