Actions

Work Header

Old Habits

Work Text:

Cover

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Chapter 1

“It’s him!” The accusation, accompanied by a cold swirl of air and an abruptly slammed door, sliced sharply through the ribald banter that had marked the poker hand. “Duncan’s the plant – a bloody copper.”

The voice was Bodie’s, - or rather Williams’, Bodie’s undercover persona - as was the accusatory finger pointed straight at him. A myriad of thoughts raced through Doyle’s head, each more ludicrous than the last. His cover as Duncan was in tatters - that was clear as day. It was Bodie who’d grassed him. Why? Had Bodie joined the gunrunners? Ridiculous! – Or was it?

Yet, if Bodie had known that their cover was compromised – why hadn’t he alerted his partner? Covering his own arse? That wasn’t Bodie. Was it? How well did he really know the dark ex-mercenary? They’d been partnered for eighteen months. And the first few had been filled with doubt and recrimination and mutual macho posturing. But they’d slowly moved towards respect and trust and finally what he had believed to be love of a sort. Never spoken of – but none the less – a kind of love. Had he read Bodie wrong all this time? Or was Bodie just trying to make the best of a bad situation, trying to save the op? If they were both blown... there were too many scenarios to consider and no time to sort them out. He almost welcomed the fist that knocked him off his chair – too bad about the aces high full house he’d been holding - and sent him into oblivion.

 

He woke to his clothes being roughly removed and searched. His pants and trousers were brusquely pulled back up his legs. Bile rose in his throat as he was lifted up and shoved onto a chair. There was a dull ache in the back of his head. Concussion – perfect. His hands were tied behind him and his ankles secured to the legs of the chair. Donnelly and his men were watching him. Their silence hammered at him until Bodie spoke.

“No wires.” Bodie’s voice again, from behind him. He didn’t turn his head to look at him.

“Okay, Williams, go over it again.” Donnelly, the ring-leader, turned to Bodie. “Let’s hear the proof.”

Doyle relaxed a bit and studied the floor. Donnelly, for some reason had taken a liking to him. Maybe there was a way out of this.

A large envelope was tossed over Doyle’s shoulder spilling its contents across the table and scattering the now abandoned poker hands. Bodie stepped forward and faced Doyle. Looking into Doyle’s eyes he pointed to the incriminating photographs. “There.” He pointed. “There’s your proof.”

“Where’d this come from?” Donnelly asked as he flipped through the pictures.

“Friends in low places,” Bodie replied with a wink.

Donnelly turned to Doyle and shook his head sadly. “You’ve let me down badly, boy. Can you explain this?”

Doyle didn’t move. He yelped as a hand grabbed a fistful of his hair and painfully forced his head up. The pictures were shoved in front of his face. His brief thought of trying to convince Donnelly that Williams was mistaken died as he saw an image of himself in a dark corner of a pub meeting with Wellston, his drug squad contact and then a picture of Wellston in his Met uniform. Who had taken the pictures? Who had followed him to the seedy dockside Brack and Brine? Who knew he’d be there? Only Bodie - and, to be fair - Wellston. Had Bodie set him up? And if so, why? Wellston hadn’t indicated there was any problem with his cover when they had last met. Was it Wellston who had grassed him and Bodie was only trying to salvage the op and keep his own cover? Cowley had been more adamant than usual over the importance of this job. Threatened them with months of watching trawlers in the Hebrides if they messed it up. Either way, he thought, he was well and truly fucked.

Donnelly backhanded him. The chair tumbled over. He landed badly on his shoulder.

“Get him up,” Donnelly barked. He turned to the men still sitting round the table idly flipping through the playing cards. “Has he been out on his own at all since we got here?”

Gerrod, Donnelly’s right hand man, spoke up. “No. He’s been with all of us since we holed up here yesterday.”

Donnelly looked at Williams. “And you didn’t find a wire?”

“No.”

Turning to Doyle he smiled. “I’m guessing then that the lad hasn’t had a chance to tell his handlers where he is. He didn’t know about this place until we arrived here, so he couldn’t have betrayed the location. We should be safe here for a bit.”

“Good thing,” Gerrod said, “Wouldn’t want to have to move all those crates again.”

'Betrayed', Doyle thought to himself bitterly. It was actually rather ironic. He was being placed in the Judas role, while it was Bodie – or rather- the trusted Williams – who was going to actually do the act. Or was he? Doyle looked over at his partner. The face turned toward him was expressionless; the eyes were cold; the lips set in a thin line. No comfort to be found there. Was Bodie going to betray Donnelly, or was it Doyle that was going to be hung out to dry?

Dizzy with yet another blow to his head, he retched dryly as the chair was righted. Bodie. Did he imagine it, or had Bodie offered a quick reassuring squeeze to his arm as he and the chair were lifted back into place? Keeping Bodie’s cover intact, - if indeed it was a cover (and the fact that he even thought to question that made him feel sick) – kept him from looking at his partner.

Donnelly crouched down in front of the chair. “Tell me who you’re reporting to and what you’ve told them and I’ll make this go easy.”

Doyle looked into pitying eyes and shook his head. “Can’t do that,” he tried to look apologetic.

Donnelly rose and waved a hand at Bodie and the rest of his men. “Break him.”

Gerrod grinned and stepped forward. The first blow toppled the chair again, splintering its legs as it hit the ground. As he was falling he noticed Bodie make a move towards him but then stop. Still tethered to the broken wooden pieces, Doyle’s attempts to roll away from the blows and kicks that followed him across the floor were fruitless. Ribs bruised at best, shoulder sprained, Doyle wished for unconsciousness. But Donnelly was a pro – he stopped his men just short of that final blow.

“Enough!” He bent down over the supine figure. “Ready to talk to me yet?” The voice was almost gentle.

Doyle coughed, winced and wiped his face on his shoulder. He looked up at Donnelly and then at each of his men. His eyes briefly rested on Bodie’s and he thought he saw fear there. Was it for him? Or did he have that same lack of faith that had poisoned Doyle’s mind? Did Bodie think that he was going to give his partner up to Donnelly in return? That hurt. They should both know each other better than that. The distrust of his own feelings – the niggling doubt – about his partner cut deeper than Bodie’s possible betrayal had. He managed a weak smile for all the men surrounding him and ignoring the blood running from his split lips, he shrugged. “What’d’ya want to talk about?”

A boot to the stomach wiped the tenuous grin from his face.

“Throw him in the basement,” Donnelly directed. “Maybe some time in the cold and damp will encourage a bit more cooperation.”

 

Doyle had no idea how long he’d been held in the dark cellar. Tepid water appeared sporadically. Only enough to make him realise how hungry and thirsty he was. He knew that there had been visitors to his prison – the marks on his arm attested to the fact that someone was coming downstairs to inject him with some combination of drugs while he was asleep or unconscious. Something in the water, too? To make it possible for them to administer the other cocktail without him knowing? But if the tracks on his arms weren’t evidence enough, his growing lethargy confirmed his worst fears.

He drifted in and out of consciousness. Doubt and uncertainty coloured his thoughts of Bodie. Would Bodie have betrayed him – betrayed Cowley and CI5? It bothered him that answers to those questions escaped him. Worry and fear for his own survival left him shuddering. He longed for the times he drifted into the drug-induced nothingness.

But there was also an in-between time; when he was not quite out cold, yet not really awake. He welcomed the images those times brought: he and Bodie relaxing after a job and trying to chat up the same barmaid; sharing a take-away and a few lagers when they’d both been given the brush-off; consoling themselves with the thought that it was her loss; the pair of them tangled together laughing on the settee trading insults and watching the match of the day; entwined in one or the other’s bed sharing kisses and caresses and pleasure. A slide-show of all the times that each of them had risked his own life to save the other. Were those times gone?

And finally Bodie and Donnelly came for him.

First Picture - Doyle and Bodie in cellar pencil high

Struggling ineffectively against the arms that lifted and carried him, he was taken up the stairs slung over a strong shoulder - Bodie’s shoulder – and he felt hope die.

Alone with only Bodie and Donnelly, he was roughly stripped and tightly secured to a metal chair. Donnelly leaned against the wall behind him while Bodie stood in front of him, a battery and lead wires held in his hands.

The face studying him was blank, but the eyes blazed with anger. Anger at him for getting caught out – for forcing Bodie’s hand –or for making Bodie have to do this?

“One last chance, sunshine.” The sneer in Bodie’s voice made a mockery of that former endearment. Bodie reached out and grabbed Doyle’s face, calloused fingers biting harshly into his jaw. Doyle tried to pull away, but Bodie’s grip tightened as he roughly shook Doyle’s head. “Make this easy on both of us, Duncan. Tell me what I want to know.”

The wires dangled loosely from Bodie’s hand and brushed with a disquieting, perverse intimacy against Doyle’s exposed genitals. He squeezed his eyes shut and tensed his shoulders. He recalled another set of circumstances when he’d been tied to a chair. That time the bindings had been silk scarves, the items in Bodie’s hand had held a fascinating thrill of expectancy, the menacing look in Bodie’s eyes had been tempered with love and the liquid running down the inside of his thigh hadn’t been his own piss.

And it all became too much. Sleep deprivation, the beating, the drugs and lack of sustenance all finally overwhelmed him. He started to laugh. He couldn’t control it. And then, to add to his humiliation, he realised that he was crying. But he couldn’t swallow the tears. Harsh racking sobs shook him. He couldn’t catch his breath. Bodie turned away from him and led Donnelly to the far corner of the room. With a quick look over his shoulder, Bodie let him know he was being given time to pull himself together. Grateful for what could only be a brief reprieve, Doyle took a deep breath and dropped his chin to his chest, closing his eyes. So Bodie was still, as best he could in the situation, watching his partner’s back. The thought allowed Doyle to shore up his defences for what was coming next.

He didn’t have to wait long. Sensing someone close, he opened his eyes and found Bodie was leaning over him. Bodie held the battery in his hand and started running the wires around his nipples, over his navel and down to his groin. He could feel the tension in his partner. Something had changed. He closed his eyes and dropped his head as deep tremors shook his body, his face stiff from his earlier tears. Bodie’s fingers wound their way through his hair, so unlike the remembered and welcomed gentleness of Bodie’s hands on his scalp when they made love. The earlier blow to his head and the drugs running through his system drove reality from him and he sighed deeply, lost in the past. A sharp painful tug pulled his head back; his eyes opened wide with the shock. Bodie raised an eyebrow and gave Doyle a small nod as he raised the switch high enough for Doyle to see it. Bodie played the wires roughly up Doyle’s thigh, but the fingers holding the leads trembled slightly.

Something had changed.

Bodie’s corduroy covered groin, bare inches from Doyle’s face, twitched. “Just a taste of what’s to come – to whet the appetite -,” Bodie grinned malevolently with a quick tip of his head towards Donnelly.

'To whet the appetite'. The phrase echoed in his head and a wave of nausea threatened to take him under again. He remembered Bodie saying those same words to him before – the first time they’d given in to the adrenaline rush that accompanied the survival and completion of a dangerous op. They had ended up in bed together. Bodie’s reaction shouldn’t be a surprise, should it? They’d played games like this before to excite each other. No! He shook his head with denial. Not like this. Nothing like this. The bonds then had been harmless, the torture device in Bodie’s hand had been a feather and the eyes that watched him so closely had been filled with love – or at least affection. Was Bodie thinking of that as well? Was there now a touch of sadness and regret in the gaze that held him? The arousal then had been fueled by love and mutual desire.

They both startled when Donnelly ordered harshly, “Get on with it, man.”

He’d been mistaken. Bodie’s eyes were cold and hard, no regret, no sadness there. Now there was only malice and cruelty – there was only Williams. This was a side of his partner he’d never wanted to believe existed; never wanted to meet. The clichéd image of a mercenary stood menacingly in front of him; a quiet despairing moan escaped his control.

“Make this easy on both of us, Duncan. Tell me what I want to know.”

“Make the bastard talk, Williams. Nothing short of what he deserves for making me trust him - the fucking traitor.” Donnelly motioned for Bodie to continue.

Doyle squeezed his eyes shut and tensed his shoulders. Bodie sent a quick, short jolt of electricity through the wires. Doyle jerked in the chair. He didn’t cry out but blood flowed freely down his chin as his chipped tooth bit through his lower lip.

Bodie moved in close again. He forced Doyle’s chin up and Doyle opened his eyes. “Stay down.” Bodie hissed a fierce warning into Doyle’s ear. He yelled and turned around, knocking Doyle and the chair over with a strong arm to his chest. Doyle watched the next surreal scene play out through a fog of pain. Bodie continued his spin, wires held firmly in his hand. He grabbed the distracted Donnelly and shoved the wires into the stunned man’s neck. The body convulsed as the electric current passed through it. Doyle, lying on the floor flinched when the man screamed – a howl that should never come from a human mouth. Bodie continued the attack until the body dropped to the floor.

“Bodie?” Doyle gasped. “What -?”

“Had a message from Father.”

“But -”

“Not now, Doyle.” Pulling the chair upright, Bodie tore at the ropes holding him in place. “We’ve got to get out of here before the others catch on. Back-up is on the way, but it will be a while before they get here.”

Dazed, Doyle looked to Bodie for some clue as to how this was going to go. He met hard, cold, emotionless (and maybe ashamed) eyes. And that scared him more than the threat of the physical torture. Since the very beginning of their partnership they had been able to read each other – words were rarely necessary. A tilt of the head, a twitch of the lips, a crook of a finger, or a wink was all that had been needed. But the empty eyes, the thin-lipped mouth, the clenched fists held no message he wanted to decipher. There was nothing there to grab hold of. His Bodie was gone – he was left with Williams.

“C’mon, Doyle. Wake up.” Clothes, not his own, were tossed into his lap and pulled him from his thoughts. He tried to pull the shirt on, but cried out when he moved his shoulder.

“Christ sakes, Doyle, be quiet!” Bodie moved to him and roughly helped him with the shirt. He grabbed hold of Doyle when he staggered to his feet and helped him pull up a too large pair of trousers. Using his belt, he tried to immobilize Doyle’s shoulder, eliciting muted whimpers. Kneeling down in front of him, Bodie batted away the hands that were trying to tie dirty white trainers. Both their heads snapped up at the sound of doors slamming below them.

“Leave them.” Bodie pulled off the untied shoe and hauled Doyle to his feet. Barely able to stand, Doyle gritted his teeth against the pain and leaned heavily on Bodie.

“Wait,” Doyle panted and lurched away from Bodie.

“Doyle, - what do you think you’re doing?”

Doyle dropped beside Donnelly’s body, frantically searching. “Yes!” his voice triumphant as he pulled his own Walther from beneath the body.

Bodie watched warily as Doyle raised the gun, opened the cylinder, checked the chambers and then sharply snapped it shut. The air between them was thick with unvoiced words, accusations and threats. Doyle’s eyes slid from the gun in his hand, to Bodie and back again.

“Go ahead,” Bodie nodded at the weapon. “I probably deserve it.”

The silence stretched. Doyle, still on his knees, stared up into empty blue eyes. His hands trembled and he shook his head, denying Bodie’s words. He turned the gun in his hand and held the grip out to Bodie. He noted Bodie’s flinch and the look of surprise on the man’s face.

“How can you -”

“Dunno.” Doyle shrugged. “Trust’s a hard habit to break.” His voice was quiet, firm and offered tentative understanding. “And besides,” he hesitated considering his next words and their likely effect, “Cowley’d have me bollocks if I shot you.”

Bodie’s lips twitched slightly as they both said in unison, “Replacements are expensive.”

 

Chapter 2

Exiting the warehouse they were enshrouded in a blanket of dense moist air. Doyle swore when his bare feet made contact with the cold, wet asphalt. Bodie tightened his grip on him, careful of his injuries. Bodie led them away from Donnelly’s hide-out, sticking close to the walls of each building they passed. Cautiously they skirted the dark openings of alleyways. Voices and footfalls echoed around them but it was hard to discern their direction; the sound was distorted by the thickening mist.

Gunshots rang out but were not yet close enough to cause harm – Donnelly’s crew trying to draw them out into the open. They ducked behind an overflowing skip and buried themselves behind refuse that had escaped the container and had toppled over the sides. Covering his mouth and nose with his shirt sleeve to fend off the smell, Doyle turned to face Bodie and demanded in a low, hoarse voice, “Tell me now, Bodie - what the hell is going on.”

Bodie took a deep breath. “When you decided it was time for a kip and passed out, Donnelly sent us all out to see if there was anyone hanging around the warehouse. He was still not sure that you hadn’t been able to get a word out to your contacts. We all split up and I was able to make a call to HQ. Murphy told me to get out – and quickly. He said that back-up was coming, but was still some time away. I decided, with the rest of Donnelly’s crew still out looking for your contact, it’d be a good time to take Donnelly out.” Bodie rubbed a hand over his face. When he next spoke, the words were directed at a spot over Doyle’s left shoulder. “I had to get you out of there before the squad arrived.”

After a long silence, Doyle spoke. “Worried about me pride, were you?” Doyle winced at the scorn in his words.

Bodie shot him a look of disbelief. Then his expression returned to the blank mask he’d been wearing since their escape. “Believe what you will.”

Doyle swallowed the apology on his lips when Bodie started talking again. “I returned to the warehouse, found Donnelly there on his own and took the chance that that offered to get us both out.” Bodie finally looked at him. “You know the rest.”

“Yeah. But what about the pictures – where did they come from? ”

“Dunno, exactly,” Bodie shrugged. “Somehow Cowley got the pictures – he didn’t say from where and he thought it likely you were compromised. He gave them to me – to protect my cover, I guess. I was supposed to expose you and then offer to take care of you for Donnelly, so we could get you away. Donnelly decided to question you first – should have thought of that but there wasn’t time. It all moved so fast.”

“Cowley?” Unease, but not surprise, left a hollow feeling in Doyle’s guts.

“Look, Doyle -” Bodie shook his head as if to clear it. “Ray, I –"

Furious shouts pierced the deepening fog - much closer this time. They could hear the crashing and banging of waste bin lids reverberating through the brume as the thugs searched for their quarry.

Bodie rose and reached down to help Doyle up. “We have to move. We can’t stay here.”

Sucking in a deep breath, feeling feverish, Doyle shrugged free of Bodie’s hands and let himself drop back to the ground. “It’s no good, this, Bodie. I can’t -”

“Get up, Doyle.” Bodie leaned over him and tried to get his hands under Doyle’s arms, to force him to stand.

Doyle dizzily rolled away. “Go, Bodie. I’m only slowing you down. I’ll hide here.” He waved a hand around the garbage laden back alley. “I can barely stand. The drugs they pumped into me are taking their toll – can’t think. If we stay together both of us will likely die.” He swayed as he sat up. “You go for help.”

Shouts echoed from the far end of the row of warehouses. Bodie looked behind them. “I don’t like it, Doyle.”

“Nothing about this to like, is there?” Doyle winced as a cramp doubled him up. Straightening painfully, he added, “We’re running out of time.”

Bodie knelt in front of him, the glow from the street lamp turning the drops of moisture clinging to Bodie’s long eyelashes into diamonds. Doyle gasped at the beauty of the man in front of him and it finally came to light all that he may have lost with this assignment.

“You still with me, Doyle?” Bodie spoke sharply. “We’ll try it your way. Let’s find you a better place to hide.” He shoved the Walther back into Doyle’s hands and looked around.

Doyle watched, puzzled, as Bodie quickly started stacking cardboard boxes and broken wooden crates into a sketchy shelter. “In here, Ray.” Bodie helped him to his feet and guided him into the makeshift bolt-hole. Doyle ducked down behind the pile of crates. Bodie did some last minute assembling and knelt down to see Doyle. “Stay hidden. I’ll try to lead them away from you and towards where Murphy and the Cavalry should be coming to the rescue.”

Bodie reached out to brush his fingers against Doyle’s cheek. Bodie looked as surprised as Doyle felt at Doyle’s instinctive recoil from that touch. Bodie spun away.

Doyle whispered quietly after him, “Be careful, mate,” as Bodie disappeared into to gloom, boots echoing hollowly on the pavement.

Listening intently until he could no longer hear Bodie’s retreating steps, muffled as they were by the dense fog, he settled back on his heels and waited.

Tendrils of fog slid icy fingers down the back of his neck. His clothes were damp and stuck to his clammy skin. His ragged breathing sent small clouds of steam into the cold night air. Legs and hands shook uncontrollably as whatever dope he’d been given worked its way through his system. He hoped Bodie would hurry; he didn’t know how much longer he could hold out.

Startled by a shout of “There!” he realized that some of Donnelly’s men had caught sight of Bodie as he fled. Three men raced past his hiding place without looking around. Bodie’s plan had worked, but Doyle didn’t like the odds. Three to one and help still an unknown time away, Doyle pushed himself to his feet on shaky legs and followed the three men.

“Hold up,” the lead man shouted as he furtively studied the area. Doyle ducked behind a skip but was too far away to hear their plans. One of the men started walking back towards him and he knew they’d decided to try to trap Bodie between themselves. Doyle let the man walk by him and then slipped out from behind the skip to land the butt of his Walther along the side of the thug’s head. The man went down hard, his head bouncing off the corner of the skip. Doyle swallowed a whimper as the movement jarred his injured shoulder.

Gunshots from the opposite direction had him stumbling back along Bodie’s path. One man was down on the street; two others were trading punches and wrestling for the weapon in Bodie’s hand. He didn’t have a clear shot at Bodie’s opponent, Gerrod, he thought, so he fired a shot into the air. The fighters separated as they turned towards the sound of the gun firing and he managed to put a bullet through the villain’s shoulder. Bodie took advantage, spun and with a round-house punch to the jaw, laid the man out.

Letting out a deep breath and lowering his gun arm, Doyle almost missed seeing the third man rise from his prone position on the ground, his gun trained on Bodie. Doyle yelled a warning as a wave of dizziness took away any chance he had of taking the man out. Shouting and more gunshots filled the alleyway. Seeing Murphy come flying around the corner gun blazing, Doyle dropped to his knees; it was finally over.

 

Red and blue lights spun eerily through the foggy miasma, reflecting off the decrepit walls and broken windows lining the alley. At least they’d turned the sirens off, he thought as he sat slumped-over, head held in his hands and his shoulder throbbing. Bodie had come to check on him, seemed satisfied with the ambulance men’s assurance that Doyle was all right and then wandered away. Doyle lost sight of him in the milling CI5 agents. Cowley had ordered him to hospital. As Murphy and Jax placed him gently on the gurney for transport to hospital, he struggled against the ambulance men as they started to strap him down. “Wait.” He sat up and turned his head frantically from side to side searching. “Bodie!” he cried out.

“He’s there,” Murphy pointed to the retreating figure.

“Oi! Where do you think you’re going? Bo-die!” He wasn’t going to let Bodie walk away now. There were things that needed sorting. He called out again, but Bodie didn’t turn around.

“Damn you, you bloody minded bastard,” he managed as the adrenaline that had kept him upright finally ran out and he slipped into unconsciousness.

Chapter 3

Three days in hospital and he was released to Repton for treatment of his injured shoulder and the dreaded visits from Kate Ross. He didn’t want to talk about what happened between him and Bodie – and he especially did not want to talk about it with her. He wanted – no needed - to talk about it with Bodie. Quite a laugh that. Bodie didn’t talk about emotions. Or rather, Doyle realised, he didn’t talk about his own. When Doyle was in pain, Bodie was there to listen, to let Doyle vent his anger, to share all of what Bodie called his ‘girlish secrets’. But the sharing only went one way. A suffering Bodie shut everyone out. And Bodie’s walking away from him after the op and not visiting him in hospital told Doyle all he needed to know about Bodie’s state of mind.

’Stubborn git’, Doyle muttered as he picked up his hold-all and went to meet his ride to Repton.

 

After two weeks of physio and Kate Ross poking around inside his head, he was finally deemed to be of sound mind and body. Doyle sat in the waiting area near Repton’s front door nervously toying with the strap of the hold-all sitting by his feet.

“Anxious to go home, Mr Doyle?” Abbie, his physio asked as she walked by him to start her shift.

He smiled and nodded at her. “You’re too rough with me. Need to find me someone a bit gentler.”

She laughed and waved as the lift carried her away to her floor. Doyle ran his hands through his hair. He was anxious to get home, but dreaded the upcoming ride to get there. Although he’d recovered from his ordeal with Donnelly and his gang, he wasn’t sure he was quite ready to face his partner.

“Doyle.”

Thanking whatever deity that watched over fools and the luckless, he greeted his boss with a sigh of relief. While Cowley wouldn’t be his first choice for companionship, at least he’d been spared Bodie. For now.

“Sir.” Doyle hefted his carry-all over his shoulder and followed the older man out to the waiting car.

“Hallo, Ruthie,” he greeted the driver as he got into the passenger seat.

“Looking well, Ray,” she said. “Welcome back.”

Cowley cleared his throat. “Doyle, we have some things to discuss.”

“Yes, sir.” Doyle swung himself out of the front seat and into the back, hiding a grin when Ruth rolled her eyes.

“You were expecting Bodie, yes?”

Right to the point. Doyle wasn’t surprised. “Thought he might be the one to come fetch me.” He waited a few minutes. When no further information was forthcoming he gritted his teeth and asked, “So, where is he?”

“I’ve sent 3.7 on a quick job in Glasgow. Seems there is some unrest brewing there – word sent to us about an interesting mix of foreigners and locals. He arrived back early this morning for a debriefing.”

“You sent him alone?”

“No, of course not. Bodie and Murphy have been working together since you were - injured.”

Doyle felt the man’s gaze studying him.

“I see.” He was pleased with himself that he had managed the reply without emotion.

But Cowley was not that easy to fool. “I thought that, under the circumstances, it might be better to have you two working separately for awhile. You still have Macklin and Ross to convince you’re ready to go back into the field. Master Bodie does not like to be kept out of the action for any length of time.”

“No, sir.” He kept his head bent, eyes on his hands folded in his lap.

“Doyle.”

He lifted his head and was met by gentle concern in the Controller’s eyes. “Was I wrong, lad?”

“No.” Doyle shook his head. “No. I think it would be – umm – uncomfortable for us to work together right now.”

“Just so.” Cowley leaned forward and spoke to Ruth. “Find us a cafe, Miss Pettifer. I could use a coffee.”

 

When they finally arrived at HQ, Doyle winced at the silence that followed him down the corridors and could feel the pity in the eyes that could barely meet his own. Word about his captivity had obviously gotten around. Oh, there were a few warmer greetings – Jax and Anson and McCabe. Susan actually hugged him and whispered, “Welcome back, Ray.” He nodded politely at them and trailed after Cowley into his office.

Cowley gestured towards the drinks cabinet. Doyle poured while the Controller settled behind his desk, attention absorbed by a pile of papers scattered over the blotter. Doyle sat rigidly in one of the chairs in front of him. A few moments passed. Doyle reached into his jacket pocket. At the sound of crinkling papers, Cowley looked up.

“Don’t bother, Doyle.”

“Sir, I -”

Cowley took off his glasses and laid them on his desk. He rubbed his eyes and then looked straight at Doyle. “Explain to me, 4.5, why it is that every time something goes wrong, every time your idealism clashes with reality, I get a letter of resignation – from either you or 3.7?”

Doyle felt the heat rise in his neck and face. Only Cowley could do this to him. He tried for a nonchalant shrug. “Don’t know, sir.”

Cowley ignored him and picked up his glasses.

“As I thought.” He pointed to Doyle’s untouched scotch. “Don’t be wasteful. Drink up.”

Doyle obeyed and then said, “I told you, sir, I don’t think I can work with Bodie again.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Doyle. I am well aware that it will take some time for the two of you to rebuild the partnership.” He held up a hand to stop Doyle’s impending interruption. “I have something else in mind for you in the meantime.”

“I’m not fit -”

“You’re in good enough shape for my plans.”

Doyle raised an eyebrow.

“I’m going to invalid you out.”

Doyle sputtered and choked on the scotch. “But -”

“I’m not finished, 4.5."

"Sorry, sir." Doyle took a deep breath. "Bit of a shock, that is."

“You will be given a few weeks to get yourself back into shape. You will be tested by Macklin and Ross and deemed unsuitable to continue with CI5. I will announce that, due to injury, you are leaving. You will, no doubt loudly, let it be known that you are not happy with that assessment. Your departure from this organisation will not be an amicable one. An agent that lost his nerve. How can he be trusted?” Cowley paused and Doyle nodded for him to continue. “There are rumours, mostly substantiated, that there will be an attempt on the life of one of the security agency heads. It is being organised from within the security agencies themselves. Who better to perform such a task than an angry, unfairly treated ex-CI5 man?”

“The attempt will be on you?”

“It is likely.”

“Willis and MI6?”

“Again, likely.”

“Why hasn’t anybody been able to put him away?”

“Friends in high places. And part of your assignment will be to uncover those friends.”

“Am I to assume, that since I am to be dismissed from CI5, that I will be on my own – an, er, Operation Susie?”

“Yes. I will give you all the help I can, but you will, effectively, be on your own.” Cowley studied his agent.

“Take a day or two to decide. Think about this carefully, 4.5, before you agree.”

Despite recognising the words as a dismissal, Doyle remained seated, sorting through the uneasy questions tumbling over and over in his mind.

After a few moments passed, Cowley looked up at his pensive agent. “Is there something else you need, Doyle?”

'A bit of truth would be welcome', he thought as he stood up, but said instead, “No, sir.”

Chapter 4

As he left the Controller’s office and headed towards the rest room he was greeted by loud raucous hoots of laughter. Bodie’s voice was the loudest. 'Must be entertainin’ the troops', Doyle thought, trying to get past the door without being seen. But Bodie, damn him, was always aware of Doyle’s presence and saw him.

“Doyle!” Bodie called out.

Doyle stepped into the room while everyone else became quiet or found a reason to leave. An uncomfortable silence grew between the partners that Bodie broke first.

“Doyle.” Bodie held out a mug of coffee.

“Ta, mate,” Doyle answered. “Congratulations on the finish of the Bonner job. Heard you got them all. Father is quite pleased with you.” He took a quick gulp of the coffee.

Bodie waved off the acknowledgement “Ray, I’d like to explain.”

Doyle cringed inwardly. He wasn’t ready to have this conversation with Bodie. He wanted to get away from his partner, but he wanted to stay here with him as well.

Doyle looked around the rest room. “Not here, Bodie,” he whispered.

Bodie nodded and led Doyle down the hall to their office. Bodie closed the door and leaned against it.

“Doyle.”

“It’s over, Bodie. Put it behind you.”

“Can you?” Bodie took a step towards him.

Another awkward silence filled the space between them. Doyle took a real look at Bodie and met a confusion to match his own in Bodie’s expression. Emotions showed warily - unexpectedly on Bodie’s face - pain? doubt? shame? loss?

Bodie cleared his throat. “I saw Ross.”

“Oh, yes – and how was that then?”

“Bloody awful!” Bodie smiled tentatively.

Doyle watched Bodie hide his previous feelings behind his all-boys-together mask; one he’s never needed to use with his partner before. “I see,” Doyle tried to hide the hurt of it.

“She has a way of making me feel like I’m standing naked in Trafalgar Square at noon.”

Doyle snorted but kept his eyes locked on the floor. “Yes, she has that effect on me, too.”

“You saw her?”

“She came to see me at Repton.”

“Bloody hell.”

“Yeah. But – well, it helped.” Doyle’s eyes narrowed in anticipation of the effect of his next words. “She explained why you did it.”

Bodie looked away. “The torture – I did it so I could control it – control the damage until I could find a way out for both of us. I couldn’t go easy on you-”

“You didn’t.”

“-or give you any hints about what was happening.” Bodie ignored the interruption. “Donnelly and his crew were right nutters.”

“And after? When it was all over?” Doyle pressed insistently. “Why did you walk away? Why didn’t you come see me in hospital?” He could hear the hurt in his own voice and watched Bodie flinch.

“I didn’t think you’d want to see me after...” Bodie’s voice trailed off. When Doyle didn’t speak Bodie asked quietly, “Was I wrong to leave you on your own?”

Doyle waved away the question. “Ross said you were protecting me still – you thought you’d broken me and I’d be too embarrassed to want to see you or some such nonsense. Well let me tell you something mate,” Doyle stepped forward and poked a stiff finger into Bodie’s chest. “I didn’t break. I didn’t tell Donnelly or his thugs -” and he hoped the look he shot Bodie let him know that he was included in that group, “–anything.”

“No. You didn’t. But -”

“But what?”

“Ah, hell, Ray. What I did to you surprised you – I did what you never expected. I used your trust in me against you; attacked you at your most vulnerable point - where you were most defenceless. I used that vulnerability. And what’s worse, you had trusted me to protect that very thing.” Bodie paused and took a deep breath, his voice softened. “And I hurt you – more than anybody else has ever done, I’d guess.”

Doyle turned away. “Don’t give yourself so much credit, mate.”

The gentleness was gone from Bodie’s voice as he stepped in close to Doyle and spun him around. “So was I wrong to not see you? Was it wrong to give you time to sort yourself out - to come to terms with what happened?”

Doyle shrugged.

Bodie lost his patience and demanded “What the hell do you want from me, Doyle?”

His voice shaking, Doyle yelled, “I don’t know, Bodie. I just don’t know.”

Doyle watched Bodie’s walls drop back into place, his face become an unreadable mask. It felt like a gust of cold air swept all the warmth from the room. He shivered.

“Well, when you figure it out, let me know, eh?” Bodie turned away and walked out of the room.

Doyle blew a breath out between pursed lips and said to himself, “Well done, mate.” He shook his head and watched from the window as a silver Capri sped out of the CI5 garage.

 

Chapter 5

Doyle parking his bike for the meeting with Green

Doyle slid the motorcycle neatly into a space in front of the cafe. Removing his helmet, he casually glanced around studying his surroundings. He noted two men outside a newsagent’s and tagged them immediately as Wills’ men. He chuckled to himself. ’No imagination, those MI6 boys’. He remembered Bodie’s critique of another undercover operation that had pitted the two services against each other. He sighed. Best not to think of Bodie. It had been two months since their meeting in the office and neither man had made any effort to be the first to give in.

’Concentrate on the job at hand’, he admonished himself. After agreeing to Cowley’s plan to stop Willis’ assassination plot, he’d worked hard over the last weeks to establish his cover as a disgruntled ex-CI5 operative. He was about to find out if his two months of living rough on the streets as a snitch for Willis was about to pay off. Leaving his helmet on the back of the bike, he wandered nonchalantly over to the newsagents and bought a paper and a racing form, winking at the MI6 agents as he paid. Entering the cafe he saw Willis’ right hand man Green seated at a table by the window. Giving the man a quick nod, he ordered a coffee and took a seat at the table near to Green’s, so that they were sitting next to each other.

He slurped his coffee and smirked to himself when Green shot him a disgusted look.

After a few moments of silence Green rose to purchase some biscuits and stopped at Doyle’s table, indicating he’d like to see the newspaper. Doyle invited him to sit.

Green picked up the racing form and dropped the newspaper into his lap. Doyle watched as he slid an envelope into the paper. Tapping on the racing form, Green stood and announced that ‘Ray’s Fate’ in the seventh race is a good bet.” Watching Green walk away, Doyle grudgingly admired the man’s cheek. But he was in. He had a meeting with Willis himself on the seventh. Time to let Cowley know the game was on.

Chapter 6

Doyle watched Murphy enter the dark, dingy pub and he chuckled at his friend’s look of disdain. He held up his drink and Murphy made his way down the bar. Cowley had assigned Murphy as his only contact with CI5.

“This place is revolting, Doyle.”

Tipping the bottle of lager to his lips, he ignored the unfriendly looks aimed in their direction. “Not likely to find anyone we know hereabouts, now are we?” Doyle wiped his lips clean with the back of his hand.

“Messy bugger. Fit right in here, don’t you?” Murphy reached out and ruffled Doyle’s hair.

The touch brought back the tangible memory of other fingers tangled in his curls. He quickly pushed the thoughts aside. “What are you drinking, Murph?” he asked.

Looking at the barman and the glasses lined up behind the bar, Murphy replied, “Something in a bottle.”

Doyle laughed at the man’s expression and ordered another lager. They moved to a table in a corner.

“So, Murph, what’s the latest?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be filling me in?”

“C’mon, Murph, be a mate.”

Murphy didn’t say anything for a few minutes and then asked quietly, “What am I doing here, Ray?”

Puzzled, Doyle raised an eyebrow, “Eh?”

“Why is it me meeting with you and not Bodie? What’s going on?”

Doyle traced his finger through the moisture collected on his bottle of lager. He looked up at Murphy and sighed. “Bodie and I – well – we-” He couldn’t hide the hurt in his voice. He clenched his fists and with a fierce whisper spat, “It’s complicated.”

Murphy shook his head and replied, “It always is with you two.”

Doyle took the reprieve and turned the conversation away from the personal. “I’m meeting with Willis and his man on the seventh. Should have more info for you and Cowley after that. Meanwhile, I’m still feeding Willis the intel from Cowley and he appears satisfied with that and with me.”

“Good. Father will be pleased.”

They sat and drank in a comfortable silence, watching the other patrons.

Doyle shifted in his seat and, “How’d the rest of the squad react to my...um...banishment?” He tried a self-conscious grin.

“Quite an argument, that was. Heard you and the Cow all the way up to the third floor. Rumours that you are suicidal were confirmed.” Murphy laughed and took another pull on his lager. “They all believed it, that Cowley had invalided you out and that you were not best pleased. And any that had doubts only had to look at Bodie to see it was true.”

Shifting in his seat, Murphy said quietly, “Ray, you should know that Bodie was not happy when Cowley gave him the photos and ordered him to grass you.”

Doyle stiffened, but said nothing.

Murphy cleared his throat. When Doyle met his eyes, he continued. “Matched the row you and the Cow had for volume. Had poor Betty flustered and that is not an easy thing to do.”

“Go on.” Doyle’s hands clenched into fists.

“All I’m trying to say is that Bodie did not want to do it. He threatened to go in and drag you out. "To hell with the job!", he said.”

“But he did do it.”

As he raised the lager to his lips, Murphy shook his head and set the bottle down without drinking. “Cowley threatened to lock him up – to send someone else in with the photos. Bodie thought he’d have a better chance of keeping you safe if he was there controlling the scene. So he finally agreed to deliver the pictures.”

Relaxing his hands, Doyle drummed his fingers on the table and finally let out a deep breath. “He was right.” Doyle’s lips twitched in a rueful grin. “Probably wouldn’t be here enjoying this fine lager with all these friendly folks if he hadn’t.”

Trying to change the subject, and the mood, Doyle prodded Murphy’s shoulder. “So give, Murph. What is Bodie doing these days? Surely there was some punishment for upsetting Betty?”

“You know I could get in trouble for this. These meetings are supposed to be a one-way street for information – from you to me.”

“I know, but, c’mon Murph. Who am I gonna tell?”

Murphy blew out a deep breath and gave in. “Cowley sent him up north on a job. He’s working undercover as a demolition expert. We’ve heard rumours of a large Christmas bombing schedule for this year and Martell got him the job.”

“Who is his back up?”

Murphy didn’t answer.

“The mad bastard isn’t working alone, is he? On a job like that?” Doyle’s voice rose with his disbelief. “What is Cowley thinking?”

“Easy, Ray. You’re attracting the wrong kind of attention.” Murphy looked around nervously.

Doyle settled back in his seat. “Bodie works better with a partner. I can’t believe Cowley’s got him up there on his own.”

“The head of the cell is a very suspicious man, Doyle. We couldn’t chance his turning Bodie away by sending someone in with him. It was only sheer luck and Martell’s vouching for him that got him in. Marty is keeping an eye on things.”

“I’ll just bet he is,” Doyle sneered. “Who is the leader of this group? Anyone we’ve heard of?”

“A bloke named Dormer.”

Doyle froze, the colour drained from his face. “Dormer?”

“Yes. Alfred Dormer.”

Doyle stood up quickly, knocking over his chair. “You’ve got to get him out of there, Murph.”

Eyes darting around the pub, Murphy hissed, “Sit down, Doyle. Do you want to get us thrown out of here? I don’t think they’d be gentle about it!”

“No! I’ve got to talk to Cowley. Bodie isn’t safe with Dormer.” He spun towards the door. “Cowley’s got to warn Bodie.”

 

Watching from the sheltered doorway of the building across the street from the CI5 car park, Doyle waited for the light in the Controller’s office to signal that Cowley had finally decided to call it a night. About ready to give up and try again tomorrow night, his patience was rewarded when the office darkened. He furtively crossed the street and entered the garage, slipping past the night watchman, noting to himself that he’d have to let Cowley know how easy that had been to do. Finding Cowley’s car, he leaned against the bonnet.

Cowley came out of the lift and acknowledged his agent with a short, “Doyle. What are you doing here, man?” He looked around the area to ensure that they were alone.

“I have some news.” Doyle ignored the disdainful look Cowley gave his rumpled clothes and unshaven face. He looked down at his shoes and ran a hand through his hair.

“Well?” Cowley demanded.

“You have Bodie on an undercover op – checking out one Alfred Dormer.”

Cowley didn’t answer but he clearly wanted to ask how Doyle had got that information. Doyle wasn’t about to drop Murphy in the shit.

Noting the impatience painted on Cowley’s face, Doyle explained, “Willis has me following one of Dormer’s bully boys. We now share the same local; raise a pint or two together. The man has a loose tongue when he’s drinking. It appears, rather ironically, that Dormer has a source in MI6. Seems MI6 have heard the same rumours about a bombing planned for Christmas that you have - and Willis hopes my tailing the man will get him some information on both the job and the informer.” Doyle paused to grin wryly. “Use a rat to catch a rat.”

Cowley grunted and prompted him, “Get to the point, man.”

Doyle studied his trainers. “The exchange you’ve been waiting for has been moved up to Friday night. And Dormer is suspicious of one of his new recruits, a demolitions expert. ‘Too good to be true’ is what Dormer has told his associates. That has to be Bodie he's talking about.”

“And?”

“Bodie needs to be warned.” Not liking the lack of reaction or the look in Cowley’s eyes, Doyle continued, “If you won’t tell him I will.”

“Why?”

“Why!” The question surprised Doyle. “He’s my partner. Mine to look after. One of your own rules.”

“I see.” Cowley smiled unpleasantly. “The fact that you told me that you couldn’t work with him any longer and that you’ve been, for all intents and purposes, invalided out and so no longer have a partner doesn’t enter into this at all?”

Anger sparked in Doyle’s eyes. “I won’t let you sacrifice him.” The look of satisfaction that quickly disappeared from Cowley’s face unnerved Doyle. “I-”

“Master Bodie will be taken care of. Now we’ve wasted enough time and it is late. Surely, Doyle, you have somewhere else to be?”

The garage was lit up by the headlamps of an incoming car. Doyle threw himself to the ground and crawled under Cowley's vehicle. The Capri pulled up neatly next to Cowley’s Cortina.

“Everything all right, sir?” Bodie asked, looking around.

“Yes, 3.7. And what are you doing back here? You’re supposed to be on assignment.”

Bodie ignored the question. “Thought I saw-”

“Saw what, Bodie? There’s no one here but me.”

“As you say, sir.”

“Explain to me why you aren’t up North.”

“Martell. He needed to meet with me later tonight.”

“I see. Keep me informed.”

Bodie got out of the car, still looking around. “Goodnight, sir.” He walked to the lift.

Doyle rolled out from under the Cortina and brushed himself off. He nodded a goodbye to Cowley. As he walked away from his boss, Doyle’s voice slipped quietly through the quiet car park. “Take care of him, sir.”

 

Concentrating on a way he could ensure that Cowley wasn’t going to leave Bodie hanging, he absentmindedly walked past the entrance to an alley and was grabbed from behind. Strong hands spun him roughly around and held him in place with an arm around his throat that bent him backwards so that he had to struggle to keep his balance.

“Sloppy, Doyle. Very sloppy. Already forgotten everything Macklin taught you, eh?”

“Lemme go, Bodie!” He raised a foot to stomp down hard on Bodie’s instep but the arm around his neck tightened its grip and the move was abandoned as he had to fight for air.

“What’s going on, Doyle?” Bodie pulled Doyle up close so that Doyle’s back was pressed tight against his chest.

“Thought you’d had enough of CI5 and its poor treatment of one Raymond Doyle.” The words were harsh and mocking. "Why were you meeting with Cowley?"

This was his chance. He could warn Bodie about Dormer now and Cowley would never be the wiser. He turned in Bodie’s grasp, opening his mouth to speak and found Bodie’s lips crushing his own.

It wasn’t in him to refuse. He opened his mouth and welcomed the invading tongue. He tasted blood and moaned softly, “Bodie.” He stepped forward and ground his hips into Bodie’s, not at all surprised to meet a hardness there that matched his own.

Bodie pulled back far enough to look into Doyle’s eyes. He grinned nastily. “Oh yeah – like it rough, you do. It was all an act then – you being so traumatized by my actions on the Donnelly op that you had to go and bare your tortured soul to Ross – the poor little abused agent couldn’t work with me anymore, could he. You’re a tramp and a tease-”

Doyle’s fist caught Bodie on the side of his head, stunning him enough to allow Doyle to slip free. The two men stood panting, staring at each other. Doyle used a thumb to wipe away the blood on his lip.

“You little shit.” Bodie ran a hand over his cheek and ear.

Doyle tensed waiting for Bodie to retaliate. But Bodie held his hands up, palms out, signalling he was done. There was no softening of his tone as he demanded again, “Cowley. Why’d you come-”

And Doyle saw the light go on in Bodie’s eyes, saw the knowing look cross Bodie’s face. “You’re-” His R/T chose that moment to go off. “3.7, hold for Alpha One.” Bodie turned away from Doyle to listen to Cowley.

Still angered by Bodie’s words, Doyle decided that he’d let the Controller worry about protecting his own and slipped quietly back into the night.

Chapter 7

Several weeks later, with the date of the assassination attempt fast approaching, Doyle showed his ID to the security guard manning the door at MI6 Headquarters. He took the lift to the second floor and checked to see that he was alone. Using his lock picks he broke into Willis’ office. He rifled through Willis’ desk searching for any papers that would incriminate the man in the plot to take down Cowley. A thorough search had revealed a secret compartment containing a file folder labelled ‘Personal Information’. Doyle turned on the small desk lamp and tilted the shade so that little of the light escaped the immediate area. He thumbed through the papers, reading bits and pieces from each page. A quiet whistle escaped his lips. The bastard had balls; you had to give him that. The plot wasn’t limited to taking only Cowley down.

He flipped through a few more pages and felt the blood drain from his face. Sitting down heavily, the pages fell from his shaking hands to scatter across the top of the desk. “Bloody hell. How the fuck -” Trembling fingers traced over the black and white images. Wellston stared up at him from the file. Wellston and himself at the pub ‘The Brack and Brine’. Bodie’s pictures. The pictures that had come from Cowley. How did Willis get hold of pictures that Cowley had given to Bodie? What was the old man playing at? 'I will give you all the help I can, but you will, effectively, be on your own.' Thank you, sir, but this kind of help I can do without. Although he had been warned. Soddin’ triple think...

A car horn sounded from the street and he checked his watch. Green had told him that he was meeting with Willis at 11 pm to finalise all the details and that Doyle would be contacted the following morning and given his orders. He had wasted too much time questioning Cowley's motives and it was now 10:30. Pulling a small camera out of his jacket pocket he began to photograph the papers. He’d just finished when he heard footsteps coming towards the office. Quickly putting the folder back in its hiding place, Doyle started out the window. The door opened. He dropped to the pavement below the window.

“Hey!” Green yelled and followed after him. He heard men shouting and then more footfalls pursued him as he ran around to the back of the building and straight into one of Green’s goons. The man pointed a gun at him, but hesitated long enough for Doyle to kick it out of his hand. Doyle scrambled away.

Knowing he had to get away quickly, he darted across the street. Almost to the kerb, he was clipped by a slow moving Cortina and was thrown to the asphalt. The driver got out of the vehicle and helped him to his feet.

“What the ‘ell is wrong with you, mate? You ran right out in front of me car!”

“Sorry, sorry,” Doyle panted, looking over his shoulder. He saw two of Green’s men heading towards him.

“Here,” one called out, “Is that man bothering you, sir?”

The driver looked between Doyle and the approaching men, confused.

Doyle mumbled, “Sorry,” again and pushed the puzzled man into his pursuer’s path. He took off again, while the three men tried to untangle themselves.

Hands and knees bruised and scraped raw from the contact with the street slowed Doyle’s escape. He needed to find a place to hide. The high street was busy; it was closing time at the pubs and people filled the pavements. He mixed in with a loud group of American tourists and let them carry him a few blocks further away. Green’s men were still back there, he could feel the hair at the nape of his neck rise. The party-goers made their way into a hotel. Knowing how rough he looked after his encounter with the Cortina, he couldn’t chance following them in. He continued up the street, staying mostly in the shadows and ducked down an alley. He leaned heavily against a brick wall and tried to slow his breathing. Closing his eyes, he slid slowly down the wall.

The sound of gravel scattering across the ground had him back on his feet and alert. Two shadows filled the entrance to the alley. He’d waited too long to move on. He silently cursed his foolishness. He knew better. Cowley’d have his head – if he managed to keep it.

The two men moved in closer. “It would probably be smarter if you came along with us voluntarily,” the closest man said.

Doyle eyed them warily and then reluctantly nodded his agreement. They moved in closer. He waited until he saw them relax at his acquiescence and then he spun quickly and kicked out at the closest man. The man went down hard, his head bouncing off the concrete and Doyle stiff-armed the other one just below his ribcage. With both of them down, Doyle turned to run out of the alley. Pain flared in his injured knees and he stumbled. His ankle was caught in a strong grip and he was hauled to the ground. Tangled up with his assailant, he found enough leverage to get them rolling across the ground as they exchanged blows. Coming to rest against a wall of the alley, Doyle found himself on top. Two sharp blows to the face left the man dazed and Doyle rose, breathing heavily. Staring down at his victim he didn’t register the presence of a third man until he felt a sharp pain in his back. He cried out in agony.

A voice called out from the mouth of the alley.

“Come on out of there.” A torch swept across the area, illuminating the scene of the fight.

“Coppers,” the third villain muttered, trying to get his colleagues on their feet.

“I said come out of there,” the policeman called again. He had remained at the mouth of the alley.

“He must be on his own,” Doyle thought. He took advantage of Green’s men’s attention being diverted by the officer and hid himself behind a stack of boxes. The other three men, on their feet now, started running out the opposite end of the alleyway. Another officer appeared and the two policeman followed Green’s men out. Exhausted and bleeding heavily from what turned out to be a knife wound in his back, he staggered towards the street. Checking carefully that no one was around to take notice of him, he left the alley in search of shelter for the night.

 

Two hours later the wound was still bleeding. He knew he had to get some medical attention or he’d not be able to continue the assignment. He hailed a taxi and made his way to Guy’s. The cab dropped him at the employee entrance and he looked around the car park for a blue Mini. Spotting it, he allowed himself to drop to the tarmac and rest against the tyre on the passenger side of the car. Hopefully he wouldn’t have to wait too long. Shift change should be in less than an hour. He closed his eyes and sleep claimed him.

Bright, feminine laughter brought him around; he shook his head to clear the cobwebs. He listened carefully as the women approached his hiding place.

“Hold up a minute,” an unfamiliar voice warned.

“What?” He recognized Claire’s voice and sighed with relief.

“There’s someone sitting by your car, Claire.”

Doyle slowly stood up. “Claire, it’s me.”

“Ray! What on-”

He took a shaky step towards her and nodded at her friend. “Got meself in a bit of a bother, love. Was hoping you might help me out?”

“I’ll get security, Claire.” The woman turned away.

Claire grabbed her arm. “No, Donna. It’s okay. Ray and I go way back. He’s no danger to me.”

“Well, if you’re sure.” Donna studied Doyle from head to feet and gave Claire a sceptical look. “I’ll just head home then. Call if you need me?”

Claire smiled at her companion and said she would.

When the woman was in her own car, Claire turned to Doyle. “What happened, Ray?”

“Had a disagreement with some blokes in an alleyway. Can’t go into HQ -”

His lips twitched when she raised an eyebrow. “How bad is it?”

“Knife wound. High up on me shoulder. Was hoping you might clean it up for me?”

“Leave the little boy lost look to your partner, Ray. You can’t carry it off nearly as well as he does.”

“You’re probably right.”

She shook her head with exasperation. “C’mon, then.” She led him into the emergency room and an unused cubicle. Peeling off his jacket and shirt she sucked in a deep breath. “This is a bad one, Ray. Although, it could have been worse.”

Doyle winced as she poked and prodded at the wound. “Doesn’t look like it hit anything critical. I’ll need to stitch it up and a tetanus shot would probably be wise.”

She carefully cleaned the stab wound and stitched it up. The shot was administered and she gave him a bottle of pain killers. “That’s the best I can do, Ray. If it gives you trouble you really ought to come in and let a doctor take a look at it.”

“Can’t do that, Claire. But thanks.” He stiffly shrugged his shirt and jacket back on. As he turned to leave, she put a hand on his arm and turned him back to face her. “Do you need a place to stay?”

He smiled gently at her. “No. Too dangerous.” He leaned in and brushed a kiss across her cheek. Softly he whispered, “Thanks, love.” And then he was gone.

 

Chapter 8

Headlamps passed across the entryway where Doyle hunched tightly around himself on the steps. He watched as his former partner got out of his car as if nothing was amiss and nodded knowingly when he saw Bodie’s hand slip under his jacket and loosely grip his gun. The entryway was dark. He’d loosened the bulb earlier and Bodie would remember that the light had been on when he’d left for work in the early hours of yesterday morning. Doyle had been there and had watched him leave.

The red glow from the lit end of his cigarette cast its faint light on his profile. Doyle knew he’d been recognized but Bodie didn’t relax the hand wrapped around the butt of his weapon.

“Hallo, Bodie.”

“Doyle.” Bodie greeted him without emotion; the deep, smooth voice brought back unwanted memories and made Doyle shift uncomfortably.

Bodie didn’t move or speak again, only watched intently as Doyle stiffly uncurled from his position on the steps.

Second picture -beaten up by greens men dark1

“Think you’ll know me again?” Doyle asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Don’t know you now, do I?”

“Thought you did.” Doyle couldn't hide his regret and uncertainty.

“What’re you doin’ here, Ray?”

“Need some help.” Doyle remembered their last meeting – when Bodie called him a tease. Now seemed a good time for some payback. “May be able to offer you some.” Doyle’s tone was smooth and his body language offered promises. “Wanna trade?” He winked.

“Turn it off, Doyle.” Bodie said angrily.

“As you say.” Doyle shrugged and lit another fag from the end of the one hanging from his mouth; all the appeal of provoking Bodie now gone.

“Macklin saw that, he’d kill you.”

“He’d have to join the queue.”

The silence between grew uncomfortable.

“Why’re you here, Ray?” Bodie finally asked.

“Told you, I need help.” The bonhomie gone from his mien, Doyle reluctantly admitted, “I have nowhere else to go.”

“Should I be flattered?”

A long silence ensued. Doyle exhaled a cloud of smoke and sighed deeply. “I know you don’t -”

“You know nothing.” Bodie snapped. “You didn’t want to know. Didn’t give me a chance – just walked away - twice.”

“Pot, kettle, mate.” A bit of the old Doyle belligerence sharpened the tired voice.

Bodie turned away, keys in hand, he spoke to the door. “Yeah.”

“Bodie.” Doyle’s voice broke on the name. “Please just hear me out.”

Bodie remained silent.

“Please.”

Doyle surprised himself with the note of surrender in that single, whispered word. It stopped Bodie’s withdrawal.

He turned to look at Doyle and Doyle knew Bodie easily read the fear and defeat in his face.

He lit up a third cigarette as a shaking hand flicked away the previous one. Doyle felt exposed; there was no hiding his vulnerability. Yet his defencelessness must have touched something in Bodie. Doyle watched Bodie swallow some of his anger and he finally agree to listen to Doyle’s story.

“Up with you then.” Bodie reached out a hand to help Doyle up and ignored the quiet grunt of pain when Doyle gained his feet. “Let’s get inside.”

Entering the flat, Bodie reached for the light switch by the door. Doyle knocked his hand away. “No lights.”

“For Christ’s sake, Doyle, what are you trying to pull. If we are being watched, won’t it look a bit odd if I don’t turn on some lights when I get home at dark o-thirty in the morning?”

But Doyle was already across the room pulling the curtains closed. He reached out and turned a table lamp on low.

Bodie sucked in a deep breath. “Bloody hell, Ray? What - Look at you, mate.”

Doyle knew what Bodie was seeing. The assignment had left him stretched thin. The worry and tension had lined his face and left his skin grey. The earlier fight had left its mark as well; he was mottled with bruises and his clothes were still stained with blood.

“What the hell have you been doing?”

Doyle looked down at himself and offered an embarrassed grin. “It’s not all mine.”

“And that’s supposed to make me feel better?”

Doyle shook his head. “Look, Bodie, I need a place to crash for a few hours. Maybe get cleaned up a bit.” Looking down at his mud stained trainers he asked softly, “Will you help me?”

Bodie broke.

“Shower, food and bed in that order. We’ll talk in the morning.”

Doyle looked up at him, surprised at the hot prickling burning his eyes.

“Did you really think I’d send you back out there in the state you’re in? A lot you think of me, mate.”

“Honestly, Bodie, I didn’t know what to think.” He wiped his sleeve across his face. “Sorry.”

“What am I going to do with you, eh? C’mon.” Bodie put a hand on Doyle’s back to steer him towards the bathroom. Doyle sucked in a sharp breath and stepped quickly away. Bodie pulled his hand back and rubbed at the red wetness on his fingers.

“Let’s see it,” He demanded.

“It’s nothing.”

“The hell it is. Take off the jumper or I’ll do it for you.”

Doyle stiffened, red anger rising in his pale cheeks. “Think you can?”

“In the condition you’re in now Cowley’s grandmother could take you.” Bodie spoke gently. “Let’s have a look, Ray.”

Doyle nodded and winced as he pulled the jumper over his head. Bodie whistled at the sight of the knife wound and the bruising on his back.

“There were two of them. Had things under control until a third one slipped his knife into me back.” He laughed bitterly. “Was a bit worried at that point. Seemed my time might’ve been up. I dropped one with a bash to the head. Someone must ‘ave heard us fightin’ and called the local plod. Not wanting to enjoy her Majesty’s hospitality we all took off in different directions.”

“When was this?”

“Couple of days ago. Why?”

Bodie moved in closer to inspect the gash. “Wound looks nasty – it’s bleeding and the stitches are coming out. You should see a doctor.”

“No.” Doyle shook his head. “Claire helped me clean it up – stitched it. She gave me some pills. I can’t go to hospital.”

“And why is that?”

“Can’t trust anyone until I sort out what’s happening.”

“Yet you came to me.”

Doyle’s lip twitched in a wry grin. “Old habits.”

“Oh, is that what I am?” Bodie’s smile matched his ex-partner’s. “Truth now. Why did you come to me, Ray?”

The time had come to see if there was anything left of their partnership. Doyle didn't let himself hesitate; he answered, “You – I will always trust you, Bodie. Partners, remember? You said you’d always watch my back. I thought that meant forever – no limits, no conditions...”

Bodie closed his eyes and his head dropped back.

Doyle looked at him, confusion plain on his face. With barely a whisper he asked, “Was I wrong?”

Bodie lowered his head and looked at Doyle. There were traces of exasperation and affection in his expression as he raised a hand to Doyle’s cheek but dropped it again before making contact. Doyle could see that Bodie felt the touch would not be welcome.

“No.”

“If I’m wrong I shall pay the price gladly. Already proved that once didn’t I?”

An awkward pause fell across the room. Bodie cleared his throat and said, “You’re not – wrong that is.”

“I know,” Doyle’s face lit in the cheeky grin he knew Bodie loved.

Swatting Doyle’s bum, Bodie pushed him towards the bathroom. “C’mon, you. Let’s see what Doctor Bodie can do to patch you up.”

 

Hours later, clean, fed and tucked up under the warm duvet on Bodie’s bed, Doyle tossed restlessly.

Bodie sighed and raised himself up on an elbow. “Can’t sleep? You have to be knackered.”

“Too much going on up here,” Doyle tapped his forehead. “Can’t stop thinking.” Doyle rolled on his side to face Bodie. “Keepin’ you from getting your beauty sleep, am I? I’ll kip down on the couch.” He started to get out of the bed.

“No. Stay.” Bodie pulled him back under the covers and into a gentle hug.

“Bodie?”

“Don’t talk. Don’t think. Just let go of it all.” He felt Doyle tense in his arms. “No words, no strings, no promises, no guilt - only ease. Let me help you, Ray.”

This time the calloused fingers brought pleasure instead of pain. Slowly, under the gentle persuasion of Bodie’s hands and tongue, Doyle began to relax and return the gift of release that Bodie had given him. And for that brief moment in time their rapport was back – like it had been –like it should be. Lying, sated, his head resting on Bodie’s shoulder, he drew in a breath to speak. “Bodie, I -”

“Shh,” Bodie placed a finger across Doyle’s lips. “No words. Sleep now, Ray. We’ll talk later.”

 

Chapter 9

No mention was made of their love-making the next morning. Bodie had been gone from the bed when Doyle awoke. He had heard Bodie on the phone with HQ telling them he wouldn’t be in. Breakfast was completed with an awkward haste. Doyle knew he shouldn’t have come here. Finishing his coffee, he rose and paced nervously around the lounge.

“Interpol has issued a Red Notice for you. Charging you as an assassin,” Bodie announced grimly.

“Thought they might have done.”

“Cowley was the one that requested it.”

A heavy silence filled the room. Doyle felt the blood drain from his face and dropped onto the settee as his knees gave way. His mouth opened several times to speak, but he couldn’t get any words out. Soundless minutes passed.

“Bloody hell, Bodie. What did I see?” He choked on the words. “What do I know, Bodie, that Cowley wants me dead?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Doyle. Cowley would never -”

“He’s got every fuckin’ police force in the world lookin’ for me. That was not part of the plan,” Doyle shouted and rose from the couch. He started fiercely pacing again. He spun to face Bodie. “You really think they’re going to smile and pat me on the head and take me oh-so-gently in to custody? The sodding bastard did it to me again. You’d think after Molnar and Donnelly -” He stopped and looked uncomfortably at Bodie. Bodie waved away his concern with a gesture to continue – “You think I would have learned not to trust him. I knew something was up with this – I should have listened to that little voice telling me to run away. It was just too fucking convenient right on the heels of the Donnelly op. Had me thinking I was going to be helping him finally nail Willis and all it was was a way to get rid of the embarrassing CI5 agent that had lost his nerve. Good ol’ Doyle – idealist extraordinaire – let’s take advantage of that.” His shoulders slumped as he ran out of words. “Use him one last time...”

“Bollocks. No way anyone would believe any of that, Doyle. They all saw you come away from the Donnelly op; know what was done to you and watched your struggle to recover.”

“Oh and speaking of that, thanks for coming to visit me." Allowing the anger to take hold of him he lashed out at his partner hoping to return the hurt he'd felt at Bodie's earlier abandonment. "Enjoyed the cards and grapes you sent as well.”

“C’mon, mate. You know-”

“Mate is it? And what I know is that my best mate couldn’t be bothered to come see me in hospital.”

“The Cow kept us busy Doyle – no time for sleeping, let alone visiting.”

“Funny that. Thought I heard Murphy talking about how much fun you both had that weekend climbing in the Lake District.”

“Leave it, Doyle.” Bodie looked uncomfortable but covered it quickly. “Now drop the martyr act and tell me what’s going on.”

“Cowley had me investigating a rumour. A plot to assassinate a high level agency head. Cowley thought it would be an attempt on him, orchestrated by one of the other spook agencies. Turns out it was Willis.” Doyle rose and started pacing. He ran his hands through his hair.

Bodie gave him a few minutes and then prompted, “Being invalided?”

“Was a ruse. If the target was Cowley, who’d be a better assassin than a bitter ex-CI5 marksman who knew Cowley’s habits.”

“That seems too easy. Even Willis wouldn’t have bought into that – idealistic Raymond Doyle doing away with his former boss. Too far out of character.”

“That’s why it took so long. After Cowley dismissed me, I made the rounds of all the security firms. No one wanted a man who had been broken. Can’t trust them, you see. So I spent the next several months living on the streets, working as a taxi driver, a dustman, a bouncer. I stayed in touch with Cowley, feeding him bits of information I picked up that might help CI5.”

Bodie looked surprised. “The Dormer bust. The information came from you.”

“Yeah, that was me – Cowley’s very own Deep Throat.”

Bodie shook his head. “Why?”

“Heard you were working it. Undercover. Picked up some intel that said you might be in danger. I let Cowley know what I’d learned. He was able to use it to wrap things up a bit more quickly, keep you from a bullet and a swim in the Trent.”

“Still watching my back?”

Doyle, looking uncomfortable, rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Like I told you before, old habits die hard.”

Bodie nodded, went to the kitchen and turned on the kettle. Water boiled, he filled two mugs with tea, added sugar and milk to both and carried them into the lounge. Doyle, still pacing, accepted the drink with a quick “Ta.” He settled in a chair.

“After about six months, one of Willis’ goons collected me and took me to the man himself. I figured he’d’ve thought that I’d be even angrier at how my life had turned out after being forced out of CI5 and maybe desperate enough to take whatever job he’d offer.”

“Killing Cowley.”

“Just so.” Doyle set the mug on the coffee table and sat forward, elbows on his knees, chin resting on his entwined hands. “He didn’t come right out with that little task, though. I had to prove meself. So I told him a few inside secrets about the working of CI5 – things Cowley had told me to tell Willis -- and I interfered with a couple CI5 low level operations – again with Cowley’s knowledge.”

Bodie started to interrupt but Doyle held up a hand and stopped him. “Later, ok? Let me finish this tale first.” He took another sip of tea. “Willis was finally satisfied and had his man Green tell me what I was expected to do. The hit was set for next Friday when Cowley was meeting the Minister and Home Secretary for dinner at Cowley's club. That made me suspicious and I broke into Willis office looking for anything that might explain his plans. I found a series of letters and dispatches setting up the assassination. Seems more than Cowley was to die between the starter and the afters. I photographed what I could and when I tried to leave, I was caught. Managed to get away and have been in hiding since.”

“The photos – have you got them?”

“No. Haven’t had time to get them developed.”

“I know someone. I’ll take them to him today.”

“Ta.”

“So what’s next?”

“I have a meet tonight – I don’t think I’m supposed to survive it.”

“Bit dramatic, don’t you think?”

Doyle shrugged.

“All right – so why go?”

“It’s my chance to redeem myself – silly, I know but you nearly broke me Bodie. I couldn’t tell Williams from Bodie – and it scared me. Cowley’s convinced I’ve lost me nerve – like Macklin. When you didn’t come visit I convinced myself that I’d let you down. That you knew how close to breaking me you’d been. Mostly, though its pride. And because this is the final curtain on the farce that’s been going on for the last nine months.” Doyle paced around the lounge preoccupied, picking up and setting down knick-knacks, finally coming to rest at the window, fingers idly twisting the edge of the curtains.

“Why tell me all this now?”

Doyle turned and desperation coloured his voice as he cried out, “Because I want someone to know what happened to me.” His shoulders slumped, his voice softened. “And because I trust you - always have.”

Bodie looked at him, incredulous. “After all that I did -”

Doyle waved the words away, shaking his head. “Doesn’t matter anymore. Can’t change the past.”

Bodie rubbed at the back of his neck. “You sure they’re still expecting you to finish the job – after catching you breaking into Willis’ office. They may be hoping you’ll show so they can kill you.”

“I made it very clear to Willis when we first met that I wanted to get back at Cowley and that nothing would stop me. Willis may not be very bright, but he understands revenge – and he wants Cowley out of the way. No, they’ll be expecting me to finish the job. It’s afterwards that has me worried.”

Each man studied the other, neither giving anything away. Bodie spoke first.

“You want back-up?” The look in Bodie’s eyes told Doyle the offer was genuine.

“Wouldn’t mind.” Doyle replied hopefully.

“You’d trust me to watch your back?” Bodie sounded surprised.

“Already said, didn’t I?”

“Yeah,” Bodie reached out and ruffled dishevelled curls. “Yeah, I guess you did.”

 

Chapter 10

“Surprised to see you here, Doyle.” Green sneered, pointing a gun at Doyle’s chest.

“Have a job to do, don’t I?” Doyle reached out and pushed the weapon away.

“What was that all about the other night?” Green reluctantly holstered his revolver. “What were you doing in Willis’ office?”

“Collecting insurance. I don’t trust any of you. Wanted something to strengthen my own position – being as I’m the one taking all the risks.”

“Find anything?”

“A few interesting notes and pictures. Safely stored away in case something – unexpected – happens to me, you see.”

“Safely stored with the shadow that followed you here tonight?”

“No. But you can think of him as insurance as well.”

“So you’re still willing to go through with the job.” Green raised an eyebrow.

“Still have a debt to pay, don’t I?”

“And what about your shadow?”

Doyle’s eyes narrowed. “What shadow?”

Green tipped his head in acknowledgment. He handed Doyle a metal case. “Everything you’ll need is in there. The dinner has been arranged for seven-thirty Friday at George’s club.” Doyle ignored the mocking tone. “The rest of your money will be in the boot of the blue Vauxhall waiting on the high street.”

Green waved two fingers at Bodie as he got in his car and drove away.

 

Chapter 11

“I don’t want Cowley to know we’re working together.” Doyle ordered two pints and indicated that the barman should keep the change.

“Why not?” Bodie collected his glass and nodded his thanks.

Doyle played with the beer mat on the bar, shredding it with nervous fingers. “He’s not told me everything-”

“And that surprises you?” Bodie took a long pull on his lager.

Doyle laughed bitterly. “No, not in the least.” He brushed all the pieces of the cardboard coaster into a neat pile. “But this time there’ll be something he doesn’t know. And, well, there is something about this that isn’t sitting right.”

“Copper’s nose?”

“Maybe. But I don’t trust him on this one – even more than usual. It’s getting Interpol involved that has me twitchy. Why would he do that? From the beginning this op has seemed like a set-up. But why? He had the opportunity to kick me out of CI5 after the Donnelly case. And yet he kept me on, put me on an undercover Susie. And now he’s set Interpol on me. Doesn’t make sense.”

“A way to keep his own doorstep clean?”

“How so?”

“Having someone else get rid of the agent that became an embarrassing liability.”

“Thanks, partner.”

Changing the subject, Bodie asked, “What was in the documents you saw?”

“I only got a quick look at them, but nothing besides the assassination plan and the names of a few higher-ups that wouldn’t mind seeing Cowley and the Home Secretary meet their maker. Nothing that Cowley didn’t already know.”

Bodie checked his watch and bumped Doyle’s shoulder. “C’mon. Let’s go see if my old mate Weller has got those pictures printed. Maybe we’ll find something to explain what’s going on.”

 

Doyle watched the growing anger reddened Bodie's cheeks as his partner stared at the photos spread out on his kitchen table. Bodie let out an impressive string of invective. Pointing at the familiar picture of Doyle and Metropolitan Police Officer Wellston he asked, “How did Willis get his hands on this?”

“There’s only one way that I know of,” Doyle replied bleakly.

“You don’t think the Cow-”

“What else is there to think?” Doyle demanded. His hands shook as he picked up the pile of photos and slapped them down on the desk one-by-one. “Donnelley. Wellston. Dormer. This has been a set up from day one!” Doyle threw the stack of photos across the room. “What is the fuckin’ bastard up to?”

“Which fucking bastard? Cowley or Willis?”

“Point.” Doyle dropped heavily into a chair, resting his head in his hands. He took a deep breath and tugged at an errant curl. He hoped Bodie wasn’t able to see how shaken he was, but one look at the concerned face of his partner and that hope died in vain.

Bodie walked behind Doyle’s chair and put his hands on the bent shoulders. He gently squeezed the tense muscles.

“There has to be a reasonable explanation for all this. Cowley wouldn’t throw you to the wolves without a good reason.”

“Not sure I still believe that. Or if I ever really did.”

“Are you serious?”

“Deadly serious. I’ve got CI5, MI6 and Interpol all after me. And I don’t have a soddin’ clue as to why.” He began to shake and pulled away from Bodie’s touch. “This can’t all be because the old man thought I’d broke and he wants to get rid of me without getting his own hands dirty?”

Bodie walked around to the front of the chair and knelt in front of him. A steady finger reached out gently and tipped his chin up. “Hey. You’re not alone, mate.” A reassuring blue gaze met his upturned face. “Partners, remember? I’ve got your back, no matter who or what is after you.”

Doyle closed his eyes and nodded. “Thanks.”

They sat in the silence for a few minutes, neither moving.

Bodie cleared his throat. “Doyle?”

Sensing his partner’s hesitation, Doyle poked Bodie in the shoulder. “Go on, then.”

“Well, it’s just that -” Bodie shook his head.

Doyle raised his eyebrows in expectation. “What is it, Bodie?”

The words came out in a rush. “I still have contacts that could get you out of the country, a new identity – you don’t have to go through with this.” Bodie’s cheeks were tinged red.

Doyle laughed. It sounded a bit bitter even to his own ears. “No. I can’t run away. I won’t spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder.” He looked at Bodie. “But thank you. I know you like to keep those contacts to yourself and I appreciate your offer. But I have to see this through.”

“Diligent Doyle, eh?” Bodie shook his head and sighed. “Okay, so, how will we play this?”

“Let it happen.” Doyle smiled darkly. “I’m tempted not to let Cowley know. Let him join his mates for dinner and leave him wondering if the shot to take him off this mortal coil will come – and from where.”

“Nasty, Doyle.”

“Let him experience a “Susie”. Serve the ol’ bastard right, that would.”

“Ray.”

Doyle's lips twitched in a rueful grin. “I know. Supposed to be on the side of the angels, I am, - but me halo’s feeling a bit dented these days.”

 

Chapter 12

Doyle watched the entrance of Cowley’s gentleman’s club from the roof top of the building opposite. The case with the weapon from Green was open at his feet. Bodie hadn’t met him at the building’s back door as they had planned and Doyle wasn’t sure what to make of that. Had Bodie been detained by Green – or Cowley? Or had Bodie played him, too? It frightened him a bit that he wasn’t sure. He’d always been so sure of Bodie. It left him off-balance when he could least afford the distraction.

At least the night had cooperated. There was no wind to speak of and the cloud cover and a light misty rain obscured the light from the full moon. He should be invisible to anyone looking in his direction. He knelt down to remove the sniper rifle from its case and cursed quietly when his knee landed in a cold puddle on the rough bitumen. He assembled and loaded the weapon keeping an eye on the time. There was still about fifteen minutes before Cowley and his guests were scheduled to leave. He shifted the now empty gun case closer to a chimney pot and sat on the roof, leaning against the wet bricks.

Closing his eyes he fought to calm himself. Too many loose ends had him on edge. Where was Bodie? And Cowley was supposed to have placed several agents around the street to make sure Doyle could get away. He hadn’t seen anybody, but then he shouldn’t have been able to easily spot his CI5 counterparts. Was Cowley going to desert him after Willis was nicked? Was his a future to be one on the run or would he be welcomed back to CI5? After all was said and done would he want CI5?

Shaking his head in an effort to clear his mind he checked his watch again. Almost time. He straightened up and moved to the gun. Leaning forward he peered through the scope. There was activity at the door to the club. He tensed and set his finger to the gun’s trigger.

Third picture - Doyle on the roof

A group of young men exited amidst laughter and teasing, their voices carrying to Doyle’s perch on the roof across the street. He blew out a deep breath and resettled himself.

A long black limo pulled up to the entrance, the driver emerging and walking around to open the back door. Doyle lined up the gun’s sight on the club’s entrance. Cowley, the Home Secretary and his body guard and Willis exited the club. Doyle trained the gun on Willis, waiting for a clear shot. Several other men walked out behind Cowley’s entourage and called out “Goodbyes” to the men getting ready to enter the car. The Home Secretary ducked into the vehicle after shaking hands with Cowley. Doyle thought he saw Cowley take a quick look around the surrounding buildings. “The old bastard checking up,” Doyle let out a bitter laugh. As the limo pulled away from the kerb, Doyle set his eye to the site and his finger to the trigger.

Fourth picture - Willis and Cowley in the line of fire

Cowley and Willis were alone now and Willis looked apprehensive. “Expecting to see Cowley bleeding on the street, eh?” Willis turned and took a step back towards the club. “Not tonight, Josephine.” Doyle gently squeezed the trigger twice. The first bullet hit the edge of the curb spraying Willis with shards of concrete. As Willis dove for cover, the second bullet hit him in the calf.

Doyle didn’t wait to see what happened next. He abandoned the rifle and flew for the fire escape along the back of the building. Not yet at one-hundred percent after the last week’s debilitating activities, he misplaced a foot and slid down the fire escape several feet before grabbing hold of one of the rungs with his hand. Pain roared through his shoulder as all his weight was suspended from his left arm as he hung from the metal railings. The healing knife wound in his back made itself known painfully. Scrabbling to gain purchase with his feet, he heard footsteps and whispers below him. Saying a quick prayer to whoever was listening that they were CI5’s men below him he continued down to the next landing. He could hear the voices getting closer and he didn’t recognize any of them. Unease grew and he turned around and headed back up to the roof. He pulled the Walther that Bodie had given him from its holster under his jacket and slowly surveyed his surroundings. There was nowhere to go. The buildings on either side were either too far away or too low to make a safe jump. He heard the arrival of the men from below and took cover behind a chimney pot. The press of a cold, metal barrel against the back of his neck startled him badly.

“Don’t move,” Green spat, removing the gun from Doyle’s hand. He spun Doyle around, his weapon now pressed into Doyle’s forehead. “Its not good form to shoot your boss, old son.”

The sound of the slide and release of a semi-automatic pistol startled both men.

“Let him go, Green,” Bodie’s words were the only hint of his presence on the roof.

“Not a chance,” Green called out, pushing Doyle in front of him, gun still pressed against Doyle’s head, as he twisted around looking for the intruder.

“I’m going to count to three, Green, and then I’m going to kill you.” Bodie stepped out from behind the heating unit.

“Bodie. Might have known.” Green put an arm around Doyle’s neck. “You might be fast enough to shoot me, but I’ll take your partner down with me.”

“One.”

Doyle tensed in Green’s grasp...

“Two.”

...and dropped to his knees, forcing Green to fall over the top of him trying to support the sudden extra weight.

“Three.” Bodie fired three shots, knocking Green backwards and away from Doyle. Green’s gun spun across the roof and Doyle made a grab for it.

“Leave it, Ray.”

Doyle looked up to find Bodie’s gun trained on him. Three Metropolitan Police officers were standing behind Bodie. Doyle stood up slowly and backed away from the weapon.

“Bodie, what’re you doing?”

Bodie nodded at the officers and they closed in on Doyle, two grabbing his arms and one getting out his handcuffs.

Doyle struggled against the cuffing. His face was red with anger and frustration.

“What the ‘ell is goin’ on, Bodie!” he demanded.

Bodie waved the coppers away. “Give us a moment.” They gave him a sceptical look. “I’ve got him,” he reassured them.

Freed, Doyle looked with distaste at the cuffs dangling from his left wrist.

“Oh, you’ve got him, have you?” Doyle spat. “What’s Cowley playing at, Bodie? Where was my backup? Where were you?”

“If you had followed the plan, stayed on the roof instead of going down the fire escape, you’d be going home now instead of to the nick.”

Too wrapped up in his own fury he didn’t listen to Bodie. “And where were you, then? Followed the plan, did you? I thought you were going to be at the fire escape.” Doyle pulled at his hair and turned his back to Bodie.

“Ray -”

Doyle didn’t turn around. He looked down and spoke quietly. “This was another bloody ‘Susie’ – and I fell for it again. 'A simple assignment, Doyle. To trap Willis, Doyle'. More like a set-up to trap me.”

“Why didn’t you follow orders, Doyle,” Bodie asked, not hiding his impatience. “You were supposed to stay up here. Murphy and Jax were going to bring you down.”

“Yeah, yeah. But I don’t see either Murphy or Jax up here. Do you?” Doyle spun sharply to face Bodie. “I didn’t trust the old man’s plan, you see. I ran because I didn’t trust him to get me out of here – and turns out I was right, wasn’t I? Turned me right over to the coppers, he did. Or rather, you did.” He rattled the loose chain of the handcuffs at Bodie. The anger sustaining him drained away. His voice little more than a whisper he asked. “Why, Bodie? Why?” He sat down heavily on the wet bitumen and asked, “What happens now?”

Bodie remained silent. Looking up at him Doyle found no emotion in the still face. He could hear the defeat in his own voice but he didn’t care anymore. He was tired and sore and confused.

“You are going to go with these nice policemen and let them put you up for the night.” Bodie put a hand under Doyle’s left arm and helped him to stand.

“What?!” Doyle pulled away.

“Since you shot a man, jail seems a good place for you.” Bodie looked at him without sympathy. “Trust me. It’s all for the best, Ray.”

“So you say.” Doyle let the policemen lead him down the fire escape. He held his hands out to the officers without another word. He let them cuff him and steer him into their car. He could hear Bodie yelling at someone as he ducked into the car. Cowley's voice answered “It was necessary.”

As the vehicle pulled away he turned around in the back seat and kept his eyes locked on Bodie’s until Bodie was no longer visible.

 

Chapter 13

Arriving at the police station, Doyle’s cuffs were removed, his possessions locked away and he was led to a cell holding three other men, two obviously in here to sleep off a drinking binge and one studying him intently.

“What’s this then?” he asked belligerently. “No room at the inn?”

The officer ignored him and slammed the cell door shut. The metal slide of the lock caused Doyle to shiver.

“What’s the matter, petal?” his sober cellmate asked.” Don’t like to share?”

Already at the end of his tether, Doyle had no patience for this kind of baiting. Eyes blazing, he shoved the man roughly against the wall and leaned in until he was inches from the man’s face. “Don’t provoke me, mate. You won’t like me when I’m angry.” With another shove he let the man go.

“Easy, now.” The man backed away from Doyle, hands raised to ward off another attack. “Didn’t mean nothing.”

“Best that you don’t.” Doyle looked around the cell, found a blanket and settled himself on the floor in the far corner.

After about an hour all the other men in the cell had dropped off to sleep and he allowed himself to relax enough to doze. But dark thoughts of Bodie and Cowley and being played kept him from getting any real rest. What had Bodie been playing at? They’d settled the whole Donnelly debacle, hadn’t they? Bodie had been willing enough to offer help in planning the Willis operation. They were working well together again. Bodie had even taken him to bed. Was it all a ruse – get me to trust him again so he could help Cowley set me up? How much of Cowley’s plan was Bodie aware of? Or – maybe Bodie had been set up, too. Wouldn’t put it past the old man to use Bodie’s respect for him to convince Bodie that he was doing the right thing. Too trusting of the ol’ Scot, was Bodie. So who was the real betrayer? Had Murphy lied to him about Bodie’s role in the Donnelly op? And once he knew, what was he going to do about it? But one thing was certain. He wasn’t going to give up until he knew it all. There were too many games being played and he didn’t know any of the rules. Nobody that had ever tried to play Raymond Doyle walked away unscathed.

It was going to be a long night.

Chapter 14

Murphy appeared at the police station late in the afternoon to collect Doyle. No words were spoken as the two men made their way to CI5 Headquarters. Murphy led Doyle to Cowley’s office. Doyle drew in a sharp breath when he noticed his ID and gun lying on Cowley’s otherwise empty desk top.

Murphy followed Doyle’s stare and said, “Not very subtle, our boss.”

Doyle shrugged.

“There’s a change of clothes and some toiletries in Cowley’s bathroom if you want to get cleaned up. Betty is getting you some tea and sandwiches. Cowley will be along shortly.” Murphy waited a few minutes for a response and when none was forthcoming he left the office, quietly closing the door behind him.

Doyle walked over to the desk and pensively ran his index finger slowly along the barrel of the weapon and the plastic film covering his photo and authority. “Bloody bastard.” He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose.

When Betty arrived with the promised tray, Doyle was staring out the window behind Cowley’s desk; the gun and wallet still resting where he’d found it. She set his meal on the low table in front of the settee.

“Looking a bit rough, 4.5,” she said lightly.

He turned away from the window. “Where’s Cowley?” he demanded and then softened his tone. None of this was Betty’s fault and she didn’t deserve his temper. “Sorry, Betty. It’s been a rough couple of months.”

“I imagine so. C’mon. Sit and eat. Mr Cowley will be here in a half an hour.” She poured tea and then left Doyle to himself.

He drank the tea as he paced the office. The sandwiches he ignored. Was this delay intended to shake his resolve? Make him think about what had happened? Give him time to decide that it was all worth it? His eyes returned to the items on the desk. Well, it wasn’t. Not by a long stretch. This operation had cost him dearly. The job he loved, the boss he had respected, his best friend – his lover, all tainted by Cowley’s triple think. Nothing was worth that cost. He threw the tea cup at the door just as Cowley and Bodie entered the office.

“Something bothering you, 4.5?” Cowley asked, looking from the shattered cup to Doyle and back again with a dismayed expression. Behind Cowley, Bodie rolled his eyes.

“Should there be?” Doyle asked sardonically. “My boss set me up to take the fall for the assassination of the head of MI6, my partner turns me over to the cops – and that’s only the tip of the iceberg, what could be bothering me? Could it get much worse?”

Cowley set his briefcase down on his desk, pushing aside the weapon and wallet, and waved his two agents into the chairs placed in front of him. Bodie sat, Doyle remained standing.

“From your point of view, Doyle, things are going to get much worse. Sit. Down.”

Doyle gave him an irritated look, but sat. He opened his mouth to speak and Cowley held up a hand.

“I’m sure you have much to say, Doyle, but do you want to spend the time haranguing at me, or do you want the facts?”

“Facts! That’d be a real switch.”

Cowley opened his briefcase and pulled out several files.

“First, you should know that the operation to take down Willis was successful. After he is released from hospital he will be spending the rest of his years enjoying Her Majesty’s hospitality.”

That garnered him no reaction. He sighed and continued. “Here’s the part you don’t know and won’t like. Willis slipped when he tried to blackmail the drugs squad agent. The officer, Wellston-” He looked up from the file and studied Doyle – “had stolen some evidence for another case – the reason why isn’t important – and Willis’ man in the Met brought the news to Willis. Wellston was followed by one of Willis’ men and he saw the two of you meet. Willis didn’t know what the Donnelly operation was about, but he saw a chance to get at one of my agents and took it.

“Wellston turned out to be an honest man after all, and came to me. I saw that exposing you, Doyle, to Donnelly, using pictures of you and Wellston together, would be a good way to get Willis once and for all. I gave the photos to Bodie to blow your cover.”

Doyle turned to Bodie. Hate radiated from him. “You fucking bastard. You knew – you knew and yet you didn’t say a word.”

“Doyle, I was following-”

Cowley scowled and interrupted. “Following orders, 3.7? Only when it suits you. You nearly blew the job to save him.”

“Orders. Of course you were.” Doyle spoke at the same time as Cowley and dismissed Cowley’s words. “Like the good little soldier boy you are.” Doyle voice was shaking. “But what about partners that watch each other’s backs? Those were your orders, too. Given by that same soddin’ old man.” Doyle pointed at Cowley and then rose from his chair and stood over Bodie. “So – you only follow the orders you like? Partnership, friendship, loyalty mean nothing?”

“Ray, I-”

“Save it, Bodie. Nothing you can say to me now can make this right. I’m the fool for thinking there was something more between us.”

“If you will control yourself, Doyle, I can continue.” Cowley indicated he should sit down again. To his own surprise, he did.

“Go on then,” Doyle said, “let’s hear the rest of it.”

“The next part of the plan you know. We invalided you out and set you up as a bitter ex-CI5 agent.”

“Not so far from the truth now, is it?”

Cowley ignored the sourly whispered remark.

“The rumours that there was a hit out for me were true. It was Willis’ intent to have me killed. We’ve been butting heads in meetings with the Home Secretary and Willis was fearful for his position. If I was out of the picture, his life would be much easier. You 4.5, made the perfect instrument for his plan. Imagine the fall out for CI5 if one of his own killed George Cowley.”

“So I was the sacrificial goat to rid you of a threat to your kingdom. Nice to know that at least there was some purpose to the whole set-up.”

“I’m a bit disappointed in you, 4.5. A detective of your calibre – I thought you would have sorted all this out.”

“Didn’t anticipate being shopped by my own side, you see.” Doyle’s words were directed at both men in the room.

Bodie shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

“Ach, Doyle, it was all part of the job.” Cowley waved off the comment.

“Yeh, and what a job.”

The only sound in the room was Doyle’s rapid breathing.

“You did sign up for it. You knew what the job might entail.”

“Did I?” Doyle rose from the chair and leaned on Cowley’s desk. "I signed up ‘to keep England smelling, if ever so faintly, of roses and lavender’ to ‘see that no one messes on our doorstep.’ I did not sign on to become one of those messes-”

“Yes, you did!” Cowley slammed his hand down on his desk. “Remember the rest of it Doyle, ‘to use any means necessary, including ones that were less-than-sweet-smelling themselves, to save innocents from violence.’”

Cowley took a deep breath and met Doyle’s glare head on. “Still the idealist.” Cowley shook his head. “I thought we would have beaten that out of you by now.”

“Yeah, yeah, ‘by any means necessary.’ Guess I was only a victim of ‘our loophole’. That is what you called it, didn’t you?” Doyle moved away from Cowley and began pacing.

“Don’t fence words with me, 4.5. Your sabre isn’t as sharp as you seem to think it is.”

The heat of his anger went out of Doyle’s eyes, replaced by an uncompromising, solemn resolve. “And your honour isn’t as spotless as you’d have others believe, Mister Cowley. What kind of man knowingly puts another man, a man who is willing to sacrifice so much for him, into the position you dropped me in – with no warning, no help, no back-up? What kind of man uses another man’s best mate to be the one to betray that man? You deliberately kept the truth from me, deliberately put my life in danger without a chance or a choice to think for myself.” Doyle drew in a breath and studied Cowley’s face. “You threw me away. Have the past risks I’ve taken, my loyalty, my dedication to you and your vision meant nothing? I believed in you. I can’t say that about many men. But no longer.” The words were all the more affecting because of the cool calmness with which they were delivered.

Cowley watched him with contemplative eyes and remained silent.

“And what about Interpol – why’d you set those bastards on me? Hell, you had half the world’s cops looking for me.”

“That was for your own protection, Doyle. I wanted to make sure you were safely brought in.”

“Yes, well, we all know those blokes are famous for their restraint.” Doyle’s fists clenched at the patronizing tone. “Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.”

The two men stared at each other, Cowley’s annoyance colliding with Doyle’s rage.

Then Doyle laughed. “That idealism you accuse me of? You’ve successfully stripped it from me. Congratulations.” He paced back to the front of the desk and picked up his gun. The room suddenly blazed with tension. He turned the weapon over several times in his hand. His expression hardened. He looked at Cowley and scooped up his ID. With a smile that didn't reach his eyes he handed both to the Controller. “Not sure I want these back. You keep 'em for me, won’t you?”

“Consider very carefully your next step, 4.5. The cost may be more than you know.”

Doyle looked from Bodie, who was silently studying his shoes, to his gun and ID now sitting on the desk again and quietly said, “I know the cost.”

“What’re you going to do, Ray?” Bodie asked just as quietly.

“Dunno, do I? But when I decide, it will be on my own terms. Not yours and certainly not his.”

Doyle walked to the door, back turned to the room.

“4.5.”

Doyle stopped, hating himself for the ingrained reaction to that commanding voice. His hand resting on the door knob he didn’t turn around.

“Doyle.”

He flinched in surprise – Cowley’s voice had lost its hard edge.

“When you get yourself sorted, lad, your weapon and authority will be waiting for you here.”

Without a word, Doyle left the office. Closing the door gently behind him he took a deep breath and leaned back against it. He tipped his head back and stared at the pattern in the ceiling. 'Bloody hell! Had that really been uncertainty in the old man’s voice? Had he finally made the man see?' Voices rose behind the office door. Bodie adding his own thoughts on the way the team had been used. The team. Doyle pushed himself away from the door. There was still some sorting to do there as well.

 

Chapter 15

 

Doyle noted with exasperation the surprised look on Bodie’s face when Bodie saw him leaning against the side of the silver Capri in the car park. “What took you so long?”

“Didn’t expect to see you here.” Bodie’s voice was tentative.

“Don’t have a car, do I?” Doyle explained impatiently. “I had a chauffeured lift to last night’s luxurious accommodations.”

Bodie closed his eyes; Doyle watched his shoulder slump.

“How much of Cowley’s plans did you know, Bodie? Is it true that you almost blew the op for me?” The question was quiet and sad and Doyle knew the answer would go a long way in deciding their future.

Doyle watched as Bodie stood up straight and threw back his shoulders. He watched jaw muscles tighten. Bodie met his gaze directly. There was no hesitation in his voice. Doyle knew Bodie was not offering an apology or asking for forgiveness.

“I didn’t know before the op that Cowley was going to give you up to Donnelly. I fought against it.”

“I know. Murphy -”

Bodie held up a hand. “Let me finish, Doyle. Get the whole sordid mess out before you interrupt.”

Doyle nodded.

“Didn’t do any good. Cowley wouldn’t budge. So, like I told you when we escaped Donnelly’s crew, I went along with it because I had a chance to control what happened.” Bodie looked away. “Or I thought I could.”

“You did get me out -”

Bodie’s eyes narrowed at the disruption.

Doyle risked a question in spite of the glare. “Why did you walk away from me? Why didn’t you come to visit at Repton or the hospital. We could have worked this all out -”

“I didn’t think you’d want to see me after what I’d done to you. I explained that before.” Bodie took a breath and continued. “I did believe that the old man had kicked you out of CI5, but I had some suspicions that it wasn’t as simple as all that.”

Doyle watched as colour spread across Bodie’s cheeks.

Bodie admitted, “I had some of my snitches keeping an eye on you. What you were doing didn’t make any sense – they were not the things that the Raymond Doyle I knew would do. I wasn’t all that surprised when you showed up on my doorstep. The things you told me that night let me know I was right. That I still knew you – that I could still trust you.”

Doyle opened his mouth to speak, but Bodie waved him off again.

“Cowley pulled all the extra agents off the job the night the assassination attempt took place. He called a tip into the Met. I didn’t find out until the last minute and there was no time or opportunity to let you know.” Bodie rubbed the back of his neck. “Cowley convinced me that having you in the custody of the Met was the safest thing for you. He feared retaliation from Willis’ crew. He needed time to round them all up. You were safer locked away. Murphy and Jax kept watch on the jail all night. You know the rest.”

“Christ.” Doyle was stunned at the games, at the manipulation George Cowley had employed to get rid of Willis. But he knew he shouldn’t be. Tired of it all, he said wearily, “Take me home, Bodie.”

 

Chapter 16

The ride to Doyle’s bed-sit was made in an uncomfortable silence. Bodie pulled up at Doyle’s block.

“We need to talk, Ray,” Bodie sighed, resigned.

“Told you all you need to know, Bodie.” Doyle stared out the windscreen. “Made my position perfectly clear.”

“Yes. Yes you did,” Bodie’s voice hinted at anger. “But I don’t understand. The Donnelly and Willis jobs we finished show we can still work together. I told you my part in all of it. The trust, the instincts, the partnership - its still there.”

Doyle turned in his seat and Bodie raised a hand to stop Doyle’s words. “It’s more than the old habits you blamed before. It’s us, Ray. We’re a team, a single unit, the Bisto Kids.” Bodie shook his head and then met Doyle’s eyes. “Dammit, Ray, we belong together. And you’re just going to throw it all away, because Cowley played you. Well, he played me too, mate. Never thought you’d be one to give up – to let the old man win.”

“Don’t think anyone won here, Bodie. Do you?”

Doyle’s fists clenched in frustration and anger. Bodie covered the trembling hand with his own and gently massaged the cramped fingers. He wrapped his own fingers around Doyle’s, tangling them together. He squeezed their entwined hands and raised them in front of Doyle’s face and said, “This is what is real, Ray. This is what counts. Forget the words, the doubts, the hurt, the questions. Remember this.” He moved their joined hands to his lips and brushed a kiss across each white knuckle. “This is us. Real and forever. Not old habits – more like – like destiny.”

With a slightly embarrassed expression, Bodie let Doyle’s hand go.

Long, trembling fingers brushed gently against Bodie’s cheek before Doyle turned and opened the passenger door.

As Doyle started to swing his legs out of the vehicle, Bodie put a hand on his shoulder, “Can I come up, Ray?”

“You sure you want to be associated with CI5’s embarrassing liability?”

Bodie winced, recalling his earlier words and started to apologise. “I need to explain -”

“It’s all right, mate. Had some time to think in that cell last night and on the car ride here. I know you were following orders, doing what you thought best in a no-win cock-up. Don’t need the details. Don’t care what you knew or when you knew it. You did what you could and in the end you were there when I needed you. Like you always are.” He shuddered. “Green had me dead to rights.” He straightened in his seat, felt the muscles in his jaw tighten. But I may be out of CI-bloody-5, Bodie – by my choice or by Cowley’s -” He rubbed his hand across his eyes. He spoke quietly. “It all may be over.”

“Doesn’t matter. There’s more to us than CI5. I just -” Bodie’s voice broke. “I can’t lose you.”

Doyle’s head dropped to his chest. “Be bloody, fucking sure what you want, Bodie.” He rose stiffly and got out of the car and walked towards his door. He never once looked back. His shoulders tight with the fear that Bodie would drive away – and with the trepidation that Bodie might follow him in.

Rigid muscles relaxed when he heard the Capri door open and Bodie mutter, “Never been more sure of anything in my life.”

And if the sound of slightly hesitant footsteps behind him eased the tension in his shoulders, loosened the bands around his heart and lightened his own footsteps, who was to know? A familiar hand on his arse, propelling him up the stairs, answered that question. He let the smile playing at his lips have its due.


Fifth picture - Bodies hand on Doyles arse

finis