Streets of London
by Ice Bear
"And have you seen the old man
Outside the seaman's mission
Memory fading with
The medal ribbons that he wears.
In our winter city,
The rain cries a little pity
For one more forgotten hero
And a world that doesn't care."
-- Streets of London (Lyrics by Ralph McTell)
"Bodie! What the hell are you doing?" Ray Doyle demanded from his post in the bedroom door. He watched in growing irritation as his partner stuffed a worn service duffel with warm socks and old jumpers he normally wore when they went biking. "The Cow isn't sending you out there for the duration is he?"
"What? No. I...Captain Wilks could use some warm socks."
"Captain Wilks? Bodie-mate, you need to remember you're on an op for CI5 -- or have you joined the Salvation Army and just forgotten to tell me."
"Lay off, Doyle," the dark haired man growled, blue eyes glittering with the beginnings of anger.
"What's going to happen to your reputation when I let the Rest Room know you're now CI5's resident bleeding heart?"
"Don't bloody well care, do I? Now out of the way. I'm due back at the warehouse in twenty minutes."
"You be bloody careful out there. Chasen and his crew aren't playing jacks you know. This Wilks, you haven't told him who you work for have you?"
"Of course not!"
"I'm not so sure, mate. You seem to be a few pence shy of a pound these days."
"Look Doyle, I have no idea what your problem is or why I even care at this point. But I need to get back," he responded, brushing by his partner on his way out of the room. The flat door slammed drowning out any rebuttal Doyle might have made.
Doyle shifted uncomfortably in the Controller's office waiting for the man to get off the phone. He wasn't really sure he was doing the right thing, but his partner's behavior was very out of character, and he needed some help sorting it out. Since the person in question clearly wasn't going to talk to him, he'd brought the matter to their employer.
"What is it, 4-5?"
"It's Bodie, sir."
"Has something happened?" Concerned gray eyes focused on the younger man.
"No, sir. It's just...I'm concerned, that's all."
"Spit it out, man, I don't have time for twenty questions."
"It's the undercover...Bodie's gone soft in the head over this homeless bloke who lives by the warehouse. Seems he's an old SAS Captain, lost his family, no job, so he's living on the streets."
"And! He's taking him clothes, buying him food..."
"And obtaining information?"
"Then he's doing his job. Is there anything else?"
"No, sir." He responded, knowing he'd been summarily dismissed. And maybe the Controller was right, he thought as he headed for the car park. Maybe Bodie was just doing what any smart operative did when sent in undercover, getting in good with the locals. But it bothered him...in fact the whole operation did.
Yes, he admitted to himself as he drew to a stop beside the Escort, he hated the fact his partner had been sent undercover without him. But there was more to it. The younger man seemed...taken -- for lack of a better word -- with the homeless man he'd befriended. Not that his partner didn't have a large soft spot -- carefully hidden from all but those closest to him -- but it seemed to him that his mate was going overboard on this one, and it worried him that it might come back to bite him in the arse.
He did an abrupt about face and jogged back into the building, waving away the question from the officer at the entrance and making his way to the computer room. Finding the room nearly empty, he sat down at the computer furthest from the door and began typing.
Captain John Wilks had been an original member of the SAS when it was formed in 1941 and had taken part in their now legendary raids behind enemy lines during the campaign in North Africa. The man had worked for a small insurance firm after the war. He'd been widowed ten years ago and lost his only child, a son, in a car crash five years ago. The record after that was sparse, as though the man had tried to disappear. Except for two visits to Casualty, you wouldn't know the man had even existed for the last four years.
Nothing to make him think the man was a danger to his partner, but still, he ran an agitated hand through his hair, what was it about this stranger that had captured his partner's attention? Bodie simply didn't do emotional attachment. The ex-merc's behavior was driving him spare.
Bodie pulled the tattered green blanket tighter around him as the cold October wind off the Thames found its way into their small alcove. "Cold getting to you, Sergeant?"
"No, sir. Put on an extra jumper from that lot I found in the duffel."
"Good man, no sense getting cold. One thing I liked about Africa -- never spent a cold day there."
"Know what you mean, sir," he responded with a smile, as his eyes stayed glued to the warehouse entrance fifteen yards from his spot. Rumor was Chasen was planning to bring the guns in sometime in the next 24 hours, and then they could bust the stupid sod, and he could go back to sleeping in his warm, soft bed.
Doyle barged into the Controller's office two days later. "Bodie called in. Two lorries arrived twenty minutes ago at the warehouse and their unloading heavy crates."
"Is everything ready for this evening?"
"Fine. Let 3-7 know it will go down at 2100 this evening. That will ensure that any of the men legally working at the dock will be gone."
Bodie left the Captain in the line for hot soup and moved to the back of another line where he'd spotted Murphy, dressed as a priest, handing out coffee. "Ta, Father," he said as he was handed a cup, "could I have one for me partner?" He gestured toward the soup line.
"Of course, my son. 2100 tonight, Full A squad with B standing by as backup." Murphy finished as he poured the second cup.
"The Cow able to do anything about rousting the homeless out of the yard?"
"Sorry, Bodie, no can do. He's afraid the coppers would spook Chasen. Be ready," he whispered. "And God bless, my son."
Bodie nodded and moved toward the Captain who held a container of soup and half a loaf of bread. They found a small bench in the park across the street and sat down to eat. "Something wrong, Sergeant?"
"What? No, sir, just thinking."
The raid brought about the hoped for result: Chasen and his goons in cuffs and enough guns to arm half of London safely under lock and key. But four agents had been hurt and a fire had been started by a stray bullet. Doyle moved quickly through the organized chaos looking for his partner.
"Murph, have you seen..." He didn't get to finish his question as Murphy's left hand shot out, gesturing toward the next building. He patted him on the shoulder in thanks and headed out at a jog.
"This! This is why I asked you...why I begged you to have the coppers clear the place." Doyle stood back as his partner continued his tirade -- an angry finger pointed at the Controller's chest. "There was no need for this. NO need!"
"3-7, I suggest you find your partner and get back to headquarters."
"Oh, so I'm simply to forget this man died tonight because we were so caught up in catching the bad guys we didn't give a thought to the poor unfortunates we're supposed to be protecting?" Doyle moved forward quickly and placed a warning hand on his partner's shoulder, only to have it violently shrugged off. It was only then that he saw the dead body off to his partner's left.
"Come on, mate, car's two blocks over."
"I'm staying here until the coroner arrives." He pushed away from the two and took up a post over the dead man.
Cowley and Doyle exchanged a look. "I'll see that McCabe drives him back, let's go Doyle."
Three and a half hours later, the operative caught the Controller as he left one of the interrogation rooms. "Sir, have you seen Bodie?"
Gray eyes looked up from the papers in his hands. "McCabe took him to Casualty. Seems he took a bullet in the arm, but it went straight through. I told him to take him home when they were done."
"He's fine, 4-5."
He toyed with the idea of checking up on his partner but his own exhaustion, coupled with the anger he had seen in the blue eyes made him drive home instead. The next day a series of bombings had him on the run, and he saw his partner only in passing -- the wound he'd sustained in the warehouse raid keeping him out of the action. Two days later he arrived at headquarters to find the Controller waiting for him.
"Well, 4-5?" At the blank look Cowley exploded. "Where is he? Come on, man, you know him better than anyone."
"3-7. He claimed Wilks body from the morgue, and no one has seen nor heard from him since. What do you know about this Wilks?"
"I ran a check, he was a widow, lost his only child...he was from Kent."
"Go get my car." Cowley spent the first part of the drive on the phone. By the time they reached Kent, they had directions to the church. They walked around the back and saw a solitary figure, dressed in black, standing, military straight, by a newly dug grave. The minister had just begun the service when they stepped up to the graveside. Once the service had been read, Bodie thanked the man before turning his attention on them.
"Bodie, what the hell..."
"That's enough, 4-5. I suggest you drive your partner back to London. I'll see you both in my office tomorrow at 10."
Bodie stiffly led the way to the Capri, tossing the keys behind him, before circling round to the passenger side.
"You want to tell me what's going on in that head of yours?" Ray demanded once he'd pulled out of the church yard.
"Everyone deserves a decent burial, Doyle."
He sucked in an explosive sigh after darting a glance at the stiff, pale figure beside him. His partner was hurting. He didn't know why, but his anger and bewilderment took a back seat to his desire to fix things. "I know, mate, and I would have helped you, if you'd asked."
"Just drop it, alright. It's over."
"Can't do that, Bodie. I just want to understand...talk to me for Christ's sake!" So much for keeping his cool.
"You wouldn't understand."
"Try me, mate. We've an hour with nothing better to do."
"He didn't deserve to go like that."
"I know, Sunshine, but there's more to this, I think."
"Could have been me, Doyle...could still be me."
"No way, Bodie, no way!" His partner's actions were suddenly very clear to him. The stupid sod had seen his possible future in the homeless man.
"I have no one, never have. An errant shot, going left when I should have gone right and I'm out of a job and on the dole. Who's to say I don't end up living in some ratty warehouse?"
"ME! Jesus, Bodie you don't think..."
"Look, just drop it. It's not a big deal."
"Like hell it isn't! Bodie, get this through your exceedingly thick head, you'll always have me."
"Don't go making promises you can't keep, Doyle."
"Fair enough, Sunshine," he said, his voice suddenly soft. "As long as I'm alive, you'll always have me...just like I'll always have you. Til Death do us join," he finished cautiously, not sure how the ex-SAS man would take those words coming from him. He got his answer a few minutes later as a large hand covered his and gave it a firm squeeze before withdrawing.
They drove in comfortable silence after that. Doyle snatching glances at his partner, who lay slumped against the door, blue eyes closed. As the traffic slowed, signaling their approach to London proper, he startled when Bodie broke the silence.
"Don't know about you, Angelfish, but I'm hungry. What say we stop at that pub we came across last month that day it was too wet to take the bikes out."
"The one with the twin barmaids?" Green eyes twitched with mischief as he shared a knowing look with his partner.
"So you do remember?"
Tired sigh, "Why should I think this time would be any different?"
"First rounds mine, though. We'll raise a pint to Captain Wilks." Doyle made sure he caught his partner's eye before returning his attention to the roadway, a smile on his face.
-- THE END --