It was one of those prime examples of Murphy’s Law. No, not CI5 Agent Murphy’s Law. Sod’s Law! What can go wrong, will go wrong. And when you work for CI5, when something goes wrong, the shit really hits the fan.
Of course, it didn’t start out that way. This time it started with what was meant to be a simple transporting job. But when has anything ever been simple when you’re dealing with terrorists … and unrequited love?
“Scotland? But it’s …” Bodie’s voice tailed off as he looked at the dour expression on Cowley’s face. The CI5 Controller was not amused.
Bodie hadn’t intended for his reluctance to come across as a slur on Cowley’s country of birth, even if that’s how it appeared. It was simply that he had plans for the Christmas period. Plans that included Doyle, beer, television and lots of uninterrupted relaxation and dreams of what he could never have. Plans that definitely did not include a trip to the freezing wilds of Scotland. The only redeeming fact was that his partner was accompanying him.
Cowley handed over a manila file. Bodie just had time to notice the photograph of an attractive blond woman paper-clipped to the front of the file before Doyle took possession of it.
“Scotland. Sounds good, Sir. Could do with some fresh air.”
Doyle either didn’t notice or chose to ignore Bodie’s glare. It was a good job he couldn’t mind-read either, Bodie decided as he silently called his partner all the names under the sun. Doyle opened the folder and started flipping through the typed foolscap sheets.
“Nasty piece of work.” Doyle commented.
Bodie peered over Doyle’s shoulder, and caught a glimpse of the woman’s name.
“Gerty Brown.” He commented. “The name doesn’t really match the woman, does it?”
It was Doyle’s turn for a glare. Bodie stuck his tongue in his cheek to stop the grin forming, and glanced back up at Cowley. It was a bit disconcerting that an identical glare came from the controller’s direction.
“Gerda Braun.” Doyle corrected with poorly concealed annoyance. “German. Twenty-four years old. Wanted across Europe on suspicion of terrorism. Known associate of Marcus Schmidt.”
Bodie was impressed with how much information Doyle had absorbed just flipping through the file.
“Aye.” Cowley took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “And the police in Edinburgh have had the delight of accommodating her for the last twenty-four hours.“ He repositioned his glasses. “And now it’s our turn to put her up. I want her safely in custody in London on the twenty fourth. You leave this afternoon.”
“That only gives us two days.” Bodie muttered. He knew they could do it in that time, sharing the driving and getting an early start the second day when they started back, but still …
“Aye, two days.”
Bodie looked across at Doyle and pulled a face. “Two days,” he mouthed.
Doyle grinned back at him. “Come on, sunshine. Let’s go and do a bit of light reading.” He waved the file around in the air with his left hand and shepherded Bodie out of the door. Bodie tried to ignore the shiver that raced up his back when Doyle’s right hand rested lightly on his lower back, just above the waistband of his trousers.
God, didn’t Doyle realise what his innocent gestures were doing to Bodie? Bodie didn’t know how much longer he could take his partner’s tactile nature before his own feelings became obvious.
Back in their office, they spent an hour reading up on Gerda Braun, familiarising themselves with the German woman, her crimes, her associates, and planning their route for the journey to Queensferry. Or rather, bickering about the best route for the journey to Queensferry. Bodie wasn’t really bothered which way they went – Doyle was right, the M6 was further but a much faster and probably safer route – but sometimes Doyle was just too easy to wind up, and he couldn’t help himself. A frustrated Doyle was a wonder to behold.
“For fucks sake, Bodie. We’re going to be like sitting ducks on the back roads near Edinburgh as it is. Why the hell do you want to make it easy for them to catch us?” Doyle ran his hand through his curls in frustration. “If we go through Northumberland there will be hundreds of places where they can set up road blocks, both sides of the border. You know the motorway is by far the safest route.”
“You don’t know that Schmidt is going to try to rescue her.”
If looks could kill …
Bodie tried very hard to focus on Doyle’s words, but it wasn’t easy when his partner’s lips were pursed together in anger, just like they were now. It wasn’t that much more of a jump for Bodie to imagine Doyle’s lips pursed around his cock.
“What planet are you living on?” Doyle growled, his anger becoming more palpable.
Oh, God. That did it! Bodie’s tight trousers suddenly seemed even more constricted than normal. Why the hell did he ever think wearing them was a good, surreptitious way to attract his partner’s attention? Even as he had struggled into them, lying flat on his back on his bed trying to tug the zip up over his more than adequate (in his own words) package, he knew it was a waste of time. Doyle was as straight as they came, and even if he wasn’t, did Bodie really want to ruin the best working partnership he had ever had?
He shifted in his chair, trying to relieve some of the pressure, glad that the desk hid his very obvious erection. If Doyle ever realised just how attracted Bodie was to him…
He smirked slightly, hardly anything really, just enough to let Doyle know that he had been pulling his leg. His partner continued to glower at him, the famous Doyle temper not quite ready to back down just yet, and then with a shake of his head, Doyle stood up and headed for the open door.
“You’re like a bloody kid, aren’t you?”
Bodie knew he wasn’t really expected to answer. Instead, he wriggled some more in his chair, checking to see if he could safely stand up yet. No, he’d need a few more minutes yet.
“Well, are you coming?” Doyle was impatient, still angry, and Bodie felt an inkling of remorse for his behaviour. He was going to have to be more careful, especially as they would be spending the better part of two days in very close proximity.
“I’ve just got to make a quick call. Was meant to be seeing Linda tonight. Going to have to put her off … again.” He started dialling a number from memory. Not the lovely Linda’s, which he’d thrown away when she’d dumped him, but his local Chinese. There was no way he was going to let anyone find out that little Bodie had lost interest in the fairer sex some months ago. It was a depressing enough situation to be in without adding ridicule to the mix.
“Fine. I’ll pick you up at your flat at two.” Doyle waited for an acknowledgement. Listening to the dial tone, Bodie glanced at the clock and saw that he had one and a half hours to get home and pack an overnight bag. He nodded and Doyle abruptly turned on his heel and left the office. Bodie waited a few moments longer, then hung up just as the call was answered. He didn’t bother to apologise for dialling the wrong number, just gently placed the phone back down in the cradle and sank his head onto his hands. God, he had to get a grip.
Bodie woke with a start to a flash of blue caught in the headlights as the car passed a motorway sign pronouncing that the next exit was for Carlisle. He straightened and twisted slightly, first to the left, then to the right, trying to stretch out the kinks that sleeping in the front passenger seat of the Capri had caused.
“’Ad a good kip?”
He glanced across at Doyle, saw that his partner’s eyes were fixed on the road ahead, and then rubbed his hand across his face to shake off the remnants of his less than restful sleep. His cheek felt rough, ridged where the seatbelt had been pressed against it while he slept.
“Sorry, mate. Didn’t mean to sleep that long.” He stretched again, pushing his chest out and his shoulders back, and felt the satisfying pop of muscles. “How long was I out?”
“Since Spaghetti Junction. ’Bout four hours.”
Huh! He wasn’t bothered to have missed Birmingham’s major feat of road engineering, nor any of the other landmarks along Britain’s first motorway. It had been a dreary grey afternoon when they left London behind, and a dreary black evening when they stopped off at a roadside café to grab a burger for an early dinner. Things hadn’t improved while he’d been asleep, either. The fine drizzle that had plagued them as they travelled north had now turned to sleet, and the windscreen wipers squeaked out a continuous accompaniment to the radio playing quietly, just audible above the road noise.
Another blue motorway sign flashed by as Doyle smoothly overtook a Woolworth truck.
“Get off at the next exit. I’ll take over.” He rubbed his eyes again, attempting to wake up fully.
“Was going to, mate.” Doyle grinned across at him. “But I was thinking about stopping for the night.”
Bodie glanced at the clock on the dashboard and saw that it was close to eleven.
“We can get six or seven hours sleep in, and be on the way again by eight. Should hit Queensferry by noon tomorrow at the latest.”
Bodie nodded his agreement. If they got a good night’s sleep tonight, between them they should be able to drive all the way to London in one go once they’d picked up their passenger tomorrow. With luck on their side, they’d be back at Headquarters before Cowley had time to make his breakfast. That left several hours for last minute shopping, and decorating the artificial Christmas tree he’d left in the corner of the living room in its battered box. He rubbed his hands together with glee. Yes, things could still work out in his favour. If Doyle noticed his exuberance he didn’t comment.
Minutes after they left the motorway in Carlisle, they came across a new Travelodge and Doyle turned into the car park.
“Great places, these.” He commented once as he turned off the engine.
“Stayed in many of them, then?” Bodie wasn’t sure he really wanted to know the answer to that. He tried not to think too much about who Doyle was with when he wasn’t with Bodie. That just led to too much speculation and heartache.
“Nah, just that one that time with Angie. You know, that walking weekend?”
Yep, Bodie remembered that walking weekend. Well, not exactly the walking weekend, as it happened, but the build up to it. Doyle had planned it for the two of them on one of their rare weekends off-duty. Then he had met Angie, the “air hostess with the mostest”. To be fair to Doyle he’d still included Bodie in his plans, had said he wanted to spend the time with Bodie, and it had been Bodie’s decision to pull out. After all, who wanted their mate around when they were trying to impress a new bird? Bodie couldn’t bear to be the odd one out in that triangle. Thank God Angie had soon got fed up with the irregular working hours of a CI5 agent. Bodie found he could handle his jealousy so long as none of Doyle’s birds hung around for too long. He didn’t know what he’d do if things started to get serious, like they had with that Ann some years ago.
“What’s so special about them then?” Bodie shook off the memory.
“Convenient and cheap. What more do you need?”
Since leaving his mercenary days in Africa - and the dirt and flies, and a camp bed and tent if he was really lucky - he had erred on the side of luxury. Despite Doyle’s reassurance, Bodie was sure there were hundreds of things he’d need more than a cheap and convenient roadside hotel, but at this time of night he wasn’t going to argue with his partner. He just prayed that they had two single rooms, or at a push a twin bedded one. Somebody, somewhere would be having a huge joke at his expense if all they had available was a double.
He had to admit the twin bedded room that Doyle let them into wasn’t too bad. It was clean and comfortable, and had its own bathroom attached. As he sank onto the comfortable mattress, he even decided to be magnanimous and overlook the less than welcoming attitude of the night manager. After all, it was only for seven-odd hours.
Three hours later, and being magnanimous was the last thing on Bodie’s mind. Sleep eluded him, and not for lack of trying. Despite the four hours he had slept in the car, he had been tired when he had lain on the bed nearest the door. Even though the bed was too soft and the pillows too hard, he’d fought to stay awake in the darkened room while Doyle got ready for bed in the bathroom. Then Doyle had come out of the bathroom, and all thoughts of sleep had fled along with Bodie’s ability to think.
Doyle’s body was a silhouette, backlit by the bathroom light. Bodie hadn’t been particularly able to make out his features, but there was no mistaking his low slung pyjama trousers nor the way the light played across his muscles. He knew Doyle had a great body. Hell, he’d seen it enough times going in and out of showers, patching up wounds when they’d been on assignment, sharing rooms like now. He just hadn’t seen much of it recently, and not since he’d realised his feelings for his partner ran so deep.
He had lain there, eyes half open, watching Doyle rub a towel over his face, then his chest, before dumping it on the chair by the window and stretching his arms above his head.
“You need the bog, mate?” Doyle had asked.
“Nah, I’m okay.” He murmured.
Doyle pulled back the covers of his bed and tossed the extra pillow at Bodie.
“Here you go, princess. You know you won’t sleep well if you don’t have enough pillows.” Then he turned back to the bathroom to turn out the light.
Pushing the pillow under his head, he sighed with contentment and a warm feeling growing in his chest that he was well cared for. “You know me too well. I love you, man.”
The room was plunged into darkness, and Bodie was left flabbergasted. How could he have been so stupid to say the words out loud? With a growing horror born by guilt that Doyle might not take the declaration flippantly came the realisation that yes, he did actually love Raymond Doyle. Love, not just lust, not just respect. And that realisation shook him. Since the first time he had found himself growing hard when faced with a sexy-as-hell Doyle, he had believed that his infatuation was nothing more than his cock talking. When had his heart taken over the conversation?
And here he was, three hours later, still pondering the earth shattering revelations. He rolled onto his side and tucked his hands, palm to palm, under his face, and simply lay there watching his partner sleep. There was a crack in the curtains which let yellow street light shine into the room, slashing a harsh line across Doyle’s torso, and giving enough light that Bodie could see that Doyle was a messy sleeper. The blankets had been pulled low across his waist and were caught in a tangle with his legs. Doyle obviously didn’t feel the chill in the room which had earlier had Bodie pulling his own blanket high up his shoulders. Even though it was many years since he had lived in a hot climate, cold and Bodie still did not mix well.
There was a hitch in Doyle’s breathing, more of a snuffle than a snore, and Bodie held his breath. The guilty part of his brain that kept telling him he was acting like a stalker willed his partner to stay sleeping. God knew what Doyle would say if he realised exactly how Bodie’s feelings had changed over the years, and how he spent his sleepless nights.
With a deep sigh, Bodie closed his eyes, not expecting sleep to come.
He couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment he had started to think of Doyle as more than a colleague and friend. It was something that had just developed over the years, born of respect and reliance, and for a long time he had ignored his growing attraction, convincing himself it was a by-product of the danger they constantly found themselves in. He’d never had a problem finding a woman, or even two on occasion, to share his bed and help cement that conviction. But over the last few months, women had ceased to attract him, and he had found it harder and harder to perform the way they expected. The last woman he had been with was Linda, nearly six months previously, and the only way he could get aroused in her presence was by thinking of Doyle, and the things he would like to do with Doyle in a bed. The last straw with Linda, and to his shame, was when he called out Ray in the throes of orgasm. Thank God she had never met Doyle, and didn’t know that “Ray” was Bodie’s partner.
There was a part of him that wanted to keep his secret attraction hidden from Doyle, the part that was ashamed of being this needy and lusting after a straight colleague. Then there was another part of him that wore tight trousers to best show off his package in the vague hope that Doyle felt the same way, that same part of him that planned Christmas so that they could spend the holiday together even though it would never go further than mates celebrating Christ’s birthday together whilst watching a re-run of one of Morecambe and Wise’s Christmas Specials.
Fuck! What a sad existence his life had become!
At some point Bodie fell asleep. If he dreamt he didn’t remember it. He came awake with a start when Doyle shook his shoulder.
“Up and at ‘em, mate.”
Goddamn it! Doyle was too bright and breezy for … Bodie blinked a few times and squinted at his watch … seven thirty in the morning. For God’s sake, it was still dark outside. Normal people didn’t get up this early.
Bodie pushed himself upright and swung his legs off the bed. He planted his elbows on his thighs and rested his head in his hands. He could hear Doyle bustling about.
“I’ve got the kettle on. You’ve got time for a quick shower, if you want one.”
Bodie thought his grunt was eloquent enough, but he was obviously the only one.
“You okay, Bodie?”
Ugh, the last thing he wanted today was Doyle’s sympathy. But there was no point in lying. Bodie was sure his sleepless night was clearly visible in the bags under his eyes and sallow skin.
“Yeah, couldn’t get to sleep for a while.” He straightened up with no little effort. “Guess I shouldn’t have slept so long in the car. It’s thrown my routine out.”
Doyle’s silence spoke volumes.
Bodie looked up at him when the silence stretched out a little too uncomfortably. “Look, the job isn’t at risk, okay? If you don’t mind driving up to Queensferry, I’ll get a couple of hours in this morning. That will make up for what I’ve missed, then I’ll take the first stint home once we’ve picked up Gerty.”
Doyle grunted, seemingly annoyed with the plan. It would have to be okay and Doyle knew it. It wasn’t like they had any choice in the matter. They had to be back in London within the next thirty six hours. Or maybe he was annoyed because he just didn’t like Bodie calling Gerda ‘Gerty’.
Bodie came out of the shower feeling somewhat more human, but he couldn’t do much to hide the bags under his eyes that screamed “sleepless night”. He dressed quickly and threw his few belongings into his bag before they went to find breakfast and check out.
Bodie stepped out of the hotel behind Doyle, not surprised to find that the sleet had overnight turned to a light snow that was now coating everything. Oh, the rest of this trip was going to be fun, and not for the right reasons.
“What the hell is a German terrorist doing in Queensferry?” Bodie had woken up as Doyle negotiated the roads around Edinburgh, and was now peering through the snow, trying to help Doyle navigate the back roads of Queensferry. Those snowflakes had definitely grown in size.
“Christmas shopping?” Doyle suggested with a small smile on his face.
“In Queensferry? You’d ‘ave thought Edinburgh was more appropriate.”
“Or Glasgow.” Doyle chipped in.
“Hope they’re not turning into the IRA.”
“Huh?” Doyle glanced sideways at Bodie.
“Targeting the Christmas shoppers. A bomb or two placed here and there.”
“What? In Queensferry?”
“Well, the IRA have got London wrapped up.”
“You’re not wrong.” Doyle agreed sombrely. “And Edinburgh’s only just down the road.”
Disturbing though the thought was, and much as they wanted to hunt down the rest of Gerda Braun’s gang, at the moment their job was to deliver her to CI5 HQ. Cowley would not be pleased if there was any deviation from his instructions.
“Over there.” Bodie pointed to Doyle’s right when he saw the road sign for the police station.
Doyle quickly flipped on the indicator and turned into the small lane on the right. Minutes later they drove into the police station car park.
“It’s nearly twelve thirty.” Doyle said, glancing at his watch. “Want to get lunch first?”
Bodie didn’t need asking twice. They found a little café in a side street not far from the police station, its windows steamed up and the smell of bacon and eggs wafting out onto the street enticing them to enter.
They were soon sitting at a window table tucked into the corner, digging into a greasy fry up. Bodie was in heaven, he decided as he used a piece of bread to mop up the tomato sauce left over from his beans. You couldn’t go wrong with good food and good company, he thought. He sat back with his mug of tea and waited for Doyle to finish eating.
“You still good for Christmas Day, then?” He asked.
“Yeah. Thought I’d nip round about two.” Doyle popped the last piece of bacon into his mouth and chewed carefully. “You want me to bring anything with me?”
“Just some booze, if you want. I’ll get some beer in.”
Doyle screwed up his nose. “I’ll get a nice bottle of red, then.”
Bodie grinned. Sometimes Doyle was a bit snooty with his drink. One of the things that had changed when Ann had come along and had stuck after she’d left.
Bodie took a long drink of his cooling tea, and idly drew with his finger on the steamed up window. When he realised that the shape looked remarkably like a heart, he quickly wiped it over and drained the last of his tea.
“Come on then, mate. Better shake a leg.”
Back at the police station they handed over their credentials and then waited … and waited … for their identities to be confirmed and the paperwork to be completed before they were able to collect the German terrorist.
Bodie tried not to watch the clock on the wall behind the front desk, but every second that ticked by seemed to be endless. The hard wooden bench he was sitting on did nothing for his backside and he shifted his weight from one buttock to the other. The relief only lasted a short time before the ache set back in and he found himself doing the same manoeuvre in reverse.
“For God’s sake, Bodie. Can’t you sit still?” Doyle snapped at him when this had been going on for nearly ten minutes.
“Got ants in me pants.” Bodie said with a grin, unwilling to admit that this restless legs were mostly the result of his sleepless night and the few hours’ rest he’d snatched in the car.
“What are you, two?” Doyle shifted his own position slightly and leant back against the wall, crossing his arms over his chest. “You need to take up yoga, mate.”
Bodie glanced at him. “Yeah? And what’s that going to do for me?”
“Help teach you some patience, for one thing.”
“I can be patient.” Bodie huffed, feeling slightly insulted.
“Make you supple, too.” Doyle continued as if Bodie hadn’t spoken. “More flexible.”
Bodie turned his head to Doyle and stared at him, but Doyle’s head was tilted back resting on the wall, his eyes half closed.
“Why would I need to be more supple or flexible? There’s nothing wrong with my training routine.”
“Helps prevent injuries. You know, when things get … stretched out a bit too much.”
Bodie knew his jaw had dropped open but he sat there catching flies for long moments before he snapped it shut, his teeth banging painfully together.
Doyle’s mouth twitched slightly, as if he was getting ready to speak again … or hiding a grin.
Bodie was about to make a comment, ask Doyle what the hell he was going on about, when the Sergeant behind the desk called across to them.
“Everything seems to be in order, lads.”
Doyle stood up, stretched and went to collect their identity badges. Bodie sat on the bench, watching his partner’s back with bewilderment. He had the distinct impression that somewhere along the way he had missed something very important. Still puzzling Doyle’s comments, he joined his partner by the front desk.
Eventually the door to the holding cells was opened, and Bodie breathed a sigh of relief. A young police woman led the way, followed by a scowling blond woman. As the WPC stepped out of the way, and Gerda Braun was seen by them for the first time, Bodie’s jaw dropped open again.
“Bloody hell.” Doyle muttered.
Before them stood the German terrorist. A very pregnant German terrorist.
“When’s the baby due, Gerty?” Bodie glanced in the rear view mirror of the Capri as he manoeuvred the car out of the police station car park.
“My name is Gerda, Gerda Braun. You may call me Fräulein Braun.” She continued to stare out of the car’s rear window.
In the mirror Bodie caught Doyle’s eye and grinned.
“I’m sorry,” he said insincerely, “when’s the baby due, Fräulein?”
She remained silent for long enough that Bodie assumed she wasn’t going to answer.
“Soon.” She said eventually.
Bodie hummed to himself for a few minutes while he concentrated on the traffic, but once they were clear of the town centre, he started up with the questions again.
“Got any names picked out?”
He heard Doyle snort with something like amusement. At least he thought it was Doyle.
“That is none of your business.”
“What are you hoping for? Boy or girl?”
“Where’s the baby’s daddy, then? Is he nearby?”
There was sudden movement behind him and he tensed up. A glance in the rear view mirror showed him that Gerda was sitting forward in her seat, her handcuffed hands gripping the back of the front passenger seat as she pulled herself upright. Doyle, sitting behind Bodie, was on alert.
“Listen, you little worm,” she hissed, her eyes flashing anger. “I do not want to talk to you. I certainly do not wish to discuss my baby with you. The only thing you need to concern yourself with is that Marcus will come for me. I suggest you concentrate on driving, not the idle chit-chat.”
She sat back and Bodie could sense Doyle relaxing slightly.
Bodie took a deep breath, and turned his attention to the road. He drove in silence for several minutes, concentrating on the increasingly slippery surface. The silence in the car was palpable, and made Bodie far more uncomfortable than Gerda’s threats.
“So, Gerty, what makes you so sure your Marcus is going to come for you?”
“Bodie …” Doyle’s warning was low, and the timbre of it went straight to Bodie’s cock. Uncomfortable with the sudden tightening of his trousers, he shifted in his seat. What the hell was wrong with him?
Gerda’s temper seemed to have calmed down, though, and Doyle’s warning was not necessary. “I know he will” she said with absolute conviction.
Bodie made an undignified snort, and steered the Capri around yet another round-about on the southbound route around Edinburgh. The traffic was becoming decidedly heavier, presumably with people leaving work early due to the snow, and the road conditions weren’t good. When all was said and done, Bodie was not used to driving in snow, and it took all his concentration.
“I need the bathroom.” Gerda’s voice piped up from the back seat.
“Really? Now?” Bodie glanced around. They were on a dual carriageway with no signs of anywhere to stop. “You’ll ‘ave to put a cork in it, love. There’s nowhere to stop.”
“I do not ‘have to put a cork in’ anything, Herr Bodie.” Bodie could feel Gerda’s glare at the back of his head. “I need the bathroom. Now.”
Bodie took a deep breath. “Look, love …”
“Bodie.” Doyle’s quiet warning stopped him before he even got going. “We will stop at the first garage, Fraulein. Can you hold on for a few minutes?”
At that precise moment in time, Bodie wasn’t too happy with his partner.
“A few minutes should not be a problem, Herr Doyle.”
And now Bodie just wanted to be physically sick. He said nothing, pursed his lips and kept driving. Within five minutes he spotted a garage and pulled onto the forecourt. He applied the handbrake and got out, still without a word, leaning down to move the seat forward and let his partner out. While Doyle assisted Gerda, Bodie strode off towards the small shop looking for the toilets. He was handed a key and directed around the back of the brick building.
At Doyle’s questioning glance, he nodded his head to indicate ‘round the back’ and set off, not bothering to wait for either Doyle or Gerda. Let Doyle help her, he thought bitterly. He found the toilet and unlocked the door, the stench of wee assaulting his nose as the door opened. No way could the toilet be described as hygienic but it would have to do. Thankfully, there was no other way in or out of the room, so he stood back and waited for the others to arrive.
He tried really hard not to roll his eyes as they rounded the corner, Gerda clinging onto Doyle as they walked through the accumulating snow.
“There you go, Fraulein.” Doyle stopped outside and allowed Gerda to enter on her own. The minute they heard the lock snick into place, Doyle was whirling round and pushing Bodie back with a finger on his chest.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” He demanded. Bodie just stood there, his mouth slightly open, as the finger jabbed into his flesh. “Are you deliberately trying to wind her up?”
Bodie went to open his mouth, but Doyle gave him no opportunity to talk.
“Would it hurt you to be polite? She may be a terrorist, but there’s no need to antagonise her, for God’s sake.”
Even with his coat zipped up tight, his sternum was starting to get sore where Doyle kept poking it. For long moments he just looked at Doyle, sure his expression would give away all his feelings, then he just looked away and shrugged. After all, what could he say? He didn’t think the admission ‘I’ve just realised I’ve fallen in love with you and I’m trying to take my mind off it’ would go down very well at the moment.
With a huff of diminishing anger, Doyle pulled back and shoved his hands in his pocket. “Bloody brass monkey weather,” he muttered, and with one last searching look into Bodie’s face he turned back to face the toilet door.
Bodie let out his breath and felt his shoulders relaxing. He needed to get his emotions under control. He knew Doyle would never have feelings for a criminal, and he couldn’t understand why he was feeling jealous. Why was it becoming harder to keep his feelings for Doyle at bay?
When Gerda had finished, Bodie returned the key to the shop, and bought some snacks and a few cans of pop. He had no idea when they’d be able to stop again and he could already feel his stomach rumbling slightly. He made sure he picked up several of his own favourite chocolate bars and a few of Doyle’s. Gerda could manage with the unheard of, budget-shop brand wafers with the dodge pink wrapper. He didn’t care how childish that made him.
Darkness had well and truly fallen when a detour took them away from their planned route back across Scotland to rejoin the M6. Whilst the snow hadn’t eased, the main road had been kept reasonably clear with the volume of traffic and they had made good time. The Capri’s headlights picked up the police car positioned across the carriageway, and as Bodie pulled up next to it he wound down the window.
“Problems, constable?” He asked the young policeman who stepped out of the car.
“Got some telegraph poles come down, broken the electric cables. Road’s a death trap”. He carried on by giving directions for a suitable detour, a smaller B-road that would take them directly south.
As Bodie checked the mirror as he was on the second point of his three-point turn, with the headlights from the police car shining right into the Capri, he saw the smirk of satisfaction on Gerda’s face, and couldn’t help the shiver that ran up his back. When she saw him watching her, Gerda leant forward slightly.
“Marcus. He is coming for me.”
Doyle left his perusal of the darkness outside the car and looked at her, before turning his attention to Bodie. “What do you think?”
Bodie considered their options. “Stick to the B road the copper directed us to. There’ll be more traffic on it and less snow.”
Doyle glanced outside again. “Yeah. It’s not like we have much choice. Keep your eyes open.”
“Like I always do.” Bodie muttered as he completed the manoeuvre, and they set off back the way they had just come.
He spotted the B road easily enough and was pleased to see several other cars turning onto it. He couldn’t stop thinking that at least there was safety in numbers. Hours passed, and he kept one eye on the rear view mirror, looking for anything out of the ordinary. But all the other cars on the road were keeping a respectable distance, the drivers obviously concentrating on the road. Conditions weren’t improving as night set in and the temperature plummeted. Even over the sound of the engine, he could hear the snow crunching under the tyres.
The relentless drone of the windscreen wipers attempting to keep the glass free of snow was wearing on the nerves of all three of the occupants, and Bodie hadn’t noticed the reduction of other traffic on the road. When the attack came Bodie was not prepared for it. At first, he didn’t even connect the car travelling towards them on the left hand side of the road with any potential rescue of Gerda. It was only when he realised the other vehicle was not going to stop in time, that he jerked the steering wheel hard to the right and managed to avoid an impact by sheer luck alone. As it was, the wing mirror of the other car scraped down the left hand side of the Capri with a teeth-clenching screeching noise.
“Shit!” Doyle shouted from the rear seat, and even Gerda with the joy of a possible rescue screamed in panic. Bodie didn’t have the breath to either swear or scream. He felt himself lose his control of the car as it slid across the packed snow, and after a moment’s panic as they spun towards the verge, he forced himself to stop fighting the mechanics and eased his foot off the brake pedal. As the car righted itself, Bodie was able to steer back onto the tracks in the snow. The minute they straightened up, he accelerated away from the other vehicle that was performing a hasty U-turn.
“There.” Doyle shouted and his partner’s arm was flung across his shoulder as he pointed out a side road which led into a forest and gave them more cover. Taking a deep breath, and praying to any and all gods that might be listening and looking out for them tonight, he switched off the headlights and turned the car onto the narrower lane. Cutting their speed and peering through the windscreen, they managed to go some way before Doyle shouted “thank God, they’ve missed us” as the other vehicle drove straight past the turn for the lane they were now on.
As the trees became denser and cut off the lights from the vehicle travelling on the other road, Bodie risked turning their own side lights back on, just enough to give some visibility. This new road hadn’t been well travelled and the deep snow, pristine and untouched, made any movement forward heavy going, let alone movement at a decent speed.
“They’ll realise their mistake soon.” Doyle, ever the voice of doom, spoke up from behind him.
“Only good thing is, they won’t be able to travel any faster than us in this stuff.” Bodie’s response was more wishful thinking than probability.
“They will do whatever it takes.” Gerda’s voice piped up. “Marcus will not rest until I am safe.”
“Don’t count on it, lady. Marcus hasn’t rescued you yet.” At this point, Bodie really didn’t care if Doyle didn’t like him talking to their prisoner in this manner. He’d talk to her any damn way he pleased. He was somewhat gratified when Doyle didn’t reprimand him.
“We need somewhere to hide up. Keep an eye out for a barn, or something.”
Bodie barked out a humourless laugh. “A barn? For God’s sake, Doyle. We’re in forest in the middle of fucking nowhere. Do you really think there’ll be a barn?”
“Well, do you have a better idea?” Doyle snapped back.
“I have an idea.” Gerda’s voice broke into the silence.
“What?” Oh, good, now Doyle was angry with Gerda as well.
“Park the car and wait for Marcus to arrive. I will make sure he doesn’t kill you.”
Bodie shook his head. “Like that is going to happen.”
The car started to pick up speed as the road dipped downhill. Bodie kept his foot off the brake and changed to a lower gear, using the engine to do the braking. As the road steepened, he was down to first gear and they were crawling along. At least they weren’t sliding.
The road eventually levelled out and the trees on one side became sparse, eventually giving way to a stone wall. Doyle was quick to pick up on the significance.
“Must be a field.”
“Huh?” Bodie wasn’t following.
“That’s a stone wall.”
“Yes, I can see that.”
“Stone walls usually surround fields.”
“Where there’s a field, there’s probably a farm. Where there’s a farm, there might be a barn. Where we can hide.”
Bodie took a deep breath before muttering. “What is it with you and barns?”
It was probably a good job that Doyle didn’t waste his breath answering.
Now they were once again exposed to the elements, Bodie was having trouble seeing through the driving snow but he didn’t want to risk turning the lights onto full beam. Not that it would do any good. The light would just be reflected back at them and they wouldn’t be able to see any better. He leant forward in his seat, his hands curled around the top of the steering wheel, but even those few extra inches didn’t help.
“Just keep going. Something might …”
Doyle’s sentence was cut off in mid-sentence by Bodie’s exclamation of “Fuck!” seconds before the Capri smashed into the stone wall which Bodie hadn’t seen as the road turned sharply to the right.
If Bodie hadn’t been leaning forward he probably would have walked away from the crash. As it was the force of the impact threw him against the windscreen. He was unconscious before the Capri came to rest on top of the demolished stones, half on the road and half in a snow drift piled up on the field side of the wall.
“Bodie. Bodie, mate. You need to wake up.” Bodie wished Doyle would shut the hell up. The incessant talking was making his head ache. Something was tapping his cheek, the vibrations exacerbating the pain and he tried to raise his hand to swat it away. He didn’t think he was very successful … the tapping continued unabated.
“Go ‘way.” He mumbled. To his own ears his voice sounded slurred.
“Come on, sunshine. That’s it.” The tapping stopped, and he felt something cup his cheek. A hand, he realised dully, as a thumb rubbed gently by the side of his nose. Doyle’s hand.
“’appened?” Yea. He managed to sound almost coherent.
“You need glasses, mate.”
“You drove us into a wall.” He was sure he heard Doyle chuckling.
Bodie grunted and tried to shift position. His muscles screamed at him, and something not quite right in his left ankle sent a jarring pain shooting up his leg. He ignored it.
“Hold still for a few minutes, yeah?” Doyle’s hand moved away and he immediately missed the contact, turning his head to try to follow. “I need to find out where you’re hurt.”
“All over.” Bodie murmured without thinking.
“Christ!” Doyle whispered in horror, and Bodie’s eyes finally snapped open. He recoiled in pain as light from the car’s interior bulb as good as stabbed into his retina.
“What?” He groaned and settled back with his eyes only half open.
“Don’t panic, okay? Give me a minute.”
“What?” He repeated dumbly, then realised that Doyle thought he was seriously injured. “Doyle, I’m okay. I think.” This time when he raised his arm his muscles worked, and his fingers closed over the fabric of Doyle’s coat. “Really, I’m okay.”
Doyle’s relief was tangible. He swallowed hard. “You’re bleeding,” was all he managed to get out.
“Huh?” Automatically his fingers went to his head, but his arm was grabbed before he could touch.
“Just leave it alone, okay. Let me clean it up.”
Bodie finally took stock of their position. Doyle had managed to push the passenger seat forward and was somehow crouched behind it to see to Bodie. Next to him sat Gerda, quietly surveying the pair of them, probably plotting her escape, Bodie thought in a moment of pique.
“You okay?” He asked her, his eyes dropping to where her hand was rubbing her stomach. Immediately, her hand stilled and she stiffened.
“Yes, thank you. Just shaken.”
His partner had turned around and was trying to get the passenger door open. “What?”
“Are you hurt?”
Doyle turned back to him, frowning, and momentarily Bodie wondered what he’d said wrong.
“No.” He put his shoulder to the door. It didn’t budge.
“The window.” Bodie suggested, closing his eyes to relieve the pounding in his skull.
“What?” The movement stilled. “Bodie?” There was worry in the voice and then the fingers were back on his face.
His eyes flew open and he looked right into Doyle’s concerned eyes. For a long moment they just looked at one another, then Bodie had to turn away from the intensity.
“I thought …” Doyle paused and took a deep breath. “Are you okay? How’s the head?” He obviously thought Bodie had lost his marbles.
With a small smile, nothing more than a twitch of his lips, Bodie explained. “The window. You need to climb out of the window if the door’s jammed.”
Doyle glanced over his shoulder, and his shoulders sagged. “Of course I do.” He turned away again, twisting awkwardly to reach the window winder.
“Doyle.” Bodie said and waited until his partner was paying attention before he continued. “We’re going to be okay.”
After a moment Doyle nodded sharply.
Getting through the window took effort and the twists and turns of a contortionist, but Doyle, being lithe and in good shape, managed it. Once he’d disappeared into the darkness and snowflakes, Bodie’s head sank back against the window and he closed his eyes. He knew he should be watching Gerda, but he just didn’t have the energy to keep his eyes open any more.
“Herr Bodie? Herr Bodie, you need to stay awake.” Gerda’s voice penetrated his daze. He tried to open his eyes. He really did. But it took too much effort.
“I am awake.” His slurred response didn’t even convince himself.
He didn’t hear anything else.
Quite some time must have passed whilst he drifted. When he opened his eyes again Doyle had managed to open the driver’s door and was crouched down fumbling in the well-stocked first aid kit kept in the boot of all CI5 vehicles.
“You back with us?” He asked brusquely.
“I didn’t go anywhere.” Bodie hissed as cold antiseptic swiped across the bleeding cut on his forehead.
The impersonal care continued on for a few minutes, then Bodie had to ask. “Are you mad at me?”
Doyle hesitated for a moment. “No.” He eventually got out. “Just don’t like being a sitting duck. We need to move.”
Bodie winced as Doyle slapped a dressing across the wound and taped it in place. “Where to?”
Doyle started repacking the first aid box. “The road’s too exposed. I think we’d be best in the trees.”
“Cover from her lot?” Bodie jerked his head slightly to indicate Gerda, still sitting in the back of the Capri.
“And the snow.”
Bodie braced himself for a cacophony of aches, and pulled himself up by gripping the steering wheel. As expected, his body was not happy, and his head protested the movement by increasing the pain ten-fold. He took several deep breaths to keep the nausea at bay. He slowly swung his right leg out of the car, his knee brushing up against the dashboard which was several inches closer to his body than it had ever been in the past. He supposed in the scheme of things the car had withstood the impact remarkably well if the front had only crumpled a few inches. It could have been much, much worse.
He tried to move his left leg but found it was caught tight. The panic must have shown on his face because before it had chance to take hold, Doyle’s hand was on his arm.
“Take it easy, mate. Let’s see what’s happening down there.” And then he stretched down, leaning over Bodie slightly so his head was above the handbrake. At any other time, Bodie would have been ecstatic to have Doyle between his legs, but now he just breathed deeply and tried to stop imagining the worst.
Doyle’s hand settled on his calf and slowly inched downwards. Minutes later, he repeated the process on Bodie’s shin. To be honest, Bodie couldn’t feel a thing as Doyle reach lower down. His lower left leg had gone completely numb. He just hoped it wasn’t serious.
Doyle stretched up and looked straight at Bodie.
“I don’t think it’s anything major, mate. Your foot is just twisted under the clutch pedal. I’ve untied the laces on your boot and loosened them. I think we should be able to pull your foot out.”
Bodie searched his face for any sign of a lie, but Doyle’s expression was completely open.
“Seriously, mate. You’re just a bit stuck. Your leg is still there, there are no gaping wounds.” He shifted his position slightly so he could reach down with both hands. “On three, pull your leg back.” Bodie wasn’t sure, but Doyle didn’t give him time to think about it. “One, two, three.” Bodie pulled, and Doyle pulled, and the foot eventually slid free of its boot. Bodie sat breathing hard, his knee up somewhere near his chest, while Doyle reached down to prise the now empty boot free of the clutch pedal.
“Here you go, mate.”
Bodie felt stupid, holding his leg up like he was, but his muscles didn’t seem to want to relax. He was sure that any movement would be disastrous. He wasn’t far wrong. He took his boot off Doyle. The minute he tried to push his foot back into it, his leg woke up screaming.
He just hoped the undignified squawk that escaped his lips came out more like a manly grunt than a scream.
“Ow!” He hissed, dropping the boot into the footwell. “That bloody hurts.”
“Come on, Bodie, we don’t have time for any messing about.”
He glared at his partner. “I’m not messing about. It hurts.”
Doyle gently pulled his trouser leg up. Even in the poor light of the car, it was quite obvious that his ankle was severely swollen.
“Oh, great.” Bodie huffed.
“Can you move your toes?”
“That doesn’t mean anything.” Nevertheless, Bodie tried wriggling his toes with little success.
“Just what we need.” Doyle murmured, turning to survey their surroundings.
“What is happening?” Gerda’s voice piped up from behind. Bodie had almost forgotten she was there.
“Looks as though Bodie’s ankle is broken.”
Bodie was sure he heard an inelegant snort coming from the German woman. “So, we wait for Marcus.”
“Not on my watch, lady.” Doyle snapped and stood up. “Right, sunshine, let’s get you up and out the way.” And he hauled Bodie upright with one hand under his elbow and one on his waist steadying his erratic movement and stabilizing him when he was more or less upright.
Bodie closed his eyes in an attempt to ward off the vertigo that suddenly overwhelmed him. The last thing he needed now was to throw up all over himself and Doyle. He felt his partner moving away from him, and heard the car boot opening. His eyes flew open, which did the nausea no good whatsoever.
“Ray?” Great, he thought. Now he was starting to sound really pathetic. Doyle didn’t seem to notice.
“Just getting one of the bags.” Doyle came back around to the driver’s side carrying his open hold-all and pulling out his clothes. He dumped them on the now-vacant driver’s seat before shoving Bodie’s useless boot and the first aid kit into the bag. He added Bodie’s bag of chocolate goodies and the three remaining drinks. He disappeared around the back of car again, before reappearing with Bodie’s spare jumper and t-shirt which he pushed into his partner’s hands, and Bodie’s extra pair of trousers. These ended up dumped on top of the first aid kit in the bag.
“Put these on. You need to keep the cold out.” As he spoke, he bent down and gently eased another two socks over Bodie’s injured foot. “It’s not perfect, but better than nothing.” Doyle muttered to himself.
Bodie found himself following Doyle’s instructions without conscious thought and unzipped his jacket before slipping if off. Once the extra layers were added and the coat was done back up, he felt and probably looked like the Michelin man. How Doyle expected him to move like this, he didn’t know.
Doyle removed his coat and slipped on his own extra shirt and jumper. After pulling his coat back on, Doyle patted the pocket, checking that his Walther P38 was still there, Bodie assumed. Bodie remembered he had surreptitiously put his own gun in the glove box when they first started off, and twisted around to make it easier to lean into the car to retrieve it.
“Oi, mate, where you going?” Doyle’s firm hand on his chest stopped him.
“I’ll get it.” Doyle leant across the seat to the glove box and grabbed Bodie’s weapon, and the torch they always carried there. He thrust the gun into the hold-all, and left the torch on the seat. He riffled through the remaining contents of his bag which had been dumped on the driver’s seat and came up with the pair of dirty jeans he had changed out of at the hotel. He added them to the contents of the bag before zipping it up.
Doyle straightened up, then studied Bodie’s face. “Are you up to this, mate?”
“It’s not like we have much choice.” Bodie muttered. “I’d rather try than be a sitting duck.”
“My thoughts exactly, mate.” He released the catch on the driver’s seat and slid the seat forward, then reached in to help Gerda out.
“Are you going to remove these?” She asked belligerently as she held up her handcuffed wrists.
“How far do you think we are going to get? Herr Bodie with his bad ankle, me in these.” If she hadn’t sounded quite so arrogant, Bodie might have persuaded Doyle to capitulate.
Doyle obviously had no such qualms. “No!”
Gerda actually stamped her foot and swore at them in German. Doyle looked at Bodie and raised his eyebrow, and Bodie fought his own grin.
Doyle handed Gerda the travel rug that he’d been using as a cushion on the back seat of the Capri. She looked at him without taking it.
“Don’t I get any extra clothes?”
“We don’t have anything that will fit over the bump.” Doyle’s voice was apologetic. “You can wrap this around your shoulders.”
Realising that it would be awkward for her to do it for herself with her cuffed hands, he shook the rug out and draped it over her shoulders.
“This is ridiculous.” She hissed but didn’t refuse the rug.
“Come on, then. Let’s get this show on the road.” Doyle shut the car door and the meagre interior light was cut off. In the sudden darkness, the howling wind seemed much more intense and Bodie became more aware of their isolation. He shivered, as much because of the eeriness as the cold.
Doyle set Gerda off ahead of him and Bodie, heading across the road and towards the dense trees. Visibility was poor, a few feet at best, and the wind and snow soon obliterated their tracks. Bodie managed a kind of hopping half shuffle with Doyle’s right arm around his waist. Doyle had managed to get the hold-on onto his back rucksack-style and held the torch in his free hand. He kept the torch down low which minimised the beam whilst providing just enough light for them to be able to walk by.
Once they hit the tree line and stepped over the bare tendrils of the brambles which protected the length of the wood there was instantaneous relief. Ten feet in and the wind was cut in half and the flakes of snow flurried around more gently rather than driving into their bare flesh and stinging their skin. The only downside was their tracks weren’t covered quite so fast. Bodie tried not to think about that too much. Hopefully, they still had enough of a head start that by the time Marcus came along the tracks would have been obliterated.
And Bodie had no doubt that Marcus Schmidt would eventually come. Now Bodie had time to think about it he was convinced that the fallen telegraph poles had been a deliberate act of sabotage. And anyone brazen enough to do that and then attack them on an open road had the gumption to put two and two together. The only question was, how much time did they have?
Bodie didn’t know how long they walked for. It seemed like hours. Despite the chill in the air, he could feel sweat running down his back between his shoulder blades, and he wasn’t too sure if the moisture on his face was just melting snow. He was in a world of hurt, black dots swimming before his eyes. Even with Doyle’s arm remaining strong around his waist, he knew he was stumbling more and more.
Eventually, Doyle called a five minute break, easing Bodie down onto a fallen tree trunk which he hastily brushed the snow off.
“We might as well wait here.” Gerda delicately sat down next to Bodie. “Marcus will be coming.”
“I dare say.” Doyle murmured. It was obvious he wasn’t really listening as he slipped the hold-all off his back and routed around in it. He handed Bodie and Gerda a drink and chocolate bar each.
“Get these down you”.
With numb fingers, Bodie managed to pull the tab on the can and slurped a big mouthful. He felt almost instantly better as the sugar from the cola entered his system, and it didn’t take many minutes to polish off the whole can. The chocolate bar was finished nearly as quickly. It was his favourite brand of chocolate, and if he chose to believe that Doyle had deliberately given him that one, so what?
With his appetite sated, and a warm butterfly feeling in his stomach that he was sure had more to do with Doyle’s consideration than indigestion, he tucked his bare hands under his arm pits to keep them warm.
In the eerie silence that seemed more intense now that he had stopped chewing, Bodie felt it was his place to converse with their prisoner. “So, Gerty, just how good is Schmidt at tracking?”
She didn’t seem to notice the name. “Marcus is excellent at everything.”
“Hasn’t had much success at stopping us yet, ‘as he?”
“It is all part of Marcus’s plan.”
“I’ll bet he didn’t plan for his pregnant girlfriend to be lost in a snow storm.”
Gerda turned her head slowly and glared at him. “Marcus did not get me lost in a snow storm. Two incompetent English fools did that.”
“You’re welcome.” Bodie grinned at her.
In the gloom, Bodie saw Doyle look down at him and slowly shake his head. The message was clear: don’t poke the sleeping bear. Bodie felt disinclined to pay attention, though. Despite the sugar rush, his head and ankle were still competing against each other to see who could make him the most miserable, and he had to do something to take his mind off it. Gerda was the unfortunate target.
“Did you do it, then?”
“You know, plant those bombs in Germany?”
Gerda studied him. “Do you think me a complete fool?” She leant forward as far as her stomach would allow. “I say no, you won’t believe me and you will send me to prison. I say yes, and you will send me to prison.” She shook her head. “You are the fool, Herr Bodie.”
“You know we could make things easier for you, what with the baby to look after and all.”
Bodie thought he had got her interest.
“Give us the names of your accomplices and in return get a lighter sentence.”
She laughed then, a most unpleasant sound against the wind whistling through the branches. “You really are a foolish man.”
“I’m not the one facing a lengthy prison sentence, Gerty.”
Before he realised what was happening her arms, handcuffed together, shot out and struck him across his chest. “Do not … call me … Gerty.”
Caught unawares, Bodie’s precarious perch on the tree trunk was just that … precarious. His arms windmilling, he felt himself toppling over backwards into the snow covered brambles. He didn’t have time to catch his breath before a flurry of snow, knocked off the brambles by his descent, hit him in the face.
“Bloody hell!” He heard Doyle thunder. “Will you two stop acting like bloody children?”
Over the roaring in his ears, which had started up as his head hit the snow, he could hear Gerda stammering “Ich … Ich …”.
“You okay, mate?”
Bodie looked up into Doyle’s concerned face. “I hate Scotland.” He groaned.
Doyle had the audacity to grin at him. “Will you be putting that in your report to Cowley?”
“I’m not bloody suicidal.” He grunted as he shifted, relieving the pain of one particularly nasty bramble that was digging into his backside through his now soaked trousers.
Doyle scrambled over the log and knelt down next to him. “I can’t take you anywhere, can I, sunshine?” His hand came up to cup the side of Bodie’s face and Bodie found he couldn’t take his eyes off his partner’s face.
“Gott im Himmel!” Gerda’s strident voice broke the spell and, reluctantly it seemed, Doyle broke both eye and hand contact and started to back away.
“Let’s get you up, mate.” He helped Bodie lift his legs off the log, and then held out a hand for Bodie to grasp. Between the two of them, they managed to lever him off the ground. Once Bodie had found his one-legged balance, Doyle released the grip he had on his hand.
“Be honest, Bodie. Can you make it?”
Bodie closed his eyes. “Probably not very far, mate. Felt like I was going to pass out before.”
Doyle slapped his arm, and he opened his eyes. “Let’s get a bit farther into the woods, find somewhere to tuck you two out of the way, and then I’ll scout ahead.”
“Doyle …,” Bodie started.
“We don’t have much choice.” His partner answered softly. “We don’t know how far we have to go to reach any sort of civilisation. The trees are much thicker over there …” he jerked his head to indicate the direction they had been travelling in “… and I’ll bet we can find something sheltered. At least if you’re out of the wind and snow, you stand a better chance.”
Acknowledging that Doyle was right, but hating that he had to do so, he nodded tersely. Doyle grabbed the bag, shoved the three empty drink cans and chocolate wrappers into it, and slipped it onto his back once again, then slid his arm back around Bodie’s waist. Once they were settled he gesticulated with the torch for Gerda to start moving.
Bodie was barely conscious when Doyle brought them to a standstill. He had no idea how long they had been travelling, or how far they had managed to go, but he knew that if this was just a five minute break there was no way he would be able to get going again.
“Hold on a minute, Bodie mate.” Doyle gently propped Bodie up against a thick conifer trunk, lee side, and then shepherded Gerda to stand next to him.
“Just make sure he doesn’t fall over. Please.”
Bodie heard the words and was worried by Doyle’s imploring tone, but couldn’t find the energy to rouse himself.
Some indeterminate time later, Doyle was back, mostly carrying Bodie a few feet further into the undergrowth, and then easing him down.
“Shuffle back a bit, mate.”
Bodie did as he was told.
“Your turn, love.”
There was a faint waft of perfume as Gerda’s enlarged body settled next to him, and then Doyle was on his other side, his partner’s arms wrapping around him, pulling him back until he rested against a strong chest.
When Bodie next stirred there was more light, and he realised it was day. He was mostly warm, even if he was damp, and until he shifted his body weight, he was mostly comfortable. The slightest movement set off the multitude of aches and pains that he had sustained, and he couldn’t hold in the groan.
Doyle’s voice was rough and hoarse.
“Yeah.” His own wasn’t much better.
“How you feeling?”
Bodie twisted his head slightly to glower at his partner’s stupid question. Doyle just laughed softly.
“Where are we?” He looked around with interest.
They were under the canopy of what had to be a huge conifer, surrounded by and half covered with pine needles. There were rocks all around them, forming a shallow depression in which the tree had grown. Weighed down with snow, the branches of the tree rested on the stones and formed an almost snug little den, away from the biting wind and cold snow.
Bodie relaxed back into Doyle’s arms – and didn’t that feel good? – and looked about for Gerda. She lay curled up on her side, her back pressed along the length of his leg. The whole area under the tree felt almost cozy. Except for ...
“I hope ants hibernate.”
“What?” Understandably, Doyle sounded confused.
“Ants. I hope they hibernate.”
There was silence for a few minutes, then Doyle retaliated. “Either you’ve got a stonking concussion, or you’re pulling my leg.” Doyle yawned. “If you’re pulling my leg, I’m not falling for it.”
“Falling for what?”
“Whatever prank you’re about to pull.”
Bodie chuckled softly. “I’m in no condition to pull a prank. I am, however, concerned by that huge ant hill over there, and therefore I hope ants hibernate.” He could feel Doyle leaning to one side to see over his shoulder.
“Is the size of the ant hill proportionate to the size of the ants?”
Closing his eyes, Bodie “um-hmmed” under his breath, then: “Look on the bright side.”
“At lease the sting will warm you up.”
Beside him, Gerda stirred, moaning slightly with discomfort. She said something short and emphatic in German, and Bodie could only guess she was swearing. She tried to roll onto her back, and Bodie pushed back against Doyle to give her more room. Belatedly, he realised that the movement had pressed his arse against Doyle’s groin, and despite the layers of clothes he could feel the rigid outline of Doyle’s cock as it reacted to the pressure. Bodie closed his eyes and bit back a whimper. It was no surprise when Doyle loosened his arms and pushed away from Bodie, giving room for the cold to seep into his back and his heart.
Gerda eventually stopped floundering like a beached whale and managed to sit up, rubbing a grubby hand over her face. She pulled a twig out of her hair and tossed it away.
“We are going to die here.” She pronounced cheerily. Bodie found himself silently agreeing with her, even if for completely different reasons.
“Nonsense.” Doyle proclaimed and he shifted around until he was on his knees. “We’ve got air and there are still some chocolate bars left. When those run out, we can last weeks without food.”
“And what about drinks?” Gerda snapped. “We had the last drinks last night.” Bodie wondered how, and why, she had been keeping such a close eye on the state of their provisions.
“We’ve got water.”
From the corner of his eye, Bodie could see Gerda giving Doyle a look of disgust. He himself was sceptical.
“Stupid man.” She hissed. “We have no water.”
Doyle simply grinned at her, pushed one arm through the branches and pulled it back with a handful of pristine snow.
“Suck on this.”
Bodie found himself closing his eyes again at the image those words conjured up. He was going to have to get a grip.
“You alright, mate?” Doyle’s soft words by his side startled him. His eyes flew open and he took in the concern in Doyle’s face.
“Yeah, mate. Yeah. I just twisted wrong and caught my ankle.” If his voice sounded forced, he hoped Doyle would attribute it to the pain.
Doyle searched his face for a minute, then nodded decisively.
“We need to get out of here.” He leant out of their shelter once more, and brought back another handful of snow which he held out for Gerda. At her questioning look he said “we need to stay hydrated.”
Once she had scooped the cold fluff out of his hand, he repeated the process for Bodie. And Bodie had to admit he did feel better once he had had his fill, even if his mouth was freezing.
Gerda moaned softly and her hand rubbed her stomach.
“Cold got to you, love?” Bodie asked with concern.
“Yes.” She snapped. “It is not good for the baby.”
But her hand continued to press down.
“How long apart?” He asked, easing onto his side to get a better look at her.
“What?” Gerda asked in German. As least, Bodie assumed that was what she was asking. He repeated the question.
“How long apart are the contractions?” He ignored the ‘shit’ he heard from behind him, keeping his eyes firmly on Gerda’s face.
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” Behind her anger, he could see the fear on her face.
“Look, love. I know we’re not exactly your favourite people, but at the moment we’re all you’ve got.” He reached out a hand and gently laid it alongside hers. It said something about her fear that she didn’t automatically push it away. Bodie could feel her tense as another contraction took hold, and took her hand in his.
“It’s okay, love. Breathe deeply.” And as she complied, he matched her breath for breath.
The contraction passed, and she slumped back letting Bodie’s hand go. He shook out his fingers. What was another ache to his already badly abused body?
“About twenty minutes apart.” Gerda spoke quietly.
He nodded, and turned back to Doyle who looked equal parts determined and horrified.
“We need to find somewhere better than under a tree. There isn’t much time.”
Doyle straightened his coat and turned the collar up. He handed them both some chocolate, and slipped another packet into his pocket.
“I’ll be as quick as I can.” And he slipped out of the canopy, away from the shelter.
Bodie lost track of time, and almost lost permanent use of his hand. The German woman was impressively strong. It was something of a relief that she was pregnant. Unencumbered with a baby, she would be a formidable opponent.
At the moment her contractions didn’t seem to be coming any faster, but Bodie knew they were on borrowed time. When he heard a rustling outside of their shelter, and then a softly whistled rendition of ‘God Save the Queen’, he relaxed. His partner eased back through the branches in a crawl, and settled back on his heels, brushing snowflakes off his shoulders and rubbing his hand vigorously through his curls.
“How’s she doing?” Doyle inclined his head to Gerda.
“The same. What have you found?”
Doyle chuckled. “Believe it or not, we’re not as isolated as we thought. Good news is there are some farm buildings about 500 yards away.”
“And the bad news?” Despite asking, Bodie really didn’t want to know.
“It’ll be tough going and, other than the animals, there’s no sign of life.”
Doyle patted his shoulder. “At some point the sheep will need feeding. I figure it won’t be too long before someone shows up.”
“Yes, but let’s hope it’s not her lot.” He sat up fully and got his good leg under his weight. “Wait a minute. Did you say sheep?”
Doyle grinned. “Sheep.” He confirmed. “And lots of them.”
“Great,” Bodie groaned. “Come on, love.” He nudged Gerda. “Up and at ‘em.”
They managed to get themselves untangled and out from under the tree and into the still falling snow. Doyle handed Bodie a thick branch. “Found it on my way back. Thought it might help.”
Bodie took it and tested it for strength. It held up to his weight. “Thanks, mate.”
Bodie hobbled ahead, setting the pace, while Doyle supported Gerda. Bodie knew his partner didn’t like it, but he had lost the argument. It wasn’t like they had much choice. As Amazonian as she would be normally, the in-labour Gerda would not have got far without support.
And Bodie found that Doyle’s branch did help to a degree. Just not when it sank deeply into a crevice hidden by the drifting snow. For what must have been the fifth time - or perhaps it was the sixth, Bodie had lost count – he sat up spitting snow out of his mouth after taking a tumble.
Doyle, one hand still firmly attached to Gerda’s bicep, leant down to help him up. “This is no good.” He looked positively angry, as if Bodie was fooling around. Once Bodie was balanced on his good foot, Doyle bent down again and snatched up the branch.
Bodie chose to ignore his partner’s fuming. “How far?”
Doyle thrust the branch into his hand, and looked through the remaining trees at the edge of the forest. “We’ve come more than halfway. We turn left at the tree line and follow the stone wall along the field. The going’s much easier there.”
Short of rock climbing, it couldn’t get worse than where they were now, Bodie thought. When Doyle had said it was tough going, he wasn’t wrong. The land was littered with rocks, now hidden by the snow. There wasn’t even a deer or fox track to guide them. They were literally walking blind and Bodie, in the lead, was the one finding all the obstacles.
“I can make it,” he said firmly, adjusting his weight on the branch and stubbornly setting off again. He made it to the tree line without more than a few stumbles, and leant against the stone wall for relief while he waited for the others to catch up.
As Doyle came up beside him, he murmured “we had to wait for a contraction”. Bodie looked at Gerda’s face and saw the strain there.
“You need to go on ahead.”
Doyle was shaking his head vehemently. “No, we stay together. If you fall again …”
“Ray, Gerda needs to be in shelter. Now. You two can make it much faster than me.”
“Bodie, I’m not leaving you.”
“Ray.” They wasted precious minutes glaring at each other, then Doyle took a deep breath.
“Fine. But as soon as she’s settled I’m coming back for you.”
“Okay.” Bodie nodded, and smiled reassuringly at Gerda.
As they walked off, Bodie didn’t move from his position leaning against the wall. The cold and injuries were sapping his strength. He was bone tired, and his hands and knees were raw from exposure to the cold and scraped from every fall he had taken onto hard rock where the wind had whipped off the covering of snow. Not to mention that every movement sent shards of pain from his ankle straight to his head. He really could have done with Doyle’s strong arm around his waist right now.
He took a deep breath and shook off the feelings of self-pity that he had momentarily succumbed to. CI5 agents were made of tough stuff. Ex-SAS CI5 agents were even tougher and were a force to be reckoned with. He could do this.
He soon lost sight of Doyle and Gerda in the swirling snow, but with the wall to his right he plodded on. Occasionally he had to veer back into the trees to avoid blackberry bushes or parts of fallen stonework that would prove his downfall if he tried to go over them. But he made progress, albeit slowly. He had no idea how much time had passed, but it seemed like no time at all before he felt an arm slip around his waist and he jerked his head up in surprise.
“It’s only me, sunshine.” Doyle murmured. “Not far now.” And he leant into his partner and let himself be guided on.
Doyle was right. It wasn’t far. Bodie didn’t realise they were out of the snow until he found himself being eased down on a bale of hay inside a small brick built shed.
Bodie tried to work his numb fingers to unzip his coat. Like most of the coat, the metal of the zip was encrusted with frozen snow and he couldn’t work the slider down. After watching him fumbling for long moments, Doyle cursed, pushed his hands out of the way and took over.
Sliding out of the weighted down garment gave instantaneous relief and, thankfully, he immediately felt warmer. At least the waterproofing had held up to the weather and his jumper was only slightly damp. On the other hand his trousers were totally drenched up to his thighs and clung to his legs. He needed to get them off, even if that meant he was exposed in front of the terrorist. And, talking of the terrorist …
“Gerda?” He asked, worried.
Doyle simply nodded towards a stall at the back of building, where the German woman sat on a thick bed of hay, her left arm handcuffed to an iron ring screwed into the brickwork. Her own coat was tossed over the wooden side of the stall she was in, laid out so it would dry, along with her tights and the travel rug. There was no sign of the ankle boots she had been wearing.
Sensing their attention on her, she spoke.
“You may release me, now, Herr Doyle.”
“I don’t think so, love.”
“You cannot keep me chained up here. I am having a baby.”
“And that is precisely why you are chained up. I am leaving to find help, and Bodie doesn’t want any surprises.” As Doyle spoke, he looked down at Bodie, no doubt expecting resistance. But for once Bodie knew they had few choices left.
“Where will you go?” Bodie asked as he shoved his hands under his armpits to thaw them out.
“Into the valley. The road runs right by these buildings. I’ll just follow it down.”
Doyle reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his service weapon, checking that it still worked before slipping it back into his pocket. He took Bodie’s weapon out of the holdall where he’d stashed it back at the car, and repeated the process before handing it to him.
Bodie looked around. “Not going to have sheep attacking us, are we? Where are they?”
“Next door with the cows.”
“Bloody hell. It’s just like animal farm.” Bodie mumbled and shifted uncomfortably. He really needed to get out of his wet cords. “Give me a hand, mate.”
With Doyle helping and supporting, Bodie managed to rid himself of his remaining boot, socks and the drenched trousers. Thank God his briefs were one of his newer pairs. The ones he had changed out of back at the hotel were grey with age and had at least two frayed holes in them. His legs, when uncovered, were bright red with the cold and his scraped knees bared evidence of the knocks they had taken.
Doyle eased him back down on the hay, and routed through the bag again, pulling out Bodie’s spare pair of trousers and the first aid kit. “Let’s get you patched up again, then I’ll be on my way.”
Bodie succumbed to Doyle’s ministrations with no more than a bit of mild grumbling, and hated to admit that when his ankle had been re-bandaged and his cuts and scrapes tendered to, everything did actually feel better. He even let Doyle help him into his dry pair of trousers without any objections.
Gerda had remained quiet in her corner, watching the proceedings with dull eyes. She must have been in considerably pain but was too proud to show or admit it.
“Help me over to Gerda before you go, mate.” Bodie asked quietly.
Doyle looked up from repacking the first aid kit. “Why?”
Bodie rolled his eyes. “She’s having a baby, Doyle. Goin’ to need a bit of help, I’d imagine. And you won’t be here.”
Doyle’s face was a picture of relief. Bodie was in no doubt that under other circumstances his partner would have taken great pleasure in taking the mickey out of him for what he was going to have to do.
But all he said was “since when did you know how to deliver a baby?”
Bodie looked over at Gerda. “Seen it done a time or two in Africa.”
“Seeing it done and doing it are two completely different things.” Doyle pointed out.
“There’s not much choice, is there? Just … be as quick as you can. Please.”
Doyle grinned, and then pulled Bodie to his feet.
“Running all the way, mate.”
Bodie sank down onto the hay at Gerda’s side, his weapon tucked out of her reach but easily accessible if needed. Doyle put the hold all and first aid kit down next to him, slipped Bodie the handcuff key, and then straightened. “I’ll be as quick as I can,” he promised.
He was halfway to the door when he suddenly stopped. In a flurry of urgent movement, he stripped off his coat and the topmost jumper, and then the shirt underneath. He tossed the shirt over to Bodie, then pulled the jumper and coat back on, and zipped the coat up tight.
“It’s a bit ripe, but should do in an emergency.”
“What’s this for?” Bodie asked, fingering the warm fabric and resisting the urge to bring it to his nose and sniff deeply.
“If the baby comes before I’m back …”
“Oh.” And that there was one sure fire way to kill his desire.
“See ya, mate.” Doyle gave a half wave and disappeared through the shed door, letting it bang shut after him.
Bodie watched the dust settle for a few minutes then, in the gloom, turned his attention to Gerda.
“How are you holding up, love?”
She glared at him. “How do you think, Herr Bodie? I am cold, I am wet and I am hungry. And I am about to give birth.” She rattled the handcuff. “And you barbarians have me chained up.”
He closed his eyes for a few long seconds and took a deep breath. There was no point in arguing with her, but that didn’t mean he didn’t want to. Instead he took another breath and shifted slightly on the bed of hay so that the thistle he seemed to be sitting on was no longer sticking in his bum.
He tucked the key into a pocket in the hold-all and slung it behind his back where Gerda couldn’t reach it.
“What time is it, please?” Gerda asked.
He glanced at his watch. The glass was smashed and even if the mechanism still worked he couldn’t see the hands through the crazing.
He showed it to her. “Don’t know, love. Why?”
“I do not want my baby born on Christmas Day.”
Through the filthy, cobweb covered glass in the window Bodie could see that it was still light, but there was certainly no sun in the sky to gauge anything by. He had completely lost track of time during the trek from their overnight shelter, but at a guess he would say it had to be early afternoon by now. When he told Gerda, she just frowned.
“At least we are out of the storm.” God only knew why he was trying to sound optimistic.
“Do not think the storm will stop Marcus. He is coming for me.”
“I’m sure he is.” Tiredly, he rubbed his ever-aching forehead, avoiding the bandaged cut. The cold outside had somehow numbed the thudding pain but now he had time to think about it, it had come back with a vengeance. He was just not up to playing head games with a terrorist. He realised she was watching him intently and dropped his hand, suddenly wary of showing weakness in front of her.
Bodie leant his head back against the wooden stall partition and half closed his eyes. In the welcome silence he could hear the faint bleats of the sheep coming from the barn next door, and the sound lulled him into a doze.
Gerda shifting in the hay, readjusting her position, brought him awake some time later.
“Your partner. He thinks very high of you.” She announced out of the blue.
Still half asleep he frowned, and that did his aching head no good at all. “What are you going on about?”
“Doyle very much admires you.”
He really didn’t know where this conversation was going. He wasn’t sure he wanted to find out, either. “Huh?” Very eloquent.
“Partners have to have a lot of trust in each other.”
He chose not to answer, curious to see what game she was playing.
“Partners should have no secrets.” What could he say to that? He had the biggest secret of them all.
Gerda was quiet for a few minutes, but he could almost see the cogs turning in her head as she thought something through. He just knew whatever it was, it was a whopper. He wasn’t disappointed, either.
“Doyle loves you.”
He couldn’t help himself. The laugh burst from him, possibly slightly more hysterically than it should have been. He put that down to the stress he was under, and of course the pain. It had nothing to do with relief that his own secret was safe.
“It is not something to find funny, Herr Bodie.” She looked very prim and stern. “How can you trust a man who wants to do unnatural … things to you?”
Oh God, it was priceless. If only she knew the truth.
“Doyle is my partner, Fraulein. He’s my best friend. Of course he loves me.” He nearly added “not like I love him” but sense prevailed and he held that snippet back.
“His love is not that of friends.”
“I don’t know what you think you’ve seen, but you’re barking up the wrong tree, love. Doyle is nothing but professional.” More’s the pity, he thought.
“Doyle is after …” She broke off on a gasp, her free hand pressing onto her stomach, her eyes wide with fear.
“Gerda?” Bodie asked, shifting his body marginally closer.
“The baby. It is coming.”
“Now?” She nodded tersely and closed her eyes tight. “Bloody Hell!”
She moaned then, and he felt his skin prickling. He had seen this done before … several times, but never at such close range. They had nothing that they needed. He glanced towards the door. Where the hell was Doyle when you needed him?
“Right.” He muttered and took a deep breath. “You can do this.”
“Of course I can, you stupid man. The baby wants to come so the baby comes.” The sentence ended on a squeal and her hand floundered about. Instinctively, he grabbed it and let her hold on through the wave of pain. As it passed she pulled free. Bodie turned, and reached for the key he had hidden. Terrorist she may be, but he was not a monster to keep her chained while she gave birth. Standing up was a struggle, as was hopping around Gerda to reach the handcuffs, but he managed it just in time as another contraction froze her body. He left the handcuff hanging off the ring with the key in the lock, ready for later if need be.
He eased himself back down again.
“Gerda, I need to see.” He murmured.
She didn’t hear him until he repeated himself.
“See what?” She hissed.
He gesticulated to her lower half, waving his hand as if that explained everything. She got the message, though, and spread her legs.
He took a breath. “You can do this,” he muttered to himself this time as he reached up blindly under the material of her skirt to reach for her soaking wet panties. He realised that her waters must have broken, and wondered how long she had been sitting in wet underwear and why she hadn’t complained about it. She lifted her bum up and he slid them off her legs. He was no stranger to the female anatomy, but this was just so … wrong.
He placed her panties to one side, and pulled her skirt up to her stomach. As her legs splayed wide again, he felt between them. He found himself grinning at Gerda when he felt the crown of the baby’s head. Sense should have told him she was a lot further along than he had realised.
“I can feel it, Gerda. It’s nearly there.”
“I don’t want it there.” She screamed at him, screwing her eyes shut through another powerful and painful contraction. With that push more of the baby’s head appeared.
“Do you want to feel it?” He asked, mesmerised by the sight.
“No, I do not.” She hissed at him. “I just want it to stop.”
Long minutes passed in virtual silence, Gerda’s deep panting the only sound in the shed. Bodie gathered Doyle’s t-shirt close, along with his own damp jumper in readiness. The next contraction, when it came, saw the baby’s head appear completely, its face screwed up and covered in goo. It might have been a miracle of nature, but Bodie found it hard not to gag.
“One more push, love.”
And then the baby was lying in his hands, red and wrinkly, and sucking in a deep breath. He wasn’t prepared for something so small to make so much noise, but thankfully he didn’t drop the … yes, definitely a boy, when it started wailing. He leant over to Gerda and placed her son in her arms. Her face immediately transformed, softening for the first time since he had met her. Her fingers tentatively touched the baby’s head, smoothing down the tufts of dark hair sticking up all over his scalp.
With one eye on Gerda, Bodie quietly dealt with the aftermath of the birth and gently pulled Gerda’s skirt down over her legs. In his mother’s arms, the baby had gone quiet. Bodie silently urged his partner’s return with medical personnel in tow. Gerda may have safely birthed the baby, but they both needed professional care as soon as possible. A cattle shed was no place for a newly born baby.
Feeling almost as exhausted as Gerda looked, Bodie eased himself down onto the bedding, wiping his stained hands as best he could with some of the hay. With no idea where the thought came from, he wondered if Joseph had felt like this when baby Jesus was born. He suddenly had a vision of a cow leaning over the stall wall, and he started chuckling.
“Something is funny?” Gerda asked without raising her eyes.
He grinned at her. “All we need now is a bloody donkey.”
He guessed he couldn’t blame Gerda for looking at him as if he had gone mad.
Bodie woke to an almighty crash reverberating around the shed as the door was thrown open, and he blinked his eyes in the sudden blinding light that shone directly at him. Instinct had him reaching for his firearm.
“Halt.” A heavily accented voice instructed. His hand stilled.
As he raised his arms, the light flicked away from him to illuminate the new mother. With yellow dots dancing across his vision he couldn’t make out any details, just the blurry shapes of three … or was that four … men.
Before his vision could right itself, something heavy was dropped onto the hay by his feet, landing with a dull thud. The groan that emanated from the bundle confirmed what he already suspected. Doyle. At least he was still alive, if the groan was anything to go by.
“Gerda?” The accented voice asked in breathy wonder.
“Marcus, I knew you would come for me.” She put her hand out, and her boyfriend hastened to take it.
The spots faded and Bodie could see that Schmidt was accompanied by only two men, both of whom were holding guns pointed directly at him. He didn’t stand a chance. Doyle groaned again and his hand started flailing around. Bodie didn’t hesitate in leaning forward and reaching for his partner, trigger-happy maniacs be damned.
“S’ok, mate.” He murmured quietly as he gripped Doyle’s wrist.
“Yeah.” He squeezed for a second and then loosened his hold on Doyle. He couldn’t bring himself to let go completely. Doyle seemed equally happy to let him hang on, probably too banged up to really know what was happening around him.
Bodie watched the German lovers’ converse quietly in their native tongue. Every now and again, Gerda would look up and catch his eye. He became certain they were discussing his and Doyle’s fate, especially when Schmidt turned around as well, a vicious smirk on his face. It was times like this that Bodie wished he had learnt German. But then again, it was probably better not to know what their captors were planning for them.
Schmidt leant down and placed a kiss on the baby’s head, then he twisted around to face Bodie directly. For a long time he just studied Bodie, quietly and intently. Bodie started to feel like a lab rat under the scrutiny. Doyle was still out for the count and seemed oblivious to all the drama around him.
“I should kill you.” Schmidt squatted, resting steadily on the balls of his feet. Bodie couldn’t take his eyes off the VP70 machine pistol that the German was caressing with his gloved hand.
“I’m sure you will anyway.” He eventually responded, forcing his eyes away from the weapon.
Schmidt turned to look at Gerda. She shook her head slightly, her eyes never leaving her lover’s face.
“You are my enemy and I would take great pleasure in killing you. Slowly.” He paused.
“But?” There was a ‘but’ coming, Bodie was sure. There was always a ‘but’ when a sentence ended like that, wasn’t there?
“Today you helped Gerda and my son. Because of that, today is your lucky day.” He looked down at Doyle’s supine body. Bodie found himself silently chanting “please, God, Doyle, too; please, God, Doyle, too.”
Schmidt took a deep breath and suddenly stood up. Without realising it, Bodie had thrown himself over Doyle and braced for the impact of a bullet.
Schmidt started laughing at him and the other two men joined in.
Bodie glanced up and saw Gerda shaking her head, a smile playing softly at her lips.
“Doyle is not the only one, is he?” She asked quietly.
Bodie knew quite well what she was getting at.
“I think you have … inappropriate feelings for him, as well, ja?” She continued.
Bodie was sure if he had any colour left in his face it would have drained away.
Gerda spoke rapidly to Schmidt in German. He gave an exaggerated eye roll and then nodded.
“You will both be left here.” Gerda advised him.
Schmidt bent down and without breaking a sweat lifted Gerda and the baby into his arms. He gave what was obviously an instruction to his men and then headed to the door. Once there, he looked back.
“Gerda?” Bodie called out with some urgency.
Schmidt turned his body so that Gerda could see Bodie.
“You and the baby … You both need to see a doctor.”
She nodded and smiled at him. “We will, Herr Bodie, we will.”
Schmidt said “Don’t worry. When we are far enough away, I will let someone know where you are.” And then he strode through the door and he and his family disappeared into the dark.
Bodie was grabbed under the armpits by the larger of Schmidt’s men and hauled backwards towards the wall. Before he could take a breath, his left arm was pulled over his shoulder and the handcuff closed over his wrist. He was still struggling to pull free as Doyle was manoeuvred in a similar way, with his right wrist locked into the other side of the cuff. The ring in the wall prevented their arms dropping. The German terrorist made sure the cuffs were locked in place and then tossed the key into the far corner of the shed, at least ten feet away.
“Bloody hell.” Bodie swore, and was met with a grin.
The door swung shut behind the departing Germans and their torches, and the room was left in darkness.
“Shit.” He swore again, softer, and sagged back against the brickwork.
Doyle’s head lolled sideways and came to rest against Bodie’s armpit. He didn’t have the energy to push it away. Instead, he took comfort that he could feel Doyle’s chest rising and falling, and he found himself breathing in sync with his unconscious partner. Before long, he felt himself drifting off.
It was the ache in his left shoulder and neck that woke Bodie. And once he was awake, he felt the chill of the room creeping up his body. He shifted upright to relieve the pull on his arm, keeping his eyes shut on the vague off-chance that he’d be able to fall asleep again. After what must have been a good ten minutes, he acknowledged that that wasn’t going to happen, and opened his eyes. It was still dark.
Despite the cold in the exposed side of his body, his left side was nice and toasty with Doyle plastered against it. His left arm was draped across Bodie’s stomach and the fingers of his hand curled around Bodie’s right hip. Bodie took a minute to savour the unintentional contact. If this was all he would ever have of Doyle he was going to enjoy it.
A shiver seemed to course through Doyle’s whole body, and Bodie reached his arm up and rubbed his partner’s bicep, offering warmth and comfort. Minutes passed and then Doyle stirred.
“You okay, mate?”
“Bloody head hurts.” Doyle grumbled and shifted himself. Bodie missed the warmth immediately. “What the hell am I doing cuddling you?”
Bodie knew he shouldn’t take offence, but it was hard not to when Doyle jerked away from him as if he’d been burn. “Don’t know, mate. Woke up and there you were.”
“Huh,” was Doyle’s eloquent response. He rattled the handcuff above his head. “Where’s the key?”
“Somewhere in the corner.”
Bodie heard Doyle’s head knock against the wall. “Watch it. You don’t want another concussion.” Doyle didn’t answer.
Now that his human hot water bottle had moved, Bodie felt the cold from the shed take a firm hold of his battered body, and he shivered. He needed to lean down and cover himself with hay, but he seemed to lack the energy to move.
“How are you doing, sunshine?” Doyle spoke softly close to his ear.
He jumped when Doyle’s hand cupped his cheek, and his partner chuckled. “Wish I could see you, Bodie.”
“I’m sure I look a right bloody sight.” He grumbled, suddenly uncomfortable with the close proximity and unsure of Doyle’s intentions.
“No more damage?”
“Isn’t a broken ankle enough for you?”
Again, there was that soft chuckle.
“I wasn’t exactly with it when Schmidt dumped me back here. Didn’t know if you fought them off.”
“Chance would have been a fine thing.” Was Doyle stroking his face? “They kind of took us by surprise.”
“You, you mean. Not Gerda. She was convinced they’d come for her.”
“And she was right.” Bodie grumbled. “How’d they get you?”
“My own stupid fault. Been walking for ages, didn’t think I could go much further. Saw a car coming towards me from the valley, thought it was the farmer coming to see to his animals. Would you believe I actually waved the bastards down?”
“Stupid plonker.” Bodie mumbled affectionately.
“Yeah.” Doyle agreed. “Cowley is going to have my guts for garters. Be lucky if he doesn’t send me to Macklin for a refresher course. Or for penance.”
Bodie smiled into the darkness, and Doyle’s hand on his cheek stilled.
“Something I need to tell you.”
Warmth was returning as Doyle leant his body into Bodie. “What’s that, then?”
The only warning Bodie had was the soft breath of air close to his mouth before Doyle’s dry and chapped lips were pressed onto his. Bodie froze with shock, his brain short-circuiting from the sensations suddenly firing through his body. He felt Doyle start to back away, and that woke him up. Grabbing the back of Doyle’s head, his fingers tangling in his partner’s curls, he pulled Doyle back into the kiss, and felt as if he had finally come home. When Doyle’s mouth opened and his tongue licked across Bodie’s lips, Bodie found his lips parting without conscious thought.
It was the need for breath that finally broke them apart. Doyle rested his forehead against Bodie’s while they both breathed hard.
“Wish I’d done that years ago.” He stated.
“What?” Bodie felt he could be forgiven for not really being in the moment.
Doyle’s fingers stroked his stubble covered face again. “I wish I’d had the courage to kiss you years ago.”
“But … but … you like women.” Bodie managed to get out.
“Not as much as I like men.”
Bodie’s thought processes returned. “You mean we could have been having sex for years?”
“Yeah.” Doyle chuckled. “Better late than never?”
Bodie thumped Doyle’s arm without real force. “Do you realise I’ve been trying to attract your attention for months?”
“I wondered why you insisted on wearing those skin tight trousers. Must have been bloody uncomfortable chasing down suspects.”
“Bit ironic, isn’t it?”
“I dress to show my best assets to you for months, and you only take notice of me when I’m soaking wet, black and blue and covered in blood. Like the wounded hero, then, do you?”
“You? A hero? Seems to me that I’m the hero here.” Bodie could hear the smile in Doyle’s voice.
“Not so much, sunshine. You walked right up to the enemy.”
“Yeah, well. Everyone makes a mistake once in a while.”
“What made you come to your senses, then?”
“You getting hurt, I guess.”
“I’ve been hurt before.”
“Yeah, I know. But, this time I’m not sure we’re going to …” He left the sentence hanging. Bodie knew the missing words were make it. Doyle continued “I … I needed to let you know what you meant to me.”
Bodie gently pulled Doyle’s head down into another kiss, soft, teasing, promising so much more.
“Wonder if it’s Christmas Day, yet.” Bodie sighed into Doyle’s hair.
“Never got round to getting you a present.”
“Got you now, haven’t I? Don’t want anything else, mate.” Doyle’s voice was muffled against Bodie’s shirt.
Despite the hay they had piled over their legs and their bodies being pressed together, Bodie could feel the cold leaching from the brick wall behind his back and settling into his bones. He was shivering more and more as the hours passed. The only good thing was the cold had numbed the constant throbbing from his ankle and the ache in his shoulder.
“I’ll get you a bottle of something, soon as we get out of here,” he announced.
“Soon as we’re out of here, I reckon we’ll be carted off to a hospital somewhere.”
“Hospitals have shops.” Bodie pronounced.
He could feel Doyle’s head shake.
“It really doesn’t matter, Bodie. I don’t need a present.”
“Maybe I want one.” Bodie knew he sounded petulant.
“I’ll get a box of shortbread for you. Shouldn’t be too hard to find some, seeing as we’re in Scotland.”
“Whisky and shortbread. Sounds good to me.”
He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. Was it getting lighter, he wondered, staring at the wall where he thought the window was situated.
“Was going to have you over for Christmas this year, Ray. Didn’t matter if it was only as mates. Just wanted to be near you.”
Doyle’s arm tightened around Bodie’s chest. “Tell you what, mate.”
Bodie grunted to show he was listening.
“When we’re back in London, we’ll have a late Christmas, yeah? Tree, turkey, all the trimmings.”
“Won’t be the same.”
“No, it’ll be better. ‘Cause now we’ve got each other.”
Bodie smiled into the darkness. He liked that plan. He rested his head on top of Doyle’s, breathing through the curls which tickled his nose. He didn’t have the energy or the inclination to move, though. Doyle in his arms, well … one arm, felt right and he found himself falling asleep to Doyle’s soft snores.
When he next woke light was filtering through the grubby glass of the window, and he could hear someone whistling Good King Wenceslas very badly off key.
He blinked sluggishly, taking in his surroundings and the sight of his partner snuggled into his side.
“Ray.” He whispered. “Ray, the cavalry’s here.”
“Five more minutes, mate” was the mumbled reply. Then Doyle jerked upright, narrowly missing Bodie’s nose in the process. “What did you say?”
“I said the cavalry’s here.”
A huge grin split Doyle’s face when he heard the whistling too. “Thank fucking Christ.” Then he leant forward and devoured Bodie’s lips with his own. When he pulled back he was still grinning. Then the grin softened. “Merry Christmas, love.”
Smiling back, Bodie decided he could get used to waking up like this, and reached up to Doyle’s hair to pull out a piece of hay from the curls.
Then, taking a deep breath, he yelled out “Help!”
Bodie was warm, and he was dry and he was comfortable, and that was all that mattered at the moment. He knew he was in hospital, recognised the smells and the sounds without opening his eyes, even if he didn’t remember arriving here. He was sure it would all come back to him at some point.
He lay there breathing steadily and deeply, not willing to rejoin the world just yet. Then he remembered Doyle … Ray … and he had to know how he was. His eyes flew open, and he instinctively tried to sit up. He didn’t even get as far as lifting his shoulders before pain slammed into him and left him gasping and blinking back tears.
“Not one of your finer moments, 3.7.” A voice spoke quietly from his right. Oh God, just what he didn’t need right then. The ever-dour George Cowley, witnessing yet more irresponsible behaviour from one half of his best team. Cautiously he turned his head, ready to face his fate.
“Sir.” Was that croak really his voice?
“Here.” Cowley lifted a glass off the table over his bed and held it to Bodie’s lips. He managed a couple of swallows before Cowley pulled it away. Bodie nodded his thanks.
He glanced around the room. There was no sign of Doyle, and his heart started beating faster with fear for his partner. He ignored the increased beeping from the monitor sat at the side of his bed. He didn’t want to ask, but found the words coming out anyway.
“He disappeared muttering something about shortbread. I’m nae convinced he hasn’t got a concussion, but the doctor said he was fine.” Cowley checked his watch. “Said he wouldn’t be long.”
Bodie couldn’t hold back the sappy smile that formed on his lips. If Cowley questioned the look, he would put it down to his medical condition. He felt his body relaxing back onto the mattress. After the pine needles, the dirt floor and the hay, even the regulation hospital mattress felt like heaven.
“What’s the damage?” He asked his superior.
Cowley raised one eyebrow. “Apart from losing Gerda Braun, you mean?”
Bodie closed his eyes on a wince that had nothing to do with physical pain. “Sorry, Sir.”
“I ought to have your badge and gun for such incompetence,” Cowley went on. “All you had to do was transport the woman down to London.” He paused, then patted Bodie’s arm. Bodie’s eyes flew open in panic before he realised that Cowley was trying to comfort him in his own way. “Och, lad, I know you couldn’t do anything about the weather. I’m just thankful that you both survived being out in that blizzard. As for you, you’ve got a broken ankle and mild hypothermia. Now you’ve warmed up you’ll be taken down to surgery to sort your ankle out. It could have been much worse.”
The promise of surgery did sound much worse, but Cowley was from the old school where nothing short of amputation, by one’s own hand no less, would be an issue.
Cowley rose from the chair and patted Bodie’s arm once again. “You need to rest, Bodie. They’ll be coming for you soon.”
Cowley left the private room and Bodie sank back onto the pillow and closed his eyes. He was exhausted but he wanted to see Ray, to assure himself that his partner was indeed alright. He wasn’t aware of time passing, but when he next opened his eyes Ray, with his quiet and calm assurance, was lounging in the chair that Cowley had vacated, his legs stretched out in front of him with his ankles crossed. He was watching Bodie with a gleam in his eye.
“You know, Bodie, you’re adorable when you wake up.”
“You do this kind of snuffling and your nose turns up.”
“No, it doesn’t.” Bodie indignation was lost in his partner’s loud laugh.
As Doyle calmed down, Bodie took stock of him. “You’re looking better,” he finally commented. Doyle did look better. He had washed and shaved, and was sporting a piece of gauze taped over the cut on his forehead where Schmidt and his men had knocked him out. And clean clothes certainly made a difference.
“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” Bodie asked belligerently.
“They released me. Nothing much wrong with me.”
“Always said you had a hard head.”
Doyle smiled at him tenderly. “Got you a present.”
“Thought you weren’t going to bother.”
“Decided I would.” He handed Bodie an unwrapped box of Scottish shortbread. When Bodie would have opened the packet, Doyle’s hand on his stilled him. “Not now, sunshine. You’ll be going for surgery soon. Save it for later.”
“Will you stay?”
“As long as they let me, sunshine.” He stretched, arms over his head reaching to the ceiling. “For the rest of our lives, if you let me.” Then he leaned down and kissed Bodie before he could answer. Bodie was still flabbergasted when the door opened to admit the anaesthetist.
“It’s been over a month. Should be used to them by now.” Doyle grumbled as he punched at the typewriter on his own desk, one finger at a time.
“It’s all the obstacles. I’m sure the lads are deliberately sticking things in my way.”
Doyle looked up at him. “I wonder about you sometimes.”
“What? That bin wasn’t there when I went to the bog.”
“The bin has not moved.”
“Bodie,” Doyle snapped. “Can’t you go and pester someone else while I finish this report? Please.”
Bodie put on the most hurt face he could muster. It worked like a charm.
“Look, I know you’re frustrated with being stuck on desk duty. But it’s not for much longer, is it?”
“It’ll be months before Cowley lets me back out in the field.”
“Yes, but once the cast is off, you can start training with Macklin. That’ll burn up some of your excess energy.” Bodie grinned when his partner continued under his breath. “Thank fucking Christ.”
“I know a great way to burn off some energy right now.” Bodie waggled his eyebrows suggestively when Doyle looked up.
“Not so much, sunshine. You’ve just been lying there while I do all the work.”
“Parts of me are getting a good work out. My hips, my hands, my …” He broke off and pressed his hand against his rapidly hardening cock while demonstrating some of the hip moves he had perfected over the last few weeks.
“Control yourself. We’re at work.” Doyle instructed without rancour while simultaneously shifting uncomfortably in the chair. He typed a few more letters half-heartedly. “God knows what I’ll tell Macklin when he wonders what I’ve been doing to get such strong thigh muscles.”
“No harm in telling him you’re working out in the bedroom. He doesn’t need to know all the details. You could be doing press-ups and sit-ups. Squats …” Bodie smirked at Doyle, who just shook his head.
“When I take you home tonight, I’ll show you sit-ups and squats. You won’t be able to walk for days.”
“Promises, promises.” Bodie lowered himself gingerly into his chair and rested his crutches against the wall behind him.
“I’ve created a monster.” Doyle grumbled, and tuned out Bodie’s further attempts to distract him, focussing intently on the report he was preparing on the fatal shooting of a foreign diplomat at one of London’s posher hotels.
Bodie watched him with what he was sure was a mushy look on his face. He was frustrated to be stuck in the office sorting files while Doyle was still out on the streets. He knew Anson was a good agent to be partnered with, and he did trust him to have Doyle’s back, but he wasn’t Bodie and he didn’t share the same instincts that Doyle and Bodie did. After all, they had been partnered a long time.
At least Bodie got to go home with Doyle most evenings. And those evenings had proved to be wonderful, filled with companionship and warmth, and love. Whether they were sitting together on Bodie’s couch watching the nine o’clock news on television, or lying in each other’s arms in Doyle’s huge bed after passionate love making, Bodie knew he would happily spend the rest of his days with this man.
There were still a lot of issues to be sorted. Telling Cowley, if indeed they did, their fellow agents finding out, maintaining separate accommodation. The list seemed endless. But at the moment Bodie was content to let the problems wait while he and Doyle settled into their new relationship. There was more than enough time in the future for such things.
Bodie was brought out of his musings by a brisk knock at the door to their office. “Oi, lads. You’ve got a delivery.” Murphy, their fellow agent, stuck his head round the door. “It’s been checked out. No hidden nasties.” He tossed an envelope to Doyle who fumbled it for a minute over the typewriter. “Reflexes not so good, eh, Doyle?” Murphy disappeared behind the door with a laugh.
Even with confirmation that the envelope and its contents were clean, Doyle was cautious as he opened it and slid out a single glossy eight by ten inch print.
“She didn’t.” Bodie began the chuckle when he caught sight of the subject of the photograph.
“What?” Doyle flipped the photograph over and saw what had caused Bodie’s humour.
Staring solemnly back at him from the photograph was a not so new, newborn baby, its eyes too big in its red face.
“Is there a note?” Bodie asked.
Doyle peered into the manila envelope and pulled out a slip of paper. It looked like it came off a non-descript shorthand pad, the type which could be bought in a multitude of shops across the country.
Doyle read the contents of the note, and a soft smile lit his face. “Poor bastard,” he murmured. “Fancy being saddled with that name.”
“What?” Bodie was inpatient. “What does it say?”
Doyle read out loud “Wilhelm Raymond Schmidt. Mother and baby doing well. Danke schön.”