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Rebirth

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The sound of gunfire erupted inside the house.

“Go!” Cowley’s voice carried to him, but Bodie was already on the move, adrenaline and fear driving him forward. Ray! Anson, Lucas, and McCabe followed him. He touched the door—

The next thing he knew, he was on the ground. His ears rang, his hand hurt, his head— He looked up, and knew. The house still stood before him, but it was damaged, and fire grew even as he watched. A bomb. A fucking bomb. A— Christ. Ray! Hands grabbed his arms even as he struggled to his feet.

“Bodie? Bodie!” It was Anson’s voice.

“We’ve got to get in—” Bodie lurched towards the burning house, but was pulled back.

“No way. There’s no fucking way, Bodie! McCabe! Get the fuck over here! Bodie, think!”

No! But he let them pull him away, supported on both sides by Anson and McCabe. He stared at the house as it was engulfed in flames. He knew there were no survivors. There had never been any hope. No chance. He couldn’t catch his breath. He couldn’t— Couldn’t. Ray!

They took him to Cowley, who was shouting over the R/T, but paused mid-sentence as they arrived. Bodie met his gaze. He wanted to shout, lash out, blame Cowley for this disaster, as he’d blamed him for other, near disasters before. But the anguish in Cowley’s eyes stopped him. He nodded, once. Cowley drew his breath in. “Anson, McCabe go and check on Jax by the canal.”

“Leason?” Anson asked.

“Dead. Fillmore, too. Go on.” Anson and McCabe left at a run.

“The bomb was in the back,” Bodie said. His own voice sounded remote to him. He felt himself clamping down, walling away his emotions. He could breathe again. He could think. And act. And kill.

“Aye.”

Bodie heard sirens approaching—fire brigade, police, ambulances. “Leason. Fillmore. Anyone else?” He wouldn’t say Ray’s name.

“Injuries. Everyone in the back. No one came out of the house.”

Bodie nodded. They’d blown themselves up, then, as well as Doyle. Fanatics. He looked down at the ground, struggling to control the useless rage. Funnel it. But there was no one to take vengeance on, no survivors to focus on. There wasn’t even an organization to take down. Moran had been a lone wolf terrorist, with a few hired thugs. There was nothing but ashes and death and the stopping of everything. The end. He tightened his jaw, fists clenched. Don’t move. Wait for it to pass. Don’t think. Breathe. For now. He looked up again, saw Cowley and Murphy dealing with the fire brigade and police. An ambulance crew passed close by him, ferrying Stuart to one of the ambulances. He almost wished he’d been injured, so he could sink into drugs—forget. But it would only delay, not help. He flashed onto a picture of Doyle glancing at him sideways, half smiling— He closed his eyes.

“Five-eight to Cowley.” It was Jax’s voice on Cowley’s R/T. When Bodie opened his eyes, he found Cowley standing next to him again.

“Go ahead Five-eight.”

“Sir, Moran’s on the tow path! We’re in pursuit!”

Bodie took off for the canal at a run, heart suddenly pounding. Moran had been in the house. If he had made it out… He cut off the thought. Concentrate on Moran. He wanted Moran. He heard the sound of gunfire as he ran towards the canal behind the house, and saw McCabe behind a bush overlooking the tow path. Bodie changed direction, vaulted onto a low wall and then climbed over a fence into the neighbouring garden. He made his way to the tow path as the gunfire ceased. He saw two men down on the path—one of them was Moran, judging by the red hair. Anson was by the other man, and signalled that the man was dead. He moved on towards Moran.

Bodie noticed movement from Moran as Anson approached—a gleam of sunlight on metal— “Moran!” Moran froze. “Drop the gun.” Don’t drop it, don’t drop it, don’t— But the fucking bastard dropped it, lay still as Anson reached him and cuffed him. Bodie holstered his gun and walked towards them.

“Thanks,” Anson said to Bodie. He jerked Moran to his feet. “Where’d you come from, sunshine?”

‘Moran smirked. “I’m magic. Didn’t you know?”

“Who’s the one wearing the cuffs, then?” Jax asked as he joined the group. Behind him, McCabe stopped to pick up both guns.

“And how many of you did I get?” Moran laughed.

Anson touched Bodie on the arm. “Let’s go.”

Bodie didn’t move. He knew what Anson was up to, but he had himself well in hand. He knew Moran, He knew exactly what would happen to him. It didn’t matter if Moran was put in prison or not. He felt almost calm. There was something he could do, after all.

Jax was staring at Moran. “He was in the house, wasn’t he?”

“Yeah.” Anson sounded impatient, no doubt wanting to get Bodie out of range.

“There’s dirt on his clothes, hair.” Jax lifted Moran’s hands. “Under his nails, too.” He looked from Anson to Bodie.

“Tunnel,” Bodie said. And it was as if blood was suddenly flowing where it had been constricted before. He welcomed the pain, it would keep him sharp.

“Where?” McCabe stepped into Moran’s space.

“Where what?” Moran grunted when McCabe hit him, then he laughed.

Bodie turned away. McCabe—or maybe Cowley—would get it out of Moran eventually. But he wanted to find it now. If there was a tunnel, if it led to the house, if Doyle— Anson started searching for an entrance as well. There were, after all, limited options for where it had to be placed. In the distance, Bodie heard Jax reporting in to Cowley. There was no reason to think Doyle had been in the tunnel, Bodie told himself as he examined a section of wall close to the tow path. Even if he had been, they wouldn’t have left him alive. There had been gunfire in the house. They hadn’t brought Ray along as a bargaining chip. It didn’t mean— But there was hope—a slim sliver of hope. If Doyle had somehow followed them… But if he had, why hadn’t he followed them out? Bodie gritted his teeth, put aside doubt. Find the tunnel first.

“Here!” Anson called. Bodie hurried over and found Anson prying at a vertical crack in the wall. Bodie jammed his fingers into the crack and pulled as well. He felt a part of the wall move; he pulled harder, and suddenly a crude door opened onto a small, dark shaft, about three feet high.

“Bloody hell,” Anson said.

Bodie couldn’t see far into the tunnel, and what he could see looked cramped and unsafe. Still, he moved forward to crawl into the space. Anson grabbed his arm to stop him.

“Don’t be stupid.” Anson leaned forward and shouted into the tunnel: “Hello! Anyone?” They listened, but there was no reply. Anson looked at Bodie. “Wait for backup. This thing isn’t even properly braced.”

Anson was right, but the need to check for himself was overwhelming. “Look, I’ll just go a little way in, in case there’s—” He swallowed. “All right?”

Anson sighed. “Okay. Not that you care what I think.” Anson turned to look behind Bodie. “We’re going in just to check it out. Get a torch.”

“Right,” Bodie heard Jax answer. Bodie glanced at Anson. “‘We’?”

“We’ve still got your back, Bodie.”

Bodie didn’t reply, just turned back to the tunnel, but the constriction around his chest seemed to ease a little. Cautiously, he crawled into the narrow tunnel. There was just enough light from the doorway for him to see it curved to the right not far ahead. He reached the curve, then stopped as the light faded completely. He stretched his arm out and found the tunnel went on.

“Anything?” Anson asked from behind him.

“It curves towards the centre of the garden. Where’s that torch? I can’t—” He stopped speaking as he heard a sound.

“Jax will be back in a—”

“Shut it!” He waited and was rewarded with the sound again—a thumping noise. “Ray?” He couldn’t help but shout the name, all his hopes in it, despite the voice in his head that urged caution. The rhythm of the thumps increased, and he thought he heard a muffled call. He moved forward, blind in the darkness.

“Bodie? Bodie wait for the fucking— For Christ’s sake.”

He heard Anson in the tunnel behind him, but Bodie kept going forward until he banged hard into metal. The thumping noise came from the other side. Bodie hit the metal with the flat of his hand. “Ray?” It felt as though his heart was in his throat, trying to break out. He felt around the edges of the metal. It seemed to be a small door with a lever handle. A shovel had been jammed through the lever, making it impossible to turn, trapping anyone on the other side. Bodie ripped out the shovel, turned the lever and opened the door. A body followed the door, colliding with Bodie.

“Ray?” Bodie grabbed the body, but in the dark, with fear and need coursing through him, he couldn’t tell who it was—friend or foe. The ruthless pragmatism he lived by was overwhelmed.

“What took you so…bleeding…long.” Doyle gasped the words, as if he didn’t have enough air. He went limp against Bodie, but his grip on Bodie’s arm was strong.

For a moment, Bodie held still, absorbing Doyle’s presence, feeling almost sick with relief. Then he shouted down the tunnel: “He’s here! Get a medic!” Bodie lowered his voice as he shifted Doyle. “Can you crawl?”

“Yeah, just a little light-headed.”

“The house exploded.”

Doyle gave something of a laugh. “I know. Got into the bomb shelter just in time. Collapsed behind me.”

“And jammed from this side.” Bodie tamped down on the anger that burned within him. “Shall we get out, then?”

“Might do. Had enough of suffocating.”

No wonder there was something off in Doyle’s voice. “Good thing I went spelunking, then.”

“Spe-whosit?”

“Exploring caves. Could take you to some lovely—”

“Out. Now.”

Bodie patted him. “Straight ahead, then. You lead, I’ll follow.”

Doyle didn’t move.

“Just feel the wall on either side.” He took one of Doyle’s hands to show him the side of the tunnel. “See?” He couldn’t resist saying it, and he grinned in the dark.

“Yeah. Okay.” Doyle’s tone was flat. He moved forward a few inches, then stopped.

“Ray?” Bodie reached out and found himself touching the side of Doyle’s leg. It was rigid with tension, but he wasn’t moving.

“I…”

Bodie kept his voice calm. “Tell you what, beauty before age, eh?” He eased carefully around Doyle.

“Delusions,” Doyle muttered, and Bodie was glad to hear it.

“Fact, old son. Here, you put your hand on my leg, right?”

“The blind leading the blind?”

Bodie grinned. “Into the light, yeah.” He felt Doyle’s hand grip the back of his leg. “Here we go.” Softly, he added: “Trust me, Ray.”

Doyle gave no answer, but his fingers tightened a little on Bodie’s leg. Bodie took in a breath, then crawled forward, concentrating on keeping the wall to his left within easy reach. He didn’t think about the earth above them, or the blocked route behind them, or the distance they had to travel. He listened to Doyle’s breathing behind him, no doubt ignoring the exact same things. Just keep moving forward. The tunnel curved, and suddenly there was a glimmer of light ahead of them. “There, you see? Light at the end—”

“I’m going to thump you.”

“Yeah? You and whose army?”

Doyle’s snort felt like the first beer after a hard day’s work. “Won’t need an army where I’m going to—”

“Bodie! Doyle—thank God.” Anson was there, helping to pull them out from the tunnel and into the bright sunshine.

Bodie looked around, blinking in the light. He saw McCabe with a torch in his hand, grinning. Cowley walked towards them, an ambulance crew behind him. There was no sign of Jax and Moran. Bodie looked at Doyle, saw the blood, dirt, and bruises on his face, and the tiredness in his eyes. But he also saw promise and strength. Doyle smiled at him. Bodie smiled back, then looked away as Cowley arrived.

“Doyle! Well done, lad. Well done!” He took Doyle’s hand in his, and patted him on his shoulder. “We have Moran.”

“I would like a word or two with him.” Doyle’s voice was grim.

“Aye, as would we all.” Cowley signalled the ambulance crew. “But first, you’re going to get looked at.”

Doyle grimaced. “I’m fine, sir.”

“Protocol, Doyle.”

“Yeah.” Bodie nudged him. “You are, after all, as good as risen from the dead. They have to do tests. Make sure you’re not a zombie.”

“A—? Sir!” The ambulance men surrounded Doyle.

“I shall want your reports, of course,” Cowley said to Bodie. “And I’ll debrief Doyle.” Cowley, too, looked tired, and Bodie was reminded of all they’d lost that day. Leason and Fillmore and, very nearly, Doyle. But it wasn’t in his nature to look back at what might have been. Forward was the only way to go, come what may.

“Yes, sir.” He watched as Doyle was persuaded onto a trolley. “Report back to you when I collect him at the hospital?”

There was a pause, and then Cowley said, “No. Tomorrow will do. Take him home.” Cowley glanced at him, and suddenly Bodie felt pinned by that gaze, as if Cowley was examining him under a bright light, and seeing right into him. Then the moment passed, and Cowley turned away. “Happy Easter to you both.”

“Thank you, sir.” He watched as Cowley walked towards McCabe and Anson. Bodie turned to make his way to the street where he’d left his car. He’d forgotten it was Easter. Rebirth and renewal. Hot cross buns. He breathed in spring air, and let it out. He and Ray would go home together, and there would be no turning back to the past. He’d follow Doyle’s lead as Doyle had followed him. The future was theirs.

The End
Easter 2015