Note: this story mentions three episodes. I'm not trying to mess with your head, I only put the Purging of CI5 as chronologically before Close Quarters and Look After Annie because Amazon DVD Rental sent me Series 3 disc 2 instead of Series 1 Disc 2. I didn't realise until I got the boxset by which time the story was almost written. Cue angry muttering...
It was the third funeral in as many days. Matheson, King and now Williams. Cattrell's mini-massacre buried one by one under the glare of an unforgiving Sun.
Bodie watched as the coffin lowered into the grave. His jacket clung unpleasantly in the sodden heat and over the stillness and murmured prayers he risked a glance at Doyle. His mouth was a hard, thin line and Bodie guessed he was starting to splinter.
When it came to funerals CI5 turned out for their own. From Cowley to the bomb disposal mob to the cellar-dwellers from Records and Admin. Everyone but those under the deepest of cover would attend.
The funerals never really rattled Bodie, never got to him the way they got to some. He was sad for his mates and comrades in an abstract way and, he supposed, angry. The deaths were always murder of some kind. But the losses never touched him, no loss ever had.
After one funeral. Even after two. He would count this as a blessing and never delve too deeply into what this might mean for the hollow cavern he seemed to have instead of a heart.
But at the third he looked to his colleagues. Susan, red-eyed behind her comically huge glasses. Jax, with his arm tightly around the shoulder of one of the girls from the typing pool. George Cowley, for once looking his age, bewildered and stricken. He believed they felt the loss of a colleague as keenly as any wound and wondered what gene he had to anaesthetise him to this pain.
Even today, all Bodie felt was a desire to be over with these days of sweaty, vibrating emotion. To escape to a calmer, cooler place.
A hand on his shoulder surprised him. Looking around he saw the other mourners on the path to the cemetery gates and Doyle waiting. Doyle made a 'lets go' gesture with a jerk of his head and slipped sunglasses on before walking away, only turning to check Bodie was with him as they left the graveside. He didn't speak, he'd pretty much stopped speaking since Matheson yesterday.
CI5 were not welcome at the brother's house afterwards, that much became clear. The dull stares the family directed at the gathering of agents said; 'Your fault. This is your fault.'
No matter how much of your life you spent fighting the darkness, you still just eventually became it.
CI5 took the hint and drifted away. Bodie found Doyle leaning by the open kitchen door, tie loosened and top shirt button undone.
"Let's go, Ray."
He followed Doyle through the kitchen. He seemed tall and disreputable in the miniature suburban house, all long legged strides and hair turned wild from the humidity. But in the car he just looked miserable.
It had been impossible, these past few days, to start any car without a split second of wondering. Another of Cattrell's gifts, a brand, shiny new paranoia.
Bodie remembered last week. Doyle holding the car key, his hand hovering thoughtfully over the ignition. Matheson's car had just gone up in flames and they were still picking bits of Williams out of Chris-the-Snitch's council flat. Doyle had told Bodie to go and stand across the road, no sense in them both getting blown to pieces. Bodie hadn't gone.
Odd decision that. Thinking about it. Bravado had kept him in the passenger seat, of course. But something else too. He identified it now as he watched Doyle dismiss the pulse of anxiety and turn the key.
It was this. This instinct not formed into a thought until now. 'No chance, Doyle. You go, I'm going with you.' Odd decision.
Doyle drove like the crazy maniac he was and swerved to a diagonal halt outside Bodie's place. Then he gripped the wheel and looked at Bodie expectantly.
"At least that was the last one," Bodie said.
"For now," he replied swiping off the shades.
"Briefing at five? I'll come and get you?"
Inside, Bodie stripped off his tie and jacket and slung them over the back of a chair. He just needed a drink with a load of ice dumped in it and then he'd get in the shower and wash the grave-dust off.
He cracked the cubes out of the tray and was on his way to the whisky bottle when he stopped, turned, went back and opened the door. Bodie had known he would find Doyle still there with as much certainty as if Doyle had been shouting through the letterbox.
Doyle was still in the car. He hadn't moved except now he had his gaze fixed on the steering wheel.
Bodie leaned in at the window. "It's going to take more than the force of your sparkling personality to get it going, mate."
Doyle turned to him and Bodie caught a flash of soon-concealed desperation in his eyes.
"Come inside. I'm having a drink." Doyle followed him in, leaving the car with its arse sticking out just as it was.
In Bodie's living room he tugged at his tie. He looked the hard man at that moment. Like something out of a mafia movie. In the black suit that would have remained undisturbed in the wardrobe, if Philip Cattrell hadn't come home.
"Wish it would rain," he said, which was the most complete sentence Bodie had got out of him all day.
He accepted a drink and wandered over to the phone, still dismembered on the desk though the triggers and wires and explosives had been meticulously cleared away.
"Aren't you going to put it back together? How's George going to get hold of you?"
"You broke it," said Bodie. "Gotta get the Post Office to come round with a new one."
"Rubbish. I did delicate work." He put his drink down and began to fit the telephone back together. "What was going through your mind?" He asked without looking up.
"When?" Bodie replied throwing himself into another chair with his own drink.
"When? When you nearly got your head blown off by an exploding telephone when. What were you thinking?"
Bodie yawned and scrubbed a hand across his eyes. "I dunno. What are you on about?" He had glimpsed an old friend in a dark hood just at the edge of his vision. He wasn't about to mention this old friend to Doyle who was in the habit of chasing him away.
"Nothing, forget it," Doyle said with a small smile. He produced his Swiss Army knife and tightened the two small screws on the body of the phone. Then he disappeared under the desk to connect it to the socket. Just as he reappeared the phone started ringing.
"Ah, y'bastard," Bodie exclaimed. "Now look what you've done."
Doyle shrugged, "Told you it wasn't broken." He picked up the receiver. "Hello." He listened for a while. "On our way, sir."
Four hours later Doyle was pulling Bodie half-unconscious from the driver's seat of a requisitioned Heathrow taxi, crashed down the side of a quarry. Dead Provo in the back seat.
In their world cars didn't have to have bombs in them to explode and Doyle half dragged, half carried him as far as he could before the blast blew them both off their feet.
He came to cradled in Doyle's arms, forehead pressed fast to his funeral-white shirt, breathing in all the sweat and dirt of the day.
"Fucking idiot, you fucking idiot. If you're that fucking desperate to kill yourself why not just put a gun in your mouth."
Doyle was forming whole sentences again then. He attempted to struggle out of Doyle's arms but the grip holding him was fierce. He left off, let Doyle see this through, whatever it was. He owed him. Because he had been reckless, could have got himself killed.
That was new for him. He'd never done stuff like this. Despite his reputation, his risks had always been calculated. Following the silver flash of the scythe was an indulgence he never succumbed to. No need, the old friend would always be there waiting.
Another thing was new, he realised, through the fog of concussion. The awareness of Doyle's lips pressed to his head. Crazy maniac.
The heat wave lingered, London burned and CI5 fought on. One mid-June afternoon, when it was ninety-in-the-shade, Bodie caught a bullet in his hand. Cowley gave him a roasting for the unguarded moment that caused it and he ended up on sick leave until the ligaments healed.
He took Julia out on the river, determined to make the best of his lot. It was hardly his fault he ran slap bang into the Myer Helmut gang and ended up hiding out in a vicarage picking them off one by one until Doyle and Cowley came steaming in.
It could all have gone differently. If Julia and that odd housekeeper woman hadn't kept it together like they did, none of them would have survived. As it was they lost the vicar.
Cowley was pleased with the result. The gang were off the street, he wasn't interested in how. Julia, on the other hand, was seeing him in a whole new light and there was something up with Doyle.
They saw Julia safely home. Then Doyle drove him to hospital to see what damage Franz Myer had done when he crushed his other hand. It hurt like hell but that didn't stop Doyle questioning him about what had happened all the way there. And he gathered, from the waves of disapproval coming his way, he wasn't going to get the nomination for Agent of the Year for this one.
By the time Casualty had finished with him he had one hand in plaster and the other bandaged rigid. If Doyle hadn't been there to claim him he wouldn't even have been allowed to leave the hospital.
Doyle was quiet as he drove him home until eventually Bodie spoke.
"You think I fucked up today."
"What? Taking on Myer Helmut with one hand tied behind your back. No mate, you're diamond. Cowley's hanging a portrait of you above his fireplace."
"Come on, Doyle," he said. "Let's have it."
"All right." Doyle considered his words. "Why didn't you call for back up? You could have had any number of us out there in under an hour and none of those civilians would have had to have been involved."
"And that old man would still be alive," Bodie finished for him.
"That wasn't your fault," Doyle said after the briefest of pauses.
The women had wanted to know why he wouldn't let Myer go. They had thought it the only way to save their lives. "I don't know," he had said again and again. Then he told them he had the gun, so he made the rules. No wonder Julia now had him a notch down from Genghis Khan.
"So why not call for back up?" Doyle pressed, his eyes firmly on the road ahead.
"I don't know," he repeated resignedly. "I could handle one of them. I didn't know the others were just around the corner."
"It was a fair bet they were though. Don't you think?"
"Spit it out, Doyle, what are you getting at? You've been brewing this up for a while. Think it's about stewed by now?"
"I dunno Bodie," Doyle hesitated. "Are you sure you just didn't care what the hell happened to you?"
"Meaning?" Though he knew.
"Meaning, if you're burnt out you need to get help, you need to fix it. Because I don't fancy-." He stopped abruptly.
"Fancy what? Working with a semi-suicidal fruit and nutcase. You can get yourself another partner you know."
Doyle rolled his eyes. "Jesus Bodie."
"If you want to ditch me, you'll get no argument from me."
"Ditch you? 'Course I want you as my partner though it means I'm as daft as you. Its your funeral I don't fancy going to."
"It's not like that," Bodie said stubbornly. "And what's your problem all of a sudden? You've been as jumpy as a box of frogs since that Cattrell business."
"Yeah," Doyle said, drawing the word out, mean and sarky. "I have. All of it's my problem, right." And he didn't speak again for the rest of the drive.
"You don't have to come in," Bodie said coolly when Doyle's car drew up outside his flat. "I can handle it from here."
"How's that then? Can you even open the car door?"
"No," he admitted. "But I can manage once I get inside."
"You've got no hands. How are you going to manage anything? And I don't see Julia volunteering to help in the circumstances."
"And you're stepping up, are you?"
"Anything you need, Bodie," Doyle replied quietly.
Doyle poured them both drinks and they sat out on Bodie's balcony watching the sun disappear in fiery orange behind the broken-toothed skyline. Bodie found a way to lift his glass using fingertips and thumbs. He had taken lives today and this was enough to cheer him up. He wondered how he ever got to be this cold.
The argument was unresolved between them and Doyle was still simmering. "Ay mate," Bodie said in pure Scouse when the glasses were empty and an hour had passed in silence. He pushed his plastered hand toward Doyle. "Want to sign me cast?" After a moment Doyle gave in and laughed. He didn't turn, just covered Bodie's hand with his own.
The initial couple of week's sick leave turned into a month because his left hand healed slowly. He got back the use of the other one after ten days though, which meant Doyle could at least leave him on his own again.
Doyle had been right. Bar some tricky work with thumbs and elbows, which just about preserved his dignity, he was frighteningly helpless.
Doyle came by every night. He brought food that didn't need much cutting and some good stories from work. He slept each night on the sofa and made breakfast in the morning. Because, as he rightly pointed out, which other bugger was going to bother?
He made Bodie cups of tea, washed his hair, folded the laundry, opened marmalade jars, buttoned his shirts and tied his tie before visits to the Squad doctor. All with an air of abstract amenability. The occasional murmured, 'forget it, mate' the only sign he was not completely unaware of Bodie's discomfort.
Bodie was bloody glad to get back to work. Those two weeks of low-key intimacy with Doyle had bothered him, stirred him up in ways he didn't understand and didn't care to dwell on. The following weeks when he hardly saw Doyle at all bothered him even more and he definitely did not want to dwell on that. What he wanted was to get on with his job and if possible shoot at something.
Bad luck they were dumped on an Obbo job on his first day back. They were stuck in a flat somewhere out in the armpit of Essex, binoculars trained on the house opposite for three solid days. Despite the attention it was getting the house failed to generate any activity in the International Gun Runner department and stood in perpetual darkness and silence.
Then on the fourth day they saw a man, answering the description of one of the gang, going into the house. A quick call to HQ and they were issued with the instruction to bring him in.
They kicked in the door, not expecting trouble. It was just one unsuspecting suspect after all. And then something went wrong. Obviously something went wrong.
Because the next thing Bodie knew he was coming round with the taste of blood in his mouth. He hurt. A quick, raw, unimaginable hurt, burning and spreading from his right side.
Ray? He could hear a familiar breathing, see a familiar looking blur slumped unconscious nearby. He tried to move but found he couldn't and he tried to call out but couldn't speak either.
Soon though, the quality of Doyle's breathing began to change as he woke.
"Fuck," Doyle said. "Ow fuck. Bodie!"
Soon Doyle's hands were on him looking for injury, for the source of all this blood. Bodie barely felt them through the numb.
"You've been shot, mate," Doyle said, which didn't come as a surprise. He heard Doyle taking his jacket, then shirt off. He balled up the shirt and put it to the wound to stem the bleeding. Keeping his hand firmly there, he started talking. "There were four of them in the house. Can you believe it, Bodie? They were bloody quiet. Slipped under our radar, all right."
A weight like a blanket was put over him, which was how he realised he had been shivering. It wasn't a blanket though, it was Doyle's jacket. One of the tartan ones, heavy and warm and Ray-scented.
"The gang have all scarpered, except for the one you finished off," Doyle rambled on. "He's still here. But we can catch up with the others later, once you get patched up.
"Listen, sunshine," Doyle said. "The phone's dead. I've got to go now and get help."
That got Bodie moving, summoning strength from nowhere he grabbed Doyle's hand and held it fast. He'd be deader than the phone if Doyle left him.
"Okay, okay," Doyle said with a desperate cheerfulness. "I won't go. Anyway, don't worry, when we didn't report in they would have called in reinforcements. I reckon the local plod'll be here any minute."
Doyle kept talking, one hand holding his, the other keeping pressure on the wound and Bodie didn't realise he was slipping into sleep or something else until Doyle urgently called him back. There was a sob in Doyle's voice now.
"Stay with me. Please Bodie. Stay with me."
The pull into unconsciousness was strong but he hung on to Doyle's voice as far as he could. A bone-cold chilled him and he was hauled up into t-shirted arms. He absorbed the body heat hungrily, aware of the angry convulsions of Doyle's chest.
"Why did you have to do it, Bodie? This should have been my bullet."
Bodie remembered then. Smashing into the room, right behind Doyle expecting one loser who was going to faint on the spot at the sight of them. Instead there were four, two of them scrabbling for guns. He remembered Doyle's shouted warning before he fired. He hit one of them in the shoulder but Bodie saw another aiming for his partner. Bodie fired off a shot and, at the same time, without thinking he stepped in front to take the bullet. Cowley would tell him he wasn't paid for those kinds of heroics, but that's instinct for you.
"I'm not going to let you do this," Doyle said. "I'm not going to let you kill yourself."
"No," he said. "Don't want to die. Don't want to lose you."
He didn't manage these words out loud but Doyle seemed to hear them anyway. "Yeah, I know. I love you too, mate. Crazy maniac."
He survived, though it was a close thing. When he first woke in hospital he remembered a little. He remembered the adrenalin-laced terror of an animal faced suddenly with the possibility of not existing. He remembered this fear quickly fading, leaving a dreaming sense of gradually shedding life like layers of old clothes.
He remembered the pull of death. Not a dark robe and a scythe but a gentle caress, a promise of peace. He had tried to follow it as an old friend.
He remembered the fierce battle his other friend fought with death. How Doyle had dragged him back again and again. He remembered Doyle's voice, his arms and his tears. As it turned out, they were impossible to leave behind.
His recovery took months and didn't bother to pretend otherwise, things were better if he had Doyle with him. When he wasn't there, Bodie keenly felt the absence of him. An unanaesthetised pain. So that was new.
By the time he was passed fit for duty, Summer was long over and the cemetery trees had shed their leaves.
He and Doyle both had a bad feeling about the Annie Irvine job. Protecting her was never going to be the picnic Cowley seemed to think it would be. On top of that Doyle was on edge because it was Bodie's first job since coming back. He was having a go at him all the way to the final briefing on the day of the rally.
"You're not Captain Scarlet, just because you look like him and just because your skull's made of wood, doesn't make you bullet proof."
"All right, Ray, I get it," he said when Doyle finally ran out of nag. "I've figured it out, you don't want me to die." Doyle looked ready to start up again, so he cut in. "So I'll try not to. I've spent the last few months practising, you know."
In Bodie's opinion the op turned out to be an even bigger cock-up than the Myer Helmut business. One agent down, a hundred or so civilians and coppers injured in a riot pretty much caused by CI5 tactics. Still, to his huge relief he found none of it was his fault and he did enjoy picking off Stanley's bullyboys with a couple of long shots which even impressed Doyle.
CI5 turned out in force for Turner's funeral. Everyone, even Cowley who hadn't officially been discharged from hospital, was there. Bodie hadn't known the man well, but he thought of his quick, tumbling death and ached. He supposed it was a start.
A fast, hard rain had been falling all day. The first real rain since the long Summer had cracked and scorched the earth in a thousand places. The squad sheltered under a mushroom field of black umbrellas. Doyle, with his newly broken arm shared Bodie's and Bodie was glad to have him close. Shoulder to shoulder, as it should be.
"Do you want to go to the parent's house?" He asked as they walked back to the car.
"Nah," Doyle said. "Lets get a drink."
They sank a few pints, chasing them down with shorts and then weaved their way to Doyle's flat by way of the chippie.
In the kitchen they were laughing at Doyle shaking the rain out of his hair and Bodie comparing him unfavourably to the Dulux dog.
The kettle was on, Bodie was spooning Nescafe into mugs and unwrapping the chips when Doyle smiled at him. It was a slow, dangerous smile and out of the blue, with his one good hand he pressed Bodie against the kitchen unit and kissed him. Crazy maniac.
-- THE END --