Come End of Day


Written for "Discovered in Graceland" on the discoveredinalj livejournal community.

Post Fall Girl

The nights were drawing in, he thought, looking out the window. The skies were daytime-leached, the shadows were lower, the clouds just waiting to be full of rain. Soon enough it would be autumn, and then there they'd be, sitting on stakeout, the wind whistling around their ankles, their fingers freezing to the triggers of their guns ...

They'd been so close, he knew they'd been nearly there, within a chanced moment's reach maybe. And now to have it snatched away... If he could convince himself that it had been in his imagination, then, maybe then, he wouldn't be feeling so heavy with the disappointment of it now, but he knew, he knew that it had been real, that when Bodie had looked at him--for months when he'd looked at him--it had been an almost-dare, a flirt at first, but then more, as they'd saved each other's lives over and over, as they'd spent more and more time together, on and off the job, as they'd...

Oh, what was the use? He gave the curtains a vicious tug, and they slid along their tracks, metal screeching on metal, hiding away the lights that had started to wink on, one by one, palely in the dim early evening.

It was going to rain. The clouds had that particular grey look to them, the one that brought nothing more than a fine drizzle, an invidious wet, barely worth the name rain.


He must remember to use that on Doyle some time.

Bodie tucked his hands deeper into his pockets, straightened his shoulders even as he wanted to hunch himself over, to curl into a ball and... And what? What would be the point of that? He breathed in, nostrils flaring, faced the world full on, and kept walking.

There'd been nothing he could do. It had been a set up, right from the start. And not by Marikka, no, not even her, so that he could rage against her treachery.

Bloody Doyle.

High pitched giggling made him look up, pulled his gaze from the straight, flat concrete at his feet, to the late evening shadows of a park. A girl half-ran, not putting anything into it, wanting to be caught, from a lad--nothing more than a boy, really--who was loping steadily after her, broad grin strangely white in the fading daylight.

He'd never be like that again, would never do that again.

The chase had gone out of him, had crumpled to the ground in front of him, had died as he looked on...

Load of melodramatic poppycock.

The chase had died as he'd kissed her in that hotel room, as he'd realised that he didn't love her again, couldn't, and worse than that--he didn't even want her again.

It had almost been a relief when those bastards crashed through the door. At least then he hadn't had to explain that she was doing nothing to him, nothing for him, that...

But he wouldn't have done that, would he? He'd have thought of somebody else, somebody who did turn him on, somebody who could make him hard with just a glance, or by licking his lips, or by sliding hands slowly across his own denim-clad buttocks.

His own.

He'd never be normal, ever again, if he gave in to that.

He kept walking.

The call came far too early on a Monday morning, on a Monday morning after the weekend they'd never had. Doyle answered it with his eyes closed, just the one arm with any movement in it, every other part of him still heavy against the mattress, the pillow.

He didn't want to get up today. Let someone else save the world, he'd done his share.

Only of course it was Cowley, and barely half a dozen words later he was in the bathroom, jeans on but still undone, t-shirt pulled over head and arms, but not yet any further, pissing and cleaning his teeth at once to save time. He finished, spat into the basin, and pulled the t-shirt down, tucking it into his jeans. Socks, trainers, holster, jacket--he could do this. Just another day.

Bodie would be there.

And he hated the part of himself which knew that was what kept him going, that was why his body was moving and his thoughts were racing. It was no good thinking like that anymore--Christ, he had a good-sized bruise across his chest to prove it, didn't he? He only had to close his eyes to see Bodie's face as he shoved the rifle at him, the stiffness of Bodie's back as he marched away from him.

Normal, normal, normal. It would be his mantra.

Except that normal was seeing Bodie. Wanting him. Normal was thinking that maybe, just maybe, tomorrow...

Only now it was tomorrow, and yesterday he'd found out that Bodie had been in love with Marikka, really in love with her. He'd seen the photos. Their hands, lingering.

"Oi, Doyle!"

He looked up with a start. Somehow he was standing outside his Escort, one hand on the still open door. It was the CI5 building in front of him, and Mansfield by the door, calling to him, and he had no idea how he'd got there. Christ, he thought again, he'd kill everyone around him and himself a dozen times, if he kept this up.


He slammed the car door, strode over to join Mansfield and Docherty, wondering what was on, what the latest emergency was, why they were up again before six in the morning, and tried to remember that there had once been another normal.

The latest emergency turned out to be an undercover op gone very messily bad. Bodie listened to the rhythm and sway of Cowley's voice detailing the siege--one agent a hostage inside, her partner walking wounded outside--and wondered how anyone could have been incompetent enough to let it all happen. But even as his eyes swept over the house plans that Cowley was outlining, the list of armaments and munitions that were probably inside with the panicking gang, he was even more aware of Doyle standing beside him, shoulder not quite brushing his, cup of coffee steaming in one hand, listening intently, as he would on any other day.

Bloody Doyle. Bodie hated feeling like this, hated that he'd come in to work dreading the moment when he'd have to see his partner, hated that all he'd wanted to do was to see his partner. And he hated most of all that he felt better for it, for the slight warmth that was his closeness, for the faint scent of the man as Bodie breathed the briefing room fug, for the way he drank from the mug, had one hand tucked in a pocket, was standing there as if nothing at all had happened yesterday. That was his Doyle, oblivious to any world but his own.

His Doyle--and yeah, couldn't the idiots see that there was a blind spot out the back, along that wall and then easily up the guttering by the west corner?--he forced himself to admit it, because it wouldn't do him any good not to, would it? He wanted Doyle, he always had, and Doyle wanted him back. It didn't have to mean that everything changed, did it? Didn't mean he was going to be overcome with an urge to dress up in tights and carry a handbag around with him in the deep dark Soho night?

"They'll hear a helicopter coming, even over London," he scoffed, weathered Cowley's glare, and nodded reluctantly to his explanation of why it wouldn't matter.

Just because everything was different now, didn't have to mean that Doyle had made a pansy of him.

Right then.

He moved when everyone else did, filling his pockets with extra ammo, tucking a second Magnum into his waistband, following Doyle to the Escort and sliding into the passenger seat.

"Least Caroline'll know the cavalry's on its way," Doyle said as he drove, close on the tail of the car in front.

"She should never have been in there in the first place."

"Not with her background, no."

"Not with that bunch of lunatics, Irish background or none."

Doyle shot him a quick glance, looked back at the road and pressed harder on the accelerator. "She wouldn't be in A Squad if she wasn't as competent as you or me."

"There's competent and then there's the twelve stone of muscle between her and any bloke in that house."

"It's not all about..." Doyle began, broke off to manoeuvre the Escort past the Pandas and CI5 cars at the end of the road.

Bastard couldn't let anything go, couldn't admit that anyone out of the Met could be at a disadvantage, even a woman. Couldn't just take his word for it.

But "Here we go then..." was what he managed, as they leapt out of the car, and took up their positions in the street.

It was over an hour before they could move again, under cover of Cowley shouting up to the man who had emerged, leaning out of an open window, Caroline held firmly by her short dark hair, gun thrust beneath her chin, forcing her head up. Bodie shook his head at the long white line of her throat, at the blouse that had been torn open, at the sight of her black bra, and the skin of her belly disappearing into the curtained gap. He followed Doyle through the garden three houses down, then along the high walled alley at the back, through next door's house, out the side window, and an easy drop down to the blind spot he'd noticed on the plans. Then they stood flat against the side of the house, shoulders pressed together and warm, and settled down to wait for the signal.

Doyle checked his gun, stared at the wooden fence in front of them, and didn't say a thing.

You'd think a word, a single word to explain what he'd been doing with Cowley and Willis the day before, but no. Cool and collected as ever, his Doyle.

The RT crackled in his pocket, Bodie nudged Doyle, and turned to give him a boost up the drainpipe. By the time Bodie was at the window ledge beside him, Doyle had jemmied the catch with his knife, and was halfway, cautiously, inside. Bodie watched his arse, his legs, disappear into the gloom of the bathroom, saw his hand reappear briefly to gesture that all was okay, and then he was wriggling over the toilet cistern himself, wondering if it'd been Doyle who'd thought to put the seat down for him.

Gunshots from below propelled them through the bathroom, along a corridor, and down the stairs, and Bodie could feel his heart pounding, knew that something had gone wrong. What the hell was McKie playing at, he was supposed to wait a two full minutes after the signal before bursting in like that, and Bodie would have sworn it was his gun he heard, and... A door opened behind them, and Bodie turned, slammed himself to the wall, out of the line of fire, even as Doyle swung around and pulled the trigger in one elegant arc.

No time even to acknowledge that one, because then they were in the thick of it--McKie's body on the carpet in front of them, amongst half a dozen others, Caroline's half-naked figure shielding the remaining member of the gang from them, as he backed slowly towards the front door, gun jammed to the side of her head.

"I'll do it, you know!"

"Alright, it's alright." Doyle, firm and cool, his hands out to his sides, placating, his gun so loosely held he might have dropped it if he'd been anyone else. "No one's going to hurt you, there's no need to hurt her."

"I'll fucking kill her! Get me out of here, get me out now!"

"How can we get you out?" Bodie asked, "Look around you, look what you've done."

The man--boy really, not much more than a boy, Bodie thought--pushed the gun even harder against Caroline, and she winced and gasped. "I want a car! I want a fucking car, and I want it here now!"

"Okay, well, see, my boss'll have to authorise that," Doyle said, "And he's outside, so..."

"Then we'll go outside," the lad snapped obligingly, "But she'll come with me, and if one of you pigs move I'll kill 'er, I will!"

He was panicked enough to do it, Bodie knew. He'd rather face a platoon of cold-blooded killers than a kid like this, any day. Like some strange stage tableaux, nothing seeming to move but their feet, they all three edged out of the hallway, down the front steps, and onto the small footpath. Somewhere above them a bird sang.

"That's it!" the boy began, "I wanna talk to the boss! Get me a car, now, and get me... get me ten thousand pounds, or I'll kill 'er!"

"Och, it's too late for that, laddie," Cowley said, stepping forward from the cover of his Rover. "You'll not get more than a couple of miles, and you're already looking at a long stretch inside. Give yourself up now and we'll..."

"No!" roared the boy, and then everything seemed to happen in a sort of slow motion, time stretched so that Bodie saw every single moment, clear as crystal, bright as sunshine, black as blood. "No..."

A gunshot rang out, and the boy fell backwards, clutching at his arm. Caroline dropped to the ground, began to roll clear, and the boy managed to scramble to his knees, pulled his gun up and around, straight at the man who was rushing towards them, at Caroline's partner as he raced to take the boy out, to save her.

He wasn't fast enough.

Another shot--two--and the body that fell to the ground, propelled by its own momentum to come to a stop beside Caroline, was dead and barely recognisable, a wide hole torn from nose to eyes, and through the skull itself.

Too close quarters, Bodie thought, even as he fired at the kid, as he watched him jerk and dance with the force of half a dozen bullets, from three different directions. Beside him a wailing began, and he and Doyle reached Caroline at the same time, their arms around her, holding her, supporting her, occasionally brushing against each other, avoiding each other's eyes.

Doyle moved through clean up duty in a kind of a daze, the right words coming out of his mouth, the right thoughts seeming to come to his head as he picked at this or that piece of evidence, counted bodies and identifications, talked to police, and calmed fraught neighbours when they wouldn't listen to anyone in a uniform. He could hear the mantra, chanting away in the back of his mind, normal... normal... normal... and he let it play there. It was normal to ignore the pain and the fear and the coping of other people, to let the shouts of other agents, and the murmur of Cowley's voice become a background noise to the practicalities of getting on with it.

Now and then he caught a glimpse of Bodie, moving from room to room. They'd not spoken to each other yet, not even about the op, but that was because they were busy, they were both busy with their own jobs, he'd catch up with him later, it was all normal...

Except that it wasn't normal to watch someone as her partner was killed in front of her, and it wasn't normal to listen to her reporting in a rock-steady voice to Cowley afterwards, not letting on that she knew her nose was red, her eyes nearly blinded from the force of her crying, the silver-dry tears still tracked down her face. And it wasn't normal to wonder how she would cope without Terry, one half of a partnership that wasn't there any more, that had fallen on top of her in blood and brains and fragments of bone. What she would do in CI5 without him.

He realised that he had waved away the last of the forensics boys, that the clean up had, as ever, taken five times as long as the action ever did, and that Cowley, the only man who could give him orders, was long gone. He took a breath, discovered that his fists were clenched so tightly by his sides that his arms ached, and tried to get hold of himself.

So it had been an agent who died in the middle of all that. So it had been Caroline's partner. Agents had died before, life went on.

Everything was normal. Right?

He glanced up at the sky, then down at his watch. Mid-afternoon. There was still his report to write, but, against regulations, that could wait until tomorrow morning. He had to do something... The gym, he had to get himself down to the gym. Didn't want to stiffen up after all the hanging about this morning. Keep moving, that was what he had to do.

When Bodie turned to look for Doyle after the op, for a ride back to HQ so that they could get the reports done, so that they could unwind down the pub before going home, he was already in a high old mood. To be expected, that he'd be out of sorts, after seeing Terry carted off by the meat wagon like that, after knowing that Caroline would be writing her reports alone from now on. And the pub had become a ritual, what they'd done at first to suss each other out, to find weaknesses and to lay traps for the other, it had become something they did at the end of particular jobs, the ones that hadn't quite gone right, the ones where too many people had ended up dead, or where it had been too close to themselves lying somewhere on the cold grass, or the road or the concrete.

Only Doyle had already left.

By the time Bodie had blagged a ride home in a squad car, by the time he'd thought about it long enough in the shower, on the drive to Doyle's, and then to HQ, and up and down the stairs of that old building, in and out of offices until he was dizzy with it, he was even more pissed off.

To see Doyle standing by the lockers, freshly showered, still slightly damp, and apparently unconcerned with anything except undoing the knots in his shoelaces, was almost the last straw. Almost. The last straw was that he had his back to Bodie, and that he was still naked.

"You going to make a habit of leaving me to clean up the mess?" Bodie asked, feeling dark, feeling dangerous. Intending to make Doyle suffer.

Doyle's shoulders tensed, as though he hadn't heard him come in, which was of course rubbish--Doyle could hear a cat spit at five hundred yards.

"I'll do my report tomorrow." But he didn't turn around, didn't look at Bodie, just kept struggling with his damned trainers.

The light caught his muscles as they tensed and released.


"Yeah..." There was a pause, as though Doyle was going to say something else, to come back at him, sharp and sarcastic, but then he didn't. "Sorry. Didn't mean to leave you with that lot."


"No. Oh, fuck it!" But it was for his trainers, not for Bodie. They were thrown crashing into the locker, and Doyle rested his hands on the edge of the shelf, shifted the rest of his weight to one leg, and bowed his head.

Bodie watched the play of those muscles for a moment. So unselfconscious, was Doyle. Perhaps he thought no one would ever really do anything about it... Yeah, just like him, to assume he could do whatever he wanted, no effect on anyone else... He stepped forward, so that he was a bare inch--he let himself smile, tightly--from all that skin, leaned in to Doyle's ear.

"You wouldn't do that now, would you Ray?"

Doyle froze, and Bodie felt it, revelled in it. Worried now, sunshine?

"You wouldn't leave a mate hanging, not when you'd been leading him on for weeks, for months, eh? Ray?" Doyle's breath was coming harder now, slow and controlled, but Bodie could take care of that. He snaked his arm around Doyle's waist, found his cock, as he'd expected, full and hard. "Not nice to leave a mate hanging, is it?"


"Shhh... My turn now..." He'd meant it to come out sounding harsh, sounding sarcastic, but he had pulled Doyle closer to him, because he was hard himself, because he wanted to push against him, he wanted...

What was it he wanted?

Then Doyle moved back against him, so that he could thrust forward into Bodie's fist, and Bodie let him, breathed hard into Doyle's ear, against his neck, his throat, opened his mouth to taste his skin. This was Doyle, this was Doyle...

Bodie pulled him closer still, rubbed against him, against Doyle's naked body, groaned then, turning it into a name, "Ray...", and as easily as that he felt Doyle start to come, turned his head and took his lips, as Doyle gasped, and shuddered, and he wanted to smile, to hug him close, because he had done this to Doyle, had made him shake with it, and he...

Such joy as cold water, such fire as ice down his back.

No. He didn't want this, this wasn't what he'd meant to do, wasn't what he wanted...

Still achingly hard, he snatched his hands away, wiping them on his trousers, backed off, and before Doyle could finally turn around, he strode from the room.

Doyle took another shower, managed to make it upstairs and write his report, and then he went home. The voice in the back of his mind was gone, the mantra silent. Dead.

Bodie had...

Nothing would be normal again.

In all his fantasies, of Bodie behind him, of Bodie thrusting against him, gripping his cock, whispering into his ear, Bodie had never been out to humiliate him, to take revenge, to make him feel like nothing at all.

He sat on the couch, unmoving in the dark, tried to think back, to the moment when it had all changed, when it had all gone so wrong. When Marikka was shot? When Bodie had seen him interrogating her? When he'd found out that Doyle had been following him? Or maybe before that, maybe a time that had nothing to do with Doyle at all. When he'd seen her at the hotel, when she'd stepped onto an aeroplane in East Germany, when Bodie had stepped off one, long ago Doyle supposed, going the other way?

What did he really know about Bodie, anyway? He was a good shot, with a rifle, with a set of darts, with his sometimes wicked tongue. Doyle knew about Marikka, about the girl in Africa, about how he'd learned to fly, his first jump out of a plane. Africa, the Middle East, Ireland--now Germany too. He appreciated good food, good drink, good company. He was good company, and Doyle had thought his heart would stop the first time he saw him in a dinner jacket.

Not much, not really.

But oh, the feel of Bodie against his back, thrusting hard against his back, surely wanting him as much as Doyle had wanted... He might have been angry, he might have been hating him, but he'd wanted Doyle at the same time.

Doyle stared at the plate of cheese on toast, long gone cold and too hard to eat, still held in one hand, on his lap. There was a glass of brandy on the coffee table--good for shock, he'd thought. He blinked once, sat up and drank the brandy, took the plate through to the kitchen, and went to bed.

It felt like he spent half his life walking the streets, these days, but he found he didn't want to be on his own in his flat, listening to the sounds of other people around him, safe and cosy in their own lives. They had no idea that there were people being shot, people dying around them, every day. No idea that a killer lived amongst them, made his tea in the same building that they did, said hello to the postman the same way they did, came home and slept, peaceful, uncaring, just as they did. Sometimes he didn't want to know them, either.

Besides, when he closed his eyes he saw nothing but Doyle, heard nothing but the way he had gasped as he'd come, felt again the heat of him, against his body, in his hand. Remembered the way he'd felt at that moment, that one moment, so close to Doyle, so...Like nothing else he'd ever felt. He clenched his teeth on the thought, glowered at the world.

No drizzle tonight at least, just a slightly biting wind that forced him to turn his collar higher, to dig his hands into his pockets. There was a full moon too, high above the city, outshone by the streetlights most of the time, just now and then surprising him around some corner, or above a line of trees in a park. Faintly, across the distance, he could hear Big Ben chiming the hour--two o clock--and it was strangely comforting to know that the clock was back again, as if it had never been away. Life went on.

Of course he found himself outside Doyle's flat.

No surprise there, really, it was a familiar destination, though more often than not, especially at this time of night, Doyle would be right there beside him as they strode or staggered home, to collapse on sofa and bed, to drag themselves up the next morning, holding their heads, complaining about Cowley.

Something held him still in front of the building, made him count the windows until he found Doyle's, dark, all lights out. Doyle, somewhere in there, fast asleep in bed. What did he dream, warm and cosy inside? Did he remember what had happened this afternoon, remember it in his sleep? Did it haunt him the same way it did Bodie?

It should.

Without thinking about it, he let himself into the front door, up the flight of stairs and along the corridor, and then deeper inside still, into the hallway of Doyle's flat. It wasn't quite dark, Doyle had left the curtains open, and moonlight seeped across the windowsill, over the floor and through the open door. He moved carefully, avoiding the shadowed corners and dark shapes of the rooms, stepping lightly through the living room, to the last door.

It stood ajar.

He came awake suddenly, knowing there was someone at the door to his flat, knowing they were letting themselves in. A soft tread, then another, and he relaxed. It was Bodie.

What could Bodie want now? Why use his key to slide in, like a shadow, in the dead of night? He should get up, he knew he should, but then why should he? Bodie had come to him. If he wanted a fight he'd have to work for it, if he wanted to apologise that was fine too. If he wanted... what else could he want? Half-drifting again with sleep, Doyle lay still, on his stomach, face turned away from the door, though he let his eyes slit open, just enough to see moonlight at the window.

There was a vague creak as the bedroom door was pushed open, another couple of steps, someone else breathing in the night. Then nothing, just quiet, just the two of them, in the room.

"I know you're awake, Doyle," Bodie said into the half-dark. "And I know you can hear me."

More silence, more breathing.

And then something else, something that caught at his breath, and his heart, then arrowed its way to his groin, to his cock.

A zip being undone.

"I know you're awake, and you might remember, I didn't finish what I was doing this afternoon."

Oh god... His whole body came awake, inside, frozen there in the night.

"Don't bother telling me you don't want it, we both know that isn't true."

Why now, why...? Bodie came to him.

They were both breathing heavily now, but somehow Doyle still couldn't move. His body zinged with electricity, with want but at the same time it was impossible to turn over, to face Bodie, to say anything at all. Just let it happen, let it all happen, in this one moment when it could.

"Still playing your little games, Doyle? Ah well. Couldn't sleep tonight, so I thought I might as well come and finish it now--you don't mind, do you? You'd tell me if you did, wouldn't you? You tell me everything that's going on--like what assignments you've been given, who you've been set to follow..."

Movement behind him again, the jangle of a belt buckle, a slight rustling of clothes.

"...what you want from me. You tell me that loud and clear. Well tonight you can have it..."

Cold air, and the weight then, the weight that he'd been expecting, and Doyle found he had it in him to move after all, to try to turn, so that they could both be a part of this, but it was too late.

"Tut-tut," Bodie said, finding his wrists, and pinning them above his head. He held them in place, one handed, and Doyle didn't fight it. It was true, all true what Bodie said, and Bodie had come to him, and god how he wanted that... Maybe it could be alright.

Abruptly he realised that the fumbling had changed, that Bodie had raised himself slightly, was rubbing his cock... oh god, was rubbing his cock there, and not just rubbing, but pushing, prodding, feeling its way, and...

"Bodie, no..!" It had been too long since he'd done that, he wasn't ready, he...

Another push, the right place this time, and he cried out as he felt himself stretched too far, felt pain...

"Dammit, Doyle..."


"Be quiet!"

The weight was gone, though his wrists were still lightly held. There was the briefest caress, Bodie's hand gentle through his hair, a warmth on his head. He saw Bodie's arm reach across his face then, towards a small square shape on the bedside table, and a bubble of laughter welled up in him, even as he felt his breathing quicken again.

Gun oil. Bodie'd found the gun oil.

Bodie woke up in his own bed, fiercely tired, and with little memory of how he'd got there. He remembered, first, Doyle stretched out beneath him, remembered how it felt to have him in his arms, to hear their panted breath together in the dark. He remembered leaving quickly, a rush of shame through him that reverberated still. What had he done? Christ, what had he done to them...?

But the phone was ringing, and he reached out to it, and heard what Julia said, and was on his way, still dressed in his clothes of the night before, in five minutes flat.

"We missed one of them," Cowley said, with no more greeting than that. "Caroline mentioned him yesterday, but Marlow and Timms had no luck tracking him down, no luck at all."

"But Caroline did," Doyle's voice was low, matter of fact. He was wearing sunglasses, despite the fact that the morning sunshine was pallid, and held no warmth in its rays.

"Aye. Caroline did."

"Well who was she with last night?" Bodie asked, ignored the rush he felt all the way through his body.

"Her flatmate collected her from the hospital, we assumed she was safely at home."

"Assumed!" Doyle began, "Why wasn't..."

"Yes, alright," Cowley interrupted, "The fact is we know where she is now."

They looked up at the building in front of them, surrounded by yellow tape, apparently quiet.

"She's says she's barricaded them into the front room. There's just the one door, and the only windows are the bay windows there." Cowley nodded towards them. They were curtained in net, delicately patterned in whorls and loops of lace, unmoving.

"What does she want?"

"We don't know," Cowley rubbed his face wearily, "We just don't know."

"Who's been talking to her?" Doyle asked.

That woke the old man up again. "I've been talking to her, 4.5, but she's not tending towards the garrulous just now... Oh, thank you 8.9..." He paused, took the envelope that Collister offered, and brought out a set of photographs. He looked around a moment, apparently for a flat, sheltered surface, because he knelt awkwardly on his good knee beside the slightly higher wall of the house next door, and began to lay the images on the ground. Bodie watched, as they slowly turned into a picture, an unclear, patchy picture, but one that they could work with, just the same.

Through white-laced holes, blown up to be an inch and a half across, he saw figures form, two of them. One was bound to a chair, apparently naked, the other stood in front of him, gun in hand, expression obscured by the intricacy of the patterned curtains. There was no barricade in front of the door, no obstruction to the windows.

"Doesn't look like anything to stop us going in after all," Bodie commented, wondering at the lack of protection, the openness of it all. Caroline was a professional, she'd know what they'd be looking for.

"She wants to be stopped?" Doyle, as ever, wondering at the psyche of the mad and the dangerous.

"Except for the fact that if we do, she's said she'll blow the man's head off, and what would that do to her in a year's time? In five year's time?"

"My God..."

"Quite, 4.5."

"How did we find out?" Bodie thought to ask.

"One of the forensics team went back this morning, found her having a wee chat with Gough, there."

"She let him go?"

"She told him it was a CI5 sanctioned interrogation, luckily the lad knew better than that, and called us in."

The day wore on, and Bodie itched with the frustration of inactivity. A part of him knew that their best plan lay in waiting her out, waiting for the moment when she dropped her guard, or even fell asleep. She couldn't have had much sleep, since yesterday. He rubbed a hand across his own gritty eyes, pricked up his ears as the RT crackled again.

Every now and then Caroline would feed them a piece of information, gleaned from her captive, something extra about the group she'd been working with, names, addresses, friends and contacts. She was in there doing her job, it seemed, no more dangerous than that. And yet...

So they had patience, they waited her out, until her voice sounded more tired, or on the edge of tears, or... or something. But they were three hours in, and she hadn't so much as wavered. Occasionally they heard muttered imprecations in the background, as she reported in, occasionally the sound of a slap, dull over the airwaves, as she silenced them.

"This isn't helping, Caroline," Cowley had tried, and "We're trying to get hold of your family, will you talk to them?" Bodie wondered why Cowley had called them in, when he and Doyle were so helpless in this, knew that there was nowhere else they could be. Caroline was one of their own.

Leaning against the side of Cowley's car, Doyle was mostly quiet, apparently watching the house, or listening to Cowley, or gazing down at his feet. Sometimes he tilted his head, as if he were watching Bodie as he paced up and down the pavement, as if he might speak. He didn't.

The gun went off at just after four-thirty in the afternoon, a rage of noise when it had all seemed so peaceful, and Bodie raced beside Doyle, up the footpath, through the unlocked front door, and into the front room, gun drawn, braced for the final tears, to pull her into his arms, to take her, finally, away from the house, from the betrayals, from the op.

But it was Gough who jabbered in his chair, whose eyes were wide with horror and shock, who was covered in someone else's blood and bone and pain.

They stayed for the clean-up again, Cowley with them all the way, although there was much less to it this time. Gough to be dealt with, Caroline's body to be searched in case she'd left a letter, or a note, anything at all to explain. Neighbours, again, to be placated. The ambulance took longer to arrive, some pile-up by the Blackwall Tunnel, and the centre of their room was the crumpled shape, blood soaking the sheet they'd found to cover her with.

Cowley looked them both up and down as they stood, shoulders together, in front of him, when it was all finally, achingly, over. There was a single lone bobby on duty now, the curious and the nervous and the next-door neighbours had been chased off home, and Ruth was waiting by the Rover. Cowley seemed about to turn away, and Doyle thought, surely even he's not off to another case already, but he must have changed his mind, because he paused and said, brusquely, "It's been a long few days. Get your reports done, and then go home. I'll see you bright and early on Thursday."

Beside him, Bodie sighed, so lightly that you'd never know it if you weren't touching him, if you didn't feel the slight movement of that breath in every part of your body. Doyle felt it, closed his eyes, finally took off his sunglasses. His eyes were red with exhaustion, he knew, his face pale and pinched, but there was nothing, now, that he wanted to do about it, and this day was nearly over.

"Reports?" he said to Bodie, to let him know that he wasn't going to abandon him tonight, that he'd be right there alongside him as they went through it all again, moment by moment, in their own office.

"Reports," Bodie nodded, and headed for his Capri.

Doyle followed him in as they drove, unusually sedately, carefully and with respect for other drivers, back through town. They parked side by side, greeted Frank on the door, and ascended the stairs, one by one, to their office on the first floor. Doyle couldn't have moved quickly if he'd tried, there was no bounce left in him, just a heavy desire to get himself home, and clean, and into bed.

And yet something kept him, after he'd written the last word, sitting quietly at his desk by the door, listening to the scratching of Bodie's pen, watching the way Bodie's hand moved across the page, the slight rise and fall of his chest. Now and then Bodie looked up, and they gazed at each other, for a moment, across the room. Eventually he realised that Bodie had finished as well, and that they were both just sitting, eyes locked together, breathing the same air.

Outside, across the city, Big Ben chimed seven, and Bodie's eyes flicked to the window.

"Didn't realise how much I missed it, when it was gone last year," Doyle said softly, and Bodie looked back at him, seemed to almost smile, nodded.

"Getting dark already," he said, "Be Christmas before we know it." He pushed back his chair, gathered up his papers, and held out a hand to take Doyle's report. "I'll drop these off with the night girls."

"Yeah. Thanks." He rubbed his hands across his face, heard Bodie pulling on his jacket, moving past him to the door.

"Doyle," Bodie said, by way of goodnight, as he turned to leave, reached out to the door handle.

And then he paused, put out a hand, and ran it through Doyle's hair, not as he might have any other day, but as he had last night. Slowly, a caress. "See you tomorrow, then."

"Yeah," Doyle said, and nodded, even as Bodie left the room. "See you tomorrow."

Doyle sat still for a moment, staring into the dim light of the room, then he stood up, and moved to the window, which overlooked the car park far below. He watched as Bodie appeared, strode across to his car, and got in. They had a day off tomorrow, he remembered, hoped that the sky would stay clear, so that they could spend some of it outdoors, in the sunshine. Maybe it wasn't a whole weekend, maybe it was in the middle of the week, but that was alright. It was Bodie bringing them together this time, and sometimes, it seemed, everything changed in a single day.

Outside, lights began to wink on in offices and shops and houses across the city, pale in the dim early evening. The brake lights of Bodie's Capri glowed brilliantly red for a moment, as he paused by the gate, on his way home, and Doyle left the window, and their office, and followed him out into the night.

-- THE END --

August 2007

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