They instituted a systematic search early that morning and kept at it for three days. They went room by room, testing every floor board; tapping every inch of wall and ceiling; going page by page through every book; pulling every photo out of its frame; emptying drawers to check them thoroughly. It was frustrating, tiring work, and they worked well into the night.
Aside from sharing meals in the kitchen, the two men rarely saw each other, despite residing in the same house. Bodie kept his distance, both emotionally and physically after their early morning talk in the library, and made sure his emotions were firmly shut off. Going through Cowley’s things was hard enough to deal with as Bodie kept getting ambushed by a letter, a book or even a particular piece of clothing that brought home the loss of one of the few people in his life he’d considered family. The other person who fit into that category was just down the stairs, but Bodie wouldn’t - couldn’t- afford to let himself go there. He’d lost Ray Doyle once, and he’d be damned if he’d put himself through that pain again. So Bodie kept his mind on the search and his heart on lock down.
It was just before midnight at the end of the third day when Doyle, who was working his way through the kitchen, was startled by a bellow. “Doyle, get up here, now!”
The command in the tone wasn’t what had him hurtling the stairs two at a time. It was the pain beneath it that pushed him upward. He found Bodie kneeling on the floor in a small bedroom in the back of the house. The rug was pulled back, the bed pushed aside and three floor boards were piled before a small recess in the floor. Bodie refused to meet his eyes as he held out a dusty folder.
“Willis?” Ray breathed out shakily after he’d skimmed the first page. “Good Christ, Cowley had this on him all these years and never…” he stopped abruptly. “Why, Bodie?” he demanded. “Why wouldn’t he have used this,” he continued, shaking the folder angrily, “years ago? Would have been doing the country and mankind, for that matter, a favour.”
Bodie surged to his feet and moved to stare out the window. Ray threw himself down on the bed and read through the file quickly while his mind raced. Willis had been a thorn in both Cowley’s and Bodie’s side for years, and if Doyle had been the type to keep a personal hit list Willis would have been right at the top, followed closely by Krivas and Jimmy Keller. Willis had set Bodie up to take the blame for the assassination of an East German official. And when that hadn’t worked, the head of MI6 had tried to kill 3-7 not once but twice.
The information contained in the folder laid out the man – who was due to retire as head of MI6 in seven months time – as a blackmailing bastard who had, for years, been milking wealthy citizens of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
“Bodie?” He looked up and realised his partner hadn’t moved from the window. Ray manoeuvred off the bed and moved to his mate’s side. “Why?” he asked quietly.
“Willis is about to be knighted.”
“When the list comes out next month, Willis will become Sir Willis.”
“Willis will be on the Queen’s list.”
“Bloody hell!” Ray looked again at the faded papers in his hand. “This would ensure the only sword Willis ever sees is the one seeking to sever his head from his shoulders.”
“Explains why those blokes were shooting at us,” Bodie offered.
“You don’t think…” Ray stopped himself. “Yeah, it does. Question is what are we going to do about it?”
“Three choices: Give the folder to Willis to see if he’ll do the honourable thing,” that comment elicited a snort from both of them, “give it to the press and let them have a field day, or do nothing.”
“Oh we’re doing something about it, alright! Bloody hell, Bodie, he-”
“There’s got to be a reason the old man hadn’t already dropped him in it, don’t you think?” Bodie asked.
“Can’t think of a good one,” Ray shrugged, his confusion warring with his anger.
“Maybe, maybe not. Or maybe he thought I was the one to handle it, and that’s why he left the folder for me to find,” Bodie offered thoughtfully.
Placing a hand on a broad shoulder, Ray forced Bodie to turn around so they stood face to face. “He left it for us.”
“Not your battle,” Bodie responded as he tried to shrug off the hand.
“Oh, no, you don’t!” And the light touch tightened into a punishing grip. “That bastard made it my battle years ago when he tried to have you killed. Whatever is to be done, we’ll decide on it together.”
“This could ruin your career.”
Ray was thrown by the concern behind the short sentence. “No. Only career this,” he responded as he waved the file, “will ruin is Willis’. And it’s well past time for that. How do you know he’s on the list?” Ray asked as the importance of that particular information suddenly hit him. “It normally isn’t released until the Queen’s birthday.”
“Helped someone at the palace out with a small problem a few years back, and Willis’ name happened to come up. They were just repaying a favour.”
Sorely tempted to ask him to explain the royals ‘small problem’, Ray took a deep breath instead. “Look, we’re both exhausted. Let’s clean up and get some sleep. I’ll make you a big breakfast tomorrow – ah later today, actually - and then we’ll decide what to do. You always did think better on a full stomach.”
Bodie toyed with his tea and his toast, while Doyle decided his breakfast companion must not have slept at all. Bodie looked drawn, the blue-black circles under his eyes highlighting his pale skin, and his lower lip was ragged as though it had been chewed on all night.
“Alright, mate, out with it,” Ray ordered as he took a sip of his tea. He could feel the tension rolling off Bodie.
“Need to finish up here. Let them think we haven’t found anything; lull Willis into a false sense of security.” Bodie took a large gulp of his tea. “We need to do a bit of background on the Home Secretary. Make sure he’s on the up-and-up…didn’t see him on the Cow’s list. If he’s clean, we give him the file. He can decide whether he wants to keep it a secret or save HMG some embarrassment down the road.”
“That’s all you plan to do?”
“What do you suggest, Doyle?” Bodie bellowed as his hands slammed the tabletop. “Splash it all over the papers – a special on the Beeb maybe?”
“No. I think it’s a good plan…except for one thing.” The raised eyebrow conveyed the question as clearly as if Bodie had asked it aloud. “We have to have some insurance in case Willis comes after us. We both know what a nasty piece of work he is.”
“I don’t want to keep that file,” Bodie responded, shaking his head.
“I don’t either. I think…” Ray’s mobile phone rang interrupting his thought. After a brief conversation he stood up, shrugging. “Sorry, Bodie, don’t really want to leave you with this mess but I’ve got to go. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“I’ll finish packing the upstairs. But don’t think I’ll finish the kitchen for you,” Bodie finished with a half hearted growl.
“Wouldn’t dream of it, sunshine. You stay in the house.”
Bodie wasn’t sure if it was a question or an order so he took his time responding as he followed Doyle to the front door. “I’m sure I’d better, given that you have the Met’s finest posted round the place.”
Ray felt the heat rising in his cheeks. “Was hoping you wouldn’t notice.”
“I’m old, Doyle, not blind.” Bodie smiled to soften the comment. “You just watch your back. Wouldn’t put it past Willis to try and pick one of us off.”
“I will, if you promise to stay in the house.” There was a moment of heightened tension between the two before Bodie relented.
“Yes, mum. If you promise to bring back something to eat.”
“Eat! I just fed you breakfast.”
“I’m a growing lad,” Bodie pouted, “and if you expect me to keep up this frantic pace of sorting and packing and lifting…well,” his pout softened into a lovely smile that tugged hard at Ray’s heart, “a Swiss roll or two would go a long way to ensuring I have enough energy to keep up with your slave driving ways.”
“You’re a nutter,” Ray responded gently as he ran a hand swiftly through the dark hair before taking a quick step backwards. “Be back as soon as I can. Don’t take any candy from strangers.”
Bodie finished his work in the small bedroom and started on the next room, another guest room. The fact someone else might sleep there – as he had for the three months he’d spent in the house after Egypt – hadn’t stopped the old man from filling up the wardrobe and the two bookcases. He got all the books packed and carefully wrapped twenty-two soldier figurines in tissue paper, setting them aside to give to Doyle. Doyle…that thought had him plopping hard onto the bed. “Not bad enough you had to up and leave me long before I was ready, Father,” he grumbled softly, “but you just had to meddle didn’t you? I know! I know you couldn’t help yourself. But Ray…you know…you knew how I felt, how I feel. We’ll get this house packed up and sold and then he’ll leave me again, just like last time. Damn you, George. Don’t know why you insist on torturing me from the other side…it’s beneath you, old man,” he finished as he pushed himself upright and headed out of the room.
In the kitchen, he gazed out the back window after putting the kettle on, then went back to look again after pouring his tea. There was something about the unmarked car beyond the gate that bothered him but he couldn’t put his finger on it.
Going back to the counter, he put together a cheese and pickle sandwich and grabbed his mug before settling at the small table. He stared blindly at the plate, lost in thought, before pushing away from the table. “Doyle’s gonna kill me,” he muttered as he moved back to the door and focused again on the empty car.
“Excuse me,” Doyle said as he stepped away from the two uniforms standing with him so he could answer his mobile. “Doyle.”
“Sir, I’m at Mr Cowley’s house. I think you’d better come.” Davidson’s voice sounded tinny and far away.
“What’s wrong? Has something happened to Bodie?” Ray was already moving towards his car before he finished his questions.
“Please, sir, just meet us at the house.”
“Damn you, Bodie, you better not have…” Ray finished under his breath, ignoring the stares of the confused coppers left in his wake. A hundred scenarios played out in his head – none of them good - as he drove across town. He was going to kill the idiot with his bare hands. He should have done it years ago…would have saved himself and Cowley both, a great deal of grief. Slamming on the breaks in front of the house, he took a moment to look around before exiting the car.
“What’s happened?” he demanded of Davidson as soon as the front door opened.
“Not sure exactly, sir. We came to bring you some paperwork and found the house empty. I called control, and they said you’d been called out. I doubted that you’d have taken Mr Bodie, though I did note his car was still out front. There is no sign of forced entry and no damage to the house.”
“What about the watch?” Ray asked as he stepped into the kitchen and pulled up short at the sight of the abandoned sandwich and crisps.
“Anderson out front didn’t see anything after you left. Jenkins is out back. He was out of his car for twenty minutes when a small crying child ran by and hid behind the rubbish bins.
“Bodie wouldn’t have left his lunch on the table untouched…unless something was wrong. Jenkins didn’t see anyone else?”
“I want to talk to him, now.” Ray paced the lounge frantically as his mind ran wild. Bodie would not have left without a note or a phone call. He wouldn’t…who was he kidding, how did he know what Bodie thought anymore; what he would or wouldn’t do? There had been a time when Raymond Doyle could accurately predict every move Bodie would make: which way he’d turn at the end of an alley, where he would hold up in an abandoned warehouse, how he’d finish a sentence, even. But now, now Bodie was as much a stranger as he had been the day they’d first met in Cowley’s office; maybe even more of one considering what had happened between them.
Ray took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He would not panic. There was a likely explanation for his partner’s absence. There had to be and once Ray learned what it was, he planned to strangle Bodie – slowly.
Jenkins recounting of the events that took him out of his car was a tad too pat. Under Doyle’s interrogation, the young cooper admitted he’d probably been gone closer to 45 minutes than 20 and that there had been a faded blue van leaving the alley when he’d returned to his car. The Commander paced the alley slowly, looking for anything out of the ordinary. At the end of his second pass, Doyle was ready to give it up and admit that Bodie had simply walked away when a flash of white caught his eye. Slipping on his glasses, he knelt down and pulled on a rubber glove before picking it up.
“Dear God,” Ray whispered as his recurring nightmare of the last ten years began to play in his head. The slip of paper was the fortune Bodie had opened after they’d finished their Chinese takeaway last night. He’d slipped it into the pocket of his jeans laughingly complaining he was going to demand his money back since the fortune he’d received “You will step on the shores of many countries” was clearly outdated. Running a hand roughly across his face, Doyle straightened.
“You said there was a faded blue van at the end of the alley. Did Andrews see anything?” he asked. “He…” Davidson paused for a moment, gauging the reaction he could expect from his boss. The commander’s temper was legendary. “He was out of the car – needed to use the loo.”
Doyle’s tightly clenched fists left him with white knuckles as he struggled for control. There would be time to deal with this later. Right now, he needed to focus all his attention on finding Bodie. He headed for the house. In the kitchen, he paused only long enough to shove the untouched lunch onto the floor, taking some satisfaction in the sounds made by the plate as it shattered.
“Why, Bodie?” he whispered. His partner had left willingly or there would have been signs of a struggle. What could have happened to get him to go?
“Why didn’t he defend himself?” the inspector asked.
“No fucking idea,” the commander responded as he slumped gracelessly onto the sofa.
“Anyone been upstairs?”
“Only to verify that Mr Bodie wasn’t in the house.”
“Good. Stay here. I’ll be down in a minute. And Richard…”
“It’s Bodie, drop the Mr...It doesn’t suit him,” Doyle ordered before jogging up the stairs. He checked the library and the master bedroom to ensure nothing had been tampered with before moving into the small room George Cowley had used for storage. Closing the door behind him, he headed for the back corner and pulled a box from the middle of the pile. Ray breathed a sigh of relief as his fingers found the folder in its hiding place, and he hugged it to his chest. If he was right, and all Ray’s copper instincts were screaming he was; the file could end up being the bargaining chip he’d need to get Bodie back alive. Ray put the boxes back in place before heading for the stairs, detouring only to pick up his bag from the bedroom he’d been using.
“What do we do now?” the DS asked. “No one in the neighbourhood saw anything useful. Just two comments on the van.”
“If that van has something to do with this and Bodie’s been kidnapped, then they’ll contact me with their demands.”
“Sir, that’s…” She stopped.
“They’ll call,” Doyle interrupted confidently. “If I’m home it will simply help keep them guessing. And right now, that guessing is all that is keeping Bodie alive.”
“I’m confused, sir. Who do you think has Bodie and what could they possibly want that he could have?” the inspector asked, throwing a “sir” in after a pause.
Doyle couldn’t find the words to explain how he could possibly know what had happened to Bodie. It was hard to explain that his instincts were screaming that it all came down to that bloody file. How could he make them understand about Marikka, about the assassination of an East German spy, about Willis’ betrayal…it was giving him a pounding headache. “That isn’t important. What is important is getting Bodie back.”
“We’re coming with you.”
“No!” Doyle turned to look at the confused faces of his team. “This is not a case for The Yard.”
“Excuse me sir, but a man was kidnapped here…at least that’s clearly what you think. If that doesn’t make it a case for The Yard, I don’t know what does,” the inspector explained.
“You need to let me handle this. In fact, I’m ordering you both to let me handle this. I will get Bodie back,” he finished loudly, before muttering, “I have to get him back.”
Ray pulled a sealed envelope from his bag and held it out to Davidson. “Richard, I need you to take this to the Home Secretary. You are to deliver it personally into his hands. You understand me?” He received a nod. “Take a roundabout route on your way and make sure you’re not being followed. And you hand that file to no one but the Home Secretary,” he reiterated.
“Yes, sir. And you?”
“I’ll be fine. Less you know the better. On your way, Inspector.”
Bodie blinked slowly but kept his head down. Even though he had gone quietly given that one of the men waiting at the end of the alley had a gun aimed at Jenkins’, he’d still been hit from behind as soon as he’d stepped into the van. His efforts to move were halted as the message finally got through to his brain that his hands were cuffed, and that the tight feeling in his chest was due to the heavy ropes binding him to the chair. He eased his head up hoping to keep the pain from overwhelming him. His gaze moved carefully over the small room which was only slightly larger than an average gaol cell. There was a bare light bulb and a reinforced door, making the cell analogy particularly apt. He and the chair were the only objects in the room.
Classic interrogation strategy, Bodie decided with a weary smirk. Clearly someone hadn’t done their homework. SAS and CI5 had taught him how to withstand interrogations up to and including the KGB and the Chinese, so he was in no danger of spilling any state secrets in this room. Of course, he reminded himself as his lips firmed into a frown, it wasn’t as if Willis would or could let him go after he was tired of this little game: even if Bodie did tell him what he wanted to know. And it would be a bloody cold day in hell before that occurred.
Footsteps outside the door alerted Bodie that his solitude was about to end, so he dropped his head and relaxed his shoulders. There was no point in making this easy on the opposition.
A hard slap to his right cheek followed by a painful grip on his chin did not elicit the response apparently required so a fist was driven into his stomach, forcing all the air from his body. Hunching over as far as his bindings would allow, Bodie struggled to catch his breath. A fierce tug on his hair forced his head up, and he glared into the face of his captor. “Williams,” he pushed out breathlessly, “must still be playing the bloody errand boy, as this op is a bit too well planned to have come from you. Nice to know some things don’t change.” Two more swift punches to his stomach, and Bodie lost what was left of his breakfast on the man’s shoes. That action earned him a blow to his jaw, strong enough to send the chair over. He landed hard, and the last thing he felt before blacking out was the familiar pain of a dislocated shoulder.
When Bodie regained consciousness, he was upright again. A familiar voice broke through the haze, and Bodie glared at Willis.
“I must apologise for my colleague’s enthusiasm,” Willis said with absolutely no trace of contriteness. “I trust no lasting damage was done.”
“What do you want?” Bodie growled at the head of MI6, wishing desperately that his hands were free so he could tear the smirk off the man’s face.
“Come now, Bodie, is that any way to greet an old colleague?”
“It’s the way I greet all my enemies. What do you want?”
“George Cowley had something that belonged to me, and I want it back.”
“And this is your “polite” way of asking for it? You really need to work on your manners.”
“Still the same hard headed SAS bastard Cowley just had to have, aren’t you, Bodie? Well, your protector is dead, and there’s no one left who gives a damn whether you live or die, aside from yourself of course. Why, I understand even that long haired partner of yours gave up on you.” Willis gave a grin.
“As pleasant as this lovely little reunion is, what the hell is it you want from me, Willis?”
“What, no idle chit chat, 3-7? If I didn’t know any better I’d think you weren’t enjoying yourself.” Bodie simply glared in response and waited. Willis rolled his eyes. “Fine, if you’re in such a hurry I’ll cut to the chase. Tell me what you found in Cowley’s house.”
“Found? What didn’t I find…the old man bloody well lived up to his Scotch heritage, he never threw anything away. There are three full sets of china, six sets of very handsome crystal whisky glasses, twelve assorted champagne glasses, four…” he stopped as Willis slapped him. “What? You asked what I found, and I’m telling you.”
“Don’t play stupid with me, 3-7. You know what I want.”
“I don’t have a bloody clue what you want, Willis. All I know is it must be something big – big enough for you to do something as stupid as kidnapping a private citizen. That’s low even by your mob’s standards.”
“Apparently the seriousness of your situation has yet to sink in. Perhaps some more time spent with Williams will help.” Nodding to his associate, Willis turned and left the room, smiling to himself as the sound of flesh against flesh reached his ears just as the door closed behind him.
Unsure of how much time had passed Bodie became groggily aware when he felt the bite of a needle in his arm. While he hurt all over, he knew enough to know whatever was being injected into his body wasn’t to help ease his aches and pains. But he had been a soldier and an agent, trained by the best of the best, so he began working his way through the SAS field manual in his head; he could drag that out for at least four hours and then he’d start on CI5’s brief, up to and including the bloody small print.
Williams turned helplessly to his boss. “I’m sorry, sir, but it’s not working. I’ve already given him twice the suggested amount. Anymore and it’ll kill him outright.”
“Must I handle everything myself?” Willis muttered to himself as he grabbed the dark, sweat-soaked hair and jerked Bodie’s head up so he could view the bruise covered face. “3-7, where is the file George Cowley kept on me?” When Bodie didn’t respond, Willis screamed. “Where is the file, 3-7? Tell me or so help me, I’ll -”
“You’ll what,” came the slurred response, “Kill me?” Bodie coughed weakly. “You’re planning on doing that anyway so what’s the point?” He paused and drew in a harsh breath. Wincing, he blew it out slowly before continuing, “If Cowley kept a file on you, he hid it…well. Either that or,” he stopped as another cough escaped, “or he already handed it over to whomever he’d planned to give it to.” Bodie looked at the man standing before him and felt the hatred directed at him. “He knew he was dying, Willis, and the old man was not one to leave loose ends behind…not his style.”
“Perhaps, but I’m not willing to take your word for it,” Willis responded; the frustration clear in his voice. “Perhaps your partner found it and simply forgot to mention it.”
“Haven’t had a partner in years. Must have me confused with someone else,” Bodie panted between words as Willis dug his fingers into the dislocated shoulder.
“Alright than, your lover. You really didn’t think you hid that from the rest of us did you?” Willis taunted, as he tightened his grip on the swollen shoulder.
“Haven’t had one of those in years either,” Bodie was unable to hold in the hiss of pain as he finished. “In case you’ve forgotten, Doyle walked out on me…hadn’t seen the man for, for ten years until the old man died.” He clenched his fists tighter, willing himself not to scream as Willis ground his fingers into the abused joint. “Only reason we’re, we’re cleaning out that house…neither one of us trusts…the other to split things fair…and square.”
“You could be right, after all if Commander Doyle had found the file, I expect it would have been on the front pages of the Times by now. He never did like to lose.” Willis stared at the battered man in the chair, contemplating this idea. “It still might be worth my while to have a chat with the man. Could be he kept this from you just as he did his plans to resign…come to think of it, that’s exactly what I’ll do.
“But don’t worry, 3-7, I’ll leave Williams here to keep you company. I’m sure he’ll find a way to keep you entertained.” Willis gave a cold laugh as he left the room.
Ray finally forced himself into a chair, afraid he’d literally wear a hole in the carpet if he didn’t stop pacing. Bodie had been missing for two days, and he’d heard nothing from Willis. He’d rousted his old grasses and checked with a few former CI5 colleagues but no one knew anything. God damn fucking idiot! Why hadn’t his partner put up a fight? Bodie could hold off the bleeding Seventh Cavalry if he put his mind to it.
And Ray had been so sure that Willis would call, and that he could arrange an exchange. “Thought you were so bloody smart, didn’t you, you dumb prat?” he said out loud. “Thought you had it all figured out. You were so sure it was Willis. Didn’t stop to think you could bloody well be wrong. Always have to be right, don’t you? But Bodie’s out there somewhere alone, and in big trouble, and you’ve done shit all to find him. Fine partner you are.
“Oh, that’s right,” he said mockingly, “you’re not his partner anymore, are you? You up and left, abandoned him just like every other person he ever cared about simply because you didn’t have the guts to face your own fears. Well, payback is a bitch and it appears she’s come back to bite you in the arse, Raymond, old son. You left because you were so afraid of losing him you couldn’t live with him. Well, good job. You lost him, and now, now you’re about to lose him again, only this time…this time it will be for good.”
He dove for the phone when it rang and nearly ended up sitting on the floor, as relief poured through him at the sound of Willis’ hated voice blaring out of the receiver. Ray recovered quickly, and perched on the edge of the sofa. “I know this isn’t a social call, Willis, so what the hell is it you want?” he demanded.
“I want the file Cowley compiled on MI6,” Willis replied haughtily.
“You’ve got to be kidding! There are 30 years of files in the downstairs office alone. God knows what there is in the upstairs library; haven’t even started on that mess yet.”
“I’ll search the house myself if I have to,” Willis responded. “I need the file, Commander, and I will have it.”
Doyle sighed, rubbing his forehead with his fingers. “Look, I haven’t seen any files pertaining to MI6, but I swear the minute I find one, I’ll hand it over. Good bye.” Ray slammed the phone down and collapsed back into the sofa.
Willis had Bodie, of that Ray had no doubt. And age had clearly not erased his partner’s stubborn streak, or the head of MI6 wouldn’t have called demanding Doyle turn over the file. Bodie hadn’t talked; not yet anyway. That gave Doyle more time, and that thought pushed a crooked smile across his face. Short of searching the house himself there was nothing Willis could do about the missing file. And Doyle would bet his pension his partner would have spread more than a wee bit of doubt about the file even being in the house, knowing how the devious bastard’s mind worked. Bodie could sow doubt faster than fire spread through petrol.
Which was all well and good but that still left Doyle with a basic problem: how to get his partner back alive and in one piece. Willis had Bodie and wasn’t going to give him up. Ray refused to accept the fact his partner could be dead…far too early in the game for that. Willis knew the potential value of a hostage. No, he wouldn’t have offed him just yet.
Ray slumped further into the cushions as it finally hit him just how large a hole George Cowley’s death left in his life. Cowley had always been the one he turned to for advice and guidance on tough cases. A bit of the old man’s triple think would come in bloody handy about now. The phone rang again, interrupting his thoughts. Doyle answered with a growl, thinking it was probably Willis, but he changed his tone quickly as he was told to hold for the Home Secretary.
“Commander Doyle, he will see you now.”
Ray nodded to the young aide and steeled himself for the upcoming interview before opening the heavy oak door.
“Commander, please have a seat. I’ve been looking at the file you sent me.” He waved the faded file back and forth twice. “Where did you find it?”
Before responding to the question, Ray took a moment to study the man. He needed his assistance so he couldn’t afford to make one misstep if he wanted Bodie back in one piece. “George Cowley had it. We found it while we were cleaning out his house.”
Ray was suddenly reminded of Cowley. The secretary was an older man, well-respected, known to listen to all sides before making a decision. And once he picked a path, he mowed over anyone who got in his way. “Bodie…William Bodie,” he clarified. “We served in CI5 together.”
“You do know what I’m going to have to do now that I’ve seen this file?”
Ray shrugged apologetically before replying, “We felt it best to leave that decision up to you, sir.”
“The Queen will be none too happy with me,” the Home Secretary glared at the commander.
Doyle was suddenly thankful for all the times he’d stood up to the controller. “More happy, I’m sure, sir, than if this came out after the list was made public,” Ray didn’t so much as blink as he stared down the man in front of him.
“Yes, I suppose so…we owe you and Mr Bodie a debt of gratitude. Not only will this type of behaviour not be tolerated, but the Queen would certainly not appreciate learning she’d knighted a common blackmailer.”
“Sir, are you planning on making this information public?” Ray fidgeted as he awaited a response.
“Why do you ask?”
“It’s… there’s reason to believe that Willis is holding Bodie against his will in an effort to get his hands on this file. If you make it public…”
“That’s a rather harsh charge, Commander. Do you have any proof?”
“Only the information in that file, sir, and the fact that Willis has tried to kill Bodie several times in the past.”
“What is being done to find Mr Bodie?”
“I’m working on it, sir. It needs to be done quietly, otherwise,” Ray looked at the Minister for a long moment, “otherwise Willis will kill him.”
“I can keep it quiet for another day or two, but no longer than that. I have to tell the PM, and he’ll have to tell the Queen. Once the information leaves this office, I can’t guarantee it will remain private.”
“I understand, sir. Thank you.”
Bodie was cold, he was hurting and he was having a difficult time remembering where he was. Alone any of the three were problematic, but he was still aware enough to know that the combination meant he was in serious trouble. He couldn’t stop the flinch that rippled through his bruised body as the door began to open.
Ray Doyle wasn’t sure if he was surprised or not to find the head of MI6 on the porch of George Cowley’s home the next morning. Either the man was really stupid or truly desperate…perhaps a bit of both. “Willis,” he nodded in acknowledgement after checking the surrounding area to determine if any of the man’s henchmen were lurking in the bushes.
“Commander Doyle. Since you can’t seem to find the file I’m after, I thought I’d come over and take a look for myself.”
Shrugging, Ray gestured for the man to follow him into the house. Ray went into the kitchen to complete his work there after showing Willis the downstairs office. He kept one ear on the hallway and grinned when he heard Willis leave the library after half an hour and head up the stairs. Ray waited until he’d finished boxing the cutlery before following.
“Get lost, Willis?” He hid the smirk as the startled man blushed.
“Looking for the loo and when I saw the bedroom, I thought…”
“Well, I wondered who was staying here.”
While Willis didn’t look at all surprised, he did run one hand repeatedly around the edge of his jacket pocket, a sign of nervousness that even a rookie copper would have picked up on. “Bodie? William Bodie?” At Doyle’s nod the head of MI6 continued. “You didn’t mention him to me. He could have found my…the file I’m looking for. Where is he?”
Doyle studied Willis’ face. The man was not very good at the espionage game, he realised with a jolt. How the hell had Willis managed to stay atop MI6 all these years, Ray wondered as he responded, “Attending to his business, I believe.”
“Yeah, he runs a security company, and has a new client in Germany that’s a little high maintenance. He went over right after the funeral, but they had a lot more questions so he told me he had to go back. Not sure exactly how long he’ll be gone. I’ll be sure and ask Bodie about that file, though I’m quite certain he would have mentioned it to me if he’d come across anything with your name on it.” Ray let those last few words hang in the air for a minute before ushering Willis back down the stairs.
He gave Willis another half hour to ‘search’ before showing him the door, claiming a meeting at the Yard. Ray waited until the man drove off before starting his car and smiling as the small screen on the dash began to beep. It was a miracle Willis had survived this long in the intelligence game given how easy it had been for Ray to bug his car.
Doyle followed Willis at a sedate pace. He had no intention of providing any forewarning of his impending visit. And if the bastard had hurt Bodie…well, the Queen refusing to knight him would be the least of his worries.
Doyle couldn’t shake off his disappointment when Willis pulled into the underground car park next to the MI6 building. He returned to The Yard to check his messages and to figure out what the hell his next step was.
The next morning Doyle made his way to the Cow’s house and did more packing. He lasted three hours before hurrying out of the house and heading for The Yard. Once in his office, he rang MI6. “Willis, Commander Doyle. I think I might have found what you were looking for.”
“I’ll be right over,” Willis responded, his eagerness clearly evident.
“No, that won’t be necessary. I can’t give you anything until I’ve spoken to Bodie.”
“What? Look, Doyle, this has nothing to do with Bodie or anyone else.”
“You’re wrong. Cowley left instructions that Bodie and I were to determine, together, how to deal with everything we found in the house. It wouldn’t be right to hand over the file without talking to him first.”
“Doyle!” Willis’ anger and frustration came through loud and clear in that one word.
Ray kept his own voice level. “He should be back any day now. I’ve put the file in the safe in my office. I didn’t want you to have to worry about it getting misplaced in the mess at the house. I’ll call as soon as I’ve spoken with Bodie.” He grimaced as he hung up on Willis’ less than polite response.
Okay, so he’d set and baited the trap and now, Ray thought as the cold pit in his stomach seemed to grow, all he could do was sit back and wait, and hope that he wouldn’t have reason to regret resorting to triple think.
Willis called him again late that afternoon and didn’t appear at all surprised when Doyle reported that he’d yet to hear from Bodie. So Ray took great pains to restate as clearly and calmly as possible that he did not believe he had a right to hand over the file until he had spoken with his former partner.
Bodie knew something had changed by the look on his captor’s face. Willis didn’t look happy, which was fine with him.
“Your partner has found the file I’m looking for.” Bodie’s face remained passive, making Willis’ anger surge. “Problem is he isn’t interested in handing it over until he talks to you. Seems he’s taken George’s request that you both have a say in what happens to every item in that bloody house to heart.” After several minutes passed in excruciating silence, Willis leaned in so the two men were nearly nose to nose. “So you’re going to call your partner and tell him to give me the file. Lucky for me he thinks you’re in Germany on business.”
Bodie’s harsh chuckle had Willis backing up. “Not going to happen,” Bodie wheezed. “Wouldn’t call the motor club to help you change your tyre let alone to get you whatever’s so damned important in that bloody file.”
“Oh, you’ll make the call, Bodie, or I’ll kill you here and now.”
Bodie shook his head. “You’re going to do that whether I make the call or not,” he started slowly. “So you might as well do it now,” he paused, struggling to catch his breath, “and get it over with.” Bodie managed to contain the scream of pain when Willis punched his dislocated shoulder. There was simply no way he planned on letting his last act on earth be one that aided and abetted Willis, and there was absolutely nothing the man could do to make him. Maybe it was something in his body language or maybe it was the rather clear “fuck you” that Bodie’s face conveyed, but Willis clearly got the message.
“Then I will most definitely be forced to kill Raymond Doyle.” Willis smirked as he waited for the response.
If Willis was expecting that to make his captive crumble, he certainly was in for a surprise when Bodie laughed. The sound barely made its way out past his swollen lips, and it hurt his broken ribs, but he simply couldn’t hold in his amusement. “Go ahead, you nutter. Don’t let me stop you. Murdering a senior officer from The Yard will certainly go down a treat, eh?” Bodie sucked in a shaky breath and slowly eased it out. “Doyle was trained by Cowley, for Christ’s sake! Do you really think he doesn’t know what he’s got on you by now?”
“Then perhaps the three of us should hold a short reunion,” Willis stated angrily.
“Do whatever the hell you want, makes no difference to me.” Bodie managed a partial shrug and closed his eyes. He’d seen Willis’ fists clench and knew the man had every intention of taking his frustrations out on Bodie’s unprotected belly. That didn’t mean he had to watch.
Doyle drove carefully through London’s rush hour, his mind chewing on the phone call he’d received thirty minutes ago. Willis had told him Bodie’s plane had just touched down at Heathrow and that they would meet him at Cowley’s in an hour. So his plan, if you could call it that, appeared to be working. Ray’s right hand came off the wheel and rubbed against the comforting solidness of his holstered weapon.
Triple think was all well and good until you got to that final move. Cowley had excelled at it and never appeared to doubt the outcome. While Doyle had learned at the feet of the master, he was far from certain that the outcome in this case would be the right one. He glanced at the innocuous looking file in the passenger seat. Hard to believe what was on those pages was worth killing a man – two men, he corrected himself – over. But Willis did not live by the same moral code he did. Hell, he was quite certain Willis had no morals at all, let alone a code of honour.
And Bodie…God help Willis if he’d hurt Bodie. He’d never let anyone get away with that in the past and he sure as hell wasn’t planning to start now. “Christ, Doyle, you are a self righteous bastard! You hurt Bodie worse than anyone else ever did, hurt him on purpose, no less. Yet you’re still alive to tell the tale. You’re no better than Willis or Keller or any of the others.
“Who the hell do you think you are anyway: Bodie’s knight in shining armour riding in to save the day…hah, bloody hah.”
Doyle entered Cowley’s house and was not surprised to find Willis already in the lounge. “Where’s Bodie?” he demanded immediately. He followed Willis’ nod and bit his tongue to stop his cry of outrage from escaping. There, tied fast to the leather wingback chair, with his chin resting on his chest, was a bruised and battered, but thank Christ still breathing, Bodie. Ray had to force himself to breathe as he took in the silent form. And he felt his anger growing as he took in the badly swollen eyes, the cracked and bloody lips, and the distended shape of the left shoulder. Bodie’s shirt was torn in several places, revealing hints of heavy bruising. “What the hell’d you do to him?” Hands on hips, rocking slightly on his heels, Doyle glared at the man who had caused his partner pain.
“The game’s over, Doyle. Give me the file, and I’ll be on my way.”
“Liar,” Bodie hissed, raising his head. “We’re not getting out of here alive in case you hadn’t figured that one out, Doyle.” He was interrupted by a cough that left a small dribble of blood on his lips. “His sidekick, Williams, is in the kitchen, and they’ve put a bomb in the oven. He gets the file and his knighthood, and you and I join Father in time for tea.”
“Not to worry, sunshine.” Ray pulled a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket and waved it in the air. “I got the message you left for me. ‘You will walk on the shore of many countries.’ I’m thinking somewhere warm with a sandy beach, what do you think?” he smiled at Bodie before returning his full attention on Willis.
“Sorry, Willis but I don’t think you should plan on joining us. The Home Secretary passed along the contents of that file you were so interested in to the PM last night. Given that the PM had a meeting scheduled with the Queen,” he paused and checked his watch, “two hours ago, I’m guessing, Sir Willis has already been crossed off the list. And both the Home Secretary and the Commissioner know where I am and what I’m doing. So if anything happens to me – so much as a hangnail – they’ll know who did it, and more importantly why. Give it up, Willis, it’s over.”
“Told you he learned at the feet of the master,” Bodie said, wearing his trademark smirk on his bruised lips. Bodie met Doyle’s gaze and Ray was overwhelmed by the trust he read in those swollen eyes, and felt himself start to flush.
“We both did, mate,” Ray managed, smiling.
The house suddenly came alive as members of the tactical team burst in - dressed in black, wearing Kevlar with their high powered weapons at the ready. They surrounded Willis, who immediately surrendered. “The bomb, Doyle,” Bodie reminded his partner, who stood in the middle of the lounge looking limp with relief.
“Right. Davidson, bomb in the kitchen,” he ordered as his team entered the room. Catching the nodded acknowledgement he turned his full attention to the bound man. “Richards, we’ll need an ambulance.” Kneeling by the chair, he pulled out a Swiss army knife, the handle’s colour faded from years of use, and began sawing through the ropes holding Bodie to the chair. Only then did he begin to survey the damage done to his mate.
“How bad, Bodie?” Ray asked as one hand ran gently up Bodie’s left arm.
“Ribs are busted, right shoulder’s dislocated…” he stopped as Ray’s slender fingers caressed his bruised and swollen cheek. “Probably a concussion,” Bodie added softly. He knew he should pull back, but the touch felt so good, too good. Sighing, his head dropped down to rest on Ray’s shoulder, despite the painful pull this elicited from his ribs.
“Right, we’ll get you to hospital and get the doctor to give you something for the pain,” Ray whispered as his right hand carded through the dark hair. “I’ll make sure they give you the good stuff, okay?”
Bodie struggled upright and stared into luminous eyes. “Ta,” he huffed solemnly before easing back to rest his weight against the chair. “The PM has the folder?” Bodie asked as his eyes closed.
“Gave it to the Home Secretary as soon as I realised you’d been snatched.”
“Wasn’t sure you’d find the clue I left for you,” Bodie sighed.
“Was that the fortune,” Ray responded with a warm smile, “or the untouched lunch?”
“Berk,” Bodie growled weakly.
“Why didn’t you put up a fight?”
Bodie forced his eyes open. “Would have, but one of ‘em had a rifle with a laser scope and his red dot was moving slowly up your man’s spine. Cowley was always bitching about how expensive replacements were; didn’t want to have to hear it from you as well.”
The ambulance men arrived at that moment, sparing Ray from having to find an appropriate response. He welcomed the interruption given that he didn’t have a clue what to say. He was torn between the need to shake some sense into the bloody idiot and the need to grab hold and never let go of Bodie again. What had possessed the man to put his own life on the line for one of Doyle’s men – a man who got paid to protect others? It really shouldn’t surprise him, and as he climbed into the ambulance and settled near Bodie’s shoulder Ray acknowledged that it didn’t. After all, he knew better than anyone just how complex a man Bodie really was, despite the blasé façade he chose to share with the world.
I Once Was Lost: Part III