by PR Zed
(Written for the_safehouse livejournal "Chicken and Egg" challenge (keywords: "Tommy" and "a photograph"))
When he went looking for a place to get a cup of tea and wait for Doyle, the last person that Bodie had expected, or wanted, to find was Tommy McKay. Yet there McKay was, sprawled on his back on the tatty sofa, dead to the world. Which was unusual. McKay shunned headquarters and contact with other agents as much as they shunned him.
Bodie nearly turned around and walked out again, but he wasn't in the habit of avoiding anyone, however unpleasant he found them, so he squared his shoulders and headed to the tea station.
He put the kettle on to boil and made a pot of tea in the cracked and stained brown betty as quietly as possible, hoping not to wake McKay. Contact with Tommy made his teeth itch. The man was a menace, completely irresponsible and wholly lacking in control. Bodie wasn't entirely sure why Cowley kept him on the payroll, except perhaps from a sense of guilt. It had been a CI5 operation, after all, that had led to McKay's family being killed. But Bodie refused to let that excuse the stupid bastard's behaviour.
Grief was one thing, but you couldn't let it control you, could you? And that was exactly what Tommy had done. His grief had controlled him, bent and shaped him until he was nothing more than a raving lunatic, unfit for human company. He shouldn't be allowed to play with sharp knives, let alone automatic weapons. And what did Cowley do? Stick a shotgun in his hands and send him out to maintain the peace. Madness.
Cowley may have kept him on the payroll, but that didn't mean the rest of the squad didn't know the score. Everyone knew what Tommy was like, knew that he had to be watched. New men were warned about him, told not to let him interrogate suspects, told to watch his trigger finger in the field.
His tea made, Bodie added generous helpings of milk and sugar and sat down on one of the room's decrepit chairs. He could see Tommy from where he sat, and that was when he noticed it: a photograph peeking out of the pocket of Tommy's shirt. Curious, Bodie stood and moved closer to the sofa. The visible corner of the photograph revealed a smiling, young woman, her blonde hair blown by the wind. The top of another person's head was just visible beside her, but hidden by the pocket. Bodie was struck by warring impulses. He both wanted to see the whole photograph, and wanted to forget about it completely. There was no doubt in his mind that the woman was Tommy's wife, and he was desperately curious to see whether the person hidden by the pocket was McKay himself, in happier days.
Just then, Tommy stirred, opening his eyes and giving Bodie a hard grin.
"Bodie," he said in acknowledgement.
"Tommy," Bodie responded in level tones.
"Christ I didn't mean to sleep this long." McKay sat up and stretched. "Was out on an all-night obbo and only meant to take a quick kip. Must have needed the sleep."
"Must have," Bodie said noncommittally. And then curiosity won out over his better judgment. "Who's that?" he asked, nodding at the picture still visible at the top of McKay's pocket.
"What?" McKay looked down and automatically pushed the picture back into his pocket, his face going hard as Bodie watched. "Oh, that. No one. Just some people I used to know."
"Oh," Bodie said, not wanting to intrude any further into McKay's business, not wanting to know anything about him that would make him human, make his behaviour understandable. He just wanted to be able to think of him as that mad bastard Tommy, a rabid dog who'd be best off put out of his misery.
"Where's your partner?" Tommy asked. "You're not usually loitering around without him."
"Off running an errand for the Cow. I'm just waiting for him to get back."
"Well, I need to dash myself. Some informants to check in on before I'm due back at the obbo." And then he was gone, leaving Bodie feeling nothing so much as great relief.
Danny Howe entered the rest room and pulled up short. Though he'd only been with CI5 for a matter of weeks, he thought he'd met all of Cowley's operatives. Yet sleeping on the sofa was a man that he hadn't seen before. Dark haired and scowling, with several days' growth of beard darkening his face, even asleep the man looked dangerous.
Howe turned to Murphy, coming in behind him. "Who's..." he started to ask, stopping in surprise as Murphy grabbed him by the back of his jacket and hauled him out of the rest room.
"Hey!" Howe started to protest, only to be silenced by a dark look from Murphy.
"Who was that?" he asked more quietly, his curiosity piqued by such rough behaviour from the usually amiable Murphy.
"That was Bodie," Murphy said with a frown. "3.7."
"3.7?" Howe had heard the rumours. Something about an agent who couldn't be trusted, though no one had said exactly why.
"Yeah, 3.7." Murphy looked at Howe as if he was judging how far he could trust him. "Look, you're going to hear this sooner or later, and I'd rather it come from me. You need to be careful if you work around Bodie. He's not..." Murphy paused, as if searching for the right words. "Well, not entirely sane, I suppose is the best way of putting it."
"Then why the hell is he on the squad?" Howe asked, outraged that someone like that would have been chosen as one of Cowley's Bisto Kids.
"He hasn't always been that way. He used to be one of the best. One of the very best."
"His partner was killed." Murphy pursed his lips. "Ray Doyle was shot down by a sniper in front of Bodie. They never found the shooter, and Bodie's never quite been the same."
"It must be hard to lose a partner, but why'd he take it that hard?"
"Bodie and Doyle were...close," Murphy said with finality.
"Very close. Look, the point is you need to watch Bodie if you're ever on assignment with him. Make sure he doesn't go over the top. And for Christ's sake, never mention Doyle in front of him."
"Okay." Howe looked back at the rest room door. "Now, what about that tea you promised me."
"You don't want to go back there. I'll stand you a cuppa at the caff down the road."
"You're on," Howe said, letting Murphy lead the way.
Bodie came awake with a shudder, his dreams once again having turned into nightmare. He couldn't even remember when he'd managed to sleep through the night. He just kipped out when he could, and hoped he woke before the dreams came.
Always, the dreams were the same. Ray was sitting across from him, smiling just like he had on that last day that neither of them had known was a last day. He opened his mouth to speak, but before he could say a word, a bright flower of blood bloomed on his chest. He collapsed in Bodie's arms, his heart already stopped, his eyes glazed with death, and Bodie felt his voice go hoarse with screaming.
And always, as he awoke, Bodie had the same thought: thank Christ that was only a dream. Then reality came down and crushed him and he remembered that the dream was true, that Doyle was dead, and that he'd left Bodie to carry on without him.
He sat up on the sofa, wiped the sleep from his eyes and stretched. He felt like shite, but that was nothing new. He looked around the rest room, knowing it would be empty. They all avoided him now. Even Jax, who'd made the effort for longer than he should have done, out of deference to Ray's memory. Even Murphy, who'd been his best friend, outside of Ray. None of them wanted to spend time with CI5's resident nutter, and Bodie couldn't blame them one bit.
Bodie knew what would happen when he was out in the field, every single time. Knew, and was powerless to stop himself. Some stupid toerag would give him lip, and all he'd see was Ray's face, cold and still with death. Then he'd lose his rag. If the stupid bastard who'd crossed him was lucky, he'd get off with a few bruises, but there'd been one or two who'd nearly died. Bodie didn't want to think about the amount of damage control the Cow'd had to do on his behalf these last two years.
He couldn't help it. They'd never found out who'd done it, who'd taken Ray's life with a single bullet, and Bodie was fixated on the thought that this villain might just be the one. That this bastard might be the man who'd taken away everything Bodie had ever cared for and turned his hopes to ashes.
It had to end soon, that was certain. Cowley wouldn't put up with him forever. And Bodie was getting tired. Tired of the fruitless search for the bastard who'd done Ray, tired of fighting his own nature. Tired of breathing, when it came to that.
Soon enough, Cowley would throw him out of the squad. Or he'd quit. Or his reflexes would be just a fraction too slow out in the field.
Death would be a mercy, even if he was convinced that Cowley's God would cast him down to the other place rather than give a lost soul like him even a spare corner of paradise.
But he wasn't the sort to commit suicide, not even when his life had lost all meaning. He would go on as he had and fate would take care of the rest. Christ knew he hadn't the energy to make his own choices.
Bodie stood, stretching out muscles grown stiff from sleeping on a sofa too short for his frame. He put on his holster and checked his gun, then picked up his jacket from where he'd thrown it and shrugged it on. And as he always did, he touched two fingers to his breast pocket, feeling the photograph that rested inside. He couldn't look at the picture anymore--it hurt too much to see Ray smiling and happy, his arm slung over Bodie's shoulder--but he needed the comfort of knowing it was there, of having some record of the man he'd lost.
Zipping up his jacket and squaring his shoulders, he headed back to his own personal battlefield.
-- THE END --