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The best laid schemes o’mice an’ men gang oft a-gley.

Robert Burns “To a Mouse” 1786

CHAPTER ONE

Bodie pushed through the door to Cowley’s office, nearly knocking over Scotland Yard’s Chief inspector.

“Sorry, sir,” Bodie apologised, only receiving a grunt in return as the man left the office. Rolling his eyes Bodie added, “And a good day to you too, Inspector.”

Frowning at the departing man, Cowley waved Bodie into a seat.

“Why was I called in? You know I have a meeting with Archer in an hour. It took a long time for me to get this far into his organisation. I don’t want to upset things now that we’re so close to shutting him down,” Bodie complained as he sat.

Ignoring his agent’s protest, Cowley tossed a file across his desk. “There’s been a change in plans. It seems your case with Archer has links to a long running investigation being coordinated by the Yard. The job has been turned over to CI5.” Cowley nodded in the direction of the door. “Chief Inspector Nelson came by to relay the unhappiness of his Detective Sergeant, a man named Moore. Moore was in charge of the case. He is as happy with the situation as we are.”

“Hmm.” Bodie opened the folder and stared at the photograph of an attractive man, his face hiding underneath overly long wavy hair and a close cropped beard. Unsettled, Bodie recognised the barman at the Bull and Badger, a pub owned by Devin Wyse and currently Archer’s favourite meeting place.

“Raymond Doyle,” Cowley answered the question before Bodie could ask.

Pulling himself together and raising an eyebrow, Bodie lifted the picture to find a second photo underneath, this one showing a clean cut face surrounded by tamed curls. “The same man?”

“Your powers of observation are astounding, 3.7.”

Bodie smiled. “Who is he when he’s at home, then?”

“Detective Constable Raymond Doyle–Drugs Squad.”

Bloody perfect, Bodie thought to himself. Just my luck. A copper. He stared at the picture. “Is he any good?”

Cowley glared at him and Bodie shrugged. “I mean, what else would I think, him being a plod and all.”

The glare intensified. “Doyle finished at the top of his class. He’s been undercover in the Wyse gang off and on for the last two years.”

Bodie tipped his head, granting the man in the photo a modicum of respect. “That’s a tough gang. And a long time to be someone else.”

“Quite. Now, if I may, let me explain your part in this.” He looked at Bodie over the top of the dark frames of his glasses as he tapped on the folder.

Bodie sat back in the chair. “Me?” Bodie studied the pictures again. “Well, I imagine a skinny lad like that probably needs all the help he can get.”

“You can tell him that when you see him. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.” Cowley waved Bodie’s planned rejoinder away.

Bodie swallowed the words and waited.

With a sigh Cowley went on. “You’ve been working the gun angle. Information came to us that Archer is now tied in with Wyse’s gang. We’re not completely sure of just what that connection is. That’s what I need you to find out. We expect it involves the usual, drugs for cash for guns, but it smells funny. There’s got to be something more. Since you’re established with Archer, Wyse shouldn’t question your involvement. We need to get someone else in on the Wyse end of things. That would be you.”

“Why’s Doyle in alone? Isn’t anyone in the Met backing him up?”

“He has back-up or at least a contact in the Drugs Squad.” Cowley tapped his pen on a second folder. “It’s a difficult story. Wyse isn’t a trusting soul, so the Met was hesitant to try to get more than one undercover officer into his group. The other issue is Doyle himself. He prefers to work alone. He lost a partner several years ago. And there are problems owing to his role in a corruption case.”

“A dirty copper? It’s not like you to let the police in on CI5 ops, let alone a bent officer. Why is he,” Bodie pointed to the pictures, “an exception.”

“First, Bodie, he is not ‘bent’ as you so nicely phrased it.”

Bodie ducked under the glare Cowley sent his way. “Sorry, sir.”

“I’m sure. More importantly, Doyle has skills I can use and connections it would take a long time to establish. I allowed the Met to join us because this case is one Doyle has been working on for the last several years. He knows the players and they know him as he has been undercover with the Wyse gang several times in the past. He presents CI5 with the perfect opportunity to take Wyse and Archer once and for all.”

“And his cover held? All this time?”

“The Drugs Squad was in disarray when Doyle was assigned there. He was sent on an undercover operation to, shall we say, get him out of the office for both his sake and that of the squad. When we learned that Archer was involved with Devin Wyse, the Met was forced to drop the case and send it to us – along with Doyle.”

“And you’re willing to work with him?” Bodie asked incredulous. “Just like that?”

“I had my eye on him for a while. You may recall that police corruption case I mentioned? It was a few years ago now. Several higher ranking officers sent to jail by a young Detective Constable’s testimony? He made no friends at the inquiry.” Cowley sat back in his chair. “There is rumour that some are still wanting to tie up that particular loose end.”

“The Met never released his name. Doyle was the rat, snitch–er, accusing officer?” Bodie looked at the pictures again tracing the broken cheek. “And this was his reward.”

“It actually played well into maintaining his cover with Wyse’s gang. His absence from the gang was explained by a jail sentence and hospital time due to the injury.” Cowley tapped his own cheek. “His cover should be solid.”

“And that was enough for you to agree to work with him.”

“I took him in on his old Detective Sergeant’s word–a man I trust. I needed a way into the Wyse gang.”

“But you have doubts?”

“No, not really.” Cowley took off his glasses and spun the temples through his fingers. “Doyle has a flexible, sexual orientation. He’s getting a bit close to Devin’s younger brother Connor–there are more photos in the file. That may be a complication."

“Do you think he’s turned? He sure has reason.”

Cowley stared at him, frowning. “No. He is singularly dedicated to getting drugs off the street. His convictions would never let him look the other way where drugs are involved.”

“An idealist then.”

“Not always a bad thing in our line of work. But he’s also a bit hot-headed and impetuous. I want both Wyse and Archer and their drugs and guns. I don’t want Doyle’s crusading to compromise that.”

“God save us from dreamers.”

Cowley ignored the comment and put his glasses back on. “There’s recent talk on the street that his cover may be in jeopardy–but he’s still in there–the gang hasn’t moved against him. He must know, yet he hasn’t called in for back-up. He may have his own agenda now as he believes Wyse is loosely tied to those responsible for his partner’s death.”

“So what‘s my real role in this? I’m what–his minder?”

Cowley’s lips twitched. “That is another thing I wouldn’t ever say within his hearing.” Cowley turned serious. “But in essence, yes. Look after CI5’s interests and that includes Doyle.”

“Why Doyle?”

Cowley turned his chair to look out the window behind his desk. “I offered him a job, after the corruption trials. He turned me down. Said he had unfinished business. I want the chance to make the offer again.” He turned back to Bodie. “So, as you so eloquently put it, mind him.”

“Ah, yes. Agents, even potential ones, are expensive.”

“Bodie!”

“Do I let him know who I am?”

“Only if it becomes necessary,” Cowley answered.

Bodie shifted under his boss’s scrutiny.

“Doyle’s a good man. I trust him to do his job. Normally I wouldn’t use him, or anyone, where there is personal involvement. But he is in a unique position and I needed to take advantage of that.” Cowley closed the files and stacked them neatly on the corner of his desk. He looked at Bodie, still sitting in front of him. “Well? Why are you still here, 3.7?”

Bodie rose and moved to the office door. “Only need to collect me bike, sir.”

 

CHAPTER TWO

The night was stifling; its heat suffocating. Sweat ran freely over his skin, the wetness slicking his uniform shirt to his back. Opening the car window provided no relief, there was no breeze. The night was uncomfortably muggy. He shifted restlessly in the passenger seat, tapping his fingers in an agitated rhythm against his knee. Something was wrong. He could feel the unease of it prickling along his spine like the dampness trickling down his back.

The stillness was suddenly broken by a single gunshot, a shout, and the sound of breaking glass. He was out of the Panda car, racing across the street and up the stairs three at a time into Haydon’s Mews. Freeing his truncheon he bit back a frustrated growl. What good would a night stick do against a gun?

Sid. Should he call out? He wanted to. Wanted to know that Sid was all right. But that would alert whoever was up there to his presence, and with only the stick he needed all the advantage he could get. Sid. His partner, mentor, friend–why had he let Sid leave him in the car? Why had he stayed behind?

He heard scuffling on the floor above. Slowly climbing the last of the stairs he paused beside the partially open door to listen. Hearing nothing he took a breath and slowly pushed the door open.

“No!” He staggered back and leaned against the wall. There was blood everywhere – on the wall, on the floor. “Oh, Christ. Sid.”

 

“Ray.”

He tried to shove away the hands that were holding him down.

“Wake up, Ray.”

He felt a gentle slap to his face.

“You’re shouting down the block, mate. Wake up.”

He shuddered as he became aware of where he was. He pushed himself up on the worn mattress, wiping wetness from his cheeks, taking in the shabby flat and the man worriedly standing over him. Fuck. The assignment. He was Ray Duncan, not Ray Doyle. He ran his fingers through overly long curls and rubbed at the short beard adorning his chin to confirm his year-long undercover identity. Bloody hell. He rubbed his eyes. Christ, he was tired.

“A bad one, eh?” Connor Wyse knelt beside the bed holding out a glass filled with amber liquid.

Throwing off the sweat damp sheets, he wished he could cast off the remnants of the dream as easily. The pictures of that room and the image of Sid’s body still filled his head. He nodded, his voice not working yet. Swallowing the drink in one gulp he winced as the alcohol burned his irritated throat. He must have been yelling for a while.

Coughing, he held out the glass for a refill. Connor obliged.

“Ta.”

“Want to talk about it?” Connor sat down next on him on the bed.

“Nah, old news.” He paused and studied the glass. “Funny, I haven’t had that nightmare in years.”

Connor tipped his head. “Sid?” The voice held questions Ray wasn’t going to answer.

“An old partner.” He tried to brush it off but it still hurt–even after all the years. “He was killed in an ambush.” True enough, but that was all he was going to share.

“Must have meant something to you to give you nightmares like that.”

“Just a partner.” He hoped the sting in his eyes could be explained by the aftermath of the bad dream, or maybe the whisky. He looked up at Connor and a small smile twitched at the corner of his mouth. “Nothing to worry about, Con.” He ruffled the hair on the bent blond head. “Was a long time ago.”

He had to play this carefully. Connor was his ‘ace-in-the-hole’. He was still accepted in this gang of thugs because Connor Wyse fancied him. Connor’s older brother, Devin, ran things and was a bit chary of Doyle’s continued participation. And while Ray had got into the gang on his own credits, the fact that Connor had it bad for him gave him a bit of breathing space. He hadn’t taken Connor’s friendship beyond flirting and adamantly hoped he didn’t have to. While he had done so in other ops with the Yard, and had always ended up flayed with guilt, he’d promised himself that he’d do what was necessary to get this group of villains and their drugs off the streets.

“Shower, mate.” Connor threw a towel at him, breaking him out of his musing. “The dream might be over, Ray, but not the pong. And Devin is waiting on you.”

“Yeah, don’t want to be late. He’s already unhappy with me.”

“Not surprising with the way you were yelling at him earlier.”

“Heard that, did you?”

“I think everyone in the building did.”

Ray grinned. “Ol’ Dev doesn’t like his authority challenged, eh?”

“No.” Connor spoke seriously. “Ray, be careful around him, yeah?”

Ray rose and knocked the boy in the shoulder. “Always, mate.” He winked at Connor as he headed to the bathroom. He closed the door and leaned back against the cool wood. The mirror on the wall opposite the door showed him the reflection of a man he wasn’t sure he knew anymore. Raising his eyes to the ceiling, he took a deep breath to shake off the tendril of fear prickling at the skin on the back of his neck. He wasn’t fey, like his Gran, but he had her blood and the dream left him on edge. Something was coming and it wasn’t anything good.

CHAPTER THREE

Bodie walked into the Bull and Badger, spotting his friend Mick sitting at a table in the far corner with a couple of pints. As Bodie approached the table, Mick greeted him with a grim smile.

“Mick, old son,” Bodie slid into the seat across from the man and raised one of the glasses. “How’s business?”

Mick was a friend with the connections that had provided Bodie a way to infiltrate Archer’s gang. James Archer had long been on George Cowley’s radar.

Mick looked around the room. “I think we’ll be seeing some action soon.” He took a drink and wiped the foam from his lips.

“Good.” Bodie studied him. “Something up?”

“We’re mates, right? We’ve saved each other’s hides too many times to count. We trust each other, yeah?”

“What’s this about, Mick?”

Mick looked around again and spoke in a low voice. “Look, Bodie, I know I owe you. Big time. You’ve pulled my sorry arse out of the fire a number of times; both when we were kids up in Liverpool, later in Africa and now back here.”

Bodie nodded. “And you’ve paid me back many times with information that lets me do my job. So what’s this all about?”

“Archer.”

“Go on,” Bodie prompted when it looked like Mick wasn’t going to tell him anything else.

“When you asked, I set you up on a job to help you get Archer’s attention. I vouched for you-put myself on the line.” He hesitated and took another drink from his pint. Clearing his throat, he went on, “Look, Bodie, I don’t know–don’t want to know–who you’re working for now or what your interest in Archer is, but he’s bad news, mate. And I don’t want to be part of it any more. I want out.” Mick downed the rest of his pint. “Archer is getting into things that, well, scare me. Rumour has it he’s got a copper in his pocket. This is the last job I’m doing for you. When this is done, we’re even and I want out of London.” He looked away from Bodie.

“And?”

“And I’m going to need your help to leave.”

“You’ll have it. As soon as I have Archer.” Bodie studied the man for a few seconds. “Alright now?”

Mick visibly relaxed. “Yeah, yeah. Sorry mate. This one’s got me on edge.”

“So, was that why you called me for a meet?”

“No. Wyse or one of his crew is supposed to meet us here to discuss the upcoming job.”

“It’s about time.” Bodie impatiently drew circles in the condensation puddles on the table. “It’s been almost a week since we’ve heard anything. Was beginning to wonder if I’ve been wasting me time and nothing’s going to come of this.”

“Boss needs to make sure everything is on the up-and-up with Wyse’s gang.” Mick took a long pull on his drink. “Archer has been in this business a long time, had some close calls. Makes a man careful, yeah?”

Bodie nodded. “I suppose.” He glanced at his watch. “Mr Wyse and his lads are late.”

“One of his lads is already here.” Mick nods towards the barman. “Name’s Duncan. Archer seems particularly interested in him.”

Bodie turned to look at the man behind the bar. “Who’s he then? He’s supposed to be protection? Looks more like window-dressing. Wyse likes them pretty?”

“Don’t underestimate that one. He’s wild, crazy–has no fear. Survived a tour of the Scrubs.”

“Think I’ll do a bit of reconnoitring.” Bodie winked at Mick, who shook his head with knowing amusement.

“Archer does want us to check out Wyse’s men, right?”

Bodie stepped up to the bar and openly looked Duncan over. The pictures he’d seen in Cowley’s office didn’t do the man justice. The wicked glint in the slightly tilted green eyes gave lie to the offended expression that had been turned towards Bodie’s blatant appraisal. The damaged cheek bone accented rather than detracted from the eye-catching face. Bodie felt something hot and dangerous stir deep within his belly.

Duncan returned the scrutiny, arms crossed over his chest, hips pushed ever so slightly forward.

Bodie smiled, taking in the display.

“Like what you see, do you?” Duncan asked in a deep, rough voice that lowered the warm feeling to another part of Bodie’s anatomy.

The door to the pub opened. Devin Wyse, his brother Connor and Wyse’s second in command, Dylan Frost, came in on a cold breeze.

“Duncan,” Wyse ordered, “drinks all around and then keep watch on the door. We don’t want any interruptions.”

Duncan nodded and poured up the five pints. Bringing them to the table, he took his time setting the glasses down. Bodie suspected he was listening to the conversation as he served the drinks.

“Well, Mick,” Wyse began, “Who’s your friend?”

“Devin Wyse, meet Bodie. He’s coordinating the deal with Mr Archer’s suppliers.”

“Just Bodie?” Wyse raised an eyebrow.

“Just Bodie,” Bodie replied.

“Been hearing your name around lately. Word is you played a critical role in Archer’s last job. You’re moving up quickly. It’s unusual for one to gain Archer’s trust so fast.”

“I’m a trustworthy sort,” Bodie replied.

“That so?” Wyse challenged.

Bodie let a little bit of menace sneak into the look he directed at Wyse.

“Easy, mate. No offense intended.” Wyse raised his glass to Bodie. “Archer and I have a history. If he trusts you, that’s good enough for me.”

Bodie didn’t respond.

“Are you ready on your end to deliver the goods?” Wyse finally asked.

Mick smiled as he raised his pint. “As soon as you show Mr Archer that you are ready to deliver yours.”

Wyse pulled a set of papers from his jacket pocket and passed them to Mick. “Here’s a manifest of what we have on offer. We’ll be ready to go on Thursday.”

Mick took a quick glance at the list and passed it to Bodie. He turned back to Wyse. “I think that Mr Archer will find that acceptable and we can be ready then.”

“Good. I’ll have someone contact you in the usual way to set the time.”

Wyse and his men got up and Devin held out his hand. “Pleasure doing business with you boys.” He nodded at Mick and walked to the bar. Bodie watched him quietly talk to Duncan, who didn’t look too happy at what he was being told.

“Trouble in paradise?” he wondered aloud.

“Rumour has it that Wyse and Duncan don’t see eye to eye. Something to do with the younger Wyse,” Mick told him.

“Interesting.” Bodie tapped on the papers in Mick’s hand. “Take these to Archer. I’m going to stay here for a bit.”

“Stay out of trouble, mate,” Mick warned with a wink as he left the pub.

 

After an hour had passed, Duncan shouted, “Time, gentlemen,” with an apologetic grin directed at the group of dockworkers sitting by the window. They grumbled as they downed the last dregs of their beer and left the pub. A younger man got up from his table in the far corner and stopped at the bar. He whispered something to Duncan and left with a bowed head when Duncan declined whatever had been offered.

“That happen often?” an amused voice from the end of the bar asked.

Duncan turned, startled. He’d forgotten Archer’s man, Bodie, was still there.

“What?”

“Strangers trying it on?”

“He isn’t a stranger.”

“Ah, I see.”

He felt Bodie’s eye’s run up and down his body for the second time that day. Ignoring the rush of heat that raced up his spine, he turned his back to Bodie to place the glass he was cleaning on a shelf. “Do you, now?”

A few minutes of uncomfortable silence stretched between them before Bodie asked, “So how about it?”

“About what?” He felt himself getting a bit angry. Full of himself, this Bodie was.

Bodie waved a limp hand between them. “You and me.”

Duncan turned back to study him. He was a good looking bastard–his type, really. A bit irritating, but that could be taken care of. Just keep that mouth busy. And he did work with Archer. He might let something slip. His boss at the Met would be pleased with the info-if not the method.

“Gotta close the pub, but if you give me a hand, we’ll see what comes up.” He grinned suggestively.

Bodie moved around the bar and placed his hand on Duncan’s bum, waggling his eyebrows.

Duncan batted his hand away with the bar rag. “Most men buy me a drink first, sailor,” he lisped and turned away.

Bodie’s hand shot forward again and goosed the presented arse. Duncan jumped and backed into him.

“Nervous?” Bodie asked with a laugh.

“Only protectin’ me assets.”

“The way you strut them about, I’m not surprised protection is necessary.”

Bodie put his hand back on Duncan’s bum. “Protection is one of my specialties.”

“I’ll just bet it is.” Duncan looked at him, smiling. The feelings they’d been teasing each other with shone in Bodie’s eyes. He picked up the bar rag, looped it around the back of Bodie’s neck, used the loose ends to pull the man in close and leaned in to kiss him.

“But it’s not the only one,” Bodie murmured against soft lips.

“You’ve been eyeing up my arse since you walked in here.” Duncan returned the kiss with a light brush of his tongue along Bodie’s lips.

“And a fine arse it is!” Bodie wrapped his arms around Duncan, holding him tightly.

Duncan stepped heavily on Bodie’s instep to get free and pushed Bodie against the bar.

“Ow. That’s not fair!”

Duncan gave him a cheeky grin. “Who says life is fair?” He fisted his hands into the lapels of Bodie’s jacket and dragged him closer. His lips crashed down on Bodie’s. Taking advantage of the man’s startled gasp, he forced his tongue inside Bodie’s mouth. Bodie’s hands came up around Duncan’s head, threading through the curls to hold him in place. He bit down gently on the tongue that was exploring the inside of his mouth.

“Ray?” Connor’s startled voice broke them quickly apart.

“Connor! Didn’t hear you come in.” Duncan pushed Bodie away and returned to cleaning up the bar.

“I guess not,” Connor replied with more than a little hurt in his voice. “Devin asked me to tell you that he wants you to pick up the lorry from Frost’s at seven tomorrow night.” He looked around the pub. “You want me to stay and help you finish closing?”

“Nah, you go on home. Not much left to do.”

“If you’re sure?”

“Yeah, it’s fine. See you tomorrow, Con.”

“See you then.” Connor hesitated, his eyes turning to Bodie and then back to Ray. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Connor,” Bodie answered turning his head to stare at Ray with a wicked grin.

“Bastard,” Duncan muttered.

Bodie laughed and waved a two fingered salute at Duncan as he walked out of the pub.

 

CHAPTER FOUR

Heavy wet clouds slid across the moonless sky, spitting rain and streaks of lightning over the road leading to the dockside warehouse. The rumble of thunder helped cover the presence of Wyse and his crew, including Bodie and Mick, as they waited inside the building.

Bodie pulled back the hood of his jacket and wiped the cold rain from his face. “So, what are we doing here, again?” Bodie quietly asked Wyse. “I thought we weren’t doing this until Thursday. Archer doesn’t like sudden changes in plans.”

“Don’t worry. I cleared it with him before we left. I caught word of a weapons shipment being dropped off here for a pick-up tomorrow. I thought we’d relieve the delivery crew of their burden. Your boss indicated a willingness to add to his own collection. He asked me to bring you along.” Devin smiled slyly. “Probably wanted somebody to keep an eye on his interests.”

“Always was a greedy bastard,” Bodie grinned.

Footsteps approached the two men from behind. “Trucks are about a half mile down the road.” Duncan knelt down next to them, shaking the water out of his hair.

“I had a shower before I came to work,” Bodie griped, wiping his face for the second time.

“Good for you.” Duncan turned to Wyse. “Two trucks. Looks like a driver and two guards at minimum in each. No way to tell how many are in the back.”

“Okay. We’ll let both trucks into the warehouse before we move. Get everyone ready.”

Duncan nodded and headed towards the back of the building.

“Is there a problem?” Bodie asked as he saw Wyse watching Duncan leave with narrowed eyes.

“Hmm?” Wyse turned to Bodie. “No,” he paused. “Do me a favour and keep a watch on him.”

“Anything specific I’m supposed to be watching for?” Bodie asked sharply.

“No. I just-” Wyse sighed. “Something about him bothers me.”

Light from the approaching trucks’ headlamps reflected off the wet tarmac, announcing the target’s arrival.

Bodie watched silent shadows dart into position around the warehouse. He moved towards the open door to take his own spot just inside the entrance.

When the trucks made their way into the building, Bodie quickly closed the roller door behind them while Wyse’s men got into position around their quarry.

Wyse called out, “You’re surrounded. It would be best if you throw down your weapons and step out of the truck, hands on your heads.”

The driver of the first truck flipped off his headlamps and the second driver follow suit, plunging the warehouse into a shadowy darkness.

“Shit!” one of Wyse’s men yelled and added a bit of frustrated humour. “Why do we always need to do things the hard way?”

Men climbed out of the trucks using the doors for cover as Wyse’s gang opened fire. The gun battle didn’t last long.

 

“Get the lights,” Wyse called to Duncan.

Watching as Duncan tucked his gun into the waistband of his jeans and walked towards the breakers, Bodie saw a figure move through the darkness and step up behind Ray. A thin shaft of light, dropping into the shadows through a high window, glinted off cold steel.

Before the man could make a move, Bodie shouted, “Drop left!” Duncan spun around as a gunshot roared through the building. The bullet passed by his ear and ploughed into the head of the man behind him. The jerk of the body falling away allowed the knife to leave a shallow scratch on his neck. Duncan, looking amazed to be alive, turned around and saw Bodie behind him. Bodie nodded as he put his gun away. Duncan looked at the body beneath his feet, then back to Bodie. He tipped his head toward Bodie in thanks. Bodie returned the gesture and crossed the floor to join Wyse at the back of the truck. They began transferring the weapons to their own lorry.

“All right, Duncan?” Wyse asked as Ray joined them. “That was a close one.”

Bodie heard Ray suck in a deep breath and saw the trace of fear that lingered in the man’s eyes. “Yeah, ‘m fine,” he answered quietly as he shoved trembling hands into his pockets. “I’ll go unload the other vehicle.”

Wyse and Bodie watched him walk away. “That was a seriously good shot,” Wyse told Bodie. “Lucky for Duncan you were there.”

“Yeah, lucky,” Bodie agreed.

Wyse called them all together. “Okay. We need to load up and get these weapons back to the pub. Bodie, you can contact Archer and let him know they’ll be ready for pick-up tomorrow afternoon.” He looked around the warehouse, at the bodies and the trucks and called over two of his men. “Simon and Ben, once we’re clear, set fire to the place. Make sure it all goes up. Let’s move.”

“Bodie,” Duncan called out. “Hang on a moment.”

Bodie turned to face him with a knowing look.

Ray stopped in front of him and met his eyes. “Thanks.”

Bodie winked. “You can thank me properly later.”

 

The triumphant return to the pub was loud and raucous. Boxes of armaments were unloaded from the lorry and carried to the pub’s basement without complaint. Jokes and laughter rang in the stairwell. Wyse had them all gather together at the bar.

“Connor, Duncan, drinks all around.” Wyse waited until each of his men had their pint and raised his own. “Well done, lads. We were in and out quickly, with no one the wiser.” He saluted them again and added, “Enjoy your drinks and then get some rest. We’re not quite done yet.”

Wyse walked over to where Bodie and Mick leaned on the end of the bar near the phone.

“You checked in with Archer?” he asked.

“Yeah. He’s well pleased,” Mick replied. “He’ll send someone over tomorrow to take delivery.”

“Good, good.” Wyse turned back towards the other end of the bar and Bodie saw him scowl.

“Something wrong?” Bodie followed Wyse’s gaze to see Connor standing with Ray, an arm around his shoulder. Bodie watched Devin slowly unclench his fists.

“Problem with the hired help?” he asked sympathetically.

“Man’s an arse. Wish I didn’t need him.”

“Why do you put up with him? For Connor?”

Devin broke out into a laugh. “No, not for Con. Orders from above.” His expression turned serious. “Excuse me, eh?” He patted Bodie’s shoulder and turned to Duncan.

“Ray,” Wyse called sharply, “a word please?” He tipped his head towards the backroom.

“Devin?” Connor stepped in front of his brother. “What’s-”

“Later Con. I need to speak to Ray. You can get started on cleaning up in here.”

Wyse grabbed Duncan’s arm and pulled him out of the main room.

Bodie saw Duncan’s shoulders tense, but he went more or less willingly with Wyse.

The door slammed behind them.

The sharp crack of a body hitting the back of the door startled Bodie. The door popped open and left a narrow gap between it and the frame. Moving to the end of the bar near to the door, Bodie ordered a drink to cover his interest in the conversation leaking from the room. Connor, distracted by the shouting, spilled a bit of the whisky on the bar. Bodie gave him a small smile as he picked up the bar rag and wiped up the spill.

“Sorry,” Connor apologised.

Bodie and Connor heard a thud and Ray shouting, “What the fuck, Devin! Are you crazy? That hurt.”

Bodie heard more shuffling and Wyse hissed, “I told you to stay away from my brother.”

Connor flinched at the words.

Bodie waved a hand between Connor and the door and sipped his drink. “The two of you are together?”

Connor’s eyes narrowed. “Not yet.” There was challenge in his voice. Bodie knew that Connor was remembering seeing him and Ray together.

“Devin doesn’t like the idea?”

“He’s protective.”

“And he doesn’t seem too fond of ol’ Ray.”

They heard more scuffling from the other room.

“I haven’t touched your brother, I wouldn’t.” Ray explained. "He’s a sweet kid. I can’t help it if he fancies me.”

Connor’s cheeks flushed a pale pink.

“Fancies you? He’s not like that.” They heard flesh connect with flesh.

“Alright, alright. Jesus, Devin.” The door whipped open and Wyse stormed out. Duncan wiped at his bloody lip. Wyse turned back to him. Ray held his hands out in front of him as if to fend off another attack. He backed away. “I’ll stay away from him.”

Wyse looked at him with narrowed eyes. “See that you do. You’re really starting to piss me off, Duncan. You don’t want to do that.”

Wyse walked away and Bodie watched as Ray let out a deep breath and slid down the wall. Connor moved to help him.

Bodie intercepted the angry Wyse. “Let me buy you a drink-”

Wyse raised a hand as if to say “leave it,” and then reluctantly accepted the glass.

“- looks like you could use one.” Bodie finished.

“That man. There is something not right about his being here.” Wyse finished the drink in one gulp. Bodie poured him a second.

“I thought you’d worked with him before?”

“Yeah. He was just as annoying then,” Devin said, releasing his anger with a small smile.

“So why keep him around?”

“If it were up to me, he’d be gone. When he got out of the nick there was just something off about him. I know a stay in the Scrubs can change a man, but he seemed unaffected by it. I checked with some sources inside and they don’t remember much about him. Oh, they knew the name, but nothing else. Almost like it was a set up. And then he came back to me. If all that had happened to me, I’d have moved on.”

“Why did you take him back?”

“Not my call or my decision to make. The man employing all of us has the final say, and he wants Duncan on the job.” Wyse shook his head and sighed. “Not sure why.”

So, Bodie thought, there is someone else running Devin Wyse. And whoever that is has his own plans for DC Doyle. Cowley needs to be made aware of that, if he doesn’t already know.

Devin took a sip of his second drink and looked at Bodie. “Why’re you so interested in him?”

“Archer had me look him up before agreeing to work with your lot.” He saw Wyse stiffen. “Don’t take offense, mate. You know Archer is a very cautious man.” Bodie finished his drink. “Anyway, Duncan checked out okay and that’s why we’re doing business together.” Bodie raised his glass to Wyse.

“That may be, but I don’t trust him. I may leave him out of the final run. Will your boss have a problem with that?”

“As long as he gets what’s been promised to him, Archer will be happy to let you run the show.”

“Won’t have to worry about ol’ Duncan much longer though. Once the job is done, I’m done with him.”

“Duncan know that?”

Devin just smiled. He walked back over to Connor and sent him out with Simon to return the lorry.

Holding a towel to his chin, Duncan came back out to the bar. When he got close to Wyse, Wyse leaned in and Bodie saw him whisper something to Duncan. Duncan raised his hands in denial, shaking his head. Wyse grabbed Duncan’s shoulder and Bodie watched Duncan wince. A few more words were exchanged and then Wyse went and sat at a table with his men.

“That looks like trouble,” Mick whispered to Bodie.

“Possibly,” Bodie shrugged. “Too many people seem too interested in that lad. I’ll talk to Duncan and see if I can find out what’s going on.”

Mick laughed knowingly. “Yeah, you go get it sorted, I’m going home.”

“Don’t wait up!” Bodie winked as he made his way to where Duncan stood at the bar.

 

Wyse and his gang eventually left the pub. Bodie walked round behind the bar and wrapped his arms around Duncan. “I think it’s time for that proper thank you, yeah?” he asked with a quiet whisper in Duncan’s ear and followed the words with his tongue. “Will Connor be coming back?”

“No.” Duncan stiffened in Bodie’s hold, and then slowly relaxed.

“Hmm, then maybe we should take this somewhere more comfortable,” Bodie suggested and stepped back.

Duncan’s eyes danced over Bodie’s suddenly too tight trousers. “I’ve got a bed.” He pointed indicating a room upstairs.

“Then what are we waiting for?” Bodie put his hands on Duncan’s shoulders and pushed him toward the stairs.

“After you, sunshine,” he leered.

Duncan rolled his eyes and ran up to the next floor. He stopped in front of a battered door and fumbled the keys out of his pocket. Bodie pinned him to the door, biting the back of his neck as he tried to get it open. The lock released and they finally fell through the doorway in a laughing tangle of arms and legs.

Bodie forced Duncan back up against the door. He captured Duncan’s face in both hands and pushed their mouths together. Bodie felt Duncan winced at the pressure on his still bruised lip but returned the kiss with matching enthusiasm, leaving the taste of blood on Bodie's tongue. Bodie let his mouth slide down Duncan’s throat and onto the bit of his exposed chest. Duncan groaned.

Bodie’s hands slid through curly hair and started to unbutton Duncan’s shirt. “You do know what these are for, right?” Bodie asked with a grin as he undid the few buttons that were actually fastened. He ran his tongue around the revealed nipples, not expecting an answer.

Duncan knotted Bodie’s jacket in both fists and pulled it down his arms. “Are we going to do this right here?” Tossing the jacket aside, he started on Bodie’s shirt.

“Slow down, old son. As much as I’d like to have you against the door, I do prefer my comforts.” He pulled on Duncan’s belt and led him towards the bed across the room.

Duncan dug in his heels and refused to move. “Oi! Who says you’re doing the having, eh?”

“Because it was me that saved you tonight.”

“True. Least I can do, I expect.” With a hand on Bodie’s chest, Duncan pushed Bodie towards the bed. They struggled against each other for the upper hand until the back of Bodie’s knees hit the edge of the mattress and they both went down laughing. Hungry lips found willing mouths and the laughter gentled into satisfied sighs.

 

CHAPTER FIVE

The next afternoon the pub was fairly quiet. After the previous night’s events and activities, Ray was glad for the break. A little after noon the door opened and a noisy group of customers settled at a table while one of the men came up to order drinks. Bodie slid in behind the group and settled himself at the bar.

“Hello Robbie. What can I get for you and the boys?” He tipped his head to acknowledge Bodie.

“The usual, Ray, and a couple bags of crisps.” Robbie looked at him with wide eyes and tapped on his own lip. He broke out a smile. “Make a pass at the wrong bird last night, mate?”

“No,” Ray replied. “At her boyfriend.”

“Smart arse,” Robbie laughed as he handed over a few pound notes. He looked around the room. “Kind of slow today, yeah?”

Ray nodded towards the sun streaming in the windows. “Too beautiful a day to be cooped up in here, mate. Would like to be outside meself.”

Robbie agreed and collected his drinks and crisps. As he headed back to his table, Ray moved toward Bodie while wiping up the bar.

“Any new updates on Wyse’s plans?” Bodie asked quietly. “I saw him leave here a bit earlier.”

“None. Haven’t exactly been his best mate lately.”

“Did you ask Connor if he knew anything?”

Ray glared. “Why’re you askin’ me, you’re the one working so close with Devin.” He sighed. “I don’t want him involved. And he’s not too happy with me either for some reason.”

Bodie waved away the jibe aimed at him. “But he is involved, Ray.”

Ray turned to stare out the window. “I know.” After a few quiet seconds he turned back to Bodie. “I’ll talk to him when they get back.”

The door opened again and three young women noisily entered, laughing and teasing each other.

Bodie’s face split into a huge grin. “Hello, ladies!” Two of the women giggled at him as they sat at a table by the window.

Ray rolled his eyes.

“Place just got a bit more interesting, mate.” Bodie waggled his eyebrows at Ray and moved to a spot closer to the women.

Ray watched, amusement clear on his face as Bodie went into his act. He tried to ignore the bite of jealousy rumbling in his gut. He was pleased when the women mostly ignored Bodie, pitiful pout and all.

The lunchtime crowd left and so did the sunshine. A gust of cool wind came through the door with Devin and Connor. They were followed by two of Devin’s muscle.

“Duncan!” Devin called. “There are some boxes in the truck that need to be moved into the backroom. See to it.”

“In a minute,” Ray continued to wipe down the bar. He heard Bodie growl softly. “Always pushing it, you are.” Ray caught his eye and Bodie shook his head. Ray dropped the bar rag. “Is the truck locked?” He held out his hand for the keys.

Devin hesitated, obviously biting back words and finally muttered, “Nah, its open. Connor, help him unload.”

“Sure, Dev. C’mon, Ray.” Duncan followed him out.

 

Bodie followed Duncan and Connor out to the street and got into his car. He drove a few circuits around the neighbourhood to make sure he wasn’t being followed. When he was sure he was on his own, he found a phone box to check in with Cowley.

“Everything seems to be moving along according to plan. Your boy may be in serious trouble, though.”

“Don’t be obtuse, 3.7, say what you mean.”

“Devin has plans for Doyle–and I don’t think they end well.”

“Bodie.”

“I think Doyle is supposed to be taken out during the exchange. Someone above Wyse is calling the shots.”

“Archer?”

“I don’t think so. But I’m not ruling it out. I get the feeling this has something to do with Doyle’s past. Seems Wyse doubts the story about Duncan’s time in prison. He’s thinking maybe Duncan is a plant; although I’m pretty convinced he doesn’t know anything for sure.”

“Hmm, maybe it would be best to get Doyle out before the meet goes down. Let him know who you are and that we are working on getting both Wyse and Archer. He may be satisfied knowing they’re both going to be brought to justice.”

Bodie laughed. “You don’t know Doyle or you’d never suggest he sit this one out. I’d have to knock him over the head and tie him up to keep him away. Stubborn doesn’t begin to cover it.”

“Bring him into HQ then. I’ll lock him in an interrogation room if I have to. Anything else?”

“Yeah. Mick, my contact in Wyse group–says he’s heard that Archer may have a copper in his employ.”

“I’ve heard that as well.”

“And you didn’t think I needed to know that?”
“I’ll be the one who decides what you need to know. Someone else is handling that end of things.”

“Lucky them.”

“Get Doyle out, Bodie. Bring him to HQ.”

“Sir.” Bodie bowed over the handset, but Cowley had already hung up.

CHAPTER SIX

After getting all the boxes off the truck, Connor and Duncan returned to the bar. Wyse and his gang left to make arrangements for the delivery to Archer, leaving the two of them on their own in an uncomfortable silence.

Ray spoke first. “Will you watch the bar for me, Connor? I want to make sure everything in the basement is in order for when your brother gets back.”

“Sure Ray,” Connor agreed. “Ray, about that Bodie-”

Ray swiped his hands through Connor’s hair. “We’ll talk later, Con. I promise.”

“Yeah. Okay.”

Ray went back down into the basement and studied the boxes they’d unloaded. Something didn’t add up. Some of the boxes weren’t big enough for guns and were too heavy for bullets. Looking around the small room, there were boxes stacked under the stairs that he hadn’t seen before. Listening to make sure no one was coming down, he ducked under the steps and pulled out one of the small packages. Opening it up, he drew in a sharp breath. Blasting caps. He turned back to the larger boxes with a growing sense of unease. Picking one to open, he split the tape seal with his pocket knife and found the box packed with C4. He stared at the two objects in his hands, confused. Wyse had never dealt with anything like this before. He always traded in drugs. Explosives had never been part of his game; drugs were his focus. It hit him then. This is what Archer was after. He needed to get this information to his contact in the Met. DS Moore needed to know that this was much more than a drugs for guns deal.

He climbed quickly and was met at the top of the stairs by Wyse and Frost.

“Where are you off to in such a hurry, Ray?” Wyse asked.

“Was finishing up moving the boxes, getting them ready for the delivery. I’d’ve left it for you but I didn’t know you were coming back so soon.”

“I’m sure you didn’t.” Wyse signalled Frost and Ray found himself flying backwards down the staircase. He rolled arse over tit until his head cracked on the cement floor.

He heard Connor yell “Ray” and then the basement door slammed shut. Everything went black.

 

Cold water rained down over his head, bringing consciousness back. It might have been better if he’d remained comatose. He shivered under the downpour, hoping not to drown.

“Enough.”

The shower stopped. He shook his head to clear his eyes and looked up to find Frost standing over him.
He was on the floor lying in a puddle of icy water. Wyse’s voice came from the other side of the room. He was checking the contents of the boxes Ray had opened.

“Who are you working for then, Duncan? If that’s even your real name.”

“What’s goin’ on Devin? I don’t-”

Frost kicked him hard in the ribs. He rolled onto his side to try to protect himself. The next kick connected with his left knee, jarring the joint.

“Again,” Wyse moved closer, “Who are you working for? Is Archer trying to pull a fast one? His man Bodie seemed suspiciously interested in your history. Or are you a plant, a copper? I can check that out you know.”

Doyle remained silent. He tried not to react to Wyse’s claim about the Met. Maybe he had finally found a connection to the last man involved in the op that led to Sid’s death.

“Still not talking. Okay. Frost, get him up. Teach him a lesson about betrayal.”

 

Waking slowly, Ray groaned as abused flesh complained about its harsh treatment. He had no idea how long he’d been out. He was still in the pub’s basement.

The lights were suddenly turned on and he yelped as the brightness stung his eyes. A shadow moved to hover over him.

“Oh ho, what have we here?” Bodie jokingly asked. “Detective Constable Raymond Doyle in a spot of bother if I’m not mistaken.”

“Piss off, Bodie.”

“Tsk, tsk. No way to talk to your rescuer, mate. Now let’s get you out of here, shall we?”

Ray glared. “Who the hell are you?” His face lost colour as realisation hit him. “And how do you know who I am?”

“Your knight in shining armour,” Bodie smirked. “My boss, Mr Cowley, sends his regards.”

Taken aback, it took a minute for Doyle to understand. “Cowley? Haven’t heard from him in a while.”

“He did mention that. Seems he’s a bit disappointed, but for some reason he wants me to save your precious arse.”

Ray stared at him, eyes wide, fists clenched; his mouth dropped open.

Bodie tapped the bottom of Ray’s chin. “Look like a guppy, sunshine.”

Ray found his voice. “You’re CI5?”

“Agent 3.7.” Bodie knelt behind him to untie Ray’s hands.

“Heard about you,” Doyle untangled himself from the ropes. “Arrogant, know-it-all, Cowley’s blue-eyed boy-”

“All true,” Bodie winked. “And don’t forget tall, dark, and beautiful. But we can discuss that later. We need to go.”

Doyle stood up and winced as his left leg folded underneath him. Bodie reached for him but Ray waved him away.

“You all right?” Bodie ignored the rebuff and steadied him.

“My knee took a kicking. It’s just stiff.” He flexed the joint a few times. “It’ll hold.”

Bodie looked sceptical and put an arm around his waist.

“It. Will. Hold.” Doyle snarled and shoved at Bodie’s arm.

Bodie loosened his hold and rolled his eyes when Doyle staggered a bit. “I see that what I’ve been told about you is true as well,” Bodie said sourly.

Doyle ignored him.

“The exchange is set for tonight. Maybe it would be best if you didn’t attend.”

“What?” Doyle demanded.

“Wyse obviously isn’t too happy with you.” Bodie ran a finger over a bruise on Doyle’s jaw. “Best not to irritate the man when we’ve got the chance to take him down.”

“There’s no fucking way you’re going to leave me here.” Doyle’s stiff finger poked at Bodie’s chest emphasizing each word.

Bodie remained silent.

“Listen you pig-headed lout.” Doyle’s arms waved around in the air. “I’ve got years of my life and an un-avenged partner invested in this op and I’m not going to let you tell me how to do my job!”

“That’s the problem, Doyle. It’s become too personal to you; it’s become more about vengeance. You’re not thinking clearly.”

“Well excuse me for being involved. I’m not some thug with a special remit to take the law into his own hands whenever it suits him.”

Bodie grabbed one of Doyle’s flailing wrists, turned him around and shoved him up against the wall. The force of it knocked him off his feet. His teeth bit into his tongue and blood leaked from between his lips.

Bodie stood over him, eyes sparked with anger and breathing heavily, his fists clenched in front of his chest, ready to strike.

“Got anything else to say?” Bodie prodded him with a boot to his ribs.

Doyle shook his head.

Bodie pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and tossed it a Doyle. “Clean yourself up. We’ve got a plan to work out.” After a few uncomfortable moments, he walked away.

“You’re right, y’know.” Doyle wiped at the blood on his chin.

Bodie turned back. “Of course I am.”

“Don’t.” Doyle snapped. “Don’t make jokes.”

Bodie’s mocking demeanour fled. He nodded and waved a hand, prompting Doyle to continue.

“This is personal for me. They gunned down my partner and ruined any chance I had for advancement in the Met.”

The door at the top of the stairs opened and someone started to walk down. Bodie pushed Doyle back onto the floor. He leaned over Ray, grabbed hold of his shirt and started shouting at him.

“Who are you, you bastard? Who’ve you told?” Bodie slapped him. Doyle glared. Bodie shrugged.

“Ray?” A soft voice called from the stairs.

“Shit,” Doyle whispered.

“Ray, what’s going on?” Connor stopped in front of the pair of them. He noticed the ropes on the floor. “Why is he-”

Ray stood up and limped towards Connor. He put a hand on the younger man’s shoulder. “You need to get out of here, Connor. I can’t explain it all now, but you need to go.”

“Doyle!” Bodie cut in.

“Doyle?” Connor’s face wrinkled in confusion. He turned to face Bodie.

“What’re you on about?” He pointed at Ray. “That’s Ray Duncan.” He looked at Ray. “Ray,” his voice soft, his expression hurt. “What’s going on?”

Ray put a hand on his shoulder. “Con-”

“We don’t have time for this, Ray,” Bodie sneered.

Ray saw the anger growing in Connor’s face. “You know your brother is into some bad things and the police are going to catch up with him soon. You don’t want to be here when that happens.”

“How do you know?” Connor stepped closer to him. “Are you the filth? Have you been spying on Devin?”

Doyle looked away, his cheeks stained red. Connor quickly raised his fist. The blow to his jaw startled him and he stumbled when his knee collapsed.

Bodie grabbed Connor and held him, shaking him.

“Don’t hurt him,” Ray panted as he got up. “He doesn’t have anything to do with this.”

Connor struggled in Bodie’s grasp. Bodie looked between the boy and Doyle. “Just something to pass the time, eh?” The disdain in his voice was clear to all three of them.

Doyle gave Bodie a dirty look and put a hand on Connor’s shoulder. “Easy, mate. We’re not going to hurt you.”

Bodie cleared his throat and Doyle ignored it. “Connor, we can’t let you go, but I can get you somewhere safe.”

Connor spat at him and Bodie grabbed him before he could leave. A quick, sharp blow to the back of the neck had Connor unconscious.

Doyle closed his eyes and wiped his face with a bloody sleeve.

“What is it with you and this Connor,” Bodie asked, his words harsh as he picked the young man up in a fireman’s lift.

“Jealous?” Doyle taunted. Then he shook his head. “Sorry. He’s just a kid. His brother is all he’s got, not that Devin is a good role model.”

Bodie snorted and started heading towards the stairs.

“Scoff if you want, Bodie, but when you’re on your own, you don’t often get to choose your mates. And Devin is family and he does care. Some would consider themselves lucky to have even that.”

Bodie looked at Doyle’s turned away face and asked softly, “Resonates does it?”

“I had an older brother. After our parents left, it was just us. He did everything he could to keep us off the streets. Not all of it was on the up and up, but he did it for me. And he died for me.” Ray squeezed his eyes shut. “I learned what it was like to be truly alone then. I don’t want Con to-”

“-be you.” Bodie sighed, clearly exasperated. “I see what I was told about you is true.”

Doyle looked at him, puzzled.

“You can’t save every one, Ray.”

“Don’t want to save everyone. I’m only trying to give this kid a chance, get him away from-” he waved his arms around the room, “-here before it all goes to hell.”

“C’mon, let’s get out of here before someone comes back. We’ll regroup at CI5 HQ.”

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

After seeing Connor safely to the infirmary, Bodie swept into the rest room, relieved when he found Doyle alone nursing a cuppa. “Anyone else around?”

“Only me,” Doyle replied, sipping at the tea. “Cowley and, um, an agent named Murphy, left about ten minutes ago. Didn’t say where they were going or how long they’d be.”

“That’s need to know.” Bodie grinned.

“And I don’t need to know,” Doyle replied, rolling his eyes. “It’s like that in the Met, too.”

“Cowley done with you, then?” Bodie asked.

“For now,” Doyle groused. “That man is a-”

“You got the Cowley special, eh?”

"Special about covers it.”

“Yeah, wait until you’re working for him. He’s on his best behaviour now–doesn’t want to frighten you away.”

“Work for him?” Doyle’s eyes opened wide with surprise.

Bodie shrugged. “Turned him down once, I hear. Doesn’t like to be told no, our George.”

Doyle snorted and waved him off. “Where’s Connor?”

“Doc is finishing up with him. No real damage. A bruise and a headache. He’ll be fine.”

“No thanks to you.”

Bodie took a deep breath and changed the subject. “As I told you earlier, the exchange is set for tonight.”

Doyle looked surprised and then annoyed. “Thought it was to be Thursday.”

“I’m guessing with your disappearance they moved things up so you couldn’t spoil their fun.”

“So, when do we leave?”

“Uh, uh. Cowley wants you here.”

“And why is that?”

Bodie tapped Ray’s still swollen lip, touched the bruised face and bumped his bad knee. “Remember this? Not exactly in fighting shape, are we?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Doyle brushed his hand away. “Bloody hell.” He shook his head. “Messed up there, didn’t I? My timing wasn’t so great.”

“What do you mean?”

“Wyse is up to something. Something more than the drugs and guns.”

“Copper’s instincts?” Bodie raised an eyebrow.

Doyle sighed. “Maybe. But he’s been acting different–more keyed- up. Like there’s more at stake.”

“And?”

“I found explosives in the pub basement. And I think he’s planning something that your Mr Archer isn’t going to like.”

“If that is the case, we need to let Cowley know,” Bodie leaned on the table and reached for Ray’s tea.

“Oi! That’s mine, that is.” Doyle quickly finished off the rest of the tea with a loud slurp. “Are you calling in the Drugs Squad?”

“Cowley would prefer to keep them and you out of it. Doesn’t like outside interference.”

Doyle scowled.

Bodie placed a hand on his chest. “They’ll be called in after it’s gone down.” Bodie winked at him. “You’ll get your reward.”

“Sod off, mate. Not in it for the reward.” He stabbed a finger at Bodie’s face. “I’ve been working a long time to get this scum off the street-”

Bodie grabbed the gesticulating hand. “Know that, don’t I?”

Doyle’s eyes narrowed with a challenge. “Do you?”

“Calm down, Ray. Let’s concentrate on the job. We can get things sorted later.”

The door opened and Betty entered the rest room.

“The doctor has cleared Connor Wyse. He’s in Mr Cowley’s office and the Controller wants you to join them.”

Bodie rose and walked to the door. He held it open and bowed to wave Betty and Doyle through.

“Showtime,” he whispered to Ray.

 

Connor was already speaking when Bodie and Doyle entered the office. He gave Ray a reproachful look and then turned away.

“I really don’t know all Dev’s plans,” Connor said, his annoyance with their questions very clear. “I told you, he doesn’t want me involved.” He turned to Doyle with a reluctant appeal. “Tell him, Ray.”

Doyle nodded his agreement. “Doesn’t want Connor put in danger.”

“But you are involved, son,” Cowley continued, ignoring Doyle.

“He doesn’t tell me everything.”

“Then what has he told you? Let’s start with what you know about Archer. You’ve met him, yes?”

Connor froze. “Archer?”

Stepping towards Connor, Doyle said, “C’mon, Connor. If you know something, help us.”

Eyes narrowing, Connor sat up straighter in his chair. “Only if I can go along when you go to arrest Dev.”

Cowley shook his head. “That won’t be-”

Connor turned back to Doyle. “Ray, you can’t leave me here. I can help. Devin will listen to me,” he pleaded. “I’ll get him to turn himself in.”

Bodie laughed. Connor shot him an angry look and turned back to Ray.

“He’s my brother, Ray. He’s all I’ve got. You know that. I can’t let him walk into a trap. Please. Let me go and talk to him.”

“Connor-”

“No,” Cowley interrupted, a thoughtful look on his face. “Maybe the lad is right. If nothing else his presence would be a distraction.”

“A dangerous one,” Doyle warned.

“No arguments, Doyle or I’ll have you locked up.”

Doyle bristled and took in a deep breath.

“And save the histrionics,” Cowley added.

Doyle subsided with a glare.

Bodie bit his lip and turned away.

“Back to Archer,” Cowley prompted.

“Archer and his mate-” Connor began.

“His mate?” Three pairs of eyes fastened on Connor.

“I don’t know his name. Archer and him came to Devin with a proposition. A job, according to Devin, worth a lot of money. I don’t know the details.”

“Can you describe this second man?” Cowley leaned forward in his chair.

“Well, he was older than Archer, maybe fifty. About my height. Short reddish-grey hair, had a scar above his left eye, looked like it had been a pretty nasty injury.”

Doyle sucked in a breath and sank down into a chair. He felt the blood drain from his face.

“Doyle?” Cowley turned to him. “Do you know him?”

“DS Moore. I’ve been reporting Wyse’s activities to him. He’s my contact in the Met.” He rubbed his hands over his face. “Christ, what a fool.”

Cowley nodded to himself as if confirming information he already had. “DS Moore. That fits with information I have.”

“He was a Detective Constable back then,” Doyle spoke absently staring out the window behind Cowley’s desk. “He was assigned to back-up Sid and me that night–the night Sid was killed. He was late getting to us after I called it in. Had some sorry excuse. There were rumours he was on the take. I never found any proof against him. But it all makes sense now; with him being Archer’s mate.”

“How so?” Cowley asked.

“Archer was arrested a couple of times, but kept getting breaks–evidence disappeared, witnesses left town.” He shook his head. “How did I miss all this?” He raised a hand to his head and tugged on his hair.

“The copper in Archer’s pocket,” Bodie mused. “No wonder he was so keen to have me and Mick check you out. He must have been worried that his connection to Moore might bring them both down. But it doesn’t make sense. Why didn’t Moore expose you?”

“It’s personal.” Doyle realized, attention snapping back to the men in the room. “He was sure that I had sussed his business back then and he knew I had no proof. He’s playing a game he’s sure he can win now. And I’m the prize.”

“Making friends everywhere, eh?”

Doyle and Cowley both scowled at him.

“What do you mean–prize?” Cowley asked.

“My reward, payback if you’d rather, for the testimony I gave two years ago. There were threats, maybe he saw an opportunity to take me out of the game. Final round.”

“So this is more than drugs and guns.” Cowley took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “I don’t see where the explosives come in, though. Neither Archer or Wyse has ever played in that arena.”

Doyle jumped to his feet. “The C-4. It was packaged in the boxes that should have held the drugs. Maybe Wyse is planning a double-cross. He gets the guns and the drugs and then takes out his competition.” He slammed his fist on Cowley’s desk. “I knew something wasn’t right.” He spun back to Connor. “Did Devin say anything to you about the explosives or Archer?”

Shaking his head, Connor said, “No.” He paused and then met Doyle’s eyes.

“What?” Doyle pushed at him. “Con, this is important.”

“He didn’t say anything about the C-4 or Archer, only he did mention that we’d have to leave London for a time–that it might not be safe to stay. He was going to send me to some friends up North. We argued about that.”

Pacing, Doyle ran his hands through his hair. “So he plans to take Archer out with the explosives, leave London with both the guns and the drugs–where does that leave Moore?”

“Wyse kept talking about a boss,” Bodie supplied, “could be Moore.”

“Hmmm,” Cowley moved some folders around on his desk. “When Bodie informed me that you had found explosives, Doyle, I did some checking. The police, having received an anonymous tip, raided a purported IRA safe-house and confiscated bomb making materials. The ensuing investigation and interviews with those arrested indicated some of the seized material was unaccounted for.”

“The officer in charge of the raid?” Doyle asked.

“One DC Evans.”

“I don’t know him.”

“His direct supervisor is DS Moore.”

Bodie rubbed his hands together. “The plot thickens."

He received another set of glares.

“What?”

Ignoring Bodie, Cowley continued, “I’ve asked the Chief Inspector to bring Evans in for questioning.”

“It’ll be too late,” Doyle interrupted. “We need to move now.” He quickly stepped towards the door.

“I’m coming with you,” Connor looked at Cowley. “I gave you the information. Please. Let me try to save my brother.”

Cowley studied the young man and finally nodded. “But you will stay with one of my agents and away from the action.”

Connor glowered, but nodded. “I will.”

Cowley opened the office door and called to Betty, “Get everyone in the building into the conference room. Briefing in five minutes.”

 

CHAPTER EIGHT

Thick grey smoke hung in the air over their destination. Bodie punched the accelerator and the Capri shot through the crossroads and slid with squealing tyres into a spot next to the CI5 surveillance van.

“What the hell?” Bodie shouted as he leapt from the car.

Doyle got out the passenger door and looked at the burning structure. “We waited too long to move.”

“Or Archer and Wyse brought things forward.” Bodie moved next to Doyle and they watched the flames reach like fingers through the shattered lower floor windows. They could see CI5 agents working the perimeter to collect anyone trying to escape.

Murphy approached shaking his head. “What a cock-up. The boys from the Met beat us here. They spooked Wyse’s gang before we had a chance to set things up.” Murphy pointed to Cowley’s car pulling in next to the Capri. “The old man isn’t going to be happy.”

“Of all the-” Cowley exited the Cortina and stalked over to Murphy. “Report, man.”

“The lads on the B Squad were watching the surrounding buildings, keeping an eye on things. According to Agent Smythe, Archer’s gang arrived first. Wyse and company came about an hour later. They were in the building for about thirty minutes when another man showed up.”

“Description?”

“He was a copper, according to Smythe.”

“Moore,” Doyle spat and moved towards the building.

“Possibly,” Cowley put up a hand to hold him back. “Where is the Chief Inspector? I’ll have a few choice words for him when this is done.”

“The rest of us arrived right after that,” Murphy continued, “and we weren’t here but ten minutes when gunfire broke out. We moved towards-”

Murphy was interrupted when Connor slipped out of the back seat of Cowley’s car. “Where’s Devin?” he shouted.

They all turned to face him and the building blew apart.

The explosion knocked them all off their feet and threw Doyle into the side of the surveillance van. Stunned, he stiffly tried to stand up but he could only watch as Connor yelled his brother’s name and ran into the burning structure.

“Connor! No.” Doyle rose and started to chase after him, but his bad knee buckled beneath him. He struggled upright and staggered on. He heard Bodie call to him to stop but he got through the door before Bodie tackled him back to the ground. Doyle struggled free of Bodie’s hold and ran further into the building. Flames licked at his clothes and singed his hair. Bodie caught up with him again and knocked him back down pinning him to the floor. The heat made it hard to breathe.

“We need to get out of here, Doyle.” Bodie coughed and wiped tears from his eyes.

“Get off of me you bastard.” He pushed at Bodie, sat up and tried again to get free. “Connor!”

Bodie wrapped his arms around Doyle’s chest and dragged him back into fresh air.

The roof fell in with a shower of crackling sparks. Flames leapt higher as the fresh air fed their manic dance.

“He’s gone, Doyle,” Bodie yelled over the roar of the fire. “Nothing you can do for him now.”

Doyle turned in Bodie’s arms, his eyes were wild, his face stained with tears and soot. Bodie released him. “I’m sorry, Ray.”

Spinning blue lights cut through the smoky haze, sirens blaring with the arrival of more police and the fire brigade. Bodie gave Doyle’s shoulder a squeeze and moved to meet his boss.

 

The fire department finally had the blaze under control. There wasn’t much left of the building. Six bodies had been found inside and would need to be sent to the coroner before they could be positively identified. The Met, with the help of CI5, had captured and arrested four others.

“Has anyone seen Doyle?” Bodie asked, scanning the surrounding buildings.

Murphy shook his head. “After Cowley told him they were sure two of the dead were Connor and Devin he walked that way.” Murphy pointed to an alley between buildings across the road. “The Met lost a man, too.”

Bodie made his way through the debris littering the building site, trying to ignore the blood spattered bitumen. Good men had died here today and some not so good as well. Each of them would be weighing heavily on Doyle’s conscience. None more so than Connor Wyse. Doyle had convinced him that there wasn’t anything romantic between him and Connor, although Bodie thought Connor would have been more than willing. But Doyle had definitely been fond of the younger man, had been touched by something he saw in him, had hoped to steer him out of the world his brother Devin had led him into. Doyle would take his death hard. Too soft-hearted was Doyle. He needed to take a page from Bodie’s book and build himself some walls. Bodie scoffed at the thought. It hadn’t taken Ray long to scale his barriers. It had been a long time since anyone had got through the fortifications Bodie had built for himself.

The sound of something striking metal pulled him from his thoughts and he walked around the side of the nearest building. Doyle was sitting on the ground, one knee pulled up to his chest, the left leg stretched straight out, throwing stones at a rubbish skip. The hand pitching the stones was dripping blood from a cut on his wrist. His face was still covered in soot and his forehead was developing a bruise from when Bodie had tackled him. He didn’t look up when Bodie’s shadow fell over him.

Silently, Bodie sat down next to him.

“So, this is CI5?” Doyle asked bitterly.

Bodie waved a hand at their surroundings. “Can’t you smell all the roses and lavender?”

“’s not a joke, Bodie.”

Bodie sighed and put an arm around Doyle’s shoulder, pulling him close. “I know, mate.”

“Take me home, Bodie.” Doyle’s voice was a broken whisper. “Don’t want to be on my own.”

Bodie nodded and stood up. He reached a hand down to Doyle. “C’mon, then.”

Doyle tossed the last of the stones in his hand onto the ground.

 

Waking first, Ray smiled as he gently ran his fingers through his bedmate’s soft dark hair. He shook his head, puzzled, as he dropped a kiss on Bodie’s forehead. Since the day they had met he and Bodie had spent their time arguing and sniping at each other, only to end up tangled together in rumpled sheets many an evening. He couldn’t figure out how that had happened. Bodie was an aggravating, pompous, cheeky know-it-all–but he was also funny, competent, intelligent and sexy as hell. And Bodie had held him tightly most of the night and had listened to his railing at the unfairness of a world that could take the life of a young man like Connor without a care. And then he made him forget.

“Thinking too much, mate. Can hear the gears grinding from here,” Bodie said playfully ruffling Doyle’s hair.

“You are an aggravating little sod.”

“And you’re a big softie.”

“I’ll keep your secrets if you’ll keep mine.”

Doyle gave him a big smile.

“You should do that more often.”

“What–and ruin my reputation?”

“Never that,” Bodie returned the grin. “So, what was your twisty little mind chewing over?”

“I’ve decided that you’re not so bad for a thug.”

“And you’re okay for a barman.” Bodie ran his finger gently down Doyle’s cheek. “Friends, then?”

Looking at their state of undress and the tangled bedding, Ray raised his eyebrows. “Seems more than friends.”

Bodie wrapped Ray up in his arms again and whispered “Maybe...”

 

CHAPTER NINE

Arriving at HQ later that morning, they headed to Cowley’s office ready with their reports. Betty wasn’t at her usual post, so Bodie knocked once and grabbed the knob, drawing not only the door open but also dragging the Met’s Chief Inspector out of the room. “Sorry, sir,” he apologised, hiding a grin behind the report in his hand.

The Chief Inspector left without a word.

“And have a good day-” the words trailed off in the man’s wake.

“Bodie.” Cowley couldn’t control the slight twitch of his lip. “Sit down, both of you.”

He lifted the bottle on his desk and poured three glasses of scotch. “While the job didn’t turn out as hoped, we did keep a drug shipment and dangerous weapons off the streets of London.” He turned to take in Doyle’s lowered head. “I am sorry about Connor, Doyle. I know that isn’t much consolation.”

“He chose his own path,” Doyle replied without emotion.

“Yes, well,” Cowley sipped his own drink. “Drink up, lads. There is some good news from the entire debacle. Chief Inspector Nelson was here to tell me that your friend DS Moore will recover from his injuries and will spend most of the rest of his life enjoying Her Majesty’s hospitality.”

Doyle raised his glass and took a sip. “About time.”

“Indeed.” Cowley lifted a file from his desk and tossed it at Doyle.

“What’s this?”

“An offer of employment. We spoke several years ago about your joining CI5. Now that you’ve had a real taste of what we do, I was thinking you might reconsider your earlier decision not to join us.”

Doyle stared at him, mouth open.
Bodie tapped on his chin. “Got that guppy look again, sunshine.”

Doyle scowled at him and turned his attention to Cowley. “You want me to work for you?”

“I did before, and have seen no reason to change my mind.” Cowley poured himself another drink and looked them both in the eye. “There may be one sticking point to the offer.”

Doyle mumbled, “Knew there had to be a catch. What is it?”

“You will be assigned a partner.” He held up a hand before Doyle could say a word. “I know you’ve been working alone, and I understand and respect your reasons. But in CI5 we work in partnerships.”

“Bodie works alone.”

“If you accept the job, that will no longer be the case.”

Bodie choked on his scotch.

“Bodie and me?”

Cowley nodded. He looked pleased that both men were speechless.

“I suggest the two of you head over to the Red Lion and discuss it over a drink or two.”

Taking that meant they were dismissed, they stood up and moved to the door.

“I’ll expect your answer soon, Doyle.”

 

Heading back from the bar with two pints and a bag of crisps, Bodie started right in. “So, Cowley’s decided that teaming an impulsive, hot-headed, stubborn, moody, idealistic…”

“Don’t hold back, mate.”

“…Oxfam reject, ex-plod with a suave, sophisticated, talented, clever, strapping ex-SAS agent is a good idea?”

“No, what I heard him say was that pairing an arrogant, thick headed, smug SAS bastard with a highly skilled, intelligent, compassionate and quick-thinking policeman would result in the best team CI5 has ever seen.”

Bodie looked at Doyle’s quivering lips and they both started to snort and cackle.

When the laughter subsided they sat silently for a few minutes. Doyle turned away and looked out the window. Very quietly he said, “I think he’s right. I think it could work.”

“What?”

“Us. Partners.”

Bodie locked his fingers around Doyle's hand under the table and smiled. “I do, too.”

Doyle returned the smile with a mischievous glint in his eyes. “I wonder if he knows what he’s in for?”

 

end