Alone in the Wilderness
Seven years! Seven long years, and finally the first real lead that he'd had. He looked again at the grainy black and white newspaper photo. Was it him? Could it be? It had to be! It wasn't full-face, but even at an angle and with the hair so different...still some things don't change and some flaws stand out for anyone looking to see. His mind argued that it could just be a shadow but he knew that he had to see for himself. Good or bad he had to know for sure.
A city, a large city, in Eastland, but that was more than he'd ever had before. It was a chance and he would take it. Then maybe one way or the other he'd find peace. He called his cleaning lady and asked her to keep an eye on things while he was gone. No, he didn't know when he'd be back and, yes, this was rather sudden but he had some unfinished business to attend to. No it couldn't wait.
Getting off the phone, he sighed. She'd done for him since he'd come back to England three and a half years ago, and her sons being conveniently far up north she'd sort of adopted him as a surrogate. Most of the time it didn't bother him too much but every now and then it got damned inconvenient. Like now when she started to ask too many questions. He sighed as he hung up the phone and began to rapidly pack a bag.
First stop London and the paper that had printed the picture. His editor could help there. Being a writer of popular investigative journalism books, he could use research as an excuse and the literary critic for the paper could probably get hold of the original picture for him. Easy to trade an exclusive interview with a reclusive author for some research material. Much easier than trying to get it as a stranger walking into the newspaper office off the street. Once he had a good look at the picture then he'd decide whether or not to pursue the matter. Did he really want to find the man or not? Part of him did,
but another part said to leave well enough alone, that success would change his life irreversibly. But even as he thought it, he knew that he could never rest until he'd found out whether or not it was him. One way or another, his life in shambles or not, he had to know.
Zipping up his garment bag and another case, he slung the strap of his portable PC over his shoulder and headed out the door less than an hour after having first seen the picture.
Holding the picture in his hand, there could now be no doubt the man lived and, as of two days ago, had been in Eastland. Thanks to his status as a best selling journalist, Phillip Williams had had no trouble getting a copy of the picture and the address of the location where it had been taken. He grabbed his luggage from the critic's office, thanked him for his help as he was effusively thanked for giving an interview, and headed out the door.
Climbing into his car and contemplating the rush hour commute to Eastland he almost regretted not taking the train, but then he didn't want to mess with renting a car. He liked his anonymity and preferred not to leave a trail, especially in this case. As he drove he contemplated what he'd been able to learn about the picture.
Nothing about the man had been known, only about the incident that had given rise to it. A couple of youths on crack had decided to rob a bank. It had fallen apart quickly: with a silent alarm and an off-duty policeman heading home that spooked them by his mere presence; a hostage situation had evolved. The standoff had lasted over three hours and, as the young men got more panicky and vicious when their highs wore off, the armed police had been instructed to take them out at the first opportunity. Still it had dragged on, but when they'd shot one of the hostages in the leg, orders had been given and the police had taken them.
It'd been a textbook maneuver and the hostages had been freed with no further injuries; one teen was dead, the other in critical. The photo was one of several that had been taken in the aftermath of the situation. It was chosen because it combined the qualities of being dramatic yet not gruesome, unlike many of the others that he'd thumbed through. It showed a woman and her child being helped out of the bank by the police. Williams had looked over all of them carefully but it was only in this one that he could find the dark-haired man in the background. He'd checked out the other daily papers for any signs of him but their photographers seemed to have had even less success than the one he'd talked to.
He'd go to Eastland and ask around. Hopefully someone would be able to put a name to the face he'd searched for for just over seven years now. Settling back in the car, resigned to the long drive in traffic, he plotted out other possible courses of action if his first choice failed to come up with an identity.
Chief Constable Alan Cade was tired and depressed. Yesterday had been a miserable day and he'd gotten little sleep last night. His orders had resulted in the death of one young man and the wounding of another, now in ICU at the local hospital. His survival was still in doubt. The fact that they'd given him little choice still did not ease the distress he felt at such a waste of life. He'd never let his people know that he agonized this way; in his job you couldn't appear to bleed for the suffering of the world, especially not two dope-heads. But he'd met the boys' parents--such as they were--and knew that their upbringing contributed significantly to their problems. Still... the young men had had choices, and they had made the wrong ones. In the end, no matter the life they'd been given, theirs was the ultimate responsibility and theirs the ultimate price to pay.
Even knowing all this, accepting all this, Alan Cade wished that he could have found another way, and blamed himself for this perceived failure. So now the depression would come and he'd spend the next few days wrestling with sleep and trying to fight off the dark cloud that would weigh him down.
Years ago, there had been someone to stave off the darkness, to cheer him up, to understand his pain, that knew him like no one else. Such friendship offered comfort and heartened him when nothing else could. Even his many lovers had never known about the internal discord that pulled at him. Marie had had a hint at it but she, as the others, assumed that he handled it better than he did. Cade was a reserved and private man, and only one person in his life had he ever let see the dark depressions that often troubled him, because only one person had shared the same trait and had understood what it was like. Sometimes they descended into that darkness together but it was less dark for the companionship of the other.
But there was companionship and sharing no longer. He was alone, truly alone, and he would have to fight his battles with help from no one. The past was past, and to mourn its loss now would only deepen the darkness into which he was being pulled. He settled down to finish the reports on yesterday's incident.
Detective Superintendent Rose Penfold took a deep breath as she debated whether or not to tell the Chief about the man who'd been asking questions of the shopkeepers around the bank. She knew that she had little choice, since the person he'd been asking about was Chief Constable Cade, but she hated adding any more to his pressing concerns. Cade appeared resigned about his orders to take the bank and the resulting loss of life two days before, but Penfold suspected that he wasn't as unemotional about the situation as he appeared. While you could learn to outwardly control your emotions so that no one could tell what you felt, she'd found that you could rarely eliminate those emotions. Her previous work with Cade had given her the impression that no matter how resigned he appeared on the surface, he regarded each death as his own personal failure. The dark circles under Cade's eyes yesterday and today seemed to attest to that fact.
But when a man with a newspaper clipping of the hostage incident started trying to identify a man in a photo and that man turned out to be Eastland's Chief Constable -- well, it couldn't be ignored. Her first thought was that it was an old enemy, but most criminals who carry a grudge for a copper make sure and get said copper's name. They were running a check on him from his driver's license, but so far all they had was that his name was Phillip A. Williams and that he lived in a small village in Cornwall. He didn't appear to have a job, and was tense but not afraid at being brought in for questioning.
The beat cop that had brought him in said that he'd thought he might have to call for backup until he'd stated that he could identify the man in the picture. Phillips had been suspicious but must have decided the policeman was telling the truth --'If he couldn't identify his chief, even from a lousy picture, he'd be in for it,' Rose thought, 'that's for damn sure'-- for he had come along without protest and was sitting quietly in an interrogation room.
She'd talked to him briefly and had been able to get little out of him, only that the man he was looking for was someone he needed to contact and that no, he didn't know his name, but his business was personal. Williams seemed calm and unemotional but there was an aura of danger about him, and leashed tension. And DS Penfold wished that she could get over the feeling that Williams was only remaining there because he wanted to. His attitude seemed to say that he could leave whenever he felt like it, and only remained there on sufferance. Well, lots of criminals were cocky, but part of the Detective Superintendent believed that they'd have a hard time keeping this man if he truly wanted to leave.
It wasn't just his attitude, but the way he was aware of everything around him without seeming to be. Rose had watched as the man was brought in, and as Williams had been talking casually with a DC, one of the secretaries had bumped into a desk upsetting a stack of books and files. Williams had spun swiftly and caught the items before anyone else could even speak, and calmly righted them -- thus saving a considerable amount of straightening work -- and went back to his discussion. What shook the DS was that she'd have sworn the man's back was facing the desk and it could have only been sound and a remembered awareness of the hazard there that had allowed him to react that fast. No, she wouldn't give odds on their ability to hold this man if he didn't want to be held.
On top of that they had nothing to charge him on, no reason to hold him. Not much of a reason to even bring him in for questioning. It wasn't illegal to inquire about Eastland's Chief Constable, but it was still enough to make her very nervous. Drawing another deep breath, she knocked on Cade's door.
"Come in." Alan Cade wasn't in the mood to be disturbed, but then he wasn't in the mood for his own company either. His temper was short.
"A situation has arisen that I think you should be made aware of, sir." Rose wasn't stupid and recognized her boss' tone of voice. He wasn't in the mood for social niceties.
"We have a man in the interrogation room who's been asking questions about the attempted bank robbery from day before yesterday."
"So he's probably just a reporter trying to get a follow-up angle. Why bring him in? Has he been harassing the hostages?"
"No, sir. He's been asking around downtown trying to identify one of the individuals in a newspaper picture of the incident."
Alan Cade experienced a deep foreboding. "Who?"
"Are you sure? I didn't pose for any picture. You know these days I try and avoid unnecessary publicity."
"Yes. But you were caught in the background of one of the pictures that a London paper ran." She handed the newspaper clipping over to her boss, "Here, you can see for yourself." Detective Superintendent Penfold watched as her boss became pale. He looked like he'd just been gut punched.
"Has he put a name to my face?"
"No. But it's only a matter of time. Your face might not be the most famous in Eastland but it's well-known enough that he's bound to bump into someone who can identify you."
He nodded. There was little doubt that a determined individual with a picture would eventually put a name to his face. He studied the picture. It wasn't very good, and he found it hard to believe that old enemies supposedly either dead or in prison would recognize him from it. Still.... The question was what to do about it. He was satisfied with his life, such as it was, and didn't want to give it up; but he didn't want to end up dead either and it looked like those might be his only two choices. Better to find out more about the man before he panicked.
"What's this man like?"
"Dark wavy hair, muscular -- not someone you'd want to face off with in a dark alley if you could avoid it -- he's got an air of intensity, almost menace about him." Cade listened intently, the man sounded like many criminals and terrorists he'd encountered over his career, but if he was after him there was no doubt in his mind what group he represented.
Rose's next words left him reeling and no matter how many years he'd spent learning to hide his emotions, his training was not enough to hide his reaction to the description. "He's got deep blue eyes, don't think I've ever seen a pair quite their colour, almost look black at times. Not bad looking when he smiles." There was only one man whose eyes fit that description, and who if he saw that picture would come looking.
Cade was up out of his chair and on his way to the door before Penfold had finished her description. "What room is he in?"
"Number two." She answered to the retreating back. The DS took off to follow her Chief and watched as he moved swiftly through the outer offices towards the viewing room. Cade was moving faster than she'd ever seen him move for someone who was not running.
Catching up to him at the viewing room Rose was surprised by what she saw. Chief Cade was standing staring through the one way mirror at the man sitting in the room next door. His hand was pressed open-palmed to the glass and he was breathing harshly, deep controlling breaths. He turned his head, and seeing his Detective Super, Cade struggled to collect himself. It took more effort than Penfold had ever seen him need before, and in the end he was unable to do more than keep his voice steady as he gave orders.
"Give me five minutes and then escort him to my office. I won't be there, so just show him in and let him sit. Tell him I'll be there shortly but got called away. Do not tell him that I'm the man in the picture."
"But he'll know the minute--"
"Just do it." Cade pushed himself away from the window and with one last look at the man on the other side walked out of the room.
Alan Cade knew that he had to get on his own for a few minutes. Needed to collect himself just a little before he faced the man from his past. He headed down the hall and up the stairs to an empty office used for visiting detectives and ministry officials. Shutting the door he collapsed against it and let the emotions flow. 'Better now than to make a jackass of myself in front of my men or slobbering all over him.'
'How long? Too long,' since he'd seen the man behind the mirror. He'd given up hope of ever finding him, knowing that any attempt to search for him could have resulted in both their deaths, something their late boss had taken great pains to avoid. But he was here now, and he'd be
damned if he'd ever lose touch again. He hugged himself and slowly got the tears under control. It wouldn't do to let his people see him like this. Rose had looked shocked enough by his behavior. At least he could count on her to be discreet; she wasn't a gossip. He wouldn't have to deal with tales of the Chief's crack-up circulating around the office.
Penfold would, he knew, regard leaving a suspicious man alone in the Chief's office as a stupid move, but right now he didn't care what she thought. If he was going to fall apart, he didn't want any witnesses to that fact, especially none of his staff.
Calming breaths, and a quick trip to the loo to wash his face, and he left to meet his past.
'What the bloody hell does the Chief of Eastland want with me?' Williams paced around the constable's office. 'Nice office for a copper. Lot nicer than the ones I was used to.' He picked up and examined a few items as he thought about the day.
He moved to stare out the window and checked his watch again. Fifteen minutes. 'Where the hell is the man, and why would he leave me unsupervised in his office? That's foolhardy behavior.' Williams was unimpressed with what he'd seen of how this office operated. It made him wonder how they'd managed to pull off such a perfect assault day before yesterday; normally that was an indication of a good leader.
Thinking back over the day spent asking around about the man in the picture, he realized that he hadn't got any leads, unless this Chief had something to say to him. 'Maybe he's protecting...' Possible, but too soon to make that kind of determination. The fact that none of the employees in the shops around the bank recognized the man meant that he probably wasn't a regular customer in that part of town but whether or not he was just passing through he couldn't tell. He'd been about to give up for the day and planned to widen the parameters of his search tomorrow--maybe even switch to the actual photograph rather than the poor quality news clipping--when a plod had stopped him and asked what he was up to. Someone had probably mentioned that he was sniffing around. Williams showed the man the picture and asked if he knew who the man was. After all, if they'd taken any names the police were likely to be able to identify the man. If only he could get them to help without revealing too much.
All he needed was a name and then he'd follow up every bleedin' man by that name in England if he had to, to find the one he was looking for. He slammed his hand against the window ledge. 'This couldn't be a dead end...it just couldn't! It's the closest I've come in seven years and I'm not giving up now.'
Williams heard footsteps outside the door, the handle turned and the door started to open. He turned back to look out the window -- a way to demonstrate his contempt for his treatment while in police custody. He led with his mouth before the door was fully open. "You coppers have kept me cooling my heels long enough. Is it a crime to try and find somebody?"
"No, but it makes 'em nervous when the person you're trying to identify is Chief Constable?" Cade had wanted to be calm and not to show how upset he was but as the man at the window jerked around and stared at the sound of his voice he found the truth flowing out as he shut the door firmly behind him.
"And as for why I kept you waiting, I didn't want to blubber all over you before I got through the bloody door. God, Bodie, I've missed you!"
"Ray! Dear god, Ray..." his voice broke. He couldn't continue.
Both men moved and met in the middle of the room in a fierce embrace. They stood that way for a long time, holding and using their hands to stroke and pat each other's backs, until Cade pulled away and protested, "My knees are weak, mate. I've got to sit down." He used the back of his hands to wipe the tears from his eyes and cheeks. 'God, I'm blubbering all over him,' he thought, embarrassed. He was relieved to see that his old partner wasn't much more dry-eyed than himself. Seemed neither of them were the hard men any more.
"My legs don't seem to be working too well either, sunshine." At the use of the nickname Ray's tears, which had just about stopped, started again. Bodie protested as he led him to the couch and they sat down, "Now don't start up again. How am I going to keep my hard man image if I come out of this office with red eyes and tear tracks?" he complained but the smile on his face said that he didn't mind at all. He kept rubbing Ray's arms with his hands, needing the touch to prove to himself that seven long years alone were finally over.
Bodie studied his old partner with sharp eyes and observed, "You're letting it get to you --"
"Seeing you? Of course I bloody well --"
"Not that. The deaths of those two young robbers."
'Seven years and he can still read me like a friggin book,' Ray groused to himself, then thought, 'S'nice.' He started to speak but Bodie interrupted him.
"Look, there's no sense blaming yourself. If anything else could have been done you'd have done it--"
"And how do you know that?"
"Cause a lot of things may change about you but that's one that won't. You'd never kill unless you had no choice."
"We both know that isn't true," Ray said, referring to an incident in their shared past.
Bodie didn't pretend not to know what he was talking about, "Yeah, but since I wasn't one of the hostages, I'd bet on it." He remembered the one and only time in their ten year partnership that Ray had killed when he could have wounded. A terrorist had hurt Bodie. Tortured him for over an hour before Ray had found them. He'd not even paused, but put a bullet right between the man's eyes.
He smiled at Ray, and looked down, surprised to find that they were holding hands. "I wanted to look for you the minute I heard Cowley was dead. Put out a few feelers but I was afraid I'd put you at risk if I did anything."
"Same here. I was on assignment in Paris when he collapsed, working for the Met. Didn't hear anything until I got back. By then it was too late and I didn't even dare attend the funeral." Ray sighed. "I watched from the pavement outside the cemetery as they put him in the ground. Then went home, got drunk and had a long cry. I'd lost him and you all in the same day."
"We were stupid for letting him separate us, even if it was supposed to be only eighteen months to two years, until all the trials were over."
"Know that now, damn well knew that after the first six months. Hadn't known what loneliness was until my best mate was no longer available to talk to and no one knew who I really was. Then when the Cow died and I realized that he was the only person who knew where you were and what name you were using..." Ray Doyle shuddered at the memory. Those were months that he didn't want to relive. "I almost decided that breaking that IRA cell hadn't been worth it. Hell, no almost to it -- it wasn't worth giving up everything if that everything included you.
"I broke down a couple of weeks after the funeral and contacted Murph but it was no go. He'd been helping to clean up the old man's papers and had actually been looking for leads to where we were --"
"Thought we were supposed to be dead? Cowley tell him?"
"Not exactly. Murphy was with him a lot after he had the stroke that week in the hospital before he died, and said that at first he believed that the old man was just delirious and reliving old times -- said Cowley had never been the same after our deaths -- but then he realized that the Cow kept repeating the same thing over and over, two variations: 'Must help Doyle find Bodie,' or 'Must help Bodie find Doyle.' He figured that he was off his rocker but said that he realized that it was during his more lucid times that he kept repeating the phrase. He died before he could ever get clear enough to say any more." Ray squeezed the hand that held his in mutual comfort. Although the
death had occurred five years previously, it seemed like just yesterday, because he'd never been able to talk it over with anyone. Never been able to truly grieve.
"Murph said that he suspected after that that we were still alive, and that one or both of us might be contacting him to get information about the other. So he was careful when he went through the files to look for any leads. Unfortunately, Cowley didn't trust our new identities to any written records. At least none that Murph could find.
"After a year went by and you didn't contact him, we both figured that you were either dead, didn't know, or had contacted someone else. It was too risky for him to go around hinting to see if someone would admit that you'd been in touch. I'd have risked it for my own sake, but it would be making you a target as well and without any way to warn you. The few remaining free members of that IRA cell were becoming active again. Revenge would have been high on their list of priorities if they'd known we were alive."
Bodie interrupted to give his side, "Cowley'd shipped me off to Hong Kong and I was working with the police there. Special squad. I didn't hear about his death for almost six months, and then I only found out about it back-handed because of all the press about disbanding CI5. How it couldn't go on without George Cowley."
"They were right there. I wouldn't trust anyone with that kind of power but the Cow --"
"Or us. That's what he'd originally planned, you know, but then he'd planned to live longer."
"Thought he might have had us in mind, but how did you --"
"He told me. I raised a lot more protest about us being separated than you. It was one of the few times he lost his temper at me. I shouted about giving up everything, and he shouted back that by taking us to ground he was giving up his vision of CI5 continuing after he retired." Bodie shook his head in sorrow.
"I didn't protest after that. Was kind of shocked that he'd admit to feeling that way about us. If I'd known that it'd be seven years rather than two, I'd've told him to go hang, no matter what."
"Guess we both took our partnership too much for granted." Ray turned on the couch to face Bodie. He raised his free hand to give his partner's shoulder a squeeze. "Not anymore. Oh god, I can't believe you're really here." Ray stopped for a minute to give Bodie another quick hug, releasing him, he continued, "Was thinking about you just yesterday. I felt so bad about those lads, knew that if you'd been around you'd have understood and been able to cheer me up. Missing you just made it hurt more." Ray took a deep breath to collect himself. Seven years of control, of not saying what he was thinking, of hiding how much things got to him, and the minute that Bodie walked in the door it was all gone. Just like it'd never been. 'It feels bloody wonderful.'
He gave his partner another bone-crunching hug before sitting back and asking, "So what do you do for a living? They ran a check but couldn't find any place of employment."
"Don't work for anybody. Work for myself." At Ray's raised eyebrow he could tell that his partner knew that he was stringing him along. He gave in and explained, "I'm an investigative journalist. I write under the name of P. A. Williams." He gave Ray a cocky grin at his partner's flabbergasted expression.
"Bloody hell. I've read your stuff. 'S good, that. The last couple have been best sellers. No wonder you're so reclusive, and I thought it was a publicity stunt --"
"So does my publisher. I can't very well tell him that the colleagues of twenty-five imprisoned or dead IRA terrorists are gunning for my head. We put most of them away for life, and while the vast majority of their associates wouldn't try anything, the rest of the cell that remained free would be more than happy to have a go at us again. So I do my research, write my books, and keep my face out of the public eye. You're taking a bit of a risk with this position, aren't you?"
"Suppose, but the last members of that IRA cell that we broke up were killed in a shootout just before I decided to apply for this job, so the likelihood that anyone is around that might still care isn't as high. Up until then I kept a pretty low profile. Still try to, for that matter but it's a bit harder with this position. Plus I've changed my looks enough that I don't think they'd recognize me, and you should see my official publicity photo. Had a mate do it. He messed with the lights and flipped the negative when he printed it so that this," Cade ran a finger along his scarred cheek, "Is now on the wrong side and doesn't show in the official shot. Doubt me own mum would have recognized me from that picture."
"I didn't know about the last of the cell. You sure it's safe?"
His partner shrugged. "You never know, so I still take precautions, do my best to keep my mug off the box and only the doctored photo in the press, but I thought it was worth the risk to come home. Had been doing a lot of liaison work over in Europe, France especially, up to a few years ago."
"Well, I recognized you from the picture the paper ran, but then I know you a lot better than most and I knew you were alive, so I knew to look." As a thought suddenly occurred to Bodie he blanched. "Bloody hell! Must have shook you up a bit when you heard someone had that news photo of you and was trying to get an ID."
"Gave me a few moments I'll admit, but when Rose said that the man was tough-looking with dark blue eyes and was attractive when he smiled... Flew out of here so fast that she had to run to keep up with me. Prayed all the way that it'd turn out to be you. Wanted to break the damn mirror that was between us, but I wasn't about to put on a show for the people who work for me. Reckoned that if I took a few minutes to collect myself I'd be able to keep it together."
Bodie smiled and kidded his mate, "Getting delusions of grandeur are we, sunshine?"
"Berk. Come on, dry your eyes and let's go back to my house. Can talk in peace there."
"What are you going to tell 'em?"
"God knows. The truth, that we're old mates."
"And I didn't know your name?"
"Don't know. Maybe that I met you while undercover and we lost touch before I came out. Can claim the case is still classified and that we can't talk about it."
"That's true enough. Could pass a lie detector on that one."
They stood up, wiped their faces, adjusted their clothes and assumed their professional demeanor. Philip Williams the sardonic, arrogant writer and Alan Cade the serious, self-assured, very cool, very controlled Chief Constable of Eastland, exited from the office without an apparent care in the world.
Cade was met by DS Penfold. "You didn't have to hang around, Rose."
She cast a suspicious look at the dark-haired man and replied to her boss. "I wanted to catch you up on a few items before I left, sir."
Bodie bit his lip to keep from grinning at the implied suspicion. 'This one's no cream puff, bet she keeps Doyle on his toes.'
'Might as well get a start on the cover story now,' Doyle decided. "This is an old friend. We worked undercover on a case together and as a result didn't know each other's real names. So when Williams..." 'God I'll never get used to calling him that. Must really get up his nose as much as he hated it.' The pause in Cade's explanation was so minute that only Bodie spotted it, and he knew the reason. Cade continued, "...saw my picture in the paper, he thought he'd look me up since he had business in the area."
He gave Rose his most charming Bodie deluxe smile, but that only took the edge off her hostility. He really couldn't blame the DS. Ray looked calm enough now, but if his mien when he'd entered his office was anything to go by, it was obvious that he'd been very shaken up. Probably threw the woman for a loop seeing her boss in that state. 'Would have gotten up my nose real fast if anyone had had that effect on the Cow, that's for sure,' Bodie mused to himself.
He held out his hand, "Nice to meet you. Now that I've bumped into Alan again you'll probably be seeing a lot more of me." 'Going to have to work on these new names,' he chided himself. 'We're stumbling over them like a couple of rank amateurs."
Penfold nodded and called out to one of the officers, "Christopher, could you escort Mr. Williams to get his stuff and then back here." They watched Bodie leave and then she continued, "Is everything all right?"
Ray, who'd been watching his partner's back as he left, realized that his friend was truly concerned. "Everything's fine, Rose. Great, actually." And gave her one of Ray Doyle's patented beamers. He hadn't smiled like that since the night before they'd got the assignment to infiltrate the IRA group and his world had subsequently fallen apart.
Detective Superintendent Rose Penfold had been worried up 'til then, but being on the receiving end of those smiles, first from Williams then from Cade, she realized that whatever was going on between the two men it was obviously not a threat. She'd couldn't remember ever seeing her boss look quiet this happy. The DS found it very disconcerting-- actually the way Alan Cade kept drifting off as she was briefing him on the events of the day began to downright unnerve her. The Chief was normally so intense. She lost her train of thought several times and in the end gave up and started on his itinerary for tomorrow. Cade held up his hand and interrupted her before she'd gotten very far.
"You'll have to handle anything that comes up tomorrow and over the weekend. Unless it's a major crisis I don't want to be disturbed." He'd been watching for Bodie to return, and upon sighting him excused himself quickly and they headed out the door, his guiding hand on Bodie's back.
As DS Penfold was turning away, one of her inspectors came up to brief her. "We heard from the local police about Mr. Williams. He works for himself; he's a writer."
"Writer? What sort?" Her mind was still on the radical change she'd witnessed in her boss but the inspectors reply quickly captured her attention.
"Best selling. Ever heard of P. A Williams?"
"Well, I'll be damned." 'And just when I didn't think Cade had any more surprises.' She shook her head, wondering what the story was between the two men, and realizing that she'd probably never hear all of it.
They'd grabbed a take-away and picked up Bodie's luggage from his hotel room, then headed to Ray's to catch up on the last seven years. As they talked, their closeness was there and it seemed like they'd only been apart a few weeks instead of several years; but the more each heard of what the other had gone through, the more it hurt like a lifetime. It was three in the morning before they finally collapsed into Ray's king- size bed. Ray insisted that his sofa was not kind to old bones such as theirs. Bodie had to agree; while he'd once slept in the back seat of cars or on the ground he now liked his creature comforts, roughing it no longer held any appeal for him. They both fell asleep talking of all the little details they'd missed.
Bodie was the first to wake. The strange bed threw him for a moment, and he couldn't at first place the reason for the unusual contentment he felt. He woke feeling happy -- happier than he'd felt the first time he'd made the best seller list. With the shift of a body next to him, and a gentle sigh from his bedmate, memory returned. He'd found Ray. Seven long years of exile were now ended, his friend was back. There was someone who understood him and loved him just the way he was and someone he could love in return.
'Love? Hmmm...? Interesting.' He'd not thought about it that way before; certainly never verbalizing the words, but that's what they shared, what he'd missed most in his life. He wondered if that was why he'd never settled down with any of the women he'd dated over the last years. But no... or maybe yes... in a way... They'd all been nice but they weren't Ray.
He rolled over to look at his partner, to enjoy watching him sleep, and it struck him just how handsome he was. The hair was different -- more distinguished somehow -- he found he liked it, and those greying temples that made him want to run his hands through the soft hair. The curls were gone, but somehow that just highlighted how attractive his partner's face really was; they'd distracted before, now the essence was revealed. The green eyes hadn't changed, still beautiful and sparkling. At least they sparkled for him.
He'd seen Ray's DS and how she'd reacted to his partner's changed attitudes and unguarded smiles. It was obvious she'd never seen 'Cade' in quite that good a mood before. 'Well, I haven't been smiling all that much either,' he mused. 'Suppose the people who know us now are going to be a bit surprised at the changes. We'll have to be careful, and we've got to watch names.' He was going to have to start thinking of Ray as Alan now, anything else was too dangerous. 'What's Ray going to call me? He knows how much I hate William, could tell by the way he hesitated when introducing me -- maybe he can call me Philip, never minded that name all that much.' He smiled and nodded. 'That would work.'
Watching the sleeping man, he found that he wanted to reach out and touch him: stroke his face, run fingers through his hair, pull his body close into an embrace; do everything he could to show him how much it meant to have him back. 'Everything! Bloody hell!!' His eyes opened wide in surprise. 'Great time to realize I've suddenly developed the hots for my partner!' But was it really so sudden? In truth, he knew that it wasn't.
Bodie rolled in frustration onto his back and harumphed silently. 'Great, just great, perfect time to get a hard on!'
He glanced over to see green eyes watching him. They smiled and then the mouth below them followed. "Well I'd ask what's wrong..." Ray's voice faded off and he let his eyes wander down his partner's muscular frame to stop and stare at the erection poorly concealed by his boxers. He concluded, "But it's fairly obvious what your problem is; for that matter I've got the same problem." He sighed and rolled over on to his back, scooting closer to Bodie in the process.
"Too much feeling needing an outlet," he observed blandly.
'How the bloody hell can he be so calm about it?' Bodie groused to himself, then spoke. "So you're saying that if we ignore it, it'll go away?"
Ray turned to look at him, a smile on his face. "I doubt that. Let's face it, we've never cared for anyone else like we care for each other... Like we LOVE each other. After seven years of mostly empty relationships -- or at least relationships where I never felt that she knew the real me -- being back together... Well..." Here he shrugged, at a loss for words.
"So, you saying that we want each other?" Bodie wanted everything clear. Too much unspoken and taken for granted last time had led to their allowing Cowley to separate them.
"Yeah. Don't think there can be anyone else. Least not for me." Ray sighed, "No one else has ever meant as much..." He shrugged. He'd spent ten years of his adult life looking for what was already beside him, and only when it was gone realizing what he really wanted. What he needed.
"You don't seem all that upset, or surprised, for that matter?" Bodie's voice held a question.
Ray looked chagrined. "Not really. Started to have dreams -- you know, THOSE kind of dreams -- 'bout you after we'd been apart for six months or so. Bit of a shocker at first, then I sort of got used to it. Good many of them to begin with, and still, even after seven years there'd be one every now and again. 'Specially when I felt like there was no one... Helped to have you there loving me, even if it was just a dream. So no, it's not exactly a surprise to me."
He rolled over to lay partially on top of his partner, reaching up to stroke the side of his face, before slowly lowering his head to kiss Bodie's lips. Bodie's arms came up around him, pulling him closer, his mouth opened and their tongues explored the taste and feel of each other. The kiss broke and Ray shifted until his head was resting on his partner's broad chest.
" 'S'nice that you've kept in shape." Doyle allowed his free hand to explore the body beneath him. It felt good. He continued to talk, "Haven't been with a bloke since before I joined the Met. Feels different. Take some getting used to." His hand was teasing Bodie's stomach and sliding slowly down towards his erection. "Think I could get to like this quite a bit."
"You always were a randy ol' toad, Doyle."
"Only if you don't let that hand get down to business soon," Bodie threatened, nodding his head at the hand playing around his groin but failing to make contact so far with the important bits. He let his hand wander down and pinch his partner's arse.
"Naughty, Bodie. Patience is a virtue."
"I've got seven years of patience to make up for." Bodie rolled until he was on top of Ray, leaned down and took his mouth in a passionate kiss.
Ray Doyle looked within himself to try and find Alan Cade and the control and the patience he'd worked so long in cultivating. But with Bodie's arms around him all he could find was Ray Doyle, truly alive for the first time in years and consumed by the passion he found in his partner's arms. His hands grabbed the waist of the other man's pants and quickly pulled them off. Bodie raised up a little so that they would slip free.
Bodie's hands weren't idle. He pulled at Ray's pajama bottoms until they were down about his knees and then he used his feet to shove them the rest of the way off. Each man groaned at the touch of their naked bodies. The strange feel of their cocks resting against each other served to ignite their passions further.
Later there would be time for slow loving, for exploring each other's bodies in detail, for preparing for the final joining. Now the flame burned hot, the need too great for lingering touches, as their souls strove to be joined. Now was the time to finish what had started yesterday in the Chief Constable of Eastland's office. They'd both known as they touched that they wanted no one else; that aloneness which had held them trapped for the last seven years was over and the only joining that would truly satisfy each was with the other.
Their minds alive with the joys of being together again, their bodies consumed with the feel of each other, orgasm was not long delayed. Bodie came, hot jets flowing between their bodies, and as his wave of excitement passed he reached down between them to massage Ray's balls and cock until he too erupted with a loud groan.
"Marvelous. Bloody marvelous. Missed you." Ray gave him a long lingering kiss before quickly falling back to sleep in his lover's arms, glad that he'd taken the day off. After a little kip he planned to enjoy a more in-depth exploration of this new aspect of their partnership.
Bodie held him and stroked his hair and body, until he too drifted down into sleep.
Seven years ago Ray Doyle had taken his partner for granted. He'd been beside him for so long that it hadn't occurred to him what his loss would mean. Six months apart and he'd been bitching at Cowley that it had been long enough. The Cow had told him to hold on. Over two years into the separation, when Ray had known he couldn't tolerate the loneliness any longer, he had been ready to confront his boss. Cowley had died before they could meet. Doyle's soul had screamed as it had been ripped apart and he'd been forced to realize that he might never see his partner again. Now they were back together, and Bodie was all that he wanted and the only one who could complete him.
Seven years ago Bodie had known better than to let their boss separate them, but he'd let Cowley's convictions override his own. His boss had convinced him that it would be safer for Ray if they were separated while the trials were going on, and so he'd given in and allowed the old man to send him to Hong Kong. He'd bitched via letters from the day he arrived but the Cow had soothed with words and he'd held on throughout all the months of loneliness.
He'd heard from Cowley on the two-year anniversary of their separation, telling him it would only be a bit longer and then he'd arrange three seven's transfer so that he could return to England and contact his ex- partner. Bodie'd spent the next six months on an agonizing precipice waiting for the transfer that never came. When word of the old man's death months before reached him, he'd sat down and cried for one of the few times in his adult life. Cried at the loss of the only father figure he'd ever really had, at the fact that Cowley had died alone without either him or Ray beside him, and most of all for the fact that his last link with the only person who'd ever made him feel less alone in this world was gone. He'd taken six more months to finish the case he was on, then returned to England, but there the trail ended. CI5 was no more than a small office that maintained the records of his former organization and answered police and ministerial inquiries, the agents and the power were gone and there was no word of Ray.
Bodie'd contacted Anson, no word, hunted around some of Doyle's old haunts and loves, but there was no trace. He'd given up the weekend when he'd attended the annual Norton motorcycle swap meet and there had been no sign of his old partner. Going on with his life had not been easy but then he really had no choice in the matter. Now he was glad that he had. Ray was not only back in his life but also in his arms -- a deep-seated desire that he'd never been able to admit to himself until this very morning, but one which he knew would last the rest of their lives. It was good and he was content.
They were together, finally, and no matter what, they would never again allow themselves to be separated. They were complete, and things were going to be better than ever.
Bodie sighed as he moved the last of his stuff into Ray's house. As he began to put his few remaining things away in his room, he thought about how much he normally hated moving. This time was different. It was a risk to move in together, but one that they had decided they were willing to take. The one-bedroom flat he'd rented in town would serve as good cover. Actually, that part of the arrangement he was particularly pleased with. The flat would function not only as cover but as an office, and he could get rid of the mess and clutter of research from his living quarters.
It had been the one thing that he'd hated about his new profession. Doing investigative articles and books required an enormous amount of research material; sometimes he couldn't move for all the papers and books surrounding him, and he'd hated living with that clutter. In the beginning he'd had no choice, couldn't afford a separate office, nor a flat with a spare room, to hold all the material. Then after he'd hit the best seller list and had more money, he'd been too busy, and yes lazy, to bother with moving. The move to Eastland and their need for discretion had finally allowed him to set up a separate place for his research and writing. Officially it would be his residence, and only his agent would have Alan Cade's number as a backup location to reach him at; even he wouldn't know the truth that Phillip Williams was living at the backup location.
Chief Constable Alan Cade polished off the last of the reports on his desk and prepared to go home. Home. It was truly a home now. Not just a place to unpack his bags. Bodie -- no, Philip -- had moved in last week and Cade was finally happy. Even without another promotion, he realized that he could be satisfied with where he was now as long as his partner was there. He still wanted to move up. There was too much the Cow had taught him needed to be done for him not to want to acquire power to make a difference. But now it wasn't ambition just because he had nothing else in his life; it was ambition because he thought there were important things to be accomplished. Bodie could work from the outside and he would work from within. Together they'd help to carry on George Cowley's vision. He smiled. Funny how the presence of Bodie back in his life -- the man who said he only did it for the money and didn't have any ideals -- could renew in himself the idealism and vision that he'd lost over the years. They would make a difference.
His secretary entered and smiled at him when she saw that he was preparing to leave. Over the last few years since Marie had left him he had seemed to live in his office. Home had merely become a place where he slept, and on some occasions he hadn't even done that. There had been a few times that she'd come in to find him asleep in his office. The last month or so something had changed, she wasn't sure what, but now the Chief Constable only stayed if there was pressing work, and if he started to get behind he took his work him home with him.
She'd patiently waited to find out who the new woman was in his life, but had so far been disappointed. There did not seem to be a new love interest. It wasn't something that she could ask him about. He was a very private individual. 'Perhaps it's that old friend of his that turned up. Maybe he's encouraging him to get out more.' Whatever it was, she was happy for him because he smiled more and even on occasion laughed. Quite a change that was.
"Good night, Sir."
"Good night. I'm caught up on the paperwork so I'm taking the weekend off. Only emergencies."
"Yes, Sir." She smiled at him as he left and thought how much younger he looked of late as he walked out the door.
Hurrying in the house, Alan called out to Philip, "You got us packed?"
"Packed and the car loaded."
"Efficient bugger, aren't you?"
"Don't want to keep Murphy and Anson waiting. Be good to see them again and to catch up on how things are going. Glad their wives didn't mind letting them go for the weekend." Philip smiled as he grabbed the cooler of food for the cabin. "You get changed and I'll put this in the car. I laid out a change of clothes for you on the bed."
Seeing his smirk as he went out the door, Cade wondered what his partner was up to. The pair of ratty jeans and the t-shirt lying on the bed gave him his answer. 'Well, it's the least I can do for him, but if he thinks I'm growing back the curls he's got another think coming,' he reflected as he quickly changed into said items. 'Wonder where the hell he managed to find these?' Alan Cade didn't wear jeans -- it wasn't part of his persona. But for this weekend he was going to be Ray Doyle again, and Bodie was making sure he remembered.
In assuming Cade's identity as he had, he'd killed Raymond Doyle, but now Bodie was back and helping him find that part of himself that he'd hidden. He couldn't return to the man he had been seven years ago, he didn't want to, but he found that with his lover's help he was allowing those parts of himself that he'd buried deep to come out again. He felt more himself now than he had in a long time, and he was definitely enjoying it. Cracking a joke at Rose today, he'd seen the startled look on her face before it was quickly followed by a laugh. 'Must have been a humorless sod these last few years. Well, no more.'
His thoughts were interrupted by his mate's return. "Come on, Raymond my son, it's time to go. Want to raise a glass with friends and toast the old man. Never got to say a proper good-bye. 'S'bout time. Don't you think?"
Ray smiled and nodded, "Long overdue."
They headed out to the car for a weekend dedicated to remembering the old and celebrating the new.
-- THE END --
Originally published in No Holds Barred 16, Kathleen Resch, 1997
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Yes I know there are some issues on the show that I didn't deal with in the story. Cade's daughter for one. I did sit down with several Chief fans and run possible scenarios to reconcile those discrepancies by them. We came up with explanations for all that we could think of. However when it came to writing the story I found that though they were neat ideas they added nothing to the plot of the story. All that background just came across as unnecessary padding and distracted from the point of the story which was Ray and Bodie getting together again. So you'll just have to believe that we solved all those problems for now. If I ever get around to writing the sequel I've been thinking about then more of the background we developed might come to light. Until then thanks for reading.
Also a big thank you to those who helped me on this story: JD, JL, KC, LF, and DK.