There's a boxing match going on. Well, it's *like* a boxing match. They're training them to do hand-to-hand, and the boys are being paired up in matches to see how well they'll do. The next pair up step into the ring. One's clearly an avid rugger player, from his size and shape. His opponent's smaller, more inclined towards wiriness than bulk, the muscles sleeker and the frame trim. Perhaps a runner or fencer. The outcome appears to be obvious, but they're hoping that the smaller one will get a few punches in before he gets defeated. If only for the lad's morale.
The bell dings, and they start to circle each other. After several seconds, the bigger one lunges, aiming a punch at the smaller's head. The smaller one ducks around it, stepping to the side and grabbing his arm, twisting it as he does so. He moves back, dropping the arm, moving inside the bigger boy's space, and punching him in the stomach, then groin in a quick one-two. As the bigger lad doubles over, the smaller brings his knee up to catch him in the chin, hooking his foot between his legs and sweeping them out from under him. The bigger lad comes crashing down onto the mat, landing hard without a chance to catch himself. Maybe it was surprise at being caught unawares, or maybe it just happened too fast, but the end result is still him lying there with all the breath knocked out of him. It hadn't helped that he'd caught the back of his head sufficiently hard to make him woozy when he landed, defeating any chance of him getting himself together to get up any time soon. However, he doesn't get the chance to even try, since the last thing he'll see for a while is the smaller lad's fist coming in at speed. The whole fight was over in under a minute. Far less than that.
"He was down! You didn't need to hit him again!" The officer acting as referee exclaims. He'd only just managed to scramble to his feet to declare the fight over when the knock-out blow was delivered. "What were you thinking, Pevensie?"
The boy still standing steps back, expression cool. "I'd prefer that he didn't attempt to get up again whilst my back was turned. This ensured it. He'll live." He gets out of the ring, picking up the towel as he goes.
The visiting officer who's been standing off to one side observing the fight pulls a fag out and lights it. "I presume that would be Pevensie," he asks, referring to the winner of the fight.
"That would be Pevensie," the officer with him agrees, a clear note of disapproval present in his voice.
"Mmm. Fights like his brother," the visitor says, blowing the smoke out. "You'd wonder where two public school lads from Finchley would learn to fight as though they had a broken bottle in one hand. Chip off the old block, hmm?"
"Sadly, yes. In all ways and a few more. I had the misfortune to shepherd his brother through training. The only thing he didn't know how to do when it came to anything involving violence was how to use a gun, and Edmund is very much the same. Taking orders, on the other hand, appears to depend on how the mood strikes him," the other officer says sourly, then pauses. "Edmund is more inclined to think before acting, though. Sneakier. Has a tendency to do whatever is most expedient in a situation."
"Interesting," The visiting officer muses. "Remind me, what was it he was intending to study when he was called up?"
"Modern languages at Oxford." The training officer provides.
"Hmm." the visitor transfers his attention to the slim dark-haired figure now sipping from a mug with the other lads. "We might just have a use for young Edmund Pevensie."
The door to the Dorchester Arms opens, spilling light and some laughing young men out into the street. They're in their shirtsleeves - the night's warm. The slim dark-haired one slings his arm around a redhead's shoulders, pulling him close and murmuring something in his ear. The redhead grins in response, and they slip into the shadowed area beside the pub. The redhead presses the darker one against the wall, kissing him enthusiastically before they leave the shadow and head in the direction of lodgings.
Once they've the door closed behind them, the man who'd been following them shakes his head. Never fails. Always a bloody weak spot somewhere.
The next morning, he walks into the base, taking off his hat and jacket. "Unforeseen problem with Pevensie."
Baxendale looks up from the paperwork. "Aside from his penchant for disobeying orders he believes are idiotic? We've been trying to disabuse him of that trait, but appear not to be getting anywhere. One day we might even get him to conceal the rather obvious impression he gives off of only humouring his superiors, but I despair of that particular one."
Alleyn shakes his head, pursing his lips slightly in distaste. "I've finished my investigation and confirmed the rumours. He has proclivities. Man's a damned homosexual. Discreet about any affairs, but doesn't care who knows."
"Damn," Baxendale says in irritation, capping his pen. "He seemed so bloody promising. Call him in."
An hour later, the dark-haired lad Alleyn was observing last night walks into the office and tilts his head. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
Baxendale nods. "It's about your proclivity for men."
"And?" The lad asks, raising an eyebrow. Unfortunately for his superiors, it's the typical Pevensie poker face. Most men confronted with this accusation would have some reaction - embarrassment, anger, a hunted look - but you can never tell what Pevensie's thinking. Useful in this line of work, but damned frustrating when you're trying to judge his reactions or opinions. "I thought it was common knowledge."
"It's a problem. It'll make you susceptible to blackmail, and in this line of work anything that might lead you to being compromised -"
Pevensie cuts him off. "I don't see why." Baxendale blinks at this assertion, and Pevensie elaborates calmly. "It's not actually possible to blackmail someone when the subject is common knowledge and the target isn't ashamed of it. Who're they going to threaten to tell? My family? My friends? You?"
"The police, perhaps? It is illegal." Baxendale reminds him. So many of the young recruits seem convinced that they're immortal and live charmed lives, but with Pevensie you're never quite sure if it's bravado or the sure and absolute knowledge that he's foreseen all the possible eventualities and made plans for them. He wouldn't be surprised if it was the latter, since the lad has a mind like a steel trap.
Pevensie gives him a look. The lad's self-possession can be quite unnerving at times. "And so are most of the activities we engage in on civvy street."
Baxendale sighs. Yet another Pevensie trait, to respond with an observation that changes the course of the conversation. "Most of which I suspect you were extremely familiar with already. We can't pinpoint how you could have learnt it, so we don't ask. Is there anything you won't do if you think the situation demands it?"
"Anything not good for the country," Pevensie replies swiftly, then raises his eyebrow. "Was that supposed to be leading somewhere?"
Baxendale shakes his head. "No. Well, at least you won't commit treason. That's a relief."
"As you wish, sir," Edmund says calmly. "May I leave? I've an appointment."
After he exits, Alleyn picks up his glass, tilting it to catch the light. "That, Baxendale, is a very dangerous young man. You did notice that he didn't confirm or deny the treason remark."
Baxendale straightens the paperwork in front of him. "I was trying to ignore that."