Ray Doyle stopped halfway through his task of making the bed, trying to remember when, if ever, Bodie had last made it. He was usually more interested in wrecking it and they had certainly done a thorough job last night. He still found it hard to believe that they were so happy together; they had been lovers for about six months now and it seemed as if things were going from good to fantastic. Being a realist he had been waiting for the first flush of their love to die down, for the incessant need for physical contact to calm a little - but judging by what had gone on in the bed last night, it hadn't palled yet.
Bodie was downstairs, making a cup of tea. They still had their own flats but moved freely between each other's homes, neither wanting to surrender that piece of territory that was solely 'theirs', each knowing there would be times when they would want that extra space to be free in. This was actually Bodie's flat, but Doyle was perfectly at home in it.
As Doyle entered the kitchen, Bodie was just beginning to open his mail, he glanced up at Doyle and smiled. "Tea's in the pot but you'll have to wait for the milkman, milk's off."
Doyle often despaired of Bodie's deplorable housekeeping. "Where's the coffee, I can drink it black."
"Sorry, sunshine, finished the coffee day before yesterday."
"What about fruit juice?" He saw the empty carton lying on its side on the cluttered draining board. "Don't bother," he said, exasperated. "Have you got anything I can have for breakfast?"
Bodie gave the problem a lot of thought. "There's a box of that muesli muck in the pantry," he offered helpfully.
"No milk, Bodie," he reminded. At that moment they both heard the welcome sound of chinking bottles from the direction of the front door. "Ah, salvation." Doyle charged down the hall to the front door to collect the milk.
Returning to the kitchen he busied himself pouring tea and helping himself to the muesli. He completely missed the puzzled frown on his lover's face as Bodie studied one of the envelopes he held. It only took him a minute to read the short letter before he looked up at his partner who was still preparing his breakfast.
No, Ray hadn't noticed. Should he say anything? Bodie decided against it, not wanting to make a big fuss over something which might later turn out to be nothing. He quietly went upstairs and returned moments later fully dressed, jacket on and the car keys in his hand. He was halfway to the door before Doyle realised that Bodie was going to walk out on him.
"Hey, where're you going?" He tried again. "Bodie, I said where are you going, where's the flipping fire? Bodie!" His shout finally penetrated his partner's brain.
"Got to go out, mate. See you later, okay," he muttered distractedly, and opening the door he walked out without another word.
Doyle was stunned. What had he said? What on earth had he done? He thought back over the short conversation in the kitchen, his ears picking up the sound of Bodie's car moving away outside.
"Damn you, Bodie," he shouted in the direction of the front door. Our first weekend off in months and he just walks out, no explanation, nothing, thought Doyle furiously.
For the rest of the morning he hung around, looking out the window at intervals, waiting for Bodie to return and explain. By one o'clock there was still no sigh of him and Doyle was getting madder by the minute. He was mad at Bodie for running out and mad with himself for being so upset by his partner's actions. He decided that when Bodie did finally condescend to come home he wasn't going to find his ever-faithful, tame lap-dog moping around waiting for him like some love-sick teenager.
She was making the bed in her son's room when she first saw the man sitting across the street in the car. Her heart froze. He was looking at the house. It was so hard to see through the net curtains and the man's face was slightly in shadow. Was it him? She didn't know. It could, of course, be anyone. It could even be Parkes. The man got out of the car and crossed the road, walking decisively towards the garden gate and she saw it wasn't Parkes.
The doorbell rang loudly, echoing up the bare passageway. Her heart was in her mouth as she descended the stairs. Would he recognise her, she wondered. Would he help her? Her hand was trembling as she opened the door. For a few minutes neither of them spoke, they just stared, confirming each other's identities. The dark man was the first to break the silence.
It was him! The pent up emotions and tension of the past few weeks came forth and she burst into tears, throwing her arms around the man as if he was her last chance of finding a safe haven in a world suddenly gone mad.
It was a beautiful day, hot and sunny, a perfect start to a bank holiday weekend. Doyle left the flat and drove for a while with no real direction in mind, his thoughts still puzzling over why Bodie had acted so strangely. He couldn't think of any reason, but knew that in some areas Bodie was still a complete enigma to him.
He suddenly found himself caught in a king size traffic jam, with absolutely no way of escaping from the flow of traffic. Dismayed he realised he had driven into the holiday crowds heading for the funfair at Blackheath. As the cars inched along Doyle felt as though he were being slowly cooked by the glare of the sun through the windscreen.
Just ahead of him, a car was beginning to inch it's way out of a parking space; he paused to let it into the traffic flow and parked in the now vacant space, gratefully climbing out of the sweltering confines of his car. He hadn't spent an afternoon at a funfair for years, not since he was a teenager.
Feeling a little happier, after all, Bodie was sure to have an explanation for his actions, he headed towards the fair. Maybe he could win a goldfish, or better still, a teddy bear. Bodie would just love that, he thought wickedly.
An hour and a half later Doyle was feeling both pleased with himself and a little foolish. He'd won two goldfish and a huge teddy bear on the rifle ranges. He didn't mind the goldfish, except for the fact that he was sure his left leg was getting wetter by second. One of the bags must be leaking, he would have to hurry home or else the poor fish would be left high and dry. But it was the teddy bear that was causing the real problem. It was four foot tall and purple, with pink and white spotted dungarees. Feeling rather conspicuous he decided it was time to return to the car and go home; the traffic had eased up a little now.
He was halfway to the car when he first saw Bodie on the other side of the road. How on earth had Bodie known where to find him? Doyle was just about to call out when he stopped, seeing the three ice cream cones his friend was holding. Puzzled, he watched Bodie move over to a woman standing a few yards away with a small boy of about ten beside her. Once they all had their ice creams they moved off towards the fair, the boy dancing excitedly ahead whilst Bodie and the woman followed, arm in arm.
Doyle's good mood evaporated. He felt as if a bucket of iced water had been chucked over him. With a deepening sense of betrayal he watched them go, blending in perfectly with all the other family groups. The three went to cross the road, the boy slightly ahead of them; looking the wrong way, the boy stepped out in front of an oncoming car. The shriek of brakes was followed by the woman's scream.
The boy was unhurt and the car continued on its way. Doyle watched as Bodie gently cuffed the boy and then placed a comforting arm around the woman's shoulders. Under his expert guidance the party then safely crossed the road and disappeared into the holiday crowd.
It was getting dark and still there had been no word from Bodie. Doyle had spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening drifting aimlessly around his flat. He had found a new home for the goldfish before the water supply ran out, the purple teddy sat forgotten on a kitchen chair. He had tried to watch T.V. but had turned it off in disgust, having seen the Wizard of Oz a thousand times before.
He was trying, desperately, to avoid thinking about what he had seen, but images of Bodie, walking arm in arm with the woman kept springing to the front of his mind.
He didn't understand why; that was what hurt so much. Ever since that wonderful night six months ago when they had finally crossed the boundary between friends and lovers they'd been content with each other. They had never spoken about fidelity and life time commitments; Doyle had thought they didn't need to. After all, he only wanted Bodie and he had thought, until today, that Bodie only wanted him. It hurt to think he might be wrong. He had been so sure that Bodie was happy not only with their new relationship, but with their job as well. They'd never worked so closely before, and Ray was sure that Cowley just have realised the new depths to their relationship; he always seemed to know everything.
How could I have been so wrong, he thought miserably. He had been so sure of Bodie's feelings towards him. Angrily he brushed away the tears that insisted on falling, berating himself for being all kinds of a fool. He tried to concentrate on his own anger and pain, not wanting to analyse exactly what had bothered him so much about the scene he had witnessed.
It was so obvious it just had to be true. He couldn't see any other rational explanation. The boy had been called Phillip. He was a stocky little chap with a head of thick, gently wavy dark hair and strikingly deep blue eyes. Bodie must have looked a lot like that when he was that age, or alternatively, the boy looks very much like Bodie. Doyle was uncertain which thought worried him most.
Unbidden, thoughts raced around inside his mind. Bodie's real name - William Andrew Phillip Bodie; a snippet of an old conversation. "... what's left of my family usually call me Phil ..." It was all there, the similarities, the name ... Put them together and what do you get - Bodie's son?
And what about the woman - an old girlfriend? Doyle had never seen her before, but then he admitted to himself that there was an awful lot that he still didn't know about his partner. Oh, he knew bits about the SAS, the paras, his mercenary days, edited highlights only though. He only knew what Bodie had chosen to tell him and very little about his friend's background, about any family ties. His thoughts backtracked to last Christmas. Bodie had only a few cards on show, mostly from wives of friends who had put him on the statutory Christmas card list. Doyle had looked through them, he didn't recall any from relatives, unlike his own sitting room which had been completely covered by cards from aunts, uncles, mates form his school days, from his time spent on the Force and friends of his parents who'd seen him grow up alongside of their own offspring.
Doyle tried to think sensibly. If the boy was Bodie's son he shouldn't get jealous. It must have happened a long time ago, and it would only be natural for Bodie to have some contact with him. As long as SHE didn't want any contact, he thought possessively.
What had really hurt most was the fact that Bodie had never told him; that even after they had become lovers Bodie still hadn't trusted him enough to tell him. Doyle knew that the worst thing he could do now would be to get moody and possessive, he had seen what had happened to some of Bodie's former girlfriends who had tried that line. If he waited, eventually Bodie would tell him. All he had to do was wait.
Telling yourself to be calm about something as important as that and managing it were two different things, as Ray Doyle found to his cost.
The shrill bell of the telephone split the silence in the flat and Doyle leapt over the settee to get to it. Bodie at last.
"I want you and Bodie in my office in half an hour, Doyle. Punctuality would be appreciated." It was Cowley.
"But, sir, we're on leave. It's our first Bank Holiday weekend off in over two ..."
"I am aware of what day it is and of your leave status. But as of now you are both on duty. You have twenty-nine minutes to get here." The line went dead.
Damn you, Bodie. This was supposed to be a weekend together, and now ...
Having reached the kitchen, the teddy bear bore the brunt of Doyle's anger as it was thrown across the kitchen, ending up in the sink.
Half an hour, even less now and he didn't have a clue to his partner's whereabouts. He dialled Bodie's number, it rang on unanswered. Exasperated, he slammed the receiver down and picking up his car keys, left the flat. Once in his car, heading towards the office, he tried calling Bodie on his R/T, but again his calls went unanswered. He gave Bodie a final chance before getting out of his car in the CI5 car park. This time he met with success.
"3.7 responding. Doyle, I'm - "
"3.7, you have exactly 3 minutes to present yourself at the Cow's office for a briefing, and in the words of the man himself 'punctuality would be appreciated'. 4.5 out." Doyle snapped his R/T off and slammed his car door shut with a tremendous sense of satisfaction.
"Where's Bodie?" snapped their irascible boss.
"He's on his way, sir," said Doyle respectfully. Cowley glared at him, wary of the innocent tone.
"On his way from where, 4.5 - the Outer Hebrides? Never mind, we'll begin without him. I'll leave it up to you to put him in the picture when he finally arrives." Cowley sat behind his desk, eyeing the papers in front of him with obvious distaste. "Our American 'friends' want us to help clear up a little problem for them; their words, not mine. In fact, it's a bloody great mess of their own making, and they want us to tie up their loose ends. They had information on a big arms deal going on between various American criminal consortiums and established underground terrorist groups in Europe. They almost had it wrapped up when their informant was murdered by a contract man sent in by the European groups. In the confusion the assassin escaped. It has since become apparent that the murder was witnessed by the victim's wife, and she has since disappeared. The CIA believes she knows the identity of the murderer. They also support the theory that he knows this and is taking steps to prevent her from testifying. The woman vanished from her home, along with her son, a child of ten - along with a couple of suitcases and a quantity of foreign currency. There is no word of her leaving the States under her married name, but they admit it is within the realms of possibility that she has travelled on false documents. And as she is of English origin, they believe she may have come home to hide; she's running, she's scared and she won't want to be found."
A knock at the door interrupted Cowley as the Duty Officer came in, handing over a sheaf of papers to his boss.
"Just come over the wire, sir. There's some hold-up over the photographs but they shouldn't be much longer." He placed the papers on the desk and left.
Doyle picked up one of the flimsy sheets. Apart from her name, Victoria Binnelli, and a vague description that would fit a million women, most of the information concerned her dead husband's activities within the syndicate in Boston.
"They warned us that they knew very little about her but this is ridiculous," growled Cowley. "Place of birth, Liverpool. That's a great help."
"She must have been the little housewife type, some men like to keep their women out of the dirty deals," ventured Doyle. "I don't suppose they have any idea of when in the last four weeks she's supposed to have come over here?"
"There's no evidence, she even left Boston. But forged passports were well within Vincent Binnelli's scope. She may have family over here to turn to. Who knows? But, if she is here, we must find her before this anonymous hit man."
Cowley pushed all the relevant papers towards Doyle. "Well, there it is, man. Go and find her. I'll expect a report from you first thing in the morning."
Doyle headed for the computer room. Not a lot to go on, that, he thought dryly, a name, a place of birth and a child. And Cowley doesn't expect miracles! He was still deep in thought when he bumped into the solid wall that was Bodie.
"Finally got here then," he said sarcastically.
"Look, Ray, about this morning ..." He laid a hand on Doyle's arm as he quickly checked that the corridor was empty and drew his partner to him in a gentle embrace, only to be shoved backwards with such force he nearly lost his balance.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Doyle hissed furiously. "Keep your fucking hands to yourself. Christ, you'll be kissing me in front of Cowley next!"
He turned on his heels and strode away, talking angrily over his shoulder as he went. "Now that you are here we've got work to do. A little miracle the Cow wants served with his breakfast in the morning. Hope you got some sleep today because we're going to be at this all night and probably most of tomorrow as well."
Doyle could hear his partner groaning behind him as they walked into the Ops room.
"All night? We're supposed to be on leave. Shit, I gotta make a phone call."
As Doyle settled himself beside the computer terminal, Bodie sat on the adjoining desk, picking up a phone. He didn't want to listen, but Bodie was only about three feet away from him, he could even hear the phone ringing at the other end, then a woman's voice came on.
Christ. He's phoning her in front of me, Doyle thought. He's not even trying to be discreet. Doyle was determined not to listen, not to let Bodie see how much this was upsetting him. He forced himself to concentrate on the job in hand, furiously punching in his user code to gain entry to the computer banks. He really didn't want to hear, but it was impossible not to. Bodie was talking softly now.
"Hallo, love, it's Phil. Look, I'm sorry, but I've been called into work. I didn't get a chance to get the Chinese. Looks like it's going to be an all night thing so I'll get back to you when I can, O.K."
The conversation carried on for a few minutes, but Doyle manage to block it out. Who the hell was this woman Bodie introduced himself as 'Phil'? He'd never heard anyone call Bodie anything other than Bodie - and get away with it. He was Bodie. Just Bodie. Doyle tried to imagine calling him Phil, the name just didn't fit.
Then the subject of his thoughts was standing over him, looking at the still blank computer screen. For a few moments, not trusting himself to speak, Doyle concentrated on asking the computer to release the names of every woman who had entered the country in the past four weeks, accompanied by a child. Request completed, he sat back.
"Right then, sunshine, what's all the fuss about?" asked Bodie calmly.
Just then Willis walked over. "Here's the photographs, Ray. Got one of the kid, too, a bit out of date but it might help."
"Thanks, mate." Doyle took the file, opened it and froze. Bodie snatched it away, then turned on Doyle.
"What's this all about, Doyle. What the hell's going on? Is this some kind of warped joke?"
Doyle took the photograph from Bodie's hand. It was the woman he'd seen him with earlier this afternoon. It was so unexpected he was at a loss for words. He could see his partner getting madder by the second at being kept in the dark.
"Who is she, Bodie?" he asked calmly. "What is she to you?" That was what he wanted to know, blow CI5 and the CIA. "What is she to you?"
"What's it got to do with you or CI5?" Bodie thundered, barely keeping a grip on his temper.
It had been a trying day for Ray Doyle and his temper finally broke as he shouted back, "It's everything to do with the Department. She can identify an assassin, a hit man. She's the only one who can, and what's more, she's probably his next target."
"What?" Bodie was confused, his anger dissipating. "Hold on, mate, back up a bit. What the hell are you talking about?"
Deciding not to mention for the time being that he knew Bodie knew the girl, Doyle kept on safe ground.
"Her name is Victoria Binnelli, she's the widow of Vince Binnelli, formerly a syndicate man, more recently an informant for the CIA. She witnessed his murder and can identify his killer, probably knows he's after her. She's the only one who can tie him into an arms smuggling ring. We find her, or he does."
Bodie was still staring speechless at the photograph. Doyle changed his tactics. The girl obviously still meant something to Bodie.
"Look, mate," he glanced around, everyone in the room was busy and paying them no attention. Bodie was perched on the desk beside him now. Doyle leant over and gently squeezed his knee to get this attention. "Look, I know that you know her, I saw you at Blackheath," and he saw the surprise in Bodie's eyes.
"If you saw me, why didn't you say something?" Doyle couldn't answer, and Bodie repeated, "Why the hell didn't you say something?"
"Bodie, your private life is your own. We never said we wanted to run each other's lives. If you feel you want to see someone ..." His voice trailed away, unable to say out loud the lie that if Bodie wanted to go with other women he didn't mind.
With head hanging down, gazing intently at the floor, Doyle didn't see a smile begin to spread across his partner's face.
Bodie looked down at the bent head, hearing what Ray hadn't said. He could guess what Doyle had been thinking since seeing them. Daft fool, he thought affectionately, as if I would.
His eyes flicked up to the screen which was dutifully flashing up the requested information. Among the list, two manes leapt from the screen - Victoria Elisabeth Bodie and Phillip Andrew Bodie.
Doyle was still looking at the floor. "Did you see the boy?" Bodie asked casually.
"Yeah." Doyle stared directly at his partner. "I thought he looked a lot like you." He could see his comment pleased Bodie.
"Did you really think so?"
Doyle swallowed hard and averted his gaze from the mocking blue eyes. Bodie turned him towards the screen, pointing out the two names. His hand resting on Doyle's shoulder, he felt Ray stiffen in shock and leant forward to whisper in his ear.
"She's my sister, dumbhead. My sister. Phillip's my nephew."
Doyle couldn't believe it.
"Your sister!" he squawked. He looked at Bodie and saw that it was true. "Your sister," he repeated, relieved. "When I saw you and the boy I thought ..." He didn't want to make a complete fool of himself by saying exactly what he had thought.
"I know what you thought, sunshine."
At least Doyle had the grace to blush. For a few moments neither spoke, then Cowley's voice broke into the peace that was flowing between them.
"As you two have the time to gaze into each other's eyes, I presume you have the information needed to find the woman."
Doyle's blush deepened. It wasn't often they slipped up and allowed anyone to see what they meant to each other.
Bodie recovered first. "Yes, sir."
They were both pleased to note that it wasn't the answer the Old Man had been expecting, but the canny Scot was not one to be thrown off completely.
"Decided to earn your pay for once, have you? Where is she then?"
Bodie took over. "She was the common law wife of Vincent Binnelli. She and her son travelled to England on her passport which was issued at her maiden name. She's currently living in furnished rooms in Charlton. She and her son arrived at Heathrow about four weeks ago."
Cowley was astute enough to notice that something had been left unsaid. "And ..." he prompted.
This time is was Doyle who spoke. "Her real name is Victoria Elisabeth Bodie."
Bodie was the recipient of a penetrating stare. "A relation?"
"My sister, sir."
Cowley said nothing, merely indicating for the two agents to follow him. Once settled in his office, he turned back to Bodie.
"From the beginning, 3.7." He handed out tumblers with a generous amount of whiskey in each then sat back with his own favourite blend and waited.
Bodie took a long swallow and then began. "This morning was the first time I'd heard from Vicky in nearly seventeen years."
Doyle and Cowley exchanged looks. They had known that Bodie had little contact with his family, but seventeen years was a long time. Bodie knew what they were thinking.
"It does happen, you know," he said defensively. "I left home and joined the merchant navy. The last time I saw her was about five months before I jumped ship in Dakar in '65. She must have been about fourteen then, I suppose. I didn't get home again till 1971 and she was gone. She'd run away, disappeared completely when she was seventeen. No-one ever heard from her again. I tried to find her, but after nearly four years the trail was cold. Then this morning, right out of the blue, I got a letter from her." He took a long swig of whiskey.
"How did she know where to find you after all this time?" asked Doyle.
"She didn't. She phoned an old neighbour from back home who remembered her. The woman remembered me trying to find her and passed on the PO box number I'd given her years ago. Vicky didn't really expect the letter to find me after all this time, but it was the only lead she had on me."
"Why did she want you to find her after seventeen years? What did she want from you?" asked Cowley.
They were in Bodie's car heading at top speed towards Charlton. "Did you tell her who you worked for?"
"What does that mean?"
"It means, not really."
Oh, great, thought Doyle. This is going to be one hell of an intellectual conversation.
"C'mon, Bodie, we're going to turn up on her front door, armed to the teeth, prepared to repel all boarders - don't you think she's going to ask questions?"
Bodie was still close-mouthed, refusing to be drawn. Doyle tried again.
"After all these years, why now? You never really explained why she got in touch with you now."
"Come on, Ray. She sees her fella being murdered, get chased trough the back streets of Boston, running for her life. I am her brother. Why shouldn't she come to me for help?"
"She didn't even know if you were alive, or even in the country. What made her think that after running out on her seventeen years ago you'd lift a finger for her?"
Doyle flinched away from the anger he saw reflected in Bodie's eyes, for a second he thought Bodie was going to hit him before his partner regained control of his temper.
"I didn't run away from her, she knew that."
Bodie turned all his attention back to the road, throwing the car, tyres screeching, around a corner. He was in a hurry to get there first. All Doyle could do was hold on tight and pray that they got there in one piece. While being thrown around the car, he had time to think over Bodie's behaviour.
All the time he had known Bodie, he had never heard any mention of a family - let alone a sister and he wondered what she was like. She looked attractive enough, tall, about the same height as Bodie, but slim, almost willowy, with long black straight hair. He thought over the story Bodie had told in Cowley's office.
She'd met Vincent Binnelli in England soon after she'd left home. Binnelli had been working for an American import firm in Liverpool. When he'd returned to the States, she'd gone with him, Phillip had been born there. After a time she'd begun to suspect that most of her boyfriend's activities were illegal and unable to accept it had left him to make her won life in Boston. About a year ago Binnelli had turned up on her doorstep, wanting to try again, claiming he was o longer involved with the syndicate. She had believed him and Binnelli had moved in with her again.
It was only a few days before his death that she'd begun to suspect he'd been lying to her and had gone to his place of work to talk it out. She'd seen one of Binnelli's colleagues, a man called Parkes, talking with him and had been waiting for Parkes to leave when she heard the shots and saw Binnelli fall. Her scream had alerted Parkes to her presence, a terrifying chase through the streets following from that. Managing to shake Parkes off her trail, she had packed and left for the airport immediately, taking the first international flight out. She'd told Bodie that she thought it to have been a 'mob killing', knowing nothing about terrorists, arms, or even the fact that Binnelli had been an informant for the CIA.
The car swerved round another corner, leaving a couple of thousand miles of tread on the road behind them.
Doyle tried to imagine a family home so awful that Bodie had felt he had to leave at fourteen, his sister following suit soon afterwards. His own background hadn't exactly been a bed of roses, but he didn't remember wanting to leave it that badly.
The car came to an abrupt halt, jerking Doyle against his seat belt. It was one o'clock in the morning and most of the houses lining the street were in darkness. Everything seemed quiet, nothing out of the ordinary.
"I'll go in and explain everything. You'd better check out the back."
It may have been Bodie's sister they were going to protect, not just another name, a routine job, but they slid into their professional roles with the ease of long practise. Checking their R/T's and guns, they left the car. Bodie went to the front door while Doyle, moving carefully along the passageway beside the house to the back garden, checking out the overgrown garden and small outbuildings. Satisfied, he moved back to the house. Then he saw the broken window, a perfect circle of glass removed from the huge pane and the window standing slightly ajar and snapped into action, yelling into his R/T as he ran for the door.
"He's inside, Bodie! He's inside!"
His shout coincided with a shot from the house and a woman's scream. Doyle burst through the back door into the kitchen and then through into the hall.
Bodie was fighting with a man and the hall was narrow. Bodie and the terrified woman were both between Doyle and Parkes, he couldn't fire! Bodie was barely managing to hold his own. Doyle shouted at Vicky to get out of his line of fire and she fell to the floor. At last Bodie managed to push Parkes towards the open front door where the hall was a little wider. As Doyle's finger tightened on the trigger, Phillip ran down the stairs, crying, looking for his mother.
Bodie saw the danger and tried to stop the boy, his attacker took advantage of the distraction and gave Bodie a hefty shove which tipped him over the concrete banisters to fall with a clang onto the dustbins. Parkes turned and as he ran he stumbled, dropping his gun, running down the steps and out onto the road.
Doyle peered down into the darkness where his partner had fallen. He could just see Bodie lying twisted and still among the scattered rubbish, then looked back at the woman huddled against the wall, clutching her son, both crying and shaking form the violence and suddenness of events. He shouted into his R/T, calling for help.
"4.5 to Control. Target's been hit, Bodie's down, I'm going after Parkes. Out."
With a final glance at the terrifyingly still body, he raced after Parkes. The man didn't seem to be heading for a car - he was just running.
Parkes swore. He'd expected the job to be easy. He'd been watching her for a few days now and realised she was alone. He certainly hadn't expected to have to fight off an army. He cursed himself, he'd been to complacent, should have kept an eye on her today as well. She'd obviously found someone to help her, the guy at the front door hadn't been a stranger to her and he'd been armed. The stranger's reactions had been quick - too quick. He had to be a professional.
As Parkes ran down the street he could hear the pounding feet that were following him and knew that this guy was a pro too. He'd really screwed this one up, first in letting the woman witness the killing, then in taking so long to find her. He couldn't risk her turning up some time in the future to identify him. He ran on, looking for a way out, a car he could hijack, a train, anything to get away from the man chasing him. Then he saw a bus, a brightly lit sanctuary just waiting for him on the next corner. With the last of his strength, he pushed on as the bus began to move away and just made it.
The bus pulled away, gaining speed rapidly as it moved along the otherwise empty street. Totally exhausted, but elated by his narrow escape, Parkes found the energy to wave at the receding figure running down the road after the bus.
As Doyle run, he carefully considered the man in front of him. He had probably been good, once, but no more. Hit men only survived if they were the best - and the best didn't leave witnesses or get startled into blind flight. Parkes was weaving between cars, through alleys, over fences - running blind, looking for a way out.
Doyle knew if he could only keep him running until the backup arrived they would get him. While he moved, part of his mind was re-running the fight he'd seen in the hallway. Even hampered by this wish to protect his sister, Bodie should have been able to take Parkes with ease. Then Doyle remembered the shot he'd heard. Had Bodie been injured?
Parkes made it to the main road. Where the hell was backup? Doyle saw the bus and guessed correctly that Parkes was aiming for it. He increased his own pace; he couldn't lose him now. As Parkes reached for the bus just as it began to move away, Doyle knew he wasn't going to make it. He could only stop, gasping for breath, watching as Parkes waved to him.
He drew out his R/T and between ragged breaths, managed to pant out his message.
"4.5. Parkes is on a 177 bus heading towards Greenwich, acknowledge."
"Control to 4.5. There are units in the vicinity. Return to the house, an ambulance is on the way."
As much he wanted to get Parkes, Doyle was only too pleased to be ordered back to the house. Then he noticed that the bus was slowing, the traffic lights on the road ahead were turning red - he might just make it.
Parkes was momentarily oblivious to what was running down the road towards him. He had collapsed, breathless, on the bench seat. As Doyle jumped onto the bus, Parkes realised that the bus had stopped. He felt Doyle before he saw him, a hard fist knocking him sideways onto the floor of the bus.
The bus conductor had had experience of fights breaking out on the bus before. He rang the pre- arranged signal on the bell, alerting his driver who looked through his window to the fight going on in the body of the bus. He signalled his conductor to get upstairs, out of harms way, ignoring the bus stops, headed straight for the nearest police station.
It was over very quickly. Parkes, already exhausted by his run and fight with the tow CI5 men, gave the police no trouble as they dragged him down to the cells.
Doyle arrived back at the house just as Bodie, still unconscious, was being put in the ambulance. There was a nasty cut on his head and his shirt had been partly cut away. He had been shot, high on the right shoulder. Cowley was there, talking with Bodie's sister. Doyle didn't want to get caught up with them and went to climb into the ambulance after Bodie's stretcher.
"Doyle," Cowley called out. "Take Miss Bodie with you, we can get her statement later, someone will stay here to look after the boy till she gets back."
He helped Doyle assist the still very shaky woman into the ambulance and she moved to sit next to her brother. Cowley lowered his voice. "Keep an eye on her. I'll check with you later on at he hospital." He moved back as the driver closed the doors, they were on their way.
The ambulance was cramped; Victoria was sitting holding Bodie's hand and the ambulance man was crouched beside her, still trying to stem the flow of blood from the gunshot wound. Doyle couldn't get close. He saw his partner's eyes flicker open, the Victoria leant forward, obscuring his view.
"Phil!" she cried out anxiously, "Can you hear me, Phil?"
If Bodie made any response to his sister's voice Doyle was too far away to hear it.
"He's probably got a concussion, Miss," said the ambulance man. "That's a nasty bump he's got there."
"He is going to be all right, isn't he? He isn't going to ..."
"We'll soon be at the hospital, Miss," the ambulance man spoke reassuringly.
For the rest of the journey no one spoke; at the hospital Bodie was whisked away by an army of doctors and nurses. Doyle stared after the stretcher. Bodie was going to be okay, he knew that. The bullet had been too high for any fatal damage - the head wound looked bad, but then head wounds usually did look worse than they really were.
It was very quiet in the corridor and he turned to look properly at the woman beside him. Feeling his gaze, she looked at him and smiled weakly.
"My name's Ray Doyle. I'm Bodie's - your brother's partner," he explained. "He was going to introduce us, but it must have slipped his mind."
"Vicky," she said softly, looking for the first time at the man beside her. He had terrified her the first time she had seen him, mistaking him for another killer; he looked so savage as he'd burst through the kitchen door, gun in hand. Looking at him now she could only see how tired and lost he looked, all trace of the killer gone.
"You must be the Ray he mentioned earlier today." She looked at the clock, it was two in the morning. "I mean yesterday," she amended.
They moved into the waiting area and she sank into a chair, covering her face with her hands and began to cry, softly at first, then louder and harder as the shock of the past hour caught up with her. Doyle was at a loss for the right thing to do, he never felt comfortable with a sobbing woman, especially a virtual stranger. Awkwardly he put an arm around her, patting her gently, letting her cry herself out. The sobs lessened and eventually stopped, save for a small hiccup now and then. She pulled away form the comforting arm.
"Thank you, I think I needed that." She wiped her eyes with the handkerchief Doyle offered and blew her nose. "He will be okay, won't he?"
"He'll be a bit sore for a few days but he should be all right."
They sat in silence for a while watching the nurses hurrying to and fro, then -
"You work with Phil you said?"
"Yes, that's right."
"What sort of work? You aren't policeman are you, but you both had guns."
"We are civil servants, we work for the government, CI5," he elaborated.
"CI5? Is that anything to do with MI5?"
"Not really." He really didn't feel up to an in-depth discussion into the working mores of CI5. He was surprised to hear a small laugh.
"That's exactly what Phil said when I asked him if he was in the army or police. He just said, 'not really' and changed the subject. I didn't want to push him. I'd just told him what had happened to Vince and he said he could help me to sort it all out." She started to cry again. "I didn't think he would be able to follow me to England ..."
"He was a pro, love, but not a very good one or else he wouldn't have made so many mistakes. But you're safe now and Bodie's going to be fine, you'll see."
A movement caught his eyes. Walking towards them was a doctor and Doyle jumped to his feet.
"How is he? Can I see him yet?"
The doctor looked at him closely. "Mr. Doyle?" he asked, Doyle nodded. "He's lost a lot of blood and suffered a minor concussion and is in shock."
"He is going to be all right though?" A soft voice form behind echoed his question. Doyle had forgotten that she was there.
The doctor looked at her then back to Doyle. "Are you both relatives of Mr. Bodie?"
"I'm his sister, this is his friend."
The doctor gave most of his attention to Vicky, almost ignoring the man standing between them. "Miss Bodie?" Vicky nodded. "Your brother is very weak, form the blood loss but he isn't seriously hurt. He'll be up and around in a few days. He's sleeping right now, would you like to go and sit with him for a while?" He knew that relatives often had to see with their own eyes that a loved one wasn't at death's door.
"Yes, I would, thank you."
"I'd like to see him as well." Doyle knew Bodie was going to be all right, but he couldn't go without seeing him. The doctor and Vicky were already moving towards Bodie's room, the doctor turned back and held up a hand to stop Doyle form following.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Doyle. You can come back tomorrow and see Mr. Bodie, he really is in no condition to cope with too many visitors."
"But I want to see him," Doyle exclaimed, following after the doctor who turned on him as they got to the closed door.
"Really, Mr. Doyle. The patient is very weak, and in cases like this only relatives are allowed in. Miss Bodie is his sister."
"But I'm - "
The door closed in his face. What had he been about to say? I'm his lover. I'm his boyfriend. Doyle had a suspicion that neither claim would get him past the doctor.
He peered through the open slats of the blind of the window as Vicky moved towards the bed. All he could see of Bodie was the mound under the blankets that were his legs and body; he cold just see one bare, very still arm lying on top of the covers, but the view of Bodie's face was obscured by Vicky.
For a few moments, blind rage, mainly directed at Bodie's sister, filled his whole being. It was all her fault. If she hadn't written, hadn't involved Bodie, they would never have found her so quickly, would still have been ploughing through flight information lists when Parkes had come for her. Doyle's train of thought came to an abrupt halt. If they hadn't found her, Bodie's sister, and possibly his nephew too, would be dead now. He didn't like to think how Bodie would have reacted to that news.
He wanted to go to Bodie, no stupid doctor was going to stop him. He opened the door and walked in. The doctor moved as if to push him back out, but obviously had second thoughts. Doyle stood on the opposite side of the bed to Vicky and took the still hand in his, squeezing it gently, willing Bodie to know he was there. He was startled to feel the pressure returned, very weakly, but it was there. Bodie knew he was there. The grip on his fingers tightened, as if he was frightened that Doyle was going to slip away. Not caring what Vicky or the doctor thought, Doyle leant over Bodie, talking softly, telling him that he was there, that everything was all right. Bodie turned towards him, eyes flickering as he struggled to return to full awareness.
"It's okay, Bodie, you're going to be okay."
"Ray, my sister. Vicky. Did he - "
"Everything's taken care of. We made it just in time. Vicky's here now, look," and he nodded towards the woman who leant over the bed.
"I'm all right, Phil. Phillip's safe too. Your friend got Parkes. It's all over now."
Exhaustion and relief took their toll and Bodie slipped back into unconsciousness.
Having decided that his patient had finally had enough, the doctor ushered the visitors out. As they emerged into the corridor Doyle saw Cowley walking towards them.
"Miss Bodie, now that you have seen your brother is in safe hands, there is a Detective McIvers of the CIA along the corridor who would like to speak with you. Doyle, you'll wait until McIvers has finished with Miss Bodie and then take her home."
"Sir, I'd rather - "
"I'm not interested in what you'd rather do, 4.5. I'm telling you to stay with Miss Bodie. Stay with her as long as you think necessary, but I want your report on this evening's work sometime tomorrow. Understood?"
"Sir." Doyle reluctantly acknowledged the order and moved down the corridor with the woman. He would rather stay with her brother, and had an uncomfortable feeling that she was aware of the fact; guiltily he tried to be a little more friendly.
They drove back to Charlton in silence, neither knowing quite what to say to each other. Then,
"Oh, god, what happened to Phillip, I was so worried about Phil - "
"It's okay, love, a WPC stayed with him and some of our people have probably tidied the place up. I expect he's fast asleep in bed again."
"Oh." She was quiet again, and then turned and gently touched his arm. "I'm sorry about what happened at the hospital. I shouldn't have let that doctor push you away like that, you had more right to see him than me. Did you know this was the first I'd seen of him in seventeen years?"
"He mentioned it." Doyle could see she was still very upset.
Apart from the police car outside her house everything looked much the same as when he'd arrived there a few hours earlier with Bodie.
As they went in Vicky went up to check the boy was all right and Doyle told the WPC that she might as well go, he would spend what was left of the night here. He checked the kitchen; the window had been boarded up and the door had been fixed. He put the kettle on and it had just boiled when Vicky entered the kitchen.
"Tea or coffee?"
"Coffee please, the sugar's in the blue bowl on the side, two please. He's fast asleep."
They moved into the living room to drink their coffee, the silence between them hanging heavily. Feeling he had to say something, Doyle said,
"I must go home later on and collect some things for Bodie. He gets paranoid if he's separated from his toothbrush and teddy."
"Do you live together then?"
Wow, really walked into that one, Doyle. He took a sip from his cup before answering, "Not really." He didn't want to lie. Her gently laughter caused him to look up.
"Do you ever commit yourself to anything, Mr. Doyle? All I've had from you is a succession of 'not really's' and other such vague answers, come to think of it, Phil never actually said anything definite, all his answers were vague too. What do you two do for a living? And who was that man, Mr. Cowley, who had everyone running round in circles?" Now the shock was beginning to wear off, Vicky realised there were a lot of unanswered questions inside her head.
"One way to describe our job would be to call us rubbish disposal men. We clear away the rubbish before it hurts society."
"Some kind of top security thing? You're not attached to a police unit or army are you?"
"I was in the police before joining CI5, and Bodie was in the army - SAS - but our department isn't attached to anyone, it's separate - independent."
The conversation lulled and they concentrated on their coffee again. Outside light was beginning to streak the sky, a few early birds could be heard in the trees by the window.
"Why do you call him Bodie?"
The question took Doyle by surprise. "What?"
"Why do you call him Bodie, I heard him call you Ray at the hospital ..."
Doyle was at a loss for words. "Well, Bodie is Bodie. I've never heard anyone call him anything else. He's - Bodie."
"Oh," was all she said.
Doyle knew this would probably be his only chance to find out anything about Bodie's past, Vicky was still shocked and obviously wanted to talk, if he could only ask the right questions.
"I've known Bodie for about four years now, but he's never really talked about his family. I'd really like to know, I mean I know you both left home quite young but he's never said why ..."
Doyle let the question hang in the air and held his breath. It seemed he had pushed the right button and had hit the jackpot. For the next hour he sat and listened as Vicky told the story of the childhood she and Bodie had known. She talked as if she had forgotten that Doyle was there and she was running her life story through her own mind, as if to see where she had gone wrong or got lost.
The story started with the death of their mother, who she didn't remember and doubted that Bodie would as he had only been about three at the time. Their father engaged a succession of housekeepers to care for them, but as money wasn't plentiful, the quality of care the children received suffered.
To get more money, their father worked all hours, and she could hardly remember any time spent playing as a family. At time went by things went from bad to worse, their father was still working hard, but he had begun to drink heavily so even when he was home he had little time for his children.
Bodie had been very protective of his little sister and tried his best to look after her, making sure she didn't get hurt when their father became violent. Bodie had been tall for his age, and by the time he was thirteen was big enough to stand against his father and strike back to defend himself and his sister. It was after such a fight that their father had threatened to hand Bodie over to the authorities as a child that was beyond parental control; in effect he threatened to put Bodie into a home for maladjusted children.
They believed their father and decided that the only thing for Bodie to do was to run away. He had been lucky, a Liberian cargo ship had been taking on crew and the purser had taken the boy at face value without any papers, promising him a round trip to the Gulf, taking six months. Bodie had gone, promising to come back for Vicky in six months with money to help her get away. Until yesterday that had been the last she had seen of him for seventeen years.
With the occasional question form Doyle she continued the story.
Their father had been furious when Bodie had disappeared and she had pretended that she didn't know where he had gone. Bodie's name became taboo in the household and she wasn't allowed to mention it. Her father began to drink more heavily and without Bodie to protect her Vicky had taken the brunt of his anger. She waited and waited, a year, eighteen months. In all that time she only received one letter written about two months after Bodie had left; he had spoken about returning for her.
After two years without hearing from him, Vicky accepted that something terrible had happened. She thought him dead, but didn't know which company had owned the ship to begin making enquiries. She was seventeen, working in a small office and, after a particularly bad fight with her father, had left home. Like Bodie she cut all ties with her father the minute she walked out. She had found a small bedsit easily enough; if her father had tried he would have found her - but he didn't try. Then she'd met Vince Binnelli and fallen in love, going to the states with him. It was there that Phillip had been born.
"I think you know what happened after that, and so here I am, after seventeen years."
Doyle had made them some more coffee. She still hadn't said how she had found Bodie and the policeman in him made him ask.
"After a few days back in England I began to wonder about Phil and Dad, so I called directory enquiries and asked for the phone number of a neighbour of Dad's. It was a long shot, I mean seventeen years is a long time. Mrs. Wells wasn't there, but her daughter was, she was about Phil's age I think. Anyway, she remembered me and was quite happy to fill in the details.
"Dad is still alive. He doesn't drink so much nowadays but from what she said he hasn't changed that much otherwise. She told me about Phil's visit, about three years after I'd left; I was already in the States then. He made quite an impact apparently, nearly tore the house and Dad apart when he found out I'd left home and that Dad hadn't bothered to try and find me. Phil really looked hard for me, but I never told anyone where I had gone so, in the end, he gave a PO Box number in London to Pamela and asked her to get in touch if I ever turned up or, in the event of Dad dropping dead, where to send the bill for the funeral. The Box number was so old I didn't hold out much hope, but I tried it. Apart form Dad, Phil is the only family I have, apart from my son, of course."
She finished the story and yawned widely. "I must get some sleep, Phillip will be awake about nine and if I don't get at least a few hours I really won't be human. There's a spare bed in his room that won't take a minute to make up. You must be worn out too."
It was almost five o'clock by the time Ray crept into the narrow bed. He was exhausted; he hadn't had much sleep the previous night, Bodie had seen to that, then he had spent the whole day brooding and worrying himself to death jumping to the wrong conclusions and half the night chasing through the streets. At least Bodie was going to be all right though.
He woke with a start, a pair of blue eyes staring into his; a strong American accent told him that though familiar, the eyes weren't Bodie's.
"You're the guy who had the gun. Did you kill him? Where's Mum and Uncle Phil? What are you doing in my bedroom? Where's your gun, is it under your pillow? Can I see it?"
Nearly knocked out by the flood of questions pouring out of the inquisitive boy, Doyle managed to break into the constant flow.
"Hold on, hold on. Your Mum's in bed asleep, so keep your voice down, we don't want to wake her up, do we? And, er ... Uncle Phil is in hospital, but he's going to be all right." Somehow Uncle Phil just didn't suit Bodie, he thought.
"Put that down!" The boy had spied Doyle's shoulder holster and was trying to put it on.
"I said take it off. It's not a toy."
The boy was reluctant to surrender his prize and Doyle had to grab both boy and holster before they escaped from the bedroom.
"My Dad used to let me touch his gun." The blue eyes filled with tears and the bottom lip trembled. "Before he died, he did. Even let me shoot it once."
Doyle was at a loss, then he saw a very familiar expression cross the boy's face. It was exactly how Bodie looked when he put on his 'nobody loves me look' to get Doyle to do something he didn't really want to.
"Did he really?" asked Doyle.
The boy's expression gave him away. He'd obviously thought he had tricked Doyle as easily as he could his mother, but Doyle's next words crushed his hopes.
"The answer is still no."
The boy was so like Bodie he had to laugh, he looked so crestfallen. Just like Bodie when he was deprived of his favourite snack, chip butties.
"I expect you're hungry. Shall we leave your Mum to sleep and help ourselves to breakfast?"
Phillip agreed so they quickly dressed and adjourned to the kitchen.
"Right, what do you want? Tea and toast?"
"Tea and toast." The boy tried to mimic Doyle's London accent. "Tea and toast, you sound as bad as my Mum. I hate tea. Can I have peanut butter and jello and a root beer?"
The child tried again, speaking slowly, as if it would make more sense that way.
"Peanut butter and jello and a glass of root beer."
"You can just stop trying that on, young Phillip. You'll have frosties and orange and like it."
Ray was relieved to hear Vicky's voice as she came down the stairs.
"I'm sorry, Ray. This child may be half English but his stomach is one hundred percent American."
She took over the breakfast situation and once Phillip had gone out to play they talked.
"What are your plans now, Vicky?"
"I don't really know. The CIA man, McIvers, said I'd have to give evidence when Parkes goes on trail, but that won't be for a couple of months."
"Yeah, they've got to go through the extradition procedures. He's British and I expect he'll fight it all the way."
"Phillip's school is in recess now, until late September, so I have about four weeks before I have to go back."
"Why do you have to go back? I'd have thought you'd want stay, now you've found Bodie again."
"I don't think we'll leave it another seventeen years before we meet again. No, my home, Phillip's home, my work and my friends are all in America now. I want to spend some time with Phil before I go back home, now everything is all right I want to go home. I can always come for vacations, can't I?"
"Will you go and visit your father?"
"No," she said firmly. "I never want to see him again. If I go to his funeral it will only be to make sure they bury him good and deep."
"Does he know about his grandson?"
"Ray, he doesn't give a damn about me and Phil, I don't see why I should give a damn about him. Why should I inflict a grandfather like that on the boy. Anyway, if Dad knew I had a ten year old illegitimate son, he'd throw a blue fit, he'd never accept Phillip. He's got his cronies from the force, I don't suppose he's completely alone, people like him always manage to find someone to fell sorry for them."
"The Force?" questioned Doyle.
"Yeah. The old boy's network. Yesterday I said that he'd taken a medical discharge before they discharged him for being drunk on duty. His 'friends' had been protecting him for years, but one day, about three years after I left home, he got absolutely smashed in front of the Chief Constable."
"A policeman! Your Dad was a policeman?"
"Yeah, Detective Inspector, CID, in Solihull last I heard."
Doyle was absolutely astounded. He knew Bodie didn't have a very high opinion of the police force. His mind went back over the story Vicky had told him last night. The alcoholic, violent father of Bodie's childhood was a policeman. No wonder they had believed their father would really put Bodie in a home. It was hardly surprising that running away had seemed their only solution.
Bodie hated hospitals. He hated feeling ill. So, feeling ill and being cooped up in hospital wasn't exactly doing much for his state of mind. He hated being fussed over; if that nurse tried to straighten his bedcovers one more time he'd discharge himself.
He kicked at the covers. Where the hell was she? He couldn't just walk out, they'd taken his clothes away. Cowley had obviously warned them about their patient. He'd been rotting in bed for four days - four whole days! Vicky had come every afternoon with fruit and chocolates and Ray had come each evening. Each evening he would eat the chocolates while Ray ate the fruit.
Visiting hours were nearly over and so far Doyle hadn't turned up. He'd been working solo the past few days, but he'd managed to get to the hospital. Where the hell was he now?
For the hundredth time Bodie looked at the clock. Only twenty minutes left. The ward sister was like a prison warder, once the time was up, all visitors had to go.
There was five minutes left when the door opened and Doyle stood there, grinning at Bodie.
"How d'you fancy breaking out of Colditz?" He showed Bodie a small bag he was carrying.
Five minutes later they were in Doyle's car heading home.
"Cowley will be mad when he hears I jumped the hospital," said Bodie, but he wasn't really worried.
"No he won't."
"What do you mean?" Bodie was instantly wary of Doyle's innocent tone.
"You didn't jump hospital. They were going to discharge you this morning, but I asked them to hang on to you until I could get there."
"You mean I could have walked out of there this morning?"
"I'll get you for this, Doyle."
They arrived at Doyle's flat. Bodie, over eager to get behind closed doors and carry out his threat, banged his bad shoulder on the door jamb. It hurt.
Anxiously, Doyle checked that Bodie hadn't done any real damage then moved away.
"It's OK, you haven't chipped the paint work, no harm done."
"The paint work!" yelled Bodie indignantly. "What about my bloody shoulder?"
"Your shoulder will mend itself," teased Doyle. "Anyway, I can always kiss it better if it's still hurting when we go to bed."
Bodie leant over and lightly kissed Doyle. "Can we go to bed now?"
"It's only haft past eight."
"I'm tired, I still need a lot of rest. I lost a lot of blood, need plenty of bed rest." He tried to look weak and pathetic.
"You've been in bed for four days."
"In what way?"
"That was a single bed. Your bed is a nice big double one. I need a lot of tender loving care if I'm to get back on my feet," Bodie said plaintively.
Doyle laughed. "How do you intend doing what I think you intend doing if you're standing on your own two feet?"
Bodie raised an eyebrow.
"Haven't you ever tried it standing up?"
They went upstairs to bed. Bodie was struggling to get out of his trousers when he was gently grabbed from behind by a very naked Doyle. He was pulled backwards so his back was pressed against Doyle's chest and he could feel Ray's arousal pressing against the cleft of his buttocks. Doyle slipped his tongue into Bodie's ear, causing him to gasp and wriggle, then pushed his hips forward and whispered.
"Have you ever tried it standing up?"
Bodie was about to reply when someone knocked on the front door. They both froze.
"Ignore them, Ray, they'll go away," he said hopefully.
"The hall light's on, my car's right outside the door so it's bloody obvious I'm in. I'll have to go." He gave Bodie a gentle kiss, promising a good time later. The doorbell went again.
"I'm coming," he yelled down the stairs.
"No, we're bloody not," muttered a disgruntled Bodie as they scrambled back into their clothes.
It was Vicky.
"Hi, I managed to get a neighbour to watch Phillip for me. They told me you'd brought Phil here and I thought I'd just come over for a few hours, help cheer him up, he was really miserable this afternoon," she said brightly.
She stayed until eleven, by which time Bodie really was tired and his head and shoulder were aching.
The two men climbed back up the stairs and Ray helped Bodie get into bed. It was obvious that Bodie was in pain and really wasn't feeling up to the welcome home he had planned. But it didn't really matter, Bodie snuggled closer into his arms as they settled themselves.
"Sorry, Ray," he muttered sleepily into Doyle's chest.
"'s OK, mate, just go to sleep."
Although sleepy, Bodie didn't want to fall asleep, he always enjoyed the time they shared together like this. Warm, comfortable and safe, sleepily snuggled together with the rest of the world shut out on the other side of the door.
"Vicky said she'd seen quite a bit of you the past few days."
"Yeah. Cowley asked me to keep an eye on her for you. She's taken some knocks in her time, but she's tougher than she looks. She'll be okay."
"Did she tell you what you wanted to know?"
"What you've never asked me but always wanted to know." Bodie pulled his head off Doyle's chest and looked into the emerald eyes and smiled.
"Ah, well - " Doyle was embarrassed. "I didn't mean to pry. I'm sorry, but - "
"Don't panic. I'm not angry. I knew you wouldn't be able to pass up the opportunity to discover a few childhood secrets. What did she tell you?"
"Well, the reasons why mainly. About your father threatening to put you away, the drink."
"Yes, that's all. Oh, yeah. She also said something about your father being a policeman. Detective Inspector, no less. Is that why you don't much care for the Force in general?"
"Probably got a lot to do with it," mumbled Bodie.
"You don't have much to do with him then? I mean, I've never heard you mention him, does he know about CI5?"
"I've never told him. Last time I saw him was just before I joined the army. He probably thinks I still sell my gun to the highest bidder in the private army game."
"He still thinks you're a mercenary?"
"He can think what he fuckin' likes, Doyle!"
Bodie lifted his head from Doyle's chest to apologise for sounding so sharp.
"Sorry, Ray. Just thinking about him gets me going, so I usually try not to think about him. Still find it hard to talk about him without wanting to go and knock (the) hell out of him, even though he is getting on a bit now."
"I didn't mean to upset you, I'm sorry. I just wanted to know a bit about you. There's so much I still don't know. You keep everything locked up inside you. I love you, I don't ever want to hurt you."
Doyle tilted Bodie's head back and gently kissed the pouting mouth, trying to convey all the love he felt.
Bodie smiled up at him. "Ok, let's have it. Question time, ask now, and then forever hold your peace - total honesty guaranteed."
He saw Doyle's doubtful look. "No, I mean it. Total honesty. You ask me a question and I'll answer it - anything you like. Come on. No secrets between us."
Doyle wondered if Bodie really meant it. There were so many secret, dark areas in Bodie's past. Did he really want to know the answers? He decided to start off on fairly safe ground.
"Vicky said she didn't remember your mother much, do you?"
Bodie thought hard.
"Not really, I was only about three when she died. I've got a very dim memory of someone who was there when I needed her, but she could be a neighbour, a housekeeper, anyone. I don't really remember what she looked like."
"Surely you had photographs?"
Bodie's voice became controlled, expressionless, and Doyle had another insight into the terrible existence Bodie and his sister had had.
"I've never seen a photograph. He destroyed them all soon after she died. I remember looking once, I couldn't find anything, wedding photos, family photos. The albums were there but so were a lot of blank spaces. He'd removed every single picture she was in. There was nothing in the house of hers either. Mrs. Wells, Dad's neighbour, told me when I went back in '71 looking for Vicky, that straight after the funeral he had a big bonfire in the garden, burnt everything my mother possessed - clothes, books, embroidery, knitting, photographs, everything. He didn't leave a single thing that had been hers to be kept for me or even jewellery for Vicky. He destroyed everything. I sometimes wonder if he hadn't wanted to put Vicky and me on the bonfire too."
Doyle felt Bodie shiver and knew it was a reaction to the memories rather than the cold. As a policeman he had come across battered and abandoned children, it was one part of the job he'd never got used to.
Bodie gently prodded him. "Come on, next question. This offer is only on for tonight. After this, it's back to the man of mystery."
"OK. There is something I've wondered about, something you once said." Doyle took a deep breath. How far would Bodie's total honesty extend?
"What's the real reason why you jumped ship in Dakar, I don't believe that story about that woman?"
Bodie chuckled. "If you don't believe that, I bet you'll find the truth even harder to swallow."
"Try me," Doyle dared him. "Total honesty, remember?"
"I joined the ship in Liverpool when I was fourteen on false papers. I thought I was going away for six months. Eight months later we were still coasting between Africa and the Middle East with no idea when the ship would be returning to Britain. I changed ships, trying to get one heading towards Britain, Europe even. With false papers and the way I looked, it was pretty obvious I was under age and it was hard getting a ship going my way. Had to take what was offered. After about two and a half years, I met up with this English bloke, very rich, very respectable, had his own yacht and was sailing round the world, taking a couple of years, stopping where he wanted. He offered me a job, seemed okay, he was heading the right direction. I must have been blind, I mean I was seventeen and had been around so I wasn't totally naive, but it took me until we were a week out of port to really notice the rest of the crew. They were all mean and either big and butch or 'pretty'. That's when the fun and games really started. He was paying good wages but I soon realised it wasn't my seamanship he was after. I was bloody lucky he had his 'favourite' boy with him so I was spared any of the really heavy stuff. The first port after that was Dakar; I took what I could carry and left the ship, still without proper papers. Never put to sea again. Even crossing the Woolrich ferry reminds me of that trip. There you are, and you thought the first version was hard to believe."
Doyle tried to visualise Bodie aged seventeen. "Which category were you in - 'big an' butch' or 'pretty'?"
"Oh, now we're getting onto the really probing questions." Bodie sat up and struck a pose, flexing his arm muscles.
"Which do you think?" he teased.
"At seventeen, not big and butch, but I wouldn't have called you pretty either."
"Nah, you're right. After I left I took a good hard look at myself in a mirror, then went out and had a haircut, made me look years older and tough as old boots. Well, that's the impression I was aiming at anyway, seemed to work."
"One more question. Vicky said she only ever got one letter from you. Why didn't you keep in touch?"
Doyle felt his partner's whole body go rigid.
"It was him. I sent the letters to a friend's address. He found out and made him give the letters to him instead of Vicky. I never wrote frequently, but I told her where I was, what I was doing and that I was trying to get back to England with some money. He took them, read them and never told her. I found them when I went back to look for her, he let her believe I'd just forgotten her."
Doyle gently stroked the tense back, soothing and calming Bodie, trying to make all the hurt go away. It was impossible, he knew that, but at least he could try.
Everything would be all right from now on, Bodie had found his sister and someone to love him, life would probably still hand out a few knocks, but at least he had someone to turn to, someone to give his love to as well as to love him.
Bodie stirred sleepily against him, "You know what the worst part has been?"
"Waking up in that damn hospital without you to cuddle up to. I swear you're addictive, Doyle. I love cuddling you, you feel so ... so ..." He was too sleepy to think of an appropriate word, "... cuddly."
He snuggled up even closer and fell asleep, perfectly at peace with the world and himself.
It had been a wonderful evening. They had gone out for a meal and then onto a disco where they had danced and talked and laughed until the small hours. Phillip was spending the night with a neighbour who, since that 'dreadful affair', had adopted him as a surrogate grandchild and spoiled him accordingly. This was her last evening, tomorrow night they would be on their way back to Boston.
Vicky was sitting in the armchair beside the fire in her brother's living room, feeling very mellow and very happy. She could hear Ray and her brother talking as they fought over who was making the coffee and it was obvious that their mood matched hers. Waiting for the promised coffee she fell asleep.
In the kitchen, the two men were unaware of the white steam pouring out of the forgotten kettle.
They drew back for breath then Bodie pulled Ray into a bone-crushing embrace.
"If you needed me to say it out loud, you should have said, you idiot. I thought it was obvious, that you knew how I felt."
"I know, I know, Bodie," he struggled to loosen the fierce grip. "Bodie, I can't breathe, let go for chrissake."
Bodie let go, but then held him again, gently. "I'm sorry. It's just sometimes I feel as if I could just hold you and cuddle you forever. You do such daft things sometimes ..."
"I know, and I'm not the only one, but loosen up a bit, one of these days, you're going to crush me to death. I'm not going anywhere, you can't get rid of me that easily."
"Don't want to, mate, not ever."
They kissed again, but Bodie had seen the kettle and drew away to make the coffee.
"Bodie, what are we going to do tonight? Your sister, I mean won't she think it a bit odd?"
Bodie knew what he was talking about. "Don't worry, she can have the spare bed. I'm such a considerate host I wouldn't dream of making you sleep on that couch. I don't expect she'll think anything of it. Even if she does, tough. You're sleeping in my bed."
He lifted the tray and moved towards the door. "Well, you're coming into my bed, whether you actually sleep in it is open for discussion. C'mon, let's get the coffee down her and bundle her off to bed."
In the living room, Vicky was fast asleep. Doyle laughed. "What do we do now, wake her up and tell her to go to bed, or leave her?"
Bodie looked down at his sister as she slept. He was rather keen to get to bed himself but she looked so peaceful.
"Nah, leave her while we have our coffee. I'll carry her through later if she's still asleep."
They settled down on the couch, Bodie sprawled across the cushions with his head resting on Doyle's lap, enjoying the peace and quiet. After the noise and flashing lights of the disco his warm, dark quiet living room felt very good. Doyle's fingers were absently stroking through his cropped hair, obviously lost in his own thoughts. He turned his head to plant a kiss on Doyle's belly and felt something stir beneath his head in response. They looked at each other then in unison both turned to check Vicky was still sleeping.
Bodie pressed his head back into Doyle's lap, then kissed the taut belly again. The shirt material was in the way and he tried to undo some of the buttons.
Vicky could hear voices talking softly, indistinct murmurings punctuated now and then by throaty chuckle. She was still drifting in that beautiful zone between sleep and consciousness, if only she could ignore the voices a little longer sleep would finally claim her - but the sound of the sharp slap of flesh on flesh pushed sleep away. The slap was followed by an indignant,
"Ouch! What was that for?"
Doyle struggled to refasten his shirt. "Keep your hands to yourself, Bodie, we've got company - remember?"
"Come on, Ray, she's asleep." Bodie ran his fingers through the auburn curls, trying to draw the head down for a kiss but Doyle wasn't co-operating so he twisted around the couch, swiftly pinning the warm body beneath him. Firmly clasping the twisted face between his hands he thoroughly kissed his lover.
At first the body beneath him was stiff and unyielding, the lips firmly closed. He persevered and slowly the body relaxed, the lips opening in welcome of the gentle invader; arms slid around his neck and shoulders, running gently across his back, one hand holding his head firmly in place.
The kiss continued until they had to break apart for air but they didn't draw away. Their faces were inches apart; heavy-lidded green eyes looked up into blue and Doyle drew the dark head down again. This time it was Bodie who protested, but his own argument had been most convincing. He managed to gasp out between kisses,
"Stop it, Ray. Please don't - "
He tried to sit up but was firmly held in place by a pair of strong arms. Panicked, he hissed angrily, "Ray! Pack it in. Now."
The arms around him loosened and two loud sighs filled the room. Reluctantly they drew apart and sat at opposite ends of the sofa in an awkward silence.
The voice was without malice. Two red faxes turned to look at each other then back at Vicky.
"Why didn't you tell me? Here I was worried about leaving you alone again when I go home with Phillip and here your are - How long have you been together?"
It was obvious she meant together as lovers rather than as partners. Doyle looked at her sharply, she didn't seem shocked.
"Nearly seven months."
"But you've known each other four years. What took you so long?"
She stood up and walked over to the couch. "No, don't answer that. Phil always was slow on the uptake." She leant down and kissed first Bodie and then Doyle.
"Welcome to the family. Look after him for me, Ray. Good-night, boys."
Sitting like stranded cod on the couch, Bodie recovered first.
"Do you think Cowley will take it as calmly as that?"
"You planning on telling him?"
"Bet a week's pay he already knows."
They sat and looked at each other from opposite ends of the couch.
"You finished your coffee yet?" Bodie whispered.
Doyle just nodded, aware of the question Bodie hadn't asked. They left the cups and went to bed.
It was nearly midnight when he got back from the airport and his flat was in darkness. Ray was obviously waiting for him in bed. He crept up the stairs, the bed-side light was off and the room in darkness. In the gloom he could just make out the shape in his bed, it hadn't moved.
Quietly undressing Bodie moved towards the bed and stopped just as he was about to get in, remembering a comment about being rudely awoken by cold hands. Feeling in the mood to indulge his partner's whims, Bodie pattered into the bathroom and put his hands under the hot tap to warm them up. Nicely warmed for action he went back into the bedroom, Doyle still hadn't moved.
He slid under the covers. Ray must be really tired, he usually woke up at the slightest noise. Changing his plans, Bodie moved to take the sleepy body in his arms and cuddle up to it. His fingers touched material. He'd never known Ray to wear pyjamas ...
He leapt out of bed, reaching for his gun and rolled himself across the floor, all instincts alerting him to possible danger.
Light flooded the room and he heard a slow handclap and his partner's throaty giggles.
"Well done, Bodie. I was beginning to wonder if you were going to notice it wasn't me."
Bodie blinked against the light. There was Doyle lounging in the doorway. When he turned back to the bed, he couldn't believe his eyes.
It was at least four feet tall, and the colour ... Against the yellow sheets the purple fur and pink dungarees looked almost obscene. Doyle introduced it.
"Bodie meet Cuddles. Cuddles, meet Bodie. Whenever I have to be away for a night I delegate Cuddles to take my place. As you seem to need someone to cuddle up to nowadays I thought it would be a good idea ..."
His voice faltered as he saw the look Bodie was giving him. Maybe it hadn't been such a good idea after all. Bodie was off the floor in a flash and they both fell onto the bed. Doyle didn't even attempt to resist.
Forgotten, Cuddles slipped to the floor. It was obvious that he was one teddy that wasn't going to be lovingly cuddled every night; there simply wasn't room for all three of them in the bed.
-- THE END --