I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of. ~Michel de Montaigne
You can out-distance that which is running after you, but not what is running inside you. ~Rwandan Proverb
“Bloody hell, Ray, it’s the chief himself!”
“I told you this went high up, Maurice.”
“Yeah, but Christ, Ray – the bloody chief himself?”
Detective Constable Raymond Doyle settled back amongst the crates he was using for cover as he watched the meeting going on below him on the warehouse floor. He quickly opened his camera, removed the spent film and put it in his hold-all. He loaded a fresh roll of film, clambered back to his knees, refocused the camera lens and let go a soft, low whistle. “Jackpot! Maurice, old son, we’ve got them!”
Maurice Richards peered over the edge of the catwalk they were using as an observation post. He shared a madcap grin with Doyle. “What would the Chief Constable be meetin’ with an IRA sympathiser like Peyton for? It doesn’t look like they’re exchanging recipes.”
“No, just the dough.” Doyle smiled as he disassembled his camera and stuffed it back into his bag. He gave it to Richards and loosened the gun under his arm. “Let’s go, Maurice. We’ve got enough here to ...”
“I’ll take the bag.” A deep voice sounded behind them. They turned and came face to face with a gun. As Doyle moved for his weapon a loud explosion rocked the warehouse and threw them all off balance.
The gunman’s attention turned to the fiery chaos on the floor below. Taking advantage, Doyle leapt forward and knocked the man down, causing the gun to tumble over the edge of the catwalk to the floor. As Doyle grappled with the thug he shouted, “Go, Maurice – get the bag and get out!”
Despite a flurry of punches that should have taken him down, Doyle held on to the man. Another blow, catching him under the chin, caused him to lose his grip.
Richards got to his feet and started towards the back stairs but the gunman grabbed his ankle and he fell; he dropped the bag over the edge of their platform into the flames.
Richards kicked free, connecting with the gunman’s head. The man went limp.
He moved over to Doyle. “Ray, you ok? C’mon, mate – we best get out of here.”
Doyle rolled up onto his knees with a groan. “The film.”
Smoke rose in choking tendrils, clouding their vision and making breathing difficult.
“That’s gone, Ray.” Richards helped Doyle to his feet. He nodded toward the growing fire on the warehouse floor. He pulled Doyle around to face him. “Don’t even think about it, Ray. It’s likely lost, burned. We can’t be seen here. Now. Let’s move.”
“What about him?” Doyle delivered a final kick to the downed man.
“Leave him. I don’t think he got a good look at us.”
Doyle looked towards the spreading flames and shook his head. “Can’t leave ‘im, Maurice --”
Sirens sounded, moving closer.
“He’ll survive until help gets here.” Richards pulled on Doyle’s arm.”C’mon.”
Doyle grunted in assent and they quickly made their way to the back stairs. The flames hadn’t reached the rear of the building yet, but Doyle felt perspiration slither down his back. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and sighed when they were finally able to get outside the building. The cool night air brought physical relief, but Doyle’s temper flared.
They piled into their car. “What the fuck happened, Maurice? We had them.” Doyle punched the seat cushion and then ran his hand roughly through his hair, tugging on the ends. “What was that all about? Who were those other guys?”
“A disagreement amongst friends,” Richards shrugged, “I don’t know. Somebody didn’t want the deal to go down. We’ll probably get details tomorrow at the station.” He looked at the bruises beginning to come up on Doyle’s face. “You need a doctor, Ray?”
“Nah. Just take me home.”
“That it then. You giving up?”
Green eyes glared at Richards. “You know me better than that. I’m going to write up what I know and send it off to someone who can investigate it more readily than we can.”
“Oh yeah? And who’s that, then?
Doyle rested his elbows on the edge of the bar, tiredly dropped his head into his hands and studied the contents of his pint. He didn’t want to replay the events of last week’s failed bust again.
“Penny for ‘em, DC Doyle.”
The quiet voice at his side startled him. He flinched.
“Although, given the intensity of your stare – maybe they’re worth a quid.”
Doyle looked up with a chagrined smile. “DS Richards.”
Richards sat down next to Doyle, calling the barman over. “Another round for me friend here, and I’ll have a lager.”
The barman placed the drinks in front of the two men and retreated.
“Not a bad gig.” Richards waved his hand around the bar.
“What’re you on about, then?” Doyle asked.
“A pub. Could see myself running a joint like this.”
“You’re thinking about leaving the force?”
Richards played with the ring of moisture his pint had left on the bar. “Yeah, I think I’d like to see my grandchildren grow up.”
Doyle snorted into his glass. “Gotta have some grandchildren first.”
“Give over, you berk. You know what I mean.”
Doyle sobered quickly, a haunted look in his eyes. “Yes, I know.”
The two men each took a pull from their pints, wrapping themselves in the silence.
Richards broke it first, “What has you so deep in thought, mate?”
Doyle bit his lower lip and ran a hand through long, unruly curls. “Something about this new squad and the undercover, Maurice – it feels – not wrong, but--”
“New bosses. They’ll always set you off your game.” Richards nodded with understanding. “But this way we’ve got a better chance than we’d have working on our own, yeah?”
Doyle shrugged. “You may be right. But I don’t think I’m getting the whole story. There’s something else going on.”
Sensing his companion’s unease, Richards clapped him on the back. “You worried about the undercover? There’s no need. You’ve never worked with the ones we’re after, so there little chance of being sussed.”
“Not worried about that.”
“You’re a good undercover man.” Richards looked Doyle up and down, smiling a little as the man in front of him coloured. Tight tatty jeans, faded t-shirt, leather jacket, scuffed boots, hair too long and a stubbled chin – this was no copper. “You’ll do, old son, you’ll do.”
Doyle raised an eyebrow. He didn’t look convinced.
“Look, Ray. This is a second chance, a good chance, to get the evidence we need. And with CI5 support, we can’t fail to take the bastards down.”
Ray nodded, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “I know.”
“Then what’s wrong?”
“I just get the feeling I’m being played.”
“Ach, it’ll take better than Peyton’s gang to bring down The Terror of Stepney Green!” Richards playfully bumped Doyle’s shoulder.
Doyle laughed. “Maybe so.”
“You sure you want to use Bodie for this job, sir? He’s only been on the squad a couple of months.” Anson ignored the cold stare directed at him from CI5’s newest member.
“Aye, Anson. That’s exactly why I want to send him in. No one in London knows who he is. His connections with the less than admirable members of London society will provide him a way into Peyton’s group. No one would suspect a mercenary of working on this side of the law.”
Bodie’s glare shifted to the Controller.
“But sir--” Anson pretended not to see the scowl Cowley directed his way.
“I am not in the habit of explaining myself, Anson. You will get Bodie ready for the undercover and he will be going in. See to it.”
“If I may, sir,” Bodie spoke for the first time, “What is it that I’m supposed to be doing?”
“Corruption, Bodie. I will not tolerate it. We’ve been given some disturbing information about a group of officers in the Metropolitan Police. It seems they are lining their own pockets with drug money. The Minister has asked me to carry out an investigation.”
“Never did have any use for coppers. They’re all bent.”
“There are some good men in the force, Bodie. It was from two such men that we learned of the plot.”
“Let them handle it then. Let them clean up their own doorstep, as you would say.”
“Ordinarily I would agree. But this reaches into the higher levels of the drugs squad. That’s where we come in.”
“We?” Bodie’s face was hard. “Sir,” he added belatedly.
“We, Bodie. You’ll not be going in alone. You will have backup. Anson and Murphy are also on the case. Now, on your way, 3.7. Anson will give you the information we received from the two Met officers.”
After tossing a couple of bright red apples up into the air and juggling them for a few minutes before letting them drop into the sack, Doyle took an exaggerated bow. The children around the fruit barrow laughed and applauded. He offered the neatly tied bundle to the youngest girl and she blushed prettily when he said, “’ere you go, luv.” The girl’s mother smiled warmly as she paid for the fruit. “Ta, and a good day to you!” Ray grinned as they walked over to the stall across the road.
The smile vanished when he saw the gang of youths that terrorised the neighbourhood follow the stranger dressed in black. He’d seen the man hanging around the market, but nobody that he’d talked to knew who he was. “New in from Liverpool” was the only information anyone seemed to have. The man roused Doyle’s copper intuition and he knew there was more to the bloke than just another thug looking for action. This one smelled of the big leagues – maybe this was the break in the case he’d been waiting for.
Three months with Peyton and a solid back-story from a grass that Peyton trusted and who owed DS Richards had Doyle firmly entrenched in the villain’s gang. The successful completion of several “buys”, again with the help of Richards, had moved him up into a trusted role.
Peyton had had him working at the fruit sellers for the last four weeks. Made restless by the inactivity, he whistled while he tapped his pencil on the edge of the barrow in a steady rhythm. It wasn’t a bad assignment, all in all, and it did fit well with his undercover objectives. The weeks of observing, of getting a feel for the area, of observing the people and their patterns had paid off. Last week’s first contact from the gun sellers had been a relief. As he’d suspected, the corrupt coppers did their business here, with the drug dealers who ran this corner of London. He’d watched the drugs squad men tip off the dealers when a large bust was set to go down and seen the payoff make its way into jacket pockets and rucksacks. It was amazing how invisible a market stall holder was. He’d collected a few names over the weeks, but had no real useable evidence – yet. Maybe this stranger was the new player.
A scuffle drew his attention to a side alley. The leader of the errant youths bumped into the dark-clothed man, knocking him off balance. Doyle watched while the rest of the group took advantage of the man’s awkward recovery and surrounded him.
Doyle’s sense of fair play wouldn’t allow him to stand-by and watch. The bruises from his own recent experience with this particular gang were still too fresh on his skin and in his memory to let anyone else fall victim. He pulled a piece of wood free from one of the empty crates in his stall and moved quietly closer to the altercation.
The young man challenging the dark stranger held a knife. The intended target had removed his leather jacket and had it wrapped protectively around his arm. There was no fear in his eyes and his stance was challenging. “C’mon, then. Let’s be having you,” he taunted. Doyle noted the hard voice and its Scouse accent. It seemed the Liverpool connection was correct. If he could get a name he might be able –
A yell pierced the air and his muscles tensed, ready to enter the fray. The lad with the knife was down, a large crimson stain on his sleeve, the knife on the tarmac. The rest of the gang closed in on their target.
The stranger’s eyes met Doyle’s with a wink and his face lit up with an eager grin.
Doyle left him to it. The man handled himself well. Probably military trained, Doyle thought. The three remaining thugs didn’t stand a chance.
Unseen by the group tangling with each other, the downed youth, cradling his bloodied wrist, crawled towards his dropped knife. It was time for Doyle to move. He got to the knife first and grabbed the boy around the neck, knife poised at his throat.
“Walk away, yeah?” he suggested sternly.
He felt the lad swallow hard and saw his nod. He released him and watched him run down the closest alley. Doyle chuckled grimly as he turned his attention back to the fight, but it was over. Two of the gang members were also running quickly away.
“Go on, get out of here,” the angry voice instructed as the last of the thugs received one more kick to the ribs. Straightening his clothes and wiping blood from a split lip, the man turned to Doyle and nodded at the knife he still held.
“Thanks.” He held out his hand. “Name’s Bodie.”
“Doyle.” Ray moved forward and shook hands.
“Why’d you jump in?” An oddly shaped eyebrow quirked in amusement.
“Was enjoyin’ the show.” Doyle pocketed the knife. “Didn’t want the little toe-rag to spoil things.”
Bodie laughed then looked around and cursed.
“Lousy buggers took my coat!”
Doyle laughed. “That all? I can send you to a shop that’ll have a replacement. Won’t be quite so posh, mind you.”
Bodie grabbed the cuff of Doyle’s plaid jacket, running the fabric between bloodied fingers. He made a face. “Got an image to uphold, mate. Can’t be seen in the likes of this!” The mischievous glint in his eyes took the sting out of his words.
“Oi, this is Oxfam’s finest, I’ll have you know!” Doyle punched him lightly on the shoulder. “Not all of us can afford to shop at Harrods.”
“Can see that, can’t I?” Bodie staggered as he took a step back.
“You all right?” Doyle winced at the concern in his own voice. Why should he care about this lout? But he did.
“’m fine, sunshine. Thanks again for the help – although I could’ve handled that lot on my own.”
Doyle scoffed. “Sure, mate. Next time I’ll leave you to it, shall I?”
“Won’t be a next time.” The coldness in the man’s voice startled them both. Bodie turned to walk away.
“Here.” Doyle tossed a banana at him from the fruit cart. “Let me buy you lunch.”
Bodie caught the fruit and saluted Doyle with it. “Ta.”
Later that evening, and after calling in a few favours from some of the old contacts Cowley had shrewdly alluded to, Bodie found himself face to face with Gerald Peyton.
“I’ve had some good reports on you.” Peyton raised his glass to Bodie. “A good man under pressure, cool and quick. Loyal to the one paying you.”
Bodie set his pint down heavily on the table. “I’d like to know who’s been spreading those rumours,” he said with a cheeky grin.
The man sitting next to him, a large, well muscled behemoth, snorted into his beer.
“Don’t encourage him, Mason,” Marty Martell sighed, “You’ll come to regret it.”
Bodie pouted then took another drink. “C’mon, Marty. Don’t give away all me secrets.”
Martell stood up and reached a hand out to Peyton. “Bodie here will do right by you.” He shot Bodie a warning glare. “Just keep him fed and you won’t have any problems with him.”
The behemoth choked on his beer. Bodie patted him on the back. “Easy, old son.”
Peyton watched Martell leave the pub and turned back to Bodie. “Martell explained to you what we need?”
His face serious now, Bodie nodded. “You need a driver who also knows weapons. I’m that man.”
“Ah, confident sod, aren’t you?” Mason elbowed Bodie.
Bodie grabbed Mason’s arm and had the man pinned against the table, the offending arm pulled up high and tight against his back, before the large man knew what had happened.
“A truthful sod.” Bodie growled, “Don’t test me.”
“Let him up. You’re attracting attention,” Peyton said quietly.
Bodie released Mason and went to the bar. He returned to the table with another round. He placed a malt whisky in front of Mason. “No hard feelings, eh, mate? We were both just doing what’s expected of us.”
Mason raised the glass and saluted Bodie. “Keep me in these and you’ve a friend for life.”
Bodie smiled at him, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes. Mason nodded. Bodie saw the message was received; he was not a man to be trifled with.
Peyton handed Bodie a piece of paper and a key. “That’s the address where we’ll be meeting tonight. You’ll meet the rest of the group there. We’ve a buy going down tomorrow, so I hope you’re ready to work.”
“Ready and willing.” Bodie stood, swallowing the last of his drink. “Tonight.”
The address he’d been given was for a small house on Burnley Road in Stockwell. Bodie arrived a few minutes early and was greeted at the door by Mason.
“Oi! Bodie, come in. Let me introduce you to the others.” Bodie entered the lounge and looked at the men gathered there. The files that Cowley had provided were surprisingly accurate.
Mason started the introductions. “The man at the table is Tompkins. He’s the money man.” Tompkins looked up quickly when he heard his name and then returned his attention to the papers on the table in front of him.
“Friendly.” Bodie commented under his breath.
“Ignore him,” Mason replied with a grin. “He thinks he’s above the rest of us thugs.”
Mason turned to the men sitting on the floor studying what looked like a blueprint. “Bates, Lipton, Carroll and Norris. Young Tommy Jakes is the lad in the kitchen; Lowry’s helping him with dinner and that’s Doyle, our bag man, on the settee. Everyone – this is Bodie. Comes highly recommended, he does.”
“Who’s he when he’s at home?” The deep husky voice drew Bodie’s attention to the lean man settled comfortably on the sofa. One long, denim clad leg was stretched out on the cushions, the other pulled up to his chest. He sat resting his elbow on the drawn-up knee, his forehead propped up by a hand idly twisting dark, dishevelled curls. He looked up at Bodie, his brow raised sceptically. He recognised him from the tussle at the market. Bodie met the gaze and felt a tug of something long forgotten, almost like he’d found the piece of a puzzle that had been missing for years. An uncomfortable heat grew in his belly. This man was going to be trouble. Mason’s voice broke the mutual stares. “He’s our new driver. Good with weapons, too.”
“Ah, well that’s all right then, innit?” Doyle went back to watching the telly, dismissing both men. Bodie wondered why he didn’t say that they had already met.
“It is. And if you’ve a problem with it, Doyle, now’s the time to speak up.” Peyton’s voice held rigidly controlled anger.
“Not a problem,” Doyle answered, not looking up from the telly. “Don’t know why you didn’t hire me mate, Richards. At least some of us have a history with ‘im.”
“Could be that’s the reason, Doyle.” Peyton looked more bemused than angry now.
Doyle smiled. “Could be.”
Peyton sat down at the table. The men in the room joined him there. “Everyone’s here that needs to be. This is how the next round goes down.”
“Good thing Peyton set this meet up at a transport cafe.” Bodie pulled the car into the parking area and following Doyle’s instruction, tucked the car in behind a lone lorry, away from the other travellers.
“Oh? And why’s that?” Doyle exited the car and started walking towards the cafe.
“’m feeling a bit peckish, I am.” Bodie rubbed his stomach as he stepped in front of Doyle to hold the door open. He ushered Doyle in with an exaggerated bow.
Ignoring the performance, Doyle exclaimed, “You had breakfast barely two hours ago!”
“I’m a growing boy, Doyle.”
Doyle looked at him with raised eyebrows and headed to the counter.
They picked up their food and settled into a corner table.
“You really going to eat that?” Doyle looked with disdain at the greasy bacon butty in Bodie’s hand. Bodie gave him a big smile and crammed the whole half of the sandwich into his mouth.
“Charming.” Doyle turned his gaze out the cafe window.
“Yewww ‘av...learn...mmm..lighten up”
“What?” Doyle rolled his eyes. “And don’t talk with your mouth full.”
Bodie saw Doyle’s lips twitch.
“So where’d you come from then?” Doyle sat forward, leaning his elbows on the table and took a drink of his tea. Bodie winced at the loud slurp and tried to ignore the pleased look on Doyle’s face.
“Well – me Mum and Dad loved each other very much – I’m, surprised a lad your age doesn’t already know all this, Doyle.”
“Fine. Forget it.” Doyle wrapped his arms around his chest and focused his attention on the motorists walking back to their cars.
Bodie smiled at the pose. “Oh, you mean what’s a fine lad like me doing with a group like yours?”
“A group like mine! Forget it.” Doyle closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Look, mate, we don’t have to like each other, but we do have to work together.” He opened his eyes and pinned Bodie with a hard stare. “So stop winding me up and concentrate on the job.”
“Temper, temper, Doyle.”
“You know what your problem is?”
“Oh enlighten me, please.”
Bodie sighed, sounding very put-upon. “Don’t know how you manage with that attitude, old son. You need to be cool.”
“Like me!” Bodie agreed happily and pulled the slice of pie Doyle had ordered for himself over to his own side of the table. He rubbed his hands together with enthusiasm.
“Like a child, you are.” Doyle’s face relaxed into a reluctant grin.
Taking the small smile as a victory, Bodie offered Doyle a piece of the pie. Doyle shook his head, “It’s all yours, mate.”
Bodie finished the pie and called the waitress over to refill his coffee. When she left, he turned to Doyle, all humour gone. “So, what’s the plan?”
Doyle took a gulp of his tea and pushed the cup aside. He placed his hands flat on the table and stared at them for a few seconds before speaking. “Don’t actually know why you’re here, Bodie. We’ve been running jobs just fine on our own. But all of a sudden, Peyton decides I need a watcher – all for my protection of course.”
“Should feel honoured, sunshine. Shows how much he cares about you.”
“Dunno about that.” Doyle laughed bitterly. “Been thinking. Maybe he-”
“Nothin’.” Doyle lifted a hand from the table and waved Bodie off.
Bodie felt the walls he’d been slowly breaching all morning slam back into place. He’d been hoping to loosen Doyle up a little to get something on Peyton to report back to CI5, but Doyle, it turned out, was too savvy a player. He’d have to back off a bit. Didn’t want to raise any suspicions and put his own cover in jeopardy.
“Ok. Ok.” Bodie raised both hands, palms out, to signal withdrawal. He took a drink of his coffee. “So tell me then, Doyle, what are we doing here?”
“Seeing a man,” Doyle looked around to make sure no one was close enough to hear and whispered, “about some guns. It’s time to demonstrate your superior knowledge of weaponry.” His words were followed by a challenging wink.
Bodie smiled, “A test, then?”
“If you like.”
Bodie studied his companion. “I’m thinking that what I like doesn’t enter in to it.” Deadly serious, he added, “You’re the one who has to be won over.”
Doyle shrugged and finished the last of his tea. He stood and with a nod signalled Bodie to follow him out to the parking area.
Bodie wasn’t surprised when they made their way to the lone lorry they’d parked beside. ’Clever lad.’ His estimation of Doyle’s know-how went up a few notches. It’s what he, himself, would have done.
Doyle rapped on the side of the lorry as he walked along next to it and the back door slid up.
“Who’s he?” A belligerent voice called from inside the cargo area.
“Peyton’s new boy. A weapons expert. Here to check you out.” Doyle smiled at Bodie.
“Oh is ‘e now?” A short, compact man jumped from the back of the lorry to land in front of Bodie. “Peyton’s got himself another James Bond type, eh?” The man turned to Doyle. “What happened to --”
“An unfortunate run-in with some old friends. He’ll be - unavailable – for a while.”
The man looked down at the ground and shook his head. “Nothing for it then.” He looked up at Bodie. “Ok, Mr Bond, go have a look.” He stepped aside and waved Bodie into the lorry. He and Doyle followed Bodie in. The door was rolled back down. Bodie tensed in the near darkness of the cargo area, his hand moving towards the gun under his jacket.
“None of that, now.” Doyle grabbed his hand and pushed it away from the hidden weapon. “We’re all friends here.” A torch was lit and the darkness receded. Bodie took in Doyle’s amused expression and looked chagrined. An assault rifle was placed in his hands. Bodie whistled. “Nice.” He broke the weapon down, examined the parts and re-assembled it. He checked the sights and the gun’s action. “Top of the line, this.” He handed the weapon back to Doyle’s accomplice and finally realised exactly what he and CI5 were up against. This was not a game. The assignment wasn’t a ploy of Cowley’s to test out a new agent. He was right in it. Cowley trusted him with this – he wasn’t going to let the old man down. He needed to find out where these weapons were coming from and where they were going to be used – and put an end to their distribution.
“There’s more.” Another gun was offered for inspection, this one a hand gun. It took only thirty minutes to look over the various weapons. He looked up from his position kneeling on the floor in front of a crate and smiled at his observers. “All top notch –except this little number. It’s a fake.” He pushed a Walther PPK at Doyle and raised an eyebrow. “Did I pass?”
Doyle laughed out loud. “Yeh, mate. You pass.” He clapped Bodie on the shoulder as he continued to chuckle.
Bodie was taken in by the rich sound of Doyle’s enjoyment. He really should laugh more often Bodie thought. The sound of the hammer resealing the crates reminded him that Doyle was part of this. That he was one of the “bad guys”. And yet – something about Doyle belied that – it was just a feeling, but Bodie trusted his instincts – they’d kept him alive. Last night he’d told himself that Doyle was going to be trouble. He was more sure of that now than ever.
Doyle’s shoulder bumped his. “C’mon, me lad. We’ve got more places to meet and people to be.” Doyle’s beguiling laughter led them back to their car.
Their part of the job completed without a hitch, Doyle and Tommy let themselves back into the house to wait for the others.
Sensing a restlessness in the young man, Doyle said, “How about we surprise ‘em and have dinner ready when they get here?”
“Sure,” Tommy agreed. Doyle knew Tommy enjoyed cooking, and he also seemed to enjoy Doyle’s company; Doyle feared it might have become a bit of hero-worship. Peyton wouldn’t be happy about that.
“We’ll do up a pasta – it’s quick and easy.” Doyle led them into the kitchen. Pulling tomatoes, garlic, onions and mushrooms out of the refrigerator, he casually asked Tommy, “So, how’d you end up here with Peyton?”
Tommy took the vegetables and laid them on the worktop. He pulled a cutting board from one of the cabinets and a sharp knife from its block. “He took me in.” He deftly cut up the tomatoes and onions. Doyle didn’t speak; instead he put a couple of pans on the hob. He hoped the uncomfortable silence would prompt Tommy to continue talking. Tommy tipped the chopped veg into a pan and looked at Doyle. “My father left me and me mum when I was five. Took everything with him. Left us with no money to pay our rent, or buy food. My mum... “
A coldness settled in Doyle’s stomach. The story was too familiar; it hit too close to home. He put a hand on Tommy’s shoulder. “It’s all right, mate. You don’t have to tell me.”
Tommy shrugged. “Not much more to tell. My mum left me with foster parents. When I was fourteen I ran away. Made a life for meself on the street. Got tangled up with some really bad blokes. We got caught robbing a petrol station. Got nicked. Somehow my uncle got word on where I was and got me off. Peyton, that is. Been with him ever since.”
‘Don’t have to wonder who tipped Peyton off, do I?’ Doyle asked himself. He closed his eyes and saw his own mum standing on the steps of the children’s home, waving him goodbye, both of them crying, both of them scared. He’d hated her that day, with all the betrayal and fury a nine year old could muster. It wasn’t until years later that he had understood that what she had done, she had done for him. But it still hurt.
“Ray?” Tommy tapped him on the shoulder. “Uh, the tomatoes are burning.”
“Shit! He turned back to the pan and added some liquid. “Sorry.” He laughed, a bit embarrassed.
Tommy looked at him questioningly.
“Was revisiting my own childhood. We have more in common that you think. My da left us too. I was seven. Me and mum made a go of it for two years, but then she left too.” He met Tommy’s eyes. “It’s tough to be a kid on your own.”
Tommy nodded. They both turned their attention back to preparing the meal.
Doyle, cutting up some carrots for their salad, tossed a piece up in the air and caught it in his teeth. Tommy opened his mouth and Doyle threw one his way. Tommy missed and they both giggled when it hit the floor. Several more bits of carrot and a flurry of laughter filled the room. Neither of them heard the kitchen door open.
“What’s all this, then?” Peyton asked, amusement tinged with - something else.
Tommy recovered first. “Making dinner. Be ready in about fifteen minutes, right Ray?”
“Yeah, fifteen minutes.”
Peyton’s gaze swept over both of them. “Tommy, go help the boys unload the car.”
Tommy rolled his eyes at Ray but hurried out of the kitchen.
Doyle leaned back against the worktop, sauce stained spoon in hand, ankles crossed. “There a problem?”
“Not sure. You know he’s my nephew.”
“He told me.”
Peyton continued to watch him, not saying a word.
Doyle broke the silence. “He’s a good kid. If he were my family, I’d be more vigilant about who he associated with.”
Peyton’s gaze raked over Doyle from head to foot. “Oh I’m watching, Ray, don’t ever doubt that. I’m watching.” He turned and left the kitchen.
Doyle let out the breath he’d been holding. ‘Well done, Doyle. Well done.’ He slammed the spoon down on the worktop and grimaced as red sauce spattered across the front of his shirt.
Hearing voices in the kitchen, Bodie had stopped outside the door to listen. He needed to get a better grip on the inner workings of this group if he were going to successfully complete his first solo job for CI5. And he wanted to be successful. Something about the old man and his organisation spoke to a deep part of him. He wanted this, and an inept group of drug smugglers wasn’t going to be allowed to make a hash of his chances.
Peyton came out of the kitchen and into his path. “Bodie?”
“Heard some arguing, thought maybe you’d need some help?”
“With Doyle? Please.”
Bodie smiled. “Why do you keep him on? You don’t seem to like him much.”
“He does his job; does it quite well in fact. He’s got connections and contacts that I can use.” He looked back at the closed kitchen door. “Don’t have to like him to work with him.” Peyton walked away.
“It helps,” Bodie muttered as he turned to follow Peyton.
Rain sheeted off the windscreen, obscuring the two men’s view of the dockland warehouse. Doyle grumbled, “Bloody weather.”
Doyle settled his rucksack on his shoulders, pulled on his gloves and turned his collar up as he got out of the car. He looked quickly around the area, making sure the rest of the men were in place. There shouldn’t be any trouble, by now the jobs were routine, but Doyle wasn’t a man that took chances. Bodie followed, shivering as he pulled the zip on his jacket up to his chin. He looked at the grey sky.
“Gonna be sleet by evening,” Bodie pronounced.
“Who’re you, then, Michael Fish?” Doyle wrapped the ends of his scarf tighter around his neck.
“You’re in a right mood, aren’t you, sunshine?”
Doyle shot him a scathing look and ran across the road, doing his best to dodge the puddles.
Moving around to a door at the side of the run down building, Doyle used a key to let the two of them in. Rain dripped from holes in the roof to run in rivulets across the cement floor. The air was still and silent. Doyle felt the hair on the back of his neck rise.
“On your toes, petal. Something’s not right.” Doyle whispered to Bodie. He drew his gun and edged along the wall towards a room in the far corner. There was a light on in the office and they could see the shadows of at least three men through the dirty glass window.
Doyle turned to signal Bodie to approach from the opposite side, but found the man was already on his way.
Unsettled at having Peyton stick him with the irritating new man for back-up and not finding his usual contact waiting for him at the door, Doyle cautiously approached the office. The antagonism of raised voices added to his unease. This was supposed to be a simple exchange, money for drugs. Peyton would then trade the drugs for weapons that would eventually make their way to the north. Doyle felt sick that he had to be a part of this, but if he and Richards were successful in bringing down the coppers selling the drugs, the arms shipments would dry up too. At least for a little while. He wasn’t naive enough to think this little operation of theirs would have a lasting, or even significant, effect. No, his goal was to get the bent coppers out of the Met.
Glancing around as he approached the office, he caught sight of Bodie and nodded approval at the position the man had taken on the second level of the warehouse. As annoying as the smug, toffee-nosed bastard was, Doyle had to give him credit. Bodie had put himself in the perfect position to cover Doyle should the need arise. Bodie must have seen the nod; he offered Doyle a two finger salute. Laughing quietly, feeling more at ease, Doyle rapped once on the office door.
“It’s Doyle,” he called out as he pushed the door open.
The three men around the desk greeted him quietly. Two of them he knew from previous deals. He also knew they were drugs squad, but they didn’t know his connection to the Met. The third man, a smaller, older man, was a stranger. Doyle let his displeasure at the man’s presence show.
“Who’s this then? My boss doesn’t like surprises.”
“Easy, Doyle,” Sumner, one of the drugs squad, smiled at him. “This is Mr. Smith.”
Doyle snorted at the name.
Sumner ignored the interruption. “Mr. Smith represents a party interested in our transactions.”
Smith cut in, “The party I represent can make your group a better deal on the weapons you’re currently purchasing – better quality, more reliable, less risk to you. It could be a benefit to us all.”
Doyle noted the man had a slight foreign accent. Russian, most likely. He sneered at Sumner. “There’s going to be a bit of unhappiness if you’re trying to undermine my boss, here. He’s been working with our current suppliers for a long time – quite satisfactorily, I might add. He won’t be too happy to see them cut out.” His gaze flickered over the Russian and then turned back to Sumner. “I’d suggest you think very carefully before you make any unwise decisions.”
“That’s why Mr. Smith is here, Doyle. He’s going to explain his plan and you can carry the details back to your superiors.” The insult in that last word didn’t pass Doyle by.
Smith broke in before Doyle had a chance to react. “It is a simple arrangement, Mr Doyle. I’ll give you the offers and you can explain to Mr Peyton what we’re about. Then we’ll set up a meeting where we can all discuss the particulars.”
Doyle agreed. There really wasn’t much else he could do on his own. He hoped this change in the operation wouldn’t jeopardise his chances to take down the coppers. He’d have to get together with Richards and have this Mr Smith checked out. They might need to move up their timetable.
“Meanwhile,” Sumner said, “we have today’s business to take care of.” He picked a small hold-all up off the floor and tossed it to Doyle. Doyle opened the bag and took a quick count of its contents. Satisfied, he pulled an envelope out of his rucksack and handed it to Sumner. The exchange made, he nodded at the three men in the room and turned to leave.
“Time is critical, Mr Doyle,” Smith called after him. “Tell Mr Peyton not to take too long to get back to us.”
Leaving the office, Doyle looked to where Bodie had been perched earlier, but the man was no longer there.
“Everything all right, sunshine?” The words whispered just behind him caused him to flinch. He shot Bodie a cold look and stalked out of the warehouse. He heard Bodie’s laugh follow him to the car. He signalled the men who had waited outside that all was well and got into his car. It was another silent ride back to the house on Burnley Road.
“He said what?” Peyton was furious.
“The plan is to replace our current weapon supplier with Smith’s crew – Russians, I’d guess from his accent.”
“And did he explain why they were interested in our arrangements?”
“Not in so many words, but I think they’d like to get a foot in the door with the IRA. It would give the Russians another way to get up the nose of the British government.”
Peyton looked interested. “That it would do. Did he explain why I might be interested in his offer?”
“They can supply better grade weapons, somehow minimise our risk.”
“Ah, now he’s speaking my language.” Peyton stood and pulled on his coat. “Tompkins, Mason, with me. The rest of you get ready. We’re on tonight.”
Bodie watched as the seven remaining men opened cupboards and removed weapons. Doyle tossed a pair of handguns to Bodie. “You pays your money and makes your choice,” he said with a wink.
Bodie grunted and chose a Walther. Doyle handed him a clip as he spoke to the others. “Make sure everything is in working order and loaded. We don’t know that there’s trouble, but we do want to be ready.” He looked around the room. “Tommy. Come with me, son.”
Bodie watched him lead the younger man out into the kitchen. He turned a questioning glance at Lowry.
“Trying to protect the boy. Doyle doesn’t like to send him into danger.”
“What’s the kid to Doyle?”
Lowry shrugged. “Got a soft heart, Doyle has. Says our Tommy Jakes is too young – shouldn’t be leading a life of crime.”
Loud voices from the kitchen stopped their discussion.
“I’m going, Ray. You can’t stop me. Peyton said all of us – that includes me!”
“It’s going to be damned dangerous, Tommy --”
“I’m not afraid. I’m going. So back off.”
Tommy came barrelling through the door. “Bloody Doyle.” He pushed his way past Bodie and Lowry and went upstairs.
The sound of glass shattering against the kitchen door drew a laugh from Lowry. “Has a temper when he doesn’t get his way, does our Doyle. It’s the crockery pays the price.” He laughed again.
Another crash from the kitchen had Bodie moving toward the door.
“Enter at your own risk, mate.” Lowry clapped him on the shoulder.
Bodie pushed the closed door open far enough to stick his head around the edge of the frame. “Is it safe to come in?” he called.
“Bugger off, Bodie.”
“Charming as ever, eh Doyle?”
Bodie entered the room, careful to step around the shards of glass littering the floor.
Doyle was leaning on the worktop, staring out the window.
“So, what was this all about, then?” Bodie asked.
“Not your concern.”
“It is my concern if there’s dissension in the ranks. Peyton won’t --”
“Sod off, Bodie. I can handle Peyton.”
“Yeah, I’ve seen you do that. You’re not a favourite of his, are you Doyle?”
“What do you know about it? You come in here all ‘yes sir, no sir, seen it all sir, done it all, and better than anyone --”
Letting Doyle rant a bit longer, Bodie leaned back against the kitchen wall, arms crossed over his chest.
Doyle stopped to take a breath and looked at Bodie, the challenge clear in his eyes.
“What’s this all about, really, Ray?”
The quiet words and the use of his first name seemed to surprise Doyle. He looked at the broken glass on the floor and shrugged.
“If someone had stepped in when I was his age, I might’ve turned out different.”
“Saw Sumner’s man lurking about. Didn’t want to take any chances.” Maurice Richards picked up an apple from the fruit barrow and turned it around in his hand. Pleased with his choice he handed it to Doyle and picked up a pear. “You ever have doubts?”
“Do you ever ask yourself why you’re doin’ this, Ray?”
Doyle shrugged and put the fruit into a bag. “Someone’s got to. Might as well be us, yeah?”
“But there’s more to it than that for you, isn’t there?” Richards handed the pear to Doyle and moved on to the peaches. “You need to do this. You need to be on the side of the good guys.”
Doyle bagged the pear and sighed. “It’s difficult, Maurice, but my path was set the day I took those papers to Mr Cowley. It was difficult, yeah, but it had to be done, personal considerations didn’t matter anymore. What those coppers are doing is wrong, Maurice. But it’s more than that. They’re undermining the whole system. Others see them getting away with it, getting rich using their insiders’ knowledge – what’s to stop more from becoming like them? Pretty soon the line between the good guys and the bad guys disappears. The coppers no better than the thugs. Who protects Joe Public then? I don’t want to be associated with a group that’s called ‘the filth’ and deserves the title.”
Richards looked at him; Ray saw something akin to pity in his eyes. “Ray, you know you can’t go back to the Met after this. They’ll be gunning for you.”
Doyle started to deny the words, but Richards cut him off. “You’ll find yourself in an alley waiting for back-up that won’t come, your radio won't work, or drugs will appear mysteriously in your locker, or you’ll get a beating in the dark.”
“Enough.” Doyle’s mouth was set in a thin line, his lips white. “I have to finish this, Maurice. I thought you understood that. I can’t sit back and ignore this. It’s wrong. There has to be someone – someone who wants the same things I do."
“And what is that, Ray?”
“To uphold the law, follow the rules, protect the public – lock up the thugs.”
“God save us from idealists.” Richards rolled his eyes.
“Don’t laugh. I know I’m done with the Yard, Maurice, but there has to be others out there that think like we do.”
“Dunno. Maybe. I hope so. I get the feeling that Cowley believes in truth and justice.”
“Lookin’ for a home, eh, Superman?”
“Or at least a place that’ll welcome me. I don’t feel like I really fit anywhere.” Doyle sighed. “I ran with a street gang in me teens; I knew it was wrong. Joined the Met thinking that would be the ticket, but some there are as bad as the thugs. Maybe CI5 will be different.”
Richards handed Doyle a peach. He waved at the bag in Doyle’s hand. “How much?”
Doyle gratefully welcomed the change of subject. “On the house, mate.” He winked mischievously.
“Oi. You wouldn’t be trying to bribe an honest copper now would you?” Richards handed over some change. He leaned in and said quietly, “The last set of tapes and pictures you got were damn good, Ray. We shouldn’t need much more.”
Doyle handed him the bag after slipping in a slip of paper. “There’s a new player trying to involve himself in the action. Russian. Let Cowley know. There’s also a name in here that I’d like you to have Cowley check out. A new member of Peyton’s gang – but there’s something off about him. I’ll meet you at the pub in a few days.”
Richards nodded, waved and walked off taking the peach out of the bag.
“You ready, mate?” Bodie called in through Doyle’s closed bedroom door at the Burnley Road house. “It’s time to go.”
“Almost. Bloody hell!” Doyle cursed as the tape holding the wire caught in his chest hair.
“What’s wrong?” Bodie pushed the door open.
“Nothin.” Doyle turned his back to the door and pulled his shirt closed around his chest.
“Try again.” Bodie put a hand on Doyle’s shoulder and spun him around. Surprised by the move, Doyle lost his grip on his shirt. It fell open, exposing the surveillance equipment to Bodie’s puzzled look.
“What’s all this then, Doyle?” Bodie demanded, tugging Doyle’s shirt down around his elbows and grabbing hold of the loose wire.
Arms pinned to his sides by the half removed shirt, Doyle could only wince as Bodie ripped the tape from his chest.
“What the hell is going on, Doyle?”
“Insurance.” Doyle pushed Bodie away and pulled his shirt the rest of the way off. “Lookin’ out for number one.”
Bodie grabbed the bare shoulders and shook Doyle. “This kind of insurance can get you killed, mate. Does Peyton know you’re wearing this?”
Doyle wouldn’t meet his eyes. He felt a strong urge to tell it all to this man, to tell him he was an undercover cop, tell him that the wire was to get evidence to put some corrupt police officers away for good. He shook his head against the inclination. Bodie misinterpreted the gesture.
“Didn’t think so.” Bodie sighed. “What’s going on, Ray?” His grip on Doyle’s shoulders tightened.
“Back off, Bodie!” Doyle shoved him and Bodie lost his balance. He fell onto the bed. He grabbed for Doyle as he fell and took the other man down with him. They rolled in the sheets until Bodie got on top and trapped Doyle underneath him. Pinning Doyle’s arms over his head, he hissed into Doyle’s face, “Listen you stupid prat. I don’t want to get killed here. Not for some half arsed plan of yours. So when we work together, there are no wires, no cameras – no anything. He bounced on Doyle’s gut, taking the man’s breath away. “Got it?”
Gulping in air, Doyle could only nod. Bodie released his arms and threw the wire at him. “Get rid of this.”
They both heard footsteps sound on the wooden floor leading to Doyle’s room. They quickly got out of the bed and straightened themselves up as best they could.
“Doyle, the meeting’s set...” Peyton entered the room without knocking; a look of surprise crossed his face. “What’s he doing here?” Peyton took in the messed up sheets on the bed and Doyle’s half dressed state.
“He’s with me.” Doyle’s belligerent attitude caused Peyton to smile.
“Well, well, well. I didn’t take you for the type, Bodie.”
“None of your business is it?” Doyle sounded defensive.
Peyton raised his hands in mock self defence. “I don’t care who warms your sheets as long as the job gets done.” He directed the last bit at Bodie, who wouldn’t meet his eyes. Peyton walked away smirking. “I’ll need to see you both downstairs before you leave.”
Bodie looked at Doyle who had the grace to look uncomfortable.
Bodie raised an eyebrow.
“Was all I could think of.”
Bodie laughed. “It’s all right. Quick thinking that was. He didn’t seem surprised.”
“About me? Nah, he knows. Part of the vetting process, wasn’t it. A mutual friend spoke up for me.”
“And the friend happens to...”
“Yeah, swing both ways.” Doyle waved a hand in dismissal.
Bodie looked around the room in distaste, grimacing as he took in the narrow twin bed with its tousled sheets, yesterday’s clothes in a pile on the floor, tea mugs on the bedside table, dirty trainers in the middle of the floor...
Doyle, feeling the unvoiced insult, started to speak. Bodie cut him off.
“Just hope I don’t have to consummate my new relationship here.” He turned back to Doyle with an unmistakeable glint in his eyes.
Doyle looked puzzled.
“Partial to my creature comforts, aren’t I? This is hardly what I’m used to.”
Doyle snorted, “Berk.”
“So now let’s get back to the wire.” Bodie’s face lost all amusement. “What kind of game are you playing, Ray?”
“No game, Bodie. We need to go.” Doyle walked out of the room buttoning up his shirt. “You coming?” An impatient growl accompanied the clatter of his footsteps on the stairs.
Bodie sighed in exasperation. No point in winding him up further. He caught up with Doyle and answered in a posh accent. “I live to serve, M’lud,” He took the keys from Doyle’s hand and opened the front door, waving Doyle through.
“Wait!” Tommy Jakes came running down the stairs. “I’m coming with you.” He shot Doyle a furious look, daring the man to disagree.
Doyle stopped in the doorway and rolled his eyes. “Sorry, mate. Not this time.” He turned to go.
Tommy grabbed his arm and spun him around. Doyle countered the move and pinned Tommy against the door. As Tommy tried to get free, Doyle’s arm closed tightly around the boy’s waist.
“What’s this?” Doyle pulled a gun from the back of Tommy’s waistband.
The boy tried to snatch it away from him, but Doyle kept it out of reach.
“I thought I told you not to mess with these.” He shook the gun in Tommy’s face. “You don’t know what you’re doing. This is not a game, son. It’s dangerous – for you and for us.”
Peyton called from the lounge, impatience in his voice. “Doyle? I haven’t got all day.”
Doyle shot Tommy an angry look as he released the boy and followed Bodie into the lounge where Peyton waited.
“Something’s come up, Doyle. I can’t spare any of the boys to go with you this afternoon. Should be a routine deal. You’ll be all right on your own?”
“I’ll take Bodie. We’ll be fine.”
Peyton looked like he was going to argue but then nodded in agreement. “We’ll meet back here at seven.”
“Right.” Doyle preceded Bodie out of the room. Bodie chanced a quick look at Peyton, eyes narrowed, but Peyton just waved at him in a gesture of dismissal. “We’ll talk later.”
Doyle was already at the car when Bodie came through the front door. As Doyle opened the passenger door to get in he saw Tommy in the back seat. “What the ‘ell are you doing here? I told you that you weren’t coming along!”
“Doyle, we don’t have time to argue if we’re going to make the meet.” Bodie said. “Let him come along.”
Doyle gave Bodie a dirty look over the roof of the car and then snapped “Fine” as he got in the passenger seat.
Tommy nodded his thanks at Bodie from the rear seat. Ignoring him, Bodie pulled sharply away from the kerb before Doyle had a chance to close his door.
“Bastard,” Doyle snarled.
Bodie’s lip twitched but there was no laughter in his eyes. “What do you make of the change in plans? I get the feeling the boss’s not happy with you, Doyle. Something you’d care to share?” Bodie hands tightened on the steering wheel. His voice cold as he warned, “Now would be a good time.”
Doyle didn’t turn his head as he stared out the windscreen. “Just drive.”
They arrived at the old, abandoned former garage to find several cars blocking the entrance.
“Nice neighbourhood,” Bodie observed aloud, looking out the windscreen.
Doyle cursed and checked his weapon. He turned to Tommy in the backseat and said “Stay put.”
“But-” Tommy started to protest.
“I’m not going to argue with you about this. Stay. In. The. Car.” He slid out of the passenger seat and slammed the door as he looked at Bodie. “What? You got something to say?”
“Not me, mate.” Bodie straightened up as he closed his car door with a little less vigour.
“Good. Let’s go see what this is all about.”
They approached the front of the building slowly. A voice called from the roof. “That’s far enough.”
Doyle took two more steps. Bullets slammed into the tarmac in front of his feet.
“That’s your only warning. Where’s the money?”
“Not until I see the goods.”
Doyle stumbled as Tommy brushed past him.
Too late, he saw the gunman on the roof stand up and take a single shot. Tommy staggered and fell. Doyle started to run to him. A hail of gunfire from behind forced him to the ground. He crawled quickly behind a rusted skip. “Bodie, what the fuck-”
“Stay down, damn you. For once in your bloody life listen to someone else!” Bodie yelled from his position behind the now open car door, wincing at its questionable use as cover.
Doyle stayed down. He could hear Bodie reloading. “On three, Doyle. When I fire, you get back to the car.”
“We can’t just leave him.”
“He’s dead. We’re not.” Bodie managed to get himself back into the car. “If you’re not in the car in the next thirty seconds, I’m leaving you here.” He took a deep breath and shouted, “Now, Doyle!”
Bodie laid down covering fire and Doyle flung himself back into the passenger seat. He fired out the window as Bodie turned the car and peeled away from the garage.
“Bastards!” Doyle punched the dashboard.
“Are we being followed?”
Wrapped in his own anguish, Bodie’s words didn’t reach Doyle.
“Damn it Doyle. Pull your head out of your arse – we’re not out of this yet. Are we being followed?”
Doyle dug the heels of his hands into his eyes and spun around in his seat.
“No. There’s no one back there.”
“What the hell was that all about then? Why’d they just let us drive away?”
“It was a warning. Maybe from our Russian friend. They can take us out anytime they want. We’re not needed anymore.”
“Peyton will have something to say about that.”
“Unless ‘e was the one set us up.”
Silence filled the car. Doyle noticed that they weren’t headed back to Burnley Road.
“’ere, where’re you takin’ me?”
“You need to calm down, sweetheart, you’re losing your aitches.” Bodie gifted him a smug smile. “I’m taking you home.”
Doyle reared up to protest, but then slumped down in his seat. He flapped a hand at the windscreen. “Go on then.”
Bodie found a parking space in front of the flat he was using for the undercover and led Doyle to the door. He unlocked it and stepped back to let Doyle enter first. Doyle paused.
“This is a bad idea, Bodie. I need to see Peyton.”
“C’mon, Doyle. Just a quick drink to settle down.”
Doyle didn’t move.
“Suit yourself.” Bodie entered the flat but left the door open.
Doyle cursed and stepped inside. He slammed the door hard enough to rattle the windows. “Fuckin’ bastards!” He flung the holdall he was carrying across the room, narrowly missing Bodie.
“Oh, sod off, Bodie.” Doyle kicked off his shoes and dropped heavily onto the settee, his head in his hands. He didn’t show any interest in his surroundings.
“Isn’t your fault, Ray.”
“Isn’t it?” Doyle angrily swept all the papers off the coffee table and jumped back to his feet. “He knew – I told him...”
“You told him to get out. Jakes didn’t listen. It was his choice, his mistake.”
“He was just a kid.”
“He was old enough to get himself into this.”
Doyle paced around the room, one hand shoved in his back pocket, the other pulling on his hair.
“He was just a kid.” Doyle turned to Bodie and the anguish on his face went straight to Bodie’s heart. Bodie grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him in close. He could feel the man shaking and knew it was no longer anger.
“I should have done more.” It was almost a plea.
Bodie leaned in and kissed him.
Doyle pulled away, breathing heavily. “What the bloody ‘ell are you doin’?”
Bodie didn’t answer. He let the hunger in his eyes speak instead.
Doyle’s eyes narrowed; he pushed Bodie against the wall, leaning heavily against him. He pressed his lips against Bodie’s mouth. The kiss was hard and needy. It was a challenge. Bodie tasted blood. He forced his tongue past Doyle’s teeth and sampled the inside of Doyle’s mouth.
Doyle pulled away again, his eyes large and full of surprise.
“What’re we doin’, Bodie?”
Bodie pushed his hips against Doyle’s and felt the hardness there. His own arousal was obvious.
“Don’t talk. You need this Ray,” Bodie leaned in again and bit Doyle’s lower lip, “and I want it.”
“Bodie.” He sucked a deep breath in through his teeth as Bodie’s hands went to work on his belt and zip, pushing jeans and pants to the floor.
Doyle groaned when warm hands surrounded him. He undid Bodie’s flies.
Bodie knocked Doyle’s hands away and took both their freed erections together in his grasp. Doyle panted, “Bodie – why?”
“Best way to come down off a job gone bad, mate. Have to do something with the adrenaline.”
“Just shut up, Ray.” Bodie ran his thumb over the weeping heads of their cocks, teasing the slits. Doyle gasped and thrust harder into Bodie’s hand.
“Not gonna take long is it, sunshine?”
“Bastard –“ The word barely out of his mouth when Doyle came, his anguish spilling hot and white over Bodie’s hand.
Bodie turned Ray to face the wall and plastered himself against the still breathless body. When Doyle didn’t object, Bodie pulled far enough away to remove Doyle’s shirt and run his hands over Doyle’s back. He tasted sweat slicked skin as he ran his tongue the length of Doyle’s spine.
“Let me, Ray.”
But Bodie was too far gone to stop. Using the moisture available from Doyle’s release to ease the way, he entered Doyle in one long hard thrust. Doyle moaned. Too close to attempt any finesse, too needy to regret his actions, Bodie pounded into the man pinned to the wall and with five sharp thrusts, he came. They were both breathing heavily, sounds like sobs leaving Doyle’s throat. He slid himself free and turned Doyle to face him. He wrapped his arms around Doyle and held him until they both stopped trembling. He pushed his face into the curls around Doyle’s ear and whispered, “I hurt you. I’m sorry.” He kissed his way from Doyle’s neck to the generous mouth.
“You did, and you’re not.” The mouth under his smiled and Bodie felt himself relax. It was going to be all right.
Ray wrapped an arm around Bodie’s neck, his breath quick and warm against Bodie’s skin. “Tommy should have listened to me.”
Doyle raised his head from Bodie’s shoulder and lightly kissed his lips. He nodded and closed his eyes, leaning his forehead against Bodie’s. “It’s all right, mate,” he smiled. “I’m all right now.” He bent over to pull up his jeans. “I need a shower.”
Bodie watched him go. What had they done? What had they started? How had this man slipped unseen behind his carefully maintained walls? Bodie laughed to himself. Wait until Cowley finds out! The old man will sell my body to science – hopefully not until after I’m done with it. He straightened his own clothes, took himself to his bedroom and crawled under the duvet. He heard the shower start up as his eyes closed and he drifted into sleep. Waking an unknown amount of time later he found he was alone. The sheets beside him were cold and the spare pillow showed no sign that a curly head had ever rested there. Doyle hadn’t come to bed then. Listening carefully, he could hear Doyle’s repetitive footfalls pacing across the floor of the lounge.
Bodie leaned his forearms on the rail of the boat and let himself relax into the rhythmic rocking motion of the water. He was early for his meeting with Martell. The sunset painted the gentle swells of the river in orange and gold. Now and again, diamantine sprites danced in the air as the sun played with the spray kicked up by the wake of a boat’s passing.
“The Lucala River. Angola.” Marty Martell handed the silent man a drink.
“Hmm.” Bodie absently sipped at the glass.
“A different time and place, that,” Martell spoke quietly. “We were different men. You – just a boy.” Bodie snorted.
“Well, “Martell smiled fondly, “mature for your age, maybe. Definitely wise beyond your years.”
“Was after I left there anyway.” The sadness in Bodie’s words settled over them both.
Martell clapped a hand on a tense shoulder. “Billy Bodie had to grow up quick, didn’t he?”
Bodie turned a narrow eyed gaze to his companion. “You’re the only one gets away with calling me that, you know.”
Martell gave a mock bow. “And I am honoured.” Bodie knew he hadn’t hidden his thoughts well enough when Martell asked, “Still think about her and Krivas?”
He sighed and took another drink. “Yeah. The wisdom you spoke of – came from the two of them, didn’t it? Taught me not to trust, not to give myself away.”
Martell looked surprised. “I thought you loved her?”
“Did. And that was the problem. If I hadn’t – well, let’s just say that what Krivas did to her, and to me, was a lesson learned – a hard lesson. Ahh,” he shrugged, “Doesn’t matter anymore, does it? Africa was a long time ago.”
“But you never did leave it behind, did you?”
Bodie looked at him with a question in his eyes.
“North Africa, Belfast, Germany – different places, but the same old Billy.”
Bodie’s shoulders tensed. The man was getting too close.
“Don’t try to hide from me, Bodie. I’m not letting you go that easy.” He felt Martell’s eyes on him as the man continued to speak, “You’re a restless spirit, my friend. Only content when you’re moving on.”
“I’m tired, Marty. Tired of all the moving on and trying to justify what I’m doing. I need a place to settle. A place to get paid for using my skills for the right reasons.”
“So there are still some dreams in the bottom of that blackened soul of yours, eh?”
Bodie stared out at the Thames.
“CI5?” Martell asked.
“Dunno. Maybe. Hope so.”
They stood shoulder to shoulder and watched the river glide past. Martell broke the silence.
“Tell me then, why am I graced with your presence this fine evening?”
Bodie straightened up. “I need you to pass some information on to Cowley. It seems he was right about certain foreign interests in the proceedings.”
“Not sure I’m comfortable with this arrangement with your Mr Cowley.”
“My Mr Cowley?”
“He’s an arrogant man.”
“Pot, mate.” Bodie laughed. “You’re making out ok, Marty. He’s willing to overlook some of your shadier dealings…”
“As long as I keep them out of England. So kind of him.”
“It’s the best way to work this. Peyton won’t be suspicious if I’m seen visiting you – you introduced us, after all.”
Martell rolled his eyes. “Don’t remind me!”
Bodie removed an envelope from his jacket pocket. “This needs to get to Cowley.”
Martell looked around before taking it from Bodie’s hand and tucking it inside his suit coat. “I’ll see that he gets it.”
Bodie nodded as he moved towards the gangplank. “Thanks, Marty. I’ll be in touch.”
He smiled as he heard the muttered “Can’t wait,” follow him off the boat.
“Bodie wants to run a check on one Raymond Doyle.” Anson slapped an envelope down on the Controller’s desk.
Cowley picked it up and removed a photograph. He studied the face looking back at him with the hint of a smile. “Does he now? And what is Master Bodie’s interest in Mr Doyle?”
“Says in the note there that he’s one of Peyton’s but there’s something off about him. An irritating sod, I believe were the words he used.”
Cowley’s smile deepened. “Is that right? Bodie’s instincts are good. When is your meet with 3.7?”
“Two days, if he can get away. At the Governors Arms. You going to tell him?”
“Tell him?” Cowley looked over the top of his glasses at Anson.
“No. Not yet. Tell him we’re looking into the matter.”
“What aren’t you telling me, sir? You’ve got that look.”
“I’ve had a request through Detective Sergeant Richards to check out one W.A.P. Bodie.”
Anson snorted. “Two peas in a pod, yeah?”
Bodie drove to the pre-arranged drop. Doyle ignored the side-long glances directed his way and silently studied the tatty trainer propped against the dash. He hoped this meet would be the one to wrap things up. They were meeting with Sumner and his boss to make the exchange – money for drugs. He’d arranged with Maurice to have a surveillance camera set up and he was wearing the wire. If he could get this exchange on tape – he’d have them.
Getting out of the car Bodie smothered a sneeze as the wind stirred dust into the air around the derelict council house. “You take me to the nicest places.”
“Nothing’s too good for you, mate,” Doyle answered with a wink. He couldn’t explain why he felt so comfortable with this man. He didn’t know him. They’d only worked together a couple of weeks. Christ, the man was a criminal! But he – what? Trusted him? The thought should have made him uneasy. But it didn’t.
Before Doyle could send Bodie around to the back of the building, the man was off. He watched the black clad figure disappear around the corner of the building, all solid grace and intent purpose. Doyle shook his head, a small laugh escaping his control. Down, boy. It was a one-off. You don’t need to get involved with this one. Yet something pulled him nearer, deeper, each time they were together.
Doyle slowly climbed the crumbling concrete steps. The unlocked door swung eerily in the cold breeze. A chill slithered its way down the length of his spine. Something had his hackles up. Using his gun, he pushed the door open further. Hugging the wall and holding the Walther up next to his cheek, he slid silently into the room, eyes sweeping back and forth. No one there. The wind rose, sending dead leaves swirling in through the open door. They danced around his feet. The building settled with an almost tangible creak, prickling the hairs on the back of his neck. Instincts on alert, trusting that Bodie was on alert too, he took a step further into the room.
The men they had come to meet were nowhere in sight. The feeling of danger grew. There was a loud crash from the back of the house. Bodie! He heard heavy footfalls running towards him. He raised his weapon, finger poised on the trigger. Before he could react, a dark figure barrelled into him.
“Get out!” Bodie yelled, the momentum carrying them both out the door and down the steps, arms and legs tangled together.
“What the fuck are you...” Doyle’s words were swallowed up in the explosion that rocked the old house. Flames like grotesque fingers reached for them through the shattered windows. Glass, wood and roof tiles rained down on them. As the last of the debris settled they heard sirens approaching.
“Move!” Doyle tried to stand and groaned when his ankle gave out.
“Right you are, old son,” Bodie agreed. Pulling the keys from his pocket he helped Doyle into the passenger seat, ran around to the driver’s side and climbed in. Tyres squealed as they raced away from the burning building.
Sitting at a table facing the pub’s door, Bodie took a long pull from his pint. He studied his silent companion. “Piss someone off, did you?”
“Ha-bloody-ha.” Doyle stared into his lager as if it held all the answers. His brow furrowed, lips a thin white line, he looked up at Bodie, and an accusation glittered in his eyes. “Someone knew we were coming.”
Doyle turned away and pushed his face against a closed fist – Bodie now recognised that as a sign of frustration rather than anger.
Bodie’s gaze narrowed, but he kept silent. Doyle was a stroppy bastard, but he was smart. He didn’t indiscriminately place blame. Bodie gave him time to sort things out.
“Someone set us – me – up.”
“Who knew you were going to be there?”
“Peyton, Lowry, a few others.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “But not --”
“Got it in one, sunshine.” Bodie reached over and ruffled the curly head. “But not me. You grabbed me as you were leaving. I had no idea what the plan was.”
“Yeah. Realise that now. Sorry.” Doyle slid his eyes away. Bodie thought he might be embarrassed.
“You got there in the end.” He took another drink. “So, who was it, then?”
“Can you be sure of these guys? How long you have you known them?” Bodie drew in a breath. “Christ, Ray, can you trust them and their bent copper friends?”
Doyle’s hands clenched under the table. He stood quickly, staggering a little at the sudden weight on his injured ankle. Bodie reached out a hand to steady him.
“Need a slash,” Doyle mumbled and headed for the loo.
Bodie sat back in his chair and played with the crisps he hadn’t eaten. He was puzzled. Doyle always reacted badly to the mention of the police. Bodie hadn’t yet worked up the nerve to ask him why. And who was trying to kill him? Peyton? This was the third job to go bad. Tommy had been killed while on Doyle’s watch. Did Peyton blame him? Was someone setting Doyle up? Someone on the inside? And why the fuck should he care?’ He threw some coins on the table, collected Doyle as he came out of the bog and headed to the car. There was a meeting at the house tonight. Maybe he’d find some answers there.
Bodie whooped out loud, breaking the silence that had descended on the Burnley street house. He spread his cards across the table. “Read ‘em and weep, old son.”
Lowry groaned and tossed his own cards on top of Bodie’s. Bodie swept the cards into a pile and began to shuffle. The door opened and Peyton came in. He’d been remote since his nephew’s death.
“I have something I need you to do for me.” Peyton spoke quietly.
Bodie set the cards aside and waited.
“Is Doyle around?” Peyton asked.
“No. He went out to look over the site for tomorrow’s meet. He should be back in an hour or so.”
“Good. This involves him and I want it to be a surprise.”
Bodie felt a stab of apprehension at the tone of Peyton’s voice. It might be a surprise, but it didn’t seem like it would be one that Doyle would welcome.
“Doyle doesn’t like surprises, near as I can tell,” Lowry offered, mirroring Bodie’s thoughts.
“I can guarantee he won’t like this one,” Peyton’s smug grin increased Bodie’s unease.
Bodie raised an eyebrow. “Let’s have it then.”
Peyton sat down at the table and picked up the cards. He shuffled through them as he spoke. “I’ve suspected our curly mopped friend is not quite what he seems for a while now – since the meet with the Russian to be exact. Too many of his jobs going bad lately. There’s a reason for that.”
“You think he’s sold out to the Russians?” Lowry asked, surprised.
“No.” Peyton eyes met Bodie’s. “He’s a copper.”
Bodie went cold. “Are you sure?”
Peyton put the cards back on the table and pulled a photograph out of his jacket pocket. He set the picture down on the table next to the cards. Tapping the face of the man sitting next to Doyle at a table in a pub he explained, “This man is Detective Sergeant Maurice Richards with the Metropolitan Police.”
Lowry let out a long, low whistle and shook his head.
“How’d you get this?” Bodie asked with a sick feeling in his gut.
“Friends in high places,” Peyton smiled.
“Could it be that Richards is after Doyle, suspects him of something and is just harassing him – hoping Doyle will slip up?” The explanation sounded lame even to him, but Bodie had to offer it.
“This,” Peyton tapped the picture again, “is the man Doyle wanted to bring on instead of you, Bodie.” Peyton leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest.
Bodie shrugged. “Guess that’s it then.”
Peyton leaned forward. “You and Mason will deal with our Mr Doyle. He seems to have a certain fondness for you.”
Bodie detected a mocking note in Peyton’s voice and felt his face redden as he remembered the earlier explanation for his presence in Doyle’s bedroom. Coughing to recover, he cleared his throat and asked, “What are we supposed to do with him? If he is with the Met – I’m not a cop killer.”
“If you’re squeamish, Mason can handle the final details.”
Bodie glared at Peyton. “When?”
“Tonight. During the meet. Doyle thinks the buy is still set for Friday, tomorrow. I’ve moved it forward. He won’t have time to alert his “friends”. If he suffers an accident tonight, no one will be there to back him up and no one on our end, including Mr Smith, will ask questions.” Peyton met Bodie’s eyes. “Are we clear?”
“Yeah. We’re clear.” Bodie stood up and went to the window, drawing back the curtains.
“Meet with Mason at six.”
Peyton rose from his chair as the kitchen door opened and Doyle entered.
“Oi. What’s going on? Secret plots?” Doyle’s joking smile died at the expression on the other men’s faces.
“Or did someone die?” He shivered at the thought, apprehension tightening the muscle in his jaw.
Peyton gestured for him to sit. “There’s been a change in plans. The Russians are in a hurry. If we want in on the deal, we have to move tonight.”
“Tonight?! We’re --”
“You have the money?” Peyton interrupted.
“Well, yes, but --”
“Then there’s no reason to delay.”
“But why the hurry?” Doyle looked around at the men in the room. “I don’t like this. They’re up to something.”
“Then we will have to be extra vigilant.”
Doyle opened his mouth to continue his protest. Peyton moved behind him and slapped a hand down hard on Doyle’s shoulder. “No more talk. Let’s get ready, shall we?”
Resigned, Doyle closed his eyes. “Yeah. Fine.”
Peyton patted his should again, lightly this time. “Good man.”
Bodie found Mason, who already knew about Peyton’s orders, in the basement cleaning his gun.
“I’m stepping out for a bit,” Bodie announced. “Then we’ll make some plans.”
“Where are you going? We have everything we might need right here,” Mason protested. “Peyton wants us all to stay together.”
Bodie gave him a hard look. “Sod Peyton. If he wants me to off a copper, I’m going to make sure I do it with an untraceable weapon. I haven’t stayed alive and out of prison this long by trusting my fate to someone else.”
Mason backed off. “Right. I’ll wait for you here. Don’t be too long. You don’t want to make Peyton nervous. He’s not a nice man.”
“Neither am I, sunshine,” Bodie warned with a malicious grin. “You’d do well to remember that.”
“Oh. I will, mate, I will.” Mason waved him away.
Bodie checked the street and the windows of the house for watchers before he pulled away from the kerb. After driving several miles and convinced that he wasn’t being followed, he pulled into a parking spot and stopped the car. He walked the few blocks to his CI5 flat. Pausing on the front steps he checked his surroundings again and satisfied, he entered the building. He raced up the stairs to his third floor flat and grabbed the phone.
“3.7 for Alpha.”
“Alpha here. Go ahead 3.7.”
“I don’t have all the details, but the buy scheduled for Friday has been moved up. It’s on for tonight. I’ll need back up.”
“You’ll have it.”
Bodie heard Cowley yell to his secretary to get Anson and Murphy on the double.
“Did you get the information I asked for on Doyle?” Bodie asked.
He heard Cowley hesitate before the man enquired, “Is there a problem?”
“Peyton has him pegged as a cop. He plans to rid himself of the problem at the buy tonight.” Bodie’s voice was flat. “I’m to arrange an accident.”
“Do you? Peyton is getting his information from someone. ‘Someone high up,’ he said. If Doyle is a cop, there could be a leak. I need to know what’s going on, sir. Peyton wants me to - I’m supposed to kill Doyle.”
Bodie heard Anson and Murphy in Cowley’s office.
“You keep your cover intact, lad. We’ll take care of Mr Doyle.”
“I don’t like this, sir. If he is police --”
“You aren’t paid to like it, 3.7. Do your job. Leave the worrying to us.”
Bodie sighed. “The meet is at two am. The Hungerford Bridge car park.”
“You’ll have your back up, Bodie. Cowley out.”
“Damn!” Bodie slammed the phone back into its cradle. Something wasn’t right about all this. Doyle a cop? Not likely – but it would explain a few things. Whatever was going on, he was going to get to the bottom of it. And he wasn’t going to lose Doyle without – without what? ’Now where had that thought come from?’
Bodie returned to the Burnley Road house and found Doyle sitting in the lounge ignoring the game on the telly.
“Where is everyone?” Bodie asked.
“Where’ve you been?” Doyle countered.
Bodie held up the gun case he carried. “Went home for a little extra protection.”
Doyle looked at him questioningly from under raised brows.
“Got a bad feeling about tonight, Ray.” Bodie waited to see if Doyle would take his words as a warning, but the man only shrugged.
“It’ll go all right. Only change is the date. We’re ready.”
“Just the same.” Bodie patted his gun case, “I like to be prepared for everything.”
“Regular Boy scout, you are.”
Bodie sat down next to Doyle. “Singing a different tune from earlier today. Not so reluctant about the changed schedule now?”
Doyle shrugged again.
“So, where is everyone?” Bodie raised lecherous eyebrows.
Doyle rolled his own eyes. “Feelin’ a bit randy, are we?”
“Got a bit of pre-mission tension to relieve. Care to help out?” Bodie pulled Doyle’s hand into his lap and over his groin.
Doyle laughed. “Hopeless, you are.”
Bodie put an arm around Doyle’s shoulders. He felt the tension there, belying the playful mood. He brushed his lips against Doyle’s neck.
“So, how much time have we got?” He raised his hips and pushed up into Doyle’s cupping hand.
“Not enough.” Doyle tried to get up, but Bodie held him in his seat.
“Makes it all the more exciting, doesn’t it?” Bodie asked cheekily. “The risk of getting caught...”
Bodie watched as Doyle stilled and met his gaze. ‘Yes,’ thought Bodie, ‘Get the message, sunshine.’
Doyle turned quickly and pressed his lips hard against Bodie’s mouth. Bodie felt a warm wetness trace his lips, asking for and receiving permission to enter. Tongues danced together playfully. Doyle’s hands moved up and captured Bodie’s face; thumbs gently traced cheekbones while fingers softly caressed the sensitive skin behind his ears. He exhaled a deep regretful breath when Doyle’s mouth left his and sucked that same breath back in when lips tenderly kissed his closed eyes. Strong hands slid down to his shoulders and Doyle leaned his forehead against Bodie’s. Opening his eyes he saw mischief starring at him from a shameless green gaze.
“Depends on the reward.” Doyle stood up, kissed the end of Bodie’s nose and left the room.
‘Who are you, Raymond Doyle?’ Bodie’s eyes followed the man out of the room. ‘And what are you hiding?’ Bodie looked down at the bulge in his trousers and sighed.
They entered the multi-storey car park in three vehicles. Peyton, Mason and Lowry in a dark coloured Cortina, Bodie and Doyle in a second car and the rest of the gang followed in a Land Rover. The meet was to take place on the underground level. Doyle noticed a few vehicles parked on the first level, odd for this time of night, but Peyton didn’t pay them any attention and kept driving. The procession made its way slowly down the ramp, headlamps off. They drove through the darkness until Peyton signalled a stop. He got out of the front vehicle and walked to Doyle’s car.
Doyle rolled down the window and Peyton ordered, “Park the cars away from each other. That way we can’t be boxed in if something goes wrong.” Doyle waved in agreement and pulled the car to the far side of the ramp. The other two parked several hundred feet away from him and each other.
They were the first to arrive; the drug squad men and their Russian friends were noticeably absent.
Doyle got out of the car and shivered. It was cold and damp in the underground garage. The smell of oil and stale exhaust was heavy in the air. Water dripped from the ceiling, leaking from the levels above, forming small pools in the rough depressions dotting the concrete floor. Widely spaced lights fixed in the ceiling cast long yellow shadows across the open space. Darkness crouched in the corners. Doyle shivered again, his instincts shouting warnings.
This was it. This was his chance to take down the corrupt officers that gave the Met a bad name. The meeting had been changed, moved up and he hadn’t been able to get a message to Richards. He was on his own, but he wasn’t going to miss this chance. He wasn’t going to give up. He watched as Bodie unfolded himself from the passenger seat of the car. Maybe there was some help there? No. He wasn’t sure why Bodie had associated himself with Peyton’s gang, but he didn’t get the impression that Bodie was all that enamoured of the police; help from that quarter was unlikely.
Bodie must have sensed his edginess; he walked up and threw an arm around him. He shivered as Bodie’s mouth brushed against his ear and felt more than heard the whispered, “Got a bad feeling about this, Ray. Keep your guard up.”
Bodie’s arm slid off and he pulled Doyle’s jacket tighter around his neck and shoulders. Doyle pushed his hands away. Bodie pouted and Doyle rolled his eyes; a reluctant smile forced itself on his lips.
“That’s better,” Bodie said with a wink, and Doyle felt himself relax a little. “Prat,” he mumbled as he followed Bodie to where Peyton and the others had gathered.
Peyton checked his watch. “We’ve got ten minutes. Lowry, you take some of the boys and find spots to cover us. Maybe put a man or two on the level above with the rifles.” Lowry took his men and scattered around the garage. “Bodie, you and Mason will cover Doyle, here, and the cash.”
A finger of unease traced a cold line down Doyle’s spine at the look that Peyton gave Bodie and Mason. Mason reached out and swept his hand through Doyle’s curls. “Don’t worry about Doyle. We’ll see he’s kept safe.”
Doyle glared at him and ducked out from under the big hand. Meeting Bodie’s eyes, he thought he saw anger there too, and then it was quickly gone. The sound of tyres rolling towards them on the tarmac drew their attention to the car park ramp.
“They’re right on time,” Peyton pronounced, looking around. Satisfied with the placement of Lowry’s men, he signalled Carroll and Lipton to follow him as he walked over to greet the new arrivals.
“Sumner.” Peyton held out his hand. “And Mr Smith.” He shook hands with Sumner and then the Russian, ignoring the muscle standing behind them. He looked at the man standing silently behind Sumner. “We haven’t met.”
Sumner gestured towards the third man. “Preston. Peyton. There, now we’re all friends.”
Peyton turned and Bodie saw him grimace. Peyton called out, “Doyle. Bring the money.”
Preston turned sharply to watch Doyle emerge from behind Bodie.
Doyle handed the bag containing the cash to Peyton.
Sumner placed a hold-all on the ground.
“Check it,” Peyton ordered Doyle, keeping hold of the bag containing the cash.
Doyle opened the bag and rifled through the contents. “It’s all here.”
“Now,” Peyton said patiently to Sumner and his men, “let me tell you how this is going to work.”
He looked up and called out, “Boys?”
Lowry and his crew leaned over the edge of the parking ramps where they had hidden themselves, guns now clearly visible to those on the lower floor of the parking garage. Sumner’s men moved for their weapons. Lowry fired a warning over their heads. Peyton held up a hand. “Let’s take it easy, lads.”
“What’s this about, Peyton?” Sumner demanded.
“I’m not happy with the new arrangements you and Mr Smith have made. So instead of you and yours cutting out me and mine, we’re going to complete this transaction without him. And I’m leaving here with the money,” he held the package of cash that Doyle had handed him, “and the drugs.” He kicked the hold-all over to Doyle, who bent down to pick it up.
Preston made a move to go for his gun. The sound of seven other guns being cocked froze him in place.
“I wouldn’t advise that, my new friend,” Peyton taunted. “Throw your weapons over towards the Land Rover.” He turned to Doyle. “Take the bag and their guns and put them in the boot.” He looked up and yelled, “Lowry, cover us as we take our leave.” He smiled at Sumner as he watched Doyle put the weapons and the bag in the Cortina. Doyle walked back to stand with Bodie and Mason.
“This will conclude our business, gentlemen.” Peyton bowed towards the three angry men. I’d suggest you write it off as a lesson learned and get in your vehicles and leave, while you still can.”
Sumner took a step towards Peyton. A shot rang out, barely missing his foot.
Mr Smith put a hand on Sumner’s arm and nodded at their car. “Leave it for another day.”
“This isn’t over, Peyton,” Sumner growled as he and the other men got in their vehicles and roared away.
Peyton laughed, as he got in his own car with Carroll and Lipton and gave a nod to Mason. “Take care of the last of our problems.” He drove up the parking ramp.
Mason came up behind Doyle and put one arm around his neck and the other around his chest, effectively pinning his arms against his body. Doyle tried to throw him off, but Mason tightened the grip around his neck.
Bodie ripped open the front of Doyle’s shirt to reveal the wire there. “And what’s this then, hmm.” He tore the wire off, causing Doyle to grunt with the pain. Bodie silently cursed. ‘Damn you, Ray. I told you – no wires. You’re making this too easy for them.’
“Let go, you bastard!” Doyle rasped, stomping down hard on Mason’s foot and reaching for the gun tucked in the waistband of his jeans.
Mason relaxed the arm around Doyle’s chest and pushed the barrel of his gun against Doyle’s back with bruising force. “Hold still, Ray. A bullet in the spine is a long, slow, painful way to die. Behave yourself and we’ll make it quick, right Bodie?” Doyle released his grip on the gun.
“Right.” Bodie raised his gun and pointed it at Doyle’s head. Bodie read each and every emotion that flashed through Doyle’s eyes - fear, disbelief, betrayal, resignation and something that looked like regret, or maybe sorrow. He couldn’t let that stop him.
“Sorry, Ray,” he whispered.
Mason kept hold of Doyle, but moved a few steps to the side to give Bodie room to make the shot. Bodie saw Doyle close his eyes as his own finger tightened on the trigger. When the gun fired he saw Doyle flinch.
Mason’s grip on Doyle’s neck tightened convulsively as he toppled backwards, taking Doyle down with him. Doyle rolled away from the body and Bodie watched uncertainty cloud Doyle’s face as the man realised that it was Mason with a hole in his forehead, and not him.
“I don’t understand,” Doyle sputtered.
Bodie grabbed him and hauled him to his feet. “You bloody moron. What the hell is this?” He ripped another piece of tape off Doyle’s chest. “I told you --”
“Bodie!” Doyle looked down at the pool of blood around Mason’s head. “What the fuck is going on?” Confusion and a growing anger radiated from him.
“Bodie! You bastard!” Lowry shouted from his perch above them. “He’s killed Mason.”
Bodie dragged Doyle behind a concrete support pillar and slammed him down on the tarmac as bullets flew over their heads.
“I’m supposed to kill you.” Bodie’s voice was flat, his face void of expression.
“Yeah. Peyton’s orders. He thinks you’re the filth.”
Bodie watched the blood drain from Doyle’s face.
“So it’s true then. You are a copper,” Bodie said flatly.
Doyle raised his gun, pointed it at Bodie. Bodie slapped it away.
“Christ, Doyle. Put that thing down. We’ve got more pressing issues right now.”
“You killed Mason.”
Bodie took in the large, confused eyes and his lips twitched. “Yeah, never did like the bugger.”
“But – who the hell are you?” The green eyes blazed with anger. The white-knuckled grip on the gun tightened even further.
Another volley of bullets hit the concrete pillar they were hiding behind, spraying them with sharp shards of cement.
“Can’t stay here, mate.” Bodie silently thanked the shooter for the distraction. He wasn’t ready to answer Doyle’s questions yet. He needed more information – Cowley would have his guts for garters if he blew his cover before the op was finished, even if Doyle was one of the good guys.
“Over there.” He nodded towards the Land Rover parked to their left. “I’ll cover you, and then you can return the favour.”
“Bodie.” There was warning in the low pitched voice.
’Stubborn git’. “Not now, Doyle. Trust me, ok?”
Doyle agreed reluctantly - confusion, warring with what Bodie attributed to stubbornness, still visible in his eyes. Bodie gave him a push towards the car. Doyle ran, dived and rolled the fifteen feet to the vehicle. He then kept up a steady covering fire while Bodie crossed the pavement.
Breathing heavily, leaning against the car’s tyres, they reloaded their weapons.
Doyle caught Bodie’s eye. “Who are you?”
Bodie winked. “Later, sunshine. Let’s get out of here first.”
“Not leavin’ without what I came for,” Doyle insisted.
“And what’s that?”
“Proof that this,” Doyle waved his weapon in a circle, “was orchestrated by corrupt coppers.”
Bodie looked at him, exasperated. “My turn now, Doyle. Who the hell are you?”
The garage was filled with the sound of screeching tyres as the Cortina came quickly back down the ramp in reverse, closely pursued by three other cars. Bodie recognised the CI5 vehicles that had appeared empty when they’d passed them on the upper level. Dark and nondescript, they chased Peyton back to the lower level.
Not noticing Doyle behind the concrete pillar, Peyton shouted at Bodie through the open driver’s side window, “Cops! Take cover.”
Doyle stood up and moved away from the concealing concrete, gun held tight in both hands, pointed at Peyton. “Game’s over, mate. Throw your weapons aside and get out of the car.
“Doyle?” Peyton looked at the two men standing side by side. “You’re supposed to be dead!” He stepped on the accelerator and drove straight at Doyle.
Doyle leapt back behind the pillar. His gun spat twice and the car spun in a wide circle, two tyres flat.
“Lowry!” Peyton yelled to the man perched a level above him. “Cover us!”
Lowry let go a burst of gunfire as Peyton, Carroll and Lipton got out of the car and started back up the ramp on foot, ducking behind the few scattered vehicles and support beams in their path. CI5 and the police joined in the action, the strident scream of the police sirens and the rotating reflection of blue lights heralding their arrival.
Bodie found himself and Doyle caught between the two groups and was amazed to find that they had been forgotten.
“Looks like the cavalry’s here. Now would be a good time to get out, Bodie.” Doyle waved his gun at the empty garage behind them.
“What are you on about, Doyle?” Bodie asked, puzzled.
“Go! There may not be another chance.” Doyle pushed at him.
“What about you?” Bodie pushed Doyle’s hands away.
“I’ve got to see this through to the finish, Bodie. Got to see those bastards handcuffed and stuffed into the Black Maria.”
Bodie watched Doyle’s hand curl into a tight fist and a feral light come into the serious eyes.
“I’m not leaving you here, Ray.”
“Got somethin’ to tell you, mate. May change your mind about staying.”
Bodie tensed, waiting.
“I am a copper, Bodie, Peyton was right, and this is all going to finish now.” Doyle’s voice dropped lower and he stared straight in to Bodie’s eyes. “I don’t know who you really are, but I know you’re not with Peyton. Go. It’s your chance to get free of this.”
Bodie laughed. He could see it was a mistake as Doyle’s face coloured and a muscle in his jaw jumped.
“You bloody bastard! What’re you laughing about? ‘m tryin’ to save you a stay in Her Majesty’s tender care.” He prodded Bodie’s chest with the barrel of his gun. “Go, will you!”
Bodie tried to swallow the next laugh, but it came out as a gasp. A fist caught him, knocking him onto his back. He looked up at the angry whirlwind standing over him.
“I’m trying to help you, you moron.”
Bodie caught the uncertainty radiating from the man.
“You really are with the police?” He asked as he sat up and rubbed his chin. “Oh, this is rich.” His amusement bubbled over again. He’d met Cowley’s good copper.
Gun fire erupted. Doyle pitched forward, knocking Bodie back down.
“’s just a crease,” Doyle groaned.
Bodie felt warmth run over his neck. He felt the body shift above him. “Hold still, damn you.” Doyle shifted again.
“Let them think we’re dead,” Bodie whispered fiercely.
“If we don’t move, we will be!” Doyle hissed.
Footsteps approached. “Looks like you got him.” It was Lowry’s voice.
“We should make sure they’re both dead.” The sound of the gun being cocked echoed loudly.
Footsteps pounding down the nearby ramp, voices shouting orders and gunfire from the upper level of the garage had Lowry and his mate running.
Bodie shifted out from under Doyle’s weight and pulled his weapon. He fired a warning shot over Lowry’s head. “Hold it.”
Bates kept running, but Lowry stopped. He quickly turned and fired. Doyle let out a yelp and Bodie dropped Lowry with a single shot.
Moving back to Doyle, he found the man unconscious. Blood ran from a crease on his temple and the front of his shirt was stained red.
“Ah, Doyle,” Bodie whispered as he gathered the unconscious man up in his arms. “Don’t you leave me now. I’m just getting used to you.”
Tyres squealed on the wet pavement; flashing lights reflected off the concrete walls; voices called out orders and someone was lifting him up. Doyle groaned and tried to roll onto his side, the noise and movement and light show played havoc with his pounding head and made him nauseous.
“Here, now. Hold still.” Gentle hands rolled him onto his back and pulled a blanket up to his chin. “We’ll have you out of here in a few minutes, Doyle. Just rest quietly until then, yeah?”
He nodded, immediately sorry that he’d done so. He swallowed hard and closed his eyes.
“Doyle.” A hand on his shoulder startled him. “Easy, old son. I’m Anson. CI5. I was DS Richards’s contact.”
“Bodie?” he croaked.
“Bodie – the man who saved my life.”
Anson shrugged. “Don’t know, mate. Maybe once we’ve got this lot sorted.”
“I let him go.”
“Bodie. He was with Peyton. I let him go.”
Watching the ambulance drive away, Bodie turned his attention from Doyle to the man he was leading to Cowley’s car.
“Here I was worried about Doyle and it was you I should have been watching,” Peyton groused.
“Had you fooled, did I?” Bodie asked.
“Oh, you’re good. I’ll grant you that.” Peyton shook his head.
“The best!” Bodie smiled smugly as he closed the handcuffs around Peyton’s wrists.
“You two working together, then?” Peyton asked.
“Together? Me and Doyle?” Bodie shook his head, chagrined as he realised what Cowley had set up. “That devious old goat.” He couldn’t suppress an admiring grin.
“Not so much of the old, if you please, 3.7,” Cowley spoke from behind him. “Take Mr Peyton back to HQ and be sure to offer him the full range of our hospitality.”
“With pleasure, sir. Up you come, sunshine.” Bodie pulled Peyton to his feet and turned to Cowley. “How’s Doyle?”
“As you saw, on his way to hospital.”
“I’d like to check on him, sir.”
“I’ll meet you in interrogation, Bodie. There’s still work to be done.” Seeing the concern in his agent’s eyes, he relented. “The medics didn’t think Doyle’s wounds were serious – both were superficial – a crease to the head and a bullet in and out of his side. It didn’t appear to hit anything vital. They’ll probably keep him a few days for observation.”
“Yes, sir.” Bodie turned Peyton towards the waiting Cortina, Murphy behind the wheel, and got into the back seat with his prisoner.
The door to the hospital room opened slowly, quiet footsteps padded to the side of his bed.
He opened his eyes and smiled.
Behind a large bouquet of flowers was Detective Sergeant Maurice Richards, looking a bit pink about the cheeks.
“You really shouldn’t have, mate,” Doyle joked.
“I didn’t,” Richards laughed. “These are from the girls in the office at the Yard. Always did have a soft spot for ugly mugs, didn’t they? They said to tell you to get well soon. They don’t know what they’ll do without you.”
Doyle looked amused. “They’ll survive.”
“And how about you, hmm? How’re you keeping?”
“I’m all right. A bit sore yet.”
Richards cleared his throat. “I need to apologise, Ray.”
“Blowing your cover. One of Peyton’s lads caught us together at the pub.”
“Both our faults, Maurice. We should have been more careful.”
Richards looked down at the floor and then back up at Doyle. Seeing no blame in the eyes meeting his, he asked, “Has Cowley been in to see you?”
“No. The old bastard’s left me hangin’.”
“That’s why I’m here, then.” Richards rubbed his hands together with glee. He looked at Doyle and his eyes lit up. “Everything went down the way we wanted, Ray; if not the way we planned. After you were injured, CI5 came storming in like the cavalry – guns blazing, the old man right in the middle of it all. Didn’t take long for CI5 to have it in hand. The villains scattered but didn’t get far. Quite efficient those CI5 blokes. Peyton was taken in short order. Got the rest of the gang as well.” Richards took a deep breath.
Doyle looked up expectantly. “And?”
“Oh, yeah,” Richards teased. “We got Preston, Montgomery and Sumner. CI5 picked them up as they tried to get out of the garage. And they’re all talkin’ fast, hopin’ t’make the best deal for themselves. Your tapes and pictures were the ticket.” Richard’s face stilled, his voice took on a serious tone, “It’s bad, Ray, the corruption. Bent coppers at all levels. Makes me a bit sick, that does.”
Doyle nodded in silent agreement. Neither man looked at the other.
The clatter of the tea trolley in the hall made them both jump.
Doyle grabbed the chance to change the subject. “How’d I get a private room?”
“Nothing but the best for Cowley’s finest!”
Brows furrowed, he asked, “What’re you on about?”
“What am I -?”
Doyle looked lost.
“Cowley claimed you as one of his own – at least as far as the hospital is concerned.” Richards noticed the downcast eyes. “What’s wrong? You should be on cloud nine. You got what you wanted, didn’t you.”
“Not all of it.”
Doyle sighed. “Cowley told me there might be a job for me after this was all done, but I-” He turned his head away.
Richards waited, but Doyle remained silent. He put a hand on Doyle’s shoulder. “You thought what? What’s goin’ on in that head of yours?”
“Blew it, didn’t I?” Doyle punched the mattress, angry with himself. “Letting Peyton’s man Bodie go.” He turned back to Richards, “He did get away, didn’t he?” He knew he hadn’t hidden the concern he felt.
“Yes, he did.” Richards assured him. “Didn’t matter though. Cowley was quite pleased with you and the evidence we put together.”
“So you think I still have a chance at the job?”
Richards smiled at him. “I’d say so.”
“What makes you so sure?”
“Had a nice long conversation with Mr Cowley, I did. He called me in yesterday to give my report. We had a little chat about you, old son.”
Doyle rolled his eyes and groaned. “I haven’t got a chance in hell now,” he muttered disconsolately.
Doyle let the wind twist its fingers through his hair, tendrils of air lifting dishevelled curls – soothing and relaxing him. He shifted his weight to take the pressure off the wound in his side. Not in a hurry to face Cowley and the repercussions of his letting Bodie go despite what Maurice had told him, Doyle found a bench in the park across the street from CI5 headquarters and sat. He’d been let out of hospital this morning, after three days in bed, and had been told by the agent that had picked him up that he was expected in Cowley’s office at noon. He’d been told nothing official of the aftermath of the op. His own written report was tucked inside his jacket.
Wind rustled through tree branches dressed in Autumn's finest, freeing leaves that whirled through the breeze and filled the air with swirling colour. A light rain began to fall and he huddled deeper into his coat. Looking up to the sky for what – absolution? The rain gently kissed his face; the light touch bringing memories of soft fingers lightly caressing his skin.
What had he done? He’d let personal feelings interfere with the job. He’d let a criminal go. No. Whatever Bodie was, he wasn’t a thug. But that wouldn’t matter to the head of CI5. Doyle had let Bodie go. And there was no acceptable excuse. He’d have to admit to his weakness and suffer the consequences. He laughed bitterly – and he’d probably have to find another new job.
The rain fell harder and the wind picked up. Wet leaves stuck to the bench and to the ground, no longer free to float. The gloom of the day settled on his shoulders. He should be pleased that Preston and the other corrupt coppers were in custody, and he was. He knew that Cowley would never let them get off unpunished. He shivered as rain made its way down the back of his neck. He checked his watch. No point in delaying it; he might as well get it over with. He made his way across the street to the undistinguished grey building and stopped in front of the door.
“Doesn’t look like much, does it?” The voice behind him was familiar.
“Anson, right?” He turned and held out his hand.
“That’s me. Ready to face the old man?” Anson shook his hand.
“Hope so. Lead on.”
“No worries, Ray. C’mon, I’ll get you up to Cowley’s office.”
Anson left him with Cowley’s secretary, Betty, who got him a cup of tea and told him Mr Cowley was on the phone. Ten minutes later, Betty’s phone rang and she indicated that Ray could go into the office. He set his mug on the edge of Betty’s desk, clumsily knocking the rim of the mug against her in-box. She looked up and winked at him, then shoo’d him towards the door with a smile.
He knocked and then entered the office.
“Sir, Raymond Doyle reporting as ordered, sir.” He offered a smile to cover his nervousness.
Cowley didn’t look up from the file he was reading, but he gestured with the glasses folded in his right hand that Doyle should sit. Doyle did.
After another few minutes, Cowley set the folder down and looked at the man sitting on the edge of the chair. “Detective Constable Doyle. Good to see you again.”
“And you, sir.” He reached into his pocket for his report. “I’ve written --”
“Good.” Cowley reached across the desk and took the proffered papers. “I’m sure this is all in order.” He set the report aside, and said no more.
Doyle shifted in his seat, found himself drumming his fingers against his knee and then clasped his hands tightly together to stop the fidgeting. He thought he saw amusement in Cowley’s eyes.
“Sir, I --”
“Have you given consideration to the offer I made at the beginning of all this?”
“Yes, yes I have, but I thought --”
“I’ll not be paying you to think, Doyle. You’ll be paid to follow orders and get results. Is that clear?”
Doyle couldn’t find his voice and nodded.
Cowley’s expression softened, “And results are what you got, lad.” He smiled. “It was a well executed job. You should be pleased with the outcome.”
“Yes, sir. Glad to see those men behind bars.”
“Thanks to you and your detective sergeant.” Cowley studied him a moment and then asked, “Is there some reason you no longer want the job?”
Doyle cleared his throat. Here it comes, he thought. “No, I mean I do want the job. Very much. But – I somehow gave myself away, blew my cover like a raw recruit and I let that man Bodie walk away.”
“The blown cover was not your fault. We found the man who leaked the information. He’ll be joining his compatriot Peyton behind bars.”
“Ach. Don’t worry about him. He’ll be taken care of.”
Puzzled, Doyle’s survival instinct took over and he didn’t push the matter.
Cowley stood up, Doyle followed suit. “Tomorrow morning, my office at eight hundred hours, 4.5.”
“Yes, sir!” Doyle smiled a wide grin and stood to shook Cowley’s hand. “Thank you, sir.”
“I don’t need a partner, sir,” the last word added grudgingly as an afterthought. “I did fine on the Peyton op on my own.”
“Is that so, 3.7?”
A knock on the door stopped Bodie’s response.
“Come,” Cowley called.
The door opened.
“Ah, 4.5. You’re late.”
“Sorry, sir, could be help --” Doyle noticed the other man in the room. “Bodie?”
“4.5?” Bodie’s eyes were wide.
Cowley hid a smile as both men spoke at once.
“What’s he doin’ ‘ere then?” Doyle turned to Cowley. “I thought --”
“I know what you thought, Doyle. We’ll have to work on that. Jumping to conclusions is not the mark of a good agent.”
“Agent?” It was Bodie’s turn to register surprise. “Him?”
Doyle glared and Bodie sputtered.
“And why not me?” Doyle took a step closer to Bodie.
“You almost got yourself killed taking stupid chances.”
“What would you call wearing that wire?”
“Got results didn’t it?” Doyle’s eyes narrowed and his shoulders stiffened.
“Got you a bullet, is what it got. If it weren’t for me-“
“If it weren’t for you?”
“That’s right you thick headed stubborn git.” Bodie’s voice grew more mocking with each word. “You don’t listen, or take advice or...”
“Oh and you know it all, do you?”
Cowley cleared his throat. “Gentlemen.”
They both turned to face him.
“Two days off. Be back here Monday at 9 am.”
Cowley smiled at the confused expressions. He continued, “I’d suggest you put the time to good use.”
“Get to know one another. Come Monday you will be partners.”
They stood, taken aback, looking at each other.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” Cowley demanded. “Off with you both.”
“Yes, sir.” Doyle turned for the door.
“Running all the way, sir.” Bodie didn’t try to hide his amusement.
Shadows moved sinuously across the bedroom wall. Candle flames added a flickering, ghostly appearance to the undulating silhouettes painted there. He’d almost not set the candles out, fearing Bodie’s laughter. But the delighted grin on Bodie’s face when he’d entered the bedroom, and the breathless I love a romantic whispered in his ear, made Doyle glad he’d not followed his instincts for this once.
He watched his own shadow settle on Bodie as the shape beneath him lifted its hips to join them more deeply. The candle light, the walls, the room all disappeared in a wave of pure pleasure. Bodie tensed beneath him and he felt a flood of warmth fill him. Closing his eyes he threw his head back and let out a sigh that ended in a soft laugh.
He was being watched. The hair on the back of his neck prickled. He didn’t open his eyes. “Think you’ll know me again?”
He was pulled down into a strong embrace. A delicate breath ghosted across his lips. A warm finger gently traced the edge of his battered cheek.
“You’re beautiful, mate.” Seemingly embarrassed at his own words, Bodie pulled his hand back.
Doyle’s eyes opened wide, disbelieving. He looked into the face so close to his own on the pillow. Words raced through his head in response, things he’d wanted to say to someone for a long time - words that he knew would be safe to entrust to this man - -but it was too soon. They barely knew each other, although he felt he’d known Bodie forever. He swallowed the thoughts that were best saved for later. No point taking chances – in case the feelings were one sided.
Bodie ran a finger through the silky curls covering Doyle’s chest. The feather light touch caused Ray to shift and moan.
“Bodie.” The word was a husky whisper.
He felt a warm tongue invade his ear. “Oi! Get yourself out of me lug hole!”
“Raymond,” Bodie admonished. “After all the unspeakable things you just did to my tall, dark and beautiful self, I hardly think that kissing --”
“Unspeakable?” Doyle sat up quickly, dislodging the tongue and its warm presence. He tried to maintain an affronted mien.
“Well I didn’t hear much speaking.” Bodie pulled him back down onto his chest.
Doyle relaxed in the embrace and settled his head on the smooth skin. “Prat.”
Teasing a rose-brown nipple with his teeth, Doyle asked, “Think this is what Cowley meant about us getting to know each other?” He soothed the nub he’d roused with a gentle lick.
“Devout Presbyterian that he is?” Bodie snickered. “Doubt he meant it in the biblical sense.”
Doyle laughed; a dirty laugh, and he could feel Bodie’s renewed arousal.
Lips met, devouring all that they touched. Bodie pulled away.
“Bloody Cowley! Couldn’t believe it when you told me you were a copper – although I felt all along that there was something odd about you-"
“Very funny, Bodie. I knew you were no patsy for Peyton’s gang, as well.”
“Was going to tell you that I wasn’t what you thought, that I was with CI5 when all hell broke loose.” Bodie chuckled. “That conniving old bastard. Gets a kick out of playing God, he does.” Bodie stilled. “He must have had a fit when he found out you let me walk!”
“Actually, he told me not to worry about you,” Doyle tapped the end of Bodie’s nose. “He said you’d be taken care of. He spoke rather ominously, if you must know.” Doyle’s grin faded. “So what were you supposed to be doing?”
“Same as you. I was undercover. Cowley sent me in when the hint of a Russian connection came to light. He knew about Mr Smith before you did. He thought you might be in danger. Sent me in to save you, didn't he!” Bodie smiled a cheeky grin.
“You think it was a test? That he’d already decided to partner us?”
“I think we were both victims of the Cow’s triple think.”
Doyle grunted, and pulled Bodie in closer. “Enough of Cowley. Don’t want him here, in our bed.”
Bodie grimaced. “The thought of that puts me right off me stride.”
Bodie’s tongue returned to Doyle’s ear, tracing the spirals of cartilage there with a moist wet swipe.
“Make love to me again, Bodie.” He could hear the desire in his own voice – like a fire in the dark night. But Bodie shied from the heat.
“Look like that – feel that.”
“Can’t hide it. You want me to lie to you?”
Bodie sighed and turned his face away.
“Afraid of loving a bloke, eh?” Doyle’s words were harsh to hide his hurt. “Just lookin’ for a quick leg over? A convenient place to get your end away?”
“No” Bodie turned his head to study the ceiling. His voice barely a whisper, he said, “That’s not it.”
“What then? Is it me?” He could hear the anger in his own words, could feel the walls going up. He didn’t want anger, didn’t want walls between them. But he didn’t want to be hurt again.
Bodie looked at him then and he could read the fear in those blue eyes. “I don't do love,” Bodie stated flatly. “Hasn’t worked out well for me in the past.”
“Ah, Bodie.” He let his anger go and softened his voice, trying to soothe. But he realised the need in his fervent whisper scared Bodie and he felt the body in his arms tense.
“Ah Bodie, you know I wouldn’t hurt you.” He took Bodie’s face in both hands and gently shook him. “You do know that?”
Bodie reached up and cupped his partner’s chin in his hand. “I know, Ray. It’s just hard - hard to trust.”
Doyle wrapped his arms tightly around him, tucking Bodie’s head under his chin and gently rubbed the stiff back. “We’re quite a pair, aren’t we? Meant for each other, we are.”
“No one else would have us, Ray.”
“Proved that, haven’t we?”
Doyle rolled them over so they were lying face to face on their sides. He ran his hand through Bodie’s hair and moved his hips against Bodie’s, their cocks kissing.
“Let me have you, Bodie,” his voice was low and husky.
Bodie pulled Doyle to him and rolled him over. Doyle lay with his back to his partner. Bodie’s arms around his chest, he sighed as Bodie played with the soft whorls of hair surrounding hard nipples. He could feel Bodie’s lips form a smile against the back of his neck.
“Doesn’t take much to get you going does it, sunshine?” Bodie whispered against flushed skin, his warm breath stirring the curls at Doyle’s nape.
He pushed his arse into Bodie’s groin, revealing to both of them the hard heat there.
“Look who’s talking.” He playfully nipped at the finger now tracing his lips.
“Ray,” Bodie’s voice held a soft plea.
“Yeah, Bodie, yeah.” They wrestled together until he gained the upper hand and Bodie was stretched out beneath him on the bed.
“Now, Ray,” Bodie growled and lifted his hips.
He found himself sheathed deep inside Bodie and moaned with the pleasure.
“Noisy bugger.” Bodie reached back and pinched his arse.
“Ain’t heard nothing, yet.” He retaliated by pulling away.
“Ray.” Bodie pushed back, eliciting a deeply drawn breath. “Get on with it then, mate.”
They began the increasingly familiar push and pull, give and take rhythm and it was pure and simple and everything he’d ever wanted. He gasped, “Jesus, Bodie.”
Bodie bucked up with his hips and laughed in response to the noise the action caused.
“You were right, Ray. We belong together,” Bodie panted into the pillow.
“Fire and rain.” Each of his words was punctuated with a deep thrust.
“Thunder and lightning,” Bodie matched him word and stroke.
“The tide and the sea,” he breathed softly against Bodie’s ear.
After a pause Bodie offered, “Fish and chips!”
He lost his rhythm and collapsed on Bodie’s back, laughing. “A real romantic you are, mate.”
“Oi! No lying down on the job,” Bodie chided as he clenched the muscles in his arse and tightened his grip. “Back on your bike, lad.”
He raised himself up, palms on the mattress beside Bodie’s head, sucked in a deep breath and held himself silent and still.
“Moon and stars,” Bodie prompted with a shiver.
He didn’t move, held tight in Bodie’s warm, intimate embrace.
“Ray?” Bodie whispered.
“Dawn and promises.” He began to move again, slowly at first and then more quickly, driving them both over the edge.
“You and me,” Bodie sighed in the midst of their release.
Spent, side by side once again, he looked in wonder at the warmth that glowed like banked embers in Bodie’s eyes, soft warmth that held the promise of more heat; warmth that welcomed him in and welcomed him home. And he knew that Bodie had seen home in him, too.
“Partners, Cowley said.” Bodie yawned and stretched. “Might not be so bad after all.”
Doyle smiled at him. “Daft clown.” His affectionate words chased Bodie down into sleep.
He lay awake, listening to the steady even breathing of his partner as the warm exhalations teased the curls around his ear. His partner. His other half? The pieces of his life were finally all in place. What had he said to Maurice all those weeks ago? ’a place that’ll welcome me’. Well, he’d found that place, hadn’t he? And if it included a crotchety Scotsman with a sense of justice to rival his own and - he looked at the peaceful face sleeping quietly beside him, -a place in the heart of this man – who was Raymond Doyle to argue?