First Class Conversation
Written for the Discovered Out of Context challenge on the discoveredinalj livejournal community
"Bloody typical, this."
Bodie's head jerked up fast enough to clatter painfully against the exposed brick wall that was propping him up. He realised, somewhat to his surprise, that he had been on the point of falling asleep, the lateness of the hour and the adrenaline-fuelled action of the day over-riding the insidious, paralysing cold and the discomfort of the restraints. Still, life had taught him, if little else, that it was sensible to rest when you could. And for hours now there had been no sound, no threat, nothing to disturb the chilly peace other than...
"Oi. You listening? I said, this. It's typical."
Other than Doyle. Who had been whingeing, on and off, since the moment the door had slammed shut, the harsh rasp of the key in the lock signalling a reprieve from the imminence of danger. There were times in his life when Bodie came close to thanking God for pairing him with someone as intelligent, resourceful and downright bloody brilliant as Doyle. And then there were times like this.
He sighed into the darkness. "Go on then, astonish me. What is?"
"What is what?"
For fuck's sake. "Typical. What's typical?"
The disembodied, disgruntled voice took on more animation. "All this. Bloody Cowley, sending us off half-cocked when he must have known what we could be walking into. I tell you, Bodie, just sometimes I've a good mind to go in there and belt some sense into him. Shove his triple-think where the sun doesn't shine."
Bodie, picturing the image, snorted. "Like to see you try, mate. Bad leg or not, he'd take you down before you were half way across the room."
A chuckle rumbled across to him, earthy and rich and incredibly heartening. "Yeah. Coiled spring, that's our Cowley."
"Our Cowley? You can have him if you want him, sunshine. Nothing to do with me."
And once again the cellar was pitch black and deathly silent, but this time the stillness came with an edge of promise, of hope, and Bodie realised that perhaps the whingeing had its uses.
Or perhaps not.
"Cowley's bloody mushrooms, that's what we should be called. Kept in the dark, fed on..."
"Yeah, yeah." Bodie took a breath, sensing the genuine hurt behind the complaints. "Look, Doyle, you'd do well to have a bit more faith in the Cow. We've been in this position before -- he's always had our backs when it mattered."
"Still here, aren't we?"
"Yeah, we're still here. More through blind luck and each other than anything that bastard might have done, though."
Bodie shifted position slightly, wincing as he felt the onset of cramp in chilled muscles. Bracing his tethered hands against the wall, he pushed himself upright, stamping to relieve the tingling in his thighs and calves.
"It's not on, though." God, Doyle could be a tenacious little bugger when he got his teeth into something. "I mean, I'm not daft, I know we're expendable and all that. But if The Cow's going to chuck us to our certain deaths, the least he could do is let us know what we're getting ourselves into. Give us a fighting chance. It's almost as if..."
Bodie's patience ran out. "Look. Cowley'll have his reasons. He always does. Now just drop it, would you?"
"Fine," Doyle snapped back. "Pardon me for thinking." He subsided into an offended silence. Bodie started a silent count. Ten...nine...eight...
He got as far as three, before Doyle's voice floated across to him, the moroseness now underpinned with a repressed glee that had Bodie's adrenaline kicking in before he even registered the words.
"Well, if you're feeling so philosophical about things, you probably won't be interested to know that I've got these ropes off." He paused, and Bodie didn't need to be able to see his partner to sense the grin. "Maybe I should put them back on, though. Might not be part of Cowley's master plan."
"Touché, you smug git. How d'you manage that?"
"Got the penknife, haven't I? Stuffed it in my sock before we came in. They didn't search me properly. Mind you, I've cut a few lumps out of my hand."
"Poor baby. Want it kissed better, do we?"
There was a pause, rich in promise. Doyle's voice, when it came, was husky, and Bodie shivered in an anticipation that was wholly unsuited to their current predicament. "All in good time, sunshine. In the meantime, get over here and I'll cut you loose."
Bodie crossed the room, realising for the first time that the darkness was no longer quite so impenetrable, that the first faint stirrings of daylight were fragmenting the shadows, forcing their determined way through the accumulated grime that coated the small, high window. Reaching his partner, he indulged himself by leaning in close for the briefest of moments, drawing untold strength from the warm contact, before turning his back to give Doyle access to his hands. "Go on then, do your worst."
"Don't tempt me," Doyle answered softly, as the knife went to work. Bodie stood motionless, patient, managing not to flinch as Doyle, careful but hampered by the half-light, nicked his skin with the sharp blade. Finally the rope split, and Bodie was clenching and unclenching his fingers to ease the sharp pain of returning circulation.
"Right then," he said cheerfully. "No point hanging around here. Sun'll be up soon, and our friends could be back at any time. Besides, I'm hungry."
"Course you are."
"Hey, it may have escaped your notice, but I missed dinner."
"Disaster. Still, maybe they'll bring breakfast."
Bodie scowled, thoughts turning to what they could realistically expect if they were still around when their captors returned. "Yeah. Wouldn't count on it. Here, let's have a look at that lock."
He crouched by the door, eye close to the lock, concentrating. "Yeah," he murmured, "maybe...give us the knife."
Doyle passed it over, eyebrows raised. "You've got no chance. That's solid workmanship, that is."
Bodie extracted a thin blade, spared the time to cast a supercilious glance Doyle's way before inserting the metal into the lock. "You know your problem?"
"Oh, enlighten me, please."
"Your problem, my son, is that you have no faith. A little optimism goes a long way, as my old mum used to say."
"So what you're saying is that I need to be more like you."
A loud click reverberated around the stone walls, and Bodie straightened, grinning. "Exactly." The grin faded. "Mind you, if this door's bolted, we're stuffed."
Bodie gazed at his partner, the light now clear enough to be able to see the solemnity and tension that he was sure were reflected in his own expression. It was a moment that never grew old, never any less terrifying -- that instant of appalling potential when all outcomes were possible, before the action and the adrenaline took over and carried events along without allowing time for reflection. In a hidden, unacknowledged corner of his mind, Bodie knew it was these moments he lived for.
Still holding his partner's gaze, Bodie took hold of the handle and twisted. And found himself half way across the room, sprawled on the stone floor, without a clue what had just happened. He twisted round, froze at the sight of a man, framed by the dim light from the now-open door, gun trained directly at Bodie's head. Time seemed to expand as he watched the man's finger tighten, impossibly slowly, on the trigger.
With an inarticulate yell of pure rage, Doyle hurled himself at the guard. The two men crashed heavily to the floor, and the gun went off. Bodie saw Doyle jerk backwards, heard a strangled gasp of pain. The guard took instant advantage, rolling Doyle over, pinning him with his weight as once again he brought the gun up.
But by this time, Bodie was on him. Looping an arm round the guard's neck, he twisted sharply, viciously, feeling nothing but a vindictive satisfaction as he heard the sickening crack, felt the body under his hands go instantly limp. He all but threw the guard out of the way, desperate to get to Doyle, the jolt of relief almost incapacitating as he took in the clear awareness in his partner's eyes.
"You all right?" The words came out unintentionally harsh. Doyle nodded.
"Yeah. Got my shoulder. Just a graze, I think."
"Right." Bodie struggled for words, decided it would keep. "Wait here. I mean it, Doyle, don't move."
Allowing himself just one glance back, solely to reassure himself that his partner was staying put, Bodie padded silently into the corridor, closing the door softly behind him.
An hour later, and it was all over. Bodie had crept through the house, expecting ambush or confrontation at any moment, astonished to discover that the gang -- having left just the one guard on duty -- were all tucked up in bed. Which was as nothing compared to the astonishment of the gang themselves, awakening some short time later to the sight of the massed ranks of CI5 looming over them with a quite dazzling array of weaponry. There was, in the face of such a force, no resistance. The terrorists surrendered meekly and were rounded up without a shot being fired, much to Cowley's evident satisfaction.
And now Doyle was settled in the back of an ambulance, shirt off, the angry gash on his shoulder being cleaned and bandaged by a nurse who, under normal circumstances, Bodie would have been flirting with outrageously.
Instead, he was standing just outside the ambulance, back resting against the door as he gazed sightlessly out into the glorious white and gold sunrise. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day, and Bodie could not have cared less. In the back of his mind the scene in the cellar was playing out, over and over again, with crystal clarity, and each time the image changed. Bang, and Doyle's face was gone. Bang, and blood sprayed out from Doyle's chest, or the back of his head disintegrated, or he doubled over clutching his gut as his life dribbled out from between helpless fingers. Each time the image grew more powerful, more real.
A voice sliced through his visions, dragging him back to reality. "Come on then. Spit it out."
Bodie turned slowly to face his partner, breath consciously deep and even to bank down the worst of the anger. "You bastard. What's wrong with you?"
He registered the play of emotions that flitted across Doyle's face, from comprehension to indignation, through defensiveness, finally relaxing into a calm understanding than went some way towards settling Bodie's frayed nerves.
"Hey mate, be fair. I did just save your life." Doyle spoke gently, no sting in the words.
"You bloody nearly got yourself killed!" Bodie realised he was shouting, tried again. "Look, thank you and all that, but the way you took on that guy was just plain reckless. Don't you care about staying alive?"
"Without you, darling? What would be the point?" Doyle was camping it up like mad, rewarded by a giggle from the nurse. But his head lifted, and his gaze met Bodie's, and the utter truth behind the flippant remark radiated so powerfully that Bodie was rocked by it.
He nodded, once, acknowledging and returning the sentiment. Later, maybe, he would try and put into words the force of his own emotions, the horror of contemplating life without his partner, the constant fight against the urge to shelter and protect a man who was perfectly capable of looking after himself. But for now, he sat in comfortable silence until Doyle had been patched up satisfactorily.
That was what he loved about Doyle. He always knew the right thing to say.
-- THE END --