Cowley leaned back against his chair and tossed the pen down on the desk before meeting the other man's eyes. The young agent met his gaze squarely. Honest, open, trustworthy, that was Murphy. And because of the respect they had for one another, they got straight to the point.
"How's he taking it?"
"He's not, sir. Oh, he pulls his weight, but I wouldn't be happy going into an A7 situation with him. Not yet, it's too soon."
Cowley took off his glasses and rubbed at tired eyes.
"Aye, but it can't be helped. I need him out on the streets, not moping round. He's had colleagues shot before--he'll get over it."
But to Murphy's ear, there was a hint of doubt in the controller's voice.
"I'll do my best, sir, but he's an independent bloke, and I don't want to push too much."
"I can't ask for anything more, Murphy. I appreciate what you've done so far, you and the others. It's time he faced up to it, though. Doyle is dead, and buried, and Bodie will working with you from now on."
"Yes, sir," said Murphy, hoping fervently that the arrangement would work.
Bodie slouched against the side of the Capri, waiting for his partner. Running feet announced Murph's arrival, and he turned back towards the stairs, listening for the sound he would never hear again.
He's waiting for Ray, thought Murphy. God knows we all miss him, but a week on, and Bodie's still not accepted it.
Murphy slid into the front seat of the car, and opened the driver's door, nudging gently at Bodie's side. It brought him out of his reverie, back to the present, and with a heavy sigh, he got behind the wheel and set the vehicle in motion. He drove automatically, in silence, and dropped Murphy at his flat. A gentle hand touched his arm before he left.
"I'm helping you with Ray's stuff tomorrow."
Bodie nodded wearily, and turned a half-hearted smile to his friend. "Thanks, mate."
The younger man got out, leaving Bodie alone in the car with his thoughts, and a terrible aching emptiness he had never known he could fee. He shoved the Capri in gear an drove home, reliving the last day of Doyle's life, knowing he couldn't change it...
Thursday had been boring. They were on stake-out, observing the comings and goings of a poky little terraced house in Brixton. Bodie had complained, loud and long, about the job, the Cow, the neighbourhood the weather, the football and Doyle's choice of food to sustain them through the day.
His partner grinned, eyes firmly fixed on the target, and let him bitch, pointing out that Bodie couldn't've found the food that distasteful as he'd eaten most of it.
"Starving man'll eat anything," Bodie retorted. "I'm hungry enough to eat you--jeans 'n' all!"
Doyle chuckled. "Like to see you try!"
Bodie stepped up behind him, leaned over and nipped his neck. It tasted warm and slightly salty--Doyle- flavoured--and Bodie drew back sharply, licking his lips: Ray did taste good......
"I'll get you some worming tablets on the way home," Doyle threatened, apparently unfazed by the assault. "Hand us a coffee, will you?"
Bodie passed the flask, and poured out the drinks. Bodie remembered how his face had flushed when Doyle's fingers brushed his as he handed over his mug... how he was increasingly aware, as the afternoon wore on, of the exquisite beauty--the uniqueness--of his partner...how Doyle flaunted himself, even when Bodie was his only audience...not that he minded, but his thoughts strayed more and more to what he would like to do to his suddenly attractive fellow-agent....
At four-thirty, they were relieved by McCabe and Lucas, exchanged a few words about the lack of action at the house, and went downstairs together, Doyle in front, and Bodie hard on his heels watching every little twitch...The look in the blue eyes when they reached the street told him his thoughts had been read clearly...
It was Doyle's idea to stop at the chemist's on the way back to the city centre, and he hopped out of the Capri with a twinkle in his eye.
"Back in a moment," he promised cheerfully.
And Bodie sat in the car, grinning like an idiot, guessing what Doyle had gone to fetch.
The echoes of gunshots reached him, and two tall coloured youths came streaking out of the pharmacy. Both carried sawn-off shotguns--Bodie was out of the car in pursuit in a moment as they headed into a blind alley.
"Stop!" he ordered once.
One of the lads raised his weapon in reply, and Bodie shot them both down, before racing forward and making certain they were both dead. He shipped his handgun, and rummaged in his pockets for RT. In the car... He jogged back to the Capri, and was reaching through the door for the radio mike, when he found himself barging past the spectators and into the store. Crouched against the wall, sobbing quietly a young black woman clutching an injured arm--in front of her surrounded in a widening poll of blood knelt three more people--the chemist and two customers, Bodie later found out--who were working over the body of the fourth man whose curly hair was bloody and matted.
Bodie was on his knee beside his partner, looking in to the angelic face, brushing his fingers lightly against the sodden curls. The shots had taken him full in the chest and stomach, and his body seemed to be loving, at peace now that the end was so close....
"Bodie-mate," he sighed, and Bodie could hear the breath bubbling in a ruptured lung.
"Lie still, Ray. For God's sake, don't die, please, I don't think I could take that..."
"Yeah, sure, Ray!" Christ, where was the ambulance...
Doyle's hand jerked up, tried to touch Bodie's face. Unheeding, Bodie took it, pressed it gently to his lips, wanting to offer comfort. Doyle smiled wanly, and his eyes closed for the last time.
"See you 'round, mate..."
The wail of the siren cut through the trance and suddenly the whole scene burst apart around him. Uniformed officers moving in to take statements and usher people away; ambulance men, dark angels of mercy, coming to take his partner's body to be healed. Bodie was on the street, leaning against the silver Capri staring after the vehicle that disappeared down the road, screaming like a banshee. Wearily, he picked up the radio, and reported in.
When Bodie got to the hospital, Doyle was already dead. He and Cowley met at the mortuary to formally identify the body. Bodie looked at in disgust--it had been cleaned up, but it wasn't Ray Doyle--not his beautiful animated partner-in-crime--it was just so much raw meat on a cold stone slab: Bodie wanted nothing more to do with it. Cowley had answered all the necessary questions, and then he'd had Bodie driven home.
In the week that passed, Doyle had been buried in the cemetery where he and Bodie used to run. Bloody ironic really, thought Bodie, as he tried to push the pain away...
He turned into his street and glanced swiftly at the empty seat beside him, remembering how Doyle used to loll there, long-limbed, like a rangy cat....for a fraction of a second, it was almost as if he could see Ray's [missing] despair descended again, and he left the car quickly, hurrying to the bleak cover of his flat.
Inside the desolation hit hard, and he shook himself physically to dispel the gloom. Shower, then drink, then...may as well go to bed--there's nothing on the box. He put the kettle on, and headed for the bathroom, submerging himself in the water, and wondering just how he and Murphy would get all Doyle's gear over the following day.
He belted a robe about his body, and ambled into the kitchen again, to pour boiling water into the waiting coffee cup. He took his drink through to the lounge, sipping thoughtfully. It had been laced with whisky. Good stuff, Bodie admitted. No wonder Cowley swears by it. He settled back, allowing the alcohol to work, blurring the edges of his pain. How many times had he and Doyle come back here and sat drinking just the way he was now? Ray would sit, all golden and beautiful, and Bodie had never really noticed, not TRULY, how special he was...not until last Thursday, and suddenly it was too late. All the things he should have told Doyle would be unspoken now--he would never get that close to him again...
Bodie opened his eyes with a jerk, and put his mug on the coffee table. He was tired--hadn't slept well since Ray died--and decided to go to bed. Show willing, he thought miserably, as he paced over to the bedroom, unbelting his robe as he went. At least the whisky in the coffee would help. He crawled under the duvet, laid his head on the pillow, and thinking of Doyle, he fell asleep.
Sometime in the night, on a subconscious level, it registered that he was being ousted toward the edge of the mattress, and grumbling in his sleep, he almost came to.
"Shift over, Ray..." rolled into waiting warmth and snuggled down again. Something light and gently touched his forehead--a hand brushing away his fringe. He settled comfortably and drifted off. He began to stir as the alarm clock rang. A swift hand cut it off.
"Don't have to work today. You can stay in bed a bit longer."
The concept penetrated his sleep-sodden brain...Yeah, good to be here, warm and cosy, wrapped in strong loving arms---
His eyes snapped open, and he came to full wakefulness. He was alone. Well, of course he was--what did he expect, for Christ-sakes? Alcohol and depression and exhaustion--bad mix, he knew, blaming them equally for his midnight fantasy.
He roused himself and trawled to the kitchen, dragging on his robe and aiming for the kettle, intent on a coffee to revive him: the kettle had already boiled, and clean mug stood on the side, waiting as if to lure him into an ambush. Bodie looked round sharply. Somebody had definitely been here. He prowled round the flat checking the windows and the alarm system, but everything was intact. Untouched. He was at a loss to explain it. He returned to the kitchen for a breakfast that he'd suddenly lost the appetite for.
The buzz of the intercom--Murph's cheerful voice put the mystery out of his mind for a while. Cowley wanted Doyle's flat cleared by ten o'clock on Saturday, and Bodie would see that it was. He had almost refused Murph's offer of help--Doyle was BODIE's partner after all, and if anyone should clear out his effects, it should be him...but he had accepted finally, knowing that he would to get used to working with the other man sooner or later. It felt strange though, as if he were somehow betraying Doyle.
Face it, he told himself: Ray's dead nothing'll change that. I'm alive, I've got a job to do and a new partner...
The drove to Doyle's and set work in silence. Murph took the lounge and kitchen, while Bodie shifted a stack of boxes up to the bedroom. Opening the wardrobes, he found himself shaking at the thought of handling his partner's belongings. There were a couple of dress shirts--worn rarely--and a suit. The rest of the clothing consisted of jeans and jumpers, comfortable and achingly familiar, still bearing lingering traces of Doyle--his scent, a curly brown hair or two....
Bodie fought the unexpected tears, and began to pack the first of the boxes. By midmorning, they had finished, and were ready to load the Capri. Murph surveyed the empty lounge, and gestured to [the] stack of cartons they had by the door.
"Should've borrowed the estate," he mused, "there's more here than I thought."
"no." Bodie's voice was surprisingly loud in the nakedness of the room. "It's going in the car. We won't even need to make a second run."
"I'll start loading," Murphy offered, "and you can bring the stuff from upstairs down." Murphy picked up the first box. "Keys, mate?"
Bodie handed them over without a word, and trudged back up to the bedroom.
"Not much to show for a life, is it?" he spoke out loud. "And you had to go and play the hero, didn't you? Stupid bugger, you should've left it to me. You never did have any sense, Ray..."
He picked up the nearest box--filled with clothes--and for a moment, he caught the scent of his partner, rich, clean uniquely Doyle, as he clutched the carton to him...Back in the living room, he was surprised to find only one box left: Murph must've sprinted all the way with the others. His partner appeared, looking a little puzzled.
"How many more?"
"Just two. They're in the bedroom, I'll bring 'em down."
"Yeah, okay." Murphy glanced about. "Really was a two- man job."
Bodie eyed the cleared floor-space.
"You've done alright on your own." He gave Murphy the ghost of a smile. "It hasn't been fair on you."
Murphy frowned. "What d'you mean? I'd still be lugging crates if you hadn't stacked 'em by the door...Bodie, are you okay?"
The colour had drained from Bodie's face.
"I've been upstairs all the time," he whispered hoarsely.
At that point, Murphy began to doubt his colleagues' sanity. He took the box from Bodie's arms.
"I'll just go and stow this while you get the rest down...."
He listened as Bodie ascended the stairs once more, and shook his head sadly. Poor bastard! He was taking Doyle's death really badly...
Bodie came hammering down the stairs a few moments later, with the final consignment of Doyle's effects, and parked them on the landing outside the front door. He returned to the living room and gazed around. It felt forlorn, lifeless--empty without Ray. He bowed his head, and whispered a soft farewell to his former partner. A small part of his mind cried out in protest--he'll always be your partner: he promised...and I'd gladly give anything to have him back again, Bodie admitted. With a sigh, he spun on his heel, and left.
In the car, Bodie was content to leave Murphy to his own thoughts, and when they arrived at Bodie's, they unloaded the Capri in silence. It took longer than either had anticipated, and several times Bodie caught the other man looking at him strangely. Murphy accepted the offer of a drink but declined a meal, and took himself off shortly afterwards. Truth be told, Bodie guessed, he knows I'm no great shakes as a cook. Given a choice, Bodie had preferred gatecrashing at Doyle's, too. Now he had no option but to make do with own culinary efforts. Unenthusiastically, he searched his cupboards for something he might be able to turn into barely edible hash. He came up with a packet of rice. It would have to do...and even I can't go wrong with rice, thought Bodie. Can I? A dollop of ketchup--well, he was hungry, and he would eat it.
He put on the water and returned to the lounge to re- sort his partner's things ready for despatch to his [missing] rescue his belated supper. It was on the hot-plate, keeping warm and it smelled delicious. Bodie approached it cautiously sniffing. Garlic? Herbs had been added, and there was a plate warming on the side--He swallowed nervously. If this was someone's idea of a joke...
But Murph was long gone, and the only people who ever had a key to Bodie's flat were security officer and Doyle....
Bodie dipped his finger in the mix and scooped some into his mouth. It tasted alright, so he spooned it onto the dish and took it back to the lounge. The whisky glass on the coffee table was almost a foregone conclusion.
If this is my imagination, Bodie admitted ruefully, I could hardly do better for real. He sank onto the dish and took it back to the lounge. The whisky glass on the coffee table. Breathing deeply, he closed his eyes.
"Well, was it alright?"
"Hmm, smashing, Ray, I--" Bodie shot to his fee, and yelped. "DOYLE!"
There was no-one--he began to search the room for some clue to the latest trick. When at length he sat down again, he buried his head in his hands for a long time. It had been so--he would've sworn it was Doyle's voice...Eventually, he straightened and got on with the task of packing, listening to the silence in the flat, half-expecting to hear Doyle at the door, or clattering round into he kitchen.
It was late when he turned in. The raw emotion of the past week had drained him, and showered wearily before taking the whisky bottle and a tumbler to bed. He pulled the covers over his head and wriggled about in an effort to get comfortable. Eventually, inevitable, he fell asleep.
He rolled over and collided with something warm.
"Watch it, sunshine. Nearly gave me a shower."
"Sorry, Ray." Bodie cuddled closer, burying his face against a lean naked thigh, kissing it softly.
"Lie still, Bodie," Doyle murmured, sinking his free hand in the dark hair. The other still cradled the whisky glass. "You need to sleep."
"Shush!" Doyle put the drink on the bedside cabinet quickly, and burrowed down next to him. "Go to sleep. I'll be here when you wake up." He laughed a little. "Didn't think I'd leave you did you?"
Bodie sighed contentedly, and snuggled into his arms.
"No, you always was a persistent sod..."
"I love you, too," snorted Doyle and kissed his brow. "Now sleep."
For once, Bodie did as he was told.
The echoes of the dream stayed with him as he woke. It seemed so real that he felt bitter disappointment when he realised he was alone--and would probably spend his weekend that way.
Sod it, he cursed, I'll tidy this lot up, get it sent off, then I'll find myself a bird and get my leg over. Shouldn't be too difficult. He had momentary twinge of guilt, but suppressed it, drowning it under the shower.
He checked the flat over, but it was just as he'd left it the night before. Nothing had been touched, or moved. Of course it hadn't--it would be safe to call them to say that their son's effects were on the way by train: a few pairs of jeans, jackets and shirts, and a handful of pictures--sketches that had been tossed off during boring night shifts, and lazy Sunday afternoons... precious little to remind anyone of the lively--utterly VITAL--Raymond Doyle.
Bodie didn't want anything--didn't need anything--of Doyle's to remember: He had memories--nothing more--to recall how much Ray meant to him--and a terrible painful chasm inside that he knew would never be filled...Feels like my heart's been torn out.
He pulled himself together and loaded the car, moving like a man ten years older and too tired. On his last trip up to the flat, he phoned Doyle's mother and explained he was putting Doyle's things aboard the Intercity Express. Mrs. Doyle was still upset over her son's untimely death, and her gratitude was punctuated by small sobs and sniffles. Bodie was relieved when he finally hung up.
He drove the boxes to the station, wending his way through the mid-morning traffic. By the time he got back, it was lunch time and he was feeling claustrophobic, from the car, and from the crowd from the station. He decided to go for a walk down by the river. To go anywhere where he could feel the wind moving, see the sky, and not remember how it hurt to be without Doyle. But Doyle had been everywhere with him. Doyle had been an integral part of his life, the centre of his universe--his little Ray of sunshine, he'd joked privately. And now--now there was nothing. Bodie returned home even more miserable than before. His whole world had collapsed, and he wasn't sure what to do about it. Toyed with the idea of phoning Murphy, but decided not to. Why ruin someone else's day. Vindictively, he considered calling Kate Ross, but--no, that wasn't a good idea either. Could stay home and drink myself into oblivion--and if we get a call, and I'm drunk, Cowley'll have my hide. So maybe I'll find myself a nice quiet pub, and pick up a nice randy barmaid and have my end away. It'd make two people very happy--well, alright it won't bring Ray back, but it'll keep me occupied.
In the end Bodie showered, changed and took himself off to the classiest bar he knew to find himself a girl for the night.
Sally had long fair hair and a sweet disposition. She wasn't Bodie's type, but tonight, he didn't want sophistication, he just wanted comfort. Sally giggled and joked with him, hugged and cuddled, and Bodie relaxed enough to invite her back for the night.
They walked up to the apartment, Bodie made coffee, and they snuggled down on the sofa together, petting and kissing, before progressing to the bedroom. Between the sheets, Sally was soft and warm. Comforting...Bodie dozed off quickly, wrapped in her arms, dreaming of sunnier days.
Sally lay wakeful, knowing that something was wrong with her bedmate: He had needed, and she was entranced by his good looks and cool poise. He wasn't the most earth shattering lover she'd had, but he was polite, clean and hadn't come on like he was God's gift to women. He was lying like a child in her arms, sleep soothing some of the lines, easing the pain that he wouldn't discuss.
"What's wrong, Bodie? Poor baby..." Sally sighed, and shifted uncomfortably, hoping to delay the inevitable moment for as long as possible. When she could wait no longer, she released Bodie and scrambled out of the bed as delicately as she could, grabbed his dressing gown and belted it about her for the short trip to the bathroom. Unfamiliar with the layout of the flat, she pulled the bedroom door to, and fumbled with the light switch in the lounge, then headed off for the toilet. On her return, she was startled to see the lonely figure stretching on the settee.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you," she apologised.
The stranger gave her a winning smile, blinked his cat- like blue eyes in the brightness and ran a hand through his ragged curls.
"It's alright, I wasn't sleeping."
"Are you Bodie's flatmate. He didn't tell me he shared. I didn't mean to--"
The man shook his head.
"I crash out here sometimes. I'm his bodyguard."
Sally giggled and Doyle grinned, shifting up the sofa, inviting her to sit beside him. "Wouldn't've thought he'd need a bodyguard," Sally declared, eyes twinkling. "He looks like he can look after himself."
Doyle shook his head again, in mock despair.
"It's all show. Confidentially, I have to do EVERYTHING for him...."
Sally eyes him speculatively.
"Well, he did seem a bit--reserved tonight..."
Doyle sobered. "He's had it bad in the last few days."
"Girlfriend? Sorry," Sally caught her breath, "didn't mean to pry."
"He lost his best mate last week. It hurt him a lot. I promised I'd be around to take care of him--make sure that he eats and things."
"He never said..."
"He wouldn't," Doyle sighed again. "Very stubborn, very independent is my Bodie...." He smiled as Sally yawned. "You ought to be in bed."
"Hmm!" she agreed. "I apologise in advance for any racket we make..."
"Won't bother me a bit, love," Doyle assured her. "I'll be out like a light."
"It's nice to have met you." Sally smothered another yawn. "Sweet dreams."
"You, too," Doyle echoed.
Bodie was showered, shaved and dressed when he brought the breakfast tray through, Sally sniffed appreciatively from her den beneath the duvet.
"Smells good. Have you both eaten yet?"
"Both?" Bodie looked mystified.
"Your mate--the one who said he's your bodyguard."
"The gorgeous one," Sally insisted. Oh, yeah, had to be Murphy. "The one with the curly hair, and the busted cheek-bone."
"WHAT!" Bodie's face paled.
"He said he was your bodyguard." Sally looked up at him enquiringly.
"Can't be," murmured Bodie. "Curly hair, you said?"
"And blue eyes..."
"Where was he?"
"On the couch, of course. I woke him when I went to the bathroom. Bodie, what's wrong? He said that he was a friend..."
"Yeah," Bodie said softly. He pulled himself together. "Come on, Sally, get up and I'll drive you home."
Puzzled, she gave him a gentle smile, and handed back the tray before commandeering his discarded robe and tramping to the bathroom.
Bodie sat on the end of the bed, in shock. As far as he remembered, he hadn't mentioned Doyle once the previous evening--and now she claimed to have seen someone who sounded just like Ray--impossible. Doyle was dead--he'd seen that for himself, had felt him slipping away even at the chemist's shop. Doyle was dead, he wouldn't be coming back, and Bodie didn't believe in ghosts.
He spoke hardly a word to Sally during the journey back to her flat, was vague about another date, leaving her feeling as if she'd done something terrible. Bodie went straight home afterwards. One way or another he would get to the bottom of this. He parked the Capri, and sat behind the wheel for several minutes, working out a strategy. He would go in, make a complete sweep of the place, searching for bugs, microphones--ANYTHING--that could rationally explain his hearing Doyle's voice, or Sally's seeing him. He would check--double-check--the locks on the door and windows. Whoever was responsible for this hoax would be found out, and Bodie swore he would take them apart...
An hour's solid search yielded nothing: no mikes, no spy-holes, no tape-recorders. Bodie was on edge when he returned to the lounge. There was a cup of coffee steaming nicely on the table. In a fit of temper, he threw it against the kitchen door and howled.
"DAMN YOU, DOYLE, GET OUT OF MY LIFE! YOU'RE DEAD! LEAVE ME ALONE!"
He flung himself onto the couch and buried his head in his hands, crying like he'd never done before, for both Ray and himself. He was oblivious to the shadowy figure who stood by the doorway, amid the wreckage of the mug and the coffee-sodden carpet. Tears brimmed in the blue eyes, but he waited there until Bodie had fallen asleep before clearing up the mess in his partner's living room.
The telephone's urgent ringing woke him. Bodie reached for the receiver.
"We're on." Murphy sounded breathless with relief. "I'll pick you up and brief you on the way."
"Right." Bodie hung up, and scrambled off the sofa. He had just enough time to make himself look less debauched... In the bathroom, he splashed his face with cold water, dabbed it dry with the handtowel, and peered in the mirror. His eyes were puffy and bloodshot. Murphy would know and he angrily rubbed them to bring them into focus...damn bloody Ray Doyle for getting shot, and curse me for caring...the intercom sounded, cutting short the tirade. Bodie went to join his partner.
Picking his way through the traffic, Murphy gave him the gist of the operation: A suspected arms cache at Limehouse. A local bobby had spotted armed men in the vicinity, and CI5 was called to check it out. There were half a dozen agents converging on the sinister warehouse, and Bodie and Murph had one of the landward sides. They crouched down among the crates and stacks of timber, looking for means of ingress.
"If we split up, and work our way round to each end," Bodie suggested. "Keep in contact by RT."
Murphy was instantly suspicious: In a situation like this, given Bodie's recent irrational behaviour, it would be easy for the other man to get caught in any crossfire, and get himself killed. He seemed okay at the moment, though, so Murphy gave his consent, bunching himself low and beetling off in the opposite direction.
Bodie worked his way slowly down the scarred side of the warehouse, catching faint scents of wood, rotting canvas, and the all-pervading stink of the river. He left his radio on receive and prayed that Murph would be safe. Somewhere, he knew from the wolfspaw of cold that touched his heart, someone was going to get hurt today...
The radio burst into life a familiar voice "Behind you, second roof, brick building. Sniper!"
Bodie dived for cover just as two shots winged his way, whamming into the timber where his head had been. He scurried forward, towards the outbuilding and heard Murph's automatic fire twice.
Too far, mate. Couldn't hit him from there. Bodie moved again.
The rifle fired again, this time aimed in his partner's direction. Bodie seized his chance, and went sprinting to the doorway, into the warehouse proper. Catfooted, he trod the stairs and emerged behind the gunman who was still firing down on Murph. Bodie shot him in the back, and grabbed the rifle to prevent it falling from the roof.
"Murph," he called into the radio. "You okay?"
"What do you think? Can't see anymore of 'em. I'm on my way down."
And with a cursory look at the now defunct gunman, he slung the weapon over his shoulder, handgun at the ready, he returned to the ground.
Two minutes later, the word was given, and CI5 stormed the warehouse. The entire search took forty minutes, the paperwork would take about four days, in Murph's estimate. He and Bodie were taken aside by a fuming Cowley and given a dressing-down for not having captured the gunman alive. Bodie's own temper flared, and he snapped back at the controller. "What was I s'posed to do? Politely ask him to surrender his weapon and then discuss the cricket?"
Murphy gaped at his partner. The only times he'd known Bodie this worked up were those when Doyle had been in danger.
Cowley simply stared him down.
"Bodie," he said icily, after a long moment, "I'll overlook your outburst on this occasion. I want a full report on my desk tomorrow morning, from both of you. Murphy, come with me, and you, 3.7, will go straight home. If," the older man continued, over-riding Bodie's attempt to interrupt, "there is a repetition of this unprofessional conduct, I'll have you back-squadded. Do I make myself clear?"
Bodie lowered his eyes and nodded.
Murphy handed him the car keys.
"Och, get some rest, Bodie," Cowley added with an exasperated sigh. "Come on, 6.2!"
"See you later, Bodie-mate," murmured Murphy as he turned to follow the Scot.
Bodie put out his hand, staying him for moment.
"Do you believe in ghosts?"
The question was so abrupt, so unexpected, that Murphy laughed and shook his head.
"Nah, mate, no such thing." But he was on the point of qualifying his remark, when he was called off sharply to heel by Cowley. With a grin and a shrug, he hurried off, leaving Bodie to make his own way back to the car and drive home.
He paused at the entrance of his flat opening his senses, using the skills that had once served him in the jungle, but there was nothing no other thing in his apartment. It was empty of Doyle's lingering presence just as empty as life without him by my side, Bodie admitted. Oh, Christ, if only I'd realised...
He advanced slowly to the middle of the lounge, and stopped by the coffee table, feeling absurd for a moment. But there was no one to see or hear him, so he drew a steadying breath and spoke softly to the silence around him.
"Ray? I know you were here. I--" he faltered for an instant. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean for you to go. I was scared. I didn't understand still don't. All I know is, I love you. I need you. Come back, Ray. Please come back."
Trembling, he turned slowly, but he was still alone, and the silence fell, settling again over the room like a shroud. Bodie sighed; I didn't really expect him to just appear not after the way I treated him. I suppose Murph was right no such thing as ghosts. My mind playing tricks on me, because I wanted [missing] he carefully skirted round Sally's encounter with his late partner and put the rest down to mental aberration on his part.
Shaking himself from his near-trance, he went to make a coffee, before opening up a sheet of newspaper on the lounge table and locating his gun-oil. A daily ritual for him, since his brief flirtation as a mercenary, he was quickly absorbed in the task, lovingly inspecting every inch of his weapon before greasing it and reassembling it. He finished by loading and cocking the Browning, wondering idly what it would be like to put the gun against his temple and pull the trigger. Would he feel the transition from life to death? Would there be an afterwards? Or would everything he'd done and achieved, not that THAT amounted to much anyway, suddenly become as nothing? Bodie wasn't certain he believed in an afterlife. He certainly DIDN'T believe in GOD: any faith he'd had in a great creator had been brutalized out of him on his childhood streets of Liverpool, and trampled to death on forced marches through Angola. No God, no hereafter, no Ray...
"Careful what you're doing with that, mate it might go off!"
Bodie's head jerked up and he caught a fleeting glimpse of a jeans-and -tee-shirt-clad figure before his vision blurred with tears.
When he could see again, he found he was on his feet, his fists clenched at his side, staring at a very solid- looking and for some reason horrified Ray Doyle.
"You dozy prat! What d'you do that for?"
Bodie was taken aback by his partner's tone.
"You bloody idiot! Cowley's gonna love you!"
"Do WHAT?" Bodie repeated, totally puzzled. He looked down at himself. Same dark slacks, same dark jumper and leather jacket. The automatic was on the floor under the coffee table. He bent to retrieve it and his hand passed through the wood, grasping at nothing.
He straightened slowly, white-faced, anger overruling the fear.
"If this is one of your lousy jokes, Doyle--" he threatened.
Doyle stepped up to him, grasping him firmly by the shoulders, and turning him around.
"Does THAT look like a joke?"
There was body slumped across the sofa, bright blood and brains sloshed over the fabric, its pale face averted. Tremors wracked the stricken man, and Bodie instinctively pulled towards him, wanting to help. Doyle held him for a moment then let him free. Bodie bent over the body, and stared. He looked alarmed, lost, and totally shocked.
"Ray..." he tried twice to say the name, licking his lips to moisten them. "That's me...isn't it?"
Doyle approached gently and nodded, keeping his eyes fixed on his partner's ashen face.
"I'm dead aren't I?"
"Dying," Doyle correct quickly.
"Oh!" Bodie glanced back at the body, HIS body and returned his gaze to Doyle. He gave a funny little laugh, and he fainted.
Something light and warm was touching his cheek. He wrinkled his nose, and the caress turned into a definite slap. He moaned, protesting such treatment which was doing his aching head no good.
"Come on, sunshine, wake up!" Doyle's voice was persistent, a reality after the dreaminess of the last few days.
Bodie reluctantly opened his eyes, and stared up into Doyle's, which were full of unshed tears. "Ray?" Bodie reached out, grabbed a handful of tee-shirt and pulled. There was something comforting in the sudden weight that knocked the breath from him.
Doyle, however, sought refuge from his sorrow in anger: He swatted Bodie across the cheek again.
"For Christsakes, stop mucking about! The ambulance'll be here in a moment, and we've got to go with it."
"But," Bodie frowned, "I'm dead. Aren't I? So what's the point of the ambulance?"
"Your body is still alive and breathing on its own. Therefore, you need an ambulance. So I called one." Doyle slipped free of Bodie's hold and sat back on his heels. "You're still in shock."
"I've got a stinking headache," grumbled Bodie, closing his eyes. "Got any aspirin?"
"Stay awake, can't you? Just a little longer, mate..."
Bodie tried to shake his head, but it hurt so much that he simply sighed and passed out again.
"Bodie, don't you dare..."
When he came around again, he felt much better, as if he'd slept for hours, though he could only have been unconscious for a few minutes. He realised he was lying on his own bed. Doyle was at the door, gazing into the lounge, intent on whatever was going on out there. Bodie rolled over, stood carefully, and tottered to where his partner leaned against the doorframe.
Two uniformed men were leaving, bearing the stretcher between them, and Benny was scanning the mess in the living room.
Doyle turned to his mate.
"Come on, sunshine. We want to find out what the doctor says about your condition..." And he strode nonchalantly through he flat, out the front door without opening it. Too surprised for rational thought, Bodie followed. They easily overtook the stretcher party, and got into the ambulance ahead of them sitting in the corner, quietly respectful.
"Am I going to make it?" asked Bodie, as they loaded his body.
Doyle shook his head.
"Dunno, mate. Looks bad from where I'm sitting."
What'll happen to you?" Bodie put a trembling hand to Doyle's arm. "If I live?"
Doyle smiled sadly. "I'll always be around. Ghost usually haunt what binds them to the earth."
"They hang round the people they love," Doyle translated. He swallowed, afraid of the effect his sudden revelation would have.
Bodie's hand tightened on him.
"What do I have to do to stay with you?"
Doyle caught the wild look in his partner's eye.
"Oh, no, sunshine. You can't...not while you've got the chance to live..."
"So all I have to do is die." Bodie smiled. "That's okay as long as we're together."
"Bodie..." Doyle warned. He was silenced by Bodie's lips.
Gently at first, Bodie kissed him, and as Doyle responded, so Bodie seduced his mouth, making love with his tongue, probing for the sweet taste that was uniquely Doyle.
"Wanted to do that since Thursday..." Bodie confessed as he came up for air.
"You bloody great idiot," Doyle laughed breathlessly. "You didn't have to shoot yourself to get me. Told you I'd always be around..."
"You made me jump!" Bodie protested. He noticed the beginnings of a frown. "I was glad to see you. I missed you like hell." He leaned forward to kiss the bruised lips again. Doyle caught both this wrists, and blew up at him.
"You put a loaded gun against your head! That has to be the daftest thing you've ever done! Even a rookie knows enough not to do that EVER!"
Bodie hung his head shamefully.
"You were going to do it anyway, weren't you?" Doyle continued softly. He slid one hand under his partner's chin and tipped his face up. "Weren't you?"
Bodie swallowed nervously, refusing to meet his eyes.
"Thought about it. Wondered what dying would feel like. I told you, I missed you. I need you, Ray. I'm no good on my own anymore." He looked at Doyle then, his eyes bright with unshed tears.
Doyle smiled and hugged him close, nuzzling his neck.
"Don't worry, Bodie, we'll always be together now."
Bodie's body was rushed down to the emergency surgery, and the two agents followed it all the way in. Midway through the operation, they noticed Cowley had arrived, and was sitting in the medical students gallery, watching the proceedings. He looked furious. "Glad I won't be around to feel the shockwave from that." Doyle remarked, eyeing the dour Scotsman. "You've really upset him, Bodie. He likes you a lot."
"He wasn't exactly sweetness and light when you copped it," Bodie countered. "Ran me down for dereliction of duty: I should've been with you."
"In which case, they would've buried us together, and Cowley could've bought one headstone for the pair of us," Doyle figured. "Penny-pinching old--"
"Now, now, Raymond, my love," Bodie chided gently. "Mustn't speak ill of the living..."
Doyle grimaced, and Bodie laughed.
A second figure had appeared in the gallery, and Doyle grabbed Bodie's wrist. "Let's go and eavesdrop."
He led them up to the room where Cowley and Bodie's most recent partner were watching the operation, barging in midway through Murphy's answer to the older man's question.
"...heard over the radio, so I came straight here. Has the doctor said anything?"
Cowley shook his head and glared down at the theatre, willing the younger man to live, and cursing Bodie and himself for a fool.
"I want you to help Benny go over his flat. See if he left a note or something. I want to know why--"
"--and ask Dr. Ross to pull all his files and bring them to my office."
"There's no sense in your hanging around. You'd better get on, Murphy."
Without a word, the agent turned on his heel and left. Cowley concentrated on the scene below, and from their new vantage point, both Bodie and Doyle had a better overall view of the surgeon's task.
"They'll have problem digging that bullet out," Doyle predicted. "You being so thick-skulled and all!"
"Are you implying," Bodie snorted with a wicked glint in his eye, "that I don't have any brains? I left enough of 'em on the sofa to convince even you..."
"I was only wondering," Doyle continued, "how anyone could miss at that range."
Bodie considered. "You ruined my aim," he accused.
"Ah, then you admit it you WERE trying to kill yourself! That's a bloody selfish thing to do--"
"I wanted to be with you," snapped Bodie.
"And what about George, and Murph? You're not being fair to them."
"Tough," pouted Bodie. "That's life. Besides which, you started it by getting yourself shot."
Doyle glowered at him, and turned his attention to the action below.
In the theatre, the surgeon was pulling down his mask, and shaking his head. Through the intercom, they had been half-following the proceedings, and now the senior doctor was speaking.
"That's it. We've lost him. Thank you for your help everyone."
There were murmurs from the rest of the team, as they began to clear away instruments and equipment and beside them, George Cowley's slumped shoulders told their own story.
"Och, laddie, if I'd only known..."
Bodie stepped forward, but Doyle caught him and shook his head.
"He can't hear us or see us, Bodie. Leave him for now."
Bodie rounded on him, spoiling for an argument, but a look at Doyle's face made him bridle his tongue. "Where'll we go?" he asked.
"Back to your place for tonight. My flat's been re-let."
"And afterwards? What about tomorrow?"
Doyle smiled softly.
"Tomorrow can take care of itself. Come on, sunshine. Let's go home, there's no point in hanging round now."
He turned his back on the theatre and walked out of the gallery quickly. With one last glance at the corpse, and a final lingering look at the old man who was standing with bowed head, Bodie followed his partner.
They hopped a bus back to the flat, and Bodie was pleased to see that the mess had been cleaned up. They checked the place over as a matter of course, relieved to find none of Bodie's gear had been touched.
"Not that it'll matter much," Doyle observed. "Not now."
"Place was getting filled with junk anyway," Bodie dismissed. He yawned suddenly. "I thought ghosts weren't supposed to get tired."
Doyle grinned at him.
"Don't you believe it, mate. We have to get our sleep, too. Dunno about you, but I'm knackered, and there's a big bed next door."
Bodie put his hands on his hips.
"Who said you was sharing my bed?" he teased.
Doyle arched an eyebrow.
"I did." And he vanished through the door.
Bodie laughed and followed him, catching his partner as he peeled off his shirt. He wrapped his arms around the slender waist, nuzzling at the nape of Doyle's neck, nipping and kissing. Doyle pushed back, loving the attention.
"Thought you were tired," he murmured, reaching behind him to pull Bodie closer.
"Not too tired for you. I want you before I sleep."
Bodie thrust his bulging groin against his partner's buttocks. "Let me?"
In reply, Doyle turned in his embrace, and put his arms around his love's neck, capturing Bodie's mouth with his own, and plastering himself against the stockier body
"Ray?" Bodie breathed. He took half a step forward, knocking them both off balance so that they collapsed in a heap on the bed.
Doyle's hands slid down his arms and up his back, under his jumper, tickling and arousing him more. He thrust against the writhing body beneath him, moving his crotch against Doyle's hardened denim-clad one.
"Too fast, love. Much too fast. Let me get at you properly. Take your clothes off," Doyle panted, tugging at Bodie's sweater.
With a barely muffled groan, Bodie stood and stripped quickly, tossing his clothes aside carelessly. He eyed Doyle with some annoyance.
"What about you? I can't get at you when you're wrapped in those jeans."
Doyle lay back and gazed up at him.
"Thought you'd like to do it for me. You know, undo my flies, put your hand inside, touch me up..."
Bodie landed beside him on the bed, and kissed him ferociously, as he fumbled with the zip.
"Bloody cock-tease," he accused. "You know how to get me going."
The denim parted, and Bodie pushed it aside, delving his hand into the furnace heat at his partner's groin, fingering Doyle's swollen penis delicately. Doyle purred at his touch, and wriggled his jeans down, freeing himself completely.
Bodie kissed his lips, then made a pilgrimage across the lightly furred body to the throbbing flesh. He licked it, sucked at it, aware that he was losing what little control he had.
"Do it, Bodie," Doyle implored him.
"Tell me what you want, and I'll do it. Do anything for you..."
"Suck me. Bring me off with your mouth. Feels wonderful, having you down there."
Obediently, Bodie bent his head and took Doyle into his mouth, steadying himself with a hand on the flat belly. The other caressed and cradled Doyle's testicles, weighing them gently, treasuring the feeling of holding hi lover in his hands.
Doyle arched up delightedly, moaning his pleasure as he came. Bodie swallowed as much as he could then licked his partner clean, pressing gentle kisses to the now lax flesh, savouring the taste, the essence of Doyle.
"Bodie," the voice was barely a whisper. "Bodie, put it in me." Heavy legs parted, pleading.
"You're dry, I'll hurt you..."
"There's some stuff in your drawer. I put it there, when I tidied up for you, thought you'd get the message..."
Bodie reached to the bedside cabinet, brushing warm fur as he did so. He fished out the new tube, and returned to his place between Doyle's legs. Doyle drew his knees up to his chest, presenting himself shamelessly. Bodie's fingers were trembling as he applied the gel, smoothing the way for their loving. Doyle was begging him...He pressed his cock against the ring of muscle, expecting to meet resistance, and slid in easily in one move. He stopped, overwhelmed by the sensation of being inside Ray. All his fantasies since that fateful Thursday were here and now were real. This was RAY DOYLE, partner, friend, LOVER they were together, as one...Bode sighed deeply, pushed himself fully, his mind floating somewhere between Cloud Nine and the stratosphere.
"Bo-die!" The wail came from down below. "Please!"
Doyle wriggled frantically, and suddenly the world exploded as Bodie came great wracking waves that left him spent, wrung out, flying from surfeit of pleasure. He groaned aloud, ecstatic and frustrated, and collapsed heavily...
When he was next aware of anything, it was the tiniest caress of fingers at his temple, soothing the hair from his damp forehead, tracing the line of his brow. Bodie moved his head, turning sot that he could kiss the matted skin beneath him.
"You're conscious then," Doyle's tone was soft, teasing.
"Nghmm!" Bodie buried his face against his lover's body, snuffling drowsily.
"Was it good for you, too?"
Bodie closed his eyes and went even limper on top of him.
"Yeah, stupid question. Course it was. Could tell by your face you were on another planet. You comfortable there, sweetheart? Move up a bit so I can hold you properly."
Reluctantly, Bodie shifted a little higher and was closed in a warm embrace. Doyle hooked the bedding up awkwardly, and covered them both, wrapping the duvet round Bodie like a cocoon. He touched his lips lightly to Bodie's forehead.
"Night, love," he smiled. "Hmmm ngahh?"
"Yeah," Doyle laughed. "Whatever it is--give you anything, Bodie."
Bodie raised his sleep fuddled head, and smiled dopily at him, before passing out. Doyle closed his eyes and soon he too, was asleep.
Bodie woke slowly to find himself wrapped in strong arms. Doyle had him securely trapped under the covers and he sighed contentedly. The slight movement brought Doyle awake, and the lazy smile that greeted Bodie became a jaw-breaking yawn.
"You've even got beautiful tonsils," Bodie remarked, gazing down his lover's throat.
"Dunno what you want to borrow," Doyle snorted derisively, "but I'm broke."
"Who said I wanted to borrow anything?" Bodie pouted with mock hurt. Then he grinned smugly. "Got everything I need right here." He bowed his head and kissed Doyle's cheek, which earned him a hug. "Could stay here forever," he sighed, rubbing his cheek against a hardened nipple. "Must be heaven."
Doyle gave him a pained look.
"You feeling alright?"
Bodie blinked up at him guilelessly.
"Course I am. Why?"
"S'unlike you to be so--" he searched for the right word: affectionate soft? "romantic."
"Never made love with you before," he smiled up, a hint of colour in the normally-pale face. "Never been in love like this before, either," he admitted shyly, and he lowered his eyes, his courage having deserted him.
Doyle cuddled him delightedly.
"I love you, too. Have done for a long time, but you didn't notice. Did everything I could to get your attention except grope you, or strip off in public..." He sighed contentedly. "Was worth the wait though." He kissed the dark head softly, nosing at the damp hair.
"Glad you feel that way," said Bodie softly, "now we're engaged."
"Engaged?" Doyle chuckled. "When did we get engaged."
"Last night. I asked you to marry me."
"Is that what all the grunting was about!" Doyle laughed openly then. "I thought it was a sow in labour!"
Bodie bit him, and they began to wrestle, tossing the bedding aside and revelling in the feeling of skin on skin. Bodie rolled onto his back, pulling Doyle on top of him, wrapping arms and legs round the wiry body, before forcing him into a more-than-willing kiss. Gradually, he relaxed his hold, and Doyle's arms came around him, holding, while slender hips moved determinedly against his.
"Ray oh, yes, more...Ray please!"
Doyle groped amid the tangled sheets and located the tube. Hastily, he squeezed gel onto his fingers and lying flat on top of Bodie, he waved his hand in front of his partner's face.
"Know where I'm going to put this, don't you?"
Bodie nodded, his eyes huge and dark with desire. Doyle couldn't resist it, and dabbed a spot on the end of the snub nose.
"Doyle!" Bodie squawked. "Get on with it!" He brought one hand up to smear away the grease, and groped Doyle's rump with the other.
Doyle moved back against it, and struggled to his knees. He rubbed the lubricant the full length of his throbbing penis, deliberately provocative.
Bodie watched, fascinated. His own flesh was hard and hot, craving Doyle's touch, but he dared not move and risk ruining his partner's plans.
Doyle sat back, considering. He was pleased at the slow flush that coloured Bodie's cheeks.
Bodie was shivering with delight.
"Turn over, Bodie, so I can get at you."
Bodie wriggled onto his stomach, pressing his erection into the mattress. He jumped at the hand placed on his behind, and caught his breath when a gel-laden finger probed him. Doyle was teasing him open, pampering him, making love with his fingers....
"Kneel up, sweetheart, and spread your legs a bit more. That's it, nice and wide."
Doyle's cock brushed against Bodie's balls, and the younger man swallowed, taut with anticipation. The thick head nudged against his anus, and he pushed back as his partner shoved forward, welcoming the invasion.
"Ray!" Bodie whimpered.
"Did I hurt you?" asked Doyle anxiously.
Bodie shook his head.
"No feels wonderful." He laughed breathlessly. "You're so big--"
Doyle moved deeper, grasping Bodie firmly round the waist with one arm, and gently tortured him with his free hand. Bodie's control went within five seconds of the first stroke, and he spilled his seed over the manipulative hand, spattering himself, ashamed he hadn't been able to withstand the sweet assault.
Bodie's climax triggered Doyle's, and he flooded the tight channel, filling Bodie with his semen, gasping love-curses as he came. He fell free, and collapsed flattening Bodie. He scrambled higher so that he was covering his lover like a blanket.
"Do you know how beautiful you are?" Doyle asked him softly, kissing the nape of Bodie's neck. Tears were trickling unheeded down his cheeks, and splashed onto the shoulder beneath him.
"Ray?" Bodie tried to turn over, but couldn't muster the strength. "Wasn't it--"
"I've never been this high before," Doyle sniffed. "Dreamed about loving you, but think you might be right about heaven. I love you." He kissed away the teardrops, lapping at Bodie's shoulder, and rubbing himself sensuously along the bare back.
"Ray, shift a bit. I want to hold you."
Doyle obliged, moving as if his limbs were made of lead. Bodie rolled him into his arms, cuddling, and bestowing butterfly kisses all over Doyle's face, and murmuring soft words that Doyle only half-heard.
Doyle snuggled up, and allowed himself to be petted to sleep.
"What'll we do for the rest of the day?"
Bodie lounged against the pillows, teasing at Doyle's curls with his fingers.
"Stay here and make love," Doyle suggested, licking Bodie's nipple. "We've got a lot of time to make up."
Bodie wrinkled his nose.
"We've got eternity or, at least until they clear my flat."
Doyle looked thoughtful.
"Could go house-hunting."
"House-HAUNTING," Bodie corrected. That earned him an unsubtle nip mid-chest.
"Let's go to HQ and see when Cowley's going to send them for your gear. He took his time with my stuff we might still be here on Friday," he added hopefully.
Bodie caressed the ear nearest him.
"You're not just a pretty face," he grinned.
"Well, with my beauty, and your brains--" They both laughed. "Let's clean up, and get breakfast."
Bodie looked worried.
"Can we I mean are we allowed to like, when we were alive?"
"Nobody's said otherwise." Doyle shrugged. "When I died, I was sort of expecting to be called to some place like headquarters, and get lectured, and told where I'd gone wrong with my life."
"A debrief by St. Peter?"
Doyle laughed. "Something like that, but it was just like it was before, except I was homeless sort of, drifted, no guide-book, no instruction manual. I felt like a bloody refugee." He stopped to mouth Bodie again. "I was worried I knew you'd be lonely without me!"
"Glad you stayed around," Bodie hugged him. "Was lost without you."
"Well, you can consider yourself FOUND from now on."
"We both are," corrected Bodie. "Anywhere you are, there am I."
Doyle pushed himself out of his lover's arms.
"Romance? Poetry?" He raised an incredulous eyebrow.
Bodie grinned, and licked his lips.
They hopped the bus to Whitehall, and ambled down familiar corridors, seeing but unseen. Boyle had grown used to being invisible to the masses, but Bode was unnerved by it, until he began thinking of the practical applications. He grabbed Doyle's hand, twining their fingers firmly, and smiled self-consciously at his partner's look of surprise.
"Well, engaged people hold hands a lot, don't they?" he observed defensively.
"Death's brought out the romantic in you!" he teased.
"There's no need to be insulting," Bodie pouted, blushing a little.
Doyle pulled him to a halt outside Cowley's office. He tugged Bodie into his arms and kissed him sweetly.
"They kiss a lot, too."
Bodie relaxed into the embrace, sighing contentedly.
Inside the office, they could hear Cowley flaying some luckless person in admin.
"Shall we?" asked Doyle, jerking his head toward the closed door."
"Why not? Lead on, McScruff!"
Doyle shot him a look of love, disguised as disdain, and popped through the door.
Cowley was just hanging up he entered, and Doyle took up a position between the controller's desk and the drinks cabinet. Bodie crept to his side, suddenly ill at ease in such familiar surroundings. Murphy was seated before the old man, his face pale, accentuating the dark circles beneath the eyes. Bodie felt a surge of pity for him, on the receiving end of whatever Cowley was doling out.
"Where was I?" the controller asked. "You say there was no note? And that he gave no indication that he contemplated taking his own life?" Cowley fixed the younger man with a stare. "You were his partner, Murphy, you were closest to the man. Your evidence is of paramount importance in the enquiry."
Bodie and Doyle looked at each other, but Doyle put a finger to his lips, silencing his partner's would-be outburst: Murphy was speaking.
"He and Ray were really close. Not just colleagues, but friends almost like brothers. We all of us senior agents knew what Bodie was to Doyle, but we didn't know if it was reciprocal thing...Bodie's not a man to wear his feelings where they show..."
"Doyle's death hit him harder than he was prepared to admit?"
"Yes, sir, even to himself. He had been--" Oh, well, might as well tell it all: Bodie was dead and it couldn't make that much difference now. "He'd been crying, yesterday, when I went to collect him, and he was behaving very strangely at Doyle's on Friday."
"In what way?"
"Distracted absent-minded like he was listening out for someone."
"For Doyle." Cowley nodded. "He still hadn't accepted it then... The truth must have hit home twice as hard on Sunday..."
Murphy nodded automatically, conscious of the fact he had yet to accept BODIE was dead... He murmured quietly to himself. Doyle moved up behind him, straining to hear.
"What was that?" Cowley asked sharply.
Murphy looked sheepish.
"Just something Bodie asked me before he went home..." Seeing the quizzical eyebrow, he shrugged and continued. "I didn't think much of it at the time. He wanted to know if I believed in ghosts."
"And what did you tell him?" Cowley was looking at him curiously.
"That there's no such thing--" Murph stopped short and glanced round. A shiver ran down his spine, and Doyle blew determinedly at his neck. Bodie was almost hysterical.
The younger man shuddered again.
"Sorry, sir. It was just a draft."
Doyle stepped back to Bodie's side and kicked his partner to sober him.
"Hmm!" Cowley considered for a minute. For one awful moment, Bodie wondered if the old man had guessed could see... "I want you to take Benny, and clear Bodie's flat. I want to have it re-let by tomorrow."
"Where'll we put his gear, sir? He doesn't have a family well, not one he talks about..."
"It'll go into storage, until I can contact Doyle's family..."
"MY FAMILY!" Doyle rounded on his lover. "My family?"
"Well--" Bodie looked indignant. "You were my best mate and I always thought that I'd go first..."
Doyle raised his eyes to the ceiling, and sighed.
"Being dead's DEFINITELY made you sentimental."
"Yes sir," Murphy agreed, as he rose. The he paused, and looked at Cowley sadly. "I can't help wondering if I couldn't done something to stop him. If I--"
"No, lad, you're not to blame." Cowley rubbed a hand over tired eyes. "I was the one. I should've hauled him over to Kate Ross as soon as it happened..."
There was no answer to the sorrow in the controller's voice, and Murph gave him a half-hearted smile before leaving. Cowley went to the drinks cabinet, to fetch himself a whisky. Serious now, Bodie put out his hand to touch the old man, but once again, Doyle prevented him, and slid his arm around his partner's waist.
"Don't sunshine," he whispered. "I know you're hurting for him. So am I, but there's nothing we can do."
"There must be SOMETHING," cried Bodie. "I've got to tell him it was an accident. I don't want him to keep blaming himself for my mistakes, Ray!"
"Come away, Bodie," Doyle insisted, tightening his hold. "It won't do you any good."
Reluctantly, Bodie conceded, and he allowed himself to be pushed through the door, and hauled down the passage to the restroom, where Murphy and Benny were talking.
"...book out the estate, get some crates, and take his gear to the storage people."
"Could you hold off going over until after five?" asked Benny. "I'm waiting on one of marks to phone said he had something big for me. If he hasn't called by then, he's probably been offed, and is shakin' hands with our lads, God rest 'em!"
Murph was pondering the likelihood of either Bodie or Doyle getting to heaven.
"Benny, d'you believe in ghosts?"
The other agent met his anxious blue eyes, and blinked.
"I believe," he replied simply.
"Why? I mean, have you ever seen one?" Murphy was genuinely intrigued.
"Nope, but just because I haven't doesn't mean they don't exist. There's too many reported cases for there NOT to be something in it."
Murphy looked pensive for the moment, unconvinced.
"Benny if I die, I promise, I'll come back and haunt you specially!"
Benny laughed. "Thanks, Murphy, you're all heart!"
Bodie and Doyle beat the others back to the flat, and made a start on packing Bodie's effects. They used the boxes that Bodie had put aside in his closet, but ran out of the enthusiasm for the task before reaching the lounge. Grinning, Doyle took his partner into the bedroom and set about seducing him, stripping and scattering their clothing across the floor, before making love to him with his mouth and fingers. Unused to the exertion, Bodie fell asleep afterwards, and Doyle cat-napped comfortably beside him, basking in Bodie's body heat.
The sound of the front door opening brought Doyle to full awareness. He checked the alarm clock by the bed. Almost six o'clock. Bodie was lying face down, submerged in the duvet, still unconscious. Outside, in the living room came the muffled thud of boxes as they hit the floor, and Murph's quick reply to something Benny had said.
Doyle dressed hurriedly, and went to take up a position by the doorway, eavesdropping unashamedly.
"Is it possible to hear a ghost without seeing it?" Murphy was asking.
"People--psychics, mediums, do. Why?"
Murphy looked uncomfortable.
"Because," he glanced round automatically, "I could've sworn it was Ray Doyle who yelled that warning about the sniper."
"Maybe he did," Benny replied with mischievous grin. "They do say it happens, you know. Ghosts haunt whatever binds them to the earth."
"The people that matter to them; friends, loved ones and we know how Ray felt about Bodie..."
"Seems to me it's a waste of time." Murphy surveyed the lounge, his gaze coming to rest on the stained sofa. "I never thought he'd do anything like that...." He shivered suddenly. "To think that he was alive, that I was the last person to talk to him--"
"Feels like we're intruding, doesn't it?" Benny agreed. "Like he's going to walk in any minute, and ask us what the hell we're doing."
"Shut up, Benny."
"Can still feel his presence."
"Benny, can it!"
The lights flickered briefly, and Murphy's head jerked up sharply. Doyle noted the wary expression on the pale face and stared in disbelief: Murph afraid? Not the man who climbed mountains for a hobby, who could stare down an armed gunman...Not our Murph!
"Bloody cold in here," Benny grumbled. "S'like a flippin' morgue..."
"Shut up, Benny," Murph ordered through gritted teeth.
"And it's too quiet--"
In the bedroom, Bodie rolled over and gave a low groan.
The two agents looked at each other.
"This place is empty we've got the only keys," Benny reminded his colleague.
"Shut up, Benny, there's probably a logical explanation--"
"Like, it's haunted--"
Murph hit him hard, sending the other man crashing into the wall, almost unconscious. The noise roused Bodie, who grabbed up his clothes, and was past Doyle in an instant, dressing as he surveyed the scene. Murphy was glaring down, white faced, at the luckless operative, whose lips had split on impact with Murph's fist. He gave a low whistle of appreciation and laughed.
Murph froze at the strangely familiar sound. All his instincts told him to run and logic stating that it couldn't possibly be it because it went against his personal creed Murphy turned around slowly. Bodie was standing behind the couch, grinning.
"B- Bodie!" He stammered. "But you're dead!"
"That's no excuse for hitting a fellow operative," smirked Bodie.
He glanced at Doyle, who had crossed the room, and was now kneeling by Benny.
Doyle was shaking his head.
"He's going to have one hell of a headache tomorrow," predicted Doyle drily.
Murphy jumped at the second voice.
"Ray! Oh, Jesus, this isn't real!" He gaped at the scruffy figure on the floor. "You're both DEAD, for God's sake."
"I think he's in shock," Doyle peered over his shoulder at his partner.
"Which one?" asked Bodie helpfully. "Neither of 'em looks too bright."
Doyle glanced up at the tall agent, and sighed.
"Why don't you go and sit down, Murph, and Bodie can make us coffee while we wait for Benny to come round."
"The sofa's pretty clean," Bodie informed him sweetly.
For some reason, Murphy began to laugh.
Benny came to. He was lying in the recovery position on a bed that smelt of sex. His shoes had been removed, as had his holster and gun. He vaguely remembered being hit.
He could hear voices through the half-open door. Murph had probably dragooned some other poor bastard into helping clear Bodie's stuff... He raised his head cautiously, and concentrated on the conversation drifting through the flat...
"It was an accident--it went off in my hand," Bodie insisted.
"And now, I'm lumbered with him for eternity," Doyle concluded. He caught the gleam of amusement in his lover's eyes.
"Didn't you know it's plain stupid to put a gun to your head, whether it's loaded or not, even with the safety on?"
"Precisely what I told him," Doyle said. "Mind you, he's got the brains of a rockin' horse!" He leaned to ruffle the dark hair affectionately.
Bodie grinned gleefully.
"What d'you expect? Most of the decent stuff soaked into the cushions--"
The caress turned into a clout.
"You are DISGUSTING!" Doyle told him, with mock severity.
Murphy laughed at the expression on Bodie's face, as Doyle stacked the mugs. He left Bodie and Murphy discussing the Limehouse job. Benny appeared at the bedroom door, unnoticed.
"We searched that place splinter by splinter, but it's my guess they moved the cache to several smaller safe- houses..."
"You shouldn't be discussing the case, Murph, it's..." Benny's voice trailed off, as the man on the settee turned to look at him.
Bodie was smirking.
"You look like you've just seen a ghost, mate. Come and sit down." He patted the space beside him. "S'okay, someone's cleaned up all the gore..."
Benny sidled nervously around the end of the couch and sat.
"Four coffees," Murphy called out to Doyle, "and make 'em strong!"
Benny was rubbing his tender jaw.
"What are you doing here?"
Bodie looked affronted.
"I live here."
Murph stifled a grin.
"Not anymore you don't!"
Doyle ambled through, laden with coffee-mugs, smiled nonchalantly at Benny, and said, "Oh, welcome to the land of the living." He set the drinks down on the table and went to join the other's on the sofa.
Murphy took note of how close the two ex-agents were sitting to one another, Doyle's denim-clad thigh brushing Bodie's corduroyed one. There was an air of contentment about them, which he put down to their having adjusted to their new state of existence.
"Benny's wondering why we're still around," Bodie sagged back against the sofa closing his eyes.
Doyle looked thoughtful, as he reached for his coffee.
"Dunno. I mean, I stayed because someone had to keep an eye on you." He glanced fondly at his other half. "But we still don't know why we're both here."
"Unless it's Cowley," Bodie grunted. "Hadn't thought of that before." He sat up, and opened his eyes.
Doyle considered, and Murph nodded in agreement.
"The Cow's got a soft spot for both of you. He was really upset yesterday. He had us over this place three times, looking for a suicide not--"
"It was an accident!" yelled Bodie, half-rising.
Doyle put a restraining hand on his thigh.
"Sit down. They know, but you'll have a job convincing the old man."
"All we could actually do is point out there was no note, and that you've had other partners shot--you never tried anything like it before."
"They weren't Ray," Bodie spoke without thinking, and hastily qualified his statement. "I got used to having this annoying little bugger around, that's all..."
"Ah," Doyle sighed dramatically, "what it is to be cherished!"
Bodie glared at him.
"Where will you go now?" Benny asked. "We've got orders to clear this place tonight--the new tenants are moving in tomorrow. You can't stay here and haunt them."
"Doesn't seem quite right," Murphy agreed, "especially when you don't know them."
"It's a bit sudden," protested Doyle. "Bodie hasn't even been buried yet!"
"By the way," Bodie demanded, "when is it?"
"What?" Benny queried.
"Friday morning. Murph and I'll be going pay our last respects and so on. What about you two?"
The ex-operatives looked at each other.
"Don't want to miss your own send-off, do you?" Doyle stated, with a wry expression.
"We'll be there in spirit!"
Murphy howled, and set Bodie off, and soon both men were helpless with laughter. Doyle put on his we-are-not- amused face, and scowled at them. Bodie did his best to appear suitably chastened, and dabbed at his eyes with his sleeve.
"Still doesn't solve our accommodation problem," Doyle reminded them. "We're staying here for the night, but after that..."
"Safe-houses," suggested Benny. "If you come into headquarters, you'll know which ones are likely to be vacant, and you can move in any time."
"Brilliant!" yelled Doyle.
Bodie pouted. "And what happens if there's an eleventh hour call, and we have to shift?"
"It's better than living on the streets," Doyle observed.
"And it's warm and dry," added Murphy.
"So's the crematorium, but I wouldn't move in there!" snapped Bodie.
Sensing that they would get nowhere with Bodie in this mood, the others finished their coffee, and allowed Doyle to usher them out: Bodie went off to bed to sulk.
Doyle hurried back, and stripped, diving in beside him. He slid his arms around the rigid figure.
"It wouldn't be for long," he cajoled.
"Only for an eternity," Bodie grouched, refusing to give in.
"Most of the safe-houses have double-beds," Doyle remarked seductively. He pulled Bodie close, and kissed naked shoulders.
"So?" Bodie wriggled, enjoying his partner's method of persuasion.
"We'll look around for a flat, that has a king-sized bed, and large shower then we can play around as much as we like..." Doyle pressed himself against Bodie's back, coaxing with his whole body. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?"
"Something else I'd like right now," mumbled Bodie, and he pushed back, reaching to hold the wiry body to him.
Doyle grinned, nipped Bodie's ear playfully, and gave his lover what he wanted.
Murph and Benny came to collect Bodie's things the following morning, and offered them a ride to HQ before driving down to the storage depot.
Walking the old corridors hand-in-hand, they discussed the easiest method of transport, now that neither them was entitled to a car.
"Hopping buses--already done that," said Bodie.
"Takes too long. Tube's better," Doyle decided, "or plain old Shanks's pony."
"Ray, what about people seeing us. Murph saw me immediately, but he didn't know you were there till you went to see Benny." There was a note of puzzlement in his voice.
Doyle stopped to consider for a while.
"I think it was because you WANTED Murph to see you, but I didn't at first."
"So all I have to do is decide I want to be seen?"
"Well, it helps if your victim is in a receptive mood..."
"Murph said he didn't believe in ghosts," protested Bodie.
"DIDN'T being the operative word. Think we've made him a believer now." Doyle winked at him, and started walking. "Come on, we've got to see man about a house."
The duty-room had a list of accommodations held by CI5 for use 'by permission, or persons considered at risk or imminent danger of assassination, or kidnapping'. Both men pored over the information and decided on a flat in Soho.
"Just as long," grumbled Bodie, "as some flamin' diplomat doesn't turf us out while we're doing a bit of delicate negotiating of our own."
Doyle shook his head.
"Life couldn't be THAT cruel!"
Friday morning was dull, and grey: Ideal funeral weather, thought Murph as he parked his car behind Cowley's red Granada. He glanced across at his companion, who was smiling lopsidedly.
"Do you suppose they'll come?" asked Benny as they got out.
"Can't see them passing up a chance to watch his exit!"
They walked together up the path, talking softly. Ahead of them were several other squad members, also dressed sombrely, as befitting the occasion. They filed into the church where a fortnight before they had paid their last respects to Bodie's partner. Two deaths in two weeks in one family....
Murphy was surprised to see that the building was crowded: Bodie had been popular with his workmates in CI5 but there were people whom Murphy had never seen before in his life. He and Benny found themselves a place in one of the rear pews and scanned the occupants. Benny caught this sleeve and whispered.
"Can't see them yet, can you?"
"They'll be here," Murphy assured. "They're probably with the body."
"I just can't believe it. I mean, we were--"
A tap on his shoulder shut him up, and made both agents look round. Jax was in the row behind, looking very solemn.
"This is a funeral, Benny. It's no laughing matter."
Benny hung his head suitably chastised, and Murph jumped into the breach between the.
"Who are all these people, Jax? I know that Bodie had a few mates but this...looks like half of London turned out to see him off."
"Cowley's idea. A lot of them are Bodie's old army pals. His unit was going on block leave when they heard through the grape-vine..." He pointed to aloof-looking individual who was standing beside the controller. "His old CO, Major Nairn. Sergeant McKay is one of the pall- bearers..." Jax's voice faltered. "It doesn't seem possible...I can take Ray getting shot in the line of duty but Bodie committing suicide--"
"HE DIDN'T!" Murphy and Benny spoke together.
Jax frowned at them.
"There was no note and Bodie's methodical enough to've left one," Benny said quickly.
"And if he'd meant to off himself, he'd've done a cleaner job of it. Bodie didn't commit suicide." Murphy snorted indignantly. "I should know, he was MY partner!"
"Wish they'd hurry," murmured Benny, turning to scan the crowd again.
The door opened at the end of the aisle and the whole congregation rose as one as the pall-bearers carried their burden towards the alter.
Murphy knew Macklin and Jack Crane, and placed the stocky SAS Sergeant. The fourth took a moment longer: Benny Marsh had lost weight since his days behind bars. He looked miserable...
The coffin was placed slowly on the trestles, and it suddenly became a very serious affair. They stood, and sat as directed by the priest, and listened to a potted history of their fellow agent in dutiful silence.
"Bloody hell, you WERE a busy little sod!"
Murphy zeroed in on the voice which came from a pew on the far side. Bodie and Doyle had arrived, and both were on the only unoccupied bench in the whole church.
Bodie was going a very fetching shade of pink, and he caught Murph's eye, mouthing a message see you outside, next hymn.
When the assembly stood, two minutes later, Murphy plucked at Benny's sleeve, and they eased their way from the narrow seat, bolting for the exit with as much dignity as they could muster. For some reason he could never explain, Jax followed, under cover of the chorus. Outside, he glanced round, and heard Murphy interrogating someone.
"The bus was caught in a traffic jam."
A third, familiar voice joined the conversation.
"Then Goldilocks here gets us on the wrong line and we end up in bloody BRIXTON..."
"Look, I said I was sorry. You reckoned it'd be dead boring anyway funerals always are..."
"At least I had the decency to be on time at yours!"
Jax knew those voices...he walked towards the blind side of the church.
"You didn't miss much," Benny was assuring the late- comers. "Major Nairn got up, said a few words..."
"None of them complimentary, I'll bet," chuckled Doyle drily. "Did you really do all those things?"
"That was only the operations they knew about. I could tell you stories..." Bodie stopped. "No, your hair's curly enough, sunshine!"
Jax rounded the corner and stopped, gaping at the scene before him: Benny was leaning against the church-wall, and Murph was pacing the tiny strip of lawn. Doyle was stretched out on the grass at Bodie's feet, in danger of a dig in the ribs.
Jax swallowed, choking back the sudden tears.
"Would somebody please tell me what's going on?"
Bodie was getting bored. They had been at the flat in Soho for less than a week, and he was getting restless. Doyle couldn't help but notice, and in an effort to alleviate the situation, he suggested they drop by headquarters to have a chat with Murph, or Jax, or Benny.
Jax and Benny were out, busy on an undercover drugs case, and Murphy was up to his neck chasing the latest IRA cell to hit the city. There had been several house- raids already, all drawing blanks as far as clues and leads went: Murph and the rest of the lads were almost at the point of exhaustion.
"I think we should give 'em a hand," Doyle told his other half.
Bodie's eyes were aglow, the challenge of the hunt, the thrill of the chase. Doyle was delighted to have found a way to keep his lover happy.
"We'll call on young Murph tonight," Bodie decided, "and offer our services."
"Not ALL our services," Doyle grinned, crooking a mischievous eyebrow at his partner.
Bodie leered and kissed him.
"Just the public ones. He can go and find his own bit of stuff for private functions."
But Murphy wasn't at home, and they took themselves to HQ to check the duty-board.
"House-obbo, Mile End," Bodie announced glumly. "Shall we call in and relieve the monotony for him?"
Doyle's grin was answer enough.
They caught the next bus up from Trafalgar Square, and grumbled about the traffic, and about the crowds on the public transport. Bodie sighed exasperatedly and leaned back against Doyle, closing his eyes.
"There has to be a quicker way of getting--"
The note of alarm in Doyle's voice brought him to full attention immediately. His eyes snapped open. They were standing in a doorway down a dark alley off the main thoroughfare.
"Ray! What happened?" he gasped. "Where are we?"
Doyle edged forward to the end of the alley-way and looked around. His face broke into a grin. Bodie followed him closely.
"This is Mile End," Doyle informed him. "How the HELL did you do that?"
"Do what? One minute I'm on the bus, waiting for the conductor to walk through me, the next--"
"What did you do?"
"I leaned against you, and closed my eyes."
"Then what happened?" Doyle interrogated him ruthlessly. "Think, Bodie!"
"I told you I thought there had to be a quicker way of getting here."
"Well, let's try it!"
Bodie was lost.
"Doing what you did teleportation, or whatever it is now!"
He pulled Bodie against him, and they both closed their eyes. This is STUPID thought Bodie.
"There has to be a quicker way of getting to CI5 HQ." Doyle chose randomly.
Totally idiotic, Bodie continued, and he opened his eyes, but stayed in Doyle's arms. They were still standing in the alley.
Doyle was furious, and released him to start pacing back and forth, one hand buried in his ragged curls.
"What else Bodie? There has to be something else. What did you think when you did what you did?"
Bodie's face coloured a little, something that Doyle had no difficulty noticing despite the gloom between the buildings.
"Was wondering what Murph'd say if I turned up holding your hand, or cuddling you."
"MURPH! Of course, you home in on people, not places. Who'd be at headquarters this late?"
"Oh, Betty, Benny, maybe...Lucas, or Mac--"
"Betty. Come on, sunshine, let's try again." Doyle grabbed him firmly round the waist and closed his eyes. When he opened them, they were still facing each other, and the alley-way was darker.
"SHIT!" Doyle squealed in frustration.
"Ah, Ray, don't worry..." Bodie pulled him close and hugged him, wishing he knew just what it was that had caused the first shift. He closed his eyes and sighed cuddling Doyle unashamedly. For a moment, Doyle relaxed against him, but then he felt the wiry body stiffen, and push away from him. He opened his eyes...
They were standing in Betty's office and the door to Cowley's room stood ajar, giving them a partial view of their boss seated at his desk, working through a stack of folders. Out of sight in his office, they could hear Betty moving around.
"How did you do that?" Doyle demanded in a furious whisper.
"I didn't do anything!" protested Bodie.
"Did you say something, sir?"
They both jumped, hearing Betty's voice on the other side of the door.
They both jumped, hearing Betty's voice on the other side of the door.
"She can hear us!" Doyle breathed. "Christ!"
"No, Betty, that will be all for today, thank you."
"I've prepared the minutes for the Minister's meeting tomorrow, and Sir Evan Wallace is still requesting that you join him for lunch at his club."
"That pompous auld..." Cowley sighed, and smiled sadly. "Aye, I may as well. Am I free tomorrow?"
"Between twelve forty-five, and half-past one, sir."
They heard the smile in her voice.
Bodie murmured softly to his partner.
"Did you really with Betty, I mean?"
Doyle assumed an expression of superior dignity.
"A gentlemen never tells." The gleam in his eyes gave him away.
"Trust you, randy little sod--" and Bodie made to swipe him.
The door moved slightly under the secretary's hand and Bodie grabbed his mate to haul him back, only to find there was nowhere to hide.
"I'll put it in the diary, sir," Betty was speaking, her eyes on the controller as she left Cowley's room. Pulling the door shut behind her, she turned, and stopped gaping at the two figures who were standing beside her desk, like a pair of overgrown school-boys.
"Hello, Bett, love," smiled the more dishevelled of the two.
She swallowed nervously, and found that her knees had gone weak.
"Ray? Ray Doyle?"
"Yeah," he grinned sheepishly. "S'me. Nice to see you again--" his voice trailed awkwardly.
"What are you doing back here? I mean, oh, heck I--damn it, Ray--" She reached for the edge of her desk for support, and the next minute found herself sitting in the chair, with a cup of coffee being urged on her by a smiling Bodie. Doyle draped himself on the corner of her table.
Betty's fingers brushed against Bodie's as she accepted the drink, and she was startled by their warmth--weren't ghosts supposed to cold and clammy...? The tears she hadn't shed before began to flow. Bodie picked up a handful of tissues and offered them, a multi-coloured posy from one unsure of his welcome.
"Oh, thanks, Bodie." Betty accepted them gratefully, and dabbed at her eyes. "It's just such a shock seeing you both--"
Bodie looked up, eyes glinting with mischief, and ran an appraising glance over his partner.
"HE'D be enough to frighten Macklin into fits--" he teased, knowing full well Doyle wouldn't let the insult pass.
He didn't, and in a moment, Betty was in the middle of a strangely familiar verbal battlefield, enjoying every second of the affectionate sparring. It was ended abruptly by the intercom. Betty reduced her grin to manageable proportions before answering.
"Have Lucas and McCabe left yet?" Cowley asked.
"They went off-duty ten minutes ago, sir."
"Get hold of them, and tell them to get to Mile End. It looks as if we're on to something..."
Bodie and Doyle looked at each other, and nodded. Betty was picking up the phone, and caught the fleeting message that passed between them.
"You CAN'T!" She said indignantly.
Bodie winked at her.
He grabbed Doyle's arm, and pushed him through the door.
"And don't forget to call Lucas and Mac," Doyle added.
Betty shook her head impatiently, and glanced down to dial the number: when she looked up again, they had both vanished.
Murph gazed at the house as if he were mesmerized. He had been sitting in the same place for three hours before two men arrived. One was carrying a briefcase that looked extremely heavy, and both were armed with ill-concealed hand-guns. Murph's new partner, Williams, had put a priority call through to Cowley, requesting more men. Probably get the top team, Lucas and McCabe but they would have to contend with city traffic.
Now, as he watched, Murphy gasped and swore as two more figures ambled nonchalantly down the road, laughing and chatting to one another. Fifty yards from the target house, they went into a familiar stance, flattening themselves against the walls, and edging forward cautiously. Murphy strained to watch, his expression a mixture of relief, amazement, and worry.
"I just don't believe this," he muttered quietly.
Williams came to Murph's shoulder, still masked from general view by the lank curtains of the room.
"The Old Man's sending back-up. Lucas, Mac, and the night shift when they get in." He spoke quietly, reflecting the mood of the evening at that moment. "Wish old Bodie and Doyle were still alive.."
Murph stopped himself in time, and smiled. If you only KNEW...they're out there now, though God only knows what they're playing at.
Williams went to sit on the bed, and checked his weapon, while Murph kept an eye on the house opposite. Bodie and Doyle had disappeared.
The RT bleeped, and Williams acknowledged.
"Any movement yet?"
Murphy shook his head, and his partner relayed the message.
"We don't know how many, or who. Two armed for sure the rest we'd have to guess at--"
"Lucas and McCabe will be with you in two minutes. Move into position Williams, up front with Murphy, the others at the rear..."
Williams confirmed their instructions, and punched Murphy's shoulder lightly as he went out.
"Good luck, mate."
"See you in the bar," grinned Murph.
"And if you're there first," added a familiar cheeky voice, "you get 'em in!"
Murph recoiled sharply from the window.
"Bodie!" he squawked.
The other agent was smirking manically.
"What're you doing here?"
Bodie's gaze rested on the front of the house.
"Thought we'd come and give you a hand. Ray's keeping tabs on them. They're at the back of the building, and they're armed to the teeth..." He proceeded to give Murphy the details he needed. "And," Bodie concluded, "they are Irish."
A moment later, Murphy was moving into position, not too far from Williams. Bodie stayed with him.
"I think we can manage without you," Murphy smiled. "Thanks for the info, though, mate."
Bodie looked uneasy.
"If it's all the same to you, I'd like to stay. I'm not happy about this one, I'll have a word with Ray..."
"Keep your head down," Murphy advised him, automatically.
Bodie looked amused.
"You, too, sunshine," he murmured before vanishing.
Only afterwards did the other agent realise what he'd said, and he stifled a laugh at his own forgetfulness. He settled down to wait, and glanced across at Williams to find his colleague watching him curiously.
Bodie appeared a minute later.
"You'd better do something, Murph, 'cos they're about to move."
"Cowley," the other man protested, but Bodie had pushed his ex-partner's thumb onto the transmit button of the hand-held and giving orders to close in. He shoved Murphy in the direction of the front door...
The wood panelling split under the lethal kick. Murph and Williams burst into the house microseconds apart. Williams made for the first door on the left, but his partner yelled.
"S'clear! They're all out back--" and Murph went haring into the kitchen. Williams automatically followed, and they were there, ready to help Lucas hold the five men they found in the room.
"There should be six of them," growled Murphy.
"One of 'em took off. Mac's gone after 'im," Lucas told them.
"Williams, you stay and keep Lucas company, we'll go after the last one."
Murph dashed into the scrubby garden and looked round.
"That way." Bodie pointed towards the back lane.
Murph sprinted to the fence and vaulted over it, and Bodie raced straight through it, earning himself a look of annoyance from erstwhile colleague. Doyle was half- way up the road, waving at them frantically. They hurried to him.
"What is it?" Bodie's voice was taut with worry.
"Mac's been hurt. The Mick turned on him he's up here." Doyle led them into an alley that smelled of dog and tom-cat.
McCabe was lying in the recovery position, his head pillowed on his jacket. There was a vicious looking would on his left temple, and a bruising on his jaw.
"What about you, sunshine?" Bodie asked.
Doyle wrinkled his nose.
"Went straight through me," he snorted, laying a reassuring hand on his partner's arm.
Murphy was kneeling by McCabe and speaking into the RT when the man on the ground gave a low moan and tried to move.
Doyle was down with him in a moment, on Mac's blind side, holding him still with one hand.
"Stay still, mate," he ordered softly. "The ambulance is on it's way."
Mac mumbled incoherently and passed out again.
The radio bleeped.
"6.2. Go ahead."
"6.2., report to Alpha One immediately. Out." The Scot's anger was tangible even over the buzz of background static.
"Oops," said Bodie. "I think the Old Man's annoyed with you, mate!"
"No thanks to you, I suppose," Murph sighed, eyeing Bodie ruefully.
Bodie smiled sweetly in return and shrugged.
"Either you follow orders or you catch the gang. Cowley'd understand that. He's just narked 'cos he missed the action."
Murphy had to admit that Bodie was probably right.
The wail of the ambulance in the distance reminded them that they should be on their way soon. Murph got to his feet, knowing he would have to see Mac safely aboard before answering Cowley's summons. Bodie went to the street to wait and when the vehicle came to halt, he escorted the crew to their fallen colleague.
Doyle elected to go with McCabe to fill in the details at the hospital, and Bodie arranged to meet him there as soon as he and Murph were finished at the house. The ambulance wandered off down the road, leaving Murph and Bodie standing. Bodie gave his ex-partner a shove and they jogged back to the building.
"You'll need an arms expert to go over that lot," Bodie told him. "If you can keep the Cow out of my hair, I'll have a look before the forensic blokes move in. Then I'll have a chat with a few old friends.."
Murphy slowed to a walk.
"Why are you doing this? I'm grateful, but why?"
Bodie stopped completely, considering the question.
"Don't know." He started to walk again. "Or, maybe I do. We've lost so many good men in the past through having to wait and go through 'appropriate channels' red tape, civil rights for the offender that used to piss me off. In the jungle it was straight forward: you got them before they thought about getting you. That was Cowley's ideal fighting fire with fire, using criminal methods against criminal minds... We're just trying to give our side a bit more of an edge..."
"It's more subtle than going in mob-handed."
Bodie laughed outright.
"Why d'you think he teamed me with bionic golly? Ray's my conscience: I'm his vengeful alter ego. We complement one another workwise, that is," he added hastily.
"Bodie the philosopher or is it psychiatrist yet?" teased Murph. "Ray's bad habits have rubbed off on you."
Bodie looked insulted.
"I bloody well hope not!"
They had reached the house, and Bodie gazed at it almost longingly before he spoke.
Murphy punched his shoulder lightly and led the way in.
Williams was in the hallway waiting for him, a buffer between his partner and the controller. He caught a fleeting glimpse of the other figure just as it darted up the stairs, and then Murph was in front of him, asking where he could find Cowley.
Williams jerked his head towards the kitchen. Where else would the Old Man be but up-front with the rest of the team. Murphy brushed by him, and Williams frowned. He cast a steady look up the stairs again, wondering who Murphy's shadow had been. McCabe had been taken off to the hospital, so... Without realising, he counted the steps silently, gun held at the ready. He moved cautiously from the door to door, peering through cracks, listening intently, scanning each room in turn. The door to the main bedroom was open, and Williams' approach would be masked by the noise from downstairs.
He was crouching over a pile of packages long thick parcels rifle-sized. All Williams could see was a dark haired muscular figure in a leather jacket and black slacks. As he watched the man straightened, and spoke.
"I'd put money on those being part of the Limehouse shipment, Murph."
"And what would you know about--" Williams stopped as the figure turned to face him. "FUCKIN' HELL!" The gun which he had brought to bear, wavered and dropped.
"Bodie? What's going on?"
Bodie grinned at his disquiet.
"Come to give you the benefit of my experience. Course," he continued, "if you don't want me around, I'll go and haunt someone else instead."
"No don't go," Williams spoke hastily. "It's just--" he laughed nervously--"never expected to see you." He stowed his gun in its holster, and came into the room slowly. "Murph knows?"
"Well, he would," Bodie chuckled, "being my partner."
Williams plucked up the courage to move closer, and ran an appraising eye over his erstwhile colleague.
"Must admit, you look happy enough for a dead man."
He put out a tentative finger, and touched warm solid- seeming muscle. Prodded the arm. Bodie slapped his hand hard.
"Rude to poke."
"S-sorry. I've never met a ghost before," Williams excused himself.
"Well, get used to it," Bodie told him. "We'll be hanging around a lot from now on."
"Doyle," Murph announced from the doorway, "and Bodie have decided to help us unofficially, of course."
"DOYLE!" Williams shook his head and laughed. "I should've known. Where is he?"
"Went with Mac to the hospital," Murph pushed himself off the wall, "Have you had a look at this lot yet?"
"See what forensics make of it." He met his former partner's eyes. "Was it bad with Cow, I mean?"
The slight change in Murph's expression told him his friend wouldn't discuss it in front of the other man. From below, Cowley's voice demanded Murphy's presence and that of his partner.
"See you later, mate," he promised, as he turned to go.
Bodie watched them descent the stairs, and smiled wryly.
Bodie went to collect his partner from the hospital. Doyle was hanging round in the waiting area, fretting visibly. Bodie was instantly alert.
"Is it Mac?"
"Mac's okay. He's in a private ward, probably be out tomorrow."
"Then why didn't you come back to the house?"
"Couldn't," mumbled Doyle, face colouring slightly. "Had to wait for you to collect me."
"You don't need me to--" Bodie stopped, and gawped at his partner, amused.
"Don't start," Doyle warned him. "We can't all be smart arses like you!"
"You still don't know.." Bodie chuckled. "I don't believe it!"
Doyle fumed under his partner's jeering.
"I'm warning you, Bodie," he glared up, raising his fist.
Bodie did try badly to conceal his humour. He placed one hand over Doyle's, and risked a quick touch of his lips to the curls.
"And you can cut that out, as well. If anyone sees us..."
Bodie grabbed his wrist, and hauled him to his feet. He put his arms around the slim waist, and kissed Doyle on the lips.
"Bodie, you friggin' berk--" Doyle struggled free, glaring about him. "You--" They were standing in Murphy's living room.
"Well?' asked Bodie smugly. "Murphy wanted to see us later, so here we are. He'll probably be a couple of hours yet you know, reports to write, then going to see Mac--what SHALL we do to amuse ourselves while he's away?" He quirked an enquiring eyebrow.
"I ought to punch you through the wall," snapped Doyle, trying to retain his anger. He seized Bodie round the waist, and crowded close, capturing Bodie's mouth with his.
"I think," Bodie decided, when they surfaced for air, "that I'd like to make love to you..." He tugged Doyle down to the couch, and relieved him of his clothing. His own joined Doyle's on the floor seconds later, and he set to work with a will, pleasuring with hands and mouth. He left his lover writhing and incoherent as he entered, burying himself deep in the tender-hard body beneath him. Doyle's squirming finished him, and he came fast, wringing out every last drop for the man under him, then falling forward to lie deadweight on the slender-slick check[chest? Cheek?], vaguely ware of Doyle's legs locking over his, to hold him between parted thighs. He buried his face against Doyle's warm neck. He was asleep in a moment, relaxing solidly on top of his lover.
Doyle clasped his arms around Bodie's ribs, shifted to make himself more comfortable, and hoped they would have time for a nap before Murphy came home: Cowley would want a detailed report of the operation as soon as possible meaning Murph would be stuck at Headquarters for at least an hour, while he and Williams collated their stories, and checked their spelling. Doyle smiled at the thought of escaping the one aspect of the job he hated--the PAPERWORK. Bodie was lying warm and heavy on top of him... Doyle closed his eyes and fell asleep, dreaming contentedly...
The sound of the key in the door woke him but he couldn't move: Bodie had effectively pinned him to the sofa, and he was stuck. Doyle tried shaking him awake, but with a grunt, he shifted only a fraction of an inch before snuggling down again. The front door was opening. Christ if Murph caught them like this--Doyle closed his Eyes. I wish we'd gone back to the safe-house. We could've done it in a proper bed, and nobody would've walked in on us... He opened his eyes, and stared up at the familiar ceiling. Bodie was still out cold nothing to do but brazen it out, thought Doyle, as he turned to face the door...of the safe-house bedroom.
He blinked and gazed about as much as he could, given that Bodie was still hampering his movements. He'd DONE it! They were lying in the double bed they had shared since Bodie's eviction. Doyle looked at his hands, still firmly grasping the pile of clothes on Murph's floor. He had done it!
Grinning, he gave Bodie an almighty push which sent him to his own side of the bed, waking him. Doyle rolled to the edge of the mattress, and sat up, wincing a little as he did so; Bodie had had him well and truly, and he was painfully aware of the ache in his lower back and the tenderness of his behind. A shower would take care of the worst of it... He glanced fondly at this lover, who was sprawling on the bed, exhausted and vulnerable to anything Doyle wished to do to him. For a moment, he was tempted to rape Bodie as he lay, but a look at the angelic face--Doyle smiled and crawled to his side. He buried his face in the curly hair at Bodie's groin, and worked his way up the pale body, leaving a trail of kisses from crotch to throat. Bodie heaved a sleepy sigh and smiled.
"Hello, lover," he greeted Doyle with eager hands and gentle mouth. "Isn't Murph back yet?"
"Yeah, he is, so I had to get us out of there fast."
Bodie took in his surrounds.
"This isn't Murph's!"
Doyle looked smug.
"No, it's not. Come on, mate. Let's get showered, and we can go back and talk to him..."
Washed and dressed, they returned to Murphy's apartment, 'letting' themselves into the lounge. Murph was in the kitchen when they appeared, and one second was long enough to tell that there was something wrong.
"Alright, what happened? What did the Old Man say to you?" demanded Doyle.
Murph waved them to the sofa.
"I've been suspended."
"WHAT!" Both men looked at him in disbelief and horror. "Why?"
"Cowley had already taken a verbal statement from Lucas when we got back. He wanted to know how I knew there were six armed men in the house, when Williams had just told him we didn't know how many there were." He chuckled mirthlessly, "I couldn't exactly tell him that you'd ambled up and whispered to me. I'd've been laid out on Kate Ross' sofa by now..."
"We didn't think..." Bodie began softly.
"Murph, if there's anything we can do..." Doyle added.
The younger man shook his head.
"But thanks for the offer." He eyed his companions carefully. "How goes it with you two?"
"What's to say--we're living in constant fear of eviction. There's an African heads of state visit soon, isn't there, so we'll probably be made homeless again," Bodie told him.
"I'm sorry, mate," Murphy commiserated. "I would've suggested moving in here, but it'd be too crowded, and you'd have to fight for who gets the couch."
Bodie and Doyle looked at one another, and Doyle grinned.
"If we thought you meant it, we'd be over in a flash."
"I wouldn't even argue about the sofa, he can have it," Bodie agreed.
"As long as neither of you snores," Murph smiled, "it's settled."
"When can we move in?" Bodie asked eagerly.
"Looks like you already have," Murph replied, as Doyle leaned back carefully, and closed his eyes.
"What about getting a bottle or three in, to celebrate?" suggested Bodie. "We can leave the older generation to catch on his beauty sleep--"
"I thought ghosts didn't need anything as mundane as food and drink," laughed Murphy.
"Nobody's told us otherwise yet," Doyle responded, opening his eyes lazily. "Mind you," he continued with a meaningful glance at his partner, "it's force of habit with SOME people."
"Wine, women and song the spice of life," Bodie protested in suitably hurt tones.
"For a ghost?" Murphy raised a disbelieving eyebrow.
"Well, maybe not all three," Bodie conceded. He ruffled Doyle's curls affectionately. "But I'm still drinking and I'm still singing!"
Murphy laughed as he got to his feet. He recovered his jacket from the back of the armchair, and jerked his head towards the door.
"There's a wine shop round the corner..."
Bodie stood up, smiled down at Doyle who swung himself into the space left by his partner, and grinned at their colleague.
"We'll have to owe it to you, mate..."
Murphy came to in the small hours of the morning, bladder bursting, and decided to make the brief sortie to the bathroom, praying that he wouldn't disturb his guests. He negotiated the obstacle course in his lounge, aided by the reflection of a street-lamp, relieved himself and then decided it wouldn't do any harm to check on his lodgers. Doyle was buried under a blanket on the settee, but God only knew where Bodie was... Perhaps he's gone out for wander... Cautiously, he approached the sofa to peer at Doyle in the half-hearted glow. The light was throwing his face into shadow, but as he drew near, the sleeper shifted restlessly, and Murphy had to smile: Bodie had obviously prevailed upon his partner's inbuilt sense of justice to let HIM have the couch for the night. In which case, where was Doyle?
The covers shifted again, as Bodie moved, causing him to mumble in his sleep. A hand appeared and shoved the edge of the blanket back.
"Can't breathe," Doyle complained drowsily, and he buried his face at Bodie's chest, as one large hand came up to tangle in his sweat-damp curls.
Murph couldn't help smiling as he watched them settle down. He gazed at Bodie's face, noting that the worry lines had eased in sleep, and how he had Doyle wrapped protectively...it crossed his mind that Bodie may've been lying--that he might have contemplated suicide after Doyle's death but Doyle would've stopped him, of that Murphy had no doubt...
"Still, you got what you wanted in the end, Ray..."
Murphy backed away slowly, and returned to his own room.
Bodie had taken himself off for a walk the following morning, which left Murph free to speak to Doyle about the sleeping arrangements.
"It doesn't bother me, what you two get up to. You're both over twenty-one. But it'd get a bit embarrassing if I walk in with a bird and you two are having it away on the sofa."
"You want us to leave?" asked Doyle.
"No, I don't. What I'm suggesting is a two-bedroom flat, so that we can all get our oats in private. It's been on the cards that I'm due for another change of apartment, anyway, so if we could fix it with the admin. People..." Murphy's voice trailed off, as Doyle's grin grew broader.
"You leave that part of it to me, Murph," he beamed. "I'll pull a few strings, see what we can come up with..."
When Bodie got back, Murph retired to the kitchen to give them time to discuss the proposal, and when he brought the coffee through, he knew that Bodie had agreed to it. All they had to do, Bodie pointed out, was sneak the plan past Cowley...
Doyle went into HQ later that day, hoping to catch Betty during her lunch hour. He timed it to perfection: Cowley had just left for his appointment with Sir Evan Wallace, and most of the squad was out on the streets sniffing hard, being alert, as Cowley had intended they should be. Betty was typing up some letters on the forthcoming security seminar when he arrived.
She looked up, startled, and smiled as she realised who had parked himself on the edge of her desk.
"Betty, love," he began, "I need a favour..."
She listened in silence as he explained the problem. When he'd finished, she regarded him gravely.
"I can't make any promises, Ray. But I'll do my best."
"Bett, you're wonderful," Doyle told her. "We'll owe you one."
"Mr. Cowley's away this weekend, at the seminar, I'll put the requests through on Friday. Can I reach you at Murphy's?"
"Bodie and I'll be in every day. We're helping Williams and Murph follow up on the IRA cell."
"Lucas is doing that while his partner's off sick."
This was news to Doyle.
"I thought they said that McCabe was being released today. Surely, he'll be fit enough for office duties?"
"Apparently, there was some disagreement between them when Lucas went to collect him this morning, and Mr. Cowley's split them up as a temporary measure. Lucas swears that his partner was hallucinating."
"Why?" asked Doyle, with a feeling of foreboding.
"McCabe says that Lucas was with him in the ambulance, and Lucas denies it. Neither of them, is prepared to admit they might be wrong."
Doyle heaved a sigh, and his hand went to the ragged curls.
"That's my fault I went with Mac. I gave the hospital all his details, not Lucas." He made his decisions. "When Lucas comes in, ask him to wait, and I'll have a word with him. He may as well know about Bodie and me... Where's Mac?"
"He's in the canteen, waiting for Mr. Cowley to get back."
"I need a witness. Is Williams around?"
"Try the duty room," suggested Betty.
With a smile, and one brief chaste kiss for her cheek, Doyle vanished.
McCabe had his nose buried in the racing form when they walked in. He looked up, acknowledged Williams with a curt nod, and returned his attention to the horses. Williams bought himself a cup of coffee from the vending machine, and came over to sit with the other agent. Doyle took up station behind McCabe.
"How's the head?" Williams asked.
"Fine." Mac was lying, and all three of them knew it.
Williams took his cue off Doyle.
"I heard you and Lucas had a difference of opinion."
"If we did, it's none of your business."
"You could've been mistaken, you know about Lucas in the ambulance," Williams wasn't making a very good job of this.
"He's the only one on the squad with curly hair, except for Jax--" snapped the other agent.
Doyle was leaning over McCabe now, studying the paper.
"Four o'clock at Towcester Beyond Belief Looks good," he mused aloud.
McCabe shot out of his chair, and turned, wild-eyed. Doyle had the paper, and was going through the list of horses.
"Celtic Lord, that's one for Cowley Jolly Piper, oh-- Guardian Angel--" he looked up grinning. "How d'you fancy that one, Williams?"
"Gambling's a mug's game," snorted the other agent.
McCabe was staring at Doyle.
"What about you, Mac?"
"Which horse d'you fancy?" Doyle watched him carefully, despite the banter. He signalled to Williams to catch him as the young operative's legs failed him.
McCabe found himself parked in a chair, and a cup of coffee being thrust into his hand.
"Ray?" he tried again. "It's not possible--you're dead aren't you?"
"Dead, but not departed," Doyle told him. "It wasn't Lucas in the ambulance with you yesterday, it was me..."
"Someone had to go with you," Williams said.
"Williams, you can see him, too?"
"So can Betty, and Jax and Benny--" added Doyle. "You're not going mad."
"Yeah, but I don't believe in ghosts.." Mac's voice faltered.
"Neither did Murph," grinned Doyle. "He's changed his mind now though."
McCabe's eyes darted from one to the other, wondering if this were some kind of trick the other agents were having at his expense.
Doyle heaved a sigh: this was going to take longer than he'd thought...
McCabe never got to see the controller that afternoon. By the time Cowley returned from his lunch engagement, Doyle and Williams had, if not convinced him entirely, coaxed him into playing with bated breath to see if it would be accepted. Lucas slowed the car to a comfortable crawl in the city traffic.
"It was Doyle who went up with you, wasn't it?" Lucas asked quietly.
"You mean you can see him as well?" Mac squeaked.
"I haven't seen DOYLE," he admitted, "but I was in Betty's office when Bodie came in and plonked his backside on the edge of her desk. Scared the shit out of me, I can tell you!"
"He gave me a bollocking for getting Murph into trouble with the Cow, called me an ungrateful bastard, amongst other things then he told me that he was going to follow up on those arms we found at the house in Mile End--"
"But we'll have to make the formal arrest, because, officially, they are civilians now," Mac grinned, "as well as being dead."
Lucas laughed. "I never gave that a thought." Then he added ruefully, "I was just so bloody glad to see him."
Betty was smiling ever-so-sweetly as she took the call from Sir Evan Wallace. Yes, she would inform Mr. Cowley immediately the security meeting had been brought forward to Thursday, which would necessitate the controller travelling out to the venue that evening... She hung up, made a note of the time she took the message, and then telephoned administration with Murphy's request for accommodation, mentioning Cowley's name in hushed and reverent tones.
An hour later, she was told there was a two-bedroom apartment that the department had just acquired. It was already partially furnished.
Cowley came in like a whirlwind, took the news about the re-scheduled seminar with a swift nip of whisky, and swept out, ordering Betty to re-structure his own diary for the remainder of the week: the least important meetings could be dropped altogether.
"What about 6.2, sir?" asked Betty. Murphy had been due to see the controller on Thursday morning.
"Tuesday, between the Junior Minister, and the Home Secretary," Cowley decided. There was nothing else he could do until Murphy chose to answer the questions honestly...
As soon as the controller was away, Betty rang Murphy to tell him the good news.
"How soon can we move in?" he wanted to know.
"Any time you like," Betty replied.
Murphy relayed the information to his two lodgers, who were hovering nearby.
Bodie and Doyle looked at each other grinning like a pair of Cheshire cats.
"No time like the present," suggested Doyle.
"And if we move in tonight, we can have the house- warming on Saturday," Bodie added hopefully.
"Ah," said Murph. "Actually, I can't tonight..."
The other two smirked knowingly.
"Who is she?" Asked Doyle.
"Her name is Sally...and I'll be spending the night at her place, so you two can have the bed tonight." He picked up his jacket from the back of the armchair, and left.
"Well, you heard what the man said," leered Bodie. "I feel like an early night. Coming, love?"
"Just as soon as I get you between those sheets," promised Doyle, "so shift!"
Saturday night. The guests began arriving at seven, each one bringing a bottle or cans, or both. Doyle had the brainwave of filling the bath with cold water, and leaving the drinks there until they were needed. Bodie had 'acquired' two crates of lager, and Betty had liberated a bottle of Cowley's favourite. They were preparing for a riot, albeit a friendly one.
As more people arrive, Doyle found himself detailed as gofer fetching booze and towels when the inevitable accidents occurred. Bodie slipped out for a while, returning with a couple of bottles of champagne, which he stowed in a hastily drafted pedal-bin-cum-ice-bucket, winking at his partner, and mouthing "For later!"
Anson and Williams, both on stand-by, and therefore expected to remain sober, had lager thrust into their hands repeatedly.
"I mean," argued Bodie, "what the Old Man doesn't know won't hurt him, and we can sober them up before they go back on duty."
"If he says anything, I could always go and haunt him for week," offered Doyle. "Think I've got a length of bike-chain somewhere that I could rattle.."
The flat was filling rapidly, as more agents and their girl-friends, or wives came by. Sally was flitting about, socializing, and she waved across the room at Bodie. Doyle appeared at her elbow.
"Hello again," he beamed.
"Hello, yourself," she giggled. "I see Bodie's here. He's looking happier than he did the last time I saw him. What happened?"
"Think he fell in love or something." Doyle was almost yelling above the racket from the record player and the general hubbub of the party.
"Oh, good," Sally smiled. "I expect you'll be best man if it's serious."
"It is," Doyle replied, "and I am!"
Sally eyed Bodie ruefully, and full of party spirit, they both laughed.
"Tell him congratulations from me."
They drifted apart, and Doyle barged into Lucas and McCabe who were taking bets on which of them could drink the other under the coffee-table...
By one o'clock, the alcohol had been in full flow, and everyone was well-oiled. The guests had thinned down to mainly squad members and Betty, all of whom were in on the conspiracy about Bodie and Doyle's return. Bodie had managed to locate more beer and was cheerfully handing it out to everybody...Lucas trawled up and whispered in Bodie's ear, which earned him a crooked eyebrow and dopey grin.
Bodie's voice carried above the din of the party.
"OI! Attention, everyone! Lucas has just bet me that his partner can walk across our lounge ON HIS HANDS!"
"DEAD EASY!" cried a familiar dissenting voice. It provoked a heated discussion.
"Not when you're as pissed as Mac is!" yelped Williams, who was much the worse for wear himself.
"If it's so easy, Mr. Doyle, why don't you show 'im how it's done!" And the call went up, from Doyle's supporters for him to perform.
"Let's make it a race," suggested Bodie, with a wicked gleam in his eyes. Doyle caught the look and winked at his lover.
"Somebody open a book!"
"Who's nicked the ash-tray?"
"Who's gonna referee?"
"FIX! It's Murph's flat!"
And Betty found herself hustled forward, to be made arbiter of the race. The crowd parted, leaving an alley- way from the front door to Murphy's bedroom, where Sally who was totally squitty was propped against the doorway, giggling at nothing in particular. Betty wasn't that much better, but at least she managed to keep a straight face as she brought the two protagonists under starters orders.
Mac surged forward and staggered, nearly colliding with his partner, who was yelling encouragement, oblivious to the female presence in the room. Doyle put on a show of keeping up, and Bodie grinned, confident that his lover would win.
They were neck and neck when the clearway narrowed to single lane past the coffee-table, and McCabe reached it at the same moment as Doyle. Eager to uphold the honour of his team, and himself, he jostled aside, which caused an outcry from Murph and Bodie in protest at the blatant abuse of the lack of rules. Doyle, however, kept walking straight through the obstacle to the delighted cheers from the spectators... According to witnesses afterwards, McCabe was trying to emulate him, when he struck the corner of the table head on. Luckily, the furniture didn't suffer under the impact, and Mac was well-anaesthetized, so the overall damage was negligible... Doyle went on the complete the course, collapsing in a heap at Murph's bedroom door, followed closely by Sally, whose legs would no longer support her.
The crowd surged around them and milled about as Bodie distributed even more cans and bottles to the squad members. Doyle wove his way over, smirking unashamedly. Bodie draped a companionable arm round the bony shoulders, and gave him an affectionate squeeze. Doyle responded with a gentle touch, disguised as a punch, to his lover's middle.
"Soon," he promised. "We must be almost out of booze by now."
"Dunno. What's left in the bathroom?"
"I'll go see," Doyle offered, liberating a stray can from his partner's cache, and toasting him with his eyes. He ambled off in the direction of the bathroom.
That was how he heard the insistent buzz of the intercom, over the raucous row of the party. Still flushed with success, and high on the heady atmosphere, he was chuckling as he answered.
"Come on up, sir!"
He pushed the door release, and returned to the lounge to announce the boss' late arrival.
"Great! Oi, break out a bottle for the COW!" chorused several voices.
Bodie waylaid his partner on the way to open the door.
"Think we should make ourselves scarce, mate. If he sees us things might get worse for Murph..."
Doyle agreed. "Where?"
Doyle executed an about-turn.
They were not a moment too soon. Williams answered the door, and admitted their controller, whose looks would've annihilated his men, had they been sober enough to appreciate it. He strode into the melee, glaring about him. The noise level rapidly abated, as he progressed through the stacks of cans and empty bottles that littered the living room.
"Williams, you are stand-by, are you not?"
Williams hastily put down the half-finished drink and stood, waiting for the fall.
Cowley swung his laser-like gaze on Lucas and McCabe, who was half-hidden by the handkerchief he had pressed to his forehead.
"What happened to you?"
"Tripped over the er coffee-table, sir," Lucas explained hesitantly, praying that nobody would mention HOW he had fallen... Suddenly sobered by their chief's appearance, the race seemed ludicrous to him now.
Several more agents came in for individual attention, but Cowley still couldn't find the one he was searching for until Murphy and Betty came out of the bedroom together. Betty took one look at the older man, and cowered away in drunken silence. Murphy stood his ground.
"Murphy, as I understand it, you were suspended from active duty on Monday. You are aware of the term 'suspension' and its requirements?"
Only too aware that he had changed his place of residence without statutory notice, or formal checks for security of said new accommodation. He was fraternizing with active-duty colleagues, as well as being the cause of a number of them being drunk. Cowley had every right to be angry. Murphy had visions of the cause of a number of them being drunk. Cowley had every right to be angry. Murphy had visions of the dole-queue looming on Monday morning, and wished he was a million miles away, or dead-- anything rather than face Cowley...
"You will report to me at eight o'clock Monday morning."
Cowley flicked a look at Betty then let his eyes rollover over the other agents, admonishing them severely without a word, before, before turning on his heel and leaving them amid the wreckage of the party.
They heaved a collective sigh of relief as the door closed behind the controller and Betty slid an arm around Murph's waist.
"We'll be better in the morning, you'll see."
She didn't sound very certain, but Murphy smiled bravely, and announced that he thought they ought to call it a night.
"D'you want us to stay and help clear up?" asked Lucas.
Murph glanced at McCabe, who looked distinctively green about the gills, and shook his head.
"Bodie and Ray can do that tomorrow today." He gave Betty a gentle push towards them. "Make sure she gets home safely--we just put Sally to bed in there--" he jerked his thumb at the master bedroom,"--and we haven't got enough room..." He kissed Betty on the cheek lightly.
Everyone else was gradually trooping off, and eventually, Murphy was left alone in the living-room, surveying the aftermath. With a heartfelt sigh, he set the locks, turned out the lights, and picked his way through the debris to the bedroom, where he collapsed on the mattress beside Sally...
Doyle put out a hand, and met thin air. Bodie had gone. He sat up gingerly, a wave of drowsiness washing over him... The party atmosphere, he guessed, and he smirked remembering how well it had gone. Hope Cowley wasn't too mad at us, he mused, as he eased into his underpants, he can be a real killjoy sometimes...
Bodie was in the bathroom, washing up the empties in the bath.
"We'll have to find somewhere to dump this lot," he told Doyle, as he began to fill the empty crates.
"Well, I borrowed them from one of the pubs a few streets away. Didn't think they'd miss 'em, but if he ever found out!"
There wasn't much of Sunday left by the time Murph surfaced. Bodie and Doyle had tidied the flat, removed the evidence, and were cosily curled up on the sofa, when Murph brought the untouched breakfast tray through the kitchen. Doyle eyed him with mock severity.
"Don't shout," begged the younger man, wincing as he faced the daylight.
"Cor, Murph, you look gorgeous," teased Bodie.
Murph smiled half-heartedly, and Doyle relented enough to get him some aspirin while Bodie made the coffee.
"Gimme an hour or so, and I'll feel less dead," he promised.
The others laughed softly.
"Actually, mate, you'd probably feel better if you WERE dead. Doesn't hurt as much after the initial shock wears off."
"How I wish!" Murph proceeded to tell them about the controller's arrival. He concluded, "Think I'll just crawl into bed, forget about the world..."
"...and let the world forget about you," Bodie nodded in agreement. "Look, we caused all this trouble, we'll come in with you tomorrow. You can't take the blame for what we did..."
"Thanks." Murphy closed his eyes against the pain in his head, and felt his way back to the bedroom.
Doyle watched him go, and shook his head sadly. "Poor little sod," he sighed.
"Yeah, best thing he can do is sleep it off--" Bodie grinned lecherously. "Which means we can use the couch to have it off..."
With a filthy laugh, Doyle took him up on his invitation.
Monday morning was wet and grey, and all three men were suitably subdued. Sally had recovered from her hangover, and they arranged to drive her to work before going to face Cowley.
"We'd better hurry, Murph," Doyle warned. "Traffic's getting heavy."
They piled into the car, Bodie and Doyle in the back, Sally in front, and Murph driving. The engine turned over, and they eased into the stream of cars that was wending its way cityward.
"I know it was a hell of a party," smiled Sally, turning to look at Doyle, "but did I really see you walking through the coffee-table?"
"Was he on his hands at the time?" asked Bodie.
"Then he did," sighed Bodie. "Bad habit he picked up from somewhere..." He shot Doyle a glance, and winked.
"Jealousy will get you nowhere." Doyle retorted disdainfully.
Bodie had just opened his mouth to deny the charge when Murph swung the Escort sharply round the corner. There was dull thud, and suddenly the car was rolling over and over flung across the street by the force of the blast...
When they could think properly again, Murphy found himself with his arms round a sobbing Sally, being ushered away from the tangled and burning wreckage by a stony-faced Doyle.
Bodie was closer to the car, shouting at the gathering public to move back.
"The tank's about to blow!" he yelled, blinded with fury, grief and the smoke. There was another dull WHUMPH! and the fuel ignited, scattering more metal on the road and pavements. Above the noise of the fire, and the racket of the forming crowd, Doyle could hear the wail of the police sirens, and he whistled at Bodie who came jogging over.
Bodie eyed his friends critically.
"We're okay," sniffed Sally, regaining some semblance of control.
"Christ," breathed Murphy, as he gazed at the Escort, "we were lucky."
Bodie's eyes met Doyle's gravely.
"Yeah, mate," he agreed quietly. "DEAD lucky!"
Cowley raised his head at the knock.
The door opened and the young dark-haired agent approached his desk. Murphy was looking pale, he noted.
"You're five minutes late," he said, gesturing the other man to sit. Murphy obeyed, rather hesitantly.
"May I ask you a question first sir?" Murphy's eyes were anxious.
If it would help to clear him suspicion...
"Do YOU believe in ghosts, sir?"
Cowley stopped, and blinked. He took off his glasses, pinching the bridge of his nose. Don't say that Murphy was about to [missing]
"Murphy, I want to know how you knew about the men in the house. I've had the reports from Lucas and Williams, as well as the transcript of your radio conversation with central.."
Murphy met the older man's eyes as he spoke.
"Bodie told me, sir."
Cowley started involuntarily.
"Bodie died last month."
"I'm aware of that, sir, but he was the one who passed on the information about the gunmen..."
Cowley glared at him the storm gathering, thought Murphy. I didn't think he'd believe me when the intercom sounded. Betty seemed upset.
"There's an Inspector Flynn from the Anti-Terrorist Squad to see you, sir."
"I'll meet him downstairs." Cowley rose and scowled at the agent before he left the office. "We'll resume this discussion on my return."
The controller hurried to the reception area, where Flynn was pacing anxiously.
"Derek, what's this about?
The other man rubbed his eyes, and ran his hand through greying hair.
"Bad news, I'm afraid. The PIRA cell has struck again. Car bomb in Chelsea, about ten minutes ago. Number of civilians injured, cut by shrapnel two people dead," he paused. "One of them was a CI5 agent."
Dear God, no. Cowley went a shade paler.
"Gregory Murphy. He and his girlfriend--"
"That's impossible, Derek. Murphy's upstairs in my office..." the old man's voice trailed off, as Flynn shook his head.
"We were given positive identification by another of your men, who was at the scene in seconds. The dead man's partner as it happens..."
"He's convinced it was an under-vehicle device, but forensics have to confirm... George, wait."
Cowley had spun on his heel, but he checked himself, glancing back at the policeman.
"Have all the reports sent up to me as soon as possible. I'll be in my office all day...and Derek?" He smiled warmly. "Thank you for telling me about Bodie."
The policeman was nominally dismissed, and Cowley headed back to his office, his mind reeling. Betty looked up as he dashed in, then rushed out again.
"Where's Murphy?" he demanded curtly.
"He's gone to the Ops room, sir," she replied, puzzled.
"Was he alone?"
Betty shook her head.
"Benny and Jax went with them him, sir."
"Aye," murmured Cowley, as he neared the operations area, and virtually crept to the door, his hand poised above the handle. He could hear a familiar voice, giving orders. Silently, he entered, and stared at the scene before him.
They were all there Ray Doyle, in his tatty bluejeans and tee-shirt; Murphy in his slacks and poloneck and masterminding the operation...
Bodie looked up, and smiled guiltily as he noticed the controller.
"Oh, morning, sir, I er--"
"Well, now.." Cowley spoke softly, caught somewhere between annoyance and joy at the sight of the unholy alliance before him. "I hope you have a good explanation for all this, 3.7."
Bodie looked to his partner for help.
"Don't look at me, sunshine," grinned Doyle, "you're the one he asked!"
Bodie lay back on the sofa and sighed contentedly. Doyle slid down beside him, jostling for room with a wriggle of his backside. An arm slipped around his waist, and Bodie's hand burrowed under the denim to touch warm Doyle-flesh. He looked up hopefully, and was rewarded with a kiss.
"Out here or in a bed," Doyle offered.
Bodie considered a moment: Sally and Murph might be back at any minute, and while he knew that Murphy was aware of what went on in the next room, he didn't like the idea of their flat-mates walking in and catching them in what was essentially a private and intimate situation. Doyle was a bit of an exhibitionist when it came to flaunting his body. Bodie reflected that HE must've been blind not to see the way Doyle showed himself off under his nose when they were alive...
"Sweetheart?" Doyle was frowning. "Something wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong, love. Come here lie on top of me..."
Doyle obeyed, and Bodie held him close, petting and cuddling, being hugged and kissed in return, enjoying the simple peace and the warmth of a kindred soul. Doyle sighed happily, as he teased his hands up under his partner's sweater, stroking hot skin.
"Made up your mind yet?" he asked.
"About what?" Bodie sounded as if he was drifting towards sleep. Doyle tickled him awake.
Bodie smiled lazily as he recalled the offer the controller had made that morning.
"I'd like you to stay on at CI5," he said, when he had heard them out.
Doyle shook his head gravely.
"It's not that easy, there are certain complications." At Cowley's quizzical look, he got up and began to pace the length of the ops room. "I mean, we don't even know why we're still here, or how long we'll stay around..."
"And we have limitations," Bodie continued, catching Doyle's mood. "Though we can move things, touch them and hold them, we can't de-materialize them. We can't use guns, we haven't tried driving cars yet. If we came back we couldn't work as field agents--"
Doyle took up the conversation again.
"Plus the fact that as we are legally dead and non- corporeal you'd have a job reinstating us!"
Cowley surveyed them once more: Bodie was leaning on the table watching him and his partner alternately. Murphy and his girl-friend were sitting together in one corner, still looking pale with shock.
"Doing what?" Doyle asked suspiciously, catching his other half's eye. If there was any paperwork involved, Cowley could stick the job.
"Observations situations like Mile End, where we need to know what's going on inside and can't bug the place. Interrogation, following up leads no paperwork." The controller smiled. "Even I'd be hard-pressed to explain how three dead men managed to file reports."
"What do we get out of it?" Typical Bodie, playing the mercenary.
"Job satisfaction." Cowley was appealing to the man's nobler instincts, which, despite Bodie's protests, he knew had existed before. "Knowing you'll be helping fellow agents to stay alive by giving us the edge over opposition..."
"Would we be entitled to accommodation?" Doyle was getting to the essentials, and the others pricked up their ears, half-hoping.
Cowley looked amused.
"If you agree to stay on, it could be arranged. Murphy would have to lose the flat he's in at the moment, of course, but I'm sure we could convert one of the safe- houses. Well, gentlemen?"
Bodie looked at his partner, and Murphy.
"Can we have time to think about it?"
Cowley nodded, "You'll know where I'll be, when you've made your choice..."
"Well?" Doyle nudged Bodie back to the present. "Are we going to keep working for the old bastard?"
"Do YOU want to?" Bodie asked.
"I asked first. Come on, Bodie..." Doyle wriggled on top of him.
"I like the Old Man a lot, Ray... I'd like to stay with the squad. We'd be helping our friends, going into situations that need information rather than armaments..." He faltered, watching the glow in Doyle's eyes. "If you want to leave, though I'll stay with you."
"I make that much difference to you?" Doyle pushed himself up to where he could study his partner's face clearly.
"Told you," said Bodie huskily, "I'm lost without..." His voice trailed off. There was an almost pleading expression on the handsome features.
I can't ask him to leave: a choice like that is no choice I'd be dividing his loyalties Cowley or me it would break him...and truth to tell, I'm quite fond of the old sod myself..
"We'll tell him in the morning," Doyle decided, "but we'll make sure he knows we're to work together, or the deal is off. I didn't mind your partnering Murphy while you were alive, but now we're not, ours is a permanent relationship..."
Bodie dragged him down into a sweet kiss, and writhed beneath him, unsubtly hinting at what he wanted. Laughing, Doyle held him close, and willing them into the bedroom next door, he began to strip his lover slowly...
"Reckon we should knock?"
They were standing in Betty's office outside the controller's door.
"I'd like to see you try!" snorted Doyle. "I've got a better idea--" as the secretary came in. "Betty, would you mind announcing us. Er, he IS expecting us."
Betty looked a little doubtful, but pressed the intercom anyway.
"Send them in."
Cowley was browsing through some files, when they emerged. He noted their expressions: they had come to negotiate, and if he wasn't careful, he might lose them again. Leaning back, he waited. Doyle got straight to the point.
"If we come back, we'd like your assurance that we'll work as a team."
"That's fair enough. We can have the same arrangement as before," Cowley allowed. "Murphy has agreed to carry on, and I've talked to his young lady into helping out as his partner. Now, about accommodation..." He began to skim through the folders on the desk, "I understand that you were staying with Murphy when he was killed. I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to continue the arrangement while I find you something suitable. You can take over one of the safe-houses as a temporary measure." He looked up to see the glance that passed between his two operatives.
"That's no problem," Doyle hastily assured the older man.
"When do we start, sir?" Bodie was eager to escape the keen gaze.
"Seems like you already have," Cowley allowed himself a smile. "Murphy says you were going to have an assessment on the arms recovered from Mile End..."
He extricated himself from behind the desk, and crossed to the drinks cabinet. His hand hovered over the whisky bottle, hesitating for a moment.
The younger men grinned at one another.
"We have been known to indulge--" admitted Bodie, and he knew that the Scot was thinking of Saturday's party.
"Aye, stupid question." Cowley poured out three measures and the agents came to take their drinks from him.
"A toast to renewing your contracts," he suggested, fixing them with his gaze, still unable to believe he had them back. "Welcome home." He saluted them with his glass.
Doyle raised his and added, "To a successful partnership." He caught the expression on his lover's face. "What is it, sunshine?"
Bodie couldn't resist it, and grinned at both of them.
"To Team Spirit!!!"
Cowley took the price of the missing bottle of Glenfiddich from their first pay-cheque.
-- THE END --