First in a series, followed by Isolation and Yule
Originally written for the Jubilee June challenge for "Discovered in 1977" on the discoveredinalj livejournal community, to the prompt "Red, white and blue bunting"
He had sorted through everything in Doyle's bedroom but the deed box at the back of the wardrobe. Bodie sat on the stripped bed and eyed the key left in the lock. After a moment, he turned it and opened the lid. There were papers inside, but not the passport and identity documents he was expecting. Instead, there were letters, photographs, a notebook of drawings, and objects ranging from a bag of marbles to Bodie's Superman watch, broken in a scuffle only a month after he'd received it. Mementoes and keepsakes filled the box, items that had meaning only for Doyle. Bodie closed his eyes for a moment, his hands filled with Doyle's memories, his throat constricted. Finally, he took in a deep breath and replaced everything he'd taken out of the box. He paused as his fingers brushed against tissue at the bottom, and he pulled it out. The tissue was wrapped around a ragged piece of bunting--red, white, and blue plastic flags. The bunting was smudged with oil. Bodie rubbed his finger in the oil and frowned. A tidal wave of emotion hit him even before he'd fully assembled the memory: June, 1977.
"Where did you say you parked the car?"
"Just a bit further out." Doyle's tone was light.
Bodie stopped walking. "How much further out?"
Doyle turned back to look at him, his face lit by street light. "Is that suspicion I hear in your voice?"
"No, it's certainty. Where did you park, Ray?"
"After all the sarnies and chip butties you ate, you should look on it as a blessing."
Bodie groaned. "I knew I shouldn't have left it to you. 'It'll be fine,' you said; 'I'll meet you there,' you said."
Doyle started walking again. "Well, how was I to know there'd be no parking for miles?"
"Which part of 'Silver Jubilee' was confusing to you?" Bodie caught up with him, and they continued on through the nearly empty streets. "You knew perfectly well what it would be like. Why didn't you use your card, then? You could have parked anywhere."
Doyle shrugged. "Didn't see the point."
"Look, Cowley just sent us along to keep an eye on things, right? The Met and Special Branch had the running of it."
"So they get to go home to their wee beds long before us, eh?"
"Half of them are still on the job, mate." Doyle nodded towards a couple of uniformed police checking on an apparently drunk man stretched out alongside a stone wall.
"Remembering what it was like to be a lowly copper?"
Doyle smiled. "Yeah. Nothing like this, though." He gestured towards the remains of the day--drooping bunting, scattered debris of food and drink, torn bits of costumes and homemade signs scattered along the wet pavement.
"It went off without a hitch."
"Thank good planning."
"Yeah." Bodie nudged him with his arm. "It was a good day."
Doyle slanted a smile at him. "Yeah, it was."
They continued on through the streets at an easy pace, and his shoulder bumped against Doyle's from time to time. London was oddly quiet--the street cleaners wouldn't be starting for another hour or two. Even the traffic was light, still diverted around much of the area they were in. Only a few people were about, everyone else probably recovering from the day--asleep and oblivious. Bodie spotted coppers and other security personnel along with the occasional civilian, but it seemed he and Doyle were in a world of their own. The rain had ended, and a cool, fresh wind was pushing the clouds away. Despite the length of the day, he felt fit and alert as he walked beside Doyle. There was no other place he wished to be.
Bodie glanced at Doyle, then followed his concentrated gaze to the side of a garage, where a man knelt on the pavement, a bag beside him.
"Doyle...." But Doyle was walking swiftly towards the man, his hand sliding into his jacket to loosen his gun.
"Leave it to the coppers, mate." Yet Bodie was resigned to following him. Two years of partnership and he knew which debates he'd already lost.
The man looked up as Doyle approached, then sprang to his feet, grabbed his bag and a petrol can, and took off towards the back of the garage. Bodie watched as Doyle gave chase, then frowned as he saw the man fling the can at Doyle, who dodged it. Bodie broke into a run just as the man, followed by Doyle, disappeared through a gate in a wooden fence. A few seconds later, just as Bodie reached the building, an object thrown from inside the yard exploded in the gateway, sending flames racing along the fence.
Bloody hell. He could smell the petrol; the man must have been dousing the side of the garage and the fence. He couldn't go through the gate, so he turned and raced to the other side of the garage, hoping there was another way into the yard. There was no access on the far side--the garage was built right against the next building, a florist shop. But he was able to get into the shop's yard, and he ran to the fence shared by the garage. Bunting stretched from the fence to the garage roof, and he broke through it as he climbed up and over the fence. Just as he dropped down to the other side, gunfire broke out. He ducked down behind a row of oil drums, hearing the ping as bullets struck metal.
Bodie pulled out his gun and eased along the row until he found enough of a gap to see into the yard. Doyle was grappling with one man, his movements awkward. Another man lay crumpled on the ground behind them, while a third circled the fight, gun in hand, obviously seeking his opportunity. The fire raged unchecked, spreading along the back of the garage.
He couldn't get a clear shot at the gunman, but he could draw his attention. Bodie lifted up, keeping behind an oil drum for protection, and fired towards the group. The gunman fired back, and then withdrew behind a row of tyres. As Bodie watched from between the drums, the man who had been on the ground pushed himself up and stumbled towards the garage, where a parked car would shield him from Bodie. Where the fuck was the fire brigade? The police?
He fired again and ducked as the gunman returned the favour. He could keep the gunman and his friend pinned, he reckoned. Even injured, Doyle should be able to handle the man he was fighting. They just had to hold out until the bloody world took notice.
Another round of firing, and then Bodie caught a glimpse of the man behind the car. He was holding a wooden slat that had fallen from the fence, one end of it blazing. What the fuck?
Even as the man moved forward, Bodie remembered that can of petrol thrown at Doyle. If he was covered with petrol, if the flame reached him.... Bodie couldn't get a sight line on the man for a clear shot. He fired anyway, but the man seemed aware of the limitations of Bodie's position and continued moving towards Doyle. All the man had to do was find something that would burn to fling at Doyle. Assessment and choices raced through Bodie's mind: backup should be coming; the gunman had an unobstructed field of fire to the oil drums; Doyle might not have been doused. Training told him to move along the line of oil drums, seek a better position, and hope the man would emerge from behind the car before he threw his bomb. Something else sent him up and over the drums, hurtling himself through the air, shouting like a banshee. He landed in a tangle of bunting and slid as his foot struck a large patch of oil seeping from the drums. He held onto his gun as he fell heavily, just as bullets struck the drums behind him. Staying low, he rolled, ending on his belly, in line with his target. He fired, and his bullet struck the man in an upward slant through his chest. The man fell backwards, the piece of wood clattering to the pavement along with him.
Gunfire erupted and Bodie curled instinctively, expecting to be hit. But the moment passed and he lifted his head to see Doyle leaning against the back wall of the yard, gun in hand. They stared at each other, then Doyle's smile blazed across the yard at him, fierce and alive. Bodie's gut twisted. My God, my God--anything, he'd give anything for that smile. And he knew his expression matched Doyle's.
Bodie scrambled to his feet, peeled off the bunting wrapped around his leg and dropped it. The man Doyle had been fighting was on the ground moaning. The gunman was also on the ground, hands raised, watching Doyle. Bodie quickly checked the man he'd shot and found he was dead. As he headed towards the gunman he glanced at Doyle. "You all right?"
"Do you have cuffs?"
Bodie shook his head.
"Left them on your bedpost again, eh?"
"Something like that."
The gunman glared up at Bodie as he approached. There was blood on his shoulder, but he seemed able to move it.
Bodie whistled under his breath. "Johnny Sachs." He looked back at Doyle.
"That explains the gun, then." Doyle dug into his back pocket and tossed a set of handcuffs to Bodie.
"Yeah, never could leave them alone, could he?" He glanced at the fire as he cuffed Johnny's hands. "Owner didn't pay for protection, is that it?"
Johnny stayed quiet, and Bodie shoved him back down to the ground as he stood.
"What are you going to do about that one, then?" Doyle gestured with his gun to the third man.
Bodie considered for a moment, then crossed the yard and picked up the bunting he'd dropped. He tore off a strip, walked back to the man, and grinned at Doyle.
"Oh, brilliant." Doyle set the safety on his gun and returned it to his holster, still leaning against the back wall.
As Bodie bound the man, he heard Doyle reporting their position over the R/T to HQ. He finished the last knot, patted the man on his arm, and looked at Doyle. "Where are you hurt?" He moved closer to Doyle, then stopped as the stink of petrol assaulted him. "Stay away from the fire, sunshine."
"Gosh, thanks." His eyes travelled over Bodie. "You're well lubricated, aren't you?"
Bodie grimaced as he glanced at his clothing. "And without the pleasure of drink." He returned his attention to Doyle. "What happened to you?"
"Fella there," Doyle nodded at the man bound with bunting, "whacked me on the leg with a spanner. Just barely missed my kneecap."
"Pot, kettle, mate. What the fuck do you think you were doing?"
"Love your tactics. Going out in a blaze of glory, were you?"
"Ever heard of the element of surprise?"
"We were all stunned, I'll grant you that."
"'Never mind manoeuvres, always go at them.'" Bodie grinned.
Doyle looked at him.
"I'll remember that." Doyle pushed himself away from the wall. "The next time we're in a naval battle."
Bodie watched as Doyle limped towards the bound man on the ground. He could hear sirens closing in as their backup--or the police, or the fire brigade--finally arrived. He watched Doyle and his stomach tightened again--the shock of sudden understanding was still racing through him. Bloody anything.
Doyle jerked the man to his feet. "Come on, sunshine."
"You bloody stink, copper."
"Good." He pushed the man to get him moving towards the charred fence.
Bodie collected Sachs and followed in Doyle's wake as men swarmed into the yard. Anything...but he'd find a way to ride separately from Doyle to HQ.
The bunting was held fast in Bodie's hand, crushed beneath his fingers. He eased his hands open, but was careful not to let the bunting fall. Doyle had saved it all these years--had he understood? Even then? Bodie's eyes were hot, but dry, and no tears would come to soothe them. There was nothing he could do. Bloody nothing. Except wait.
-- THE END --
(Revised December 2007)