Someone, somewhere, has royally fucked up, and it’s all Doyle can do to sit still in the dark, hoping against hope that it isn’t him. The last hour or so -- although it could really be more, because it’s hard to keep track -- exists in his mind only as a blur of tacked-together memories, mistake after mistake after unforeseen circumstance, one stretched-out-rubberband of an autumn afternoon. He remembers the way the light fell across her face before Hatchett pulled the trigger, that ripped-wide-open feeling of unadulterated failure, suffocating in it, then really suffocating with a bag over his head, and Drop your weapons, gentlemen, and darkness. And silence.

He hopes that Bodie hasn’t annoyed them. When it was Doyle’s turn he stayed quiet, got slapped around a little for his insolence but at least he didn’t cheek them: Bodie, on the other hand, is well-known for his mouth. He imagines the glint of defiance in his partner’s eye, so familiar to him, as familiar as the swell of pride that rises even now in his chest -- he tries to ignore it, though, because as if Bodie needs any encouragement to behave recklessly. The best thing is to try and get out of this alive and, really, anything else can wait a while.

The sound of a gunshot from the next room rips into his consciousness, or maybe the echo of another half-remembered gunshot, the way she crumpled and fell, and Doyle stops breathing for just a moment. His first thought, naturally, is of Bodie. That much-hated inner monologue returns with a vengeance, taunting him and taking hold of his insides and jeering repetitively, in time to some rhythm he doesn’t recognise, that he - could - not - save - her. Bodie might be bleeding, bleeding and alone with those men just a few inches of wall away; the feeling of blind panic is so unfamiliar that it takes Doyle a few seconds to even recognise it.

He wants to shout and scream and rip, with comic-book certainty, the ropes that bind his wrists, inking colour and victory over the remains of this worthless, desolate day. He wants to yell Bodie’s name, wants to yell it through the wall and hear an answer, confident and mocking. Didn’t really think that bullet had my name on it, did you, sunshine? But the ropes stay knotted, Doyle does nothing because there’s nothing he can do, and the air remains thick with nervous silence.

When it comes, the sound of the door opening -- double-bolted, heavy, well-fitted enough to keep out all the light from the outside corridor -- is a shock. He screws up his eyes, blinded by the sudden rush of bright electric light, but then there is a muffled shout of protest. Despite the searing pain in his retinas, Doyle forces himself to watch as Bodie (tied up and manhandled and bruised but alive, oh god, watch him struggling to the last) is flung onto the unforgiving flagstone floor. The last thing he sees before the door slams shut and everything goes dark again is Bodie curling in on himself, a bruise forming on his cheekbone, and Doyle feels worn out and done in and, more than anything else, just angry.

"I heard a gun," he blurts out, then stops to gather himself, breathe, say something less desperate and far less attached. It’s hard to think, so he settles for, "You alright?"

Another muffled noise from Bodie, the vaguest "mm" - some attempt at comfort? - and Doyle laughs and cries, "They’ve gagged you! Didn’t gag me. You must’ve got on their nerves, old son."

Another grunt, and Doyle’s pleased by the fact that he can understand the meaning of each indefinite noise, even imagine the words Bodie would use instead, circumstance permitting. He can just about make out the shape of Bodie struggling onto his knees in the dark, trying to shuffle over, both of them pathetic in this blank, black room with their hands tied up. He shuffles over, throws himself against the wall and leans heavily on Doyle, shoulder-to-shoulder, heat bleeding through their shirts.

"No hands, but I can try and get the damn thing off with my mouth if you trust me not to bite you," Doyle says with forced cheerfulness, desperate to hear the sound of Bodie’s voice, to be told that everything will be fine. That even if it isn’t, they’re here together, which means that none of it really matters.

He makes a noise of agreement, so Doyle leans towards him in the dark and presses his face into Bodie’s cheek -- Bodie, who suddenly becomes very still, breathing shallowly, and Doyle hopes desperately that he’s not leaning on any fresh too-painful injury. He feels the material press against his chin and shifts slightly to take hold of it with his mouth, careful not to hurt, teeth only lightly grazing Bodie’s skin. The material smells old, musty, it must taste horrible, and once he’s got it in place he clamps down hard and pulls, moving with a speed that makes his injured head spin bizarrely. It comes away without too much effort, and Bodie begins a very passionate coughing fit.

"Cheers," he mutters and then, as soon as his breath is back, "You alright?"

Doyle supposes he must look a state really and, now that he thinks about it, he’s in quite a lot of pain. It just hadn’t really occurred to him to notice: as soon as he was shoved back into this room, Bodie was taken from it, and as soon as they had Bodie all the room in his brain for worrying was occupied by him. He shrugs.

"Fine. Cuts and bruises, nothing very interesting."

"Nothing that’ll impress the nurses," Bodie chips in, good-natured tone belied by the hoarseness of his voice, and Doyle’s slightly too high-strung to really be amused but he laughs anyway.

There are a few moments of peace where Doyle shifts, feeling exposed brick bite through the thin cotton of his shirt, trying to ignore the strained rasp of Bodie’s breathing: instead, he attempts to focus merely on the fact that Bodie is breathing, to remind himself that being alive is good enough, although admittedly he isn’t sure how long they’ll stay like that. Eventually, Bodie mutters, "Assume you’ve been thinking through our options?"



"We haven’t got any," Doyle sighs, trying to find the right mental checklist - he pushes to one side the file that begins, ‘bruising, shortness of breath (so maybe a few broken ribs), but I’m sure he would definitely have mentioned it by now if he’d been shot?’, focusing instead on the ‘door: one, windows: none, guards...’ list. He always reaches his most vicious level of internal organisation when he’s under stress, and knows that Bodie does the same. It’s all about training. Being trained to look at this as a job, as a Situation instead of their actual real lives or, possibly, the end of their actual real lives. "There’s only one way out, and it’s very locked. Room’s empty, nothing we can use to force the door open, but we’re tied up anyway so I guess that doesn’t matter. What else? We’ve been double-crossed, there are at least six or so guards outside-"

"Stop, stop," Bodie says miserably. "I get the idea."

And so they fall naturally into the kind of silence that only impending doom can bring, comfortable enough to just be sat there together while Doyle, for his part, stays perfectly still, trying to cling to the warmth he can feel through a layer of clothing even while mentally denying that he’s doing it. He’s just scared, wants familiarity, and what’s familiar is Bodie; there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be close to him. Besides, how can he be sure what time they’ve got left before their new friends decide that keeping them alive is too risky -- it could be minutes or days. Doyle purses his lips, cheeks sucked in, knowing that his partner would already be reading his body language and preparing for a Serious Conversation if it weren’t so dark.

"Bodie," he murmurs.

"Hmm?" Bodie answers, apparently no more talkative without the gag.

"I heard a shot from next door." There’s an edge to Doyle’s voice that sounds strange to his own ears, uncertain and cautious and all the things that he never is when he’s with Bodie.

"What? When?" All the muscles in Bodie’s body tense in anticipation then, the wires of his arm suddenly taut against Doyle’s own, everything about him closed off and braced. Even if they weren’t pressed up against each other, Doyle would still be aware of it happening.

"No, no, I meant earlier on, when you were-"

"Oh," Bodie sighs, noticeably relaxing before he adds, "Just a warning shot."

"Hatchett was trying to scare you...?"

"Not me. An insubordinate." Without seeing it, Doyle can imagine the raised-eyebrows expression on Bodie’s face, wry amusement and sheer calm in the face of adversity. He feels unspeakably glad that he is not alone here and, more than that, that the person he is not-alone-here with is Bodie.

"Division in the team?"

"Could come in handy."

Again neither of them speak for a moment. Doyle fidgets uncomfortably, shoulders aching from being pulled back, various other things aching from being hit, listening to the sounds of someone moving about next door and feeling reckless. The room is pitch black, air thick with the feeling that they’re unlikely to survive the night, and it makes him feel giddy and daring.

"Bodie?" he asks again, dumbly.

"Still here, sunshine. Bit tied up, in case you hadn’t noticed."

But, "Bodie," and this time it’s serious, said with enough quiet gravitas to make Bodie stop talking. Doyle leans forwards slightly, trying to catch his eye -- not easy in the darkness, but a closeness born of their years spent working together keeps it just short of impossible. "I thought... When I heard the gunshot, I thought it was you. For a second."

"It wasn’t," Bodie replies flatly, as if that should be an end to the matter, but there’s something uncertain about him. Someone who didn’t know him as well might miss it; Doyle isn’t one of those people.

"It felt horrible."

"I know."

"No but like, like really horrible."

"I know." There’s something reassuring about the no-nonsense tone of Bodie’s voice, and it becomes suddenly obvious that he does know, he really does. And Doyle can feel Bodie’s warm breath on his skin, on his face where every nerve-ending is alive with adrenaline and fear, and it makes him shiver. He doesn’t know why, but it does, and they blink at each other in the dark. Next door there are gunshots, shouts, chaos breaking loose - Doyle is certain that the survivors of the brawl between themselves will appear at any moment to shoot both of them, but he doesn’t move. He doesn’t know what else to say. Maybe if he dies it won’t really matter, because he’s said everything he’ll ever need to say. Maybe there aren’t any words. Maybe there’s nothing left to do.

Except one thing.

Footsteps outside the door and Doyle wants, like he’s never wanted anything before, to just touch Bodie. He wishes his hands were free so he could wrap them around Bodie’s shoulders and not let go, hold on to the back of his neck and just be close to him, and have it end like that. The way Bodie’s looking at him, even though it’s dark, makes him certain that death is insignificant. There’s some scrabbling at the door, or outside it, or something, and Doyle realises that it is being kicked down. He can imagine the survivors, the mutineers, coming to kill their prisoners before fleeing the scene. He whispers, "This is it." And he can tell they’re both thinking the same thing, then, because Bodie presses their foreheads together and makes the feeling in his chest intensify tenfold, the not-caring, bring it on boys bring it all on right now because-

"Bodie? Doyle?"

There’s an impressive amount of noise and they pull apart, light flooding the room, only to see familiar faces framed in the doorway - colleagues whose eyes are filled with relief.

"They’re in here. They’re alive!"

Bodie laughs nearby, a laugh of pure contented joy, and Doyle thinks, yes. Yes, we are.

If Doyle’s life really were a film, a book, a television show, the hour or so after their lives were saved wouldn’t be broadcast. The cameras would be switched off, lights fading with the splintering of wood and Bodie’s laugh, a victory. But that’s not how the real world works.

He wishes it was.

If his life was a televison show, he wouldn’t have to live through the ache in his muscles and the bruises and the cuts because those things would just fade away in time for next week’s episode, in time to be replaced with smiling, with joking and, eventually, new bruises and new cuts and new villains. And if it were a film, he wouldn’t have been forced to remember that they failed. He wouldn’t have had to watch them stretcher her body away, that feeling of untouchable euphoria only just fading, and know that it was his fault. He wouldn’t have to see the look on Bodie’s face. He wouldn’t have to see the injuries.

The oh-so-human part of him that hasn’t been trained and honed and sharpened, it’s still celebrating being alive. It still wants to grab hold of Bodie and not let go, wants to shout at him that It isn’t over, talk to him. That part gets smaller with every job, and Doyle just can’t find the words. They don’t seem to have anything to say to each other. Maybe they’ve already said everything they need to.

Except one thing.

Bodie finds Doyle, as Doyle knows he will, skulking around the back of the building as soon as he is left alone by the medics. They lean side by side against the brick, darkness falling around them, and there’s medical tape on the cut over Bodie’s eye; it will probably need stitches. Doyle knew that he would irritate them.

"Quite a day," Bodie mutters after a while, and Doyle snorts.

After you’ve said goodbye to each other, how do you pick up and carry on? How do you take it back? What Doyle really wants to know is, if the best thing happens, and you don’t die, how are you meant to keep going the same as before? Perhaps things are going to change. Perhaps they need to.

So Doyle isn’t surprised, not really, when Bodie’s knuckles brush gently against his cheek and trace the line of a cut, the worn skin just above it. He turns his face into it - towards Bodie - and catches his eye. The next thing he knows he’s being pressed back into the wall, hard. For all the force with which he was put there, Bodie’s kiss is gentle in a way that does surprise him, and isn’t it nice occasionally to get something you don’t expect? It’s odd, a little painful and a little surreal, but by no means unpleasant, and Doyle gets a warm feeling of fulfilling something, of destiny, of things happening that were just always going to happen. He doesn’t fight against it. The kiss is short, perhaps because of Bodie’s ribs, but full of a dizzying and rare intensity; as Bodie leans forward, pressing his face into Doyle’s neck, Doyle is ashamed to hear his own breath shudder with incredulity and longing. Today of all days. It doesn’t matter, though, because the sound makes Bodie laugh warm against Doyle’s neck, and they are alive.

-- THE END --

May 2007

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