Yet Another Wednesday Morning
"Yet Another Wednesday Morning" is an alternate ending to M. Fae Glasgow's excellent (though painful) Wednesday Morning (off-site link). M. Fae Glasgow gives blanket permission for other authors to write sequels/prequels to all her stories, but she notes all sequels/prequels are unofficial and don't necessarily reflect her own views or
That's what it was.
Doyle tried to convince himself, standing motionless in front of the mirror in the corridor, absentmindedly brushing through his mop of curls, unrulier by the minute despite his efforts to the contrary.
Only yet another fucking Wednesday morning.
Couldn't help it, could he, though? How long had it been? Eight fucking months, and it hurt, God it did, just like that first morning. And nothing, nothing, nothing else in his life was making it any easier, trapped as he was between Cowley and the job. Cowley, down in hospital for the last two months, defeated by a stroke from which he was slowly recovering, yes, but that--to his utter shame--showed without mercy the frailness of his ageing human body.
And the job, on the other side of the trap. Doyle, and Murphy, now paired with him, the ice water tempering hot iron. And both, efficient, ruthless when needed, doing the job as usual. Doing their best to cope, to keep the boat going until the waters ran still, and safer. Until there was certainty, a real direction, a purpose. And he, Doyle, who was expected to be the centre of it all, to be calm enough to deal with everything. For Cowley and Murphy and Jax, don't forget Jax, beaten within an inch of his life; and the Home Secretary, too, always supportive, oh yes, eagle's eyes watching nevertheless for the first cracks to appear, and he, Doyle, stubbornly trying to handle it, trying with a patience everyone knew he didn't have, patching the holes, keeping the world together and whole for his fellow agents, for Cowley, for England and for the world.
Doyle looked at the man in the mirror, trailing off at that last thought.
Eyes looked as lips twisted slowly, wryly.
Didn't know I was God, this morning....
But humour wasn't his, was it? No. No. Humour was Bodie's. Humour and jokes and the gift of keeping everything in perspective, so much so as not to give a damn, and apparently it had worked--Doyle slid the knife home, cool Doylean style, clean and to the core--because it wasn't Bodie sweating and fighting all the fucking way all day long, was it? No. Of course not. Bodie was miles away--old life tossed away like an old shirt, useful only to polish new shoes--with a new name, new life. Old everything tossed away--and Doyle was oh so good at this, twisting the blade into his raw flesh inch by inch--old job, old car, old mates.
All in the dustbin.
Doyle went to sit on the bed, bending down to tie his shoelaces.
Now, be fair, petal, sunshine, angelfish.
Don't get started on the Bodie-subject, will you? The sod had been entitled to choose his own life, hadn't he? Of course Bodie didn't give a shit about anybody or anything else apart from his eager need to jump the ship, the long-lost feeling of camaraderie such an irresistible attraction--and Doyle didn't have that particular need, did he? No. Of course not. Did Doyle care about anything or anyone? No. Did Doyle have any expectations in a working relationship of five years, in a man who watched his back every miserable day and every fucking wonderful night? No. Of course not. Doyle was just a randy old toad, wasn't he? And certainly, definitely, he didn't hold the same attraction as the Foreign Legion did. One man against many? No chance, in Bodie's book. Evidently.
So, you'd just better pull yourself together, Doyle, and do your nice little daily routine, get up, go out and go get killed for...what for?
Doyle used to know the answer to that. He knew he did. But it was another one of those fucking Wednesday mornings, right? So, he'd better really get moving, go get his milk and his paper and put his holster on, because no matter what the day was, Murphy was coming round to pick him up and so he could start working, and what was the point anyway? Bodie wasn't there and never would be. And Doyle should have learned by now that deep wounds don't heal well or soon if you keep stretching the edges apart to see inside.
He walked downstairs, the stinging, damp morning air pleasant after all, milk and mail soon collected, the lot deposited on the kitchen table. He gulped his coffee, browsing through the letters with all the interest he would show for a pair of old socks found under the sofa--oh but what a thrill to find Bodie's white shirt Doyle had borrowed and never returned, eh? Such a thrill. The shirt was now his best rag, proudly nestled in between those other dirty, cheap, common rags he had; the one most often viciously abused on muddy boots.
The small, almost unidentified envelope didn't really catch his eyes--which were more intent on the inner, solitary landscape, as tortuous as it was, and as difficult to travel through and cross to life outside, every day more so. But then he opened it, and read through the few, impersonal lines.
Once was enough.
More than enough.
Doyle folded the letter, once, then again, in a small rectangle, and put it in his breast pocket, a few grams of stolen life, burning....
Then, Murphy honked outside, the brief sound unmistakable, and Doyle went out, he and his small, folded letter, carried with him all through the day. Even when he was standing near Cowley's bed, later that evening, that deep, burning sensation was still very much alive, as if he had been bitten by some poisonous snake, and the venom was still at work, corroding, eating him alive, digging a hole through his skin like dripping acid. Fists closed tight, eyes dark, he and Murphy had worked their way through the day, yet again, keeping within the course Cowley'd tracked, and technically it was not fucking-Wednesday-morning anymore, so everything should have been all right by now, life could start again afresh, now, with a new rhythm....
But not for Doyle. No. He was back at his flat, in the privacy of these four walls that had seen all of him. The good, the bad, and the worst. He was back with his small piece of paper, his small piece of evidence. And Bodie wasn't coming back. Not now. Not ever.
Funny, for it to happen so soon.
And it wasn't as if Doyle hadn't asked for it, was it? He had. He had with his own tongue, with his own deceptive words, for a last link, a way for Bodie to remember him even when he was already someone else, a soldier in a country abroad. A way to make Bodie carry away with him at least a handful of vowels and consonants, meaningless sounds that nonetheless Bodie could put back together--if he wanted--and thus remember, through them, and feel and taste Doyle and their kisses and his mouth, wet, and his lips and arms around him and skin and laughter and sweat.... Doyle had asked for hope, maybe, then.
Doyle hadn't really thought about this other side of the matter. The other, dark, side of his wished-for moon. His own name put down in Bodie's careful handwriting as next of kin, and here he was, miles apart, heart lost and displaced who knows where, knowing that he, Doyle, hadn't thought about the matter. Not really thought about it.
Because now there was no hope, was there?
Doyle had condemned himself with his own mouth, hoping mistakenly for remembrance, receiving instead the burden of knowledge.
Sitting cross-legged on the sofa--because the bed, that deserted island, held too many voices and whispers--he held the letter: polite, formal, lifeless. He knew he had to wait, before telling Cowley. He wished he could wait to tell himself, too. Too bad he was a mate without partner--and no, Murphy really didn't count--no one there for him, Doyle, to call and hide behind. No one to shed his tears with. So much so, that there was no point in crying them.
Bodie was not coming back now.
Doyle felt like he was stuck at fucking Wednesday morning forever.
...And then it was Thursday.
Didn't change, did it?
No. It didn't. It being another bloody day of another bloody week didn't change anything at all. It was still fucking Wednesday morning, for him. It would always be. Replaying endlessly and frantically in his mind all that had been said, and rehearsing all that should have been. Might have been. It was like a recorder stuck on the same dirty thirty minutes, right there, in the back of his mind, where the headache always started, low and throbbing, then slowly spreading to the rest of him, like foul-smelling oil covering the waves and the depths beneath.
The mug crashed to the floor, slipping from his hands, the breaking sounds echoing in the early morning stillness, the fragments, sharp and cutting, all scattered around Doyle's bare feet.
It had changed, actually.
His anger, for instance. The anger he had kept strictly under control then, afar and alone, lest it ruin the last words, the last memory. Could it have been worse than how it had been? Yes. Doyle knew that. Yes, it could have been much worse, if he had let all his pain turn into furious anger, and had aimed it at the source of it all, his finger on the trigger. So, no real anger, not then. Some bitterness, the cuts too deep, the wound too vital. But also some kind of acceptance, a twisted claim for rationality in a matter where rationality should have been left behind.
It--still--hurt like fucking hell.
And the anger, that hidden heat steadily, faithfully, pulsating inside of him, throbbing quietly, keeping him company, had never left since then. Never. And even now, it was talking to him, a small voice whispering words of damnation.
Bodie deserved it.
Bodie deserved to die.
Bodie had left, and that wasn't right, was it? Bodie had been egotistical, self-absorbed, blind, and cruel to Doyle's own blindness.
Dying suited Bodie. What kind of life did he think he was going to have, anyway, running away like that?
Doyle finished sweeping away the shards, threw the lot into the dustbin, and closed the lid on it. He paused, then, to consider his anger. Because, alive, Bodie could be tracked down, if he really wanted to; alive, Bodie could change his mind and come back...or at least, one day, write a couple of lines to help Doyle get through those fucking Wednesdays. Maybe. One day that now would never come.
So, right, right, right, Bodie deserved to die!
And all the while, a part of him kept pushing the replay button, reviewing the expressions, every single nuance, every flicker of the brows, every stiffening and tone, every single fucking movement and breath of that bloody mate of his.
Of his lover, as Doyle had thought of him. Without telling him, mind you. Why? What for? All was well, wasn't it? They were doing just fine without that, weren't they? And Doyle had been blind, God so blind, all his copper's instinct blown to hell, and he had come back home to a stranger packing and leaving.
Doyle wasn't--hadn't been--enough for Bodie to stay. Only fucking and friendship, dismissed as bland, tasteless food. But the details...the way Bodie had said he was sorry, for instance. The details added up all at once, all together. Bodie had been running, yes, oh so fast, running like hell, lest he should catch himself. Running so far away from himself, even to the point of changing the name--even before the Legion did it for him--he was so proud of. Or wasn't he?
What did Doyle really know of Bodie? Nothing, it seemed.
So, Doyle took the small letter, and crumpled it away in the back of a drawer, lost and mixed up with old bills and various scattered pieces of paper; he took the memory and folded it along with it, anger its only dressing and the calendar of red-crossed Wednesdays ended up in the dustbin.
...and then days without names...
Two weeks later, Doyle went out at 6.30 a.m.--his turn to go and get Murphy and share yet another hell of a day: morning in Court, lunch--and briefing--with Cowley at the hospital, afternoon at HQ in the interrogation room, and then see Macklin about the new recruits he was trying, and Murphy stuck in Archives with Susan all night, probably, and those terrorists from Germany still on the run and--breathe, Ray, breathe, slowly, and again, you won't finish the day if you start it like this, you're the one in control, or so they think, so let them keep their illusions a bit longer, will you?
So, Doyle went out, breathing slowly and deeply, and his skin suddenly prickled and itched, which meant that someone was watching him, well hidden somewhere. Without your mate to watch your back, you have to hope, and rely on instincts honed and refined and sharp and cutting as a surgical knife.
Doyle walked to his car, apparently oblivious, and waited to see who was coming after him, because he knew someone was there.
Then, he heard the footsteps, and soon after there was a presence behind his back, and Doyle's green eyes were a tight slit checking the reflections in the car window, hand already on his gun, ready to face whoever was there.
But certainly not ready for a ghost, that dark shape at his back, Doyle's knees going weak, mouth going dry, ohforchristsake!
So, finally, you lost it, well, what will Cowley say about this? Probably have another stroke, and this time for good, maybe. Breathe, Ray, remember? Slowly and again, breathe, breathe....
Now, sunshine, if you dare to face your madness, turn slowly and look the ghost in the eyes, oh, blue, dark blue, sometimes lighter--wonderful blue--some other times dark as the night, deep and cold, and cruel, they were cruel, Doyle remembered painfully, I thought I was angry enough with the bastard, instead I'm not and....
"Thought you were dead," Doyle said, and got in the car and turned the key, ignition, put the right gear on, don't be daft, don't rush away, gentle on the accelerator, be cool, never ran away from anything, you won't start now, will you? Not from a ghost, anyway.
Can find me again if you really want, or stay dead, come in my dreams as a proper ghost would, take your turn in my nightmares, one more won't make any difference, really, just mind your chains on my rug, will you, and don't chase me in a car park at half past six in the morning, 'cause I put you away in a drawer and you've hurt me too much already, and besides, I have to work today, I've got the job you didn't want anymore, you, Bodie, you selfish bastard, I am the man you left behind, so just go away and die!
Bodie stood very still as Doyle drove away.
It had been better than he had expected. Much better. He was still in one piece. For how long, that was another question. He searched in his pockets, finding the battered cigarette he was looking for, and the lighter. Smoking was an old habit, dismissed a long time ago and now newly found.
Some bad habits you never really get rid of, he thought, tasting the acrid smoke in his mouth. Some other habits you just didn't know you had, or wouldn't acknowledge.
Bodie turned his back to the car park and walked slowly towards Doyle's place. It hadn't been easy, to follow his ex-partner around in the last few days, losing him often in order not to be caught in tailing him. Bodie had hoped to arrive before the official communication of his supposed death could reach Doyle, and had evidently failed.
Doyle's hair had more grey than Bodie remembered.
He slumped on the front steps for a while, knowing that he should move soon enough. He had things to do, arrangements to make. All in good time, no one could say he wasn't organised. He had plenty of resources. But he would be back on those very steps, that evening.
And the morning after.
And the following evening.
And every single bloody day of the rest of his life, if that was how long it would take for Doyle to acknowledge his return. Bodie considered the tip of the cigarette, the burning red heat consuming the small cylinder of paper and tobacco. Just like the heat that had started consuming him, from inside, as soon as he had boarded the train. As soon as he had left England.
He inhaled deeply, the half-burned cigarette loosely held between thumb and index finger. Half burned, half consumed. Half dead.
The tip was still bright, though, like the only important memory he had of the past eight months. Himself, under almost-cold running water, placating his body with short, fast, hungry strokes on his cock, balls held tight against his body. And when he had trembled, and shivered, and finally come, the water now dead-cold on his skin, his seed burning on his hand, there had been only one name on his lips, only pain-filled, hard greenish eyes in his mind.
And because the water was so cold, and because the heat inside was still devouring him, Bodie had slid slowly along the wall, his bare back scratched by the ceramic tiles going unnoticed. Not one sound from him. Only the tumultuous pouring of water all over and around him. Only that.
Then, it had been just a matter of planning; waiting for a dangerous assignment, then organising his own fake death, leaving his dog tag around the neck of a corpse barely recognisable as human, fingerprints and teeth carefully disposed of. No other quick way out of that outfit.
Bodie wanted to be free and be back, no waiting, no questions asked, in perfect Bodie-style.
Bodie wanted to come back to England to tell Doyle he had stopped running.
If only he could manage to keep Doyle still long enough for him to listen.
He dropped his cigarette on the concrete, crushed it neatly with his foot, and faced the day. A quick glance to the sky told him it was going to be grey and cold. He shivered and hunched in his jacket.
No sunshine today.
Maybe next Wednesday.
-- THE END --
Originally published in Roses and Lavender 4, Allamagoosa Press, February 2001