As yet another heavy door clanged shut behind him, Bodie barely managed to suppress a shiver. Down the bare corridor an unseen man could be heard shouting orders. Prison. Even the sound of the word was depressing. The uniformed warder opened the final door into a small room, bare except for one scrubbed table and two uncomfortable-looking chairs.
A door on the opposite side of the room opened and a prisoner escorted by two uniformed men entered.
"Prisoner for transfer, sir," shouted the larger of the two men. Bodie saw the eyes in the gaunt face widen.
"Transfer? Where to?"
"Shut up, Doyle. Speak when you're spoken to."
"This is the first I've--"
"I'm warning you, Doyle, belt up."
The door behind the prisoner opened again and a fourth warder appeared carrying a tatty holdall and brown paper carrier bag. Doyle snatched the bags from him.
"That's my stuff!"
"Check the contents, Doyle, then sign this." The officer who had accompanied Bodie put the official form down on the table. In silence Doyle diligently checked each bag and box, not hurrying and totally ignoring the irate glares and snorts from the four burly, uniformed men.
Bodie saw the quick glance that raked him from head to foot but did not say anything.
Satisfied that all his possessions were there, Doyle straightened up and turned to the man who had shouted at him, handing over a bar of slippery soap with a hard smile.
"This isn't mine. Wouldn't want to get done for thievin' Her Majesty's property, would I!" He turned back to the table. "Now, where do you want me to autograph?"
The form signed, Doyle picked up his bags and looked expectantly towards Bodie's escort.
"Right, sir." The warder moved towards the door, indicating that Bodie should precede him. "We've a few forms for you to sign at the office and he's all yours. Milton, bring Doyle." And the procession moved towards the other office.
Watching discreetly through the glass partition as he completed the paperwork, Bodie looked his new acquisition over. The washed-out, baggy prison issue clothing swamped the frail-looking figure, his size diminished even more by the sheer bulk of the guards that flanked him. Again he wondered what Cowley was up to. This was hardly normal procedure.
Prisoners' interviews were usually carried out within their place of abode; to be released into the custody of a lone CI5 agent without even an escort was, to Bodie's knowledge, unheard of.
What was so special about Raymond Doyle, he wondered.
"I can't say I'm going to miss the bugger," the warder confided as Bodie asked about his prisoner. "Sometimes I reckon it's a shame they stopped transporting 'em to Australia. Real bundle of trouble, he is."
"What's he in for?"
"Bent copper." The man pulled a face. "Nothin' I hate more than a bent copper."
Paperwork over, Bodie collected his prisoner and the procession continued in silence to the outer gate. Before opening the final lock in the door, the guard with the loud voice stopped Bodie.
"Shouldn't you cuff 'im?"
Doyle glared at the guard but remained silent. Bodie assessed the skinny man.
"Nah. Not going to do a runner, are you," he said brightly, confident of his own abilities if the smaller man should risk it.
The door opened and the two men stepped into the free world. Bodie started to move towards his car but then stopped. Doyle wasn't following.
"Come on, Doyle. The car's that way." He pointed to the solitary vehicle.
"Where are you taking me?"
"You'll find out when you get there."
"Who are you? This isn't normal procedure. I want to know where I'm being taken." Doyle stood his ground.
Annoyed by the stubbornness, Bodie grabbed hold of a surprisingly well-muscled arm and pulled.
"You're going where I'm taking you." He manhandled Doyle across the empty space, unlocked the car and pushed him into the passenger seat. Ingrained caution made him lock the door before walking around to his own seat.
The drive into town took nearly an hour and the journey was conducted in silence.
As they pulled into the CI5 car park Doyle peered up at the drab building. "What is this place?"
Bodie ignored him and got out to unlock Doyle's door. An hour ago the man hadn't wanted to get in the car, now he didn't want to get out.
"I'm not moving until I know where I am and why I'm here."
"Look, mate," Bodie growled, "you're here because I was told to bring you here."
"Doesn't answer my question," Doyle answered belligerently. "I've been stitched up once too often. I'm not moving until I know what's going on."
Bodie knew that it would take very little effort on his part to get the little toad into the building, but it had been a tough week, he was wearing a good suit of clothes, and, quite frankly, he couldn't be bothered.
"I'm CI5." He flashed his I.D. before the brittle gaze. "That is CI5 headquarters." He pointed towards the building. "My boss, who is not known for his generous nature and kind heart, is in there waiting to see you. If you shift your arse out of my car and get it over there you might find out what's going down because I neither know or care. Okay?"
It obviously was because Doyle gathered his belongings and followed him through the doors. The bags were left at the security office and the two men walked into the building. Coming towards them, his attention on a file in his hands, was a sandy-haired, middle-aged man. Bodie called out to him.
The man looked up and removed his glasses.
"At last. I was beginning to wonder what was keeping you. No problems at the prison, Bodie?"
The man turned his attention to Doyle.
"Well, Mr Doyle. If you would come with me, my office is just here."
The man opened a door bearing the nameplate of George Cowley, Controller CI5. Doyle did not know whether to be worried or impressed.
"Bodie, there's no need for you to remain, but stay in the building, please. Once I have spoken with Mr Doyle I'll want to see you again."
"Sir." Bodie acknowledged the order and the dismissal as he left the office.
Ray Doyle watched the door close and turned his attention to the man seated at the desk. Any minute now, he thought, I'm going to wake up and find it's all been a dream.
"Sit down, Mr Doyle, make yourself comfortable. Can I offer you a drink?"
He must have nodded because the man stood up and crossed the room to remove glasses and a whisky bottle from the filing cabinet. He took the offered glass and sipped the golden liquid. The burning sensation spread like wildfire down his throat and into his stomach.
"Now," Cowley reseated himself behind his desk, "down to business. How much did the Governor tell you?"
The whisky had caused his vocal cords to seize up and even his second attempt was not too clear.
"Not much." Doyle cleared his throat and told Cowley all he knew. "I was called to the Governor's office yesterday afternoon and told that new evidence had come to light. He wouldn't tell me anything else. Said he didn't want to get my hopes up."
Cowley was unsurprised by the bewildered voice. Governor Bryant had not been too pleased when his ordered routine had been disrupted by CI5's demands. Events had occurred so fast it was surprising that Doyle looked as confident as he did.
"You are not in my custody, Mr Doyle. You are perfectly free to leave as and when you like."
"Free," confirmed the Scots brogue softly, the sharp blue eyes missing none of the effect his announcement had caused.
"I don't understand. I don't understand any of this, do you mean I'm getting a retrial?"
"Let me explain from the beginning. Your defence at the trial, your only defence, was that you were setting yourself up as a plant in the drug ring in the hopes of snaring the other police officers whose identity you didn't know but were sure were involved. Now, you claimed that on the night in question you told your senior officer, Detective Inspector Taylor, of your plan. What was Taylor's reaction?"
"He told me not to go ahead, said that he didn't think it was a good idea for me to go undercover alone."
"Did you obey his order not to proceed?"
"You know I didn't. If I had I wouldn't have got myself in this mess, would I?"
"The prosecution's main evidence was your total lack of official orders; there was no record of your informing the squad of your intentions."
"Of course there wasn't. It wasn't until the next day when I was arrested that I heard about the accident."
"Yes. D.I. Taylor's death was most unfortunate, especially for you."
"Most unfortunate," Doyle repeated, his voice bitter. "That's one way of putting it, I suppose."
"I have examined the reports; the crash was, beyond any doubt, an accident."
"What made you think it might be otherwise?" Doyle asked, the wariness in his voice being replaced by curiosity.
"D.I. Taylor did make a report on your plan to infiltrate the group. It seems he guessed that you would ignore his instructions to leave things alone--"
"Where's the report? Why didn't anyone find it at the time?" Three years, three lousy years, all because of one missing report, the last report of a dead man.
"He handed it over to D.I. Behan."
"Mike? Mike Behan?" Doyle couldn't believe his ears. Mike had been one of the few friends who believed his claims of innocence.
"D.I. Behan was the police presence within the ring. He knew you had to be stopped. Taylor's death provided him the ideal opportunity. No one else knew of your intentions. Behan arranged your entrapment, planted the evidence and destroyed Taylor's report."
"I'll kill him!" Doyle leapt to his feet, ready to find his former friend and carry out his threat.
"He's already dead; he died four days ago. Cancer."
Doyle slumped back down into the chair, disappointed to have been robbed of his chance to wreak revenge.
"Amongst his papers was a letter addressed to the Home Secretary. It seems he wished to die with a clear conscience. The original report was destroyed but the letter is thought to be an accurate record of his involvement with the suppliers and dealers and, of course, a statement declaring your complete innocence and the way he framed you. Here," Cowley passed over several sheets of paper, "is a copy of the letter. I'm sure you'll want to read it."
Doyle took the document in shaking fingers and forced himself to concentrate on the scrawling, spidery writing. The letter was dated only a few weeks previously.
At last he folded the papers and handed them back.
"So I'll get a retrial?"
"That is what I want to discuss with you. A retrial would become a very public affair. The media would have a field day--a young policeman framed by his senior officer, all those wasted years you've spent locked away, broken dreams, personal heartache, only to be cleared by the testimony of a dying man. The film companies would be queuing at your door for exclusive script rights. Is that what you want?"
"I can use you, Doyle. I had already noted your name before the charges arose. I was sure I wasn't wrong about you but, as you know only too well, there was no proof. I want you in CI5. What I don't want is someone whose face has been plastered across every newspaper in the country."
"Well... I don't--"
"If you agree to my proposals, your innocence in this matter will become a matter of record and you will, of course, be financially compensated for your loss of earnings and the hardship you've suffered."
"You have every right to request a public retrial, I am suggesting that you forgo that right."
"As I said a few moments ago, Mr Doyle, I can use you. Three years ago I would have welcomed you on your professional abilities alone. Though a trifle rebellious you were a good policeman. Now, after your recent experiences, you have a wealth of contact with those on the other side of the fence. As an ex-prisoner your face is known and you'll be able to gain easy admittance to circles that undercover agents would have to work months to achieve." Cowley paused for a moment, allowing his words to sink in. "But, as a publicly affirmed, upright, honest citizen you'd be back to square one. If you agree, your criminal and prison records will be destroyed, you'll be free to tell friends and family about your innocence. All I ask is that you consider it. I have a feeling you will find working for CI5 an...experience. Well?"
"How long do I have to decide?"
"I need your answer now. I'm sorry to rush you, but D.I. Behan's letter has stirred up a regular hornet's nest and the D.P.P. is eager to get started on it. How he deals with it depends on your answer."
"If I agree, my name will be left out of new investigations into that little lot." Doyle pointed to the letter. Cowley nodded.
"How can I avoid the retrial? It's a formal procedure, how could I get out of that and the attendant publicity?"
"I have examined the implications of the letter. It clears you completely. You were arrested before you uncovered anything that will be of any assistance in the new enquiries. The Home Secretary has agreed to leave your name out of the new investigating. D.I. Behan is dead. There is no need to rake over old ground. Unless you feel the need to be publicly exonerated. It is, of course, your right."
Doyle's mind was in a whirl. Ever since the summons to the Governor's office the day before, his thoughts had been a jumble of 'what ifs' and hopes that kept insisting on struggling out from under the tight lid he kept clamped down. It was happening too fast. He had only just begun to accept his lot, and try to adapt more to the strange prison life. In less than an hour this man, George Cowley, had turned his whole world upside down. Mike, his friend, had betrayed him and left him to rot in jail, only a guilty conscience releasing him, and now he was being asked not to scream his freedom cry from the rooftops, but to keep the stain on his name, to hide his innocence in a way others would hide their guilt? What for?
Because it would make him useful to CI5, because this Cowley person said he could use him. Even three years ago Cowley had wanted him. Doyle knew he would have jumped at the chance then, but a lot had happened since. He'd changed.
Cowley could see the indecision in the shockingly large eyes.
"I know a little of what you've been through, Doyle. You'll be allowed time to retrain and rehabilitate yourself."
Time. Time to retrain and rehabilitate. Would there ever be enough time for him to escape the past few years?
"I don't think I could face going back inside. Not now."
"I won't ask you to, not now. I can't promise you that I will never ask you, though; as a CI5 agent, I frequently order my men to do unpleasant duties."
"All right, I waive my right to a retrial." Where had the words come from? Doyle thought in amazement. Not from his brain, that was for sure. Cowley was already moving into action, showering him with reams and reams of paper, all requiring his signature. So much for reading everything before you sign it, he thought ruefully.
As the last of the papers were signed Cowley called someone on his desk intercom and in response the door opened and an attractive woman entered.
"Ah, Betty. A small matter for you to attend to, more pleasure than duty I hope, though. This is Ray Doyle, he has just agreed to join our organisation. Our timetable has become a little behind and I'm sure that he would welcome a break from business and a meal. Take him down to the canteen and fix him up with something, bring him back here when he's finished."
"Before you go, call Bodie to my office."
"Yes, sir." Betty turned to the latest addition to the family. "If you'll follow me, Mr Doyle."
"Yes, of course." For all the informality of the conversation, Doyle knew he had been dismissed. Dutifully he followed Betty.
"Where do you come from, Mr Doyle?"
"Pardon?" Doyle's head snapped back to the woman, trying not to show his surprise at the seeming abundance of men openly wearing shoulder holsters that passed them going in the opposite direction.
"Bodie, Mr Cowley wants you in his office."
His escort from the prison came into the corridor from a side room; like the others he was minus his jacket, his shoulder holster looking as if it belonged to his body. Doyle saw the double take in the blue eyes and waited for the inevitable comment, but all the man said was "Everything okay?" to which Betty replied:
"Fine. Just going to get some lunch. See you later."
Bodie moved past them without another word.
"I said where do you come from? Most of us were trawled from army, navy, airforce or the police," Betty continued.
"Oh, er...police." Doyle jumped on his impulse to say prison.
"The Met., are you from the Met.?"
"I don't think we've got anyone else from there, a few Met. boys but mostly the armed forces." Betty gamely struggled on but the conversation was like wading up a muddy river against the current. Conversation clearly wasn't one of the new boy's good points.
Rather than eat in total silence Betty talked almost non-stop about CI5 while Doyle picked at his food.
Bodie entered the quiet office with trepidation, wondering if perhaps this was how Daniel felt on entering the lion's den. He knew the old man was up to something, he could feel it in his bones.
"Come in, Bodie, stop hovering in the doorway. Sit down."
Bodie stopped hovering and sat.
"How's your back now?"
"It's just fine, sir."
"Dr Willis doesn't agree."
"Now I've got rid of that bloody neck brace I feel much better, hardly so much as a twinge."
"Willis said you could stop wearing the brace?" asked Cowley. Everyone who had come within range of Bodie's tongue over the past few weeks had heard about his view on modern instruments of torture.
"Yes, sir, providing I don't 'exert myself'," Bodie said meaningfully, leaving Cowley in absolutely no doubt of his meaning.
"Hardly a twinge is not 'fine', Bodie. Damaged vertebrae are not things to be trifled with. You're damn lucky not to have been killed or crippled--" Cowley broke off, realising that Bodie knew only too well how lucky he had been.
"Perhaps you don't need to be told that. Anyway, it will be some time before you will be medically cleared for normal duties so I feel obliged to keep you occupied in some way. You're causing havoc in the office, you've got to divert some of that energy and I've just the job for you."
Bodie managed to look wounded and cautiously interested at the same time.
"I've decided it's time you were teamed up with a partner."
"Oh no. I work solo, I always have," Bodie broke in. This was not what he had been expecting.
"You've worked alone because it suited me to let you, Bodie. It now suits me to partner you," Cowley snapped back, the authority in his voice quelling further protests. "The man I've selected is new to us. CI5's facilities will be placed at your disposal and I want you to supervise his training. Dr Willis feels another two months will be enough time for your injury to heal properly. In ten weeks I want you and your partner ready and fit for active duty. Macklin will run the last two weeks' training so you can participate fully."
In other words, thought Bodie with a sinking heart, the last two weeks are to pummel me back into shape. Oh well, might as well know the worst, find out who Cowley wants to saddle me with.
"Who is he?"
The name hung in the air. Bodie couldn't believe his ears.
"He's straight from the nick! He's still doing time, for christ's sake."
"Kindly lower your voice, Bodie," Cowley ordered. "These files are for your perusal; read them, familiarise yourself with their contents. They will tell you all you need to know about Doyle. He can tell you his personal details himself."
"You're nuts!" Bodie stood up and paced the floor. "I really don't believe you. You are teaming me
with a bent copper!"
Cowley ignored his operative's disrespectful attitude; he could quite understand how it looked from Bodie's point of view.
"Sit down, man. Doyle has been completely exonerated from all the drug and corruption charges. As from today he is a free man without a stain on his character."
"I haven't heard about any retrials going on," said Bodie.
"And you won't. Doyle has waived his right to retrial; he has agreed to accept the Home Office decision and no public announcement will be made."
"Why should he do that?"
"Think, Bodie! Doyle has been inside the prison system for three years. Think of the faces he knows, people he's met, the people who have met him. When I send him undercover those same people are going to see a familiar face, a kindred spirit, not a stranger who is to be mistrusted. Doyle and everyone who matters to him, along with the authorities, will know he was falsely accused. But everyone else will accept him for what they think he's proved to be. A bent policeman, a criminal of the worst kind, someone they can trust."
Bodie could see the point behind Cowley's impassioned speech, but he could also see one or two flaws.
"So the past three years were a set-up then?"
"How do you mean? Was he really convicted or wasn't he?"
"The case against him was sound, he had no defence to speak of and he was convicted and sentenced to eight years. With good behaviour the earliest release date he could have would be eighteen months from now."
Bodie was really confused by this time. If the case was so good how come Doyle was being released early? Why should the man forgo all public declaration of his innocence? He had a hundred and one questions which all demanded answers.
They came in a shortened version of the Taylor/Behan report and letter and the files listing Doyle's police and prison records. A swift scan of the files told him a lot about his proposed partner. Detective Constable Raymond Doyle had been quite a busy little bluebottle, and a police marksman to boot. Reading between the lines Bodie could see why Cowley had considered Doyle for CI5 even before the spell in prison. From the comments written by his superiors it was clear that Doyle hadn't been popular. Insubordination was a common complaint--his methods, though at times unorthodox, got results.
Moving on to the record of the prisoner Bodie found a very different story.
The arrogant, incorruptible D.C. Doyle had not reacted positively to incarceration. There were pages of logged incidents in which Doyle was the alleged instigator or the centre of disturbances and fights. His aggressive behaviour had not endeared him to either the warders or his fellow inmates and he had been subjected to the full gamut of official punishments. A few sheets clipped to the front of the file turned out to be medical notes from the prison hospital. The seemingly endless list of cuts and contusions bore testimony to frequent fights. Not all the injuries had been minor; a year ago Doyle had been seriously injured in a fight and had been transferred to an outside hospital for treatment. Fractured skull, shattered cheekbone, broken wrist and cracked ribs. It had been some fight.
The shattered cheekbone obviously accounted for the strange bump high under the skinny man's eye. The medical notes were incomplete but Bodie had read enough.
"He spent three years in hell and you expect him to be sane enough to work for CI5!"
Cowley's answer was interrupted by a ringing telephone; he answered it promptly.
"Just a moment, Betty," he said into the phone and then turned back to Bodie.
"It's up to you to see that he's got what it takes. You've got twelve weeks to turn him into what you know I want." He pinned Bodie to the spot with a glare, then without looking away spoke into the telephone again. "All right, Betty, send Mr Doyle in, please."
Crossing the room, Doyle felt his skin prickle as Bodie looked him over, the dismay at what he saw all too clear.
"Doyle, I know you've already met Bodie but from now on you're going to be seeing a lot more of him. For the next twelve weeks he will be running you through a training programme."
Twelve weeks, Bodie thought with disgust as he looked at the frail, green-eyed wraith, twelve months wouldn't do it. He came to the conclusion that Cowley sometimes expected too much of his men.
Everything still felt unreal to Doyle; his senses were still reeling from the calmly delivered news that he was free. He knew he'd made a right prat of himself with the woman. Lord knows what she thought of him, he knew he hadn't managed to form sentences of more than two words over the whole meal. He returned the wary look he was getting from this Bodie character. Cowley was handing him over to that! It was as clear as the nose on his face that Bodie didn't want anything to do with him. Cowley had said he was free to leave any time he wished. All he wanted to do at that moment was start running, to run and run until he found a quiet place where he could be alone to think. Everything was moving too fast. Stop the world, I want to get off, he thought to himself, and almost giggled aloud at the cliché. Christ, now I'm getting hysterical!
The voice cut through his confusion, but no one seemed to notice he hadn't been paying attention.
"...will of course be issued with your own car from the pool. It will take a month or so for the allocations office to find you a flat; in the meantime, Bodie, your present flat has a spare room I believe?"
"Yes, sir," replied Bodie, not too sure he liked the way the conversation was heading.
"Unless either of you have any valid objections you can share. It shouldn't take security too long to clear a place for Doyle."
If either of the men had any objections they chose not to voice them.
"Right then," Cowley looked at his wristwatch, "there isn't much more we can do today. Doyle, I've arranged for you to attend a meeting at the Home Office at 10 tomorrow morning. Bodie, make sure he gets there on time. It will only be a formality, Doyle, so don't worry about anything." Cowley broke off from his talk and watched the two men.
It was clear that neither of them was happy with the arrangements but that couldn't be helped. The young man's disorientation was all Dr Ross had predicted. If Doyle was going to be of any use to CI5 they had to stop him from falling into a mire of self-pity; Ross' advice was to keep the new recruit moving at such a speed he could only react instinctively, he shouldn't be allowed time to begin any self-doubts.
Bodie was just what the doctor ordered. Cowley knew that the established agent was going to try and run his unwanted partner into the ground. Doyle would either go under or survive. Cowley only hoped there was enough spirit left to survive!
"Right, gentlemen, I've only a few more things to say. Firstly, Doyle, I've told Bodie the bare facts leading up to your imprisonment and subsequent release. He has also seen your police and prison records; once you have completed your training period you will be given access to his professional details--as partners it is only fair that you each know the other's history and training. Any exchange of personal information is completely up to the pair of you.
"And finally, Doyle, you have been told you can inform anyone you care to that your character has been cleared. I wish to caution you to use discretion when telling people. Remember, however unpleasant, your 'prison record' can be useful only as long as it is believable."
"That is all, gentlemen." Cowley stood up and walked around his desk, extending his hand to Doyle, who rose from his chair to take it.
"Welcome to CI5, Mr Doyle."
"Er...thank you, sir."
"Bodie, there are a queue of people waiting for Mr Doyle in the Administration Office, show him the way."
It was another few hours before Bodie led the way out of the building, only to return immediately to retrieve Doyle's bags from the security office.
Doyle could feel the heat burning his cheeks as they emerged through the doors for the second time. How was he supposed to have recognised where they were? All day he had been dragged along corridors, into one office after another, rarely being told where he was going or why. Every time someone shoved a piece of paper under his nose he scribbled his name on it; he had probably signed his life away a hundred times over. The Incredible Hulk had glowered and snarled constantly and was letting everyone know exactly how he felt about being lumbered with so much dead weight.
On top of his physical exhaustion, Doyle's mind was numb from the speed of events and he was almost too tired to take anything else in. He was feeling knackered, confused, a little frightened and more lonely than he had ever believed possible. The Hulk clearly wanted nothing to do with him and Cowley only wanted him because he could 'use' him. People had used him before and he didn't like it.
Glancing sideways at his silent shadow, Bodie gave a mental groan. The poor sod was grey with exhaustion and clearly didn't know whether he was coming or going. He could feel himself softening and jumped on the reaction, squashing it firmly. Don't feel sorry for him, you fool, he told himself sternly. You'll be offering to carry his bags next! He turned his attention towards the evening he had planned--shit! Doyle.
"Look," Bodie began, "I've already made arrangements for tonight and I expect you've got things you want to do..." Doyle didn't say a word and Bodie felt a nasty insidious feeling well up inside but squashed it before he could recognise it. "I'll give you a spare key and I'll see you at my place later, okay?" The emotion demanded to be recognised. Guilt.
Doyle felt his heart sink a little further but schooled his voice and features to hide how much yet another rejection was hurting him.
"Suits me. The admin. bloke gave me your address. I'll see you later then."
Bodie winced at the tone of voice, deciding at the last minute to at least try and be friendly. It was, all said and done, the bloke's first day of freedom in three years. He stumbled, embarrassed over his invitation.
"Look, I've arranged a date with this girl, I can call her up, maybe she would bring a friend."
Doyle had received better invitations, but even so he was tempted. The relaxed atmosphere of a pub and a few drinks could be what he needed to unwind a little, but common-sense prevailed. Apart from the fact Bodie obviously felt obliged to ask him, Doyle was suddenly aware of his meagre funds. The solitary five-pound note in his pocket wouldn't last long and he had no wish to impose on Bodie's begrudging charity.
"Thanks, but no. Like you said, I've got things to do."
A weight lifted off Bodie's shoulders and he began to move towards his car.
"Just in case I'm back late, you'll find sheets and blankets in the airing cupboard in the hall, help yourself to anything you want, should be something edible somewhere in the kitchen. See you," Bodie shouted across the road as he climbed into the car. He was already manoeuvring out of the car park when he looked back to see that Doyle was still standing where he had left him. He pulled up alongside and wound the window down.
"Can I drop you anywhere?" he asked politely.
The question terrified Doyle. Panic welled up inside him. Did he want to go anywhere? What a stupid question. What a bloody stupid question! Yes, he wanted to go somewhere, anywhere away from here, from the drab building filled with its energetic, lively happy people and the dour Scotsman who wanted to use him, away from the piercing blue eyes that had already seen right through him and despised him. Just away. Somebody please--come and take me away! But he knew nobody would come--who was there left to care? Only himself.
"I said, can I drop you anywhere?"
"No, thanks. It's all right."
Relieved, Bodie shouted a farewell and accelerated out of the car park, trying vainly to leave his feeling of unease behind with the solitary figure standing clutching his bags on the pavement.
Doyle watched the car roar down the road until it disappeared into the traffic. He looked around at the surrounding buildings and tried to work out where he was. No one had thought to tell him. In the distance and through the hum of city traffic he heard a clock chime. Five o'clock. He hadn't realised it was so late. His own watch had been stolen soon after his arrival at the prison--so much for honour among thieves. He was certain the clock was Big Ben and so made off to find the nearest tube station that he knew could only be a few streets away. Once he found the station he'd think about his next move.
He turned the corner and stopped dead, the sudden mass of humanity taking him by surprise. The rush hour! Endless streams of busy, hustling office workers scurrying to catch busses and trains home after a hard day's work.
Stepping into the flow of bodies he was swept along with the tide to the Underground station; standing still in front of a map he was buffeted and knocked aside by the constant movement of human traffic. His eyes traced the coloured line; Bodie's address was Knightsbridge, practically a direct line from Hounslow; he could go and collect his belongings from John's house.
Rejoining the flow of people, he bought a ticket and struggled onto a packed train. He stood all the way and the journey took forever.
He was already walking up the path to his brother's house before it occurred to him that perhaps he should have telephoned. Too late now. He reached out and rang the doorbell.
The hall and porch light came on as the door was opened, the sudden brilliance blinding after the dim street lighting.
"Good lord!" Doyle recognised his brother's voice. "What are you doing here?"
Now he knew he should have telephoned.
"'Lo, John," Doyle said calmly as he tried to gauge his brother's reaction.
"How did you get here? What do you want?"
"Yes, well it's really great seeing you again too. Me? Oh, I'm fine, how about you?" The sarcastic bite successfully hid shaky notes.
"I suppose you'd better come in," his brother said ungraciously.
"Why, don't you want the neighbours to see me?"
John Doyle stepped back to let his troublesome brother inside and was unable to prevent himself looking up and down the street to see if anyone was watching his house.
"I suppose you want a cup of tea."
"Only if it's not too much trouble." Doyle knew that his brother had only offered out of habit, but he suddenly realised how thirsty and hungry he was.
"Your face--what happened to it?" Standing under the bright kitchen light, John got his first proper look at his brother's battle-scarred face.
"A fight. Thought you were told about it," he answered in a forced attempt at nonchalance.
"The one that put you in hospital."
"Yeah, oh and thanks for the get well card and chocolates."
"What...I never sent any card--"
"No? Oh, sorry, my mistake." He had known that. A week in intensive care and another month in a public hospital before being carted back to prison...he knew the doctors had called his brother and told him about his condition but nothing came of it. Not even a visit.
Daft to have expected it really, he told himself.
"What are you here for? You can't stay here y'know. I told you at the funeral that you weren't welcome anymore."
His mother's funeral. They'd let him out, with an escort of course, to attend the service. Milton, the creep, had waited until the family were all around them before removing the bright, shiny handcuffs. His brother had told him right there outside the church before going in to the service, exactly what he thought. Mum's death was entirely his fault. The shame he'd brought on the family was what finished her. The cancer that had slowly been destroying her for years had absolutely nothing to do with it.
"I just want the cases I left here."
"You should have phoned, I could have sent them to you, you know I don't want you here."
"All right, I should've phoned but I didn't. Just give me my stuff and I'll go."
"Too right you'll go, Carole and the kids are due home soon and I don't want them seeing you."
John pushed past his brother and disappeared upstairs. After a few minutes of banging around he came back struggling and sweating with the effort of retrieving the heavy cases from the very back of a cupboard.
He set them down and opened the front door.
"Here's what you came for. Now you can go, can't you."
"Thanks for looking after them--"
"Don't mention it. Only reason I took 'em was because I didn't want you going round Mum's upsetting her when you came out. If I'd had my way I'd've chucked them on the council tip the day of the funeral. Get your cases and get out, I don't ever want to set eyes on you again."
((line missing)) but his brother didn't want to hear.
"No. Go on, get out."
"Things have changed, John. I was released today because--"
"If you don't move I'm going to kick you out and I don't care if the bloody neighbours are watching!"
"John, please listen to--"
"Get going before I call the police."
John pushed the cases out of the house, shoved his brother out with them and shut the front door.
It was a few minutes before Doyle looked away from the closed door. The encounter had been even worse than he had imagined it. God only knew why he'd come here today, perhaps just to get the inevitable over with. He rearranged the holdall over a shoulder and tied the carrier bag to one of the cases, then started up the path towards the station.
He didn't look back.
He was shaking with exhaustion by the time he pushed open the door to Bodie's flat, his arms and shoulders protesting fiercely at the strain of lugging all his worldly possessions across London. It was a relief to find the place empty.
He placed the bags in the spare room and found the airing cupboard and the kitchen. He made a cup of coffee but decided against eating anything. His stomach was in a knot, the whole day had been one shock after another. John's reaction, though expected, had been the last straw.
Feeling uneasy about imposing on Bodie's privacy, he returned to the spare room and collapsed onto the bare mattress. He did not lie there too long though, only too aware he could easily fall asleep. He unlocked his luggage and started to check through the contents.
He had packed them the first night after the trial had started. It had taken the court six days to find him guilty but he had known the outcome already. Not much to show for twenty-nine years of life. After he had been suspended from the force and released on bail to await his trial, Ann had asked him to leave the flat. He hadn't even been able to convince her he was innocent. She had believed all the lies and hadn't even tried to believe or trust him. The cheap, furnished bedsit he had moved to had been a long way from the cosy house the lovers had shared. He had agreed to let her keep the furniture they had collected together; somehow even then he'd known he wasn't going to need it. Good job they hadn't been married really, Doyle thought as he carefully checked each item; Ann could be such a snob at times. She would have hated being a felon's wife. And as for prison visiting--she would have died of embarrassment. He put the last item back, clicked the lid shut and moved on to the second case.
She hadn't visited him once. There had been a few letters at first, polite, stilted notes completely ignoring the fact that the recipient was a recently abandoned lover who had fallen on desperately hard times. The last letter had been over two years ago and had been full of information about the 'really terrific job' that would be 'so tremendously fulfilling' in America.
He'd never had many visitors. One or two of his colleagues, his mother once, just after his committal. She had cried the whole time. That had been the last time he saw her.
Satisfied that everything was all there, he locked the cases up again, shutting from sight all the memories of his former life. They contained no clothing, only personal treasures that he had found it impossible even to consider parting with: photograph albums, a few special framed pictures that had always been a part of his home, documents, certificates, records, books and, somewhere wrapped in tissue, the picture of his class at Hendon the day he had passed out. He knew it was there and had seen the white tissue but he had not unwrapped it. He still couldn't touch it--not yet, there were still some memories that were still too painful.
He stood up and wandered through the flat until he found a clock. It was just after eleven. Having had an enforced bedtime of ten o'clock for so long, it seemed very late and he wondered what time Bodie would get in.
Struggling against his tiredness, he made up the bed and then went in search of the bathroom. The bath proved irresistible and before he could stop himself he was up to his neck in hot water and thoroughly enjoying his first totally private bath in a very long time. He only just managed to find the strength to drag himself back into the bedroom where he sat on the edge of the bed. About to lie down and give up the battle to stay awake, his eyes caught sight of the closed door.
He didn't have to close that, did he?
Doyle knew he was being stupid, there wasn't even a lock on it, but he did it anyway. Getting up, he re-opened the door, leaving it slightly ajar; then, satisfied, he crept back to bed.
As he pushed the door shut and clicked the double lock over, Bodie listened. The flat was quiet, but his sigh of relief was cut short as he saw the pool of light spilling into the dark hallway.
It was gone midnight; if the little toad was waiting up for him like some Victorian maiden aunt, Bodie decided he wouldn't be answerable for the consequences.
His night out, like the day preceding it, had gone from bad to worse. Marianne had been in a strange mood, alternating between sullen silences and a nagging bitchiness which indicated, to Bodie's mind, she had just about had enough of broken dates, phonecalls out of the blue, not to mention being abandoned mid-date. He knew it was all over bar the shouting but he had wanted to finish the affair on a high note--give the poor creature something to remember him by.
But Marianne was like a tiny china doll, incredibly beautiful miniature perfection, and her under five feet in six-inch heels height had meant her six feet in his two-inch heels escort had spent a great deal of time stooping to hear her soft, genteel voice. By the time they adjourned to her bedroom his back was killing him and the lure of lying on the exquisite Marianne's bed had nothing whatsoever to do with the lady's skills.
But it was her bed, he was her date and she knew it would probably be the last time and she felt she had earned it. Not wanting to disappoint her and unwilling to appear ungentlemanly, Bodie tried to put his heart into it. Things were moving along nicely when a pair of slender arms slid around his neck and her soft, supple body arched up against him as she stiffened beneath him. Bodie felt his own release building up, but as her body jumped in a final orgasmic convulsion she tightened her grip around his neck.
The yell Bodie uttered was not one of triumph. Unwittingly, the luckless Marianne had applied pressure directly over the injured vertebrae.
His whole body, with one noticeable exception, went rigid as the pain washed over him. It was left to Marianne to manoeuvre the pain-wracked body off her and to try and comfort the sweating man.
Unable to face the prospect of a repeat performance, Bodie had finally managed to get away, only too aware that his swan song was not likely to instil any feelings of regret or loss in Marianne.
He peered into the bedroom, ready--even eager--to let rip. But even in that he was thwarted. Doyle was asleep.
Spoiling for a fight, Bodie walked right up to the bed, willing the man to wake up. Doyle slept on.
Bodie looked around the room. Over in the corner were two medium-sized suitcases, a holdall and carrier bag. On top of the bags, neatly folded, were Doyle's clothes. With a guilty start Bodie realised that Doyle had still been wearing the prison issue when he'd left him outside headquarters. Of course he had, Bodie told himself, no one at the prison had realised he was going to be released.
He looked at the cases again. Where had Doyle got them from? How had he got there? The uneasy guilt magnified. Christ, he thought, he hadn't even checked to see if the poor sod had any money! It was more than likely that he hadn't. Fuckin' hell, he thought morosely, maybe I should have passed the hat around at H.Q. He forced the uncomfortable feelings away with practised ease.
His gaze returned to the sleeping man. That's right, Doyle. You get your beauty sleep because you're gonna need it.
The gaunt face was softened into delicate planes and angles by sleep, dark rings and the ugly mismatched cheekbones transformed by the gentle lighting that also played on the smooth bare shoulders and arms. Doyle was slim to the point of being skinny. There was no way this frail creature was going to last the training period. Bodie cheerfully estimated the inevitable collapse would happen in the first week.
He clicked the light off and softly padded into his own bedroom. There was no need to worry about Cowley teaming him with Doyle. His headache forgotten, Bodie climbed into bed, already planning the first and last week of Ray Doyle's career with CI5.
Wrapped as he was, warm and comfortable within a cocoon of bedding, dreams unremarkable and nearly forgotten, already fading away, it was the silence that finally made him open his eyes.
Being accustomed to a dawn chorus of heavy boots, clanking doors and jangling keys, mingled with loud and often heated verbal exchanges, this new stillness was almost frightening and he was still half afraid that any sudden move on his part would wake him up only to find the whole thing another cruel joke.
He blinked against the brilliant sunshine that was pouring through the uncurtained, unbarred window.
It was a beautiful morning.
He slid out of bed and crossed over to the window, grimacing a little as his shoulders protested about the previous day's physical demands. Pushing the window wide open, he leant out and peered into the street below. Although bright, the sun gave little warmth, but the discomfort did not interrupt his enjoyment of the new morning.
Further down the road, three uniformed school boys, heads together, could be seen making their unhurried way to school. As he watched, two of them snatched something from the third and ran off, their victim running shrieking after them, their war cries echoing up and down the quiet street. As they vanished around a corner, a milk float rattled into view and squeaked to a halt outside the next block of flats; the milkman climbed from his cab and passed a few words with the postman emerging from the same block. An old man out walking his dog completed the picture.
Sounds from inside the flat drew his attention from the tranquil scene. Doors opening and closing, somebody moving about. Bodie was awake. Doyle was half dressed before he really looked at the clothes he was putting on. The previous morning, like so many other mornings, he had dressed in the standard prison gear; blue trousers and jacket, blue and white striped shirt. Fashion and individuality were unheard of where he had been living, and he had long since stopped caring about his appearance; to be different meant you stood out. It had been a hard lesson but he had soon learnt to blend into the drab 'sameness' and become just another blue uniformed prisoner. Anonymity had its benefits.
He suddenly went cold as he recalled the previous day. He hadn't given it a single thought. All day he had been wearing the prison uniform--even going out to his brother's house--he had thought himself a little paranoid at the time and had convinced himself that he was imagining the strange looks he had received from everyone; the women in the CI5 canteen, the office staff, the ticket collector and the hard-looking man who had stared at him from Hounslow to Knightsbridge. Nowadays the uniforms were not decorated with brightly coloured, vile arrows, but they might just as well have been.
He tore the sleeve in his hurry to get the garment off. Never, ever again would he wear a blue and white striped shirt. The only clothes he had were all issued, courtesy of Her Majesty. He finally settled on the short-sleeved white vest; it would do until he could get something more suitable.
Barefooted, he walked through to the kitchen. "Morning," he said, as Bodie started in surprise.
"Bloody Christ!" the other man swore as he recovered from the silent entrance. He had almost forgotten about his visitor. "Do you always creep about like that?"
"I wasn't creepin' anywhere," Doyle retorted, immediately on the defensive. Stooping to pick up the plastic bottle Bodie had dropped, he read the label--the tablets were strong distalgesics--and handed them over.
They were taken with poor grace.
"Kettle's just boiled, tea and coffee's over there, milk's in the fridge. Bread's in the bin. Help yourself." Bodie tipped two tablets onto his hand then swigged them down with some water.
"I'll drop you off at the Home Office in time for your appointment, then go on to HQ. I'll either see you there or here tonight as I don't know what's going on just yet. I've got to arrange your training programme and fuck knows what time you'll get out of your meeting."
Bodie watched as Doyle made himself a cup of coffee.
"How did you get on yesterday?" he asked.
"Last night, I noticed you'd collected some cases from somewhere."
Doyle spun round; the cases were in his room, the only way Bodie could know about them would be if he had come into the room last night--while he was asleep.
Not understanding the troubled expression, Bodie pressed the question again.
"Pick them up from a friend, did you?"
"Pleased to see you were they?" Bodie asked politely. Those painkillers were good, the sharp pain in his back was already ebbing away to a more tolerable ache.
"Surprised," was Doyle's answer.
"I'll bet they were." Bodie chuckled. "How did they react to the good news?"
Doyle turned back, pointedly ignoring the question, and spooned some sugar in his cup. "I've just used the last of this milk, you got any more?"
The flat voice and change of subject curtailed that particular conversation. Once Doyle had drunk his coffee he left the kitchen, leaving Bodie sitting there alone to finish his in peace. Finally Bodie rinsed his breakfast things up and got ready to leave.
Jacket on and car keys in his hand he tapped on the door to the spare room. It swung open to reveal Doyle standing at the window.
"You ready?" he asked.
"Yes." Doyle followed him towards the front door.
Bodie looked back at the T shirt-clad figure. "Haven't you got a jacket, it's going to be cold out there."
"I'll be okay."
"I said it's cold, you'll need a jacket or something." Bloody hell, Bodie thought, I'll be wiping his nose for him next.
"I'll be okay," Doyle insisted.
Suddenly Bodie caught on. Why on earth hadn't the daft sod said something? Even he could understand why yesterday's jacket was no longer acceptable.
"Hang on a minute," he shouted over his shoulder as he dived into his own bedroom. "Try this, it's bound to be a bit big but at least you won't get cold." He held out his second best leather jacket.
"No thanks, I don't--"
"Wear it," Bodie snapped out. "The last thing I want right now is you going down with bleeding flu." He thrust the jacket over and left the flat without looking back. By the time he reached the car, Doyle, wearing the coat, was right behind him.
By lunch time Doyle was beginning to wonder why he had ever wanted to leave the quiet sanctuary of his cell. He had spent all morning determined not to give in to the desire to apologise for all the trouble he was causing as he was seen by a never-ending stream of bureaucrats who seemed at a loss to know what to do with the man cluttering up their neat offices. He had received an awkward handshake and garbled apology for the inconvenience the mistrial had caused him from the Home Secretary's secretary's assistant's secretary. At least he thought it had been an apology. He had never seen so many embarrassed faces in one day before. Oddly enough, it seemed to be his decision not to go for a retrial that was causing the problems rather than the fact he had wasted three years of his life in H.M. prisons.
He was ushered into yet another office and braced himself for the next round. The fact that he was clearly expected almost threw him off-balance.
"Ah, Mr Doyle, I was expecting you hours ago, get lost did you?"
The vigorous handshake and thump on shoulder were as genuinely friendly as all the others had been false. "Come in, come in, have a seat, cup of tea? Might even round up some chocolate biscuits if we're lucky." The redheaded whirlwind pulled him into the wonderfully unregimented office, while issuing orders to his secretary.
"Two teas then, Bet, luv, and some biscuits; oh, and tell Mr Randall that we'll be over to see him soon."
Doyle removed some papers from a chair and sat down.
"Right, now then, I'm Bob Craig. Let me see where you've been so far." He took the file that Doyle had been carrying around with him and quickly scanned the list of departments already visited. "Been around a bit this morning. Any idea of exactly what's been going on, have you?" Craig's cheerful face positively beamed across the desk at him and Doyle felt his gloom lift a little.
"To be honest--no."
"Can't say I'm surprised. Gets right up their noses when they realise that our wonderful Courts of Justice aren't all they're cracked up to be. Don't suppose anyone's even apologised to you yet, have they."
"Well, I think someone did earlier this morning."
"Not that any apology is ever going to make up for what you've been through." Craig looked the young man over; he had read the reports and had no doubts at all that the man before him had been through a lot. "How's it been since you were discharged from the hospital wing? No more trouble I hope?"
The green eyes widened as Doyle understood that Craig knew everything that had happened to him.
"No, no trouble," he answered flatly.
Craig was wise enough not to press the point.
"Mr Cowley is a formidable man, are you sure that he hasn't pressured you into forgoing your right to a public retrial?"
"Yes, I'm sure."
"I can understand the reasons behind his desire to keep your good character quiet but I'll give you the credit for knowing your own mind. I believe that you are to start a training programme to qualify you for CI5."
"If at the end you find you don't want to join Cowley's organisation or, indeed, if CI5 decide they don't want you after all, you will still have the right to ask for a public announcement of your innocence. This whole affair is totally without precedent so I don't see that a delay of another few months will hurt anyone."
"Sounds fair enough."
"Now, down to practicalities. Money. Do you have any?"
"Er...some savings in a building society, not much though."
"In time you will receive financial compensation, the amount will no doubt be bickered over but when all's said and done it will amount to your three years' loss of salary, taking into account any overtime and increments you would have been entitled to plus, of course, what they call 'recompense for hardship endured'. Though how they agree on a total for that defeats me. The Legal department will be in touch with you in due course; my job right now is to make sure you've enough to be getting on with. I understand Mr Cowley has provided you with a flat..."
"Again, should CI5 dispense with you in the near future you must come and see me about accommodation. Can't have you dossing down under the arches, can we?"
Doyle's thoughts immediately went to his current flatmate--dossing under the arches didn't seem such an unpleasant prospect.
Bob Craig continued the interview at a brisk pace, speaking in plain, everyday English that seemed to cut through reams of red tape and make the effort of rejoining the free world seem a piece of cake.
In under two hours, this very untypical civil servant had taken him to a quiet pub garden for a beer and a ploughman's, introduced him to Mr Randall, the local friendly bank manager, and arranged for an impressive advance on his forthcoming compensation. Cheque book and card were promised as soon as the ink was dry and Doyle now found himself at one end of Oxford Street with enough money in his brand-new leather wallet to buy a complete wardrobe.
With a light heart and a spring in his step, Ray Doyle walked into the first shop.
"Morning, Sid." Bodie nodded a greeting to the security man on the door and made his way up the stairs, his mind already listing the things he had to do when he reached his office.
"Morning Bodie, where's your little friend?"
Bodie looked at Connors, non-comprehension mingling with the scowl on his face.
"Rough night was it?" said Connors, whose main problem in life was correctly assessing people's moods. "Showing our little jailbird the finer things in life were we."
"Doyle--took him out on the town, didn't you?"
"No, I flaming well didn't!" Bodie's acid tone implied that his colleague was mad to have even suggested the idea, and adequately covered the uncomfortable suspicion that everyone--including Cowley--had expected him to do just that. He glared at the unfortunate Connors and rounded the corner, walking straight into one of the subjects of his thoughts. Cowley.
Cowley reeled back under the impact and was only prevented from landing in an ignominious heap by Bodie's restraining hands.
"Ouch!" As he righted his boss, Bodie's hand went to the stabbing pain at his neck, and he closed his eyes against the threatening black and white spots.
"Bodie? Are you all right, man?" Cowley asked, his voice full of concern. Bodie had gone as white as a sheet.
"Yeah...fine... I'm fine..." Bodie had to admit to himself that hadn't sounded very convincing.
"Are you sure Dr Willis said you could leave the neck brace off?"
Recovering quickly, Bodie forced a pained smile. "Would I have taken it off otherwise?"
"I won't waste breath answering that, Bodie, but if you cause further injury to yourself by your own neglect I advise you against--"
"I'll be careful, sir. Promise. Scout's honour."
"Huh." With a warning glare, Cowley continued along the corridor and Bodie entered his own office without further mishap.
Halfway through the morning, Bodie threw his pen down and allowed himself his first smile of the day. Reading back through the timetable he had compiled, the smile grew. It wasn't excessive, he told himself. He knew he couldn't come down too hard on the man, but he was confident that Doyle would be willing, even eager, to cry off the rest of the training.
It wouldn't take much. After very little thought he had decided to stay in town and concentrate on the facilities available at HQ and the nearby gymnasium; a few runs around the building would kill Doyle off just as well as the open spaces down at the army ranges they normally used, and for a week or two it was hardly worth the effort of packing a suitcase.
He suddenly remembered that he would have to book time on the indoor ranges; he would have priority, of course, but it was still best to book. What guns had Doyle been trained on, Bodie wondered thoughtfully, probably something pretty basic. None of the so-called police marksmen he ever met amounted to much in the way of skill and versatility. Doyle probably thought he would be some kind of hot-shot, he decided disparagingly. That would be another way to knock him down to size; after three years Doyle's style was bound to be more than a little shaky, and there had been a lot of innovations during that time. CI5's armoury was extensive. Blind the little bugger with science, he thought cheerfully. First things first, though, he had to check on Doyle's weaponry record.
Walking slowly down towards the General Office, Bodie detoured via the vending machine and, by dint of a powerful thump on the side of the cabinet, persuaded it to cough one plastic beaker three-quarters full of a dubious liquid that claimed to be water. He couldn't decide which taste was worse, the sweet coffee/tea tasting water or the tablets which started dissolving immediately they touched his tongue. As always, one of them lodged in his throat and he had to repeat the manoeuvre to get a second drink of water. He was still trying to get rid of the bitter taste when he heard his name mentioned. Ever curious, he listened to the conversation drifting into the corridor through the open door.
"I thought he looked...cute."
"Come off it, Cathy...cute hardly does him justice."
Bodie's ears pricked up even more, it sounded like a good conversation.
"Those eyes," Cathy said. "I don't think I've ever seen such beautiful eyes on a man. I'd kill for eyes like that." The open envy drifted towards Bodie who, if he had been a bird of the feathered variety, would no doubt have preened the said feathers.
"What about his bum! Have you ever seen one like--"
A sudden commotion further down the corridor cut off the rest of the other girl's sentence; Bodie thought it was Barbara, but a girl with taste whoever she was. He knew he ought to move away but vanity made him stay. It wasn't often he actually heard firsthand what the office girls thought of him. The noise stopped as quickly as it had started.
"Poor thing, fancy being stuck with that berk," said Cathy, and Bodie agreed wholeheartedly.
"If the department's so hard up for accommodation, I'll volunteer to let him come and stay with me," Barbara offered. It wasn't often that one could claim to hear a woman speak lecherously, but Barbara managed it beautifully and Bodie made a mental note to have a quiet word with the accommodation officer.
"I saw him first."
"Claws in, pussy cats," interrupted a third voice. "By the time Bodie has finished grinding the little darling into the ground he won't have any energy left for what you've got in mind."
Raucous laughter rang out but Bodie wasn't listening any more. Doyle. They had all got the hots for that pathetic weed that Cowley had dumped on him.
By the time he reached the counter in the office, the girls were a picture of decorum.
"I want a file. Ray Doyle," he snapped.
"Sorry, Bodie," said Barbara sweetly. "All CI5 personnel records are kept in Mr Cowley's office."
"He's not in CI5 yet," he barked.
"Mr Cowley holds his file though, you'll have to see him."
Bodie did an about turn and left, his bad temper wrapped around him like a visible cloak which people saw and avoided.
On arriving outside Cowley's office, Bodie caught sight of the file he was seeking--on Betty's desk. Naughty, Betty, he thought, the file should have been under lock and key, not available for every Tom, Dick and Bodie to have a look at.
He flicked through to the relevant pages and whistled under his breath. Not just a marksman, Doyle had been the top marksman for the two years before his committal. He had wiped the board in competitions, taking top prizes and honours in inter-constabulary competitions in handguns; he hadn't trailed far behind the riflemarksman either. Even three years away from the ranges would be unlikely to destroy that level of skill--a little practice and Bodie suspected he might find himself bettered on the handgun. It would be interesting to see how Doyle would progress with the brand-new technology available to CI5. He snapped the file shut; he wouldn't see it because Doyle was not going to last that long.
"Bodie, I want a word with you in my office. Now."
Bodie almost jumped in surprise; he hadn't heard Cowley come in. Taking the folder with him, he followed Cowley, wondering as he went why the Old Man was looking so disgruntled.
"Shut the door."
Bodie closed the door and moved across the room to sit down, only stopping as he saw the stern expression and upraised brow that indicated this was not an occasion to make himself comfortable. Wondering what the hell he had done wrong now, Bodie stood, military style, at ease before the desk.
"Last night," Cowley snapped out. "Where did you go?"
"Pardon, sir?" asked Bodie.
"When you left here, where did you go? What's the matter, don't you understand English anymore?"
Bodie was at a loss to understand why Cowley should be so mad. That he was furiously angry was obvious. It took a lot to get George Cowley this riled.
"Out, sir. To a pub--the Black Lion, on to a restaurant, another pub, and then to a home in Richmond."
Bodie began to get the sneaking suspicion that Cowley was not going to like his answer. It seemed that Connors' assumption of who he should have spent the evening with was shared by Cowley.
"Where was Doyle while you were gadding about with Miss Phelby?"
"Don't know, sir."
"What did he use for transport?"
"Don't know, sir."
"Did you think to ask him if he had any money on him before you left him to amuse yourself with Miss Phelby?"
"What was he wearing when you parted company?"
"Prison clothing, sir."
"Where exactly did you leave him?"
"Forecourt outside, sir."
"What time did he arrive at your flat?"
"Don't know, sir."
"You don't know much, do you Bodie? It seems that the entire London Transport Police, Prison Service and the Home Office have been informed that there was an unescorted, possibly escaped prisoner travelling between Westminster, Hounslow and Knightsbridge last night. There were half a dozen telephone calls from retired prison officers, an ex-probation officer and several ticket collectors to that effect. Last night, Governor Bryant received a phone call from a Mr John Doyle who wanted to know if the Governor knew his brother was roaming the streets, free as a bird, in prison uniform." Cowley came to an abrupt halt. He had been perfectly aware that Bodie had not welcomed the prospect of having Doyle as a partner, but he had been sure that his agent's fair-mindedness and cleverly concealed soft heart would prevent him from being too hard on the man. Had he been wrong? Yesterday he hadn't thought so.
"Did he tell you anything about what he did yesterday?" Cowley asked, his voice a fraction less icy. He could only be thankful that none of the people had attempted to apprehend the prisoner. God only knew what that little scene would have done to Doyle's off-balance self-confidence.
"Only that he had collected some cases from a member of his family." Bodie's voice was very subdued. Listening to his own string of 'Don't know, sirs', he finally admitted that his behaviour towards Doyle had not been very benevolent.
"His brother reported him to the Governor, sir?" he queried.
"Aye, he did. It would seem that Doyle chose not to enlighten his brother about his change of fortune." John Doyle's telephone call to the Governor troubled Cowley. The next few months were going to be tough on his newest recruit, and it seemed that he was going to be denied the respect and understanding of his family as well as being run into the ground by a hostile instructor. He knew that if they mollycoddled Doyle the chances of losing him would double, but they didn't have the right to destroy him completely.
"Have you worked out a schedule for Doyle yet?" Cowley asked; at least he would keep an eye on Bodie, make sure he did not go over the top.
Bodie handed over the rough plan he had worked out and watched as his boss examined the very untidily drawn outline.
"It is only a rough draft, sir," he offered as Cowley peered at the scribbled handwriting.
"That much I can
see, Bodie." He peered at the scrawling words a little longer, then removed his glasses.
"I'll want a decent copy of the working timetable."
"There are only two weeks here, what will be your plans from that time?"
"Haven't worked them out yet, sir. I thought it best to see how he gets on with that little lot first."
Cowley pushed the timetable back across the desk. Bodie's answer hadn't fooled him at all. It was plain that the younger man was not expecting Doyle to last that long.
"Very well. Before you start I want you to see Macklin, he will tell you how to measure Doyle's heart rate, respiration and so forth. Bearing in mind that Doyle has not had any strenuous exercise for a long time you must be careful not to push him too hard too fast. If you have any cause for concern over his physical condition you will consult Dr Willis immediately. Do I make myself clear?"
"As crystal, sir," Bodie said crisply.
"I'll want a rough outline of the entire programme before tonight. You will show it to Macklin when you see him, as well. You are in charge of Doyle's training, Bodie, but Macklin will have my permission to change or adapt anything he deems necessary. That will be all."
Cowley dismissed Bodie from his office but not from his mind. The outline had been what he had hoped for. Not easy but not excessive. Bodie clearly did not have a very high opinion of Ray Doyle's resilience or stamina.
This whole idea of teaming the two men had been more than a diversionary tactic to keep the convalescent agent out of the office staff's hair. Bodie had all the skills that CI5 needed at his fingertips, a true professional; his military experience combined with his mercenary experiences, gun running and slightly illegal youth, plus the hard-shelled nature that he showed to the public was what made his presence so advantageous to the department.
But, and Cowley admitted that it was a big but, all that skill was in danger of running wild and free. Bodie had no roots, nothing to hold him down and Cowley was aware that if the occasion arose, he would move off. Nothing would stop him; apart from himself, Cowley guessed that few people would even care. The only reason Bodie remained now was because of his personal loyalty to the head of CI5. Loyalty was hard-won and easily lost. Cowley knew that there would have to be something else to hold Bodie back, another binding loyalty. The two men were chalk and cheese, they had little in common, practically nothing except comparable weaponry skills and a seemingly ingrained sense of competitiveness. If the teaming worked, Cowley suspected they would be unbeatable.
Ifs and buts. That's what it all boiled down to in the end. Cowley sighed and pulled out a file that had been out of sight in his desk drawer.
Slowly he read through the medical reports. Was it really wise to put the two men together, he asked himself. He had gained access to Bodie's confidence only rarely, the young man's private life being a close-kept secret; but the little he had gleaned of the horrific experiences Bodie had endured in Africa said that he was right. If only Doyle would trust Bodie enough he might find an understanding friend.
It took two trips from the taxi and four trips to the rubbish disposal chute before he could begin to put his purchases away in the drawers and wardrobe of his new temporary home.
He had enjoyed the experience of spending money like it was going out of fashion, had savoured the sensation of owning a wallet that, like Dozemary Pool, was bottomless. Money had never been much of a problem before, but the complete freedom of buying something just because he liked the feel of the cloth and the vibrant colours of the fabric was new to him.
Once everything was neatly packed away Doyle set about choosing something to wear. He was spoilt for choice but eventually settled on a pair of jeans and a soft cotton shirt that even with its starchy newness was more comfortable than his much-washed prison clothes. Dressed, he fastened the new watch around his wrist and began to attempt tidying up his tousled hair. He frowned at his reflection as he watched the curls spring straight back; next on the list was a decent haircut. The hand dragging the comb through his hair stopped mid-motion, and the frown deepened. The small shaving mirror he had used over the past year had been old and speckled, reflecting enough for him to shave adequately. This mirror was as good as new and situated in the correct position to reflect a perfectly clear, well-illuminated image of its user.
For a long time Doyle looked at himself. It was almost like seeing a stranger. He had known he had lost weight but he'd never realised how much; he had always been slim, but the wide-eyed waif in the mirror was a complete surprise. He looked like a walking skeleton--no wonder The Hulk (which he had adopted by way of name for his appointed trainer and flat mate) had not looked overly impressed. D.C. Doyle of the Yard had vanished and in his place stood--what--Ray Doyle, exonerated ex-con and CI5 hopeful. His gaze returned to the reflection of his face, and in particular the protruding lump high on his cheekbone.
"That'll teach you to be so bloody vain."
A chill crept up his spine and he felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle as he heard that hateful, despicable, loathsome voice that haunted his waking hours as well as his dreams.
Had he been vain? he asked himself. Before what happened to him inside he would have said not. He was what he was. He could not change the colour and curls of his hair or alter his physical shape any more than he could suddenly grow horns. He had never had any problems attracting the girls he had wanted once he'd passed the puberty-pimply stage and it had never occurred to him that he might attract fish from the other side of the pond. Again he asked himself, Why me? But, as on the millions of other occasions, he could not fathom an answer.
He forced himself to turn away from the mirror. How long would it be, he wondered, before he would be able to see that mark on his face without remembering all that went with it?
He consulted his watch; it was early evening and he wondered what time The Hulk would arrive at the flat. There was no way of knowing without calling HQ and he had no intention of doing that. Rummaging around in the bedside cabinet, he came across a few technical manuals on basic firearms, and for want of anything better to do, he settled down across his bed to read.
When Bodie arrived home he found Doyle still sprawled across the bed, fast asleep, with the magazine still open at the first page.
Bodie took stock of the new clothes; at least that was one worry settled, he'd clearly got some money from somewhere. He looked at the time; it was just gone 6.30 p.m., surely it was too early for Doyle to want to settle down to sleep for the rest of the night--besides, he wanted to talk to him about their plans for tomorrow. He crossed the room and laid a hand on the sleeping man's shoulder.
Doyle was standing upright on the opposite side of the bed almost before his eyes were open.
"Oh...it's you..." Doyle rubbed a hand across his face, wiping the sleep from his eyes. "Startled me... What d'you want?"
Bodie couldn't help but be amazed at the speed of Doyle's reactions. He would have sworn that the man had been very deeply asleep.
"Didn't mean to startle you, but I thought you'd want to know what's in store for you tomorrow." Now that Doyle was fully awake, Bodie was conscious of something in the cold glare he was receiving that was very unsettling; for a brief moment he felt that Doyle was scared of him but the aggressive stance denied that impression immediately. "Come through to the other room when you're ready." Still puzzled by the mixture of emotions, Bodie retreated to the living room.
It was a few minutes before Doyle joined him and settled down in the opposite armchair, perched on the edge, his eyes scanning the sheets of paper Bodie had spread over the coffee table, preparing for the worst.
"Right, first things first," said Bodie in a businesslike, impersonal tone of voice. "From Dr Willis, the departmental quack; he's gone over your medical files and will be seeing you for a thorough medical at various stages during your training. He reckons you're about two stone underweight so here's a special diet sheet--follow it."
Doyle looked at the paper; it contained a list of high-protein, high-carbohydrate foods, most of which he had always disliked intensely and had no intention of eating now on anybody's say-so.
"Next, you ever gone in for jogging?" Bodie asked, successfully making the question sound as if jogging was a distasteful vice that no sane person would ever consider.
"Yes, I used to do a fair bit, it's a good way of keeping fit."
"Oh." Somehow Bodie had guessed that would be the answer. "In that case you can start first thing tomorrow, set your own pace and distance, then after breakfast we'll go down to the gym and start on building up your muscles." Bodie smiled as he spoke but the expression failed to reach his eyes.
"Okay," Doyle agreed quietly, already looking forward to a jog around the peaceful streets the next morning.
"Have you got any gear? Shoes, trainers, that sort of thing?" Bodie asked. After this morning's encounter he could imagine Cowley's reaction to discovering Doyle exercising in normal street clothes.
"Yes." Doyle was pretty sure he had anticipated and prepared himself, equipment- and clothing-wise, for everything The Hulk was going to throw at him.
"After the first week or so we'll start going over department policies and tactics; your papers say you've done a bit of urban-guerrilla training."
"Well, you can forget just about everything you learnt. In CI5 we have our own way of handling things. I'll put you through all the ranges; as you progress we'll move on to the next group and then the next. In CI5 you will have to reach a specified level of accuracy and remain constant, otherwise you'll be out on your ear."
"How long will the testing go on for?"
"Constantly. Everyone is checked regularly; if you get complacent you're out."
From the casual, offhand tone Doyle surmised the Bodie was sure he was going to fail at the first hurdle. People had underestimated him before; just because he wasn't built like a brick outhouse they assumed he was a seven stone weakling. He had surprised his opponents on more than one occasion and he would do his utmost to shock The Hulk out of his careless judgement.
The discussion of the training schedule was suddenly interrupted by a very loud rumble. Embarrassed by his betraying stomach, Doyle forced himself to look up.
"Sorry, but I think my stomach's trying to tell me something."
"Wouldn't say no to something to eat either. What do you fancy, there's an Indian and Kebab's takeaway, a Kebab House or a chippy just around the corner."
Before Doyle could answer, though, Bodie said, "Shit, it's Wednesday, the Indian and Kebab's shut so it's chips, unless you can cook," he added without much hope.
"I can cook. What have you got in the kitchen?"
"Dunno, Marianne got a load of shopping at the weekend; it all cost enough so there must be something out there."
"Don't you cook?"
"Not if I can help it. Do you want to see what's there?"
Once he had shown the new cook where to find everything, Bodie retreated to the living room where he settled down in front of the telly with a can of beer and Doyle's training programme, only half aware of the muted clattering coming from the kitchen.
It was nearly an hour before Doyle piled everything onto two plates and carried Bodie's tray through to the living room. Trusting that Marianne would have pandered to Bodie's tastes, he had chucked just about everything he had found into the bolognaise sauce and poured it over a pile of steaming spaghetti.
Apart from the widening of his eyes and the undisguised eagerness with which he reached for the tray, Bodie made no comment, but the speed at which the meal vanished spoke for itself.
"There's some more outside if you want it," Doyle offered.
Bodie did, and helped himself to a second generous portion, offering some to Doyle, who just shook his head. As he watched the second helping go the way of the first, Doyle wondered why it seemed to be his lot in life to end up with people who enjoyed good food but were unable or unwilling to cook it. Ann had hated cooking; the very thought of peeling potatoes or chopping meat would make her miserable for hours. She'd enjoyed his cooking and he had always found pleasure in spending an hour or so in the kitchen. Mind you, he admitted to himself, with Ann it was cook it yourself or starve.
Bodie leant back in the armchair and stretched. "That was really good. Put you to work in the kitchens, did they?" It had been meant as a compliment; he had enjoyed the meal, and a full stomach usually put him in a very benevolent mood.
"How did you guess!"
The biting voice cut through Bodie's sated well-being and made him realise that perhaps his comment had lacked tact. Before he could respond, Doyle finished his meal and strode through to the kitchen.
He really hadn't meant to offend the man and Bodie waited for him to return so he could apologise, but an item on the news caught his attention and by the time the programme had finished he realised that time had passed and still Doyle had not returned. Walking through to the kitchen with his own dinner tray, he found everything washed up and left to drain, and the room empty. Adding his own things to the stack of pans and dishes on the drainer, Bodie peered into the hallway; light was spilling out from the half-open door to Doyle's room.
So, he thought grimly, the little toad had decided to sulk in solitude. Stuff him then, and he turned back to the living room and the film that was just starting.
Lounging across his bed with the gun magazine spread out in front of him, Doyle lifted his head and listened as he heard the footsteps from the living room to the kitchen and back. Through the doorway he could hear the music heralding the start of the film. He refused to let himself dwell on the stupid throwaway remark. It wasn't worth it, and it was, he acknowledged sadly, probably only the first of many such comments. He couldn't afford to let each one upset him, but pretending that they didn't was proving to be harder than he had expected.
The magazine was not particularly interesting and the noise from the television eventually proved too distracting. Unable to settle, Doyle got up from his lounging sprawl across the bed and walked quietly through to the living room.
On reaching the darkened room, though, his resolve to walk in and watch the film faltered. Bodie looked very comfortable. The light from the television fell upon a very cosy scene, with Bodie lying full length across the sofa, his head propped up on a cushion.
How long he stood in the door he was not sure. There was nothing to prevent him from entering the room, absolutely nothing--except Bodie's indifference. Unable to force himself to intrude on the man's privacy and reluctant to experience any more hassle, Doyle returned to the friendly isolation of his own room.
Turning left into the quiet side road in which he lived, Bodie gave a sideways glance at his flaked-out passenger who had been asleep since before they left the car park.
It was hardly surprising, though, Bodie admitted cheerfully, and he allowed himself to smile properly for the first time in nearly a week.
Today had been pretty tough for Doyle; standing on the sidelines the gleeful convalescent had seen the confidence and cockiness of the previous few days falter and fade. He had at first allowed Doyle to set his own pace without letting him realise exactly what he was doing. It made sense to know precisely what the little toad thought he was capable of, Bodie had decided, and so for three days he watched as Doyle did his early morning jogging, weight training and shooting practice. Doyle's level of fitness, considering his undernourished state, was in fact a little above average for his size and age--a fact which told Bodie that he had not spent the past three years shackled to some dungeon wall.
Ray Doyle had decided against informing his instructor about the series of exercises Bill Hillyard had worked him through in the prison gymnasium, deciding that it would be in his own best interest not to lay all his cards on the table at once. His object, however, was completely and utterly defeated by his wish not
to fall flat on his face and show himself up in front of the irritatingly superior agent.
By the third day, Bodie knew exactly how far Doyle's strength and skill could take him. The fourth and fifth days he had pushed Doyle to his limit and beyond--and then on some more.
Drawing up to the kerb, Bodie jerked on the handbrake and switched off the engine. Doyle didn't so much as twitch. Bodie shook him roughly, then even harder. The sleeper jumped and pulled away from his touch, then mumbled something too softly for Bodie to hear, before settling down again on the other side of the seat.
"Oi!" Bodie leant over and shouted in his ear. "We're home. Wake up, Sleeping Beauty!"
A hand reached up to cover the ear nearest the noise and heavy lids lifted to glare in sleepy annoyance.
"We're home," Bodie repeated loudly, deciding there and then to leave Doyle in the car all night if he didn't wake up soon.
"Mmm--pardon? D'you say something... Oh, we're home..."
Uncoordinated fingers fumbled with the catch and pushed the door open. Recalling the agony last night's unthinking haste had caused, Doyle was careful to move each leg slowly and ease himself out of the car gently. He didn't care if he did look like an arthritic geriatric, he wasn't going to give Bodie the pleasure of seeing him doubled in agony caught by a cramp halfway between the car and the pavement again.
Following Bodie into the flats, he glared first at the staircase and then at the smug grin on the arrogant face. He dearly wanted to tell Bodie what he could do with his bloody lift, but he knew he lacked the energy to do it; he didn't even have the strength to crawl up the flaming stairs on his hands and knees--and Bodie knew it.
Angry with himself for being so weak, he raged mutely as Bodie considerately opened and closed the lift gates. Once inside the flat he flopped down in front of the television, prepared at least to try and take an interest in the news and following current affairs programme. Apparently--according to Bodie anyway--all self-respecting CI5 agents kept on top of current affairs constantly. As well as the physical training, Bodie had him reading all the daily newspapers, every day--cover to cover--from the Court Diary in the Times
to the gossip column in the Sun
and all points in between. If he wasn't being thrashed, pounded and humiliated, he was stuck in a corner hidden behind piles of newsprint.
Since the first disastrous evening Doyle had not offered to cook anything more adventurous than toast or coffee, and it had been left to Bodie, with half an eye on Dr Willis' diet sheet, to prepare the evening meals.
The reason for Doyle's malnourished appearance swiftly became obvious to Bodie. The man had the appetite of an anorexic sparrow! What Doyle had eaten in the last week wouldn't keep Bodie satisfied for a day. Coaxing a grown man to eat was not a skill that Bodie had ever acquired. His culinary expertise was not extensive but he tried to tempt Doyle with the few things that Willis recommended and he could cook. Steak and potatoes. Oven chips, Bodie decided, were the next best thing.
Carrying the dinner trays through to the lounge, Bodie was hard-pressed not to laugh at Doyle's earnest attempt to look wide awake and alert as he stared with glazed eyes in the general direction of the television, looking for all the world as if the Andrex puppy was the hottest news of the day.
The weight of the tray on his lap drew Doyle back to the present and he looked down, trying to hide his dismay.
Steak and chips again
! Couldn't Bodie cook anything else? He couldn't even cook steak, Doyle decided as his stomach threatened to revolt; it was raw--if it had even seen the base of a frying pan it hadn't stayed long enough to make any impression, and if that wasn't bad enough, the blood made the chips go soggy.
Once he was sure Bodie had forgotten he was there, and he had eaten his fill of the unbloodied chips and accompanying tomato, Doyle slipped quietly into the kitchen and carefully disposed of the unwanted steak.
Surfacing from his own preoccupation, Bodie was unsurprised to find himself alone. Apart from the aggravation of preparing an extra meal and the odd extra cup of coffee, he could almost forget he was sharing his flat with anyone else. Even after five days there were no outward signs that anyone other than Bodie lived there. He'd had girls stay over before and even after only one day he would find things scattered about, an extra toothbrush in the bathroom, a strange jacket in the hallway, an unfamiliar book beside a chair, but so far nothing belonging to Ray Doyle had left the small spare room that he occupied.
It was still early, not even half past nine, but Bodie knew that if he went into the hallway he would find the rest of the flat in darkness. Early to bed, early to rise and all that, Bodie thought. At least the berk didn't try to pretend he didn't need to sleep that much. Christ! if he had to tuck him into bed at night as well as everything else he'd do his nut next time Cowley asked how things were getting on.
Cowley! Should he tell Cowley about last night? God, let's hope that's not going to be repeated in a hurry, Bodie thought fervently. Doyle hadn't mentioned it this morning. Not that there was any reason why he should, of course. Nightmares were a perfectly normal thing to have; it was just your subconscious showing you all the nasty, horrible things that your conscious mind insisted on forgetting. A lot of perfectly normal people had nightmares; Bodie even had them. High on his list of most embarrassing memories was a recollection of the circle of twelve startled, sleepy faces around his bed as he screamed and fought off the enemy, only to wake up in his nice, safe bed in the middle of the barrack dormitory. One bad dream could happen to anyone.
It was the seventh night before the second dream disrupted the quiet flat.
Already reaching for his gun as sleep vanished, Bodie was on his feet before the panicked cry faded. For a moment it was quiet, but he trusted his senses enough to know he wasn't remembering a dream.
Not his dream--Doyle's. In the dark the voice cried out again, louder and more distressed. Slipping his gun back into its holster, Bodie relaxed a little.
Another cry came from the other room. More disturbed than he cared to admit by the obvious terror behind the garbled cries, Bodie slipped on his dressing gown and softly padded down the hall. The other night Doyle had seemingly woken up after the first cry because there had only been the one, blood-chilling scream that had frightened Bodie out of a year's growth. Sleep was reluctant to loose its grip on the exhausted, terrified man tonight, though. One more cry decided it for Bodie and he pushed open the door and reached for the main light switch; in the same instant Doyle jolted awake and hit the bedside light, the resulting brilliance blinding both men.
"What do you want?" Doyle asked in a breathless voice. "What's up?"
"That's what I came here to ask you," Bodie replied, slightly annoyed that he had to explain his presence. "Sleepwalking isn't something I go in for--neither is waking the neighbours at three in the morning screaming my head off."
So he had been screaming then. Sometimes, if he was lucky, Doyle knew that he would wake up before the screaming started, but like tonight, more often than not he wouldn't. Instead of the screws banging the door down, he now had to contend with Bodie also suffering broken nights.
"Sorry if I disturbed you...it was just a dream." Might just as well warn him of the worst, Doyle decided. "Get them every now and then. Seems I get a bit...noisy."
"I'd already worked that out for myself."
Sharp eyes looked up at him in a silent question.
"A few nights ago I heard you--guessed it was a bad dream."
The eyes dropped and gazed intently at the sheets. He didn't remember that one, they didn't always wake him up. Now that the recent nightmare was fading and the icy fear that chilled him to the bone was thawing, other emotions, mainly embarrassment, flooded in.
Remembering his own humiliation in the wide-awake barrack room, Bodie found himself trying to ease the tension. There was no shame attached to having the odd nightmare.
"Look, it's okay, don't worry about it," he said kindly. "All coming to get you, were they?" he joked.
The innocent words made Doyle freeze. Did Bodie know, he wondered. Surely not. He wasn't even sure if Cowley knew. Stupid. Of course Cowley knew--it was just easier to pretend that no one did. Was there anyone who didn't know? He'd grown used to the change of expression, the flash of sympathy, revulsion and in some cases excitement. Bob Craig, the doctors, the nurses in the public hospital, Governor Bryant, the screws--everyone in 'B' wing had known. Why should Bodie remain ignorant of the facts? But maybe he didn't know; Doyle wanted to believe he didn't. Were CI5 agents allowed to have nightmares, he asked himself--probably not. Would Bodie write "unsuitable because of recurring nightmares" across his report? Time would tell.
"Something like that."
The answer, when it finally came, was something of an anticlimax. Bodie watched as the immobile figure had worked the intended joke through, thought about it and spat it out. He would dearly love to know what had been behind the changes of expression in the drawn face that, in only a few seconds, had reflected shock, fear, disgust, despair and resignation.
"Look," Doyle continued, his fingers plucking at a loose thread on the pillow case, "like you said, this wasn't the first time...don't suppose it'll be the last either. There's no point both of us being up half the night--so next time, if there is a next time, I'd be grateful if you just left me alone. There's nothing you can do...just ignore it."
"If that's what you want."
"It's what I want."
"See you in the morning then."
Giving him a stiff nod, Bodie switched off the main light and went back to his own room. Doyle watched him go, breathing a sigh of relief as he heard him returning to his own bed. Relaxing against the pillow, he closed his eyes. He was wide awake now; not that he wished to go to sleep right away, the dream always seemed to come back when he did that.
Through the open door he heard Bodie cough as he snuggled back into his bed, the noise sounding clearly through the quiet flat. Getting out of bed, Doyle walked to the door and slowly shut it; he stayed there for a few minutes with his hand resting on the handle. The small room grew oppressive; a cold sweat broke out across his face and down his back and his heart started pounding wildly. Suddenly terrified that he was going to be trapped in the tiny room, he opened the door, the rush of cool air dispelling the panic as swiftly as it had begun.
He stood there, leaning on the doorframe, gulping at the air. CI5 might well accept agents prone to nightmares but Doyle was certain that claustrophobes wouldn't even get past the first interview.
He closed the door and walked away, back to the other side of the room. It wasn't locked; there wasn't even a lock on the door. Any time he wanted to get out he could just walk over and open it. Any time.
He lay back down on the bed and closed his eyes.
With his jacket slung over his shoulder, Doyle sauntered out onto the street, hoping that he looked more at ease than he felt. It was the first time since being released that he had gone out alone of his own choice. Although he enjoyed his solitary morning jog, he was always aware that someone was awaiting his return and hoping that maybe this morning he would collapse and refuse to go on.
No, he thought, deciding to be fair, Bodie was starting to realise that he meant business. Strolling along the sun-drenched, tree-lined avenue, Doyle felt in a mood to be charitable. He really couldn't blame Bodie for reacting to the proposed partnership without any enthusiasm. It must have been a terrible blow to his ego when Cowley had informed him that, after due consideration, he had decided that an ex-convict--albeit a wrongly convicted one--who had done three years inside, suffered from nightmares and various other psychological disorders and was two stone underweight was the ideal partner for him. It would probably take a bit of getting used to.
He carried on walking slowly, just looking around him, soaking up the easy atmosphere. Most of the office workers had gone home and the only people on the streets seemed to be people like himself, just out enjoying the summer evening: tourists with their cameras and guidebooks, couples soaking up the sun and each other's company, a few families looking tired but happy after a day in the big city.
A little way down the road, a public house had set tables and chairs outside on the pavement so people could drink and continue to watch the gentle flow of life and London, and he made himself comfortable with a cool beer at one of the tables. He was tired but not exhausted, today having been slightly easier because of Bodie's distraction. Doyle felt mildly guilty that he had used the other man's lack of attention to ease up. For the past two weeks Bodie had been pushing him harder than necessary, but he had an idea that he was going to be grateful for the strict regime he had imposed. Today, in a different part of the gym, another agent had been working out and Bodie had asked her to take Doyle on the mats in hand-to-hand combat. Ruth had agreed and set to enthusiastically; at first her degree of skill had floored Doyle--several times--but Ruth calmly told him that the first rule was always--never underestimate your opponent. He already knew that and was mad with himself for having to be so forcibly reminded, especially in front of Bodie, and by a woman who was certainly no taller or heavier than he was. He didn't consider himself to have a chauvinist attitude but being defeated so soundly by a mere woman was painful.
At the end of the day Bodie had told him quietly that he wouldn't be going straight home that night; the news had not surprised Doyle in the least. Bodie had not been very discreet about who he had been concentrating on all day, so after seeing Bodie and Ruth Pettifer slip away together, he had decided to venture out on his own.
There had been nothing to stop him going out at any time except his own exhaustion. Another reason why he had put off going had been his total lack of choice. An evening out with Bodie was something he was sure he could live without; all day in the man's company was bad enough. He had never really enjoyed drinking alone and he was very reluctant to call on any of his old friends, none of whom had visited or kept in touch with him--which really only left the cinema or a show, a meal in a restaurant--table for one, cruellest sentence in the world, that.
No. A quiet walk. Soak up the sunshine then go home, read that manual Bodie'd given him, try to stay awake past ten o'clock and then with luck, a dreamless sleep.
"Hello, love, sitting all alone on a lovely night like this! Can I join you?"
The soft, lilting voice jolted him back to the present and he looked up in time to see a slim, fair-haired young woman settle herself down at his table and arrange her drink and bags neatly beside her. He looked around them and saw that there were other empty tables she could have chosen and found himself wishing she had.
"Nice sitting out here like this, isn't it?" she said conversationally, trapping Doyle instantly when he agreed that it was by launching into the predictable make-talk by discussing the weather. Not in the mood for talking, Doyle made another mistake by mutely agreeing with her meteorological comments.
"Come from around here, do you?" she asked, in a sudden change of direction.
"No, not from here."
"Not a Londoner then?"
"No." He wasn't, not a born one anyway, and before he could stop himself he made his third mistake and began contributing to the so-far one-sided conversation.
"I was born in the Midlands but I've been mostly in London since I left school."
"I come from the sticks too, came to London for some excitement, I did. My name's Carole, by the way."
He couldn't have cared less but couldn't bring himself to be rude and so introduced himself.
"Ray." He returned her smile and tried to convince himself that he wasn't seeing all the signals he thought he was. There was nothing blatant about Carole; her personality was a little too powerful for his taste but she was modestly dressed and somehow didn't look as if she was a working girl.
"Are you meeting someone, Ray? I mean, I don't want to intrude."
"No, I'm not."
"All alone on a beautiful evening like this, criminal that is," said Carole softly.
Now he knew his first guess had been right. Up-market and classy but still a scrubber. Doyle's first reaction was a strong wave of revulsion but he kept in control long enough to stand up and make a reasonably civil farewell.
"Maybe it is but that's the way I prefer it. Goodbye."
Abandoning his unfinished beer he left the table and walked away, heading down towards the embankment, fighting the nausea that threatened to overwhelm him. At last he reached the river and, oblivious to passers-by, he leant against the wall, stared blindly out across the water and tried to stop the terrible trembling that shook his body.
The strength of his reaction frightened him. She was only a prostitute after all. He had spoken with enough of her kind in the line of duty not to be surprised or shocked by anything she might have said or done. She had been quite attractive; any other red-blooded man who had spent three years away from women would probably have jumped at what she was selling--whatever her price, he knew he would have been able to afford it.
Admit it, Doyle, he told himself harshly, she bloody terrified you! You're shit-scared of getting involved in a sexual scene. You're bloody hopeless!
Inside his head the word echoed cruelly. Hopeless! Even if he had gone somewhere with her, nothing would have happened. Nothing. Ever since that last big fight when--his mind shied away from the thought, practice making it almost a reflex action. For nearly a year now there had been a whole lot of nothing. At first he hadn't bothered, hadn't cared, but then as time went by he found he did care--but still a big, fat nothing!
Turning away from the river he began to walk more or less in the direction of Bodie's flat. Not only claustrophobic but impotent as well. He could imagine Bodie's horror if he ever discovered the real
truth about his new partner.
Summer ended abruptly and autumn began wetly; it rained constantly for the next three days. Bodie, who liked getting caught in the rain about as much as a cat did, hated it.
Waiting huddled out of the wind and wet in the doorway, Bodie looked up from his stopwatch in the direction that Doyle ought to be approaching from. The rain-washed street was deserted. Still, Bodie conceded, it was a bit premature to expect him just yet. The route he'd sent him on was at least five miles and the longest yet. He'd give it another five minutes then send out the hearse to bring back the body.
He spent the time checking through Doyle's progress chart that he had compiled over the last three weeks. For the first time he actually allowed a glimmer of admiration to peek through. It must have been obvious to Doyle that he had been put through the mill, that CI5 didn't really expect him to have progressed so far quite so soon, but he hadn't complained once. There had been the odd occasion when he'd seen Doyle close his mouth over a quick, explosive retort, or when he'd seemed to question the severity of a test, but each time he'd knuckled under and done what was asked. Not always successfully and not always very well--but at least he'd tried. Bodie had to give credit where it was due.
So far, Doyle had been full of surprises, physically at least. The lean, stringy body was surprisingly strong and had more staying power than first impressions led one to believe. After only three weeks the results of plenty of exercise, fresh air, sunshine and good food had banished the haunted, hunted look from Doyle's face. If only the recurring dreams would leave him alone Bodie was sure that Doyle's mental recovery would also speed up. But it wasn't just the dreams, Bodie acknowledged; the nightmares were only a symptom of a more serious condition and something would have to be done about the root cause of Doyle's unease before he could be considered for active duty with the department.
Cowley had not mentioned anything about Doyle suffering from psychiatric problems, and Bodie suspected that if he got a whiff of any mental trauma, Doyle would swiftly find himself out of the section. Or would he? The department had its own psychiatric specialist--Kate Ross; although Bodie had a deep dislike for and mistrust of the profession that had little to do with Dr Ross personally, he admitted that she seemed to serve a purpose. One or two agents had been told to see her professionally after a couple of very ugly operations had backfired with horrific results. Should he involve Ross? Later perhaps--if no other solution presented itself. Meantime, thought Bodie, what the hell can I do with a man who retreats into his room at every opportunity and emerges only at feeding times and for his scheduled exercises?
Despite invitations from other members of the squad and the odd genuine invitation from Bodie, Doyle had shunned all social contact, neither had he made any arrangements to see his own friends. After three years locked away from the finer things in life, Bodie was more than a little surprised at Doyle's total lack of interest in women.
The first time it happened he'd just thought that Doyle was too thick to realise what he was being offered, but in the end the girls were being so blatant even a Trappist monk would have at least suspected the motives behind their interest.
In an official situation he coped with the office staff and the few female agents in a perfectly normal way, but once the business was over he became distant and introverted, doing everything except melt into the wall in an effort to become invisible. The more the girls pressed, the further Doyle retreated. Wasn't just the girls though, Bodie realised in a sudden flash of insight; in every social encounter Doyle had done his utmost to remain in the background, retreating from any conversation as fast as he could without drawing any more attention.
Splashing feet drew him out of his thoughts and he looked up in time to see Doyle on the last few yards of his run. Instead of being confronted by a weary, bedraggled figure, though, Bodie saw a man almost bursting with excitement and lit up with an inexplicable inner joy. Apart from being a little breathless he didn't even seem to be tired.
"What are you hiding in there for?" Doyle enquired, his eyes and face transformed by a previously unseen smile. "Anyone would think you were scared of getting wet!"
Noting down Doyle's time, Bodie just shrugged. "Dunno what you're looking so cheerful for--you must be soaked to the skin."
"I am. Beautiful, isn't it! Love running in the rain--makes everything so fresh, clean." He drew in a deep breath. "Just smell it, all that clean, fresh air. How did I do?" he asked, peering over the top of the clipboard Bodie was busily scribbling on.
"Not bad, not bad." Actually, it was quite good and he had an idea Doyle knew it, but Bodie refused to let him see that he was impressed. "Not quite up to our standard yet but you're getting better."
"Blimey, go easy with the praise, won't you!"
Bodie responded to the teasing voice with a smile of his own. "Just 'cause you've managed to finish a little run on your own two feet rather than on your hands and knees, don't go getting any ideas."
"Hands and knees, Christ, I didn't even finish that first run." Unconcerned by the dismal failure of his first long run, Doyle laughed at the memory of Bodie having to scoop him up from the pavement where he collapsed, sweating and exhausted.
"Just goes to show what a decent bed and food can do for you. Prison life's never won anyone competitions in the fitness stakes."
Even as the words formed in his mouth Bodie knew he shouldn't say them--but it was too late. Immediately the happy sparkle in the bright eyes faded and the battered face turned to stone. Any mention of prison caused this reaction and Bodie only knew he had destroyed Doyle's happy, carefree mood with his remark. But even though he regretted breaking the cheerful mood, Bodie was irritated by Doyle's excessive reaction to every harmless comment.
"Look," he began, unsuccessfully trying to keep his voice calm, "I'm sorry if I'm thoughtless enough to keep making references to where you've been for the past three years--" Doyle's face became even bleaker and Bodie's patience snapped.
"It's a fact of life, Doyle," he shouted. "You've been inside one of Her Majesty's Institutions for three years. You know it and I know it. It was very unfortunate and I don't expect you had the time of your life while you were in there but neither of us can get away from it. You
, Raymond Doyle, have been in prison for three long years. I don't blame you for wanting to forget about it but there's no call for you to get all twitchy and miserable every time I or anyone else is bloody daft enough not to cater for your delicate sensibilities. If you're going to act like Lot's wife every time the subject comes up you might as well get out now! If we're going to end up working together it's a fact we're both
going to have to accept. You can't pretend it didn't happen because it did."
"A fact that we're both
going to have
to accept!" Doyle spat the phrase back at him. "That's rich, that is. It's just a fact of life that I'm gonna have to accept, is it?"
Bodie was rooted to the spot by the venom in the smaller man's voice, suddenly remembering his own hard-learned lesson that strength wasn't directly related to size.
"I haven't really got much choice, have I? Even if I did want to forget it'd all come flooding back the next time I looked in a mirror. I'll tell you something that'll make you laugh, you'll really love this, Bodie." Doyle's face twisted with bitterness and anger and Bodie knew that whatever he was going to hear, he wouldn't want to laugh.
"I don't look in a mirror to shave any more. In fact I hardly ever look at my reflection nowadays because every time I do see it..." A slim white-knuckled hand rose and touched the protruding cheekbone. "Once upon a time they used to brand criminals so everyone would know who they were and what they'd done. This--" Bodie watched as a finger stroked over the disfiguring bulge and the scarring that was still shiny pink. "This is a brand as far as I'm concerned, because every time I see it I remember how and where I got it. Forget! No chance!"
As if he suddenly realised that he was revealing too much of his inner torment, Doyle turned away and made a performance of picking up his track suit jacket and sports bag that he'd left on the floor. The movement didn't fool Bodie for a moment. He'd heard Doyle's voice waver and crack and seen the over-bright eyes. It was the first time that Doyle had made any reference to what had happened to him and Bodie guess there was a lot of pain bottled up inside, pain that needed to be released if it wasn't going to fester and warp his outlook, thereby destroying everything.
"How did that happen anyway?" Bodie asked mildly, illustrating the point by tapping his own, unflawed cheekbone. He knew that Doyle was going to have to talk it out with someone eventually. It was perhaps unfortunate that Doyle had not read the same psychology books, though--for he had obviously decided that he most definitely was not going to discuss it.
"It's none of your fucking business!" was Doyle's not wholly unexpected retort before he headed off towards the shower room at a brisk trot.
Unconcerned, Bodie watched him go, following behind at his own unhurried pace.
That's what you think, sunshine, he thought as Doyle disappeared through the locker room door. Maybe what happened inside that prison was none of his business but a little triviality like that was not going to stop him from finding out a few things. Pushing through the swinging door, Bodie saw that they had the shower room to themselves and Doyle was already minus his rain- and sweat-soaked T shirt.
As soon as he heard the protesting squeal of the door hinge, Doyle felt an icy hand clutch at his entrails and he spun around.
It was only Bodie.
He wiped the fresh sweat from his face and tried to still his pounding heart. He knew his hands were shaking but was powerless to prevent them. Dropping the shirt onto the seat, he looked sideways at Bodie, who had settled himself down on the opposite bench and was busily scribbling on his clipboard.
He's not even looking, Doyle told himself, but it was no good--the shaking wouldn't cease. Don't just stand there, Doyle, get undressed and get it over with before he does start looking, the voice inside his head told him calmly, and he knew it was the sensible thing to do...if only he could get his body to cooperate, he would.
Not looking up from his sheet of times and schedule, Bodie suddenly asked: "You met Macklin yet?"
Peeling off his second wet sock, Doyle refused to look up, forcing himself to keep calm and act naturally.
"No. Heard of him though," he said stiffly as he stood up and forced leaden fingers to slip his running shorts down.
"Oh well, you'll get a nice surprise on Monday then. I've asked him to run you through the department's fitness test. Want to see how much further I've got to push you."
Doyle had heard of Macklin's fitness exam from some of the other agents and knew that Monday was going to be a real toughie, but all he was worried about now was getting through the next ten minutes without disgracing himself. As if from a great distance he heard himself talking, his voice sounding tinny and unreal.
"Do you think I'm up to it?"
"No," Bodie said bluntly. "But it'll give a chance to see how much you've progressed and how much further you've got to go."
Unable to postpone the moment any longer, Doyle slipped off his briefs and walked into the communal shower.
"No one's expecting you to have reached the grade just yet," Bodie continued, looking up in time to see Doyle's stiff-legged walk into the shower. "You've come on pretty well--better than I expected, to be honest--but I want Macklin to see you in action; this training thing is more in his line than mine and he'll be able to see what needs working on."
The way Doyle was standing under the shower made Bodie look at the naked man worriedly. Had he strained himself, Bodie wondered.
"What's up?" he asked, not bothering to mask the concern in his voice. "Have you pulled a muscle or something?"
"No." Doyle could feel Bodie's eyes burning into his back and even though the water was hot he felt icy prickles all over his skin.
The abrupt 'no' did little to dispel Bodie's worry. Something was wrong here, he knew that much--but what? Standing up, he walked across to Doyle's towel, his eyes not missing the way the nude body jumped as he knocked against the bench. He held the towel out for Doyle to take, unprepared for the naked fear in the white face and wide-opened eyes, but the hand that grasped the towel was steady. It was so unexpected that Bodie found himself speechless, and he watched in stunned silence as Doyle wrapped the cloth around his waist and moved to the bench where his dry clothes were.
Doyle was scared of him...no, terrified! Doyle was terrified, but why? Bodie racked his brains trying to think what he had said or done to have caused such a reaction, but found nothing. Instinctively knowing that his closeness was contributing to Doyle's problem, Bodie moved back to his clipboard on the other side of the room and felt the tension ease fractionally as the physical distance between them increased.
"I'll meet you in the cafeteria for a cup of tea. Okay?"
"Okay," Doyle agreed, but Bodie had the feeling that he would have agreed to anything if it meant he was going to be left alone.
Musing over his cup of tea while he waited, Bodie tried to pinpoint what was bothering him so much--or rather, what was bothering Doyle. There were lots of little things that did not seem very important on their own but, now he put them all together, began to take shape like a jigsaw. Going backwards, Bodie mentally listed everything, starting with Doyle's very obvious fear in the shower room. It wasn't the first time they'd been alone together--so what was different, what had happened? He had never been in the locker room with him before; all the other times, Doyle had slipped away unnoticed or waited until Bodie had been involved with someone else. So what was so different about being alone together in that room? And the other day in the car...on several occasions Doyle had fallen asleep on their way home and until now Bodie had taken no notice of the physical jump Doyle gave each time he was woken up...that very first night too, Bodie remembered suddenly, he had leapt off that bed as if he thought Bodie was going to rape him or...
The jigsaw was suddenly complete.
God no, Bodie thought, surely not. But even as he sought to deny it, he re-ran everything through his mind, his surprising explanation fitting perfectly with Doyle's behaviour...the social withdrawal, his seemingly untypical attitude towards sex, his dislike of being touched unexpectedly, and his fear of being unclothed in front of someone.
Bodie recalled the records he had seen; Doyle had been involved in an extraordinary number of fights and 'incidents'. Having spent most of his adult life in a predominantly male society, Bodie was only too painfully aware of how some men, deprived of normal sexual outlets, could turn on each other for release. Already an outcast, the former policeman would have found few, if any, allies amongst the prison staff, and the inmates would have had free rein over the unfortunate man who represented the system that had put them there. The vulnerability of Doyle's position combined with his looks would have made him the obvious target if what Bodie suspected was true. How far would it have gone? His medical notes were, Bodie now realised, incomplete. A broken wrist, cracked ribs and a broken face said Doyle hadn't gone down without a fight...but that was over a year ago. What had happened since then?
Bodie pondered over Doyle's possible, no, probable reply if he questioned him, and knew he would have to wait until Doyle wanted to talk; it was no good trying to force out a confidence before it was ready. The problem was, when would Doyle decide he was ready to talk?
Bodie rolled over onto his face and pulled the pillow over his head in a vain attempt to block out the desperate cries that reverberated around the quiet flat.
"Come on, you bugger, wake up," he muttered through clenched teeth as he waited for the choked-off scream that usually heralded the end of this particular nightmare.
Another wordless scream reached his buried ears.
"Four bleedin' thirty in the morning," he groaned. "For chrissake, Doyle, wake up so I can get to sleep. Please
Being woken at all hours was fast becoming a habit.
Doyle's mental state seemed to be deteriorating in relation to his improving physical condition. At first, the dreams had only happened once a night with two or three peaceful nights between them; then they'd come every other night and now, for the second night in succession, they were trapping their victim every time he settled back down to sleep.
So far the nightmares had been a taboo subject; each morning Doyle had eaten his breakfast with an unfriendly, distant expression which discouraged any attempts on Bodie's part to discuss the cause of the dreams.
The training programme had been going very well up till now, but this afternoon, Bodie had seen the troubled expression on Macklin's face as he watched Doyle being defeated again and again because of his inattention and carelessness. The charts Bodie had been keeping on Doyle's progress were also beginning to reflect the downward trend--the impressive start was turning into a dismal decline.
Lack of sleep was the main problem. Doyle's reluctance to try and sleep was caused by the fact that each time he did succumb he would wake up, shouting and fighting and, not unnaturally, scared to drop off again.
A routine medical check yesterday had revealed that Doyle was beginning to lose weight again; the little he had gained on being released was being eaten away by exhaustion and lack of sleep.
Even through two closed doors and several inches of pillow, Doyle's garbled shouts and cries reached Bodie's ears. Should he go and wake him up, Bodie wondered. Did he really want to face a repeat of the previous night's arguments? Monday night had been bad enough without trying for a re-run. Doyle had made it quite plain weeks ago that he wanted to be left alone, but his obvious distress had worried at Bodie until he'd been compelled to go down the hall to Doyle's bedroom. His timing had been off and Doyle had shuddered awake the moment before he reached there and was already sitting up, rubbing the vestiges of whatever horrors had beset him, when Bodie burst through the door.
"What do you want?" Doyle had snapped out.
"Nothing. Thought I might be able to help, that's all," Bodie muttered, already regretting his impulse.
"Don't you know how to knock?" Doyle enquired nastily, turning his fear into anger because that way it was easier to handle. "I know this is your flat but I'd expected to be granted a bit of privacy."
"Pardon me for breathing," Bodie retaliated. "You can have all the bleedin' privacy you want, mate--all I ask in return is a decent night's sleep where I don't have to listen to you shrieking and hollering your head off!"
"I wouldn't say no to a decent night's sleep myself."
Bodie heard Doyle's voice crack and tried to cool things down; he knew it wasn't Doyle's fault.
"Look, I'm...sorry," he said carefully. "I know you're not doing it on purpose and I don't really mind--"
" Doyle was still struggling to hold onto his anger; he had a nasty suspicion that Bodie was building up to a good old all-men-together heart-to-heart and right now that was the last thing he wanted.
"Do you want to talk about it, get it off your chest?" Bodie offered.
"It was just a dream. I've already told you that I get them sometimes. I'm sorry they disturb you but--"
"I'm not talking about tonight and you know it," Bodie pushed.
"It was just a bad dream. What's wrong, are you going to tell me that CI5 agents aren't allowed to have bad dreams?" Doyle asked in a scathing voice.
"No," Bodie countered placidly. "Even the best of us get unpleasant dreams. It's an occupational hazard. You stick around and one day you'll get a front row seat on one of my screaming specials." Bodie stepped further into the room and sat down at the foot of the bed. Doyle glared at him with undisguised contempt.
"Do make yourself comfortable."
"The odd dream," Bodie continued, "is perfectly normal. I'm not sure that Ross or Cowley will think your record over the past few weeks counts as normal, though."
"You're going to tell them?" Behind the I-don't-give-a-damn-if-you-do, Bodie heard the note of worry.
"You're going to have to talk to someone."
"And if you won't talk to me it'll have to be someone else."
"Talk about what?"
"You tell me."
"Nothing to tell. I just get a bad dream occasionally--I don't even remember what they're about, it's just a bad dream," lied Doyle, not even sounding as if he managed to convince himself of the untruth.
"Come on, Doyle, loosen up, it's not as if I can't guess what's behind all this. You're not the first bloke it ever happened to and I doubt very much if you'll be the last. It's behind you now though, and it's time to--"
Doyle had gone white, every drop of colour vanished from his face and for a second Bodie thought he was going to faint, his words dying unspoken as he waited for Doyle to move, collapse or whatever.
In a flash, Doyle was out of his bed and on him, heaving him bodily and almost throwing him towards the door; stunned by the sudden, white rage the smaller man had flown into, Bodie allowed himself to be pushed, a small coherent part of his brain telling him that it would be safer and less painful to cooperate.
"What are you talking about?" Doyle yelled furiously. "What do you know about anything? I'm not going to talk to you about anything
. Do you hear me? There's nothing to talk about. Nothing!"
Doyle's voice was marginally below the point at which it would have been hysterical, and he shoved Bodie out into the darkened hallway. "They didn't do it. The doctors said they didn't do it so there's nothing to talk about, is there. Now get out. Get out and leave me alone!"
The door had been slammed in his face and Bodie had meekly returned to his own bed, awed by the strength released by Doyle's temper. Shocked and troubled, the remainder of the night had been passed in an uneasy but undisturbed sleep from which he'd woken up tired and unrefreshed. Doyle hadn't looked any better and Bodie accurately guessed that he hadn't managed or dared to go back to sleep. The day had gone from bad to worse and they had returned to the flat in the evening, tired and despondent.
After the disturbance of the previous night, Bodie had turned in fairly early but he had known that Doyle had probably fought against his tiredness, unwilling to give in to a sleep that he knew was going to be plagued by terror.
Another bloodcurdling scream, by far the worst so far, reached through the pillow.
Unable to ignore it any longer--he wouldn't even leave a wild animal to suffer so--Bodie snatched up his bathrobe and strode purposefully down the hallway, disregarding totally all of Doyle's pleas to be left alone. It had gone on long enough.
Opening the door and switching on the light, Bodie's initial fury died as he saw the curled-up ball tangled in the bedding. For a split second he thought Doyle had woken up but then realised that although he had reacted to the sudden light and noise he was still trapped, trembling and terrified, in his nightmare.
"Doyle," he called softly. "Doyle...Ray...come on, Ray, time to wake up."
The trembling only increased and the hunched figure made a jerky movement that looked as though he was trying to burrow into the mattress.
"Come on, Ray, snap out of it." Bodie reached over and touched a bare shoulder, intending only to shake the sleeper awake.
Doyle uncurled and exploded into movement, throwing himself at Bodie and launching an all-out attack with flying fists, knees and elbows, the wild, uncoordinated frenzy taking them both down onto the floor where Bodie was barely able to protect himself from serious injury.
It was a few, painful seconds before Bodie realised that Doyle was still trapped in his dream world and set out to wake him up without either of them getting killed in the process. Hampered by his concern that Doyle shouldn't be hurt any more, the only way left for Bodie to immobilise him was to wrap himself octopus-fashion around the thrashing body and use his greater weight to pin Doyle to the floor.
Instinctively recognising the helplessness of his position, Doyle froze, his whole body rigid, and Bodie heard a small, heart-rending whisper that made him want to kill the bastards who had almost destroyed a young man.
"No...please don't...no...no." Doyle's voice was pathetically tired, almost as if he had given up hoping to be listened to, and he'd stopped fighting.
Cautiously, Bodie eased the vise-like grip, thinking again that Doyle was awake, and pulled away slightly, propping himself up on an elbow to look down on the trembling body he was still sprawled across.
"Hey--you awake?" Bodie lightly touched the man's arm, half expecting to be thrown off again, but not this time.
As his fingers skimmed up the bare flesh, Doyle went rigid and inhaled sharply, his eyes snapping open, finally awake. Seeing the confusion in the brilliant jade eyes, Bodie spoke softly, reassurance flowing easily as he sought to calm the trembling that was shaking Doyle's body.
"You're awake now. It's all over...everything's gonna be just fine. 's all right, no one's going to hurt you...just keep calm...relax...there's nothing to get worried about, I'm not going to hurt you--no one is...are you listening? Can you hear me?" Bodie asked, suddenly wondering if his good intentions and words of comfort were getting beyond the glazed, wide-eyed stare.
There was still no reply, so Bodie eased himself off Doyle but remained close by him on the floor, one hand cupping the warm skin on Doyle's shoulder, squeezing and rubbing gently with soothing, relaxing movements, touch reinforcing the protective and caring emotions that Bodie was projecting.
Watching as Doyle closed his eyes again, Bodie took hope from the fact that neither his touch nor his presence had been rejected. He was unsure of what to do for the best and racked his brains for any ideas. How should he cope with this? One wrong move and he knew he would lose Doyle forever.
The near-hysterical outburst of the previous night came to the fore of his mind. Something that hadn't sounded right, sort of out of place. He'd said that he hadn't been raped, that there was nothing to--no, he hadn't, thought Bodie with amazement. Doyle had said nothing of the sort. The doctors
had said nothing had happened. Surely Ray would know if he had or hadn't; after all, Bodie thought as he continued to gentle Doyle, it's hardly the sort of thing you'd forget.
Beneath his hand the trembling was reaching mammoth proportions and the warm body shook spasmodically as Doyle drew in great gulps of air, fighting against the inevitable breakdown. Unable to react to such distress in any other way, Bodie drew Doyle into a loose hug, pressing the curly head onto his shoulder.
"Stop fighting, Ray...just let go...just let go..."
Unable to hold back any longer, the dam broke and Doyle found himself holding on to Bodie, sobbing his heart out, the concern the other man was giving washing over him in waves. He could feel that Bodie didn't mind and wasn't finding his loss of control demeaning, and finally allowed himself to relax enough and give way to three years' worth of suppressed pain, fear, loneliness and the overwhelming sense of betrayal.
All the time Bodie just held him, rocking him and stroking firm hands across his back and up his neck into his hair, talking softly all the time, just a lot of reassuring, comforting nonsense that actually meant nothing except that there's someone here, someone who cares.
Patiently waiting for the storm to blow over, Bodie began planning what was to happen next. There was no way Doyle was going to retreat back into his shell this time. Tonight they were going to talk.
Eventually the tears slowed down, the cries became soft hiccups and Doyle made his first attempt to draw back. Bodie only let him go a little way, holding him and turning him so they were sitting face to face on the floor.
"Here, it's clean, do you want to borrow it?"
Bodie received a shaky smile and soft hiccup by way of answer, but Doyle took the handkerchief and tried to repair the damage, not that a few half-hearted dabs and blows could improve the ravaged face much, though.
"I'm going to go and fix us both a drink. Come through to the living room when you're ready."
Bodie spoke softly, but there was no doubt in Doyle's mind--he hadn't been given an invitation but a nicely worded order.
Bodie waited until he received a nod of acknowledgement before getting to his feet and leaving the room.
Placing the coffees on the table, Bodie reached over for the whisky bottle and poured a generous slug in each mug, then set the bottle down onto the table. He had a feeling that they were going to need a little spiritual help to get through what was left of the night.
Another few minutes passed and still there was no sign of Doyle. Bodie sighed and covered his face with his hands, he just didn't know what to do. He didn't want to have to drag Doyle forcibly from his room, but he couldn't take any more repeats of the past few nights; Doyle couldn't either. If he didn't come out and start talking soon, Bodie knew that he would have to involve Cowley and Ross.
A movement in the doorway caught his eye; there was Doyle, dressed now in jeans and T-shirt, standing nervously at the threshold of the room.
"I'm not going to force you to come in and talk to me," Bodie said reasonably. "If you come in now
I'll expect to hear exactly what's been bugging you. I don't want a fabricated story or a whole lot of 'nothing happened'..." Bodie's voice hardened as he set down the rules, "...you want to talk crap you can go see Ross and Cowley. For what it's worth I think you and I can make a good team, but I'll tell you now, 'good' isn't good enough. Take my lead and we'll be bloody good, the best Cowley's got!" Bodie smiled as he knew that what he was saying would come true. "I don't think the Old Man's gonna stand much of a chance when we start letting rip; play our cards right and we can make him rue the day he ever dreamt up partnering us two. But--" the smile vanished and Bodie became serious, "--being partners starts from now
. Maybe there's nothing I can do to help, but I've got to know what I'm up against. I'll help you all I can, Doyle, but you've got to tell me what's wrong. I may be brilliant at most things but psychic I'm not."
Bodie finally threw down a verbal gauntlet.
"Come in and talk or walk out now--that's it."
For a few agonising seconds Doyle remained hovering on the brink; it wasn't until he stepped into the room and reached for his coffee cup that Bodie realised he'd been holding his breath.
Sitting on the floor in the middle of his bedroom, Doyle watched Bodie's retreating back and considered his options.
Although Bodie hadn't said anything, Doyle knew the other man was expecting to be told what the problem was. All things considered, Doyle conceded his host had been remarkably restrained in not beating the truth out of him weeks ago. The screws had never been so considerate, banging on the heavy metal door and shouting abuse through the grille; one or twice it sounded as if the entire population of 'E' wing had been airing their none-too-polite sentiments in response to the screws' harsh orders to 'wake up and belt up'.
He could just imagine how Milton and his crony, Mr Magill, would have reacted to the past week's worth of nightmares. The night watch was considered to be an easy number by the screws. Everyone was locked up and expected to be asleep and it was an accepted thing that after the money had dried up the cards would be put away and the duty officers would take it in turns to get some sleep.
The dreams hadn't been so frequent then; they might come one or two nights in succession and then not reoccur for a week or two, but even so, fate decreed that when Milton drew night duty Doyle would wake the whole block with his shouts. There was only one thing Milton hated more than having a winning poker hand stopped and that was being woken up from an illicit sleep in the duty room because some inconsiderate prat--usually Doyle--had woken the wing up.
Climbing to his feet, Doyle tried to decide which fate he would prefer: the irate Milton or the calm confidence of the man who was waiting for him in the living room. Doyle came to the conclusion that Milton hadn't been all that bad.
His gaze fell upon the wreckage of his bed; sheets and blankets screwed up and tangled in a heap on the floor. He didn't even remember getting out of bed, let alone how he ended up on the floor, head buried into Bodie's shoulder, crying his eyes out. As a few, disjointed memories returned he became aware of various tender spots on his body: his left knee was aching and he was slowly seeping blood onto his pyjama trousers. He reached down to examine the injury and noticed that his knuckles on both hands were red and bruised looking. In his dreams he knew exactly who he'd been fighting. Memory of heavy weight pressing him down returned along with the feeling of utter helplessness, and he suddenly realised that this time it had been no dream, that the body had really been there, but instead of following its normal course, this time he'd received comfort and kindness, the hands that touched him only seeking to relax and calm.
The whole thing flooded back now; Bodie's touch and voice had pulled him out of the pit; shaken and puzzled to wake up in such a position he hadn't been surprised when Bodie began to pull back--but he didn't move right away, he'd stayed close, sprawled beside him on the floor with one warm, comfortingly heavy hand resting on his shoulder, the simple touch establishing a much-needed contact with a real, kind world.
As he waited, Doyle had accepted that the withdrawal and disgust at his behaviour wasn't forthcoming; Bodie was staying close in case he was needed, because he wanted to help. Horrified by the tears he knew were coming, he'd tried to fight them back, but Bodie had seen what was happening and had taken over, unexpectedly drawing him into an embrace and urging him to let go.
Remembering how he had cried and how Bodie had accepted even that, fresh tears blinded him. He couldn't remember the last time he'd cried like that, and doubted if he ever had; even as a child he had seldom sought refuge in tears. Only girls and cissies cry, his dad had told him. He could still feel where Bodie's hands had rubbed over his back as he'd tried to soothe him; he couldn't remember feeling that Bodie had been embarrassed by his outburst, all he could recall was Bodie actively encouraging him to cry, telling him how much better he would feel if he just let go.
In the bathroom he splashed cold water over his face, washing away the tears, old and new, and dabbed at the small cut on his leg. From the kitchen he heard the chinking of a spoon in a cup and sighed. He was going to have to talk to Bodie; he knew that he wanted to be part of CI5 and talking to Bodie was going to be his admission fee. But he didn't want to talk about it and spent most of his time thinking about anything else; now he was away from it, all the memories were growing grey and confused, particular memories--even the few more pleasant ones--were becoming elusive; the only things that were clear and growing more vivid and detailed each time were his dreams. At times it felt as if the dreams were true and his waking existence was nothing but bleak, colourless nightmare.
Slipping into some clothes, Doyle padded barefoot down the hall and came to a stop outside the partly open door. Sitting staring at the steaming coffee cups was Bodie, unaware that he was being watched. Doyle heard him give a loud sigh before he covered his face with his hands. Guilt flooded through Doyle as he saw how tired and worn out Bodie looked and sounded. The past month had been no easier on him; in many ways it had perhaps been worse. Sometimes having to watch another suffer and find yourself unable to help was worse than being the one who suffered.
Doyle stepped into the room and Bodie threw down the gauntlet.
"Come in and talk or walk out now. That's it."
Still unhappy with both choices presented to him, Doyle sat down in an armchair placed just on the edge of the soft pool of light and fussed around with his coffee, the heavy whisky flavour warming him through to his toes.
"What do you want to know?" Doyle's quiet voice asked after a long, uncomfortable silence.
"Because I need to know what's going on inside your head. I have to know if you're going to fall to pieces on me."
"Oh!" They subsided into silence again. It was time for Doyle to start talking.
"What do you think happened to me?" asked Doyle, still trying to put off the inevitable.
"You tell me."
"You must have some idea. I want to know what you know...or what you think you know. I saw all my files on Cowley's desk, you've read them and I haven't. What's in them?"
"Okay," agreed Bodie. He couldn't blame Doyle for being curious about the contents of the files. "You weren't anyone's idea of a model prisoner. Your behaviour was reported to be overly aggressive and your attitude left a lot to be desired. You got caught up in an inordinate amount of fights and scraps." Bodie swigged back the last of his coffee and set the cup back on the table with a thump. "There was nothing official logged, but reading between the lines I'd say you were subjected to a lot of...harassment. You never complained about it but I think I can work out what path it took."
Refusing to give in to the silent plea in the green eyes, Bodie would not make it easier on Doyle and come right out with what he suspected had really happened. He didn't want to be sadistic and he was gaining no pleasure from the other man's discomfort but he really believed that it would be better if the final, damning words came from Doyle himself.
"You think you can work it out?" Doyle mocked him. "Expert on it, are you?"
"I've been around; it happens. Happens more often than everyone in their nice, safe little homes realises, that's why it's such a hell of a shock when it happens to you."
"What do you know about it?" Doyle said, desperately trying to change the focus of the conversation and completely missing the flash of remembered pain and sorrow that passed across Bodie's face.
Abruptly Bodie stood up and snatched Doyle's empty coffee mug, the sudden movement making the smaller man flinch.
"More than you'd guess," Bodie mumbled softly and inaudibly as he filled up the tumblers with whisky.
Once again as they each settled down with a drink, the room became very quiet.
Doyle stared into his glass. Everything, Bodie had said. Such an insignificant word, everything--but then again, everything covered too much and he really didn't want to talk about everything.
"Where do you want me to start?" he asked.
Watching the unfocussed gaze, Bodie understood Doyle's dilemma. Where on earth would everything have started going so wrong...before his arrest...after the trial?
"From your committal," he suggested.
"They found me guilty and I was committed. I wasn't surprised, don't think anyone was really. I was sent to Ford--you know, the open prison just outside London. I'd been there a few times to interview prisoners myself--I always remember thinking it seemed a cushy life. Soon discovered the difference between visiting and living there, though."
"You made quite an impression on the place, didn't you?" Bodie ventured cautiously, recalling the report on Doyle's short but troubled stay there.
"Yeah, well...at the time I just wanted to hit something, hurt someone--the daft prat just pushed me once too often and I went off the deep end. If it hadn't been him it would have been someone else."
Attacking a prison warder was a serious offence, and it was only because the officer's injuries had not been too serious that Doyle had been let off with a severe reprimand, loss of privileges and transferral to an establishment that could cope with overly aggressive prisoners, instead of facing further criminal charges.
"What happened?" Bodie asked.
"At Ford?" At Bodie's nod, Doyle elaborated.
"I'd been warned to expect some pretty rough treatment. The screws tried to be fair but no one likes a bent cop, least of all the other inmates. It was pretty relaxed in the recreational rooms--you could come and go as you pleased to a certain extent. About the only thing you couldn't have was privacy."
Bodie could understand feeling that particular loss keenly; he valued his privacy and guessed Doyle did also.
"Most of the treatment I got was pretty...juvenile: being tripped up, knocked over, my dinner tray knocked off the table, someone's soup down my neck, my clothes inexplicably ending up in a puddle in the shower room--nothing serious but pretty hard to ignore week after week. After about four months I decided enough was enough. I'd been there long enough for the novelty to have worn off and I stopped being such a nice, quiet, well-mannered little convict. Most of 'em took the hint and backed off but there's always one, isn't there?"
Bodie agreed, there was always someone stupid enough to stay the course.
"Ben Johnson, pathetic little creep he was, a small-time embezzler who dreamed of being Mr Big. One of the screws, the one I thumped, practically encouraged him to keep coming down on me when I tried to get him to fuck off. I just snapped in the end, can't even remember what he did but I went for him. Mr Miles must've seen I'd cracked and tried to stop me but it was too late by then; I was so mad I just went berserk. I think I'd been wanting to hit something for a long time--he just happened to be it.
"They had to call the doctor over to sedate me and I ended up strapped in a body jacket in the padded cell. I ought to be grateful to that doctor, I suppose. He said I was just having a serious, delayed reaction to the pressure I was under while I was on trial."
Doyle could hear the slightly off-key gaiety in his voice and knew it was just nerves; if he thought it would throw Bodie off he would carry on talking about Ford forever rather than progress to the next point in the sordid tale.
"Any more whisky left?" he asked, needing the warm blanket of alcohol to cover his raw, bleeding nerves.
Bodie filled Doyle's glass but made no attempt to top up his own barely touched drink. He was not the one who needed Dutch courage.
"So," he prompted, "what happened when you got to Maidstone?"
"Wonderful place that. Every modern convenience that was around at the time it was built. Didn't go in for creature comforts two hundred years ago, did they! Should've been demolished before I was born."
The current state of British penal institutions was not what Bodie wanted to hear about and he said so. Doyle glared at him but refrained from further discussion of the merits and demerits of Napoleonic architecture.
"You ever heard of Bert Kingsley?"
Was there anyone in London who hadn't? Bodie wondered. The Kingsley brothers would no doubt find themselves immortalised in Madam Tussaud's one day, alongside Crippen, the Drays and Jack the Ripper.
"They put me in the same cell as him. The way his face lit up you'd've thought it was Christmas. He'd been on his own for the last few years but on account of the sudden upsurge in crime they'd run out of single, deluxe rooms with en-suite bath, and so they shoved me in with him."
Doyle took a long pull at his drink and drained the glass; he scarcely noticed Bodie lean forward and refill it.
"He was quite nice at first and I began to think all those stories about him and his brother were a bit exaggerated. He even told the others in the wing to lay off me. They all respected him, you see. He was The Man, as they say inside. Bert Kingsley, King of 'B' wing."
Bodie watched Doyle knock back the whisky and just hoped they'd get to the crunch before he became too drunk to talk.
"It was such a relief to be left alone I didn't see what was coming. Yeah, I know, I'm a bit slow on the uptake sometimes." Distanced by the alcohol, Doyle was able to look at his mistakes objectively. "Woke up one night, right at the crucial moment of a really terrific dream, you know what I mean?" he asked. "Christ knows who she was but she was really something...anyway--woke up and couldn't work out what was happening; it was pitch dark, couldn't see a fuckin' thing but I knew I was awake--thing was, I could still feel her hands on me, took me right over the edge, they did. But as soon as the bells stopped ringing I realised it was Kingsley. He'd twigged that I was having a hot little dream and decided to get in on the act. Nearly threw up over him as well, I was that furious, but he just got back into bed and said something about being friends and helping each other out. Sounded really hurt, he did, made me feel guilty as hell. He'd been really good to me up till then, showing me the ropes, keeping the others off my back, so I said I was sorry about yelling at him but I made it plain that I didn't go in for taking friendship quite that far."
The drink in the tumbler was going down steadily but Bodie could see that the flush spreading across the drawn face and the glitter in the bright eyes was anger--rather than drink-induced.
"It was only a few weeks later the same thing happened again but that time I woke up as soon as he touched me. He got very nasty when I told him what he could do with himself, kept saying I owed it to him for looking after my interests. From then on things just got worse, if I so much as twitched in that bloody bed he was down there offering to lend a hand. Then he took to lying in on his own bed and having his own little fantasies and telling me what he wished he was doing to me in wonderful detail...didn't leave much to the imagination. I decided to ignore the old faggot 'cause the more uptight I got the hotter he got!"
Doyle drained the bottle into his glass, then opened the second one that had somehow materialised out of thin air, and filled the glass to the top.
"'s not a bad drop of stuff, this, Bodie. Never really liked whisky before but this is slippin' down a real treat."
To illustrate the point, half a tumbler of the rich, brown liquid disappeared down his throat.
"What happened next?"
"Patience, Bodie, have a little patience," Doyle chided, his voice slightly thicker than usual. "Now, where was I? Oh yes, the old faggot getting' hot..." He took another mouthful. "Right, now then, next thing I know is everyone on the wing is being all horrible and unkind to me and dear, dear, sweet Bert isn't doing his 'I shall protect you, Raymond' bit any more. I'd got quite used to being treated like a human again so I really didn't take to goin' back to bein' treated like a leper. Then dear Bert drops his little bombshell and tells me that if I stop making such a fuss and let him have his wicked way with me he'll tell everyone to leave me alone again." Doyle's voice shifted upwards at least two octaves as he let Bodie know how he felt about that little revelation.
"I mean...what would you have done, Bodie? What would you have done? Me, I told him to go fuck himself." A harsh laugh came from Doyle's throat before being cut off abruptly as if in realisation that the story wasn't funny.
"It was downhill all the way after that. He kept the pressure up for a couple of months but then he had a rethink. Everyone must've guessed why he was telling them all to keep needling me, and he got to thinking that being seen to fail wasn't good for his image. Bert Kingsley always
gets what he wants, and the fact that he wasn't must've been a severe blow to his ego. So--all of a sudden, dear, sweet Bert tells everyone to lay off his little Raymond and spends all day smiling at me and being horribly nice and smarmy. Course, the whole fuckin' block thinks I've finally given in and am letting the old faggot screw me senseless every night."
Doyle's whole face suddenly darkened and Bodie realised that the worst was still to come--if only the narrator was going to remain awake long enough to relate it.
"After a while I even got used to that. He'd have his little wanking trips and tell me all about it, and every now and then he'd get adventurous and start touching me up at night when I was asleep, and everyone just took it for granted he was knocking me off. I sometimes wonder if the old goat would have known what to do if I had said yes. So life settled into a routine of sorts until I saw a light at the end of the tunnel--or thought I did. Boy, was I ever wrong!"
The second bottle had just hit the halfway mark and Bode spared a moment to wonder what he'd do if Doyle ran out of drink before he ran out of steam.
"Why?" Bodie asked. "What were you so wrong about?"
"Kingsley was released about--oh, I dunno, fifteen, sixteen months ago. He'd done his nine years, told the parole board he was very sorry and promised to be a good boy in the future. Couldn't wait to see the back of him--fool that I was," said Doyle disparagingly.
"What do you mean?"
"Once he was gone the throne was up for grabs, wasn't it. It's not just a story, you know, about there being a baron, a sort of top man, on each wing. Even the screws don't mind, makes their job easier. A powerful baron like Kingsley keeps the wing in order, keeps everyone in their place and easier to control. Once Bert was gone there was one hell of a fight over who was going to take his place."
A premonition of what was coming next hit Bodie hard, and suddenly felt very sick. He'd all but forced Doyle to open up to him but now he realised that he really didn't want to hear. He wanted to say, 'Shut up, stop talking, go to sleep--have another drink,' but he couldn't, and if he could and did he suspected Doyle wouldn't even hear him.
Although his whole outward demeanour showed the effects of downing so much whiskey, his movements heavy and lethargic, speech thick and slurred, Doyle's eyes were like mirrors reflecting his soul, the oblivion he was seeking having not yet blanketed the ugly memories.
"I was so fuckin' 'appy dear Bert had gone I never saw what was goin' on. 'parently there were a couple of blokes 'oo wanted to be The Man and they were sloggin' it out between 'emselves. Opinion as to who should take over was split down the middle, so in the end they decided whoever got the most of old Bert's little businesses would win. Come as one 'ell of a shock to discover I was one of Bert's assets!"
Bodie decided that maybe he would have another drink after all and grabbed the bottle; Doyle looked at the empty place on the table with mournful eyes.
"Oh, 's all gone, Bodie. Got another one 'ave you? 's nice stuff. Pity it's all gone though."
After all he'd gone through, Bodie thought that Doyle was going to cry again simply because the bottle had disappeared.
"I'll get you some more in a minute, mate. You were sayin' about who was taking over from Kingsley," he prompted carefully.
"What?" Doyle blinked at him. "Oh yeah, 'most forgot. 's almost funny when I think 'bout it now...not at the time, though--wasn't funny then. They both--Richardson and Ward--tried the friendly approach...you ever been chatted up by two blokes before, Bodie?" He didn't wait for a reply but went straight on, words tumbling out in a sudden rush as if he just wanted to get to the end of the story and then hide away. "Scared me shitless. Every time I turned round, one of 'em was there, showing everyone 'ow friendly he was with me and trying to fool 'em all 'ow much I like 'im. Richardson was all right but Ward...he's really sick...Bert was twisted but Ward...kept on and on...always touching and hurting, trying to scare me into it...then one day he really cracked...'e's mad, should be in Broadmoor or Rampton, 'e should..."
Doyle's voice tailed away as the memory drew closer. Bodie watched, helpless to do anything to ease the pain. Doyle leant forward in the armchair, rocking slightly, arms wrapped around himself, face bloodless and eyes wide as he finally pushed the memory into being.
"There was some sort of industrial dispute going on," Doyle said, his voice no more than a hushed whisper, "so there were fewer screws than normal on duty...we were in the shower room...was morning time, Monday morning...he suddenly decided he wasn't going to wait any more and told his friends to hold me down. I tried to fight them but there were too many and no one would help me...or stop them...I tried, I really tried...I didn't want it to happen but I couldn't fight them all...just couldn't." The scene was so brilliantly vivid that Doyle experienced all over again the growing terror as the men advanced, cornering him in the bleak, white-tiled shower stall...
He had looked around frantically for the duty officer but he was nowhere to be seen. The other men--sensing what was about to happen--were almost falling over themselves to escape the vicinity, no one, but no one was trying to help him.
"Come on, Doyle," Ward leered. "You know what I want so why not make it easier on yourself?" Come over here and be friendly."
The odds were five to one and Doyle knew his only chance was to make enough noise to attract the guards' attention, but Freddie, Ward's sidekick, jumped in and increased the odds even more by clamping a huge hand over his mouth, almost smothering Doyle in his effort to silence his cries for help.
Lashing out, Doyle fought back with the ferocity of a cornered tiger, biting, kicking, punching for all he was worth. He had surprised them at first and he'd managed to hurt them, but not enough. Blow after blow to his unprotected midriff made him fold over into a protective ball; unable to fight back with any effect, he could barely summon the energy to resist their attempts to pin him to the floor. A hand had grabbed hold of his hair and tugged him down off balance and something very hard and very cold impacted with the side of his head with a sickening crunch; a brilliant, white-hot pain erupted and spread throughout his whole body. He knew he was hurt, but it all hurt so much that he was beyond feeling everything--except the cold floor beneath his bare skin and the heavy pressure across his legs and shoulder. From a long way off he heard Ward's voice, thickened with lust.
"You've hurt your face, Raymond, hurt your pretty face. It's a pity, that is, but never mind--maybe it'll teach you not to be so bloody vain."
And another voice replied, laughing, "Not his face you're interested in!"
There had been a whole lot of laughter then, it was the last sound he remembered. As everything faded away he could only hear the laughter and feel the hard fingers probing him and preparing him for the next, inevitable stage...
Bodie desperately wanted to do something to help but couldn't summon up the strength to move, was too frightened to reach out and touch the shaking man anyway in case it reminded him of another touch.
"Next thing I remember is waking up in Maidstone Hospital about a week later...everything hurt so much it was weeks before I could talk, my jaw was all wired up and everything was so swollen...no one said anything about what Ward had done to me, and I didn't even want to think about it...it was some time before I could talk and then someone from the prison came to take a statement from me...I pretended I couldn't remember...just didn't want to talk about it...was ages before I managed to ask the doctor...just couldn't understand why no one was saying anything. I really want to believe what he said, I mean, there was no reason for him to lie, was there?"
The bleary green gaze was turned on Bodie, who suddenly realised that Doyle wanted him to agree with him. No, Bodie thought, needed
him to agree--but with what? What had he missed?
"Lie about what?"
"He said that I wasn't...that Ward hadn't...that the screws got there just in time to stop him...least that's what he said..."
"Don't you believe him then?"
"I don't know...just don't know...it was going to happen...after all that time with Kingsley it was going to happen...jus' couldn't stop 'im...nothing left...to fight...with...nothing..."
The halting voice whispered to a standstill, the alcohol finally winning the battle. Doyle was asleep.
Numb, Bodie watched empty tumbler slip from Doyle's slackened fingers and fall to the floor.
So, he thought, Doyle had been raped after all. Or had he? The confused, disjointed sentences had showed quite clearly that even Doyle didn't really know. He thought he had been, but the doctor said he hadn't. Maybe the cavalry had arrived in time--and maybe they hadn't! Could the doctor have acted on a misguided impulse and told Doyle a lie, believing Doyle's own lie that he couldn't remember what had happened? Any injury caused by Ward's penetration of the unconscious body would have healed before Doyle had regained his senses a week later.
Slowly, Bodie began to understand that it was the unsolved question of whether or not he'd really been raped that was at the root of Doyle's problems. He'd survived nearly two years of Kingsley's dubious and apparently harmless attentions without cracking up. If Doyle could know for a fact that he wasn't raped--or even that he was--maybe he could stop agonising over it and begin to put the past where it belonged.
Sighing quietly, Bodie eased himself upright and pulled the footstool over towards the other chair, carefully lifting Doyle's legs up onto it, then he propped a cushion under the sleepy head. Stretching cautiously, Bodie reached around to the back of his neck and massaged the annoyingly persistent ache. At least the rigours of the morning had not done too much harm to his still-healing injury, but he knew he wouldn't be comfortable if he tried to sleep in an armchair like Doyle was. Covering the sleeper with a light blanket, Bodie [missing phrase] dressed and making himself some breakfast.
By nine o'clock he'd come to the conclusion that Doyle was probably going to sleep for much of the day. In the last two hours he had only stirred once, and that was to twist around on the chair and burrow down into the soft blanket and cushion. Doyle looked so peaceful, his face free for the first time of the perpetual worry lines around his eyes and mouth, that Bodie didn't have the heart to disturb him.
It was about time they had a day off anyway, Bodie decided, so he telephoned the gymnasium and shooting range to let them know they wouldn't be in today after all.
Midday came and went and Bodie found himself wondering what the hell he was going to do next. He had tidied up the flat as much as possible without making a noise, read the papers, listened to the radio in the bedroom--very quietly--and generally just pottered around his home feeling very much at a loose end. How much longer was the little bugger going to sleep, he wondered.
It was nearly four o'clock before Doyle opened his eyes and saw Bodie, who had finally managed to fall into an uncomfortable, restless doze on the sofa. Very much aware of his pounding head, Doyle cautiously stood and wove none too steadily towards the kitchen. He was so thirsty.
"Stick the kettle on while you're out there," came a sleepy voice from the sofa.
"Didn't mean to wake you, sorry. Tea or coffee?"
"Coffee. How do you feel?"
In reply Doyle just pulled a face and continued his way to the kitchen, emerging a few minutes later with two mugs, one containing very strong, very black coffee.
They sat in awkward silence until Bodie asked how much of the morning's talk Doyle remembered.
"I've never been blessed--or cursed--with alcohol-induced amnesia. Remember everything except falling asleep." There was a quick flash of teeth as Doyle gave a rueful, embarrassed laugh. "Sorry about getting you up so early; what is the time anyway?" He looked up from his bare wrist to the brilliant sunlight outside.
"Four-thirty PM," Bodie said cheerfully. "Almost time to go back to bed again."
"Afternoon? Four-thirty in the afternoon? You mean I've slept..." Doyle stopped, trying to get past his headache and calculated the time involved.
"About nine hours all told. And," Bodie emphasised, "you needed every minute of it. God knows how long it is since you slept that soundly. Apart from which I decided it was about time we had a day off anyway." The glare which accompanied the latter part of his speech defied Doyle even to think that perhaps he was going soft.
"So--what do you fancy doing for what's left of the day?" Bodie asked, determined to spend some time with Doyle, having promised himself during Doyle's sleep that he would at least try and get to know the man he was beginning to accept was going to be his partner.
CI5's most hated man walked calmly into George Cowley's office.
Macklin was the person responsible for getting and keeping the highly trained personnel on their toes; he sharpened their reflexes and fine-honed their deadly skills. To get the best from the men he worked with, he had to force the worst out of them; he probably knew more about what made a CI5 agent tick than anyone--except Cowley himself, of course.
"Morning, sir, Dr Ross, Dr Willis," he acknowledged. "Sorry for being a little tardy but I wanted to watch Doyle's training this morning before coming over."
"How is he coming on?" Cowley asked right away, going straight to the reason for the meeting. They had all been watching Doyle's initial progress and his apparent decline was causing some concern.
"Well..." Macklin said reluctantly, "that's why I'm late. Doyle's performance yesterday was so bad I wanted to see him in action today. I didn't want to judge him by an off day. Bodie rang in about twenty minutes ago and cancelled his booking of the gym and range facilities today."
"What reason did he give?" asked Dr Ross.
"I didn't take the call but I don't think any reason was given, he just cancelled everything."
"Well," Ross smiled the smile of one who has been proved right, "it's no more than I warned you to expect."
"One day does not signify the end of everything, Dr Ross," said Cowley sharply.
"Doyle's physical condition has been going down over the last week, his lethargy and lack of interest in everything around him has been growing more noticeable with each day that passes," Willis chipped in, supporting his colleague.
"Doyle's tired," said Macklin, ignoring the department's medical experts and talking directly to Cowley. "I'll bet my life on it. He's out on his feet he's so tired. Bodie's had him going everywhere at double time and the man just doesn't know whether he's coming or going."
"I did warn you that Doyle's chances of lasting the course were less than favourable. There's a chance we can salvage something, develop his skills to the department's benefit--but as an active agent he is going to be useless," Ross insisted.
"I still feel we should not judge Doyle too hastily. You told me he would need time to readjust and I am still prepared to give him that time if I think the end result is going to be worthwhile," Cowley said firmly.
"I am also concerned about Bodie." Ross spoke earnestly, trying to convince Cowley of the futility of his efforts. "He is also under pressure; you've forced this pairing on him against my advice. Bodie is not suited to one to one partnerships."
"You said Doyle needed to be pushed, prodded into action and away from apathy." Cowley waited for Ross to agree. "Bodie, to my mind, was the ideal choice."
"William Bodie is an insensitive, callous, immoral thug and surely no one's idea of a perfect solution," Ross said forcefully, her eyes glittering angrily.
"There is no call for you to bring your personal feelings about Bodie into this, Dr Ross," Cowley rapped out, putting the psychiatrist firmly in her place. "I have the final word on these matters and I stand by what I have previously stated. Until I say otherwise, Bodie and Doyle will remain as a teamed pair. I still think it is too early to write Doyle off. On your own advice, Dr Ross, we agreed a twelve-week training period. Any final decision will wait until after that."
"I think that's fair," said Macklin. "It's only reasonable to accept a small backsliding. So far Doyle's doing exceptionally well."
"But Bodie has cancelled today's training," persisted Ross. "That's not backsliding, that's giving up. Bodie has pushed too hard, too fast, and Doyle has gone under--"
"It's quite obvious that as things stand today we cannot clearly judge Doyle's future worth to CI5. I suggest we adjourn this meeting until next Tuesday, a week from today. Then we will know whether Doyle has in fact given up, or if today is merely a hiccup."
"I disagree that the facts are not clear now, but I can't see that seven days more will make much difference," Ross said sourly.
"Sounds fair enough," Macklin agreed.
"A week--long enough to show further decline, or improvement," said Willis.
So late in the day Bodie had no trouble finding a space in the car park.
"I was going to suggest it would be a good idea for you to do the driving for the next few weeks," Bodie said as he switched off the ignition. "But somehow I don't think you'd pass a breathalyser test right now. Perhaps we'll start that tomorrow."
A pair of bloodshot eyes and a very pale, pasty-looking face turned towards him. "Tomorrow?" Doyle said softly. "You reckon I'm gonna live that long?"
"Still feeling bad?"
"You could say that."
"C'mon then," Bodie said cheerfully. "A walk round the park and some fresh air in your lungs will soon blow the cobwebs away."
Bodie, full of energy after being cooped indoors all day, set off at a brisk pace, leaving Doyle no choice but to follow. Turning back to watch his partner's unenthusiastic progress, Bodie shouted, "How about a go out on the boats?"
"Spoilsport," replied Bodie. "Why not? Fancy a quick row around the lake, I do."
"No," said Doyle a little more firmly.
"Why not?" persisted Bodie.
"Because I feel sick enough already and I don't fancy bobbing about in a wooden boat just so you can pretend you're Captain Bligh."
"Bad sailor, huh?"
"Yes," said Doyle shortly, then softened his tone slightly. "Get seasick on the Woolwich Ferry, I do."
"You always this ratty when you're hungover?" Bodie enquired cheekily, the light in his eyes making it impossible for Doyle to think he was being serious.
"Dunno," Doyle replied, then laughed. "Can't remember ever drinking so much so quickly before." His face twisted into a wry smile. "Can't remember ever feeling this awful either." He rubbed a hand across his stomach and shook his head--carefully.
After two circuits of the lake and a wander through the deserted children's play area, Bodie decided that even if Doyle hadn't had enough fresh air, he had. The sun was rapidly going down and the little warmth that the autumn day held was going with it.
He looked across at Doyle, who was perched on the axis of the see-saw and looking across the lawns at a couple of boys playing tag on their bicycles. Since waking up, Doyle had been in a strange mood and Bodie found he was not sure how to cope with him. Over the weeks he had grown accustomed to the monosyllabic answers, and had almost given up hoping for some friendly, two-way conversations; Doyle spoke when he was spoken to, but today...Bodie struggled to pinpoint the difference. Doyle was still quiet, still unwilling to initiate conversation but somehow he seemed more...approachable, as if he was trying to let Bodie know that he wanted to talk, wouldn't mind talking--but just didn't know where or how to start.
"How do you feel about a hair of the dog?" Bodie asked. "I know a nice little boozer over the back of the park."
"It's a bit early, won't be open yet, will it?"
"Not far off opening time. Let's make an evening of it, grab a pizza first and then go on to the pub if you feel up to it." Bodie was reluctant to return to his flat, suddenly aware that once through the front door, Doyle would make for his bolt-hole and this new openness would be lost.
"A pizza?" Doyle thought about it. "Sounds more inviting than raw steak and bloody chips." It wasn't until he heard Bodie's deep chuckle that he realised he had voiced his thought.
"You knockin' my cooking?" asked Bodie, his whole attitude showing that he didn't really mind if Doyle was.
"Well...no...yes, I bloody well am." Doyle finally discovered a little bit of lost courage. "You're the worst cook I've ever met--and I've met some bad ones in my time. Can't you cook anything else? Is raw steak and oven chips all you can do?"
"No," Bodie protested, trying to look wounded by Doyle's scathing criticism and failing. "Rustle up a lovely sausage, egg and chips; bacon, egg and chips; bacon sandwich; sausage sandwich--"
"Okay, okay, I get the picture," laughed Doyle. "I thought Ann was bad but you're even worse. Come on, then, where's this pizza house? My stomach's beginning to remember what it's for."
Bodie led the way--wondered who Ann was.
In the restaurant, Bodie flirted shamelessly with the two waitresses. It was still only early evening and apart from themselves and a young couple in the opposite corner, the place was empty. As he joked and laughed with the girls, Bodie couldn't help but notice Doyle's withdrawal. It was clear that neither of the girls objected to Bodie's attentions but the younger, smaller one of the two kept smiling invitingly at the silent half of the handsome duo, almost begging him to join in the fun so she could respond to him too.
Bodie eked the meal out as long as he could, giving Doyle a chance to thaw, but at last conceded defeat and paid the bill.
As they left the restaurant, Doyle tried to avoid catching Bodie's eye. He knew that the girl had been trying to flirt with him, and he knew Bodie knew it too. Eventually the awkward silence became too much for him.
"Okay," he said, finally looking at Bodie and acknowledging his failure, "maybe my technique had got a little rusty. Hell!" Doyle said explosively, kicking a crushed Coke tin along the pavement, "'s been so long since I had to chat a girl up, think I've forgotten how. It's been longer than you think, too," he said, looking sideways at Bodie. "Haven't pulled my, 'What are you doing tonight, darling?' routine out of me bottom drawer for..." he paused frowned as he tried to work out the time involved, "...bloody hell, nearly four and a half years."
"Oh. Go in for celibacy, do you?"
"Nah. Fidelity...for all the good it did me." The tin received another, harder, kick which sent it scuttering noisily along the pavement and into the gutter.
"Married?" Bodie asked, knowing full well that Doyle wasn't. He knew he wouldn't have missed that bit of information.
"Almost," Doyle replied quietly, his voice softened by remembered sadness. "Didn't quite make it to the altar." The jaunty voice was at odds with the sad eyes, and Bodie couldn't contain his curiosity.
"I got arrested."
There were times in his life that Bodie felt he could do without a brain, his mouth seemed to get along just fine without one.
They'd reached the pub by now and made themselves comfortable in a quiet corner, Bodie filling the stiff lull with getting the drinks.
"No thanks," said Doyle in response to Bodie's suggested refreshment, "I'll have a lemonade...Coke...anything long and cool but not alcoholic."
Returning with two pint jugs, one filled with beer and the other with Coke, Bodie sat back on the bench seat, furious with himself for ruining the smooth flow of conversation.
"Wasn't Ann's fault," Doyle said into the quiet. "Can't really blame her, she was only doing what she thought for the best. With her mother saying one thing and all the evidence backing her up, I didn't stand a chance."
"Ah," said Bodie cautiously, not wanting to break the reflective mood Doyle was in, "up against her mother, were you?"
"Fancied her as a mother-in-law about as much as she fancied me for a son-in-law."
"Bad, was she?"
"Bad!" Doyle took a long pull at the Coke, then smiled at Bodie as he remembered her. "Doesn't even begin to describe her." He laughed, a sharp brittle sound. "Mrs Harrison felt that Ann had rather let the family down when she got mixed up with me--if I'd been an inspector or something even higher I would've been a little more acceptable, but a poor, lowly detective constable was rather scraping the barrel. Bit on the high and mighty side was dear old Constance. She thought the end of the world had come when Ann and I started living together...just about cracked up when I got arrested."
"Where's Ann now, still around, is she?"
"I didn't see her outside the gates ready to fall into my arms. Did you?" Doyle said sourly. "Sunday matinee stuff--and not exactly Ann's style."
For all the bitterness in Doyle's voice, Bodie was certain he detected a hint of a crushed dream that just maybe Ann might have been there.
"Couldn't have been, could she mate?" Bodie pointed out. "Even you didn't know you were getting out."
"She wouldn't have been there anyway." Doyle didn't look up from his examination of the condensation on his jug. "Didn't exactly get the 'love you forever' routine when I went down. Didn't go to the trial or even visit me. I got a few letters...but that was all...couldn't even convince her I was innocent."
"How long were you together?"
"'bout...eighteen months, actually lived together for about a year of that."
"And she didn't believe you?"
"Had trouble convincing anyone, didn't I," Doyle said mockingly. "Judge and jury included. There were even times when I wondered if I wasn't going insane and forgetting that I really was guilty."
"Didn't anyone believe you?"
Doyle thought about it carefully, his face growing bleaker.
"Oh yeah, Mike Behan believed me--but when you think about it that's not so surprising--and my mum believed me. At least...she said she did...but then I never had much trouble convincing her black was white..." Doyle's voice trailed off and Bodie tried to imagine all the trauma Doyle had gone through, cut off completely from all emotional support.
"Must have been pretty rough," Bodie said, feeling hopelessly inadequate.
"It got rougher." There was no bitterness in Doyle's voice. It was a fact, not very pleasant and not very nice, but a fact nonetheless.
"What happened to Ann then?"
"Went to America with Mummy and her stepfather to recover from a broken heart."
Bodie knew that he didn't like Ann and fervently hoped that he'd never meet her--or else she was likely to end up with more than just a broken heart!
"What about your Mum, told her the good news yet?" He didn't understand the sudden anger that flared in the baleful green eyes.
"Why not? Should've told her weeks ago."
"I didn't tell her because I don't care much for Spiritualism," Doyle said flatly, his voice chillingly devoid of all emotion. "She's dead. Died just after I was transferred to Maidstone." Across the small table Doyle found he couldn't meet Bodie's probing gaze any more and dropped his eyes to look at the bubbles in his drink. He could feel his helpless anger welling up inside him and he desperately wanted to keep his mouth shut--stop talking--but as it had earlier this morning, everything just overflowed and all his hurt poured out. "My Dad died about ten years ago and that leaves John, my brother. He hates my guts because he's always hated my guts and because it's all my fault that Mum died. The shame," he said bitterly. "To hear him talk you'd think I never brought anything but shame on Mum and the family. It was bad enough that I broke Dad's heart because I refused to join the family business, rejecting the last, god-knows-how-many generations of Doyle traditions, and
living in sin with someone who was worth ten of his bloody stupid wife, Carole. But--getting put away for something I didn't do and thumping hell out of some stupid, pea-brained, jumped-up screw who had a down on me and half of the bloody world was, according to the Book of John Doyle, the final straw. The fact that she had a massive stroke and was dead before she hit the ground had nothing to do with it. It's all my
Every head in the small bar turned their way and Doyle suddenly realised he was shouting. The angry flush on his cheeks deepened and he quietly subsided back down onto his stool, pointedly ignoring everyone.
There really wasn't much more that Bodie could say after that and, wisely, he didn't even try. He downed his drink and went back to the bar, returning with half a pint for himself, a bottle of lemonade and two packets of crisps; he dumped them down on the table hard, the noise waking Doyle from his daydreams. "I'm going to play the fruit machines," he said, jumping up.
"Try the Space Invaders. You still need the target practice," Bodie replied.
In deference to the two elderly women seated at a nearby table, Doyle used a graphic visual display rather than a verbal retort to convey his reaction to Bodie's suggestion.
Sitting himself down at their table, Bodie watched Doyle root around in his pockets for some loose change, then slip a ten pence coin into the slot. The metal clunk and soft whirr sounded loud in the early evening lull in the pub; it would be another hour or so before the place began to fill up. Bodie was feeling very tired, and his neck was beginning to ache. Another coin was fed into the machine and he wondered how much longer Doyle would want to stay here. Bodie leant back on the hard bench, arching his spine and closing his eyes against the tiredness and painful tingles. The continuous thunk-chunk-chink made him open his eyes again, and he watched as coin after coin was spat out of the machine into the tray.
"It's hit the jackpot! Hey, Bodie," Doyle shouted gleefully, "it's hit the jackpot!"
In the corner of the bar, the balding man who had only just walked away from the machine hit his head on the bar-top and groaned aloud his misfortune. The tray was almost full and Ray was scooping up handfuls of ten pence pieces, shoving them into his pockets.
"Here," he pushed a handful towards Bodie, "put some in your pockets, I'm running out of room."
The machine finally stopped regurgitating silver.
"How much is it? No--no more," Bodie protested. "You'll make my pockets go all baggy."
"Dunno, let's see..." Doyle peered at the front of the machine. "Flippin' 'eck, it's thirty quid!"
The bald man groaned even louder.
"Have you got any room left for this?" Doyle asked, peering into Bodie's already-full pockets. Pushing Doyle off, Bodie backed away, leaving about ten pounds' worth of silver still sitting in the tray.
"Barman," called Doyle, "a drink for everyone in the house. I'm payin'."
Bodie winced at the terrible John Wayne impersonation, then smiled as he saw the beaming faces scattered around the pub. The ten pounds quickly vanished, but there was still enough to buy Doyle another lemonade and put something in the charity box. Recalling Cowley's lecture on the terrible life a breathalysed agent could expect, Bodie declined another drink but attacked the crisps with relish.
Once the fuss and excitement had died down, Doyle lifted his glass of lemonade as if he was about to propose a toast.
"I've played those machines for years and I've never won a jackpot before. You know, Bodie, I think that maybe my luck's changing. Cheers!"
Bodie smiled back into the animated, happy face.
I dunno, mate, he thought, you've been shut away for three years, persecuted, pestered and practically raped, your fiancee's emigrated, your mother's died and your brother hates your guts--all things considered, your luck couldn't get much worse!
"Cheers!" said Bodie.
By two o'clock the next morning Bodie was beginning to wonder how he could have been so wrong. He was so tired he hurt, every nerve and muscle in his body was crying out for sleep, sleep that was made impossible as Doyle's entreaties and pathetic cries wafted along the darkened hallway.
After all the talking they had done Bodie had hoped that the dreams would fade away--but it was not to be. The harsh voice reached a peak, then cut off abruptly and he knew Doyle was awake. Bodie was too tired to talk any more and he guessed that simply talking wasn't going to solve anything just yet, but he had to get some sleep.
Hauling himself out of bed, he made for the spare room, wondering what Doyle was going to make of his suggestion.
"Did I wake you again? Sorry," said Doyle quietly in response to Bodie's perfunctory knock as he stuck his head around the door.
"You okay?" Bodie asked, blinking against the brightness of the table lamp.
"Fine, just fine!" replied Doyle, his voice laden with heavy irony.
"I've got an idea that might work," Bodie offered cautiously. "It's doing neither of us any good being wide awake half the night, is it?"
"No," agreed Doyle warily, half suspecting he was going to be told to go and sleep on a park bench until morning.
"If we could wake you up before the dream gets a proper hold on you, we could both settle back down to sleep a lot easier, couldn't we?"
I could wake up. Do you think I don't want to?" Doyle snapped back. "I'd love to wake up if I could--but I can't."
"I could wake you up as soon as you start moaning."
"How?" Doyle asked incredulously. "You goin' to install one of those two-way baby alarms and whisper soothing words into it every night?"
"I'll just lean over and dig you in the ribs."
"Do you think you're Twizzle or something? Got an extendable arm shoved up your sleeve, have you?"
"No. You come into my room, share my bed--"
"Get lost!" exploded Doyle.
"It beats traipsing up and down the hall twice a night. If you've got a better idea, let's hear it."
"Come on, Doyle," Bodie said calmly. "It's the best idea I've had in ages, and who knows, it might even work."
"I'm not gettin' in your bed!" Doyle's eyes were wide with alarm and he hung on to the bedclothes as if he thought Bodie was going to drag him forcibly to his bed.
"Partners," Bodie said firmly, "have to help each other. You trust me, don't you?" Doyle didn't answer and Bodie watched him carefully. "Look mate, I've never had to force anyone to get into bed with me and I'm not going to start now. The only reason I want you in my bed is so I can get a decent night's sleep. Believe me, Raymond, you have absolutely none of the qualities I look for in a friendly bedmate." Bodie looked over the parts of Doyle not covered by the sheet. "You're too hairy by half, and
too skinny, apart from which you've got too much of the wrong equipment and not enough of the right." Bodie laughed, relieved and pleased to see some of the taut control in Doyle's body ease a little.
"I'm pleased to hear that at least," Doyle said wryly. "Was beginning to think I was irresistible."
"I can resist you, don't worry your head about that. Now are you coming--'cause I'm freezing my balls off out here," Bodie complained.
There was a heavy sigh before he was answered.
"Okay, but I can't see it's going to make any difference."
"We'll see, we'll see," Bodie said encouragingly as Doyle slowly began to get out of his bed. A sudden thought made Bodie shoot back along the hall and into his bedroom and start pulling drawer after drawer before pouncing on a pair of pyjamas. He usually slept in the raw but he supposed Doyle would feel happier with two thicknesses of material between them.
"Good lord, which hospital did you nick those from?"
Doyle's voice made Bodie look down at his candy-striped, cotton trousers before shrugging his shoulders.
"Can't remember now, I've had them for years."
"Looks like it."
Doyle stood by the door and looked around the room, seeing it for the first time. Like the rest of the flat it was tastefully luxurious, his bare feet sinking into the soft pile carpet as his gaze fell on the king-size bed that dominated the room.
Trying to feel comfortable in the loose pyjama bottoms, Bodie climbed back into the bed, snuggling down straight away.
"Come on, Ray, I'm not going to bite you," he said softly.
There was no reply, but Bodie heard Doyle cross the room and felt the bed dip and sway as he got under the covers. After a few minutes Bodie broke the silence.
"Do you always sleep flat on your back as stiff as a board?"
Again there was no answer but the bed shook as Doyle shifted his position.
"Will you do me a favour?" asked Bodie.
"What?" Doyle's voice was tight and full of suspicion.
"Turn the light off, please."
Doyle reached out to click off the lamp on his side of the bed and the room was plunged into darkness.
The swift rise of panic was halted by near superhuman effort but Doyle managed to force himself to talk normally.
"It's a bit hot in here, do you mind if I open a window?"
"Window's open already," Bodie mumbled into his pillow.
"Open it a bit more then, 's awfully hot in here."
The lamp was switched back on and Doyle was halfway to the window by the time Bodie's sixth sense told him something was wrong. It was not that hot.
Throwing the heavy, lined curtains back, Doyle almost fainted with relief when the light from the street lamps hit his face. Since that first attack of claustrophobia in his own room a few weeks ago he had discovered that blanket darkness was just as terrifying. All the time he could see, he was all right. In the darkness he knew that every second could bring the first groping touch of hot, sweaty, loathsome hands...
"You all right?" asked Bodie from his propped-up position in the bed, puzzled by Doyle's behaviour [missing line] not even attempting to open the casement.
"Yeah, fine. I'm fine." His relief at finding an outside light made Doyle forget his initial excuse and he made his way back to the bed without opening the window any further but leaving the drapes drawn back.
This time when the light clicked off, the room remained dimly lit by an amber glow from the street. Bodie opened his mouth to complain about the irritating light but shut it again firmly, swallowing the words before he uttered them.
No, he told himself. He couldn't be--could he? Scared of the dark--ridiculous! But what other explanation could there be? He was asleep before he came up with another answer.
The banging of a door woke him up next morning, and Bodie reluctantly opened his eyes. He would have sworn before Cowley and God that he'd only closed them seconds ago, but the bright sunlight pouring through the uncurtained windows told him it would be a pointless exercise.
The bed beside him was empty. That meant the sound he'd heard was probably Doyle going for his morning jog...the new sound of running water and unmistakable hiss/thunder from the shower made him alter that to returning from his morning jog.
They were in the car, with Doyle in the driving seat, before any mention was made of the previous night.
"You still look terrible," Bodie said. "How well did you sleep?"
Not taking his eyes off the road, Doyle replied, "Not very," but then he flicked a quick smile across the car. "Did you know you snore? I'm surprised your neighbours don't complain."
"That explains why I've never been invited onto the Residents' Committee. Next time just dig me in the ribs to shut me up."
Next time. The words had just slipped out but Bodie knew he meant it.
"How were you last night--no more dreams?"
"Did you actually go to sleep?" Bodie asked doubtfully.
"Off and on, just sort of dozed really."
"Because of me?"
"No...I don't know...perhaps... I always feel uneasy about going straight to sleep after..." Doyle admitted quietly.
"We'll try sharing a bit longer, it might help if I can wake you up before you get too..."
"I appreciate what you're trying to do but I don't want to start sleeping in your bed every night. I know you didn't even want to share the flat with me, so don't pretend you're happy about sharing your bed."
"Cut it out, Doyle," Bodie barked irritably. "Don't try dodging out on this. You'll be sleeping in my bed until I say otherwise. We both need some decent sleep and you being within arm's reach so I can poke you in the ribs is how we're going to get it. Okay?"
Jerking the car to an abrupt emergency stop that would have delighted any driving instructor, Doyle missed the suicidal dog and changed the subject.
Under the watchful eyes of Jack Prescott, Doyle carefully snipped the red wire.
"No, no!" Prescott groaned. "With this type of detonator you must always cut the wire leading from the timer to the detonator. If this was for real we'd be scraping you up into a bucket right now. Try again."
Another mock incendiary device was placed on the table and Prescott began his commentary.
"That's it...feel it with your fingertips. Unless you've got a date with an angel never, never rush opening any device. Tease it. That's it. No! No, gently--gently
! That's better. Now check the detonator, identify the type. Now the explosive. The casing, Doyle, check the casing! Remember what I said about booby traps. Right, now choose your wire. Steady. Well done!"
Prescott glanced over the downbent head and caught sight of Bodie loitering at the back of the room.
"Come to take him away, have you?"
"If you've taught him all you know, yes." Bodie smiled as Doyle looked round at him.
"Well, he's tried. Red wires, blue wires, trip wires--what the hell's the Bomb Squad for?" Doyle asked peevishly.
"No one expects you to be an expert, Doyle," Prescott said. "It's just that you Glory Boys have a habit of getting to these little nasties first. I'm here to make sure you can identify the type and immediate danger. On the spot you'll have to decide whether you've time to evacuate the place and call the bomb squad, but one day you just might have to defuse it yourself--and you'll only get one chance."
"Point taken," said Doyle seriously.
"I'll want him back for another session, Bodie. He's still a bit shaky on the smaller devices, nothing a bit of practice won't help though. I'll give you a call in a few days and arrange a time, okay?" As he was speaking, Prescott was gathering his tools and equipment together.
"Oh, Doyle," he handed over a small metal object, "a present for you. The ideal agent's kit: screwdriver, knife, scissors, tin opener and corkscrew. The owner of one of these little gadgets is prepared for every eventuality."
Prescott dropped the shapeless piece of metal into Doyle's hand and then picked up his holdall and left, pausing only long enough to acknowledge Doyle's thanks.
"Neat little thing, isn't it." The two men examined the device, testing the various functions.
"You feel fit?" Bodie asked as Doyle tested the scissors on a piece of wire.
"I've arranged a session in the gym, rounded up a couple of the lads to give you a tryout."
The new toy was folded up and they made for gymnasium.
"Where are you going?" Bodie asked as Doyle went to turn down a corridor.
"Changing room--to change!"
"Not this time, street clothes, street situation. This time it's not just an exercise."
"What do you mean?" Doyle asked warily.
"I know you're fit--well, fitter than you were to start with, and I know you know the basics, in practice you're good, but fights rarely happen on gym mats between people who really only want to test your strength. So today, if you don't want to get hurt, you'll have to fight properly."
They reached the door to the gym and the first thing Doyle saw was the sudden flare of appraisal in the eyes of the three men waiting for him, but none of them made a move towards him though they all greeted Bodie warmly.
"Wondered where you'd been hiding yourself," said the sleek black man.
"Trust you to wangle a cushy little number, 3.7," joked the tall, fair-haired one.
"This it then?" The last man jerked his head in Doyle's direction. "All three of us!" The richly even voice rose in astonishment as he looked Doyle over. "You sure he's up to it? Get seven years for manslaughter, you know!"
Doyle's back stiffened at the ridicule and his temper rose a fraction.
"Doyle, meet Murphy, Jax and Williams. He's all yours, lads."
Bodie placed a hard hand in the middle of Doyle's back and shoved him into the centre of the room.
The relaxed languor vanished; suddenly the smiling men were gone, replaced by stealthy, hard-muscled predators seeking their prey--Doyle!
Circled by the men, Doyle kept on his toes, turning, checking, waiting for them to make their move. At first they came one at a time, testing him, his reflexes, his aggression, then they speeded up the pace, allowing him less recovery time and then no recovery time.
"Come on, Doyle," Bodie shouted from the sidelines. "Fight them. Hurt them--they're hurting you! Stop holding back. Knee the bugger's balls. Follow it through. You got him down, now keep him there. Show some aggression. Hit him, you fool, don't tickle him--hit him! And again! Harder..."
Jax, Murphy and Williams kept coming; they were all sweating and showing some damage and through it all Doyle kept hearing Bodie's voice, the criticism and scathing comments steadily burning through his self-control.
"Are you fighting or dancing? No--no! Hit him! Get up, you idiot, can't fight flat on your back. Bloody well saw that coming! Surprise them, surprise us all. Be unpredictable, you fool. No--unpredictable, I said. Don't let them know...oh, I give up. Put some life into it, don't just lie there--get up..."
Doyle staggered to his feet, clutching at his stomach trying to hold the pain in and blinking away the pinpoints of bright light. They weren't playing, these friends of Bodie's. This was no technically perfect, freefall bout--more of a free-for-all. He kicked out sharply, caught one of his opponents dead centre, and was wholly satisfied with the softness that folded around his foot. One down, two to go!
"About time, too!" cheered Bodie. "Hurry up, they've only got half an hour left before Cowley wants them in the briefing room. If you make 'em late they won't like you, Doyle. Come on--move a bit faster. Get in first, you prat, shove him down. That's better, Doyle! Attack! They'll keep coming until you're down or they're down."
The tall, fair-haired man was the next to go; a hard chop in the ribs followed by a short, sharp kick made him stay down. Only the black man remained and the two men circled each other, dancing on their toes, watching, waiting for a wrong move and an opening.
"Well done, you're learning! Now, forget all about the Marquis of Queensbury, use anything to get an advantage--if you won't, he will!"
Jax leapt forward and for a second there was a flurry of fists and swift grunts as skin and bone met forcibly. Then they broke apart, neither having gained any advantage.
"Even a blind man would have seen that coming, Doyle. Be purposely unpredictable! Don't let him outguess you. Surprise is nine-tenths of winning. Attack him first. Don't wait--hit him. Stop backing off, go forward!"
Over a haze of exhaustion and pain the critical monologue continued. The comments weren't a bit helpful--in fact they were a distraction; a bit like a persistent fly buzzing in your ear, Doyle thought suddenly. What do you do with a pesky fly, he asked himself--swat it, of course!
When the end came it took Bodie completely unawares. He had been looking over at Murphy and Williams, who were straightening themselves out at the far side of the gym; he did not see the two men dancing closer and closer as Doyle backed towards him, nor the light of anticipated victory in the rich brown eyes of Jax, premature and unfulfilled anticipation as Doyle, with the speed of light, changed the focus of his attack, grabbed the unsuspecting Bodie by his arm and swung him around, using his hip as an axis, lifting Bodie off his feet and throwing him bodily at Jax, diving in and catching the winded man with a decisive neck chop which successfully kept him down.
"Well done, Doyle."
The words of praise made him spin round ready to fight again, but the other two men held up their hands.
"No thanks, mate, enough is enough," said Murphy as he rubbed his stomach.
Williams extended a hand to help Jax up while Murphy assisted Bodie to his feet. "You weren't exactly straight with us, Bodie, so I reckon you deserved that."
"Too bloody right! Next time you want someone to test Doyle out--don't call us!"
"Be purposely unpredictable--you sound as bad as Macklin," said Murphy. "Are you sure you're not gunning for his job?"
"Who's after my job?"
Macklin's silent arrival took them all by surprise.
"Er--Bodie here, Mac," said Murphy, "seeing as how he's doing such a good job with Doyle..."
"And bearing in mind that memo the Home Sec. put out about early retirement," chipped in Williams.
"We thought Bodie might be after a cushy number," finished Jax.
"A cushy number, aye," said Macklin carefully. "Well, if any of you want to apply for the post of my assistant I'll be only too happy to run through a few training programmes with you."
"Wouldn't want to put you to any bother, Mac."
"I'll pass this time."
"Thanks for the offer but I hear the Cow wants someone to sharpen his pencils."
It was a very hasty and inelegant retreat, but in seconds, only Bodie, Doyle and Macklin were left in the room.
"I hadn't heard that Willis had cleared you, Bodie," Macklin said, concerned by the way Bodie was holding himself and massaging his neck.
"Er...he hasn't," admitted Bodie, as he meekly submitted to Macklin's order to sit down, while the beefy instructor began to manipulate the tension Doyle's throw had caused in his healing and almost-forgotten injury.
"Then what the hell are you doing playing silly buggers in the gym? You know as well as I do that the doctor has to clear you before recommending training after a serious injury," snapped Macklin.
Doyle listened to the exchange with growing guilt. Serious injury? He hadn't known Bodie was hurt.
"There's no harm done," Bodie said hurriedly as he recognised the dawning expression in Doyle's eyes. "Doyle just took me by surprise, he was just--"
"Being purposely unpredictable," finished Macklin. "Don't go stealing my lines, Bodie. Invent your own! And I saw what happened." Macklin turned towards Doyle. "You're getting better but until you learn to attack, you're not going anywhere. Forget the police, forget all about minimum force for maximum effort. The people you'll be going after eat policemen for breakfast. You've got to get in first, don't wait for the trouble to start, get in first and finish it quick."
Macklin's hard gaze bored straight through Doyle's uncertain defences; this was no oft-repeated textbook lesson, this was the voice of experience. Doyle had known that CI5 was very different from the police but all his training up till this moment had held a slightly unreal air; he had been taught to shoot, fight, defuse bombs, even make them, and he'd been filled with hundreds and hundreds of relevant facts, names, places, policies, politics, but it had been like adults' version of the spy game he'd played with his friends all those years ago...suddenly, Macklin had made it very, very real.
Macklin saw the spark of awareness flicker into life in Doyle's eyes and knew instinctively that the young man had finally woken up to reality. Maybe now
they would get somewhere.
"That's enough for today, boys," was all he said though. "Bodie, if your neck's bothering you, see Dr Willis, don't forget you've got your own retraining period coming up in a few weeks and I don't want you back until you're one hundred percent fit."
Macklin's friendly but unrelenting gaze quashed any comments Bodie might have wished to make.
"Doyle," Macklin turned back to the other man, "you're to see Dr Willis on Monday afternoon, aren't you?" Doyle nodded in agreement. "Well, keep an eye on Bodie. If you think his injury is still causing him discomfort make sure you tell the doctor. When it comes to the medical fraternity our friend here becomes positively tongue-tied."
Bodie denied it of course, at some length, but Doyle was left with the impression that Macklin had not been lying. But a serious injury? Doyle wondered exactly what was wrong with Bodie, and how badly he had been hurt. How had he been hurt--and how come he hadn't noticed? Tagging along behind Bodie and Macklin, Doyle followed them out of the gym and along the corridors, down towards the private bar at the rear of the building. He wasn't surprised to see his three opponents standing there, nor other familiar faces he'd seen at HQ; this small, noisy little haven from the rest of the world seemed to be exclusively for the use of CI5 personnel.
Once the loud routine of, 'Hi, hellos' was over with and their drinks were in front of them, Doyle managed to slip to the back of the crowd where he sat, watching and listening.
A sudden commotion at the door caused every head in the room to swing around in time to catch the spectacular entrance of four vigorous and energetic if slightly scruffy-looking young men.
"The hero of the moment returns," one of them yelled at the top of his voice.
"Heroes," corrected one of the group as he playfully swatted his companion on the back of his head. "We were all there as well."
"All wrapped up is it," asked a voice from the crowd around the bar.
"Go well, did it?" asked another voice.
"Like a dream," answered one of the four.
"Right, lads," announced a booming voice that any parade ground RSM would be proud to possess, "anyone with any outstanding expense chits should take advantage of the Cow's benevolent mood."
"How'd the Old Man take the news?"
The four men walked, unhampered, to the bar, puffing their chests up and almost cooing with contentment.
"Offered us all a drop of his best malt."
In the shocked but respectful silence that followed that announcement Bodie was heard to ask which drawer Cowley had removed the famous bottle from.
"Top drawer, of course!"
"Sorry, mate," Bodie said as he broke the news gently, "but he keeps the really
good stuff in the third drawer down."
The room erupted into good-humoured uproar as the newcomers were welcomed into the crowd and the details of their successful job were pored over with great interest. The post mortem carried on for an hour or so and Doyle used the relaxed, free and easy atmosphere to good advantage. A subtle question here, a delicate manoeuvring of conversation there, and he managed to learn quite a bit about his partner. He took it all in, filing all the little comments and anecdotes away until he had time to go over them properly. After nearly six weeks he was surprised that there was so much he didn't know about Bodie.
Driving home, he thought over what he had learned. Bodie was well-liked and respected, though more than one person had hinted at some unpleasant sides to his nature. Good for a laugh and a great one for the girls, apparently--not that either trait had shown itself in the last six weeks; apart from that one night out with Ruth Pettifer, Bodie had stayed in every night. Because of me, Doyle thought guiltily.
The most important facts Doyle had learned, though, were quite interesting. Without asking direct questions--because he had not wanted to appear obviously curious or concerned--Doyle discovered that he was the first person Cowley had tried teaming with Bodie. For the last two years, Bodie had been a solo agent--and by all accounts, one of the best Cowley had--until four months ago when he had taken a fall through a skylight and come close to breaking his neck. For a few days there had been a big question hanging over Bodie's future; CI5 had no room for cripples. But with the luck of the devil, Bodie had apparently bounced back and was as good as new--almost!
Watching the traffic up ahead, Doyle managed to catch Bodie stealthily rubbing his neck when he thought he couldn't be seen.
"I'm sorry about aggravating it. You should've told me, though, I'd no idea you weren't fit."
Realising he had been caught out, Bodie stopped pretending and gave his neck a proper, hard rub.
"Nah, 's not your fault. Hardly feel it all now except when I'm tired. I'll be okay by the time Macklin's ready for me."
"When will that be?"
"Another four weeks. We'll both be ready for him then."
The certainty in Bodie's voice made Doyle look round, smiling.
"You think I'm going to make the grade, then?"
"With me teaching you, you can't fail."
Doyle was beginning to recognise that smug, superior tone.
"You don't mind being lumbered with a partner then?" Doyle parked the car and switched the ignition off. "...or with me?" he added quietly.
"How d'you mean?"
"Someone said that you'd told Cowley you had no intention of being partnered by anyone--that you work best solo."
"Someone's got a slack mouth," said Bodie slowly as he digested what Doyle was asking him.
Ever since he'd looked up from his talk with Lucas and McCabe about the operation and seen Doyle joining in with the conversation and relaxed atmosphere of the clubroom, he'd known something was coming up. It was the first time he'd seen Doyle initiate a conversation with anyone--when he'd heard his name mentioned once or twice he had suspected that at long last Doyle had begun to be curious about him.
It had pleased him to see Doyle was finally taking notice of other people and he wasn't bothered at what any of his colleagues might say about him--they only knew what he wanted them to know anyway--but he hadn't considered how his initial loud and indiscreet reluctance to take on a partner could undermine Doyle's slowly awakening self-confidence. There was nothing like knowing you were unwanted to make you feel even more unwanted than you already thought you were.
"But after all the time and trouble I've taken gettin' you this far I'll be buggered if I'm letting someone else step in and reap the benefit!"
As they walked into the building, Bodie wondered how something just said out loud on the spur of the moment could possibly be so true. He really meant it! Doyle was going to be his partner whether he liked it or not. Apart from appearing rather unimpressed by Bodie's ambiguous answer to his question, Doyle made no comment and, as Bodie had suspected he would, vanished into his own bedroom at the earliest opportunity.
Much later that evening Bodie showered in readiness for bed and then donned the awful, candy-striped trousers again before padding down the hall to Doyle's bedroom. He knocked and walked in to find Doyle already sitting up in bed reading a book.
"I'm ready," Bodie said firmly, "and I don't like being disturbed once I'm comfortable."
"So?" said Doyle, unhelpfully.
"So--you're in the wrong bed, aren't you!" Bodie knew Doyle had not forgotten and guessed that he was probably hoping Bodie would.
"Don't you think you're carrying this 'partners' thing a bit too far?"
"For christ's sake, we're working partners, I'm not married to you or anything, there's nothing in the contract that says I have to sleep with you!" Doyle protested.
"I'm not suggesting you're to love, honour and obey me--just obey and trust me. Now, come on!"
It was a complaining and reluctant man that followed Bodie back along the hallway to the dimly lit bedroom.
"Make yourself comfortable," Bodie instructed. "I'll be back in a sec," then he disappeared in the direction of the kitchen.
Doyle took advantage of his absence to open the curtains, hoping that if Bodie noticed, he wouldn't think it strange.
When he returned Bodie saw the opened curtains immediately but chose not to comment, trusting his own ability to wheedle the truth from his close-mouthed companion in time.
The second night started out quite promisingly as Doyle, worn out by successive interrupted, disturbed nights and prolonged sessions in the gymnasium and class rooms, fell asleep almost immediately. For some time Bodie found himself lying in the semi-darkness listening to the soft breathing beside him; a relaxing, hypnotic sound which gradually eased him, unknowing, into sleep.
He awoke from a wonderfully deep, dreamless slumber to an uncomfortable physical sensation.
"Get off me, you great lump!" Doyle hissed in his ear. "Get on your own side, will you? Move over!"
Strong hands and a bony knee emphasised the point by pushing his heavy sleeping body across the bed onto a bit of cold sheet.
"...got bony knees..." Bodie managed to mumble before slipping back to sleep, only to be woken again seemingly minutes later by Doyle's outraged whisper:
"Mmmm, wha'?" Disentangling himself from the irate bundle of warmth, Bodie withdrew to the cold sheet.
"Keep your flaming hands to yourself!"
"Sorry," Bodie whispered as he realised what was happening. "I can't help it--I'm used to cuddling who I sleep with--"
"Well, if you think you're gonna start cuddling me I'm going back to my own bed--"
Bodie grabbed hold and pulled Doyle back into the bed.
"Whoa, not so fast! It's nothing personal, mate, it's not you
I'm after, it's just...well, you know...I usually get to cuddle what I sleep with. There's no need to get uptight...after all, I'm bound to wake up before I get to the good bits, aren't I?" Bodie joked. "Now, lie back down, shut up and go to sleep...and I'll try to remember you're 5'8", skinny, hairy and male. Okay?"
They settled down again and for a while the room was silent except for the soft, rhythmic breathing from the two exhausted men.
The first glow of the new sun was painting the sky when the easy rhythm was disturbed as Doyle became restless, his breathing quickening as the dream took hold; trapped in his nightmare, he struggled to get free, his body twitching and shifting restlessly.
On the other side of the bed, still wrapped in his own peaceful oblivion, Bodie sensed the silent struggle going on beside him and reached across the bed to offer his own sleepy comfort.
The instant Doyle's fist connected with Bodie's nose both men were wide awake and sitting up, Doyle reaching for the light switch and Bodie holding his injured face with both hands.
"By dose, you broke my dose!"
"I'm sorry. You touched me and I just hit out... I'm sorry. Oh christ, you're bleeding over everything. Got any hankies?"
"In der ches' of 'rawers, 'op 'rawer."
Handing the hankies over, Doyle stood helplessly by the side of the bed apologising over and over.
"I'm sorry, I thought you were...I forgot where I was, I'm sorry...I just got used to hitting him every time he touched me...I'm sorry...I knew this would happen..."
"'s all right, jus' bel' up. Know you didn' mean it," Bodie mumbled through the wad of bloodstained cotton. "Oh, gob, I fink it's broken."
"I'll get you a cold flannel," Doyle said as he ran for the bathroom, emerging seconds later and replacing the useless handkerchief with a freezing cold, wet cloth.
"Have you got any ice cubes in your fridge?" he asked.
"'uckin 'annel's 'old enough," Bodie protested nasally, flinching as the icy water dripped onto his bare chest.
"'ink ith's 'opped now anyway." Carefully, he pulled the flannel away. Yes, it had stopped.
"Is it broken?"
"Nah, don't 'ink so," Bodie said as he gingerly touched his nose; it was very painful but he didn't think it was seriously damaged. "'s all right, jus' a bit tender. What time is it?"
Doyle turned the clock around to se. "Nearly six."
"'aven't got to be at the range till ten so get back into bed. Maybe we can still get some sleep."
"After what I just did?" Doyle asked incredulously. "I probably will break it next time."
"Won't be a next time."
Lulled into a sense of security by Bodie's confident voice, Doyle climbed back into bed--only to try and leap straight back out again.
"What the hell are you playing at?" he demanded to know as he pulled away from a pair of octopus-like arms.
"Got it all figured out, haven't I!" Bodie said. "You get all twitchy every time you're asleep and someone touches you. So, you're going to go to sleep with me holding you so you're used to me being here, an' I'm going to be wrapped round you so fuckin' tightly you aren't going to be able to twitch without me knowing about the second you do!"
Bodie pulled Doyle back into his arms and made sure they were snuggled up nice and tight, Doyle's back pressed hard against his own chest, and his arms secure around the trim waist, holding him there.
"And relax! Neither of us is going to sleep if you're as stiff as a board," Bodie whispered into Doyle's hair. "All I want to do is sleep, so don't worry...this way I know where you are and you know where I am, neither of us gets any nasty surprises. Now, go to sleep!"
It was not a very comfortable position, so Bodie made his reluctant companion move to accommodate him.
"Bend your knee...that's better. Now lift your arm up a bit. There, 's more comfy, innit!"
"Shut up and go to sleep."
"How can I with you plastered down me back? You're making me too hot," Doyle complained.
Bodie released him only for as long as it took to throw the top bedspread off.
will you go to sleep?"
"Your elbow's digging in my side."
Bodie sighed and shifted his elbow.
"How am I supposed to sleep with you blowin' a flippin' gale in me ear?"
Bodie pulled back a fraction so they were almost, but not quite touching, back to chest, but still kept an arm resting around the trim waist with his hand loosely circling Doyle's wrist, ready to grab hold should he start getting jumpy again.
"Do we really have to sleep holding bloody hands?"
"Yes! Now shut up!" Bodie's tone clearly showed the limits of his patience were almost exceeded, and Doyle finally gave in. Too tense himself to sleep, Bodie was relieved to feel Doyle slowly slip into unconsciousness.
Again, Doyle's soft, rhythmic breathing had a soporific effect and Bodie felt himself falling asleep.
There was only one dodgy moment in what remained of the night, and that was when, for a few seconds, Bodie's fingers automatically began light, stroking caresses along the warm skin beneath them, but Bodie snapped back to full awareness and stilled his errant fingers as soon as Doyle began to fidget and pull away, the light touch obviously weaving itself into the fabric of his dreams and becoming something sinister.
"Ssh...ssh..." Bodie whispered, holding his breath. "It's all right...just go back to sleep...'s all right now..."
Holding the restless sleeper firmly, Bodie felt the tension sliding away, and breathed out.
Maybe his idea was going to work after all.
...Continued in Chapter 6...