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Doubt Thou

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The Wedding March was loud in the small church, organ reverberating from ancient rafters to polished pews with nowhere else for the noise to go, no windows ajar, no doors open and still waiting for guests to arrive, no cracks in the brightly coloured stained glass. There was just himself, and Doyle and Alison, and it was too loud, Bodie thought, too much. This whole thing was too much.

Of course half the squad was sitting on the benches behind them, and Cowley himself was there in the front row, egging them on through the scent of Pledge and Lily of the Valley. He wasn't quite giving the bride away, but he was making damned sure there was no escape, not for any of them.

The organ fell silent suddenly and the whole room took a breath, a deep, deep breath.

This was it. This was the end.

"We are gathered here today..."

It was cool in the church, the kind of still, chill coolness that inveigled its way to the marrow of your bones, to the heart of your heart. It didn't seem right, not with the milky-coffee colour of Alison's dress against the red strip of carpet, the rainbow hues of the windows, the pub-dark wood all around them. There should be a fire crackling away somewhere, but there wasn't, there was... this. He listened to the familiar lilt of the vicar's words, heard time and again on the radio, the telly - even at a few actual weddings. Above it all, rain lashed the windows and the slate roof, a steady rush of sound, and thunder cracked in the distance - once - twice... Then a brief flash, the world brighter than it should be, a pause and then more thunder.

He wondered if he was the only one there who had to suppress the urge to reach under his jacket for his gun, who was clenching his fist so as not to give in to the temptation of loosening his holster, of fingering the grip, just in case... Hard to conceal a weapon in that wedding dress, mind. It was off the shoulder - she must be freezing - and very fitted around the... top. Maybe somewhere in the skirt, amongst all that froth and lace and what-not.

Beside him Doyle shifted slightly, and Bodie's attention snapped back. Doyle looked shell-shocked, as well he might. He probably wouldn't be going for his gun either, though Bodie wouldn't put it past him to be wearing it. Probably had a knife somewhere too, knowing Doyle. Come in handy for cutting the cake, maybe...

Don't laugh.

Don't cry...

"Alison Hannah Montgomery, do you take this man..."

Oh god, it was coming.

A look, a shy smile. "I do..."

His eyes turned to Doyle again, for courage maybe, because he was going to need it, but Doyle wasn't looking at him, probably wasn't looking at the vicar either, for all his gaze seemed to be fixed on the man's face.

"Do you, William Andrew Phillip Bodie..."

He swallowed dryly, wondered if you could choke on nothing but air, managed to make himself speak. "I do."

And then Doyle was fumbling for the ring, and their fingers brushed for a moment as Bodie took it from him, before he turned away, slid it onto Alison's hand. There was something heavy in his stomach, something that made him wish it was Doyle's hand in his own, or his sleeve, that he could pull him away, down the aisle, out into the rain, the storm, to feel it washing them clean.

Start again.

He wished he could.

Doyle's face was pale, over Alison's shoulder, paler than it had a right to be, and it was thin, and tight-clenched.

With a start, he realised that Alison was leaning towards him, that everyone was looking expectantly at them.

Everyone except Doyle.

With an obedient smile he pulled Alison, beautiful Alison, into his arms, kissed her gently, almost chastely on the lips, and then with a widening grin as he heard a disbelieving murmur from the congregation, he bent her backwards over his arm, ever the romantic, and kissed her as if he meant it.

It wasn't her fault, after all.

She was laughing as they came up for air, raising two fingers at the cat-calling congregation, much to the surprise of the vicar, and Bodie pulled her closely to him, laughing back in the relief of it almost being over now. He let himself be led to the small room at the back of the church where they signed the register together, his arm around her waist, close. Doyle signed as well, his writing small and controlled, and then Alison's friend Fiona, and then that was it, and they processed back past the pulpit, and down the aisle once more, only to come to a stop at the doors, where as many people as could had crowded into the small porch, and everyone else was huddled under umbrellas, black crows dripping and shouting at them to hurry it up.

Bodie snatched a brolly from Simmons, pulled Alison into the shelter of his jacket, and tried to ignore the confetti that was being dribbled over them in the close quarters. It would glue itself to his suit in this rain, he knew that, and to Alison's dress, until they looked like the last two fairy cakes on the plate, smattered and smeared with colour.

They made it to the car at last, a sleek Rolls that would take them to the reception and then on to their honeymoon, and the last thing he saw, as it pulled away with them safely inside, Alison laughing and brushing away the rain and the sticky mess of confetti, was Doyle.

o0o

The wedding passed in a blur, so that all he had left were vaguely impressionistic images of crowds of people, in the church, in the reception, of a girl in bed, after, and then a headache so dark and heavy that he slept the next day through, and woke alone and grim, and silent.

Bodie was married.

Didn't know why he was carrying on like this, it would have happened to one of them sooner or later. Just thought... Just thought it would be him, that's all.

He'd tried hard enough for it to be him.

Shut up, Doyle.

He pulled himself out of the wreck of his bed - there was no sign of Tracey, or Stacey, or whatever her name had been - and took himself carefully to the bathroom, but his hangover had passed, it was safe to move, slowly or quickly or in any way at all.

It'd been easier to stay in bed though.

And Alison was a nice girl, and a good agent, and maybe it wasn't any surprise that she and Bodie should... But why hadn't he known? They'd been having an affair on and off for two years, so why hadn't he known?

Didn't want to know.

He paused, toothbrush in hand, mouth full of toothpaste, looked at himself in the mirror.

He looked back, red-eyed, death still lukewarm.

Go on, be honest. Didn't want to know. He moved the toothbrush again, mint-white against his teeth, spat, rinsed, then let the cold tap run and splashed water across his face. He'd go for a run, have a proper, head-clearing think, then get back to work, get back to business. And after all, if Bodie - Bodie - could find himself a wife, then he certainly could.

He rubbed the towel briskly over his face, rough and raw against his skin, took himself to the kitchen to search for orange juice, pausing to pull up the blinds in a plastic zhoosh and clatter. Outside the world was November-storm dark, rain lashing the pavements, crashing onto cars. It ran down the window in long streaks, ever-moving, down and down to the gutters and drains.

Fuck.

He closed his eyes to it, abandoned plans. Again. Cup of tea it was then, and whatever rubbish was on the telly. Or maybe he'd get the punching bag out, hit a few rounds.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

Bodie was married.

o0o

The honeymoon suite was as luxurious as it was possible for a honeymoon suite to be - all gold velvet, and shag pile carpetting, marble in the bathroom, complete with jacuzzi, even their own roaring fire with scattered sheepskin rugs. There was a drinks cabinet, an enormous four-poster bed, and the biggest telly he thought he'd ever seen. The estate had its own golf course, river for fishing, trails for wandering, stables, firing range, four star restaurant. Bodie peered out their expanse of window. Christ he was bored.

In the distance he could see mountains, blue in the late winter sun and no doubt majestic if you were up close, but still - Scotland wasn't somewhere he'd have chosen himself. At least it wasn't raining.

Bloody Cowley.

"Oh sit down, you're giving me a headache."

"Is that any way to talk to your beloved?" Not that he could blame her, Alison as on edge as he was himself. It might not have been so bad if she hadn't put the kaibosh on relieving it in any kind of practical - or interesting -way. What a waste of all that bed.

"Beloved me again and I'll tell everyone that I beat you at arm wrestling."

"You cheated!"

"Ah, but I still beat you." She grinned at him, and he gave in, smiled reluctantly back.

"I demand a rematch - my terms. Only fair."

Alison rolled her eyes. "You never stop, do you?"

He might as well, his heart wasn't in it. "It's only been three days." Three long, dull days and just as many long dull nights. They'd taken turn about at keeping watch, her style of doing things enough to keep him on his toes, just that little bit different from Doyle's.

Wonder what Doyle was doing now... "Bet they've got something more exciting than this on, back home."

"Now there's a confession, something more exciting than a week in bed with William Bodie?"

"Ha - ha. You know what I mean."

"I do... Come on, partner me for some floorwork?"

"Yeah if you like..." He leered at her leotarded body just because it was expected, settled into some stretches. "Bet we've missed the party out at Mullion's place, too."

"Could take weeks for that to break, Jax said! Anyway, I'm sure they'll save Shelford for you."

"Nah," Bodie turned and prepared to spot for her, "Doyle wants him too much after that ducking in the canal." He grinned reminiscently. "You should have seen him when I fished him out, ready to..."

"Look, Bodie - do you think we can go an entire hour without you bringing your partner into the conversation?"

What? "Eh?"

"Doyle-this, Doyle-that, and-then-Ray-said... I know you work together, but..."

"But what?"

She rolled her eyes at him, another sight he'd become used to. "Well it might have seemed more realistic if you'd married him!"

"Ah," Bodie said, darkness clamping across his chest, a tight, familiar foe, "The world isn't ready for our love..." Then he grinned, slid out a foot and hooked it behind her knees so that Alison was pulled forwards and overbalanced, so that he could catch her, hold her close and wiggle his eyebrows. "But you and me, schweetheart..."

She lifted her arms, twisted, and in a lithe, slithering movement had escaped his embrace, was on the floor at his feet and pulling him down, so that he lay, winded, on the carpet, arms stretched out to either side in sheepish crucifixion, eyes raised to where she stood over him. "Pax?"

"Alright." She let him get to his feet without a helping hand, more suspicious than Doyle had ever been.

"Time for dinner, anyway." He pretended glee, determined to brush off this choking fear that something was wrong, that Doyle was in trouble without him around, that he could be anywhere with anyone, and prey to all the usual nutters and his so-called old mates of the criminal underworld. They'd worked separately before - in fact Cowley'd been sending them off on different jobs more and more lately - Doyle would be fine. Besides, he was always getting himself beaten up, he was used to it now, tough as old boots was Doyle. "And all on expenses!" He rubbed his hands together, strode to the wardrobe and started to strip off his tracksuit. "And no Doyle to tell us off about dessert..."

Behind him Alison groaned, but he didn't care, the magic of being able to say Doyle's name out loud, to ensure his safety with casual mention, too strong.

"He's got this thing about desserts, reckons..."

o0o

He was wet through from the rain, and there were splinters from his vault over the ancient and rot-raddled fence still in his hand when he finally cornered Potter, that stung with his sudden stillness, pulsing in time with the race of his heart, the drag of his breath. It had been a good chase, hard and long, and Simpson was somewhere behind them, yet to catch up. He wasn't bad for a kid, would make someone a good partner one day, but for now Doyle had Potter all to himself.

He tutted, shook his head gently as Potter looked wildly around for a way out, but there were no convenient doors or handy windows, just a flat stretch of brickwork on either side of them, the barest corner of the factory wall, cracked concrete at their feet, no hope from above or below. Not for Potter.

"What's wrong, Bobby? Not pleased to see me?"

He wondered if Potter would produce a knife, half-hoped he would so that he could wrestle it from him, turn its blade against Potter's own neck, rotten, murderous...

"That's funny, because I'm sure Frank would be pleased to see you." If Frank could see anything at all. The beating had left him blind, had knocked his head in just the wrong place, the doctors said, it was a funny thing, was sight... "Yeah," Doyle moved closer, "He'll be very pleased to see you. I said I'd bring him something to cheer him up and I reckon you'd do nicely."

Potter was shaking his head again, knowing Doyle's reputation from old, remembering the last time they'd met, perhaps, the cold clasp of handcuffs on his wrists, remembering two long years inside. Hadn't changed him, hadn't reformed him, had just taught him new tricks, made him new friends.

Doyle's hand stung in a sudden gust of cold wind, and he clenched it deliberately. "You do remember Frank?" he asked with a smile, and Potter made his move. Doyle caught him, slammed him back against the wall, and held him there with an arm across his throat. "Where's Cooper?"

Potter tried to swallow, found he couldn't, choked slightly. Doyle let him go just enough that he could gasp at the air, then leaned forward a little harder, a little more viciously, brought his face up close to Potter's, as close as he would to a lover, the parody dark in his own mind. "Where," he hissed, "is Cooper?"

Footsteps pounded behind them, slowed and stilled as Simpson caught them up, stopped to catch his own breath, to take in the scene.

"Alright, mate?"

Bollocks.

"Just having a chat with my mate Potter, here." He punctuated his words with the slightest of bounces of his arm, heard Potter begin to wheeze slightly, the raw sound somehow distant. He'd reformed himself once, too, didn't seem to have got him anywhere either.

"Ray..."

"Potter?"

Potter clawed at Doyle's arm, managed to pull it away just far enough, just long enough to choke out a word or two, barely audible.

"Again!" He let up, almost reluctantly. For what this man had done to Frank...

"Red - Barn - Farm..."

Doyle listened almost absently as Potter croaked out instructions - where it was, how to get there, what time Cooper would be at home. Bodie would have known how he felt, would have understood his need to hit Potter just once more, somewhere it would hurt, hard enough to hurt. Bodie would have... Bodie would have stopped him, but Bodie would have understood. Simpson was a presence over his shoulder, just another shadow in the alley, darkening his own.

Fuck it.

He dropped his arm completely, flung Potter away and into Simpson's grasp where he hung, still coughing, still wheezing, still with his eyes on Doyle.

Simpson watched him too.

o0o

Tac.

Tac.

Tac.

Tac-tac.

"You know if John doesn't show up soon, I may have to apply for divorce," Bodie said, turning over on the bed and letting Cujo slip through his fingers to lie, splay-paged, on the counterpane. "What the hell are you doing?"

"I'm making wedding-favours for the guests."

"You what?" He sat up, squinted across to where Alison sat, golden-haired in the last of the evening light, at the table by the window. She was fiddling with a piece of that netting stuff that had made the froth in her wedding dress, dipping her hand into a huge jar of sweets and then dropping them onto the fabric one by one, pulling them into little bags. Beside her were little squares of wedding cake, and pieces of pink tissue paper from one of the presents. She turned to where the dress still hung against the wardrobe, tugging off a piece of ribbon and using it to tie the bag closed.

"There!" She held it up proudly, twirling it this way and that. "Sugar almonds in bags, and a piece of the..."

A shot rang out, the lace curtains billowed violently, and Alison screamed and snatched her arm to her chest, gripping it tightly and dropping to the floor as the single bullet was followed by a spray of fire from an automatic - SMG, he thought, bastard...

"He's gone off you, then," he said from his own place on the rug, tucked close to the opposite side of the bed. Even as he said it there was another rake of gunfire, this time through the window nearer him, so that he ducked under the bed, found himself looking directly across the floorboards to Alison's face, smeared with blood where perhaps she'd brushed hair out of her eyes. "You okay?"

"A scratch," she said dismissively, showing him the rake of blood where the bullet had caught her from wrist to elbow. The SMG sounded again, sherds of glass sent tinkling across the room in its wake. "Where the hell are the boys?"

"He got past them," Bodie said redundantly. Mike and Woodburn were out there, good men both of them - but John had been on strength before either of them, had been one of Cowley's rising stars before he'd suffered his own bullet, and slid back down the shiny firmament to B squad. "Why the hell's he decided to kill you instead of coming to steal you away?"

"I was going to give him a wedding favour too..."

"Why do you want to give that lot wedding favours?" Bodie asked distractedly, raising himself from the floor and starting to peer around the splintered window frame. The sky was vaguely pink, a contrail glowing brightly in the tail end of the setting sun, bound for some other part of the world where dusk hadn't yet arrived. Below the sky, the shadows were murky, dull browns and nearly-blacks, huddles of darker tree shapes, until the ground itself was burrowed pitch-dark with night.

"Well, they're not going to have the joy of tiptoeing around us after the divorce, are they?" There was a scrunching of glass behind him, and Alison crossed, low and fast, to the other side of the window. He'd stood like this a thousand times with Doyle, waiting, just waiting...

"So you thought a handful of sweets..."

"And a piece of wedding cake. One of my mums made it for me, she's professional. It's good."

One of my mums... Not entirely different from Doyle, then. But then that was why Cowley had chosen them, they neither of them had proper family who'd insist on attending their wedding - if anything people would be surprised to see their relatives show up. Mind you, Doyle had never got along with his foster-parents - taken a lot to get that admission from him too, years of casual chat and letting on some of his own ancient secrets. Waifs and strays when it came down to it, were most of CI5, and expendable with it.

And John Redman, stranger, it turned out, than any of them had realised...

Nothing moved outside.

The oddness of that struck them at the same time - all that gunfire, and no screams, no shouts of outrage from the other guests... Bodie leapt across the bed and to the shelter of the en suite just in time, the door of their room burst open, and there he was, the receptionist tucked tightly under his arm, the muzzle of his Browning digging into her cheek.

"Hullo, Ali."

"John." Alison nodded, playing it cool. "Brought us a wedding present?"

Bodie peered through the gap between door and jamb, hoping without any real hope that John would think he'd been out, that Alison had been here on her own.

"You're not married to that oik."

"I am - John, I am. I'm sorry."

"You couldn't have waited until your birthday? I'd have asked you again, you know that."

Alison shook her head. "You ask every year..."

"Biological clock ticking away, was it? I read those magazines, I understand. But..."

"Why are you doing this, John? Cowley..."

Behind the bathroom door, Bodie took a breath. Now they were getting to it.

"Cowley meant a lot to me, but you mean more. If you come away with me now then I'll still forgive you..."

Alison took her own breath, pursed her lips, and Bodie applauded silently. If she could keep him talking, distract him for long enough - if she could find out what Cowley needed to know...

"But where would we go? How would we live? My job..."

"We'll always be able to find work, you and me. We made a good team."

Christ, he was gone, was far gone... Redman had worked with Alison once, a single case... But then Bodie'd known immediately he saw Doyle, hadn't he? Maybe it wasn't so odd - maybe they weren't that different. How far would he go? Not this far, surely not this far... Let go of the girl, you bastard...

"Who'd take us on? The East Germans? The Russians? You're suggesting we switch sides?" Alison went for it, seeming to almost lower her gun, though Bodie could see it was still aimed, still focussed. He'd have to move before he could get a clear shot, it was down to Alison, and John had bloody good hearing.

"What, betray my country as well as being banished from it? No..."

No?

"You'd do that? You'd be prepared to do that for me?" Redman's eyes had widened slightly.

It wasn't true - Christ, it wasn't true. Cowley was wrong.

Alison shrugged. "For the person I loved?"

And that, Bodie realised, as John's face twisted suddenly, grimmaced, was a lie too far.

"You don't love me though, do you?"

"John..."

There was a muffled whimper from the receptionist, as the gun pressed harder against her cheek, with no thought for her teeth, for her pretty face. She'd been crying, she wasn't any more.

"Don't John me - I've been on the same training as you have, I know what you know about negotiating! And if lover-boy in there thinks he can take me out before I shoot this one - " he tilted his head towards the bathroom, shook the receptionist as if she was nothing more than a ragdoll, "- then he can think again. Come out of there!"

Bodie cursed, emerged from the bathroom. John was thinking about negotiators, which meant that his head was clear and he knew exactly how much time he had from shooting Mike and Woodburn to the appearance of fresh back-up when they didn't check in, which meant that he probably didn't care one way or the other. He took another breath and lean back, braced himself against the wall, calculating. He could take out John before John had a chance to aim at Alison, but he'd never save the receptionist. If he chanced waiting, John could kill the receptionist and probably whoever else he chose to aim at. Would that be himself? Would it be Alison? Whatever happened, John was a dead man, and he knew it, and he knew that they knew it...

"Get over there beside her."

Bad, Bodie thought, very bad. "Cowley thought you were selling to the Russians, y'know, that's what this is all about." He didn't move. "Vicar wasn't a real vicar, he used to be on security back at HQ, long before our time."

John flashed him a look. "I said I want you over there with your wife!"

"She's not my wife..."

"She won't be anyone's wife..."

"John..."

A single gunshot, and the receptionist fell, John's face surprised - but no time, no time for him to do anything more than look surprised. He fell too, propelled forwards by the force of the bullet that had taken him in the back of his head.

There was a moment's silence, and Bodie was aware that his finger was too tight on the trigger, nearly too tight to go back, but not quite, not quite... Then the receptionist was screaming, and Alison was moving to calm her, and CI5 had lost another good agent. In the doorway George Cowley stood, his own gun held loosely by his side now, a slight frown on his face.

Bodie took a deep breath, looked around the room with its shattered furnishings, the bullet-holed wedding dress, the spilled champagne and scattered sweets, looked at Cowley. It was over, it was finally over. "Like some cake, sir?

o0o

The rest room was empty when Doyle crashed in, the doorknob slamming into the wall, deepening the powder-white dent a little more. Of course every bloody one but him was either on sheik-watch with the Cow in Scotland, or else off at Mullion's enjoying a glorious ransack and preparing for a good gloat. He flexed his hand, over-warm inside its bandage, scowled as it stretched and burned. The heat seemed to reach up his arm, into his shoulder, taunting him, the antibiotics yet to do their job.

He was too hot for tea.

Someone had left a coke in the refrigerator, and Doyle purloined it without a qualm, feeling bad all through, rotten enough even to steal someone's can of pop. He slammed the fridge door too, slid his finger under the ring-pull and heard the cut-metal sound as it opened. Torn, ripped, forever separated, destroyed.

He knew he was in a dark mood, knew his own personal black dog was sitting high and proud and in control, and that the other agents were avoiding him, and for once, this time, he didn't care. He turned towards the window, half-minded to go home and leave records to themselves, to skive off entirely. It was still clouded outside, another dull afternoon, autumn long gone, still too early for the artificial cheer of December. Frowning, he raised the can to take a swig, felt his fingers slip on the condensation, and fumbled it. It leapt into the air, struck his bad hand as he tried to catch it, sending sharp sparks across his eyes, and sprayed itself over the room, onto walls, puddling onto the floor, mucky brown fizz.

Shit. He clutched his hand, closed his eyes, bent his head forward.

"What are you doing, Raymond?"

He froze, back to the door where Bodie no doubt stood with a smirk on his face. He heard rain start to spatter again on the window, the coke still fizzing and sputtering on the lino.

"Could ask you the same thing," he said, swivelling around finally, stepping carefully over the sticky floor to pull the mop from its place in the store cupboard, not looking at Bodie. "Shortest honeymoon on record, was it?"

"Ah you're just jealous - always the bridesmaid..."

Doyle tightened his grip on the mop - with both hands - rubbed it viciously across the floor, said nothing.

"Look, d'you fancy a drink down the Albert when you're finished here?"

"Alison not got something to say about that?"

"No, look it was a bloody shambles...."

"Bodie! I thought I told you to go home?" There, right on time, his knight in a camel coat, was Cowley.

"I was just..."

"You're no use to me until you've slept." Cowley glared from the doorway, content to wait for Bodie to leave the room, and then stepped further inside himself, turned to Doyle. Doyle looked down before their eyes could meet. He should have gone straight home himself. And Bodie thought he could just waltz in here... "There you are, 4.5. Have you finished with the Duley files?"

He nodded briefly, tried to look more efficient than he really could while holding a mop and with his bandage soaked in cola. Sure enough, Cowley looked down at his hand, then back up to his face. "I don't like your colour."

"Same colour I was yesterday. Sir." It was the only job he had, after all. He surveyed the floor, ignored the walls, and stowed the mop back in its cupboard, then turned to face the Cow, shoving his hands in the pockets of his thick white jacket.

"Not quite. Duley's waited this long, he'll wait a little longer. Get yourself home lad, and if the pills aren't working by tomorrow I want you to see Dr Patel."

"I'm fine..." Doyle began automatically, took a breath and let it out. Why bother? "Sir."

Cowley nodded, looked him up and down one more time, then vanished into the corridor.

Bloody Cowley. Bloody Bodie - what was all that about? The happy couple weren't due back for a fortnight and there was Bodie, bright as brass, home and sneaking off down the pub. He tried to crush the hint of warmth in his chest, the slight lightening of his mood. So what if Bodie was home? Probably didn't want to pay for a posh hotel if he wasn't going to get out of bed anyway, tight bastard.

Except that he was out of bed after less than a week, and he'd come looking for Doyle.

To boast, no doubt said a nasty little voice. To gloat because he's still normal, because now he's got it all and now you're...

Alone.

o0o

Bodie's flat was cold and unwelcoming when he finally made it home, tracking wet footprints across the floorboards and letting his coat drip where he threw it. He'd hung around waiting for Doyle to appear in their office for a while, then wandered the corridors in search of him, keeping low in case the Cow appeared unexpectedly, but Doyle seemed to have vanished. He hadn't looked busy, alone in the rest room, but when Bodie finally checked the car park, his Capri wasn't there. Out on the streets again, on his own...

Bodie took a breath, flicked the central heating and hot water on, then the gas fire to take the chill off, and went to make a cup of tea. He felt like he'd been on the road forever, the A1 long and busy at that time of morning, jangling on his nerves after a night spent cleaning up the mess at the hotel. But he'd wanted to get home, wanted to... He filled the kettle, rummaged for tea bags and a tin of evaporated milk. What had he wanted to do, anyway? Doyle was Doyle, he'd seen it for himself, safely at work, safely in HQ.

Or at least - in HQ. He'd been in a funny mood, and not best pleased to see Bodie, which... Another breath, and he poured water, stirred, dumped the tea bag. He hadn't expected to be welcomed with open arms, but Doyle was usually prepared to hear a bloke out, and all he had to do was explain that it'd been the Cow's idea, that Reverend Docherty was no more a Reverend than Bodie was a... a go-go dancer. Doyle'd be alright when he knew what was going on - he hated being kept in the dark, they both did. It'd be fine. He poured the tea, took a mouthful, nearly spat it out again. Christ, but he hated evaporated milk in tea.

It wouldn't be fine.

There was something wrong. The blood in his veins was still jangling, and it had nothing to do with rush hour traffic, or George bloody Cowley, or the wrong kind of milk.

He let his mug crash into the sink, patted his pockets for his RT, remembered his coat, and almost ran through to the living room to retrieve it. It was sticky-damp from being used in the rain and then shoved away without thought, and shouldn't have been left like that, he held down the button anyway, risked electric shock. There was no answer from Doyle's R/T, and he switched frequencies impatiently.

"Go ahead, 3.7."

"Patch me through to 4.5, would you Laura?"

"Please, Laura."

"Please, Laura," Bodie repeated, trying desperately to sound friendly, polite. If she hung up on him...

"4.5 is off the clock, Bodie. Have you tried him at home?"

"He was at work less than an hour ago - he can't be at home."

"If you say so, 3.7. Would you care to let me know the whereabouts of all the agents, or..."

Sarcastic cow.

"D'you know when he left, love?" he asked with great patience, and his eyes squeezed shut.

"Look, Bodie, d'you think I spend all day trailing around after Ray Doyle?"

Well, it couldn't have been long after Bodie'd left - maybe Doyle'd been up all night on a case, maybe that's why he'd been so ratty. "Thanks Laura. Do me a favour and give me a shout if he checks in again?"

"One day you're going to run out of favours..."

One day he was going to run out of reasons to be trailing around after Ray Doyle himself, but not today. He managed a polite thank you, eyed the phone for a moment, considering, and then felt for his car keys instead. He'd go round, that's what he'd do, kip out on Doyle's good sofa if Doyle was asleep, and when they woke up they'd both be in the right spot for him to explain the Cow's latest triple-think and disaster. Right then.

He let the door slam behind him, stepped back out into the rain.

o0o

The rain ran in blurred streams down his windscreen, so that the traffic lights seemed to leak colour, to dribble it down to the puddles and rushing gutters of the road. Red - orange - green, and he must have been sitting there for god knew how long, at the end of the road from CI5 HQ, because when someone honked in frustration behind him, they were already changing back through orange to red again.

He must be more tired than he'd thought... Doyle rubbed at his eyes, waiting impatiently. It was too muggy - shouldn't be allowed in December, why didn't Cowley do something about that? He had a hotline to everyone else, why not the weather gods? Who was it, Thor? Odin? Shame it wasn't one of the birds, there really should be some beautiful dark female god to get sweaty about on a night like tonight. One who'd look good all wet in the rain, blue eyes and dark, slicked down hair...

No. Blonde. Brown eyes.

Fuck...

The lights changed again, and he took his foot off the brake, ready to slam it down hard, to take refuge in speed, in something that needed his concentration, where he couldn't think about Bodie like that, where...

There was a knock at the window and he jumped, heart pounding, breath coming fast.

What was wrong with him?

Behind him a Cortina gave up in disgust, drove around him in a squeal of tyres and a shush of puddled tarmac.

"Doyle!"

Simpson. It seemed to take forever to turn his head, but there was Simpson knocking at the window, suit sodden, rain streaming down his face like tears.

He wound the glass down, and cold, fresh air poured in. He should have done that hours ago...

Simpson. "What do you want?"

There was another man, shouldering Simpson to one side, an arm around his shoulder, something odd about the way he...

A gun!

"Don't try it, pig!"

Too slow, too slow to reach his own weapon, to open his door, to do anything when Mike Cooper was holding a gun to Simpson's ribs, a bullet that would pound sideways through his flesh, his bone, maybe his heart or...

"Take your gun and put it on the seat behind you. Now!"

Doyle moved slowly on purpose this time, to keep Cooper calm, to give himself time to think, to work it out. He reached beneath his jacket, pulled out his Browning, and twisted to place it on the car seat. When he'd done that, when he was facing the front again, vaguely dizzy, and with his bad hand pulsing heat and pain, Cooper grunted quietly, shoved Simpson towards the back door, and bundled them both in.

"One move the wrong way, Doyle, one look in the wrong direction, and I shoot him in five different places. Now drive - left here."

The light was green all over again, so he let the clutch up, the accelerator down, and managed somehow to push into second, and then third as they straightened out on Tullymore Road, where traffic was busy with the school crowd, mums and kids heading back for an afternoon of telly and an early evening cooking spuds and fish fingers.

"Shouldn't you be halfway to the south of France by now?" he asked, glancing in the rear view mirror at Cooper's intent face, at Simpson's haunted eyes. Would he remember his training, would he know what to do?

"Left ahead," was all Cooper said, refusing to play.

"Where we going?"

Cooper cuffed him, hard enough to hurt, to make him swerve slightly, and surely it shouldn't have been hard enough that the world faded momentarily to brown. He kept his gaze straight ahead, squinting to see the coloured shapes moving to either side of the road, he mustn't hit them, he must keep on the road, and then his sight cleared again, though his head still spun. His brain was racing, a hundred scenarios, a thousand, one after the other. Would Cooper take them out of town, or would he...

"Next right."

Away from the main road north anyway, but not down to the docks either, where they were pretty sure he had a warehouse or two. Some lock-up maybe, an address they didn't have on record? He was glad, suddenly, with a fierce ache, that Bodie was back from his honeymoon, that he was lurking around HQ. Bodie wouldn't leave it at a few sarky words in the rest room, he'd want more, he'd find them - whatever happened. Wouldn't he? Except... Cowley'd sent him home to sleep with his wife.

Sent home to...sleep. That was what the Cow had said. Why would he send Bodie home to..?

They kept turning, left and right, sometimes doubling back on themselves, once, twice, three times even, he thought, Simpson with the gun to his ribs and his eyes wide in the rear-view mirror, Cooper's mouth closed, grim as their surroundings, which eventually became derelict, damaged, abandoned of all hope. It was a bad part of town, an old part of town, the sort of place you could still see the bomb damage from world war two.

They stopped, finally, in front of a church.

o0o

Bodie frowned, turning slowly around in Doyle's living room.

Doyle wasn't at home.

His bed was rumpled, the milk wasn't off, and there was still water around the rim of an upturned mug on the sink, so he'd probably been here last night - this morning, even. He didn't have a girl on the go just now - or at least he hadn't last Bodie'd known, and Alison's mate Tracey lived all the way up in Lancaster, so all the promise he'd seen between her and Doyle at the wedding couldn't have lasted beyond the morning after. Where would he be, in the middle of the afternoon, on a rainy Thursday?

Well, he could be anywhere - supermarket, gym, gone to the pictures...

But he wasn't, somehow Bodie felt sure that he wasn't...

His R/T went off, making him jump, and he pulled it out of his pocket so fast he nearly dropped it.

"Doyle?"

"You wanted to know when he checked in," Laura said, and Bodie froze, because she didn't sound like Laura, not like clever, witty Laura at all. She had her serious voice on, her customer's voice, she called it, for giving bad news to Cowley and then back to various Ministers.

He closed his eyes. "Yes."

"4.5's car was reported stationary at the top of Sutton Row around 3.20pm," Laura began, in her best official reporting voice. "5.9 passed him around that time, but noted two men approaching 4.5's vehicle, one of them familiar. The familiar man was Michael Steven Cooper, but by the time 5.9 realised and turned around he was too late to do anything but call in and follow them."

"So where did they go?" Bodie was already moving, out the front door, down the corridor, the stairs...

Laura hesitated. "5.9 lost them around Philpot Road, E1..."

"E1..." Bodie muttered vaguely, car in gear and accelerator down before the door was even closed.

"...and Mr Cowley would like to see you immediately in his office, 3.7!" Laura finished in a rush, as if afraid he'd close the connection before she could get it all out. Not so cool, calm and collected now, are you? Bodie thought with more humour than spite, refusing to think of what Cooper might want with Doyle, not even knowing exactly what Doyle had been working on while he was up in Scotland. Not from undercover, as if he'd be likely to phone his mate for a chat every night when he was on his honeymoon, even if they did managed it normally. When they weren't together anyway. Nothing wrong with that either, they were... colleagues. If he liked talking to Doyle as well, well there were worse ways to subliminate... whatever it was he was subliminating. Good word that, he'd got it from the Queen of Cybernetics that time he'd been in over King Billy, always meant to use it... to use it on Doyle some time. Well and he still would, one of these days.

What had the stupid bastard got himself into now?

He concentrated on driving, on avoiding the early rush hour traffic, the ebb and flow of everyday workers who had nothing more vital to get to than their sausage and mash and Coronation Street, maybe a martini, or a few pints down the pub later if they were lucky. Well, he'd get Doyle out of this one, and drag him down the pub, like it or lump it.

He turned into Sutton Row, then through the gates and into one of the secretary's spots near the front of the building, not caring that there was a puddle the size of a small pond stretching all the way across the tarmac. Five steps, I.D. to Drake on security, then he was squelching up the stairs, Doyle-like, without the patience to wait for the lift. He by-passed Annaliese without so much as a wave, barely even knocking before he'd opened the door to Cowley's office and was inside, front and centre to the desk, staring solidly back as George Cowley spoke courteously into the telephone.

"Cooper was always high on our agenda, Inspector, and I'm afraid if your superiors didn't see fit to inform you of that then they must have had good reason. Yes, I'll look forward to hearing from him. Good afternoon." He placed the receiver on its cradle with slightly more force than was necessary, looked over his glasses at Bodie. "Well?"

"You wanted to see me, sir."

"You've heard about Doyle then - I thought I sent you home to sleep."

"Yes sir." He didn't specify which question he was answering.

"There's an APB out for the car, and for Cooper himself, but I don't expect much - Cooper's a canny one, he won't keep... the Capri for very long."

"What was the case, sir?"

"Oh, corruption at the highest levels - when is it anything else? A badger job gone wrong, drugs - the wrong girl dead, the wrong man blamed, and... well let's just say that a rather senior civil servant will be resigning his post shortly."

"What angle was Doyle working?"

"Mostly peripheral..." Bodie frowned, and Cowley frowned back at him. "With the mood he's been in for last fortnight he was hardly fit for anything else!"

"Mood?"

"Och man, don't tell me you hadn't noticed, he's been like a bear with a sore head! Some love affair gone wrong no doubt…"

Well, he supposed Doyle had been a bit tetchy, but… "It's Christmas, sir, he's not keen on Christmas."

"Is he not?" Cowley looked unimpressed. "Well I've no time to coddle you lot through your fads and romances, and I wish you'd remember that, I really do!"

Doyle was neither faddy nor liable to sulk over women, and Bodie had just opened his mouth to tell Cowley exactly that when the telephone rang. He pursed his lips across the words, though he let his glare sear Cowley's desk as he listened to what seemed to be the terser side of the conversation.

"Did he indeed… No… No… Yes… You do that. We'll be there in five minutes." He turned to Bodie, gestured him to the door. "They've found Doyle's car. Cooper is in a house nearby, apparently tucking into an early Christmas dinner."

"What?"

"Lax after his long years inside, perhaps…"

But Bodie wasn't listening, was waiting with ill-concealed patience for Cowley to pick up his hat and coat and precede him down the corridor.

o0o

The shot was loud in the car, and Doyle's ears rang even as his breath burned in his lungs, as his pulse pounded and raged, as he tried to twist around in his seat, arms flailing ineffectually, legs scrabbling to brace against the footwell. Then everything stilled, and there was just Simpson lying in the back of the car, hair matted with blood, face… face savaged by Cooper's bullet, from the close range of it, the heat and screaming devastation.

Cooper, where was Cooper? He was slow, he was too slow, to see, to know, to move, and the door gave way behind him, and Cooper's hand was in his hair, pulling him out, to his feet, gun jammed against his neck.

"You come with me," Cooper rasped into his ear, "You're not going to die like him, for your country in the light and the fresh air, oh no… You're going to die the way you wanted me to die, locked in the dark, alone… You ready for that, Detective Constable Doyle?"

"Won't matter, you know," he managed to stutter out in reply, even his tongue feeling out of his own control. "They'll get you – they'll find you. CI5. Bodie."

"They can have me," Cooper said, pulling him roughly down the path, "But they won't have me for long. I'll be free too, nothing here for me now - she died you know, three years ago, while I was locked in that stinking place, but the likes of you don't care about that, do you? Don't care about…"

He was mad, the man was mad, and Doyle's legs weren't working the way he wanted them to, he couldn't have fought back even if there'd been no muzzle hard to his flesh, the cold circle of it burning him, branding him, maybe, and wouldn't that be justice for letting them all die… The girl, and Simpson, and… Who was the girl? Bodie's girl maybe, Bodie had a girl now…

He was slammed into a wooden door. It burst open and he fell to his knees despite Cooper's hold on his hair, was free of the gun for a moment, just a moment, just long enough to bring his elbow back and catch Cooper hard in the leg. It wasn't high enough to disable him though, Doyle not fast enough to take further advantage of the moment off balance, and he felt again the cold, hard metal, saw Simpson's not-face against his tearing eyes, his head pulled back by his hair so that he was bent too far back to do anything but fall himself if he moved the wrong way.

"You..." Cooper snarled, gave him a shake that sent the world spinning in front of him, nausea rising. "Get to your feet and walk!"

They stumbled together down the aisle of the church, old and abandoned as it was, no help there, a tumble of pews in one corner, wind whistling where once there had been colour and light and stained glass windows. No smell of Pledge here, no Lily of the Valley or deep, ponderous organ.

No Bodie.

There was another door in front of them, sunk slightly lower than the ground, so that he almost fell down the three worn and damp-slick steps towards it. There were two stone angels set in the low lintel, their long gone eyes staring into his, mouths once open perhaps to sing Hosannah, now gaping blank screams, and there was a key set in the lock, an enormous old thing.

Cooper turned the key, opened the door into the darkness, and paused, let him feel the stone chill of the place, that they were at the top of somewhere deep, that they were on the edge of stairs with no bannister.

This was what was going to happen to him.

He struggled, in his head he struggled, he wanted to struggle, but it was no good, was no good...

"On the side of the angels you reckon, pig?" Cooper shook him again, and he felt his limbs, loose and uncontrolled, waving him further off balance. He couldn't seem to get a grasp on Cooper, on anything, his fingers didn't want to grip, so that even when his good hand flailed against Cooper's thick coat he couldn't save himself. "No angels down there, you'll have to see what you can do on your own about a bullet in your stomach..."

Doyle teetered, felt himself begin to tip, gasping in panic, away from the worn, blunted safety of the stone staircase, into the darkness indeed. Cooper cursed and let him go, and then he could hear gunshots as he seemed to hang, suspended forever in a bare second above the unknown.

Gunshots...

It was Bodie come for him, Simpson wasn't dead at all, it was Benny and Fraser and... no, Fraser was dead, long ago, dead of an atomic bomb that wasn't, and there was no one behind Cooper in the dim light from the door, and he really was falling then, down and down, Cooper's bullets wild around him, and then he hit something relentlessly solid, the breath jolted from him, his head cracked against stone, and he rolled, tipped and fell again. It was a smaller fall, the second one, and he didn't black out straight away, though his head was ringing, was pounding, was screaming, but the end was just as hard and choked in dirt and dust. He coughed, reached out automatically and tried to sit up, but he was confined by smooth stone on both sides, too smooth to hold on to, even if his hands would obey him, and then the bare sliver of light above started to move, its edges sliding together, because Cooper was closing the door, would lock it behind him, and he tried yet again to push himself up, to shout. Instead he coughed, choked, knocked his head on something harsh and sharp, and then he felt himself sliding back down, down, down, his eyes closing, and then nothing.

o0o

There was indeed the smell of roast chicken, of herbs and of gravy and over it all, of carrots and brussel sprouts, and there was the genteel clink of cutlery on china, the occasional ting of crystal against plate.

Michael Steven Cooper was eating what would, perhaps, be his last meal.

Bodie watched from the doorway, gun carefully trained on the man as he sat. Cooper was eating slowly, precisely, making every mouthful a performance. He was eating for his audience.

"You know I could shoot you right now," Bodie said slowly, a drawl of a threat.

Cooper didn't even jump, but carefully cut another piece of chicken, pressed it onto his fork. "You could, but then you wouldn't find out, would you?" He raised the chicken to his open mouth, and his lips slid pinkly along the tines of the fork until it pulled away, empty. He chewed.

"Find out what?" He watched Smith and Haringey emerge into the room behind Cooper, pause at either side of the kitchen door, watching them both. Cowley followed, stood silently in the doorway.

"Where Raymond Doyle is, of course."

"Oh you'll tell me that," Bodie kept his voice low, casual, "Because if you don't, I'll shoot you. Starting with your kneecaps, working my way up to your kidneys, and then one finger at a time."

Cooper ate a mouthful of mashed potato, and it was all Bodie could do not to cross the room and shove the man's face into his plate.

"No."

"No what? Because I can assure you..."

"No, you won't shoot me." Another mouthful of chicken, carefully mopped in its gravy, nearly the last. "Or if you do, it won't help you."

Bodie felt his heart stop dead for a beat, for two, felt it start to freeze in place. "Sure of that, are you?"

"Oh yes." Scrape, clink. "What do you think, Mr Cowley? Care to reassure your boy?"

Cowley's eyes narrowed, his gaze slid to Smith and Haringey and he nodded them away. "I think that depends on you, Michael."

Cooper took a last mouthful of brussel sprout, chewed thoughtfully and then lined his knife and fork carefully together on the plate, meal over. He lifted a linen napkin from his lap, dabbed at his lips, and then reached for his wine glass.

Bodie shot it from his fingers, and had the satisfaction of seeing the man start, finally. "You've killed Doyle."

Cooper wiped distastefully at the red wine soaking his shirt, lifted his hand to a prickle of blood on his cheek. "Was that really necessary? No, Raymond Doyle is not dead. Or..." He shook out the napkin, then dabbed it to his lips, his cheek.

"Or?"

"Or he wasn't when I saw him last. I rather think I missed him in the dark. Probably."

The dark Bodie thought, tucking it away. He moved into the room, closer to Cooper, ignoring Cowley's frown of warning. The man might well have a gun, might have it aimed at Bodie's heart or his head or his balls, under his tiny, clothed table, but Bodie would shoot him back before he died. He wasn't when I saw him last....

"It'll go better for you if you did miss," Cowley said, stepping nearer Cooper himself, still behind but to one side of him. "What is it you want, Michael?"

Cooper laughed humourlessly. "I want Lisa back. I want her safe from the bastards that gave the stuff that killed her. I want six years of my life back, I want to have been there to feed them their own heroin, and I want her alive again." He folded the napkin, laid it on his plate amid the gravy and the shatters of glass. "In short, I want time to fly backwards. But that won't happen, so I shall pilot it forwards instead. Do you believe in reincarnation, Mr Bodie?"

He knows my name, Bodie thought. Of course he does. And then - he's mad. "No."

"That's a shame, you might otherwise have met your partner again."

"Make up your mind, Michael, he's either alive or he's not," Cowley interrupted, eyes flicking to Bodie's face, holding firmly. Bodie knew what the look was for, what he was trying to do - Cowley wanted to ground him, to steady him in case Doyle really was gone, but in that case... In that case there was no ground.

"What do you think happens when you die, Mr Bodie? Do you think we're reunited with the ones we love? Or do you think there's nothing? Just darkness?"

"I think you'd better start talking about Doyle."

"I think Lisa's in heaven - she was innocent, you know, she died an innocent. I don't care what they say. She was good. Taught Sunday School, did you know that? No - you didn't even know who she was, did you?"

Bodie took a breath, tried to keep calm. Keep 'im talking, Doyle would tell him, and he'd sound impatient, but he wouldn't be, not really, because he knew Bodie would listen. "Look, I'm sorry about Lisa - but that's no reason..."

"Oh, it's every reason!" Cooper suddenly snapped, slamming his hands down on either side of his neatly placed dinner plate. Cutlery rattled, crystal jumped. "Your fucking Doyle is in the dark, where he left them! He was unbaptised, you see - he died unbaptised, my son. Our son! Suffer as I'm suffering, you bastards - my Lisa was pregnant, and I'm going to see her again!"

Bodie had a moment, a bare moment, to try and work out what the man was saying, to think We'll never get anything from him like this, before Cooper moved. He stood up, and even as Bodie raised his own weapon, as he saw from the corner of his eye Cowley do the same, Cooper pulled a gun from his jacket pocket in a smooth, determined movement, lifted it to his chin, and pulled the trigger.

o0o

Five minutes, five hours, five days later, he woke up. He was hot, incredibly hot, and his very bones ached. He remembered Cooper, he remembered falling, and then he remembered the church, with its steeple soaring into the dark grey sky, it's battered naves and aisles, its broken pulpit. He remembered the steps down, and the darkness, and the feel of being surrounded by stone boxes.

He was in the crypt.

He took a cautious breath, paid attention to the way it rattled through his body. He was hot, and he hurt, but he didn't think anything was broken. There was something wrong, but... Christ he was hot, and his arm hurt, tight under the bandage, and he thought about taking it off... Better get up first.

He levered himself onto one elbow, feeling the grit and grime of years - of centuries, perhaps - rolling beneath him as he moved, began to bend his knees towards himself, and met a hard stone surface. Something at his back, and something in front of him - he was trapped - so he extended his bad arm over his head, felt the freedom of nothingness.

He was lying between two coffins, that's all it was.

No such thing as ghosts - as the ghosts of all the men he'd killed, of all the women he hadn't saved, waiting to greet him when he died, with hollow faces and accusing eyes, fingers pointing... - and if there were they wouldn't hang around down here.

Bodie would find him,.

His arm hurt. Something he had to do. Ah, get up.

Another breath, and he turned onto his stomach, pushed himself back to kneel, felt the difference in the air when he stood on shaky legs, and there was no more stone on either side of him. The darkness stretched instead, empty, but not empty.

Empty but not empty... who's there?

There was something he had to find... Bodie... No, the stairs. He'd fallen down the stairs when he was little, and he hadn't half caught hell for it. His wrist had hurt where he'd landed on it, but his head hurt more when his mum smacked him, and shouted at him, and...

Christ, what was wrong with him? Focus.

He had to find the stairs, and he had to get up them, and he had to unlock that door. Bodie'd never find him down here. He pursed his lips, closed his eyes. He'd fallen, and he'd been facing that direction, so surely they'd be behind him...?

He stepped slowly, carefully, because he knew there was something wrong - he was sick, god Bodie'd laugh. His legs didn't want to support him properly, kept wobbling, and his left arm was practically useless, a huge ballooned thing that throbbed at him, though he'd make sure he could use it if he had to. He dragged it defiantly through the air, fingers numbly outstretched, grazing coffins and ancient dust as he worked his way through the maze.

Couldn't be a maze, the church wasn't that big. It was small, only small, and the walls leaned in above him, closing away the sky, a tiny place, a tiny space, and just him, trying to squeeze past the coffins with their reaching hands, their pointing fingers.... He paused, breathing hard, when he came to solid wall in front of him.

Focus.

If this was the wall of the crypt, then it was either the stairs and he should go to the left, or else he'd follow it around and find them that way. He leaned against it for a moment, the stone deliciously cold against his back even through three layers of clothing, though he knew he was shivering, shouldn't let himself catch a chill.

Don't you be sick again, Raymond, I'm not cleaning up after you again... She didn't like it when he was sick, though Bodie'd laugh, he always laughed at things like that, at Doyle catching a cold, at dust gets right up my hooter... Alida Valli... Hello, Tovarich...

The wall went on forever, his fingers tracing every brick of it, dry and crumbling away - it'll fall, it'll collapse, you'll die beneath the rubble and how will Bodie find you then? His breath caught. Bodie was married, had got married in a church, and he wouldn't come for him, because he was at home with Alison, with his wife... I thought I told you to go home and get some sleep?...

Brick vanished beneath his fingers suddenly, and he stopped, reached backwards almost in panic, then remembered what he'd been looking for and carefully ran his fingers upwards. Sure enough, he reached the edge of that brick too, then along, and up, and along and... he'd found the stairs, god he'd found the stairs...

His legs wouldn't lift him upwards properly, so he sidled far enough along that he could step onto the lowest rise, and with one hand to the wall, and one foot testing cautiously before he moved his full weight, began a careful climb. There was no light, no sliver beneath the door, no hopeful shine in a comforting outline to aim for, so he simply went up until there was no more up, and then he stopped, panting again, dizzy from concentration, then he felt with his hands again until he found the doorknob.

It'll never open, you're stuck down here, and Bodie's not coming to get you...

The knob turned, but didn't open, rattled loosely when he tugged at it, but didn't give.

A good, solid, church door.

Think, think, think... He just needed something until Bodie worked out where he was, something to give him a clue, something to help... He closed his eyes, bit his lip, and kept his hands flat against the solidity of the wood. Wouldn't do to fall to fall down again, to where the dead people were, and Paul Coogan waiting for him, and Simpson and...

Pull yourself together man - think.

After a moment he slid down to sit against the door, fingers reaching backwards to the gap between wood and stone floor. He started to take his clothes off.

o0o

Cowley crouched down, looked up at him for a moment, over the body of Michael Stephen Cooper, then reached out and closed the man's eyes. They were still intact, still blue and open, which was a miracle considering the state of the rest of his face.

A messy way to die, that.

Bodie couldn't look away. Cooper knew where Doyle was, Cooper was dead, Cooper was not going to tell them.

Cowley spoke quietly, perhaps to Bodie, perhaps to himself, perhaps to no one at all. "Sometimes I think we're not really winning at all."

Bodie pursed his lips, didn't move. Smith and Haringey arrived in a rush and scuffle, took in the scene with wide eyes, then Smith turned away to be sick, Haringey to RT for an ambulance.

"Somewhere dark, he said," Cowley said at last, in a more normal voice, and Bodie blinked at him. "He said Doyle was somewhere dark..."

"Look out the window - sir! Everywhere's dark at this time of evening!"

Cowley stood, brushing his hands together, not rising to Bodie's insubordination. "Yes, but he meant the other kind of dark, where there's no light to be let in at any time of day. A warehouse perhaps, given the area, or a cellar..."

"Where was the car?" His voice was steady, firm and steady.

"Two streets away... Kettering Road - mostly waste ground and derelict houses, but worker's houses, small, they won't have cellars. There's a disused factory, though - and he couldn't have taken him far, not without someone noticing, even around here. Doyle would either struggle, or have to be carried."

It was enough, it would have to be enough. He turned and was through the door, hearing Cowley bark orders into his RT, men to come here, men to go there, an ambulance at the ready...

He took the Capri just around the corner to Kettering Road, found Doyle's abandoned vehicle easily enough, roughly circled now with police tape. The blood on the back seat gave him a nasty turn, until he remembered Simpson - dozy sod, just a kid he'd been - and his resolve hardened. He would find Doyle.

The whole area was damaged enough, abandoned enough that even the local kids didn't seem to bother with it, and nothing seemed to move but the wind and the odd spatter of rain. A lousy night to be lying somewhere, injured. But if it was dark, then maybe Doyle was sheltered, maybe...

Headlights arced around him, and Smith's Cortina pulled up beside him in a shushh of wet tyres and road.

Before the engine had died, Haringey was out of the car, torch in hand. "There'll be others here in a bit - where d'you want us to start?"

Bodie looked around, to the long row of terraced houses facing each other across the road at one end, past the mass of darkness that were overgrown bushes and grasses to the hulk of the old factory.

"Take the houses, I'll start up the other end." It had to be the factory, surely. "Let the lads know when they get here."

Haringey nodded, gestured to Smith with the beam of his torch, and they set off. Bodie turned around, one final look along the road for anything suspicious, anything that seemed off, and found himself facing the church.

Churches didn't have basements, did they?

It loomed in front of him, sharp spire reaching to the clouds, arched windows black upon black in the night.

It called to him.

Another car turned into the far end of the road, but Bodie ignored it. Haringey would give them instructions, if he hadn't already. There was something about the church...

The little path, once a fine gleaming concrete, no doubt, was broken and shattered under his feet, he half-tripped when a paving stone tipped unexpectedly, caught himself before he fell onto the slick wet surface. His torch saw nothing amiss, no abandoned shoe or lighter left as a sign, no message scrawled in the mud, the heavy front door closed and barred, and looking as if it had been that way for years. There was another smaller, less grand door beside it though, pulled to against the jamb, but warped and swollen enough that it wasn't actually closed, and Bodie pushed it wide, stepped inside and swept the beam of his torch across the interior.

Nothing. No Doyle lying huddled in a corner, no movement... There were pews overturned and piled in one corner though, a fallen pulpit in another, and he strode along the aisle and around the mess until he was sure there was no one there. A door to the left led to what had once been a kitchen, was now open to the elements and awash in moss and muck, and there was no Doyle there either.

He sent the light of his torch playing across the walls and windows again, into corners, upwards to where there had once been steps to the tower, now collapsed like everything else.

Churches didn't have basements...

But they might have crypts.

There - another door, set lower, so that he'd almost missed it. And something... He crossed to the other side of the church, slid to a halt beside the doorway. Something green, but not moss green, or slime green, it was...

T-shirt green, forced under the small gap at the bottom of the door, not much, too difficult to push it far through a space like that, but...

"Doyle!"

No answer.

"Doyle?" He rattled at the door - locked - reached down and tugged at the t-shirt. "Ray!"

The cloth pulled through a little further, then seemed to become stuck. He rattled the door again, then stepped back and slammed against it with all his weight. The lock, old and decayed, gave a little, though there was resistance lower down, and so he did it again, and again and again, until there was a cracking and a splintering of wood, and the top half gave way, partly rotten with damp.

Still resistance though... He punched and pulled his way through, enough to reach the torch inside, shine it around. Darkness, the tops of tombs and stone coffins, a stone angel weeping for the world, and... There, close enough to touch, right behind the door, leaning against it, was Doyle.

Let him be alive.

"Ray?" He reached down, over soft damp curls, over his forehead, slapped gently at his cheek. He had to shift... But his skin wasn't cold, wasn't clammy to the touch, it was warm, hot even and fevered, and Doyle was alive. "Doyle, you dozy sod, move!"

Nothing. He pushed again at the door, just a little shove to try and shake him awake, patted again at his cheek. "Doyle?"

Movement - did he move? Pressing just a little into his hand?

"Doyle? Come on, mate..."

"Hmmn?"

Yes - yes!

"Doyle listen, I need you to move away from the door."

"Hmmn..." No sense in his words, no words, but Doyle shifted slightly, as if he was trying to get up, and Bodie took advantage, pushing on the door again, so that Doyle obeyed the movement, edged a little further forwards, enough that Bodie could straighten, sidle through the gap.

"No!" Doyle gasped, pushed back against the door again, eyes very white, and slightly wild in the light of the torch. Bodie dropped to crouch in front of him, put the torch on the floor beside them so that its beam shone upwards, and took hold of his shoulders.

"It's alright - Doyle, it's alright, we'll get you out of here." He reached out to feel Doyle's forehead again. "What've you been doing with yourself, then? You're burning up..."

A hand batted clumsily at his chest, then gripped the collar of his jacket and tugged. "C'me away from th'edge..."

"What?"

"You'll fall... don't fall... Simpson's down there... Bodie'll come..."

"I'm here, mate," he said, and again "We'll get you out of here..." Where was here? He turned carefully, mindful of Doyle's warning despite his fevered state, played the beam into the darkness. There was the edge, the drop that worried Doyle - they were sitting at the top of the stairs, no railings, nothing between them and a twelve foot fall to the floor of the crypt.

"Don't fall, don't fall..."

"Doyle... Ray, look at me. We won't fall. Look..." He knelt down on the cold stone so that his leg was pressed close to Doyle, lifted one of Doyle's arms and laid it over his lap. "Hold onto me."

"You're married..." Doyle said, sounding suddenly lucid.

"You what?" Bodie frowned, patted his pockets for his RT, "No, it was a fake, the whole wedding was a fake to set up Redman - Cowley thought he was going to sell us out to get at Alison."

"Not married?" Doyle shifted again, looked up at him.

He paused in his search, returned Doyle's gaze steadily, reached out and ran a hand over his forehead. "Married to my country, mate, that's all."

To his surprise, Doyle laughed, a sudden bark that turned into a half cough, subsided to a smile, strangely bright in the yellow torchlight. "Tha's what I told Cowley. Married to my country. D'you know what else I told him?" His smile faded. "Want a divorce. I want a divorce..."

"Yeah..." The RT was tucked into his inner jacket pocket, he pulled it out one-handed, stroked Doyle's forehead again. Alive. "Me too, sunshine, me too."

He spoke into the RT, ordered the ambulance to get itself to the church, left instructions for Cowley to be informed, and then he put it down beside the torch, twisted so that he was sitting beside Doyle and slid an arm around his shoulders. He was hot, but shivering, and under his wool plaid jacket he was naked. "Nice trick with the t-shirt. Couldn't manage to get dressed again without help, eh?"

"Couldn't manage..." Doyle agreed, and wriggled a little so that he lay even more closely against Bodie.

Alive.

Fuck it. Bodie turned and pressed his own face to Doyle's, breathed in the over-warmth of him. Kissed him, lips against cheek, once, twice.

"Stupid bastard."

"Hmmn..."

"Supposed to look after yourself while I was gone."

"You're married..."

"Be bigamy, that would," he said, thinking it, feeling it, wanting Doyle to know it, even if he didn't remember it longer than this moment. "Already married. Just missing a wedding night or two."

"Three... four..." Doyle said, and then Bodie felt lips on his own cheek, beside his mouth, couldn't resist turning into them, so that for just a moment they kissed properly, together, as the sound of sirens came to them from the outside night.

o0o

Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
from Hamlet, by William Shakespeare