"... you're emotionally involved."
-Doyle to Bodie in Blind Run
Bodie let the satisfaction settle over him. His heartbeat was returning to normal and he felt the first drowsy pull of sleep. He rolled away from her and trailed his arm across the small, firm breasts. She wasn't the usual type of bird. He preferred his women voluptuous, soft and very curvy. Still, the sex had been as pleasant as ever and her almost boyish figure hadn't put him off. Always able to rise to the occasion, he smirked to himself, eyelids growing heavy.
He didn't expect the quick jab to his ribs.
"You called me Ray," she told him evenly.
"Wha--?" He blinked, languor evaporating.
She threw aside the sheet and got out of bed. "That's your partner, isn't it? The one with the curly hair?" Her face held an odd mixture of disappointment and anger.
"I didn't... that's crazy."
She just shook her head, her sharp eyes widening a little in surprise. "I'd hardly make a mistake like that, Bodie. You said his name twice. And at a moment like that, no woman would forget. If only you could have seen your face." She started putting on her clothes, her voice steady and calm. "I never expected hearts and flowers. No ties, no commitments. God, that was obvious from the start. But I don't think that a little honesty was too much to ask."
"I don't know what you're talking about!" It came out louder than he'd intended.
She stopped and stared down at him. "You really don't, do you?" A tiny smile lit her face, fading quickly. "Well, that's even worse. I've played surrogate mother before, but I'll be damned if I'll play surrogate boyfriend."
Bodie levered himself up against the pillows, his shock rapidly changing into outrage. "You're bloody mad."
"You know, you could have gotten away with it if his name had been Phil." She buttoned her blouse and fixed the belt on her skirt. "Thanks for a lovely weekend, Bodie." She headed for the sitting room. At the bedroom doorway, she paused, turning back to him. "I really did enjoy it, up until then. I consider myself fully compensated." She went on before he could interrupt. "Do yourself, and the female population, a favor: if Ray's the one you want, go after him. Admit it to yourself and go after him. No one likes to be a substitute for somebody else. It's very bad for the ego." The tiny smile appeared again and then she walked away.
"Phillipa!" But the front door was already slamming shut.
He couldn't believe it. What the hell was she going on about? Ray? He fell back into the pillows, his stomach knotting. He tried to remember the lovemaking. Played the scene back in his mind. Was it possible? He squeezed his eyes shut, opening them to stare blankly at the ceiling. Christ. He had called out his partner's name.
It was inevitable that the lift was out of order in the delapidated six-storey building. And, of course, their informant was waiting for them on the fifth floor. "Could be worse, Bodie. He could be on the sixth floor."
Bodie gritted his teeth as he followed his partner up the stairs. Ray Doyle was wearing those washed-out bluejeans with the patch. He hadn't worn them since... Escorts Unlimited. Almost four months ago. And almost three and a half since the disastrous weekend with Phillipa. Bodie had done more thinking than he cared for since that weekend. He'd also fucked every shapely air hostess, secretary, and barmaid he could persuade. Which had added up to a rather large number of women. His reputation as resident ladykiller of CI5 was duly enhanced, but aside from that, the sexual exploits did little to resolve his growing confusion. Especially when he realized that not one of all those many conquests had had green eyes. Damn Phillipa. Damn Ray.
Bodie stared at the dark blue rectangle that covered part of Doyle's right buttock, dipping invitingly into the cleft between the tightly rounded curves. From Bodie's proverbial vantage point a few steps behind, it made for a very appealing bum. It disconcerted him to note he could no longer make the observation with the same detachment he felt he once possessed.
Halfway up the third flight, Doyle froze and Bodie instinctively put out a hand. That landed right on the patch. He jerked his arm away as though he'd stuck it into an electric socket.
"Did you hear that?" Doyle was asking, oblivious to Bodie's touch. "Sounds like rats."
Bodie made a face and craned his head, listening. There was a skittering, gnawing noise coming from the grimy wall beside him. "They've picked suitable quarters. Nice ambience, this place."
His partner snickered without turning and continued up to the next landing. "I used to live in a block like this, for a bit. It had rats, too."
A tiny fragment of Raymond Doyle's dim past had just been off- handedly revealed to Bodie and he halted in midstep. "How old were you then?" he asked, hurrying on, not really expecting a reply.
"Around ten. My dad lost his job, so we wound up--"
Doyle never finished as a series of frantic screams cut through the air from the floor above, followed by the unmistakeable sounds of a fistfight. CI5 agents broke into a run.
Two men were battering each other at the back of the long hallway. The door to the end flat was thrown open. A woman in a pale yellow robe stood there, yelling at them to stop. A few heads poked cautiously out of other doors, but soon ducked back inside.
Doyle bounded into the fray, pulling the men apart. An elbow connected solidly with his midsection and he fell back against the wall. "Bodie!"
Bodie, who was all for letting the two idiots have at it, sighed and joined in. A few seconds later, he had one of the fighters in a necklock and Doyle had the other in a rather painful-looking armtwist.
"You stupid bastards! Do you think beating each other to death is going to solve anything?!" It was the woman. Her voice was shaking and she looked like she was about to cry. Bodie also noticed that she was very pretty. Strawberry blonde, around 25, with slanting, feline eyes. Almost like Doyle's. He frowned at the thought.
"I'll kill him if I find him with you again! What're you doing in this dump anyway? What's gotten into you?!" bellowed Doyle's captive.
"She's my girl. You keep your fuckin' hands off her!" croaked Bodie's man.
"Oh, get out! I'm sick and tired of the both of you, can't you understand that? Leave me the hell alone, d'you hear?!" The woman stepped back and slammed the door in their faces, clicking the lock.
Bodie gave Doyle a 'do-you-believe-this' arch of his eyebrow.
The bruised fighters glanced warily at the door, then at each other.
"It's your bleedin' fault--"
"You're the one--"
"Alright, you two," Doyle shouted, shoving his man up against the wall and pulling out his ID. He let go his hold, allowing the fellow to turn. "Take a good look," he hissed, flashing the CI5 identification.
Bodie watched with amusement as his partner read the riot act to the two men, effectively rendering them speechless. Doyle sent them on their way, separately, warning them to keep their distance from one another and the building.
"They'll probably be kicking each other's teeth in as soon as they find a dark alley, mate," noted Bodie after they'd gone. "And if either of them can manage it, they'll be crawling right back here to see that bird."
Doyle was staring at the door, his face pensive and a little mysterious. "I know. C'mon, we better see about Gordie."
Gordie was a very nervous snitch. He was gone when they got to the room. They could just make out his tall, skinny silhouette racing down a side street.
"Well, at least we know the fire escape is in working order," quipped Bodie as he shut the window.
Doyle wasn't quite as philosophical. "We're only a few minutes late, dammit."
"You know Gordie; pillow fights make him sweat. That ruckus downstairs must've sounded like an Ali-Frazier to him. Don't worry, he'll turn up again once he stops shaking."
"He better, sunshine." Doyle paced across the room, picked up an empty takeaway container and hurled it at a mirror. "It's taken us five days to trace him. And he's our only possible lead to Kohlmann. If we've blown it, Cowley'll hang us up by the balls."
Bodie scratched the back of his head. "Uh, now wait a minute. What's all this about 'we' then, eh? You're the one who had to stop and play referee down there. You can explain it to the Old Man."
"You helped," was Doyle's deadpan reply. "Aw, never mind. Let's get out of here."
They got to the fourth floor. "Hoi, where are you going?" asked Bodie as his partner detoured down the hallway.
"Wanna check on the girl." A vague smile crossed Doyle's full lips.
Bodie knew that smile. "Gonna chat her up, are you?"
"Listen, I just want to make sure she'll be alright. You can wait in the car. It'll only take a minute."
Bodie put on his blandest face and tried to ignore a sudden flash of irritation. "Wouldn't dream of leaving a boy like you unchaperoned."
"Have it your own way."
Doyle went ahead of him and Bodie found himself staring at the patch again. He looked away just as they got to her door.
"Let me handle this, okay, Bodie?"
"Afraid I'll dazzle her too much?"
"Nah, I just think she's suffered enough for one day."
Doyle knocked on the door. Then he tried the bell.
"Go away!" she yelled from behind the barricade.
"Uh, miss, are you okay?" Doyle called.
Bodie couldn't stop himself. "C'mon, open up, it's not Tweedledee or Tweedledum."
Doyle glowered at him.
The door swept open and they were met with a pair of furious green eyes. She glanced at Doyle, then at Bodie, and the anger ebbed from her face. "Thank you for stopping the fight." She was already dressed in brown velour pants tucked into high- heeled boots and an off-white sweater that outlined her small breasts to advantage.
Doyle leaned against the doorjamb, smiling. "I'm Ray Doyle." Then, almost as an afterthought, he pointed a thumb in Bodie's general direction. "That's Bodie."
The blonde nodded at each introduction but said nothing.
"They might come back," continued Doyle after an awkward pause. "If you have somewhere you could go, it might be wise--"
"Don't concern yourself, Mr. Doyle," she put in crisply. "I can take care of myself, and I was getting out of here anyway."
"Do you need a lift?"
She didn't answer right away, giving Doyle a long, measuring stare before her lips curled into a sultry smile. "Yes, I could use a lift."
Bodie had the oddest feeling that he was watching a couple of hunting cats on the prowl.
"Kohlmann has outstanding warrants on him in at least three countries. We know he was behind The Hague bombing a month ago. Six lives lost. Now there's been whispers that he's in England, for reasons as yet unknown. I want to track down those whispers. I want confirmation, one way or the other. And, if he is here, I am not about to see him slip through our fingers. Do I make myself clear?"
The Controller of CI5 was in a nasty mood.
Bodie remained stiffly at attention. "Yes, sir." He heard Doyle grudgingly echo his response and stole a glance at his partner. A scowl simmered over the round, gamin face. Doyle was in a nasty mood, too.
"Catch up with that snitch of yours. He's all we have at the moment. Unfortunately." Cowley jabbed at the air with his glasses. "And next time, Doyle, leave the domestic squabbles to the constables. That's not what I'm paying you good money for." He put on his glasses and reached for a file on his crowded desk, dismissing them with an impatient wave. "Now get going and get it done. Results, not excuses."
In the corridor, Bodie puffed out a breath. "Well, the Old Man was certainly delighted with our progress."
Doyle stalked passed him. "Old bastard, you mean. Wonder what he's got in his chest where his heart ought to be."
"You really didn't expect a pat on the back, did you?"
Doyle ignored him, shoving his fists deeper into his jacket pockets. "We better try the sex shop again. Gordie might show up."
Bodie groaned, not looking forward to the prospect.
As they went out to the Capri, he asked about the girl. "You weren't too subtle about dumping me off yesterday," he began. "Where'd you take that bird? Who is she? And, most importantly, let's have any sordid details."
He watched and waited as Doyle drifted into the passenger seat, rolled down the window to his liking, and leisurely settled a white-trainered foot on his dashboard. "Her name's Christine. She's an actress. Lives in Kensington." He gazed out the window. "Not far from the block where Ann lived." It was as if Doyle were talking to himself.
A half dozen questions popped into Bodie's head, most he knew he couldn't ask. He gunned the ignition and headed towards Soho. "What was she doing in that fleatrap then?" That was safe.
"Studying for a part."
"What?!" Bodie's incredulous expression earned him a snort of laughter from his partner.
"Soaking up atmosphere for some role in a play. Actors are strange that way, I suppose." He paused. "And she was getting away from her boyfriend."
"Boyfriends plural, you mean."
"Nah, not the two we broke up. A third one."
"My, my, she does sound popular. So, what exactly happened between you two? She pour out her artistic soul? In bed or out? Are you seeing her again?"
"You're a nosy bugger."
Bodie grinned. "If she can handle three boyfriends, maybe she can handle four... or five. Sounds like she and I could hit it off. Similar outlook on life, you know."
"Can't get enough, Casanova?" There was absolutely no humour in Doyle's voice as he slouched even further in his seat, arms folding across his chest, scowl back in place.
"You mad at me, Goldilocks?" Bodie asked the question softly, without sarcasm. Wary eyes turned his way. Doyle could be such an irritating, moody little toad. Especially when provoked. If nothing else, Bodie knew he had the knack of igniting his partner's volatile temper with minimum effort. "Ah, Ray, not to worry. I promise to keep my devastating charms well leashed. No poaching. So, her loss is your gain. Okay?" It was hardly a concession. Bodie wasn't even remotely interested in the girl. He also recognized, with sudden shocking clarity, that he didn't want Ray to be interested in her either. The feeling came very close to jealousy, very close to all sorts of emotions that he wasn't prepared or willing to face. It was like being shoved into deep water without warning.
Bodie was a drowning man and he didn't know it.
Doyle sniffed and mumbled something unintelligible, rubbing the tip of his nose with his palm.
"I said, that's very generous of you." But his tone was definitely light.
Bodie ventured the question that was uppermost on his mind. "Is this one special?" He had to fight to keep the neutrality in his voice.
For a moment, Doyle looked bewildered. "Special?" He seemed to consider the notion. "She's... different."
"No, not like Ann."
Bodie didn't know whether to be relieved or worried. A horn blasted beside them, diverting his attention to the growing snarl of traffic. "Gordie's not going to be in that place. Probably still holed up somewhere." He changed the subject deliberately.
"Well, we can't just sit on our arses. You heard what Cowley said." Doyle seemed unconcerned by the turn in conversation.
"Frankly, I don't thing Kohlman's even in the country. The Cow's got us out chasing shadows." Bodie pressed his foot down on the accelerator and gripped the wheel tightly, fixing his gaze on the road ahead, his mind in a far different place.
The Passion Pit lived down to its name. Everything about the sex shop seemed to be either purple, red, or glittering. Inside, a balding middle-aged man stood in front of the magazine racks, pawing glassy-eyed through the pages. The only other customers were two, youngish women who were giggling nervously in front of a display of dildoes. Purple glow letters on a sign above proclaimed 'Good Vibrations for Sale'.
Doyle headed for the counter and the pockmarked clerk who sat behind a miniature pyramid of 'love oils'. "We want to talk to Simon Lonigan," he said.
"Who the hell are you?"
Doyle fished out his I.D. and the clerk immediately straightened in his chair. "Simon's in the back," he muttered, pointing to the rear of the shop.
"For something more exotic, visit our back room," Doyle whispered to Bodie, nodding towards the sign over the curtained doorway.
"Should be the high point of our day."
The lights were dimmer and the merchandise was definitely aimed at a different clientele. Studded leather collars, riding crops, chains and devices more appropriate to a medieval dungeon hung from the ceiling and along the walls.
"The kinky trade seems well represented," grumbled Bodie.
There were no customers about. "Lonigan!"
A slim, blond man with hornrimmed glasses rose from behind several large opened crates. He was holding a clipboard and looked like an accountant. His pale brows knitted into a frown as he spotted them. "What do you want, Doyle?"
The ex-cop fingered a leather strap. "Same as last time. Wanna have a talk with your brother."
"I haven't seen Gordie in days--"
Doyle walked over to him and began barking out questions as Bodie ran a quick check of the room. There were no other doors except for the curtained entrance and there was no place for a man to hide. As he passed by a low table along the far wall, Bodie noticed a framed, pen and ink drawing. It looked out of place amid the leather gear and S & M toys. A sketch of two men making love. The artist's lines were strong and sensual, emphasizing muscle and curve and proud masculinity, the two bodies caught in erotic abandon. The faces were not visible, lost in a kiss. But one of the men had long, curly hair.
Bodie couldn't tear his eyes away.
"You tell Gordie we can't wait until he stops being afraid of his shadow. We're in a bit of a hurry, you see. Now, he knows how to reach me or Bodie. Tell him when you hear from him, and don't say you won't, just tell him we better get a call from him within 24 hours."
Bodie heard the end of the exchange but he still couldn't seem to move. Only when he sensed Doyle's approach was he able to force himself to turn away from the drawing, steering his partner clear and towards the door.
"Hoi." Halfway across the room, he felt a tap on his shoulder. Doyle was holding up an elaborate, black leather harness dotted with silver studs. "Now I know what to get you for Christmas." He winked, threw the harness back on the display shelf and strolled passed Bodie, out the door.
Bodie said nothing as they started the drive back to HQ, except to grunt occasionally as Doyle talked about the case. Eventually, the monologue dwindled into silence, and he could feel his partner's gaze, could feel the scrutiny.
"What's the matter, Bodie?"
"Contemplating the moon."
"Look, I'm not exactly thrilled about this op either, you know."
Bodie didn't bother to respond and deadweight silence settled over the car again, accompanied by a new layer of tension. The beep of the RT was a welcome intrusion.
"Alpha to 3.7, 4.5. Alpha to 3.7, 4.5. Come in."
"Where are you?"
"On our way back to base."
"Have you found Gordie Lonigan?"
There was a brief pause before Cowley continued. "We've received a report that someone fitting Kohlmann's description had been spotted near the site of an explosion at a banking building in Londonderry. I'm having it checked through. Meantime, I want you two to go over the files on Kolhmann, his known associates, and the terrorist groups he's been involved with. I have a feeling we've missed something."
"But he's in bloody Northern Ireland!"
"Possibly, Bodie. It hasn't been confirmed." Cowley's voice took on a cold edge that stopped the CI5 agent from further comment. "And I still want to know what that informant of yours has to say, if you ever locate him. Report to Computer Records when you arrive. Alpha out."
Bodie threw a look of disgust at the RT. "Chasing a fuckin' shadow. We'll be pouring through files for the rest of the bloody day. And for what? Because the Cow 'has a feeling'. Shit." Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Doyle put on his sunglasses and adjust his seat to a reclining position. The sun was streaming in through the passenger window, dancing off Doyle's hair and skin, the wind ruffling wild curls. The top three buttons of his shirt were undone, as usual, and the thin chain around his neck glinted silver starpoints in the light. His legs were sprawled apart as far as the confines of the Capri would allow, the tight jeans emphasizing lithe muscle and the bulge at his crotch.
"Do you have a solid bone anywhere in your body?" The question escaped before Bodie realized it.
Staring out at the cars ahead of him, Bodie let out a breath and muttered through clenched teeth. "Are you quite comfortable?"
"No, actually, you're beginning to get on my nerves. I think I preferred the silent treatment. What's gotten into you anyway? Cowley's put us on standby. That's what it amounts to. We're gonna have to check the files and we're gonna have to wait for Gordie to contact us. That's how it is. Some days there's no excitement. Reconcile yourself, will you?"
The irony of it almost made Bodie laugh. He managed to nod and tried to relax. Beside him, Doyle stretched, a slow, liquid movement, and lolled his head to one side, face towards the open window. "I think I'll give Christine a call tonight. She's got a funny rehearsal schedule. Weird hours, bad as CI5. I hope we can work out a weekend together because she--"
"Roll up your window."
"I said, roll-up-your-goddam-window. It's getting cold in here and it's my car, remember?"
"What in hell's wrong with you?"
"Just shut up, Doyle."
By the time Bodie got home to his flat and locked the door behind him, he knew he had experienced one of the longest days of his life. The last few hours spent staring at one file after another, one computer record after another, all the while aware of his angry partner sitting a scant meter away, had been enough to make him want to claw the walls. That the hostile atmosphere was his own doing only made it harder to bear. The fact that researching Kohlmann's background was, to him, a colossal waste of time, added more frustration to his already seething state of mind.
A glance at his watch told him it was a little after seven. He wasn't hungry. He didn't want to see any of his girlfriends. He didn't want to read or listen to music. He knew he couldn't sleep.
He refused to think about what he really wanted.
Two scotches and a hot shower later, he made an attempt at thumbing through the latest Playboy. He didn't even notice the centerfold. After a while, he gave up, poured himself another two fingers of malt, and went into the bedroom. He paused in front of the mirror: a pale apparition, hair waving damp against his forehead, blue robe gaping open, revealing a slash of white skin. One of his recent birds, Joan or Jean or something, had told him he would have made a perfect Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, some rubbish about brooding eyes and tragic air. Strange how all the birds kept going on and on about his eyes, lashes. He couldn't see anything out of the ordinary about them. Not like...
He froze the thought and lay down on the bed, gulping his drink. "You're a fool, Bodie." He put the empty glass aside and turned his face into the pillow. And there was Raymond Doyle. Smiling at him with those big, hunting cat eyes, green crystal that sparked cool and hot at the same time. The mind image made his cock pulse. "Damn you." He blinked into the dimness of the room. "Alright, think about him. Get it over with. Can't fight anymore, can't win..."
A smoky figure coalesced at the foot of his bed, one slim hand on a jutting, jean-clad hip. It was a vision that flaunted sensuality, borne from the secrets of his heart. "You really want me bad, don't you, Bodie?" it told him, the familiar voice husky silk. The fantasy wore no shirt, honey skin glowing with its own incandescence. It slowly raised its other hand to a brown nipple, artist's fingers teasing it erect. Shiny auburn curls, thick and long, tumbled loose across its forehead as the vision gazed down at itself.
"Look up at me," Bodie commanded.
The fantasy lifted its head and smiled. A shy, sweet smile.
That was better. It was his fantasy after all. If he couldn't avoid it, at least this Doyle would behave the way Bodie wanted.
"Take off the jeans." They melted away with his words and the fantasy stood naked before him. "Turn round." The figure obliged, making a slowmotion circle as Bodie drank in the sight of the wide, lightly muscled shoulders that tapered to narrow waist and hips and a taut, round arse. Bodie wanted desperately to reach out and caress the smooth tight buttocks, play his fingers along the crack, feel inside...
His body trembled and he pulled his robe open, his penis arching upward as he gave in to his need and began to fondle himself. His breath came faster and he felt his balls tighten. "Touch yourself," he told the fantasy.
The vision arched its slender neck, heavy curls brushing nape and shoulders. Mouth opening, a wet pink tongue tip slid provocatively across wet lips as it drew a tantalizing hand across its flat stomach, along the tender flesh of inner thigh, then cupped a buttock, rubbing the mound invitingly.
Bodie heard a moan, full of longing and desire, and realized it was his own voice. His hand pumped his cock and he called out, the words urgent and shocking. "Say you love me, Ray."
The fantasy looked at him uncertainly, lost, its expression reflecting Bodie's sudden confusion. What made him ask such a thing? It was crazy. Love? He didn't want that. Didn't need that. The sexual attraction was bad enough. Love was infinitely worse. No, he didn't want that. That was the last thing he would ever want...
His cock strained against his palm, demanding release, and he saw the fantasy move closer, almost close enough to reach. The exotic, flawed face and wanton's body, beckoning to him. And from somewhere deep inside him, the plea escaped again. "Say you love me, Ray."
The fantasy smiled the same sweet smile, eyes now warm and almost innocent. Full lips parted and the words came soft and promising. "I love you, Bodie."
Bodie cried out, Ray's voice singing in his mind. His body shook and he threw back his head, eyes squeezing shut as he felt warm fluid spill over his hand, spread across his belly.
When he could see clearly again, he knew he was truly alone. A bitter unhappiness twisted inside him like an old would torn open, the hurt worse than before. "My god, what am I going to do?" The whisper died in the empty room.
He lost track of time. Perhaps hours passed before the silence was broken by the sound of the telephone. By the fourth ring, he forced himself to stand and answer it.
It was the one voice he didn't want to hear.
"Thought you'd gone out. I was about to try the RT," Doyle told him.
Unseen, Bodie held up his right hand. It was sticky and shook a little. He kept his voice low to keep it even. "Why are you calling?"
"I just heard from Gordie. He wants us to meet him. I'll pick you up in fifteen minutes." The line clicked off.
Bodie bit down on his lower lip and slowly put the receiver back in its cradle. Fifteen minutes later, he was washed and dressed in black trousers and polo shirt. He adjusted his holster and gathered his leather jacket just as the doorbell rang. He didn't press the entry release, but went out to meet Doyle on the street.
"Where are we going?" he asked as he got into the Escort. He didn't look at his partner.
"A pub called the Brass Tap. It's near the sex shop."
Ray made small talk. Though he didn't know the cause, he was obviously trying to dispel the cloud of tension that had hung over them all day. They both knew they couldn't afford a breach, not while they were working. Personal problems had to be put aside. A CI5 agent's job left little margin for error and the smallest misunderstanding between operatives could have fatal consequences.
Bodie tried. He summoned every ounce of control he had to mask his troubled feelings. He didn't want to lose Doyle as a partner or as a friend, that much he was sure of. He wasn't prepared to leave CI5. That was the last resort. No, he'd deal with it somehow. He'd find a way. He had to.
The pub was a gloomy, rundown place that probably never saw better days. It blended well with its surroundings. They found Gordie waiting for them in a shadowy booth near the door. Cigarette butts littered the tiny ashtray on the table as the towheaded blond lit another, his hazel eyes darting between them and the exit.
"I've been waiting over an hour," he complained as they sat down on either side of him.
"Hasn't been an hour," corrected Doyle quietly. "We're not exactly around the corner." He pointed towards Gordie's empty glass. "You want another lager?"
Bodie got up. "I'll get it. You having one, Ray?" Doyle nodded and Bodie headed for the bar. Service was quick since they were practically the only customers in the pub. By the time he got back to the booth with their drinks, Gordie was already talking.
"... how the hell was I supposed to know. It sounded like a bloody war. CI5 isn't exactly known as a pacifist outfit, you know. Course I lit out!"
"Alright, doesn't matter. All we want is what you know about Alfred Kolhmann."
Gordie gave them a blank stare and took a swallow of his beer.
"C'mon, Gordie. You called Doyle a week ago and said you had some information on Kolhmann. Then you drop out of sight and we have to track you down to set a meet where you run out a fire escape before word one. You call Doyle again and here we are. Now you're looking at us like some mental defective. We don't have time for games."
Gordie pushed his glass away and clasped his hands against his chest. "Kolhmann killed Chris."
Bodie and Doyle exchanged glances. "Who's Chris?"
"Friend of mine. He met Kohlmann about six months ago when he was playing with a band in Hamburg. That's when everything changed. Chris wrote me. Politics and music, that's all he ever talked about, but not like that. He started sounding like a damn revolutionary. You see, he was always wanting to change the world, always protesting one thing or another. But he would never have got involved in anything heavy. Not on his own. He was just a kid, looking for excitement more than anything else." Gordie stopped, his head lowering, a different quality coming into his voice. "Chris was beautiful. Everybody said so."
A sense of uneasiness made Bodie look away. "Did he tell you he'd joined up with Kolhmann?" he heard Doyle ask.
"Not at first, just that he'd met someone... important. When he came back from Germany, he told me he was leaving London for good. I argued with him and he finally told me the man was Alfred Kohlmann." Gordie stopped again, his thin lips pressing tight for a moment. "He said Kohlmann wasn't afraid of anything, wasn't afraid to do whatever was necessary for what he believed in. He talked about him like the bastard was some kind of hero."
"How did Chris die?"
"He was killed in The Hague bombing a month ago."
Bodie remembered one of the computer entries he'd studied. "Christopher Holloway. Caucasian, 21 years of age. No prior record. The I.D. had to be made from dental x-rays. The investigation listed him as a possible victim. Not enough evidence to link him with the bombers."
"Kohlmann used him!" Gordie reached into his jacket and pulled out a crumpled letter. He held it in his hands, staring at it intently as he continued. "I've always been scared, afraid of everything, ever since I can remember. I don't know why. I'd change if I could." He looked up at them, his shoulders sagging under some invisible weight. "Chris wrote this a few days before the bombing. I... I've been carrying it around with me." His eyes returned to the piece of paper. "I should have helped him, not let him go, but I was too scared."
Doyle reached across the table and took the letter. He skimmed it quickly and handed it to Bodie. "This will help, Gordie," he said.
"Too late for Chris. Too goddam late." Gordie was still staring at his hands when they left him.
George Cowley limped to his desk and picked up the letter again. "Well, at least it tells us that Kohlmann has formed his own group, and it would seem his goals have taken on a grandiose design. Holloway had his doubts a little late in the game, unfortunately. In over his head. It's possible that Kohlmann used him as a mule to carry in the explosive. A sacrificial lamb in Kohlmann's terrorist crusade. Or, it simply could have been an accident, the bomb going off sooner than they'd planned, a snafu. We'll never know."
Bodie shifted in his chair. "Yeh, but it definitely tells us that Kohlmann was heading for Northern Ireland after The Hague."
Cowley scratched at a spot below his hairline. "And it also infers that Kohlmann may be heading here, to London."
This time it was Doyle who spoke up. "But it doesn't say when. Could be next week, next year. Could be never. Nothing at all specific. The kid didn't know anything for certain. What are we supposed to do? Wait around for Kolhmann show up?"
"Ach, you'll both do whatever I say, and no, you won't have time to sit on your backsides. I have plenty to keep you occupied," snapped the Old Man. He scooped up a folder. "In fact, you can start with this surveillance job tonight." Cowley paused, pensive. "As for Kohlmann, we'll share what information we have with the authorities in Londonderry and assist if they request it. I have a feeling we haven't heard the last of him yet." He turned back to them, his expression sternly business-like. "Now, as to this surveillance..."
The weeks passed slowly. There was no further news on Kohlmann. The surveillance was followed by a stake-out assignment that seemed to drag on endlessly. Cowley set up both operations using two-man teams working eight-hour shifts that gave Bodie and Doyle the semblance of normal working hours.
"How about a drink and a game of darts?" It was the second time in as many days that Ray had asked him.
Bodie manuevered the Capri into a space in front of Doyle's flat. "No, thanks, I've got plans," he lied, adding, "I thought you were going out with Christine again tonight."
"I am, but she won't be through with her rehearsal until ten. What are you doing?" When Bodie didn't reply, he went on. "Haven't seen much of you lately, outside of the stake-out."
It was getting a little easier for Bodie to feign indifference. He schooled his bored expression, voice flat. "I'm catching up on my reading. Studying the history of stained glass window making. Very engrossing."
"Uh huh. Sounds like a real pane."
Bodie forced himself not to smile and glanced at the passenger door. "Are you planning on getting out before the summer solstice?"
Doyle reached for the handle and hesitated. "You sure you don't have time for a quick pint?"
"Sorry. I've got something on."
He watched Doyle shrug his slender shoulders, face reminding him of a puzzled urchin as he got out of the Capri. "Pick me up tomorrow?"
Bodie checked his window for passing traffic, already inching the car out. "Yeh, sure, same time. See you." As he drove away, he looked into his rearview mirror and noticed Doyle still standing on the sidewalk, gazing in his direction.
The distance widened between them, literally and figuratively. Under the circumstances, Bodie thought he had no alternative. Doyle's relationship with Christine seemed, if not run-of -the- mill, than at least, uncomplicated. Not like Ann at all, Doyle had been right there. It didn't bother Bodie too much any more, mainly because there was nothing he could do about it. What could he do? Begrudge the fact that Ray was behaving like a perfectly normal heterosexual male? If anything, he envied him that. For his own part, there was nothing he wanted more than to return to the days when he acted the same way... felt the same way. But the one inexorable step had been taken; Bodie'd crossed the line and there was no going back. He couldn't forget or ignore his changed feelings towards Doyle. He'd given up trying. And Ray would always be Ray. Too close, and always out of reach.
So, Bodie was building a wall. In truth, it was more a resurrection of the same emotional defenses he'd started to form when he was fourteen. The same defenses that had slowly eroded since his partnership with Ray Doyle began. Now, he needed them. For Doyle's sake as well as his own.
Bodie could maintain the aloof facade, but it bore a price. Inside, he knew he was close to the breaking point. He had to find something to take his mind off Ray. A diversion, if nothing else. Something... or someone to help him regain some measure of balance in his life, without utterly ruining what he already had with Doyle. He knew his present behavior could put that into jeopardy, too. He couldn't pretend forever. He wasn't dating anymore, though he was careful not to let on to Ray. The casual pick-up didn't help. They only reminded him acutely of what he really wanted... and couldn't have.
Something had to happen soon. Or else he would have to make it happen.
It was pitifully ironic that the further Bodie withdrew from his partner, the more Doyle seemed to want his attention. Bodie couldn't quite understand it. He certainly couldn't explain his motives to Ray. Finally, after persistent badgering, Bodie agreed to Doyle's suggestion of a double date, even though he dreaded the idea.
"You'll love her, Bodie. Christine said she's a dancer, legs to make you weep."
Their agonizing stake-out detail was over at last and Doyle confirmed with base that they had two days off. He kept chattering on, positively sunny with enthusiasm. Wrapped in his woolly white cardigan, rubbing his hands with glee, Ray seemed like a boy with a double fudge sundae waiting in front of him.
"Le weekend, mmmm," he mimicked, kissing his fingertips for emphasis.
"You been taking French lessons, have you?" offered Bodie, sensing he had to make some sort of comment.
"What, I? Mais, non. Huh, those I give."
A Rolls Royce cut in front of them. As it passed, Bodie saw her.
"Where we going?" Doyle asked as he swerved to follow it.
The roller stopped in front of the Gloucester Hotel and he eased the Capri by slowly. It wasn't difficult to pick her out. She was wearing a white fur coat, dark hair swept up, every inch the movie star. Someone was handing her a bouquet of roses. Men milled round. Like a magnet, he drew her focus to him, the recognition instant
The years fell away like dry leaves. She was as beautiful as ever. Bodie felt a strange, fragile feeling come to life within him. Old memories and new hope. A chance to put everything right again. For himself, for Ray. Maybe even for Marrika.
It would be a challenge just to try and see her. So much the better.
Perhaps Bodie could turn back the clock.
Perhaps it wasn't too late after all...
-- THE END --