PART I - - Darkness Which May Be Felt
It couldn't actually be so, but to her imagination it seemed that the minutes dragging past had a sound and fury all their own. This was, she realised, an impossibility.
Early mornings were the worst time of day. It was like being out off in a vacuum from everyone and thing, isolated. Eerie.
She should have felt relieved. After all, the worst hadn't come to pass after all. Funny that, all the worry and picking of words, choosing the moment carefully, bracing for a shock ... in a way it was disappointing when he'd accepted it; understood, in fact, what had happened better than she did.
Go back to the beginning. Item: Willis of MI6. Correction formerly of MI6. So, Willis formerly of MI6 had waited, patiently, for two years, for an opportunity to get a bit of his own back at Bodie and CI5. Hadn't that young man and his organization combined to make Willis look rather an idiot over the Schumann business? Such a bad show, really a valuable agent being driven into a corner like that, played with like a toy of no value. Not something George Cowley appreciated at all and his opinion carried clout. Before too long, eyebrows were being raised in the right quarters, questions asked ... uncomfortable questions. Things like: had he, Willis noticed the mortality rate of his section was higher than any other department on line? Every overseas division was less ... casualty prone. He knew precisely where to look for the origin point of the enquiries. And then the chance at Bodie had been handed to him on a virtual plate ... tucking him away for 36 hours and making the car a how best to put it? write off, had been easy. They still weren't certain where the body had come from. By the time it was apparent that the dental records didn't match, Bodie'd been released with a, "So, sorry, George, but these things happen in our game ..."
Nancy smiled grimly. She wondered how Willis liked the depths of the English countryside into which he had been sent most ... permanently. No particular record of it, naturally, since such things didn't occur in civilised Western democracies. But British Intelligence has always looked after its own, one way or another.
"I'm pregnant ..." and "I ... I'm not 100% sure it's yours..." she had said.
She could recall, with rather idiotic clarity, the way he had put the book he was reading down. Page marked very carefully, every action precise, as though it mattered enormously. Maybe just then it did.
"Whose?" Curiosity, eyes hooded and careful ...
In her mind's eye she could see herself standing there rather rigidly, floundering around for the right words. Of which, there were of course, none. "Ray."
He got up and walked over to stand, staring out of the sitting room window. "And?"
"We thought you ... he brought me home that night, after they'd found your car ... with the body in it. It just happened ... " She'd floundered one, explaining it all, then, and he'd listened through, really listened. She'd been grateful? For that.
What was also unexpected, was the way he'd accepted it. It shouldn't have been surprising Bodie had been in circumstances similar in tone, if not fact, too many times in his past, not to understand that, sometimes, comfort has to be taken where it can be found, regardless of shoulds or should nots.
What she hadn't envisioned, either, was that it would all fall apart anyway. You would think that after more than a year of living together, things were pretty well set.
And it was, only ... the heart had gone out of things. It was an inadequate description, but the best she could put into words. Little by little she had seen the intensity of what had been between them, binding them together, draining away. The old cliche about the world ending not with a bang, but with a whimper ... Except it was true. For a while she'd told herself it was just the fact of the baby; but the pregnancy itself was not at all difficult in any physical sense, in fact as far as that went she'd never felt better in her life. Whether the change of feeling was caused by guilt, or the guilt was caused by the change ... that was something she had no clear answer to.
Bodie realised it, and it was something he had fought. Going out of his way, in fact, to be kind, to be ... whatever she wanted. That might have been unbelievable to outsiders, but she knew him better than anyone, except Cowley and possibly, Doyle. Bodie was marshmallow underneath and as romantic as they come, talk to the contrary notwithstanding. His life might have driven such inclinations underground, but it hadn't stamped them out.
She'd ended up feeling like a person acting in a play she no longer liked very much, saying lines she no longer believed in enough to deliver them with anything approaching conviction. Until finally, it was impossible to keep up the pretense of going through the performance. Curtain down, no encores.
Bodie had finally given up as well. He hadn't said anything in so many words, of course, but it was evident in the expression on his face when he thought she wasn't looking. Regret and sadness and something she hesitated to put a name to all mixed together. He put a reassuring smile on whenever he caught her glance. The reassurance of a tried and trusted friend. Not a lover.
With a start, she was pulled out of her recollections. Pain was a wonderful agent for concentration. Going into the past wasn't going to block it out any longer; she managed a smile at Bodie, who was looking rather strange in the cap, gown and mask they'd bundled him into. The dark blue eyes fixed so earnestly on her face were familiar though, comforting.
No much longer, she thought ...
The baby was a girl, small but perfect, all fingers and toes present and accounted for ... with an abundance of straight, fine hair, very dark, and eyes that were an emphatic blue, none of the vague inky colour most babies settled for.
She was too tired to read the expression in his eyes when he stopped in to see her it was early evening, and he'd just wanted to say goodnight, before he left the hospital.
Nancy smiled up at him. "See you tomorrow?"
"Me -- and probably the rest of CI5 as well."
"Oh god." But she was laughing as she said it.
He laughed with her, then dropped a kiss on her head and left her to catch up on her rest.
She thought, just before sleep claimed her, that they were more in tune now, than in months ...
... The passing staff nurse, heard him say "Goodbye" people did odd things in hospitals, but this one word had a ring of such finality to it, and she thought it most odd ...
PART II -- And Sheathed Their Swords, For Lack Of Argument
More than one person remarked on what a delightful pair they made. The tall, dark-haired man with his small, equally dark-haired daughter skipping along at his side. Straight out of Disney, and even better, because it was for real.
Janra's mother met them just outside the Zoo exit. "How was it?"
Bodie laughed. "I had a job keeping her out of the koala bear sanctuary, but other than that ... "
"They have tigers," Janra put in, "I think I'll have one someday ..."
"I don't doubt it - - ." Nancy's voice was not as dry as it might have been. Janra probably would get one ... eventually. She was that sort of person. She turned to Bodie, "We were wondering - would you like to take her next weekend as well? If you're not on duty ..."
"I've got some leave time due ... shouldn't be a problem."
"Good. Look, Tom's waiting ... I'll phone you later in the week, all right?"
Janra hugged him enthusiastically, planted a somewhat sticky kiss on his cheek, and then allowed Nancy to lead her off; when they reached the corner, the little girl turned around and waved at him.
He waved back, and watched until they were gone from view, swallowed up by the crowd.
Bodie turned then, striding off in the opposite direction, hands thrust into his jacket pockets. A solitary figure. Business as usual.
-- THE END --