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Snakes And Ladders

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Snakes and Ladders


Snakes and Ladders

Or

How well does anybody really know someone?

Cowley sat back in his chair, carefully nursing the generously filled tumbler of single malt. He absent-mindedly rubbed his leg as he took a small sip, taking a moment to savour the amber liquid before swallowing.

Time was fast running out before CI5 lost one of its best operatives. When he had first paired them, he’d known their almost opposing personalities would likely create some friction. But he'd also thought that if they could get past that, they had the makings of a great team. He had come to depend heavily on them both on the strength of that partnership. Too much, some would say and with that reliance, he'd exploited them for his own ends, or rather for the greater good. And like all good things, it now looked like it was coming to an end. Just under a month ago, Bodie had been pushed beyond even his exceptional boundaries of loyalty and he'd lost the lad's trust. The future of that teaming was now fully reliant on Doyle being able to convince his partner to stay. But something else had come between the two of them, so that was looking more and more unlikely. Although, there was also still the risk, despite his own machinations to prevent it, that Doyle would follow Bodie out of CI5.

He recalled the day a little over a fortnight ago, when the realisation had truly crystallised, that as a consequence of that loss of trust, he’d also lost the laddie's respect. Bodie'd never been one for the three bags full type of subservience, but he’d at least respected rank. He’d found out later that the cause of the man's tardiness was the water main at the end of Bodie's road, and so truly had been unavoidable. When 3.7 had finally arrived in his office, he’d just taken the reprimand. No excuses. No backchat. He’d just stood there at parade rest, eyes fixed just above Cowley's right shoulder, blankly staring. Dumb insolence at its best. Most unlike him. Although Cowley'd known the man capable of it, he'd never been on the receiving end, and had not appreciated the insubordination. Somehow the silence had spoken volumes and had been far worse than the normal mix of innate Bodie charm and flippant remarks, and to compound his own error, he'd sent Bodie off to records, with a large flea in his ear, for the rest of the day.

Cowley sighed. Nine years. Nine good years where his top team had fought and worked for CI5, helping to maintain, at least the illusion, that the green and pleasant lands of England smelled of roses and lavender and now it looked like that chapter was drawing to a close.

Only three days of 3.7’s notice period remained and he was no longer hopeful that Bodie would come through his office door requesting his resignation demand be rescinded. Besides, having lost the lad's respect, it already spelled doom for any ongoing CI5 working relationship of controller and agent.

Taking another sip, he evaluated the alternatives. Perhaps it wasn’t such a gloomy outlook as he was painting. In two or three years, if not sooner, age would force them to step back from their current roles in any case. He had never been sure what the reactions of the both of them would be when it became apparent that while Doyle would be primed as his successor, Bodie would forever remain part of the rank and file. The ministry would never be prepared to overlook 3.7’s history in Africa, despite his exemplary service record in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. And of course there was Dr Ross's assessment on Bodie's file from several years ago. That in itself was so inflammatory, he'd tried to keep it from being officially recorded at the time, disagreeing with her diagnosis, but Ross had typically refused to budge.

The good Doctor had long ago formed an opinion of Bodie. Psychopathic had been her conclusion about him. Emotionally cold and callous, no feelings of guilt or remorse. No emotional bonds with others. Ever. He hadn't believed her diagnosis then and still didn't, but it didn’t change the impact of her damning conclusion.

Carefully putting his glass down, he reached for the buff personnel file and opening it, flicked through its contents until he found the report he was looking for.

personnel file2

Psychological assessment of C.I.5 Agent 3.7, W.A.P, Bodie, Date: 19th September 1980.

Agent 3.7 displays several disconcerting behavioural traits that have been found in individuals who have been medically classified as psychopaths. Some argue that the psychopath tends to be extremely organized, secretive and manipulative. The outer personality is often charismatic and charming, hiding the real person beneath. Though psychopaths do not feel for others, they can mimic behaviours that make them appear normal.

The clinical definition (as per the Hare checklist) of a psychopath states that the individual displays glib and superficial charm along with a grandiose sense of self-worth and an unnatural need for stimulation. There is regular evidence of pathological lying, conning and/or manipulativeness. This is also accompanied by a lack of remorse or guilt, callousness and a lack of empathy. The individual has a parasitic lifestyle with poor behavioural controls along with promiscuous sexual behaviour. There are frequently early behaviour problems and a lack of realistic, long-term goals.  Impulsivity, irresponsibility and a failure to accept responsibility for their own actions are also widely recorded as well as juvenile delinquency and criminal versatility.

My assessment of 3.7 determines that he exhibits all facets of the above behaviours and should be stood down indefinitely.

Cowley flicked over the page as he took another sip from his glass.

A subsequent interview with Agent 4.5 established that he was caught up in the fracas with the motorbike gang and was in fact attacked by Agent 3.7 with a large piece of wood. I attach the relevant medical report and the transcript of Agent 4.5's interview, which both clearly demonstrate that 3.7's attack on his partner was neither accidental or benign.

Cowley sighed. He'd forgotten how truly damning that report had been and thereafter, Bodie's continued employ had been a bone of contention with Ross and her devotees at the ministry. Her diagnosis was an absurdity. Certainly, Bodie had a tendency towards many of the traits listed, but his background explained much. The tragic events that had likely eventually prompted his departure from Liverpool and his time in Africa were the probable origins of Bodie's inner strength; many men would have crumbled, and Bodie had still been little more than a lad when he had returned from foreign climes to join the Paras. Being forced to be so independent so young as well as his chequered history explained his self–reliance, confidence and many of the other personality traits cited by Ross. The laddie was undoubtedly damaged by the experiences of his formative years, but he'd certainly never personally viewed Bodie as unstable and the partnership of 3.7 and 4.5 was as close as any he had ever seen. At the time of the events leading up to her report Bodie had been distressed by the deaths of the rest of his old army unit, and under a huge strain, had merely wanted justice. As far as he himself was concerned it was a minor blip in Bodie's almost flawless record with CI5 along with his unblemished service career. It was an abomination, casting aspersions on a fine man with no justification other than for a momentary lack of judgement whilst 3.7 had been under huge emotional strain and despite Bodie's imminent departure, Cowley found himself getting angry at the injustice dealt out by the Doctor all over again. Seeing it again in black and white reaffirmed his view that Bodie would never be able to progress beyond his current A squad position within CI5, not with such a pejorative report on his file.

 Of course he would have found a position for Bodie when that time came. All that training and experience wouldn’t have gone to waste, but he thought the man would have been likely to move on regardless when his hereafter became apparent and perhaps better that it happen now rather than later. He could start sculpting 4.5 for accession if 3.7 left and the gleam in Doyle’s eye when he’d been told of his future prospects had been self-evident. Yes, Doyle could leave, following his partner out the door, but it seemed unlikely; the large dangled carrot might well be enough. Bodie would probably be very disappointed by that and knowing his man as he did, he would cause no further trouble for Doyle by hanging round after he’d severed his ties with CI5. Bodie had been tight-lipped about his plans, but he’d done his own investigations and knew pretty much what the man’s intentions were. No doubt, Bodie would be successful and maybe he could do his bit and provide him with a list of contacts for his new venture in Yorkshire as a security consultant. Perhaps it would prove to be a worthwhile barter for CI5 to have some extra eyes up north. Only once he was sure that he wasn’t going to lure Doyle away, of course.

It was an inconvenience. Bodie was, to all intents and purposes, a tamed savage and CI5 needed that constituent within its ranks. The minister had already expressed his pleasure at the news of Bodie's imminent departure. And there were others out there like Bodie, conditioned by history and personal events, but without a damning personnel report on their file. Those like Mad Tommy had been the antecedents. But unpredictability and inconsistency had made him change his strategy and go for the barbarous men that also understood the importance of discipline. Bodie was a perfect example. An agent of lethal competence and a useful weapon in the ongoing war that CI5 fought on a daily basis. Although he'd always thought his machinations would have tested Doyle's limits far more than Bodie's, it was better that if he was to lose one of them, it would be 3.7. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately in this instance, of the two of them, he was the weapon with a shelf life. Keep him behind a desk and he’d soon become a liability.

Cowley sipped at his glass again. This time, leaning back into his chair with a satisfied smile. The partnership appeared to be all but over judging by how the interactions between the two of them had played out in the last couple of weeks. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise after all. And maybe, in the event that through sheer boredom with his role up north, Master Bodie came demanding his job back, he’d be just too busy to see him.

BCD*BCD*BCD

Bodie sank down into his sagging CI5 issue sofa, the bent spring that prodded at his thigh reminding him that he only had to put up with the tired and cheap furniture for three more days.

He swiped irritably at the half full scotch bottle sitting atop the old, scarred coffee table and undoing the cap, poured a healthy measure into the glass alongside it and took a long swig, draining the glass in one. He was glad he was leaving. More than bloody glad actually. He’d thought Doyle would stick by him and agree to leave too, but he hadn’t given any indication that he was willing to make a stand. He knew that if their situations were reversed, he would have followed his partner, no question. Personal loyalty from his partner counted for far more than loyalty to CI5 or to George bloody Cowley in his eyes. Although he’d obviously misread Doyle for all these years because he’d thought that a two way street. How wrong he’d been, but at least he now knew where he stood and could have no regrets about his decision to move on.

Despite their personal differences since he’d told Doyle his decision to quit, they’d still been fully in synch in the field. Odd really, they’d been barely speaking to each other, but had instinctively known each other’s moves when they’d taken down those scumbags earlier in the day. Their almost telepathic reading of each other’s thoughts seemed completely unaffected, but then they’d been working side by side for nine years. A long time to spend watching somebody else’s back, he mused, abandoning the glass and taking another swig straight from the whisky bottle.

He didn’t understand why his partner was prepared to stay. Doyle'd always been the righteous one of their pairing, and yet had seemed completely unperturbed when he'd told his partner that Cowley had set him up as a sacrificial lamb a little under a month ago. With the aim of gathering dirt against MI6 once again, the wily old bastard had been fishing while using his life as the bait and he was heartily sick of it. He hadn't even had his partner covering his back this time, the devious old goat had sent Doyle somewhere up north and he'd only got out alive because his opposite number had encountered a stoppage at the crucial moment. He hadn’t quit to break up the partnership, it’d been with the intention that he and Ray would have carried on as they were, 50/50 partners.

Doyle’s apparent disinterest when he’d first said he’d had enough and wanted out of CI5 had irked him. He’d assumed there’d be an immediate vow that they’d stick together. I didn’t expect him to have an attack of the vapours when I told him I was leaving, but I expected more than I got. And I certainly expected him to take my word over Cowley's. And now the temperamental little sod wanted to know his plans. Well, screw him. He didn’t owe Doyle anything.

All his life there’d been somebody else dishing out the orders from a rung further up the ladder. As far as he could see, there’d never been any consideration by the higher ups of his own welfare. Just an expectation that he would get the job done. The merchant navy, the mercs and the army. All the bloody same; and then he’d gone and joined CI5. Granted, Cowley had occasionally listened to his objections, but even then his personal feelings were always dismissed and ultimately, the resolute Scot had still always had the final say. Gonna create my own ladders from now on, make sure I'm on the top rung and I'll take a damned hacksaw to any that still exist. The old man can't do anything worse to me than he's already done. All but bloody admitted he'd set me up and hung me out to dry. The old bastard shouldn't be allowed to get away with that.

He’d stayed at CI5 for far longer than he’d ever intended, and he grudgingly admitted to himself, that on the whole he’d enjoyed his time working for Cowley and alongside Doyle. CI5 had supposedly been redemptive. He’d gone along with the roses and lavender charade as it had suited, but he wasn’t willing to be sacrificed for it. The blind trust he had always shown Cowley up to that point had been ripped at the seams, irrecoverably destroyed. He felt hurt and betrayed and there was no way back, so it was the right time to move on. In a fit of belligerent self-bravado, he spoke to the empty room, “And if Doyle doesn’t follow, well I’ve been on my own before and survived, so no big deal.”

The two gulps of scotch and the act of processing and filing those thoughts away had allowed the tension he hadn’t known was there to disperse from his shoulders and he relaxed back into the sofa, letting his head fall back. His eyes focussed on the opposite wall, the late evening sunshine emphasizing the vague dirt silhouettes that were all that were left of his antique gun collection. He’d managed to get rid of them all as a job lot. He’d struck a good deal with a registered collector out Mile End way and allowed himself a smile of satisfaction at his now very healthy bank balance. And with his new venture, he had no place for them, they would only remind him of his time with CI5.

He gave a sly smile as he recalled his partner’s shock at seeing an empty wall, and then grimaced at the memory of the ensuing argument before lifting the bottle to his mouth once more.

Doyle had been so bloody surprised to see them gone, and had then spoiled it by demanding to know what he had done with them. Bloody cheek. It was none of Doyle’s business and he’d damned well told him so too.     

since when glass

Off the job they’d still been spending some of their spare time together, although enjoying each other’s company less and less as time passed. Good enough reason as to why he’d snubbed Doyle’s offer to meet up this week on their rostered two days off. What was the point? Doyle had made his position perfectly clear and had been seriously getting up his nose since he’d tendered his resignation. Doyle obviously didn’t value the partnership, just saw him as somebody to be shouted at and to listen to his sanctimonious, moralistic diatribe. Well, sod him. And besides, he had plenty of chores and errands to run. He intended to present his flat keys at the same time as he handed in his badge and weapon rather than utilise the grace period offered to him. No point in hanging about. A clean break was the best way. Absent-mindedly tilting the bottle still in his hand, he observed the much reduced level of scotch that remained and resignedly screwed the metal cap back on. The last thing he needed was a hangover in the morning, he had far too much to do. Carefully placing the bottle back on the coffee table, he glanced around the room. He’d never had much in the way of chattels, a lifetime of moving around had got him into the habit of traveling light, so packing wouldn’t take that long. The regular moves imposed upon them by CI5’s security policy had prevented him from accumulating too much, despite the lengthy time he’d stayed with the outfit; unlike his partner who amassed personal possessions seemingly on almost a daily basis. Terrariums and potted plants, along with numerous knick-knacks littered his partner’s flat and he’d lay money on the fact that they’d multiplied every time he’d helped his partner move.

He had just a handful of books, his Hi-Fi and his clothes, the only things he was intending to take. Never one to clutter his life with personal accoutrements, he’d leave everything else. It was just a crummy flat with lousy furniture, all old, tired and scarred. And he was determined to get out from CI5 before that depiction could be applied to him too.

No doubt the rest of the squad would swoop in like vultures and happily share out the spoils of the contents of his cupboards, and they were welcome to them. He didn’t want any memories of his time with CI5 to sully his future endeavours, thank you very much.

Maybe, he did feel a small twinge of regret that he hadn’t accepted Doyle's invite to go for a beer. Today had likely been the last ever time they would be on the streets together. After the next couple of days, he only had one more on duty and Cowley would probably request that he be confined to records in HQ or somewhere equally as mundane unless something big occurred that needed them out in the field. He just hadn’t wanted to listen to Doyle dissect the events of the day. The hours he'd spent over the years soothing Doyle’s conscience. Stopped the bloke going into a depressed fug about all that was wrong with the world. Not that there was much self-flagellation these days, it would more likely have been preaching and piety.

Bodie subconsciously knew he was being unfair, unjust, unreasonable and unbending. Lashing out because he was hurt by Ray's indifference, yet the resentment continued to fuel the malevolent thoughts. But then why the hell shouldn’t he. Doyle had unequivocally let him down.

The bloody Golly's been so damned judgemental. Is he different? Is he just more vocal about it these days? Or am I less tolerant? He decided that Doyle had changed since he’d first known him. Small subtle changes that most people likely wouldn’t notice. Always one to dissect an operation after the fact and debating the rights and wrongs of their actions repeatedly, Doyle had needed to process everything in that way to expunge the self-reproach that taking another life had always left him with. Like a bloody post mortem it always was, and forever seeking confirmation that they were on the right side of the line. That obviously didn’t bother him when Cowley offered him a rung further up the ladder. Anson, the bearer of any A squad gossip had said he’d heard Cowley offering Doyle a promotion, and Doyle had come out of the old man’s office looking very pleased with himself. His own views had always been very clear on that point. Destroying the enemy was an undisputable principle of war. Over the last few years though, the focus of those fits of guilt of Doyle’s had steadily morphed into something more sanctimonious and critical towards their actions and he’d progressively begun to zone Doyle out, uttering suitable words of allegiance when prompted to engage by his partner, usually by way of a malicious poke in the ribs. Until the next time. Then, again, Doyle would be there, diving headfirst into the action, guns blazing. And in the next breath and for days after, would bemoan the fact that they were killers for hire. Always a temperamental little git, the number of snide remarks aimed at him that Doyle made had increased too. Always questioning his moral stance, belittling his method of shoot to kill. That had saved Ray a time or two over the years. A bloody pecksniffian, Doyle is. At least I've only got to put up with one more day of it.

He’d give Mick a ring tomorrow. His new business partner would want to know when he was likely to make it up to Yorkshire. It was a strange turn of events really. Bumping into him had been purely by chance, in a pub he’d never been in before, and would probably never have been in again. He’d been wanting to lose himself for a while, having just discovered Cowley’s dirty tricks and been treated to Doyle’s indifference, he’d driven out of London and purposely out of RT range, to a small village on the river, west of Maidenhead.

Realising he was hungry, he’d been drawn to the pub’s menu board. Having gone inside, he’d fully intended to grab a sandwich to take away and get on the road again, his sense of duty already calling him back to town. He’d been standing at the bar when a voice he hadn’t heard for years had called his name and turning round, there had been Mick, looking barely any different than he had ten years ago when they'd served alongside each other in 22.

A series of lucky turns in the ensuing conversation had led him to where he was now. Mick had been turned down by a London bank earlier that day, dashing his hopes of a cash injection to his very successful business that was too cash strapped to expand. Marty had put him in touch with an accountant out in Golders Green, who had looked over the books and pronounced the business a shrewd investment. He’d liquidised much of his nest egg from his merc days and within three weeks of that chance meeting, he’d been an equal partner in a security business up north and had quit CI5. Bodie gave another sly grin to himself as he recalled Cowley’s expression when he’d presented his resignation. It served the old bastard right. Sod Cowley, sod CI5 and sod his turncoat of a partner. They could all go screw ‘emselves. He wouldn’t be looking back.

BCD*BCD*BCD

Doyle tucked his legs under him and leant back into the corner of his sofa, nursing his cup of tea. A quick glance up at the wall clock confirmed he still had twenty minutes before Bodie would be out the front. He definitely didn’t want to start the day wrong footed by his partner. Today of all days. He didn’t understand why Bodie was being so secretive about his plans. He certainly hadn’t given any indication that he wanted his partner to join him. And he would have quit too, if Bodie had said something; whatever Cowley was hinting at for his own future within CI5. Dumb crud was probably going to do something illegal, go back to Africa or something equally as bloody stupid. It was the only reason he could think of for why Bodie was being so bloody furtive about it all. But then, Bodie would never talk things out. He’d open up if and when he was ready, not a moment before. And time was fast running out. He mused over how they’d been with each other the last few weeks. They’d been barely talking, unless on the job. He knew he could be sharp tongued, but then Bodie also knew all too well what buttons to press. He’d been rather hurt that Bodie had snubbed his offer of going for a pint three days ago, and then when they’d pulled up outside his mansion block, Bodie’d refused his second invite, point blank, to come up for a drink and some grub. He’d wanted them to talk. Properly. But his stubborn git of a partner hadn’t been having any of it. Dismissing him with a lousy excuse that he had stuff to do and that he’d pick him up at seven this morning before pulling away with a squeal of rubber on tarmac.

Shit! He had barely two minutes before Bodie would be waiting downstairs, drumming his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel. He was going to be late which would make Bodie narked. Not how he wanted the day to start. Thrusting his now tepid tea onto the coffee table he pushed himself up off the sofa and grabbing his gun harness and jacket, headed out the door of his flat.

As he was trotting down the steps of his flat’s Victorian mansion block, he was relieved to see Bodie just turning into his road. Settling himself in the passenger seat of Bodie’s silver Capri, he ventured, “Morning, Bodie. Perfect timing there, mate.”

Bodie shrugged, “Well I’ve been doing it on and off for about nine years now. Got me well trained, you do.”

The bitterness in his voice made Doyle bite his tongue, determined to keep the mood light. “Thought we’d go for a pint tonight, I did a quick phone round the lads yesterday and they’re all up for it.”

Bodie gave him a sideways glance, “Can’t. I’m pushing off, soon as our shift’s over.”

“What? Leaving? Tonight?”

“Yep. No point hanging about really, is there?”

“Oh.”

He looked across at Bodie who although didn’t return his gaze, did have the grace to mumble, “Thanks, though.”

It was Doyle’s turn to shrug. The lads'll be disappointed. They’d all wanted to give Bodie a good send off, but no point in saying that, is there. It'll only make Bodie think I'm trying to make him feel bad that he's letting ‘em down.

Bodie pulled swiftly away from the kerb, and Doyle took the opportunity to consider his partner. The normal buoyant cheerfulness had been superseded by an air of bored indifference, although knowing Bodie as he did, he considered that was more than likely a front. Somehow, he’d upset his best mate, but every time he’d tried to broach the subject of his leaving, Bodie had shut him down, adding further fuel to his speculation that Bodie was moving on to something that he knew wouldn’t be approved of. That would also explain why he hadn’t been invited to go along too. Not that he thought his partner completely amoral, he’d always considered Bodie to have values. Not entirely aligned to his own, but a set of values that he stuck to fiercely all the same. Although, he had few scruples; Bodie would happily manipulate others to get his own way, and use whatever was in his arsenal to achieve his objective. He would try every trick in the book and often got away with it too. Whether it was designs on getting a bird to come across or persuading Cowley to sign off yet another one of his ridiculous expense chits. No wonder everybody thought Bodie was Cowley’s blue eyed boy. Not that any of that was significant in the grand scheme of it. The big stuff, the things that divided their moral viewpoints were the important factors. Like the fact that Bodie would shoot to kill and apparently have no feelings of remorse when he succeeded. That had always been a bone of contention between them. Their vastly different routes to CI5 were much to do with that, he reckoned. Cowley only wanted the perps alive so he could question them, nothing more, and rarely gave Bodie more than a mildly acerbic comment when there was a body count. He himself had always believed the villains should be captured alive so the judicial system could deal with them, whereas Bodie was far more of the judge, jury and executioner mentality. An eye for an eye and all that. And he’d never believed that was their place. That was one step away from anarchy.

In many ways, working for CI5 was a bloody awful job. But it needed doing, it was worthwhile and he and Bodie were well qualified for it. Reliant on each other in the field. Watching out for each other. And their partnership had meant they had come out the other side.

Bodie brought the car to a halt and turned off the engine. Doyle looked up, surprised.

Damn, he’d spent the entire journey pondering. Completely silent. Bodie probably thought he was sulking now. That won't help. Spending time with him is already bloody bleak and depressing.

Bodie went to get out the car and Doyle reached out to touch his sleeve, causing Bodie to look at him oddly. “I’m gonna miss you, mate.” he said quietly.

Bodie looked momentarily taken aback, and then recovering quickly, said “I expect you’ll get over it, won’t ya, Goldilocks? Murph’s already told me you’ve lined him up as your next partner.”  

Doyle was about to protest, but Bodie had gone, slamming his door before marching smartly across the carpark, whistling cheerfully as he went. Doyle slumped dejectedly in the passenger seat. That wasn’t how the conversation with Murphy had gone. He’d had a pint with him, that was all. And of course the topic of Bodie’s resignation had been raised, and they’d mutually agreed that it was likely that they would be paired. Murph had always been the default stand in partner when one of them was away or rostered off on sick leave, so it was expected that Cowley would make theirs a permanent teaming. Bodie seemed determined to prevent him from explaining any of this, and knowing the dumb crud, he’d disappear at the end of his shift, catch his flight to Africa or wherever he was bloody going and never be heard from again.

BCD*BCD*BCD

Bodie pulled open the door to HQ, ignoring the fact that he’d left the car unlocked with Doyle still in the passenger seat. He’d go back and lock it later. Or maybe he’d just hand the keys in now. If Doyle needed to go anywhere, Doyle could drive himself. With a bit of luck, that would also save him having to put up with sitting next to him, as these days, Doyle was constantly looking like he’d stepped in something unpleasant. Quite what Doyle had to feel hard done by about was a mystery. He’d been on Bodie’s back ever since he’d tendered his resignation, making cutting remarks about anything he could find fault with. He could be a spiteful bastard, all the while spouting righteous twaddle about what his plans were and that he shouldn’t go back to Africa. If Doyle knew him at all, he’d understand that was the last place on earth he’d wish to go. Doyle could spend all his time wool gathering for all he cared. I can constantly hear the clunking and grinding of 'is cogs, but as far as I'm concerned that's fine with me. Means we don't have to engage in conversation.

Maintaining the feigned cheerfulness he didn’t really feel, Bodie trotted up the steps and stuck his head round the door of the squad room.

McCabe was there, tapping his fingers on the table, looking impatient.

“Morning, Mac. What’s up, mate?”

McCabe sighed, “Waiting for Lucas, he’s in with Cowley at the moment.”

“Lucas? I thought he was still on leave?”

“Yeah, so did Lucas, he’s not ‘appy,” replied McCabe, “Cowley’s got word that O'Doherty’s back in London. Wants us to trail round the streets keeping our eyes and ears open no doubt.”

Bodie didn’t feel in the slightest bit sympathetic. Not his problem, not today. He was still expecting to be relegated to records and he didn’t mind one bit. In fact, for the first time in his entire CI5 career he was looking forward to a stint in the quiet, dim basement. He'd had a busy two days followed by a very late night with Kate, who'd turned out to be a bit of a goer. And he was well and truly shagged out, figuratively and literally. With a bit of luck, he’d be able to put his feet up and catch some well needed shut eye, and with a shrug he navigated round McCabe, bee-lining for the kettle.

A clatter of footsteps in the corridor heralded the arrival of Lucas, who looked thoroughly aggrieved. “Come on, mate,” he said to McCabe as he snatched his jacket from the back of the chair.

“Have a nice time, boys,” sang Bodie campily, dutifully waiting for the two fingered salute and responding with a grin before turning back to his tea making.

“Is that you, 3.7?”  

 “In the flesh,” called Bodie, pausing before adding an audaciously impertinent 'Sir', all the while stirring his tea.

“Where’s 4.5?” Bodie turned, the voice now in the same room.

“Right behind you.” And Bodie nodded to the door where Ray had appeared with impeccable timing.   

“You’re late, 4.5.”

Normally he would come to Doyle’s defence. Deflect some of Cowley's annoyance onto himself. After all, it was the done thing, to protect one's partner. Today though, he felt no such inclination and busied himself with his tea making instead.

Cowley didn't wait for any explanation, "I want everybody out in the field. I want you to cover your old beat in Limehouse, Doyle. Talk to your old contacts, put your ear to the ground. See if you can find out anything about O'Doherty’s whereabouts. He’s here somewhere, we just need to sniff him out. Here’s the file. I’ve agents out combing London, and all have the same orders. Don’t come back without him."

Bodie hearing the demand, opted to assume the orders weren't being directed to him and kept his attention wholly on his freshly made tea. After a final stir of the teaspoon, he lifted the mug to take a healthy and welcome swig.

With a frosty voice, Cowley growled, "Still here Bodie?"

Bodie’d never believed in showing excess servility, and certainly wasn’t about to start now. He turned and looking Cowley in the eye, took another unhurried mouthful of his tea before raising an innocent eyebrow.

With icy precision, Cowley looked pointedly at Bodie's mug and then slid his gaze up to Bodie's face. "I said everybody. That includes you."

Careful to exclude any hint of truculence from his voice, not wanting to give the old bastard any undue satisfaction, he put as much insolence as he could get away with into the single syllable and acknowledged the order. "Sir." And gave an impertinent salute with his mug, refraining from taking another swig of tea.

Cowley magnanimously containing his temper, barked, "Bodie, did I mention I expect you to follow my orders straight away? You continue to work for CI5 until I say so." He turned to walk out the door. "So, I suggest you put down your tea and catch up with your partner and bring me O'Doherty. Alive."

Bodie chose not to acknowledge Cowley's final acerbic instructions and instead, silently said farewell to the quiet day in records that he’d planned and hoped for. He'd now be stuck in the car with his moody sod of a partner all day.

Terrific.

With a deep intake of breath, he scowled at Cowley's departing back, turned to abandon his nearly full mug on the draining board, before walking smartly after Doyle who was already halfway down the corridor, clutching the file given to him by Cowley.

BCD*BCD*BCD

Doyle heard the unmistakeable tread of his partner behind him and he purposely slowed up as he reached the top of the stairs, waiting for Bodie to come alongside him. Knowing his partner preferred to drive, he tipped his head at the file as he said, "I'll read this on the way, alright?"

Bodie merely gave a curt nod and started to trot briskly down the stairs. Doyle gave a mental sigh before following his partner out to the carpark.

A glance at his partner's expression as he sat in the driver's seat quickly banished the idea of engaging in any social conversation, so Doyle dutifully buried his nose in the file.

After he'd read it from cover to cover, he sat back. "O'Doherty came across from Ireland on the ferry two days ago. He's got contacts all over London, could be bloody anywhere. This is who we're looking for," and he held out an A4 size black and white glossy of O'Doherty for Bodie.

Bodie slowing for a red light, looked down at the photo of their quarry, a blond man in his late thirties. "Anything else worthy of note in there?"

"His mum lives in Poplar. If that counts for anything."

"Sounds like this is another one of Cowley's wild bloody goose chases. Although I s'pose an IRA bomber can want to visit his mum too."

As this was the first even vaguely light hearted thing he'd heard his partner say in several days, Doyle chuckled, partly with relief, before tucking the photograph back into the file. "I reckon we should head for Stepney first, there's a couple of snouts there that'll likely know the word on the street. If there is one."

Bodie shrugged, "Okay." And with an element of what Doyle took to be exuberance, pulled away from the lights, leaving two thin lines of rubber in his wake.

Doyle grabbed the in-car radio handset. "4.5 to control." 

"Go ahead, 4.5," came the tinny response.

"Our first stop's Stepney. There's a couple of contacts there for us to check out."

"Acknowledged, 4.5."

"4.5 out."

As Bodie appeared to be more relaxed than he'd been for some time, Doyle thought he'd try some conversation. "So where're you goin'?"

Bodie looked across at him, meeting his eye, before returning his gaze to the vehicle in front, "Stepney you said, but I’ll go wherever you suggest, sunshine." he drawled.

Doyle suppressed his frustration. Bodie could be wilfully obtuse on even the best of days, and this certainly wasn't that. Refusing to rise to it, he tried again. "No, when you leave CI5, where ya goin'?"

"So curious....What a good little Detective Constable Doyle, you are."

Bloody typical. Master of deflection, answering a question with a question or forestalling any conversation that might get under his defences. Bodie wasn’t going to give an inch, that much was obvious. Doyle bit his lip, still determined not to have an argument on Bodie's last day.

The sun, low in the sky due to the time of year, was doing its best to burn off the last of the early morning moisture. It was going to be a clear, bright winter's day in the capital. Doyle turned his head to stare out the passenger window and inwardly sighed. The light hearted repartee that epitomised his partner was a mere distant memory. Every casual conversation had been short and uneasy, unless they’d been on the job and then it had been business as usual. Despite their physical proximity in the car it felt like they were miles apart. Even in the rest room Bodie hadn’t engaged. A full scale row was the last thing he wanted, it was Bodie's last day. Christ. That thought's hard to get used to. Bodie's last ever day in CI5. My last ever day as his partner.

He had been miffed that Bodie hadn’t discussed tendering his resignation with him. Very unfair in hindsight, as before that, when Bodie had tried to talk about it, he’d thought his partner was just venting, didn’t think he’d actually go through with it. So used to Bodie pretty much consistently following his lead, he’d had a self-indulgent sulk that he hadn't been consulted and by the time he’d come out of it, Bodie had handed in his resignation, events happening faster than he could comprehend. Cowley had called him in, making serious offers as to his future at CI5. When Bodie had broached the subject again he’d been fully in the throes of morose introspection. It hadn’t been intentional, he’d been preoccupied. His own thoughts about Cowley were that the old man had seriously done them over. Again. Splitting them unnecessarily, and then hanging Bodie out to dry with no one to watch his back. And now was playing another round of games. And by the time he'd stopped being so bloody selfish and started considering how Cowley's actions had affected his partner, Bodie had shut himself off and he’d been unable to get through the barriers.

He’d thought that Bodie would forgive him, far too used to Bodie's cheerful compliance. After all, his partner had always gone along with pretty much anything he suggested. But, Bodie had been uncharacteristically sour. No less than he deserved really. He’d been pretty vindictive, but then it wasn't the first time he'd done that and Bodie normally let it all go. Water off a duck's back and all that. So damned easy going he was and although he'd never said it, he bloody appreciated it. Recently, he’d spent a lot of time biting his lip, swallowing his bitter retorts. Bodie was being so secretive, but then he’d always been, so it shouldn’t be a surprise and didn’t mean he was doing anything wrong, anyhow. Always willing to perpetuate the labels of being cold and callous, after nine years of working alongside him, Doyle knew that wasn’t really his mate.

He’d made a right royal fuck up of it. He’d tried subtle hints, but that hadn’t worked. Not surprising really, Bodie wasn’t one that did subtle. Probably went straight over his head, daft sod. Then he’d tried to wheedle it out of him, by coaxing and cajolery, but Bodie had been sulking, like the giant toddler he could be. He’d moved on to nasty then, trying to goad his partner into opening up. And that hadn’t worked either. Why he’d ever thought it would, most bloody tight lipped person he knew, Bodie was. And the result of all those machinations? One very detached, remote and uncommunicative Bodie. It wasn’t even a moody silence, it was just, nothing. An undefinable tension and Bodie shutting down every attempt at conversation. Accustomed as he was to Bodie’s usual wry humour with its frequent dark overtones, instead, Bodie had fallen back on the cold hearted bastard routine, but Doyle knew that it was just a front.

Nah, I've seriously bloody under estimated his sense of betrayal and getting anything out of him now's like getting the proverbial blood from a stone. He'll talk when he's ready and not before. Just gotta play the waiting game. I just hope it won't be too late.

BCD*BCD*BCD

Cowley walked around the now deserted CI5 headquarters, trying to calm down before returning to the mountain of paperwork in his office awaiting his attention. 3.7 certainly knew how to feed the fire. He couldn't blame the laddie too much, Bodie was hurting. He knew he'd been somewhat of a father figure to 3.7 and that in itself probably explained Bodie's reaction. His biological father had betrayed him at such a young age. Heartrending circumstances, his mother being pushed down the stairs. And then his drunkard of a father had tried to shift the blame to the young lad. Unforgiveable.

He was still puzzled by Doyle's acceptance of the events that had prompted Bodie's departure from CI5. He'd always expected it to be Doyle, not Bodie who had been pushed too far, hence why he'd chosen 3.7 to be the bait. But then, he'd also believed that it would be possible to talk 3.7 round by relying on his military training to respect rank, whereas 4.5 was a somewhat more stubborn and obstreperous individual. In hindsight, he could have played it differently, although old habits died hard. He'd known the risk to his agent and he'd considered it a worthy one to withhold the vital information which ensured no mud could stick to CI5. Securing the future of CI5 as a whole, in order to keep Britain safe, had to take precedence over the preservation of its parts.

He sighed, turning back towards his office. The paperwork couldn't wait any longer. Hopefully, his top team would come up trumps with finding O'Doherty. It was highly probable that he was hiding out somewhere in the East End, and with Doyle's familiarity with the area and the people within it, they were his best chance.

BCD*BCD*BCD

As they turned the corner into Whitechapel High Street, Doyle cried out, “Pull over!” with an urgency that made Bodie immediately obey, braking sharply, swinging the car in towards the kerb. Before the car came to a full halt and before he could ask him any details, Doyle was out the car and away across the pavement towards his unknown target. A sly grin crossed his face as he realised that Doyle was on a collision course with a tartan shopping trolley that was being pushed by its old and determined looking owner. Without Doyle breaking stride, the trolley was dispatched in one graceful leap. He could give the nags racing in the two-thirty at Haydock Park a run for their money. Bodie watched as Doyle disappeared through a shop doorway and briefly considered following him, knowing that his job was to cover his partner's back. Sod 'im, he's got his RT if he wants me. Besides, I've got a good excuse, that traffic warden over there's already eyeing up the car.

Despite the distance between them, Bodie stared down the traffic warden, daring her to approach, which appeared to have the desired effect, as she turned her attention towards another car parked further up the street, and with another smirk, he returned his gaze to the shop doorway that had swallowed up his partner.

Friends come and go, he mused. Doyle had certainly got under his skin. Perhaps that’s why I've put up with the irritating and snarky little sod for so long. Nah, I've stuck with him over the years because he's good. Very good. Doyle's the best, well, second best in CI5, and it's always handy to have somebody good watching your back in this business. Why go upsetting the apple cart unnecessarily.

To outsiders, there had been an imbalance within the partnership for a long time. Ray would call the shots and he would go along with it. Usually because he couldn’t be bothered to challenge it. Too lazy to deal with the stuff he considered unimportant, far more easy-going than his partner. If he felt really strongly about something, he would dig his toes in, but it was a pretty rare thing.

Bodie redirected his thoughts to his immediate future. Doyle won’t be there to watch my back. And he cursed his dependence on his partner. Well he could live without it, he’d done it before, he could do it again. Better off alone.

Won't have to put up with his ratty sour moods or his bloody scrutiny. There’ve not been many others in the past I've trusted. In Africa. In the army. And it won't matter if there won't be others again. Not sure if I want 'em. He snorted out a grim chuckle. He'd heard it said by others before 'Sod queen and country. When at war, it's the bloke next to you that matters.' Bodie agreed with that maxim, although, for his own particular reason. He's the one watching your back.

Letting his mind wander further, he knew he could live a solitary life. I'm better off alone, safer that way. The one person he could rely on. And as if to emphasize the point, he muttered aloud, "I believe in me."

His thoughts drifted back to his time in Africa. The first time he'd truly been on his own. No more than a kid, his ear glued to the camp's transistor radio, keeping himself to himself. Tuned in to the BBC World Service hour after hour. Training himself to parrot the received pronunciation favoured by the radio presenters. And all to try to completely sever his Liverpudlian roots. I’ve reinvented myself time and time again. Once more won't be a problem. S'like why I started reading the classics. It's a nice smoke screen and birds like a bit of poetry.

If he wasn't tied to setting up a partnership with Ray, he could go anywhere. America. Plenty of opportunity to work with a gun over there. Or South America. El Dorado itself, Columbia. All those infamous drug barons. Legal work's safer, takes out the risk of bein' caught. Plenty for me there on the right side of the law. No ties for me here anymore. He'd cleared out many of his London bolt holes, leaving just one, and had created two new ones up north. They could stay, even if he did go abroad.

And bloody Cowley would yet again get away scot free with his scheming. He didn’t know of any weaknesses where Cowley was concerned, so there was no easy way to get back at him. If he had an Achilles heel at all, it was probably ensuring CI5’s continued existence and the old man's crafty offer to Doyle had taken care of that.

He knew he didn’t want to discuss with Doyle how he was feeling after the way he'd been treated. No point. Doyle had made his position very clear. And besides, emotional suppression had been habitual since his youth. Was a handy guise, a mask to hide behind and prevented the trick cyclists from getting anywhere or Doyle delving too deeply.

The perils of over involvement. He’d started to care. Almost. Course, he worried about Ray, he was his partner. The one who watched his back. Fed up of being just a means to an end, as he stared sightlessly out the car's side window, he worked on calling up all the anger and bitter resentment as a defence mechanism to the hurt and betrayal that he felt from the corner he'd least expected it.

He'd made a mistake, letting Ray get to know him. Copper's nose, But then, Doyle had wheedled his way in. All prickly charm, he was. Nah. Just downright nosy. So much for being mates. Their interactions, often seemingly abrasive, had never been truly unkind. Until now. And Doyle obviously felt their friendship wasn’t worth more than Cowley’s bidding. Not as deep a commitment to his partner as Bodie had invested. Well Doyle and all of his bloody pretensions could go take a hike.

He thought he’d found a place, somewhere that he had struck an equilibrium. He'd never wanted a partner. Had resented Doyle for being foisted upon him. And then they'd started working as a team, covering each other's back, and he'd realised the benefits. And Doyle had made him leave that solitary life. He’d never really had a friend before Ray. Comrades in arms and colleagues, sure, but never a friend. And then he’d got comfortable. Relaxed a bit. Trusted Cowley and opened up a little to his partner. All it had done was given him a false sense of security. He’d long ago determined that he was better off alone. And then with CI5 had come Doyle. And he’d changed for his partner. Had made the sacrifice willingly, in fact. Cleaning up his act, applying morals that he didn’t really believe in, but conforming for his partner's sake. And what good's it done me, eh? Partnership, friendship, brotherhood. All based on tissue paper foundations.

With the skills learnt across the plains and jungles of Africa and honed in her majesty’s forces, he’d been in clover the last few years. Working alongside Doyle, commanded by Cowley and he’d given both of them ultimate loyalty. Blind faith no more. Betrayal works both ways. Satisfied by his conclusion, Bodie focussed back on the here and now and tried to spot the traffic warden. She was fully engaged in dealing with another illegally parked car, but was getting nearer, so he glanced at his watch before giving a lazy yawn. Doyle had been gone for nearly five minutes.

Within another minute, Doyle was back in sight, sunglasses now resting on his nose as defence against the low winter sun, a bulging carrier bag casually swinging from one hand. Once settled back in the car, Doyle stuck his hand into it. "Got us some grub for later, best sub rolls in the East End, these are." And with a flourish, pulled out a hefty bar of Fruit and Nut. With a blinding smile Doyle thrust the large bar of Cadbury’s across the car. "Thought this might keep you going till lunch."

Bodie gave the chocolate a sharp assessing look. What was Doyle up to? Knowing full well that his partner suffered from the age old condition of short arms and deep pockets, he was briefly tempted to make a comment to that effect. He’d always thought that fighting with Doyle was a miserable pursuit, but now, well he was garnering a strange sense of satisfaction from it. Doyle baiting. Winding him up on stake outs had made the hours since he'd handed in his resignation pass far quicker. He knew exactly where the line was, how far he could push. All he'd had to decide each day was how close to the line he was going to go and how soon before their shift ended he should start. He'd turned it into a game. Goad as far as he could in the close confines of the Capri without igniting Doyle's explosive temper until just before the shift was over.

 Do I want to put up with the snarky golly's hostility today? Not a good plan without any idea of when we'll finish. On the other hand, he seems to be trying hard. Could be fun to push. Doyle's shattered the partnership, it's his fault. No way of fixing it now. And why would I want to?

broken

The burn of resentment towards Doyle was still there, smouldering away, despite the chocolate. But, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, he shrugged and took the chocolate bar with a gracious nod and a grin that lasted marginally less than a blink of an eye. Bodie turned the ignition and waited a few seconds to see if the traffic warden started a purposeful walk towards their car. His patience was rewarded and satisfied with his small victory, he pulled away, giving her a waggle of his fingers and a sly grin through the side window as he drove past.

BCD*BCD*BCD

Doyle had noticed the slight frown and the brief look of confusion as Bodie looked at the proffered chocolate. Makes a change from the bland expression that's been pretty much unchanged for the last three weeks. He’s threatened to resign before, hell they both had. But a skinful in the pub and then back to one or other of their flats to plan their exits from CI5 over a takeaway and a bottle of scotch had always resulted in them deciding to stay. It's all been a bit of a shock truth be told, no time to take it all in and absorb it.

I've been a rotten bastard to 'im. Accusing him of planning all sorts of nefarious things once he leaves CI5 and with no grounds other than a spiteful imagination. I've been trying to goad 'im into revealing 'is intentions and all I've managed to do is push 'im away. He's been like when we were first partnered. There’d been more than one agent back then who'd thought 'im a borderline psycho. He’d been so insular and cold. I was able to thaw 'im though. I know it's only skin deep, so I can do it again. Maybe.

After breaking into the chocolate and tucking the remainder within easy reach in his door pocket, Bodie, looking marginally happier than he had before the unplanned pit stop, had pulled into the stream of light traffic. Satisfied with the result, but trying not to show it, Doyle sprawled in his seat, lifting one booted foot to rest on the dash.

"Can you get your trotters off my dashboard?"

Instead of the usual intonation of humour on Bodie's side there was instead an underlying resentment. Pretty certain that the derogatory and provocative reference to his time on the beat wasn’t merely accidental, Doyle limited his reaction to the inflammatory turn of phrase to just glaring at him from behind his sunglasses before dutifully obeying, lowering his leg to join the other in the footwell. If his compliance had resulted in a smug look from Bodie, he’d have been tempted to counter it with a cutting remark, but it didn’t materialise. Bodie’s face, eyes front, maintained a perfect blank mask.

Bodie could take care of himself, but he sometimes got into situations that weren’t necessarily good for the health of any innocents around him. That and his history of dangerous professions still made him wonder what Bodie was planning on doing once he left. No social conscience, Bodie. That was his problem. No thought for the ordinary man. Not that Cowley seemed to mind.

From behind the safety of his sunglasses he studied the grim forbidding figure that had replaced his cheerful and irreverent partner. They’d been quarrelling continually and he'd called Bodie amoral and arrogant amongst other things, which had been unfair. Cowley had knocked the spots off those two. That said, he wasn’t sure that Bodie had a conscience. Or if he’d ever had one. Maybe he'd been right and Bodie was going to disappear off to bloody Africa with no compunction after all.

Nearing Stepney, Doyle directed Bodie through the back streets, the patches of urban decay increasing in size and frequency as they neared their destination. Bodie followed the instructions without comment.

"Sniffer lives in there," explained Doyle as he pointed for Bodie to pull in alongside the soot covered brick railway arches that supported the overhead train line. Taking off his sunglasses and folding them into the pocket of his tan leather jacket, he hopped out the car, and waited patiently for his partner to join him on the pavement.

BCD*BCD*BCD

Bodie, unbuttoning his jacket halfway and checking his weapon was where it ought to be, followed Doyle into the first arch, and was surprised to see that it curved round, leading to an underpass that followed the path of the railway line above. With no natural light, the rectangular sodium lamps set high in the wall; some with cracked casings, were the only source of light, gleaming on the small patches of curved brick that weren't covered in layers of spray paint.

There was the odd patch of wall that had some artistic merit, but most were scrawls of graffiti reporting Kilroy’s earlier presence, that Lucy loved someone called Dylan and that somebody wanted to engage in sexual relations with the local constabulary.

Looking around and above him at the tags and scrawls, many of which were offensive, Bodie murmured derisively, "Very Sistine." Ahead, he heard Doyle give a snort of amusement before coming to a halt. As he caught up with his partner, Bodie saw what Doyle was looking at. The wall went back by about three feet, creating a recess about six feet long, which was filled with an uneven pile of flattened cardboard boxes and other rubbish.

Doyle stuck his foot out and gave a firm nudge to the corner of the cardboard pile. "Sniffer? You in there?" The cardboard shifted and erupted as a concealed body sat up, looking sleepy. The lad was no more than seventeen. 

"Hello, Sniffer. Long time, no see. How've y'been?"

Squinting slightly, Sniffer looked up at Doyle before giving a nervous glance in Bodie's direction. "'Ello, Mr Doyle," he said, his tone both defensive and wary, and which was followed by a loud snort. Sniffer purposefully wiped his nose on his right sleeve, leaving a glistening trail along the fabric. As he pushed himself up onto his feet, shedding cardboard all around him, Doyle stepped back to give him space, moving to the far side of the recess and took a relaxed lean against the wall. As a waft of odiferous air followed Sniffer up, Bodie mirrored Doyle's movements, stepping back to the nearside wall. Choosing not to let his clothes come in contact with the grimy walls, he opted to fold his arms instead.

"So what's the news on the streets, Sniffer?"

Sniffer shrugged. "I don't hear much. Y'know me, Mr Doyle. I don't get involved."

Doyle nodded, "I know, Sniffer. But you still hear things, don't ya."

Sniffer shrugged and sniffed noisily, before giving a furtive glance in Bodie's direction.

Doyle copied the direction of Sniffer's gaze. Bodie was always very protective of him. Anger shrouded in concern. Or more frequently, the other way around. Got right up Cowley's nose no end, that did. The old man viewed it as a conflict of interest when it interfered with one of his blasted ops, especially when they were marionettes on strings with Cowley yanking them from behind the curtain of need-to-know like a bloody puppet master. And now Bodie was standing there looking like he was about to beat Sniffer to a pulp.

"Don't worry 'bout him," said Doyle, jerking a thumb in Bodie's direction, "he's with me."

Sniffer gave a last cautious look at Bodie before turning back to Doyle. "Who you lookin' for?"

However much he trusted the young informant, Doyle knew better than to give names. Before you could blink, word would be out and their quarry would go to ground. Keep it non-specific, that was always the safest bet. "Who's been shouting their mouth off about a big job? Who's back in the neighbourhood? You know the game, Sniffer."

Sniffer stared back, now with a belligerent look on his face. "Why d'ya call me Sniffer, haven't touched the bloody stuff for years?" before giving another snort loud enough to reverberate around the underpass.

Doyle nodded sympathetically, ignoring the irony. "S'only name of yours I know. B'sides, it's a compliment. I mean, sniffer dogs aren't just your bog standard mutt are they. Important, they are."

Sniffer nodded thoughtfully, seemingly mollified. "Digger was shoutin' his mouth off day before yesterday. Said he had some good luck coming his way."

"Did he say what sort of luck?"

Sniffer wiped his nose on his sleeve again before shaking his head. "Nah, he'd been celebratin' though. Pissed as a newt, 'e were."

"Anything else worth knowing? Anybody else speaking out of turn?"

Sniffer shook his head vehemently. "Nah, Mr Doyle, honest."

Doyle saw Bodie raise a disbelieving eyebrow, which he ignored. He dug his hand into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out a couple of pound notes, holding them out to Sniffer.

"We weren't here, Sniffer. Alright?"

Sniffer nodded and took the offered notes before sniffing loudly. "Course, Mr Doyle." He grinned cheekily, "Don't even know you, do I."

"Good lad." Doyle pushed off from the wall and Sniffer subsided into the cardboard pile. Bodie watched as he slithered himself under the debris, disappearing from view, then followed his partner back down the underpass.

Back in the sunshine, Doyle slowed up as he neared the car and reached into his pocket for his sunglasses. "Care home kid. Ex glue sniffer," offered Doyle, by way of explanation.

"Usually sticks to his word, does he?" asked Bodie drily as he unlocked the driver's door.

The re-emergence of Bodies dark wit was a relief. Doyle puffed a laugh, "Yeah, he won't volunteer he's had a visit. And he won't get word out to Digger. We should be able to turn up unannounced."

"Turn up where?"

"Digger's sister has got a place in Wickham House on the Stifford Estate. That's a good a place to start as any."

Bodie curtly nodded his acknowledgement and doing a swift one-eighty turn, swung the Capri round, back the way they'd come.

Apart from the occasional rustle of foil as Bodie systematically worked his way through the chocolate, the journey was conducted in silence, but the tension that had existed before his impromptu stop had dissipated. Bit more congenial in here now at least. Was worth the money if it's cheered him up a bit.

Pulling up in the middle of Jamaica Street, one of Stepney Green's flagship council estates, half a dozen kids were kicking a ball about at the bottom of the nearest of the three tower blocks and Doyle joined in. Ignoring the hollered 'Oy, mister', he masterfully dribbled the ball round the chasing kids while progressing across the tarmac towards the entrance to the nearest building. With a grin, he turned and with a well-judged kick, passed it back to the lad who'd protested. He was slightly saddened that Bodie had made no attempt to join in, even though he'd carefully directed the ball to pass close enough that just sticking out a foot would have allowed his partner to intercept it. Despite his slightly more mellow demeanour, Bodie obviously wasn't in a playful mood. Fair 'nuff. This place doesn't make for cheer does it. Even though there was an air of degeneration and misery about the place, the three identical towers had been hailed as perfect examples of a modernist approach to architecture. Obviously, the smart arses that made that declaration don't live anywhere round here.

Without waiting for his partner, Doyle went into the entrance to the tower block and called the lift. He heard the thrum of the mechanics kick in and stood back, satisfied that the lift was on its way. As Bodie joined him, he nodded at the lift doors. "Miracle of miracles, looks like the lift's working. Good thing too, Digger's sister lives on the seventh floor."

With perfect timing, the lift opened with an accompanying chime and grating of dented doors. As they stepped into the lift, Bodie curled his lip in distaste. "A real miracle would be a lift that works and that doesn't stink of piss."

Doyle grinned. "Phone boxes and lifts. They're all the same." He stabbed at the button for the seventh floor and the doors slid closed, with the same unnerving grating noise. Bodie offered no more other than a wrinkling of his nose as the whiff of stale urine strengthened in the confined space. It was progress of sorts, Bodie passing comment, even if it was merely about a stinking lift. He'd recently been even more monosyllabic than usual.

BCD*BCD*BCD

Bodie let his partner lead the way as they exited the lift, turning left onto the wide concrete balcony that led to the flats. "Number forty-one, is Lizzie's," intoned Doyle, nodding his head towards the end of the open passageway. Bodie unconsciously patted his jacket, feeling the solid form of his weapon underneath. "You likely won't need that. Lizzie's a good 'un,"  Doyle said, reassuringly. Bodie ignored him.

Eyeing the numbered doors, Bodie counted them down until they reached number forty-one. Taking up their positions, one either side of the door, Doyle rapped smartly on the inset glass panel surrounded by faded blue paintwork. The door opened a crack and a mousey haired woman peered round.

"'Ello Lizzie."

Her eyes widened in surprise as she registered Doyle and immediately tried to push the door shut again, but Doyle was too quick, wedging one booted foot into the door.

She sighed, "What d'ya want?"

"Where’s Eddie?"

"He’s not 'ere."

"Can we come in?" asked Doyle, brightly.

"He hasn’t done anything."

"Didn’t say he had."

She frowned, giving Doyle and his invading foot a filthy glare.

Gently, Doyle asked again, "Can we come in, luv?"

Giving a defeated shrug, she stepped back, letting the door open wide.

Doyle went in first and Bodie followed, eyes darting left and right, searching for potential danger as he made his way into the flat.

At the first doorway to the left, Doyle momentarily disappeared, satisfying himself that the other room was empty, before coming back into the hallway. Bodie did the same check with a doorway off to the right, and with a nod confirmed that the small kitchen was indeed empty. Following Lizzie into the lounge, Doyle stepped across the room and pushing the door wide revealing a neatly made bed, checked the last possibility of a hidden menace.

Bodie took a moment to study the woman who stood in the centre of the room with her arms folded defensively. Not unattractive, young, early twenties, with a large bruise high on her left cheekbone and the worn, tired look that a tough life left embedded on people's faces regardless of their age. 

Doyle went over to her and lightly touched the bruise. "Present from Digger I take it."

Lizzie flinched away, despite the gentleness and nodded miserably.

"Why d'ya put up with it, Lizzie?"

Bodie stifled his irritation. Don't be such a sodding bleedin' heart, Doyle. Just get the information, and we can get out of here.

Lizzie shrugged her shoulders. "'Cos he's my brother."

"Where is he?" growled Bodie.

Ignoring him, Lizzie directed her answer to Doyle. "The Bancroft Arms, where d'ya think?"

At that, Bodie turned, impatiently striding out of the flat and stood broodily waiting for Doyle. Irritated that Lizzie had snubbed him and fed up with the pointless altruism issuing from his partner, he tried to ignore the murmur of voices coming from the flat behind him as he stared unseeing over the low wall at the panoramic view of the East End that the seventh floor afforded. If Doyle shifts his bloody arse rather than listening to her whining maybe we can get some bloody action now.

Eventually, with a parting farewell at Lizzie's door, Doyle joined him, the breeze ruffling at his hair. Bodie turned to him. "Ready now?" he enquired, somewhat sarcastically.

He watched Doyle absorb the barb, his mouth tightening before relaxing as Doyle considered his reply. "Bancroft Arms is in the Mile End Road, won't be open yet." Doyle lifted his arm to check his watch, "'Nother forty-five minutes."

Bodie turned away back to the view. So much for bloody action.

"You eyeing up Old Flo?" enquired Doyle, nodding towards a large statue of a seated woman below them. Bodie chose not to give his partner the satisfaction of asking why she was called Old Flo and ignored the comment. A firm nudge broke his pondering. "Come on." Doyle grinned at him, "I know somewhere that'll put a smile on yer face."

Doyle set off, back towards the lift and Bodie trailed behind him, inwardly mystified by the efforts his partner was making to appease him.

Once they were back in the stinking lift, Doyle volunteered, "Digger's her 'alf brother. Also known as Eddie Diego, Spanish mum, don't ya know."

Knowing that yet again not offering a response wouldn't work, in an effort to terminate the conversation, Bodie murmured, "Very exotic."

Doyle gave a snort worthy of Sniffer. "'E's never set foot outside the East End, far as I know. Small time crook, been inside once, when he was a kid. All it did was teach 'im how not to get caught."

Doyle put an arm around his shoulder. "Come on, my son. Cheer up. I'll show you one of the more charming destinations this part of town has to offer."

As the doors slid open, back on the ground floor, Bodie shook off his partner's arm and walked briskly back towards the car. The kids were still playing football and as he walked straight across their improvised pitch, he paid their complaints no heed.

Doyle had been needling him for weeks and now his forced camaraderie and frequent physical contact was starting to grate. Despite the outward appearance of inequality within their partnership, it had always been balanced. Doyle had challenged him on a few things, his natural competitiveness always at the fore. Doyle’s wiry frame meant he was quick. Very quick in close combat. And he was good with handguns too. Of course he wasn’t as good overall on weapons and his own combined score on rifles and handguns comfortably exceeded Doyle’s, but Doyle was good. No doubt about it. But he was better, he knew that. Doyle would often call the shots verbally, and he would comply. But, never particularly verbose, would always show he was in charge through touch, a proprietorial hand in the small of Doyle's back or on his arm.

And he’d been happy with the status quo, some would say possessive of their bond and had made sure no bird got too close to Doyle. Without Doyle's knowledge of course. He didn’t want anything to upset the partnership, so sabotage and subterfuge had occasionally been necessary. Like with Ann Holly. Although that had worked out quite nicely in the end and had been there as a supportive partner when he'd needed to be. And Doyle’s spiky temperament kept most birds at a distance. Which suited him fine. So on the whole, it hadn’t been too hard. Mostly the job would invariably derail any relationships before he’d had to do anything, so it hadn't required much effort. But he’d protected the partnership, protected Ray and look how I'm being repaid. Slinging an arm over a shoulder or ruffling hair were his own way of conveying his ownership and over the years he’d become an expert at sublimating his own possessiveness into a guiding hand on an elbow or waist.

Hah, sublimation. That was what that bitch Ross had called it. She'd sat there all teeth and tits and holier than thou, telling me about Freud and that sublimation could be observed in an action performed many times throughout someone's life, which although at first appears sadistic, is ultimately refined into an activity which is of benefit to mankind. What was the name of the book Freud had read that gave him the idea? Yeah, that's right, The Harz Journey. Went and got it from the library after that just to see what the daft cow was on about. The story of Johann Friedrich Dieffenbach who as a child had cut off the tails of dogs he encountered and later became a surgeon had intrigued him.

Well certainly Doyle had benefitted. Kept him alive, kept him safe, didn't I. If Ann Holly had stayed on the scene, Doyle would have left me then, she'd have made him leave CI5, so I knew then that Doyle wasn’t that loyal. Should have remembered that. Doyle dropped me like hot bricks when she came on the scene. Damned good actor is Doyle. All those undercover roles he takes on, loves it, he does.

Unwilling to admit, and wilfully ignoring the fact that the bitterness and anger were just a product of the pain of absolute betrayal, Bodie continued to muse while he made his way back to the car. All the times that my so called bloody partner had my back, they were just to ingratiate himself, lulling me into a false sense of security.

"Elevenses."

"Eh?" Bodie looked across at Doyle.

Elevenses

"There's a decent tea van just off the Mile End Road, next to the canal, s'only five minutes from 'ere. As we've got forty minutes to kill, we may as well do it there as here.

"Right." Leaving the grim tower blocks behind them, Bodie, cutting diagonally across Stepney Green taking the shortest route as the crow flew, drove towards where Regents Canal and the Mile End Road intersected, not bothering to engage his partner in conversation. He cast a jaundiced eye at his partner who seemed completely relaxed, sprawled as usual, in the passenger seat, despite the alert eyes scanning the streets for certain faces. No doubt I'll have to spring for the teas, he's already shelled out for chocolate, s'not gonna happen twice in one day is it. Always have to fetch and carry like a bloody pack horse and he's always the last to open his wallet. Tight as a duck's arse, he is.

BCD*BCD*BCD

Doyle stared out the window, re-acquainting himself with his old beat, noting the small changes. He smiled to himself as he thought of their upcoming destination. He'd treat his mate to a nice bacon sarnie. With an egg. And a sausage. And with no accompanying jibes about Bodie's arteries or his waistline, either. He pondered that briefly. He's been looking leaner and meaner recently. But then that could just be his current demeanour. Bodie could exude menace by not even saying anything. And lately, there'd been lots of silent brooding from his closed off partner. Bodie's jibes and sarcasm had always had a warm affection attached to them. And on the rare occasions he did say anything, like his quip in the underpass and his abrupt comments outside Lizzie's flat, it was now just bitter derision.

Bodie had always been good, easy company. Up to now, anyway. Did he feel let down? Maybe he did. And yet there’d been little or no reaction towards him from Bodie. Unexpected that. Savage retaliation by way of a swift right hook for any act perceived as betrayal would have been expected, but there’d been nothing towards Doyle other than periods of detachment masked with bland indifference.

As they pulled up on the edge of Regents Canal opposite Mile End Park, Doyle sprung out the car and sauntered over to the van to stand in front of the propped up blackboard listing the menu. As he waited for Bodie to join him, he pretended to study the choices, appreciating the aroma from the bacon and sausages gently sizzling on the edge of the oversized griddle.

"I know what you'll like, mate. Leave it to me."

Doyle ordered two teas along with a big breakfast bap, a monster of a sandwich with pretty much a full English breakfast squeezed between two thick slices of crusty bread, and a more modest bacon sarnie for himself. Adding copious quantities of milk and sugar from the provided jug and bowl to one of the Styrofoam cups he picked them up and turned to his partner only to find Bodie had wandered off to stand at the edge of the canal. Gusting out a gentle sigh, he placed his own cup of black tea back onto the counter. He handed over three pound notes

"There you go, sunshine. Get your jaws 'round that."

Bodie looked at the sandwich and then up at him, his blue eyes dark with some unfathomable emotion and blinked.

Well that garnered a reaction. Sarcastic thoughts now, Ray? Covering up your own bloody frustration.

Bodie took the paper plate with a cool nod, the Eiger sized sandwich wobbling somewhat precariously before he put his other hand to it. Turning towards one of the few tables set out in a semi-circle around the van, and ignoring the cup of tea that Doyle was still patiently holding he settled into the nearest plastic chair.

Bloody Bodie, always cool and dispassionate, now he's just being cold and indifferent.

Doyle placed Bodie's tea gently onto the table. "Back in a sec, mate," he said cheerfully, rebuffing the cold disregard and turned back to the van to retrieve his own refreshments, well aware that he may as well be invisible.

Settling himself at the table opposite his partner, he was pleased to see that Bodie was making inroads into his food. He grinned, expecting a reciprocal expression and got absolutely nothing. Even loudly and repeatedly slurping his tea couldn’t get more than a glint of malevolence from Bodie's dark eyes, and normally that would invoke some dry remark at least. And the lack of reaction takes all the fun out of it. Much like the job these days too.

Unable to get a rise out of Bodie and fed up with being ignored, he turned his head to look out over the canal as he munched thoughtfully through his bacon sandwich.

BCD*BCD*BCD

Bodie chewed slowly on his meal, wishing he hadn’t eaten quite so much chocolate. Despite being served from a van that looked like it had barely survived world war two, his food was good. Very good. Not that he'd give his partner any satisfaction by telling him so. Doyle had been almost subservient this morning, certainly deferential, as well as being quiet and agreeable. Most unlike Doyle in fact. Made him wonder what was going through his partner's curly noggin. Doyle was a hard one to unravel. Saw the good in everybody. Well, mostly. He thought back to early on in their partnership. Doyle hadn't seen good in him then. Likening him to Krivas. He chuckled to himself. How he'd worked hard to disprove Doyle of that notion. Thought he'd managed it, on the whole. He'd learnt to cover up his own little idiosyncrasies and he'd also grasped pretty quickly that people like "Shotgun" Tommy were considered nutters by many in CI5, so he'd carefully made distinctions between himself and Tommy MacKay, like Doyle's accusations about shooting to kill. He still remembered his reply. The difference is, Doyle, I do it, but I don't enjoy it. Although, Mad Tommy hadn't been fooled. Perhaps there was some truth in the old adage, takes one to know one. But he could dissimilate with the best of them. Didn't matter much, anyhow. Tommy had died that same day. Doyle of course had done the mourning routine. Was he supposed to feel something? He rarely did. It was the funny thing about his stint in the army. Although it hadn't turned him into a killing machine, as that had happened a long time before, because he was ex-SAS it was accepted that he was and it was okay. And the small print in CI5's brief 'of any means necessary' provided a lot of leeway. The image he'd crafted and carefully built up with the passage of time. That was intact. Only the one crack had appeared over the years. King Billy. He'd learnt to conceal his emotional responses, that way nobody could accuse them of being inappropriate. He disguised them with humour, black humour, which was something he'd learnt in the SAS was acceptable. There, he'd been part of a team, all working as a complete unit. More eyes certainly, but not quite so focussed on him. Not like Doyle. Who with his copper's nose was quite a challenge. Doyle was like a bloody snake, he thought, unkindly. Aside from his forked tongue, he was slender and smooth in movement, able to creep up on you, but let him get up close and he had a venom filled bite.

Bodie took a surreptitious peek at his soon to be ex-partner. He'd never wanted that close a relationship with anybody. But, it was inevitable, really. His own career had been channelling him this way pretty much from the start. In the mercenaries it was every man for himself, if someone could get one over on you, they would. The Paras had taught him that that other people had his back. And introduced him to regimental camaraderie. The SAS quaternities had meant a closer working relationship, but nothing like the intensity of a two man team. Between Cowley and Doyle, you'd have thought they owned him the way they treated him. And he'd given them both one hundred percent. He'd cheerfully risked his life day in day out, but only while he fully trusted the people calling the shots, namely Cowley and Doyle. Because that trust, or lack of it introduced uncertainty. Risk and uncertainty were two very different beasts. One was calculated, the other an unknown. And then Cowley had yanked the rug from under his feet. When he'd challenged the old man about why he hadn't shared the information that would have prevented him from nearly being killed, Cowley had just pulled rank. Loyalty he paid back in spades, and the same with treachery and betrayal. His life had been a series of transient vocations, never staying anywhere too long. Until CI5. Which perhaps told him something. He'd been happier there than any of his previous jobs. CI5 had certainly been a convenient umbrella for him to get his kicks and there'd been much to like about the job. He'd got to shoot things. To snuff out the dregs of humanity. The adrenaline surging ops which came along with reasonable regularity more than made up for the stake outs and babysitting jobs that interspersed the excitement. The easy camaraderie with Doyle had helped with that aspect too and had brought another dimension to the job. But all that had done was lull him into a false sense of security and he now resented his own reliance on his two faced partner. Kill or be killed, but with the back up of being a member of the security services had suited him well. Was an odd thing. In Africa and in the army, he'd seen all the motivations there were. Most had done it for the money in Africa, some for a cause, an ideal, however screwed up they were. Some, like him, did it for the kicks. Not that he considered himself sadistic. Not like some of the deranged bastards out there. Not just in Africa either. There'd been some nutters in the SAS too. No, he wasn’t sadistic. He considered a clean kill was the sign of an expert with a weapon and he took pride in his work. Adrenalin junkie was an accusation that had been thrown in his direction more than once. But even that was deemed okay by Doyle, but doing it for kicks was a no no. He’d never quite understood the distinction.

He'd conned his way into CI5, pulling the wool over Cowley's eyes. Or maybe the old man knew, and just used it to his advantage. He was always lecturing him about bringing in suspects alive. Never Doyle, just him. But then Doyle wanted to give them all cuddles and teddy bears. Sanctimonious little scrote. But, he was making him pay for it today, although it wasn't anywhere near enough retribution. More to the point, he really wanted to somehow get back at Cowley. But in all the years he'd never found any chinks in the old man's armour, although maybe it was, after all, simply CI5's continued existence.

 

BCD*BCD*BCD

Brushing off his hands against each other, Doyle drained his cup and glanced back across at his partner. Bodie had abandoned the last quarter of his meal and was sitting there, staring into the distance in between idly throwing small crumbs onto the ground where the ever present London sparrows hopped between the chairs, devouring each tiny prize. Doyle thought to choose his words carefully, not wanting to say anything that could be viewed as combative and settled on a safe "Alright?"

Bodie's gaze slid slowly towards him, another cool nod his reward before the eyes deliberately reverted to the unknown point in the distance.

Doyle looked pointedly at his watch. "Pub'll be open in about fifteen minutes. D'ya wanna make a move, we'll be more likely to spot 'im if we get there just before opening."

Bodie didn't say anything, but he stood up, gathered his litter from the table and dropped it in the open steel dustbin next to the burger van, before heading to the car. Doyle trailed behind him, depositing his own Styrofoam cup and paper plate, frustrated that his foolproof plan of feeding his partner hadn't had the desired effect of lightening Bodie's mood.

After a journey where the only words spoken had been Doyle providing directions, Bodie parked up, thirty yards away from the pub ahead of them. "Now we wait," said Doyle somewhat unnecessarily and for which he earnt the merest of shrugs from his partner.

"Digger's easy to describe," continued Doyle cheerfully, determined to keep the mood light. "He's average height and build, with dark hair."

He left it a beat, judging his timing to forestall any disparaging remarks at his bland description. "With a face like a pizza."

Which prompted only a grunt from Bodie.

At that point, Doyle gave up trying to jolly his partner out from behind his barriers and fell silent, watching the street ahead for any signs of Digger.

While he waited, Doyle considered how he would handle Digger. Unlike his sister, Digger responded only to threats. He was also weak and easy to break, which helped. Doyle didn't enjoy threatening people, but with Cowley's orders making it clear that speed was paramount and his partner's obvious impatience with the day so far, he concluded that he didn't have much choice in the matter. He chewed his lip as he sat there. As always, the anticipation of what was to come meant a nervous wait.

Fortunately, he didn't have to wait very long before he spied their quarry, wandering down the pavement before crossing over at a slow jog, targeting the Bancroft Arms.

After hanging back for an undesignated amount of time, without any communication, the two of them alighted from the car as one, and Bodie headed towards the side alley as Doyle followed Digger into the pub. As he pushed the heavy oak door open, Doyle shook his head in wonderment that he and Bodie could still work with such synchronicity even with the chasm that had opened up between them. Despite everything, on the job they still fitted together, like two uneven, interlocking cogs. All rough edges smoothed by each other.

Inside was gloomy and the pub smells of stale tobacco and beer were the same the world over. Spying his target, he watched as Digger lifted his pint pot to his mouth before stilling as he saw Doyle.

Doyle jerked his head towards the back door and Digger gave an imperceptible nod before putting down his pint and in a loud voice to his companion said, "Just going for a slash. Look after m'pint."

BCD*BCD*BCD

Bodie stood by the back door, a stack of empty steel beer kegs behind him. Doyle's blatant efforts to appease him had merely irritated and he felt patronised and manipulated by his partner. Careful to conceal any emotion from Doyle, he'd kept his face entirely neutral throughout the journey but on the inside he was seething. How shallow did his partner think he was? Buy him a bit of chocolate and a sarnie and all would be forgiven? Not bloody likely. What was Doyle thinking? Good old Bodie, give him some grub and he'll cheer up. Don't even give him a choice as to what to eat. Get him to do anything, I can. And now he's just being bloody annoying, giving Digger a description that would apply to half of bloody London. No doubt he was checking if I was listening. Bloody cheek.

A noise from inside the door refocussed his attention onto the matter in hand and readying himself, he stepped away from the wall, purposefully obstructing the alleyway.

The door was flung open and a human cyclone erupted into the back yard.  Bodie easily blocked all progress and the man pulled up short before backing away from him, eyes darting left and right.

"In a rush?" Bodie asked, politely.

Doyle came sauntering out of the pub's back door, grinning like a Cheshire cat. "'ello Digger. I see you've met Bodie, then?" He looked momentarily crestfallen before continuing, "You don't look especially pleased to see me."

"Nah, s'not that. Jus' remembered I had to be somewhere, Mr Doyle. 'onest." Digger put his hands out, palms upwards in a gesture of helpless innocence.

Bodie looked at Digger with contempt. As well as his unfortunate skin complaint, the man had the narrow features of a weasel and sounded like he had over enlarged adenoids.

Doyle smirked, "You don't know the meaning of 'onesty, Digger. You're about as straight as a paperclip."

Digger looked somewhat resentful at this slight on his trustworthiness before stepping back against the wall of the pub, obviously resigned to his detention.

Doyle, with his back to Bodie and facing Digger who now looked rather pathetic, leant one shoulder casually against the pub wall and folded his arms.

Bodie didn't move from the alleyway entrance. Doyle's warning that Digger was as slippery as an eel had been advice enough. Seeing Digger's woebegone expression made Bodie idly wonder how long it would be before Doyle started chastising himself for giving the perp a hard time.

"I hear you've been celebrating, Digger."

Digger looked momentarily panicked before opening his mouth to refute the accusation, but was cut off before he could utter a word.

"What you celebrating then?" asked Doyle, his patience already wearing thin with Digger's responses and moved forward one step towards his target, his arms now by his sides.

"Nuffink", came the expected reply.

Doyle took another step forward, ending in an aggressive stance, and Digger's defiance started to fray. He swallowed compulsively, before whining, "I can't tell you, 'e'd kill me."

"Who'd kill you, Digger?"

Digger mutely shook his head.

"The problem is, Digger," said Doyle conversationally, "is that if you don't tell me, Bodie here will hurt you. And he'll keep on hurting you till you tell me."

Bodie smiled menacingly at Digger. This was always a part he enjoyed. Playing intimidator was immensely satisfying.

"And he knows how to do it so you'll wish you were dead, anyhow." Doyle looked sadly at Digger.

Digger swallowed. And blinked. And then with his last shreds of bravado shouted, "You can't do that. That's police brutality, that is."

Doyle keeping his voice low and even, shook his head slowly. "Ah, well you should know that we don't have the same restrictions in CI5, Digger."

Bodie took half a pace forward, still covering the alleyway, while making sure that Digger saw his advances.

Digger blustered his innocence, and Bodie, seeing Doyle move forward again, came up alongside him, the two of them forming an impenetrable wall, a well-practised move that caused Digger to falter.

A couple of menacing looks was all it took for Digger to spill his guts and tell them what they wanted to know.

As Digger sank back against the wall, his head in his hands, Bodie felt an upsurge of disappointment that Digger had relinquished the information so easily. What an absolute pathetic piece of crap the man was. He stepped forward, grabbing Digger by his greasy collar and hauled him up, so he was almost standing on tip toe. Digger cried out in fear, arms trying valiantly to pull Bodie off him, "Mr Doyle, Mr Doyle, that's all I know, I swear."

Bodie leaned in close, "Did you thump your sister?" Without waiting for a reply, he continued, "If I see or hear you’ve done that again, I’ll come back and find you and squeeze all your pimples."

Digger was openly crying now, terrified. He let go of Digger's collar and the man slid down the wall, paralysed by fear.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Doyle’s small nod of approval. Not that he’d done it for that, he could have just as easily smashed Digger into small pieces, which Doyle definitely wouldn't have approved of. But yet again, out of habit, he’d toed the party line.

Doyle had kept him on the straight and narrow. No need to play that game anymore. But Digger was beaten already. The man was a snivelling heap and there were bigger fish to fry. Ignoring Doyle, Bodie turned away and marched up the alleyway, not waiting for Doyle to follow, knowing he'd be right behind him.

BCD*BCD*BCD

Doyle ran out the alleyway, chasing Bodie's long stride towards the car, Digger now forgotten. They had a concrete lead on O'Doherty. Cowley would be pleased. Now all they had to do was find him in amongst the rotting buildings down at the India docks. He'd barely climbed into the car before Bodie had pulled away with a screech of rubber that left evidence on the tarmac and a small cloud of acrid smoke from the tyres. Gripping the 'oh God' handle above the passenger window with his left hand as Bodie raced down towards the Isle of Dogs, he leant forward and grabbed the radio perched on the dash. "4.5 to control." The reedy response, calm as always, was immediate. "Come in, 4.5."

"We've got a lead on O'Doherty, he's holed up on the Emmett Street Triangle. We're heading over to the old Garford Furniture Works now, about four minutes out."

"Do you require back-up 4.5?"

Bodie gave a derisive snort and Doyle gave him a shark toothed grin. "We'll let you know, Control. 4.5 out."

Placing the radio back in its cradle, Doyle sat back. "Waste of time asking. Likely all be over by the time they get 'ere."

In Car

"If he's even there," muttered Bodie, executing a perfect handbrake turn as he exited off the East India Dock Road. As they neared their target, Bodie slowed to a less conspicuous pace and Doyle unerringly guided him down West Ferry Street directly onto the dockside, past the long abandoned dock offices, pulling up just before the back of the Furniture Works, tucking the Capri behind a rusting crane. Doyle knew that two of the three sheds were empty and dilapidated and had been for years. The third, and furthest, was a fully operational motor garage as far as he knew. The frequent metallic sounds of tools in use along with the odd drift of the latest chart topper from a transistor radio turned down low implied this was still the case.

The radio was a godsend. This part of the docks was pretty much deserted and every sound was magnified as it bounced off the water and around the empty buildings, echoing as it went. Their chances of getting into the warehouses undetected had just gone up significantly. As the two of them quietly closed their respective doors on the Capri, Doyle pointed to the third outbuilding, signalling it was occupied and discounting it before pointing at the two closest buildings. Bodie nodded in understanding and they immediately split up. Both peeling off across the cracked and weed strewn concrete to either side of the deserted structures, not a word spoken between them, but still in perfect harmony.

 BCD*BCD*BCD

Bodie, sidled down between the wooden shed walls before waiting a beat, letting his eyes adjust to the gloom and knowing that Doyle would be doing exactly the same. Pulling his weapon from his shoulder holster, he crept forward, looking for the small side door that he knew was there and would gain him entry to the building. He hated this part of London. And over the years, Ci5 had spent a disproportionate amount of time in these docks. The dilapidated buildings a perfect hideaway for all the scumbags of London. The wind gusted, taking away the jarring refrains of the now louder radio and bringing with it a sour waft of the river. Trying not to inhale too deeply, Bodie continued moving forward, gun at the ready. That stench of dirty water and machine oil reminded him too much of the docks back home.

Operating on autopilot, he mentally shook himself, now wasn't the time to think of his past, now he should think of his future. He'd conformed, letting Doyle be his moral compass, but without that encumbrance the world was now his oyster. He still wanted to get back at Cowley and now was a perfect opportunity. Killing O'Doherty would certainly get up the old man's nose. Reaching the door, he waited for the wind to change again and he didn't have to wait too long before the radio became the perfect cover. Pulling the door open a crack, he peered round the cracked faded woodwork. The room was empty. He edged himself in, supporting the door with his hand to let it fall silently shut behind him.

Moving through the room towards the front of the warehouse, pigeon droppings scrunched underfoot, the smell wafting up towards Bodie's nostrils. Cursing Cowley one more time as he wrinkled his nose against the unpleasant odour, he pressed himself up against the damp inner wall alongside the door frame. Peeking round, before pulling his head back, he took a mental snapshot of the layout of the building. Old bits of machinery lay scattered amongst the bird droppings and odd shafts of light shone down through the cracked and filthy windows cut into the roof, glinting off the dust motes floating in the air.

Bodie let his fantasy build. If he could kill O'Doherty, and do it in front of Doyle. An execution. That would seriously put the wind up his partner. Nah, too risky. Can't trust Doyle to keep his mouth shut. He moved forward again and out of the corner of his eye, spied his partner through a hole in the party wall. Doyle looked over his way, the quickest glance and a feral grin accompanied by a forward flick of a finger, before focussing back on his own advance. Funny innit. Doyle loves the thrill of the chase, same as me. But acts so morally bloody superior. Should put 'im in his place once and for all. He caught sight of another flicker of movement. Not Doyle. From his side of the buildings, but moving towards his partner. Bodie immediately stilled, concealed behind a rusting hulk of metal that used to do something useful. Judging by the cogs and metal cables wrapped around its innards, some sort of conveyor belt, its rubber belt long gone. His eyes tracked the shadowy form as it moved across the floor. As the shape passed under a window it transformed into the skinny frame recognisable from O'Doherty's file mugshot. Bodie could do nothing, but wait, and if lucky, he could circle behind O'Doherty and take him from behind. The thought of shooting someone in the back didn't bother him. An' I'll have to be quick, because if Doyle doesn't know O'Doherty is there. He paused, playing out all the possible scenarios in his mind. Doyle sees or hears him, if I stay here, perfect backup. Doyle doesn't see him, O'Doherty'll get him first. Well that would seriously screw up the old man's plans. Why should Cowley reap the benefit of Doyle’s skills. Payback. And if Doyle ends up being unfortunate collateral, well. No heir apparent and I'll still bugger off up north. His mind played out the fantasy and with each replay, he embellished it, him shooting O'Doherty, but too late to save Doyle and it appealed more and more each time. Gets Doyle back and cheats Cowley too. His thoughts were interrupted as he almost concurrently felt a bullet zip past his left ear and heard the shot. He immediately crouched down, simultaneously berating himself for letting his attention wander on the job whilst trying desperately to see where the round had come from. He could see it, winking at him, nestling in amongst the layer of guano that covered the floor where it had ricocheted off the hulk of metal he'd been using as cover. Shit, I'm too exposed, he's circled round behind me. He scrabbled round the conveyor and felt, and heard, another bullet too damned close for comfort as he dived to the floor. Another shot cracked the air, immediately followed by a cry of shocked anguish from the other side of the warehouse. Doyle. He'd know the sound of that gun anywhere. He took a risky glance round the conveyor and saw O'Doherty crumpled on the ground. He carefully made his way over to the corpse calling, "Doyle. You okay?" as he went.

"Yeah, you?" came the rather shaky reply.

"Uh huh."

BCD*BCD*BCD

Doyle heard the affirmation that his partner was unhurt and found his unsteady legs could no longer support him. He slid down the wall until he was firmly sat on the filthy floor, and not caring a jot, his gun held loosely in his hands as they dangled between his knees. He watched as Bodie kicked O'Doherty's weapon away before pushing a foot under the corpse and rolling it over. A quick confirmation of a lack of pulse and retrieving the weapon, Bodie jogged over to him, eyes gleaming with adrenaline from the close shave.

"Well, that didn't quite go to plan," muttered Bodie.

At that, Doyle exploded, "What the fuck were you doing, he almost got you. I saw you go down." And just as quickly ran out of steam. In barely a whisper, he added, "Thought he'd got you."

Bodie shifted uncomfortably before giving a nonchalant shrug. "Didn't know you cared."

Doyle shot to his feet, prodding Bodie so hard with a bony finger he took a step back. "Course I bloody care, you prat." And at Bodie's look of surprise, he moved forward and pushed him again, his finger bending under the pressure. In a moment of boldness, he decided to lay all his cards on the table knowing this was likely the last ever opportunity he would have before Bodie disappeared out of Ci5. "In fact, mate. I've decided. I don't know where you're going, what your plans are, but you ain't goin' anywhere without me. You need a bloody keeper you do. You've just proved that."

He glimpsed an expression on Bodie's face. Was it sheepishness, repentance, contriteness? Doyle wasn't quite sure. It certainly wasn't an expression he'd seen on his partner's face in the past. Before he could pin it down, it was replaced with a beaming smile that lit up Bodie's face and made him look all of twelve years old.

"Well, sunshine. You can be the one that explains that to the old man," nodding back at the still form, lying in an ever increasing pool of blood. With affection for his madman of a partner he gave a grin back and then he felt a familiar arm come round onto his shoulders that started to gently guide him towards the front of the warehouse.

Doyle gave a large internal sigh, a mix of satisfaction and relief. Who knew that in the end it would be so easy. Now, everything was going to be alright.

BCD*BCD*BCD

Kate Ross stood at the window, watching as the two men left the building and headed out across the CI5 carpark, Bodie grinning as Doyle tried to duck under the hand reaching to tousle his hair.  Looks like CI5 may lose both of them after all.

HQ had been buzzing with the news that their latest target was no longer on the streets. Unfortunately, O'Doherty was also dead, although not by Bodie's hand. That made a change. George Cowley had not been pleased with the outcome. But then, in her experience, very little seemed to make him happy. Most of her personnel reports appeared to irk him for one reason or another, although none quite so much as the report she had prepared on one Mr W.A.P Bodie a few years ago.

Still looking out the window, she watched as Doyle screeched out of the car park with an exuberance that left two neat black lines of rubber on the tarmac and with a shake of her head, she sighed at the high-spirited transgression. It was certainly a strange thing about almost all of the agents employed, particularly those in A squad, that they all exhibited those certain behavioural traits that were present in the Hare checklist. Impulsivity, fearlessness, ruthlessness, focus and coolness under pressure as well as that unnatural thirst for stimulation. All needed in the field of course. Theirs was a dangerous profession after all. Comparing notes with her colleagues, they had identified that those qualities were commonplace amongst the special-forces personnel under their care. And their presence certainly didn't prove all of the subjects were psychopaths. But there were some, one significant step further down the path, who lacked a conscience, empathy or a sense of guilt. And it was always those who were so hard to detect, so skilled were they at emotional mimicry and so adept at hiding their real persona behind a mask of sanity. And they would only truly be exposed as a danger to society once they left their high octane life behind.

3.7, was an interesting case in point, with him moving on to pastures new. She'd had reservations about him, right from the word go. And then the one man army of W.A.P. Bodie had taken on the motorcycle gang. It had swayed her opinion at the time, which up to then had regularly flip-flopped back and forth. And now, she still wasn't completely sure which classification should be applied to him. She certainly had very grave doubts that running a private security firm that likely spent much of its time finding missing cats and errant husbands would give him the stimulus that he would crave. And she hoped with all her heart that her diagnosis of a few years ago was wrong and that Cowley was right. Because if she wasn’t, young Mr Bodie would be little more than a ticking time bomb.

With another deep sigh, she left the window and glancing at the large pile of files on her desk, settled down to her workload. Sometimes, this job is all guesswork.

 

 

The End.