Second in a series, following Keepsake and followed by Yule
Originally written for the Discovered in a Newspaper challenge for "Discovered in 1977" on the discoveredinalj livejournal community
Flash of light in the dark. An echoing boom. He ducks and twists. His hands are empty. Defenceless. He runs. Guilt overwhelms him. So many dead. "Somebody should have helped him before." The sound of another shot and he swerves, jumping over a body slumped against a wall. "You struck him. You punched him." Into an alley, dark--no, lit with sunlight. It's day. Fire rages in the building at the far end. Another bomb; more deaths. He turns around--he can't breathe--but there's a solid wall behind him. Trapped. "Like a traditional nanny goat." Bodie.
There's an exit--he knows it--a hole at the top of the wall. A tunnel. He scales the wall, climbing fast, clinging to jutting pieces of rock. Bullets strike near him. He turns his head, sees a man with a gun. No chance-- The man falls, caught in a crossfire. He continues on. Surely he should be there by now? Shouts and cries behind him. He ignores them. He's on his own path. "You bastard! Bastard. Bastard." And then he's crawling through the tunnel at last--but it's narrowing and there's nothing ahead but darkness.
He stops. The only sound he hears is his breathing. Even the fire is silent, although he feels the flames. Lost, he's lost, and he knows it. The tunnel crumbles beneath him and he falls into blackness. Tumbling alone. Everyone is alone at the end.
"He wants you to come alone."
"He would." Inside the phone box, Doyle closed his eyes for a moment. What the hell did Morgan expect? "Thanks, Maurice."
"Stop by the pub afterwards, Ray. Tell me what you can, eh?"
"Yeah. Ta." He hung up the phone and left the box. He had about sixty seconds to decide what he was going to do. He knew what Cowley would expect of him, but he wasn't some soldier blindly following orders. He'd follow his own judgement. Morgan had been a friend of his long before CI5.
The Rover was parked in a no parking zone. As he approached the car he saw a policeman speaking to Bodie through the window. Doyle grinned. Bodie could get out of the ticket by showing the copper his card--but Cowley might hear of it. Sometimes it was worth paying the fine. Of course, Bodie liked living dangerously.
The copper gave Doyle a sour look before turning away. Strike another blow at good relations between the force and CI5. At times it seemed Bodie was on a personal crusade to antagonise every copper in England. "What'd he do to get up your nose, then?" Doyle settled into the car.
"He was bloody officious." Bodie accelerated away from the kerb.
"That'll go down well with Cowley."
"We're on the job, aren't we?" Doyle just looked at him. Bodie's expression changed. "Your ex-DS did have something for you?"
"He wants me to come down to the pub and try out the new beer he's got in."
"Bloody hell. He called HQ just to--you're having me on, you sod."
"Morgan contacted him."
"And?" Bodie's tone was mild, but Doyle knew how much he wanted Morgan. They all did, but Doyle was the only one who believed in his innocence. That attitude hadn't won him any friends on the squad.
"He wants a meet. Alone."
Bodie said nothing, but his silence was eloquent. After more than a year working together, Doyle had come to a fair understanding of his partner's opinions. Bodie prized loyalty but trusted almost no-one.
"He has information."
"I trust him."
"Tell that to Cooper."
"Don't pull that on me. I was there, same as you. It could've been one of us as easily as Cooper." They'd been ambushed--a raid gone horribly wrong. They'd been lucky to get out with only one man killed. Lucky and well-trained. The questions and the blame had started right afterwards. Morgan had been the common denominator--the only one who had been involved with both sides. "He isn't responsible."
"You can't know that."
"I can bloody well believe it!"
"You're not one for blind faith, Doyle."
"Yeah, well, I'm meeting him. I'll let you know what he says, right?"
For once, the look Bodie sent him was easy to read, and despite himself, Doyle smiled. "Fair enough. We'll both go and meet him."
Bodie nodded and took the next turning.
Doyle looked out the window, automatically cataloguing all he saw in the winter landscape, but his thoughts were mostly on Bodie. A year. He'd once thought they wouldn't last a week. He and Bodie were miles apart, too different in their methods, temperaments, and values to be friends. Yet those differences served them well on the job--somehow they were able to read each other in action as if they'd been together for years. He'd never worked this long with anyone. He never dreamt he'd want to. Syd's death had taught him it was best to rotate partners--keep a self-protective distance. Yet he wouldn't choose to work with anyone in CI5 other than Bodie. If he stayed in CI5.
One of the last conversations he'd had with Syd had been about the squad. It sounded exciting, he'd said to Syd--a chance to make a real difference. He'd been an idealistic fool. Syd had probably known it.
By the time he'd been offered his opportunity to join the squad, he'd been a different man. He'd witnessed corruption on the force and in all the services. He'd watched villains walk free, although everyone knew they were guilty. His superiors had been full of public praise after he and Maurice had exposed Preston and Montgomery--but Maurice had been hounded off the force, and Doyle's prospects had disappeared. When Cowley had stepped into the picture, he'd been going nowhere on the Drug squad, unable to see any difference in tactics or effect between the dealers and the coppers. What the hell had he expected? That CI5 would be different?
It was true they had more fire power, and dealt with major crimes and terrorists, but did anything change? 1976 would go down as a bloody year, despite all their efforts. The worst of it was a bombing campaign that had lasted six weeks--sixteen bombs, thirteen explosions, and one fatality. But they'd cracked the case, found the bastards and stopped them. And here they were again, chasing another lot, trying to head off another Armageddon. Someone had to do it, right? Each life that wasn't taken by a bomber was a victory, wasn't it? That was Bodie's attitude. Doyle saw a bigger and murkier picture.
Corruption? He hadn't caught a whiff of it in CI5, not under George Cowley. Although there were rumours about an incident in the early days of the organisation. But he had watched as the other agents turned on Morgan. Where was Bodie's loyalty then, eh? Cowley had sent Morgan in undercover with the Organisation--capitalising on Morgan's wife's family connections. There was no doubt Morgan had known about the raid. Had he known about the Organisation's plan for an ambush? Had he--accidentally or purposefully--revealed their plans to the Organisation? They'd used information they'd received from Morgan to go in on a house the day after the raid and ambush. Six men and a woman had died in that house. Caught unaware, the cell members had nevertheless resisted--and the squad had taken their fury out on them. Doyle remembered Tommy McKay standing in the wreckage, pumped with adrenaline, and reporting no sign of Morgan's presence.
Christ. Was it any wonder Morgan was approaching CI5 through Maurice and Doyle? Kill or be killed. Follow orders without thought or mercy. There'd been no quarter given when Cooper had been slaughtered, so they hit back just as hard. And where did it get them? O'Hanlon was still out there, more determined than ever. Doyle had been in both raids. He'd felt both the anger of betrayal and the savage triumph of victory. But he wasn't going to condemn Morgan out of hand. He wasn't going to follow anyone blindly--neither the crowd nor Cowley.
Morgan was waiting for them in a small park by a pub where he and Doyle used to meet. He frowned when he saw Bodie, but moved forward to greet Doyle, tossing away a cigarette.
"You've become a package deal, I see."
Doyle shrugged. "CI5, mate."
"Cowley's looking for you."
Morgan met his eyes. "I didn't talk."
"Explain it to him."
"Would he give me a chance?"
For a moment longer Morgan held his gaze, then he looked away. "O'Hanlon's holed up. You hit him hard, but he's regrouping. We can take him."
"Does he know about you?"
"Not yet." Morgan shrugged. "I don't think."
Bodie stepped forward, eyes narrowed. "Call in the squad, then."
"No." Morgan looked at him, then Doyle. "Just us."
Doyle shook his head. "This is no game--"
"I know that. Look, he's on his own--a couple of other men at the most. They're packing, but they also want to leave a nasty surprise or two behind. There's no time to plan a raid."
"And why should we trust you?" Bodie asked.
Morgan kept his eyes on Doyle. "I want to clear my name. I want O'Hanlon as much as you do. More."
Doyle sucked in his breath, then looked at Bodie. After a long moment, Bodie's gaze dropped. Doyle turned back to Morgan. "Cowley will have our heads if it blows up in our faces."
"Don't push it. Where's O'Hanlon?"
"In a house close by. Regan was there when I left. Flanagan might be there now."
"No one else?"
"Who's left? That raid was bloody successful."
"You sound like you regret that," Bodie said.
"No." Morgan looked at him. "But Mary Cavanaugh was in that house. She was O'Hanlon's niece, but she wasn't involved."
"Guilt by association," Bodie said. His face was expressionless.
"Yeah. I know it well." Morgan looked again at Doyle. "I'll get in the house and find out who's there. You two come in the back through the garden."
"Too many random factors," Doyle said, and glanced at Bodie.
Bodie's smile was tight. "Risk is our business. The plan's okay."
Doyle could see the anticipation growing in Bodie--the hard eagerness for action and results. But for all the eagerness, Bodie would never agree to a suicide mission--unless Cowley ordered it. Doyle nodded, his gaze swinging back to Morgan. "All right."
They went in the Rover. Morgan sat in front with Bodie while Doyle rode in the back. It was a short ride to the house--a quiet-looking semi-detached with lace covering the windows. They parked a street away, and Morgan left them with instructions to follow him in five minutes.
Doyle sat next to Bodie, watching an elderly man being taken for a walk by an energetic dog of dubious parentage.
"What'd he do to earn your trust?" Bodie's voice was quiet.
Doyle looked at him, but Bodie was watching the street. Doyle shrugged. "He's a mate."
"Is that all?"
"I've known him a long time."
Bodie nodded. "You put a lot of stock in friendship then, do you?"
"Never had a mate turn on you?"
Doyle took a moment to answer. "Yeah. It doesn't mean they all will."
Bodie looked at him. "We all have to die alone."
"So you might as well stay that way in life?" Doyle shook his head. "It's not worth it."
"And yet, you're the one who doesn't go drinking with the lads."
"Takes more than drinks."
"Yeah." Bodie looked away. "I reckon so."
"Look." Doyle softened his voice. "He deserves a chance."
Bodie shrugged. "He's getting it."
"If you're not--"
"I trust you, Doyle." Bodie's eyes met his, and then he looked at his watch. "It's time."
They climbed out of the car, heading for the allotments running along the back of the houses. What was Bodie after? I trust you, Doyle. They had to trust each other on the job or they wouldn't survive. He trusted Bodie when it came to that. Was this Bodie's way of putting it all on Doyle if Morgan turned on them? Well, he'd taken on that responsibility when he'd agreed to the op in the first place. Did Bodie think he'd duck it?
Anyway, this job was far more Bodie's style than his--go in with guns blazing. Don't bother with backup; don't call at all until necessary. Bloody hell. He'd never hear the end of it, regardless of how it turned out. Maybe he ought not to have been quite so...adamant about the Smithson op. But Bodie's pushing had mucked up the op--and he hadn't even called Doyle that time.
I trust you, Doyle. When it was convenient? When it was Doyle's judgement on the line? He remembered the look that had passed between them when they were with Morgan. Bodie had deferred to him without question. So this wasn't a test. It was real.
The garden of the house was surrounded by a wall. An unlocked wooden door stood between the allotments and the garden. They eased through the doorway and found themselves in overgrown, brittle shrubbery. A winter garden didn't provide much cover, but they used what they could as they quickly moved to either side of the back door. Gun in hand, Doyle crouched beneath a window, hearing movement from within the house--a kettle whistling, the scrape of a chair on a floor, and footsteps. He signalled to Bodie, who gently tried the door handle. Their luck was in: the door was unlocked. Bodie smiled and nodded at Doyle.
Doyle's heart was beating hard and he knew Bodie could see the impatience in him, although he tried to control his expression. Excitement and action--that promise had been kept by CI5. It satisfied a part of him but made him wary as well. How much of a step was it from him to Bodie? To McKay? Action itself was clean--swift, sure, no time for doubts or hesitation. But it was all too easy to relish the power rush, and the purity of concentrating on one objective. It was all too easy to want to be blinkered. Where was the line between judgement and trust? Between his personal belief and his faith in George Cowley's judgement?
The sudden sound of a gunshot sent them springing into action. They charged through the door one after the other--Doyle low and Bodie high. The hallway was empty, but the door to his right stood open. Doyle swung through the doorway just in time to see a man grab a gun from the table in the kitchen. He shot the man, then felt Bodie's touch on his shoulder as he passed him in the hallway. Doyle moved into the kitchen for a quick assessment. The man--Regan--was dead. Doyle picked up Regan's gun and followed Bodie down the hallway.
Ahead of him, Bodie dropped to the floor as a spray of bullets erupted from a room down the hallway. Doyle rushed forward and fired through the doorway, then leant back against the stairwell. It was unlikely he'd hit anything but it gave Bodie time to slither back, gaining the protection of the wall. Bodie looked up at Doyle and grinned. Doyle smiled back, and then he dived ahead, drawing fire as he tumbled past the doorway. Behind him he heard Bodie's gun, and knew he'd gone in. He whipped around and slid through the doorway. Another man was down. Bodie checked him, and signalled thumbs down. Where the hell was Morgan?
Doyle stepped back into the hallway just as something small flew down the stairs, crashing onto the floor at his feet.
"Grenade!" He pushed back from the door, crashing into Bodie. They fell to the floor and covered their heads. The grenade detonated seconds later, sounding enormously loud in the confines of the house. Doyle lifted his head in time to see a slim man jump over the stair rail, bypassing the grenade damage. The man bolted to the back of the house.
Bodie was already on his feet, and he beat Doyle to the doorway. As Doyle reached the hallway he heard his name shouted from upstairs. He hesitated a moment, then ran up the stairs, leaving Bode to pursue the other man.
At the top of the stairs he found Morgan.
"Where's Lonnie?" Morgan's voice was little more than a gasp.
"Who?" There was blood from a bullet wound on Morgan's thigh.
"Lonnie! He ran out."
"The one with the grenade?"
"Jesus." Morgan groaned. He gripped Doyle's arm. "Is Bodie after him? You've got to stop him!"
"He's not part of this. He's only sixteen, for Christ's sake."
"He had a bloody grenade!"
"He's Alice's brother!"
Doyle stared at him.
"Go after him! Stop Bodie!"
"Where the fuck's O'Hanlon?"
Morgan's expression was wild. "That doesn't--"
Doyle looked up to see O'Hanlon, a gun in his hand, standing in a doorway. He dove to the side, knowing it was useless, expecting the bullet--
The gun misfired. "Fuck!" O'Hanlon threw the useless gun at Doyle and fled down the hallway.
Doyle jumped to his feet, his own gun in hand, but Morgan grabbed him again.
"I'll get O'Hanlon, you go after--"
"Fuck off!" Doyle pulled against Morgan's arm.
"Doyle! I can't catch them, but you--"
"Bodie won't kill him!" He broke free from Morgan's hold and followed O'Hanlon to a room at the end of the hallway.
The door was closed. Morgan came up beside him and Doyle handed him Regan's gun, then holstered his own. He took a deep breath, then kicked the door open. O'Hanlon rushed them, body-slamming them into the hallway. They fell together in a tangled, struggling heap. O'Hanlon had the advantage--anyone he hit was an enemy.
The sound of a shot was deafening, and it took him a moment to realise he hadn't been hit. He rolled away and ended up on his knees. Morgan sat with his back to the wall, holding a gun. O'Hanlon was on the floor with one hand wrapped around his bloody right arm.
"Fucking Judas. Traitor!" O'Hanlon spat the words at Morgan.
Morgan ignored him. "I'll guard him, Doyle. Get Lonnie. He's not involved--"
A laugh interrupted him. They both looked at O'Hanlon. "He's involved now, Morgan." O'Hanlon nodded at Doyle. "As soon as his lot went in and murdered Mary we had him. He's one of us now."
Doyle grabbed his R/T. "4.5 to HQ. Request immediate backup. We've got O'Hanlon and injuries."
"Doyle!" Morgan's voice was a cry.
Doyle thrust the squawking R/T into Morgan's hand. "Get them here. Can you hold him?"
"You'd better." He climbed to his feet, then ran through the hallway; plunged down the stairs and into the back garden. He hadn't a chance in hell of catching Bodie after all this time. Would Lonnie have the sense to surrender? The door to the allotments was open. He ran through it, then heard a gunshot in the distance. Fuck. He raced through the allotments until he came to a wooden fence. Another gunshot sounded as he sought a way through the fence, finally finding a loose board. He swung it aside and climbed through the fence into a field that was obviously used as a dumping ground.
"Doyle!" He saw Bodie duck behind a scraggy tree just as another shot roared out. Doyle caught a glimpse of Lonnie behind the rusty frame of a car. The angle was wrong, but he fired in Lonnie's direction, then sought cover behind an upended wheelbarrow. A moment later a bullet came in his direction, well off target.
Bodie wasn't shooting back. Doyle looked for him just in time to see Bodie break cover and rush towards Lonnie. What the fuck? Doyle jumped up and fired, hoping the sound alone would prove enough of a distraction because there was no way he'd be able to hit Lonnie at this angle. Bodie dove over the car, his momentum carrying him and Lonnie to the ground. Doyle ran forward, then slowed as Bodie pinned Lonnie.
The boy was crying in his rage and fear. "You bastards. You fucking bastards!"
Doyle picked up the gun Lonnie had been using, not surprised to find it empty. He looked at Bodie.
"Do you have cuffs?"
Doyle shook his head. "Already in use."
"Murderers!" Lonnie squirmed, then gasped as Bodie discouraged further struggle.
"Here." Bodie tossed his gun to Doyle, then hauled Lonnie to his feet
Doyle pocked the gun. "You do have a pair of your own, you know."
"They ruin the line of my jacket."
"We're going to kill all of you! Bastards!"
Bodie took Lonnie into a disabling grip and pushed him towards the fence. "Shut up and move along, son."
"What about grass stains, then?"
Bodie glanced at him. "Tell me you're joking."
"Well, if you will dress like that...."
Bodie sighed. "Bloody hell. O'Hanlon?"
"That's where my handcuffs are."
Bodie tightened his hold on Lonnie, cutting off whatever the boy had been about to say. "Cowley will be pleased he's alive."
Doyle nodded. "He might even overlook the fact we didn't call him."
"I wouldn't count on it."
They bundled Lonnie through the fence and into the allotments.
"Watching you back there--I wouldn't call you a realist." Doyle looked at Bodie.
"He was out of bullets."
"Yeah, after playing Dodgems with you."
"More like hide and seek, I'd say."
They found CI5 agents in the garden when they arrived back at the house. Wilson and Cameron relieved Bodie of Lonnie. Wilson pulled out a pair of handcuffs to secure him.
"Cowley's asking for you," Cameron said. "Front of the house."
"Ta." Doyle exchanged a grimace with Bodie and they headed into the house, passing more agents checking every cupboard and drawer in the kitchen and front room. They stepped over the charred remains of the grenade hole and on through the front door.
There were cars and an ambulance in the street, blocking traffic while police kept a crowd of neighbours at bay. Doyle saw Morgan seated on the kerb next to the ambulance.
Cowley looked up as they approached. "Ah, there you are. Did you catch the lad?"
"Yes, sir," Bodie said. He gestured towards Wilson emerging from the house with Lonnie.
"O'Hanlon?" Bodie asked the question while Doyle watched Morgan as Lonnie was escorted to one of the cars. Morgan stayed where he was.
"O'Hanlon is already on his way back to HQ. We'll get what we can from him. We may get more from the contents of this house." Cowley looked at Doyle. "Morgan contacted you?"
"Yes," Doyle said.
"I see. And you didn't--"
"There was no time, sir." Bodie spoke before Doyle could. "It was either go in, or...."
Cowley nodded as Bodie trailed off, and his narrowed gaze shifted from Bodie to Doyle and back again. Doyle remembered the same look after training exercises. "In this case it appears to have been the right decision. They were clearly in the process of getting out."
"Morgan told us that," Doyle said. "And that only Regan and Cavanaugh were with O'Hanlon."
Cowley raised his eyebrows. "And his brother-in-law?"
"He didn't mention him." Bodie's voice was expressionless.
"Aye." Cowley's lips tightened as he glanced at Morgan. "Write up your reports at HQ and turn them in tonight. You have the next two days off."
"Thank you, sir!" Bodie said.
"But the interrogation?" Doyle objected
"I believe we can manage without you." Cowley's tone was dry. He turned away, then looked back. "Well done. Both of you." Cowley walked into the house.
"What do you reckon he meant by that?" Doyle asked Bodie.
"Don't analyse it, just accept it."
"Maybe one day you'll be able to follow Cowley's crafty little mind, but not today."
Doyle glanced at him. "I'll settle for your crafty little mind. You didn't follow procedure back there."
"It wasn't necessary."
"They tell us hesitation is a liability."
"He was just a scared kid."
"With a gun and possibly more grenades. I know you've told me sentiment is too risky."
Bodie grinned. "Told you, risk--"
"--is our business. Yeah." He met Bodie's eyes. "So is good judgement." He glanced in Morgan's direction. "I'll just be a moment." He walked over to Morgan.
"Are you sure you want to be seen in my company?" Morgan looked up at him.
Doyle squatted next to him. "Give them time."
"No. This didn't prove anything." Morgan's tone was flat, and his eyes strayed to the other agents.
"Did you know Lonnie was here?"
For a moment it seemed Morgan wouldn't answer, but then he sighed. "I hoped not."
"What would you have done?"
Doyle looked away.
"Yeah. I hope you never find out." Morgan touched Doyle's shoulder. "Thank you."
Doyle shrugged. "Thank Bodie."
"You got to him in time."
Doyle felt a sudden, surprising anger in his gut. "I didn't do a thing."
"I told you, didn't I? He's not Tommy, you bastard."
"Doyle, I didn't--"
"Yeah, you did." He held Morgan's gaze for a moment, then stood. "I'll see you at HQ."
He returned to Bodie, who was waiting for him at the edge of the crowd. There should have been nothing to set him apart from the neighbours and the coppers, but it was as if he stood on his own island. A soldier's bearing? Certainly he had the self-contained yet lethal presence of a predator at ease. A predator who had chosen not to kill. The crowd edged away from him as well, as he joined Bodie. They fell into step with each other as they headed to the car.
"Is he really Morgan's brother-in-law?"
"Bloody hell. Morgan was trying to get him out?"
"He says he's not involved."
"Yeah, well, Morgan isn't the best judge maybe."
"Maybe." And maybe Morgan wasn't the only one guilty of misjudgement; guilty of withholding full trust. Perhaps it wasn't so much finding a line between trust and judgement as finding someone worth the risk of faith. "You're just lucky his shots were wild."
"I was born lucky."
"Oh, is that what you call it?"
"Modesty is my middle name."
"No wonder you go by Bodie alone." They reached the car and Doyle hesitated a moment, looking across the roof at Bodie. "Oi," he said.
Bodie straightened, looking back at Doyle. "What?"
"You busy tomorrow?"
He saw a certain wariness in Bodie's eyes, and realised he'd seen it before. "What do you have in mind?"
"Go out with a couple of bikes."
"I haven't got one."
"I've got a spare."
A smile slowly spread across Bodie's face. "I know a pub. We can have lunch there."
"You would." Doyle opened the car door and climbed in.
Bodie joined him in the car and put the key in the ignition. "No, but listen, Ray. There are these two barmaids.... You'll thank me, my son. I promise."
"Ray. They tell me you might hear me. They tell me to go on and talk to you. But it's for me, isn't it? Keep me quiet. Keep me focused on you and not them. You never believe me when I tell you I'm a realist. I know the odds.
"I can't do it, sunshine. Can't just...talk to you like this. What I have to say isn't for their ears. It isn't even for you, if you can't hear me.
"Christ, Ray, just bloody wake up, won't you?
"Always have been a stubborn bugger. Independent to a fault. Sure of yourself. Why the fuck did you trust him? Haven't you learnt that lesson yet?
"Don't leave me alone, you bastard. You know I'd never leave you. Not willingly.
"Ray? I'm here."
The pressure on his hand was real, and solid, and warm. He knew what it was; who it was. A lifeline wasn't the half of it.
"Bodie." He whispered the name as if it were a charm.
-- THE END --
(Revised December 2007)