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On This Day in History

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0.10am
Fuck, they'd made it onto the bus with him, just when he thought he was well away, were pounding up the stairs even as he realised it. There was no one else up there, so Bodie put his back to the wall, and prepared to fight, weaponless for the first time in months, almost in years. Time was, before he joined this mob and ended up with a partner, he would have had a spare tucked away somewhere, but that time was long gone, and it just went to show that… Bloody Doyle! And then they were on top of him, and there was no more time to think.

 

6.05am
There was blood on the bus, darkly black against the scuffed vinyl of the back seat.

Doyle wanted to touch it, because it was Bodie's, to have something of Bodie's against his skin, even if it was his blood - even if it was the blood of a dead man.

No. Bodie wasn't dead. Think it, believe it, believe it.

The blood was thick, a patch rather than drops, and slightly smeared, as if perhaps Bodie had been lying down and then got up, sliding the injury along the seat as he did so. It was further than a head's-length from the side of the bus, maybe his shoulder? But then, if it was bleeding that much it would have to hurt, so surely he'd have put his hand over it…

Unconscious then.

Bodie bleeding, unconscious, on the back of a bus.

Doyle could hear the driver's voice through the upstairs bus windows as he was interrogated again by Matthews, his broken English becoming whiny, as he repeated himself for the fourth, fifth, tenth time. Doyle couldn't talk to him, didn't dare look at him, because the man had driven around London while Bodie was being attacked on the back of his bus. And he hadn't stopped the bus, and he hadn't gone upstairs to find out what was happening, and he hadn't called the depot on his radio. He'd just carried on, driving around and around London. And at the end of his shift he'd got off his bus, and he'd gone home.

"None of my business! Was none of my business! "

Doyle wondered if it would be none of anyone's business if he took himself downstairs and slammed his fist into the driver's face, again and again and again.

Tune it out, tune it out, tune it out. Think.

Patel claimed that the four men - "Four, five, I don't know! None of my business! " - who'd been fighting on the top deck of his bus got off a few stops later, and that none of them were badly injured. But there was so much blood, a thick seepage of blood, deep through the vinyl and into the foam underneath - Doyle had split the thin cushion himself, to check. Enough that Bodie had bled to death? No, not nearly enough for that, it always looked so much worse than it was, he knew that, but too much all the same…

"There's still no telling whether he got off the bus with them." Cowley's voice came from behind him, and Doyle realised that he was still crouched, staring at the blood. Not touching it.

"Then where did he get off? And where did he go? He must have done - they took him."

They took him.

Doyle straightened, thought about the knife he'd used to slice open the seat. I wonder if Bodie's blood is on my knife? He felt it, suddenly heavy where he'd slid it back into his jacket pocket, touching something that had touched something, that had touched Bodie…

"The driver knows nothing more than he's telling us," Cowley said, "I'm sure of that. And the conductor had gone off shift early. If it hadn't been for that cleaner…"

A cleaner who had worried more about a patch of blood and a lost I.D. card than the driver had worried about the actual stabbing.

"I dun the winders first, cos that's what I do, so then you can 'ave 'em open wivout getting fingerprints all over 'em, an' I was cleaning the back one, and there was somefing that went bright red when I rubbed at it, but I just fought it was kids, you know, wiv sweets or somefing, cos it looked like fingerprints, so I just cleaned it, only then I saw the seat an' for some reason it just clicked, you know, and I fought someone must 'ave been really badly hurt to get that much blood, and fingerprints an' all, and so I asked Radj what 'appened, and 'e was telling me, and then I saw that card fing - and at first I fought it was a wallet, you know - an' I took it to Mr Barrett and… well, then you come…"

She hadn't been very old, maybe seventeen, and her life was cleaning buses, with her hair covered over by a scarf, and her lips slashed bright pink across her pale face, but she'd known trouble when she'd seen it, even at four thirty in the morning.

He gazed out the windows and across the depot, bustling just an hour and a half later as the vehicles came on timetable, but even during the quiet of the night shift surely someone would have seen an injured man stumbling from a bus and across the vast garage and away. So he must have got off the bus earlier - or been taken off. They had him…

"You say you last saw him around nine, 4.5?"

Doyle turned abruptly, grit scraping under his trainers because the floor of the bus hadn't been cleaned before the girl found Bodie's blood.

"Quarter to," he said, precisely, carefully. Bodie had slammed the door behind him, and Doyle had shoved his arm through the air in dismissal, wanting it to be Bodie he was shoving, to force some sense and some understanding through that thick skull.

Not so thick after all. Unconscious on a bus

"And you'd had a disagreement?"

"Yes sir." Doyle took a slow breath, in and out. "He wanted to put the frighteners on Mickey…"

"One of your informers?"

Another slow breath. "Yes sir. One of the kids down at the Youth Club had seen him with McLeven this afternoon, then seen him a bit full of himself later, and called me. He knew we'd been asking about."

"About McLeven?"

"Yes, sir."

"Ach, don't get tetchy with me, Doyle. Save it for when you find your fool of a partner!"

"Bodie's alright, he just…" Doyle thought back to the look in Bodie's eyes, not believing that Doyle could be soft enough to trust Mickey - or Benny or Ostrich or Tin Can or any of them - far enough to throw them. "He didn't grow up around here."

Neither did you. Cowley could have pointed it out, but he didn't, he just nodded. The streets were the streets, and Bodie had done most of his growing up oceans away.

"Mickey doesn't respond well when he's frightened, he clams up, he can't…"

"So you think Bodie went to talk to Mickey by himself?"

Doyle shrugged. "Be as easy for him to get to Mickey's from here as it would back to his own place to pick up the car. And the fifty nine is right for the route back."

Bodie'd been so full of energy when he left, with frustration and the need to do something. Doyle had felt it shouting from him, that energy, had seen it in Bodie's stride as he crossed the street beneath Doyle's window, as he disappeared around the corner.

"And you argued badly enough that Bodie ignored basic safety procedures and went to talk to an informer with neither his partner, his weapon, nor his R/T."

"I didn't think that he was going to…" That he was going to what? What had he thought Bodie was going to do, as he vanished into the dim grey night? Bodie'd left his gear on the couch where he'd thrown it earlier that evening, where it had landed, lopsided, aim thrown off by Doyle's hands at his belt. He'd taken his jacket but left his gun, surely a sign that he just meant to go outside and cool off, that he meant to come back, surely…

No one's worth that much time and effort, Doyle!"

"No?"

There was a pause then as they stared at each other across the room, and Mickey and Benny and Ostrich and the rest of them were the least of it.

"No one trusts anyone that much."

And it was said quietly, and it was said with conviction, and Doyle didn't want to have heard it.

"They're all good kids!"

"They're not kids any more, they're grown men. They've got a choice, and they chose…"

"They don't have a choice, they…"

"On come on Doyle, no one really believes that!"

"I believe that…"

"Then you're thicker than the lot of 'em!"

"Fine! Fine, go and see Mickey, scare him half to death and see what he can tell you then…"

"Fine!" And that was that, Bodie had gone, and Doyle had been left standing there, watching him walk away, not trusting anyone, not…

"If there's nothing else here then I'll go and find Mickey," he suggested, calm and collected, sliding a hand into his jacket pocket, folding fingers stiffly around the knife.

"Aye, do that - and bring him back to base, I want a word with that young man myself."

Doyle nodded, clattered finally down the stairs of the bus, and stood for a moment on the step, letting his eyes wander again around the building. Light streamed in through the enormous garage doors, a grey, wet light that pulled his heart to the puddled ground with it, that turned it sodden and heavy and mud-covered. Beside him one of the buses rumbled to life, then rolled slowly towards the doors, demanding benignly that he fly Air India, then turning a dull red back on him, emerging from the fug of the depot into the drizzled morning and vanishing around a corner, just as Bodie had.

He hesitated, torn between wanting to find Mickey and frighten the life out of him, and wanting to join the ground search for Bodie, the team of agents combing the backstreets and knocking on doors around the bus station. Someone out there had to know where he was…

 

8.14am
It was dark, and it was cold, and he was shivering. There was the smell of earth, and it spun him back to Angola, to days when the parched soil was sodden with water, when it swirled to mud that found its way everywhere, so that your skin was scented with it, so that the air tasted of it.

A rumble of traffic in the distance, the blaring of horns. Not Angola then.

His head ached, and there was a burning in one arm that spread itself through his body, that made him want to close his eyes again and curl up into a tight ball, here in the dark. Instead he made himself open them wider, made himself turn over, holding tightly to his arm with his opposite hand. He saw the dim stabs of light that spilled around the edges of loose boarding, saw water puddled on the floor nearby, and then he saw the face, a face looming over him, close so close, and his heart jumped and pain shot through his arm as he tried to draw away, and then all was dark again…

 

9.01am
They should have had today off, he and Bodie, had been scheduled for it weeks ago, until this McLeven business had begun. They were going to go and watch the parade with Carol and Amanda, then retire back to Bodie's flat with bottles of wine and handfuls of willing female, and Bodie's one big bed. Instead he'd had to call the girls, and there went another beautiful relationship. Bloody Bodie, getting himself lost today of all days…

Bloody Bodie… now there was a lousy pun, would have earned him a smirk at least, that one.

Concentrate. Swerving past another street that had been closed to traffic, taking the one parallel instead, he cursed Bodie, cursed the rain that fell in a thick grey mist, and cursed himself for caring at all. He'd told himself after Sid that he wouldn't, that it wasn't worth it, and he'd been right, he bloody had, and… He turned into Lancaster Walk, parked the bike where he'd be able to see it from Mickey's window, and strode through the squared concrete to 1A, the current abode of Mickey and his half dozen mates.

Why the hell couldn't Bodie just trust him about dealing with these kids? They'd been partners over a year now, how much more did he want?

There was no bell on the door, and at his first knock it swung open, not latched at all. There were no sounds inside, and he loosened the clip on his holster, took hold of the Walther without drawing it, and eased the door open with his foot. A corridor stretched dimly in front of him, nothing moved.

The doorway on the left was a kitchen, stained and scuffed, but surprisingly tidy for a house full of six youngsters. The room opposite was a living room, and this too was empty, closed and stale with cigarette smoke and old beer cans. Movement along the skirting board caught his eye - a cockroach vanished through a crack in the wall.

Still no noise of any kind from the flat, although next door someone turned on a television, loud enough that Doyle could follow the commentary as it began its build-up to the day's excitement.

Two more rooms at the end of the corridor, one must be the bathroom - yes, on the right - which meant that… Now he did draw his weapon, unlocked the safety, and held it high as he pushed down on the door handle, slowly, quietly…

Nobody.

Two pairs of bunk beds, sheets and blankets scrunched into piles, a clothes rail that had probably been nicked from some shop, and a chair in one corner, all empty of anything except a few rags of clothing. Mickey was out.

Doyle didn't kick the wall, and he didn't rattle the bed frames until they cracked, and he didn't slam the door on his way out.

He raised his eyes to the ceiling, breathed out through his nose, and thought. Tin Can. Tin Can knew Benny, and he'd been working down at the bookies on Teller Street, just around the corner, getting himself straightened out. Again. He should be easy to find.

 

10.30am
Still dark, still wet, but where his arm had burned and stung now something gripped it firmly, a comforting tightness that held it together, held him together. He was dizzy though, ridiculously dizzy. And where the hell was he?

He turned his head towards the light of the broken wall again, levered himself carefully onto his elbows and tried to focus. For a moment he could see again the face of the man sitting beside him, and he could see the hunted eyes, and he could see the knife he held in one hand. He knew he had to stay alert, he knew he couldn't afford to lose consciousness, but something inside him didn't seem to care, and it let the dizziness and the nausea take him, and he fell backwards again, spiralling down into the dark.

 

11.42am
Tin Can wasn't working down the bookies any more, hadn't been for over a week. Doyle might have known that if he'd managed to get down to the Club, but they'd been so busy… So easy to let the McLeven's of the world push and shove their way to the front of the queue, so that Tin Can and the rest of them fell through the cracks again and again and again… Sometimes, god sometimes he just needed them to watch out for themselves, just for a while, just until he'd dealt with McLeven and the other bastards trying to blow seven hells out of the world.

Oh, shut up Doyle, it's not like that and you know it. Not their fault that the cracks keep getting bigger and bigger…

Concentrate.

No Mickey, no Tin Can, and no clues here to McLeven. Nothing from base, and Julie was already snapping at him when he called in to check. Think.

If Bodie… say Bodie had been disabled somehow, and McLeven - he was sure it was McLeven - had managed to make it look like he was drunk or summat, surely they wouldn't have got far on foot anyway. Which would mean… Unless they had a car nearby. Fucking Mickey. When he found that lad he'd shake him from here to kingdom come, never mind scared, never mind the cracks, he just…

Had to hang on, he had to hang on. Time enough to lose his temper when he'd tracked down McLeven and found Bodie. Time enough to lose everything if Bodie was already… He knew what McLeven was capable of, he knew McLeven wouldn't hesitate to put a bullet through Bodie - more likely several, one hand, one foot, one kneecap at a time.

He left the bike where it was, off to do the rounds of the neighbourhood, wanting to wake people up and worry them, wanting other people to feel it too, this fear. McLeven…

 

12.52pm
"They've got silver ones now too… Wish I could go on a silver one, but you have to go into town to go on one of them."

It was a quiet voice, and it broke into his dream - he was at the back of the bus, and down a very long corridor he could see McLeven and his thugs coming after him, armed with FNs and Ingrams, and out the back window he could see Doyle running to catch the bus, never quite getting there, because he wasn't trying very hard, because he thought Bodie would be safe with Mickey, because Mickey was just a kid, only in his dream Mickey was McLeven, and if only Bodie could make Doyle hear him he'd… - and because it was so quiet over the rushed beating of his heart, over the roar of the bus in his dreams, the voice woke him up.

"There was a party here the other day, for the Queen, but I don't know why they had it early. Maybe cos… no, I don't know. But… oh. Hello."

 

1.14pm
The Barrier Block frowned down at him as Doyle trudged past, shoulders hunched against the drizzle. He'd found Arthur, and Arthur had sent him to Speedy, and Speedy had sent him to Sam, and Sam had sent him to Dutch. Dutch, of course, wasn't in, and Julie had been replaced by Betty who was getting just as short-tempered with him. Bloody Bodie… He kicked at a beer can, and watched it skitter down the pavement and into the gutter, but he was aware of the three figures who watched him from the doorway, felt the moment they emerged into the daylight and fell into step behind him.

"I hear you're looking for Gary."

He let the words bring him up short, turned around and looked the man up and down, ignoring his friends. "Gary McLeven? Yeah, I'm looking for him."

"And who are you?"

Doyle took a step towards the man and smiled, friendly. "I'm the bloke who's looking for Gary McLeven. So where is he, then?"

"He told us to give you a message…"

Doyle nearly rolled his eyes at that, wished Bodie was beside him to see it, and then he kicked fast enough to take out the knife that had appeared in the man's hand, and to follow up with a blow to his stomach. The man doubled over, and Doyle took advantage of the moment to hit out at his friend on the left, all too aware that the one on his right was moving faster than he'd expected, than he'd hoped, and then there was a foot in his ribs, and he'd been grabbed from behind. No chance to go for his gun then, it remained a slight bulge under his arm, jacket tightly zipped over it, useless as his handkerchief.

They left him, still moving but only just, on the hard pavement, one cheek a graze against the concrete, rain trickling into his eyes, and down his nose, and across his lips. He watched them limping away, one of them holding a broken arm, another clutching ribs, and was almost pleased.

He hurt, finally properly, he hurt.

And best of all McLeven had the wind up. Soon now, he'd find him soon.

 

1.25pm
Bodie had almost managed to piece together his morning by the time the boy - it was just a boy, despite all those nightmares in the dark - returned with a couple of pasties "from Jazzie's stall down the road". They were hot, and spicy and full of chicken, and made Bodie glad he'd done as the lad asked, and waited. He nearly hadn't, his head was nearly, miraculously, clear, and he had things to do. But there was something…

"What's your name, then?" Bodie asked finally, swallowing the last mouthful, screwing up the paper bag and dropping it behind him.

"Duck."

Bodie did, to the amusement of the lad, who sat giggling into his hand.

"Me name is Duck…"

"Can't be." Bodie rolled his eyes at himself, smiling only half willingly at Duck.

"It's the truth. Me brother's Mickey, so…"

"Your mum never called you Donald?"

Duck shook his head. "Nah, but kids aint got much imagination, you know?"

Kids, eh? Duck couldn't be more than fourteen himself, though an admittedly world-weary fourteen. "Shouldn't you be in school?"

"Not today," Duck looked scornful, "Day off for the Queen's Jubilee, innit?"

"Oh yeah, I think I might have heard about it… Your brother's called Mickey? Skinny kid with red hair?"

Duck nodded, and Bodie stared at him for a moment. Too much of a coincidence, that was. "Why did you help me, Duck?"

 

1.30pm
"Ray! Mr Doyle!"

Doyle swung around carefully, halfway back to his bike. He'd called in, Benny and some of the lads would be here any minute to keep an eye out for McLeven and his mates. An eye out - more than he'd have, any time now, though one was closing up faster than the other, so he'd be alright for a while yet…

"Ray, what they do to you?"

"Sally, how are you, love?" He ignored the way she was looking at him now that she could see his face, loosed his grip on his ribs, and tried to straighten slightly. "How's young…" he never could remember the kids' names…

"Digby is a fine boy, big and strong like his da!"

His da who was in Wandsworth for armed robbery, and likely to stay there until Digby was much bigger and much stronger.

"Smarter than his da, Sal?"

Sal nodded good-naturedly. "But just as big-hearted!"

Doyle smiled, beginning to turn away. He had to get back to the bike, meet the lads. "You make sure he's got the brains to go with it, right?"

"I'll make sure of it… Ray?"

"I can't stay, Sal."

"I know that, but… those men…"

He looked at her. "You know them?"

"Not me, but they gave Mickey Johnson a right bashing on his way to work this morning, we 'ad to take him down the hospital he was that hurt, and…" She paused as Doyle breathed in sharply, winced.

"What time was this? Where's Mickey been working?"

"Down the bakery in the High Street - nearly a month now he's been there!"

"What time?" Doyle pursed his lips as Sal stepped back out of reach, winced again as they split and stung suddenly at him, started bleeding. He dabbed at it with a sleeve, so that his voice was muffled. "Sorry Sal, I'm sorry, I'm a bit… annoyed right now."

"At the blokes what did you over," Sal guessed, pulling a tissue out of her pocket, and reaching up to press it to his lip. Doyle let her, and he let her pull him along the street and down an alley to a back door, let her take him inside and up the stairs, and into a tiny kitchen where she sat him down at a formica table in the corner, flicked on the switch of a kettle, and then reached under the sink for a large, half-empty bottle of TCP.

"My Zed was always getting himself cut up and knocked about, had a temper like yours, he did," she said, settling in on her knees in front of him with a roll of toilet paper. "This might sting a bit…"

Doyle hissed once and closed his eyes - it did sting - then took a breath and opened them again, onto the bright yellow light from the bare bulb that shone upon the cracked linoleum and the grubby kitchen cupboards and the face of Sal as she concentrated on dabbing gently at the graze down his face.

"So what did Mickey do to annoy those three then? Who are they, anyway?"

"Friends of that Michael McLeven," Sal said with a sneer, "Him with the brother who just got back from abroad somewhere." She sniffed, "Abroad? Aint no one believes that one, we all know someone who's "abroad"."

Doyle didn't tell her that abroad really was the depths of Africa this time, that Gary McLeven had been training his little heart out, and had brought all his new found skills and talents back home with him, along with a few new routes for arms smuggling, and a taste for large scale drug dealing to finance them. Bodie's old stomping ground, he thought, gritting his teeth against that as much as the antiseptic.

"That one wanted him to do a job for him," she said, "And Mickey wanted the money for his new car - well he always wants money for this car he's going to have one day, don't he? Mickey did the job, and then they asked him to do another, but he said he couldn't because he was clean, and his new boss said he had to stay clean, and the next thing you know…"

"When did they want him to do this new job?" Doyle interrupted, "Do you know when, Sal?"

"I don't know, I only saw him last night when I called in for a smoke on the way home from work at the club."

"What time, Sal?"

"Three o clock, I s'pose, same as usual…"

"In the morning?"

"Of course in the morning, you think The Nitelife keeps school hours?"

Doyle smiled at her, as she wanted him to do. He reached into his pocket for one of the packets of fancy cigarettes he'd brought with him, bribes and rewards and…

"You don't need to give me that, Ray," Sally recoiled, "Not when you looked after my Zed that time." She gave the knuckles of his other hand a final dab, then moved to put the lid back on the TCP, to stand up and turn away. "We look after our own, you know that."

Doyle took her wrist, held her where she was in front of him, gently. "To say thank you, Sal," he gestured at his face, burning gently, but clean. "But if you do know when these blokes saw Mickey, I need to know."

"He didn't say, not what time exactly, just that he'd already had one bloke in asking him questions, and then Michael's friends showed up and chased him off, and then they came back and…"

Chased him off? Bodie! "Do you know where I can find them, Sal? It's important," he added, as she worried at her bottom lip with her teeth, "It's very important."

 

2.29pm
The streets were either a crush of people braving the clouds and the intermittent drizzle to watch the tail end of the parade, to stuff themselves silly at Union Jack-covered trestle tables or in beer tents, or else they had a strangely abandoned feel. Striding along beside Duck, who had quietened as soon as they emerged from the dim and ruined warehouse he called home, Bodie wanted nothing more than to be at home, curled up in front of the telly and the stupid commentary, listening to Doyle make sarcastic comments about the carriage and the horses and the twenty five silver buses that were somewhere out there now, following the Queen. Bet she'd rather be at home too, come to think of it.

He flexed his arm again as he walked, spotted another phone box, and made to cross the road to it, but Duck was nudging him on again.

"That one doesn't work either."

"Don't any of the damn things work?" he asked, needing to be in contact with Doyle, with base. Mickey had not only told him where McLeven was staying, but that he was planning to leave the place around three thirty today - and he didn't know where he was going, or why. If they were going to stop him…

When Bodie told him what he needed to do, Duck had brought him a gun, and brought him ammunition, surprisingly matter of fact about it for a fourteen year old, until Bodie remembered what he'd been doing at fourteen, and remembered not to be surprised.

Duck was looking thoughtful. "There's one on Coldharbour that sometimes does. Do you want to go there?"

Bodie considered. Ten minutes to get there, ten back, that's if it was working… He had the gun, he had surprise on his side, and maybe he'd be able to sneak into one of the neighbour's first, call from there. "Nah. Let's go see where he is. We'll make sure he doesn't beat up your Mickey again, okay?"

Duck nodded, and lolloped along beside him in silence for the rest of the way.

 

2.45pm
The house was tucked off a road tucked off a road, and its grand exterior harked back to finer times. There was nowhere to take cover out the front - Doyle had walked casually but observantly past already - but there was a long row of gardens out the back, and next doors' was equipped not only with a small shed, near the end gate, but with a series of bushes and shrubs that led all the way up to the wall of the house. Burglar's wet dream it was, although perhaps the prominent "Beware of the dog" signs tended to put them off. No sign of any such beast now though, and Doyle had managed to slide his way across wet grass and through dripping leaves to the back door.

He could feel Bodie close by - he had to be inside that house, he had to be. And McLeven, if he was really lucky.

Movement at the back wall drew his eye, an extra rustling of the tree in the other adjacent garden perhaps, a scrape of stone on stone? Still as death itself, Doyle watched, waited, but whatever it was did not repeat itself. A cat maybe, slinking through on its way somewhere dry and safe?

No - this time the movement was there, right in front of him, a figure sliding over the opposite fence, and into the shelter of the single tree in McLeven's back yard.

Doyle's eyes met Bodie's across the rain-green garden, and time ceased to matter.

Bodie quirked an eyebrow at him, grinned broadly, then mimed reaching into his leather jacket - covered in mud, that wouldn't please him - and pulled out a gun. He seemed to be favouring his left arm somewhat, but otherwise… Doyle realised he was staring too hard, too long, and brought out his own Walther, checked the clip. Yeah, otherwise he looked in better shape than Doyle was himself. Trust Bodie, bloody Bodie

But Bodie was holding up three fingers, and there was no time to curse him or to scream rage at the clouded skies, because Doyle was flat against the wall beside the door, waiting, and then they'd reached three, and Bodie was racing across the grass to kick the door open and burst in, and Doyle was right behind him.

Shots rang out, abruptly, from the front of the house, there was a pounding towards them and the kitchen door was flung aside. McLeven, Magnum held high and ready and surely squeezing the trigger… a double shot rang out, and the man seemed to jump backwards, arms and legs spreadeagled in the air, a spray of blood catching the two men who were running up behind him, his body tangling with them, so that all three fell in a hard heap on the floor in the doorway.

Doyle kept his gun trained on the men, kicked McLeven's Magnum well out of the way, and watched as Bodie gestured to them to get up. They arose, wiping their faces, pale with apparent shock, and looking behind them as much as at their captors. There was a scuffling in the hallway, and Jax appeared, Markham on his heels, guns drawn. They took in the scene at a glance.

"Alright, mate?" Markham nodded at Bodie, pulling a set of cuffs from his coat pocket. "Much obliged." He chained the two men together, then raised their joined wrists in Bodie's direction. "Unless you'd rather..?"

"No, no, thanks all the same," Bodie said, cool as the day outside, dryer and brighter. "My day off, you know, this is."

Markham smiled at him, left Jax to frisk the dead McLeven, and Doyle to stare at Bodie across the filthy kitchen table. In the distance he could hear a Scots voice getting louder, and he closed his eyes briefly in preparation for the assault.

When he opened them, Bodie was right there beside him, was nudging him with a mud-spattered shoulder, and smirking as though nothing had ever happened, as though it was just another day at work, as though…

As though they'd be off to the parade later after all, as though they belonged there, with the crowds and the parties and the beer and the celebrations, instead of standing here in the wet and the cold, the smell of cordite around them, and a killer lying in his own blood at their feet.

As if they lived some other life entirely.

 

oOo

It would take longer to clean up after the op than it had done to find McLeven in the first place, though to be fair Cowley ordered them home once the ambulance had taken care of them - as soon as he had their reports and their souls acknowledged due in his office at eight the next morning. Doyle stood shivering in the wind outside McLeven's house, waiting for Bodie and trying to decide whether he was tired enough to risk leaving his bike where it was. Should he even be worrying about his bike when Mickey was in hospital, would probably lose his job as a result? When Sal was still chasing around after Zed, from prison to prison, when Tin Can had dropped out of sight, when he'd have to miss the kids' training at the club again while his ribs healed? He supposed he'd be lucky if the bike was still where he'd left it even now.

And where'd Bodie got to, anyway? He'd been talking to some kid, trying to give him something, hidden in his hand, but the boy was having none of it, shaking his head vehemently. Whatever it was, Bodie had better give it up now, it was time to go home.

Time to go home…

"Come on, I need to go get my bike," he said, not caring that he sounded harsh, that he was interrupting whatever conversation Bodie was having. He gestured tiredly back in the direction of the High Street. He'd let Bodie ride it, submit to being pillion on his own bike this once. Who cared really, in the end?

"Where'd you leave it?" Bodie asked him, winking at the boy. "Give us the keys, then."

"It's just off Jaffa Lane," Doyle said, glad Bodie was keeping it simple for a change. "But you're not to open it out on… oi, those are my keys!"

"Relax, he'll have it back to my place in no time. Besides, our carriage, if I'm not mistaken," Bodie waved his arm at a black cab driving up the street, "awaits!"

"Bodie…"

"Oh, shut up and get into the nice car, Raymond!"

Doyle settled for a glare, pulled open the door, and sank back onto the seat with a loud groan. He caught the driver's eyes in the rear view mirror, knew he'd seen something disreputable and unclean, closed his own and let himself doze until the taxi had stopped again. He watched Bodie give the account number with disbelief - when had he conned the old man out of that? - realised dimly that Bodie was planning on staying over, then, and reached deep in his jeans' pocket for his house keys.

Nearly there, nearly there… and then the door was open, and they were inside, and he could breathe again and speak again, and…

"What the hell were you playing at, Bodie?" Doyle asked, words harsh, but temper in check, "What happened to professionalism out there, Bodie?"

"I went to talk to a grass," Bodie said tersely, "It went wrong. It happens."

"It might happen, but it's easier to deal with if you've got your weapon with you in the first place," - or even your partner - "But no!" he slashed an arm through the air, "That's too easy for Bodie, too much like using your head… Maybe you 'ad to make-do with tin cans and bits of string in the SA-bloody-S, but I'm relying on you out there!" His voice cracked slightly at the end, and he clenched his fists tight by his side. He could do this, he would stay cool… But Bodie was looking at him strangely, and it was too late for that, wasn't it, it had been too late the day they'd first worked together, when he'd taken one look and had to remind himself that he didn't believe all that guff about love at first sight, and who could love an arrogant prick like that anyway, and…

And Bodie was still looking at him strangely.

He tried again. Calm, calm, calm. "It's been over a year, for Christ's sake, Bodie. You go out on a CI5 job you make sure you take your gear with you, you make sure…" Bloody voice.

And Bodie just standing there, staring at him, not getting it. Doyle moved then, halfway between frustration and fury, but determined not to lose his temper. Bodie backed off a step, came up against the wall, and looked momentarily surprised, so Doyle pressed his advantage, pushed Bodie back against the wall, body to body, his hands either side of Bodie's head, faces close so that Bodie would hear him. "What if it'd been the other way around?"

Bodie managed to shake his head, to hold his gaze. "It wouldn't have been the other way around though, would it?" His voice was quiet, though he was tense against Doyle, every inch straining not to give way, and Doyle felt it, hard muscle under his own hard muscle, flesh over sinew, over the solidity that was Bodie. "Not Raymond Doyle, you wouldn't get mad enough to forget yourself now…" and Bodie relaxed suddenly, became yielding under Doyle's own body, moved his hand from Doyle's shoulder and slid it behind Doyle, up to his neck, reached his fingers to try and tangle through the ends of the curls there, "…would you? To lose your…" he pressed his hips forward again, "… your cool?"

Doyle closed his eyes, pursed his lips against it all, and of course that was when Bodie tilted his face sideways, just a little, moved so that their cheeks brushed, so that his breath, calm and slow but ever so warm, eased its way across Doyle's skin, tickled at his ear, caressed… so that when Doyle's lips fell open, just so that he could breathe, Bodie was there waiting for him, so collected, so surely laying in wait, to kiss Doyle as he so coolly knew Doyle wanted…

No. Doyle moved, all the heat and rage flowing through him and around him, and from him in a rush of energy and motion. He pressed Bodie back against the wall, took Bodie's hand from his neck and trapped it in his own, took Bodie's lips and his tongue and his breath and held them with his own, made them his own. He'd teach the sod to go off alone, he'd teach the bastard to vanish, to make everyone worry, to scare him like that…

Bodie pushed back, not giving an inch, fighting him, but not to make him let go, not to get away or to force him to submit in his turn, but because that's what Bodie did, and because that was what Doyle wanted. They would both be bruised the next morning, they would both feel it the next day, and they would both know. He wanted Bodie to twist him, in his turn, up against the wall, the hard unyielding wall, and he wanted to feel that Bodie would not let him go, would not let him back off.

Even more he wanted this, he wanted to feel Bodie tearing open his jeans, to feel them peeled down over his hips, the barest breeze of cool air before Bodie was grinding hard against him, then impatiently undoing his own trousers, and spitting, and then there pressing inside him. Doyle winced, pushed back, and gasped, because he had to have more of Bodie now, but that was okay because Bodie's arm was wrapped around him, bracing them against the wall, and his other hand was on Doyle's cock, and they were moving fast, and they couldn't be any closer, except that one moment when…

And then it was all over, again, and he leaned hard against the wall, felt Bodie heavy against him, panting raggedly as he fought to catch his breath.

"Stupid bastard," he managed, feeling Bodie's arm still tight around him, felt him softened but still there, inside him, felt lips press briefly against his neck.

And here they were, at home in their world.

"Isn't that about where I slammed out last night?" Bodie muttered into his neck.

"Nah, you 'ad more clothes on by then…"

"Oh yeah," Bodie moved, kissed his neck again, pulled carefully out of him, "Do you think I should…"

"Don't you dare, mate…"

"Then shower?"

Hot water, and soap and shampoo, and Bodie right there beside him… He let Bodie lead him there, to his own shower, let Bodie scrub his hair, and slick his body with soap, and did the same in return, until they both felt clean, if slightly cramped, and finally, finally, warm again, and then they stood, overlapping against the shower wall, letting the heat and the steam run over them for just a minute longer.

"You know it wasn't me beat Mickey up, don't you?" Bodie said abruptly, turning to face Doyle through the warmth.

"Berk! 'course I know that. You think I think you'd..?"

Bodie stared at him, "You were pretty sure I would last night."

"Mickey's a scared kid, he doesn't need much to make him talk. I just didn't want you to go in mob-handed, and frighten him off telling us anything, is all."

"He was the one told me where McLeven was staying, you know."

"Thought he must have done. He told the Cow and all from hospital, didn't he."

Bodie nodded, closed his eyes. "Didn't tell you though?"

"Oh that would have been too easy now, wouldn't it," Doyle sniffed, "Much easier to let me run around for hours on end, worrying meself sick in case I'd 'ave to go through all that new-partner training with Martin again." His R/T had been smashed in the fight too, but he'd tell Bodie about that later…

"And there was me, halfway to me grave," Bodie managed to sound both sorrowful and cheeky, something Doyle could never manage convincingly.

"Minor concussion, bit of a scratch," he dismissed, turning so that he could run a finger beside the angry stitching on Bodie's arm, could lift his lips to Bodie's forehead. Bodie lying in the mud, tended to by a runaway with a dirty hanky and some rainwater.

Bodie didn't laugh though. "He's a good kid, you know?" he said, following Doyle's train of thought with as much ease as he always did. Doyle wondered idly, how far that would have gone in another year's time, in five years' time, in ten. Would they even need to speak at all, by then?

"He'll bring your bike back, no problem."

"He'd better," Doyle growled, half-serious. If he lost that bike after all the effort he'd put into rebuilding it…

"Oh he 'as to," Bodie said, sounding supremely confident, "He wants a ride on one of those silver buses, doesn't he?"

"What's that got to do with us?" Doyle asked. They should probably get out, find some food, but he could feel his muscles loosening up, and he liked to feel Bodie warm and wet beside him.

"Well, I promised we'd take him on one tomorrow."

"What?"

"He wouldn't take any money… and he's not very good in crowds, he says."

"It's our day off tomorrow! In lieu..."

"Only after we've seen the Cow," Bodie pointed out.

"Yeah but…" Bodie had promised Duck a ride on a Jubilee bus. He'd given him the keys to Doyle's bike, and he'd promised Duck.

"Thing is, Ray, I did listen to you, you know."

Yeah, he knew. Doyle nodded, and grinned at Bodie, and reached to turn off the taps.

 

June 2007