(sequel to Waking Up by anonymous)
The head of CI5 sighed and slowly took off his spectacles to rub his tired eyes. His gaze roamed over the desk littered with documents of all descriptions to rest on an unmarked foolscap folder in front of him. On the strength of this report and the forthcoming briefing, George Cowley would have to decide what to do with his top two agents.
A personality clash this late in the day, he wondered. It was remotely possible, he supposed: but at the outset, the abrasive combination, the competitiveness within this particular team had marked it as special. Cowley's instincts were seldom wrong... But this time, it seemed they had played him false.
I made them what they are today. My top operatives. But I couldn't have done it without the finest raw materials to work with: Ray Doyle...slow to lose his temper, but when he does, by God...I wouldn't get in his way! And Bodie...
If ever anyone needed a lesson in diplomacy...arrogant, charming, quick-witted... His best teaming. Until now, when something, as yet undefined, was undermining their relationship. Somehow, someone was rocking the boat...
Cowley checked his watch.
At eight-thirty exactly, there was a knock at his office door. He looked up.
The door opened and his agents bounced in like a pair of boisterous school children warned to behave by anxious parents. They came to a halt a few feet from his desk and watched their boss expectantly. Almost eagerly, thought Cowley, who was instantly suspicious in the light of recent events. He ran an appraising eye over each of them in turn before taking them in as a unit.
Doyle, his hair a riot of gold-brown curls, was as scruffy as ever beside Bodie's immaculate figure. Or, Cowley noticed...it was more a studied scruffiness, as if someone had spent two hours trying to achieve just that effect. The jeans were spotless, faded rag-blues, and the jacket so neat it might have been one of Bodie's own. There was a faint flush on Doyle's skin, and he was breathing slightly harder than normal.
Under the careful scrutiny, Doyle raised his head further, meeting Cowley's eyes, almost challenging him to find fault. There was a large love-bite just below his left ear. Obviously inflicted during the last three days as Cowley hadn't noticed it at Friday's seminar.
He turned his attention to Bodie.
Two weeks before, Bodie had strode into the office and all but begged for reassignment, saying that he could no longer tolerate Doyle as his partner. Cowley had refused, and Bodie had been miserable and bloody-minded to everyone ever since...
Cowley raked the operative from head to toe: the steely eyes were half- closed, but the dark shadows that had been so evident during the past fortnight were barely discernible. As smartly turned-out as usual, Bodie looked almost languid...content... I would never have used that word to describe him before, thought Cowley.
Grey eyes flicked open, and Cowley was startled by the change there; whatever had happened over the weekend had had a profound effect on him. There was mischief and the old fire there...like the cat who'd found the key to the dairy...but there was something akin to peace where before there had been pain. Something had happened to Bodie...to both his men...
He briefed them tersely. A stake-out in Edmonton. They were to rotate with Lucas and McCabe and Murphy and Allison. If there was one thing guaranteed to make Bodie furious, it was observation duties: in light of his attitude during the previous two weeks, the least Cowley expected was the equivalent of an atomic blast.
Bodie's eyes lit up.
"Stake-out? Yessir!" And he and Doyle exchanged amused looks.
Cowley watched, disbelieving and instantly suspicious.
"You're duty period starts at four this afternoon. I would suggest, 3.7, that you go home and get some sleep."
Doyle's face coloured ever so slightly.
"Yes, sir. Come on, Ray."
They moved towards the door together, when Doyle paused and glanced at his partner, a look of pleading...
"Oh, sir," Bodie ventured, and he turned to meet Cowley's unwavering gaze. "About that other matter. I would appreciate it if you'd forget it. The problem's resolved itself now."
Cowley nodded. He could see that for himself.
Doyle visibly relaxed and pulled the door open.
As the two men left, Cowley noticed Bodie place a gentle hand on his partner's shoulder. Reassurance, the controller told himself, affection. Well, even Bodie was capable of some sort of emotion, though he usually wasn't so demonstrative.
Cowley was pensive for a moment, then he reached for the unmarked folder: it was a surveillance report on Bodie, taking in the last weekend up until twenty-hundred hours the previous night. He scanned it thoroughly and frowned. He cheeked his desk diary for confirmation and then returned to the report.
Friday night after the seminar Bodie had gone home and had stayed there for the rest of the weekend. He had received only one visitor- his partner, Ray Doyle-who had arrived early on Saturday. He was still at the flat when Cowley terminated surveillance, which was at variance with the details Doyle had given the controller on Friday when told he might be on call...
Bodie and Doyle, at Bodie's flat, but no mention of any female company. Just the two men. Alone...
He recalled how they had been on the Friday...the tension and a degree of bitterness between them...and how they appeared this morning, relaxed and content... A theory formed in the back of his mind, quickly scotched... They couldn't possibly...not Doyle, although sometimes Cowley wondered...certainly not Bodie with his Army background...it also went against Cowley's personal principles...was absolutely forbidden by CI5's brief...non-fraternisation...preventing liaisons between employees...
And yet, mused Cowley, why not? If it kept Bodie and Doyle together as a team...partners on the street...partners in bed... Why not? They put their lives on the line often enough...let them have their fling...as long as it didn't interfere with their work...
He found himself at the drinks cabinet and poured himself a measure of fine malt. Raising it to the light, he admired its golden colouring...an image of Doyle as he had been that morning, flush-faced and defiant...daring Cowley to separate them. And Bodie, who had lost the haunted look in his eyes at last...
With a smile, Cowley silently toasted his agents and downed the whisky; then he turned back to his desk, binned the surveillance report, and got on with the next problem.
-- THE END --