2,036 Days to Go
"Do you really think this bloke's going to be able to help, sir?" the man in the driver's seat asked, looking upwards uncertainly at the outside of the prison.
"I hope so," Ray Doyle answered. He turned toward his junior agent and away from his own perusal of the formidable building. "Why so nervous, Thompson? I'm not going to leave you here." He opened the door and got out, shutting it, then leaned back in through the window and said, "Bodie and I still have a few things we need you for."
"Oh, goody," the young man muttered under his breath as his boss walked away.
It had been a while since he'd been here, but things hadn't changed much. Of course, prisons rarely did. He hadn't been to visit much in the last year, him and Bodie having so much to do, settling into being co-controllers of CI5 since Cowley had passed away. But he still noted that the visiting room hadn't changed, including, for the most part, who was in it.
Ray walked through the middle of the room, ignoring the occasional muttered curses and casting quelling glances toward the few actual threats. He had more than a few enemies in this place between the time he'd been with the Met and the time he was an active agent. He was sure to gain even more as co-head of CI5.
He made it to the other side of the room and climbed the steps up to the platform where the man he was to see and his usual visitor sat, separated by a huge, bullet-proof glass wall. The set up was for maximum security prisoners and Ray couldn't help a wry twist to his mouth at the thought that this particular prisoner had to be the gentlest "hardened criminal" he'd ever met.
"Hello, you two. Still at it, eh?" he said, coming up behind the woman sitting in the visitor's chair.
"Ray!" the woman practically yelled as she sprang from her chair and hugged him.
"Hello, Dil," Doyle laughed, hugging her back briefly before letting her go. She kept her arm up around his shoulder as she turned toward the man on the other side of the glass.
"Look who's come to see you, darling," Dil said in her husky voice.
"Don't call me that," the prisoner said absently.
Ray couldn't help smiling at the girl he'd known ever since he and Bodie had happened into a certain bar to get out of the rain. The fact that she was involved with the man who at the time was being tried for the killing of a known IRA "volunteer" had only increased their interest in Dil. The two that were now trading banter with each other never talked about the details of the incident which had led to Fergus being behind the bullet-proof glass, but Doyle was fairly certain what had happened. Though there had been no doubt in anyone's mind that Fergus had shot the woman, the smoking gun having literally been found in his hand, Doyle had his doubts. He had been looking, off and on, for ways to get his friend's sentence lessened for a while now. The only thing that made it bearable that such a good and decent man was in prison was the fact that the court had found some indication that the initial shooting had been in self-defence since the dead woman had had an automatic weapon clutched in her hand when the police had burst through the door. Fergus's sentence was less than it could have been, to be sure.
"How they treating you, Fergus?" Ray asked the prisoner.
"Oh, lovely," the Irishman said with a sarcastic smile. "Breakfast, lunch and dinner all served on lovely metal dishware. Roomy sleeping accommodations and lovely views. I'm surprised more people aren't committing crimes just to get into this place."
Dil looked from Fergus to Doyle. "He hasn't been taking his vitamins, poor dear. He's getting cranky."
Ray just laughed. "Listen, Dil, I'm going to have to steal him away for a moment." He nodded toward the guard that sat on the other side of the glass in the room with Fergus. The guard got up and walked out of the room and could soon be heard unlocking a nearby door.
Dil looked at Fergus as Doyle walked to the door, and said, "Don't be too long, sweetheart."
"Don't call me that," Fergus said with a smile and no real conviction as he walked out of the room.
Doyle was waiting for Fergus in the interrogation room that he had previously arranged when Fergus was escorted in. He excused the guard to wait outside while the two talked.
"So what's going on, Doyle?" Fergus said without preamble.
"I need you to identify something for me." Doyle took a paper out of his pocket. "Do you know anyone by the name of Sian O'Connell?"
"No," Fergus said too abruptly.
"Do you honestly expect me to tell you something like that, Doyle?" The man was leaning over the table he had sat down in front of, holding his voice down with not a little bit of desperation in it.
"I'm not asking you to inform on anyone. That'd be more than either of our lives are worth," Doyle said calmly. "All I want to know is a little information. Nothing that could incriminate you to any of your old friends."
"How do you know that?" Fergus said, turning away, looking through the one-way window that looked out over the general visitors room. "They know more than you think, Doyle." He watched Dil flirting with one of the guards. He couldn't help but smile a little despite his situation. Dil would probably flirt with Hitler. She could very likely have got him hooked, too.
"Look, Fergus, you don't have to tell me anything. I don't even have to know what you know about O'Connell. All I really need to know is the type of bomb he usually used. And before you say anything," Doyle said as the Irishman opened his mouth, "you won't be squealing on him. He's dead, so I doubt if he cares much."
Fergus seemed taken aback by that. "A lot of people are dead," he said distantly. "You know, it's incredible," he went on, still watching Dil as she laughed with the guard, leaning her body, in its tight, short dress, up against him, "there was a time when all those people, what they did, were the most important things in my life. The Army was something I really believed in and thought that whatever we did, it was worth it for the outcome. The only thing any of us seemed to have managed, though, is get ourselves killed."
"Look, Fergus," Doyle said again, getting slightly impatient with the knowledge that they needed the info right away and he had an agent waiting outside in the car for him.
"I know," Fergus said, turning away from the window toward Doyle. "What do you want to know?"
So Doyle told him. And he told Doyle. When he'd given all the info he had, Fergus turned back to watching Dil.
"I appreciate this, Fergus," Doyle said, putting his little notebook back in his pocket. He glanced toward where Dil stood. "You know, if you had put up much of a fight about this, I did have back up ammunition." Doyle started to walk toward the door. "You know that the prison officials are going to be allowing conjugal visits for wives and girlfriends. The only thing is," Doyle added quickly as Fergus whipped around to say just what he thought of Doyle's sense of humour, "I couldn't quite figure out if I should've threatened you with having them let Dil in or keeping her away." With that, Doyle ducked out the door.
Fergus looked back out the window, pushing his fingers through his dark hair and sighing. "I'm not sure, either."
"He'll be back out in a second, Dil. I'll see you later," Ray said as he hurried past the waiting woman on the platform.
"Wait a minute, Ray," she said, following him down the stairs and keeping step with him as he walked briskly through the visitors room. "What was all that about?"
"Dil," Doyle said, releasing a gust of breath and stopping to face her. "It's official business. You don't need to know."
"You know, I get very tired of all the men in my life telling me what I should and shouldn't know," she said, appearing to become genuinely annoyed with it all. "That's one of the reasons he's in here in the first place." She nodded toward the glass wall with Fergus now standing on the other side of it, looking at them, vaguely suspicious.
Doyle sighed again, took her by the arm and led her toward a corner, out of earshot of the other people in the room. "It has to do with his time in the IRA."
"Really," Dil said sarcastically. "I thought you were maybe trading recipes. C'mon, Doyle, tell me something."
"It's official, Dil." His tone of voice showed he would not be budged. Finally, his expression eased somewhat. "He's gonna be okay, Dil. They can't trace back anything he said to him. He's safe."
It was Dil's turn to sigh. "That's all I wanted to know." She smiled then. "So, when are you and Bodie going to be coming by The Metro?"
Doyle smiled back at her ruefully. "Well, it's not the type of place an official from Whitehall is supposed to be. Besides," he continued with an evil grin, "you know that place makes Bodie uncomfortable."
"All the more reason," Dil grinned. "Drop by my place tomorrow night, then, and I'll fix you two dinner."
"We will if we can," Ray agreed with a gentle smile. "You better get back there. He doesn't look too pleased."
Fergus had been standing watching them, trying to understand at least some of their conversation.
"You know Fergus," she said, throwing the prisoner a kiss which he responded to by making a face. "He's so jealous sometimes."
Doyle laughed out loud at that. "Yeah, I've noticed. He has reason to be. Everyone knows how much you like a man in uniform." It was said in the tone of an old joke.
"Oh, I do," she agreed. "But what I like even better is a man out of uniform." With that, she turned away from the head of CI5 and walked back toward her friend.
Doyle turned and walked in the other direction. "Yeah."
"That took a bit, didn't it, sir?" Thompson said on his superior's return to the car.
"I had to get some things straightened out," Doyle replied, reaching for the carphone. "Alpha 2 to base."
"This is base, Alpha 2."
"Ann, cancel my meeting with Macklin tomorrow night and fill in a dinner date with Dil."
"Yes, sir. What should I tell Mr. Macklin?"
Doyle smiled. "Tell him I'm going to be eating with someone who has better-looking legs."
There was a pause, then, "Yes, sir."
"Alpha 2 out."
Thompson told himself he should know better, but couldn't resist making a comment. "Does Mr. Bodie know you're stepping out with the ladies on him? Sir."
Doyle gave him an old fashioned look. "When I go out with a lady, I'll be sure to tell him." His countenance became sterner. "Drive, Thompson."
-- THE END --
Originally published in Chalk and Cheese 12, Whatever You Do, Don't Press! (Agent with Style), May 1993