Silver Into Gold
Written for the Jubilee June challenge "Discovered in 1977" on the discoveredinalj livejournal community, to the prompt "Red, White, and Blue Union Jack Cake"
Doyle was quite warm and extremely comfortable when he woke. His body felt rested, and his mind was at peace. Bodie slept deeply, his back to Doyle. With a soft smile, he carefully shifted closer to his lover and wrapped his arm around Bodie's waist. Resting his cheek briefly against the smooth skin, Doyle planted a light kiss on Bodie's shoulder before he gently extracted himself from the bed.
Shrugging into his robe, Doyle's smile didn't lessen as he watched his lover at rest. Bodie looked so peaceful. Doyle paused beside the bed, listening carefully. Bodie's breathing was slow and easy, with no trace of the horrible wet, rattling sound that he'd heard when Bodie had been ill a little over two weeks ago. With a small shiver, Doyle remembered those seventy-two hours with dread. The detestable sound had frozen the blood in his veins, and each breath that Bodie had struggled to make had made him want to rage with anger and frustration. But he had to be strong, or else his lover would surely kick his arse down the hospital corridor. Figuratively, at least, until Bodie was stronger, and then literally if Doyle persisted in hovering. Well, hovering in any blatant, obvious manner. Bodie hated hovering, but in the usual manner of his partner--that being at times a source of frustration and irritation--Bodie liked to be pampered.
Shaking his head ruefully, Doyle smiled, touching a lock of Bodie's shockingly white hair. While his own curls were kept cut somewhat shorter than his younger days, his hair still held a bit of colour, although Bodie smirked at each new grey hair that he discovered on Doyle's head. Grinning now, Ray heard his lover's sarky voice, "Salt and pepper? Nice way to say old man, old son," he'd drawled, emphasizing the old part more than necessary, Doyle reckoned. After all these years together, teasing was still something that they fell into naturally, and Doyle missed it terribly when Bodie was ill.
With a sobering thought to Bodie's recent health problems, Doyle turned serious. At least Bodie was still here; around to harass his partner with regularity, a fact for which Doyle gratefully thanked the heavens above. After these last couple of go-rounds with pneumonia and bronchitis, Doyle was now even more careful with his partner's health, much to Bodie's amused chagrin.
With a final glance at his slumbering mate, Doyle wandered out into the kitchen of their cosy house to prepare breakfast. The place was rather small, but big enough for the two of them, and they liked it here. He smiled as he rummaged through the freezer, pulling out a bag of frozen bread rolls and a box of low-fat turkey sausage. Preparing meals had certainly gotten easier over the years. First came the microwave, then a myriad of food products that were easily prepared in that modern convenience. Still, Doyle liked to cook from scratch for their dinner, but he knew to keep plenty of easily-fixable, good quality food about for Bodie, who still tended to grab whatever was at hand to nosh, regardless of the fat and calories. Doyle grinned. They were both still were in good shape for men their ages, but one had to be careful when one was past fifty.
Glancing at the clock, he reckoned he had about twenty more minutes before Bodie would wake and seek him out. As usual, Doyle smiled when he thought about Bodie, even while shaking his head in mild exasperation. No matter how much he coaxed his lover into lying in longer than he, since he tended to rise early, Bodie rarely listened. When Doyle rose, he knew from experience that within thirty minutes, Bodie's internal radar would somehow ping, and he would awaken, knowing full well that Doyle had vacated their bed. And therefore, if Doyle was up, Bodie was up as well. Only illness kept Bodie in bed without him. And even then, Doyle had a time of it keeping his lover flat on his back when the circumstances warranted it.
Musing again about Bodie's health, he let out a small sigh of relief that, all in all, they both still fared well in the health department. He wasn't prone to sickness himself, although a small ulcer liked to rear its ugly head from time to time. Bodie's biggest problem was his weakened lungs, but they'd learn to live with that mess these past twenty-odd years. Doyle remembered that day as clearly as it was yesterday.
The op had gone bad from the start, and Doyle still blamed himself for losing track of his partner. Bodie had disappeared, and it had taken Doyle the better part of twenty-four hours to locate him. He found him, much to his relief, but Bodie's condition was less than favourable. He'd been left tied up and abandoned, with two broken ribs and a concussion, on the cold concrete floor of a disused factory. The concrete was, unfortunately, covered by several inches of icy water, and the night Bodie was missing had been bitterly cold. By the time he'd found Bodie, pneumonia had settled into his shaking, feverish body. Doyle blamed himself for his partner's predicament, of course.
Thankfully, Bodie had recovered, and all was thought well until a half a decade later when he'd started to experience a propensity to bronchitis whenever he was overly exposed to cold and damp. The doctors discovered permanent damage to Bodie's lungs, and though they claimed they couldn't pinpoint with accuracy the exact reason for the weakness, Doyle knew it was that one op gone bad that had brought this on.
Still, they'd managed to live a good life together these past few decades. Doyle plugged in the kettle and slid a pan holding the rolls into the oven. Turning the sausages with a fork, they sizzled and popped. He put another frying pan onto the stove, added a small dab of butter, and while that melted, he whipped up three eggs. Bodie would have liked six, but Doyle took it as a personal mission to make sure they both ate well these days--when he could keep Swiss rolls from the house, he thought with a small snort. Slicing fresh fruit, Doyle mixed cantaloupe and red grapes with bananas and apples, knowing they were Bodie's favourites. While his lover would grouse over not being allowed enough sweets, he would still eat the fruit with relish.
Lost in thought and the task at hand, Doyle started when Bodie's arms circled his waist. He jumped slightly, earning a deep chuckle into his left ear.
"Wanker," Doyle said softly, smiling. He held a piece of melon over his shoulder. Bodie nibbled on the edge of the piece before taking it from Doyle's fingers. Ray grinned as Bodie's chin nudged his shoulder as he chewed. "Hungry?" he asked.
"Famished," Bodie said, kissing Doyle's cheek. "Good morning."
"Good morning to you. Eggs are finished. Get the bread from the oven, and we can eat."
"Love you," Bodie whispered, pinching Ray's bottom.
"Ouch!" he said, laughing. "Hands off! And take your last pill."
Doyle kept an eye on Bodie as he fixed plates with eggs and sausage. Bodie dumped the last pill from the bottle into his palm and swallowed it with a swig from his glass of orange juice. "Good boy," Doyle said smartly, happy that the round of antibiotics was now behind them, and that Bodie was back in the pink.
Bodie pulled the rolls from the oven and dumped them into the towel-lined bowl that Doyle had set out. "Boy? I'll have you know that even at my age, I'm more well-endowed than most men under thirty."
Doyle laughed. "What does endowed have to do with age?"
"Don't know. Sounded good. Didn't hear you complaining last night," Bodie retorted, sitting down to eat. "Rolls are good," he said after smearing butter on one and biting into it. "Hot!"
"Imagine that," Doyle said. "And go easy on that butter."
"Thought it was the reduced-fat kind." Bodie dug into his eggs before nibbling a sausage.
"It is, but still..." Doyle dramatically patted his stomach. "Want to keep that girlish figure of yours, mate. I have uses for it."
"You're still a randy toad, Doyle. And this isn't real sausage."
"Takes one to know one. And it's as real as you're getting these days."
"Still..." Bodie finally admitted, "these aren't bad."
They both laughed, bantering throughout breakfast in their usual manner. Doyle loaded the dishwasher while Bodie cleaned up. Chores finished, they wandered into the lounge with steaming cups of coffee. Bodie hit the remote for the telly, and they settled down on the sofa for the Sunday morning news reports.
"I'd clean forgotten," Doyle said, watching the newscaster. "It was the Golden Jubilee this past week."
"No wonder. You spent fifteen hours just on Thursday getting that damnable computer system back up and running. You'd think they'd allot you more money to keep that mess working properly."
"You're on the committee. Tell them."
"Sodding idiots, the lot." Bodie snorted with amusement before he said, "Golden, eh? It can't be that long since the Silver, mate."
Bodie groaned. "We're getting old."
Doyle smiled. "You're still as--aggravating now as you were then."
After he gave Doyle a shocked look, Bodie put his hand over his heart and said dramatically, "I'm still as beautiful as I was then. White hair and all."
Grinning, he leaned over and kissed Bodie's cheek. "I still love you, you daft bastard."
"But you didn't. Not at first."
"No. Hated you, in fact."
"But now you love me."
"Some of the time." Bodie pouted, his blue eyes dancing, until Doyle admitted, "All right. Most of the time."
"Cheers. While you watch the telly, I think I'll manage a soak."
"Sure, love. Enjoy."
After Bodie stood, he leaned down, planting a quick kiss on Doyle's lips. "Come and wash my back?"
"I'll wash anything you like."
Bodie ruffled his hair as he passed. "Salt and pepper, my arse. Grey more likely."
"Leave off," Doyle called good-naturedly, knowing Bodie expected a retort. He grinned, turning back to the telly.
Images flashed before his eyes. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in their golden coach, making their way to St. Paul's Cathedral. The royal family waving to the crowds. Prince William and Prince Harry dressed out in their finest, as were the rest of the family and guests. The Royal Guard looking quite dashing in their red jackets and black feathered hats. Then the news report switched to tales of the common folk, who were enjoying their holiday. There were street fairs and picnics of every size and number. There were fireworks and parties. Doyle smiled, remembering that other celebration. Twenty-five years ago. The Silver Jubilee.
Doyle knew exactly where he was that week of the Silver Jubilee. Funny, that. Lately, people had begun reminiscing with each other as to where they were during the Silver Jubilee now that the Golden was on them. He remembered the case they'd worked on. Susie Carter. They'd run helter-skelter figuring out that one. And after arresting Derrington, back at HQ, they'd joined the rest of the mob for the Silver Jubilee party in the rest room. The girls from the computer room had baked a huge Union Jack cake. Strawberry, it was, with the red, white and blue icing an inch thick. He expected that Bodie would be sick after he'd attacked that cake, but surprisingly, Bodie'd only skimmed a finger into the icing, and after licking it off, cast a devilish grin at Ray and left the room.
Doyle had arched an eyebrow, following his partner to see what kind of trouble he had brewing. He'd found Bodie in the hallway on the phone, sweet-talking some bird. After Bodie had rang off, Doyle gave Bodie a knowing smirk before he said, "Just going to see Tony Miller's mother. Want to come?" Bodie had cast a quick glance at the phone, a frown on his face for a moment before he turned to Doyle and smiled. "Sure." Together, they had made the visit. Hard as it had been, it had to be done. Having Bodie with him made it a mite easier. Having Bodie with him always made even the roughest of times bearable.
Doyle smiled to himself, pleased that most of his memories were good in spite of the horrible things they'd seen and had to do to protect their country and its citizens over the years. And he was satisfied as he thought about that long-past case and that long-ago celebration. Satisfied not only because they had solved a twenty-five-year-old murder case, but because all of the important dates in his life were always connected with Bodie. Their lives were inexplicably woven together, and each memory was precious to him.
Doyle gave a small harrumph. Although in 1977, while he and Bodie were partners on the job and mates, always enjoying a beer and sharing birds, even double-dating on occasion, if he had been asked about his future, never in his wildest imaginations would he have foreseen spending almost thirty years with Bodie at his side. Furthermore, if he'd been told by some soothsayer that a good twenty of those years would be spent as Bodie's lover, he would have died laughing. Not that he didn't respect and care for Bodie all those many years ago. It just wasn't something he had expected that he would ever do. Before Bodie, he'd never fancied any man in his bed. After Bodie, he was spoiled for anyone else in his bed, man or woman.
They'd been together two years when the Silver Jubilee rolled around, and by then, they were a finely tuned team, working in harmony. They knew what the other would do instinctively in any given situation. They could communicate with a look or a brief word or two, and then operate like a well-oiled machine. But it hadn't started out that way. Not by a long shot. Telly forgotten, Doyle rose to fix a fresh cup of coffee and as he did so, he cast his thoughts to his partner, as he often did. He remembered their first few days together. Not because of the good impression Bodie had imparted on the newly-recruited Doyle, but because of the appalling impression Bodie had seared directly into Doyle's brain.
It had taken Ray Doyle less than fifteen minutes after they first met to decide that he disliked Bodie immensely. Funny how things worked out. In the span of their first seventy-two hours together, he had gone from thinking Bodie was an arsehole, to hating the man intently, to knowing he'd never allow himself to be partnered with anybody else but Bodie as long as he was a member of CI5. Only Bodie could make such an impression, and Doyle remembered those first three days very clearly...
"I'm your new partner."
The first words Bodie said to him were spoken with thinly veiled contempt. No other way to describe it. He felt himself bristle immediately. His new boss, George Cowley, had introduced him to this arrogant man not more than ten minutes before, and the bastard was already getting on his last nerve. Bodie... Just Bodie, he'd said. Doyle had shrugged and said drolly, "Whatever makes you happy, mate." But now, with the simple words, "I'm your new partner.", Doyle could feel the derision wafting his way. Hell, he could have cut it with a knife it was so bloody thick. Bodie stood in the centre of the hallway, hands in his pockets, his chin held high, and a look of complete disdain on his face. Doyle wanted to reach out and punch the haughty expression from it. With glee.
"Yeah. So he said," Doyle responded, cocking his head toward the closed door to his new Controller's office.
"I have an assignment," Bodie said scornfully, striding toward the outside door.
Doyle hurried to catch up. "Don't you mean "we" have an assignment?"
"Can handle it on my own."
"Not a chance. We're partners. We do things together-"
Bodie cast an exasperated glance his way. "Don't need a partner."
"No matter. Cowley-"
"Yeah, right. Mr Cowley," he said, drawing out the 'mister' with just enough derision to raise Bodie's arrogant eyebrow, "said we were supposed to bring this bloke, Carter, in. He did say we. I heard him clear as crystal."
"If you insist," Bodie smirked. Doyle swore that if the berk had a cape, he would have flaunted it behind him at that very moment. Covering up a snicker, he barely heard Bodie grouse, "I'm driving." Then his new partner strode away without a backward glance, his long legs eating the ground towards the main entrance, down the pavement and to the kerb, where he unlocked the door of his motor and slid behind the wheel, leaving Doyle to stand beside his still-locked door, feeling like a moron.
With a sigh, Doyle rapped his knuckles on the window. Finally, after a definite pause, during which Bodie's animosity toward him was clearly projected, he deigned to lean over and pull the lock. Doyle climbed in with a sarky, "Ta." He then fell silent. If this is the way the man wanted to play it, he wasn't going to go at it with him. He'd complete this assignment, and then ask Cowley for a new partner. Decision made, he sat back and ignored his current but temporary companion. As luck would have it, the trip across London took three times as long as normal. And while Doyle would have enjoyed a bit of conversation to help pass the time, he'd be damned if he'd give this--Bodie---any more reason to speak to him like he was the lowest form of life that the man had ever interacted with.
With a sigh, he looked out the windscreen at the snarled intersection, wondering that the devil was going on. Doyle leaned forward and switched on the radio. The announcer's voice held an edge of excitement as he spoke, ...a hostage situation at this very moment! Neighbours report seeing possible terrorist gunmen entering the building less than an hour ago. We are live on Balcombe Road, where details are sketchy, and the authorities are keeping the crowds at bay...
Doyle grabbed the two-way.
"4.5 to Alpha One."
"Sir, there's something happening in our area. The radio says something about a hostage situation and possible terrorist activity. Should we-"
"4.5, your prior orders stand. Alpha, out."
"Fuck it all," Doyle growled, tossing the microphone down.
"Did you reckon he'd let a wet-behind-the-ears rookie like you on an important assignment?" Bodie finally said, his tone bored.
Doyle slumped back in his seat, crossing his arms. Just my luck, Doyle thought. Now I have to spend even more time in this bastard's company. Ah well, what could possibly happen? It was a simple job, and then it would be over. And then, he'd finally be rid of him.
Apparently, he'd reckoned wrong. They'd parked a few blocks away from their final destination, and when Bodie turned off the engine, he crossed his arms and started in on him immediately. Bodie was cool and arrogant as he let Doyle know exactly what he expected of him. He silently fumed as Bodie growled out his words. Cowley had expressly said that they were equals, a team. No one was above the other in rank or decision-making, but Bodie clearly had other ideas. It was a simple pick-up. They were to go to the west end to bring in a man Cowley wanted to question. They weren't told any further details, but their orders were unequivocal. Bring in Hamish Carter, alive.
Yet Bodie made it very clear that he was in charge. His tone was haughty as he ordered Doyle, "I'll take the back. You enter through the front, wait exactly forty-eight seconds, then knock. If he responds, tell him that it's the electric meter man. By that time, I'll be inside from the back, and I'll nab him.
"If he doesn't respond, give me another five seconds, then kick the door in. You remain in the door way, and cover me from that position. Under no circumstances are you to enter the flat. Do you understand these instructions?"
"I'm not a moron. I don't need you to-"
"Look, mate," Bodie said coldly, "What I don't need is some scared, inexperienced, never-used-a-gun ex-copper backing me up! I'm not taking a bullet for the likes of you," he growled, pushing his finger into Doyle chest. "And I very well do need to, believe you me. Seen the likes of you before. Do you understand the instructions?" he repeated, his cold blue eyes holding Doyle's gaze. "If you're going to take a swing, hurry it up. Then I can lay you out here, and do my job without having to watch out for your bony arse!"
"Fuck you," Doyle hissed angrily. "I can do my job. Let's go." He leapt from the vehicle and stood, hands in his pockets, waiting for his so-called partner to make his way to the pavement. They were silent on the way down the road, and when they arrived at the building, neither man spoke. Bodie glared at him before he hurried away. Doyle sighed, rubbing his forehead. With an exasperated exhalation, he followed Bodie's orders, swearing to himself it was the first, last and only time he was going to be partnered with the likes of such an arrogant arsehole.
The op went like clockwork, and Carter was delivered to a very pleased Cowley. But when Doyle asked to speak with Cowley alone and requested another partner, he was was met with as much coldness from his Controller as he'd had from Bodie.
"Bodie is your partner," Cowley said. "Make it work. Dismissed."
The second day of their partnership was even worse, if that were possible. They were given instructions to patrol the streets and make some contacts. At that morning's debriefing, they were told that the latest street chatter had the IRA possibly planning something in addition to the hostage situation still running over on Balcombe Road.
Hours spent riding around, hitting each man's familiar pubs to talk to the locals, as well as other haunts, where undesirable but necessary contacts sometimes nested, set Doyle's teeth on edge. Hours wasted not discovering a single thing of importance. Cowley's irritated voice across his R/T, demanding information, made him want to put his fist through a window--or into somebody's face.
Bodie spoke to him only when necessary, and Doyle liked it that way. Still, he had to work with the man, so when they actually stopped for a breather and a quick bite to eat at one of the small pubs along the river, he tried to enter a conversation with him. Bodie finally managed a few civil words, but actual conversation was apparently beyond him. Doyle bought the first round of beer, but even that gesture didn't garner him any favour with his partner. It was with a sigh and a headache that Doyle returned to the streets to do their Controller's bidding.
As they crossed the road to Bodie's vehicle, a scream cut through the air. They exchanged a glance. Not even knowing what was happening, they nevertheless responded. Racing toward the alley, Bodie called, "I'll go 'round back." Doyle nodded, pulling his weapon as he pounded toward the alley, where another scream echoed out of the alleyway, echoing as it bounced off the buildings.
Doyle took in the scene quickly. A tall, scrawny man held an old woman's arm with one hand while in his other he had a knife. The woman's purse lay at their feet, the contents dumped onto the dirty pavement. Doyle gritted his teeth and skittered to a halt in front of the pair.
"Drop your weapon!" Doyle shouted, holding his pistol extended, both hands wrapped around the grip.
The man's gaze hit Doyle. He immediately wrapped an arm around the woman's chest and pressed the knife to her throat. The woman sobbed, hands feebly pushing at the arm encircling her. The man was tall enough to lift the small woman from the ground, and she struggled in his hard grasp. "Get away!" the criminal cried, his eyes wild. "I'll cut her! I'll stick her!" To prove his point, he jabbed at the woman's thin throat. His knife moved erratically, luckily only skimming her skin. Blood began to seep from the small cut, and the woman became even more frantic as she began to sob deeply.
"No! Don't hurt her! Look!" Doyle stepped forward. "Look, I'm putting it away." He holstered his gun, mentally deciding how quickly he could cross the distance between himself and the maniac to disarm him. Doyle took another step toward them, trying to keep his voice calm but firm. "Let her go. She's an old woman! She doesn't have much money! Come on, mate. Let her go."
"Get back! I swear I'll kill the bitch!"
Doyle swallowed hard, briefly wondering where Bodie was. He'd had enough time to work his way up behind the man, but when the woman started screaming again, he moved forward another step.
"Shut up!" the man screamed, shaking the old woman as he pressed the knife to tender flesh.
Doyle was almost within striking distance. Another step, and he had a good chance. He held out his hands and looked directly into the man's face, trying to make a connection so that he could gauge whether or not he could talk the man into releasing the woman.
The perpetrator was relatively young, he noticed, early twenties, but his clothing and skin were filthy. From where Doyle stood, he could clearly smell the man's unwashed body, and see the fear and anger radiating from him. The man's eyes flicked rapidly around and sweat covered his face. Doyle suddenly realized he was an addict, heroin most likely, and that he was hurting badly for a fix. As the thought hit home, a shot rang out. Doyle started. Blood sprayed thickly through the air with enough force to splatter onto Doyle's face and clothing. The woman slumped to the ground, along with the man.
Doyle raced forward, pulling the woman from underneath the man's body. He let out a sigh of relief when he realised the woman had merely fainted.
Bodie sauntered over, holstering his pistol. Doyle looked up. "You arse! I was talking him down!"
"Never happen, mate. He wasn't going to hear a word." Bodie reached down and yanked the man's sleeve up, revealing an arm mutilated from years of heroin use. "He wouldn't have listened. Too far gone."
"I could have!" Doyle said adamantly.
Bodie merely shrugged and called HQ on his R/T, requesting the police and an ambulance. Then he knelt down and gave the woman a cursory glance. "She'll live."
"No thanks to you," Doyle growled, removing his jacket to place under the woman's head. He snatched up her purse from amongst the debris of the alleyway and after gathering as much of the contents as possible, laid it next to her.
"All thanks to me, mate," Bodie said coolly. "She's alive, and that is dead," he added, nodding toward the dead addict. "Never menace again, will he?" Not waiting for Doyle's response, he shrugged and turned away, walking to the head of the alley to stand with his back to Doyle.
At that moment, Doyle hated Bodie. Hated the cold way he killed. Hated the way Bodie made him feel. Like he was inadequate. And he hated that Bodie was right. The drug use, and the need for a fix, had made the man wild and crazy, and there would have been no reasoning with him. Bodie had done the proper thing. He had not. He'd never used a firearm on a person before, and now he wondered if he ever could. Questioned if he had what it took to do this job. The noise of the sirens as the first of the emergency vehicles arrived cut through Doyle's thoughts, and he turned his energies toward getting the old woman attended to.
The third day definitely had turned the tide. Doyle hadn't expected anything else to happen. After all, they'd again been refused permission to go anywhere near the IRA terrorist hostage situation that was in its third day, and more than likely, it wasn't their sortie now that the terrorists had been identified and hostage negotiators had been brought in. It would have been their job to have prevented the situation from happening, but now that it was in full swing, they were well out of it.
Bodie picked Doyle up at seven am, and they reported in. With only a minor gun-running op on the board, they'd taken the file given them by Cowley and headed out, if only to keep from having to sit in the rest room and stare at each other.
They hit some of the familiar places, and on a tip from one of Doyle's informants from his copper days, they were driving down a quiet neighbourhood street when a woman ran out into the road directly in front of Bodie's car. He slammed on the brakes, smoke rising from the tyres. When the woman finally turned her face toward them, Doyle could see the tears streaking her face. He quickly climbed out and moved towards her, wondering how in the hell they'd managed to stumble onto trouble for the second time in as many days.
"Do you need help?" Doyle asked.
The weeping woman wrung her hands. "My Betsy... She's gone from the yard."
"Yes. She's fourteen, but she's--simple. In the head. Never wanders off, but the back gate... It wasn't broken a bit ago!" The woman started to wail anew.
"Want us to have a look?" Doyle asked. "She probably just went on a walk."
"No, she'd never. I've told her and she knows..." The woman dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief. "But I always keep the gate locked! I checked it this morning. Please..."
"How long since you last saw her? Betsy, you said?"
The woman nodded, tears streaming down her cheeks. "Thirty minutes. I checked on her before I started to fix lunch, and then when I went to call her to come and eat..." She cried harder. "Gone..."
Doyle patted her shoulder. "Bodie, call the locals. I'll take a quick look about."
"Doyle," Bodie said warningly. "It's not for us."
Doyle heard the tone of his partner's words, and he turned towards him to protest. His gaze sought out his partner, and expected to see his partner's all-too-familiar arrogant look plastered on his face, but instead, Bodie's attention was on the woman, and the look on his face was what Doyle could only call--compassionate. He was shocked.
He briefly wondered if Bodie was the sort to expect the return of a favour. Sexual, of course. But the woman was quite ordinary. She was wearing a simple blouse and jeans, so it wasn't because the woman was provocative in any way. Bodie looked--caring. Doyle wondered if he was seeing things. When Bodie saw he was being observed, he quickly schooled his features and asked the woman to show him where she'd last seen her child. Without a word to Doyle, Bodie followed the woman with no further objections.
Doyle followed, puzzled over his partner's sudden interest. He took a moment to call in their location to HQ and to quickly explain the situation, requesting the local authorities be summoned to conduct a search for a missing child. Then he walked over to where his partner was inspecting the backyard gate.
"Been broken" he said, leaning down to inspect the damaged wood. "Kicked in, more than likely. From the outside." Bodie put his hands in his pockets and walked around.
Doyle walked beside him, looking at the blanket spread on the lawn, dolls and play things strewn about. A one-eyed stuffed dog sat in the centre with a plate of grass before it. "Shit," Doyle muttered.
Bodie nodded. "What does your daughter look like, miss?"
"Betsy's quite petite, blond hair, green eyes. She's wearing red, white and blue. They're her favorite colors."
"Wait here until the police arrive, and then give them a photograph or a very clear description of your daughter," Bodie told the woman before turning to Doyle. "Might as well take a look around until the locals descend." Bodie glanced at Doyle, and for a moment, it looked like he was actually asking Doyle's permission, or at least his agreement.
Still surprised, Doyle nodded, and they walked out of the back gate together.
"Which way?" Doyle asked, looking about. The path lead along the walled yards to the left and right, as well as a tract leading directly away into a small wood behind the houses.
"That way," Bodie said, pointing. "Look."
Doyle headed down the path into the wood, seeing something white lying alongside the path. He leaned down and picked up a plastic teacup. It matched the ones on the blanket in Betsy's yard. "Bloody hell."
"Footprints. One set." Bodie rose and walked on, keeping his eyes down. "His stride is off..."
"He was carrying the girl?"
"Yeah. Right." Bodie's pace quickened. "And she wasn't going willingly. See? His footprints waver, as if she was making a fuss, kicking or twisting about, and he was having to compensate to keep his balance."
Doyle almost smiled. They were actually working together, without animosity. True, it wasn't some big undercover op, but they were doing all right.
They hurried along the track for a while before Doyle admitted, "Haven't seen anything else. It's been a quarter mile or more."
"Maybe we missed something," Bodie mused. "No more footprints. But the ground is hard as concrete hereabouts."
"Let's backtrack. See what we missed."
Bodie nodded curtly and they headed back. "Here." He peered into the wood. "See that?" Doyle shook his head. "Twenty-five yards. On the left. Some sort..."
Bodie moved forward, pushing aside the brush. Doyle followed closely until they came to a concrete square, standing about three feet high and built above ground, with a metal top two feet around. The top, set directly in the centre, resembling a manhole cover, was open.
"Bomb shelter?" Doyle asked.
"Left from the war." Bodie moved closer and cautiously leaned over the opening. Then he cocked his head. "Definitely somebody down there." Bodie rose and took off his jacket, laying it on the corner of the concrete square.
Doyle followed suit, saying, "He might hear us and kill the girl."
Bodie shook his head and his gaze met Doyle's. "He's too busy, most likely."
"You think he's raping her?"
"If he hasn't already, he will."
"I'll go first," Doyle offered.
"Go on then."
Doyle nodded, and after peering down into the darkness, he let his eyes adjust until he saw the old metal ladder attached to the wall. Cautiously, he started to descend, moving slowly and silently. When he made the bottom, Bodie started down, blocking out the little bit of light that filtered down. Doyle glanced around. They were about fifty feet underground, and from his right, Doyle saw the flickering of light.
When Bodie reached his side, they waited momentarily, their gazes meeting. Bodie touched his chest, held his hand level with Doyle's head, then cocked his head. Doyle acknowledged Bodie's request. Bodie would get the man; Doyle would attend to the girl. They slid down the tight hallway toward what would be the main area of the bomb shelter and moved quickly when they were able to see what was happening.
Doyle took in the scene in the blink of an eye. The girl was on an old, dirty mattress. Her hands were bound in front of her and her mouth was stuffed with an equally dirty rag. Her shorts had been removed but her underpants were still on her slender body. Her t-shirt was pushed up and small breasts were exposed.
Doyle was surprised to see the man who held her down with a large, clean hand wore a nice shirt and pressed trousers. His hair was groomed and his profile showed a regular sort of bloke. Could have been anybody's brother or friend. Not the evil devil Doyle had been expecting.
A final quick glance passed between him and Bodie, then Bodie moved. In a flash, his partner had the man face down on the ground. Doyle rushed to the girl, and the first thing he did was remove the gag from her mouth.
"You're all right," he said soothingly. "We're here to help."
The girl's tear-filled eyes looked at Doyle, and she let out a blood-curdling scream.
Doyle flinched, reaching out to untie her hands. She screamed again and didn't let up, frantically kicking at him and trying to back away.
"Doyle!" Bodie called over the girl's cries. "Take him, and go and get the girl's mother!"
Doyle nodded, whipping out handcuffs from his jacket pocket. At Bodie's raised eyebrow, he shrugged, snapping them around the man's wrists. "Come on, you," he growled, shoving the man before him. "You be all right?" he asked his partner, casting a quick glance at the girl, whose screams had subsided into harsh sobbing.
"We'll be fine. Go on. Get Betsy's mum."
A quick nod, and he hurried the man up and out of the bunker.
Doyle was stunned when he returned. He didn't know what he'd expected, but this scene certainly wasn't it. Of course, he knew his partner wouldn't hurt the girl, but he never expected to see his overbearing partner acting quite like that.
He'd handed the man they'd caught over to the coppers, who had already begun their search for the young girl when he emerged from the bunker. Then he had returned as quickly as possible with Betsy's mum. Not sure what he really expected, he was pleased to see that Betsy was sitting up on the mattress with Bodie's jacket zipped around her thin body. The sleeves were folded up so that her little hands poked out of the abundance of material. While tears still streaked her face, she wasn't sobbing any longer. Bodie sat, legs crossed, on the dirty floor about four feet away, and although Doyle couldn't hear the exact words, Bodie's voice was low and soft. As they walked into the room, Doyle could see Betsy nod at something Bodie had said, then he heard Bodie laugh softly. Suddenly, the girl's head turned toward them.
"Mummy!" Betsy's eyes lit up and she rose, running into her mother's arms.
"My precious girl!"
The two embraced while Doyle moved to where his partner now stood brushing the dirt from his bum.
Bodie gave his partner a small smile before he said, "Let's get them out of here, then find the nearest pub. I need a drink."
Doyle nodded, hoping his astonishment didn't show. "How did you-?"
"Charm, Doyle. If I do say so myself."
Bodie gave Doyle a grin, and Doyle found himself grinning in return. He lowered his voice when he said, "You are a fucking bastard."
"Takes one to know one," Bodie retorted. "Let's get you home," he said to the mother and child, helping them climb out of the shelter. "We all need a bath."
They sat at the bar, a cold lager before each of them. Doyle was happy that the silence they shared while enjoying the beer was companionable. He took a sip and glanced at his--dare he think it?--mate.
"What do you say we start this--partnership over again?" Doyle offered, raising his glass to Bodie.
"All right with me." Bodie raised his glass in return.
"You've changed your mind about me?"
"Yeah. What of it?" Bodie sipped his drink. "You?"
"What? Changed my mind about you as well? Yes. Reassessed you this afternoon. Going to work on being more--laid back. Couldn't hurt."
"All right, then." Bodie again lifted his glass to Doyle. "You sweat it out and you pour it back. Stay cool. Bodie.
Doyle took a sip of his lager before he said, "Doyle."
Bodie looked knowingly at him, nodding with approval. "That's the main thing, staying cool. Saw my medical report: slow heartbeat, slow metabolism. It's got to be cool. Sneaked a look at yours, though. Very uncool. Hot temperament. Still, a good man. The tops. Worth knowing. You won't fall if they push."
Doyle sipped his beer before he testily asked, "So what was that about, the past few days? A test of a sort?"
With a satisfied grin, Bodie answered, "Had to find out, didn't I? Don't usually work with a partner. A bit risky."
"You're a sodding arsehole."
"Been said before, mate."
Again, they drank for a while before Doyle said, "You've been in the rough before, then?"
"Yeah. A bit."
When Bodie didn't elaborate, Doyle fell silent. He didn't like the idea that he was the interested one in this partnership. He'd do what Bodie said: play it cool. He was quiet for a good five minutes before he couldn't stand it any longer.
"You didn't play it very cool today. With that young girl. I could see you cared."
Bodie glanced away and shrugged, but Doyle was finally figuring out his new partner. Bodie liked to act all cool and nonchalant, but Doyle knew the right of it. He kept his newly discovered information to himself, though. Embarrassing the man wasn't his goal, and now that they'd started the beginning of a rapport, he discovered he liked Bodie. And trusted him, after seeing him today with that girl.
When Bodie finally said, "Can't afford to give a damn. Might make you hesitate. Forget the book, you shoot to kill. He will."
"Do you follow your own advice?" Doyle asked smartly, making Bodie laugh.
"Not usually," he finally admitted, ordering another round. "On me, mate," he said, handing the barman money. "Thanks," he said with a nod to the man. "It's easy, actually. You watch my back; I'll watch yours. Deal?" When Doyle raised his glass, Bodie tapped it. "Partner."
"Yeah," Doyle said. "Partner."
Hearing the sound of friendly, fresh voices, Bodie and Doyle turned toward the door. Two nice-looking birds fluttered in and settled at a table near the jukebox. In moments, Bodie was casually sauntering over to them. Doyle stayed where he was, watching how Bodie worked. He was suddenly interested in knowing everything about his new partner.
Doyle saw Bodie ordered drinks for the girls, and pay for them. He didn't acknowledge Doyle while he flirted outrageously, and Doyle didn't like the idea of barging in. Maybe Bodie liked a threesome. He turned back to his drink, keeping a side view of the table. When they'd finished their drinks, Bodie leaned over and said something quietly to the girls. They both laughed in response, casting wide eyes his way, and the three rose from the table. Bodie grinned, holding out both arms. The girls laughed, each hooking a hand onto an arm. They walked toward the door together. Gallantly, Bodie released one of the birds to open the door and wave them through. Then he paused and finally glanced toward Doyle.
"You coming?" Bodie called, throwing Doyle a quick sweep of his hand.
Doyle's gaze caught Bodie's for a moment, and he saw the mischievous twinkle in them. "Cheers." With a shake of his head and a smile on his lips, he followed Bodie out the door.
Dumping his now cold coffee down the sink, Doyle had to smile. He loved Bodie to distraction, but even now, he wondered how in the hell they'd ever mangeed to get together, the the way they'd chased and bedded women back then, like it was their main mission in life. Funny that. Them getting together. It wasn't some big, monumental discovery. They hadn't pined for each other for years on end, writing bad poetry over broken hearts, and wishing the other loved him. Nothing quite so grand.
They'd gotten plain, ordinary drunk and had sex in Bodie's flat. The following morning, upon waking in Bodie's bed, semen covered and decidedly sober, they'd looked at each other and gone at it again. And again. Days had turned into months, and into years. After ten years of no one else but each other, they had laughingly decided they were, indeed, an old, married couple and gone out to get drunk together to celebrate their ten year anniversary. Doyle laughed aloud at the memory of that "honeymoon" night.
"Sign of mental illness, mate."
"Eh?" Doyle turned, grinning at Bodie, leaning against the doorway, his arms crossed, and a warm smile on his face. "What are you going on about?"
"Talking and laughing when one is not in the presence of another person. Time to call in the men in the white coats."
"In that case, I'm years behind being locked up." Doyle smiled, crossing to his lover. He slipped his arms around Bodie's waist. Bodie pushed off the door frame and twined his arms through Ray's. They stood close together, grinning. "I love you, you bloody nutter."
"Love you. Always, Ray," Bodie said softly, his inviting lips giving Doyle a sweet smile. Doyle sighed happily, his own grin tugging his mouth wide. Bodie's smile was one of his greatest joys in life. It warmed his heart and soothed his soul like nobody's ever did or could. Bodie must have seen something he liked in Doyle's face, because his gaze intently searched Doyle's for a long minute before he smiled happily, leaned in a bit, lightly kissing Doyle's lips before he playfully pushed him away. "Get your Nikes, mate. It's a gorgeous day, and I want to take a nice, long stroll through the park. Then I'll let you buy me an ice cream."
"Who would have imagined?"
"Us. Together. Better yet, imagine twenty years ago thinking about our future."
"Thought we'd both be dead by now, if you want to know the truth," Bodie said honestly. "We tempted fate way too many times, love."
"But we bested it, didn't we?"
"Yeah, and now here we are."
"Horny as ever."
Bodie laughed, his dark sapphire eyes sparkling. "You, Raymond, are always ready for a toss. I think you'll die with a hard on."
Doyle laughed deeply. "At least mine works!"
"Hey!" Bodie feigned a deeply hurt face and came at Doyle.
Doyle made his escape to the bedroom, as he searched under the bed for his walking shoes, he and Bodie continued their conversation about who got it up quicker nowadays while they grabbed jackets, house keys and money for ice cream.
And as they locked the door behind them and started toward the duck pond, Doyle couldn't wipe the grin from his face, even if he wanted to, when he glanced over at his mate. They walked briskly for a time, side by side. He smiled, and without a doubt, Doyle knew that all of the silver and gold celebrations in his life were made better by sharing them with Bodie.