(A Sequel to Boys' Night Out)
Thursday, in London, in October -- not surprisingly, it was grey and damp. Bodie scowled as he drove slowly past the cemetery. Just about summed it up -- dead, depressing, bleak... There was a figure standing hunched by the graves at the top of the hill, alone.
Bodie stopped the car. HE had come here to be on his own, and someone had beaten him to it. The scowl deepened involuntarily. Well, it's a free country, he thought grudgingly, this bloke had as much right to solitude as I have... My God, I sound like Doyle!
Bodie got out of the Capri, and began to walk with a slow even stride. He moved like hunter, silent and sure, lithe as a cat. But as he climbed towards the lone figure on the hill, his thoughts turned to the past -- almost a year ago -- and his friend, his partner, Ray Doyle...
A morning bright and clear, and so cold that Bodie had been reluctant to move from their bed. Doyle was interested only in getting through the day, already in the kitchen of his flat, grilling bacon for a quick butty on the way to the office. Bodie missed his warmth beneath the sheets: if he didn't get up soon, he would miss breakfast, too... He sauntered into the kitchenette.
"The Old Man won't wait for us," Doyle reminded his casual other half, testily.
"Anyone would think that you were looking forward to freezing your nuts off out there, instead of working them off in here with me," Bodie teased, sliding an arm round the neat waist, and kissing the fresh-washed neck.
Doyle fended him off one-handed. "Bodie, we haven't got time..." The tone warned Bodie not to press his luck. Reluctantly, he removed his arm, patted Doyle's rump, and went in search of his clothes. He returned, wearing a pair of jeans and his dark sweater, with Doyle's new denim jacket slung over his shoulder...
Seven-thirty found them dressed against the biting cold, radios in hand, weapons at the ready, deployed at various locations round the wharf: Doyle was down by the old marshalling yards, Bodie high on the roof of a warehouse, out of visual range. Bodie felt unusually edgy, unable to give his partner personal cover...
He didn't know who started the shooting, but suddenly, he was firing down on two villains, who were firing in their turn on the combined forces of CI5 and the police. His radio crackled, and he was half aware of the messages on the air from the other squad members.
"8.2 to Alpha -- Doyle's been hit, Sloan got it in the leg trying to reach him -- "
" -- one on the roof, sir..."
"Alpha One to 3.7. Stop him! Stop him, Bodie!"
"Ray's dead, sir," said the young voice over the RT.
Bodie's face set in a grim mask. He had no time to mourn for Doyle, he had a job to do... A sudden movement at the corner of his vision and he broke from his position, firing at the running man.
The rifle jammed.
Bodie dropped it, pulling his hand-gun. He was angry -- he wanted to hurt someone. Ray Doyle was dead, and somebody had to pay. He loosed a number of rounds, but none found their mark. The gunman disappeared round the side of the roof.
Bodie slowed and crept forward carefully. The wind was biting, accentuating the chill of the day and his eyes were streaming...
He edged round the corner -- and came face-to-face with his quarry. An amateur's mistake -- too late to do anything but die, he thought... He never heard the gun go off, but the impact of the bullet slammed him back, sent him reeling into space, plunging into the icy river fifty feet below...
He was aware of pain and a sort of drowning sensation. The bullet had taken him through the left shoulder and into his chest where it broke a rib, despite his wearing a flak jacket. He remembered seeing Cowley scowling down at him and ordering him not to speak. All he wanted, right then, was to tell Bodie he was okay...
There seemed an be an eternity then, when he hung in a no-world, wrapped in a warm black blanket, where the hurts didn't hurt quite so much, and he could imagine himself lying in Bodie's arms again, safe and strong. He didn't want to wake, he wanted to stay here with his partner, his lover, but there was something calling him to consciousness...
When Doyle's eyes flickered open, he took in the bright starkness, the utter blandness of the room, and the expression of relief on the nurse's face. He remembered then...
"Which hospital?" he managed to whisper.
"Woolwich," she replied. "There's someone here to see you..."
Doyle smiled faintly: he might have known Bodie'd be the first one, even before Cowley. The thought died as the dour Scotsman limped towards him.
"Doyle -- there's no easy way to tell you..." He wasn't quite blunt, but the news was devastating all the same. "We're still searching the river, but there isn't much hope of finding him alive. I'm sorry..."
Doyle suddenly felt very tired, and so lonely that he wanted to cry. The sound of the TV covered his quiet sobs when he was finally left alone.
He was lying on a bed, naked, alone and cold. He tried to sit up but there was a terrible pain in his head. He must've hit it on something. He put a tentative hand to his brow, and his fingers brushed fabric of some sort -- bandage -- he had been hurt... might even have blacked out. His hair was wet -- odd, that. It would account for why he felt so cold, though, if he'd gotten soaked somehow...
He became aware that someone was watching him and he frowned, bringing his blurred benefactor into focus: a pretty face, dark curls framing huge brown eyes, a pert nose and a sensuous mouth; and if he was any judge, not a day over eighteen.
"How d'you feel?" The voice was like velvet.
"'m cold. Where's my clothes?"
"Drying. You fell in the river somehow," The boy paused. "Do you remember?"
"No," he whispered. The pain in his head was excruciating. "I can't remember a bloody thing!" Then he groaned. "I feel sick."
"I'll help you to the bathroom."
When he had finished, and he was safely back between the sheets, he managed a wan sort of smile.
"I guess I ought to thank you. I -- " He stopped, catching sight of the gun tucked in the young man's belt.
The boy followed his eyes and slowly withdrew the weapon. "You were holding it when I fished you out of the Thames."
"What'll you do about it?" Christ, what the hell had he been doing with a gun?
"Wait until you get better. After that," he shrugged. "I haven't decided." The boy smiled suddenly. "My name's Tony."
Days went by and became a week. The chill from the river had developed into pneumonia and Tony's foundling was rushed into hospital. The doctors asked for a name.
"His name is Philip Williams..." Because there had been nothing at all in the pockets of either the denim jacket or the blue jeans to indicate his real identity. "He's very ill..."
And Tony dutifully visited the hospital every day, to keep an eye on his new friend. Williams was grateful and anxious to be out of the doctor's clutches as soon as possible.
"I had to tell the doctor you had fallen into the river on a dare," Tony apologised. "I could hardly tell him the truth..."
Williams nodded in approval: if he was on the run from someone -- and that seemed quite probable -- the last thing he needed was a nosy doctor informing the police. He had to have a place to stay while he worked out what to do next.
Tony squeezed his hand companionably. "When you get out of here, you're coming home with me," decided the boy. "I found you, so you're my responsibility."
Williams forced a smile and agreed, because it was easier than arguing. He closed his eyes for a moment and when he looked again, Tony was gone.
Tony lived alone in a large house on the west side of the city. The building was a large detached house in Elizabethan style, with a large back garden. It was peaceful -- and secluded. It made Philip Williams feel secure. Tony persuaded the hospital to release him into his care and true to his word, he took excellent care of the patient. After the first week, the doctor came twice to check on Williams, then left them alone...
Two months went by, and they were still no nearer to solving Williams' identity problem. The doctor had spoken of temporary amnesia as a result of the blow on the head, but it was little comfort to Philip to know that it might take months to recover. He became bored and fretful. Every time he looked in the mirror, he willed himself to remember, but the angry man with the dark hair and the haunted blue eyes glared back and refused to tell him anything. From force of habit, he scanned the papers, in search of -- he didn't know what. In desperation he turned to Tony for comfort.
"I pulled you out of the river down by Erith. If we backtracked at the library, through the local press, maybe we could come up with something. It's a long shot, I know..."
Long shot -- the words echoed in his brain, a memory from the time before, but it slipped away. It would come, he told himself, and he was determined to make himself remember.
The library archive, however, held little to encourage him. The main news stories of the time were of a security-van hold-up which had netted the perpetrators almost half a million pounds in overseas currency; a murderer -- subsequently caught -- who had a grudge against redheads in the Holborn area, and a toxic chemical spillage from a Panamanian vessel that had limped into the Port of London after colliding with a tug some way down the Thames.
There was also a report of police divers recovering a body, thought to be that of a plain-clothes officer.
"It must be the security heist," Tony whispered urgently. "It mentioned the shooting -- but there's nothing else."
"Perhaps the police slapped a D-notice on the story, to give the local plods a chance to pursue their inquiries..." His voice trailed off. Williams didn't like the way his thoughts were running. That body... He didn't particularly like the law, but that dead copper worried him...
Tony saw the blue eyes cloud, and he leaned over to nudge his guest gently. Without thinking, Williams put out his hand, and found the boy's, squeezing lightly, a gesture of comfort and reassurance. He smiled and look of understanding passed between them. For one moment, Williams thought he knew who...
Doyle took a long time to recover to operational fitness: four months, the first of which was spent at Woolwich, and then convalescing while he built himself to peak condition. The last month he spent catching up with his paperwork, and finally, organising Bodie's few outstanding effects.
Cowley had broken the news of the body in his usual direct manner. It had been found by divers who had gone down to inspect the damage to the tanker's hull. The corpse was wedged under the pier, trapped by one of the supports that was in danger of corrosion by the outpouring chemical... What the river would've taken days to do, the acid hastened by several hours: the body was unrecognisable. Cowley had had to see it, of course. It made him ill to think that the hideous object lying on the slab had once been a living, breathing human.
It hurt even more to know that it might be Bodie. God knew, the man could be a pain in the nether regions sometimes, but Cowley had to admit, he was the best rifleman on the squad, and together with Doyle, had comprised the most efficient team in CI5.
Cowley mourned the passing of a life in its prime: Doyle would grieve for a friend's death, and the controller would spare him all he could...
Adrian French, the Home Office pathologist, read off the cold, hard facts to Cowley: the subject was male, Caucasian, and aged about thirty. He was about six feet in height and dark haired. Eyes -- unknown; distinguishing features -- unknown; burned away by the acid in the water.
"What about his clothes? Dental records?"
"The remains of the clothing indicate jeans, denim jacket, possibly a dark pullover beneath. And, George, although he'd been in the river for a while, he didn't drown. I took a bullet out of his head -- entered by the left temple..."
Cowley felt depressed. He had held out a slight hope that perhaps Bodie had not been fatally wounded, had survived the fall somehow and made it ashore, or been pulled out of the river by someone -- even that the man had deserted. He thanked the pathologist and returned to his office, thinking about Doyle.
"Let's go to lunch," suggested Tony. Philip had been moody and withdrawn lately, because all his efforts to trigger his memory had failed.
It was June already, and all they had discovered was that Philip knew a lot about firearms, self-defence and tactics. It led them to the conclusion that he might once had been in the forces, but neither of them was willing to risk further investigation, because of the danger to their liberty. Tony seemed sold on the somewhat romantic notion that his new lover was a bank-robber. Williams smiled, and didn't disillusion him.
Tony tossed the car keys to him. "Your choice -- I'll pay," he offered generously.
With a knowing grin that successfully disguised his feelings, Williams slid behind the wheel of the car and waited for Tony to fall into the passenger seat.
The boy put a proprietorial hand on his knee and squeezed. "You can pay me back tonight," he invited, purring.
Williams gave him a swift kiss and winked. Don't I always, he asked himself silently, as he started the car.
Tony settled back and spent the journey watching his chauffeur: there was a lot about Philip Williams that reminded Tony of his previous lover. Will had been dark and moody, too... He shied away from the memory of their last night together, and Will's calm announcement that their relationship was over...
The car skidded on a patch of mud at the end of a winding lane, bringing him out of his reverie. Philip corrected it without thinking, as if he'd done it every day of his life. They were going down to the river and Tony spotted the pub ahead. Pulling into the car park, Philip swung the vehicle in a tight arc, and backed neatly into one of the spaces.
"Hope you've got your wallet, Tonio," Williams remarked, as they got out. Tony patted his jacket pocked and nodded. "I'll race you to the bar!" Philip won easily, which was no surprise: he wasn't the sort of man who would concede to any kind of competition. Tony glanced round the lounge and decided he liked it, because it had a sense of authenticity -- and the angles weren't quite right, and the seats were real wood. He began searching for the toilets.
"Downstairs," the barmaid pointed helpfully.
Blushing a little, the boy disappeared.
Williams turned his attention to the menu.
"He's a bit young for you," the woman teased. "What happened to the other one?"
"WHAT?" Williams did look up then.
"Your friend -- you used to pop in here with him..."
"I'm -- sorry," William could feel his heart racing. "I've only just moved out here -- you must be mistaken..." He buried his nose in the menu again while she hovered.
Tony came back, a scowl on his pretty face and Williams grinned.
"Didn't I warn you about the low ceiling in there?"
The barmaid gaped at him, and he suddenly realised what he'd said.
"You're right," he slid off the stool. "I'm sorry."
He made his way to a corner table, leaving Tony to order a meal he'd lost the appetite for. He had been here before... For some reason he didn't bother to analyse, he didn't want to tell Tony.
"Philip, what's wrong?"
He had to find a way to distract the boy so that he could talk to the barmaid alone. Williams looked up and smiled seductively, touching his tongue-tip to suddenly dry lips. "I want you, Tony..."
Williams rolled over and sat up gingerly, careful not to disturb the sleeper beside him. He glanced at the clock on the cabinet by the bed and was surprised to find it was almost six in the evening. The pub would be open now and with luck he would be able to catch the barmaid and pump her for information. If he went now, he could be back before Tony even knew he'd been away. He slid off the mattress, and glanced down at his lover. The boy was flaked out on his belly, his legs splayed, buttocks raised on the pillow where Williams had had him that afternoon. The slender body was slick with sweat and semen... something was nagging at his mind -- like a half-remembered dream... closeness and love, not just sex. It was gone, even as he reached for it. Silently, quickly, Williams dressed and let himself out of the house into the pleasantly mild evening.
The bar was lively and fairly crowded. The barmaid drifted over to speak with him between customers and Williams spent the entire time trying to stay awake. The information was scarcely worth the cab-fare down. She was certain that she had seen him in there before with another man: a slim, rather scruffy bloke with curly hair. The most memorable thing about him was his patched jeans.
"Barely decent," she sniffed.
"Have you seen him recently?" Williams wanted to know.
She shook her head. "Not for a while. He looked like trouble." She eyed him speculatively. "You're well rid of that one, if you ask me."
Williams smiled, stifled a yawn, and digested the information: slim, curly-haired man who wore patched jeans -- no face, and no name...
He left the pub shortly afterwards and was annoyed to find he hadn't brought enough money for the taxi-fare home. What the hell, he decided, it was a fine evening and the exercise would do him good. He reached the lane which wound its way from Tony's end of town, when Fate intervened: a car came hurtling down the road, way too fast, and hit the mud that Williams himself had negotiated skilfully earlier that day. There was no time to jump clear, and the vehicle caught him at an angle, so that he bounced over the bonnet before landing in the gully at the side of the lane. Williams raised his head and memorised the number as the car disappeared into the night. His last thought was that the best-laid plans of mice, men and...
"You could've been killed," Tony yelled at him. "You're reckless, irresponsible, inconsiderate... I was worried sick, especially when the police came round."
Williams was propped up on pillows on a hospital trolley waiting for the doctor. His right leg had been immersed in a thick bandage and his ribs were going a fetching shade of mauve. "I'm sorry," he apologised softly.
Tony relented a little. "Was it worth the trip?"
Tony knew where he had been, and there seemed no good reason not to tell him what he'd discovered. "Whoever he was," he added, eyeing Tony's immaculate outfit, "there's just no competition."
Tony smiled and risked patting his hand. "I'm glad," he replied quietly. "I've no intention of losing you to anyone."
The doctor poked his head through the curtain and both men looked up hopefully.
"You can take him home now. The police will be taking a formal statement tomorrow."
The boy looked concerned, but Williams smiled. "Don't worry, Tonio, we'll be ready for them."
The constable came to take his statement the following morning. The car had been a dark blue Sierra, the driver a bespectacled man with greying hair.
"Did you manage to get the registration number, sir?" The constable asked without much hope: the public usually forgot things like that in the heat of the moment.
"Oh, yes," Williams assured him. That number was emblazoned in his memory...
Tony saw the policeman off the premises and came back with a worried expression on his face. "D'you think he knows?" he asked anxiously, resting his hand on Williams' shoulder. "Will they come back?"
Williams shook his head. "I doubt it. Just in case they do, though, would you be a love and pack a bag, just in case I have to leave town for a few days?"
Tony kissed him. "Of course."
The boy rushed upstairs and found a holdall, which he proceeded to fill with clothing and Williams' shaving kit. He took the gun from where he'd hidden it and wrapping it in a towel, he stowed it between a couple of shirts, before going down to join his lover in the lounge.
They spent a dismal evening playing Monopoly, with the TV on low in the background. The sound of a gunshot made Williams look up sharply.
"It's only the film -- a policeman's been shot," Tony rattled the dice and threw. "Bond Street."
Williams shook the dice and landed on Chance. He drew a card.
"Tony, I think I'll go to bed now, this leg's giving me hell. Would you mind if I slept on my own tonight -- I don't want to keep you up all night."
"You usually do, one way or another," grinned Tony. "I understand -- I'll be next door if you need anything."
Williams bumped his way upstairs and Tony went to find his lover's painkillers, before clearing away the game. His hand hovered over the board, and he picked up the card that Williams had drawn.
'GO TO JAIL'.
Williams made it to the bedroom unaided and managed to get his shirt off. Minutes later, Tony appeared with his tablet and helped him out of his slacks. He was tucked up comfortably, kissed softly and left in the dark while the boy went to prepare the spare room. For a long while, Williams lay wakeful, clutching at the memory that lurked in his mind and refused to resolve itself... A gunshot, and a dead policeman...
He was on a tall building, overlooking the river. There was a gun in his hand. He could hear shooting and a confused babble of voices.
"He's been hit!"
The words echoed in his mind. Ray's dead -- and somehow it was his fault. He had a gun in his hand. "Ray's dead..."
"Philip, wake up!"
Tony was sitting on the edge of the bed, shaking him.
"Dream... There was shooting..." Williams groped to remember.
"You were calling -- a name. Ray?" There was a look of hurt in Tony's eyes.
"Ray was shot -- I had a gun, and they said that Ray was dead."
Tony put his arms round the quivering body and held him close. "It's just a nightmare, Philip."
For a moment, Williams let himself be comforted, then he went rigid, as the thought hit him. "The body in the river! He was a policeman..."
"We'll worry about it in the morning," Tony decided sternly. He kissed the damp forehead, near the bullet scar. "You don't know for sure."
"I know that I'm involved, Tony!" There was panic in his voice. "I -- can feel it..."
"You're tired, you're in pain, and you should sleep," Tony told him. "There's time enough tomorrow to decide what we should do." The boy made a move to stand.
Williams clutched at him frantically. "Don't go!"
Tony hesitated for a moment then he slid between the sheets and into Williams' embrace.
"Whatever else I've done, Tonio, I won't hurt you. I swear it." His voice was soft and low, full of sleep.
Tony hugged him close and held him till he slept.
The following afternoon was warm enough for Tony to let him into the garden. Tony was on his way out to do some shopping, when the doorbell rang. Two men were waiting for him. The younger of them introduced himself as Inspector Grant from the Metropolitan force. The other was a shorter older man -- in his fifties, Tony guessed -- with thinning sandy- coloured hair and an air of authority that eclipsed even the policeman's presence. The inspector politely requested to see Williams, "to clear up a few details."
Tony eyed them with suspicion. "If you'll come in, I'll tell him you're here."
They were led into the neatly-kept lounge and the boy went through the patio doors into the garden, where Williams was sitting beneath the trees, his injured leg propped on a chair. Grant and his companion took the time to survey the room, but the older man's eyes strayed again to the men in the garden, and he frowned: there was something disquietingly familiar about Williams.
"John, don't introduce me by name, and don't mention CI5. Leave it that I'm your colleague."
"George," the inspector objected.
Cowley held up a admonishing hand. "I'm going to test a theory and I need your help."
The policeman conceded. "I owe you one," he acknowledged, "especially after that bloody mess last year down on the river."
Tony was on his way back over the lawn. Cowley and Grant stepped outside.
"I'm afraid you'll have to go to him -- he's still a little awkward on crutches at the moment."
The two older men nodded and Grant led the way across the grass, to the third chair. Tony watched as the Inspector settled into the seat, and came to a decision: they were getting just a little too much attention at the moment, and the possibility of losing Williams loomed large. Therefore, he would do the shopping that he had planned to do this afternoon, then he and his lover would disappear until the heat cooled off. Before leaving the house, Tony checked the bag he'd packed -- they would lose the gun in the Thames on their way...
Cowley ran an eye over the young man in the garden chair. The dark hair was collar length and from the angle he stood at, he could see the dusting of stubble. Williams was clad in a robe, a pair of shorts, and his whole bearing declared him tired.
Grant opened with routine questions about the accident and the description of the car, and Williams patiently repeated what he'd told the constable the day before. Cowley gauged his reactions, before gesturing to the policeman.
Grant, gratefully relieved, let Cowley take over.
Williams looked up, questioning. There was something -- almost familiar -- about this man. He sensed a trap, but also, strangely, he felt relief. The prospect of being caught had now become a reality; he couldn't run and hide anymore, and so he sat patiently awaiting his fate.
"Williams, I'm the owner of the car that you say ran you down. That vehicle was being serviced the night you were injured."
"I know what I saw," replied Bodie, without anger. "I'd suggest you have a word with your garage, and find out if it was taken without your permission."
Cowley couldn't quite suppress his smile. "I -- had a word with your doctor this morning. He told me you had been suffering from a spell of amnesia."
Bodie wrinkled his nostrils, and said with some annoyance, "Whatever "But, it's true," Cowley persisted.
"Yes, it's true. He probably also told you that I hit my head horsing around and fell into the river."
Bodie looked up at him, meeting his gaze directly, and with disarming honesty he said, "I don't know. Tony told the doctor a story to explain my injuries, which he accepted readily enough." He fingered the scar on his Forehead. "Williams isn't my real name..."
The Inspector rose, and Bodie tensed, but Cowley put out a hand and the policeman subsided.
"I want to help you, Williams."
"Why?" Bodie demanded curtly.
"Because I've no wish to see an innocent man punished for someone else's crime. My driver wasn't responsible for what happened to you -- I like to look after my own, and I can't afford to have him tied up in a lengthy court-case. If I could help to jog your memory -- would you trust me?"
Williams considered. He still felt uneasy, but it was obvious that the Scot was genuinely concerned, and he was sure that this man knew the answers to a lot of his questions. There was something about him that inspired trust...
"It's down to you, Williams," Cowley coaxed. He waited, with bated breath. Bodie could be stubborn sometimes.
Williams shrugged, and there was an air of relief about him as he spoke. "Okay."
Cowley had expected at the very least a barrage of questions, but once his mind was made up, Bodie seemed content to leave the details to him. arrange surveillance on the house, and a Harley Street psychiatrist. His eyes (were) busy with the details of the lounge, as he waited on the replies. His attention was drawn to one particular photo on the mantelpiece: the likeness to Bodie was, to put it mildly, striking. He sent Grant upstairs to fetch Bodie's clothes, but the younger man hopped into the house after them.
"There's a holdall in the bottom of the wardrobe, already packed. I'd -- Better leave a note for Tony..."
"No," Cowley forbade him sternly. He watched Bodie's expression cloud. "You said that you would let me help you, and you have to trust me..."
Cowley watched Bodie like a hawk throughout the long and tedious journey. The house they were going to was one of the CI5 safe-houses in Surrey. It stood in its own grounds, wooded on two sides, and bounded by an exclusive residential estate on the other two. It was a place Bodie had been to before, with Doyle. Bodie said nothing when they arrived, but he (was) subdued when he swung through the doorway in the controller's wake. As with the Scot, his first impression was the strongest -- there WAS something tantalisingly not unfamiliar with this place, but it stirred mixed emotions in him: on the one hand, he was almost excited to be here, but there was also an overriding sense of sadness, too. It was like coming home to a house where all the children had gone, never to return...
Cowley gave him strict instructions to stay put, and to make himself
Bodie eyed his white-cased leg ruefully. "I'll try, sir." Then, "Where are you going?"
"I've to make a few arrangements, but it won't take long."
Cowley and Grant left him alone to settle in. The house was decently furnished, with a deep-piled cream-coloured carpet. Bodie kicked off his trainers, and struggled about bare-footed, exploring awkwardly. French windows in the lounge gave out onto the woods at the rear of the property, the kitchen was compact, but empty, and there were three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, all with good views over the surrounding countryside. Bodie returned to the living room, and stretched out on the sofa, resting his leg on its arm. A minute after closing his eyes, he was asleep.
The high building, the gun in his hand, the shooting, and voices shouting -- he could hear the Scot -- "Stop him! Stop him!" and, "Ray's dead..."
And he was running again...
The Scot was bent over him, shaking him awake. "Williams, what are you dreaming?"
"High building -- shooting -- I -- YOU! You were there!" There was pain and accusation in Bodie's voice.
"You were calling to someone," Cowley prompted.
"I don't remember," Bodie replied sullenly.
Cowley sighed. "There's a specialist coming down to see you tomorrow evening. He'll want to ask you questions about it, I expect. Are you hungry?"
Bodie opened his mouth, about to deny any such feeling, but his stomach gurgled noisily.
Cowley smiled. It was the first normal reaction from his agent all day.
Days became a week, two weeks at the safe house, and they were still no nearer solving Bodie's dilemma. The psychiatrist had been a regular visitor after the first consultation. He had questioned Bodie, testing and cross-examining him until he felt like a rat in a laboratory. Amazingly, though, he hadn't lost his temper, understanding that the Scot was trying to help him. The doctor shook his head and told Cowley it was all a matter of time, and finding the correct trigger.
The bandage came off Bodie's leg and he was put on a programme to help increase his mobility and strength. It had the merit of keeping him occupied and he responded to the treatment well. Cowley left him to his own devices during the day, for the most part, visiting in the evenings, sometimes staying overnight to return to the city the following morning. He wondered if Bodie ever thought of the boy at all.
By the beginning of the third week, Cowley called the psychiatrist again, for advice about putting Bodie back on the operational strength of the squad. "He's fully fit physically, but there's no sign of recognition."
"Has he been dreaming?"
Cowley heaved a sigh. "None -- or he's not admitting to them."
"George, you must understand, these things take time. Memory's a strange thing; it might be tomorrow, or two years from now. If you push, you could destroy any chance you have of getting him to remember anything, especially as in this case, there's the added complication of his previous attitude and the training he's had -- "
"That's precisely why I need him back," Cowley explained. "He was one of my best, and I don't want to lose him."
"Look, I'm free this weekend. I'll come down and work with him. I can't promise anything..."
"I appreciate what you're doing. Thank you." Cowley hung up and turned.
Bodie was standing in the living room, having just returned from his run. He eyed Cowley coldly.
Bodie said nothing, but pushed by the older man, and up the stairs. Cowley tracked his progress into the bedroom and listened as he returned. There was a gun in his hand.
"Think you'd better have this, sir." He handed it to Cowley. "I was carrying it when Tony pulled me out of the river."
With that, Bodie disappeared in the direction of the bathroom. Cowley placed the weapon in his jacket pocket, and went to pour the drinks.
He dreamed again that night.
He was driving down the country lane, towards the pub on the river, laughing at something Tony had said.
"He'll get the bollocking of a lifetime!"
"He bloody well deserves it -- " Tony was rummaging in the pockets of his jacket for something -- something was wrong -- it was... Tony wouldn't be caught dead in a jacket like that. He glanced at his companion. The mop of curls was brownish and untamed. The cat-green eyes sparkled with laughter at the moment. The outfit was two steps away from the rag-bag -- the lumber jacket more suited to a jumble-sale, and the jeans patched so many times there was hardly any of the original garment left.
He remembered this: they had stopped to let another car pass, and he had taken his eyes off his partner for a moment. In that instant of inattention, he felt the tentative hand on his knee. He turned back to the man at his side and smiled.
"Sunshine?" He leaned across and planted a gentle kiss on the parted lips. "You can back out of this -- the Old Man can't make you do it..."
"You know me -- I'll try anything once..."
He patted one knee companionably. "Don't worry, Ray. I'll look after you..."
Bodie came awake, the dream still vivid. Ray -- Ray was his friend. The shabby companion from the pub. Must've been a close friend from the way they were so easy together. He recalled the earlier dreams -- the high building and the voice saying that Ray was dead... Now he could understand the pain he felt when he dreamed. If he and this Ray had been lovers -- he wouldn't have killed him -- would he? But there was still that question of the body in the river. A policeman shot dead... Bodie shied away from that particular line and its possible convolutions, and picked on another reference from the dream -- "the Old Man". The way that Ray had said it -- they both knew him -- the Old Man, someone they worked for -- that dour Scot who had brought him here. Bodie remembered his words from their first encounter at Tony's house.
"I like to look after my own."
So, he was one of the good guys. He touched the scar on his forehead, tracing it tentatively. Bullet graze... He slipped out of bed and went downstairs, hoping to catch the Old Man, but early though it was, Cowley had already gone, and Bodie didn't know how to contact him. He would have to wait until the evening. In the meantime, he had to get fit for... whatever it was that he did for a living...
Back at Headquarters, Cowley made his way up the stairs, his mind on the problem of Bodie's one-time partner, Ray Doyle. Since the shooting and his release from hospital, the controller had been aware of the decline in his operative's performance. Consequently, he had done everything, short of back-squadding him, to give him time to adjust to Bodie's presumed death. Oh, it was true enough that all the agents knew what sort of work they were getting into, and what the life expectancy of that job entailed. Cowley wouldn't have wanted them to jump in blindly without being aware of the risks, but by and large, the men he selected had the ability to recover their emotional equilibrium quickly, no matter what tragedy had befallen them. They were professionals, they had a task to perform, and they went out and did it. Doyle and Bodie had been his top team, survivors of no few misses that would've shaken lesser men into resignation. In a world where emotional survival was as important as getting out of a situation with their skins intact, they were among the best that Cowley had ever known and the fact that Doyle was having serious problems coming to terms, was giving the controller a great deal of cause for concern.
He frowned as he reached his office, as he tried to account for the aberration in Doyle's behaviour. His new partner, Terry Martyn had excellent ratings on all her tests -- almost as good as Doyle's own -- but there was nothing like the rapport there had been between Bodie and Doyle.
Cowley stopped and pondered. Always there before, Doyle's scathing wit, approaching sarcasm towards his colleague... Cowley had assumed that it had been a mark of his prejudice against Bodie's bi-sexuality, but since that job at the Four Feathers, now Cowley analysed it in retrospect, they had been closer to one another, more protective. Was it possible that Doyle wasn't just missing a colleague, but grieving for a lover?
Cowley sent Bodie's gun down to the armoury, and considered how best to keep Doyle occupied. He pulled a file from the collection in his pending tray, and perused it briefly. Tony di Paolo should have notified the police directly on finding the man he rescued armed, but he had not. He had sought to conceal the facts from the doctor -- who would have undoubtedly alerted the authorities had he been aware of the circumstances. Until now, Cowley hadn't really give di Paolo much thought, but in light of the possibility that there might have been a sexual relationship between the agent and the boy... better to be safe than sorry -- and it was close enough to the city to keep Doyle under observation, without being under foot.
He pressed the intercom. "Find 4.5."
Doyle had been up half the night, trying to come up with an alternative course of action. Eventually, he'd sighed and surrendered, putting pen to paper, and written out a formally-worded request to be released from CI5 as soon as it was feasible. Tears trickled down his cheek -- he was doing a lot of crying these days he found -- not at the thought of leaving, though it would be a wrench, but because here in the night, there was nobody to see him grieving for his lost love...
He was level-headed enough to know that his depression was affecting his work, and his attitude to his partner, Terry. He didn't like that, she deserved better. He also knew that whoever Cowley teamed him with would suffer in the same way, so it would be better all round if he left, BEFORE Cowley kicked him out. He folded the letter carefully, slipped it into an envelope which he sealed and addressed, and put it in his pocket for immediate delivery the following morning.
He had expected the summons, and had prepared for the argument which would undoubtedly result. He hadn't expected to be given an assignment.
"You are to liaise with Inspector Grant..."
"With respect, sir, this is hardly a CI5 matter," Doyle objected.
Cowley froze him with a look. "When I want your opinion, 4.5, I'll ask for it. At the moment, you are employed as an operative. Get out and start operating!"
The house was an attractive detached building in the Elizabethan style, with a large garden at the rear. According to Grant's summary, the house was owned by one William Blackler, who had had a young lodger, Tony di Paolo. The men had argued frequently, or so the neighbours told the local police, and Blackler had stormed off one evening after a particularly violent quarrel. He hadn't been seen since. Tony stayed on, having found another man to share with.
Grant was uncomfortable discussing the subject, Doyle noticed.
"So, where's this new boyfriend?"
"He's been checked out -- he's clean. It's the boy, di Paulo, we're trying to find." To eliminate him from their enquiries.
"You want us to break in and search the place..." Doyle shrugged. It wouldn't be his problem much longer, but for now, he and the policeman circled the house, looking for the best way to get inside.
Grant was about to break one of the side windows when Doyle called him round the back. The patio doors were easy enough to jimmy for someone with Doyle's talent and earned an expression of disapproval from the inspector.
"If you ever go in for house-breaking, Doyle, don't pull anything on my turf."
The living room was immaculate and the policeman went to check the upstairs whilst Doyle took the ground floor. Poking and prying into the drawers of the bureau, the agent found nothing extraordinary at all, and he soon allowed his mind to wander from its objective, so that he gazed round the room. His eyes lighted on the photographs on the mantelpiece and before he realised, he'd walked across and reached a trembling hand to pick up the picture.
But even as he whispered the name, he could see this man was older, and the expression not so sullen or hard as his ex-partner's. The likeness was uncanny... Doyle took it to the window to study it more closely. The dedication in the corner was scrawled, "Ever yours, Will." He swallowed the lump in his throat. To see someone who reminded him so much of Bodie... Doyle tore his eyes from the image and stared sightlessly into the garden, blinking away the tears. A sudden movement -- a bird fluttering in the trees outside...
Grant came into the lounge to find Doyle still holding the photo.
"Blackler -- the man Cowley wants traced..."
Doyle returned the picture to its place on the mantle, and as he moved, he noticed the small dark stain on the cream-coloured carpet. He bent to touch it, sniffing his fingers. The inspector looked curious and Doyle quirked an eyebrow.
Tony saw them enter the house and thanked his instincts that he had left when he had. He didn't want any trouble with the law. He saw the younger, scruffy copper come to the window with Will's photo, and he ducked when Doyle's head went up as he looked into the garden. When he looked up next, the intruders were leaving. Snatches of their conversation drifted to him.
"...a drink, Ray."
"There's a good pub, it's not far from here..."
Tony considered. A copper called Ray -- scruffy, wearing jeans... except, of course, that Philip's Ray was dead. The boy caressed the butt of the gun that was tucked into the waistband of his jeans, and he narrowed his eyes against the mid-morning sun...
Doyle could scarcely eat, his mind was still filled with the memory of Bodie and an unclaimed body in a Thames-side morgue. Somehow, the thought that he lay unburied hurt more than the actual fact of his death. He resented Cowley for not making a positive identification, or allowing him to do so. Bodie could be there for months yet, while the Old Man hummed and ahhed over it. He would tackle the controller again, as soon as he made his report this afternoon.
But on his return to HQ, Doyle was told that Cowley had left in a hurry, and probably wouldn't be back until the following day.
Doyle shrugged. "Okay, I'll see him in the morning." And he walked back to his car.
Driving home through the mid-afternoon traffic, he was unaware that he was being tailed.
Cowley rounded on him. "Where did you get that gun?"
Seated in the armchair of the safe-house lounge, Bodie shrugged. "It was the one Tony put in my bag at his house -- the one he said I was carrying when he fished me out of the river."
"It's the gun that fired the bullet that killed the man WE pulled out of the Thames." The accusation hung heavy in the air. Bodie didn't like it.
"Are you saying I pulled that trigger?" There was a flash of his old temper.
Cowley thought for a moment. One thing he hadn't tried was to get Bodie angry. He was too aware of the consequences -- this man was after all, a professional killer. But Cowley needed Bodie back on strength, and he judged the risk worthwhile.
"Can you say for sure you didn't?" countered the older man.
"No, I can't!" Bodie yelled. He was on his feet in an instant, glaring at Cowley. "You seem to know all the answers, SIR, so why don't you tell me?"
"You may be taller than me, but I can still beat the tar out of you. Don't push your luck, BOY!" He shoved the younger man back into the seat.
That was it. Bodie dived at his boss, hell-bent on murder. Cowley had expected as much, and was half-prepared. What surprised him was the utter viciousness of the attack, which was out of all proportion to the provocation. They grappled on the floor for a while, and Cowley managed to break Bodie's hold with a lucky manoeuvre that sent the younger man sprawling. He could afford to give no quarter, and followed up swiftly, scrambling to his feet and hauling the agent by the shirt front. He slapped Bodie round the face a couple of times, before pushing him back into the chair.
"That's enough now, laddie."
He looked down at Bodie, who was slouched sullenly in the seat. There was a trickle of blood from the corner of Bodie's mouth. Cowley held out his handkerchief.
"Don't get that on the furniture, or I'll take it out of your wages." Bodie accepted the proffered cloth ungraciously and dabbed at the blood, his eyes averted.
"Don't take it to heart. I know you've wanted to do that for a long time. Remember next time, don't pick a fight you know you can't win."
Cowley went to the drinks cabinet and returned with whisky for them both. He handed Bodie his glass.
"You did that deliberately." Bodie looked up, met the ice-blue eyes.
"You needed to get it off your chest."
"You believe I shot that man, don't you?"
"Och, don't start that, or we'll be here all night," snorted Cowley. "Get yourself to bed, man, and we'll talk in the morning."
Bodie placed his untasted drink on the floor by the armchair and rising, left the room without a word.
Stripping naked, Bodie slid between the sheets. His muscles ached; the Old Man was a lot tougher than he looked. Smiling in the darkness, though he couldn't say why, Bodie drifted off to sleep, and sleeping, dreamed again...
He was on a huge building, a warehouse overlooking the Thames. CI5 had been tasked to help the police-force with a trap to intercept a drugs shipment. As one of the riflemen of the team, he had been put on the roof to deter any of the gang's would-be Houdinis. He remembered the chill of apprehension when he knew that he wouldn't be giving Doyle direct cover. He worried -- and with some justification. Their presence betrayed, within seconds, the peace of the London morning wharf was shattered.
Bodie had two traffickers pinned down and was calling the position of two more. Below, all hell was breaking loose, and he was half-listening to the reports, still intent on the actual dockside.
"8.2 to Alpha -- Doyle's been hit, Sloan got it in the leg trying to reach him -- "
"...there's one on the roof, sir..."
"Alpha One to 3.7. Stop him! Stop him, Bodie!"
" -- Ray's dead, sir..." Bodie's face set in a grim mask. He had no time to mourn Doyle; he had a job to do. A sudden movement at the corner of his eye -- Bodie broke from his position, firing on the fleeing man.
The rifle jammed. THE DAMNED THING HAD JAMMED! Bodie dropped it and pulled his hand-gun. He fired a number of rounds, but none found the mark, and the trafficker vanished. Bodie rounded the wall at the edge of the roof and came face-to-face with his quarry. Too late to do anything but die. He never heard the gun go off, but the impact of the bullet slammed him back...
He was screaming and thrashing desperately trying to break his fall when Cowley rushed into the room. Tangled in the wreckage of the sheets, Bodie was shouting, "RAY!"
The agony in his voice touched Cowley deep inside and he moved quickly to sit on the side of the mattress. Bodie sat bolt upright, still yelling, and the controller caught hold of him.
"Easy, laddie, you're dreaming."
Bodie drew a deep breath and burst into tears. "Ray's dead. He's been shot!" He buried his face at the older man's shoulder and cried.
Cowley held him, soothing him with his hands and voice until Bodie managed to stop shaking. "What if I told you," he asked quietly, "that Ray is still alive?"
Bodie raised his tear-stained face and looked at the old man. "Don't, sir," he pleaded. "Don't play games with me anymore."
"I'm not playing."
Their eyes met.
"I heard Terry Martyn say that he was dead, and now you say that's he's not? Don't do this to me."
"I haven't lied to you yet, Bodie, and I don't intend to start now. Get some sleep, man. I'll be next door if you need anything."
Bodie nodded and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. He struggled down into the confusion of sheets, and Cowley gave his shoulder one last reassuring squeeze as he turned to leave.
"Sir?" Cowley stopped, half-turned. Bodie propped himself up on one elbow, blinking away the residual moisture. "Thank you."
"Go to sleep, laddie," said Cowley gruffly, as he went.
The small sound alerted him -- there was somebody in the flat. Uninvited. Doyle's hand closed over the gun he had placed beneath his pillow. He slithered out of bed and made his way to the door. A foot on the loose footboard, and suddenly, he was rolling as two bullets aimed to take him in the chest, clipped through the doorway. Doyle was up, and leaping for his assailant, but the would-be assassin was quick and used his head start well. Doyle gave up the unequal chase and went back to his flat. He reached for the phone, dialling automatically. For a long while, there was no response, then a strange voice said, "Hello? Who's that?"
Doyle dropped the receiver, shaking his head. He had called Bodie's old number by mistake. The second attempt was more successful.
"Do you know what time it is, Doyle?"
"Someone just tried to shoot me, here, in my own flat. I need a place for tonight."
Terry came fully awake. "Come straight over."
Doyle needed no second bidding.
The scent of coffee and bacon filled the air. He wrinkled his nose and opened his eyes. He found himself staring at the ceiling of the safe-house bedroom. Bodie yawned and stretched, wondering why bits of him felt like they'd been through a mangle. He remembered then. Had he really been stupid enough to tackle Cowley? There was more...
He rolled out of bed and retrieved his robe before hurrying down to the kitchen, where the controller was making breakfast.
Cowley eyed him with wry amusement. "I hope you feel a lot better than you look," he greeted.
"Er, yes, sir." Bodie rubbed his puffy eyes. "About yesterday, sir..."
Cowley silenced him with a look and slid a plateful of food onto the table before him. Bodie sat obediently and made a start on the meal.
"Is -- Ray -- all right?" he asked tentatively.
Cowley stopped eating and met his gaze. "No, he is not." He watched the panic grow in Bodie's eyes. "He's heading for a break-down."
"Och, man, why do you think? He comes round after major surgery, to find that we're dragging the river for you -- you should've had more sense than to get involved with one another!"
Bodie blanched and swallowed. "How -- " He cleared his throat. "How long have you known?"
Cowley looked exasperated. "I wasn't born yesterday. I should've realised after that job at Four Feathers, and -- Bodie?"
Bodie had closed his eyes and was taking a deep breath to steady himself. "You were going to split us up? Re-assign us?"
Despite everything, the older man smiled. "No, I won't do that. You've both been chronic pains in the -- neck -- I doubt if anyone else would work with either of you. As long as you keep getting results, you can stay together as partners. I suppose," he sighed, "it would be useless telling you to end this relationship, but I won't have your personal lives jeopardising your professional commitments. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir." Bodie wasn't certain he'd heard the Old Man correctly. He and Ray could be...
"Hurry up, 3.7. I've to be in London within the hour, and you're coming with me..."
"You should've reported it straight to Control," Terry glared at Doyle over the breakfast table.
Doyle scowled back balefully. Having spent the remainder of the night on Terry's too-short sofa, he was wondering whether he should've gone directly to the office instead. Relations between them were strained at the moment anyhow, since they'd stopped sleeping together, and the last thing Doyle wanted at the moment was a stand-up fight with his partner -- especially since she was perfectly right.
Terry sighed. It was obvious that Doyle's mind was elsewhere and she didn't need telepathy to know what was the root of the problems between them. Since Bodie's disappearance, she knew he had been clinging to the hope, however vain, that one day, his former colleague would come walking through the door. The discovery of the corpse under the pier had dashed any chance of that, and Cowley seemed to be prolonging the agony unnecessarily. If he would only confirm Bodie's identity, he could be buried, and Doyle would be free...
They went down to the car in silence, and Terry handed Doyle the keys over the roof. The quick roar of a motorcycle engine accelerating impinged on his senses -- he grabbed Terry and they hit the pavement together, as two shots rang out. The biker headed down the street, and was well clear by the time the first of the neighbours emerged.
Cowley sent Bodie off with Bette, to sort out his accommodation and effects. He had just disappeared down the corridor, when the radio report from Doyle and Terry was passed to him. Cowley wasted no time going straight to the girl's flat. The local police had sealed off the surrounding area, and the forensics team was busy hunting for the spent cartridges.
Cowley surveyed the scene, his mind busy working on the motive for such an attack. At length, he turned to Doyle. "I'm ordering you to a safe-house, 4.5; 8.2 will go with you, as a precaution. I'll drop you off at your flat."
The expression on the controller's face quashed any notion of protest from either operative, and reluctantly, Doyle got into the staff car.
"What's going on, sir?" he asked, as they pulled away from Terry's apartment.
"I'm waiting on confirmation from ballistics," Cowley replied neutrally. "It's my belief that this is connected to that body from the river." A swift glance showed all the colour draining from the younger man's features. "I suspect that the man we found may prove to be William Blackler. We're checking his dental records now..."
Doyle sat in miserable silence for the rest of the journey.
Terry made only one mistake on the way to the Surrey safe-house: she let Doyle have the car-keys. As soon as she went off to the toilets at a roadside cafe, Doyle took off. He had no particular plan, no specific destination in mind -- all he wanted to do was get away. As for Tony di Paolo, the police and CI5 could take care of him...
Summer came and went and the autumn drifted in. Bodie returned to active duty and was paired with Terry Martyn. The body from the Thames was, as Cowley had surmised, William Blackler's.
In due time, he was buried in the cemetery close to Doyle's old flat, and a warrant was issued for Tony di Paolo's arrest, on suspicion of murder.
Of Ray Doyle, one-time agent with CI5, there was no trace, despite the continuing low-key search by his former partners.
October came, starting cold and clear, but by the second week, the weather changed to its more familiar damp and dreary state.
Days like this, Doyle wondered what the hell he was doing, still alive. It would be so easy to end it all. As soon as he'd returned to the capital, he realised his mistake. The truth of the situation finally hitting him: there was nothing for him to come back to, no-one to come home for. The body hadn't been Bodie's, but belonged to some stranger. It was as if Bodie had never existed outside Doyle's imagination. A terrible wave of depression took him down. At night, he would wander along the Embankment, gazing listlessly at the water, half-tempted to leap in and sink. Days he spent walking -- he didn't care where -- scarcely eating, and sleeping only when he was too exhausted to fight it anymore...
Bodie's eyes blazed as he rounded on the controller. "You said you looked after your own -- "
"DON'T quote at me, Bodie. Doyle terminated his employment with us back in summer, he's no longer our responsibility."
"Di Paolo's gunning for him -- any other civilian would be entitled to our protection, why not Doyle?"
Bodie, of course, had a point. Cowley could not but concede.
"And where would you begin?" he sighed. "You've admitted that you've already tried all the places Doyle used to go to."
"Then I'll go back and try them again," Bodie answered. "We know that he came back to London -- he's got to be here somewhere..."
Cowley nodded absently in agreement. "I can spare you for two weeks, AND NO MORE, Bodie..."
It was more than he'd expected, less than he would have liked. Bodie made his thanks and left quickly.
The first week, he spent combing the pubs and Doyle's former colleagues from the Met, but at every turn it was the same story -- nobody had seen or heard from Doyle since before the summer. Bodie drove endless miles, by day and night, searching...
He had breasted the hill now. The figure ahead gave no indication that he was aware of his presence. Now that he was closer, Bodie could see just how shabbily dressed he was. The lumber jacket was old and tatty, and those jeans... there were so many patches there was hardly any of the original denim left. They couldn't disguise the neatness of the backside that filled them. Bodie smiled at the thought. Just like Ray. Even down to the mop of curls -- Bodie stopped mid-stride.
JESUS CHRIST! It WAS Ray! Hardly daring to breathe, he forced himself to be calm as he stepped up behind his friend. "Hello, sunshine."
The next thing he knew, he was on the ground, a fierce ache in his jaw and Doyle was coming at him again.
"Doyle, wait!" he yelped, as his ex-partner lurched unsteadily towards him.
Bodie scrambled to his feet in a moment, to catch the other man as his legs gave way.
"Bodie?" His voice was barely audible.
Bodie took a firm hold on the skinny body. "'s all right. Come on, old son, let me get you down to the car..."
He half-carried Doyle down to the Capri, and when he'd bundled him into the passenger seat, he wasted no time in getting moving. Beside him, Doyle had begun to shiver violently with the shock.
When they reached the flat, Bodie helped his other half up the stairs and led him into the living room, where Doyle displayed the first signs of revival by struggling free of his mate's hold. He stood swaying in the center of the sparsely-furnished room.
Bodie hit the deck again as Doyle punched him out.
"YOU BASTARD!" Doyle bawled. "YOU SON-OF-A-BITCH!" He moved to follow-up, but Bodie was ready for him this time and knocked him onto his back instead. Before Doyle could recover, he found Bodie sitting on his chest, pinning his arms to the floor above his head.
"You disappear and we've been dragging the bloody Thames for you for months! I thought you were dead! You didn't bloody write or phone -- "
Mid-tirade, Bodie bent his head and shut him up with a kiss. There was a moment when Doyle almost resisted, then he relaxed and returned it.
Bodie drew back a little and gazed down into the brimming green eyes. "I'm sorry," he said softly.
"You'd better have a bloody good excuse," sniffed Doyle. The tears started to trickle down his face unheeded. "Let me up."
Bodie touched his tongue-tip to the split in his lip. "Only if you promise NOT to hit me again."
"I promise," gulped Doyle.
Bodie touched his lips to Doyle's once more and released him. He stood and offered his hand to Ray. Doyle was trembling again, he noticed. "Sit down, I'll fix the drinks..."
When they were settled comfortably -- Doyle on the sofa, and Bodie in the armchair opposite -- Bodie began, leaving nothing out. The moment he mentioned his involvement with di Paolo, however, Doyle tensed visibly. The hand holding the glass was shaking badly.
"I'm working with Terry Martyn now," Bodie concluded, scanning his mate's face anxiously.
"So?" Doyle's expression was set, trying hard to hold the tears in check.
"Cowley wants you back," Bodie told him quietly. "So do I."
Doyle's temper flared, as he met his partner's steady gaze. "You've just told me you spent six months sharing your bed with an under-aged wop, and you bloody well expect ME to come back to YOU! Go to hell, Bodie!"
In the silence that followed, Bodie set down his drink, stood and crossed to the window. "I've already been there," Bodie spoke softly. "I thought you were dead."
Doyle looked round sharply. Silhouetted against the window, there was a definite slump in Bodie's shoulders. Doyle's stomach was knots...
"Where'd you hear that?" he demanded.
"The shoot-out. Terry Martyn said you were dead." Bodie continued staring into the dark.
"Is that why you went and got yourself shot?" Doyle asked from directly behind him.
"Don't know," Bodie said, with a twisted smile.
A pair of strong arms slid round his waist and hugged. "Bodie -- "
Bodie turned and returned the embrace, holding Doyle close in the circle of his arms. They kissed, gently at first, relearning the taste, the feel of the other, the familiar thrill coursing through them both. Doyle's erection burned against his thigh and Bodie thrust against him, deliberately enticing...
They sank to the floor, Doyle dragging Bodie down on top of him to where they could make love. Clothes were unfastened, pushed aside so that they could touch properly, skin to heated flesh. Bodie rubbed his hand over the taut, hollow belly, lightly brushing the hardened shaft with his fingers, before claiming the swollen mouth for another kiss. Doyle groaned and shoved against him, needing the pressure on his hot genitals. Bodie slid onto him, his cock nestling beside Doyle's. He ground his pelvis against the bony body below and was rewarded when Doyle squirmed in response.
"Bodie! I'm gonna -- " He arched upwards and did, triggering Bodie's own release.
"Bloody hell," Bodie swore appreciatively, when he'd caught his breath. "That was magic!"
Doyle merely grinned drowsily.
Bodie started at him. "You're never going to sleep on my floor?"
"Course I'm not," denied Doyle, finding it hard to keep his eyes open.
"I don't believe this!" muttered Bodie. He rolled clear and stood slowly. "There's a bed next door, Ray, if you're interested..."
Doyle held out his hands and was helped to his feet. Bodie slipped an arm round his shoulders and led him into the bedroom. Doyle allowed himself to be stripped and tucked under the duvet. When Bodie joined him, he snuggled into his partner's side and laid his unkempt head on this lover's chest. Bodie kissed his furrowed forehead.
"Did you mean it?" asked Doyle.
"About you being magic?" Bodie cuddled him. "Oh, yeah."
"Better than -- that kid?"
"No comparison. You'll always be the best," Bodie assured, "for me."
Doyle smiled and slid a hand over the lean hard body. "What's he like? I've never actually seen him -- too busy dodging bullets!"
"Well," Bodie sighed, knowing he could afford to tease a little. "He's tall, dark, and handsome, just like me -- " He broke off with a squeak as Doyle's wandering hand delved between his legs. "He doesn't have your sense of -- eek!" he squawked again, as his testicles were assaulted gently, " -- humour."
"I asked for a description," Doyle insisted.
Bodie surrendered and told him. He drew Doyle closer, seeking his mouth for one last kiss before they fell asleep, when a stray thought occurred to him. He chuckled, disturbing Doyle who was settling comfortably for the night.
"C'mon, share it if it's that good."
"The barmaid at the pub -- she described your jeans as barely decent." Doyle's hand moved menacingly across Bodie's stomach again. "Unfair, Ray," moaned Bodie. "I've got my hands full."
"So have I, mate," Doyle sighed fondling his lover. "So have I." They drifted to sleep, holding each other close.
It was just after two in the morning when Tony made his move. Armed with Bodie's old gun, he made his way into the block and up to Bodie's flat. Having patiently followed the girl, hoping she would lead him to Ray, Terry had, in fact, led him to Philip Williams. Tony had kept his former lover under observation, waiting for the right opportunity to approach him. He had seen Williams arrive with the policeman, Ray, and had watched with increasing fury as his Philip let himself be seduced...
Picking the lock was child's play, and in his haste, Williams had forgotten the security chain. Tony slithered through the doorway easily. There was little enough light, so he felt his way round the apartment to the bedroom door.
Bodie came awake suddenly. Beside him, Doyle was breathing evenly, asleep, but something was pricking at his senses. He sat up, reached for his hand-gun. The movement disturbed Doyle, who recognised the gesture for what it was. He dug into his own coat and withdrew his weapon. Bodie was beside the door to the lounge and Doyle came off the bed to join him. Bodie gave the door a little push. Two shots rang out and Bodie dived through the doorway, rolled and returned fire. The agents caught a brief glimpse of the running man as he leapt for the exit. Bodie lunged after him, gun in hand.
Doyle went to the window and was in time to see di Paolo leap onto his motorbike and race away. Bodie fetched up short, levelling his weapon at the disappearing vehicle. Around the block, lights were winking on. Doyle opened the window and whistled. Bodie looked up and was hit in the face by his robe. He dragged it round his naked body and darted back into the building.
Doyle was half-dressed by the time he got up to his flat. "He'll be back," he predicted. "We can't stay here."
Bodie hauled on his slacks. "We'll have to draw him out -- set an ambush."
"D'you have somewhere in mind?"
Bodie stopped. "As a matter of fact, I do."
They reached the safe-house at four o'clock, having detoured to collect a few things and to leave a message for Terry Martyn.
Doyle grumbled as he recognised their destination. "All we need is for your lover-boy to get his hands on a rifle and we'll be sitting ducks."
"Tony's never used a rifle," Bodie informed him quietly. "He's like you, he wouldn't know which end to stick the arrows in."
Doyle refrained from making any more remarks about Bodie's ex-bed-mate, and began to hunt through the cupboards for something to eat.
They wound up on the couch, drinking coffee and waiting for daybreak. Doyle fell asleep and Bodie went to the bedroom to fetch him a blanket, before perching on the arm of the sofa to keep watch. He gazed at the gaunt features -- had noticed the previous day how pale and haggard his former partner looked -- unkempt, unshaven. Four months away and Doyle was a wreck. He buried his hand in the straggling curls. Doyle didn't stir.
"Said I'd look after you, didn't I, sunshine?" he murmured softly, as he ruffled the unruly mop.
Doyle slept on.
Bodie checked the windows and doors, then did a tally of their ammunition, cursing the fact there were only two clips each. Still, with luck, Terry would be bringing more.
He brewed up another pot of coffee and brought it through to the living room, where he sat on the floor next to Doyle's head. It wasn't long before he, too, had nodded off...
Terry dragooned a just-off-duty Benny into coming to the safe-house with her. Bodie greeted them at the door and accepted the food parcel. From his appearance, Terry guessed that he'd been sleeping in his clothes. She lingered on the doorstep, tempted to ask what the hell was going on, but Bodie refused to let her in. That, more than anything, decided her.
"I'm going to tell Cowley -- whether he likes it or not."
"Maybe one of us should stay," Benny suggested.
"And get caught in the cross-fire? No fear!"
"Cross-fire -- you mean he's planning an ambush for someone?"
"I mean when Cowley finds out!"
Cowley was furious. The local CID had been on the phone to him first thing about the shooting at Bodie's flat and now Bodie had disappeared. Ballistics checks on the bullets found at the scene confirmed the use of two weapons -- Bodie's own and the one that Tony had stolen.
"So -- di Paolo is gunning for Bodie now." The controller frowned. Bodie's disappearance had all the hallmarks of a one-man crusade against the boy. Cowley cursed him quietly, while blaming himself. He had under-estimated how far Bodie was prepared to go to find his ex-partner's would-be-assassin. He stopped -- a sudden thought jarring on his nerves -- what if Doyle were already dead? CI5 hadn't been able to find him, which they surely would've done had he been alive. If di Paolo had reached him before Bodie...
The door of his office was flung open, and Terry Martyn burst in unannounced, Benny hard on her heels. "Bodie's down at the Surrey safe-house, sir..."
From where he crouched, Tony had a good view of the living room of the house. He watched as the two men held each other and sank out of sight on the sofa, kissing and laughing. He checked his watch -- just after noon. Ray had been with Williams now for almost twenty-four hours. Tony glowered, jealous of the policeman. He remembered how it felt to lie in Philip's arms... Even now, Tony would have him back -- but Doyle's fate was already sealed...
Pulling Doyle up beside him, Bodie reached his arms round his lover's waist and kissed him.
"NOW you can have that shower," he grinned, letting him go.
Doyle peeled off his filthy shirt, as he headed towards the stairs. "Bodie," he called sweetly, and when his partner turned, flung the offensive garment straight at his head, before bounding upstairs. Bodie was still smiling about nothing in particular when he stuffed the shirt in the washer.
The noise of water running upstairs and the racket from the kitchen behind him wasn't sufficient to cover the sound of the footfall in the hallway. Bodie made a dive for his weapon which was on the coffee table.
A bullet buried itself in the arm of the sofa above his head and he looked up to meet Tony's unwavering stare. There was hurt and hatred in the dark eyes that regarded him.
Bodie's hand sneaked toward the fallen gun.
"Don't!" the boy warned. "I'll use this if you force me."
Bodie stayed still, flat on his belly where he'd landed. His mind was working on the probable out come of this encounter. There would be at least one fatality he knew, and he was praying that it wouldn't be Doyle, who at the end of the day, was the only innocent one in the house. The noise of the shower had, quite probably, drowned the sound of the shot...
"You lied to me," Tony accused.
Bodie shook his head, judging the distances in the room and his chance of distracting Tony when Doyle eventually came down the stairs.
"You said there was no competition -- you love him, don't you?"
"Yes, I do." There was a slight hope, if he could just move a bit...
"Call him down," Tony ordered softly.
Again, Bodie shook his head. "You'll have to kill me before you get to him."
And, Bodie recognised, he would be quite willing to take that chance.
Tony levelled the gun, pointing it at Bodie's head, sighting on the faint scar below the hair-line. "Will didn't believe I'd do it either -- "
This time the roar of the gun seemed twice as loud, and Bodie felt the rush, as the bullet clipped past his ear. It took him a long second to realize that Tony hadn't killed him -- was in fact, staring at him, an expression of confusion on his face and the gun on the floor in the front of him. There was a thin trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth, and a wider, darker patch on the front of his jacket. Slowly, Tony's knees buckled and he sank to the carpet, revealing Doyle, still dripping from his shower with his weapon trained on their assailant.
Bodie scrambled to the boy's side and tore open the sodden shirt. Doyle stepped past and went to phone for an ambulance.
Tony was sinking fast. His eyes fluttered open as Bodie took him in his arms, and he half-managed a smile. "Philip?"
"Don't talk, Tonio."
"I can't see you," he whispered.
"I'm here," Bodie assured him.
Doyle dumped the First Aid kit on the floor and set about finding a suitable dressing for his handiwork. Bodie propped him up, while Doyle covered the wound. The dark head lolled towards him as he worked.
"You're -- Ray?"
"Yeah," Doyle answered curtly.
"You're -- lucky..." Tony turned his face to Bodie's shoulder again and passed out.
The sounds of slamming doors and running feet on the gravel drive outside briefly announced the arrival of Cowley and the back-up they hadn't requested. The controller took one look at the scene, and proceeded to give Bodie a dressing-down.
Doyle glared up at the older man and got to his feet stiffly, interrupting the tirade. "I shot di Paolo, not Bodie."
Cowley continued to scowl at both men. "Bodie had no right to involve a member of the public in this. If he surmised that he was going to be a target, he should have reported the matter directly to me. As for you, Doyle, you should've handed in your weapon months ago. This is nothing to do with you."
"With respect, MR. Cowley, SIR," growled Doyle. "If someone has it in for my partner, that makes it my business."
Cowley met the furious green eyes. "You're just lucky we beat the local bobbies here, or you'd be facing charges of illegal possession of firearms."
Doyle's hands closed into fists -- Bodie recognised the signs of imminent explosion. "Ray, don't -- "
They were saved from further comment by Terry and Anson, who had swept the grounds for any other potential threats. Cowley motioned Terry to take over Bodie's position, and Bodie gratefully stretched his legs as he stood.
Cowley eyed the wounded man and looked the question at his agent.
"He's had it," Bodie informed him. "He had a gun on me. If it hadn't been for Ray..."
"I want a full report on my desk tomorrow morning, 3.7. I'll see Macklin about getting you onto a refresher course," he continued. "If you'd been more alert, di Paolo wouldn't have gotten close enough to have you at a disadvantage."
"What about me?" demanded Doyle.
Cowley raked him from tousled head to bare feet. "You, Doyle?" He smiled thinly. "You're a civilian now. You -- handed your notice in back in summer as I recall."
Bodie was trying hard not to laugh at the expression on his lover's face.
"It was a mistake, sir -- I -- " For one moment, Cowley was tempted to let the former operative sweat for a while, but a swift glance at Bodie decided him. He withdrew the envelope from his inner pocket.
"If you're sure."
Doyle nodded and took it from the controller. His hand shook a little.
"You'll be on the next course, with Bodie." Cowley surveyed the lounge one last time. In the distance they could hear the ambulance that would take Tony out of their lives.
"Well," Cowley looked the two of them over, "I'll see you both in my office first thing tomorrow morning. I suggest you both get some rest -- you'll be quite busy for the next few days."
With that, the controller turned to leave, pausing by the door to let the ambulance crew through to tend di Paolo. Terry Martyn would go to the hospital with him, Cowley decided while the others got on with their report...
"One thing more, 3.7," the older man fought his urge to smile. "The -- er -- local police would like a word with you about last night's shooting, and a case of indecent exposure?"
Bodie, who had been grinning like an idiot since Doyle's reinstatement, went a faint shade of pink. Fortunately, Terry Martyn was too busy helping the paramedics to pay much attention, and Doyle didn't appear to have heard.
"Er -- yes, sir."
Cowley left him to it.
It took ten minutes for the ambulance crew and Terry Martyn to leave, together with Anson and the other two agents who formed the back-up squad. Left alone, Doyle threw himself on the sofa and closed his eyes. Bodie watched fondly. "Tired?"
Doyle didn't move. "Hmm!"
"Think you could stay awake till we get back to London?"
Doyle opened his eyes a little. "If I have to," he smiled.
"I'll take you to bed as soon as we get in," Bodie promised.
"Great," sighed Doyle. "Be a change to sleep in a decent bed again."
Bodie looked indignant. "Hey, who said anything about sleeping? If you're gonna be staying with me, you have to pay for the privilege."
Doyle sat up slowly and turned his wicked waif-like gaze on his partner. "But I don't have any money."
Bodie couldn't resist him any more. He folded down beside Doyle and put a comforting arm round the bony shoulders.
"Don't worry, sunshine," he smiled. "I'm sure we'll come up with something between us!"
Doyle leaned against him, offered his mouth for a kiss and put his own scheme into action
-- THE END --
'city-wide'...no streets too long, our love belongs along the lanes of London'