Out of the Shadows
The yard was still in full sun when I emerged from the dingy grey building. Light bounced back off dirty windows and wet cobblestones, searing my eyes. I pulled my glasses down and the world turned two shades darker; cope with that, I knew.
The Capri was where I'd left her, drawn up to one side of the tiny- stoned square; my passenger was not. I cursed and glanced around. Couldn't have gone far -- WOULDN'T have gone far, I amended. If I waited long enough, he'd come back. I didn't want to wait -- I wanted to get back to Headquarters, book out and go home. Today had been particularly frustrating, and I was ready to blow my top. Way things were going, I knew who'd be on the receiving end, and I couldn't afford to do that; the fact that HE was adding to my emotional overload by being absent I put out of my mind...I'd have to find him, of course. Many's the time I've been tempted to dump him -- leave him to make his own way home -- but you don't do that to a mate, especially not in our line of work. You never know when you'll need a friend, and he can be quite useful when he puts his mind to it...
Where would he go? Somewhere he could keep an eye on the car, so he'd know when I'd be ready to leave. There was a junk shop masquerading as an antique-cum-bric-a-brac store I'd noticed earlier. It had fairly large windows, direct line of sight to where I was now. I couldn't see him in there, but places like that have back rooms, and if he was exploring...
I moved without conscious thought, out of the dazzling yard into the dingy interior. Glasses off, it was dark enough in here. There was a girl hovering in the corner, watching me warily. She seemed very young -- if she tried, she could have been pretty. I smiled.
"Hello. I'm looking for the bloke from the Capri. Did you see where he went?"
She considered for a moment, must've decided I was harmless and answered.
"'e was in 'ere. Didn't say nothin'. Went off towards the canal." She eyed me with a spark of interest and I couldn't help but smile again.
I let myself out and with growing anxiety, I hurried towards the waterway. There was a pitted path that led down to the waterslide. If he'd gone down to the canal, he might be planning something stupid...Or, he might just be feeding the ducks...He stood up, shaking the last of his lunch into the teaming morass of feathers. His face lit up when he saw me, and he waited until I was within touching distance before he pointed down at the collection of fowl he'd attracted. He looked hopefully at me on their behalf -- had I bought anything for them?
"No. Come on, it's time to go."
Bodie shrugged, looked resigned and screwed up the bag in his hand. I turned back, knowing he would follow and he tugged at my sleeve. I smiled at him over my shoulder and jerked my head.
Bodie smiled in assent and came along willingly.
It took longer than usual to get back through the traffic to my flat, and Bodie was fighting to keep his eyes open while we waited our turn at the lights. It was a bit of a compliment to me: once, when we used to work together, he had made a sweeping statement to the effect that he couldn't trust anyone's driving enough to be able to sleep in the car. Consequently, he did most of the driving, which suited me well. He was good, the best we had...I came back from my reminiscences as the amber light showed, and I eased off the brake. Bodie's head rolled against the window. I smiled. Even with beard-shadowed jaw, he look like a little kid, sleep erasing some of the lines the adult had acquired in the last few weeks. Definitely the kind of man to get tangled in your heartstrings.
It was dark by the time I pulled up outside my apartment. I shook him gently.
"Bodie-mate, we're home."
He panicked momentarily, reaching out blindly for my hand before he remembered. He blinked away the memories and rubbed his eyes with his fist and smiled at me.
"Feeling hungry?" I asked, knowing the answer already.
Bodie had regained his appetite since he'd been with me -- was threatening to eat me out of house and home, in fact -- and he hadn't refused a meal yet. He looked at me and licked his lips.
I squeezed his hand and we got out of the car together, slamming the doors simultaneously. He followed me like a shadow as I opened the front door and crowded close until I put on the hall light. In the lift, he groped for my hands -- he was trembling badly by the time we reached the landing -- and I put my arm around him, opening my door one-handed. I didn't let go until we were inside and had my light on. Bodie made straight for the toilet, leaving the door slightly ajar so that he could hear me moving about in the kitchen. He hated it quiet -- had to have some kind of background noise -- radio, TV, tapes, records...or just me crashing around with the dishes. Anything so that he knew he wasn't alone.
He put the television on when he came out of the bathroom and wandered into the kitchen to get involved with the meal. As most of it was already prepared, he was more of a hindrance than a help, but I couldn't send him into the lounge...Bodie looked mournfully. He had developed an uncanny knack, as if he could read my mind, and he trawled off to sit on the sofa, miserable as if I'd yelled at him.
I knocked up the coffee quickly and took it through, dropping beside him and putting my arm round his shoulder.
"Sorry, mate," I apologised briefly. "We'll have to get a flat with a bigger kitchen."
Bodie reached for his note pad and pen, but he didn't need words to say what was going through his mind. I could send him back to Repton; nobody would blame me if I did. I had tried, but I wasn't a doctor...
I pushed the pad away before he even began and hugged him fiercely. Basic communication, that of touch, sometimes works better than more sophisticated methods, Medler had said.
"I'm not going to send you anywhere," I told him. "We're partners. That means we belong together. If I move, you are coming with me. You are NOT," I emphasised, brushing back the dark fringe, "going back to Repton."
He looked at me, wanting to believe, but still unsure. I didn't know how to convince him, even after this time together. It was as if he'd lost his ability to trust along with his power of speech. It made life tough for me -- we had the kind of relationship where we relied on each other implicitly -- our lives depend on it -- and now it was all ruined. We were almost like strangers, struggling to become friends again. It was more difficult for Bodie; I could scream or shout -- speak my thought aloud, to share with others -- but he couldn't. It had never been easy for him to voice his feelings, but now, having to articulate them on paper...it was like being crippled. I think that we were both suffering from the shock.
He returned my hug half-heartedly, then reached for his coffee, refusing to look at me. I knew I would see the hurt and doubt in his eyes, and it made me angry at myself, and sad for what we had lost...
We ate dinner in front of the box. Bodie toyed with his meal and eventually pushed it away, half-eaten. He finished his second cup of coffee while the credits went up for some comedy show. I left him to it while I tidied up. When I came back he was dozing on the sofa.
It had been a busy day for him. I had taken him out while I called on an informant who wanted to pass on some news that might be useful in the future. It was the first time he'd been with me while I was on duty. I knew I was breaking the rules -- Bodie had been signed as unfit for active service, and as such, was not to be placed in potentially hazardous situations. But he had been cooped up in (the flat) for a week -- unwilling to go out on his own -- so I decided that an afternoon in the car would do him no harm. He had been happy enough, but now...
I shifted his legs a little and sat beside him. No response. I woke him and told him I was getting ready for bed.
Our routine was simple: I would stay in the bathroom with him until he'd finished, then he would wait for me. We'd leave the light on overnight, and I would walk him to the darkened bedroom.
In the early days, he couldn't bear it when I turned out the bedside lamp, but now he would sleep as long as the flat wasn't in total darkness. It made me hopeful that he might recover.
Bodie finished cleaning his teeth and turned off the taps, stifling a yawn. It was infectious -- I found myself copying him -- and Bodie smiled wistfully, grabbed my hand and tugged me towards the bedroom.
I took him through and then went to switch out the lounge light before joining him. He was sitting on the edge of the mattress, close to the light, untying his trainers. I sat beside him and did the same, tossing mine across the room while he placed his neatly under the bed. Shirt and sweater next, jeans and slacks, and underpants. I screwed mine up, ready to pitch them after the rest of my gear in the corner, but Bodie took them away and threw both pairs so they landed perfectly in the laundry basket. There are some people who can score a hit every time and he is one of them...I crawled under the covers and lay back. Bodie was with me a second later, crowding in close. I reached to turn off the lamp, then put my arm around him. He snuggled up, snuffling a little as he did.
"Don't sniff. Blow you nose properly," I told him sternly.
He glowered at me defiantly and sniffed long and loud.
I glared back.
Cautiously, he put his head down on my chest. I like to feel him against me. Love his hair, it's so fine and silky, feels bloody marvelous on my skin...I cuddled him, and he relaxed, falling asleep almost instantly. I glanced down at him, then looked up at the ceiling. Now I was in bed, I didn't feel particularly tired. Bodie's warmth was pressing along my side, flank to flank, one arm banding my body -- for a moment he was resting...I felt comfortable, physically, but I knew I would never find peace; after all, it was my fault that Bodie had become the way he had. Every time I reviewed the events, it was clear to me that I was the one to blame.
Cowley had us working deep cover on a drugs case. It was all classified as restricted, as it was hinted that there may be ministerial connections. It meant we were virtually working on our own and Bodie didn't like it one bit. Can't say that I was pleased about it, but I wanted the men behind the ring, and I would've given anything to get them...They left a trail of bodies -- mostly kids out thrill-seeking -- when they released a badly cut shipment onto the street. CI5 and the Drug Squad worked flat out, but the main man, their Mr. Big, still eluded us.
To cut a sordid story short, I let my temper get the better of me, made a few threats, twisted a few arms -- literally -- and Cowley ordered me out -- off the case -- so the white heat on both sides could cool. To make sure I went, he sent me to Manchester with Jax on a routine surveillance. It left Bodie flying solo, having to follow up my leads...
He took up my contacts smoothly. There was, however, one bloke, Sammy Taylor -- a nervous rat of a man -- who insisted on talking to me. His info was usually legit and worth the price of a few beers. It was Bodie who made the rendezvous...
He notified Control of his intentions and went in alone. The trap was sprung.
God only knows what they did to him while they had him -- the doctors never tell you anything straight -- But for Cowley sending Murph to tail him, Bodie would've been dead. There was a crate ready for Sammy -- must've killed him as soon as he was off the phone -- and they dumped my partner in with him, AFTER shooting him full of heroin. From what I was told later, when the forensic team found Bodie, they thought that HE was dead, too, he was so still and cold...
Bodie raised his head and blinked up at me, his eyes imploring. I nodded and parted my legs. He wriggled over so that he could lie between them and put his head back on my chest. Slowly, his breathing deepened and he shifted so he could feel my heartbeat under his cheek.
He was on the critical list for four days. Cowley, Murph, Turner, practically all the squad went to see him, trying to get some sort of reaction, but he'd gone into deep shock, wouldn't respond. His brain had switched itself off...
Two weeks after they wheeled him into St. Thom's, he was moved to Repton, where he just sat or lay back, his mind locked away beyond anyone's reach.
I came back to London to find that I had no partner and the case taken over exclusively by the Drug Squad. Furious, I didn't hesitate to tell Cowley what I thought of the affair. Somewhat rashly, I told him what he could do with the job. That was when he turned on ME; Bodie knew the risks, had played by the book -- if I really thought that much of my partner, I would get down to Repton, and have a word with the doctors, see if I could help in any way...It occurred to me on the drive down to the clinic that Cowley was hurting for Bodie as much as I was.
When I arrived, I was shown into the doctor's office where we sat discussing Bodie as if he were a stranger, not the man with whom I spent most of my working life. The long and the short of it was that my partner -- who suffered from claustrophobia -- had been subjected to physical abuse, drugged heavily, and shut in a confined space with a corpse.
"Small wonder," Halliwell remarked dryly, as we went to see him, "that his brain shut down. Absolute terror...an impenetrable barrier, we thought." He paused by the door at the end of the passage. "The only reaction we managed to provoke was when your Mr. Murphy brought over some of his effects."
I pricked up my ears. From the early part of the conversation, I gathered this was a good sign.
"A teddy bear," he continued. "One of his toys from childhood, perhaps? He refuses to be parted from it." He put his hand to the door-handle. "This may come as a shock to you. Your partner has changed. Try to treat him as you would normally."
We stepped into the airy room that was sparsely furnished; bed, cabinet, chest of drawers and a couple of easy chairs. It was spartan -- impersonal -- and sitting in the middle of it all was a man who didn't move the slightest bit, who merely gazed out at the lawns.
Following the doctor to Bodie's side, I noticed he was dressed in a jogging suit with a robe over the top for warmth. The window was open a fraction, despite the chill outside. He was holding a little brown teddy in his lap...
I recognised it as the one I'd won for him at a fun-fair ages ago. Well, he'd complained that he'd never had a teddy bear when he was kid...It was something of a private joke between us -- he named the bear after me, "because it's little, brown and very hairy". I hadn't let the insult pass without retaliation, but I was surprised that he had kept it.
"Mr. Bodie," Halliwell began, "your partner's here to see you."
"Bodie?" I spoke softly, wondering just what the hell I could say to him. "I just got back from Manchester -- would've been here sooner..."
The doctor game me a nod of encouragement.
"It's a real pit -- bloody poured all the way up and back. The girls are all built like brick outhouses -- Jax and I were well-pissed, I can tell you!"
Halliwell looked up sharply at my choice of words, but he'd told me to treat Bodie as if he were normal. My partner usually gets to hear all my moans and groans and I realised with a jolt how much I'd taken his stoicism for granted; you never miss the water till the well runs dry...
"Job was a bummer, too. If Cowley sends me on another one like that, I'll wrap the flamin' camera round his scrawny neck, and shove the lens up his backside."
There was a slight tremor in one of Bodie's hands.
The doctor was frowning at me. I expected him to raise an objection at any moment, but he let me continue.
"See you've got Raymond for company..." I changed tack. "I heard what they did to you and Sammy. I'm sorry I wasn't there...should've been me, sunshine, not you. Sammy was one of mine."
I watched Bodie's face. His expression hadn't altered, but there were tears rolling down both cheeks. I can't recall ever seeing Bodie cry openly, though I've seen him hurting. Alarmed, I glanced at the doctor.
"Stay with him, Mr. Doyle! Keep talking to him!" he breathed.
"But he's -- "
"Keep talking to him -- anything you can think of -- this is the first reaction we've had since he came here. I've got to find Dr. Medler."
With that, he abandoned me, and Bodie and I were alone. I took out my handkerchief, perched myself on the arm of the chair, and dabbed at his face. I could feel the tears stinging my own eyes.
"You dozy prat!" I swore. "Fancy getting yourself bloody-well beaten up like that! Can't leave you on your own for five minutes, can I? Bodie..." I put my hand on his shoulder, squeezed gently.
He swallowed and one trembling hand left the teddy, falling listlessly from his lap as he leaned against me like a drunken rag- doll. I found myself stroking him lightly, trailing my fingers over the soft skin at his neck and ear. "Oh, Bodie."
That was the beginning of a long week.
I visited every day after work. Cowley had me doing little more than filing -- collating reports, he called it -- and I was bored stupid. The weather went from bad to atrocious, with gales lashing the south eastern corner of the country. It made getting down to see Bodie a labour of love, combined with an agility test -- how to avoid fallen trees and flying masonry. Friday night, I knocked off early and drove straight over to the clinic. It had been a dismal grey day, and like most of November so far, it had poured with rain. Night came in almost unnoticed. I pulled the Capri up in the parking lot at the back of the buildings, and dashed straight inside.
Halliwell gave me a glance and a quick smile, hurrying off to treat one of his patients, I supposed. Doctor Medler, the senior consultant, was coming down the corridor from Bodie's end of the passage.
"Mr. Doyle, I've just seen your partner. He seems to be -- "
At that moment, the lights went out and I heard the doctor swear vehemently, followed by a blood-curdling SCREAM somewhere behind him.
"Jesus Christ!" cursed the doctor.
I barged straight past him, running blind in the darkness, knowing it was Bodie who had cried out. The sound of breaking glass coincided with the emergency power being switched on. I leapt for Bodie's door, Medler hard on my heels.
The room was deserted, the window broken from the inside. The curtains were flapping like demented birds, and I automatically grabbed at one to stop it beating in my face as I stared into the blackness beyond.
There was no reply. I turned away, angry and frightened for my mate's safety. Medler was making for the passage to alert the attendants of the break-out, but Bodie afraid and on the run would be difficult to catch. I prayed that he hadn't turned violent -- that they wouldn't have to use force to recapture him -- because Bodie is, first and foremost, a professional killer; I would be honour bound to help put him down by any means at my disposal...I let go the curtain, followed the doctor, wiping my hands on my jeans as I went.
"...make SURE he doesn't get out of the grounds, and get somebody to board up that window. I'll move him to the first floor until maintenance (can) fix it. Ah, Mr. Doyle...have you cut yourself?"
I shook my head, glanced down at my trousers. They were stained with red. Bodie...
"What was he wearing?" I asked.
Medler thought. "Tracksuit and trainers -- no, he was barefoot," he amended. "He won't get far. The attendants will bring him in soon..."
But though they searched, they couldn't find him and three hours later, Medler suggested I go home. Reluctantly, I agreed. There was nothing I could do; Bodie on the loose could be anywhere. I got into the car and started the engine.
WHERE would he go?
Somewhere familiar, somewhere he felt safe...Home -- Liverpool? Or make for London? His flat...Only trouble was, Cowley had ordered Bodie's place cleared -- he'd been due for a move anyway -- and Murph had packed all his stuff up for storage. Bodie didn't have a home to go to, but he wouldn't know that...I tried to imagine what must be going on inside his mind and couldn't; I'd never been that terrified before. I prayed again, this time that Bodie hadn't gone to ground somewhere. He'd been trained to live off the land, could stay hidden for days -- weeks, if necessary...Bodie, please, head for home -- let me be the one who finds you...
I went straight back to his old flat and knocked up the residents, explaining I was trying to trace the previous tenant, asking if they would contact me personally if he appeared. It was all I could do. I began to wind my way back across town to my place. I was worried and tired, traveling on auto-pilot, so when I came to, it didn't immediately register that I was outside my old flat. I almost missed the figure huddled in the corner of the porch, but a slight movement as he rocked to and fro on his feet caught my eye. I slammed on the brakes, skidded and bashed on the hazard lights. Was out of the car faster than Macklin decking a rookie.
I stopped. Didn't want to scare him away.
"Bodie?" I whispered. "Sunshine? 's that you, mate?"
He shuffled out of the shadows, drenched to the skin, hugging himself and shivering violently. I put my hand out to stay him and stepped closer. He looked at me with huge, dark eyes, frightened of everyone, everything...
"It's me, Ray..." I took hold of his sleeve. "Bodie-mate, come on, you can't stay here. Let me take you home..."
He frowned, as if the concept was new to him, then looked up at the building. I thought I understood.
"I don't live there any more. I moved last week. Come back with me, Bodie-mate."
He looked puzzled, confused. He began to cry; that was the final straw as far as I was concerned. I put my arms around his frozen body and held him close.
"Come on, Bodie. You'll be all right...I'll look after you, love. Come with me."
I edged backwards, drawing him with me. He came slowly, because he was so cold; he could barely move. Mindful of the rain, I slid my jacket off and slung it round his shoulders, then coaxed him into the car. I got in beside him, walloped the Capri into gear, spinning the wheels on the wet tarmac. I didn't care; I had Bodie, that was all that mattered.
At home, I held his hand when we walked through the unfamiliar corridor. We took the stairs -- didn't feel like risking the lift -- and at last, we got in. Bodie was still trembling with cold, and (was) sopping wet. I hauled him into the bathroom, kicked off my trainers, peeled my jacket from him and led him into the shower cubicle. The water was warm and I began to rub him down under the cascade. We were both soaked anyhow, I figured, so why bother taking our clothes off?
Bodie leaned against me, let my hands rove where they would. I stripped him of his top. The dye had run in the rain, he was streaked with blue as if he'd half-heartedly dipped in woad. I got the soap and started to remove the stains. There was still a trace of bruising around his neck and shoulders, but the worst thing was the scarring; he'd been burned repeatedly on his stomach, chest, inner arms...I flinched a little when I saw the ugly marks...Bodie was trying to help, but I batted his hands away, pulled his leggings down and lathered him thoroughly. He tugged at my shirt, so I hauled it off; slung it on the floor of the stall. Bodie was blinking, bewildered, under the water, but he seemed docile enough...I ran a bubbly hand down his body and over the tops of his legs...Must be used to someone else bathing him at Repton, I supposed. A nerve jumped in my stomach at the thought of strangers handling him like this.
"Turn round, I'll do your back," I ordered.
He looked a little fearful and stepped about nervously, draping an arm over my shoulder.
"It's all right, Bodie-mate. I won't hurt you..."
He let me pull down his underpants and I swallowed hard. They had burned his buttocks, too. God knows what kind of people would do that...
I checked his feet and rinsed him down, slithered out of my jeans and found that I had blue legs as well. Bodie snatched the soap and gave me a thorough scrub-down despite my protests. His hands were amazingly gentle. There was a two inch cut across the back of his right wrist...
When the water chilled, I switched it off, reached for the towel, and wrapped Bodie in it, patting him dry. He slouched against me, wriggling a lot. A hand-towel took the worst off me...
I made Bodie wear my only robe and wound his discarded bath- sheet about my waist. I fed him on toast and hot chocolate, which was all I had in the kitchen. And all the time, he watched me with a sort of dazed expression, which was both amusing and appealing -- and a hundred times better than the blank look that had greeted me throughout the week. He yawned, mid-drink, and I suddenly thought, I haven't changed the sheets. Too late to bother now -- I was exhausted.
"You can sleep in my bed tonight," I told him.
He was on his feet in a moment, and following me into the bedroom, where he slid out of the robe and under the duvet. I collected a couple of blankets from the wardrobe, and turned to find him sitting up crying silently, unashamed, as I moved away. He put out a hand, begging...What the hell was I SUPPOSED to do? I dumped the blankets on the floor and went to sit by him, taking his hand, and slipping an arm round his shoulders. He held on, his head against my chest, pleading.
"I'll turn the lights out," I whispered, "and I'll be right back."
The way he threw himself at me, you'd've thought I'd been gone forever. He clung to me, wouldn't let go, and I had to untuck my towel one-handed. In bed, he plastered himself against me, hampering my attempts to turn off the bedside lamp. He buried his face at my neck, wanting to be held close. I let him have his way, and soon he fell asleep -- right on my arm. I couldn't shift him, so in the end, I turned onto my side, hooked my leg over his and surprisingly, I dozed off.
It was two o'clock in the morning when I came awake to the sound of his irregular breathing. I whispered to him.
"What's wrong, mate?"
He raised his head, eyes brimming and chewing his lip.
"Were you dreaming?"
He shook his head, but I think he was lying.
A second's hesitation, then -- no. He wriggled uncomfortably.
"Want the loo?" I guessed.
"It's okay, you don't have to ask..."
But he made no move to go and looked even more miserable. I could've kicked myself when I worked out why...
"I'll come and switch the light on for you."
He hung onto my hand like a terrified kid, until I put on the bathroom light, and positioned myself in the doorway while he went. Back in bed, he drew me around him like an extra blanket and passed out. I nuzzled at his ears and the nape of his neck, tempted to leave a mark there, but making do with a kiss or two, before settling for the remainder of the night...
I called Cowley the following morning to let him know I wouldn't be at work. He pressed for details.
"I've got Bodie with me. I'm not going to leave him on his own."
"I'll phone Medler immediately and have him collected."
"No. I'll take him back tomorrow. He's resting at the moment."
"The doctor told me to treat him normally. That's what I'm trying to do, sir. I'll drive him back to the clinic tomorrow afternoon." I hung up abruptly and went back to the bedroom, where Bodie was still unconscious.
Sitting on the mattress, I watched him sleep. He was so still, so SILENT -- little boy lost -- not like my self-assured, self-reliant partner at all. I found myself brushing back the hair from his face. It was long, had a slight wave in it, something I hadn't noticed before...I leaned down to sniff it -- smelled of soap and Bodie. Touched my lips to his temple lightly.
I like to sleep with girls, but once in a while, I need to be with a man. It crossed my mind early on in the partnership that it might be good with Bodie. He's been a mercenary and there are stories about life in the jungle -- a group of men away from women for months at a time find their own way of relieving sexual frustration...But Bodie has a reputation as a ladies' man, and I supposed he must 've outgrown the phase of using other men, because I'd never seen him look at another bloke.
I was resigned to working with him, socialising as and when, keeping my fantasies in check. We became friends. Working in CI5, you learn fast who to trust, and he was the best...It had really shaken me seeing him in that clinic, and I realised that it wasn't just lust; I was committed to him, he was my responsibility, and I would take care of him.
"You are beautiful," I told him, kissing his face again. "I want to make love to you, Bodie...I'm going to look after you. It's my fault you ended up in Repton. It should've been me..."
I kicked off my trainers, swung my legs up to lay beside him, propped on one elbow. At length, he rolled onto his side to face me and opened his eyes. I was crushed in his embrace when he threw his arm round me and dragged me close.
"Oi! Bodie! Bloody anaconda!" I yelped, enjoyed every second.
He was breathing hard when he let go, striving to speak, but he couldn't utter a sound. His face crumpled, tears began to flow -- both anger and frustration, I guessed. His balled fist hit the mattress several times. I grabbed his wrists and slithered astride him.
"Don't take it out on my furniture!"
He fought one hand free and put it to his throat, rubbing with less- than-steady fingers, the remnants of the bruising.
"I'll get you a note pad and pen," I offered. "It's your chance to improve you handwriting."
Bodie looked unimpressed. I sat back onto his hips.
"Rinsed through your track-suit this morning, and stuck it in the dryer. It'll be ready to wear, soon as you've had your breakfast. That's if you're hungry?"
He nodded, a little more rational, but still looking thoroughly miserable.
"How's the wrist?"
He presented his injured arm for inspection.
"Hmm! You'll live." Thank God. "Come on, get up."
He sat up half way and gave me a shove, expression plainly saying that he couldn't move if I stayed where I was. Reluctantly, I shifted off him and went scrabbling for my trainers.
Bodie reached for my robe, sliding out of bed to put it on. He waited for me to walk him to the kitchen and I wondered again about Repton.
"Help yourself to toast and cereal. Coffee's fresh..." I searched around in the cupboard and found an old jotter and biro for him.
He eyed the food, nibbling tentatively at a slice of bread -- then his stomach took charge and he got stuck in. He'd lost a bit of weight since he'd been in hospital and Medler had told me he hadn't much of an appetite while he was in the clinic.
When the phone went, he leapt up to follow me into the lounge, standing close as I took the call. Cowley.
"I spoke with Dr. Medler. He's agreed to your keeping Bodie until tomorrow. One day without medication won't do any damage."
Medication? I hadn't even give THAT a thought.
"Was he hurt badly? The doctor said there was blood on the carpet and the curtains..." The concern was evident in the Old Man's voice.
I looked at Bodie, who was watching my fearfully.
"Just scratched, that's all. I took care of it." I held out my hand and Bodie slid his into mine. "He'll be all right, sir."
I saw Bodie's eyes light up hopefully and laced my fingers with his, pulling him closer.
"We'll see. Make sure you get him back by supper-time tomorrow," Cowley instructed. "I'll take today off your leave allowance."
Thank you very much, I thought -- but I would've asked him for it anyway. I hung up. Bodie was frowning, seeing my reaction to Cowley's last remark.
"It's all right. I can have you for the weekend..."
He threw his arms around me enthusiastically, hugging madly.
"Now let's finish breakfast," I gasped.
He let me go and we went back to the kitchen hand in hand. It was, I reflected, getting to be a habit.
That was four weeks ago.
Bodie had gone back to Repton with the greatest reluctance, for a week. Medler wanted to run tests of some sort to make sure that Bodie was able to think rationally and logically. I could've told him without examination that there was nothing wrong with Bodie's brain. We had spent the weekend indoors -- it bloody well rained from before dawn to midnight -- and played games; Cluedo (I won), Scrabble (he won on default -- said that I cheated), Monopoly -- well, okay we both cheated a little there -- and cards, where he won the shirt off my back, my jeans and left sock in a continuous run. I wasn't much better off when we changed to strip poker...
He slept the night through, lying between my legs, his head on my chest, and the lamp and bathroom light blazing. Sunday morning we discussed what we could do until it was time to leave for the clinic. Bodie didn't want to go back. He didn't see the need.
'I COULD STAY HERE WITH YOU. I DON'T LIKE BEING ON MY OWN BY I COULD PUT THE RADIO OR THE TV ON...'
"Cowley wouldn't like it. Dr. Medler's trying to help you recover..."
'I DON'T LIKE HIM, RAY. HE'S STRANGE. I HATE INJECTIONS, AND I DON'T LIKE THE WAY HE TOUCHES ME.'
"When does he touch you?" I demanded.
'EVERY CHANCE HE GETS. I FEEL LIKE A GUINEA-PIG. HE AND HALLIWELL KEPT TRYING ME ON DIFFERENT THINGS TO MAKE ME WAKE UP. I WAS AWAKE, BUT I FELT WEIRD...AND I HOPE SOMEONE THROTTLES DR. GREY.'
"GOT COLD HANDS AND A DIRTY MIND!' was the cheeky reply.
"You're making that up!" I accused.
He had the grace to blush a little.
"Do you remember what happened at the house?"
"When you went to meet Sammy Taylor."
'WAS GLAD MURPH WAS MY BACK-UP. He paused, chewing his lip and wrote what he was thinking. 'I WAS MAD AT YOU -- KNEW I'D NEED YOU...REMEMBER GOING IN...SO QUIET. I CALLED SAMMY, BUT THEY'D BROKEN HIS NECK...SAW HIS BODY JUST BEFORE THEY CAUGHT ME...'
"What about the gang?"
'TOO DARK...THEY KEPT PUNCHING ME...A COUPLE OF THEM SMOKED...' He shifted uncomfortably. 'DUNNO WHAT I TOLD THEM...SAID ANYTHING I COULD THINK OF...I MUST'VE FAINTED...'
I squeezed his arm.
"You didn't tell them anything," I assured him. "Drug Squad took over the case. They've got the bastards that worked you over."
'THAT MEANS I'LL HAVE TO GIVE EVIDENCE. I WON'T GO TO COURT LIKE THIS!'
"Your statement'll be read out for you..." I wanted to tell him what an expressive face he had, but instead I offered my support for him on the day of the hearing.
'I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK TO REPTON.'
"I know. I'd like to have you here, but I've been teamed with Jax -- and we've got another case. I might not be able to come home, which means you'd be alone at night."
Bodie swallowed. He knew I had a point. He couldn't stand being alone; he couldn't bear the darkness, and he might have to face both if he stayed at my place. He conceded the argument -- couldn't do anything else -- and I took him back in the evening before supper. I made sure he had a decent lunch, because he complained about the food at the clinic.
Halliwell and Medler greeted us and Bodie was ushered into his new room on the first floor.
"He'll think twice before he jumps out of that window," Halliwell predicted dryly.
Bodie's eyes flashed with temper.
Medler took me off to interrogate me about Bodie's behavior that weekend. I gave him the barest facts, but mindful of what I'd been told, I lied about the sleeping arrangements, saying I spent the nights on the couch. He nodded sagely.
"A paradox, your partner. He can't stand to be alone, yet he shuns company..."
"He's always been a loner," I remarked. "I've worked with him for years and he still treats me like a stranger sometimes."
"Does he ever talk to you about his past?"
I shook my head and the doctor quirked an eyebrow.
"I asked him once," I confessed. "I never made that mistake again."
If Bodie wanted you to know something, he would tell you. He didn't speak of his life as a mercenary at all, and infrequently told me of his army days. It was as if it had happened a long time ago, or to another person. It wasn't relevant, he said.
"How did he get back to London?"
"Forgot to ask."
Medler shook his head, resigned to the fact that he'd gotten all he could from me.
"May I ask you a question, Doctor?"
He inclined his head, humoring me. I could sense what Bodie meant about his being -- strange. Takes one to know one, I suppose.
"Will Bodie ever talk again?"
He considered for a moment.
"Quite possible. There's a sixty-forty chance for, but shock is a strange -- affliction to treat. There's nothing wrong with the apparatus that produces sound -- apart from the bruising, that is. It was deep-seated, but it's healing well. The problem -- " he tapped his temple, " -- is in here. He's come out of a trance-like state, a coma, if you like, induced by drugs and terror -- to put it in layman's terms, he's still not firing on all cylinders, although at least the motor's running. He might find he's capable of speech in a couple of weeks, or a month..." He paused.
"What if he's not? Is there anything you can do to make him speak again" I would give a lot just to hear him laugh once more.
"The most dramatic way to restore him to speech is through another shock. He would be put through an experience similar to what happened here on Friday night. It would be a controlled state this time, but there is no guarantee that it will work."
"He might be dumb for the rest of his life?"
"Or he could go back into shock," the doctor added, blackening an already gloomy view. "In which case, he'll be here for the rest of his days. I'm sorry, Mr. Doyle, I don't want to get your hopes up too high."
He was dismissing me and I knew I had an early start the following morning. I rose from the chair.
"Can I see him before I go?"
The doctor nodded.
"Will you be coming to visit him next week?"
"Do my best," I replied. "Didn't think it had made that much difference last week -- "
"No? How else did he know to run to you?"
I had no answer to that.
It was one hell of a week. Cowley had all the squad dashing around like blue-arsed flies. I felt grey and ragged by the time I got out to see Bodie on Thursday night. He was sulking when I arrived -- it was the first chance I'd had to visit since Sunday and he was moping about in his room. I noticed the teddy-bear lying on his pillow as I went in.
His face lit up when he realised it wasn't Medler or Halliwell, and he threw his arms around me, crushing the breath from me, in a display of delight that literally knocked me off my feet. It was the first laugh I'd had all week. Felt really good to be held like that. I apologised for my absence, and gave him the bare bones of the case we were working on: blackmail -- pay up, or we'll bomb your property.
'P.I.R.A.?' Bodie wanted to know.
"Dunno. Cowley thinks not, but these days you get so many youngsters trying their hand..."
'SPLINTER GROUPS...HI-TECH VANDALISM,' Bodie agreed.
"Look if Cowley lets me go for the weekend, and I have a word with Medler, do you -- "
'YES!' He wrote, even before I'd finished the invitation. His eyes were glowing -- I wanted to tell him how good he looked, but I didn't have the nerve at that moment.
'IT'S THE ONLY PLACE THAT SERVES DECENT FOOD AS I LIKE, WHEN I LIKE FOR FREE!'
"Cheeky bastard!" I swore and tumbled him back on the bed, where we were sitting. He fought back, laughing silently as I poked and tickled him. Normally, he'd've slain me, but now it was like we'd reverted to being kids. He was panting hard by the time we finished, tears of mirth trickling down his face and into his hair as he lay back. I smeared one away and he turned his head towards me, smiling happily. He gestured for his fallen note-pad, and I leaned across him to get it. He slid a hand into the gap between my shirt and jeans, pulling me down, rolling me over and pinning me to the mattress, locking one leg over mine. I looked up at his face and he swallowed, before he snuffled into my neck. I held him there, not wanting to move, knowing I had to say something.
"Miss you, too, sunshine. Been hell without you..."
Bodie heaved a contented sigh and we lay there, holding each other. I wanted to kiss him, but wasn't sure how he'd take it. I didn't want to destroy what trust we had now between us. If Medler was right, if I made the difference to Bodie, I wasn't going to drive him away...
All too soon, we heard the sound of doors being opened and closed further up the corridor. Bodie released me reluctantly and we tidied ourselves quickly. Halliwell appeared a minute later and ushered me out.
"See you, sunshine," I called as I left.
Bodie held up crossed fingers, then his thumb.
Fate must've been smiling on us -- or our bombers had soaked their fuses; Cowley called me in on Friday afternoon, to tell me I'd been stood down.
"I've been speaking with Dr. Medler. He tells me Bodie is refusing to co-operate with the staff. He wants to stay with you for the weekend." He quirked an eyebrow. "Are you willing to have him?"
"Yes, sir." Any way I can get him. "It worked out well last weekend."
Cowley considered for a moment longer.
"I'll give the order for his effects to be released into your care, if that suits you. When will you collect him?"
"As soon as I leave tonight, sir."
The Old Man checked his watch, smiled at some secret thought.
"If you go now, you'll miss the rush-hour traffic. I'll see you at nine on Monday, Doyle."
"Yes, SIR," I grinned.
The weekend was wet and peaceful right up to four o'clock on Sunday; Bodie refused to leave.
'IF NECESSARY, I'LL STAGE A SIT-IN IN YOUR BATHROOM. I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK TO REPTON.'
"Bodie, they're expecting you. I've promised to have you back by supper tonight. That was one of the conditions of your coming here."
'I WANT TO STAY WITH YOU. THEY CAN'T DO ANYTHING MORE FOR ME -- AND I'M NOT GOING TO SIT IN MEDLER'S BLACKED OUT ROOM ON MY OWN.'
"You want to recover, don't you?" I asked, both pleased and annoyed by his behavior.
'I DON'T WANT TO BE SHUT IN THAT FUCKING ROOM!'
"I'll talk to the doctor," I promised.
'AND I'LL STAY HERE...'
'PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME GO BACK. I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK. LET ME STAY WITH YOU!'
"I'll have to go to work -- you'll be here on your own. ALONE, Bodie."
'BUT YOU'LL BE HOME IN THE EVENINGS.'
There was no way to make him see that he could not stay -- and the truth of it was, I wanted him to. I'd been looking forward to sharing my bed with him, and the prospect of it going on indefinitely was very appealing.
'PLEASE, RAY, LET ME STAY -- ONE MORE NIGHT. SAY I HAVE AN UPSET STOMACH, I CAN'T TRAVEL...'
"Could tell them you're holding me at gun-point," I mused.
'I HAVEN'T GOT A GUN...'
"I have, though," I replied.
'PLEASE LET ME STAY TONIGHT,' he pleaded.
"All right, you can -- "
He choked me with his embrace before I could finish.
"I'll talk to Medler..."
I did speak with the doctor, before I went to bed with my partner. Bodie never went back.
Our lives settled into a pattern quickly. Bodie and I would wake together, have breakfast, then I would leave him to potter around the flat while I went out to work. He spent his days fixing things I hadn't found time to mend, or reading. Sometimes, I'd sneak off on the premise of meeting a grass and we'd go driving in the afternoon for a couple of hours. Once, we went for a pub lunch and were joined by a couple of the lads from the squad...On that occasion, Bodie had been fairly withdrawn, painfully aware of his handicap, and he was miserable for days afterwards, though he still refused to go back to Repton for treatment. He would take his chance, he said, on it being a matter of time. As long as I was within easy reach at night, he didn't have to worry...
I weaned him off the bedside lamp, by keeping the lounge light on and the door open, then leaving the door half-ajar. By the beginning of our third week, he could sleep with only the reflection of the bathroom light to break up the darkness in the flat. He was still no nearer to being able to talk, though, and it was making him depressed. He tried not to show it, but Bodie has a very expressive face, and I'd developed the ability to read even his smallest gestures...Against orders, I took him with me the afternoon I went to meet one of my informers...
Saturday morning, I woke to the pleasant sensation of someone suckling me. Bodie -- dreaming about his bird, no doubt. I lay back, willing myself not to react. It didn't work. I was hard and Bodie was oblivious to it, locked away safely in his dream-world, pressing me firmly into the mattress so that I could not escape even if I'd wanted to. I toyed briefly with idea of waking him and showing him the effect he was having -- 'look what you do to me' -- but decided against it. If he didn't walk out on me, he would kill me and I rather enjoy breathing!
His teeth, nipping at my flesh finished me, and I came suddenly, spattering him and soaking the sheets where it trickled. Bodie shifted and I could hardly believe it, as his erection jabbed into my belly. He tugged my nipple once more, and spilled himself over me with a contented sigh. If only, I thought...
Bodie opened his eyes, saw I was awake and watching him, and flushed bright scarlet. He swallowed and made a move away. I grabbed at him and held on.
"It's okay, you're not the only one having wet dreams this morning, mate. Must be deprivation - what about pulling a couple of birds tonight?"
Bodie shook his head vehemently and struggled free. He scrambled to the edge of the bed where he sat, back to me, shoulders hunched dejectedly.
"Bodie? Look at me..." Please, love...
He bowed his head and I got on my knees, still wet with semen. I put my arms around him.
"Come on, Bodie. It's nothing to worry about. See, I came, too."
He reached for his pad, scribbled furiously. I peered over his shoulder.
'THERE'S A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DREAM ABOUT PUTTING IT UP SOME BIRD, AND WAKING UP WITH A MOUTHFUL OF YOUR PARTNER'S TIT!'
"Put like that," I admitted, trying to keep a straight face, "it does lack a certain finesse."
'FINESSE!' He stared at me, disbelieving. 'I WAS BLOODY WELL -- '
I rubbed at my tenderised flesh.
"You've got sharp teeth," I told him.
That got his attention. He turned round to inspect the damage, colouring up again. How bad, he wanted to know.
"A bit sore..." I wanted him to kiss it better, but right at the moment, it seemed unwise to push it. I'm easily roused, and his proximity was doing weird things to my insides.
"Come on, let's have a shower. I'm all sweaty anyway." I grinned. "You make a marvelous electric blanket!"
He swatted me gently and we wandered off to the bathroom together, washing and drying in a companionable sort of silence. Over breakfast, he demanded to know where I was going that day and when I told him I was following up a lead from the previous day's contact, he begged to be taken along.
Against my better judgement, I conceded.
"But don't," I emphasised, "mention it to Cowley, or he'll have my guts for garters."
Bodie gestured with his finger.
'MY LIPS ARE SEALED!'
We drove to Bow, where I left Bodie in the car while I went to speak to my snitch. She didn't have a lot of info -- some vague threats made to local business men: pay up or else...The word was these new racketeers weren't adverse to using incendiary devices. Already, a couple of shopkeepers had had fire-bombs planted in their stores, and the police weren't making any headway in the investigation...I got a name or two, thanked her and went back to the car.
Bodie looked hopeful. Where now?
"Corner shop, run by an Indian family," I explained. "They were woken up one morning by more than the post landing on their doormat." I grabbed the mike from the radio and called in, promising to file my report later. Bodie grinned, knowing I'd conveniently forget about it. I set the Capri in motion, and we headed for Hackney.
Mr. Singh welcomed me warily, eyeing Bodie with overt hostility. I showed him my card, jerked my thumb at Bodie and told the shopkeeper he was with me. He was not appeased, but I carried on questioning him while my partner looked around the premises.
A woman decked in a sari, presumably Mrs. Singh, emerged from the back room, and uttered a few phrases in what I took to be Urdu.
"Indra says she heard a noise in the cellar during the night. I did not. She is afraid to go down there."
"What's in the cellar?" I asked.
Bodie came to my side in answer to my unvoiced call. Mr. Singh glanced at him nervously. Turn it down, I willed; the poor sod's jumpy enough as it is, without you scaring him, too. The menace emanating from my partner was almost tangible.
"We store our goods down there -- "
Bodie gestured quickly with his hands.
"Is there another entrance?"
Dark eyes still on Bodie, Singh nodded.
"Through the yard."
"Show us," I ordered.
The Indian turned to his wife and they began a rapid conversation. Impatiently, Bodie barged by them into the back yard. It was a tiny cobbled area that served as a loading bay. We all followed him and found him crouching beside two once-stout wooden doors. Age had taken its toll and something heavy had been used to pry the metal hinges away.
Bodie's eyes met mine and I saw the fear there. We would have to go down -- and it would be dark and small...We went back inside.
A few more questions revealed that the Singh's three children were in the flat above the shop, but that the buildings on either side of the store were empty, as were the houses behind.
There was no choice; I radioed Central, asking for the area to be sealed off. Bodie would go with the Singhs, and I would check out the cellar...The bomb squad was already on alert...Bodie glared daggers at me, and snatched a sheet of paper from the counter. He scrawled a swift message on it and thrust it angrily at me.
'GET THE LOCAL COPS TO TAKE THEM. I AM COMING WITH YOU.'
"I can't take that risk."
A business-like fist waved under my nose and I knew that Bodie would probably have hit me, had the Singhs not been there.
The Indian glanced nervously from Bodie to me.
"Indra and I will take the children..." He handed the keys for the storeroom to Bodie, who was nearer.
Mrs. Singh had discreetly disappeared, and now returned with a little boy, a small girl and a toddler. Bodie took the boy, Mr. Singh the girl, and I harried them all off the premises. There was a road- block at the top of the street, and we handed the family over to a couple of constables, before starting back.
I tried one last time to make Bodie see sense.
"For the love of God, Bodie -- it'll be dark and pokey down there..."
He swallowed audibly, braced himself, and tapped his watch. Then he plunged into a sprint towards the corner store, and I had no option but to follow...
The entrance to the cellar was beneath a well-worn rug. Bodie tugged it aside, and took hold of the hand-grip. It might be wired, we both knew. We looked at each other and I nodded faintly, licking suddenly dry lips. The trap opened with a dramatic CREAK, and Bodie went two shades paler as he peered into the pit below.
"Bodie, go back now. I can do this on my own." I didn't want to, but I couldn't let him go down those steps. It was rank stupidity for me to have brought him on the job in the first place.
He stood slowly and came to me, taking my right hand in his and squeezing. We both knew he was afraid, and we both knew I was the reason he was going down. I doubt if either of us could've found the right words for the moment...
We pilfered a couple of flashlights from the shop and I went down first swinging my torch in an arc, working out a pattern for a search. If there was a device, where would I hide it...
Bodie was shaking as he followed me down into the musty space, but he gritted his teeth and we split up to cover an end each, as we'd discovered it was two cellars knocked into one.
We looked everywhere, behind crates, in boxes, under sacks that smelled of damp but we couldn't find a thing. Mrs. Singh may've heard rats, I thought. But a gut feeling told me the rats had had two feet and mayhem in mind.
I was over by the dividing wall, coming back to the steps, when Bodie launched out of the shadows and grabbed me, sending us both flying into the sacks in the corner. Next second, the wall burst apart, showering us with masonry and consigning us to inky choking blackness.
I caught hold of him, yelling his name over and over.
"It's all right, love, I'm here."
I put my arms around him and heard the unmistakable sound of running water as he wet himself in sheer terror. I held him close, rocking him gently, blocking out the scent of old mortar, newly broken wood and urine. Bodie was in my arms, clinging to me for safety and comfort, and I would hold him for as long as it took. Truth to tell, I was beginning to understand how he could be so frightened; at least here we had enough room to move, as I discovered when I shifted slightly to ease my cramped muscles. Bodie's fingers dug into my flesh.
"I'm not going anywhere," I told him softly. "Couldn't go anywhere without you, could I?"
He was shaking violently, his breathing irregular. In the dark, I found his cheek and caressed it, smearing the tears. The most important thing was to get him calm. He might hyperventilate as he panicked and my knowledge of first aid was sketchy about treating the consequences.
"Bodie-mate, listen. I want you to sit up against me..."
In the end, I was the one who moved, shifting my legs so they bracketed him, and my arms were around his chest. His weight pressed against me, a fine tremor still running through him. I rested one hand on his neck, stroking, soothing, massaging, speaking gently to reassure -- I was with him, would never leave him...
"Can you take a deep breath for me?"
He tried, found that he could, now the dust had settled and did so. Gradually, he started to return to normal, leaning on me. I cuddled him, nuzzled at his neck.
"You'll be all right now."
He wriggled back against me, comforted and more relaxed.
"Feel like doing some exploring?" I asked. "We have to find a way out. See if we can find a torch..."
He was shaking his head. No, he wouldn't move, or no, we wouldn't find the flashlight? We'd have to have a code.
"Bodie, squeeze my hand once for yes, twice for no...Did you lose your torch?"
"In the other room?"
"Can you help me find mine?"
When he didn't answer, I repeated the question.
"I won't be far away," I promised.
Yes, he would help, as long as I stayed by him.
We began groping around on the sacks, and at length, Bodie tugged at my sleeve, drawing my attention; he'd found the torch. He handed it to me.
"Let's see if it works. Cross your fingers."
The beam lit up the interior of the cellar and made us both flinch after so long in the dark. I grinned and rubbed at a smudge on Bodie's cheek, making it worse.
"You got a dirty face, sunshine," I teased.
He leaned across and ruffled my hair in retaliation, then put his arm round me. I let him hold me for a while.
"We've still got to find a way out of here. Want to help me look?"
We scrambled off the sacks, and began to examine our prison. Hand in hand, we paced along the remains of the partitioning wall, the beam arching from top to bottom like some ethereal pathfinder, as we stumbled over the wreckage.
Bodie pulled me back to the sacks, pointing upwards. If this had been part of the neighbour's cellar there would be a trap door in the ceiling here, too. The light picked out the edge of the door, but when Bodie attempted to budge it, the thing was solid; locked or weighted from the other side. he came down, looking concerned.
"Nothing else for it...the wall," I decided.
Bodie shook his head and grabbed my arm, indicating the top of the wall, where a lot of the brickwork had fallen in.
"What? It's loose..." I shrugged him off, handed him the light and scrambled up the pile of rubble to have a dig at the top end. The shadows shifted -- Bodie'd put down the torch and was beside me, trying to get me away. He caught hold of my belt and jerked me back, grasping my hand and squeezing hard.
As I half-turned, he lost his footing and tumbled down the heap of fallen brick, knocking the torch across the floor.
The only reply was his laboured breathing as he stood. He retrieved the light and shone it up at me.
He nodded and beckoned me down.
I buried my hand in a fissure between two jagged pieces of timber, feeling about for loose stuff to maneuver.
"Hey," I called down, "some of this is shifting. If I could get a grip -- "
Next minute, I was falling, pulling the wall with me -- God only knows what happened -- must've moved something vital. I landed on my back, winded myself -- Bodie was hauling my arms, but I couldn't move. Something had hold of my ankles, and as I watched, a bit of the support beam slammed down on my knee and I fainted.
I came to, feeling -- strange. There was nothing but heat from my groin down, and someone was brushing the hair from my face -- gentle fingers and a soft voice telling me we'd be fine. I closed my eyes, wanting to sleep though I knew I should not...from above and in front of me, the clatter of a fallen brick, and my companion intercepted it...Thought I could hear voices and that frightened me...Wondered if I'd died, it was so dark...or maybe I'd gone blind...The voices were getting louder and I remember calling for Bodie...A strong hand squeezed mine.
"Hello! Can you hear me?" Someone was shouting through the gap at the top of the wall.
"G-get some lifting gear," bawled the man at my side. "Doyle's trapped!"
For some reason, the news didn't seem that important, but I felt very happy. I twined my fingers with Bodie's.
"It's all right, Ray," he breathed. "We're all right now."
I'm told they got us out in record time and the ambulance took me to the local hospital. I can vaguely recall coming to in the corridor, the overhead lights zipping by as I was wheeled down to emergency surgery. Wondered where Bodie was, if he was okay -- my partner, where -- don't talk, Mr. Doyle -- but he's -- you're safe -- Bodie, I want Bodie -- and passing out again.
Next time, I surfaced in a private ward, and Bodie was beside me in the visitor's chair, holding my hand. It felt natural, right for us and I smiled up at him.
"Hello, sunshine," I whispered. I wanted to touch his face.
He picked up my hand -- spotted a couple of raw patches from where I'd fallen -- and pressed his lips to it.
He swallowed, smiled in return, nodding slowly. He'd washed and changed since I'd last seen him.
"How long've I been here?"
The door opened before he could tell me and the doctor stepped in, followed by a familiar -- and very irate -- figure. Bodie's grip tightened, as Cowley stalked towards us. I think the doctor was there for our protection.
"Well, Doyle, I'm glad to know you'll make a full recovery. As soon as you're able, I want a complete report on the whole incident -- "
Bodie shot to his feet, his face a mask of fury.
"Mr. Cowley," the doctor began, "I must insist that you do not upset the patient. He's been through a lot -- "
" -- and has a damn' sight more to face," snapped the Old Man. "What were you thinking of, letting Bodie go down with you?"
I wanted to shout back at him, but Bodie beat me to it.
"I volunteered," he yelled angrily.
His voice was slurred, creaky, as if he were getting over a bad cold, but it carried his conviction, and had the effect of silencing Cowley for a moment.
"I v-volunteered," stammered Bodie, clutching my hand. "C- couldn't let Ray go d-down on his own." He looked at the bemused doctor. "He's m-my p-partner..."
Cowley let fly at him.
"You, Bodie, you know the rules as well as Doyle, and you close to ignore them -- "
Bodie's anger flared again.
"What was I s'posed to do, leave him to go in on his own? You'd let him get killed -- " He took a step forward. I hauled on his hand.
"Bodie-mate, leave it. The Old Man's right -- "
"Sod it!" Bodie swore, breaking free. He barged past the men and into the corridor.
"BODIE!" Cowley and I called him at the same time, but he didn't come back.
I felt miserable as hell and closed my eyes, wanting to be anywhere but stuck in a hospital ward with a cage over my legs.
"You'd better go now," the doctor advised Cowley icily. "You can speak to him in the morning."
For once, Cowley followed the doctor's orders, and I was left alone.
I was in the hospital for five days, and in plaster for six weeks, having broken my right leg and buggered by left ankle. By the third day, I was going insane with boredom, despite the constant stream of visitors from the squad and various nurses. Bodie seemed to have forgotten about me.
It was Monday night, and visiting time was over at eight o'clock for all but the terminally ill. I felt miserable. When the door opened, I didn't react immediately, just lay there, eyes closed, feigning sleep. My guest crept to the bedside so silently I wouldn't've known he was there except for the stronger scent of my after-shave. I looked then.
Bodie was staring at me, looking like a mystic dream in black from head to foot. The sight caused an instant reaction further down the bed; my cock stood to attention instantly, and I was glad of the cage over the lower half of my body. I could've eaten him...
"What time d'you call this?" I launched straight in; pleased didn't begin to describe how I felt. "Where were you?" I needed you...
"S-sorry. W-was at Rep-Repton. M-medler wanted to see me."
"Why?" I demanded, dreading the answer.
"T-testing m-my recovery -- s-see if I'm fit for d-duty yet."
He was painfully embarrassed about his stammer. He didn't need to be, not in front of me, though I knew for Bodie, being inarticulate was sheer hell...
"Has Cowley spoken to you yet?"
Bodie nodded, grinning.
"Old b-bastard, really let into m-me for g-going down with you. S- said I should know b-better...How are you f-feeling?"
"Bored stiff. Dunno when they'll let me out...Where are you staying at the moment?"
"Your place. D'you m-mind?"
"No," I sighed with relief, "was going to ask if you would."
Bodie parked himself on the edge of the bed and took my hand.
"Was hell the first night without you. Left all the lights on. S-still couldn't sleep."
"It'll get better," I predicted.
"I'll c-come and s-see you tomorrow afternoon," he promised. "I'm d-down for s-s-speech therapy every d-day. Mi-might even get through a s-sentence without m-making a m-mess of it!"
"Come in and practice on me any time," I offered. "I'll be a captive audience."
Bodie laughed delightedly.
They let me out for good behavior with dire warnings about what they'd do if I overtaxed myself. I promised faithfully I would follow their instructions to the letter, and made sure my temporary nurse- maid was aware of my physical limitations.
Bodie came for me in the car, grinning like an idiot. He escorted me enthusiastically to the Capri, like a kid with a new toy, and was shockingly painstaking, installing me in the front seat. He kept asking how I felt.
At home, I'll swear he was about to carry me over the threshold, but I handed him my holdall, and made it under my own steam. The flat was spotless, as I had known it would be -- Bodie's personal hygiene can never be faulted -- and he settled me on the sofa, brought coffee and cake and perched on the arm of the settee next to my feet.
"Homecoming party," he replied, leaning forward and helping himself to a huge wedge of chocolate sponge.
I felt a bit miffed and propping myself on one elbow, reaching for a plate. Bodie gave me his with the untouched slice on it, took a second bite and stuffed it into his mouth. We chewed our way through it in a sticky silence, and washed it down with the pot of coffee.
"D'you need help with your exercises?"
I still had to build suppleness in my left ankle, but I could manage on my own. There were other parts of me that needed individual attention. I shook my head and caught myself in mid-yawn.
" -- what I'd like most is to lie down. Can you believe it?" I took another swig of coffee. "I've been in bed for the last five days and itching to get up, and the first thing I want to do when I get home is go to sleep."
Bodie shook his head with a sorrowful expression.
"It's what I've long suspected," he sighed. "You've got C.G."
He knew I'd ask.
"Creeping Geriatrica," he informed me knowledgeably. "You're getting old, sunshine."
I was too exhausted -- and hampered by the cast -- to retaliate physically, so I agreed, storing it up for a time when I could take appropriate revenge.
"C.G., eh?" I grinned. "Care to help an old man to bed, mate?"
With an arrogant smirk, he hauled me upright and steadied me while he handed me the crutches. He watched as I swung my way across the lounge.
"D'you need a hand getting undressed or anything?"
I wanted him, would've liked his help, but if I said yes, he would find out how I felt about him, and I could tell that he was already bothered about something. If I pushed, I might lose the chance before I got it...
"I'm not that far gone," I told him. Then, at the wistful expression on his face, "I'll give you a shout and you can tuck me up."
Appeased, he nodded and turned his attention to tidying the lounge.
I dozed off during the evening and paid the penalty later...I was preparing for a sleepless night. The bedroom door was half-open but I was lying at the wrong angle to see what Bodie was doing. It was very quiet. I turned on the lamp and checked my watch. Eleven o'clock, almost. Oh, well...
The door swung back silently and Bodie was standing there in his robe.
"I saw the light..." He edged towards the bed. "Are you all right?" He looked uneasy.
"Can't sleep," I told him.
"Can I sleep with you tonight?" he blurted out. "I can't stay out there, it's -- "
I moved the covers back, hardly daring to believe my luck.
"Course you can. No sense your sleeping out there, after the last month."
He peeled off his robe and dived in beside me. I held out my arms and he slid into my embrace. It felt right, as if I'd put the final piece of a jigsaw into place. He snuggled up, kissed my throat where his face pressed, and was out in an instant.
"And you had the cheek to say I was getting old..."
I settled against him, and fell asleep a moment later.
He was at it again. Bodie was sucking at my left nipple contently, gently insistent. I felt the thrill shoot through me, centering on my groin, and had to fight the urge to put my hand down to my crotch and hold myself. He was pressed down my left side, one arm across my body, pinning me to the bed, right where I wanted him to be. He was hard already.
I opened my eyes and slid my right hand up his arm. His head jerked up, and there was a definite expression of guilt on the dusky- jawed face. I stroked his shoulder, trailed my fingers to his hair and urged him up the bed where I could reach his mouth.
That first kiss was soft, light -- almost genteel -- and left Bodie with a stunned look. Afterwards, when we talked about it, we both laughed, but that morning, the whole thing was frighteningly serious; there could be no turning back, for either of us.
Slowly, he brought his hand to cup my face, his lips touched to mine and we kissed again -- deeply, his tongue poking hungrily into my mouth as if, suddenly, he couldn't get enough of me. He was lying halfway on top of me, his hand was moving, trickling down my neck, over my shoulder, stroking, caressing -- wicked, enticing, and so alluring. I wanted to grab it and push it where it belonged on my hot, hard genitals...He was eating me alive, having transferred his affections to my ear. His breath was coming hard, tickling my cheek, and he was driving me insane.
"Ray?" he whispered urgently. "Can I touch you? Can I touch your balls?"
"Yes," I gasped. "Go on! Touch me! Hold me!"
His weight shifted, and he skimmed a hand over my belly, brushing against my cock. He began to tease at my testicles -- could hear myself moaning -- It was like all my Christmases had come at once, only better. A thousand times I'd fantasised how it would be, if I ever got the nerve to tell him what I wanted -- if he ever came across...Nothing could compare with the real thing as his mouth and hands prepared me for loving him.
He was kneeling between my legs now, playing with me, holding my sac in both palms like it was a treasure. I could've died and gone to Paradise, I was so overwhelmed...
"Can I?" he breathed.
Whatever he wanted, he could take.
"Oh, yes, Bodie! Yes!"
I closed my eyes, surrendering.
His mouth was soft, moist, warm as it closed over my erection, and I groaned. I needed it harder, faster -- wanted to come quickly; the gentleness could wait until we had spent ourselves and the initial excitement was past.
"BO-DIE!" I begged.
He lifted his head and moved again, straddling me.
"Tell me what you want, Ray." His lips touched mine for an instant. "Let me give you everything..."
"Want you...want you...God, make me come..." I was so far gone, I told him the truth. "Want you inside me, hard...want to do it to you...put my prick in you, screw you...beautiful body...want to..." I opened my eyes, half-expected to see that arrogant smirk. Instead, I saw Bodie, dark-eyed, his lips parted as he strove for breath, kneeling astride me, his own cock swollen and throbbing, inches from my face.
He smiled, reached back for me and holding my shaft in one hand, he slowly lowered himself, guiding me into him carefully. The sensation of penetrating tight hot muscle was a million times more fantastic than sliding into wide, wet pussy. Bodie grunted, clamped his muscles a couple of times experimentally and continued. My body was screaming for release, but I wanted to be inside him all the way before I shot my load. The soft touch of his buttocks signaled relief -- he was panting as much as I was.
"Got it!" He was triumphant. "Christ, I didn't realise you were so big -- can feel you, right up to my heart, Ray..."
"Sorry, but I'm gonna -- oh, God -- "
Despite the cast, I managed to lift off the bed as I came. Bodie put one hand behind him on my upraised thigh, and held himself with the other. A couple of strokes and he was there, coming in thick creamy waves over my belly and chest, soaking me. I moaned again, replete, still held inside him.
He heaved a sigh and looked down at me hopefully. An expression of fear darted across his face, as he returned to his senses too quickly.
"Ray -- your leg -- I -- "
I tried to sound wistful.
"Was just thinking, all those poor little sperm of yours -- " I smeared his semen over both my nipples," -- made homeless...They should be inside me..."
"You rotten bastard! I thought I'd hurt you -- " He eased my limp cock out of his anus. It felt nude, inadequate...He groaned as the head slipped clear.
"Bodie-mate, how's your backside?" It was my turn to worry.
He grinned self-consciously.
"Leaking a bit," he admitted. "Can still fell you in there."
He looked at me as if he wasn't quite sure what to do next. I held out my arms for him and pulled him down. He tucked his head under my chin.
"Bodie," I murmured. "You look -- "
"Shagged out," he yawned. "Sorry."
"You working today?"
"Weekend off," he informed me. "Why?"
"Be nice to spend it together -- the two of us, here, in bed..."
"Hmmm!" he agreed, kissing my throat before he settled.
"Hmmm?" Sleepier that time...I wanted to tell him how beautiful he was, how good it had been, that he was perfect...
There was no reply; my very beautiful partner had fallen asleep.
I came to and panicked. Bodie had gone. For one moment, I wondered if I'd dreamed the whole thing; but my leg was still in a cast, and when I put my hand to my chest, the hair was matted and sticky. 'Bodie was 'ere', I thought, and putting my hand down to a very limp cock, I grinned -- this was inside him this morning. I could hardly believe it.
The bedroom door swung back under the influence of my partner's foot. He was draped in his robe and carried a trayful of food, which he put down on the mattress.
"Breakfast in bed," he replied. "Thought it'd be a change." He stripped, and crawled in beside me.
"That's nice of you," I said, touched by his thoughtfulness
"Yours is in the kitchen," he smirked, kissing my nose.
I punched him. "Sod!"
"Oi! Mind out!" he laughed. "There's some valuable equipment round here, and that coffee's hot!"
His arm snaked round my shoulders and he pulled me against him. I made a token protest and his grip increased infinitesimally, as I struggled upright so as to reach the tray.
"No, Ray," Bodie admonished softly, arresting my hand midway. He pushed it between duvet-covered thighs and held it firmly, then picked up a slice of toast and held it for me to eat.
"I'm not entirely helpless."
"I know," he replied, "but I felt like spoiling you this morning."
I swallowed; as a put-down, it was brilliant. He made me feel ashamed and guilty for losing my temper.
"Eat up or it'll get cold..." He knows me so well, my Bodie...
I took a mouthful, so did he, from the same slice.
"It's my turn to look after you. You once said we were partners -- that we belong together."
"When'd I say that?" Crumbs were going every where, as I tried to talk through my breakfast.
Bodie began to brush them off me, inadvertently tickling my chest; I tried to ignore the reaction further down the bed.
"Grab us a bit of banger..."
He reached over and picked up the sausage.
"Where do we go from here, Ray?"
"Cards on the table, you mean?"
He nodded, looking very solemn.
"What happened this morning -- "
"You seduced me," I pointed out.
"I -- "
I looked at him earnestly.
"I AM old enough to know when I'm being railroaded into something."
"Ray, don't -- "
"I let it happen," I continued as if he hadn't spoken. "If you hadn't done it to me, I'd've done it to you." At the expression of alarm on his face, I decided to make a cleanish breast of things. "I've wanted you for quite a while."
"Why didn't you say something?" demanded Bodie. "All the time we shared your bed -- "
"If I'd come to you, if I'd told you -- I couldn't take the chance you'd go to Cowley, or that you'd just go. What we have -- our partnership -- is too good to break up, just because I fancy a quick tumble with you."
"Is that all this is?" He look as if I'd just hit him. "I thought you'd -- I don't play one-night stands with men. I had enough of that in the jungle..." He pushed himself upright, nearly upsetting the coffee. "I thought we'd have something more -- "
"What did you have in mind?"
"Hell," he snorted. "I dunno -- just -- us, being together. Impossible dream, I suppose..."
"For how long?" The words were out before I knew it, and I felt him stiffen even more. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean -- "
"Didn't you?' He laughed mirthlessly. "How long? Until you get tired of me, and pick up some bird -- " His voice trailed off, and I wasn't sure that I'd heard the last few words.
"I am not the one who'll walk out first," I assured him. "I shared my flat with you. I've shared my bed -- I'll share the rest of my life with you. The only condition I'd make is that -- " I steeled myself to say the words, " -- if there's someone else..."
"There won't be," he promised me softly. "I won't two-time you, Ray."
"That's good." It was time to bring back the humour. "'cos if I catch you even breathing too hard in the same room with anyone else," I wriggled my captive hand up to his groin, "you'll find yourself minus a few bits here -- " I felt for his balls, " -- and there."
He relaxed as I petted him, closing his eyes, and heaving a contented sigh.
"It's just a pity we can't go on living together...Admin's looking out for a flat for me, even as we speak..."
"If they take as long over your flat as they do over my expenses, we'll still be here for New Year..."
Bodie opened one eye and slowly removed my hand from its place between his legs. With a noticeable effort, he put the tray onto the floor by the bed, then burrowed under the covers, pulling me over so that he could hold me close.
"Tell me, Raymond," he said, licking his lips, "what do you want for Christmas?"
Setting my mouth against his, I proceeded to show him.
Cowley called me in the following Monday -- Bodie was working at Headquarters shifting our manual archive onto computer tape, a job that everyone did a stint on when other duties were non-existent. In his case, however, he was waiting for final clearance from Dr. Ross before he could resume an active role on the streets. As soon as the damned plaster was off my leg, I knew, I'd be in there, too -- light office duties while I got fit again...
The Old Man got straight to the point.
"Bodie's going back to Repton -- Dr. Medler wants to run a few more tests on him -- you disapprove, 4.5?"
"There's nothing wrong with him!" I squawked.
Cowley took off his glasses, tossed them onto the open file in front of him.
"3.7's staying with you at the moment, I believe."
"You know he is, until Admin comes up with a secure flat for him."
The Old Man sighed.
"Dr. Medler is concerned that Bodie may become dependent upon you -- using you as an emotional crutch..." He was watching me very carefully.
"I would disagree with that. He knows he's always going to be claustrophobic, but he's lived with that most of his adult life -- he can cope with that on his own."
"And his other phobias -- darkness, solitude?"
"He was on his own at my place for five days last week...and he went down into that cellar," I reminded him.
"Dr. Medler suspects Bodie's motives for that." Cowley's eyes held mine.
"I didn't ask him why he went down, sir," I admitted. But then, I hadn't needed to...
"You'd be happy to keep him as a partner then, once you're both back on active duty?"
"That goes without saying. He's the best partner I've ever worked with, sir."
"Are you sleeping together?"
There could be no denial, no lying or half-truths to this man.
"Are you aware of the non-fraternisation ruling within CI5?
I was -- we all were; it was drummed into us from the moment we signed on.
He paused, assessing.
"I'm in no position to make moral judgements on your -- domestic arrangements, 4.5. My only interest is in the efficiency and effectiveness of this organisation. By extension, that means its individual members..."
I could see it now: Bodie and I were about to be given the ultimatum -- stop sleeping/screwing/loving each other, or be reteamed -- or thrown out of the squad. Cowley owned us body and soul, a fact that he reminded us of on no few occasions. He could do anything he wanted with us...
"You're to be relocated at the end of this week, 4.5."
"WHAT!" I panicked. "I moved in November, sir."
"'At the discretion of the head of establishment', " Cowley quoted the rule by which he was empowered to have any agent, or serving member of CI5 moved within twelve hours. I should be grateful to have a few days notice. "Bodie has been allocated a two-bedroom apartment in Kensington -- and I expect you both to conduct yourselves in an appropriate manner in public..."
"No kissing, no holding hands in the street..." I agreed.
Cowley glared at me.
"Any hint of a scandal and you are both out, do you understand, Doyle?"
Fighting to keep a straight face, I nodded.
"Make certain Bodie does, too. That'll be all for now."
So there we were, suddenly thrown together by Cowley's unexpected benevolence. Maybe it was a test to see how quickly our new relationship would fall apart; if it was, we sorely disappointed the old bugger.
Word got around the squad that Bodie and I were sharing, and there were a few jokes flying about the ops room that were crude, speculative, but not catty. Bodie was badly upset by it at first, but as I pointed out -- and Kate Ross later confirmed -- it was a mark of affection and acceptance; these people were our friends -- almost like family to both of us, and knew they could get away with the most outrageous comments. If they'd once suspected there WAS anything between us, there would have been no teasing -- and, come Monday, we'd've been first in the dole queue.
The situation called for a united front, deliberate camping to any agents who started in on us; and consequently, when there were two or more operatives in the rest room with us, we played to the audience, sending up our affair in the time-honored fashion, calling each other by sickening sweet pet-names that got more outrageous as the game went on.
Bodie topped it just before my cast was removed: he drew a huge red love-heart on it -- inside, and as high as he could get -- together with the caption 'BODIE WOS 'ERE -- P.T.O. FOR DETAILS!'
Murphy howled when he saw it, and spread the good news round the office. I was relieved that none of them worked out HOW Bodie had been able to draw it on...
The night I had the cast cut off, Murph, Jax and several of the more senior agents came out to the Red Lion for a celebration drink with us. I was still on crutches, so Bodie and Murph were sent up the bar to collect our orders. It was Jax who confided in me that there had been a lot of concern over Bodie's fitness for duty.
"When they took him into Repton -- " He shook his head. "We thought he'd never get out."
"It scared me, too," I admitted, remembering that first visit.
"The word is, the Old Man's got you baby-sitting him until he's been cleared by Dr. Ross..." There was a hint of a query in his voice.
"Someone had to -- and Cowley teamed us 'for better or worse'...They don't come much better than Bodie!"
Jax eyed me suspiciously; he's very perceptive, is our Jax...
"If I didn't know better," he laughed, "I'd swear those stories about you and Bodie are true!"
I just smirked -- Jax, mate, if you only knew HOW true...
Bodie and Murph were coming back to the table, with Lucas and McCabe in tow. Lucas had a stabilising arm around his partner, who was blinking owlishly in the light.
"I gotta take him home, lads," he apologised. "Can't take it, see?"
Bodie slipped into the seat beside me and slid his hand surreptitiously to my knee.
"Ah," I sighed as sympathetically as I could, "the younger generation..."
Bodie looked up at Mac, heaved an even bigger sigh.
"What we younger men have to put up with!"
Murphy stopped us before we got started.
"Lucas, take him home -- we'll see you tomorrow. Bodie, behave yourself..."
Bodie took a swig at his half, then set down his glass and picked up my hand.
"I'd better take you home," he announced. "First night -- don't want you over-doing things, do I?" He stood slowly, reaching for my crutches. "Come on, Tufty!"
"TUFTY!" I squawked -- I'd have his hide for THAT...
Jax was choking on his pint, and Murphy was, very manfully, keeping his smirk in check.
"Yeah," leered Bodie, "you should see him in the mornings -- all bright-eyed and very -- " he winked lewdly, " -- bushy-tailed!"
"You're the one who does interesting things with his nuts," I countered, as I finished my beer and struggled to my feet.
"Get out of here, both of you," chuckled Murphy, "before you give the rest of us a bad name. Anyone would think you two really are as bent as nine-bob notes!"
We couldn't resist it; we looked at each other and grinned.
"Nah, mate." Bodie slid his arm around my waist and cuddled me. "We're just good friends!"
I pinched his backside, and he poked me gently in the ribs as he handed me my crutches.
We left Murphy and Jax in varying states of hysteria and went home to make love.
-- THE END --
To Frankie, who knows what it's like to live in the shadows.