by Debra Hicks
A whisper of sound near the door took the big man's attention away from his paperwork. His partner was propped at a sharp angle against the door frame, a sly smile plastered across his handsome face. A fairly new suitcoat over a pair of tight new Levi's covered the muscled body. The man at the desk smiled.
"Well, well," he whistled, "look who's dressed to kill. What's all the regal splendor for?"
Using one square shoulder the smaller man pushed away from the door. Without a word he leaned across the messy metal desk, flipped open the interdepartmental bulletin and pointed to a section. The older man looked suspicious as he put on his reading glasses.
"'Conference on international drug trafficking announced,'" he read. "Lt. Scanlon will be announcing two officers to attend the conference recently set for the end of the month in London." Murtaugh smiled with obvious disbelief. "Us? Nah."
In a deep voice Martin Riggs asked patiently, "Are we or are we not the hottest two new special task force officers around?" Before Murtaugh could answer Riggs demanded, "Who was it broke the Mathews/Estes ring?"
"And who stopped the coke shipment last week in Bellvuedale Harbor?"
"Us." Murtaugh smiled.
"Who solved the Guenora murder?"
"Us." The smile grew a little wider.
"How about the Diablo drop?"
"Enough!" Murtaugh laughed, held up his hands. "So, for all this daring-do you figure our reward will come a little sooner than heaven. Like a trip to London?"
Before Riggs could reply the intercom buzzed. "Murtaugh, come to my office. And if you can find him bring that partner of yours."
"Yes, sir." Murtaugh looked up at Riggs. "What do you do next, Houdini?"
Riggs only smiled.
"A drug conference, sir?" the dark haired man questioned. "Why us? The Yard will already have men there."
Doyle raised his hand, used the excuse of scratching his chin to cover his smile. Only Bodie would dare question George Cowley's orders, only Bodie would get away with it.
The CI5 controller looked at Bodie over the edge of his glasses. For a minute Doyle wasn't sure he was going to answer. 'Need to know basis' was standard policy with George Cowley.
"You can always learn from other professionals, Bodie," Cowley said easily, his Scottish accent made more obvious by its contrast with Bodie's smoother tones. He stared back down at the papers on his desk. "But I'm not so much interested in the conference as I am in what the conference may attract."
Doyle frowned, catching on to what his boss was suggesting. "Every major city in the world will have officers there."
There was a sharp breath from Bodie as he too saw the implications. "One bomb in the right room would disrupt a lot of investigations."
"And if they offed...killed officers from several cities it would be almost impossible to track back to one organization," Doyle added.
"Agreed." Cowley glanced between his two best operatives. "I'm disappointed, gentlemen. You're missing the other angle."
Bodie exchanged a quick glance with his smaller partner. "We didn't mention that the hit could also come from any terrorist organization that wanted to stir things up. That seemed obvious."
"Did it now?" Cowley questioned.
"But, sir," Bodie wasn't ready to give up yet, "we're talking 300 to 400 trained police officers. If they can't protect themselves what chance do we have?"
"The key term, Bodie, is police officer." Cowley stood up, favoring his bad leg slightly. "Agreed, it is possible that if a criminal organization is involved, especially one based in the States, they may be spotted by an officer first. But these men are mostly undercover officers. They're not trained in anti-terrorist tactics. They don't know what to look for. You do."
His last statement left Bodie no room for argument. "You two will be inside as registered members. Murphy, Jax, Pattion and Neal will be on the outside. McNally and Register are the two Yard officers attending the convention." He handed them each a file. "Convention information, a list of terrorist organizations active in the area and a list of prominent criminal organizations currently under investigation by some of the convention members. You'll recognize most of the names on both lists."
He walked back around the desk. "You can check in tonight."
"Tonight?" Bodie yelped. "But, sir, I have...."
"She can wait, Bodie." Cowley ignored Doyle's snicker.
"You haven't seen her, sir," Bodie told him.
His reply earned him a hard stare. "Out of here, the both of you. And keep your eyes open. I'll not have anything happening while they're in our fair city."
Murtaugh tossed his suitcase on the floor, took a flying leap at the bed and bounced a couple of times face down before rolling over to locate his partner. Riggs was standing by the window gazing out over the old London street.
"How's the view?" the older man asked.
Riggs was silent, continued to stare down. His silence puzzled Murtaugh, especially after the enthusiasm the ex-Green Beret had exhibited on their London arrival. He pushed his heavy frame off the bed and joined Riggs.
"The view can't be that interesting." He commented as he came over.
In answer Riggs pointed to a black taxi that had discharged two passengers. "Do those two look familiar?"
Murtaugh watched the two passengers gather their baggage, pay the driver and move toward the entrance. One was tall, very blonde. The other was shorter with dark brown, almost black hair, and a heavier build. They disappeared under the hotels canopy.
"Don't recognize them."
"I know them," Riggs insisted.
"Martin, you're at a drug conference that will probably have officers from every city in California. You probably met them...."
"In court." Riggs snapped his fingers. "A case I worked on two years ago. They were the investigating officers from the Major crimes squad."
"Well, you can probably find them later to bullshit with." Murtaugh picked up the convention schedule as he turned back to sit on the bed.
"They're assholes," Riggs said with deep feeling. Murtaugh chuckled. "Worked six months on that damn case and they fucked it up on a technicality. Was thrown out of court."
"They must have done something right or they wouldn't have been sent to this conference."
"Probably kissed a lot of ass," Riggs grumbled as he turned to start unpacking.
"Well, here's something that will bring a smile to your face, partner." Murtaugh pointed to the schedule. "It seems Scotland Yard is graciously hosting a shooting competition at their facility. Dinner for two and a trophy to the winner."
"A trophy, huh?" Riggs leaned over his shoulder to read the rules.
"Dinner." Murtaugh left no doubt about his priorities.
Bodie rubbed his hands together, smiling slyly as they entered the Yard's indoor range. "Raymond, my lad, if we play this right we can come away with more than just tonight's dinner."
Doyle ignored him, stopping at the desk to get his weapon. To make the competition fair all the officers would use the same kind of weapon, Walther .38. Bodie continued outlining his plans for financial gain. "No one will pass up putting money on the fact that they can out shoot a helpless looking little sod like you."
The desk officer smiled at Doyle. "Ray, nice to see you again." They shook hands across the wood table. "Still as sharp as always?"
"He'd better be," Bodie chimed in. "Or we're out a lot of money."
"Mallory," Doyle nodded toward Bodie, "my partner, Bodie."
"Partner? What are you up to these days?"
"CI5," Doyle said with a slight smile.
The older man nodded, obviously not surprised. "I heard you'd moved into the elite, thought it must be something like that. Congratulations."
"Thanks, mate. Those three Yard shooting titles did a lot for getting me noticed."
"Glad to have you here. Someone needs to show these Yanks how this is done." He handed him the gun and two pairs of ear protectors. "Good luck, mate."
"He'll murder'em." Bodie encouraged in a horrible New York accent, taking Doyle by the arm and urging him toward the interior door.
"Aren't you signing up?" Bodie was almost as good as his partner, and he loved a challenge. Doyle couldn't believe he would not want to give him a chase.
"If I'm busy shooting who's going to lay the bets?" Bodie asked reasonably.
They moved down the long aisle flanked by gunports. Competitors were allowed a fifteen minute warmup to familiarize themselves with the weapons. The variety in size and age of the visiting officers surprised Bodie though there weren't as many competitors as he had hoped.
They picked a spot, Doyle stepped forward to the line, behind him Bodie slipped on the protectors and leaned back against the wall to watch. The line would be cleared and everyone ushered into a waiting area before the shooting began. He would begin his own form of competition there.
Fifteen minutes, and four perfect rounds later Doyle pulled off his protectors and smiled over his shoulder at Bodie. Bodie looked bored, totally unimpressed. It wouldn't do to give his partner a cocky attitude. That was his department. He let Doyle lead the way to the waiting area.
It was an informal competition, with long breaks between rounds, designed more to get the convention members together in a friendly atmosphere. That suited Bodie just fine. He let two elimination rounds go by before he made his first bet.
When Doyle came off the line from his final qualifying Bodie grinned at him, threw an arm around his shoulders, put a glass of punch in his hand.
"Doing alright, are we?" Doyle questioned, knowing the answer already.
"Keep it up, Ray and we can retire early," Bodie explained, patting his inside pocket.
"Gets tougher from here on," Doyle commented. "Still got two rounds of semis, then the finals."
Bodie only smiled. It wouldn't do to tell his partner that he planned on betting him all the way to the final then putting money on both competitors.
Even after nine months of being partners Murtaugh still had moments of worry about Riggs. The death wish was gone, though he wasn't sure exactly where to credit that achievement. The force psychiatrist gave Murtaugh's family life a lot of praise. Murtaugh's opinion was that for the first time in a long while Martin had someone he trusted, someone he could talk to. It seemed like a simple solution but sometimes the easy ones where the hardest to find. Still, he did have moments of doubt, like now.
Almost everyone else had come to the competition to meet other officers, have a good time, maybe win a little dinner. Riggs had come with a concentration that looked like his life depended on his winning. Murtaugh leaned back to watch the monitor, almost sorry he had suggested this. Riggs' attitude alone on the range was completely different from when it was the two of them shooting together. He was absolutely still, whole being centered on the target ahead of him.
At the same time as Murtaugh fretted about the idea he also took pride in the smooth, effortless way Riggs had worked his way up to this last elimination. Not a shot off the mark the entire way. One more round, then the final and dinner.
"He's very good." An English accented voice spoke from his right side. He glanced away from the monitor.
The man was Riggs' height, stockier, black hair trimmed very close around a handsome face with midnight blue eyes. The man smiled, part amusement, part predator. Murtaugh's smile was the same way.
"Nothing but the best for me."
"Partner?" The man inquired.
"Damn straight." Not sure why he was coming on so defensively Murtaugh forced himself to relax a bit. "I'm Roger Murtaugh, that's my partner Martin Riggs. We're from Los Angeles."
"Bodie." The man returned the firm shake, nodded toward one of the other four men on the monitor. "The curly haired bloke's Ray Doyle. He's mine."
Murtaugh scanned down the line. The man indicated was shorter and slimmer than Riggs, had a mop of curly brown hair with a few streaks of silver just showing. When he turned to reload Murtaugh noticed the long healed break along his right cheek bone. He stole a quick glance at Doyle's score, whistled softly--perfect all the way.
"He does alright," Bodie commented evenly. He added, like an after thought, "Looking forward to that dinner."
Murtaugh's eyebrows went up. "Stand in line, my man."
"Care to place a little something on that?" Bodie asked politely.
Murtaugh frowned, but he was already doing some quick mental math concerning pound to dollar conversion rates.
Bodie groaned. It was echoed by the watching crowd around him. The judges had called another ten minute break. On the monitor Doyle and Riggs move off the line. Doyle glanced toward the other man but Riggs was reloading and didn't seem to notice. Doyle ran a hand through his flattened curls then started for the room where Bodie and a considerable crowd were watching the final. A final that was about to enter its second hour.
"Won't have to worry about dinner," Bodie mumbled to Murtaugh. "We'll have starved to death by then."
"A little competition is one thing," Murtaugh agreed, "but this is defiantly getting out of hand. I had planned on seeing more of London than just Scotland Yard's basement."
Their partners entered the room to polite applause which they both ignored. With a frown Bodie noted that they were both looking a little frayed by now. He straightened up from his lean on the wall, approached Doyle and as he had done throughout the long contest, held out a cup for him. Beside him Murtaugh did the same for Riggs.
Doyle shook his head. "Ta, mate, after I hit the loo."
Riggs took his, finished it in one long swig. He watched Doyle move toward the hall. "Thanks, Rog. Think I'll hit the...loo, too." He trailed after the shorter man.
"Murtaugh," Bodie asked suddenly, "would you be willing to call the bet off?"
Wickedly smiling blue eyes glanced up at him. "Because I've got an idea that will satisfy honor and get us the hell out of here."
Five minutes later Doyle and Riggs emerged into a completely empty room. The only sign of recent occupation being the half-full punch bowl surrounded by empty paper cups. The trophy which had dominated the table was still there--in two pieces, the top having been unscrewed from the base. The two exchanged bemused glances.
Doyle picked up the trophy base, underneath was a note that Riggs recognized the handwriting on. He picked it up and read it aloud. "We're so bored we're about to cry, uh huh, uh huh, so this contest is declared a tie. Uh huh, uh huh. Congrats to the winners, uh huh, uh huh, Bodie and I are off to dinner. Uh huh, uh huh. P.S. didn't think I could rap did you? Signed, your partner."
They alternately stared between each other and the pieces of trophy. From the judges booth next to them came the sound of laughter. Murtaugh came out first, holding his sides and chuckling. Bodie followed, grinning crookedly.
Before either Doyle or Riggs could recover enough to talk Murtaugh turned to Bodie and asked, "Dinner, Mr. Bodie?"
Bodie bowed, gestured toward the door. "Dinner, Officer Murtaugh."
They swaggered out, leaving a pair of miffed partners. After a minute Doyle reached over and took part of the trophy. "You have to give them credit, they worked fast." He handed the base over to Riggs. "Dinner, Officer Riggs?"
"It's too soon." The man leaned over the antique desk to study the layout in front of him. "But it's not too soon to give them a little excitement."
The younger man across from him frowned. "I don't understand."
"They will be waiting, watching for us, correct?" The other man nodded. "So, we give them something to put their minds to rest."
"A fake attack." The other man caught on. "They'll think they've stopped the attempt."
"They'll relax," the leader elaborated.
"Who do we sacrifice to them?"
"Miller. He's too hot headed for the group, and there's nothing he'd like better than to kill a few coppers."
"You think he'll actually get that far?"
"He'll get in. There's no reason why he shouldn't kill one or two before they kill him. Can you have the arrangements ready?"
"Yes, sir. I think I can get an Uzi for the operation."
"No," the leader said firmly. "I don't want to lose a good weapon. Let him take one of the shotguns. Something simple but effective." He smiled across the table. "Just like the plan."
"SAS?" Riggs managed to sound both disbelieving and impressed at the same time.
"SAS?" Murtaugh said thoughtfully. "Isn't that an anti-terrorist unit?"
"Not exactly," Bodie explained. "It's military."
"Sort of the Brits version of the Green Berets, Delta Force, that kind of unit," Riggs explained patiently.
Bodie snorted, "Never met a Green yet that could even finish our assault course."
"I was a Green Beret," Riggs said calmly.
One of Bodie's eyebrows arched up. Doyle coughed behind his hand. Riggs exchanged a smile with his partner.
"Don't think I ever ran an SAS course. Or maybe I just didn't notice."
"Rifleman?" Bodie's curiosity overrode his prejudice.
"Better than with a handgun." Riggs flat tone let them know that it was not a boast. "You?"
"Take the balls off a Gree...."
"Bodie!" Doyle's slightly higher than normal voice cut off his partner.
Murtaugh laughed, sipped his glass of Scotch, settled back to listen to his partner and the smooth talking British agent exchange good-natured, barbed insults. Bodie and Doyle had been very insistent that they drink Scotch, said their boss would be ashamed of them if they passed up the chance to drink it at the Yard's expense. Across the table the arguments had turned to comparisons.
"Martin," Murtaugh interrupted, "if you two are going to sit there and bullshit about old war stories I...."
"Hang about!" Bodie took up in protest. "We've been forced to sit all through dinner and listen to you and Goldilocks talk about police procedure, and arrest records and...."
"Goldilocks?" It was Riggs turn to choke on his drink.
Bodie barely controlled his smile as he watched the color staining Doyle's cheeks. The look his partner gave him let him know that he would pay heavily for the slip of Doyle's least favorite nickname.
"Ah, getting late, isn't it?" Bodie asked politely to cover his amusement. "Anyone for a last round?"
Riggs shook his head. "None for me."
He had noticed half-way though dinner that while the CI5 team had made a great show of enjoying the scotch, Doyle had nursed only the one and Bodie was just finishing his second. A quick glance revealed that they were both armed. A look across the table to his partner let him know that Murtaugh had also noticed the armament. Murtaugh did not have the survival instincts Riggs had but he had been a detective a long time.
"What kind of trouble are you two expecting?" Riggs asked bluntly.
The two agents stared at him. Doyle asked, "What makes you think we're expecting trouble?"
"You're both armed, you haven't put away nearly the alcohol it looks like you have, and you've checked out everyone who's come in that door." He waited, daring them to deny it.
Bodie and Doyle exchanged a single look that took the place of a long conversation. Doyle nodded.
"Nothing specific," Bodie said. "Unfortunately, there are several groups around here that are not noted for being very hospitable. Even going so far as to blow up people just to get their message to the masses."
"IRA?" Murtaugh questioned, wishing he'd paid more attention to international terrorist activity.
"No," Doyle picked up. "The IRA has too much support coming from the States to risk alienating them by bombing a mostly American attended conference."
"But there are plenty others," Bodie continued. "Red Dawn, Libyan groups, Iranian groups...."
"American groups," Riggs added. The other three turned their attention to him. When he spoke it was mostly to Murtaugh. "Where better to get rid of some pain in the ass cops than here. Make it look like a terrorist group did it."
Murtaugh sighed. "Shit. We could have stayed home to be shot at."
"They don't shoot at people over here," Doyle told him.
"Nah," Bodie said cheerfully, "they just blow up the building, much easier. Besides, would you really have passed up the chance to dine with CI5's finest? We're worth the risk."
The two Americans laughed.
"This place is blanketed. I don't expect any trouble," Doyle reassured them with more confidence then he actually felt.
"But, you see anything queer, don't hesitate to let us know," Bodie added.
The arrival of Bodie's dessert stopped any further conversation. Doyle shook his head as he watched his partner devour enough chocolate to keep all four of them up all night. He controlled his usual comment when Bodie came up for air. As Bodie was finishing the last cream laden piece of pastry two tall men wandered pass the table.
The taller of the two stopped, nudged his companion. "Riggs, nice to see you." He made no attempt to offer his hand.
"Jones," Riggs said coldly, glanced at the other one. "Crabbe. Surprised to see you two here." There was no attempt to hide the dislike in his voice.
"Could say the same about you," Jones told him with a charming smile. "Heard you were having a little partner trouble."
Before Riggs could reply Murtaugh stood up, towering over the table. "I'm his partner." His smile did little to take the edge off his protective tone. "Roger Murtaugh."
Jones smiled offered his hand. "Nice to met you."
Crabbe returned the handshake without comment. After a moment of chilled silence Jones said, "See you around." They wandered toward another table.
Doyle and Bodie looked at Murtaugh in confusion.
"They fucked up a case for Martin," the big man explained.
The conversation was steered back to more pleasant topics with Murtaugh's family being the main subject. Doyle noted that it was Riggs who did the most bragging on the Murtaugh children, and the most complaining about Mrs. Murtaugh's cooking. They finished a last cup of coffee, then headed for the elevator.
Murtaugh was yawning widely by the time they reached it. "Jet lag. Guess that puts an end to my bar hopping tonight. Martin, you go alone if you like."
Riggs shook his head. "Maybe tomorrow."
"Bar hopping," Bodie mumbled, trying to translate. He smiled at Doyle after a minute. "Pub crawling. Catch us tomorrow and we'll show you how it's done."
"Nice shooting, mate," Doyle told Riggs, extending his hand.
"Yeah, you too. I haven't had any really competition in a long time," Riggs acknowledged.
Using the excuse of buying a paper the two agents said good night and wandered toward the lobby. Riggs didn't miss the silent exchange of signals between Bodie and a slim black man just outside the double glass doors.
"Think anyone would be stupid enough to try something?" Murtaugh asked his partner as they sat down for the afternoon luncheon. He trusted Riggs instincts for sensing trouble before it started.
"Could be. I don't know which would be worse, terrorist or a hired pro." Riggs glanced about the room fast filling with officers from all over the Continent and the States. He picked up a bread stick and motioned with it. "Lots of people here other people would like to see dead."
"Ah, but we're here now," Bodie said from behind them as he pulled out a chair, nudged another out with his foot for Doyle.
Pointing to the bread stick Riggs was making short work of Doyle said, "Good move that, getting something early. With Bodie here it'll cut down on your changes of getting anything else."
A waiter appeared, asked which soup they preferred, then disappeared silently. The room was almost full but the two remaining seats at the six person table remained empty.
"Not very popular today, are we," Doyle observed. He turned to his partner. "Scowling at people again, are you, Bodie?"
Bodie pointed ignored him, turned to Riggs. "Nice seats."
Murtaugh frowned at his statement, studied their location. They were in the corner nearest the door but to the back of the room, giving them a view of the entire room. Anyone coming in the doors would probably look front first giving Riggs time to check them out. There were also two solid walls behind them. Thinking back Murtaugh realized that whenever he let Riggs choose the table they always ended up in a corner spot. Before he could comment two men came in, scanned the room and waved toward Bodie and Doyle. The other two motioned back.
"McNally and Register, Scotland Yard's men. Good lads," Bodie explained quietly.
Riggs had the feeling that the two short words were high praise from the dark haired agent. The two from the Yard took seats near the front.
"So, what lectures have you guys snoozed through this morning?" Riggs asked.
"Snoozed?" Bodie looked blank.
"Slept through," Riggs translated.
"Kipped!" Bodie added brightly. "Got about twenty minutes in 'Synthetic Futures,' another twenty in 'Technological Advances in Drug Detection.'" He quoted the titles in an arch, upper crust accent then grew serious. "It gets tougher all the time, doesn't it?"
"All the time," Murtaugh conceded sadly.
"How much trouble do you have...." Doyle's question was cut off by a scream from the front lobby.
Bodie's remote transmitter beeped, he reached for it even as they were moving, the Americans forgotten. Many of the crowd, acting on long years of training started for the door. The Scotland Yard team was there to stop them. They waved Bodie and Doyle forward. All four had their weapons free. The unmistakable boom of a shotgun sent everyone scrambling for cover.
The two British partners crouched on either side of the door, peered carefully out into the lobby. Without signal or word they moved as one, slipping around the door and into whatever trouble was on the other side.
"Come on." Riggs rose. "Emergency door. We can get around front."
"Martin, this isn't our.... We're not armed!" Riggs was already at the door. With a sigh Murtaugh followed. As they went through the door there was a flurry of shots from the lobby.
Riggs lead them along fifty feet of corridor, slid to a stop where the dark hall took a left turn. He pointed down the way they were headed. "Into the lobby." He nodded toward the left turn. "Door by the elevator."
They went left, sprinted down to the metal exit door. From the other side of the barrier the shotgun roared again. Murtaugh wished uselessly that he had a gun. Riggs crouched, pushed gently on the release bar. The sound of a single handgun made him pause. Shouts followed. The bar clicked and Riggs eased the door open enough to peer out.
The lobby was a war zone. One plate glass window was gone, another shattered but still up. Furniture was overturned, newspapers and magazines were scattered across the floor. A body lay in the glass under the window.
"Shit," Riggs said quietly.
"What?" Murtaugh demanded.
"There's a man down." He looked over his shoulder and up. "It looks like the black guy that Bodie was signalling to last night."
There was a flash of moment at the edge of his limited view. He eased the door out a little further, barely two inches.
"Careful," Murtaugh cautioned. Doyle's voice cut across the empty lobby. The door was too solid for them to make out the words.
"What's happening?" Murtaugh urged.
Another minute stretched by as Riggs studied the situation, shifting a little to try to see more. Doyle's voice sounded again. A rough, deep voice answered from somewhere close by. There were no more shots. Riggs pulled back in.
"Bastard's hold up at the front of the hall with a pump shotgun. I can't see anyone else. Sounds like Doyle is trying to talk him out."
Murtaugh leaned back against the wall, trying to remember the lay out of the lobby in relation to the short hall near the elevator doors. "Can you see the gunman?"
"Anything we can do?"
"Well, we're behind him," Riggs said thoughtfully. "Maybe."
"Without getting anyone, especially ourselves, killed?"
Blue eyes looked over at him. "Picky, picky." He frowned. "How good would you say those two are?"
"Bodie and Doyle? Seem okay." Murtaugh waited for his partner to get to the point.
"If I were to kick open this door and haul ass across the hall what are the odds that one of them will pick him off when he turns to take a shot at me."
"No fucking way," Murtaugh said firmly.
"Well," Riggs took another look out the crack. "We could just go tell someone about this angle. I'm surprised they haven't thought of it already." He shook his head. "That guy on the ground might not have that long."
Worried brown eyes frowned down at him. Murtaugh didn't like the idea of trusting his partner's life to Doyle's unknown field experience. Unfortunately Riggs was right, they couldn't leave the another officer down. They had no guarantee he was alive but they couldn't take the risk that if he was he wouldn't bleed to death during the waiting.
"A planter in the corner."
Riggs took another look. "Eight, ten feet. I can yell, roll, be there and gone before he knows what's happening."
"Anything I can do from here?"
"Know how to say a Hail Mary?" He straightened up, took a deep breath, smiled reassuringly at Murtaugh. He eased the door silently open, stepped boldly into the hall. "You son-of-a-bitch!"
Riggs dove, the gunman spun around, the shotgun coming into line. A single automatic shot blew the terrorist several feet forward, leaving a gaping hole front and back. The shotgun exploded harmlessly into the roof, the roar deafening in the confined space.
Riggs stood up, straightened his shirt. His sigh of relief was echoed by Murtaugh as he emerged from the hall. Bodie appeared from just around the edge of the lobby. He looked down at the dead gunman, holstered his Browning.
"Nice move, mate. Thanks."
The door behind them swung open. Murtaugh and Riggs spun, ducking at the same time. Bodie only smiled at the tall, handsome man who emerged, gun out.
"Too late, Murphy," Bodie said. "Someone up staged you." He indicated Riggs with a tilt of the head.
Bodie appeared loose, mouth tilted wryly up on the right side. But Riggs saw underneath that. Carefully hidden from anyone who hadn't been there was adrenaline fed energy under tight control. Bodie looked back to where his partner was kneeling beside the downed agent.
"Go on, Bodie," Murphy urged. "I'll clean up here."
Bodie nodded, turned away, turned back. "Murphy meet Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs. I'll leave it to you to sort which is which."
As Bodie moved away Riggs looked at the door he had made his dive through, looked at Murphy. "Glad to know I wasn't the only one to think of that."
The shattered window reflected the ambulance as it roared up to the front of the hotel.
The tall man glared at the two men opposite him. He had picked them personally. They were the best the group had to offer, the best trained, and the best equipped.
"Miller's created the diversion for you. Their security will be congratulating itself, be relaxing. They won't stay that way long. They're the best at what they do. So are you."
The men didn't smile, accepted the praise as due course. One calmly lit a cigarette, said, "Third floor is the key. Three charges, bring the whole thing down."
"Very good." He patted a pack on the table. "Plastique." Reaching under the expensive desk, he pulled out another case, snapped it open. Two handguns lay snug in their carved compartments. He didn't say anything as he re-snapped the case, laid it next to the pack. There was a firm handshake all the way around. Then the men and their portable death were gone.
Bodie opened the door into the hotel manager's office, waved Riggs and Murtaugh in. At the desk was a sandy haired older man with clear blue eyes and a lined face. Doyle was standing next to him.
"Mr. Cowley, Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh." Doyle did the introductions.
The older man rose, shook hands with the other two. "Gentlemen, please have a seat."
They pulled out two plush chairs, eased into them. The adrenaline had worn off, leaving them tried and hungry. From the way Doyle sagged back against the filing cabinet Riggs realized that he was feeling the same way. And probably had worry on top of it.
"How's your other man?" he asked.
"Jax?" Doyle nodded. "He'll by fine. He was wearing a vest, took some pellets in the arm."
"He had the good sense to lay there until we could get to him," Bodie added.
"It seems we have you to thank that we got to him as quickly as we did. That was a very dangerous move," Cowley half-scolded, half-praised. "Trusting that someone would be in position to take the man."
"Mr. Cowley, I'd spent the entire night before for two fucking hours trying to beat Doyle on the range," Riggs spoke in his defense. "And it didn't seem like you'd send two bozos in to cover the con."
"An astute observation." Cowley agreed, ignoring the slang that he didn't quite understand. He paused, studied the two men thoughtfully for a minute. "Since you were involved, and are officers of the law, I thought perhaps you'd like to know what it was all about."
Murtaugh leaned forward. "You bet we would."
"The man's name was Anson Miller. He has not been an active terrorist as far as we can tell although he does have membership in a radical right wing group called Committee for Renewed Vigilance."
"That's a mouthful," Bodie commented under his breath.
"The group has not been violent in the past but this shooting may be a start for them. Or it may be that Miller was acting on his own." He checked to make sure that Bodie and Doyle were still listening, or pretending to at least. "The other agent that you met, Murphy, is on his way to question some of the groups upper echelon. I'll keep you informed of his findings."
"Thank you," Murtaugh said. "Nothing worse than leaving a detective in the dark."
"This may not be the end of it," Cowley's next statement was for his two lads. "I've put Byers and Vinson outside. Now is not the time to let our guard down."
"Yes, sir," Bodie and Doyle spoke together.
Cowley turned to the other two. "Gentlemen, we appreciate your help. We hope it won't be needed again."
Doyle kicked his shoes off, tugged his tie loose, and flopped backwards into the bed. Bodie sank down onto the wingback chair opposite him, stretched his long legs out. Cowley had told them to rest that evening then attend the last two days of the convention as if nothing had happened. Since the shooting had been out of view of the other members of the con, and given that normal CI5 policy would not list the agents involved no one would know who had been in on the action.
"Took a lot of balls for Riggs to do that," Doyle commented.
Bodie straightened, eyes serious. "More balls than brains."
"You wouldn't have done it?" Doyle's asked doubtfully.
"With you or Murphy or Jax out there to take the bastard down, yes. But he didn't know who was in position, or what was going on."
"He'd seen me shoot," Doyle reminded him.
"Never seen you in action though, had he? There's a big difference." Bodie stood, started stripping off his jacket. "Was more of a gamble than I would have taken."
Bodie continued undressing on his way to the bathroom, hanging his holster over the back of the chair, hanging the blue shirt over the door knob. Doyle watched, noting idly that the scars showed more on Bodie's fair skin than they did on him. But his were there, badges of courage and stupidity, earned over eleven years on the streets as partners, and in action on their own before that. A touch of depression threatened, something Doyle had always had a problem with. Heroic charges through doors claimed their price as the years went by.
The shower came on. Doyle forced himself up and away from the depressing thoughts, wandered over to the window. The day outside was clear, bright, unusually warm for early spring. He frowned at the weekend spent indoors, preferring to be out on his motorbike. The frown turned into a rueful smile as he admitted that Cowley would have found something else to keep them busy, something probably worse, like a dull stake out in a cramped car. He scanned the street below, shifted his gaze to the park across the street, checking each person without conscious thought.
Green eyes widened in surprise even as he cut back a curse. Behind him the shower finished. "Bodie!"
"What?" The door muffled the return shout.
"Yeh, it's important."
The door creaked open, Bodie walked out, tieing a belt around a loose dark blue bathrobe. "This had better be important." He shook the water out of his wet hair. "What?"
Doyle pointed down. "Tell me what you see."
With an exaggerated sigh Bodie shifted around and stared out the window. "I see the two blokes that fucked up Riggs' case." He looked at Doyle. "Ray, if this is...."
"Look at who they're talking to," Doyle insisted.
Bodie frowned, looked again. "Jesus Christ. That's Tony Profitt." He said lowly. "Now, what the ruddy hell...."
"We'd better find out," Doyle agreed. He went to the jacket he had just removed and pulled out his R/T, sat down where Bodie had been. "3.7 to Control."
"Control here." Was the instant reply.
"I need a rundown on two special detectives from Los Angeles. Names Jones and Crabbe, no first names, partners."
"Anything specific we should be looking for, 3.7?" the clipped female voice asked.
"General run for now, commendations, under any kind of investigation, that sort of thing. And see what new information we might have added to Tony Profitt's file."
"The first is going to take awhile, 3.7. I can have the second to you in one to two hours."
"Oh, while you're about it," Doyle added thoughtfully. "Check on two coppers also out of LA, Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs."
"Thanks, Peggy. 3.7 out." Doyle clicked off. He looked over his shoulder at Bodie, who was still standing by the window.
Bodie tsked at him. "For shame Raymond. Suspicious of everyone, aren't you?"
"Curious," Doyle amended. He watched Bodie turn back to the window. "I know that look. Thinking of getting into trouble, are you?"
"Thinking of having a breath of air," Bodie replied casually. "In the park."
Doyle tugged at his own limp green shirt. "Adrenaline can play havoc with your deodorant. I'm for a shower first."
Bodie took his Browning out of the holster draped over the chair Doyle occupied, checked the clip.
"Bodie, going alone...."
With a sigh Bodie pulled his R/T out of the jacket. "4.5 to 6.4."
"I'm for a turn about the grounds, James, do keep an eye." He ruffled Doyle's curls. "You know how mother worries."
An amused chuckle came back over the remote. "Roger, 4.5. Give my best to mother. 6.4 out."
"I'll be back in half-hour," he assured Doyle.
Bodie's thoughts about the beauty of the day were similar to Doyle's as he emerged into the bright sunlight. His years as a mercenary had left him little in the way of pleasant habits, an enjoyment of being outside being one of the few. He checked the position of Byers and the local constable then moved off. He went around the corner and crossed the street, doubling back so that he came up on the park from the opposite side of the street.
The two Americans would have no reason to suspect anything if they did remember him from the night before. Tony Profitt, organization leader, had never met agent 4.5.
It was obvious right away the three men were not discussing the weather. Jones was gesturing wildly while Crabbe kept his hands carefully struck deep into his pockets. Profitt was unresponsive to whatever the argument was. The talk continued another few minutes before Profitt turned and waved for his car. As he got in he shook hands with Jones. Bodie knew, by instinct rather than sight that there was more in the man's palm than good wishes.
The Americans walked back into the hotel. Bodie reached for his remote. "4.5 to 2.9."
"2.9, go ahead 4.5."
"Two men coming your way, tall, one's blonde wearing a gray jacket, darker ones wearing a blue windcheater. Stay with them until I can get back up from the Cow."
"Acknowledged. 2.9 out."
Bodie remained where he was for a few more minutes, enjoying the moment of quiet in the open air. Nothing else attracted his attention so he went to join his partner. His report was going to make George Cowley's day just a little more interesting.
"If we don't go out tonight we won't get out at all," Riggs reminded his partner as they emerged from the restaurant.
They had attended one lecture in the morning then become tourists for the rest of the afternoon, exploring the local area on foot before catching the underground to the Tower of London.
Murtaugh had watched in fond bewilderment as Riggs had gone from tough street cop to t-shirt and ashtray buying twelve-year-old. They had returned with an armload of souvenirs for everyone in the family, including the cat. Murtaugh counted it as one of the most enjoyable afternoons he had spent in a long time.
"Yeah," Murtaugh agreed. "Lectures till five tomorrow and a plane out at five am on Monday." Thoughtfully he added, "Better pick up Bodie and Doyle before we go."
"Why?" Riggs questioned.
"Because you may be the toughest man in LA...."
"But around here you have this big neon sign across your forehead that says 'tourist.' And while being a tourist in a tourist trap is okay it is not the way to see the real night life of London."
"You know, for someone that usually vacations at Disneyland you're pretty smart," Riggs agreed.
He turned around, bumped shoulders hard with a large, red-haired man. The suitcase the man was carrying slammed against Riggs' thigh, then dropped to the floor with a solid thud.
Straightening with an effort Riggs muttered, "Sorry."
The red-head exchanged a quick glance with his companion, bent to retrieve his case. "Okay, no damage."
The two men continued toward the elevator.
"You okay?" Murtaugh asked as Riggs rubbed his bruised thigh.
"Yeah." He answered vaguely as he watched the two men disappear into the elevator. "Good thing that case wasn't any bigger."
"You could have tried out for the Vienna Boys choir," Murtaugh suggested. He started to move off, stopped when he realized that Riggs wasn't following. "Martin?"
Riggs was still staring in the direction the other two had taken. "Those two seem jumpy to you?"
"No. Not really." Murtaugh smiled. "Maybe it's just you."
"No, couldn't be," Riggs explained. "I only get nervous about your wife's cooking."
They went back to their room, exchanged pullovers and jeans for button shirts and slacks. It was just getting toward dark when they knocked at the British agents' door.
"Yes?" Doyle called out.
"It's Murtaugh and Riggs," the big black man yelled back.
The door was flung open. "Where the hell have you two been?" Doyle demanded.
Rather surprised by the greeting Riggs explained quietly, "We've been playing tourist. Seeing some of your famous sights."
"Well," Bodie smiled, motioning them inside, "we have a sight that no tourist could possibly appreciate."
They proceeded to the small round table in the corner of the room. Doyle perched on the arm of the chair that Bodie took. Murtaugh took the one opposite while his partner leaned over his shoulder.
"While you two were out enjoying the sights we were hard at work," Bodie said. He flipped open a folder, spread the pictures inside out across the table. "You will, of course, recognize your two favorite special squad police detectives."
"Major crimes," Riggs corrected automatically.
The pictures were a series of shots taken with a telephoto lens. The two Americans exited a cab in front of one of London's many small parks. Horses trotted along a hack path behind them. Crabbe was carrying a gym bag. They strolled to a bench already occupied by another man, a briefcase rested on the ground next to him. The pictures grew closer, could almost have been flipped together to show what was going on. A few shots later Crabbe and Jones stood up, leaving the bag and carrying the briefcase. The next shots showed them reentering the convention hotel.
"Who's the guy on the bench?" Riggs asked.
"Tough that works for a man named Tony Profitt." Doyle waited to see if the name elicited a response. There was none.
Bodie leaned forward in his chair. "Tony owns an import/export company named JOM Imports, which has just opened a branch in...."
"Los Angeles," Riggs finished. "I take it what he exports isn't completely legal."
"What he exports from here is completely legal," Doyle stated. "It's what he imports to here that we have problems with."
"Arms," Bodie picked up. "Which he sells to unscrupulous people who tend to use them to shot at people like us."
"Well, what he imports at our end LAPD is not happy with either," Riggs added.
"Drugs?" Murtaugh guessed.
Riggs nodded thoughtfully. "Buys guns there, sells them here. Buys drugs out of South America and sells them there. A very diverse organization. I was on the investigation team checking him out. Until it was turned over to...."
"Major crimes," Doyle guessed.
"So Jones and Crabbe are on the take," Murtaugh concluded. There was the slightest pause, then his eyes went wide and he looked up at Riggs, "Camfield."
Riggs smiled at him. "It's thin."
"It's damn thin," Murtaugh returned the other half of their favorite conversation.
"Excuse us," Bodie injected, "but do you mind? Unfortunately the only mind around here I can read is Doyle's."
"Camfield National Guard Armory," Murtaugh related. "It was robbed six weeks ago of nearly half a million dollars worth of munitions."
"Two officers were killed," Riggs said very quietly.
"Why risk stealing guns when he can legally buy them and fake the shipping documents to a country that allows imports?" Doyle looked at his partner as he asked, relying on Bodie's long ago experience as a gun runner.
"You can steal things you can't buy. Or if you had a big order that had to go fast you might not have time to buy the stuff up," Bodie answered.
"And it's always cheaper to steal a million dollars worth than buy a million dollars worth," Murtaugh added.
"Cowley picked up the contact man but he's not going to be easy to wear down." Doyle watched Riggs pace away and back. "Was the Camfield job your case?"
"No," Murtaugh answered. "We were homicide, now special assignments."
Riggs was silent, but the other three noticed a tighten around his shoulders. It was Murtaugh who voiced the question, "Martin?"
He hesitated, avoided his partner's gaze. "I've been looking into it. I knew Jack Crawford, one of the men killed."
Murtaugh started to say something, stopped himself. He was annoyed that Riggs hadn't told him but he understood the man's almost obsessive loyalty.
Doyle watched the older man's reactions, remembering the vendetta Bodie had gone on over an old friend's death many years before. Bodie looked over at him, smiled apologetically, still feeling guilty over hitting Doyle on that case.
After a minute Bodie brightened. "Well, the Cow will see that anything we find out is sent to the right people."
"And we'll make sure he lets you in," Doyle promised.
The look Bodie gave him was one of disbelief of this claim. "How you going to do that, mate?"
"I'll let you ask him."
Bodie sighed. "Nothing we can do about it now, so let's go eat."
"I'd say the LAPD owed you guys dinner after all of this," Murtaugh volunteered.
"Never turn down a free meal," Bodie smiled.
"Bodie's Rules to Live by #2," Doyle quoted.
"What's number one?" Riggs asked without considering whether he really wanted to hear the answer or not.
"It's illegal in most civilized countries," Bodie said solemnly.
Murtaugh decided that after one or two the warm, strong English beer was really pretty good. His partner had taken to the drink and the atmosphere like a native. There was a cheer from the small crowd as Riggs defeated his second opponent in darts. Doyle applauded politely. Bodie lifted an eyebrow at his partner and Murtaugh caught the silent question in the dark blue eyes. Doyle sipped his beer.
Lowering the heavy mug with a light thump so as not to disturb Riggs' first throw against the next brave soul, Murtaugh said, "That's it for me. I've got to get back and call home." He smiled. "I promised my wife I wouldn't have too much fun without her."
"Bodie'll see you back," Doyle volunteered.
"I will?" Bodie questioned in honest surprise.
Doyle tapped his watch. Bodie groaned. "Already?" He glanced at Murtaugh. "My turn for night check."
There was a pause while the dart throwers gathered their equipment. Murtaugh waved at Riggs. "I'm outa here."
"Want me to go with you?" Riggs asked.
Murtaugh shook his head. "Nah, stay and enjoy. Bodie will protect me through the dangerous London streets."
"Most likely be the other way around," Doyle said.
"This won't take long," Riggs' commented.
"Yeh." Bodie put a hand on his partner's shoulder. "But you might have someone give you a run on the next round."
Doyle smiled over the edge of his beer. Riggs smiled back.
"You coppers are all alike, aren't you?" Bodie questioned into the comfortable silence that surrounded them.
"What?" Murtaugh snapped his attention to the other man.
Bodie chuckled, having proved his point to himself at least. "Doyle does that too, goes all quiet and broody when there's something bothering him about a case."
"Yeah," Murtaugh answered vaguely. "We still don't know what was in that case Jones had. Or how they managed to be the ones sent over here."
"Could be a place to start," Bodie suggested. "Who picked them for this little vacation and why? How high does the rot go?" Looking innocent he added, "Might be you'll get a report concerning the contents of their luggage."
"You can do that?" Murtaugh was at once intrigued and appalled that an organization could have that sort of power.
"You ran checks on Jones and Crabbe," Murtaugh observed. "And on us." It wasn't a question.
Bodie wasn't the least embarrassed or surprised. "Of course."
"Are you always this suspicious?" Murtaugh was surprised he sounded as calm as he did. He was a little irked but knew that given a reversed situation he would have checked the two British agents out.
For some reason his remark made Bodie smile. "Curious."
"And how's your curiosity now?" Murtaugh demanded.
"I'm curious how you two have survived being partners," Bodie said casually.
"Martin's okay," Murtaugh said firmly.
"Now," Bodie amended. "But what happens when you go down?"
Murtaugh stopped, jumped to his partner's defense, staring Bodie down. "You don't know anything about it."
Bodie stood his ground, said very quietly, "I know all about it. I have a lot in common with Riggs."
Murtaugh read the truth in the night darkened blue eyes. He hoped he knew the truth concerning his partner. "Martin would finish the job."
"Maybe, but I wouldn't want to be an innocent caught in the middle." Bodie turned and started toward the hotel. "It's too bad we missed out on the darts. Would have been a good match that."
Murtaugh was off guard for a moment by the change of subject before he saw it for what it was, an end to the conversation.
They strolled into the lobby, not surprised to find officers were just now wandering in. Out of the corner of his eye Murtaugh spotted the two men that Riggs had wondered about that afternoon. They were waiting for the elevator as he and Bodie moved by the desk. Like Riggs, he suddenly had a nagging feeling about them.
He had convinced Riggs that there was nothing there to worry about but now he wasn't so sure. "Bodie?"
Murtaugh motioned toward the two men. "You know how you wanted to know about anything queer? Well, there's something about those two that bothers me. Martin, too."
"What exactly?" Bodie asked.
Murtaugh looked uncomfortable. "Well, it's hard to say. That one guy was toting that same case this afternoon. Nearly gelded Martin with it. Seems kinda strange to be carrying the damn thing with you on a night out."
Bodie looked toward the two, shook his head. "Was right, wasn't I? Coppers, all alike." He pulled out his R/T. "4.5 to 6.8."
"6.8 here, 4.5."
"Actually about five yards to the left of you. And if you're wanting someone to take on that bloke next to you, forget it."
"Nah, something easy. See the two near the lift. Follow them and report." He put the R/T back into his jacket. "Good thing the lifts slow."
A moment later as the two men entered the elevator a third man joined them. Murtaugh and Bodie waited until they were gone to wander over and press the call button. "Looks like you got this covered." Murtaugh extended his hand. "Thanks for the evening. We'll try to catch you tomorrow before we leave."
Bodie returned the firm handshake. "Do that."
Just as Murtaugh entered the elevator Bodie called out. "Wouldn't care to put a little something on that dart game, would you?"
The doors closed on his reply.
Bodie turned, scanning the lobby absently. It would be a long, and hopefully boring night. He thought of hanging about the lobby to wait for Doyle and Riggs but decided that it could be hours before they returned. With a fatalistic sigh he did a quick check of the bar before starting up the stairs.
Riggs blinked as he lined up his next dart. He was beginning to think that drinking the beer like he was at home had been a mistake. He doubted the difference would have even shown up in anything besides darts. Very gently he tossed, frowning as he scored ninety.
"Your game," he told Doyle. "Take a break?"
Doyle nodded, collected a beer and went back to their table, giving someone else a chance at the board. They had played three games with Doyle leading by two.
The silence was not as comfortable as it had been with Murtaugh and Bodie there. It was Riggs who spoke first.
"How long have you and Bodie been together?"
Blue eyes went wide. "Shit! Longest I've ever had a partner was two years."
"Still aren't going to break any records, are you?" Doyle sipped the beer.
Riggs looked sharply over at him. "What does that mean?" His voice was edged. "Murtaugh and me are the best."
"Can see that," Doyle agreed. "But seems to me that, unless he's a lot younger than he looks Murtaugh will be retiring shortly."
"Oh." Riggs was shocked at the unease that simple truth started in his guts. He had known Murtaugh was close to retirement, but knowing and accepting were two different things. "Just have to hope I get someone as good as Roger," he said with a confidence he didn't feel.
"Easier with us," Doyle volunteered. "Three years difference. Cowley'll just put Bodie on desk duty till he's ready."
Riggs laughed. "Bodie doesn't seem the type to ever be ready."
"That obvious, is it?"
Thoughtfully Riggs said, "We're a lot alike." He waited until Doyle had finished his beer then asked, "Another game?"
Bodie had just entered the second stairwell when his R/T beeped. He pulled it out, but instead of the expected voice of 6.8 the clipped tones of George Cowley carried over. "4.5, Profitt's man talked. The case the two Americans picked up contained $20,000 and two silenced .357 Magnums. They've been paid to hit someone at the convention."
Alarms went off in the back of Bodie's mind. "Riggs."
"What makes you think...."
Bodie was already moving, taking the stairs two at a time. "I'll explain later. Could be wrong but I don't think so. I'll get 6.8 on it. We may need back up."
He twisted the frequency dial on the R/T. "4.5 to 6.8. 4.5 to 6.8." There was no reply.
Bodie switched frequency again, bounded pass the second floor, cursing his fellow agent for not answering and Murtaugh for being on the third floor. "4.5 to 3.7."
"Get the hell down here, Doyle! Murtaugh may be in trouble...."
He took the next corner and nearly tripped over a familiar body. His nerves registered the threat of the raised gun before he actually saw it. He ducked to the left, his foot slipping in the blood pooling on the steps, a silenced shot chipped plaster off the wall where he'd been. His knee hit the edge of the steps almost jolting the R/T out of his hand. As he tried to catch himself, he saw the wires along the railing.
"Bomb...Doyle...two men...third floor...6.8 down...."
The two men closed on him as he pulled himself up. The silenced gun barrel swung down, clipped him across the cheek, and he went down. Over the R/T he could vaguely hear Doyle's concerned voice shouting his name before the darkness came down around him.
Doyle and Riggs were moving before Bodie had finished his first frantic call for help. They reached the street as the unmistakable sound of a silenced shot carried over the remote. Then came the second warning followed by the sound of a falling body. Silence followed. Riggs watched Doyle's jaw tighten, his knuckles white around the R/T.
"Cab?" he questioned, scanning the empty street.
"Foot," Doyle barked, already running. They fell in stride like a team in harness. Doyle was talking calmly into his remote as they covered the seven blocks at a dead run.
"3.7 to 2.9."
"2.9 here. Go ahead 3.7."
"What's your location, 2.9?"
"Southeast corner of the hotel. Watching the coppers staggering back in," Murphy added with a note of amusement.
"Well, don't let anymore stagger back in. I want the area sealed off. Bodie reports trouble, two men and a bomb." They rounded another corner. "Officer Murtaugh could be involved as well. Get the area sealed then meet me...." He slowed down, looked over at Riggs. "Which street does your room overlook?"
Riggs looked helpless. "How the hell do I know? The Strand is across the street."
With a nod, Doyle picked up the pace again. "Meet me on the northwest corner with two nightscopes and an extra R/T. This is all on the hush, Murphy."
"Affirmative, 3.7." There was a pause. "I'd better give the old man a call as well."
At the corner, Doyle dragged Riggs to a halt. "We'll wait here for Murphy."
Riggs shook his arm free. "I'm going in."
"We can't charge into the hotel without knowing what's going on," Doyle's words were clipped.
"They've got my partner," Riggs said coldly.
Angry green eyes were just visible in the street light. "They've also got 300 other guests in that hotel."
Riggs tried to push pass Doyle. Doyle blocked him. Riggs' temper snapped. He fell back, threw a hard karate punch at Doyle. The smaller man caught it across the forearm, staggered sideways. Riggs spun and kicked. Only Doyle wasn't there. He danced out of range, dropped into his own fighting stance.
"Goddamnit, Riggs! You aren't stupid!" His shout stopped Riggs for a moment. "I care about Bodie as much as you do about Murtaugh but charging in there like someone from a bad Clint Eastwood movie is not the answer."
Murphy rounded the corner, cutting off Riggs reply. He had two rifles with nightscopes under one arm, an R/T in his right hand and a kevlar vest in the left. He took one look at the squared stance of the two men in front of him then plunging on. "I haven't been able to raise 6.8."
"Bodie said he's down in one of the stairwells."
Murphy frowned, continued. "3.2 is covering the door. From the number of coppers we stopped from going in there probably isn't that many in the building." He noticed Riggs shifting impatiently. "I haven't checked Murtaugh's room yet."
Doyle left one rifle with Murphy, took the R/T, vest and other rifle. "There's two open sides on the hotel. We'll check the windows with the scopes first, find out what we're up against. Murphy, you can cover the other side. Get as high as possible in the office building on Twinnings Street. Start checking the rooms at the top and keep in contact."
Murphy nodded, hiked the rifle up and was gone. Doyle turned to Riggs. He handed an R/T to the American. "Do you know how to work this?"
Riggs looked it over, flipped a switch. "What frequency?"
Doyle told him as he handed the rifle over. "Get as high up as you can in the Strand." He handed him his authorization card. "This will stop...."
"The only place I'm going is into that hotel," Riggs argued.
"Look, Riggs, I've seen your file," Doyle snapped back. "You're the goddamn best at everything, especially with a shooter. But there's one thing not mentioned--bombs. Bodie was very specific about that one. You out here with that rifle and me on the inside to take care of the bomb gives us our best chance of getting everyone out of this alive."
Doyle stripped his shirt off, not giving Riggs a chance to argue. He put the vest on and strapped it down.
"You better be damn good with bombs," Riggs threatened. "I want to be at Roger's retirement party."
Doyle tapped the rifle, then smiled tightly. "As good at bombs as you are with a rifle."
"That's pretty damn good," Riggs said, admiration and hope getting pass the worry evident in his voice. "You're going to call the play?"
"Yeh." He raised the R/T. "3.7 to 2.9. You there, Murph?"
"Just reached position, about to start on the top floor."
"Okay. Listen in." He spoke to Riggs but made sure the R/T was close enough for Murphy to hear. "I'm sending Riggs up into the Strand. He'll scan that side. I'm going inside. The minute either of you spot them I'll move in. From there we'll play it by instinct."
"What if they're not in an outside room?" Riggs questioned.
Doyle looked up at the hotel. "If we don't spot them then we'll move in and take it door by door."
"Not the best plan I've ever heard," Murphy's deep voice carried over the static.
Everyone very carefully avoided suggesting that either Bodie or Murtaugh could already be dead. Riggs stood in the street for a moment and watched as Doyle moved casually around the corner toward the front entrance, sliding into his shirt on the way. He checked the infrascope on the Armalite rifle then moved into the building.
Murtaugh ran the towel briskly over his short hair as he walked into the bedroom. He tossed the towel over a chair, and found himself looking at the business end of a Magnum. Jones smiled coolly at him from the other end. Crabbe was near the window, watching the street.
"Evening, Roger. Did you enjoy your evening out?" He motioned Murtaugh to the other seat across the room.
Crabbe moved around, pulled a pair of handcuffs out. "Through the back," he commanded. Murtaugh did as told, felt the cuffs snap shut around his wrists.
"What do you two bastards want?" Murtaugh demanded.
"Your son-of-a-bitch partner. The two of you are going to disappear, probably the unfortunate victims of terrorists," Jones explained.
"Why?" Then he answered his own question, "Profitt. Riggs is too close to something."
Jones smiled. "This whole thing is too good a deal to let a psycho vice cop fuck up." He settled back into the chair. "So we just mellow out and wait for Riggs. Then we all take a lovely trip into the beautiful English countryside."
"I hate waiting," Crabbe complained from the window.
Bodie knew better than to move. He'd learned early that in situations like this the best way to learn things was to let the people in control think that you were still out. It was hard to do sometimes, like now. The cut on his cheek burned, his hands and feet were numb from the ropes cutting off his circulation, his knee throbbed, and his whole body ached from the fall down the stairs. He hoped the knee was just bruised.
Cautiously he opened one eye. He was in the corner of a regular room, behind a table, facing the door. The lights were on, the curtains partially drawn. The two men from the hall were bent over a section of the wall under the window to his right, running wire. Bodie had no idea how long he'd been out, sensed that it hadn't been long. He knew the two terrorists had not hauled him into the room for his own comfort. Doyle and the mob would be moving in soon. As a helpless hostage was not the way he intended for his partner to find him. He started silently searching for anything that might help on the ropes.
"Coming out onto the fourth floor. Nothing in the stairwell," Doyle reported quietly into the remote. "Murph get a med team down the other stairs, and a bomb team. If there's nothing here that must be where 6.8 is. Anything yet?"
"I just reached position. Goddamn manager wanted to act tough, had to flash that card of yours at him," Riggs said harshly. "I'll start with my room."
"Don't," Murphy's softer tones replied. "I got them. Fifth floor, five rooms over from the northeast corner. Two men, working with some kind of wire."
"Bullshit," Riggs suddenly announced.
"What?" Two English voices returned. Doyle slowed.
"I don't know what the hell you got but I got Roger is tied to a chair in the back of our room."
Doyle stumbled to a stop. "Murphy, can you see Bodie?"
"No. But these two are defiantly stringing wire, and I doubt it's for Christmas lights."
"Jones and Crabbe are on the third floor and they have my partner," Riggs said lowly, dangerously.
The reality hit all three of them.
"There are four of them."
Doyle sagged back against the wall. "Okay, we have two men on the fifth floor stringing wire, probably to a bomb, and no sign of Bodie." His voice cracked very slightly on his partner's name. There was every possibility that Bodie was already dead. "And Jones and Crabbe holding Murtaugh. Why?"
"They're waiting for Riggs," a fourth voice joined them on the remote, heavy with a Scottish burr.
"Mr. Cowley?" Doyle questioned. "When did you join us?"
"As soon as you went on an open frequency," the Scot explained. "You were doing fine. I saw no reason to interrupt you."
The shock of the rare praise made Doyle glad the wall was holding him up.
"They've been hired to kill Riggs," Cowley continued.
"Why?" Doyle asked.
"Camfield," Riggs said quietly. "I may have a connection between it and Profitt."
"My ETA is twenty minutes," Cowley informed them. "Carry on with your job, Doyle."
The job called for him to take down two bombers and two assassins, get Murtaugh and a hotel full of coppers out safely, disarm the bomb, and if he had time, and it didn't endanger the other parts of the job, get his partner out in one piece. He took a long, deep breath.
"We take the bombers first," he stated calmly, waiting for Riggs' protest.
Now that Riggs had his partner in sight and the two kidnappers under his gun he was willing to listen. "Why?"
"The other two won't do anything until they have you. The longer the bombers have the harder it will be to disarm that bomb. Murphy, how's the sighting on them from there?"
"Tricky. The scope can make out the figures, but they're both moving around on the floor, with the curtains getting in the way besides." The R/T was silent. "Could give them a good scare though when you come in."
"No," Doyle commanded. "I want to take them without shooting. Go in fast enough and I may get them by surprise."
"And pigs may fly."
"Ta much for that optimistic comment, Murph." Doyle stopped in front of the last door.
"Just thought I'd better keep up Bodie's half till you get him back."
"Riggs," Doyle turned his attention to the silent American. "You're going to have to take your best shot if anything goes wrong."
"I'm going in." He checked the clip in his and tucked the R/T into his shirt.
He moved into the hall with practiced caution. The door he wanted was in the center of the floor. Training told Doyle that if they had already wired the hall where Bodie had been taken and were now working in the center, their next goal would be to wire the hall he had just emerged from. Three bombs in the right places could bring down the whole building. He crouched next to the door listening closely. He took out the remote again.
"Murphy?" he whispered softly.
"Standard room. One is dead center under the window. The other is six feet inside the door to your left. The curtains are causing a bit of trouble, but from what I can tell neither are armed."
"Okay. One," Doyle put sat the R/T on the floor, tightened his hold on the weapon, "two," he took two steps across the hall, "three!" He launched himself, felt the shock go through his shoulder as the door gave with a splintering crash, then he was inside rolling with the momentum.
He came to his knees, gun in hand. "CI5! Freeze!"
One of the men held up the two wires he had in either hand. "One move, copper and we all go up."
Doyle spotted his partner, bound and gagged against the opposite wall. Blue eyes signalled, were understood and answered by Doyle. It took only an instant then all his attention was back on the two men motionless in front of him.
"How do I know that's live?" Doyle demanded.
"You want to risk it?"
Shaking his head Doyle very slowly started to put his gun down. It was mere inches from the carpet when Bodie rolled over, raised his tied legs and kicked at the table for all he was worth. The table crashed over into the man holding the wires, taking the lamp with it. The room went dark for a split second before the light from the hallway filled the room with shadows. The second man scrabbled for his pack. Doyle hit him, one quick blow to the throat that put him out.
He half-turned, caught part of a fist hard in the ribs. He rolled with the force and the pain, struck out with one foot and knocked the second man far enough away to gain his feet. The man closed, swung at Doyle's head. Doyle dodged, landed two short punches. He could feel Bodie's slightly concerned gaze. Doyle's opponent was several inches taller and had weight on him. The man swung again and Doyle smiled, his opponent had left himself open. One quick blow, followed by a fast kick to the head and the man was down.
Doyle was at Bodie's side instantly. He grimaced in sympathy as he grabbed the edge of the tape covering Bodie's mouth and jerked.
"Bloody hell!" Bodie's blue eyes filled with pain caused tears. Doyle's knife came out, slit the rope around his wrists. "Murtaugh?" Bodie demanded.
"Being held in his room." He freed Bodie's legs.
While Bodie wiped his eyes Doyle used his cuffs and the stiff wire to secure the two bombers.
"Help me up." Bodie extended his hand and Doyle knew he was hurt.
"Knee, just bruised." He made it to his feet, leaning on Doyle then on the wall. He took a shaky step, grimaced, but the leg held.
Doyle retrieved his R/T. "Secured, Murphy."
"About time," Murphy replied casually.
"Have the bomb boys into the south hall, third floor, it was the only one they had time to arm."
"Okay, a little dented." He smiled up at the dark-haired agent. "That hard head does have its uses."
Bodie gave him a crooked smile, which faded quickly into a tight-lipped determined look. "Where's Riggs?"
"Waiting for the two of you to get the hell on with it and get Roger out of there," a voice demanded over the R/T.
"Running all the way," Bodie said.
"Murphy, get down here with a couple others and take these two bastards down to the Cow," Doyle said as they ran for the stairs. "I'm sure he'll want to have a word with them."
"He'll have to loan the one some teeth," Bodie added gleefully.
The conversation stopped abruptly as they emerged onto the floor. Doyle raised a hand, held up four fingers, pointed toward the right side of the hall. Bodie nodded. They stayed near the right wall, moving silently into action. They were only one door from their target when it went wrong.
The door opposite them swung open and a very drunk, very large man stood staring at the two guns suddenly leveled at him. "Jesus Christ! What the hell...what are..." he stammered in a sharp Canadian accent.
Bodie lowered his gun, took one step toward the man. "Easy, mate, nothing to get...."
There was the sound of loud voices from their target room, the bump of something against a wall.
"They're moving! Jones has Roger," Riggs voice echoed out of the R/T in Doyle's jacket. "Goddamn! I can't get a shot from here!"
Bodie spun sideways, staggered on the bad leg, shoved the big Canadian back into his room and slammed the door closed. The other door crashed open and Jones pushed Murtaugh out in front of him, gun covering both agents, hugging close to his living shield. Crabbe hung close behind him.
Murtaugh twisted, tried to loosen the choke hold around his neck. Jones was shorter but he was also desperate and tightened his hold. Voices were starting to filter out of the closed doors as the few officers on the floor awoke to the shouting and banging doors. The Americans knew their chances of getting out were getting slimmer with every second. Jones pushed the gun against Murtaugh's temple.
"You've got no place to go," Bodie stated.
"Back away." Neither agent moved.
Murtaugh flinched as the gun pressed hard. He watched Bodie and Doyle, waiting. He had seen Doyle shoot, knew that the slightest opening would be enough. He was pushed forward. For now the chance wasn't there. He was too big a shield.
"You can't get out of here," Doyle told them.
"That's our problem."
"No," Bodie said with obvious pleasure, "Riggs is your problem."
Murtaugh felt a certain amount of pride when the arm around his throat tightened nervously. Jones pushed him forward and the two CI5 agents reluctantly gave ground. A step at a time they reached the elevator. Jones motioned toward Doyle.
"White Mercedes, parking spot 5B. Keys are inside. I want it around front by the time we get there."
"Careless leaving keys in the car like that," Bodie commented to Doyle.
"Yeh, could have been nicked by now."
The elevator doors opened. Crabbe ducked in first, slipped to the side as Jones backed Murtaugh in. The doors closed.
The two agents broke for the stairs, Doyle in the lead, grabbing for his R/T. "They're headed for the front entrance. Riggs get...."
"I'm already there," Riggs snapped back.
Inside the elevator the hold around Murtaugh's throat loosened minutely and he took the opportunity to try common sense. "You two can't get out of this. The worst you got now is kidnapping. Keep this up and it's gonna be murder."
"We go back and we're dead either way," Jones said fatally. "You know the life expectancy of an ex-cop in prison."
"Where the hell can you go?" Murtaugh demanded. "You're not even in the right country."
"It's been arranged. Even before the hit went bad we hadn't planned on going back."
The elevator opened on an empty lobby. Crabbe eased into the narrow hall, scanned the area before motioning them forward. Slowly, cautiously Jones prodded his hostage toward the front door. They had reached the glass doors when a white Mercedes roared up to the front kerb, streetlights reflecting in the hood, drivers side opening to the street. Hands well away from his sides Doyle slid out, stepped away from the car. He was the only person in sight.
The doors opened, but the three men stayed just inside. Jones jerked Murtaugh to a halt. "I want to see Riggs and the other one before we come out!"
Doyle caught movement near the corner of the building, knew it would be Riggs. A deep voice whispered over the R/T snug in his inside coat pocket. "You have to get them clear of the building."
"Riggs," Crabbe demanded.
"That will take a while."
"Now," Crabbe grated.
Stepping sideways, the car still between them Doyle raised one hand. "I'll have to get my radio."
"Slowly," Crabbe cocked the pistol. Doyle wondered vaguely if he ever talked in more than one word sentences.
"Clear of the car so I can see you," Jones commanded. Doyle came around the car and stepped up onto the sidewalk.
Very slowly the slender agent reached for the inside pocket on his coat. The emergency door in the lobby slammed open behind the two assassins. Bodie rolled, brought his gun into line. Jones yelled a warning, spun toward the new threat as Doyle jerked his gun free. He threw Murtaugh into Bodie's line of fire.
Beside him Crabbe was in the open, facing the lobby. He turned, stepped forward, aiming for Doyle. Doyle was faster, his shot shattering the still night. Crabbe was thrown backwards into the lobby, landed in a bloody heap. Bodie cursed his ruined aim, rolled behind the inadequate safety of a chair. Jones jerked Murtaugh back, spun, knowing the real threat was behind him. Doyle saw the gun coming into line, dove for the cover of the car. The bullet caught him in mid-air, threw him over the hood to land hard on the dirty pavement.
"That was fucking stupid!" Jones screamed.
Bodie stood up slowly from behind his cover, through the open doors he could see Doyle face down in the street. His Browning came up toward the two Americans.
"Back," Jones commanded. "Or he's dead."
"Do you think I give a damn about the spade?" Bodie's voice was smooth, soft. "You shot my partner. Doesn't do to shoot a man's partner."
In that instant Murtaugh felt the first real fear start in his stomach. He remembered clearly Bodie's comparison of himself and Riggs. And Murtaugh knew too well what Riggs was capable of if something were to happen to him. He tried to catch the dark blue eyes, tried to see what Bodie was thinking, saw only dark determination on the pale face.
Murtaugh felt the fear touch Jones, the hand holding the gun shook against his skin. Jones feel back a step, tried to angle toward the car. Bodie took another step closer.
"Shoot the bastard," Bodie said a little louder. A feral smile touched the tight lips. "Then I'll have you, won't I?"
Jones took another step back. "Stay away."
Bodie cocked his weapon, and flicked a single look at Murtaugh. The agent took another step forward. Jones took another step, his back clearing the door. Riggs took him. The single shot hit him just under the ear, showering Murtaugh with blood. Jones was thrown sideways into the opposite wall, sliding down the wall to lie next to his dead partner.
Murtaugh was knocked off balance. Bodie made a attempt to catch him but the knee gave way and they both went down.
Murtaugh rolled off. "Doyle?"
"Was wearing a vest," Bodie said shortly, knowing as well as Murtaugh that a vest did not ensure survival.
"Roger!?" Riggs grabbed Murtaugh by both arms and practically lifted him to his feet. "You okay?"
"I would be if someone would find the key to these fucking cuffs. But help Bodie up first."
Riggs did as requested, cast an anxious glance at him as he limped over toward his partner. Murtaugh followed as Riggs turned to search the bodies.
Doyle hadn't moved. Bodie sat down with a thump next to him, eased him gently onto his back and reached for a pulse. Even from several feet away Murtaugh could see that his hand was shaking.
Bodie smiled, looked up at him. "He's okay." He turned back to his partner. "Ray? Come on, sunshine." He patted the misshapen cheek. "Back to the living."
One green eye opened blurrily, followed by a low moan. Reality kicked in. "Jones?" he croaked.
Bodie waved casually toward the lobby. "Riggs got him."
"Help me up, Bodie."
Frowning, Bodie helped him sit up, propped him against the car. Doyle flinched as he moved. Bodie reached down, opened the cotton shirt and the vest underneath. A massive blue area decorated the right side of Doyle's chest.
"Had his eye in, didn't he?" Doyle remarked.
Murtaugh whistled softly. "Nice shot."
Bodie had gone noticeably pale. "Sunshine, if you ever try something like...." He stopped at the flash of annoyance Doyle gave him. "Good thing you had that vest, mate," he finished lamely.
Riggs jogged up, spared a quick glance at the two agents still in the street, uncuffed Murtaugh and helped him ease stiff shoulders around. Murtaugh sighed in relief, rotating his shoulders and rubbing his wrists. Riggs noticed the open vest.
"Nice shot. Good thing you had that vest."
Doyle raised his eyes to heaven. "Figured that out myself, didn't I." He held his hand out. "Give a hand, Bodie."
The bigger agent tried to look annoyed, but the gentleness in his manner overtook it. He got Doyle to his feet, held him steady while the world righted itself. Bodie released him, stepped away.
Riggs watched him for a moment. "He going to be alright?"
"Yeh, I don't...." A hard fist caught him under the jaw, sent him sprawling back against the hotel wall.
"You nearly got Murtaugh killed!" Riggs started to strike again, had his hand grabbed from behind. He spun around. Murtaugh was glaring at him.
"What the hell are you doing!" Murtaugh released his trapped hand. "They did what they had to and it worked!" Softer he added, "Leave it, Martin."
The younger man opened his mouth to protest, stopped, let his hand fall to his side. Suddenly very sheepish he looked at Bodie who was rubbing his jaw. "I...."
"It's okay, mate," Bodie grimaced as he tried to smile. "I understand."
"What are you going to tell wifey?" Riggs questioned as they exited the taxi in front of Heathrow.
"Nothing, if I can help it." Murtaugh picked up his two bags, lead the way into the terminal. "She worries enough when I get shot at at home."
"It'll have hit the papers by now," Riggs reminded him.
"No, it won't."
The two Americans turned to find Bodie and Doyle standing just inside the door.
"Glad to see you guys," Murtaugh said with a smile. "We didn't think we'd get to say goodbye."
"Spent all yesterday doing reports, didn't we," Doyle explained. "The curse of every police officer the world over."
"Why not?" Riggs questioned, returning to the first statement Bodie had made.
"The newspaper, you mean?" Bodie smiled. "It's called a D notice and it means 'don't even think about printing this until we say so.' Cowley had one slapped on this story due to the fact that it might interfere with the finish of your investigation."
"And," Doyle continued, "there's more than enough stuff being sent to your captain to help put Profitt's little expansion out of business."
"What exactly did you have to connect Profitt to the Camfield job?" Bodie questioned, sounding very much like his detective partner.
"Yeah, well," Riggs smiled, "I didn't actually have anything. Just dropped a few hints that I was getting close."
"You did what?" Murtaugh yelled. "You stupid bastard!"
Riggs looked embarrassed. "I didn't mean for them to go after you. And I never figured on them trying anything here."
Murtaugh only glared at him. "I'll settle with you later."
"It was a dangerous bluff," Bodie said. "But it worked. And since we're on such good terms with the Colonies, extradition can probably be arranged."
"Oh, sure," Murtaugh groused. "Send him to us and let us feed him for the next few decades."
"Much better punishment." Doyle said, "Most Brits hate American food."
"I don't," Bodie protested.
Riggs extended his hand. "Thanks for the excitement. No hard feelings but I hope the next convention is in Anaheim."
"Great! I can show Doyle Disneyland," Bodie smiled.
"We'll count on it," Murtaugh laughed.
"About yesterday," Bodie started, suddenly staring at the floor. "I hope you'll...I said some things that...were...."
Riggs looked at Doyle. "I thought he was the smooth one."
"Not much in the habit of apologizing, is he? It's all that military training."
"Apologize?" Light blue eyes went wide. "What for?"
"For calling Murtaugh a spade," Doyle explained.
"A spade?" Riggs voice went up a little. "He called my partner a spade?"
Doyle instinctively moved in front of Bodie. "Easy, mate he was trying to...."
Riggs grabbed his stomach and leaned back against one wall, laughing hysterically. "He called...a spade...."
"Will you all bloody well shut up so I can apologize!" Bodie thundered. A bit softer he told Murtaugh, "I humbly apologize for using an offensive term while trying to rescue you from a crazed gunman."
Murtaugh stared at him for a minute, then at an innocent looking Doyle and a grinning Riggs. "That's it?"
"Yeh." Doyle said, "Bodie's apologizing needs a little work."
"Take it or leave it," Bodie said cheerfully.
"Taken," Murtaugh agreed. "Besides, I know you didn't mean it."
Bodie grew serious. "At the time, mate, I meant every word."
Deep brown and midnight blue eyes met. Murtaugh nodded, said softly, "I understand that, too."
There were handshakes all around. "As our fellow Californians would say," Murtaugh joked, "it's been real and it's been fun but it ain't been real fun. Take care."
"When were you in Disneyland?" Doyle's voice drifted back to them as they headed for the door.
The two British agents walked out to a gold Capri parked in a tow away zone, climbed in with a final wave. The two Americans watched the car disappear in traffic before heading to their gate.
"Strange pair," Murtaugh commented.
Riggs smiled. "Kind of reminds me of us."
"I know. That's what worries me."
-- THE END --
Originally published in Backtrack 3, Clarke and Keating, 1990