"The old man's kidding." Bodie flipped the file closed and shoved it as far away as possible on the cluttered table. "He's finally pitched off his trolley. We're supposed to be tracking down that lunatic O'Malley and he puts us onto this?" The single finger prodding the file managed to convey as much disgust as the voice.
Ignoring his usually unflappable partner's outburst, Doyle kept his attention firmly on the grainy black and white photograph in front of him. It was a still from a security camera and what it showed was impossible. Or an elaborate Halloween joke gone wrong. Whichever it was, according to the file it had resulted in the deaths of three teenagers and the disappearance of two more.
"Could be a cult, maybe," he mused. "Some sort of punk vampire thing?"
"It's bollocks is what it is. Some half-baked joke to put us off the scent."
"Except forensics didn't find anything else at the scene. No fingerprints, no weapons." Doyle flicked over to the medical report. "Cause of death-"
"Being wrung out like last night's beer towel. Yeah, I read it."
"From twin punctures wounds in the carotid artery." Closing the file, Doyle sat back and stared at his partner. He'd drawn his own conclusions. "Whoever killed them wanted it to look like a vampire attack."
"And made sure we got footage of people in funny masks to push the point home."
"So we're looking at-?"
"A simple murder case. No terrorists, no national security, drugs, guns or anything else that makes it our business."
Doyle nodded. Yet again he and Bodie were on the same wavelength, always a good feeling. Still, there was something. "So why involve CI5?"
Getting to his feet, Bodie cast a disdainful glance at the files and said, "I told you. The old man's flipped, finally."
"It's good to see you have such a high opinion of me, 3-7."
Bodie cringed as Cowley's unmistakable voice came from behind him. "Sir?" he said brightly.
"When you've quite finished relegating me to the ranks of the prematurely demented, I'd like to see you both in my office." With that the controller was gone, leaving Bodie and Doyle to stare at each other uncomfortably across the table.
When they walked into his office bare minutes later, the controller was deep in conversation with a middle-aged, horsy looking woman dressed in twin-set and pearls.
"Ah, there you are," Cowley said, rising to his feet as they entered. "Miss Beeston, these are the men I was telling you about. Bodie and-"
"Are you quite sure these are the best you can muster?" The woman's cold, uncompromising eyes fastened on each in turn. "The one on the right appears to be the unfortunate offspring of a gorilla, while the one on the left is puny to say the least.
Bodie's eyebrows migrated halfway up his forehead and Doyle squashed down a retort. Whoever this woman was, he hoped she wasn't with the diplomatic service or world war three would be breaking out next week. Even Cowley seemed a bit thrown by her direct manner; not something Doyle had witnessed before. The old man covered it well, though.
"You'll find no better," he snapped. "More field experience than any of your-"
"Against humans," Miss Beeston interjected with a sniff. She stood up, gave both agents another cursory look over and added in Cowley's direction. "I suppose they'll have to do. Please ensure they are briefed and in position by tomorrow evening at the latest, Major. The Watchers cannot afford to fail due to civilian incompetence, there is, after all, a little more at stake than a few simple explosions." Then she was gone, sweeping from the office in a cloud of lavender water and self-righteousness.
Doyle stared after her, not sure there was anything he could say that wouldn't result in more than few strips torn off his already tattered hide. By the expression on Bodie's face, he was wrestling with the same dilemma, so it was lucky that Cowley found the right words.
"There are worse things than Willis," he said, rising slowly to his feet and heading for the drinks' cabinet. Not bothering to ask, he poured three generous Scotches and passed them out, gesturing for the other men to take a seat. They did and drank in silence for several seconds, allowing the heat of the alcohol to temper the fury Miss Beeston had left in her wake.
It was Bodie who broke the self-imposed tranquillity. "So what's the case then, sir?" he asked.
"Ah, now that's the question," Cowley answered. "The woman who has just graced us with her... inimitable presence is the head of the Watcher's Council, an international organisation charged with protecting the world from the kind of beasties most men only see in their nightmares."
There was a quirk to Bodie's voice, the one he got when he didn't believe a word he was saying. Doyle sat back in his chair to see how this elaborate wind-up would play out. The next words out of Cowley's mouth would have knocked Doyle over if he hadn't been so well planted in the chair.
"Aye, laddie, or demons."
Subconsciously, Doyle looked around for the camera. It had to be a put up job. Some candid camera thing by the other agents to get their own back on the top team. Had to be. But there was nothing. No Murph jumping out from behind the desk. No Anson laughing up his sleeve. Nothing but Cowley's calm voice as he explained that this case overlapped both CI5 and Watcher jurisdiction and that's why they were being seconded.
He was so taken aback by the announcement that he missed Bodie's darkening expression.
"With all due respect, sir, this is a pile of shit."
Well that was pretty obvious, but Bodie didn't normally swear at the old man. Nor did he normally shake. Doyle frowned, studying his partner's hands where they lay clasped between his knees. The last time he'd seen Bodie react physically in this way was the one time they'd finally both been pissed enough to talk about their respective pasts. The evening after Cowley had held a gun to Bodie's head and threatened to shoot him if he didn't stand down.
"What you think of it, is irrelevant, 3-7." Cowley's voice held a dangerous edge. "You will report to Miss Beeston tomorrow evening at the Council's headquarters, and both you and 4-5 will follow every order you are given promptly and without argument."
Bodie's mouth opened but closed with an audible snap when Cowley cut in again. "Unless you want to be drawing National Assistance on Monday."
Cowley glared at them both over his glasses and flipped open a file. "Seamus O'Malley. The pair of you have been on that worthy's trail for a while now, haven't you."
Doyle glanced over to his partner, who was sat staring at his hands. "Yes, sir," he answered in lieu of both of them.
The glasses came off and Cowley chewed the stem for a second. "Call it a hunch, but I think he might be involved in this as well. The Watcher's Council have all the details, so I'll leave them to fill you in."
As Cowley appeared to return to his reading, Doyle assumed they'd been dismissed and jogged Bodie's arm. Making their escape seemed like a bloody good idea.
"We'll, um, see you when we see you then, sir."
A disgruntled gaze pinned him as he headed for the door. "Aye, laddie, I suppose so. Bring me O'Malley and I'll even consider a week's leave for the pair of you."
"Home." Only his hand on Bodie's shoulder was keeping the man moving in the right direction, Doyle was certain of it. The longer they stayed in this game, the jumpier they were both getting and most often that showed in outbursts against Cowley. It was the jobs. Stupid jobs. The same stuff they'd been dealing with for the past seven years and it never seemed to get any better. Terrorist groups came and went but the type remained. Idealistic youth convinced that only murder would work to change the world.
But they were easy to find. It was the suppliers that slipped through the net, the faceless men who brought arms into the country and provided the kids with the wherewithal to create mayhem. And that's what Cowley had put them on to even if he couldn't say it out loud. Bugger all that stuff about vampires, the Council had a lead on a new importer. A big man. Just moved into London and undercutting the established firms by thousands. O'Malley, it had to be. For that, Doyle could go with the flow and overlook any superstitious crap.
Unfortunately it didn't look like Bodie felt the same. He was quiet all the way home, never a good sign. Bodie was garrulous by nature when they were alone. Quick witted, dry, sarcastic. The repartee between them as quick and as accurate as their guns, and as deadly for the unwary. When Bodie got quiet, people tended to end up with their teeth knocked down their throats. If they were lucky.
"Feel like sharing?" Doyle asked as he pulled up outside his flat.
Bodie shrugged and climbed out of the car, not questioning where they'd ended up. If there was no date in the offing, they often spent evenings - and nights - with each other. The fact that Bodie wasn't insisting on being taken home was a good sign, if Doyle was any judge. It probably meant that he wanted to have the info wheedled out of him and if there was one thing Doyle was good at, it was extracting those titbits Bodie offered up.
A meal and a couple of beers later saw them sitting on the couch chatting about anything but the upcoming case. And if Bodie was being his normal avoidant self, then that was where the problem lay.
"That bird, the teacher. What her name again?" Bodie was saying, his fingers dancing up and down the beer can in a wave of continuous movement.
"Shelly," Doyle answered, wondering where this was going.
"You still seeing her?"
"Not really. She got fed up with the hours. It just took her longer than most." But it always happened sooner or later. Even the most tolerant girl balked at being abandoned three dates in five.
Bodie pulled a face. "Pity. She was a bit of all right."
"Remember that night when the Cow called us up and you left her at my place?"
The last date but one, that had been. They'd tried it one more time but walking out halfway through a meal and accidentally leaving the girl with the bill was a guaranteed way of getting dumped. Doyle nodded.
"She was still there when I got back. Said she didn't fancy hoofing it back across town and didn't have the money for a taxi."
Doyle frowned. Was this Bodie's unsubtle way of saying that he'd had her? If he had, then he'd got further than Doyle.
"I ended up on my own couch, since she wouldn't share." Bodie glanced up, that twinkle dancing through his eyes for a second. "Not that I didn't ask. Said she was still struck on you, old son. Guess she was blind after all."
"Oh very funny," Doyle answered. "What about her anyway?"
"She had nightmares. Bad ones."
That was news. Doyle had never spent the night with Shelly, though he did remember that she always asked him to walk her up to her flat before saying goodnight. It had stuck with him that particular quirk had, since he'd never been invited further than the threshold.
"Spent half the night tossing and turning, making one hell of a noise. I tried ignoring her but she wasn't giving it up, so I went in there, found her all tangled up in the sheets and sweating like she was running a marathon. Couldn't leave the poor bird like that, could I, so I woke her and we ended up chatting. Not that she'd tell me what she'd been dreaming about, but still..."
Bodie's voice trailed off, leaving Doyle no wiser than he had been before. "And?" he prompted.
All he got in reply was a shrug. It was enough to make a saint lose his temper and Doyle was no saint. That was twice today that Bodie's behaviour had been off. "So what the bloody hell was the point in bringing it up," he snapped.
"Was just thinking." Bodie blinked, yawned and added, "Don't mind if I kip here tonight, do you?"
Doyle looked at him questioningly. Was it bed or couch he was after? Either would suit Doyle, though with a new case starting tomorrow, they probably both ought to get some sleep and that's one thing sharing a bed wouldn't help.
"Just the couch," Bodie said as if reading Doyle's mind.
Dark. It's always dark at the start. Not the rich coloured darkness of cities, but the pitchy black that only comes hundreds of miles from civilisation.
Something wakes him and he opens his eyes with a jerk and sudden gasp. Pepe's his first thought. He beat the bastard off last night but the huge Belgian isn't known for taking no for an answer.
His eyes search the cell for signs of wakefulness. Nothing. Just the whining snores of sleeping men and the scratch of rats in rancid straw.
But something woke him. Something rattled the bars of his subconscious and brought him to attention.
Warily, he pulls himself up the wall, wincing as ribs bruised during the earlier fight reintroduce themselves. Should see the other guy. The thought makes him snort, gasp, clutch his chest. Too soon for getting funny. Hafta wait.
A sharp scream from a cell further down gets cut off in its prime. Knife? Could be. Right angle up under the ribs or jaw and you're dead before you can curse the fucker who's doing it.
Maybe that's what woke him?
Sleep calls, eyelids heavy and body telling him to rest while he can. Christ only knows when he'll get another chance.
It's tempting. Solid wall to his back, enemy still out for the count. Bloody tempting just to let his legs sag and hit the ground. Sleep away the pain and the darkness.
But that's not what's kept him alive for the past few months. That's been his instincts. Honed aboard a ship full of blokes drunk enough to take any unwary piece of arse.
Hands, scabbed and filthy, take half his weight as he stumbles along the wall towards the door. There's something happening. An abnormal silence. It's never quiet in here. Can't be when there's so many of them crammed into such a small space. Even breathing's noisy when it's coming from a hundred blokes.
He hits the door and bounces off, staggering. Stupid, stupid. Gotta keep quiet. Don't want the guards waking up. Not fit for fighting them off. Not after Pepe.
Hawks and spits in the direction of the slumped figure.
Bastard. Not this time. Not going belly down for anyone any more.
There's a thud outside and he peers through the bars, straining his eyes to make out anything. Far up the block there's a light burning, a hurricane lamp sending yellow fingers crawling up the walls. Closer, on the ground, two figures. One flat, the other hunched. Impossible to see details, just shapes.
Then the crouching one lifts its head and Bodie screams...
And comes awake with his chest heaving, drenched in cold sweat and worse. Christ all-fucking-mighty. It had been a few years since he had that one and it wasn't leaving him easily. He could still hear the screams as panic spread through the prison, men tearing each other apart in an effort to get away from the thing stalking the corridors. Voices raised, begging and pleading for help. Some crying for their mothers, wives, gods.
And through it all, the vampire. Blood drenched, snaggle-toothed, razor clawed; its hunched body dragging deformed limbs from cell to cell, inhuman strength ripping bodies limb from limb. Nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. It was coming, coming...
"No! Christ no!"
Doyle's hand gripping his shoulder woke Bodie properly this time, banishing voices and memories as effectively as he did gun-waving terrorists.
Bodie nodded, clamping down on his fear and rasping breath, not trusting himself to speak just yet. As soon as he did, Ray'd be all over him, prying and nipping until he found out what had brought his partner screaming to his knees.
Another nod and then, miraculously, Doyle left him alone. Still shaking badly, Bodie clambered off the sofa, snatched up his trousers, and headed for the bathroom. It only took him a few minutes to clean himself up and when he got back, the bedding was gone and with it the stench of fear. A mug of sweet strong tea stood waiting for him on the table.
Bodie grabbed a seat opposite Ray, cupped his hands around the hot ceramic, and waited for the inevitable interrogation.
For long moments, nothing happened. They sat and sipped in silence. Then finally, tired of waiting for the axe to fall, Bodie snapped. "Aren't you gonna ask?"
"Didn't think it was any of my business, mate," Doyle shrugged, taking a nonchalant slurp of his drink that must have burned as it went down. So much for not being curious. If Doyle were a cat, he'd have been dead a thousand times over.
Again there was silence, but not restful. Doyle's fidgeting slowly increased to a steady rotation of his mug in both hands, and a nervous twitch of the eyes that fought and failed to search out Bodie's own.
"Okay, fine, so I do want to know," Doyle finally exploded, leaping up from his seat. "It's not every night you wake up yelling your head off and..." A hand waved aimlessly at the couch.
"Pissing myself in fear?" Bodie completed, his mouth twisting into a half smile at his partner's performance. So typically Ray.
He got an answering smile. "Well, I wasn't gonna say anything, but next time you stay, I'm getting nappies in."
That was better. Bodie let himself grin properly and found the right riposte. "Make sure you stock up on the baby powder then. I'm not planning on suffering a nasty rash." Doyle just shook his head and collapsed back in his chair, his anger gone as quickly as it had arrived. But then that was Ray; flash in the pan temper that'd put the fear of god into most sane men. It was a good thing Bodie was renowned for not being in possession of all his marbles.
"Was that why you brought Shelly up earlier?" Ray asked eventually. "Nightmares."
"Could be," Bodie paused, letting the moment hang, then added, "Or maybe I just fancied letting her see what she passed up." It was a common enough comment, a standing part of their repartee, but Doyle wasn't having any of it tonight.
"Well, you'd make a right good pair, keeping each other awake all night."
Bodie couldn't help it, he bristled. "Look, Ray," he said. "I had a bad dream. It's over. Done. Thanks for coming and waking me, but now I need to get some shut eye before the sun comes up and we've got to report to the mad woman in the attic."
Very obviously given the cold shoulder, Ray retreated leaving Bodie alone in a room that was soon crowded with memories. The worst of it was always the irony. Without the vampire, Bodie would have rotted in that gaol like so many blokes before him. It wasn't the type of place you went to serve out a sentence; it was an oubliette, somewhere to put people they wanted to forget.
Typical of London, there were no parking spaces near the Watcher's Council offices, so they ended up dashing the final few hundred yards through the rain. Drenched and dripping, Doyle leaned against the portico wall and banged on the door. The building was as white and anonymous as any other 'secret' government building, with not even a brass plaque to declare its affiliation.
Bodie was still out in the rain, peering up at the windows. Apart from slight bruises under his eyes, there was nothing to show for his nightmare, and yet it had to have been a bad one to cause that reaction. Africa, probably. Bodie didn't often speak about that part of his past, but Doyle knew enough from his own research that things must have been bad at times. Conrad didn't call the Congo the heart of darkness for nothing.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen. May I please see your identification?" A butler, dressed in the full penguin suit and looking like a refugee from that television show from a few years back, answered the door. His haughty expression turned to one of mild distaste at the sight of Doyle's jeans, even though Doyle'd made an effort and worn the smart ones.
Ignoring the expression, Doyle flipped open his ID. "Doyle, and this is Bodie. We've been seconded from CI5."
The butler took their ID's and, picking up a small perfume vaporiser from a table inside the hallway, proceeded to spray each card thoroughly. Bodie and Doyle exchanged glances but refrained from commenting; they'd obviously walked into a nuthouse.
"Thank you," the butler said, handing back their ID's, glared them for a second and then stepped back with a slight bow. "My name is Harrison and I claim this house as my home. Enter if you are able."
"Why, worried we drowned?" Bodie asked as he pushed past the man into the echoing entrance hall.
Doyle followed, brushing off the worst of the weather and looking around to get the lie of the land. The room was typical of buildings of this era, huge and panelled, but the d´cor was not. Dracula meets Apocalypse Now seemed the closest analogy. Doyle was pretty sure he'd never seen quite so many weapons on public display before, even in the tower. Crossbows nestled alongside automatic rifles, and halberds brushed shoulders with grenades. All in all, a collection designed to intimidate the most hardened criminal. Briefly, Doyle wondered if there was anyone in this bunch of upper class twits who could actually use these things, or if they were just there for display.
"If you would like to follow me, gentlemen." They must have passed a test of some description, because this time they merited a half smile.
They were led down a long dark passageway, past several imposing, but very firmly closed, doors, and into an area that had to be a later extension to the older structure. The walls here felt temporary, much like the ones in the newer CI5 HQ, and everything had the cardboardy feel that Doyle associated with anything constructed after 1960.
This time, the offices were open plan, with large windows onto the corridors, so they were treated to numerous views of employees going about their business.
"Reckon Hooray Henry is uniform?" Bodie whispered after they'd passed the fifth office boasting a tweed-suited inhabitant.
Doyle shrugged. If it was, they'd have to stuff him kicking and screaming into it. Tweed and Doyle did not mix - unless it was a hacking jacket. He quite liked those; especially if they came attached to a pretty girl.
At the very end of the corridor, in a location that smacked of being the arse-end of the universe, the butler stopped and knocked on a door.
"Come," a slightly harassed sounding voice called from inside.
"The... gentlemen from CI5, sir," Harrison said as he opened the door. The slight pause did not go unnoticed, at least by Doyle.
"Ah. Good. Excellent. Show them in will you, Harrison, and arrange for a pot of tea."
"Sir." The butler retreated leaving the door open in obvious invitation.
The room, when they entered, was as incongruous as the entrance hall; modern fixtures and fittings clashed horribly with leather bound books and ancient looking artefacts, faded oil paintings jostled for space alongside a laminate wall planner. And the man fussing behind the desk fitted perfectly. No more than thirty and a good looking bloke, he was dressed in the obligatory tweed and had eyes that seemed decades older.
"Ray Doyle and Bodie, CI5," Doyle said by way of introduction, indicating each in turn as he held out his hand to shake.
"Rupert Giles, Watcher's Council," the man replied, completing the introduction. A stifled snigger came from Bodie's direction, earning him a quizzical glance. "We tend not to use the acronym for obvious reasons."
Doyle cleared his throat to cover a grin. "Yeah, probably a good idea."
"Precisely." Giles gestured to the chairs next to them. "Take a seat. The tea will be with us forthwith. Mrs. Edmunds is extremely efficient."
As the man turned towards a filing cabinet, Doyle received a nudge in the ribs. He looked at Bodie and had to bite his tongue to stop from laughing. His partner was doing a passable impression of their po-faced host, only with crossed eyes.
"Berk," Doyle whispered.
"What?" Giles said, emerging briefly looking a little flustered. "Did you say something?"
"Just wondering what all this is about. Cow- um, Mister Cowley, mentioned something to do with gunrunners."
"Yes. Indeed. Not our usual area of interest, however on this occasion, the gunrunners in question appear not to be quite human. Aha!" With a cry of triumph, Giles extracted a file from the draw and returned to the desk. "Now, I shall have to ask you both to sign some additional documentation. For security reasons, you understand."
"We're both signatories of the Official Secrets Act," Bodie pointed out in his best 'I'll kill you if you don't back off' voice.
Apparently unperturbed, Giles removed his glasses and polished them briskly. "Of course. I realise you have security clearance for the usual things, but as you may have realised, what we do here is far from usual."
He shuffled the papers rapidly, eventually pulling out two sheets and pushing them across the desk. To Doyle's eyes, the forms looked like a standard gagging 'thou shalt not say a word to anyone particularly the press' order. Wonder what made them different? Was it just the Watcher's Council crest at the top?
Bodie, ever the boy scout, pulled a pen from his inside pocket and ostentatiously clicked it.
"Ah," Giles interceded before pen could touch paper. "Actually, these require something a little more binding than ink." From his desk drawer, he produced a corked inkpot and a quill pen. He placed them down carefully, then picked up an ornamental dagger from a display rack behind him and looked askance at his visitors. Pretty obviously they were expected to sign the form in blood.
That proved the final straw for Bodie. Exploding from his chair, he launched into the type of tirade Doyle would have thought impossible from his normally ultra cool partner.
"This is bloody ridiculous!" Bodie yelled, pointing at the dagger, "There is no way in hell you're sticking me with that thing!"
"Bodie, belt up, " Doyle hissed, grabbing his arm.
"Please, Mr. Bodie. I can assure you that no harm will come from this small ritual."
Not mollified in the least by Giles' reassurances, Bodie stood glaring at the Watcher with his arms folded across his chest. What was the idiot playing at? Cowley had let them know in no uncertain terms that they were to follow orders - if they wanted to keep their jobs. And it wasn't like Giles was trying to cut his hand off. A small prick never did anyone any harm. At least not in this context.
When it became obvious that Bodie was still not willing to co-operate, Giles turned to Doyle, "Perhaps you could demonstrate to your recalcitrant friend here that is nothing to worry about."
"Course," Doyle said and held out his hand, palm up.
Bodie immediately reached out and grabbed it. "How much are you taking?" he demanded.
"Simply enough to sign the document, Mr. Bodie, that is all."
"Then do me first." He snatched the dagger from Giles and sliced a small cut into his thumb. Immediately blood beaded out.
Giles dipped the pen into the inkpot and handed it over in silence. Bodie took it from him, dipped the already loaded nib into the blood and then scrawled his name on the bottom of the form. Not waiting for any further instruction, he stuck his bleeding thumb in his mouth and picked up the paper, blowing on it furiously until the blood/ink combination was thoroughly dry.
"Done?" He passed the page back over.
Taking it with a nod, Giles said, "I see you've had dealings of this type before."
"Take these things pretty seriously in Angola," Bodie replied.
"Indeed they do, which goes some way to explaining your paranoia. Not necessarily a bad thing." The two exchanged meaningful glances and then the watcher turned to Doyle. "Would you also prefer to perform your own ritual, Mr. Doyle?"
"Just Doyle'll do." Somewhat disconcerted by the interaction between Giles and his partner, Doyle glanced at Bodie and, upon receiving a nod, said, "Okay. Do what he did, yeah?"
It was hardly a painful task, no worse than a paper cut, but taking his lead from Bodie, Doyle ensured none of his blood spilt and that the paper was dry before he handed it over.
"Thank you, gentlemen." Giles folded the two sheets and placed them on a tray behind him. "And here comes our tea, I believe."
A woman - also dressed in tweed, Doyle noticed - bustled in pushing a tea trolley. After a couple of minutes' activity, the desk was neatly laid with cosy clad pot, willow pattern milk jug with matching cups, and a plate of buttered scones.
"Anything thing else, Mr Giles?"
"Ah, yes, Mrs. Edmunds, perhaps you could arrange for these gentlemen's luggage to be taken to their rooms. I presume it was left in the foyer?" That last was addressed to the two CI5 agents, who looked at each other in confusion.
"Luggage?" Doyle ventured.
"Suitcases? Kitbags?" Not receiving more than frowns, Giles sighed and took his glasses off to clean them. Again. "Whatever contains the accoutrements for your - possibly extended - stay with the Council?"
"Stay?" Doyle echoed. "What'd we wanna stay here for when we've got perfectly good flats to go back to?"
The glasses were being polished furiously now and the words snapped out short and sharp. "Because, as per orders from Major Cowley, the pair of you will remain under this roof during the duration of your secondment. It is considered the safest option."
Bodie might have reached his last straw and got over it, but that was a granary too far for Doyle. "This is bloody ridiculous!"
It was Bodie's turn to do the calming down. "Come on, Ray, you heard what Cowley said yesterday. You fancy being unemployed next week?"
Silence fell between them, though it was almost possible to hear the tension crackling around the room. Into it, Giles bravely spoke. "I have to admit, gentlemen, I am most disappointed. When we requested support from CI5, we were lead to believe that you were the best of the best. As yet I have seen nothing to convince me of that." Giles inclined his head in Bodie's direction. "With due deference to Mr. Bodie's obvious experience of African witchcraft."
"We are the..." Doyle started, then stopped, shaking his head. "And stop calling him Mr. Bodie. He hates it."
"No, I don't," Bodie replied, looking too damn smug for his own good.
"Yes, you do. Last time someone called you that, you said Mr. Bodie was your dad."
Bodie's mouth twitched; a sure sign he was dissembling like mad. "There's a time and a place to mature-"
"You? Mature?" Denied the chance to rant at Cowley, the Watcher's Council and the other bozo's who'd put him in this position, Doyle took his usual tack of lashing out at Bodie. "The day you mature'll be a bloody miracle, mate. They'll send you off to the pope or more likely the funny farm."
"Gentlemen, if you have quite finished." Not waiting for Doyle to regain his seat, Giles continued, "Since you have no clothing or toiletries to your names and I have no desire to keep company with the great unwashed, we shall return to your places of abode this evening and collect them. If everything goes well, then whilst we are out, I shall have an opportunity to observe both of you in combat conditions." The glasses were slipped back on his nose, magnifying icy green eyes. "Tell me, do either of you know how to fire a crossbow?"
Bodie, as it turned out, did, which was bloody typical in Doyle's opinion. When he pointed this out, crossbow in hand for the first time, on an indoor range set up on a long landing, Bodie's only comment had been, "You try eating something shot with a MAG and then see how good you get with a bow."
Fortunately, the process turned out to be similar enough to a handgun that Doyle was able to quickly transfer one set of skills to the other weapon. By the time he'd been given the all clear by Giles, the sun had gone down and it was time to go and collect their things.
Once back outside the labyrinth of connected buildings that made up the Watcher's Council headquarters, Bodie and Doyle headed for the Capri. The rain had stopped but a distinct chill in the air made hurrying a requisite.
Giles brought them up short. "We're taking the tube," he announced.
Doyle, still smarting from this whole affair, bit back a rude comment, stuck his hands in his pockets and strode off up the road.
Behind him, Bodie stayed with Giles, increasingly curious about this apparently mild-mannered man. He was a crack shot with a crossbow, out-shooting Bodie, who considered himself an expert, and there was something about his eyes, his carriage, that belied the outward scholarly appearance. Doyle might be exceptional at spotting the good beneath the tough, but Bodie prided himself on being able to see the opposite; the killer instinct lurking beneath a veneer of good manners. He'd spent half his life with blokes like this. Blokes you'd not think twice about taking home to meet dear old mum, yet who would put down an enemy without a second thought, or a twinge of regret. It took a certain mindset to do that. One Bodie recognised he possessed himself.
"Your partner, he's not terribly happy with this assignment, is he?"
"And yet you, Mr. Bodie, having overcome initial resistance, find yourself intrigued, am I correct?"
"Drop the mister. Just Bodie'll do." He wasn't about to start discussing Doyle's mood swings. Or his interest or otherwise in the case. Unfortunately Giles was not put off so easily.
"Is it scepticism, do you think?"
"You yourself have no such doubts. Have you encountered the supernatural before? During your travels in Africa perhaps?"
Talking about himself, while not comfortable, was better than talking about Ray. ""Yeah well, they take it seriously over there, don't they."
Giles gave him a cynical look. "In my experience people believe in many things, true or not, but an outsider can be harder to convince."
That was getting too close for comfort. Clenching his jaw, Bodie said, "Look, if you want the potted history, why don't you ask Cowley. In the meantime, I could do without the third degree."
"As you wish."
Silence returned and they reached the tube in short order. Being a small station it was virtually deserted, the only other person on the platform being a girl of about twenty. And very pretty she was too, Bodie noted appreciatively. Legs from here to there and tits that'd make a model proud. Her face wasn't bad either; small delicate features in an oval face and cheeks that dimpled when she smiled at him.
He smiled back, just to be friendly, and she dropped her eyes. Yeah, very nice.
Giles was staring at him and he grinned, jerking his head in the girl's direction. "Starting to wish I wasn't on duty."
"Indeed," Giles replied. "A most attractive proposition, though perhaps her fashion sense is a little out of date."
Taking another look, Bodie had to concur. With her straight skirt, kitten heels and smart blouse, she could have been from his mum's generation, but the youthful face disagreed. She looked good in the clothes.
When the train drew up, the girl got into the same carriage. Doyle, having apparently decided to stop sulking, took a seat next to Giles, giving Bodie the opportunity for a little sweet-talking. He might be on duty, but this assignment wasn't going to last forever and if he could at least get a phone number...
"Hello," he said, sidling up to her with his best boyish smile firmly in place. It was a killer and he knew it.
The girl glanced at him and smiled knowingly. "Good evening."
"Come here often do you?" Okay it was a little hackneyed but it worked in certain settings. And this was one of them.
"Every night actually."
"Something like that. Are they your friends?" She nodded to Ray and Giles who were deep in conversation at the other end of the carriage.
"Nah. They just hang around hoping to pick up tips. Bodie, by the way." He offered his hand, not something he often did with women, but there was something about this one.
Her hand was cool, dry, and reminded him of something. "Enchanted," he said, clicking his heels and bowing over her hand in fake show of chivalry. When he glanced up, the smug smile dropped from his face. "Fucking hell!" Gone were cornflower-blue eyes and pale cheeks and in their place was a nightmare of ridges, fangs and animal eyes.
The creature's finger caressed the side of his face and Bodie felt the skin give beneath her claw. "I think I might keep you," she whispered. "I have a yen for pretty things."
In a move that defeated even Bodie's quick reflexes, she moved and caught him in some kind of headlock, his neck bared and muscles screaming as he was bent over backwards. He lashed out wildly to no effect. He might as well have been punching concrete for all the notice she took of him. Then pain lanced through him, tearing at his neck.
Doyle was deep in conversation with Giles when he heard Bodie's curse. For a second, he assumed his partner was being rejected, though Bodie normally reacted more magnanimously than that, even if he got his face slapped. His sixth sense kicked in when he caught a sudden movement out the corner of his eye, but it was Giles who got their first.
Yanking a crossbow out from under his great coat, the watcher was up and off the seat before Doyle could do more than shout Bodie's name.
The woman's hand was twisted in Bodie's hair and her face pressed into his neck. It looked like an amorous embrace until Doyle spotted the blood spilling onto Bodie's shirt collar. "What the...?" he started, automatically reaching for his gun.
He let off two rounds, hitting her in the head - the only part of her visible - and the woman was flung backwards. "Bodie!" he yelled again, and set off up the carriage.
"Come back, you fool," Giles shouted after him, but he ignored it.
No more than six feet from his partner, he was hit by something between a brick wall and a tornado - with fangs - and immediately found himself fighting for his life.
It was the girl, though now it was stretching the bounds of credibility to call her that. No girl Doyle had encountered had a face like something out of a Hammer House movie and a punch like Towser on steroids. Even Susie played fairer than this. Within moments, his head was reeling and his knees turning to jelly. One more blow and Doyle knew he'd away with the fairies.
Acting on pure instinct, Doyle dropped. There was the sound of a string twanging and as he rolled away, a bolt hit the girl right in the heart.
One moment she was there and then - poof - nothing but a cloud of rapidly dispersing dust.
"What the bloody hell?" Doyle gaped at the space she'd been occupying, his brain trying to catch up with his eyes. Then he remembered Bodie and that took priority.
Still seeing stars, he crawled to his partner and pressed fingers up under his jaw to check for a pulse. It was there and regular, if a little fast, but he was unconscious and a little pale. His neck, the blood now slowed to a sluggish trickle, boasted two neat holes. An archetypal vampire bite. By a girl who'd vanished in a puff of dust.
"How is he?" Giles knelt down beside them, looking decidedly unruffled.
"I dunno, he's out for the count," Doyle replied as he loosened Bodie's shirt to check for other injuries. "Was that what I think it was?"
"If you think it was a vampire, then yes." The watcher lifted Bodie's wrist. "Hmm, pulse is steady. He probably passed out from the rush."
"She looked so normal."
"Not entirely. Her clothing for example, was at least three decades out of date and her skin," Giles shook his head, "very pale. Not even a hint of colour in her cheeks."
Doyle was still stuck on the admission that Giles suspected. He stared at the Watcher in a kind of stupefaction before he found his tongue. "We could've been killed!"
"A calculated risk but unlikely. You are both highly trained and I was carrying a crossbow and a stake. At odds of three against one, we had the advantage against a single vampire of that age." He slipped his arms under Bodie's shoulders and sat him up. "Now give me a hand, otherwise we'll have some explaining to do when we get into the next station."
He left Doyle loading Bodie in a taxi and headed in the opposite direction. A quick stop at his flat and Giles was ready for his evening. Or as ready as he ever was. He could have done with not going tonight, but missing a session was more than his life was worth, Raven had made that much clear.
The room above the shop was already crowded when he got there. Taking a seat, he glanced round and saw a couple of new faces alongside the familiar ones, including his sponsor. Some of the people here had been attending longer than Giles, which he found monumentally depressing on occasion. Would he ever have the strength to make it alone?
Once the general buzz of conversation had died and the circle was joined, Raven stood and began her usual introductory speech. "Welcome, everyone. Spellcasters Anonymous is a fellowship of witches who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from magic addiction. The only requirement for membership is a desire to control our power and use it for good."
Giles closed his eyes, wrapping his fingers around his forearm where the mark of Eyghon still polluted his skin. As always, his thoughts drifted to Randall and the way he'd been consumed by the demon. He sighed. God, he was going to get rat-arsed tonight, even if he had drink alone.
Bodie started coming round in the back of the taxi. Groaning pitifully, he opened his eyes and grimaced up at Doyle who was holding him steady.
"What the hell hit me?" he mumbled, "And did you get the number?"
Doyle grinned down at him. "You, old son, are a lucky devil."
"Lucky? Don't feel very lucky."
"Listen, from what I saw, if Giles hadn't been a dab hand with a crossbow, you would have been pale skinned and youthful forever." Doyle paused and frowned. "Hang about. You do have a pulse don't you?"
"Oh very funny." Wincing, Bodie sat up and peered out of the window. "Where are we?"
"On the way to your place. Now he's seen us in action and knows that at least half of us doesn't faint on the job, we get a slightly longer lead."
"That why he's not with us?"
"Yeah. Said he's got some business to attend to and he'll see us in the Red Lion in Holborn just before closing time."
"Red Lion?" Bodie rubbed the plaster on his neck and frowned at his hand. "Isn't that where they do the lock in?"
Their bags in hand, the same taxi dropped them off outside a scruffy looking dive with chipped paint work and damp stains around the eaves. Bodie, after a mug of sweet tea and a cheese buttie with the dimensions of a doorstep, had regained his chipper outlook on life.
Grinning, he rubbed his hands together and said, "What do reckon to charging this little lot to the Council. Reckon they'll go for it?"
"If they won't," Giles answered, stepping out of the shadows, "I'll pick up the tab meself." The watcher could have been a different man. Glasses and tweed were gone, replaced by slicked-back hair, and a leather jacket and jeans, and his accent had dropped several classes.
Bodie exchanged quizzical glances with Doyle, but they followed him into the pub without asking any questions.
The interior of the Red Lion was no better than the outside, but it sold Trueman's and that was enough to bring a smile to all three men's lips. Pints in hand, they retreated to a corner and set about getting meaningfully drunk.
"Knew there was more to you than met the eye," Bodie slurred a couple of hours later.
Giles raised his eyebrows. "Think you're good at judging people, do you, mate? Have you know," he added, waving a finger so close to Bodie's nose that Bodie went cross-eyed, "I'm a bloody good actor, I am. Could be anythin' I wanna be."
"Actor?" Doyle put in. "If you're an actor then I'm...I'm..."
"Lawrence Oliv..Olivi...The one who played Henry the whatsit with the charging horses. For Harry, England and St George." Bodie really wasn't with it. He never forgot a quote.
Doyle cackled. "Sounds like one of our jobs, dunnit. England and St. George!"
"How'd you two lads get messed up with them anyhow," Giles asked.
"'M going for a piss." Doyle lurched out of chair. "Want me to get another round in?"
"Must be drunk," said Bodie to Doyle's retreating back. "Never've offered to buy a round else."
"So what?" The Watcher was slipping in and out of focus. Doyle wasn't the only one who was rat-arsed.
"Oh, that." Bodie stared down at his glass and then took a hearty swig. "Doyle was a copper. Met. How'd you end up with demon hunters anonymous?"
Giles' mouth turned downwards. "Wasn't given a choice. 's in the family. Was all set to be a fighter pilot 'til I got the call up."
"Join the Brylcreem Boys? Christ, couldn't you think of anything better to do?"
Bodie nodded, pride in his previous regiments surfacing. "1st Para and SAS. Good lads."
"And you ended up teamed with an ex-copper. That must've done yer head in."
"Oi!" Bodie might say rude things about Doyle, but someone else doing it was different. "You leave it out, all right. Best bloke I ever worked with."
"Aww, Bodie, never knew you cared." Three more pints got deposited on the table and Doyle slid into his seat and draped himself over Bodie's lap. "Be sending flowers next."
Bodie stared down into glazed green eyes. "You're pissed," he said, stating the obvious.
"Nah. Can still walk inna straight line."
The night was cold, late enough in the year for a ground frost, and the temperature sobered them up quicker than black coffee. Still, Bodie was in the mood for some fun.
"Right," he said, pointing to the middle of the road. "There you go, old son. Fiver says you fall over before you get to the corner."
"You're on." Teetering slightly, Doyle set himself straight, arms stretched out like a kid playing aeroplanes, and started walking slowly up the white line.
"He'll make that no trouble," Giles whispered.
Bodie grinned. "Watch." Casually, he sauntered up beside Doyle and said in a loud voice, "Was gonna tell you about that dream, seeing as you got firsthand info this evening."
Doyle stopped; one leg in the air, balance perfect. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. But, y'know, you're busy and I'll have forgotten by the time you get to the end at this rate. Course, if you did it faster..."
Doyle's eyes narrowed. "Make it a tenner and I'll run."
"Done!" Bodie chortled and hopped away rubbing his hands. "That's my evenings out paid for, for the next month," he called over to Giles.
"Always knew you were a cheap bastard," Doyle yelled and speeded up. Alcohol not withstanding, his balance was excellent and he would have made it easily if Bodie hadn't rugby tackled him a few paces from the end. He went down with thump that knocked the air from his lungs and lay like a beached fish with Bodie grinning down at him. "You cheating sod!" he managed eventually.
"Tut, tut. What would Macklin say?"
Bodie leaned closer, so his lips brushed against Doyle's ear. "Rather bugger you, sunshine."
"Out here? It's bloody freezing. And don't think you're gonna get round me with that. I still wanna hear about that dream."
It was a fair cop, Bodie thought as he dragged Ray to his feet. And now they both had first hand experience with a vampire, he didn't feel such a fool believing in them.
They ended up back at Giles' flat, a poky little place off Holborn High Street, which explained why the Red Lion was his local. Ensconced in tatty chairs beneath Che Guevara posters, Bodie had the distinct impression he should be raiding the place, not coming for coffee.
"Interesting," he said, as Giles returned from the kitchen carrying three mugs.
Giles glanced around and smiled ruefully. "Remnants of a misspent youth," he said. "Haven't been able to part with them yet."
"Thought you said you were recruited early?"
Retrieving a bottle from the top of scratched up old sideboard, Giles explained, "Was, but I fell in with a bad crowd and got sent down from Cambridge. Only went back a few years ago." He held up the bottle. "Fancy a dollop?"
The coffee tasted better adulterated with whisky, though the alcohol went straight to their heads to join the other. Bodie didn't mind; if he was going to share the details of what happened in the Congo, he could do with a bit of Dutch courage.
Doyle gave him all of ten minutes before the questions started. "So? This nightmare? Africa?"
"S'what I thought. Let's have it then."
Bodie sighed. "Yeah, I suppose."
Without adding any of his usual frills, Bodie gave them the bare outlines of how he'd ended up in gaol - an unfortunate misunderstanding regarding a load of RPG's destined for South Africa that had been waylaid by the Congolese army. Doyle's disapproval of arms dealers and smuggling in general pervaded the room, which was why Bodie normally didn't speak about that period of his life. The trouble was the things he'd learnt then, were what made him a good CI5 agent today. He could catch the bastards they were after because at one time, he'd been one.
When it came to actually describing the incident with the vampire, Bodie found his hand searching out the plaster on his neck and rubbing over it fretfully. The others listened in silence as he described waking with the feeling of something being wrong, seeing the creature in the corridor and the fear, the all-pervasive stench of fear, coming from the other cells.
"Should've had me as well, but I saw a chance to get out. Stayed back in the shadows 'til it reached our cell and bashed down the door, then threw the first body I could lay my hands on at it. Hardly slowed the thing down. It ripped the bloke's head off before I could blink. So I worked my way round the cell, yanking men up and shoving them at it 'til it couldn't move for goodies and then did a runner. Left the other prisoners behind and got as far away from that place as I could."
His gaze had stayed firmly unfocused during the tale but now he risked looking, for the disgust and censure that was bound to be on Doyle's face. It was there, but tempered with enough sympathy that he was spurred to justify his actions.
"I did what had to be done. I'm not saying I'm proud of it."
The smile he got for his trouble was worth every qualm.
"I 'aven't a clue what you saw, but it wasn't a vamp." Bodie opened his mouth to protest, but Giles cut him off. "And I'm not saying it didn't have vampiric tendencies, but it wasn't a vampire per se. You saw that one on the train. They look human most of the time 'til they're ready for dinner." He picked up the half empty bottle and offered it around. "My money'd be on some sort of demon."
"Demons as well as vampires." Doyle sighed and shook his head as he poured a healthy shot of whisky into his empty mug. "Next thing you'll be telling us witches are real."
"They are. And a nicer lot you couldn't find. At least the ones working for the Council are. The ones on the other side can get a bit carried away."
"How the hell do you lot manage to stay on top of all this?" Bodie asked. "There was three of us tonight and she nearly got the upper hand."
"Which is what? Some kind of fancy weapon?"
"Yeah, a machine gun that fires wooden bullets. Come on, Ray, don't be daft."
"He's right. She is a weapon. According some, anyhow."
Giles closed his eyes and when he spoke, he seemed to be reciting something, his accent returning to the more familiar middle class. "Into each generation a Slayer is born, one girl in all the world, a Chosen One, one born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires..." With a shudder, he opened them again and stared at the two agents. "Unfortunately, the latest one appeared in Leningrad and the bloody Soviets are refusing to share."
"Typical," Doyle retorted.
Giles shrugged. "It's happened before. Back in 1940, it was a German girl that was Chosen. As I understand it, she ended her days under Mengele's knife. The Nazi's were convinced they could discover the source of her power and reproduce it."
Bodie lifted his mug in a toast. "Here's to crap scientists, then."
"It had nothing to with skill. Even the Council doesn't know who'll be Chosen next, nor how the choice is made. The subject has been studied for centuries with nothing to show for it."
"Okay, so this time around, you're down one Slayer. What does that mean?"
"In operational terms?" Giles asked.
"That it's down to us to keep the streets clean."
"And smelling, even if ever so faintly, of roses and lavender," Bodie and Doyle chorused with wide grins. Doyle continued in a similar vein. "Strikes me we're in the same business, mate, even if your prey's more likely to be armed with fangs than rocket launchers."
"Which is basically why you've been called in."
Bodie sat back. "The case. Gun runners."
"Yeah. Only not human ones." Giles got up and fetched a folder from the sideboard drawer. "I'm not supposed to have this out of the office, but that place drives me up the wall after a few hours." He flipped it open and handed a photograph over to Doyle. "This is the one fronting the operation."
"Hey, that's Marty!" Bodie said, as he caught a glimpse of the picture.
"Friend of yours?"
"Well, friend is stretching it a bit, but he has been known to help us out on occasion."
"Not anymore, he won't." Another photograph followed the first. Rather than a mugshot, this one was candid and showed Marty with a vampire's face.
"Makes sense. Someone decides it's easier to move in on an established business and vamps the boss."
"Agreed. If the brains behind the deal were human. Vampires don't work like that. At least not the normal ones."
"Normal?" Doyle glanced up from staring at the second snap.
Giles nodded. "Like the one on the train. They find a territory and hunt it. That's the limit of their interest in the human world. Oh, they'll steal, cigarettes or alcohol or drugs, whatever they need, but this kind of thing doesn't fit the profile of normal vampiric behaviour."
"What about abnormal?"
This question apparently called for a book, since Giles started searching along his shelves. "There are ancient vampires, sired - um, that is 'turned' - centuries ago, who do things a little differently." He selected a book and opened it to a page with a woodcut print. "This is Kakistos. He's been around since Alexander the Great. Though again he's more concerned with territory and power."
"Guns give you power," Doyle said.
Bodie pursed his lips. "Only owning them, not dealing. Unless we're talking wholesale."
"So maybe it's not a vampire running things."
"You're thinking some other kind of demon, maybe."
Doyle frowned and tapped his fingers against the photo. "Or a human. Do vampires even work with humans?"
The vampire snarled and lunged across the warehouse floor. O'Malley side-stepped and struck out with a stake, planting it deep in the vampire's heart and watching unmoved as it exploded into dust.
"Right," he said staring around the room. "Any of the rest of you bastards want to give that a try?" There was a general impression of figures backing off, shaking their heads. O'Malley sneered at them, "Just like I thought. A bunch of frickin' lily-livered pansies, the lot o'you."
Turning his back on them out of principle, he stalked into the centre of a circle marked out in the middle of the room and called, "Bring us another."
Two burly vamps, dragging a third in chains, made their way across to the edge of the encircled area and stood waiting for further orders.
O'Malley waved a hand and moved to the opposite side as a cage began lowering from the ceiling. As it appeared, the chained vampire started to struggle. "Let me go! You ain't got no right doing this. It's sick, is what it is. Let me go, you bloody bastards!" He might as well have not bothered for all the notice anyone took.
Once the cage touched down, the door opened and the vampire thrown inside, the others retreated.
"Ready?" O'Malley called out and, upon hearing an affirmative reply, said, "Open her up then."
With a screech of gears, the roof started to roll back letting sunlight stream into the room. It penetrated as far as the painted circle, and soon encompassed the cage and its contents. Initially the vampire inside panicked, screaming and trying to climb up the bars as the sunlight approached, but when it touched him and he didn't burst into flames, he relaxed and stared up at the gleaming blue sky.
"It's beautiful," he muttered, his face awe-struck. "Look at the colours!"
"Could be we've found a winner," O'Malley said as his partner emerged from behind the complex winch mechanism.
"Possibly. But let's give it few minutes before we start celebrating, shall we? I do so hate being premature with these things."
"Ah, you're such a pessimist Ethan, so you are. Between the two of us, it's only a matter of time 'til we get it right."
As O'Malley spoke, the vampire in the cage began to smoke. For a moment it didn't notice and continued staring at the sky, but as the flames caught, it screamed and batted at them in the vain hope of putting them out. Thirty seconds later there was nothing left of it but a slowly settling pile of ash.
"Unfortunately for that poor chap, this was not the occasion."
"Lost another one, have you? Call that a bit careless. Reckon I might have to start charging more for the hire of me fangs," a voice said from the shadows.
"Spike!" O'Malley turned to the newcomer and let rip. "Where the bloody hell have you been? I damn near had a riot on me hands earlier."
"Relax, you'll be fine so long as you keep wearing that." Spike, a punk dressed in a long black leather trench coat, strolled over and flicked a black polished fingernail at the high collared jacket O'Malley was wearing. Where he touched the embroidered crosses covering it, his skin started smoking slightly. "Who'd you kill this time?"
"That rotten little turd, Albie. Always making trouble, he was, and getting the others all riled up along with it."
"No loss, then. Just teach the others to give you a wide berth." Spike wandered over to the cage, took a brief look in, and sauntered away again. The whole trip took him precisely the same amount of time as it had for the dead vampire to catch fire. "Course," he said when he got back to O'Malley, "if they all decided to rush you at once, you'd stand the same chance as a Catholic at an Orange Day Parade, so don't go getting any stupid ideas."
O'Malley's face twisted in rage and he took a threatening pace towards the smaller man. Not moving, Spike smirked up at him, not showing an ounce of fear despite being a good six inches shorter.
"Now then, boys, let's leave the fighting to the underlings, shall we?" Ethan said, stepping between them and placing a hand on each man's chest.
"One of these days, you're gonna overstep the mark, vampire," O'Malley growled.
Spike grinned and dropped his head, coming up all fangs and ridges. "You'll know when I do, O'Malley. Believe me, you'll know when I do."
Doyle woke to the dulcet tones of Bodie's snoring. Blinking blearily, he sat up, stretched his stiff neck and looked around. Sleeping bag? Oh, yeah. They'd kipped over at Giles' last night, since getting back into Watchers' HQ after nightfall was a pain in arse, apparently. As things stood, even a full ritual would have been preferable to a night on the floor three feet from Bodie.
"Oi!" he called and kicked his partner in the kidneys.
Bodie grunted and pulled the bag over his head. The way he refused to move in the mornings made Doyle wonder at times how the hell he'd ever survived the jungle, let alone the army. Neither was well known for carrying dead wood and Bodie was certainly that first thing.
"Come on, shift yourself, you lazy git."
With the second kick, Bodie emerged from his sleeping bag like a tortoise from its shell. "Can think of better ways of getting woken up than a boot in the back."
"What, here? And have Giles walking in on us? You're insane."
"Nah, I'm lovely, I am." Bodie rolled over and stretched, treating Doyle to the rare sight of large amounts of bare pale skin.
He laughed. "You've just woken up, mate. Even you're pushing it for lovely with stubble like that and whisky breath."
Without warning, Bodie leapt at him and they toppled over backwards, Doyle defending himself from fingers and lips, which seemed intent on committing serious assault. But it took a better man than he to resist when Bodie was dead set on snogging him into submission. At the first touch on his morning hard on, Doyle relinquished his hold on the moral high ground and dug his fingernails into Bodie's back. Bodie groaned into his mouth and started humping his leg.
"Always knew you were a perv. Get off on it, don't you."
"Get off on you," Bodie answered and dove in for another kiss.
They shouldn't be doing this, not here. Doyle had no idea what the Watcher's policy was on homosexuality, but he knew CI5's. It was the one thing Cowley had been up front about when Doyle signed up. 'Know this, laddie,' the old man had said, 'I know what you've done in the past, but there'll be none of that in this organisation, d'you understand?' Since then he'd been good and stuck to the ladies. Except for these encounters with Bodie, who, it turned out, had been treated to the exact same lecture.
It wasn't until they'd compared notes one night that they realised their backgrounds were similar in that regard. They'd both mucked around with both genders, and had both given it up on Cowley's say so. Bodie had all been for sticking to his word, but Doyle, more used to the old man's double and triple think, reasoned that there had to have a good explanation for him and Bodie being partnered, and this was as good as any. Screwing each other meant keeping it in the family and removed the security risk, and it would be typical of Cowley to put one over on the prejudice he despised in any way he could. It'd taken some fast-talking, but eventually Bodie had capitulated and now they had a regular arrangement. It was good, for both of them, and kept the tension down to mere sizzle. Bloody useful in times of high stress.
Or mornings after.
And it didn't matter how many times they did it, it still felt good. Letting his eyes fall closed, Doyle arched into Bodie's touch as it dragged slowly up his body. Wrong way, he wanted to say, until nails pinched at his nipples. He gasped into the kiss and felt Bodie smile against his lips.
"You bastard," he whispered.
"Only the best for you."
"Then bloody well stop mucking about."
"Your wish in my command." If only Bodie were as biddable in real life as he was in bed, but then he wouldn't be Bodie - arrogant, smug, and confident enough to ensure Doyle's back was safe at all times.
Currently he was making sure other things were safe. Wriggling down Doyle's body, and making contact all the way down, he settled between Doyle's parted legs.
"Urgh!" Doyle cried out as a warm wet tongue licked his cock from base to tip.
"Shh, or you'll have the Watcher down on us."
"Both of us?" The idea had its appeal. He was a nice looking bloke was Giles. Apparently that wasn't what Bodie meant, since he gave Doyle a death glare. "Okay, okay," Doyle chuckled. "No watcher menage-a-trois, I get it."
The warm wet was back, but this time right around Doyle's cock, swallowing him whole. "Christ," he muttered and shoved the side of his hand between his teeth. It made an adequate gag and stopped him yelling his head off as his hips pumped, fucking Bodie's mouth.
Good, so good. It took skill to make a throat seem bottomless and Bodie had it in spades. Went on forever and closed around him like a glove. The tension that had left him stiff and aching that morning gathered in Doyle's belly and balls and without even a muffled shout as warning, he came.
He was still panting and riding the aftershocks when Bodie crawled up his body and straddled his chest. Some part of his brain recognised the need for reciprocation, pity his body wasn't having it. But he didn't resist when a strong hand lifted and cradled his head and a cock nudged insistently at his lips. He just opened up and let Bodie take charge, easing in and out, never far enough to hurt him. Gentle all the way, was Bodie. Surprising for such a hard bloke.
Recovering some semblance of control over his body, Doyle rested his hands on Bodie's hips to let him know it was okay to speed up, that he was able to contribute to proceedings. Muscles twitched and jerked under his fingers and he moved his tongue, rubbing it along the underside of Bodie's cock, hearing a gasp of pleasure and tasting a surge of precome.
With Bodie crouched over him like this, there was nothing else. Just breath in and out, cock in and out; sight and smell and everything concentrating down to the essence of his partner. Partner in all ways, in bed and out, behind four walls and facing the public.
A hand slammed into the floor next to Doyle's head as Bodie rocked forwards, trying to get deeper. Doyle opened his throat and grabbed two handfuls of sleek muscled flesh, urging Bodie to greater effort. It worked. Eyes screwed shut, back arched and shuddering, Bodie finally let go and Doyle's mouth filled.
Doyle swallowed and turned his head so he could speak. "Yeah." It came out a bit croaky, not really a surprise. "Shift, will you."
"Give us a sec. Me legs have gone."
Grinning, Doyle pinched Bodie's thigh, eliciting a very satisfactory yelp and a thunderous collapse sideways.
"Cruel," Bodie complained. The effect was somewhat spoilt by the sappy grin on his face and the relaxed posture. Sprawled was a good word for it. The sleeping bags had migrated somewhere across the room and Doyle was pretty sure he had carpet burns on his back. Not that he cared. He was approaching sappy himself.
A discrete knock at the door sent them scurrying for clothes and by the time the door opened, they had on one shirt and one pair of undies between them.
"You two decent?" Giles appeared round the door, a knowing grin plastered on his face. "I can always come back later if you're not."
Bodie and Doyle exchanged worried glances. Was this where they got told their services were no longer wanted? Although he would have welcomed that yesterday, Doyle had finally got his teeth into this case and being taken off it would be frustrating.
Giles pushed the door open further and came into the room. He was wearing a green towelling robe, thigh length and tied low with a belt, which showed off his strong legs and broad chest extremely well. "If you're bothered I might report your extra-curricular activities," he said as he picked his way across the living room, "then don't be. The Watchers don't give a flying fuck who you're shagging so long as it's human, and as far as your boss is concerned, what he doesn't know won't hurt him."
He vanished into the kitchen and, soon after came the sound of a kettle being filled. In a flurry of clothes, Bodie and Doyle finished dressing and, when Giles returned with the tea, they were sitting innocently in separate chairs. He took one look at them and laughed out loud. "Butter wouldn't melt in your mouths, would it," he said and put the tray down. "There's only one problem."
"What's that?" Bodie asked.
Giles didn't answer; he simply poured the tea and brought a cup over to Doyle.
"You missed a bit," he said and, once Doyle had taken the cup, reached out and ran a finger across Doyle's wet chin.
Doyle flinched, feeling the blush rise up his cheeks. "Thanks," he muttered and slurped his drink, keeping his eyes firmly on the wall opposite. At least until he heard Bodie's snigger and glanced over. Bodie was grinning from ear to ear, at Giles. Which meant Doyle had to look at Giles. Who was also grinning.
"Okay, what's so funny?"
"Oh, nothing, sunshine," Bodie said, "Except we've walked into the lair of a like minded fellow."
"We've what?" This was getting too confusing. Right now Doyle was tempted to give it up and go back to bed. If he'd had a bed to go back to.
"Giles bats for both sides."
"As I presume the two of you do."
"Bats? Us?" It had to have been a night spent on the floor. Either that or shooting his brains out through his cock, but eventually Doyle caught up. "You're gay."
"Bisexual," Giles qualified. "The 'bad lot' I fell in with included a young man of certain charms." Sighing, he flopped into the empty chair, giving everyone a great view up his robe - accidentally on purpose, Doyle was sure. "Was a bloody idiot getting involved with Ethan, but not because he was a bloke."
"So, you're not gonna say anything to anyone about us, then?" Doyle asked, still a little confused.
Bodie gave him a pitying look and turned to Giles. "Never mind him. He's quite bright on a good day. Let's start on this gun running business."
After taking a decorous sip of tea, which really didn't go with the exposed crotch shot, Giles said, "That's up to you two. You're the experts. And before you say anything, I had to pull in a few favours to get you seconded in the first place and there's... certain restrictions. The Council doesn't approve of rubbing shoulders with the hoi-poloi, so unless Major Cowley comes up trumps, we're on our own if anything goes wrong."
"Lovely," Bodie said. "Always nice to know we're wanted." He sat up straight and took a sip if tea. "If this was a normal job, we'd start with Marty, since he's the face we know."
Doyle nodded. "And he's involved up to his fangs."
"Stakeout?" Bodie queried with a grin.
"Won't be easy," Giles interjected, giving Bodie a sideways glance. "Remember this is no ordinary criminal. A vampire's sense of smell is a hundred times better than a human's."
Doyle frowned thoughtfully over his teacup. "Would it be able to smell metal? Or is there a smell that would cover it up maybe."
"Bug?" Bodie said.
"Seems like the easiest way. And you should be able to get close enough to do it."
"I could probably conceal the smell for twenty-four hours, if the bug were small enough."
Bodie stuck his hand in his jacket pocket and pulled out a small metal disc, the size of a watch battery. "That do you?"
"I feel stupid."
Bodie tried fixing his expression in sympathetic mode, and failed. "Makes Ross' jokes about boys with toys very apropos, don't you think?" According to Giles, these new guns were a more effective weapon against vampires, so their usual ones were back at his flat, locked in a strongbox under his bed and set to stay there, unless they found out humans were involved.
"Oh yeah. She'd love this." Doyle agreed, then grinned, raised his gun and fired at Bodie.
"Bloody hell!" The Capri swerved across the road, earning a sharp hoot from the car behind. Rubbing his wet ear against his jacket, Bodie let go of the steering wheel with one hand and leaned over to snatch the gun from his partner. "Waste the water, why don't you. I'm sure we can pick some more up from a church on the way."
Relieved of his water pistol, Doyle turned his attention to the other weapon in their arsenal. It might look like a twelve-inch piece of wood, but according to Giles it was a stake, lovingly hand carved from blessed Rowan wood and guaranteed to put down the hardiest of vampires - so long as you scored a direct hit on the heart. Bodie was pretty sure of his own ability to hit that vital organ, a knife or a piece of wood didn't make much difference, but he worried about Ray. Oh, he'd do it, there was no doubt about that, his partner wasn't the same man who'd grieved for young Coogan all those years ago, but that didn't stop Bodie wanting to protect him from the guilt.
Having said that, it was more than his skin was worth to talk about it, so he kept his concerns to himself and parked up opposite the warehouse that their sources said was Marty's new place of business.
"If you like the soot and beams look. Would suit a vamp though; not much daylight."
Since hail fellow well met was Bodie's typical form of greeting with Marty, he stuck to it when he opened the main door. "Marty! Bit of a change from the Woolwich Ferry, isn't it?"
The arms dealer advanced slowly into the light - fluorescent, rather than natural, Bodie noted, and as he came close, his nostrils flared. They must have passed the test because he smiled and said, "Bodie, old chap, nice to see you again. Having rifle troubles are we?"
If he hadn't known better, Bodie would have sworn this was his friend, alive and well. It wasn't, and he had to remember that. This was a demon wearing his friend's face, nothing more, and the memories were stolen, lifted piecemeal from Marty's brain when he was murdered.
"Not this time Marty, just after a bit of information. Doyle here's got the details. Wanna fill him in, Ray?" They'd agreed this beforehand. With Doyle keeping Marty's attention, Bodie could scout around and then plant the bug when he had a chance. The old Marty was more likely to have trusted Bodie and they were hoping this version still carried enough residual feelings to let it's guard down.
Doyle opened a folder on top of a tea chest. "We're tracing a shipment of DU shells, a new design. Some smart alec lifted them while his boss was looking the other way, but we managed to get a basic description from an eye witness. We wondered if there was anyone new on the scene and these are mugshots..."
As Doyle continued to bend Marty's ear, Bodie wandered off down the chasm-like gaps between the stacks of crates. If this lot was all guns, then business must be booming and that wasn't good news for civilisation. The people who used the Marty's of this world were one of two types, either specialists looking for a specific piece - like the good old 180 - or illegal shippers wanting something under the table.
In the past, Marty hadn't dealt with the latter very often, preferring to keep his nose clean and deal with the rare and select. But by the looks of things, he was less choosy these days.
At the back of the warehouse was another door and, after glancing back to check Marty was still distracted, Bodie silently eased it open. The space beyond was smaller than the storage area but large enough that a good part of it was in shadow. And it seemed unused, except for a circle about the size of a Greco-Roman wrestling ring painted on the floor.
Releasing his gun - his heart pounding momentarily at the weight difference - Bodie pressed close to the wall and slunk further into the room. He'd gone no more than five paces when Marty called out, "Be careful back there, Bodie, the roof isn't as safe as it looks."
As though reacting to his words, the ceiling above Bodie creaked alarmingly. He backed up, deciding that nothing that important could be stored in there, and anyway, he wasn't willing to take the risk without Doyle to back him up.
"Might want to get that checked out," he called back as he holstered his gun and re-entered the main warehouse. "Could be an insurance liability."
Both Marty and Doyle glanced up as he approached, and he stuck his hands in his pockets, palming the bug.
"Why do you think things are so crowded in here," Marty said, gesturing at the closely stacked crates. "I suppose I should have a lock put on that door but I wasn't expecting such nosy visitors."
The dig could have been genuine Marty, but the chill in the eyes wasn't. Bodie ignored it and came closer, close enough to lean over Marty's shoulder, ostensibly to peer at the album Doyle was flicking through. Close enough to put a friendly hand on Marty's neck.
Marty froze for a second and then flinched away from him, moving rapidly to the other side of the chest, having given Bodie only just enough time to pin the bug under his collar.
"What about this one?" Doyle said, shoving a picture of a known safecracker under Marty's nose.
Marty glanced down at it. "No. Look, I'm sorry, I already said that I don't know about anyone new in town and I have an appointment in five minutes. Not that I wouldn't love to chat but my guests won't be happy to see a couple of CI5 boys here. Why don't you dig around a little and I'll keep my ears open. Between us we should be able to work out who the new player is."
"Not a bad idea that," Bodie said.
Doyle nodded. "Yeah, okay. Tell you what, we'll leave you our number and if anything turns up, you can give us a bell."
As the door closed behind the two agents, two figures emerged from the back room.
"Trouble?" Spike asked.
"I don't think so," Marty answered. "Bodie's come to me for help before. He was a friend. We ran a few deals together years ago."
"What about the other one?"
"His partner." Marty smiled. "In more ways than one. They stank of each other. Oh, and someone's already had a nibble at Bodie, I could smell the blood."
"Yummy," said the other figure, a woman in a flowing white dress. She waltzed over to the main door and pressed her hand against it for a second. Then she looked up, smiled and licked her fingers one at a time. "Tasty morsels. A sun-golly and another blue-eyed William. Can we have them, Spike? For dinner and pets."
"Leave it out, Dru," Spike said in a long-suffering voice. "They could have been Laurel and Hardy for all you could see from back there." She pouted and immediately he held out his hand. "I'm sorry, princess, but daddy's busy right now. Why don't you go back through and play with the doll I brought for you."
"It's dead," she answered. "I wanted to play blind man's buff, but it didn't take kindly to being blinded."
"That's probably because you pulled its eyes out. How about the telly? Maybe there's something on you can dance to?"
"Having problems with the little woman again, Spike?" O'Malley said as he came in.
Dru hissed and went for him, stopped only by Spike swinging her from her feet and holding her tightly. "I've bloody told you, you git, stop winding her up if you don't want to end up as fucking dinner!"
Sneering, O'Malley pushed past them, close enough that his jacket pressed against Dru's legs hard enough to burn, and went straight out through the front doors.
Spike spat after him and let Dru go once there was no point hanging on to her. He wished he could just let her eat O'Malley, but the human was the brains behind this set-up and he was too bloody useful to kill.
Doyle was halfway out of the car before Bodie could open his eyes and stick his hand out to stop him. "What?"
"O'Malley," Doyle answered, jerking his head in the direction of a retreating broad back.
"Wouldn't forget that ugly mug in a hurry."
That was true, Bodie reflected. He and Doyle had been on O'Malley's trail on and off for six months. Thinking quickly about water pistols and stakes, and the likelihood of ending up having to use the latter on a something that would bleed, he said, "I'll take him, you keep watching this place."
"'Cause you've taken on a vampire before and I haven't."
There was a pause while Doyle thought about it, then he sank back into the car saying, "Yeah, okay. But be careful, all right, O'Malley could have been turned and all."
"Ray, it's bright sunshine out there and he's walking down the middle of the road."
Following O'Malley turned out to be child's play. Obviously not the least bit on his guard, the Irishman didn't look behind him once as he made his way across town, stopping off at a tobacconists and a betting shop. Bodie lurked outside each, making a note of exactly where they were and how long O'Malley was inside. It wasn't a hard and fast rule, but less than five minutes normally meant nothing untoward was afoot.
The third place was different. Initially Bodie mistook it for an adult shop, since the front was painted out, but on closer inspection, he realised it wasn't. The name, Jana's Gate, and the clientele, a goodly selection from nubile young ladies to blue-rinsed grandmothers, suggested something quite different.
Cursing his inability to call for back up, Bodie took a deep breath and pushed open the door. The inside of the shop was dark, dingy, and smelt strongly of heavy incense. Shelves stacked with packets of herbs and strange figurines crowded the small space and he picked his way carefully through keeping his ears open for O'Malley. He didn't have to for listen long.
"And that last lot of dragon's blood was close on rancid by the time it arrived," O'Malley was saying.
Bodie crept closer and peered round the edge of a shelf. He could only see O'Malley's back, but by the expression of the shop girl's face, he was being his usual pleasant self.
"This time, try and get the order right, else I'll be back here among you sorting things out. Understand?"
"Y-Yes, sir," the girl said, her face flushing.
"Aye, then see that you do," O'Malley said in a parting flourish and turned to leave.
Bodie ducked back behind the shelf and once O'Malley had gone, took out his wallet and approached the counter. "Hello, sweetheart," he said, flashing his ID. "You couldn't give me a copy of that gentleman's order, could you?"
She stared at him, wild-eyed, for a moment. "He's not in trouble, is he? We don't want no trouble 'ere." Even as she spoke, she was ripping the carbon out of the book and handing it over.
"No, no trouble. We're just keeping an eye on him, that's all." Taking the order, Bodie folded it and slipped it into his notebook. "You send the stuff along just like he asked."
Outside the shop, he caught sight of O'Malley just coming out of an off licence and picked up the tail again. It led him straight back to the warehouse and Doyle waiting in the car.
"Anything?" he asked as he got in.
"Not a twitch. You?"
"Possible. O'Malley went and did some shopping. Sit tight while I go phone the list through to Giles."
Doyle watched his partner's retreating backside in the wing mirror and sighed. Somehow he'd thought a surveillance job on vampires would be more interesting than one on humans. It was amazing how wrong you could be. He shivered and turned on the heater. The sky that had promised so much earlier had turned leaden and rain was threatening. Bodie'd end up getting soaked if he didn't hurry up.
A quick glance in the mirror showed him that Bodie had vanished, presumably round the corner where Doyle vaguely remembered seeing a phone box. When he looked back, he nearly jumped out of his skin. Sitting on the bonnet of the Capri was a beautiful dark-haired girl of about twenty. Lovely, except she was thin and shivering in the chill wind. Not surprised, Doyle thought, that dress wasn't exactly designed for a London autumn.
Winding down the window, he called, "You all right?"
She stared at him with glistening unhappy eyes and shivered again, enough to make any man rediscover his chivalrous side and Doyle was no exception. Getting out of the car, he slipped off his jacket and wrapped it around the girl's shoulders. She was freezing and colourless with cold.
"What are you doing all the way out here, love? Bit far, innit, for a little thing like you."
"So far that the stars have hidden," she told him seriously.
Great, not only was she lost, she was a nutcase. Doyle looked hopefully down the road in case, by some miracle, Bodie was on his way back. He wasn't.
"What's your name, sweetheart?"
Her eyes reminded him of one of those old fashioned film stars - Betty Davis, that was it - large and luminous. "I had a name, once upon a time," she said. "But daddy called me Drusilla."
Daddy. Right. Doyle got a sudden creepy feeling up his spine, one he remembered from years ago in the Met. Then it was when he and Anne Seaford were rescuing those underage girls. It was his victim alarm. The thing that told him nothing good had happened to this young woman.
Putting his arm round her, he flicked back a wayward tendril of hair and said, "Never mind, love, I've got you now."
She stared at him, and for a moment he thought he was falling into her eyes. Which was bloody ridiculous, but the sensation was enough to make him shudder and glance up at the sky. "It's gonna rain in a mo. You wanna get in the car?"
"Curls," she said. "My sisters put rags in their hair but eventually their hair all fell out."
"You poor cow," Doyle breathed, searching the girl's face for any sign of lucidity. "What in god's name happened to you."
"Ahhh..." Her red tipped fingernails wove in front of his face. "Such a tale I could tell, if we only had the time. Would you like time? There's centuries in a heartbeat if it's what you want."
"Dru!" A voice called from the other side of the road. "What are you doing out here?"
Doyle glanced round and immediately slid off the car. With that amount of jewellery, bleached hair and a leather coat, the man approaching had to be the girl's pimp. "Back off, mate," Doyle said, setting himself for a fight. "She's with me now."
The man ignored him. Completely ignored him. He looked straight past him at Drusilla. "What the bloody hell's that?" he asked her and Doyle got the distinct impression he was being talked about.
"It's a golly." Drusilla crossed her legs and leaned back on the bonnet letting her hair fall down her back like a metaphorical waterfall. And suddenly the waif was gone, now she looked more like Morticia Adams, or the Bride of Dracula.
Bride of Dracula. Pale skin. Out of date clothing. Bugger. Doyle fished for his water pistol. It wasn't there. He'd left it in the car, not thinking he'd need it outside during daylight. Except the clouds were so full of rain that it was twilight dark at three in the afternoon.
The obscure conversation carried on, both the vampires - because he was certain that's what they were - completely ignoring Doyle, who decided that now might be a good time to leave, even if it did mean abandoning the Capri. He backed away a few steps, keeping his eyes firmly on the bickering couple, then spun and sprinted off down the road.
Doyle knew he was fast. Not as fast as Bodie over a short distance, but still faster that most of the men on the squad, so it was a little disconcerting to be running full tilt down the road and have someone trot up alongside you, looking like they were taking a morning jog.
"Going somewhere?" the punky vampire asked with a grin that showed off his fangs.
"Only to your bloody funeral." In one swift move, Doyle threw himself forwards and rolled, coming up into a crouch with a stake gripped in his right hand.
The punk laughed and began circling. "Missed it by a century," he said and his black coat snapped in the rising breeze.
Goosebumps rose on Doyle's arms. A century. Was that old for a vampire? He cursed himself for not asking more questions when he had the chance.
The punk feinted left. Doyle dodged, only to move straight into the path of an oncoming fist. He didn't stand a cat in hell's chance when it connected.
"That's the lot," Bodie said, tucking the phone under his chin and folding the order form to stick it back in his pocket. "Any idea what they might be up to?"
"Some kind of spell, it has to be with that list." Speaking from work, Giles' accent was once more on the acceptable side of proper pronunciation. "And you say that this chap, O'Malley, is wanted by CI5 already?"
"Yeah, he's got a bit of a rep for supplying arms to some of the nastier low lives."
"In fact pretty much what he's doing now, except there was no hint of magic in his previous dealings, I assume."
"Haven't a clue, mate." Bodie said, digging for another two pence piece and feeding it into the phone. "Look, I'm gonna have to go. You take a gander at that and then meet us down here in a couple of hours, okay?"
Since everything had been quiet when he left, Bodie stopped off for a paper on the way back to the car. It would give him something to read between observation duties. He had his nose stuck firmly in the racing results as he walked up the pavement and thus didn't realise anything was wrong until he put his foot on the abandoned stake and nearly fell over.
"Doyle?" The front door of the Capri was gaping open; the keys still in her. "Doyle!" The water pistol full of holy water lay on the passenger seat.
Bodie was frantic. Sprinting to the end of the road, he looked desperately right and left. Maybe Doyle had gone for a piss. It was against the rules but... Ah, who was he kidding. If he'd done that, then the car would be locked and the pistol gone.
Shit, shit, shit!
Bodie punched the wall in frustration. It was obvious that Doyle had been snatched, and by whom, but there was sod all Bodie could do about it. Alone, unarmed, and without backup, knowing that Marty was inside with O'Malley and who knew how many other creepy crawlies, he'd be stupid to even consider going in there. However much he cared about his partner.
And yet here he was thinking that exact thing.
Mind made up, he ran back to the Capri jumped in and screeched away. If he was going to do this, then he was going in properly armed.
There was a CI5 stash only half a mile away from Marty's warehouse and that's where Bodie headed. It was supposed to be for agents on assignment only and since he and Doyle were currently seconded to the Council, he was technically no longer a CI5 agent. If Cowley wanted to split protocol hairs, Bodie'd do it with him later. Right now, Doyle's need was greater.
His jaw was a ball of agony. His neck, stiff that morning, now felt like he'd been front seat at a ten-car pile-up. And he was face down in something damp and musty smelling. Doyle groaned and tried to roll over. Something hard bit into his wrists, and when he yanked, it made a clanking sound. Cuffs, then.
Painfully, he lifted his head and looked around with his one functioning eye. He appeared to be in a bedroom, on a huge four poster bed covered by a dusty canopy - the bed that was, not him. He was as naked as the day he was born and it wasn't altogether warm in here.
"Dru! The puppy's awake!"
Doyle whipped round the other way and found himself face to face with the punk, who was sat on the edge of the bed. A hand came out to touch his hair and he flinched away. Not far enough. Long fingers tangled in his curls and tugged on them, pulling his head back further.
"What you call these then? Some kind of afro effort? Thought those went out in the seventies."
"Least I'm aiming for original. Billy Idol know you nicked his look?"
For a second the punk's face twisted in rage, then he opened his mouth and laughed. "I like you. You've got nerve. Chained stark bollock naked to a bed by a blood-sucking monster about to undergo who knows what kind of terrible tortures and you've still got the bottle to answer back. Takes guts, that. Nice one."
Giles was still at work when he got the message.
Doyle taken, going in. Follow with back up ASAP. Bodie.
Prat. How could he be so bloody stupid!
Gathering his papers, Giles shoved everything into his briefcase any which way, and headed for the main door. Miles away, and worrying about he'd find when he followed Bodie on his suicide mission, he walked out of the building and straight into the man standing at the bottom of the steps.
"I'm so sorry," he apologised, taking a step backwards, and a second look at the stranger. The man was tall and very handsome, Mediterranean looking, with collar length dark hair slicked back in a stylish cut.
"Please, do not apologise, Mr. Giles. It was all my fault."
"Well... yes, well... quite." Giles reached for his glasses, realised he was trying to use the hand holding the briefcase and gave up. "Can I help you, Mr...um."
"Ah, names, they are such a strange phenomenon, are they not. Saying so much and yet telling so little." The man smiled and Giles' heart increased to a thunder. "Call me, L'immortale."
"The immortal," Giles murmured under his breath as he accepted the hand offered to him. He couldn't be a vampire; his hand was warmer than Giles' own, but it was possible he was a demon of some kind. "What are you?"
"Again you ask me things it is almost impossible to answer, at least in the small amount of time we have." L'immortale gave a passing impression of a Gallic shrug. "Your friends are in danger, no? Are they not more important right now than the source of that help?"
Giles thought about it. As a Watcher he should put aside all personal attachments and focus on defeating evil, wherever it may lie. As a man, he wanted Bodie - and Doyle - to survive. He nodded, once, decisively. "Yes, they damn well are. Are you offering help?"
"There may be some little I can do. The creatures you face are familiar to me from many years ago. We have a history, you might say, and I would see them removed. But first, Rupert, allow me this."
He took a step closer, gathered Giles into his arms and kissed him deeply. Giles' heart went from thunderous to silent to positively polka-ing. "Wha-What did you do that for?" Giles asked when he was finally released.
L'immortale smiled kindly at him. "You looked like a man in great need."
It wasn't enough. Surveying the small arsenal he'd accumulated, Bodie racked his brains for that last thing, the thing that would make the difference between success and failure. A sub machine gun capable of slicing a man's legs off would handle any humans and at least slow a vampire down; it was all a matter of where he aimed it. A .44 magnum loaded with dum-dums to maximise damage, with 5 spare clips, would do for a closer range weapon. Concussion grenades would disorient most things and he added three to his pockets. But he had to keep the balance between having enough and still being able to move. Doyle might use him as a packhorse, but Bodie knew he'd be no use in a fight if he was loaded down.
Unfortunately CI5 didn't stock crossbows as standard, or incendiary devices.
Of course! That was the missing ingredient.
Slamming the car boot shut, Bodie turned his attention to the other part of the stash; food and general supplies. Alcohol, being useful for everything from disinfectant to a quick pick me up, was stored here in a reasonable quantity. He spent the next five minutes opening and emptying bottles, and refilling them from the petrol can in the spares area. Half a dozen triangular bandages made primers that he could soak and tie on later.
Finally satisfied, Bodie leapt back in the Capri and set off back to the warehouse. Those vamps wouldn't know what hit them when this one-man army came to visit.
Doyle wasn't entirely sure how he'd ended up in this position, but he was grateful he wasn't dead. Yet. Yes, 'yet' definitely had to be a qualifier, since being the filling in a sandwich between two naked, and very randy, vampires had to be the very definition of an uncertain future.
His face was wet; it was likely he'd been crying though he couldn't remember why or when. Currently there was nothing but sensation. Fingernails scratching up and down his torso, sometimes drawing blood and sometimes not. He could no longer tell. Under experienced hands, pleasure and pain had collapsed into each other aeons ago.
"Please." His voice sounded hoarse, strained, as if he'd been screaming. Had he been screaming? Maybe. That was something else to file away in the part of his mind that was rapidly filling with unknowns.
Penetrator and penetrated, he thrust uncontrollably into the body beneath him and rode the waves of pleasure as he was thrust into in turn. Cool breath on his neck turned to wet mouthing and then the scrape of teeth. He moaned and bared his neck, already succumbing to the temptation of the bite. Such a rush; Bodie had never said.
"Hush," Dru cooed into his ear, her nails scraping through the hair on his temple. "Soon. Soon we will take you and make you."
"Better had be... Oh, fuck!"
That was Spike's voice and the pounding in Doyle's ass increased making his hips creak in protest. Forced deeper inside Dru, surrounded by life affirming death, he was driven too far and spilled hotly, almost painfully. Not that his orgasm made any difference to the vampires. He'd already come three times and still they kept at him, extracting a reaction from his exhausted body. It was if they were trying to drain him in every way possible before the final, terminal, act.
Shouldering the Uzi and hefting the kitbag containing everything else, Bodie made his way round to the rear of the warehouse. He didn't remember another entrance back there, but neither did he fancy going in the front, all guns blazing. Worst case scenario, he'd make a way in.
It was as tatty at the back as at the front, with waste ground stretching a couple of hundred yards to the river. No cover though. Nothing to hide vamps from the sun should they decide to make an exit.
Of course it could be there was only Marty in there. If the three bodies they'd picked up were all of them, they only amounted to a week's chowing down for one vampire. If those bodies in the initial report were the limit of it. There were times Bodie wasn't sure he could trust Cowley to tell him truthfully what day of the week it was. Not if it suited him otherwise.
An uninterrupted expanse of grey concrete wasn't very promising, but Bodie persevered. Most of these places had at least one or two entrances that weren't immediately visible... And there it was. Hidden behind a pile of corrugated iron, a small metal door, padlocked, though hopefully not bolted on the inside.
Quietly, he put the bag and gun down and got out his lock picks. It'd be quicker to blow the door wide open, but he wanted to take those inside by surprise.
The padlock was child's play, giving after only a second or two of fiddling. Then, ruthlessly putting aside memories of the nightmare in the Congo and the girl on the train, Bodie started loading himself up. Uzi strapped across his body. Stun grenades in his pockets. Molotov cocktails primed and ready to light. Equipped, he stood up, and regarded the door for a second, then his face twisted.
For Doyle. Even if it meant not coming out alive. All he had to do was survive until Giles arrived with back up.
"Rupert Giles! What is the meaning of this?"
Giles pulled his attention from the beautiful man holding him and turned towards the steps. Framed in the doorway of the building stood Quentin Travers, Giles' personal nemesis and brown noser extraordinaire. If there were tattle telling to be done to the Council proper, you could guarantee Travers would be front and centre.
"Quentin," Giles said companionably. "Jealous are we?"
"I think not. Deviancy of that type has never been my style." Travers took a couple of steps outside the building and said, "Who is this?"
"Um..." Loath to introduce his new friend, Giles looked askance at L'immortale, who smiled gently at him and went up the steps his hand held out.
"I am very pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Travers. Rupert has told me many things about you."
Travers stared at the offered hand as though it were something just dragged from the river, but he did have the manners to shake it. As their skin touched, his face tightened, going pinched around the mouth, and the colour drained from his face.
"What are you!" he gasped, dragging his hand from L'immortale's and backing away.
Giles frowned up at him. How strange. Why had he reacted that way to the man's touch?
He had precious little time to wonder. Travers, having got over his shock quickly, was shouting, "Alarm! Alarm!"
The small contingent of heavies who guarded the HQ piled out of the door intent on capture, or worse. L'immortale, for all his charm, was obviously unaware of the danger as he offered no resistance when they caught hold of his arms.
"Bring him as well," Quentin said in a shaky voice, pointing at Giles. "He was fr-fraternising with the creature. Heaven only knows how he's been corrupted."
There wasn't time for this. Any second wasted now could mean the difference between life and death for Bodie and Doyle.
As two of the heavies approached him, Giles swung his briefcase and caught one a glancing blow on the chin. He went down pole-axed and the second leapt back, now on his guard.
"Rupert! Rupert!" L'immortale was calling him, tone insistent.
Keeping his ready stance, Giles glanced over at him. Dark eyes smiled back at him, reassuringly.
"Do not fight them, Rupert. There is nothing we can do now that cannot be done later."
Acceptance flooded Giles' body and he stood down. He didn't have the foggiest idea why, but after only five minutes, he trusted L'immortale completely, wholly and utterly.
Exhaustion was a distant dream. Once they'd finished with his sex, they started on his blood, and now there was scarcely an inch of him not singing, sweating and screaming. Oh, they were careful, never taking more than a bare mouthful. At this rate he'd still be alive in week. Course, he'd not want to be. Over his years in CI5, Doyle reckoned he'd been tortured good and proper on occasion. But never like this. Never with such cold hearted glee.
"Better give it a rest, Dru, 'less you want the poor bastard passing out on you again."
Ironically, hearing the punk's voice was more reassuring than hearing his missus'. Spike seemed to be an up front sort, more interested in getting his end away and a decent meal than playing games. It was Dru who did the most damage. Doyle knew he'd almost cracked when she'd straddled his face and pressed her sex against him 'til he passed out. There was a time when he'd have laughed and nudged Bodie, saying, 'What a way to go,' but it wasn't.
Turned out there wasn't a good way to die after all.
That humming started up again, tuneless and wandering, followed by Dru's hands stroking up his chest, her nails digging into the scar where they'd cut him open.
"In two pieces. Sliced him up the middle and opened him up."
She had to be able to read minds.
"Heart surgery, looks like. Won't have to worry about that soon, mate. Skin like a baby once you're a corpse." Spike's laugh was odd. It should have been mocking but it wasn't. If Doyle didn't think it impossible, he'd say it was insecure. But then Doyle wasn't thinking and as Dru's nails dug deeper, gouging deep tracks in his chest, Doyle decided that giving up was the best of a bad set of choices. With any luck, he'd wake up dead.
The first thought that crossed Bodie's mind as he slipped silently through the door was that he'd broken in to the wrong warehouse. Instead of crates of guns, or even the empty space he'd found behind it, this room could pass for a top-flight research lab. From banks of flashing lights to the flasks of odd coloured liquids to something that looked like a large kiln, there was nothing here that seemed even vaguely related to gun running or vampires.
A man stepped out from an office alcove. About Bodie's age, thin faced - like a weasel, Bodie's mind conjured - good-looking in a cheap kind of way. He was wearing a white coat.
"I, um." Bodie suddenly felt very conspicuous with his Uzi slung across his chest and bag of goodies in his hand. To a member of the public, he probably looked like a bank robber. Must be scaring this bloke out of ten years of growth.
Except it wasn't. For all that Bodie could be a terrorist or a madman, the scientist hadn't batted an eyelid at the sight of the guns.
Which meant he was either blind or used to them.
Used to making split second decisions and sticking with them, Bodie hefted the machine gun and pointed it at the man.
"Okay, keep 'em where I can see 'em."
The man did as he was told, face calm except for a slight twitch of his eyebrow.
"Was there something specific you were looking for, or will anything do?"
There was an undercurrent of amusement in the voice that ran fingernails down the blackboard of Bodie's nerves. "Shut it," he snapped, moving in closer. "And get in there." He gestured to the alcove the man had come out of and followed him in.
A desk, two chairs, a filing cabinet and a shelf of leather bound books that would give Giles' collection a run for its money.
The man sat, immediately and so obediently that Bodie couldn't help be suspicious. He pulled a length of cord from his pocket and deftly tied the man's arms to the chair. If there was an alarm or something within reach, that should stop him quite efficiently.
Turning his attention to the filing cabinet, Bodie pulled open the middle drawer and flipped through the files. It was well organised and the contents rang an immediate bell. Dragon's Blood, belladonna, cephalopod ink... These were the things on the list he'd given Giles.
This wasn't the wrong bloody warehouse, just another part of it, and this smug bastard sitting behind him was part and parcel of it.
Eyes widening, Bodie suddenly realised he hadn't thought to check if the man was a vampire or not, but then he remembered the warmth of the skin under his hands as he'd tied him up. Not a vampire then. One of O'Malley's cronies?
"What the hell are you lot up to in here?" he asked, dragging out a file and waving it under the man's nose.
The man sighed long-sufferingly. "I'd just finished filing those."
Bodie unleashed a little psychopath. Shoving the business end of the Uzi up the man's nose, he tried again. "I asked what are you up to? Bomb factory?"
"Hardly," the man laughed. "Nasty things bombs. No fun in them at all."
Okay, so psychopath didn't work on a psychopath. Might be worth trying a bit of plea-bargaining. "Look," Bodie said, "You give me the run down and I'll make sure word of your co-operation gets mentioned in the right ears."
"Gosh, that's terribly generous of you." The man paused for a moment and stared consideringly at his feet. "All right, it's a deal." The smile that spread over his face reminded Bodie more of a shark than a human. "What you see before you are the early stages in the development of necro-tempered glass."
"Ah, for the layman then. Glass which protects vampires from the rather unfortunate effects of the sun."
That took the wind completely out of Bodie's sails. "Protects them? How?"
"Using a rather complex combination of modern scientific method and magic, since you asked so nicely."
Bodie shook his head, trying to think his way around the implications. Houses or offices fitted with glass like that would be safe for vampires even on the sunniest days. Cars, even better. It would make them mobile.
He dragged open another drawer, blueprints and plans. And the next, more paperwork. "What else is in here?" The top drawer was locked. Bodie got out his picks and started in on the lock.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you."
Bodie glanced at his prisoner. "Booby-trapped?"
"In a way."
The man pulled a face. "Didn't I already mention how much I detested bombs?"
"So what is it?"
"Just a little something I cooked up. No serious side-effects. None that were fatal. To vampires."
"Vampires?" The lock clicked open beneath Bodie's picks, and immediately cloud of purple smoke began streaming out of the drawer. "Shit."
"I did warn you."
"What the hell is it?"
The man smiled. "I suppose you could call it the magical equivalent of a guard dog, though if it catches you, the effects are more like being stung by a puffer fish."
Backing rapidly away from the advancing cloud, Bodie snatched up his kit bag and ran. It chased him, and it was faster than he was. He stumbled out into the laboratory, yanked open the kit bag and dragged out one of the petrol filled bottles. If he couldn't get out of this, he was bloody well taking as many of them with him as he could.
The cloud was already invading his mouth and nose as he sparked up the lighter, but the rag caught and he managed to lob the bottle far enough away that he wouldn't caught in the flash burn. It smashed along the top of the workbench and immediately exploded into a sheet of flames.
If that didn't attract the buggers, nothing would.
His lips were going numb, as if he'd been sucking ice cubes. Had to be the poison.
Sparing a brief thought for the man tied to the chair in the office, Bodie unslung his Uzi and took up a position to one side of the door. Within moments a ruckus broke out in the adjoining room and, when the door flew open, Bodie was ready. He emptied a five-second burst into the first comer and then stepped out, still firing, using the spray of bullets as a battering ram to press further into the warehouse.
Those that went down, went down screaming. Not able to spare the time to check if they were human or vampire, Bodie kept going, ignoring the creeping numbness now spreading over his face and down his arms.
Had to keep going. Had to find somewhere defensible. Had to take out as many of the enemy as he could.
Next up were the other bottles. One, two, three, thrown to encompass the entirety of the room he now recognised as being the one with the circle painted on the floor.
The petrol bombs erupted on contact with the concrete floor, sending flames shooting up ten feet or more. In the coruscating light of the fire, Bodie was transported to hell. Some of those he'd cut down with the Uzi were partially dismembered, dragging themselves across the floor in an effort to get away from the encroaching flames. Too slow. Fire licked out, hungry for more to consume now the fuel was spent, and finding flesh, devoured it greedily.
Around him, figures burst into human torches, screaming mouths gaped then spewed fire. Nauseated, Bodie considered stopping, but then the first of the victims crumpled to ash.
Vampires. They were vampires. With relief, he realised he hadn't unleashed a holocaust on unsuspecting humans.
Fingers fumbling and knees starting to weaken, he struggled across the open space, periodically opening fire on anything that got too close.
Doyle was somewhere in here. Not in this room, thank Christ! What had he been thinking, setting fire to everything without checking first? He hadn't been thinking, that was the answer, and as every second passed, he was finding it harder and harder to do anything.
A door loomed ahead of him. Running into it shoulder first, he smashed through and stumbled to the ground the other side. It should have been Marty's storage area, but by some twist of fate, it wasn't. Instead Bodie found himself in a bedroom, complete with four poster bed and chintz.
Two people - no, vampires - sprang at him and he rolled to his knees, lifting the Uzi. It jammed; that ominous click which told of death chasing him down. So little time. Sweat pouring from his body, he dug a stun grenade from his pocket. Last chance.
The numbness gripped him, his fingers faltered and the grenade fell from his hand, pin still in place. As he dropped and lay frozen, he heard the vampires start to argue.
"Dru, the bloody place is burning down round our ears. Can't take both if we're travelling light. It's the golly or this one."
Golly? Doyle? He was here.
With one final effort, Bodie turned his head and looked towards the bed. Ray was staring back at him, green eyes hazy with pain, face stark.
The first thing Giles did was call Major Cowley. With L'immortale banged up in the one of the cells downstairs and the Council more bothered about possible infiltration than the welfare of the two seconded agents, there was nowhere else for him to turn for help.
The Major listened to his brief report, then snapped, "Describe this Italian."
"About six-two, dark hair. He..." Giles hesitated. How could he possible explain the strange effect L'immortale had on those around him.
"Well, spit it out, man, we've not got time to dawdle."
"He's extremely charismatic."
"Is he, by God. Now isn't that interesting." There was a split second of silence from the other end of the line then Cowley's voice came again. "I'll be there in ten minutes. Be outside to meet me."
That was an hour ago. Upon Major Cowley's arrival, he'd demanded to be shown immediately to where L'immortale was being held and equally vehemently insisted that several high ranking members of the Council join him. When Travers inevitably objected, the Major had gone so far as to suggest he would telephone the Minister if his orders were not followed directly and to the letter. Thus Algernon Russell and Roger Wyndam-Price were summoned from their symposium on Slayer Protocol and the three of them, the two Council members and the Controller of CI5, entered L'immortale's cell.
Giles paced up and down the corridor outside, periodically stopping to look at his watch. It was now nearly two hours since he'd received Bodie's note and every minute that passed made it increasingly likely that the agents would be dead.
Finally, after what felt like forever but was only ten more minutes, Major Cowley emerged with a shocked looking Russell and Wyndam-Price on his heels. The Major had a distinct smug air about him and, as he thanked the two Council members for their prompt and complete co-operation, Giles peered into the cell.
L'immortale was putting on his jacket and when he saw Giles, he smiled. "Our little misunderstanding is over, I think," he said. "George was kind enough to draw attention to some small services previously rendered to your government.
"You know Major Cowley?"
"We met many years ago. In Italy," Cowley said from the doorway. His usual craggy face softened when he glanced at L'immortale.
L'immortale smiled back and then picked his coat up off the back of the chair. "Now I think we have some young men to save, do we not?" he said, gesturing for the others to proceed him.
Fire engines and fireman surrounded the warehouse, wielding hoses. Giles leapt from the back of Cowley's Granada and ran across the road, dead set on getting inside to discover whether his two friends were still alive. He pushed through the crowd just in time to see two people being wheeled towards the back of an ambulance. One of them had a blanket covering his face.
"NO!" he yelled and ran towards them. An ambulance man tried to stop him, but he shrugged him off and kept going, reaching the blanket covered form first. Almost scared to pull back the cover, he reached out with a shaking hand.
Cowley got there first and flipped the blanket back revealing a dark haired man with a distinctive facial scar.
"O'Malley," the controller said, replacing the cover and nodding to the ambulance men to remove the body.
Giles was already on his way to the other stretcher. It was Doyle, his skin the same colour as the sheet, his eyes closed, and an IV tube running from his arm to a bag of blood.
"Oh, Christ," Giles choked. "Bodie, what about Bodie!"
Doyle's eyes flickered open, slowly focusing on the watcher's face. "Took him," he mouthed. "Vampires. Took him." Imparting that vital piece of information seemed to drain what energy he had and his head slumped sideways, his body suddenly lax.
An ambulance man pressed two fingers to his neck and nodded reassuringly at Giles. "Just passed out. Been too much for the bloke, I reckon. Was a bit of a mess when we found him outside the door."
"Is he going to live?"
"Yeah. Gonna be in hospital for a fair bit though."
Resting his forehead against the taxi window, Giles watched London's streets crawl by, slow, grubby and full of things most people wouldn't believe. A bit like the past fortnight. He sighed and softly banged his head on the glass. A gentle hand on his shoulder stopped him.
"Raymond would be most unhappy if he knew that you are still blaming yourself," L'immortale said.
"Can't help it," Giles replied. "If we'd been quicker maybe..." He didn't bother finishing the statement; his lover knew exactly what he was going to say because he'd already said it a hundred times since the Bodie had vanished. Maybe Bodie would still be alive. Maybe they could have saved Doyle the worst of his experiences. Maybe they could have destroyed the vampires, prevented the destruction of property, allowed CI5 to catch O'Malley and discover what the hell had been going on in that warehouse. Maybe, maybe, maybe. If wishes were horses... He sighed again and turned his face away from the window.
"You cared very much for the agent who disappeared."
"It's... more complicated than that." Giles closed his eyes. "I told you about Randall, about how he died."
"Yes. It was foolish. A child's trick gone wrong."
"Foolish, yes, but not a child's trick." Shaking his head, Giles continued, "Since then I promised myself I would do everything I could to stop others suffering the same fate, be it at the hands of vampires or demons. And..." There was no getting away from it. "I didn't. I could have stopped Bodie doing what he did. I could have got there sooner if I hadn't stopped and tried to help you. I failed. I put personal concerns before the mission."
L'immortale's arms closed around him, drawing him into a close hug. "Rupert, it is this very thing you see as a fault which makes me care so much about you. I have seen what happens to men who forget that everything is personal and they are not people as you and I would understand. Machines have more soul." Gently lifting Giles' chin, he turned the man to face him. "The Council would steal that part of you, Rupert Giles. Do not let them win, even though it causes you pain."
The tears in Giles' eyes were entirely involuntary, but cathartic all the same.
St. Thomas' was its usual unwelcoming self. They hurried along antiseptic haunted corridors towards the small room where Doyle should be waiting. After two weeks he had been deemed fit enough to leave hospital, if not yet to return to work. Giles just hoped he was feeling better in himself.
One look through the glass dashed those hopes.
Doyle sat on his bed, dressed and ready to go, but his expression was withdrawn, elsewhere, as he stared out of the window at the view over the Thames. They'd had to clip his hair to properly clean all the scratches and bites, and the new cut rendered him more vulnerable looking than the curls. He looked somehow naked, despite being fully clothed.
Straightening his shoulders and plastering a smile on his face, Giles pushed open the door. "Ready to go are we?"
Doyle blinked and appeared to come back to himself, from where Giles had no idea, though he had his suspicions. "Yeah, ready, willing and able. Do I get to use me own pins or is there a wheelchair lurking outside the door for me?"
"Your chariot awaits, signore." The door clunked open again and L'immortale entered pushing a hospital issue wheelchair.
Despite Giles' invitation, Doyle insisted on returning to his own flat, proving himself fit enough by walking unaided up two flights of stairs and making his guests a cuppa with the fresh milk they'd picked up on the way. Polite conversation dried up after about half an hour and on L'immortale's insistence, they left Doyle alone.
"Are you sure you're going to be all right?" Giles hovered in the doorway, knowing he was fussing but unable to stop doing it. Doyle looked so lost.
"I'll be fine, mate. Just looking forward to a night in me own bed."
When the door closed behind them, Doyle rested his forehead against the cool painted wood and finally let the tears come.
A week later and life was beginning to return to normal, or as normal as it could with a huge Bodie shaped hole in it. The others were concerned about him, Ray could tell, but there was nothing he could do about that. He was having enough problems keeping on an even keel himself without worrying about anyone else.
The nights were worst. Alone in his flat, desolation besieged him. He tried calling a couple of his old girlfriends but, though they were understanding and willing, they couldn't offer what he needed. Withdrawal, Giles called it. From the bite. For a man who'd steered clear of drugs all his life, it was a difficult pill to swallow, to accept that he was an addict.
But every day it got easier. Every night that he didn't go out to find some vampire, any vampire, to replicate that headrush, was progress. Of course Cowley had a watch on him, just in case he slipped, and in some ways it made things easier. Not on those given the obbo though. They had to put up with Doyle in full sail. One night he got so lonely he went and joined Murph in his car just for the company. The Smurph spent half the time listening and the rest trying not to hear as Doyle got increasingly incoherent. And that was five days after he got home, when the sweats and shakes had stopped and he could face the dark without either screaming in terror or desperation.
Then there were the dreams. Every night the same one. He was back on that bed in the warehouse, but the vampires were gone. There was only him. And Bodie, lying on the floor exactly as Doyle had seen him last. But this time, Bodie didn't remain where he was. He joined Doyle on the bed and they fucked. It was incredible. Better yet when Bodie held him tight, sank his fangs into his neck and took him on the final journey.
And every time he awoke, the sweat pouring from his body and his sheets wet with tears and semen, the feelings were the same. Guilt, envy, resentment, relief, longing. He'd had his body turned against him in the most primal of ways.
Not the sex. Hell, Doyle was no innocent and, even without the fangs, the sex had been the sort people paid huge amounts of money for. No, it wasn't the sex. It was the bite. It was the tingle that still spread to his groin when he bathed and inadvertently touched the scars. For the first time in his life, Doyle felt empathy for addicts who would do anything for a fix.
It should have been him they took. Wished it was him. He was already damaged goods. Ready for the final step.There was nothing else they could do to him that would change that. Except finish what they'd started.
He was in the bath when the telephone rang. Dragging a towel around himself, he padded through into the lounge and picked up.
"4-5. How are you feeling, laddie?"
Diplomatic hand-out or truth? "Fine, sir. Doing a lot better, thanks."
"Good, then be at the training centre at eight o'clock sharp. Give you something to look forward to."
The phone went dead and slowly Doyle replaced it in the cradle. Back into training. Was that what he wanted? Could he go back on the streets without Bodie to watch his back? And if he didn't? What then? With unemployment topping the three million mark, what chance him of getting a decent job. Security guard at best, patrolling building sites with a dog waiting for the first junkie along to whap him over the head with a crowbar.
He wandered back to the bathroom. His first concern was getting back in shape and there was no doubt Macklin would help him achieve that. The decision about transferring to the active list could be made when, and if, it arose.
He'd just got back in the bath when the phone went again. At least he thought it had until, cursing the Cow's name for being a forgetful git, he skidded into the kitchen and realised it was the door buzzer. Not Cowley then. Who was on nursemaid duty tonight? Probably McCabe. Only last week the silly blighter had turned up on Doyle's doorstep with his legs crossed and used the loo. Some agents had no endurance.
Smiling to himself, Doyle picked up the receiver and said, "I ought to leave you there. Teach you to have a piss before you come on duty."
The voice that answered was not McCabe's.
"Let us in, sunshine. S'bloody freezing out here."
Doyle couldn't move. His blood felt frozen in his veins, his breath dormant in his lungs, his heart forgot to beat.
"Please, Ray?" Little boy lost.
Everything started again in a thunder and Doyle gasped, falling to his knees and clutching the receiver to his chest. It couldn't be, but it was. He was alive. He'd survived. The wily bastard had got away.
Or had he?
Hands shaking, Doyle raised the receiver to his mouth and said, "Do I have to invite you?"
Silence. That answered that question.
But it was still Bodie. Still his partner. Still the man who'd watched his back for eight years and to whom he owed his life. The man he could love, given another chance.
Still shaking, Doyle took a deep breath and said, "I'll buzz you in. Come on up." He paused and then added, "You're invited, Bodie. You're always invited."
-- THE END --