The same thing that makes you live
can kill you in the end

-- Neil Young

Ray Doyle stepped out of his front door, the early morning sunlight dappling the step. Mixing with the warm summer breeze were the usual noises of car engines starting up, dogs barking and children being sent off to school - the typical cacophony that heralded the beginning of an ordinary weekday. After a glance about, Ray bent down and retrieved the glass container of milk, still cool from the milk float. His neighbour across the street waved a greeting as she got into her car and Ray waved back, the milk bottle a flag in his hand.

He had lived in the quiet neighbourhood in his tidy flat for three years, and by now folks knew him, and he them. He lent a hand when cars wouldn't start, helped the pensioner widow two doors down when a squirrel invaded her attic and had been known to locate a missing pet or two. In return, his neighbours watched his flat if he had to be out of town, popped in with bachelor casseroles or to gossip, and selectively ignored the fact that Doyle's most regular company was a handsome hazel-eyed Irishman who often stayed the night, and occasionally, the weekend. Fences notwithstanding, discretion does good neighbours make.

If this wasn't the life Ray expected to live, life itself wasn't what he expected and it hadn't been for four years now - not since the grenade, not since he gave not life, but limb, for god and country on that fateful November day. His arm still tingled, his brain still insisted there was a wrist and hand where none existed, and he still sometimes forgot there was nothing below his elbow save for a doubled-up scrap of skin, neatly sewed like a pocket around the bone. It was especially bad when he woke up in the morning, still groggy, half asleep, thinking he was whole; and when he reached out automatically to grasp something - 35 plus years of habit hard to break - but he managed. And he was content - enough. That had been the hardest - to find peace in the thin when it had eluded him so mercilessly through the thick.

His phone rang and he stepped back in the house, kicking the door shut with his booted foot and setting the milk bottle down on the hall table so he could grab the receiver, correctly guessing it was Murphy on the other end.

His brow raised and he pursed his lips as he listened to the terse voice of his sometimes lover on the other end of the line tell him that Bodie had been shot and was in critical condition, Ray's former partner not expected to make it.

Doyle slumped against the edge of the table and dropped the phone down to his chest a moment, trying to get his bearings.

"Yeah," he said finally, pulling the phone up to his mouth again. "I'll be there. I need to make a of couple calls. Yeah, all right. I'll see you there, then. Murph... no. Nothing, lover, be there as soon as I can. Yeah. I'm okay. You tell that bastard to hang on."

Ray blindly stuck the receiver back into its cradle and stood there unmoving, still propped against the table, his eyes threatening to betray the turmoil inside, tears imminent. He scrubbed his hand across his face and through short curls shot with gray. He could barely think. He needed to call his office - he'd built a decent security consulting business in the past years and it could survive a day or two without him - more if need be. Susan could handle whatever needed handled. He had one client he'd promised to meet for a site review that he needed to reschedule, but fortunately, things were pretty clear right at the moment. Even so, he couldn't pull the effort together, couldn't force himself to dial the phone, wanted instead to rip it from the wall and hurl it through the glass in the front door as far into the street as it would go. Fucking bastard. Fucking bastard.

He closed his eyes. "Christ, Bodie. Oh Christ, you bloody bastard."

Doyle leaned indolently against the doorframe, watching Bodie shave, his eyes shifting down his lover's bare belly to the heavy sac and lax cock nestled in dark hair between his thighs. Just an hour before that cock had been pressed hard into Ray's ass, Doyle's fingers gripping the sheets, his face sheened with sweat, humping back to take in all of Bodie, feeling Bodie's fingers pumping his cock and that unbelievable bloom of orgasm overtake him. Now their bed was a mess, the sheets spoilt, and Doyle's arse comfortably sore.

Ray stood with a cup of tea in hand and his towelling robe open, admiring the view and the man before him. Six years as partners. A year as lovers. Not that they hadn't had their share of threesomes and foursomes and an occasional mutual or assisted wank before they became exclusive, but they hadn't fucked before that, and the fucking was what Doyle liked. The heavy feel of Bodie's body on top of his, the brawn of Bodie's well-toned body below him, the tight pungent ring of muscle accepting his erection, the thick hard plunge of Bodie's cock between his cheeks.

They'd been drunk that first time they fucked. At Bodie's flat after a particularly nasty case had finally ended. Doyle had been touching himself while Bodie watched from the other end of the settee beneath heavy lidded eyes and masturbated himself at the same time, through his clothes. Then somehow trousers, pants and shirts had been shed, hands had reached for cocks, Doyle's legs had met around Bodie's neck and they had fucked. And woken up sore as hell on the floor in penalty for their enthusiasm. Doyle smiled at the memory.

Bodie glanced over. "You look pleased with yourself."

"Just remembering you reaming my arse for the first time."

"You are the romantic, aren't you."

"You want romance, go back to birds."

Bodie shrugged. "Nah, you'll do. You give better head anyway."

"Man has to consider what's important."


Doyle could see that Bodie's cock was becoming erect just from their teasing byplay and he flashed his eyes down and then back up, meeting Bodie's glance, grinning seductively, pleased when Bodie blushed. It was one of his lover's most charming attributes, and that insight into Bodie turned Doyle on maybe more than seeing the thickening cock.

He set his teacup on the edge of the sink and lazily headed to Bodie, stepping up behind him, moving the robe aside so his belly and cock and thighs touched Bodie's back and arse and legs.

"Grab the edge of the bathtub and kneel down," he ordered, whispering softly in Bodie's ear, all the while pressing his cock between his lover's cheeks.

Breathing heavily, Bodie complied, turning and bending to submit to Doyle's pressure against his waist, resting his knees on the shower mat, the porcelain of the tub cool beneath his fingers, his breathing hot and hard.

Reaching down, Doyle positioned his cock and pushed, slipping into Bodie's arse with practised ease, the dampness from Bodie's shower easing his way a bit, but allowing enough friction for just a moment of pain and eliciting a gasp from Bodie. They stayed that way a minute or two, connected, not moving, and then Doyle reached around and grasped Bodie's cock and began to pump - both into him and along the erection. It was a hard pulsing fuck, nothing romantic, intended for orgasm from the start and successful just moments later.

They were headed out that day into a obbo that might be lengthy, that promised long stakeouts, that would likely not allow for sex until it was over, maybe days or as long as a fortnight, save for a quick necessary wank over a stained toilet in some bedsit. Doyle wanted something to take with him, to carry him through, to return to when massaging his cock in a dim strange room - Bodie's screaming roar of release echoing his own sharp cry would do just fine. The fucking was so perfect, always had been between them - and with their friendship, had always been enough.

Cowley called them off the assignment after four days in a stinking hole of a flat where the cockroaches and the fleas battled for dominance and the rats won. In a partnered flat across the alley, Anson had taken a beating from a crazed drug addict defending his turf that would put the agent out of the agenting business minus one spleen and one lung. And the villains had never been there it seemed - the usually reliable grass had been wrong, or lied, or been misinformed.

Doyle pushed their gear into a holdall while Bodie folded up the tripod and stowed the camera.

"Bloody fucking mess. Anson all buggered up and for what, Ray?" pronounced Bodie angrily as he shoved the legs into the tripod base. "Some misinformed lying grass gets Cowley all hot and bothered and Anson loses a lung. We're stuck in this shit hole for four days with a crapper that flushes to the flat below and evaporates up as our air... it's bloody ridiculous."

Ray folded a deckchair down and slipped it and its mate over his shoulder, using their legs as a strap. "You're in a right mood. It's not like this is the first time."

"Yeah, well it doesn't mean I have to like it either. I didn't sign up to be a child-minder to empty flats. LeRoyce is supposed to be a kingpin in cocaine and we sit here on our arses while he goes merrily on about his business."

"Taylor's usually been a reliable grass."

"Yeah, well all the more reason to be pissed off. Why is he suddenly off on this?"


"Well I don't like it."

Doyle raised an eyebrow. "You think we've been wound up?"

Bodie slung the camera case over his shoulder and hoisted up the tripod carrier, looking around the room as he nodded for Ray to go out the door. "Wound up, screwed with - who knows. But I don't like it. Go ahead and go down and I'll check the other room for anything we missed and follow you."

The steps were scruffy and worn, missing entirely in places and Ray carefully picked his way down to the landing, watching his feet instead of what was before him. The hand that snaked out of nowhere and grabbed him caught him completely unawares, and startled, he dropped the gear, reaching automatically for his Browning, but far too slow. His mouth was taped and a gun pressed to his neck before he could do anything else. It seemed the noise of the gear falling echoed in the stairwell, but it was covered by a loud blast from the adjoining building and his muffled scream stayed inside the tape.

Two men rushed past him up the rickety stairs with more haste than sense and returned very soon with Bodie slumped between them, the agents' arms bound behind his back. There was blood on Bodie's face and he was doubled over, moaning. Ray had no doubt his partner had taken a hard kick to the groin in addition to whatever other indignities he'd suffered.

The agents were bundled down the stairway and into a waiting van, their ID and r/t's left behind in the empty hallway while the building next door burned and threatened this one as well. No one noticed the blue van leave, and by the time it rolled out of the council estate, the gold Capri already had the first of its four tyre rims stripped, along with the radio, battery and two Swiss Rolls Bodie had stowed in the glove box, just in case.

Between the darkness of the masks and the liberal use of chloroform, it was impossible for either Bodie or Doyle to tell where they had been taken or where they were now, or even to judge time or distance. It was as if they were suspended in some timeless existence, where the senses went askew. Their last memory before surrendering to the darkness and pain was that of impacting gracelessly with a hard concrete floor.

Cowley tossed the r/t angrily onto the seat of his car and surveyed the carnage around him. There were two buildings in flames, one burning out of control. The skeletal remains of Doyle's Capri baked in the heat of the fire, nearly everything useful removed and the rest damaged, although ironically, the second Browning Doyle kept secreted under the seat had not been found or touched. Of course Bodie and Doyle themselves were nowhere to be found, but Cowley knew they had been taken, knew from the muffled patched through call that the two men were in serious trouble. Just a few words, barely a conversation. How could the fate of two men be decided with such frugal talk?

"Bonjour, Monsieur Cowley. We have your men."

"What is it you want, LeRoyce?"

"Want? I want for nothing. Someone will contact you tomorrow to tell you where you can find their bodies. Consider it payback for inconveniencing me."

And then the line had gone dead. One call later Cowley had found out about the fire at the stakeout site. Forty minutes later he and Murphy were on the scene. Murphy had recovered the agents' r/t's and ID from the entryway of the nearer building before it became an inferno and now he stood next to Cowley's car, cradling the items along with Doyle's spare gun, looking oddly uncomfortable as if holding someone's last remains.

Cowley paced angrily back and forth, fists clenched at his sides, limping slightly for the furious energy of his steps. Jerking open the car door, he pulled out the r/t handset and barked out orders. "This is alpha one. I want every location that LeRoyce has ever used searched thoroughly. Anyone not on an A level case is reassigned to this one - all leave is cancelled effective immediately. And get a team out here to recover Doyle's Capri and scour these buildings."

He flung the handset carelessly back onto the seat. Why the hell hadn't Bodie and Doyle been more careful? Then again, why should they have been - they were stood down, the stakeout was over, nothing had happened - everything had happened. It galled him that his best team had so been so casually taken out, or apparently so. It angered him they had let it happen. It chilled him to the bone that they were quite possibly dead already.

Doyle awoke slowly to the warm feel of blood cushioning his cheek against the cold of the concrete floor - an insulating layer that exposed even as it shielded. His hands were still bound and thick tape still gagged and shuttered his mouth. As the haze receded and consciousness found form, he took better stock. His left ankle was surely sprained, perhaps worse, swollen against the confines of his boot, pain radiating up his leg. A tooth felt loose in his mouth, his balls ached and his bladder screamed for release of the four cups of tea that had kept him awake during the last hours of their shift. It was amazing he hadn't pissed himself already.

He remembered cartwheeling limb over limb down a flight of steps, tucking his head as Mac had taught them, landing on his shoulder and apparently on his cheek. Then he had blacked out.

With great effort he shifted onto his back, testing and stretching, trying to gauge his fitness. His eyes were open, but only darkness greeted them, a roiling black pitch. A cellar of some kind, then. Or perhaps an air raid shelter. That they had left his legs unbound meant his captors considered escape on foot unlikely, so it was probably one of those. Given the concrete floor, he guessed air raid shelter - deep, quiet, impenetrable. And with the likelihood of air raids nil these days, it was probably shuttered tightly from the outside with clasps and bolts and locks, so that even should they find the exit, it would be blocked for them.

His first task was to find his partner. Bodie hadn't gone down the steps first, so he'd either been tossed after Doyle into this hell-hole or they had put him somewhere separate. Regardless, it was up to Ray to find out. Using his legs and feet as tools, he began a measured survey of the area, tapping with this toes, scissoring his legs, hissing with the pain of motion, seeking his partner, the professional side of him calm and collected, the man who was Bodie's lover collecting his calm around him like an armoured blanket.

As he moved, Ray's hands brushed a scrap of metal, a hinge perhaps, or just some piece of waste, maybe even the mangled lid to a tin. With the incredible impatient patience of a man who has no alternative, Doyle swept this way and that until he was able to grasp the raw edged sliver in his hand. Perhaps when he found Bodie, the item would be of use. Heedless of the cutting edge, he grasped it in his fist and then resumed his survey, carefully repeating his last sweep lest he had missed something.

There. There it was. His toe tagged something. He inched forward painfully, keeping his foot in contact with the object. It was like some bizarre form of blind man's bluff, sensory deprivation testing his recognition skills. Hard, not soft. Not flesh. Perhaps a boot. No. Thinner, upright. A pipe. He was apparently at the edge of the room - at one edge anyway. Yes, there was the wall. He decided to search the perimeter, at least it would define the space and with any luck, he would find Bodie in the process. He shifted around so his shoulder pressed the wall and used the hard surface to propel himself forward, stopping each body length to probe the interior of the room with his booted leg and to whisper curses of pain that stuck fast against the tape gagging his mouth.

His fingers ached, the bonds on his wrists effectively cutting off the blood to his hands. Twice he had to drop the precious piece of tin to open and clench his fists to regain feeling. Then there was the renewed effort of finding and regaining the metal. He'd gone past one corner. And still no Bodie. He began to wonder if Bodie was even in the room, when his foot contacted with something decidedly soft and mobile. He edged out from the wall, leaving the safety of the perimeter for the uncertainty of open spaces. All the while he kept contact with what he now knew with certainty was a human leg, presumably connected to a torso, presumably Bodie's.

Despite the dank chill of the room, sweat beaded on Doyle's brow as he moved forward. The fabric of his shirt was wet and the hard floor abraded his side with each aching motion. His battered ankle felt numb, the tingling radiating upwards to his thigh, shooting stinging arrows.

Movement became his whole focus and the method his mantra: knees to chest, find purchase against the floor, push and straighten. He repeated the effort four times until his body impacted with the hard cool warmth of his partner.

Using his head as a probe, Doyle examined Bodie, categorizing his discoveries as carefully as someone might chart heretofore unknown territory. Bodie was on his back, bound arms caught beneath his back, legs splayed, one bent at a decidedly unnatural angle, bone protruding through the torn fabric of his partner's trousers. Bodie's chest moved up and down with shallow uneven breaths, and the crunch of shifting bones beneath Ray's chin was a sure indication of cracked or broken ribs.

As he moved his face up the surface of Bodie's chest toward his neck, the tape on Doyle's mouth caught against the ragged edge of a chipped button, loosening the tip of the corner. Ray stopped, reversed position and repeated the motion, but this time without success. It was like trying to pass the thin of a thread through the eye of a needle without visual aid. By now Ray's body ached and his mind was stretched nearly as thin as his patience. His cock was so heavy with the need to piss that it felt like an erection.

Gritting his teeth, he backed up again, felt for the chipped button with his cheek and then slowly eased the edge of his mouth into the correct position, deliberately pressing his face into against the sharp edge. It rasped into his flesh, scraping a path from his cheek to his mouth, but this time successfully catching the tape. He repeated the effort over and over until he was panting from the exertion, tears stinging his eyes as the tape was ever so slowly peeled away.

He pushed at the floor with his boots preparing for another round and nearly vomited as his heel impacted with the concrete. His ankle was indeed broken, then. Pain shot through his system and he spasmed and his bladder let loose. Urine soaked his pants and trousers and he felt his resolve begin to fade. He pissed enough to account for the tea, his nerves and the three pints he would down if they ever got out, pissed until there was nothing left inside him but humiliation and helplessness, unable to stop the flow any more than he was able to control the lack of light in the room. Idly he wondered if his kidneys were damaged, how much blood was in that urine, but it simply didn't seem that important. Training notwithstanding, he was still just a man, injured and lost, disconnected, disabled. Weary to the bone, he lay his head against the chest of his lover and closed his eyes.

Cowley impatiently pushed at the cup of coffee, slopping some of the nearly cold brew onto the papers on his desk, childishly taking out his anger, and then chiding himself for the reaction. Still, it had been six hours now. Six hours and still nothing. No word. No hint as to where Bodie and Doyle were being held - or if they were alive. He pulled his glasses from his nose and tossed them a top the pile of reports, rising and walking to the window.

It was snowing out. Unusual, but not impossible for London in November. The sky was gray, the snow white until it hit the ground. It reminded him of a day during the war when he had left his office in the cold dimming light of afternoon and found it to be snowing. It had seemed out of place - as if the ordinary shouldn't go on within the extraordinary confines of war. There had been a blitz that night, and from then on he associated snow with screaming bombs and air raid shelters.

LeRoyce had been in the war, too - as a child. It was in his dossier. He'd been a boy in England at the time, living with a maiden aunt in London, his French father and British mother active in the French resistance. Idly Cowley wondered how many hours LeRoyce had spent in air raid shelters, trying to have a childhood amidst the screaming of bombs and sirens and certain death outside. War affected everyone; Cowley knew that with personal certainty, and when the aunt had been killed in one of the raids, and his parents died for the resistance, Vincent LeRoyce had been on his own, in and out of orphanages, mostly out, on the streets, doing what was necessary to get by, forming connections that served him today in his vast drug cartel.

Cowley turned back to his desk, something niggling his weary mind. The wind whispered through the old single glaze windows and chilled him. He reached for the tepid coffee and stopped mid-act. The cold. The snow. The war. The blitz. Air raid shelters. The underground. LeRoyce's aunt had lived near Hyde Park. LeRoyce owned a flat not far from there. They had searched it thoroughly, of course, and found nothing, but they had not searched the nearby area - certainly not the ghost stations of the underground, some closed for decades. What was the name of the blasted station? It was on the Piccadilly line...

Impatiently Cowley turned to his filing cabinet and tugged open the second drawer, sifting through the folders until he found what he was looking for. He scanned the documents - Down Street - that was it - secluded, closed for decades, used in the war effort by the MOD, still there, bricked up, closed off, secure. A street boy like LeRoyce would have known every inch of his turf in those days. Would have known about Down Street. Should have known. It was a long shot, as close as arm's length, but it was something, and if Cowley had learned anything, it was that inactivity could be a worse enemy than the passage of time.

Grabbing up his suit jacket from the back of his chair, he hurried toward his office door. This charge he would lead himself.

Ray awoke, groggy, aching, disoriented. He blinked and found only darkness and remembered where he was, and why, and how. He turned his face into the soft hardness of Bodie's chest and was relieved to find his partner still breathing, Bodie's chest still moving, albeit slowly and unsteadily. Still, it meant life.

He wondered how long he had been asleep, decided it didn't matter. His pants and trousers were still soaked and the foul smell of urine assailed his nose. He coughed from the dankness and realised that sometime in his sleep the tape had rubbed far enough off his mouth that the corner of his lips was now free. He tried poking his tongue through the small opening, but couldn't get purchase, so he returned to Bodie's chest, seeking the broken button. It took three attempts, sliding his face up and down, to locate the button. He pushed at the edge with the corner of his lips and miraculously was able to poke the tip into his mouth. From that it was easy to dislodge the tape. He panted, breathing deeply, and then instantly regretting it. The air tasted even more foul than it smelled and it made him cough and splutter.

Shifting his weight off his benumbed leg, he inched his face up to Bodie's and then using his tongue, found the edge of the tape on Bodie's mouth and gripped the tag between his teeth. He tugged hard, half hoping the pain would rouse his partner. Bodie moaned when Ray ripped the first bit of tape off, as the adhesive carried whiskers and flesh along with it, but the agent did not waken.

Undeterred, Doyle paused twice to take a breath and get better purchase on the tape, until he finally was successful in releasing the entire length. He spat the tape out and immediately touched his lips to Bodie's.

"Bodie." He tongued his partner's mouth. "Bodie. It's Ray. Wake up you dumb crud. Can you hear me? Wake up, Bodie!"

Bodie moaned again and Doyle pushed his tongue between Bodie's lips, kissing him hard, directing his own life force into Bodie's body. It still wasn't enough and he moved his mouth downward, finding Bodie's earlobe and biting down hard.

That did it. Bodie groaned and coughed, spluttering.

"Wake up Bodie. Wake up. It's Ray. Wake up. Come on you lazy sod."

"Ray?" Bodie's parched throat gave his voice an odd quality, echoing in the dark, making him sound almost ghoulish.

"Here, Bodie. Right here, lover. We're in some sort of cavern. Air raid shelter or cellar, I reckon. You're hurt. Broken leg, cracked ribs, Probably concussed, maybe even a skull fracture."

"My head hurts like a bloody.... I remember being taken, the ride in the van, being pushed down a flight of steps."

"Yeah. I led the way."

"Christ, Ray. How about you? Anything broken?"

"My ankle."



"Some crack team, we are. Are your hands tied?"

"Yeah. Didn't miss a trick, did they," said Doyle sourly.

"How long have we been here?"

"Dunno. It took me a long while to find you and then I fell asleep. Hours, I'd reckon."

"I need to piss. My bladder feels like it's on fire and my whole groin is burning. The bloody bastards booted me in the balls."

"How bad is it?"

"It was a right bollocking. It's pretty bad, Ray. At least my leg is numb."

"If I can get my hands free, maybe I can figure out how to get us out of here."

"Yeah, well unless you've been practising your Houdini impression in your time off, I think we're stuck."

"Maybe not. I found a piece of metal on the floor - it's a lid to a tin, or a hinge or something. I've got it in my hand. It's got a rough edge and might just be sharp enough to cut these ropes, if we can manage it. Can you shift over onto your side so I can put it in your hands or cut your ropes?"

There was a minute of silence before Bodie replied. "I don't think I can move. Can you bring it up to my mouth? Shift your hands up here?"

"Maybe. Keep talking so I can find you."

"You reckon it was LeRoyce's mob?"

Doyle grunted with the effort it took to move as he rolled first onto his back and then onto his other side. "Yeah. I reckon so."

"Bastards. Must have been playing with us all along."

Ray inched upward, his back to Bodie. The nattering was oddly soothing after so many hours of only his own thoughts. "Maybe watching us."

"Think they were the ones who set that bastard after Anson? They should burn for that."

"Tell us what you really think, Bodie." Doyle panted with the exertion, ignoring his ankle. His hands were near to Bodie's face now and sweat made his shirt as wet as his pants.

"Christ Ray, what's that stink? Smells like someone pissed their trousers."

Doyle lifted his bound hands, ignoring the remark and pushing his fists in the direction of Bodie's voice. "Try to grab this with your teeth. Can you lift your head?"


Ray waved the piece of metal about until his knuckles grazed Bodie's mouth. After a moment of jockeying they connected and Doyle loosened his grip. It was incredible he hadn't lost the metal while he slept, but his stiff hands bore witness to his unrelenting grasp. His knuckles cracked and his palm spasmed as he opened his hand. "Bloody hell," he panted. "Take it, Bodie."


Doyle poked a couple stiff fingers into Bodie's mouth and then let the metal slide down it until Bodie was able to capture it in his teeth, rotating it so the rough edge faced outward. Then, the transfer complete, Ray collapsed back onto the floor, hitting the concrete with an echoing thud, the impact ripping at his shoulder. "Fuck. Fuck."

"Wray?" Bodie was nearly impossible to understand, teeth clenched around the metal, but the concern was evident. "Wray?"

"I'm okay. I'm okay. I hit at the wrong angle, buggered up my shoulder. Hurts like bloody hell. Just give me a minute. Fuck. I think I'm going to pass out. Fuck."

Doyle forced himself to breathe evenly, trying to forestall fainting. It was hard to tell what was the real culprit, his shoulder, other internal injuries, hours without water. He bit the inside of his lip until it bled. The darkness was not helping - he needed orientation, the lack of light simply made him dizzier. Suddenly his stomach heaved and he vomited on the floor beside his face. It was foul, worse than after too many pints of lager or bad Chinese food. He backed away and realised he was going to have to drag himself right through it to get his hands oriented for Bodie. Piss and vomit. Christ. Might as well be passed out in the men's room of some teen club. Sodding hell.

Cowley unrolled the MOD survey map on the boot of his car. The snow had stopped and it was a cold, crisp night, the stars bright in the sky. Murphy held a torch over the map and Cowley directed it to the left centre of the survey, peering through his glasses at the detail printed there. Incredibly, access to the old Down Street air raid shelter could still be gained in several ways. There was a small platform on one end of the subsurface station designed as a stop for trains, though not used for decades. There was also a small lift that had been installed down the middle of a set of spiral stairs - it was listed as still operational on the MOD map. And if all else failed, one could walk the tunnels from the Hyde Park station.

It was incredible to think that Churchill had used that same shelter in the early days of the war, and now someone as villainous as LeRoyce might be doing the same, and for such a nefarious purpose. Cowley shuddered at the contrast and peered back down at the map.

The surface access via the staircase and lift from the old Down Street station was only a few short doors from LeRoyce's own place. A small newsstand operated out of the front of the old station, and it hadn't taken long to discover, nor had it been a surprise, that LeRoyce owned that newsstand. It explained how the mob leader would have had easy and private access, and further convinced Cowley that he had stumbled on the right track. He stabbed his gloved finger at the subsurface platform cum wartime offices, cum air raid shelter. Although the MOD had other underground sites still active, according the label on the map and Cowley's intelligence, this one had been closed and abandoned since after the war, open only for the very rare ticketed tour, making it ideal for LeRoyce's use.

Gathering his agents around him, Cowley tapped his finger at the Hyde Park entrance. He'd made arrangements for access - the power had been turned off and the regular tube delayed, "Jax, take your men down and walk the tunnel. You should be able to get to the subsurface platform from there and gain access. Once inside, you'll find several rooms - start checking them - carefully. Murphy, you and I will go through the street entrance, down the stairs. I don't trust the lift, no matter assurances from the MOD. Everyone remember, if Bodie and Doyle are in there, we want them out alive. Questions? No? Fine."

He rolled up the map and carelessly tossed it onto the car seat through the open the passenger door, removing his gun from the glove box and checking the chamber to be sure it was loaded. This had to be the place. It was too coincidental - the aunt's flat, LeRoyce's flat, the old station, the air raid shelter. He waved his agents out, pushed the car door shut and looked up at Murphy's solid form at his side.

"This is a hunch, laddie. Maybe a damned good one, but still a hunch."

"We'll find them, sir. If not here, then somewhere. We'll find them in time."

"I don't believe anything until I see it. Now let's get moving and see if I'm as smart as I think I am."

Ray sawed his hands back and forth over Bodie's mouth as his partner mirrored the effort. Doyle was sitting on his knees, leaning backwards, and the pressure on his ankle was agonising. Still it was the best position they had come up with, giving Bodie the most leverage, and they were actually making some slow progress, tatters of the rope dropping onto Bodie's face.

Periodically they would pause and take a break, Bodie unclenching his teeth, Doyle rocking his body forward to take the weight off his leg and foot. During these breaks, Ray pulled his hands apart as far as he could and tugged hard, repeating the action over and over again, trying to stress the rope. His wrists were bleeding from the effort, but it was a minor inconvenience at best. Everything had become ritualised - work, saw, break, tug. Their world had been reduced to only the small space the pair occupied and their efforts to get Ray's hands free.

Bodie had given up on modesty for practicality an hour before and finally let his bladder go. Now he smelled as foul as his partner. Doyle tried not to think about the filth that certainly had found its way into the open break in Bodie's leg. There would be time enough to worry about that if they survived this incarceration.

"Ready?" he asked, his voice a parched whisper. The need for water was becoming more than just a luxury.

"Go," Bodie replied, through clenched teeth.

Doyle bent back into contortionist mode, pushing his outstretched fists into Bodie's face. He clenched his teeth against the onslaught of pain from both ankle and shoulder, blowing out his breath in short puffs, as if in labour. It was all so oppressive. It all seemed so hopeless and he felt so helpless. He wanted to lay back down on the floor and cry in frustration. If it hadn't been for Bodie's presence and uncomplaining efforts, he might have done so. But his partner kept him going. Kept him centred. Kept him focussed. Gave him purpose.

"Wait," he grunted to Bodie. "Can't...." He dropped his arms down. The interval where they could work was becoming shorter now, his muscles protesting more loudly.

Bodie tongued the metal into the corner of his mouth so he could better talk. "Ray, you okay?"

"Yeah. Yeah. Just need a minute."

"Time, I've got."

Doyle breathed in and out slowly, trying to calm his racing heart. "You know even if this does work, we don't know if we can get out."

"So what's your point, Ray? You want to stop? Give up? Die lying in our own piss and vomit?"

"You know, Bodie, did anyone tell you that you really have a way with words? Should have been a writer, you."

"Thought about it once. Me memoirs. Could be a big seller - make me famous. Now could we get on with this? I don't fancy getting my leg amputated."

"Yeah, well this should add a good chapter. Okay. Let me just try giving this a couple tugs again." Doyle jerked his hands hard apart, relaxed the tension and repeated the action. At the third try, he felt the rope give. "I might have got it. Just once more..." He jerked hard again and the rope separated with a cracking snap.

"Bloody fucking hell," exclaimed Bodie victoriously, spitting the metal piece out onto the floor beside his head.

"Hang about - there's a second rope. I'm going to have to try to unwind this from one hand. Going to have to lie down - can't sit any more...."

Doyle eased himself ungracefully onto his side, breathed a sigh of relief for the pressure off his ankle and worked in silence, directing his cold, stiff fingers to do work they rebelled against at every turn. Poke the end through the circle, find the end again, sort it out and separate it from the main binding. It was maddening. He lost the end once and cursed roundly.


"Lost the fucking rope. Hang about. There it is. Almost have it. Bastards trussed me up like a damned prezzie. Christ, I wish we had some light - this darkness is taking me around the bend."

As if on command, a door ground opened and the bright beam of a powerful torch lit the room, blinding both men. A voice spoke out from behind the torch, eerie and disassociated.

"Bonjour, monsieurs. I have brought you a small going away present. I hope you enjoy it. I think I can guarantee you don't already have one. Au revoir and bonne nuit."

The voice left and the torch remained as the door was pushed closed, but not before a small object was tossed into the room. A grenade, the pin pulled, rolled directly at the two CI5 agents.

Ray made one last vicious tug at his bonds, separated them, and in a fluid motion, scooped up the grenade, threw himself across Bodie and hurled the small bomb across the room. Despite his fast reactions, he was not quite fast enough. The cold and the damage to his shoulder impeded his efforts. The grenade went off in mid-air. Shrapnel from the explosion seared his forearm and wrist, ripping flesh and bone, severing nerves. A scream died in his throat as he lost consciousness.

Below him, flat on the floor, Doyle's prone body blanketing him, Doyle's blood on his face, Bodie could only bear witness in horror and disbelief.

Cowley watched as Bodie paced the floor of the hospital corridor, sticks beneath his arms, his leg in a cast. The break hadn't been as bad as it appeared in the dark. Things rarely were in the light of day. And other than a bruised kidney, bruised balls and a few cracked ribs, Bodie was not in that bad a shape. Ray Doyle was another matter.

The shrapnel had been merciless, severely damaging Doyle's wrist and forearm. Two days before, five days after the incident, the doctors had made the difficult decision to amputate Doyle's arm below the elbow. Cowley had signed the papers, his hand shaking slightly, his eyes not entirely clear.

It was incredible that here in peace time, a wartime weapon in a wartime air raid shelter had caused this to happen.

And it was ironic that LeRoyce and his bodyguard had been apprehended as they stepped off the lift at the top of the abandoned Down Street platform by a surprised, but alert, Murphy and Cowley who were just preparing to descend the spiral staircase.

Now Cowley and Bodie waited to see Doyle. It would be their first visit since Doyle was awake. Their first since the amputation.

"Don't expect much," advised the doctor. "He's not going to be the same man you knew before this happened. He will likely never be that man again. He's going to have to learn to do everything all over again. He's going to need your support when he's ready to do that."

"We understand," Cowley assured the surgeon. "Of course we will do whatever is necessary for Mr. Doyle's best recovery."

Bodie said nothing. He had said nothing in the past two days, keeping his own counsel. Cowley made no effort to draw him out - Bodie had his own demons to deal with and would deal with him on his own, or with the help of Kate Ross - or with the help of Ray Doyle. Or not. Shell-shocked. As if he had been gassed. Bodie moved as if in that kind of nightmare, and Cowley knew from experience that only time could mend those wounds, if they could be mended.

Bodie sat gracelessly in the small chair before Doyle's bed as he had every day for the last week - every day since Doyle had been moved out of ICU and allowed regular visitors. Sometimes he gifted Ray with grapes, or a newspaper, or the newest paperback thriller. Rarely did he gift him with words. Even now, over two weeks later, they still had not talked about the incident, but for whatever reason, Bodie was ready, so he spoke first.

"You shouldn't have done it, Ray."

Ray shifted his gaze from the window to the dark form in the chair by his bed. Doyle was shrunken, like an old man, the vitality sucked from him. He couldn't even raise enough emotion to get angry - something the concerned doctors and rehab nurses had encouraged. When he spoke, even though the words sounded emotional, they were delivered in a flat monotone, fueled by exhaustion, not energy.

"Shouldn't have done what, Bodie? Saved our lives? Well I bloody well didn't crawl around in that cavern for hours through my own piss and puke to let that grenade take us out. Or should I have let you play the hero? Maybe you could have caught it in your teeth. Swallowed it whole. Let it blow out the side of your gut or your head."

"Stop it, Ray."

"You think I did this to save you? I did this to save us, Bodie. Save us. I did it because we're partners and that's what we do - what we did - for each other. It was instinctive. You think there was enough time to think about it? Well if I had thought about it, I might bloody well have headed for the corner and left you suss it out for yourself. Might have my hand then, mightn't I? Might have my fucking hand." Now Doyle was getting upset, now the anger he had so carefully buried was beginning to surface.

"I'd give my right arm, Ray, to make this have not happened."

"You? You'd give your arm? Well be my guest. Give it. Maybe they can attach it on here." Ray slapped the bandaged stump. "Make me a right monster instead of a freak. Should I call the surgeon? You want to feel sorry for yourself for coming out whole, you go right ahead, Bodie. But I don't need your self-pity and I don't want you pitying me. I need your fucking help, Bodie. I need... Christ...." Doyle turned his face to the wall.

"I don't know what I can do, Ray."

"Just leave."


"Leave, Bodie."

"Now who's feeling sorry for himself?"

Ray turned, his face weary beyond his years. "It's too much, Bodie. I need to work out what's going to happen. How I'm going to close the zip on my jeans. How to wipe my arse with my left hand. How I'm going to open a wine bottle. How to write my name. Do you understand? I have to decide what I'm going to do with my life. It's too much. I can't work out your life for you, too. They say it's going to take months just to be healed enough to take the bandage off. And every day it needs cleaned. It's the only thing I can think about. You're either going to have to be willing to be there and hand me the loo paper and let the nurse in and out the door, or you're going to have to stay out of my way."

"I want to do whatever I can, Ray."

"When are you out of your cast?"

"Another three weeks, it looks."

"Three weeks. They say it could be three years before I am fully recovered. Before I can work out how to do all the things I used to and the aching stops and I don't keep feeling my hand where there is none. Three years. Or longer. And in the meantime, I'm out of a job."

"Cowley's arranged to pay your medical and let you keep your flat."

"I know bloody well what Cowley's arranged. I'm taking about being useful, Bodie, not being some charity case. I don't want to be pensioned off. I may be finished with CI5, but I'm not done, yet. Dammit, I'm not done yet."

"There might be a job there, you know."

"That life is over, Bodie. I can't sit around the office and watch you go off with your new partner while I do file work."



"Cowley's pairing me with Murph. For a trial. A month. When I'm back on my feet."

"He's a good man."

"Dunno. Yeah. Then Jax. Another trial."

"He's good, too. Better suited to you. Might be better than Murph."

"I don't want them, Ray. I want you."

"You can't have me, Bodie. Not as your partner. Not in CI5. That's done. Question is, can you come home every night and look at this?" Doyle raised his arm, holding his hand under the stump to support it. "And can I watch you live the life I used to live?"

"I dunno, Ray. Can't we try?"

"I can't even wank, off, Bodie - have to learn that new, too."

"You want to?"

"Of course, I bloody well want to."

"It's just, I heard - they said - "

"What, that I might not be interested in sex? Well between the drugs and thinking about all this, they're right. I haven't even had an erection. Sex is on the bottom of my list - for now."

"You're still sexy, Ray. I think you're sexy."

Doyle raised an eyebrow and then impulsively tugged the bandage off his arm, revealing the swollen, bloody stump and flap of flesh that had been his forearm, wrist and hand. It was ugly and grotesque, still raw. Ray glanced up to read Bodie's eyes and found them steely and impassive. Bodie at military attention. Bodie doing his best imitation of a man who wasn't affected. But the vein in his neck pulsed. And Ray knew just where to look. "Do you still think I'm sexy, Bodie?" he asked, his voice barely a whisper.

Murphy stopped in the corridor as the door to Ray's room was opened, Bodie exited and then as he closed the door behind him. He watched as Bodie made his way unevenly down the corridor to the small visitors' room, leaned full force against the wall, dropped his sticks and sank to the ground. He watched as Bodie slumped, head in hands, hands against his knees and sobbed.

Slowly he approached. This man was his partner now - or would be. He was supposed to be able to connect to him. To help him. And beyond that, they had been friends and colleagues a very long time.

"Bodie?" Murph crouched down and touched Bodie's shoulder.

Bodie lashed out, grabbing up one of the sticks and waving it blindly in Murphy's direction. "Get the fuck away from me." There was genuine anger and rage in Bodie's voice, it was forbidding, yet Murphy continued.

"Bodie - it's Murph."

"I know who the fuck you are."

"Can I help?"

Now Bodie laughed, maniacally at first, and then it shifted to something akin to sobs. Murphy crouched there silently as it all played out. Cowley had said Doyle was still in shock. Murphy wondered if Cowley had been looking in the right direction.

"Help Ray," Bodie said finally. "Please. I can't. I don't know. Someone needs to help him. I did what they asked and it didn't fucking work. Oh, he got mad all right, got mad at me. Fuck them. Fuck you. Help Ray. Please, Murph. Help Ray."

"What's wrong, Bodie?" Murphy looked toward Doyle's room at the end of the corridor in alarm. "Is something wrong?"

Bodie looked up, utterly lost. "Everything," he said softly. "Everything is wrong."

Doyle pulled his car into the handicapped parking space in the hospital car park, shoved the gear stick to park and wrenched out the keys. He had never used the handicapped spots before - had made it a point not to, but right now he would have parked on the roof if that would have got him nearer the entrance.

Murphy met him inside the sliding doors and Ray looked up questioningly.

"How he is?"

"No change. He's going to go, Ray. It's just a matter of time."

"Dammit," Doyle whispered, following Murphy's long strides down the hallway. Just two nights before those long legs had been wrapped around Doyle's neck as they made love.

It was odd how that had all come about - their relationship. Murphy just seemed to be there whenever Doyle needed something - a calm, reassuring, solid presence that was a connection to his old life, but helped bridge a path to his new one. At first it was simple reliance, and then that melted into something more, something easy and warm and companionable that matured, if not into love, then into something quite akin to that.

Murphy had been through it all with him - good and bad - had encouraged him to ask Cowley for contacts when he started his business, had been unapologetic about Doyle's arm and his need to move on with his life - including the part of his life that had been Bodie, had listened to Doyle's endless suppositions about Bodie until Ray was all talked out - and cried out - on the subject.

Love-making had started unintentionally as a morning hug in Doyle's bed after Murph had been too tired to leave one evening, and both had been content to let it continue as a semi-regular thing. Sex with Murphy was sweet and satisfying. Murphy was a sweet man. But it lacked the flame and passion Doyle had had with Bodie. Ray's whole life lacked flame and passion. It was how he had needed it. It was how it had to be. But he mourned the loss nonetheless, and Bodie most of all.

He wondered every day of his life if he'd been right to give him up. But he knew that in the instant he caught that grenade, he'd made his decision - to give Bodie his life. And from that point on he had no right to try to take it away again through his own selfish need.

Cowley met them both in the corridor outside intensive care, his face grim, his eyes bright, fingers pinching his nose. He rested a hand on Doyle's shoulder. "I'm sorry, laddie. He's gone. He arrested and they let him go. It was for the best."

"What happened? How was he shot?" Doyle demanded, watching the parade of medical staff and equipment leave Bodie's room.

Murphy put a comforting hand on Doyle's arm. "There was a gunman, Ray. Bodie saw him first and pushed Jax aside, taking the blast. It was instinctive. Jax was grazed. He'll be fine."

Ray raised an eyebrow, started to contradict, realised it was pointless.

The doctor stopped now, addressing them all. "He never regained consciousness. I'm sorry. The sister will give you his personal items. I'm very sorry for your loss. We did all we could."

The nurse handed Cowley a small envelope. "This is all he had. I'm sorry."

Cowley felt the weight of the package, looked inside, and then tipped the contents into Doyle's hand. It was Bodie's ID disc from his old service days, he'd taken to wearing it again Murphy had reported. But now one item had been added. Ray fingered the object and then clutched it in his fist. "Oh Christ, Bodie."

"Ray?" Murphy asked quietly.

Wordlessly, Doyle opened his hand to reveal the well-worn chain and a single small grenade pin.

-- THE END --

Originally published in Motet Opus 4 in B and D, Keynote Press, November 2000

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