The Darkest Hour
Bodie managed the last step up to the landing with a sigh of relief, leaning against his crutches while he fumbled for his keys.
As always, he was acutely aware of the pain in his side with each step he took, and he embraced it, anything to keep his thoughts away from his partner.
Old habits die hard, and he’d already taken in his surroundings and the mass of post on the doorstep as he’d walked up the stairs. There was more than there had been the day before, and the pile was steadily growing. He had no intention of picking it up though, still couldn’t face it. The thought of doing something as mundane as going through his mail seemed absurd, but he was coping.
If you could call being able to walk and talk, coping.
It was strange, but if he’d been asked a month ago what he’d do if Doyle were no longer with him, the answer would have been very different to this. He’d never really faced the idea that he might be the one left behind. Oh, he’d always known how important Doyle’s friendship was to him, but he’d never really thought about what that actually meant.
Then had come the Parsali op. Despite his flippant remarks to Doyle, he’d thought a lot about death that night. Curled up in a sleeping bag that offered little protection against the cold, he’d listened to Doyle shifting restlessly a few feet away and really thought.
Bodie had total faith in Doyle’s ability to watch his back, and as a result had thought that if they did die, they’d go together. He’d refused to consider any other possibility. If Doyle died first then it meant he, Bodie, had failed, something that he’d been determined would never happen.
No, they’d go together - two bullets, or maybe an explosion. Not painless, perhaps, but quick, with no time for guilt or regrets.
But Bodie had been left behind.
He had never thought it would end like this.
With a start, Bodie realised he’d opened the front door, made it into his flat and sat on the sofa without noticing. The last few days he’d felt like he was running on autopilot. He could just about get through each day, but he couldn’t allow himself to feel, couldn’t acknowledge what had happened - deep down, he knew he’d break if he truly faced it.
So he'd carried on, trying to pretend nothing had happened, at least to himself. He’d still had to face everyone else at CI5. At least a dozen different agents had visited the hospital, and they all treated him like fine china, nervously waiting for him to explode, in fact for any reaction, whilst dealing with their own grief and worry. But he was still on sick leave himself, so for the last day or so he’d avoided everyone connected with CI5 as much as he could.
He wasn’t hungry, but knew he had to eat something, so he reached for his crutches and forced himself up off the sofa and towards the kitchen. He still wasn’t used to walking with the damn things, but the bullet he’d taken made them a necessary evil. It might take him twice as long to cross a room now, but without them he could hardly walk at all.
As he was making his unsteady way across the room he caught sight of a packed rucksack behind the open front door, testament to the weekend away they’d been planning. He’d packed on the Thursday morning because he’d had a day off, they both had, but a sudden development had sent both partners back into CI5.
Only hours later they’d raided a warehouse down by the docks, and it was there that the final, disastrous confrontation had taken place.
Years of merc and army training had Bodie reaching to put his things away without thinking. The navy bag was mainly full of clothes, but as he sorted through it his fingers touched on a small package, the present he’d been planning to give to Ray while they were away. He unwrapped it automatically, not really thinking what he was doing. It was nothing much, just an ornate frame he’d seen in a shop window and bought on an impulse, but it served as a bitter reminder of what had been lost.
In a sudden fit of rage Bodie hurled it against the far wall. The smash of glass as the frame shattered only served to deepen his despair, and he sank down onto the floor by the sofa in misery, not noticing the silent tears lining his cheeks.
Irrational anger at Doyle and CI5 dried the tears quickly, but he cursed himself more than anything. Doyle wasn’t dead, not yet, and his morbid thoughts seemed too much like a betrayal, even if the doctor’s were less than hopeful, and everyone was only waiting for the loss to become official.
After all, it had been eight days.
Thursday morning had dawned bright and cheerful, and Bodie had slept in, making the most of a treasured day off. The last few weeks had been chaotically busy, and he welcomed the chance to relax for a change.
Cowley had promised both Doyle and he two weeks leave after the Parsali op, but that had never happened. A sudden plague of injuries had forced Cowley to cancel their time off after just three days.
He’d been apologetic, though, and they’d managed to bargain for a guaranteed long weekend in early August, which had finally arrived. As much as Bodie enjoyed the adrenaline filled, active nature of his job, there were days when he craved time to himself, and he’d looked forward to this weekend off with a child-like glee.
A leisurely morning spent packing, sleeping and pottering around his flat had been interrupted just after midday by the sound of the R/T.
"Come in 3.7."
It was Doyle’s voice, and Bodie had swept up the R/T as he headed to the kitchen for lunch. "All packed and ready, mate? I can picture it now – a bit of fishing, a couple of friendly barmaids..."
"Sorry sunshine, duty calls."
"What? We’re off duty, Doyle."
"Well, I know that, and you know that, but I think someone forgot to tell the old man."
Bodie said nothing, his earlier good humour rapidly disappearing.
"He wants us at HQ ten minutes ago, so you’d better get a move on, Bodie. The raid on Turner’s place is happening this afternoon."
That caught Bodie’s attention. Harry Turner was a particularly vicious gunrunner that CI5 had been watching for a while, and being in on the takedown appealed to him.
Throwing one last, regretful glance at his fridge, Bodie reached for his holster as he spoke. "And our weekend off?"
"The Cow promised me we could go after the raid."
Bodie snorted. "I’ve heard that one before. Fifteen minutes, Doyle. 3.7 out."
It was almost three o’clock by the time the squad had pulled up at the warehouse. There were six of them, plus Cowley, and in operations like these they went in as one big group, not in pairs, so in the confusion Bodie and Doyle had been quickly separated.
The four men inside the warehouse had had no idea they were coming, but the sudden onslaught had quickly turned nasty, and as usual, gunshots and punches echoed through the building.
Two went down quickly, felled by bullets, though from who's gun would never be known. Bodie himself had shot the third, but not before one of the bullets they’d traded had found its mark. Bodie had bitten back a curse as the bullet slammed into his side, but had managed to fire back, hitting the man in the chest before sliding gently to the floor, the darkness threatening to overcome him.
From a distance he thought he’d heard Doyle shout his name, then gentle hands had turned him over and he’d focused with great difficulty. Murphy’s face stared down at him, and he’d dragged himself to a sitting position, leaning back against the wall.
The bullet wound itself didn’t seem to hurt that much, but he’d suddenly felt so tired, and it had taken all his energy just to keep his eyes open. The other members of the Squad fussed around him, and he could hear Cowley radioing for an ambulance, though Murphy was reassuring him that it was just a flesh wound.
It was only then that he realised that something was wrong, and he’d roused himself, looking around and frowning. Cowley was standing to his left, listening to something over the R/T, and Murphy and Anson were kneeling down beside him. The others, McCabe and Lucas were dealing with the bodies of the gunmen. But...he couldn’t see Doyle.
He looked around, wincing as he moved, but instinct and fear bringing him back to full consciousness. Why had Doyle not come over to him?
Murphy noticed the sudden intensity to Bodie's gaze and leaned in closer.
"What is it, Bodie?"
"Doyle." His voice sounded hoarse, and he cleared his throat before continuing. "Where's...Doyle?"
Both men glanced around them, but the curly-haired agent was nowhere in sight. Murphy frowned.
"Lie still, Bodie. I'll go find him."
Bodie watched as Murphy stood up and hastened over to Cowley. The two men spoke briefly before Cowley threw a worried glance at Bodie and walked away. Suddenly convinced that they were keeping something from him, Bodie levered himself painfully to his feet. The bullet had gone clean through just above his hip, and putting any weight on that leg sent a sharp pain through his side. He knew he wouldn’t be able to get very far, but Bodie gritted his teeth and kept moving, a strange fear making him ignore the pain.
Something was definitely wrong. Even though his injury didn't seem too much more than a graze, he had still been shot. And while Doyle's protective streak wasn't as obvious as his own, that didn't mean that Doyle wouldn't have been concerned. Bodie couldn't work out why Doyle hadn't come over.
The warehouse had been in heavy use right up to the raid, and during the shootout all the boxes piled high had proved useful as cover.
McCabe's shout echoed from behind a particularly large pile at the far corner of the building. Everyone made their way over, though Bodie moved considerably slower than he would have liked.
Stopping in his tracks as he rounded the boxes, Bodie closed his eyes and cursed softly at the sight. The once neatly piled boxes lay scattered across the floor, polystyrene filling spilling out everywhere. Sprawled in a heap, partially covered by boxes Doyle wasn't moving, his gun lying a few feet away on the ground.
Lucas and McCabe finished lifting the boxes from the still figure and McCabe took a slim wrist in his hands, searching for a pulse.
The sighs of relief when he found one were audible, and it was only then that they noticed Bodie standing a few feet away.
"Bodie..." Cowley's Scottish burr was softer than usual, sounding almost gentle, but Bodie ignored him. Instead he eased himself down next to his partner, noting with irritation that the movement had caused his side to bleed faster.
There was no bullet wound, and no obvious signs of injury, much to Bodie’s relief. And as he fought a wave of dizziness he patted the broken cheek.
"Come on, sunshine. Wake up."
A quiet moan before green eyes fluttered open, focusing quickly on Bodie. "Bodie?"
"Right here. Take it easy."
Doyle closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths before sitting up, ignoring the protests of the others with a rueful grimace.
"I'm alright. Bastard blindsided me, s'all." He gestured at a nearby door. "He went out that way, get after him."
They all knew that Turner was probably long gone, but Murphy and Anson took off anyway, just in case.
Doyle stood carefully, weaving slightly before steadying himself on one of the discarded boxes. Extending a hand to Bodie, he opened his mouth to speak when it was ignored, but stopped as he registered Bodie's pale face, and the slight trembling in fingers pressed against his side. All thought of the pain in his own head vanished at the blood seeping through Bodie's fingers to drip down to the ground.
Doyle now realised that the ambulance he'd heard in the background as he'd come to hadn't been meant for him...
...Relief that Doyle was alright swept through Bodie, using up the last of his adrenaline, and the shock that had been creeping up on him since being shot now descended full force. Getting up was now definitely too much of an effort, and Bodie leant carefully back against the precariously stacked boxes, eyes closed.
Doyle stayed by Bodie’s side during the ambulance ride, worry clearly etched on his face. Bodie stayed conscious throughout as the crew worked on stemming the blood flow, wincing only when the ambulance drove over a particularly deep pothole.
Bodie had been checked over at the scene, and by the time they’d been ready to leave they were reassured that the wound wasn’t serious, just damn painful. That fact didn’t seem to have registered with Doyle, though, whose concern for his partner led to him refusing to be checked over, insisting they concentrate on Bodie first.
Strangely enough Cowley hadn’t argued, his attention on the pursuit of Turner, whom Murphy had spotted some distance away. He did, however, send Lucas along to the hospital with strict instructions to make sure Doyle was examined. Bodie had watched this all with a wry acceptance. Doyle’s nursemaiding tendencies were out in force, and Bodie knew that nothing would distract him until he was certain that Bodie was fine. And fine meant back at home and on active duty as if nothing had happened, not lying on a stretcher in an ambulance, regardless of whether or not he was in any actual danger.
Once at the hospital, nurses forced Doyle to wait in Reception. Bodie could still hear Doyle arguing as he was wheeled away, the nurse offering reassurances that Bodie knew would be ignored. He thought that he should probably make the nursing staff wait a few minutes while he spoke to Doyle himself, as he might be the only one who could stop Doyle from worrying. But he couldn’t quite work up the energy. He was having to concentrate more and more on just staying awake, the pain in his side still increasing. Bodie decided that this time Doyle would have to take care of himself.
By the time Lucas arrived at the hospital, he found Doyle pacing anxiously in the corridor just outside the waiting area.
Doyle spun round in surprise as Lucas spoke. Wrapped up in his own thoughts, he’d not heard the man approach. He dredged up a weak smile.
"Not yet." He sighed.
The two men waited in silence for a while, with Doyle still pacing restlessly back and forth in the corridor. When Lucas was in danger of turning dizzy just from watching, he risked Doyle’s temper and spoke again.
"He’ll be fine, Doyle."
Doyle stopped pacing and looked at Lucas, frowning.
"We’ve both seen enough bullet wounds to know that his isn’t too serious."
A few seconds of silence and then Doyle nodded.
"So come and sit down," Lucas cajoled. "You’ll do Bodie no good at all if you wear yourself out while he’s still in there."
Doyle took the spare seat next to Lucas.
"Besides," Lucas grinned. "You’re making me dizzy."
"You and me both, mate."
It was another ten minutes before the same young, blonde nurse who had kept Doyle from following his partner reappeared. Both men looked up as the sound of her footsteps preceded her through the corridor, but Doyle didn’t stand.
"Mr. Doyle?" At his nod, she continued. "Mr. Bodie is fine. The bullet has missed anything vital, he was lucky. It’ll hurt for a while, obviously, and he might have trouble putting any weight on that leg for a couple of weeks, but he’s in no danger."
Doyle made no reply, so Lucas spoke up. "Can we see him?"
She shook her head. "We’ve already taken him up to theatre."
Doyle started, looking alarmed. "Theatre?"
"Oh, only to clean up the wound. It couldn’t have been done under local anaesthetic, but there’s really nothing to worry about. It seems Mr. Bodie missed lunch, so we were able to take him straight up. As soon as he’s out of surgery and awake, you can see him, okay?"
Doyle nodded his thanks and the nurse walked away.
"Right," Lucas began, hoping Doyle would relax now he knew Bodie was okay. "We’d better get someone to check you over."
"They need to take a look at your head, Doyle."
Doyle reached a hand up to his head. Not where Turner had hit him, but where he’d hit the floor when he fell. Oddly enough, it was that that hurt the most.
"Give it a rest, Lucas."
He sighed impatiently and turned to face his colleague. "Look, after Bodie comes out of theatre, okay?"
He knew he should have been checked over as soon as he came into the hospital, but he’d been so wrapped up in his concern for Bodie he’d barely given it a second thought. Even now he couldn’t quite bring himself to leave his seat. Here the nurses knew where to find him if anything went wrong. Not that there was a damn thing he could do if it did, of course, but at least he’d be told.
Lucas said nothing. 3.7 and 4.5 were famed for their stubborn streaks, and everyone knew better than to argue with them, particularly if they were worrying about their other half. It was one of the unofficial rules people learned quickly after joining CI5, and almost as important as not calling Cowley ‘The Cow’ near HQ itself.
Individually Bodie and Doyle were good, but together they were the best, and because of that Cowley gave them the hardest, most dangerous cases to handle. Considering that, the fact that they’d survived this long had earned them the respect and admiration of almost everyone in CI5.
The sound of the R/T pulled Lucas out of his reverie, and he briefly laid a hand on Doyle’s shoulder before getting up and moving a short distance away.
"2.7, Alpha One wants you to join Murphy at the Kensington Bridge. They’ve pinned Turner down."
Lucas frowned. "What about 3.7 and 4.5?"
"Those are his orders 2.7."
"Acknowledged. I’m on my way."
Putting the R/T back in his pocket, Lucas walked back to Doyle. Head down and eyes closed the man looked exhausted, but Lucas knew there was little chance of him getting any sleep.
"Doyle, I have to go."
Doyle looked up slowly, a weary expression on his face. Just for a second, Lucas had the unnerving feeling that Doyle wasn’t quite aware of his presence.
"Kensington. They’ve managed to corner Turner, and Cowley wants me to help bring him in."
Doyle nodded. "See you later."
"Promise me you’ll let the doctor’s take a look at you."
Doyle sighed. "Give it a rest, Lucas. I’m fine."
"Well you look awful. At least try and get some rest, yeah?"
Doyle didn’t answer, staring back down at the floor again. Lucas walked away. There was little more he could do for either Bodie or Doyle, and he was needed elsewhere.
Three hours later Bodie was fairly relaxed considering the day he’d had, lying back in a slightly raised hospital bed with his eyes closed.
The surgery had gone well, so he’d been told, but he was only just starting to feel like himself again. The few times he’d been operated on had all been the same; and anaesthetics always left him feeling ill. Even though he’d been prepared for it, this time had been no different...
...Bodie opened his eyes slowly as he came to, his whole body feeling as heavy as lead. The room swam as he glanced around, and he couldn’t seem to focus on anything.
With the dizziness came the expected nausea, and he swallowed as bile rose threateningly in his throat. Even through the haze he was in, he decided that throwing up probably wasn’t a good idea.
He could just about make out a clock on the wall opposite him, and he raised his head to try and work out what time it was. The hands swam maddeningly in front of him and he gave up letting his head drop back to the bed.
Bodie must have drifted off again, but when he opened his eyes he felt better. No longer feeling sick, the room stayed still long enough for him to focus on it, and the pain in his side wasn’t too bad either.
They’d transferred him back to the ward soon after, with the reassurance that he might be able to go home later that evening. No promises, though.
The quiet clatter as the curtain was moved aside caused Bodie to open his eyes, and he smiled drowsily as Doyle came over to the bed.
"How are you feeling?"
"Alright." The reply was automatic, but as he spoke Bodie noted with surprise that's how he actually did feel. He wasn’t ready to do the conga or anything, but all things considered, he was doing okay.
Doyle watched him for a few seconds before replying. "Hmm...I’ll believe you. Come on then, sunshine, I’m here to spring you."
The thought of home and his own bed had been more than enough to get Bodie moving, and they’d gone through the obligatory wheelchair ride without complaint.
It was only once they were almost back to his flat that a sudden thought roused Bodie out of a drowsy silence.
"How’s your head?"
"What’d the Doc’s say?"
The slightest hesitation, and then: "I didn’t see them."
Doyle winced as Bodie’s shout echoed through his head. "My head’s fine, but I think I just lost my hearing," he snapped. "For God sake keep your voice down, Bodie."
When Bodie spoke again his voice was normal, but Doyle recognised the tightly controlled anger behind it and sighed.
"You know the rules, Doyle. You were unconscious, you should have been seen by a doctor."
"Yeah, and you’re such a stickler for the rule book, Bodie. You hate hospital’s as much as I do."
"Don’t give me that. You’ve been waiting at the hospital for hours! Are you trying to tell me you couldn’t find time to get your head looked at? What the hell were you doing that was so important?"
In spite of himself, Doyle couldn’t help a wry smile, wondering how Bodie would react if he admitted he had been too busy worrying. Taking a deep breath, Doyle ran the back of his hand over his eyes, before replacing his hand back on the wheel. Glancing at Bodie, he sighed when he saw the man’s scowl. They were both tired, both in pain to some degree, and that wasn’t conducive to a reasoned conversation.
"Look, Bodie. I’m fine. We’ve both had worse than a bang on the head before, and you know it. Besides, the doctor’s said you could only go home if there was someone to stay with you overnight. If they’d kept me in the hospital, you’d have been stuck in there as well, wouldn’t you."
Bodie muttered something under his breath, but Doyle couldn’t catch it. Before the conversation could go any further, they pulled up outside Bodie’s flat.
The journey from the car to the flat took longer than normal. Bodie was trying not to show it, but the tight lines around his eyes and grim set of his jaw told Doyle just how much pain he was in. The crutches that had been provided by the hospital were discarded in the back of the car, just as Doyle had known they would be, and as Bodie started up the stairs to the door of the main building Doyle fished them out, determined that Bodie was going to use them.
Neither man had said a word since the half-hearted argument in the car. As they waited for the lift Doyle held out the crutches to his partner, the look on his face specifically designed to show that he would brook no objections on the subject.
With a rueful grin Bodie took them, and Doyle helped to steady him as he got them into position. Satisfied that he would have no more of this macho bullshit from his partner tonight, Doyle graced him with a smile as the lift opened.
"Come on then, sunshine," he said cheerfully. "Bed, I think."
Bodie grinned, but Doyle could see how tired he looked. "Is that a definite offer, mate?"
"The bed I can offer, since it’s yours, but you’re not my type." Doyle responded, before throwing Bodie a come-hither look over his shoulder that had them both laughing. The laughter ended abruptly, though, as Bodie winced at the pain his movement caused, and Doyle's grin quickly changed to concern.
It had been a long, hard day for both men, and it was with a sense of great relief that Bodie closed his front door, shutting out the events of the past day and looking forward to the weekend. Moving to his sofa, Bodie discarded the crutches and sat down carefully, the grin staying on his face despite the flash of pain in his side as he moved.
In spite of his previous concern for Doyle the man seemed fine, and Bodie dealt with his fears in the usual way, cracking stupid jokes just because he was happy that they’d both survived another day. Both men had very different ways of coping with the aftermath of a difficult job, each of which was clear to see if you looked hard enough. Doyle worried and went quiet, immersed in his own thoughts. Even now Bodie was out of hospital and they both knew he would be fine, Doyle was fussing, making sure he didn’t exert himself too much. Like those damned crutches. Bodie would happily admit to himself that walking hurt, but he didn’t think he needed crutches. Apart from anything else, the longer he rested his leg and the muscles around the bullet wound, the longer it would take to get them back to full-strength. Bodie would much rather cope with a few days of difficulty walking, rather than prolong the time it would take before he’d be back on active service with Doyle.
Still, Doyle was worrying, had been worrying at the hospital, and if only to placate him Bodie used the crutches. Even though he was cracking jokes, Doyle was obviously thinking; the usual ‘what-ifs’ he went through every time Bodie was hurt, but Bodie knew that these types of mood didn’t last long. A day or so while he hovered around, reassuring himself that Bodie was okay and things would be back to normal.
And as much as he complained at Doyle’s tendency to nursemaid, Bodie knew he would enjoy the company. A few beers, a good film on the box and some good company would help the weekend pass pleasantly, even if the trip they’d been planning had gone out the window. Enough talk about pizzas and deep-fried onion rings and Bodie knew he’d even be able to talk Doyle into cooking something for him, since Doyle tried to reintroduce him to healthy food any chance he could.
Bodie was a hard man, as tough as they came, but even the toughest needed comfort at times, and Bodie was quite willing to admit to himself that Doyle helped provide that. Neither man had much in the way of family, and both found it difficult to open up to others, perhaps secretly fearing rejection - or ridicule. So they relied on each other, at first through necessity, because of the need to trust the man with whom you risked your life on a daily basis. But gradually, as the months and years passed their friendship had grown stronger, and each man had found in the other someone to rely on, someone who would take care of them when necessary, which was all too often in their line of work. People thought that Doyle was the philosopher of the pair, and in a way he was, but Bodie could think and feel along with the rest, and even if he was better at hiding it, had acknowledged what his friendship with Doyle meant to him long ago. Some might think those feelings indulgent, or the sign of a soft heart, but Bodie preferred to see it as practical. In the early days, the more the pair came to acknowledge their deep friendship, the more successful they had become as a team, beginning to work instinctively as one because they knew the other so well.
Doyle fetched Bodie a glass of water and poured himself a small scotch before rummaging in the bathroom for some painkillers. The hospital had prescribed some for Bodie already, but Doyle had decided that the splitting headache he’d had the past few hours meant he deserved a couple of aspirin. Handing Bodie a couple of pills, he waited pointedly for Bodie to take them before knocking back a couple himself. Bodie glared at the scotch in Doyle's hand, but knew better than to try and pour one for himself. The hospital had made it clear that he couldn't drink any alcohol for at least twenty-four hours, and he knew Doyle would make certain he followed their instructions.
They settled into a comfortable silence; happy just to sit and relax as the events of the day were placed firmly behind them. Soon Bodie flicked on the television and chose the cheesiest action film he could find, something guaranteed to provide plenty of laughs, while Doyle turned his thoughts to food, and began rummaging in Bodie’s cupboards. The comments were as welcome as they were expected, and Bodie sat contentedly and waited for them to begin.
"Do you ever go food shopping?"
Ray was standing in the kitchen doorway, leaning against the frame with his arms folded. His voice was all gruff irritation, but an amused smile played around his lips, and Bodie knew he was only half serious.
"Of course!" He aimed for offended dignity, but Bodie was more tired than he’d realised, and only just managed an amused protest.
The grin widened, and Doyle crossed one leg in front of the other. "Where?"
Bodie grinned back, counting shops off on his fingers one by one. "The Peking Duck up the road, Ali Tandoori on George Street..."
He trailed off as Doyle burst out laughing. "God save us from fast food junkies." Shaking his head, he wandered back into the kitchen.
Two hours later they’d both finished eating and were comfortably settled on the sofa, watching sport now that the film had finished. Ray had concocted some variation of ‘Spaghetti a la Benny’, although it was no longer called by that name. Benny’s death had hit Ray hard, as the death of even a casual acquaintance always did, and Bodie shied away from any reminder of those few weeks. After Benny’s death and the mess surrounding Ann Holly, Doyle had been a wreck for a time, though only Bodie and Cowley were ever allowed to see just how much he’d been hurting. Bodie was pretty sure Ray had worked through all that long ago, but just to be on the safe side, was careful not to mention anything that might remind him of it.
The adrenaline and momentum that had built up during the day’s events had worn off now, and Bodie found himself dozing more than watching TV. The painkillers were doing their job well and there wasn’t too much pain from his side, though any sudden movements left him all too aware of the wound. Next to him Doyle was nearly asleep, head lolling gently to one side before waking with a start.
It was nearly ten o’clock, and while part of Bodie rebelled at the idea of going to bed quite so early, after the day he’d had sleep was sounding more and more appealing. Sitting up a little straighter, Bodie nudged Doyle gently in the ribs. Doyle started and looked around, confused, before focussing on Bodie.
"What?" he muttered.
"I’m going to turn in. You want the sofa?" Bodie half expected a derisory comment about his stamina, but it didn’t come. Doyle just nodded before settling back on the sofa.
"D’you need a hand getting changed or anything?"
Bodie smiled and shook his head. "Nah, I’ll manage."
Leaving Doyle to the sofa, Bodie headed for the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed before carefully removing his shirt, wincing as the muscles in his side pulled tight. A beeping noise coming from the other room drew his attention, and he walked back to the doorway, shirt still in his hand.
Doyle’s R/T, discarded on the table when they came in was beeping, and he heard Doyle groan before forcing himself up off the sofa. Reaching for the R/T Doyle missed, and succeeded only in knocking the small transmitter onto the floor. Bodie frowned; either Doyle was still more asleep than awake, or the one glass of scotch had gone to his head much more than was usual.
For a second Doyle stared at the R/T, looking confused, before retrieving it and sinking back down onto the sofa.
"Doyle," even over the R/T Bodie could tell Cowley was in a bad mood. "I need you at HQ in fifteen minutes."
"What for?" Doyle’s answer was petulant, and Bodie winced at the answer he knew was coming.
"Because I said so, Doyle. Or have you grown so grand you need a written request these days?" Cowley’s voice came down the R/T at a dull roar, and Bodie grinned. It made a change for Doyle to be on the receiving end of a tirade from the Cow, even if it was from a distance.
"No, sir. But Bodie..."
"Is capable of looking after himself if he’s been discharged. Fifteen minutes, Doyle."
Bodie grinned as Doyle dropped the R/T in his lap and threw Bodie an apologetic look. "Looks like you’re on your own, sunshine."
"You’d better be quick, Doyle, or Cowley’ll have you out on your ear."
"Yeah." Doyle scowled as he stood up. "Oh, what does the old man want now?" Doyle ran his hand over his eyes. "Will you be alright tonight?"
Bodie nodded. "I’m going to get some sleep."
"I’d better go, Cowley’ll crucify me if I’m late. I’ll call you tomorrow."
Doyle left, and Bodie locked the door behind him, activating the alarms before heading wearily back into his bedroom. The need for sleep and a dose of strong painkillers helped mask the pain in his side, but he knew he’d feel the wound properly in the morning when the painkillers had worn off and the muscles had been immobile for a few hours. He considered fetching the crutches from the lounge, but decided that was too much effort, and left them where they were.
Crawling into bed, it took a few moments to find a comfortable position in which to sleep, and then Bodie succumbed gratefully to sleep.
He was dreaming, though he’d never remember quite what he was dreaming about. The one thing he knew for sure was that there was a noise which didn’t fit, something out of place. He woke slowly, still half asleep, but the noise didn’t stop, hadn’t ended with the dream.
Finally he registered the noise - the doorbell - and groaned as he opened his eyes to the darkened room. Surely it wasn’t morning already! He rolled out of bed and onto his feet without thinking, and hissed as the wound in his side protested at the sudden movement. The pain flared through him and he swayed dizzily before steadying himself on the bedside table. The painkillers had well and truly worn off.
Whoever was at the door was still pressing the bell, and he grumbled darkly as he made his way across the flat. It was only then he noticed that on the other side of the curtains the street was still dark. Confused he glanced back at the clock, shocked to see that it was only just past three am. If this was Doyle coming to see how he was, the sentiment was seriously misplaced...
Bodie pulled the door open angrily, still not fully awake, but quite prepared to tear Doyle down a peg or two for waking him in the middle of the night. Instead he stopped in surprise. Of all the people he expected to see on his doorstep, Murphy was not one of them.
Murphy walked through the dooray without a word, and Bodie shut the door behind him, still not totally sure he wasn’t dreaming.
"Do you have any idea what time it is?"
Instead of answering, Murphy turned and faced Bodie, and it was only then that Bodie noticed how tired and uneasy Murphy looked. For a second neither man spoke, and then Murphy took a deep breath.
"Bodie..." Murphy hesitated.
And Bodie knew. With that one word, Bodie knew exactly why Murphy had come. Unconsciously he took a step back, fear making breathing difficult. "Ray," he whispered.
Murphy took a step forward. "I’m sorry, Bodie. I’ve got some bad news."
Bodie swallowed, trying to find his voice. He no longer noticed the pain in his side. "Doyle?" Part of him was surprised at how unsteady his voice sounded. "Is he...dead?"
Murphy shook his head. "No, Bodie, he’s not dead. But it’s not good."
Bodie sighed, a strange mixture of relief and growing fear making his temper short. "Well? What the hell happened?"
"We don’t know."
Bodie rounded on Murphy. "What do you mean, you don’t know?! Was he shot? Run over? You must know something!"
"It’s nothing like that." Murphy studied Bodie for a few seconds before continuing. "Get dressed, Bodie. We need to get going. I’ll tell you on the way."
Frustrated, Bodie stormed off into his room to dress, thankful that he’d been so tired when he’d gone to bed that he’d only bothered to remove his blood stained shirt.
Absently Murphy reached for Bodie’s crutches, trying to work out the quickest route back to the hospital. It didn’t take Bodie long to dress, and the two men left the flat without exchanging a word. At that time of night the traffic was non-existent, and Murphy was able to put his foot down.
Bodie stared out through the windscreen, focusing on nothing as they drove through the deserted London streets. When he spoke his voice was quiet, toneless, and a sharp contrast from his outburst in his flat.
"What happened, Murph?"
"We’re not sure, Bodie. Ray and I were talking with Cowley in his office, going over the evidence we found in the warehouse. Everyone was tired, but Ray wasn’t paying attention, just kept staring off into space. Cowley kept calling him on it, and eventually the old man lost his temper and started shouting. Gave him a real tongue-lashing."
"It was...it was weird, Bodie. You know Doyle, he’s always given as good as he got with Cowley, refuses to just take it, but this was different. He just sat there, didn’t say anything at all. As soon as Cowley had finished he just stood up and walked out, didn’t say a word. Cowley wouldn’t let me go after him, and that was it."
Murphy cleared his throat before continuing. "Fifteen minutes later, Susan found him on the floor of the rest room. We couldn’t wake him up. I don’t know what happened, but there was no sign of an accident, nothing he could have hit his head on - he must have just collapsed."
Bodie groaned quietly and leaned back against the headrest. "Turner."
"Turner knocked him out, remember?"
"He didn’t get checked out. The idiot was too busy worrying about me."
Murphy sighed. "Oh, shit."
The two men were silent through the rest of the journey, both too wrapped up in their own thoughts to bother making small talk.
On reaching the hospital they headed straight for Casualty, and after obtaining directions from the girl on Reception, made their way up to the third floor, taking the lift because of Bodie’s crutches.
Bodie had nothing in his mind as he and Murphy walked the corridors from the lift. During the silence at the end of the car journey, he’d worked on shutting off his emotions, locking them out of the way. It was a technique he’d often used in the past, something he found useful in his kind of work. No emotions to deal with meant no complications, and Bodie was determined to keep it that way until he could find out exactly what had happened to Doyle.
Only once he knew all the details could Bodie plan his next moves. Perhaps revenge, if necessary, but whatever it took to get Doyle back on his feet and make sure those responsible paid the appropriate price. Until that happened, he wouldn’t allow himself to feel or to connect with what had happened. Emotions clouded the judgement.
Cowley stood up from his seat as his two agents approached. Open concern shadowed Murphy’s face, whilst Bodie looked like he was playing poker. An expressionless mask - and Cowley’s heart sank. Most people who saw Bodie now would assume that he didn’t care, but a select few, those that Bodie had gifted with his trust, would know different. And Cowley was one of those few.
The mask was only ever put into place when Bodie was afraid of something. When something risked affecting him so much, that he was afraid to allow himself to react. Of all the times Cowley had seen that mask, the one thing that seemed to bring it forth was Doyle. Any time Doyle was in trouble the mask appeared, and Bodie devoted himself to ensuring Doyle’s safety to the exclusion of all else, and the frequent frustration of Cowley himself.
Of course, once the danger had passed Bodie’s mask was always replaced with a hyperactive glee and a string of bad jokes - something Cowley assumed was Bodie’s way of dealing with the emotions that he’d shut off until then.
But Cowley had spoken to the doctor’s, and he wasn’t sure that Bodie would ever get the chance to let the mask down again.
Cowley indicated the door closest to where he was standing. "He’s in there."
Bodie hesitated for a second before moving towards the darkened room. The main light was switched off, but shaded light from two small lamps helped dispel some of the darkness. It took Bodie a few seconds to adjust to the darkness in contrast to the stark light of the hospital corridors, and at first all he could make out was the shape of the figure lying in the bed.
As his eyes adjusted and he got his first good look at Doyle, Bodie struggled to hold back a gasp as one stray emotion got past his carefully concealed barriers. For a second his face clearly displaced the shock he felt, and he noticed Cowley’s sympathetic glance as he forced his reaction down, determined not to deal with it yet.
The silence of the room was interrupted only by the steady beep of the machines surrounding the head of the bed.
Bodie took them in at a glance; numerous monitors and moving machinery that meant little to him, and which paled in significance compared to the still figure of his partner.
He moved up to the head of the bed, partly to get a better look as well as to let Cowley and Murphy into the small room. A nurse who had been sitting in the darkness on the other side of the bed stood as the men entered, and with a sympathetic glance at her patient’s visitors, moved away from the bed to stand at one side.
In spite of the previous slip Bodie’s mask was now firmly in place, and he was satisfied with the calm tone of his voice when he spoke to Cowley.
"What have the doctor’s said?"
"They did some x-rays, Bodie. He has a fractured skull, and they think a blood clot has formed beneath the fracture."
Bodie turned to face Cowley. "From Turner?"
Cowley nodded. "It must be."
Bodie closed his eyes briefly before turning back to Doyle. "But...he was fine. He seemed okay."
"I know. But the doctor’s said that the blood clot would have taken time to form, that he probably would have been acting fairly normal until the haematoma had grown."
At this Murphy spoke up. "The what, sir?"
"A temporal bone fracture with underlying extradural haematoma, if you want the technical terms."
Bodie wasn’t interested in that. Knowing the technical terms wouldn’t change what was happening. "So what happens now?"
"They’re waiting for a room to be free before they take him to theatre. Apparently they’ll know more once that’s over."
"Can he...can he hear me?"
Cowley took a few seconds before answering, not sure how to make his answer easier to hear. Finally he decided just to say it. He had too much respect for Bodie to sugarcoat the truth, however painful. "No, Bodie, he can’t. He hasn’t come round since Susan found him, but even so they’ve sedated him now, ready for surgery."
The nurse stepped forward to check one of the monitors, giving Bodie a few seconds to absorb that information before he might be expected to respond.
"Sir? They’ll be taking Mr. Doyle up to pre-op in a few minutes, okay?"
Cowley nodded and ushered Murphy towards the doorway, before turning back to Bodie and putting a hand on his shoulder to get his attention.
"We’ll be outside, Bodie. Just a few minutes, though." His voice was surprisingly gentle, and then Cowley left, shutting the door discreetly behind him. Although the nurse was still in the room, she kept back away from the bed, maintaining a watch on the monitors while being discreet enough to give Bodie time with Doyle.
Reaching for the plastic chair pushed back against the wall, he dragged it over to the head of the bed and sat down. Finally he allowed himself to fully take in the state of the man before him. No light came in through the window on the opposite wall, and in the mixture of dull light and shadows Doyle’s skin looked like marble, like a statue. It took a few seconds before Bodie could even make out the movement of Doyle’s chest as it rose and fell, but once he’d found it, he took a strange sort of comfort from something so slight. Apart from the rhythmic beeping from the machine behind him, it was the only immediate sign that there was any sort of life in the man.
For a while Bodie just sat, saying nothing and thinking less, almost as still as the man he was watching. He wasn’t really even aware of the passing of time, as the world dwindled to nothing more than the room and its three occupants.
Finally he took a deep breath and sighed, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his thighs.
"Idiot." He whispered. "You knew you should have got yourself checked out, and now look what’s happened."
"And I know you can’t hear me. I may as well be talking to myself." More silence, before Bodie stood and walked painfully over to the window, staring out at the world beyond the glass. "Cowley said you can’t hear me, Doyle, but he’s been wrong before. So you just listen to me. You’ve got to pull through, okay? You can’t let Turner be the one to bring you down. Not someone like him."
Movement from outside attracted his attention. Looking up, Bodie saw Cowley talking with two people he didn’t recognise. The nurse stepped forward again, attracting Bodie's attention though she said nothing.
He leaned in close to his friend. "They’re here to take you up to theatre, Ray. I’ve got to go. But I’ll be here when you get back, okay? So don’t make me wait too long."
A few seconds to pick up his crutches and make sure his mask was in place, and then Bodie opened the door and left the room as the nurses busied themselves by Doyle’s bedside. But he didn’t go far, and when they wheeled Doyle out of the room and away down the corridor, all three CI5 men kept close behind, following the trolley as far as they could.
Finally the trolley disappeared behind a set of double doors, and a man in a white coat stopped the three men from following. Bodie made no attempt to go past the man. As worried as he was, he had no intention of distracting the doctor’s as they worked. Instead he addressed the man in front of him.
"What are his chances?"
Apparently Cowley had already dealt with explanations over family and next-of-kin, because the man answered with no hesitation. "Well, this is a serious condition, but we won’t really know that until after the operation. The surgeon’s will work mainly on removing the blood clot itself, but after that it all depends on how well the swelling around his brain goes down. He’s in good hands, sir."
Bodie nodded, absently, not really taking in any of what was being said. After a few more words the man walked back through the doors, and the three CI5 men were left alone in the corridor.
Cowley cleared his throat. "Murphy, I want you back at CI5. Tell Sally she’s to stay as Duty Sergeant until I relieve her in the morning. You carry on with the clear up from the raid yesterday. I’ll keep you informed of any developments here."
Murphy nodded. "Sir." With one final glance at Bodie, he turned on his heel and left.
Turning to address Bodie, Cowley knew better than to waste his time trying to get Bodie to leave. Maybe once they knew the outcome of the surgery, but certainly not now.
Silently Bodie followed Cowley down the corridor, or as silently as he could manage considering the noise of the crutches against the hard floor.
Cowley slowed down slightly to keep pace with Bodie as they walked. The cafeteria wouldn’t open for a few hours, so they would have to make do with machine-dispensed coffee, though Cowley doubted very much whether Bodie would even notice.
Once they’d found the coffee machine, Bodie walked back to the room Doyle had been in without a word, and without waiting to see if Cowley was following. Both coffee cups firmly in hand since Bodie couldn’t carry his, Cowley followed nevertheless. Plastic seats had been placed at random intervals along the edge of the corridor, and Bodie lowered himself down carefully, leaning heavily on the crutches as he did so.
Cowley followed suit, joining him at the chairs. Neither man had spoken, and Cowley took the opportunity to study Bodie. The head of CI5 had an uncanny ability to discern mood from body language, something he used very often in his line of work. He’d even been known to surprise Kate Ross with it on occasion, no mean feat considering the woman’s renowned skill in her chosen field.
It was this ability that allowed Cowley to keep an edge over his enemies, that enabled the triple-think schemes of his to work so well, since he was able to guess so accurately what responses his opponents would have to certain situations. Some people were easy to read, like Doyle, who wore his emotions on his sleeve most of the time. Bodie, on the other hand, Cowley had always found somewhat of a mystery. He knew him well enough to recognise his mask, to know that Bodie kept his emotions hidden from the outside world, but working out exactly what those emotions were, was harder to do. Like now. Ramrod straight against the uncomfortable chair, Bodie held his coffee in one hand and his crutches in the other, staring straight ahead, even though there was nothing to see. The mask was firmly in place, and yet whether it hid fear, anger or something else Cowley wouldn’t have liked to bet, even if he had been a betting man.
The hours passed slowly, with people bustling past them frequently, though no-one came with any fresh news of Doyle. Bodie stayed where he was, still ramrod straight, the only testament to past movement the growing number of empty coffee cups lined up on the nearby windowsill, and the crutches, which had long since been relegated to the floor beneath his chair.
Dawn came, and the sun’s rays gradually chased away the darkness of the night. Still no-one had been able to tell them anything, and Cowley was just starting to think that he might have to head back to CI5 before Doyle came out of surgery when a man finally approached them. A small man with a mass of grey hair, the green garb instantly identified him as a surgeon.
"Mr. Cowley?" At the man’s nod, he continued. "I’m Mr. Isaacs. Mr. Doyle’s just come out of surgery. It went as well as could be expected under the circumstances. We’ve removed the blood clot, but there’s nothing we can do surgically about the swelling at this stage."
"What’s the next step?"
"The nurses are moving him to Intensive Care at the moment. He’s going to have to be kept sedated and ventilated for the next few days. That will help to lower his blood pressure and hopefully allow the swelling to settle. What happens then depends very much on how he progresses the next few days, so we’ll have to just wait and see, I’m afraid."
"Can we see him?"
The surgeon seemed to consider this for a few moments before nodding. "Not for too long, though. I’ll make sure one of the nurses comes and gets you when he’s settled in ICU."
The surgeon left, and it wasn’t long before Bodie and Cowley were gathered around Doyle’s bed. If possible there were even more machines and tubes than before, all important, but Bodie found himself resenting their presence. Because Doyle shouldn’t need them, he shouldn’t be here at all.
One of most distinctive things about Doyle was his vitality. Involved in a gun battle or searching through records, it didn’t matter; there was a boundless energy to his partner that was present almost twenty-four hours a day. But that had all changed. He was unnaturally still, and with all the machinery, Bodie found it hard to reconcile the figure in front of him with what he knew of Doyle, with what Doyle should look like.
He pulled up a chair to the side of the bed, his only concession to his own injuries. The pain in his side was strong, demanding his attention, but Bodie ignored it anyway. He’d left the painkillers at home, but leaving Doyle’s side to find more didn’t even occur to him.
Cowley stayed another hour before reluctantly deciding to head back to CI5. In spite of his concern for Doyle, he knew that he would accomplish nothing by simply waiting at the hospital. Doyle’s life was now in the hands of someone even more powerful than he, and CI5 would not run itself.
Pulling himself to his feet, Cowley stood quietly for a few moments before addressing Bodie.
"I have to go back to HQ, Bodie." Bodie barely nodded his understanding, and Cowley laid a hand on his shoulder in order to get his attention. "You should go home as well, Bodie, and get some rest before you come back. You’re not exactly a picture of health yourself."
Cowley sighed. He knew that Bodie was far from fine - even without Doyle’s predicament the bullet wound would lay anybody low, but that wasn’t going to get Bodie away from the hospital. One thing both Bodie and Doyle shared was a stubborn streak a mile wide, and it would take more than Cowley to cross it, especially now. Surprisingly uncertain quite how to handle this, Cowley retreated behind the safety of his role as boss.
"Okay. Well you’ve at least two weeks signed off as sick leave, but make sure you start physiotherapy as soon as the doctor’s say you can. I don’t need you off active duty any longer than necessary."
With that Cowley left, a small part of him relieved to go. Being the ‘family’ in situations like this was never easy, and keeping busy would at least help keep the feelings of helplessness away. Only time would tell how Bodie was going to react to all this, though, and while praying for Doyle’s full recovery Cowley spared a place in his thoughts for Bodie. The man was as close to family as Doyle had, and he was going to need the support of others in the days to come. Cowley just hoped that Bodie was prepared to accept it.
The morning passed slowly, and Bodie kept up his bedside vigil, not stepping out of Doyle’s room even for a moment. Doyle had no other visitors except the nurses who bustled in and out frequently, but Bodie took little notice of them.
He’d always thought that hospitals were supposed to be quiet places to aid with the recovery process, but after a few hours in the building he was starting to change his mind. Regardless of the distant conversations and wheeled trolleys that he could hear from outside the room, the constant beeping of the pulse monitor and hiss of the ventilator was enough to make sure that his surroundings were never quiet. But as he got used to them even they faded away, until they were nothing more than background noise.
At first he was silent, saying nothing to the nurses and nothing to Doyle, until the silence itself became oppressive, and he began speaking simply to hear the sound of a voice, even if it was his own.
He talked aimlessly, jumping from one train of thought to another, at times almost unaware of what he was saying. Re-living old memories of their times together, making plans for the future once they were able to take their long-overdue time off, anything he could think of to keep the one sided conversation alive. When the nurses came Bodie would drop whatever he was saying to explain to Doyle what they were doing - checking his blood pressure, changing the fluids, but not once addressing his comments to the nurses themselves, instead focusing all of his attention on his partner.
He talked until his voice became hoarse and his throat felt like sandpaper. Then he would simply stop, take a sip of the water from the jug by Doyle’s bedside, clear his throat and begin again, picking up the conversation where he’d left off as if nothing had happened.
Night fell as a full day passed, and when Cowley returned to the hospital Bodie was still sitting where he had been that morning. The atmosphere at headquarters was predictably downcast, as news of Doyle’s collapse had spread quickly round the rest of the Squad that morning. Cowley had had enquiries about Doyle’s condition from various agents and staff throughout the day, and he suspected that when Doyle was allowed visitor’s who hadn’t been classed as family, a large section of the typing pool would be visiting the hospital. Those in CI5 who were closer to 3.7 and 4.5 than others had also thought to ask after Bodie, and while Cowley had been able to answer their queries regarding Doyle, how Bodie was coping he simply couldn’t tell.
It came as no surprise to Cowley that Bodie was still sat beside Doyle, and as such he’d stopped off at Bodie’s flat on the way and picked up a few things that Bodie would need if his vigil was to last much longer. There were times when having a key to his agent’s flats came in handy for more than just depositing packages that Cowley didn’t want certain people to see. As he pushed open the door to Doyle’s room, the quiet murmuring he’d heard stopped, and Bodie looked up to greet his boss. There was no smile though; just a subdued "Sir", and Cowley offered a sympathetic smile as he entered.
Hospitals were stuffy as a rule, the temperature kept slightly higher than normal in order to help the patients stay comfortable. This small room was worse than most, though, so Cowley opened the window to let in a little fresh air.
The fact that Doyle’s condition hadn’t improved was plainly obvious, even if Cowley hadn’t already been informed by the Doctor shortly after entering the building. The number of machines surrounding the bed hadn’t changed, and Cowley picked up on the cloud of despondency hanging in the air almost without trying. Frowning, he took the empty seat opposite Bodie.
Whatever Bodie had been saying when Cowley arrived he seemed reluctant to continue now that he had an audience, and so the two men sat in silence, each immersed in their own thoughts.
Cowley’s silence even remained when Bodie stood without a word and closed the window. But he’d noticed the hesitant, limping steps and tightening around the eyes even in those few paces, and made a mental note to check whether Bodie went to his check-up appointment with the doctors. The bullet wound was obviously still very painful.
Bodie stayed by Doyle’s side for three full days and nights, sleeping only occasionally in his plastic chair and stubbornly refusing all attempts to make him leave, even just to catch a few hours sleep on a couch elsewhere in the hospital.
With the nurses only appearing briefly every fifteen minutes to check on Doyle's blood pressure and breathing, Bodie had no-one to talk to but Doyle, and quickly lost all sense of passing time.
Even those few visitors who took the trouble to sneak past the nurses and their ‘family-only’ rules did little to help. Each one seemed compelled to ask how Bodie himself was doing, something that at first struck him as laughable.
He wasn’t the one lying unconscious in a hospital bed for God’s sake!
When Cowley had first asked he’d felt absurdly amused, and had struggled not to laugh at his boss for the mere question. Of course, after Murphy, Susan and McCabe had also voiced their concerns the questions had become more of an irritant, a distraction that Bodie both couldn’t cope with and didn’t need. As such, they’d been given short shrift and largely ignored, which had done nothing to alleviate their worry.
It was those very concerns that sent Susan into Cowley’s office late the following Tuesday, long after she was supposed to be off-duty. As always happened when more than one of the Squad were off sick CI5 were absurdly busy, and she knew for a fact that Cowley hadn’t had a chance to do any more than call the hospital for an update for days, however much he’d wanted to go there in person.
Susan, on the other hand, had fitted in a few quick visits when she was supposed to be on-duty, and along with her natural concerns for Doyle, had become increasingly alarmed by the change in Bodie’s behaviour as time passed.
She hadn’t been expecting him to be all sweetness and light, of course, but the abrupt way that he’d retreated into himself was extreme, even under these circumstances. During her last few visits she’d got the impression that he’d barely known she was there, and her attempts at starting any sort of conversation had all gone unanswered. The knowledge that Bodie had not left the hospital since Doyle had been admitted, though not really surprising to anyone who knew Bodie, was still worrying.
Compared to some of the Alpha Squad, Susan was a relatively new addition to CI5, having joined just over a year before. That was probably why all the deaths that Cattrell and Wakeman had caused hit her harder than some of the other agents, since it had served as a spectacularly bloody introduction to her new career, only weeks after she’d been recruited. Neither Bodie nor Doyle had taken much notice of her before that case, but after she’d been the one to detain Cattrell and help uncover Lisa Wakeman the two men, and Bodie in particular, had in effect taken her under their wing, and the three of them had grown closer as a result.
Susan was under no illusions, though. While it was true that during their visits to various London pubs she’d been gifted with an insight into each man and their friendship that few others saw, there was still a side to both that they kept closely guarded. But she had seen enough to know how close they were, and the knowledge of that closeness added to her concerns about how Bodie was dealing with Doyle’s injuries.
She’d often wondered exactly what had made them befriend her in the way they had. Since she was already married neither man had made any attempt to seduce her, and she’d simply become a friend, someone to talk to, though Doyle had made more use of that particular area of their friendship than Bodie.
But that didn’t mean that Bodie had never confided in her, even if his worries were often shrouded in the sick humour he was so well known for. It was this which bothered her most about his change in behaviour. However bad things got in the past Bodie had always shielded his feelings behind wry humour, and simply got on with things. But there had been no sign of that in the last few days, not even a spark of the irrepressible jocularity with which he usually faced life. And Susan didn’t know what to do about it.
As much as Doyle’s condition was worrying the entire squad, herself included, Susan was only too well aware that there was nothing she could do to help him. Doyle’s life was in the hands of the doctors, as well as the deity who did Cowley the occasional favour, but just maybe there was something she could do to help Bodie.
It was this desire to help which sent Susan into Cowley’s office. Cowley wasn’t as tyrannical as people seemed to think, and she knew just how much Bodie respected him. Maybe he would have a better idea what could be done.
As she entered the room Cowley looked up only briefly before returning to his paperwork.
"Yes? What is it, 2.9?"
"It’s about Bodie and Doyle, sir." Susan hesitated before continuing. "Well...Bodie, actually."
At the mention of their names Cowley stopped writing and looked up again. "Sit down, Susan." She did as he said. "What about Bodie?"
"I’m worried about him, sir."
Susan bit her lip, trying to work out how to phrase this in such a way that wouldn’t get Bodie suspended, or sectioned. That wasn’t quite the help that she was looking for. "Well, he’s not himself, sir."
There was a note of scorn in Cowley’s voice. "Are you really surprised, 2.9, under the circumstances?"
"It’s not just that, sir. One of the nurses told me that he hasn’t left the hospital once in the last four days. He looks drawn and he can’t be sleeping or eating properly. Quite apart from anything else, sir, he’s still recovering from the shooting. This constant vigil can’t be doing him any good."
Cowley sighed. "Aye. Leave it with me, Susan. I’m going to see Doyle later this evening."
Nodding, Susan left Cowley’s office and headed for home.
Bodie felt like he had slipped into a trance, staring almost without seeing at Doyle’s body. He’d been in the same position for hours, and his muscles now angrily protested even the slightest movement. Not that he was really that bothered, since he had no intention of moving.
It felt like he’d been sitting in this room half his life, and only his watch gave him any indication of the passing of time in the real world. But this place wasn’t real - it couldn’t be. Part of Bodie was only too aware that this was happening, that his partner and friend was close to death, and his world was only hanging together by a thread.
But the other part, the part of Bodie that believed in survival at all costs, refused to accept the reality of what was happening around him. He knew, deep down, that the only way he could hold together through this was if he didn’t acknowledge it, if he kept up the pretence, even just to himself, that any minute Doyle would wake up and grin at him as if nothing had happened.
Which was why he was grateful that people seemed to have taken the hint and left them alone. The various doctors and nurses weren’t a problem. They were all too busy to stay any longer than was necessary to do their jobs, and seemed to understand his need to be left to himself. It was the other CI5 agents who were the problem. They seemed compelled to sit with Doyle and talk, and with all his energy going into convincing himself that Doyle would pull through, his mask had been left seriously shaky, and his emotions were dangerously close to the surface.
Even though he was generally friendly, at heart Bodie was a very private person, and didn’t like letting people get too close. Which was why he was determined not to let people he knew see just how upset he was by everything that had happened. Only too aware of how fast the gossip mill worked at CI5, and with Doyle’s help being the cause of most of it, this was one time Bodie had no intention of adding fuel to the rumours he knew would already be circulating.
The door to Doyle’s room creaked open, interrupting Bodie’s thoughts. He closed his eyes briefly and sighed before turning his head to meet the intruder.
Bodie cursed silently. He’d been wondering when Cowley would make another appearance, no doubt in an attempt to get him to leave the hospital, and stop the behaviour that Bodie knew his boss would view as pure foolishness.
George Cowley dealt in cold, hard facts, and had little time for the emotional repercussions of the job he’d chosen. Not that Bodie thought he didn’t have feelings, he’d worked for the man far too long to still believe that. But he knew equally well that his boss rarely gave voice to his emotions, believing that to reveal his thoughts to others left him vulnerable, and far too open to attack given the job he did.
Bodie understood that philosophy all too well, considering it was one he himself had followed religiously for most of his adult life. It was only when he had become friends with Ray that he’d let his guard down, just slightly, and even then only with him. In some strange way that Bodie didn’t really understand himself, Ray Doyle had become his link to the rest of the world. Their friendship gave him a sense of security, allowing him to interact more freely with those around him, simply because he knew he’d always have Doyle to back him up if things went wrong. Doyle had become a failsafe if you like, someone he knew he could trust completely, without fear of betrayal. The two men had become a double act in more aspects than just work.
If that failsafe were to be suddenly taken away, Bodie wasn’t sure how much of his own self could survive. And if that happened, if the one man he trusted so completely left him, in some terrible way it would be like a betrayal, and one he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to recover from.
Consciously shaking his head, Bodie tried to banish the thoughts from his mind. Thinking like that wasn’t going to do anyone any good, and he had to be careful. Cowley was now in the same room, and Bodie knew part of his boss would be constantly assessing his condition, even if only unconsciously, to make sure that Bodie was still fit to work. Physically they both knew that he wasn’t, wouldn’t be for at least another week, but the bullet wound would heal. Mentally, Bodie knew he was on much more shaky ground, and would be unable to concentrate on work until Doyle had come off the critical list. In a strange way, he was quite grateful to the man who had shot him. At least the bullet gave him an excuse to be off work, without Cowley subjecting him to Kate Ross and her psych tests, something Bodie knew would happen the second Cowley suspected that he wasn’t coping well with Doyle’s predicament.
He also knew that the tests would be inevitable if Doyle died, he had seen other agents go through them after the death of a partner. But he and Doyle were closer than the other partnerships in CI5, spent much more time in each other’s company while off-duty than the rest, and were better than them as a result. He knew that their success rate was the only reason why Cowley tolerated their closeness, which had sometimes proved to be a drawback when one of the pair got into trouble.
Every time that happened, both Bodie and Doyle put the other's safety first. While they would always try to complete the assignment as well, their safety was always a priority, and if the job could not be completed as a result, then so be it. This attitude had been the cause of some of the Cow's most memorable lectures, but everyone knew that it was something that could not be stopped short of Bodie and Doyle being reteamed. Since they worked so much better together than apart, Cowley had said nothing when their priorities didn’t match with his own, and had obviously by now learnt to work their reactions into his triple-think.
But with Cowley in the room, Bodie had to make sure that none of his emotions conveyed themselves to his boss, and with a deep breath, the mask was pushed firmly back into place.
"Bodie. Has there been any change?"
Bodie frowned. "Not really. The swelling isn’t going down as much as they’d hoped, so they’re not going to try to wake him yet."
Cowley nodded. "And how about you?"
"I’m fine, sir." However much he wanted to, Bodie couldn’t quite keep the bitter note from his voice.
"You don’t look it, 3.7."
"No, sir." The capitulation was automatic, bred from years of obedience in various armies, but was obviously insincere. Without Doyle’s rebellion and his own sense of humour to play off of, Bodie was reverting back to the way he’d acted in the early weeks of CI5, before he’d been partnered with 4.5.
In spite of his compassion for what Bodie was having to deal with, Cowley could feel his own temper rising. Lack of sleep always made him short-tempered, and Bodie was not the only one who had been affected by Doyle’s injuries.
Morale within the Squad was dangerously low, and with Bodie and Doyle both out of action, Cowley was struggling to keep CI5 on top of the workload, and working longer than was usual, even for him.
Cowley sighed. "Don’t play games with me 3.7. It hasn’t escaped my notice that you’ve not left the hospital for days. And I presume you missed your follow-up appointment to have your bullet wound checked?"
"Yes, sir. Sorry, sir." In fact, Bodie had thought little more about his own injuries, and had forgotten all about his appointment. It was Doyle who usually reminded him of such things, along with making sure he took the painkillers he was invariably prescribed. All things that he’d forgotten about completely in the past few days. And without the painkillers that were still on his bedside table, the pain that coursed through his side every time he moved too far had done nothing to improve his mood.
"I know you’re concerned about Doyle, Bodie, but neglecting everything else is no way to behave. Moping around here isn’t going to do Doyle any good. I’ve got a good mind to pull you back into CI5, and put you on desk duty. At least it would get you away from here for a while."
At that Bodie suddenly felt cold, and looked up at his boss for the first time since he’d arrived. "Then the first thing I’d type would be my resignation."
Cowley studied him in silence for a moment. "Aye. I imagine it would."
Bodie could sense the disapproval from his boss, but found that he didn’t much care. If Cowley couldn’t appreciate what he was feeling without Bodie having to spell it out, something that he wasn’t prepared to do, then Cowley could disapprove all he wanted. Though Bodie would rather he did so from a distance, rather than while he was sitting next to him. As if Cowley had heard him, he stood up and walked to the door. Opening it, he passed through before turning back to Bodie.
"I expected better from you, Bodie." He said.
Bodie didn’t bother replying.
When the door had closed again and Cowley was safely out of the way, Bodie let out a long sigh and dropped his head into his hands. He knew his behaviour was strange, and certainly didn’t need Cowley to tell him that, but what on earth did they expect him to do?
Go back to work as if nothing had happened? Pretend that his partner and best friend wasn’t dying in a hospital bed? He hated hospitals, and wanted nothing more than to leave, hated sitting here in silence hour after hour, but there was no way he was leaving Doyle, and if sitting here like this was necessary to be by his side, then so be it.
Not that Bodie had the energy to go back to work even if he'd wanted to. Fighting his emotions with one hand and the pain from his injuries with the other, Bodie had found it difficult to make it to the coffee machine and back the few times he had left the room. A powerful lethargy seemed to have overcome him, leaving him tired and miserable - another reason he had conveniently forgotten to keep his appointment with the outpatient clinic.
If they had decided that he was ready to start on physiotherapy, he knew there was no way he’d be able to get through even one session. He’d barely slept for days, partly because those chairs were so uncomfortable, but also because he was afraid Doyle might wake up while he was asleep. Or worse, that he might…
Bodie dragged one hand over his face. He wouldn’t...couldn’t think about that. If he didn’t think about it, then maybe he could kid himself that it wasn’t likely to happen. After all, the doctors hadn’t said much, so maybe they were being cautiously optimistic. Even as his mind framed the thoughts, he knew how ridiculous they were. If the doctors were optimistic, they would have woken him up by now, instead of keeping him sedated all the time. Bodie knew that the longer Doyle stayed unconscious, the less chance there was of him waking up at all. And even if he did wake up, the risks of there being permanent damage were too large to ignore.
Pushing himself up off his chair, Bodie balanced precariously while reaching for his crutches, and walked slowly over to the window. He needed to be doing something, anything, to keep his mind off things.
He didn’t really understand why he’d reacted so badly to what had happened. This wasn’t the first time he’d lost people close to him, people he knew died all the time when he’d been a merc in Africa, and it had been sad, he’d grieved, of course, but never like this.
Even when Claire had been hurt in that bombing raid he’d coped better than this. Okay, he’d got mad and gone after Crabbe in spite of Cowley’s orders, but he’d been able to function in spite of his worry over her condition, and managed to solve the case practically single-handed. Doyle may have got there first, but considering he’d ended up with broken ribs and nearly been blown up for his troubles, Bodie figured that he’d been slightly more successful.
Doyle certainly had a nose for trouble. It seemed that whenever they split up, whenever they started investigating on their own, it was almost always Doyle who ended up hurt. He’d been alone when the Empire Society found him snooping around, and Bodie had been horrified by his appearance when Doyle had turned up at the hospital later that night. He hadn’t exactly come through that case unscathed either, admittedly, but he’d long ago conceded that he was partly to blame for being stabbed. That wasn’t a case he was particularly proud of. They’d split up when they were looking for the men hired to kill Annie Irvine as well, and then Doyle had ended up with a broken arm. Just off-hand Bodie could think of at least a dozen more instances when they’d gone out solo and Doyle, rather than he, had been injured. Thank god it had never been anything too serious.
This was so different, something he wasn’t used to, and Bodie didn’t know how he was supposed to deal with it. The only thing he had to liken it to was the way he'd felt when Claire had been hurt in the bombing, but even that was a poor comparison. She was a nice girl, he'd liked her very much, and felt partly responsible for what had happened, but in all the time she was on the critical list he'd never felt the suffocating misery that was pulling at him now.
Of course, he'd had the case to distract him then, give him something other than her condition to focus on. And once he'd heard Doyle's desperate phone call from Crabbe's flat, he'd thought of nothing else but finding him before it was too late. But there was no case to distract him now, nothing to help take his mind away from Doyle, and he wasn't used to the inactivity.
Bodie was always on the go, always doing something. Even when he'd been injured Bodie was always back in the gym before the doctors recommended it, pushing himself to get back out on the streets and onto active duty as quickly as he could. On more than one occasion he'd ended up actually prolonging his injury in the attempt, pushing himself too far and finding himself back in the hospital, or at the very least with more time off and a severe lecture from Cowley. But it was his need to be back on the streets by Doyle's side which made him do it. Not least because he was afraid to leave Doyle out on the streets on his own, and unprepared to trust Murphy or any of the others with the task of watching Doyle's back. It wasn't as if he thought that the other agents weren't up to it, but Bodie was always ten times happier to be given the task himself. At least if he was there personally, he could make sure that the job was done properly.
But this time he had been there, Doyle hadn't been alone, and still he'd managed to get hurt. Bodie couldn't shake the memory of that voice, of hearing Doyle call his name just after he was shot. He'd not been fully conscious at the time, but was convinced that he'd not been hearing things, and the thought that Doyle had called out to him filled him with dread. Because that meant that Doyle had seen him get shot and been distracted, even just for a second, and it must have been because of that lapse in concentration that Turner had been able to take him by surprise.
And if all that was true, then Bodie couldn't shake the belief that, ultimately, he himself was responsible for Doyle's current condition. After all, if he hadn't been stupid enough to get himself shot, then Doyle wouldn't have been distracted, the two of them would have been happily fishing somewhere on the Norfolk Broads, and none of this would ever have happened. Bodie wished to God that he could have gone back and changed the past. Hell, he'd have happily swapped places with Doyle if someone had appeared and given him the chance, but it was much, much too late for that, and now he was left having to face the consequences of his failure.
Unconsciously he turned away from the sight of his partner's body, suddenly no longer able to face the reality of what he'd done, and the protest of abused muscles brought him sharply out of his musings with a pained hiss.
Miserable, and desperately tired, Bodie left the window and the view down onto London that he hadn't seen, and crossed haltingly back to his plastic chair. Dragging a second chair close by as his only concession to comfort, he sat down in one and swung his legs up gingerly onto the other. At first he just sat thinking of everything and nothing, until his body's need for sleep finally managed to override the guilt-ridden ramblings of his mind, and he dropped gratefully into a troubled sleep.
Bodie would never know how long he'd managed to sleep before he was rudely woken again, only that he felt no better for the rest. He'd learned early on in life to grab sleep while you could, because you never knew how long it would be before you were able to rest again. As a result, he'd always been able to function for days on only a few hours, getting what he called 'quality sleep'. It was one of the few aspects of life where he truly believed the old cliché 'quality, not quantity'. So it was an odd, strangely disorienting feeling to wake up just as tired, if not more so, than he had been when he'd finally fallen asleep.
He had little time to re-orient himself though, once he'd identified his reason for waking up in the first place. Inevitably his first check had been on Doyle, but a quick turn of his head reassured him that Doyle was still unconscious. Though the fact that he'd felt relief at that was just one more thing to add to the growing list of 'Reasons why Bodie should feel guilty'. But there was someone else walking into the room, and Bodie's heart sank once he'd realised whom that person was.
Even if it had been touch and go, Bodie had honestly hoped that he'd managed to convince Cowley that he was coping okay with this, whatever the reality was. But since Kate Ross had appeared maybe only a few hours after Cowley had left, it didn't take Sherlock Holmes to realise that Cowley had returned to HQ and sent Kate Ross straight back to the hospital. And considering how perceptive she'd been during that fiasco with King Billy, (oh yes, Cowley and Doyle had made it perfectly clear how much he owed her for that one) he had absolutely no idea how he was going to hide just how hard this was, from her.
Still, he had to try, and so Bodie started trying to pull the tattered fragments of his mask back into place before she had a chance to see him. But even as he tried, Bodie knew there was little chance of him succeeding, since he couldn't even find some of the fragments he was looking for.
At some point during the last few days, he'd lost his defences as well as his partner.
He swung his legs wearily down from the chair, not quite managing to hide the grimace of pain as he moved. She nodded her thanks at the gesture, and took the now empty seat.
"Dr Ross." Even as he answered he was glancing over at the window, and discovered to his surprise that it was light out. He'd obviously been asleep for far longer than he'd realised.
"How's Doyle this morning?"
"He'll be fine." Even as he spoke Bodie realised how utterly ridiculous that sounded, and the steady beeping of the monitors combined with her silence as if to mock him. Feeling the need to break the silence, Bodie carried on speaking, saying the first thing that came into his mind. "Anything much happening at CI5?"
She smiled, and Bodie sighed, wanting to know what the smile meant. Should he not have said that? Had he just managed to consign himself to months of psychological examination? He desperately wanted to know what he was supposed to say to keep her, and Cowley, happy. He didn’t have the strength to fight an interrogation any more, however well meant it was.
"We're busy, but there's not too much out of the ordinary going on. Cowley and Murphy have just about finished interrogating Turner. They packed him off to prison a couple of hours ago."
Bodie tensed at the mention of the man who had put Doyle in the hospital, even though at the same time he acknowledged that he felt as much to blame as Turner.
At the sharpening of her gaze, Bodie was only too well aware that his actions hadn't gone unnoticed. He sighed and turned his gaze back to Doyle.
"So how are you bearing up, Bodie?"
Bodie closed his eyes briefly and laughed - a short, bitter sound. "Everybody's so interested." He muttered.
"That's probably the fiftieth time I've been asked that lately."
"People are concerned about you, Bodie."
"I don't know why. I'm not the one who's dying in here."
"You think he's dying?"
Bodie turned on her, and all his intentions of seeming calm vanished as he spoke. "Don't you?"
But Kate Ross merely answered his question with another question. "Should I?"
"Bloody shrinks." Bodie turned his back on her, moving back to face Doyle as if to dismiss her from the room, but she persisted.
"What makes you think he's dying, Bodie?"
"Because he won't wake up. I've been here for days, talking to him, shouting at him, and he just won't wake up! The doctor's can't tell me whether he'll ever recover or not, no-one seems to know anything. Why, do you think I'm missing something? Is he about to get up and start doing the conga?"
Bodie could hear, could feel the intense anger behind his words, and had to fight to keep it from spilling over. Sensing that she was about to speak again, Bodie grabbed his crutches and stalked out of the room as fast as he could. He knew that she was going to follow him, but absurdly, he didn't want to argue with her anywhere where Doyle might hear them.
He slammed the door closed behind him, but heard it slide quietly open again as she came out into the corridor.
"How do you feel about that?"
"He's my partner and my best friend." Bodie spoke almost at a whisper, suddenly too damn tired to even find the energy to shout. "And I'm losing him." For a moment it was almost as if he was talking to himself, as if she wasn't even there, until he looked over at her and spoke again. "How do you think I feel?"
But Bodie never got the chance to discover how a trained psychologist thought he was supposed to be feeling. Before she could respond, a beeping noise from Doyle's room attracted both their attentions. The monitors surrounding him had been beeping a constant rhythm every day since Bodie had arrived, but this was different. Instead of the almost reassuring mechanical heartbeat, and the hiss-click of the machines helping Doyle breathe, this noise was frantic, screaming out a warning.
Both Ross and Bodie stepped towards the room, but whereas she rushed through the door and quickly pressed the alarm, Bodie took one, halting step and then froze.
This was it.
Unconsciously, this was what Bodie had been waiting to hear for five long days. Fear crept up from his heart and took an icy hold around his throat, and though he wanted to, however much Bodie wanted to go to his friend, he couldn't make himself step inside that room. Couldn't face it. Couldn't just stand there and watch his friend die in front of him. To do that would be to accept that he was dead, and Bodie didn't dare do that.
In less than a minute a stream of doctors and nurses appeared and surrounded Doyle's bed, acting as a barrier between Bodie and Doyle. They set to their task quickly and with determination, but Bodie had been trained to notice things around him, and hadn't missed the looks of resigned doubt on the faces of a couple of the junior doctors. It was obvious that they didn't think much of Doyle's chances of survival, even if they might never voice those doubts to Bodie in person.
Kate Ross stepped out of the room to allow the doctors space to work, and even as Bodie was making his decision she had turned to him, obviously about to continue their conversation. He spun around, ignoring the pain that the sudden movement caused, and began to walk away, heading down the hospital corridor as quickly as he could manage.
He could hear the high heels clacking down the corridor as Ross followed him, and so the hand on his arm came as no surprise, but he didn't answer. Shrugging her off, he remained silent and carried on walking, mentally abandoning his life and his friend, even though a small part of him screamed in protest at what he was doing.
Kate Ross made no attempt to follow him, but only when he'd reached the hospital car park and was well out of sight of anyone he knew did he give in to the tears that refused to be stopped.
The knock at his door roused Cowley from the mountain of reports piling up on his desk.
The new psychiatrist, Kate Ross, entered the room, and Cowley put down his pen as he beckoned her to a seat. Though it had been over an hour since she'd called from the hospital with the news concerning Doyle, Cowley had been anxiously awaiting an update ever since, and as a result the pile of reports had got no smaller.
His first impulse when he heard the news was to rush straight to the hospital, but he'd been awaiting an urgent call from Whitehall, one that he had failed to postpone. It was times like these that he loathed his position. Stuck as the negotiator between men who risked their lives for their country on a regular basis, and men who blithely gave orders without a thought to the consequences, and he had to balance on a fine line between the two. When he'd asked for the call to be postponed, and been forced to explain why, the man he'd spoken with had heartlessly informed him that they had 'much more important business to discuss which simply couldn't wait', and he'd had to consciously quash the desire to speak his mind.
The agents under his command at CI5 meant much more to him than he would ever admit, and he could see nothing more important than going to Doyle's side, even if he knew there was nothing he could do. Unfortunately, as with so many other times throughout his life duty came first, and he'd been compelled to wait at headquarters for news, whilst forcing himself to remain civil to the man who kept him there.
As Dr Ross took a seat Cowley removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He felt wearier this morning than he had done in years, and dearly hoped for some good news to lift his spirits.
"How's Doyle?" At the time of her call she'd only been able to say that Doyle had taken a turn for the worse, not then knowing what had happened to raise the alarm.
There was a genuine smile on Kate Ross' lips as she answered, something he had not often seen. "He's stable. Apparently, he'd developed a chest infection. This dropped the oxygen levels in his blood, which is what set the alarms off."
"How serious is it?"
"Very. It's touch and go. The doctors say that if they haven't caught it in time it could prove fatal, but they've put him on a course of antibiotics and physiotherapy, and think he'll be alright. It is going to mean that they keep him sedated for a couple of days longer than they had planned though. They want to give the infection time to clear before they try to wake him."
Cowley nodded, relieved that Doyle was holding his own for the moment. The man was a fighter, and Cowley had no doubts that he'd do his best to survive. Whether or not that would prove good enough, only time would tell.
"He's left the hospital."
Cowley sat back in surprise. He'd spent all night trying to work out a way to convince Bodie to go home and get some rest without having to order him out, and now to hear that Bodie had left of his own accord?
"What happened?" He listened as she described her confrontation with Bodie at the hospital. When she'd finished, Cowley couldn't help but wonder whether sending Ross to tactfully assess Bodie had been such a good idea. Still, since she'd already been, he was interested in her assessment of 3.7.
"There was something that Bodie said just before he left. 'I'm losing him.' Not 'we're losing him', but 'I'm'. Bodie seems to be taking this very personally. And while that's quite usual for friends and relatives in cases such as these, I was quite surprised to see that here, considering Bodie's character."
Cowley refrained from commenting, well aware that Kate Ross was still fairly new to the squad, and didn't know Bodie and Doyle as well as he did.
"Bodie's profile is very much that of a loner. He might get on well with the people that he works with, but as a rule he doesn't let them get close to him, he doesn't attach very much...emotion...to them. That way, he safeguards himself against any betrayal or pain they might cause him. If they have little or no emotional value for him, then he can't lose anything. But from his reaction to Doyle's injuries, especially today, I think even he's been surprised at just how much he's been affected by this."
"So why has he suddenly left the hospital?"
"I don't think Bodie is prepared to deal with the emotions he's obviously feeling. He's spent so many years distancing himself from people, and that's exactly what he's doing now. Everything has built up over the past few days, until he's reached a breaking point. I think he's hoping that if he distances himself physically from the problem, in this case, Doyle, then it won't hurt so much. It's a pattern that's obvious throughout Bodie's past. Every time he comes up against something that he feels he can't deal with he leaves, he distances himself."
"So what should we do?"
She frowned. "I'm not sure there's anything we can do. This is something Bodie is going to have to work through himself, although the support of friends and family would help to keep him 'grounded', as it were. Mr Cowley, you do realise..." She hesitated before continuing.
"If Doyle dies, you won't just lose one half of that team. You're going to lose Bodie, as well."
None of the lights were on, and he was sitting in silence on the sofa. Not that there was anyone around for him to talk to, but even when alone in his flat Bodie would usually play music or leave the television on, even if it was just for background noise.
He'd tried that already, turning on the radio just out of habit, but the noise had deafened him. Cheerful music, people phoning in to talk about their days - all examples of how life was continuing around him as if nothing had changed.
Examples of a life that Bodie had once joined in with, lived to the full, but something he doubted he'd ever have again.
After leaving Doyle, Bodie had walked for a while, ending up in a park a few miles away from the hospital. It was barely a park, just a small patch of grassland, but considering they were in the middle of London, he figured it was the closest to the countryside he was going to get.
Normally he would have got into his car and driven, anywhere, just to get away from the city and its memories. But the medics hadn't cleared him to drive yet, and by the time he'd found himself within the park, he'd not been sure how much further he could walk. So he'd found the nearest bench and just sat for hours letting his mind drift, trying to find some sense of peace whilst making a conscious effort to keep his thoughts away from Doyle. Of course, while Bodie was able to keep his mind away from his partner for a while at least, he couldn't keep it up forever, and inevitably his thoughts strayed back to the one place he didn't want to go.
He'd regretted leaving the hospital almost as soon as he'd walked out the door, but had been unable to make himself go back. The fear of going back only to be told that Doyle had died was something he simply could not face. He hated himself for leaving, for abandoning Ray just when he needed him most, but the part of him that ensured self-preservation kept him away. Bodie had a very strong sense of self, it gave him the confidence that people often saw as arrogance when they first met, but it had been born of necessity, and he'd relied on it for survival throughout his adult life.
Whenever something or someone got too close, or threatened to damage that 'self', his survival instinct kicked in, and made sure that he backed away, putting enough distance between Bodie and the threat that it was no longer any danger. It was that instinct for survival that had seen him running away to sea at such a young age, and then got him out of life as a merc, when the hard persona he'd constructed for himself in order to survive threatened to take hold of the 'real' Bodie that it was supposed to shield. And now, with the rush of emotion he'd felt after seeing Doyle so badly hurt threatening to overwhelm him, the survival instinct had kicked in once again, and it was that which had caused him to run. Not knowing what had happened in the hospital hurt, but not as much as discovering that Doyle was dead would. If Bodie didn't know then he could pretend to himself that Doyle was still alive, and doing well. And just maybe, in believing that, he'd be able to make a new life for himself, somewhere that he might never have to face the truth.
With every intention of leaving CI5 and London, Bodie had sat for hours, trying to adjust and work out what his next move should be. Going back to CI5, even if just to hand in his resignation was something he thought of with dread. Having to face his colleagues, who by now would surely all know he'd abandoned his partner, was almost unthinkable, and besides which, someone was bound to tell him whether or not Doyle had died that morning. Bodie seriously considered just leaving without handing in his resignation at all. Cowley was a smart man, when they found his apartment empty he'd work out what had happened, but Bodie also knew that Cowley would send people after him, and knew that while he was still recovering from his own injuries, he'd be unable to disappear completely.
Cowley would know that all he had to do was put the hospitals on alert. Sooner or later, Bodie would have to show up at one of them to get the stitches taken out, and to start physiotherapy. Bodie knew that he could probably get those things done privately, but most of the people he knew with that kind of expertise had distanced themselves from him since he'd turned legitimate. And besides, the wound was going to slow him down anyway, and he'd need to be on top form to get out of the country without Cowley knowing about it. So leaving was certainly out of the question, at least until he was back on his feet. Until then, he just had to hole up somewhere, and try not to think of how he'd just let his partner down.
That was the most difficult thing about all this. Bodie was only too well aware that by leaving, he'd let Doyle down. Years before, their positions had almost been reversed, and it had been Bodie lying in a hospital bed while Doyle anxiously waited for news. Though they'd never spoken about it, Bodie could still remember being rushed through a hospital corridor with Doyle beside him. Crying. He'd seen the tears, heard the catch in Doyle's voice as he berated him for managing to get stabbed. At that moment Bodie had wanted more than anything to reassure Doyle, to tell him not to be so bloody stupid. He was going to be fine, and even if he wasn't, crying was so completely unnecessary. But he hadn't been able to get the words out, beyond telling Doyle who had stabbed him. The fever had taken hold before he'd had the chance.
But Doyle hadn't left, he'd stayed with him until the doctors had reassured him that Bodie would be fine once the fever broke. Then Doyle had gone after the people responsible, and made sure in spite of everything that they got what they deserved. Bodie hadn't even been able to do that. He'd failed Doyle in almost every way he could think of, and that was something he knew he'd have to live with for a very long time.
At the very least, Bodie wished that he'd been able to do something about Turner, to make sure that he got what he deserved for what he'd done. Going after Turner was something he'd planned to do all along, just as soon as he'd made sure that Doyle was going to be alright. But at first it hadn't really sunk in just how serious Doyle's condition was, and the days had dragged past almost without him realising.
Quite how he'd planned to deal with Turner was something he hadn't quite decided. He'd known that a 'fair' fight, like he'd tried to do with King Billy was out of the question. He could barely walk without the crutches, so going one on one with anyone would be as good as suicide. Of course, none of that mattered much now. Kate Ross had shredded that particular plan this morning, with her announcement that Turner had been shipped off to prison already. Bodie knew he'd have had trouble getting through CI5 without being noticed, a building he knew like the back of his hand. The thought of getting into a prison unnoticed was ludicrous. With a sinking feeling, Bodie knew that there was no way he could get at Turner now, and that fact was just another example of how Bodie had failed Doyle, and just how useless he felt.
Bodie had remained in the park for most of the day, until the sun started to drop in the sky and the shadows became longer. He'd been half convinced that Cowley or someone from CI5 would be looking for him already, and had kept a careful watch on the other people sharing the park. But no-one had come to find him, and he'd stayed in the park as long as possible. At least here he could think, whereas once he returned home he'd probably face phone calls and people knocking at his door, wondering where he was.
Eventually he'd had to head home. They were in the middle of London after all, and unlike in the suburbs, the gates of the Park were locked at night. He'd hired a cab back to his flat, already tired from the day's exertions. Having been constantly sat in a hospital for days, even today's walk to the park had been enough to tire him out.
The flat was cold when he arrived, the result of not being lived in for days. He'd switched the boiler on as soon as he walked in, and poured himself a scotch. Drinking it in one, he poured himself another before giving in to his body's complaints and heading into the bedroom. Routing out the painkillers that had been standing on his bedside table for days without being touched, he shook out two pills and swallowed them quickly, washing them down with a third glass.
On the table opposite him, the telephone served as a mocking reminder of what Bodie had left behind. One phone call and he'd know what had happened that morning, and whether Bodie still had a partner, but he wouldn't let himself pick up the receiver. If Doyle had died then it wouldn't matter when he found out, and Bodie didn't want to know just yet, hadn't managed to repair the defences that he'd need to rely on if the news was bad.
And if the news was good?
If Doyle had pulled through, Bodie knew that he'd want more than anything to go back to the hospital, to return to him, but again, he wouldn't let himself. To return to the hospital was to find hope, and Bodie was afraid that he didn't have the strength to cope if his hopes were raised again, only to be dashed a few days later. Besides, if Doyle ever woke up again, Bodie knew that as soon as he found out just how badly Bodie had let him down he'd want nothing more to do with him, and Bodie would lose his partner anyway. The risk of seeing Doyle again, of seeing the look of hurt and betrayal in his eyes was too much for Bodie to risk, it hurt to even think about, and Bodie poured himself another glass of whisky, desperate to drive that particular image out of his head. He wasn't sure which hurt most; the thought of seeing that look of betrayal, or the thought that Doyle might have already died.
And so began a pattern which Bodie followed to the letter for the next few days. Every night he'd drink himself into a troubled sleep full of his fears and loneliness. He'd wake some time the next morning, with an awful hangover that barely registered beneath the self-loathing that grew as each day passed. As his absence at the hospital became more and more pronounced, people began to call him, and the sound of the telephone became something he quickly learnt to dread.
Each time it rang he was afraid that it was someone calling to offer sympathy that he didn't deserve, or to find out why he hadn't been at the hospital, why he'd abandoned Doyle. Worst of all was Bodie's fear that if he answered the phone he'd discover what had happened to Doyle, and that his fears that Doyle was already dead might be confirmed. He ignored each call, until finally on the second day, he ripped the plug from the wall in a desperate attempt to stop the ringing from echoing through his head.
By the evening of the third day, Bodie felt like he was going crazy. Cooped up in his flat, everything around him brought back memories of he and Doyle together. Lounging around on the sofa watching the football, Doyle cooking in the kitchen while Bodie hindered more than helped, Doyle looking after him when he'd been hurt, everything reminded him of what he'd lost. Finally he'd left the flat out of sheer desperation, walking the streets the best he could with the crutches, and hoping that the exhaustion that came with the exercise would be enough to drive the memories from his mind. It didn't work completely, but the pain helped, distracting him just enough to take the edge off of his emotions. Eventually he'd been physically unable to walk any further, and had hailed a taxi and headed reluctantly back to his flat in the hope that he'd be tired enough to sleep without the dreams.
That was how he'd come to be back in his flat on the evening of the third day since he'd last seen Doyle, having ignored the post on the way in, and destroyed Doyle's picture frame in a fit of pain and anguish. He sank down on to the floor by the sofa in misery, and there he stayed, all thoughts of making himself something to eat having vanished without trace.
He'd left the front door open, not bothering to shut it as he walked in, and it was an hour later that he suddenly realised there was someone standing in the doorway. Bodie knew he should have pulled his gun just in case. It could have been anyone in the doorway, and he had made a lot of enemies both before CI5 and since he'd joined the Squad. But somehow, he just couldn't bring himself to care. He didn't bother to look up, to see who it was, just sat there as the figure in the corner of his eye watched him in silence.
Susan stood watching him, shocked at the dishevelled, unshaven state of the man sitting on the floor. She'd debated with herself whether or not to visit Bodie's flat ever since she'd heard that he'd left the hospital, but it was only when her repeated calls got no answer that she'd finally decided to come over. She sighed. Now she was here, she didn't have a clue what to say to him, but she had to try something.
"I could have shot you."
Bodie pushed his crutches away in disgust. "Someone beat you to it."
Susan was shocked at the self-loathing she could hear in those five words, so completely out of character for the man. Sighing, she shut the front door behind her and came to sit by Bodie’s side. "I’m serious, Bodie. Anyone could have come in here."
Bodie hadn’t looked up at her once, just kept staring at the carpet as if he had to memorise every square inch.
Unsettled by his behaviour Susan said nothing, and they sat in uncomfortable silence as the clock on the wall ticked. Finally she couldn’t stand it, and tried again.
"Talk to me, Bodie."
"Pick a topic - the weather? The latest film?"
"How about Ray Doyle?" she asked quietly.
"Don’t." Bodie’s reply was harsh and bitter.
Bodie didn’t reply.
"Bodie..." Susan could see that she was getting nowhere. Standing up, she walked into the kitchen and ferreted two cans of beer from the fridge, before returning and handing one to Bodie. Settling down next to him, she tried a different tack, keeping her voice light and casual.
"We’ve missed you at the hospital these last few days."
"I’ve been busy."
"This and that."
"Why the sudden change? A week ago we couldn’t have dragged you away from Doyle. Cowley tried, as I recall."
"Something came up."
"Please, Bodie, this is me you're talking to. I know how upset you are, we're all worried about him. Don't shut me out."
At her words she saw Bodie frown, and suddenly a thought occurred to her. "Bodie, have you called the hospital since you left?" The tiniest shake of his head, and Susan took one of his hands in hers, with her other hand turning his head, forcing him to look at her. "You don't know how he is, do you?"
He shook his head again.
"Oh, Bodie." she whispered. "He's alright, he's still alive." She felt Bodie's fingers shake within her grasp as he sighed in relief. She carried on, determined to try and reassure him now that she had his attention. "What you saw? When Kate Ross was there? He had a chest infection and it affected his breathing, that's why all the alarms went off. But they've treated it now, and he's okay. The doctors are hoping that they're going to be able to try and wake him up tomorrow."
She watched as her words sank in, and could see the hope mixed with the fear in his expression. "He’ll make it, Bodie."
Bodie shook his head slowly. "Don't be naïve, Sue. This isn’t TV. The good guys don’t always win, and things don’t always end with happily ever after. Just because you and I want him to pull through, it doesn't mean that he will."
There was silence for a long time, and Susan thought that with that final statement Bodie had shut her out again. She was still trying to work out what to do when Bodie spoke, his voice quiet and hesitant.
"What if he doesn’t?"
Susan knelt in front of him and rested a hand on his. "He’s a fighter, Bodie, and almost as stubborn as you." She took a deep breath. "But if he doesn’t? It’ll be hard, Bodie, but you’ll deal with it. We all will. You have a lot of friends, Bodie, people who care about you. Me, Murphy, even Cowley cares in a brusque sort of way. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help, Bodie. It doesn’t make you a failure."
A short, bitter laugh from Bodie. "Well, thank you, Dr. Ross."
"No, I’m not her. I’m not here because I’m being paid to be, or because I’m writing some report. I’m here because I care. About both of you."
At that Bodie looked up, and saw the sincerity in her eyes. She knew that he'd left the hospital, left Doyle, and yet she didn't seem to be judging him. Maybe, just maybe talking to someone might help. Taking a deep breath, he began to speak, giving voice to some of the feelings that he’d been bottling up for so long.
"I’m...I’m scared, Sue. What if he does die? It'll be because of me. It's all my fault."
Susan looked at him in shock. "How?"
"I was with him Sue. After I was discharged he was acting strange, he kept knocking things over and having trouble staying awake. I knew he hadn't been checked out, I should have made him go back to the hospital."
"Bodie, we all know what Ray's like when he makes up his mind about something. If he didn't want to get himself checked over, no-one could have made him, not even you. Besides, you weren't the only one to see him after he was knocked out. Me, Lucas, Cowley, Murphy, we all saw him back at CI5. If you're at fault for not seeing he was hurt more than we thought, then so are we."
"But, it's my fault Turner got to him in the first place."
Finally Susan could see part of what had really caused Bodie to leave Doyle's side. Obviously believing that it was his fault Doyle had been hurt, Bodie had convinced himself that everyone else thought the same, and that Doyle would reject him for it if he did wake up. "Why do you think that?"
"He got distracted when I was shot. That must have been why Turner was able to sneak up on him."
"You don't know that, Bodie. Accidents happen, things go wrong in operations like this, you know they do. It's happened before without you getting shot to blame it on."
"I'm his partner, I should have been watching his back."
"There were four others there, Bodie. No-one else saw it happen either."
"It wasn't their job to notice." Bodie replied petulantly. "I'm his partner, I should have watched out for him."
"Do you blame Doyle for you getting shot, Bodie?"
Bodie eyes widened as he looked at her in surprise. "Of course not."
"He's your partner, he was there when you were hit. So why not?"
"It wasn't his fault..." Bodie trailed off as he saw where her questions were heading.
"So if you don't blame Doyle for not stopping you getting shot, why do you think he'd blame you?"
Bodie couldn't answer.
"No-one blames you, Bodie. Neither would Doyle. You've done nothing wrong. If you want someone to blame, then blame Turner. He's the one this is all down to."
Bodie sighed, and ran his hands through his hair as he started putting the past few days into perspective. The news that Doyle was probably going to pull through was lifting his spirits. However much he'd thought that he couldn't face Doyle, the fact that Susan obviously believed he wasn't to blame for what had happened helped more than he'd thought anything could.
He offered Susan a weak smile, and she grinned back at him, obviously relieved at even that small gesture. She put the can down on the floor beside her.
"So, do you want to go and see Doyle?" she asked.
"Good." Standing up, she put out a hand and helped him up off the floor. "But I think you should have a shower first. Doyle's worse at blaming himself for things than you are, and if you look like that when he wakes up and he works out why..."
Bodie caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and frowned ruefully. Since he hadn't showered or shaved in at least three days, he had to agree with Susan. He'd definitely looked better. "Nag, nag, nag." He muttered, but headed for the bathroom all the same.
Smiling, Susan walked towards the kitchen. "I don't suppose you've eaten either. Are you hungry, Bodie?"
"I'm always hungry."
The headache was the first thing he noticed. He drifted for a while, not quite conscious, and trying to remember what on earth he and Bodie had been doing to cause a hangover like that. Beyond the pain he felt fuzzy, and confused, and couldn’t quite seem to gather his thoughts.
It was only as he started to wake up properly that the fear started to set in.
This wasn’t right.
As he slowly became aware of his surroundings, the pain kicked in properly and he couldn't stop the moan from escaping. His chest hurt, his head was pounding, and he felt as weak as a newborn kitten.
He couldn't quite seem to get his thoughts together, but suddenly he was pretty sure that he wasn't in his flat, and this wasn't a hangover.
Fear began to mix with the pain, and Doyle moved his head, trying to open his eyes, to work out what was happening to him. Even that small movement sent the room spinning around him, and he swallowed to fight the growing nausea. It was only then that he felt the tube snaking its way down his throat.
What the hell was he doing in a hospital?
He tried to think back, tried to remember what had happened, but he drew a blank. The last thing he could remember was...
A gunshot, Bodie falling...
...and then nothing, until now.
The whirl of noise around him finally started to make sense, and he thought he could make out a voice. He latched on to it, allowing the voice to pull him back from the darkness, and hoping its owner could tell him about Bodie.
"...Doyle? Mr Doyle, can you hear me?"
He tried to answer, but it came out as an incoherent jumble. His eyes flickered open, and he caught a glimpse of a young woman with blonde hair before they closed again.
The voice continued. "Mr Doyle. I need you to breathe in deeply, and then out again. I'm going to remove the tube."
Doyle did as he was told, but was unprepared for the pain as the tube was pulled out. Left gasping for breath and coughing weakly, it was a few moments before he was able to speak.
"Right here, sunshine."
A face swum into view above him, and he allowed himself to relax for the first time since waking up. Bodie was here, and that was enough, for the moment. He was tired, so damn tired, and his eyes started to drift closed.
"Hey." Bodie's voice came to him again, oddly gentle. "Don't you think you've slept enough, lately?"
Still not quite sure what the hell was going on, Doyle looked up at Bodie again, and was startled to see what looked like tears glistening in his partner's eyes. The nurse came forward with a drink of water and helped him drink, the cool liquid dousing the fire in his throat where the tube had been. When he looked back, the tears were gone, and Doyle wondered if he'd imagined it.
"What...am I doing...here?"
"Don't you remember?"
With a great deal of effort Doyle managed to shake his head, and saw Bodie frown slightly.
"But you know who I am, yeah?"
If he'd had the energy, Doyle would have rolled his eyes. Bloody stupid question. "Course I... do."
The nurse smiled and straightened up from where she'd been leaning over the bed. "I'll go and get the doctor. Welcome back, Mr Doyle."
Doyle followed the nurse out with his eyes, and saw someone stood close by the door. With a bit of concentration he could bring the figure into focus enough to recognise Susan as she slipped out after the nurse. But he turned his attention back to Bodie. He was becoming more alert every second, even if he did feel awful, and was still waiting to find out what had happened.
"Well?" he managed weakly.
Bodie's relief that Doyle had woken up and recognised him was plain to see, and tactfully Susan followed the nurse out of the room when she left.
Glancing back through the glass panel, she watched for a few seconds as Bodie leaned in closer to his partner. Doyle seemed to try and raise his hand, but barely managed to lift it up from the bed, and Bodie placed his hand over Doyle's, offering some small measure of comfort as he started to speak.
Doyle obviously took the comfort that was offered, because he relaxed back into the pillows, the natural panic they'd seen clearly displayed on his face as he came to dissipating thanks to his partner's presence.
The partners were back together again.
Smiling, Susan walked away down the corridor, heading for a phone to tell Cowley the good news.
-- THE END --