Remember. Story takes place in early 1977, assumes Bodie and Doyle are already partnered, but before the actual aired episodes. Some tinkering has been done with CI5 personnel for the sake of the story.
'Just another day in paradise,' Ray Doyle cracked to himself as he handed the last of the paperwork over to Betty and tried out his second best 'you know you love me' smirk on her. As usual with Mr. Cowley's secretary, it slid off with no appreciable impact. It had been a long week for everyone, and she didn't even give him her standard 'evil eye' reaction, she just ignored him. Shrugging and sharing a glance with his partner, he nodded toward the rest room. With typical single-mindedness, Bodie was already halfway down the hall, intent on a reviving cup of what passed for tea at CI5 headquarters and perhaps, if he was lucky, a crumb or two of the chocolate biscuits he'd spied on the way to turn in the reports. It had been all of three minutes ago, and treats disappeared fairly quickly around this horde. Doyle read it all in one raised brow, and shook his head, following his mate down the hall.
Halfway to their destination, a minor fuss caused them both to back up against the side of the wall. One of the nastier of the Mob men Murphy had tracked down and hauled in for questioning earlier in the day was being escorted from the premises. Ray thought he could almost see the string running from between the man's shoulder blades directly to Cowley's clenched fist. Could be very interesting seeing where this one would run to -- he was one of the more highly connected ones if he remembered his briefing correctly. As the man shifted to move past them, the distinctive tang of his aftershave caught Doyle's attention, and for no reason that he could explain, he found himself frozen. His sudden lack of movement caught the mobster's attention, and he turned to fact the agent, ignoring his escorts' pull at his arm.
Pale grey eyes widened at the sight of Doyle, plastered against the wall, dressed in his usual faded jeans, tight tee and scruffy trainers. He looked all of a battered sixteen, eyes wide in a pale face, staring at the man with sick fascination. The mobster smiled, lifted a hand, and gently ran a fingertip across the uneven ridge of the insert along Doyle's right cheekbone.
"Oh, Mister Cowley, now that is scraping up the bottom. Why don't you pick on someone your own size and leave the little ones alone? This one is harmless." The fingertip lingered, was joined by the rest of his hand as he cupped Doyle's face. "You have grown up beautifully, haven't you?" The caress ended in a small pat, then the man dropped his hand and turned, stalking toward the door, two gawking agents trailing in his wake.
The voice shouldn't have sounded familiar, he knew he'd never met the man, had he? No, surely he would have remembered ... that scent. That voice. Those hands. Unaware that the man had finished touching him and was leaving, Ray tried his best to sink into the wall. But it had disappeared. All around him was white, cold, antiseptic, not the familiar dingy walls of CI5 HQ. Damp cotton under his grasping hands, sweat and salt from tears, had to hide, had to disappear again.
His face was on fire.
So was his back.
And he couldn't feel his legs.
The numbness spread, from his hands, pressed flat on unyielding plaster, from legs tensed to run and unable to move, from his gut, from his chest, until it closed over the top of his head and the white faded away to black.
Bodie stared at his partner, his own jaw agape. He'd been expecting Doyle to smash the twit, not stand there and let him fondle his face, for God's sake. He was all set to ask him what the hell that had been about, when the little remaining color in Doyle's face drained completely away. Glazed green eyes rolled up, lashes fluttered down, and Doyle slid like a sack of cement down the wall. Bodie caught him just before he hit the floor. Looking up into Cowley's concerned face, he bent to scoot his partner up, intent on taking him someplace quiet and finding out what had happened to him. As one arm slid around the bony shoulders and the other slipped under the bent knees, a fist lashed out and caught him alongside the jaw, knocking him flat on his backside and startling the hell out of him.
Dazed eyes, open again and looking confused and combative, stared back at him. "Bodie? Wha' happened?" His voice was slurred, as if he'd been drinking, but Bodie knew better.
"You tell me, mate!" He picked himself up and extended an arm to help Doyle up. Ray took it with no hesitation and hoisted himself up rather unsteadily. "One minute you're standin' there like a mannequin letting that crud feel your face up, next you're keeling over like a dead man. So, you tell *me*, what happened here?"
Before Doyle could answer, Cowley did. "Whatever it was, the hall is no place to be discussing it. My office, you two." Staring at the small crowd that was still foolhardy enough to be standing, staring, he added, "I'm sure I've something for each of you to do if you've nothing --" Before he could finish the threat, the hall was cleared. He nodded briskly, and followed the pair into his office, closing the door firmly behind them.
Doyle was sprawled in one of the chairs angled to the front of the desk, Bodie leaning against the wing back, studying his partner intently. Ray's face was slightly less pale, but his eyes were still not quite focused, and a nearly imperceptible shiver shook his frame. Cowley headed directly for his scotch bottle and poured out three small shares.
"Get this down your throat, Doyle, then tell me exactly what happened out there a moment ago. How do you know Bertram Hodges?" His concern was well masked behind a crisp, matter-of-fact expression. Doyle glanced up at him, then stared into his glass.
"Is that his name?" he asked vaguely, then swallowed the whiskey in one gulp. Closing his eyes for a moment against the fire in his chest, he missed the concerned glance Bodie and Cowley shared. "I didn't remember." He sighed, staring at his now empty glass. "Remember." His voice sank on the word. When he looked up at Cowley again, the older man was shocked at the exhaustion he saw in the flat green eyes.
"Two days off, starting now, Doyle. Work on that memory of yours." He nodded sharply, watching closely as Doyle levered himself up from the chair and headed for the door without so much as an acknowledgment. "I'll expect an answer to my question when you return to duty, 4.5." The order was unmistakable. Ray stopped, one hand on the knob. Looking over his shoulder at his boss, he took a deep breath.
"Do my best, sir." Then he was gone.
Bodie swallowed his own drink and made to follow. One step away from setting the glass on the sideboard, Cowley's voice stopped him. "What do you make of it, Bodie?"
"Be damned if I know, sir," he answered honestly. "Never seen him react that way to anything before. Like he -- almost like he wasn't really there, you know what I mean, sir?" He settled onto the arm of the chair, leaning toward the desk. Blue eyes met blue, an unsettling confusion in both. "I've seen something like it, in some of the men, after that last tour in Belfast. Almost like they could wish themselves away from where they were at. But never with Doyle." He shrugged, irritated at the gap in his knowledge of his partner. "Must be some shared history there, but it's been awhile. It'll come back to him, and when it does he'll let us know."
Cowley stared back at him, the fingers of one hand drumming lightly, restlessly, on a handy pile of folders. "I hope so, Bodie. I don't like the looks of this at all."
"I'll see to him, sir," Bodie smiled grimly. "Always do." With that, he turned again, and headed out the door after his partner.
The Controller watched him go, then sighed and opened the top folder. Yes, Bodie always did, just as Doyle looked after Bodie. It would come clear in time; until then, he had work to do.
It was a long, frustrating and irritating weekend for one W.A.P. Bodie. He'd given Doyle the night, figuring he needed some time alone, then had started to track him down. After all the usual places were tried, he started on the occasional bolt holes. He could have called HQ and had the dispatcher give him a starting place, but he was determined that it shouldn't come to that. After all, who knew Doyle better than he? No one did. So if anyone could find the wrong-headed little golli it'd be him, right?
After a day and a half of fruitless searching, his misgivings had swallowed what was left of his pride. Unfortunately, calling dispatch didn't help. All they could tell him was that 4.5 was still within range, that his R/T was operational and that he hadn't left London. Hell of a lot of good that did him.
Come Monday morning, Bodie showed up on Doyle's doorstep again, hoping *this* time when he rang the bell there would actually be an answer. Before he could take out some of his frustrations on the innocent bell and lean on it again, the door pulled open with a bang.
"Yeah, yeah, no need to sleep on it, mate, I'm here." Doyle looked rattier than usual. There were deep circles under his eyes, and the pallor Bodie'd remarked on Friday night was still there, making his beard shadow appear painted on with a spackling sponge. Ignoring the inimical glare tossed his way, Bodie bowed sarcastically and ushered Doyle into the passenger seat. Lowering himself behind the wheel, he started to grill him on his weekend activities, but Doyle pulled out his travel razor and went to work, making any sort of conversation impossible. Bodie steamed silently all the way to headquarters.
Pealing into the parking garage, taking a certain nasty satisfaction in the smothered oath Doyle spit out as he caught an unwary knee up against the dash, Bodie parked and sat. Doyle made a reach for the door handle and Bodie caught the hand before it could land. Doyle stared at the muscular arm pinning him to the seat and sighed.
"Must be important for you to turn all caveman on me, Bodie. What is it this time?"
Bodie stared at him silently until Doyle finally gave in and looked up at his face. "Did you know your eyes look like olives floating in tomato soup?" Before Doyle could do more than splutter, Bodie continued, ice frosting his words. "Just where the bloody hell were you this weekend, sunshine? The Cow said rest, not carouse, and for all I could discover you did neither. Unless you've suddenly decided to ignore your buzzer now?"
A deep breath raised the arm across his chest, and Doyle wriggled a little in the seat. "Just needed to think for a bit, Bodie." As the other man opened his mouth to take him up on that one, Doyle twisted his wrist and broke the hold Bodie had on him. "Leave it, Bodie." A cross between a pout and a snarl started on his partner's face, and Doyle shook his head. "Please."
It was the soft request at the end that undid Bodie. A sarky Doyle he could handle -- it was the norm, most of the time. But this tired withdrawal was different. Whatever was going on was not the usual Doyle Wallowing In It (whatever It might be). Bodie drew back, staring at Doyle's back as he stepped out of the car and headed for the lift. Pushing himself out of the driver's seat and hurrying to catch up, he decided to watch and wait.
It had worked in the jungle. No reason why it couldn't work with urban wildlife.
The briefing in Cowley's office was short and to the point. A tie had finally been made between Hodges and a few of the other money men, and a local, newly active cell of the IRA. That string Doyle had seen running from the mobster's back to Cowley's hand had led northward. Their task was relatively straightforward -- go to Derby, take a stick, poke it into the shadows, question whatever crawls out. Bodie had made one bright comment about home stomping grounds and Doyle'd nearly bitten his head off. So. It was going to be one of those road trips.
Cowley had handed Doyle a file and waved them out the door. Bodie had it stuffed into his hands before they reached the top step.
"Read to me while I'm drivin', I'm in the mood for a story," Ray growled over his shoulder as they headed back into the garage they'd left not a half hour before.
"While *you're* drivin'?" came Bodie's incredulous reply. "And who died and made you chauffeur?" The indignity was only partly feigned. After the weekend he'd had, he wasn't in the mood to play nice about anything. To his absolute shock, Doyle stopped, took the file from his hand and walked around to the passenger side door.
"Okay," he said absently, flipping the door open and slumping into the seat. Bodie stared at him for a long moment, then slowly got in the driver's side. He snicked the key into the ignition, then slewed around in the seat to stare at his seemingly oblivious partner. The curly head was bent over the open file, hiding the look on the usually expressive face. Before he could ask the questions nipping at the tip of his tongue, Doyle growled, "Drop it, Bodie. Let's get this show on the road."
Bodie dropped it, for the moment, and drove.
Several long minutes into the drive, Doyle began to read snippets of the report aloud. Bodie responded to the attempt at normalcy, and the rest of the drive passed in planning strategy, complaining about the traffic and moaning about roaming the wilds of the East Midlands. A typical day, a typical drive, but underneath the banter there was a decidedly atypical tension.
George Cowley stared at the polished wood of the softly closed door for several long minutes, his light eyes distracted as his mind fought a battle within itself. Tapping a nail against the edge of the crystal shot glass at his elbow, he listened to the faint clear ring until it died away to stillness. Then he took a small key from a pocket in his vest, and unlocked the bottom right-hand drawer of his desk. Rifling efficiently through the files there, he paused over one and eventually extracted it. Laying it down in the center of his desktop, he stared at the bright red stripe along the edge that signified confidential records. Typed neatly along the tab were the words 'Raymond Doyle, sealed med & court hist 1957-63.'
Taking one last look at the shot glass, then pushing it aside with a slight grimace, he settled himself into his seat and opened the file.
Before he finished it, the scotch bottle had migrated to his desk.
After he finally replaced it in the locking drawer and pocketed the key, he sat, quietly, thinking, for a very long time.
By the time the small car reached the outskirts of Derby all semblance of normality had worn off. Bodie was whistling any annoying tune he could think up, purposefully off-key, as loudly as his lips could take it, in the hope of getting any sort of reaction at all from Doyle. The captive audience for this performance not only didn't protest, he didn't seem to even notice. After the eightieth rendition of 'I'm a Little Teapot' in the key of F very Flat fell from rapidly numbing lips, Bodie lost what few remnants of temper he had left.
"All right, sunshine, enough is enough, and I have bloody well had my fill. Foreign territory, mate, I could use a bit of help from a handy native guide. That'd be you!"
The near-bark roused Doyle from his apathy, and he looked up from rapt contemplation of his trainer lace. "We here?" he asked vaguely.
"Close enough, and if this is the way you're gonna act, we may as well pack it in right now and head back to London. 'Cause I'll be needing backup and you'll have your head in the clouds -- or stuffed up your arse -- and I'll take the brunt of it!"
Not that he actually believed that, but Bodie was getting worried enough that he would say just about anything to get his partner back in the land of the living. It worked. Doyle swallowed hard, seemed to shake away the distraction that had plagued him all day, and stared about him in a close approximation of his normal observant self.
"Right. Take a left at the next turning, then a right, and that'll get us to Curzon. 'Bout four blocks up from that's the Red Setters. We'll stay there, nice place, near city center, and not half pricey. Make the expense chits entertaining, at least." He tried a grin on Bodie. It was accepted and returned with interest, and not a little relief.
"Early night tonight, pub crawl tomorrow?" Bodie threw it out, just to see what response he'd get. He wasn't disappointed.
"What, you getting old, and me two years past you? Nah, pubs tonight, may as well start prodding and see what screams."
"If anythin'," Bodie agreed. "Not the liveliest place around, Derby."
"You might be surprised, mate," Doyle muttered, staring into the gathering dusk. "You just might be surprised."
The questioning covered everywhere and everyone they thought might be touched by the racketeers. That led, inevitably, to the streets. They'd leave the pubs 'til later, when their feet needed the rest and their throats would be demanding a break.
Doyle led them unerringly to the seediest part of town, and Bodie couldn't refrain from pointing out how the ex-copper had sure instincts. Instead of the snarky reply he expected, he got a one-shouldered shrug. Chalking it up to more of the same, he held back a little, watching the street, and coming in when needed. This was Doyle's territory, and he was willing to play back-up when the occasion demanded.
Her name was Cherry, or so she said, although from the looks of her she hadn't had one to boast of in many a year. They paid what she asked, watched her tuck it in her bra, then followed her to a small room off a back alley that had to have major repairs before it could even qualify as a hovel. Doyle had stumbled at the threshold, and when Bodie had reached out to steady him, he'd pulled away as if the touch burnt him. That time, Bodie had asked the questions. Doyle had stayed near the door, staring into the shadows.
It was filthy. It smelt of cheap booze and rancid grease and old sex and sweaty clothing. It felt familiar. He stood at the side of the room, and just as suddenly, was not there at all. His perspective shifted crazily, and he was somehow on the opposite side of the room, hidden, partially, behind a screen, trying to become one of the shadows. Hands over his ears, eyes staring, wide, at the bodies shifting and moving on the cot in the room, trying not to see, unable to completely block it out. Couldn't be seen, didn't dare be seen, he would be hurt (like she was being hurt)(but she wasn't fighting)(why wasn't she fighting)(didn't that hurt?)(she wasn't bleeding)(but she told him to hide)(money)(dirty)(dark)(cold)(not dark enough)(please fight)(please don't hurt me)
He was shivering. And he didn't know why.
(whatever you do, lovey, you stay in the shadows)
He came to with a start when Bodie called his name. His hand snuck into his pocket, withdrew his wallet, lay an extra note on the dresser.
Cherry told him, "Thank you."
He didn't reply.
She'd given them a name, and they'd promised they wouldn't say she told them. It had led them to another hooker, an older one, named Mabel, who had been pretty once, before it was beaten out of her. Her face had lit up when she'd seen Ray, and she had greeted him by name. He'd looked at her uncomprehendingly.
"I don't know you." How could he? Could he? *Did* he? No, surely not. Thankfully, Bodie didn't say a word.
The light died from her face, and the age showed through again. Her eyes were sad, but her smile was understanding. "O' course you don't, dearie." But she had given them a name, and when Ray had tried to pay her she had folded his fingers around the money and kissed his broken cheek. Then she had turned and walked away.
He watched her go, and his stomach hurt. For an instant, he was on the same corner, only it was hazy daylight, and those same bright brown eyes had smiled down at him (down at him? But she was short, not as high as his shoulder). One gentle hand pulling his collar up ... another, loosening the buttons on his shirt-front, opening it to his waist. He shook his head, hard, and it was dark again. But the touch lingered, and he rubbed absently, first at his nape, then at his chest, trying his damnedest to rub the ghost touch away.
The second name had given them a start, and they now had a name to put to the main money man for the local Mob. Geoffrey Brace had a finger in just about every pie in town, and it appeared he was getting ready to extend his influence past his own small pond and into international relations, of the terrorist kind. They spent another hour on the street, then called it good and headed for the pubs. Doyle didn't mention the moment he'd stood on a street corner, ostensibly watching the goods on display, when for a heartbeat he had felt cold to the bone and utterly desperate ; since he had no idea what had caused the brief panic, it would do no good to worry Bodie with it.
He hadn't seen the stare Bodie sent his way, and he didn't know he'd been swaying like a drunk for a good two minutes before he'd gathered himself together and took off toward the better lit side of town.
Bodie didn't mention it, either. He just stood a little bit closer.
Several hours later they'd made it through the White Horse, the Saracen's Head, the George (and wouldn't the Cow have been appalled at the separatist sentiments running high in that house), the Rising Sun and were now ensconced in a corner booth at the Green Man. If Bodie was surprised at anything, it was the sheer number of ways the birds in Derby had of turning "No, thanks, luv" into "maybe" or "sure, now" or even "in for a quid." It was all a bit too well lit and too free and easy for him. He was more used to the docks, and the further inland he got the more a fish out of water he felt. Not Doyle, though. He was obviously in his element, chatting up the ones that would bite at that, letting down the ones who wouldn't, and getting an amazing amount of information out of men and women alike. 'You'd think he hypnotized them,' he grumped to himself, well content to watch Goldilock's back and let him work. Ray in full spate of undercover interrogation was a joy to behold, so he did. Eventually, Doyle started giving him the evil eye, and he sighed and pitched in. As he did, something odd caught at his mind.
Something ... weird ... was going on with Doyle. Had been all night. He played with the wet rings left by his lager glass and tried to put it together in his mind.
He'd thought he was keeping it under wraps, but now he wasn't so sure. Bodie was eyeballing him strangely. Given the way he'd been acting the last few days that didn't really surprise him, but he didn't need it, not now. He hunched his shoulders a little lower and tried to block out what was happening. But it was getting harder. All night, he'd had the creepy feeling that he was watching a movie, that he wasn't really part of the action, like he wasn't really ... real, somehow. And the -- what could he call them? The flashes that kept battering at him. They couldn't be memories. Could they? Staring at the bubbles breaking against the side of his glass, he tried to concentrate. Trusting Bodie to keep an eye on the surroundings, he replayed the last few hours in his head.
All night long, he'd been hit by sounds, feelings, until his spine was crawling and his head was splitting. He hadn't been in Derby since he was a teen, didn't really remember all that much of it, yet he knew right where to go to find out exactly what they needed. And every time he turned around, something freaky would happen with his body -- his wrists would ache, his hips would smart, his arse would suddenly feel like it was on fire, his face would feel like it was exploding -- then the world would tilt and things would be normal again. And he kept seeing faces, where they shouldn't be, faces he didn't know. That girl in the room where he'd hidden in the shadows -- a pub waitress turned around, and it was her. But it wasn't. Mabel, the wrinkles weren't there, and then they were, and her hair was longer, but then it wasn't. Then there were the men -- everywhere he looked, all night long it seemed -- wrong face, just caught a glimpse, it was the man from HQ, what was his name? Hodges. Right.
Pain exploded in his face and he dropped his head into his hands, trying to keep it all in.
Bodie was yanked from his absorption in the wet table by a muffled whimper coming from his partner. Doyle was clutching at his face, curled over on himself as if he'd just been hit with a migraine.
That was it. Something was definitely wrong. "Mate?" he asked urgently, leaning forward and reaching out a steadying hand to the hunched figure. As soon as his fingers touched Doyle's arm, the other man shot out of his chair, overturning it in his haste to get away. Conversation lapsed for a moment, then continued unabated, as Doyle very carefully righted his chair and stood behind it, staring at Bodie.
"Yeah?" he replied, in a normal conversational tone. Bodie stared at him in disbelief.
"Wot the bloody hell is going on with you?" he hissed. Doyle looked at him as if he was the nutter in the duo.
"Nothing, just had a bit of a headache. You goin' to answer that?" The polite query was in response to the R/T that was currently giving out a muted beeping from Bodie's jacket pocket. With a brief glare, he got up and headed for the car, Doyle on his heels.
Once in the comparative privacy of the car, Bodie pulled the R/T out and answered, glaring at Doyle. Ray ignored him, somewhat guiltily, knowing he should explain but not having a single idea how to tell his partner what was going on with him. Couldn't explain what he didn't understand. Trying to keep the headache down to a dull roar, he tuned in to his partner's voice.
"Damn. Get in and buckle up, Doyle." He did as he was told, asking a question with a tilt of his head. Bodie answered, "Mabel. Apparently somebody didn't like her talking. She's at ITU in the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary." The engine revved and they pulled out. "Any clue where that might be?" The sarcasm was getting pretty heavy in Bodie's voice by this time. Doyle, again, didn't appear to notice. Bodie was about ready to explode.
"Yeah. Second left--" He sounded like an automaton as he gave directions, but Bodie didn't have time to wonder. The report on the old hooker hadn't sounded good, and cold as it might sound, if she wasn't going to make it they had to get any information they could from her before she died. They pulled in and headed for the entrance. Bodie was inside the doors before he realized that Doyle was no longer beside him.
He couldn't go in there. He knew this place. DRI hadn't changed all that much in the last fourteen years, really. Some new glass, landscaping ... but the smell was exactly the same. It smelled like pain.
His breath was coming in dry, sharp pants, and his vision had receded until all he could see was the entry hall leading to admitting. Tile, and light wood, and white paint. Squeaking rubber soles on white shoes on slick tile. And even breathing through his mouth he could still smell the pain.
Bodie recognized a full blown panic attack when he saw one. What he couldn't understand, given the number of times that Doyle had been in hospital either as inmate or visitor, was why this particular hospital should suddenly scare the shit out of his partner. Or the wits, at least, and that, thoroughly. He returned at a near run to Doyle's side, and gathered him up in one arm, turning him and leading him back into the parking lot. The other agent was shaking so hard he could barely walk.
"Ray? Ray-mate? C'mon, now, give us a hint. What's happening here, Doyle?" The gentle repetition of his name seemed to finally get through, and Doyle struggled to regain control over his breathing. Eventually, he was able to take a deep breath. He leaned into Bodie's shoulder for a brief moment, then shrugged off the arm.
"Sorry 'bout that, Bodie. I just ... there's something about ... can you take this one?" Dark eyes, bright with anxiety, fixed on his, and Bodie found himself nodding before he realized he'd made the decision.
"Yeah, I'll cover for you, but are you okay? I mean it, Doyle, you're beginnin' to bother me here." An understatement, that, but he wasn't going to get into it in a hospital parking lot with a maybe-dying witness waiting to be questioned. Doyle nodded firm reassurance that he was, indeed, okay, and Bodie forced himself to accept it. For now. With one last searching look at his partner, now folding himself into the passenger seat of the car, he headed back in to the hospital.
It was starting to make sense. He *had* been here before, and he remembered leaving, even if he didn't remember coming in. Doyle looked up at the lights bathing the entrance to the DRI and forced himself to relax. It would come back. It had been trying for days now. All he had to do was give it time.
Looked like the time was at hand.
The flashes were beginning to knit together, slowly, in fits and starts. Something like a coherent picture was emerging, if it could be termed that. More impressions than anything, more feelings than memories as he knew them. Time was slipping, back and forth, day and night, now and over a decade before.
His entire body ached, with rings of fire at his wrists, around his ribs, along his hips, in his arse and up into his gut, at the back of his head and into his face.
God, he hurt.
Mabel was going to make it, and the thought brought the only real smile Bodie'd had all night to his face. She was a tough old bird, and it would take more than a beating from the local toughs to put her down. She'd given them the tie they'd been searching for -- Geoffrey Brace was definitely the man in the middle, and they had what they needed to begin to make him sweat. Now to tell Doyle, and get some kip before waking the snake at an ungodly hour and shaking his tree.
He stopped a foot from the door. Doyle was curled into a very small ball in the passenger seat, his hands over his face again, rocking against the door, making the small car shake.
He opened the driver's door carefully, wondering how to handle this, wondering if he *could*. There was no doubt he would, and should, given that this was his partner, but he felt very much out of his depth. Taking a deep breath, he reached out and attempted to draw Doyle into his arms, to enfold him in a comforting embrace.
Doyle went nuts.
Fists and feet flying, he managed to land several good blows to Bodie's face and body before Bodie finally wrapped himself completely around him and immobilized him. The most frightening aspect of the entire struggle wasn't the animal hatred in Doyle's crumpled face, or the lethal intent of the blows raining on Bodie, but the utter silence in which he fought. Even his breathing was completely silent. Bodie couldn't hear anything over the pounding of his own heart, echoed by the beat going mad beneath his cheek. They stayed entwined in the darkness of the car for a very long time, until those beats finally quieted into something approaching a normal rhythm. Still maintaining that eerie silence, Doyle tentatively laid his left cheek against the top of Bodie's head, and held on as tightly as he could.
It wasn't often that the head of CI5 found himself in West Sussex. He stood outside a small timber-framed Tudor house in Steyning and stared thoughtfully at the light coming from the front parlor. Helen Doyle was expecting him. She was not expecting what he would have to ask her.
She was as pleasant in person as she had been over the telephone, and they spent a lovely half hour over tea and cakes, he admiring the photos on the wall, the citations her late husband had earned over the course of his career as a policeman, her own handicrafts, woven and embroidered and stitched, giving the old home a welcoming warmth. As they settled on the settee, she handed him a fresh cup and watched his face.
"As nice as this has been, Mr. Cowley, I know you came here for a purpose. I know Raymond is alive and well, because you wouldn't be wasting time with the pleasantries if you had something awful to tell me. So, please, do tell me. What brings you here to me? Has something happened?"
He couldn't help but respond to the appeal in her face. She was honestly worried, and she had a right to be. He took a sip of tea and set the cup in its saucer. Turning to face her directly, he asked gently, "Mrs. Doyle, does the name Bertrand Hodges mean anything to you?"
Her face closed immediately, her expression a striking contrast to her earlier warmth. "Why do you ask, Mr. Cowley?" Her eyes were bright and hard on his.
"Does Raymond ever talk to you about his life before he came to you and your husband? Does he remember anything?" There was an underlying urgency in his questions that caused her to catch her breath.
"Are you telling me he does now?" Her response was a mixture of hope and dread. "He hasn't said anything to me about his childhood, Mr. Cowley. We tried to get him to open up, and the psychologists told us that we should let him set the limits and he'd talk when he could. But he never did. I just thought he'd forgotten it all." She took another deep breath, staring off into the middle distance, and continued in a near-whisper, "I'd hoped he had." She looked back to Cowley. "I take it he's remembered, then."
"I don't know that for certain, Mrs. Doyle," Cowley responded gravely. She gave him a puzzled look.
"Then what was all that about Hodges?" Her agitation showed in the rattle of cup against saucer. She started, seeming to have forgotten having them in her hands, then carefully set them on the side table.
"In the course of an investigation, Raymond had contact with Hodges. He had an ... unusual reaction to the meeting."
"What sort of reaction?" Sharply.
She looked at him in complete disbelief. "I don't know if that's a good sign or not, Mr. Cowley." He nodded his agreement, and she straightened against the cushions. "We couldn't prove it, of course, or my husband would have had him up on charges so fast his head would have been spinning. But I -- we -- always suspected that it was Hodges who ... hurt him so badly." Her voice cracked, and she swallowed, trying to regain her composure, tears starting to her eyes. "It was the sort of thing he was known for, but no one would say a word against him. Too much money, too much power, too many bully boys. But I knew." She couldn't remain seated, and rose to walk across the room, staring into the calm eyes staring out of her husband's photograph, resplendent in his dress uniform. "There was a reason we left Derby, Mr. Cowley." She wouldn't say anything more.
He nodded his understanding, rising and moving toward the door. Murmuring his thanks and his apologies for upsetting her, he left her in the parlor, still staring at her past, lost in her memories.
Bodie took the settling of his partner's heart rate into less than a gallop as a sign that it was safe to let go. Moving back slowly, poised to wrap himself around the skinny body again in order to escape being pounded, he was slightly reassured by the appalled look on Doyle's face. One slender finger reached out to touch the sore spot under his right eye, and he flinched back. Doyle flinched in sympathetic reaction.
"Sorry, Bodie," he managed in a strangled whisper. "Gonna have a shiner there."
"Long as you didn't break my jaw, Doyle, we'll be okay. Can't question witnesses with a wired up face." The wry humor in the words didn't match the serious look in the deep blue eyes. "You okay, there, mate?"
"Yeah," Doyle answered, the word more a question than an affirmation.
Bodie nodded once and put the car in gear, heading back to the guest house. "You ready to talk?" *That* was more an order than a request. Doyle stared at his profile in the passing street lights and sighed.
"Guess it's come to that, eh?"
"Yeah. I like me head where it is, thank you. Don't need you trying your damnedest to hand it to me on a plate."
Doyle sunk into the seat and agreed with him. "When we get to the room."
They didn't exchange another word until they reached the privacy of their hotel room. Once in, Bodie suffered through Doyle patching up all the scrapes and bruises he'd put on him shortly before. Doyle was still very skittish, jumping at every noise. Finally, Bodie couldn't take it anymore and tugged him over to sit on the side of the bed.
"Talk to me, mate," he urged. Doyle took a deep breath and tried his best.
"I remember the DRI." At Bodie's uncomprehending look, he explained, "The hospital we were at tonight, that's what the locals call it. Don't remember going in, just coming to in there. I was about 15, I think-"
"You think?" Bodie broke in again.
"Would you just shut your yap and let me talk?" Doyle glared at him, and Bodie subsided, with a regal nod for Doyle to continue. The glare softened as the narrative carried on. "I dunno what all was wrong with me, but I was really messed up. Had me in some sort of truss, there were broken bones, leg, ribs, skull maybe. Couldn't talk, couldn't move me head, face was all busted up." He pointed to the insert in his right cheekbone. "That's where I got this. Midface fracture with a malar depression -- funny the things you remember. Had to go into surgery a couple of times to put me back together. Didn't get out of bed for weeks. Felt like years at the time. By the time they finished up with all the follow ups it was about ten months all told. Then I went home with ... Mum and Dad ... and we moved away from Derby, up to London. Never came back, until now. Really surprised me that I remembered all that I did." He slumped backward on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. "Been a bit of a shock, all this," Carefully not looking at Bodie, he finished softly, "since I don't remember anythin' of before I was in the hospital. Didn't even remember most of that 'til we went up the walk."
Bodie leaned over him, blocking his view of the ceiling, expression skeptical in the extreme. "You don't remember *anything*?"
"Not really. Got impressions, a girl with brown hair who cuddled me, bein' cold, bein' hungry. Not much, and nothing at all from about six or so 'til I woke up in the hospital." He shifted and sat up, and Bodie sat back to accommodate him.
"How is that?" Obviously, he was having a hard time buying that his partner had a blank slate for a childhood. His own hadn't been the greatest, but at least he could remember it, even if he did want to forget most of it.
"Shrinks call it 'traumatic amnesia'. Form of self-protection. I don't remember because whatever it was that broke my face must've been around before then, and I don't wanna know about it. So I don't." He shrugged, suddenly looking exhausted. "Been a rough day. I vote we hit the sack and get back to it tomorrow." The subject was definitely closed. At a sudden thought, Doyle looked over at Bodie. "How's Mabel?"
"Wonderin' when you'd get around to askin' that," Bodie said dryly, willing to let the matter of Doyle's trick memory rest -- for now. "She'll make it. Gave us some good dirt, too -- names, places, dates. Nothing concrete enough to pull him in, but enough to shake his tree for him. What say we pay a visit to Geoffrey Brace, Esquire, at oh dark thirty in the morning?" The look of gleeful anticipation on Bodie's face pulled an answering smile from Doyle.
"I say bring the net and we'll catch the windfalls," he grinned back, relaxing for the first time in days.
Doctor Kate Ross answered the knock at her door with an absent, "Come in." The identity of her unexpected visitor brought her attention out of the case file she was reviewing and caused her to straighten in her chair.
"Mr. Cowley. This is a surprise. What can I do for you?" She gestured toward a chair. He seated himself and smiled slightly at the psychologist.
"I apologize for interrupting, Doctor Ross, but I have some questions I need answered, and you are the expert in the field."
"No interruption, Mr. Cowley, I was just reviewing some notes." Not that it would have stopped him, she grinned internally, but by all means let us go through the motions. Ross knew she was tolerated at best, and resented generally, but she was needed, so she stayed. Eventually Cowley and the rest would know just how needed she was. Until then, she would do what she could, where she could. "Is there a problem?"
"There may be," he said softly, running the tip of his index finger over the edge of a file he carried in his right hand. "What can you tell me about traumatic amnesia?"
She stared at him for a moment, gathering her thoughts. "Not a lot of research has been done on it, but the clinical results I've seen point to traumatic memory loss as a form of avoidance conditioning. Trauma survivors suffer memory loss as a type of dissociative avoidance strategy to reduce trauma-related stress. It can range from partial loss to complete amnesia. The more severe the trauma, the more pervasive the memory loss."
He nodded. "And what sort of thing might bring these ... lost memories back to the surface? Say, if an adult hadn't remembered his childhood, what might cause the memories to return?" He sat extremely still, and she noticed tension in his knuckles holding the file, tension that was not mirrored in his calm face. This was not a theoretical question, it would appear.
"Well, the most common triggers would be interpersonal, intrapersonal or environmental cues that closely match the original trauma." At his quizzical look, she quickly clarified, "If the abuse survivor met someone who was bound up in the original trauma, or returned to the scene of the trauma, it could trigger memories. You must know, however, that adult survivors of childhood trauma can regain memories in a number of ways. He might remember the trauma, but assign a different meaning to it at different times in his life-" A raised palm halted her explanation.
"He has no memories at all of the time."
A-ha, she mentally snapped her fingers. So much for hypothetical cases. "Well, he may suffer partial amnesia for the abuse events themselves, along with a mixture of delayed recall and delayed understanding, or he might have delayed recall following a period of profound and pervasive amnesia."
The phrase caught at Cowley's memory, and he looked down at the file. "Yes. That would be the case. How, then, might these recalled memories affect the survivor?"
She narrowed her eyes, dredging up everything she could remember on the subject. "They would intrude when they weren't wanted, as nightmares, flashbacks, behavioral reenactments. When a person is terrified, his attention narrows and perceptions alter. He loses peripheral detail, context and time sense, and can experience perceptual distortions such as, oh, insensitivity to pain, a feeling that he or his surroundings are not real, time slowing, and amnesia."
"So that's what happens when the abuse is occurring, aye, but what about when it comes back to the man?" He emphasized the point with a slap of the file against his thigh. She started at the sound, and he looked somewhat abashed. Before he could say a word, she hurried on.
"At first recall, the memories will be fragmentary, and they won't be memories as you think of them in the usual sense. They'll be ... sensory imprints, dissociated mental imprints of affective elements in the traumatic experience ..." She waved her hands somewhat helplessly at his impatient look. It was so hard to try to explain these things to laymen, even very canny ones like her boss. Backing up a step, she tried again. "He might remember how something felt, or smelt, or tasted, but not the context of the feeling or smell or taste. He might hear a voice or see an image and not know where it fits, in the beginning. As more memory comes back, it usually becomes more cohesive, as the punishment -- the trauma that caused the memory loss in the first place -- isn't a result of remembering." She took a deep breath. "What I mean to say is-"
"He won't be hurt by remembering. So he can allow himself to do so." Cowley looked pensive, digesting the ramifications of her words.
"Yes!" She smiled at him triumphantly, and he smiled back.
"And eventually it all returns?"
"It's like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. The trauma is initially remembered as somatosensory or emotional flashbacks, and when all the intrusive recollections are gathered together, a narrative memory will start to emerge."
This time, he didn't look lost at all. He just looked tired, and more than a little sad. "Thank you for your time, Doctor, and your assistance."
"Is there ... may I be of direct assistance in this case, Mr. Cowley?"
He tapped the file lightly, unconsciously, and shook his head. "Not at this time, Doctor Ross. Perhaps, in the future. Thank you." He rose and walked briskly from the room.
She watched the door close, and wondered when, or if, she would ever have a name to put to the symptoms.
Much to Bodie's surprise, Doyle seemed to be himself again the next morning. The distraction was gone, and his ferret of a copper was back in fine style. Barbs flew back and forth across the car all the way to the modest estate of the money man, and all was right with Bodie's world.
Pulling up to park in front of an impressive portico, woefully out of place stuck on the front of the red brick building but indicative of the personality of the owner, he cocked a brow at the columns and glanced sideways at his partner. A wry twist of lips agreed with his assessment, and he smothered a grin as they bounded up the steps. Keeping their hands loose and free, just in case, with their eyes roving constantly over the scene, they were prepared for anything.
The housekeeper was a tiny Jamaican woman with big eyes and a soft voice. She let them in and left them standing in the small anteroom just inside the hall, under the watchful gaze of fifteen stone of glum-eyed bodyguard. They smiled at him. He didn't smile back.
"Must be bad teeth," Bodie muttered an aside to Doyle.
"Goes with the bad attitude," Doyle muttered back, and the housekeeper returned to usher them into the sunny back room where Geoffrey Brace was sitting down to breakfast.
"So much for catching him early," Doyle sighed, and Bodie grinned back.
"See if we can't make him choke on his eggs, eh?" Bodie's response was barely audible.
Doyle bit his lip, pasted a polite expression on his face that almost covered the menace in his eyes, and closed in for a little game of bait the bear. The questions started innocuously enough, just some background into the business, a tidbit here, an odd balance there. Brace kept his cool very well throughout the questions, but he was beginning to sweat. They didn't have all the details, but they had enough to make it hot. The question was, would it be hot enough for Brace to crack? Or would he fear his new Provo partners worse than the concentrated interest of CI5? Before they got him to the breaking point, in either direction, a woman in a white satin dressing gown, carrying a cup of tea, entered from the side door.
She was lovely, mid-forties, maybe a bit older, well preserved, and oddly familiar. Her wavy brown hair, untouched by gray and probably with some chemical enhancement to get the auburn highlights, framed a round, sensual face with wide green eyes, a patrician nose and a full, sweet mouth. Before Bodie could respond to the presence of feminine beauty with his usual charm (and try to use her somehow to tilt the balance of the interrogation in their favor), she caught sight of Doyle.
Dropped her teacup.
And gasped something incomprehensible. "Mo mhac beag!"
Well, incomprehensible to Bodie. Doyle understood it well enough. He went dead white, and shot to his feet. Bodie reacted to Doyle's reaction by coming to his side and drawing his gun. It hadn't *sounded* like a threat, but Doyle had certainly acted like she was threatening him.
"I don't speak Gaelic anymore!" Doyle spit at the woman. He was poised on the balls of his feet, as if unsure whether to attack the woman or run.
Bodie stared at him. Gaelic? Oh. He holstered his gun. Since when had Doyle spoken Gaelic?
She put her hand out to him, an instinctive gesture to bridge the physical distance between them, and he shied away as if she was plague-ridden. Brace half-rose from his seat, obviously completely confused by what was happening and not a little upset. Bodie could sympathize, but right at the moment all of his attention was directed at his partner.
"Bit late for that, don't you think? If you'd been interested you should 'ave tried a hell of a long time ago." Doyle's mouth was drawn back in a feral snarl, and he really did look as if he was going to rip the woman to shreds.
She swayed in the doorway, as white as the robe she wore, eyes huge and distraught. "I couldn't!" Her voice was choked, but even through the strain it had a distinctive lilt. "He'd have killed both of us. It was the only way I had left to protect you, a ghra'! It left you safe, off the streets, where he couldn't reach you-"
"Safe my arse!" Doyle was growling now, his words rumbling deep in his throat. Brace made a movement to stand between the woman and the enraged man, but one glare from heated emerald eyes stopped him in his tracks. They raked him up and down, then turned their utter disdain back to the woman. "Brought yourself up in the world, I see. Better than the ha'penny johns on the street corner, but it's still whoring when all's said and done." Brace tried to protest, but Doyle just growled louder. "Hope it's worth the effort."
"That is enough! You watch your mouth!" Brace finally rapped out. "What right have you to come into my house and insult my-"
Doyle turned the disgusted look on the indignant man. "You have the same shitty taste in women that you do in business partners." Completely ignoring the behemoth hulking in the doorway, he jerked his head at Bodie. "C'mon, let's get out of here. The stench is turning my stomach." Then he stalked past the thug and stomped out the door. Bodie wasted no time following him, wondering, once again, what the bloody hell he had missed.
The ride back to London was silent, at least on the surface. At the subliminal level on which their best communication had always taken place, Bodie offered support, willingness to listen, and objectivity without passing judgment. Doyle understood the offer but couldn't take it, caught up as he was in a confusing and somewhat frightening mental landscape made up of images, sounds, and feelings that had no place in his normal world. It wasn't the usual sort of brooding, but Bodie recognized it well enough, and he backed off, giving his partner time to think it through and deal with it as best he could. When Doyle could share, he would. That was the way of their partnership.
As they reached the outskirts of London, Doyle straightened from his slump against the door. "Reckon it's enough?" He wanted to go after Brace. And he had the lever to pry the rotten bastard out of the box, too.
"Maybe," Bodie replied, thinking over what he'd managed to get from Mabel and the minimal results from the morning's interrogation. "Enough to start, at least."
"But will it be enough for the Cow, that's the question," Doyle rumbled. He propped a foot against the dash and scowled out at the passing scenery.
"As always, sunshine. We can but try," Bodie attempted to tease. This time it was met with an answering grin, instead of going right over the top of the curly head, as it had been doing of late. He perked up slightly.
"You always do," Doyle shot back, then turned his attention to the case file he'd been idly flipping through for most of the ride home. "Right, we've got the start of a paper trail, known associates, a few intersections between the Provos and the mob and one squeaky grass. Nothing solid, but a pattern of bribery and intimidation showing he's clearly the linchpin in the operation. Weapons come in, go through him. IRA cell gets the guns and plastique, crims get the lucre, Brace gets a nice cut off the top." He glanced up at Bodie. "Not really enough."
"Not really," Bodie had to agree. It sounded better when he thought it out in his head, but Doyle was very good at distilling things to their essence. And the essence here was very thin. "Damnit, we *know* he's at the middle of it!" He *hated* this part of an investigation. Made his head hurt.
Doyle nodded absently. "Got an ace in the hole, though, don't we."
We do? Bodie stared at him. "And what would that be?"
"Not what. Who." Doyle reached for the R/T. "4.5 to base. Need a run down on female associates of one Geoffrey Brace."
"Business or personal, 4.5?" came the tinny reply.
"Oh, personal, very personal." His voice was curiously hard.
"Will do. Base out."
He replaced the R/T and smiled rather viciously at Bodie. "If we can't get him one way, mate, we'll get him another."
Bodie cocked a brow but didn't say a word. This, he had a feeling, was going to get ugly.
By the time they reached HQ, a name had been attached to the woman in the breakfast room. One Margaret Edwards, probably pseudonym, no prior records or documentation of any kind available on her, real name unknown. Doyle had grunted a little at that last piece of information, but had shaken off Bodie's inquisitive look.
Taking the bits they had dug up in Derby and the sheet on Edwards with them, they went in to report to the Controller. For once, they didn't have to wait.
"Come in, sit down, what did you find?" That was Cowley, straight to the point, as usual.
"Word on the streets is Brace is the middleman. We take him down we pull it apart from the inside." Doyle was equally crisp.
"No one will come out and say anything," Bodie took up the report, "Too scared of Brace. But we got a pattern, and a window."
"Looks like the shipment will be within a week," Doyle piped up. "There was a lot of movement in the warehouse district-"
"Or whorehouse district." Bodie couldn't help but stick in. Doyle ignored him and continued.
"And I think I know how to get him to crack. Well, not him, but someone with access to his records."
Cowley looked at him sharply. "How close access?"
Doyle's grin resembled a death's head. "She's in his bed, sir, I've no doubt at all she knows exactly how to get into his safe."
Cowley leaned back in his chair and nodded slowly. "And how do you propose we turn the lady to our purpose?"
"No lady, that one," Doyle immediately shot back. "Know her history, I do. We could pull her in as accessory to attempted murder, and child abuse. Stemming from a case fourteen years ago in Derby."
Cowley had stiffened as Doyle began to speak. By the end of his words, the older man was sitting forward in his chair, staring hard at Doyle. Bodie just knew that this, whatever it was, was the crux of Doyle's odd behavior, but before he could press for some details, Cowley waved his hand at them both.
"Good work. I'll set a team to retrieve her, without rousing Brace's suspicions. No use trying to use her if he won't let her back in the house. I'll see you here tomorrow at 9 am, and I will lead the questioning. You will assist me, Bodie."
Bodie started, and tried to protest. Doyle beat him to it. "He doesn't have the background on her, sir! I do! I could get her to cooperate-"
"We'll do this my way, 4.5. If necessary, we will bring you into it, but *only* if I deem it necessary. Now, away with you, and get some rest. I'll have you alert in the morning." He turned to Bodie, and angled his head toward Doyle. "Take him home and put him to bed, 3.7. Use a brick if you have to, but go on with you both!"
Bodie grabbed Doyle by the elbow and had him out the door before he could draw breath for another volley. "You heard the man, mate. Home and bed for you, then the same for me." Marking the thunderous look on his partner's face, he sighed. "I dunno about you, mate, but I could do with a kip. I'm knackered." He tried his very best pity-poor-me pout. Surprisingly, it worked. Doyle deflated like a balloon with all the air let out.
"Come over for a drink?" Doyle really didn't want to be alone just yet. And there were things digging at him, things he needed, and couldn't articulate. Bodie was the only one he trusted at this point, and as much as he was remembering, he needed to forget. At least for tonight. Tomorrow was going to be a tough one.
"C'mon back to my place," Bodie counter-offered. "Drank up the last of your good stuff last time I was over. And I'd bet you haven't restocked." The rueful look on Doyle's face answered that one, and Bodie shook his head. "Home, Raymond."
They teased a little on the short drive to Bodie's flat, but Doyle was distracted again, so Bodie left him to his thoughts. Swinging by to pick up some take out, they made it back to the flat and crashed on the sofa. A comfortable silence settled between them as they ate, and by the time Bodie brought out the second bottle, he was feeling reassured enough to attempt a little artful prying.
"So, you wanna talk about it?" Subtlety wasn't his strength, but the genuine concern behind the question made up for the bluntness.
"No, not really," Doyle returned with equal honesty. "Just feeling lonely."
"No need, I'm right here." Bodie threw his hands out in an expansive gesture. He'd had quite a bit more of the scotch than Doyle had, although he hadn't noticed that his glass was filled three times to Doyle's one. Ray had been the one doing the pouring. Now Bodie was feeling very warm and generous, and Doyle was feeling the pull of that warmth.
"Yeah, you are, aren't you." As he spoke he scooted over on the sofa, until he was hip to hip with Bodie. In typical Bodie-fashion, the younger man wrapped a long arm around him and drew him up into a bear hug.
"Not goin' anywhere, sunshine. Like it right where I'm at." He sounded it, too, all sleepy-eyed and content, like an overgrown house cat lounging in front of the fire.
Doyle was lost. There were too many sensations battering at him, memories of the cold and the pain balanced by but still nearly overwhelming the current warmth and companionship. The truth would come out the next morning, a truth he'd spend years forgetting, consciously or unconsciously, didn't really matter. This warmth and affection could very well disappear, and it probably should. Couldn't let Bodie know what sort of a person he was tied up with. But he was gonna have to. And it would hurt.
The past was void of warmth and comfort. Tomorrow would be again. For this moment, there was *only* this moment, and he would reach out and take hold of that warmth with every ounce of strength he had. He'd take the comfort while he could get it. He'd be losing it soon enough.
Staring intently over into his best friend's face, he gently took the empty glass from his hand and set it on the floor out of the way. Reaching out with the same hand to cup Bodie's chin and turn that relaxed face toward him, he smiled into muzzy blue eyes.
"You are my best mate, you know that, right?" Doyle nearly whispered the words, but his partner heard them clearly. Bodie tried to nod, attempting a serious look, but the affection he felt shone out of him in the form of a somewhat sappy smile.
"Good. Don't forget it." Doyle canted his head to the side and leaned forward. As Bodie opened his mouth to deny his intention of ever forgetting such an important fact, Doyle covered his mouth with his own opened lips. Bodie promptly forgot what he had meant to say.
Doyle knew he only had one chance, and he used it to his advantage. Before Bodie could gather his scattered wits and protest, if indeed he was going to protest, Doyle ran his other hand swiftly down the sturdy torso and immediately cupped Bodie's genitals.
Bodie squeaked. This, he had not been expecting. He felt like he should be making some sort of protest, really he should, but his body had other ideas. Doyle had damned good hands, and he knew what to do with them. Before he could clear the whiskey fumes out of his brain enough to get a grip on the situation, the endorphins kicked in, and he was as lost as Doyle. Next thing he knew, they were stumbling across the room toward his bedroom. Or at least *he* was stumbling. Doyle seemed pretty steady on his feet, which was a good thing, since he was holding Bodie up and leading the way.
Bodie landed on the bed with an "oomph!" and lay back, stunned and turned on, with his brain going sixteen directions at once. Doyle had them both stripped and his mouth over Bodie's erection before Bodie even realized he *had* an erection. From there, there was no place to go but heaven. It was a quick trip.
Over almost before he knew it had begun, Bodie found himself floating in a haze of stunned satiation. "Wha' the bleedin'-" he managed to get out, before those incredible hands were at him again. "Miracle worker, angel fish," he groaned, as he felt himself responding once more. He was having trouble wrapping his mind around the fact that he was in bed with Doyle to begin with, and the concept of a second erection in so short a time when he was sozzled was just ... well, impossible. Doyle seemed to recognize this, and the hands started roaming, caressing, soothing, kneading. Bodie heard a strange little noise, and realized it was coming from himself. Funny, he'd never purred before.
Time passed in a wonderfully pleasant red-tinged haze, as those fingers, matched and at times exceeded by a monstrously talented mouth, went over every square inch of his body, from scalp to instep, front and back. By the time it finally ended, with strong fingers buried in his hair and moist lips and tongue tracing paths of fire along his jawbone, he discovered that Doyle was, indeed, a miracle worker. He was much more sober than he had been, and so hard it hurt.
A questing hand, his own this time, wandered through silky chest hair down to more wiry, dense curls, and found that Doyle was as hard as he. With the hazy thought of some nice, gentle frottage floating somewhere in the back of his mind, he tried to align his cock with Doyle's. His unexpected lover didn't allow him to, though, and he groaned in disappointment. That sound mutated into a strangled gasp as Doyle shifted, left him for a moment, and returned to lower himself over Bodie. There was some resistance, but Doyle thrust suddenly, and Bodie found himself balls-deep in Doyle's arse.
It was enough to make him scream. So he did, or at least he tried to. The three remaining working brain cells in his head told him it sounded more like a muffled oath, mixed with Doyle's name and a call to an unnamed Deity. Then Doyle squeezed him, and began to move, and the last few brain cells gave up the ghost. He had never felt anything so fuckin' incredible in his life. Hot, tight, deep, so very deep, Doyle controlling him like a marionette master and him moving like somebody'd cut his strings. A rippling satin fist, moving over him, concentrating every atom of his being into the connection between them. It lasted forever, and, of course, was over much before he would have liked. There was a splash of slick fire against his belly, then a band of steel convulsed around the base of his prick, and his world exploded. His body arched, his head pounded back into the pillow, his fingers left bruises on Doyle's hips where he didn't even know he was holding on, much less squeezing. His last recollection was the tickle of curls brushing against his throat as a soft mouth brushed a kiss over his heart.
Doyle looked down at his exhausted lover, and slowly eased the softening penis from his channel. It had hurt, but it was a good sort of pain. One that brought pleasure in its wake. A pleasure he had forgotten could exist, one he had coupled with humiliation and fear. If it all fell apart tomorrow, and he expected it would, he would at least have one memory that would not hurt him.
Withdrawing quietly from the bed, he settled the duvet around his sleeping friend, and found his clothes in the semi-darkness of the flat. Once fully dressed, he stood beside the bed and stared at Bodie's content face, taking in the relaxed features, the soft fall of dark lashes, the softened line of generous mouth. Reaching out, he stopped before his fingers could make contact with the creamy skin. "Just had to know for certain it could be good, Blue Eyes," he said under his breath, careful not to wake Bodie. "S'not about pain, not anymore." He smiled, and stepped back. "Thanks, mate. I owe you." Then he walked out the door.
It was a long, cold walk to his flat. By the time he reached his front door, he was ready. The warmth was locked away in a little box in the bottom of his heart, to be taken out and held close when needed. For now, the ice was back, and it would stay that way until the end game.
A man had to have his protection, after all. If he didn't, he was dead.
Bodie woke the next day with a headache, sore back and thighs, and a smile etched on his face. Unfortunately, he also awoke to an empty flat, no note, no sign of Doyle, and no indication that the mind-blowing sex of the night before had been anything more than a one-off. That wiped the smile off in a hurry.
He'd meant to find out what was going on. Instead, he'd managed to get dropped even further in it, and he still didn't know what *it* was. He rang Doyle's flat, but got no answer. Not surprising. He rang HQ, and found that 4.5 had come in early, and was in the file room, and did he need them to get him? He grumped, and cut the connection, and glared at his reflection as he shaved. Maybe it hadn't been all that great for Doyle, but it had been a hell of a highlight for him, and he'd've liked the chance to at least talk about it. The thought that, for once, he was the one wanting to do the talking and Doyle was the one clamming up about his past stopped him in his tracks for a moment. God, talk about a role reversal. Shrugging off the thought, he made his way to HQ and decided to hunt down his partner.
Before he got the chance, Cowley caught up with him. "You're with me, 3.7. Miss Edwards is gracing us with her presence and it's time we saw just what the lady is made of." He started off down the hall toward the interrogation cells. Bodie gave one last longing glance in the direction of the file room, then reluctantly headed off after his boss.
Guess the talking would have to wait, after all.
Doyle watched the questioning from the other side of the one way glass. The Old Man was good, but Margaret Edwards was a pro. And wouldn't he know that? It wasn't going to work. The combination of Bodie's menacing stance and Cowley's charming lethality was usually a very good one, but Mags was used to dealing with men. All sorts of men. Under all kinds of conditions. And a gentleman, no matter how nasty he got, was just another man to her.
Time to put an end to this charade. Time to show her there were some things, and some men, she should be afraid of. He didn't wait for Cowley to give the pre-arranged signal before he opened the door, slipped inside, and slammed it behind him.
All the voices stopped. Cowley glared at him, Bodie looked both happy to see him and upset with him, and Mags ... Mags looked like she was going to be sick. He smiled, but it didn't make it past his mouth.
"I was hoping it wouldn't come to this," Cowley said gently, looking with some concern at his agent.
Doyle was completely focused on Edwards. Bodie was staring intently at Doyle. Edwards had her eyes fixed on Doyle like a rabbit mesmerized by a snake. All the self confidence had drained from her when he stepped into the room, and she had jumped when he slammed the door. Doyle stalked up to the table, ignoring everyone but the woman staring at him with an odd mixture of trepidation and joy in her eyes.
"You won't turn him over to us for his own good, Mags, a chara, but you will for your own." She tried to say something, and he cut her off viciously. "Shut the fuck up and listen, closely. You *will* help us get the goods on Brace, or we'll cut you loose and put the word out on the street that you sang like a bird."
"Why are you doing this?" The words got louder as she spoke, anger overriding fear and lending strength to her voice. "I tried to protect you. I loved you! I did the best I could to-"
"Your best wasn't bleedin' good enough, now was it?" he screamed back in her face. She flinched, and he pressed on. "Left me ripped to shreds and beaten to a bloody pulp and left to die and where the fuck were *you*?!"
He was towering over her by this point, and Bodie made an abortive move toward them, fearing that Doyle would lose control and strike her at any moment. Cowley's hand on his arm stopped him. Edwards pushed back her chair and rose to face the enraged man standing over her.
"Bertie would have killed *both* of us if I'd gone anywhere near you! I was tryin' to *protect* you, damnit!"
"Too bad I can't return the favor," he hissed with evident enjoyment. "Five minutes after you hit the street the word'll be out that you talked. Not just about Brace, but about Hodges too. Either your lover will have to find you and shut you up, or his Mob buddies will do it for him, or Hodges will have to finish what he started. No statute of limitations on attempted murder, sweetheart." He leaned closer, until his face was only an inch from her own. "Or on child abuse. We could always hold you over for your own trial. All sorts of juicy tidbits in your closet, I've no doubt. Of course," he leaned back and stared at her, his body language one big challenge, hand on hip, head tilted to the side in a parody of invitation. "You could always make it easy on yourself and give us what we want. Brace's financial records. All of 'em."
"He'll kill me." They could barely hear her.
"Heard that song before. Play me one with a tune I can whistle." There was no give in him at all.
Subsiding against the table, she stared into his face for a long moment. Whatever she saw there drained the last of her resistance, and she nodded jerkily.
"You have twenty four hours. Then the word goes out." He turned away from her and headed for the door. As his hand touched the knob, she whispered, "Mo chroi!"
He stiffened, and turned. Pure hatred turning his eyes to green slate, he snarled, "Te'ir in ainm an diabhail, striapach!" then whirled back around and stormed out. The door closed with a final click that echoed loudly in the room.
She crumpled into a fetal ball against the side of the table, and Cowley moved forward to give her a steadying hand. She drew away from him, arms wrapped around her midriff, not appearing to notice anything going on around her. Bodie watched her for a moment, then turned and went out into the hall.
A few minutes later, Cowley joined him. Pausing outside the closed door, he took a deep breath. Bodie glanced sideways at him.
"Quite a little scene in there, wasn't it." Cowley nodded agreement, and Bodie asked, "Old flame of his?"
"Not quite, 3.7," Cowley answered tersely. "His mother."
Bodie stared after the departing controller for some time before he realized his mouth was hanging open.
When he'd first gotten home he had considered crawling into a bottle and pulling the cork in after him. It hadn't worked out that way.
He'd seen the end of the story in her eyes. In her face. Heard it in her words. She really had been trying to protect him, in her own fashion. Make him tough, so he would survive, make him earn his keep the best he could. His hands were fast drawing a gun today because of the pockets they had picked when small; that kind of dexterity, once learned, was never forgotten. He knew every nuance of his own body and could use it like a finely honed weapon, because it had once been the tool of his trade. And he could read people, because from the time he was a slip of a lad, knowing what he was getting into, and who he was getting into it with, was the only thing that kept him from ending up dead.
It all made sense, now. A sick sort of sense, but an understandable one. His headache was gone. He had the strongest urge to call his mother.
She must have known. So must Da have. But they'd still taken him in. Made him their own.
Christ. It was no wonder he hadn't remembered. Be hard to get any sleep with all this shit parading around behind his eyelids.
He had to apologize to Mabel. She'd been kind to him, when she could have been mean. Slipped him sweets. Gave him a scarf one winter, he must've been about twelve. Patched him up a couple of times when the customers got rough. Taught him, better than his mother could, what to watch out for. What to ask for, up front, and what to run from, with or without the money.
Against his will, his eyes closed, and he was fifteen again. Street wary, toughened by what passed for his life. And pretty, in a way a street boy didn't want to be, got him the kind of notice he could do without. A punter now and again was good, added to what pickings he could get on his own, not that there were many open pockets in his part of town. But some of the bastards just liked to hurt. Like Bertie.
Caught him one night. Promised him two full quid, a ridiculous price in 1963 for a street rat's arse. He knew it was rotten, tried to run, but Bertie was faster, damn his eyes. Back alley, down on the pavement, fire in his knees and around his wrists where the bastard tied him. Fire at the back of his skull where he'd been koshed half senseless, gut-tearing fire in his arse where the bastard was ripping him apart, ended in white red heat as his face hit the pavement over and over. Waking to the cool, clean, antiseptic smell of pain, couldn't see, couldn't hear worth a shit, couldn't talk, couldn't even pee without help. Never wanted to take a crap again as long as he lived. Didn't know his own name, didn't know what had happened, couldn't, didn't dare, fall asleep. His mother ... where was his mum? Eventually, he forgot her face, lumped in with the other things he didn't dare remember, until it was submerged and overtaken by the tender care of a cop and his lady wife. They gave him a home, gave him a name, gave him a life, and took him away from Derby. Staring blankly at the far wall, not seeing the tears in the wallpaper, not seeing anything in the here and now, he wondered why he had ever had to go back. And how he could forget.
The buzzer broke into his abstraction. Bodie. Bound to be.
He couldn't see him. Not yet. Tomorrow would be soon enough.
Doyle lifted himself slowly from the sofa, moving with the weight of years not yet accumulated on his limbs. He paused in the doorway, heard the buzzer ring once more, then stop. Stumbling a little in the hall, he made it into the bedroom and subsided onto his bed. Rolling over onto his back, he stared at the tiny cracks in the ceiling.
He didn't hear the locks give, didn't hear the key turn. The first indication he had that Bodie was in the flat was when the side of the bed gave, and he looked over to see two concerned, more than half pissed off blue eyes staring down at him.
"You ready to talk, now, sunshine?" The rough purr was back in the soft voice, and Doyle shivered.
Closing his eyes, he watched it happen all over again. This time, he described what he was seeing, not wanting, but needing Bodie to know.
"I was thievin' by the time I was five, little and quick with it." Learning early how to use a deceptively innocent face and wide green cat's eyes to distract a mark while making off with his wallet. "The hooking was just a sideline. Never got into drugs -- hated the shit, saw what it did to too many people I knew." Not people he cared about. Couldn't afford that. But even then he'd had the self protective instincts to keep himself clean. "Started selling it when I was nine." With a little maternal assistance. She'd not been much more than a child herself, easy to see from the perspective of years, natural at the time to do what he was told, what he had to do. "Time I was thirteen I was a regular pro."
Funny, how the mind plays tricks. While the body turns them. "Still did more fightin' and stealin' than whorin'." He'd had a natural talent for all three. "Few years later I got caught." The rape was the hardest to describe, but he did what he was used to doing -- divorced himself from the reality around himself until there was nothing left inside, just an observer on the sidelines. Edward R. Murrow of the back streets of Derby. In his own personal Blitz.
"Took 'em about nine, ten months to put me back together. Went up to Nottingham, teaching hospital there, for the last of it. Then Mum and Da came and got me and took me home, to London." Not really Mum and Da, a social worker and a cop, but the best family he could have hoped to find. So much better than he had deserved. "Da first came across me walking the beat. He had the lower end, and I was about as low as it got." Saw something there, something worth saving, something worth fostering. "Stayed with 'em until I was nineteen, then went on to art school. You know the rest." And now, so do I, he thought bleakly, but didn't say aloud. It was up to Bodie, now, to do what he more than half expected him to do. Doyle'd leave himself, if he could, so why the bloody hell shouldn't Bodie? I'll lose you now, a sto'r, and I know it.
But he didn't. He shifted closer, and next Doyle knew he was being bundled up in a big, warm Bodie-body-hug. He pulled back and stared up at him.
"Daft sod." The blue eyes were wet. Why? Doyle wasn't crying. He never did, not for himself.
"Who's the daft one, then?" he managed to force out through a tight throat. "You're still here, that makes you pretty daft from where I'm sittin'."
"Not sittin'," Bodie smiled a little at him. "Lyin'."
"I used you, Bodie." Time to inject a little reality here, Doyle decided. "Last night. Did it deliberately. Set you up and seduced you."
"Oh, and I was fighting so hard. Berk."
"You shoulda been!" Doyle was trying very hard to get through to him. Where was the disgust? He was expecting disgust. As usual, Bodie did the other thing.
Talking wouldn't work so Bodie shut up and kissed him.
Doyle laid there like he'd been poleaxed. This was *not* the reaction he had expected, not at *all*. Hungry lips roamed over his throat, down into the open neck of his shirt. Hungry hands followed them, slipping buttons from holes, slipping material from skin, until he found himself flat on his back, tee dangling from one wrist, jeans shoved off the end of the bed, boots God knew where. For an instant it struck him that it was cold in the bedroom, then a furnace lowered itself over him, and his entire body arched up toward the heat. The tee got in the way, and he shook his hand furiously, freeing it to bury itself in the sable silk lowering toward his groin.
At the first touch of rough tongue and soft suction, he gasped, and found his hips thrusting up of their own volition. Trying to think through the fire that was rapidly burning away his higher reasoning powers, he concentrated on the touch. Bodie had always communicated better with his body than with his voice, and he was telling Doyle something extremely important, if he could only grasp it, before it skipped away and was lost in sensation. Then the urgency overtook him, and he caught his breath as every muscle in his body seized. Bodie swallowed, licked and nuzzled until he was completely drained.
He couldn't move. So Bodie did it for him. His legs were gently nudged apart, and insistent fingers, slicked with something cool, rapidly warming, opened and stretched him. He welcomed the intrusion, thrust back against it, needing the completion not so much for his sake as for his lover's. Bodie took the invitation inherent in the movement and replaced fingers with cock, moving deeper with each succeeding thrust until they were as close as one soul in two skins could be. Then the gentleness was paired with urgency, not lost, but enhanced, and the fire caught him again. Not enough to make him hard, just enough to make him move, make the flesh quiver, make it good for Bodie, make it a dance of partnership. Taking and giving, one to the other and back again, until Bodie arched and stilled, pressed deeply, and Doyle contracted his muscles, wringing the orgasm from his mate. Bodie shuddered, then curled around Doyle, pulling him up against him, burrowing into the blanket and wrapping his arms and legs around the slighter man.
"Sleep. Talk ... morning." By the time his mouth closed around the words he was asleep.
Doyle shifted as much as he was able in the tight hold, and thought back on their lovemaking. He might never hear the words, but he had heard the commitment in Bodie's touch. Anything that needed acceptance was accepted, and everything needing forgiveness was forgiven. One hand drew lazy circles along Bodie's flank, and he looked down at the peaceful face lying nestled into his chest.
"A mhuirni'n di'lis! Go mba seacht bhfearr a bheas tu' bliain o' inniu." He wasn't sure why he was thanking Bodie, but he knew he had to. It was his own form of commitment. Maybe, eventually, he'd be able to say the words when his partner was awake to hear them. Until then, a promise unspoken and gratitude voiced would have to suffice.
Wrapping his own arms around his partner, Doyle finally fell asleep. This time, there were no nightmares.
The shrill beep of the R/T woke them before dawn. Accepting the new aspect of their partnership with unexpected ease, they silently agreed to hold off on the talk until they could do it right, and went to work.
In the very early morning hours a package had arrived by courier at CI5 HQ, addressed to Raymond Doyle. After the lab boys determined that it wasn't likely to blow anyone's hand off if they opened it, Cowley had done so. Then he'd had Dispatch contact the agents. Margaret Edwards had taken the threat seriously and come through for them in a big way. Names, dates, places, amounts, and best of all, details of a shipment arriving that morning at a warehouse in Loughborough. Small arms and explosives, and the main men would be there to oversee the lot.
CI5 was a beehive in the next three hours. Teams were dispatched and put in place, wagons and ambulances on standby, eyes at the sights of sniper rifles well before the meet went down. The bust went perfectly. The wagons were full, on the way to the local nick, with one heading directly to CI5 HQ for the interrogation of the ringleaders. Brace managed to escape out the back, but Bodie and Doyle were on his heels. Like a fool, he went directly back to his home, and they caught him in the act of attempting to burn the few incriminating documents Margaret hadn't already taken. The hulk at the doorway made the mistake of trying to get in the way, but one fist in the larynx from Doyle and he was out of the running. Brace didn't have a chance.
Mr. Cowley was a very happy man. Mr. Brace was not. He called his ex-mistress every name he could think of (and a few that made the surrounding agents give him points for creativity), howled for his solicitor, and vowed revenge. By the time they got back to London the guards were ready to stuff a sock down his throat. Cowley just smiled, and took notes.
Bodie and Doyle oversaw the clean up at the house. Standing in the wreckage of the study, staring at the B squad agents busily swarming over the files and packing them up for evidence, they listened to the silence in the rest of the house. An earlier search had shown no signs of Margaret Edwards, although the wardrobe was somewhat disarranged and her coat was missing. Bodie stepped up close behind Doyle and leaned forward so that he would not be overheard.
"Any idea where she might have bolted, Ray?" He laid a hand on Doyle's shoulder. This time, the other man did not shy away.
"Nah," Doyle responded, staring at nothing in particular, concentrating on the warm spot where Bodie's hand rested. "She's very good at disappearing, that one." The hand tightened, and Doyle relaxed fractionally against his partner before straightening up again. "Look on the bright side. Least this time she left me in one piece." The hand patted him, then was withdrawn, and Doyle took a deep breath. "Nothing here for us, sunshine. Let's head back and see what the Old Man has managed to dig out."
He headed out into the weak early morning sunlight, Bodie at his heels. As they pulled away from the old brick house, Doyle turned half sideways in his seat and stared over his shoulder, watching it disappear in the distance. When it was gone, he twisted back around, letting his eyes rest on Bodie's profile. His partner felt the steady regard, and flashed him a small smile. Doyle returned it, patted Bodie's knee briefly and tapped the fingers of his other hand against his thigh.
"I will remember," he finally said, apropos to nothing.
"Remember what, Ray-mate?" Bodie asked, not following him.
Doyle bit his lip, and shrugged his shoulders, as if throwing off a weight. "Everything."
They never did have that talk. But then again, they didn't need it.
Special thanks to Red Wolf for the Gaeilge, Amanda for the hospital, and Kate for the Law (the CI5 list is the greatest!). Other resources included the AMA First Aid Book for the medical information on midface fractures, M.A.L.E. web pages for sources for male rape survivors, City of Derby web site for pub info (and the guest house), and Hopper, van der Kolk et al for the information on traumatic and dissociative amnesia, delayed/traumatic recall, defense mechanisms and adult survivors of childhood trauma.
Irish Gaelic translations (courtesy of Red Wolf):
Mo mhac beag : my little son
a ghra' : O love
a chara : O friend (dear)
Mo chroi : My heart
Te'ir in ainm an diabhail, striapach : literally, Go in the name of the devil, whore (Go to hell, whore!)
a sto'r : O treasure
A mhuirni'n di'lis : O true sweetheart
Go mba seacht bhfearr a bheas tu' bliain o' inniu : literally, May you be seven times better a year from today (very serious thanks)
Derby pub notes: There has been a lot of changeover in the 90's in Derby. All of the pubs mentioned were there in 1977, but they all have new names now : White Horse is the Foal and Firkin, the Saracen's Head is O'Neill's, the George is D Lafferty, the Rising Sun is Friargate and the Green Man is Ryan's Bar. My apologies to any Derbyites for trashing their town; it was all in the name of storytelling.