Written for the Bonfire Night "Discovered in a Skyrocket" challenge on the discoveredinalj Livejournal community.
Author's Notes: (1) this is a sequel to my story Gods and Goddesses. Somehow the plot elements (look, I said PLOT, dammit!) needed a better resolution. I was going to post it for Hallowe'en but ran out of time. Thankfully it fits Guy Fawkes as well. (2) Many, many thanks to Slantedlight for the beta. (3) Also, although he's never going to know it, thanks to the guy on one of the Underground interest sites for confirming that the '62 tube stock which ran on the Central line in the 70's and 80's did have side doors into the driver's cab! (I know, I can be sadly fixated on things sometimes).
Holborn Station, 6 pm.
Doyle swung his legs over the barrier, Bodie right behind him, a scowl and a CI5 ID in the face of the ticket inspector effectively choking off protest. Their quarry was well ahead, striding down the stairs to the Central Line platform. He was in a hurry; his flat-capped head bobbed up and down, staccato, out of rhythm with the rest of the afternoon crowd. They followed swiftly, dodging around the other commuters, bloodhounds on the trail of a deadly fox.
"Think he's seen us?" Bodie was at his side now, effortlessly matching Doyle's brisk stride.
"Don't think so. He's moving, but no faster than he was."
The air was stifling, saturated with the odour of hundreds of overheated Londoners, damp from their journey through the late summer showers. Yet underneath it all Doyle could still smell the stench of blood, scorched flesh and petrochemicals that had tainted their last case. The anger roared inside him and he let it fill him, welcomed it. His rage was a weapon and the man ahead was the target -- Ciaran O'Neill, IRA heavyweight and bomb-maker. Murderer.
Their instructions were to follow O'Neill for as long as possible before detaining him. There had to be a reason he was back in London again and Cowley was determined to find out what that was. So when O'Neill reached the platform level, walked to the tail-end of the east-bound line and stopped there, they hung back, settled themselves at the edge of one of the connecting tunnels.
"Nice of Cowley to give us the chase. D'you reckon he'll give us our day off back when we take him?"
"In your dreams, mate."
Doyle glowered at the man waiting quietly, insignificantly, near the edge of the platform. O'Neill was small and wiry-looking: dull blonde hair poked out from under the flat workman's cap that shaded a pale, narrow face. He was dressed in a tweed jacket over black jeans, hauling a sports bag that sagged heavily from one shoulder. A bad sign, one that increased Doyle's level of agitation. Maybe it was nothing, just personal effects. Or it could be something worse, far worse.
He leaned against the tiled wall, breathed deeply, forced himself to relax, to let his mind drift a little. He could feel Bodie as a solid presence at his back. They didn't touch, not quite. Nothing like the last time he had stood with Bodie behind him, when they couldn't have been any closer, his senses overwhelmed by the dark pleasure of Bodie's cock entering his body while the sea breeze stroked his face and the evening sun shone on a pageant in the street below.
The sex had been good. Better than good. Their second night and third morning of leave had been all sweet, rutting pleasure. He'd been greedy for it too: waking from a brief period of sleep and reaching for the man beside him again. And in the times between, when they were quiet together, Bodie had opened up to him, told him stories about his shadowed past that had the ring of truth, that helped him understand the kind of man his partner really was, and why.
Then the recall had come. Cowley needed them for a needle-in-the-haystack search for a bomber and they'd been ordered back to London, post-haste. There hadn't been a chance to decide matters, not really. There'd been no time before the bike ride back. So what were they going to do now? If they'd had that final day, Doyle thought, they could have taken their time coming home, talked, reached an agreement about whether this thing between them would carry on -- or not.
No, that was bullshit. They could have taken the time if they'd wanted to, if he had wanted to. Instead, he'd rushed them both out the door, because it was O'Neill that Cowley was after and Doyle had wanted to be in at the kill. He'd wanted Bodie at his side and no awkwardness between them. And that wouldn't have happened if Bodie had let slip that all he'd wanted was a bit of a fling with his partner, while the mood and the timing was right.
Now if that was the case -- Doyle's lips tightened against his teeth, forming the beginnings of a snarl -- then things were going to become a bloody sight more than awkward, soon enough. He'd make sure of that. There was no way Bodie was getting away from this one.
The wave of air pushing through the cross tunnels from the other side of the station brought him back to readiness. As a train approached on the west-bound line, O'Neill turned and walked swiftly through the tunnel to meet it, entering the first car through the front doors and moving up to stand close to the driver's end. At the last moment before the crowded train moved off they followed him on board, leaping through the second doorway.
"Our boy's decoying."
"Might be more than that, Bodie. Need to get closer."
They started to make their way up the car, pushing past the other passengers, earning themselves some dirty looks as they went along. O'Neill held onto a handgrip, hanging loosely from it, eyes focused on the carriage window. For a short while he seemed oblivious to their approach. Then he moved. Doyle was uncertain whether they had spooked him or whether the train had simply reached the right point in its journey. Whatever the cause, O'Neill suddenly pushed himself upright and forwards, grabbed at the door to the drivers cab, opened it and darted through.
Doyle forced his way past a mother with a toddler and a baby in a pram. Ignoring the shrill complaints he reached for the door just as the train shuddered to a sudden halt. The impetus threw him forward onto the door, slamming it shut. As soon as the train stopped he pulled it open again and hurled himself through. He caught a glimpse of O'Neill as the man jumped out the side door of the train onto what looked like a siding platform and started running down it. He had a gun in his hand now and Doyle drew his own from its shoulder holster as he followed. Behind, he heard Bodie shouting at the driver to get the train moving again, to get his Controller to contact CI5.
O'Neill was almost at the end of the platform when he turned and fired a wild shot back towards the train. Doyle dropped into a crouch, but the bullet went wide and struck the tunnel roof. The surface under him was all rubble, no tiles; he smelt dusty concrete and old iron. He attempted a shot, but before he could aim O'Neill had disappeared into an opening at the end of the platform. Exposed now, Doyle raced for the cover of the platform wall. A moment later, Bodie joined him.
Where the hell were they? Doyle knew of several disused stations on the Underground, but he couldn't put a name to this one. No time to think about it, anyway. As the train moved off Bodie ran forward and found a cross tunnel from which he covered the platform while Doyle sprinted ahead until he was almost at the end. Now he was nearer he realised that the opening O'Neill had used wasn't a regular exit -- it was a narrow doorway, one which had been covered up at some point, if the pile of rubble and construction boarding beside it was anything to go by.
Doyle eyed the opening with misgiving. With the train gone the platform was almost dark, illuminated only by a faint glow from the tunnel lights further down the line itself. Still, anyone passing through would be well and truly visible from inside. Only one way to do this -- the hard way. He forced himself to ignore the bubble of fear building in his stomach. Turning to Bodie he raised his hand, indicating with one finger that he was going through first. Bodie nodded, his face masked by shadow.
A silent '"ready-steady-go" in his head, then he slipped through the opening, half-expecting to meet a bullet coming the other way. Nothing happened. He eased further inside. The passage was a little wider than the opening on the left hand side, so when Bodie came through seconds later they stood together in the sheltering corner, watching, listening. Doyle felt a slight current of air flowing through the passage. He heard water dripping and pipes clanking close by, and something that sounded like scurrying footsteps. He strained to see down the length of the passage.
"Oi, Bodie! Can you see anything?" Bodie's night vision was marginally better than his own.
"Looks like there's a turn to the right about twenty yards in. Can't see any other way out of here."
"You've been eating your carrots again, haven't you?"
"Creature of the night, that's me." Bodie moved forward; as he did so, he placed one hand on Doyle's shoulder, squeezed it.
They split, Doyle on one side, Bodie the other, feeling their way along. The passage turned right, then left again. Some way past the second bend it narrowed, the floor became uneven, the walls rough rock and mortar. They were heading deeper as well, at least twenty feet below the level of the platform they'd started from and still going down, twisting and turning.
Doyle was puzzled. Nothing about this made sense: O'Neill stopping the train, this tunnel, where it led. They hadn't passed any side tunnels, so O'Neill must still be ahead of them. But where? He listened, but couldn't hear anything.
The darkness was disorienting. He lost track of time, but eventually the tunnel levelled off and began to rise again. A minute or two further along and his hand felt the edges of an opening, a straight-sided doorway. No reason to think that O'Neill was there -- he could still be in the tunnel, or he could have escaped -- but Doyle knew that he was. Silently, he reached out to Bodie, touched him on the arm. Bodie crossed to his side, felt around the doorway then sidled through, began to work his way around the inside.
Standard procedure, this: locating a suspect in a darkened area. But forget the training film -- the practical was much more fun. Doyle found a coin in his pocket and tossed it through the doorway. It landed with a clink and a spin of metal. Gratifyingly, he heard a shuffle of sound.
He flattened himself against the tunnel wall, sliding down a little, then called out. "O'Neill! It's CI5! We know you're there! Do yourself a favour and give up!"
The shot was deafeningly loud in the enclosed space. The bullet hit the tunnel wall opposite the doorway, ricocheted and struck again above Doyle's head. He crept across the doorway on plimsolled feel before calling out again.
"You're a lousy shot, y'know that? Give it up. Throw your gun out."
The only response was another crack from O'Neill's firearm. Again, the bullet hit the wall and pinged off to the side. O'Neill was firing to his right, so the room must open out to the left. Feeling safer, Doyle curled himself around the doorway, ready to fire a round downwards, towards the floor. Keep the fucking cunt busy if he wouldn't surrender, until Bodie reached him.
Then there was a shimmer of white across his eyes. He blinked, thinking it was an after-effect of O'Neill's shot. What came after was weird, unreal. The darkness did not lessen yet somehow it seemed to splinter into layers, black on black, forming strangely overlapping yet recognisable shapes. He could tell where Bodie stood, sable against a pitch-dark wall, gun in hand, muzzle lifted as he searched the darkness.
O'Neill was on the far side of the long room, torch in one hand, gun in the other, and Doyle knew because he could feel it, could see it, that he was about to switch the torch on. Pointed the way it was it would catch Bodie in its glare. He would be unable to react in time. Bodie might die.
Doyle fired. The bullet hit O'Neill, knocking him back just as he thumbed the button on his torch. There was a flash of light, the loud report of a second weapon, followed by a crash and a tinkling of glass and metal as the torch hit the floor.
Darkness obliterated the room again, stygian, impenetrable. Darkness and silence. The palms of his hands were sticky with sweat.
"I'm OK. Hit my head going down, that's all. What happened to O'Neill?"
"I think I got him. Hang on."
Doyle scooted on hands and feet over to where he'd last seen the bomber. He reached out, feeling his way.
"Bullet caught my jacket." Bodie sounded aggrieved.
"So? You've got others. The brown one looks better on you at any rate." He laughed. It was a ludicrous thing to say.
"Choosing my wardrobe now?"
"Fuck off, Bodie". His hands found O'Neill's body, tracked over it, tested for a pulse. Dead, blood flowing stickily through the wreck of bone that had been his forehead. He searched around for the torch, found only broken plastic and glass, useless now.
Where was the sports bag? Ah. He felt it, carefully. It was hefty, threatening. He reached for the fastening.
"Bodie? O'Neill's dead. Torch is broken. There could be a bomb. Get yourself out of here."
"Fuck that, Doyle." He could hear the scrabbling of feet as Bodie got up, started to move towards him.
"Stop! Please, Bodie, keep back."
He eased the zipper along, inserted his hand, gently. His fingers touched wiring, something hard beneath.
"There's wires and -- just get the fuck out, OK?" The cold breathlessness of fear washed through him, but he heard footsteps retreating somewhere in the dark, and he scrambled to his feet, found the wall, propelled himself along it, until he was in the main tunnel again. He couldn't tell where Bodie was.
"What the hell are you doing, Bodie! We've got to get out!" he shouted.
"Waiting for you, what d'you think?" Bodie's voice, from just behind him, startled him.
"Well, get moving. Mad bastard." Unsure if he meant O'Neill or Bodie, he reached for an arm, jogged down the tunnel as fast as possible, drawing Bodie away, bringing them both to safety. "Need the bomb squad in here with proper lighting."
"You don't think he travelled the Tube with it armed, do you? And he'd hardly have had time to do it before we arrived on top of him." Bodie, ever rational, took the logical approach.
"Maybe. He'd be pretty careful about his own skin I suppose. An' I don't think I tripped anything, but who knows. His bombs aren't known for their reliability."
Now that they didn't need to worry about keeping quiet, they passed swiftly up the slope of the old tunnel. They were almost back at the newer section, when Doyle had a thought.
"Bodie? The station, the old one up ahead. British Museum. It was used as an air-raid shelter during the war. I heard rumours there was a secret tunnel to the Museum. Looks like we found it."
"So was that where he was headed? To blow up the Museum?"
"Suppose so. There could have been an entrance somewhere. We were pretty deep, though. Even if it does go off, it might rattle a few Ming vases, shouldn't do much more." He hoped.
They turned into the more modern passage and Doyle tried to raise headquarters on his RT, without success. Still too deep, out of range. As he put it away, Bodie came up beside him, took him by the arms, and turned him so they were facing each other.
"Ray? That was good shooting back there. Don't know how you did it, in the dark like that, but thanks."
"You didn't see the light? After O'Neill fired the second time, I saw something, a light … and then I could see everything. He had the torch, he was going to shoot you."
Odd, they were still in the darker part of the passage, but he could see Bodie's face clearly. Solemn, eyes gazing intently into his own. Then Bodie's lips twitched, half a smile, and he was drawn into a powerful embrace.
"Local ghost didn't like us disturbing his rest, maybe?" Doyle felt Bodie's chest shake with laughter and relief; he let himself relax, let Bodie hold him, as he wrapped his own arms around his partner.
"What do you want to do, Ray?"
"You know what I mean. Don't think I didn't realise why you pushed us out the door this morning. Tell you this, though," and Bodie pulled back, let him go. "I want more than a couple of days with you down the coast. But if that's all it was for you, I'd understand…"
"You'd understand?" He grabbed at Bodie, snapping out his words as he rid himself of the vestiges of adrenaline and anger. "That's fucking generous, but I'm not like you. I wouldn't leave it alone even if you told me to. I'd come after you, make your life a misery until I had you again. That's what I want. So tell me you care enough to do the same."
He searched Bodie's face, which was suddenly stony cold and guarded, and wondered if he'd pushed too hard, if Bodie was going to close off again and leave him bereft. Then Bodie smiled and it was that impossibly sweet smile that melted him within. Bodie bent towards him and he welcomed the kiss, gave himself up to it wholeheartedly.
Afterwards, Bodie took charge, ushering him through the last remaining stretch of tunnel with a solicitousness that Doyle found bemusing, and faintly irritating. When, just before the entrance, he tried to turn around, Bodie wedged up close, preventing him.
"You'll break the rule of the Underworld."
"Don't look back."
Laughing, slightly giddy with the tidal shifting of emotion, he did as he was told. When he cleared the opening he waited until he heard Bodie emerge before reaching for him. He clasped him in his arms, not caring for the moment whether they would be discovered, by Cowley, by their back-up, or by the next Central Line train.
Seconds after they reached the safety of the old platform, the bomb exploded.
-- THE END --