Written for the "Discovered on All Hallow's Eve" challenge on the discoveredinalj livejournal community. The sequel to this story is Blood.
Thanks to all my betas!
Bodie's first sensation was cold, bone-chilling cold, followed quickly by pain and then bewilderment. What the fuck was he doing on the floor? And where...? He started to sit up, but had to stop on a wave of dizziness. He put a hand out to steady himself and looked around. There was little to see in the darkness, although he could detect an open doorway and a roofless section, to the left of the doorway, where a bit of moonlight was coming through. He was in a one-room building of some sort. A brisk breeze was coming through holes in the roof, accompanied by odd moans and whistles. He remembered walking against that wind, struggling because Doyle--
He turned his head quickly, and again had to steady himself and take a breath, waiting a moment before he finished the turn. There was a darker patch of black a few feet away from him, near a wall. Bodie crawled towards it, relieved to find that it was Doyle, with Bodie's coat over him He was asleep, or passed out, and Bodie let his fingers rest on Doyle's arm, struggling to remember what had happened, where they were.
Bloody hell, his head hurt. He put a hand to his forehead and winced at the contact. He felt a bandage of sorts, and then remembered taping a gauze pad into place, before they'd left the car. The car. They'd been in the car. Something had darted across the road--mid-sized, dark, and into his mind came the memory of a wizened face, filled with malicious glee. No, that wasn't right, it had been an animal--a deer perhaps--and he'd swerved to avoid it and had landed them in a ditch. Stupid thing to have done. He ought to have hit the bastard, maybe they'd still be on the road, heading to hospital.
To hospital. Bodie froze and his hand on Doyle's arm tightened. He'd been driving to hospital. They were in the back of beyond, in the wilds of Scotland, embroiled in a bloody shootout with homegrown terrorists. Doyle had been shot. They'd tried to staunch the bleeding, but the bullet must've nicked the artery.... Christ, how many hours had it been?
"Doyle?" Bodie crawled up Doyle's body, pawing at him. "Doyle?" He reached Doyle's neck, his fingers finding the pulse point. Thank God there was a pulse. "Ray?"
"Bodie?" Doyle's voice was faint.
"Yeah, I'm here."
Doyle let out a breath. "Thought you'd gone."
Had he been going for help? He couldn't remember. They'd found an old croft, not far from the road. The car had been too dangerously perched for them to stay in it. "No." The R/T was useless, and no one knew their exact location. He wished he could think. There had to be something he could do.
"Can't leave me alone for a minute, can you?"
"I reckon not. How are you? Cold?" Bodie hitched up the coat a bit further on Doyle's shoulder.
"Nah. Can't feel anything."
"Yeah? Just as well, it's bloody freezing in here." Doyle's skin felt cold against his hand. "Maybe I can get a fire started." He looked dubiously at the stone hearth beside them. How many generations of birds had nested in its remains?
"Put your Boy Scout tricks to use."
"Took dancing lessons like you, didn't I tell you?"
"No, you hid that from me, you sod. Have you got any matches, then?"
"Erm..." He looked around, spying a dark bundle by Doyle. "Got the kit from the car. Bound to be something in there."
Bodie looked down at him. "Why do you ask?"
"You sound odd."
"Must be the weather."
"Is there any water?"
Bodie reached out and pulled the kit over to them. He felt around inside and found the canister of matches, but nothing for Doyle's thirst. "No. Sorry."
"Can't be helped." Doyle stirred next to him, and Bodie heard his breath catch.
"Let's check you out, eh?" He pulled the coat off Doyle, then used his hands to examine the bandage on Doyle's right leg. He'd wrapped it as well as he could, but blood was seeping through, soaking the bandage. They'd slowed the bleeding but hadn't stopped it. Fuck. He reached for the kit and pulled out the bandage roll.
"How is it?"
"As well as can be expected. I'm going to put on an extra layer."
"Always dressing for the cold, aren't you?" It was a feeble comment, but then Doyle would know very well why he was putting more bandages on.
Bodie went about his task, tried not to move Doyle too much, and pulled the coat back over him when he was finished. He lowered his head to Doyle's shoulder, regret and guilt washing over him. If he hadn't crashed the car.... The wind had an unfriendly sound to it, as if mocking him. "Don't listen to the voices," his gran used to tell him. "Especially not tonight. They'll call you out, do a mischief to you." She'd always kept him inside on Halloween, and he'd always resented it.
Christ, he had to do something. He had to get them out of this, but what options did he have? No car, no radio, and only a hazy idea where they were. Was there someone nearby? Was that where he'd been heading before...before what? Had he collapsed? He couldn't remember.
He had to get help for Doyle. Cowley would look for them eventually. He might be looking now--they were overdue for a check-in. It was supposed to have been a fairly routine pick-up. But they had arrived to find the safe house compromised, Glover dead, and no help to be had once they'd survived the firefight.
Cowley would have a helicopter up by morning, he was sure of that. They'd find the car, since there was only one road leading south from the safe house. If Doyle could just make it through the night. If.... Life in a word--if. The wind laughed at him. He remembered Doyle's face when he'd said that before going in on Billy Turner. They'd still been adjusting to one another back then, developing trust in their partnership. Doyle had been a prickly sod. He still was, from time to time, but Bodie understood it better now. Understood him.
Doyle jerked beneath him, and Bodie raised his head. "Bodie?"
"Here." He put his fingers on Doyle's face.
"Thought you'd gone."
"Where would I go?" Bodie frowned, realising that Doyle must be slipping in and out of consciousness.
Back to London, where there was light and cheer and not this overwhelming dread that seemed likely to swallow him. "What, and miss all this? Reminds me of my youth, this does."
"Slept out in the cold, did you?"
"Prefer a nice, warm bed, myself."
"Prefer you in it," Bodie said, and regretted it instantly. They weren't talking about that. About Bodie's need and Doyle's hesitancy. The memory of Ann Holly was too recent, too sharp. He'd feared he was losing Doyle then, too.
"We missed all the parties tonight." Bodie didn't know if Doyle hadn't tracked his reply, or was deliberately steering them away from it.
"We would have anyway." Halloween night. They usually would have gone to a party, maybe a pub afterwards, and then....
"Rather be with you."
Bodie looked down at him, wishing he could see his face, but at the same time relieved Doyle couldn't see his. "Would you?" He heard the distance in his own voice, felt the outside cold creeping inside, surrounding his heart. He knew what Doyle was going to say, and he didn't want to hear it.
"Should've known, Bodie. Should've--" Doyle's voice cut off as he tried to move again.
"Lie still. And don't talk."
"I don't want to hear it, Ray." Because it was fear driving Doyle, fear of dying, of not making it through the night. Bodie didn't want to be the alternative to fear.
"Listen to me. You're not going to die, do you hear me? You're going to make it. You're going to stay the bloody thorn in my life."
His fingers, still on Doyle's face, felt the pull of a fleeting smile. "Demanding sod."
"That's right." He looked around. "I am going to try lighting a fire." He dragged himself away from Doyle and crawled to the stone hearth. It had been used by someone--there were ashes, and the remains of burnt wood. Maybe someone else had gone off the road as they had, or been otherwise stranded. He cleared the hearth, and felt around by the wall, relieved to find bits and pieces of wood of different sizes. It took him a long time, longer than it should have, his movements frustratingly slow. But he piled the wood appropriately and retrieved the matches and added some cloth and paper from the kit. He nursed the flame and, before long, there was a small fire growing, a flicker of bright in the dark. His grandmother's voice came into his head again: "We light the fire to keep the evil spirits away." They needed all the help they could get tonight.
He returned to Doyle, noting an increase in the wind sweeping through the croft. Was there a storm coming on? If the helicopter couldn't fly, they were finished. He settled next to Doyle, keeping one eye on the fire. It wavered in the wind, but held firm, the flames consuming the wood. They only had to hold on, keep away the evil, stand firm.
Bodie felt for Doyle's pulse again, relieved to find it. "Ray? You still with me?"
There was a long pause, then Doyle said: "Woke me up, you bastard."
Bodie grinned. "Not the way it usually works, is it?"
"Did you get that fire going?"
"Used to love fires."
"Yeah? Did you have them when you were a kid?" He needed to keep Doyle talking, to keep him with him. But Doyle didn't answer, and only the pulse under Bodie's finger gave him comfort.
"It's not going to work, sunshine." Doyle finally spoke, his voice very faint, the words slow.
"Of course it is." Bodie gently gripped Doyle's throat, his thumb stroking his jaw.
"I'll catch you." The fear was rising within him, clutching as his throat. Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw movement, but knew it couldn't be anything. He struggled to breathe.
Bodie blinked, and pushed away his own exhaustion, concentrating on Doyle. "You're a fighter, Doyle. You don't give up--ever. Remember?" He waited, but there was no response. "Ray?"
"Can't...fight it. Nothing to fight."
"There's always something to fight." He struggled to sit up, and leant over Doyle. He brushed his lips with his own. "Fight it, Ray. Don't leave me. Don't you dare."
Bodie waited, but there was nothing more. "Ray?" He gripped Doyle's shoulders but he didn't wake. His hand shaking, he felt for Doyle's pulse, and closed his eyes when he found it. Still alive. But Doyle's strength was fading. The loss of blood was sucking the life out of him. There was no way to stop it. He shook his head. They used to think blood letting was necessary, a way to let the evil out.
Bodie looked at the fire. It had died down and needed tending to. He blinked, wondering at his own weakness. He should build the fire up. Make a bonfire to cast out the evil spirits and protect Doyle. It took a great deal of effort, and he had to rest part way, but he made it over to the hearth. Slowly, he added fuel to the fire, watched it grow, and added more. He built up the blaze until it was raging, filling the hearth, using up everything they had. And he smiled at the size of it, and crawled back to Doyle, gathering him close.
They should have gone out in a firefight. He watched as a tongue of flame appeared part way up the chimney. That'd show the bastards. He couldn't hear the wind any more. The chimney caught fire, and Bodie closed his eyes.
Murphy paused at the door to Cowley's office, took a breath, then rapped his knuckles on it. He heard the summons, opened the door, and stepped in. Cowley was on the telephone. Murphy studied his feet, giving the illusion of disinterest, while he listened.
"Aye, very well. And the leg? I see. Thank you, Doctor. No, I'll stop by myself later in the day. Thank you. Goodbye." Cowley replaced the handset then looked across his desk to Murphy. "Well?"
"Reporting back, sir." Murphy stepped forward. Looking closely, he could see the effect of the last two days on Cowley, in his red-rimmed eyes, and the paleness of his skin. But his gaze was as bright as always, his tie was knotted, and his voice was sharp.
"You found the car, then?"
"It's being repaired. The local constabulary knew exactly where to find it. Apparently, Bodie's is not the first car to go off the road just there. They're thinking about possibly putting up a guard rail of some type."
"I dare say, and they'll still be talking about it ten years from now. Any sign of why three-seven went off the road?"
"No. There were skid marks, so he did try to brake, but there was no obvious reason, other than possibly trying to take the curve too quickly." He hesitated. "Has Bodie...?"
"Neither of them has been in any condition for explanations. The doctor tells me that they should both recover. At that time, perhaps three-seven will be able to explain to me what happened to his car."
Murphy made a mental note to watch his speed on curves when driving a CI5 car. "The bodies from the safe house are being transported to London. The croft, as you know, burnt down. There's nothing left now but broken slate tiles and crumbling stone. However, the locals seem pleased enough by that--the area has a bad reputation. Apparently a traveller died in the croft just last spring. Interesting case as there was no apparent cause. The coroner ruled it a heart attack, but the man had no history of heart disease. His car had gone off the road, very like three-seven's, and he'd walked to the croft. He had camping supplies with him, and spent a couple of nights there. When they found his body, he appeared to have been dead about a week."
"Poor man. Doyle and Bodie were more fortunate."
"At least we were looking for them, and that chimney fire acted like a beacon." Murphy shook his head, remembering the condition they'd found the pair in. "I still don't understand how they managed to get outside."
Cowley put his glasses back on. "Adrenaline can be a remarkable aid. Lucas and McCabe are working on the leak that allowed Penhall's group to find the safe house. No doubt they would appreciate your help with that."
"Thank you, sir." He wanted in on that chase. It could have been any of them walking into the firefight at the safe house.
"Very well. Dismissed."
There was fire and malevolent laughter; he was burning, and he welcomed it as a release from the taunting, from fear. But he knew if he let go, Doyle would fall. The laughter grew, piercing his nerves like knives. He couldn't hold on, and then he couldn't hear Doyle as he fell away from him, lost in the darkness.
It was Doyle's swearing that woke Bodie, sliding him from dreams to reality. He opened his eyes, relieved to find that the worst of his headache was gone. He'd sustained a hairline fracture to his skull, he'd been told, and had suffered a concussion.
"Fuck." There was vehemence in Doyle's voice, but little volume. Bodie turned his head to locate him. Doyle was sitting on the edge of his bed, holding crutches. That would explain it then, Doyle never could get the hang of crutches.
"How long are you going to have to use them?"
"A bloody week. It was just a bullet wound, for Christ's sake." His eyes met Bodie's. "Are you awake then? Properly?"
"Yeah, I reckon so." He eased himself to a sitting position, shoved his pillow to the wall and leant against it. "I didn't take in all they were saying yesterday. How are you?"
Doyle smiled. "You kept asking them that, I think they got tired of repeating themselves. I'm fine. They went in and did a little surgery, gave me a lot of blood, and they'll turn me out in a day or two. You are being kept for another twenty-four hours for observation, or so they tell me. Must be that thick skull of yours--they can't really tell what's going on."
"Naturally hard-headed, that's what that is."
"Yeah." Doyle looked down at the floor. "How much do you remember?"
Bodie thought back. "Not a whole lot after the car went off the road. Bits and pieces in the croft. I remember thinking I had to get help for you." He frowned. "I remember building a fire."
"That's what did it. They had no way of seeing us. It would've been too late for me if they'd not found us then."
Bodie's hand clenched, but he kept his voice cool. "Lucky I had my Boy Scout tricks, then."
"I thought you took dancing lessons."
"I never. Where'd you get that idea?" He met Doyle's look and couldn't keep his face straight.
Doyle rolled his eyes. "Berk."
"SAS skills, then."
"You did nearly burn us to death, you do realise?"
"Don't do anything by half-measures, do I?"
"No." Doyle looked down at the floor again, but Bodie could see that he was frowning.
"What is it?"
Doyle looked up, his head tilted slightly. "Do you remember what I was trying to tell you?"
"No." But he lied, and his heart lurched.
"You wouldn't let me. I think I know why."
"I remember you saying something about falling."
"You said you'd catch me. You know I never doubted that."
Bodie closed his eyes for a moment. "Doyle--"
"I'm not dying, Bodie, but I'm still terrified."
"Nothing new there." Nothing unshared, either. Nothing terrified him more than Doyle--unless it was losing Doyle.
"Maybe. But...." He heard Doyle swallow.
"Ray, don't." He looked away from him, his eyes on the wall across the room. "There's nothing--"
"Shut up, Bodie." He heard movement, and turned his head to see Doyle struggling with the crutches. "Just shut up. I'm going to say it, and you're not going to stop me." He lurched onto his feet and stumbled forward. There wasn't a great distance between the beds, but Doyle still managed to nearly fall before he reached Bodie's side.
"Christ, Doyle, you'd be better off without them." He watched as the crutches fell to the floor in a clatter. "What's this in aid of, then?"
Doyle leant in and kissed him very thoroughly. Bodie took a deep breath when Doyle pulled back, strung out between hope and fear. "I'm sorry," Doyle said. "I should've--"
The door opened and a nurse, who Bodie vaguely remembered, entered the room. "We heard a crash." She looked disapprovingly at Doyle. "Mr Doyle, what did we say about you getting up on your own?"
"Yeah, all right, but--"
"No buts about it." She descended on Doyle and escorted him back to his bed. "You don't want to run any risks with that leg. We really don't want you here any longer than necessary."
"Yeah, I understand that, but I was just trying to--"
"And Mr Bodie needs his rest, too." She helped Doyle ease into the bed.
"He's done nothing but rest!"
"Which is what you should be doing." She picked up the crutches and put them at the far end of the room.
"What if I need to take a leak?"
"Then use the call button, that's what it's there for." She turned to Bodie. "Is there anything I can do for you?"
"No, I'm the well-behaved one." Bodie smiled at Doyle's snort. "Don't let him worry you, I'll keep an eye on him now."
"Oh, will you?" Doyle overrode whatever the nurse might have said.
"Absolutely." Bodie looked across at Doyle. "I'm not going anywhere." He held Doyle's gaze with his own, and saw the change that came over his face, a lessening of some kind of tension.
"No, not for another day at least," the nurse agreed. She glanced at Doyle. "And you'll behave yourself?"
"Oh, yeah." Doyle's eyes were still on Bodie. "I take second chances very seriously."
Bodie looked away, wondering that a look could have as much effect as a touch.
"Very well. Good day, gentlemen." The nurse left the room.
A silence fell. Bodie watched his hand opening and closing.
"Too late?" Doyle's voice was even, but Bodie nevertheless heard the underlying fear.
Bodie quickly looked at him. "It's not that."
"Just...." He hesitated, then shrugged. "Is it real?"
"You can't get more real than fire and blood."
"We face that every day."
"Yeah. We do. And that's what I should've known. That's what I've been trying to tell you."
"Fire and blood."
"Protection and...family." Their eyes met and Bodie found it hard to breathe for a moment.
Doyle raised his eyebrows. "I'd be a prat if I wasn't. Don't say it."
Bodie grinned, and he looked at Doyle, alight now with laughter and life. He'd already chosen, hadn't he? He'd pay the cost to stay with Doyle, come what may, through fire and blood, for as long as he could hold on.
-- THE END --