"We received a message from the kidnappers today in the form of a severed finger and a note warning us of the consequences if we don't keep away. Intelligence tells us the house on Starr Road is being used as a meet for the gang tonight. Doyle, have you been passed fit for duty?"
The door gives way on the second kick and Doyle throws himself into the room, rolling to a crouch with his gun held in front of him; safety off and ready to fire.
Senses alert for danger, he listens for sounds of human life while his eyes pierce the darkness for friend and foe. Moving swiftly and silently he searches the cellar; methodically, detachedly, eyes darting from side to side. Someone has been here. The stench of blood, piss and vomit - most of it coming from the pile of rags against the wall – fills his nostrils, but he's smelt worse and it doesn't detract from his task.
A mouse runs over his foot. There's a gunfight overhead. Flies are buzzing around a body in the corner.
"We must tread carefully here. With Bodie inside, he could be used as a shield or a bargaining tool. And Bolderston has friends in high places. Stick to the brief and you'll have my full backing. Step out of line and a clever lawyer in a court of law will be the least of your worries. Are you listening, Doyle?"
His CI5 training takes over and he's calm, professional; concentrating on the job in hand. Transferring his gun to his right hand, he advances on the body. There's no need to check for a pulse; cause of death will be attributed to the bullet hole between the frightened man's eyes. There's a bloody bandage around the little finger of the left hand.
The overhead gunfire ceases, and the silence roars in Doyle's ears.
He reaches into his pocket for his R/T. Thumbing the switch his fingers are steady as he calls it in.
"4.5 to Alpha."
"I'll be outside with 'B' squad to pick up any stragglers and deal with the prisoners. You are to go in pairs, with your usual partners. 4.5, you will pair up with 6.2."
"Alpha here. Go ahead, 4.5."
"There's a body here in the cellar. No need for the medics." He pauses to let the fact sink in. "It isn't 3.7. I repeat: it isn't 3.7. I'm still looking for him. Over."
"Roger, 4.5. Alpha out."
The R/T hangs limply from his fingers and he dismisses the body as unimportant to him. Footsteps clatter overhead. Voices raised, some pleading, some demanding, but none of them Bodie's.
A noise in the doorway has him whirling round, dropping to a crouch instinctively. He straightens up and lowers his gun when he recognises Murphy.
"Doyle, make sure you stick to Murphy like glue. Like glue! No wandering off on your own. This operation depends on everyone being in the right place at the right time and I won't have you fouling it up. Those are my terms."
"Has he been found?" Doyle asks. They both know who 'he' is.
Murphy shakes his head and even in the gloom Doyle sees the look of pity that crosses his fellow agent's face.
"He's alive, Murph. I'd know if he wasn't," Doyle insists, snarling. "We have to keep looking."
"There's nowhere else. The entire place has been searched."
"There has to be. He has to be here."
Murphy curses as he stumbles over a shoe hidden in the darkness. He looks down. It's brown. Leather. Size eight. Not the kind of shoe you would wear to build a house in.
"Draw what ammunition you need from the armoury. We leave in an hour."
Murphy calls it in because Doyle is on his knees, his slender fingers pushing away the soiled rags and carefully feeling for a pulse on the battered body. It's faint, but it's regular and Bodie may not be his usual immaculate self, covered as he is in cuts and bruises and lying in his own bodily fluids, but he's the best fucking thing Doyle has seen today, and it takes all of his self-control not to wrap himself around his partner to protect him from further harm.
Blue eyes flicker open as Doyle leans over to whisper, "You're safe now." They unwillingly close again and a tortured breath is exhaled through split, bruised lips that try to smile in recognition, but don't quite manage the task.
He snarls at anyone who gets in the way of the ambulance men carrying Bodie on the stretcher and even Cowley isn't foolish enough to try and stop Doyle from riding in the ambulance.
"It's the job, man. Don't make it a personal vendetta."
But how can it be anything but personal when Bolderston's financial backer turns out to be John Coogan? When it was Coogan himself who hung Bodie from a beam and rained punch after punch on his body, punctuating each one with "That's for Pauly"? When it was Coogan who held Bodie's head as he vomited through sheer exhaustion, telling of his plans for Doyle when he'd finished with Bodie?
How can it be anything but personal when it was Coogan who left Bodie in the cellar promising he'd bring Doyle in to watch him die?
"Coogan has been released on bail and is confined to his own house while he waits for his court date. Doyle, take a few days off. You look exhausted, lad."
Doyle has just one more job to do before he can take on the task of getting himself and Bodie up to full working order again. Getting into Coogan's home isn't a problem for a professional like him, even with the security cameras placed at the front and back entrances. For an ex-boxer Coogan is remarkably easy to agitate, but then, Doyle is remarkably good at his job and can restrain without leaving marks. When Coogan's cold body is found in his bed later this morning, the terrified look on his face will be put down to the agony of the heart attack he suffered. Only Doyle will know what was said to strike that much terror into a hardened villain's heart.
He leaves nothing that will link back to him or to CI5.
Shafts of early morning sunlight peek through the gap in the curtains as Doyle slides into bed, gently pulling the sleeping man closer to him, mindful of the cuts and bruises on the battered body. He kisses the marked, handsome face.
"Mine," he whispers, and Bodie smiles contentedly in his sleep, secure in the knowledge that Doyle is close by.