William Bodie rolled to the right and grabbed the phone before the second ring faded; old habits died hard. He absently noted the time on the clock, another habit leftover from a lifetime ago: 01:17. Grunting a greeting, he fell silent as the voice on the other end began to talk.
Hanging up after promising to phone later in the morning, Bodie fell back on the mattress and stared through the dark at the ceiling. ‘He’s dead, he’s dead, Christ, he’s really dead,’ played over and over in his head like a stuck record. Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, he rolled onto his side and clutched a pillow tightly to his chest. A tsunami of images rampaged through his head: standing at parade rest in front of the old man’s desk, shaving in the changing room as he received an update on a case, a gun being held to his head as he knelt in a muddy glade, receiving a dressing down in a stable yard. It was like he was sitting through one more of a hundred slide shows in the briefing room, only this time, his life was the topic. “Damn you, George,” Bodie cursed, accepting the fact that he’d just been sentenced to spending the rest of the night with his ghosts. “Damn you.”
He was up early; the bed felt crowded as memories Bodie had carefully locked away assaulted him. Forcing his mind to focus on the task at hand, he moved stoically through his morning routine. There was so much to be done: arrangements to be seen to; people to be notified; a solicitor to consult…and a friend, mentor and father figure to mourn, he harshly reminded himself. No more late night chats over chess, no more pub lunches by the river, no more meandering walks through the park, no more calls for advice…hands on the sink, chin falling to his chest, Bodie did something he hadn’t done in forever - offered up a prayer for the soul of the man who had done his damnedest to save his.
The calls were hard, not that the news was unexpected, but still. Murphy reminded Bodie, over the din of his twin teens, of the rest room theory that the old man couldn’t die because he was the devil incarnate, eliciting a brief chuckle from them both. Jax let out a sigh before asking if there was anything he could do to help. Anson swore before offering to call Lake. The Home Secretary left the former agent on hold for nine and a half minutes before offering a less than heartfelt statement of sympathy and reluctantly agreeing to notify the PM. Two hours later Bodie threw down the phone and moved to the window overlooking the park across the street. The sun filtered through the sparse green growth as spring had only recently begun to work her magic.
There was one more person to be told, but he couldn’t bear to do it, not quite yet. Betty, bless her, had offered to take on that chore but he’d declined. William Bodie was a lot of things, but a coward wasn’t one of them. He knew Cowley had given him the task of taking care of his affairs because he would follow the old man’s wishes to the letter – even the ones that hurt. And 3-7 had no intention of letting his controller down on this, his last assignment.
After stopping by the funeral home, Bodie followed the river to New Scotland Yard. Parking a few streets away, he moved briskly toward the steel monolith feeling the damp breeze that normally heralded rain settle into his bones. The approaching bleak weather was fitting given that it matched his mood.
He went through security and was sent to a room down the hall to wait for an escort. A young police officer – Bodie idly wondered if the lad was even old enough to drive yet – called out his name twelve minutes later and escorted him silently into a lift. Upon reaching the appropriate floor, Bodie was shown into a small, but comfortable, conference room and told to wait. He removed his coat and let his eyes settle on the seascape hanging on the wall. A young woman came in twenty minutes later to apologise for the delay and to offer Bodie coffee.
“Sorry for the wait,” Commander Raymond Doyle offered as he entered the room nearly half an hour later, his gaze taking in the silent figure at the table. He couldn’t quite hide his flinch as Bodie’s head rose and their eyes met. “My secretary said this was important,” Ray added, his tone a bit harsher than he’d intended. Since he hadn’t laid eyes on William Bodie in nearly ten years, not since the day he’d walked out of Bodie’s life, Ray had no idea how he was going to handle this meeting.
Bodie took in the still lean figure, auburn hair short and sliced with silver, and the pair of reading glasses perched precariously in the pocket of the Harris Tweed, and found it difficult to catch his breath. “I’m here to…I…Ge…Cowley passed away last night.” He was embarrassed that he couldn’t talk without stuttering so he paused for a moment to catch his breath before continuing. “Happened early this morning actually, and his instructions were to inform you personally. His solicitor will be in touch in the next day or so to set a time for the reading of the will. The funeral is scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m. He asked that you read a passage at the service – whichever one you think fits. I’ll leave the details with your secretary.” Rising from his chair, Bodie grabbed his coat. He had to get out of that room or he was going to lose it.
“Cowley dead…good God,” Ray uttered as the information settled into his brain. “Did he, was it…”
“No, he wasn’t in pain, and he was lucid to the end. Still giving orders yesterday afternoon, in fact,” Bodie responded, forcing a hint of a smile. Never did any good to let the enemy know you were considering a strategic retreat.
“Guess some things never change,” Doyle responded absently as he tried to imagine a world without George Cowley.
“Everything changes,” Bodie responded: The words were soft but did nothing to hide the pain buried beneath them.
As Bodie pulled on his coat, Doyle caught a glimpse of the holster underneath the well tailored jacket. “You’re armed,” he barked.
“I am legally licensed to carry a firearm.” Bodie rounded on the commander; contempt in his voice.
“Didn’t do Richard Anderson much good, did it?” Christ, George Cowley had been dead less than twenty four hours, Ray thought, and he just had to pick a fight. He was truly a cad, hitting his former partner and lover when Bodie was already down for the count. Ray ran a distracted hand through his short hair knowing he should apologise, but the words stuck in his throat.
Bodie had become a security expert after leaving CI5, the kind hired by the wealthy and the eccentric. And he’d been good -damn good- from what Doyle had gathered. But Richard Anderson, a wealthy defence industrialist, had died on Bodie’s watch. According to what little information he’d managed to elicit from Murphy and the Cow, his former partner had held off six gunmen, buying time for his team to get Anderson to safety. And it would have worked, too, if they hadn’t been sold out by the Egyptian security agent Bodie had been required to hire. Anderson at least had died quickly. Bodie had been shot several times, brutally beaten and left for dead. George Cowley had pulled strings Doyle hadn’t been aware he still had to get the injured man airlifted back to London.
“No, it didn’t,” Bodie growled as he moved toward the door, sure he was going to suffocate if he was forced to spend another minute in the room with his ex-lover.
“I’ll have someone show you out.” Ray pivoted sharply and left the room before he could put his foot any further down his throat.
The moment Doyle was back in his office, he leaned against the closed door and groaned softly. Memories he’d refused to acknowledge for years assailed him. George Cowley had helped him transfer back into police work after he’d announced his resignation. He simply couldn’t work with Bodie anymore – it was too painful. Ray knew he had taken their partnership and their relationship and turned it into a nightmare not caring who he hurt, as long as it was someone else. He’d grabbed at the opportunity Cowley offered, and now he was one of The Yard’s senior men, a commander in the Specialist Crime Directorate handling high profile and serious cases. Moving to a window, he gazed out, eyes unseeing. “Damn, damn, damn,” Ray whispered as his forehead fell forward to rest on the cool glass.
The two former partners stood silently just inside the church as the rest of the pall bearers fell in behind them. Both stared straight ahead painfully aware of the murmurs from former colleagues who had never thought to see the two together again. They moved with precision down the aisle of the small Presbyterian church in Knightsbridge where George Cowley had worshipped for nearly 40 years. After the coffin was in place, they took their seats on separate sides of the aisle.
Ray had searched through the bible for a long time before finding something he felt was right. How could he find the words, his own let alone someone else’s, to do justice to George Cowley and all the man had meant to him? After a restless night going through numerous Bible verses and poems, he finally decided his best path was to follow the advice Cowley had often given to new agents before they went out on their first assignment. ‘Keep it simple, lads, and straightforward. This job is complicated enough without you adding to it.’
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God,” he began, reading from Matthew 5:9. After taking a moment to run his eyes across the mourners gathered to say good bye to his mentor, he continued with Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”
He returned to his seat, proud he managed to get through his part without stumbling. He focused on the floor in front of him as his partner - former partner he corrected himself – stepped forward. As Bodie began to speak, however, Ray found he couldn’t keep his eyes off the man.
Dressed all in black – it had long been the rest room joke that it was 3-7’s signature look - and thinner than Ray remembered, Bodie stood at the lectern, immediately commanding the attention of the congregation as he surveyed the sea of faces before starting to speak. Bodie spoke of Cowley’s service to Queen and Country, and made a small joke about the arrangement of roses and lavender that graced the top of the coffin. He spoke of duty and honour, and told unclassified snippets of events where George Cowley had been all that stood between Britain and anarchy. And he told the gathering that he had instantly thought of the controller the first time he’d seen American painter Norman Rockwell’s Freedom From Fear. The painting depicts parents watching over their sleeping children and Bodie admitted, wearing a brilliant smile, that while he never dared say it to the man’s face, he had always viewed George Cowley as the ‘father’ who kept the long, lonely night watch so Britain could slumber in safety. Ray was sure he was not the only former CI5 agent who felt the pinprick of tears. After all, “Father” had been an often used and generally beloved nickname for their controller.
And Bodie being Bodie, Ray thought as a small smile slid across his face, finished with a poem.
In lonely watches night by night
Great visions burst upon my sight,
For down the stretches of the sky
The hosts of dead go marching by.
Strange ghostly banners o'er them float,
Strange bugles sound an awful note,
And all their faces and their eyes
Are lit with starlight from the skies.
The anguish and the pain have passed
And peace hath come to them at last,
But in the stern looks linger still
The iron purpose and the will.
Dear Christ, who reign'st above the flood
Of human tears and human blood,
A weary road these men have trod,
O house them in the home of God!*
The service at the cemetery was short. Those who had served in CI5 under George Cowley stood on one side of the grave; silent, stiffly at attention as their controller was lowered into the ground. The Whitehall mandarins stood on the other side, not quite sure what to make of the former agents, while a small group of elderly men, clearly former military from their bearing, separated the two groups.
Bodie knew, as he and Doyle slipped into opposite sides of the funeral home’s motor, that somewhere in greater London there would be a stiff, formal reception after the burial, but the Cow’s calves preferred to retire to a small pub that had been CI5’s local well into the 80's. They spent the ride in silence. Once there, Bodie ordered a large whisky and moved to the far side of the room. He shook his head when he finally picked up on the pattern structuring the pub’s flow. Their former colleagues were moving in small groups between Doyle, who was at the far end of the bar, and his own position.
Bodie raised his glass and offered up a toast to the old man when it was his turn and took his leave quietly a few minutes later, slipping out the back into an alley. He simply couldn’t bear the pain of being in the same room with his former partner for a moment longer. Bodie shivered as the cold air hit him. George Cowley couldn’t, in death, reunite his best team, even as he had worked so hard in life to do. For some reason – one Bodie had never quite figured out - the old man felt responsible for the breakup of 4-5 and 3-7. At the time, Bodie had been sure the controller was simply annoyed by the inconvenience the breakup had caused, but he’d eventually figured out that George had wanted him to be happy - had wanted them both to be happy. “Sorry, sir,” he whispered, blue eyes surveying the growing gray black sky.
At home in a barracks neat flat in Mayfair, near that ugly concrete block known as the American Embassy, Bodie eased his weary body into an overstuffed leather chair and took a small sip from the generous splash of the whisky he’d poured from his favourite bottle, letting his weary mind drift. He and Ray Doyle had been partners for nearly twelve years. They had been CI5’s undisputed top team and, despite advancing age and several career threatening injuries between them, had continued to handle the toughest of cases. They had also supervised teams of agents and run operations on their own with minimal interference from their employer. Knowing the two would never be allowed to take over the institution he had so carefully nurtured, Cowley had taken steps to ensure Bodie and Doyle had the skills and the reputations needed to come out on top on other playing fields where school ties did not matter.
There had been a shift in their relationship after the Parsali case. Cowley, Bodie had no doubt, had noted it in their files. But even the controller would surely have been surprised at the seismic nature of that shift. They had gone to bed together for the first time that night after handing in their reports. Bodie still didn’t know if it had been the suicidal nature of the op itself or the serious discussion that occurred the night before which had finally pushed them into each other’s arms. Doyle had once told him it was simply because Bodie had admitted he was scared. Whatever it was, they had spent the night hot, sweaty, and sticky, trying desperately to crawl inside each other. Both had been with men before: Ray in art school and Bodie in Africa. It had been the Met and the Army that had forced them to mend their ways, not their own inclinations. The two became inseparable after that op, once they both learned to accept the warmth and comfort found only in a lover’s arms. Putting his glass down, Bodie lowered his head into his hands as the memories assaulted him.
They double dated for appearances sake – for CI5’s sake, not their own – and after the op where Bodie had been assigned to protect Susan Grant, she became his ‘date’ of choice. He had doted on her like a little sister, which amused Doyle to no end. And she was one of the very few people, along with Cowley and Murphy, either inside or out of the mob, who knew the truth about the partners’ relationship.
One night, he and Susan had been on a double date with Doyle and some woman, whose name he had conveniently forgotten, at a charity ball. Susan’s stepbrother, Neville, had approached them. It had been clear to the two agents that the man was high on something, so Bodie had stepped in to intercept him while Doyle escorted the women to the drinks table. Bodie had shown Neville to door as quietly as possible in order to spare Susan a public scene.
Money, she’d admitted to them on the drive home, Neville always needed money – he gambled, he used drugs, and she was afraid to consider what else he might be into. Susan and her mother had tried to get Neville help, but he’d walked away from three rehab programs, and they’d both, reluctantly, washed their hands of him. Oh, he came around now and again, but neither would lend him so much as a pound.
On a rare afternoon off a month later, Bodie had been running errands: picking up the dry cleaning and a few basics from the supermarket. He’d been enjoying the soft warmth of the late October sun as he strolled back to the flat he and Doyle had shared. They’d often joked that they’d only gotten the Cow to agree to a shared flat because it saved the budget money. Bodie hadn’t seen the sports car headed toward him until he was nearly in the middle of the zebra crossing. He’d dropped his bags and bolted, knowing even as he moved that it was already too late as the heat of the racing engine reached him, but his sense of self-preservation screamed at him to move. He could still recall the odd sensation of flying through the air.
The next thing Bodie remembered was the pain and the smell of blood. When his eyes had adjusted, he’d found himself in a dank, dark concrete room with one small window too high up to be of any use. His hands and legs were bound with heavy rope and tied to a steel hook on the wall. Bodie didn’t remember much else from his time in that makeshift prison. Most of what he did know was the result of the debriefing he’d received from Cowley just before he’d been released from hospital. Neville Grant had seen the operative enter the dry cleaners, or that had been CI5’s conjuncture based on a review of the CCTV footage from the block, and waited for him to leave. After the car had hit Bodie, Grant had hopped out and dragged him into the car. Neville had then locked him away in an abandoned warehouse south of the docks for 11 days. Bodie’s kidnapper had assisted with his own identification when he’d stupidly left Bodie’s bloodied warrant card on Susan’s doorstep, along with a demand for £100,000 to cover his gambling debts.
Murphy had been the one to tell Bodie about the massive manhunt launched by CI5 and the Met. They’d found Neville eight days later when his body had been fished from the Thames. Coroner’s ruling was death by overdose. Bodie knew he owed London’s beat coppers one, because it had been pure luck that one of their grasses had seen Grant exiting the warehouse, according to Murph, and Doyle had arrived with the cavalry to find Bodie comatose on the floor.
Bodie had been unconscious for close to two weeks after being rescued as his body warred with his brain over whether to carry on or let go. When he finally did open his eyes, Bodie questioned his decision, given that he awoke to find his controller, not his lover, by his bedside.
His recovery had been slow and discouraging. Doyle alternated between playing concerned lover – though he’d been the one to push Bodie into agreeing to be shipped off to Repton for nearly two months rather than coming straight home from hospital – and put upon partner. Lost in his own physical pain and the underlying worry that he might not make it back to the field, Bodie hadn’t known how to approach his mate about his behaviour.
Ray had moved into the spare room by the time Bodie had been released from Repton. And despite his best efforts, Bodie failed to convince his lover that he’d sleep better snuggled together. Ray had stuck with some story about not wanting to hurt Bodie’s still healing body by accident in his sleep. And Doyle seemed to be overseeing a number of out of town obbos on the ground – but Bodie had managed to dismiss that as well, working hard to convince himself that his partner was a go getter and was looking for a route that would leave him heavily involved in CI5 when he was no longer able to be a field agent.
It wasn’t until Ray had come home three sheets to the wind one night with a barmaid in tow that Bodie had been forced to accept his partner’s behaviour for what it was - abandonment. After he’d shaken off his shock, Bodie had gone into the spare room to confront his lover, only to find Ray already fucking the woman from behind as he bent her over the foot of the bed. So Bodie had grabbed his hold-all and left, afraid he’d strangle his lover if he didn’t get out of the flat.
Bodie had returned home early the next morning to find Ray passed out on the spare bed. He’d had every intention of having it out then and there but a Grade 7 call out had put an end to that plan. When Ray returned two nights later, Bodie had picked up his lover’s favourite takeaway, purchased a bottle of the finest single malt he could afford and insisted that they talk. Ray had trashed his carefully thought out plan, first by trying to seduce Bodie, and when that hadn’t worked, he’d gotten utterly pissed, leaving it to Bodie to pour him into bed. Bodie had spent the night pacing the lounge, trying to figure out what to do next given how fragile the footing between them had become.
In the end, it was Doyle who took control of the situation, after avoiding his partner for two days with the excuse of work, he announced to a group of agents over drinks that he was resigning. He bragged about the job the Cow had obtained for him and how he was so looking forward to going back to doing “real” police work. From the startled glances Bodie received from several of the older operatives, he realised he’d been unable to keep the hurt and astonishment off his face at learning the news. Given the toothy grin he’d received when Doyle finally met his eye, it was apparent that Ray was relishing the fact that he’d been able to impart this earth shattering news in a public setting in front of their peers.
Bodie had lasted another two and a half years with CI5, despite the fact neither his heart nor his body had really been in it. He’d made the decision to resign after barely managing to stop a bomber from detonating an explosive device at a crowded bus stop.
Cowley had stepped in and herded him into a job at a security company run by the son of an old army mate. Bodie eventually bought the company and had been surprised at how much he had enjoyed running it. He’d sold it after he lost Anderson in Egypt, and currently paid his bills by consulting with large companies on their security plans and running background checks on employees. Bodie still carried a weapon because his past had a nasty way of rearing its ugly head and biting him in the arse when he least expected it.
And Doyle…Bodie sighed and set his glass down again. Kate Ross clearly hadn’t done a thorough enough job tinkering with his head. What could he have possibly been thinking all those years ago: a man, okay, but Raymond ‘I enjoy being the most bloody difficult human alive’ Doyle? Bodie gave a derisive laugh at the thought.
And now Cowley had left him. Alright, George certainly hadn’t done it on purpose like Doyle, but still…it hurt almost as much. Earlier tonight, when Bodie had looked across the pub and found wide green eyes watching him, that concerned gaze had nearly done him in. Those eyes, that bowed mouth and those slender fingers, still haunted his dreams far more often than he cared to admit. Forcing his wayward mind back to the present, Bodie drained his glass and purposely began his bedtime routine. He washed up, avoiding looking in the mirror, before stripping and crawling into bed. He was tired and all this bloody retrospection would accomplish was to make him more confused than he already was, if that was even possible. A good night’s sleep and he’d tackle the rest of his life in the morning.
Ray Doyle paced the floor of his lounge, weaving an uneven pattern amongst the furniture. Being in the same space with Bodie for most of the day had set his nerves on edge – torn between the urge to latch onto the man and never let go or to run as far and fast as he could. The first urge had nearly won out, but the fact he’d been the one to forfeit his right to stand at Bodie’s side all those years ago kept him firmly planted at the bar, even as he tracked every move the black clad man made. Luckily, his former lover had had the good form to slip out before Ray had been forced to embarrass himself.
Seeing Bodie had also brought to the fore the terror of those long ago days. He’d been so scared when his partner had simply disappeared, and had, for days, moved madly around greater London threatening anyone stupid enough to get in his way. When the controller had told him about the ransom, Ray had wanted to tear Neville Grant into tiny pieces – and he would have, except by the time they found him he’d already been dead for several days. Seeing that body…knowing it was his only link to his partner…looking back, Ray truly couldn’t understand how he’d ever managed to remain on his feet. Cowley had taken him to his flat one night in the midst of the search, fed him several glasses of whisky and, unbeknownst to him at the time, had laced at least one of them with something, as Ray had then slept for 12 hours straight.
When the Met called with the news they had a lead, Ray had shoved his feelings out of the way, followed Murphy to the car, and steeled himself for what he was sure they would find – a dead Bodie. He’d hung back at the warehouse and let the others check the rooms off the main floor. When Mac called for him, he’d found himself running and would never forget his first look at the stark white face and the cream coloured polo neck stiff with blood. The next part was hazy still. Ray was pretty sure he’d been frozen in place until he heard Anson yelling into the R/T demanding an ambulance.
He’d followed the stretcher and sat tentatively beside Bodie’s still body all the way to hospital, never once offering a word or a comforting touch, though he had desperately wanted to. He’d been in shock, Ray understood that now, but at the time, having steeled himself to find his dead lover, he’d been ill prepared to deal with the seriously injured, but still breathing, man on the stretcher. So he’d huddled quietly in a corner of the small waiting room as other agents paced the floor, head down staring at his folded hands. After the doctor had come in to tell them that Bodie was being taken to the operating theatre, Doyle had slipped away and taken a taxi to headquarters, explaining later that he’d simply wanted to write the report while events were still fresh in his mind.
He’d been an idiot, Ray conceded as he allowed himself to think about that time in his life – a time he’d locked away and refused to consider before today. He’d kept his partner - his lover - at arm’s length throughout his painful rehabilitation, and was still ashamed that it was his insistence that had led to Bodie being banished to Repton. And he had spent as much time as possible on solo ops once Bodie had returned to their flat. Ray had ruined any hope of fixing things between them – something he had desperately wanted to do but at the same time had had no clue how to go about – when he’d gotten pissed and brought a bird back to their flat. He’d never forget that crushed look on Bodie’s face if he lived to be a hundred.
Bodie had tried to talk to him; had truly wanted to figure out exactly what it was he’d done wrong so he could apologise and fix it, but Doyle had rebuffed all attempts. After all, Ray had no way of putting his feelings into words because he hadn’t been sure of them, himself. In hindsight, Ray realised he’d pushed Bodie away in order to protect himself from the pain of loss. He didn’t need Kate Ross to tell him he’d started mourning Bodie the moment he’d seen the blood on the tarmac outside the neighbourhood shops. Thinking he’d lost his lover once had brought Raymond Doyle to his knees; losing Bodie again, he’d been certain, would break him. Stupid, considering it was his own actions that had ensured Ray did, indeed, lose Bodie, though his decisions had seemed perfectly logical at the time.
When Doyle had told the controller he was resigning, Cowley had poured two drinks, and, after a lengthy silence, suggested he consider returning to police work. And the Cow had used his connections to get him a job, a very good job, at Scotland Yard. Ray hadn’t questioned it at the time, but over the years he’d come to the conclusion that George Cowley truly cared about him; seems the CI5 controller had more than one blue eyed boy.
Doyle loved The Yard and assembled a strong team to deal with the some of the most difficult crimes in the country. His methods might be a bit unorthodox, but he got results so the Deputy Commissioner gave him his head and let him do it his way. No more double and triple think; no more Operation Susies; just straight forward, good old fashioned, by the book (a book, which he reluctantly admitted, had been slightly amended by his years with CI5 and George Cowley) police work. Ray had thrived professionally inside the cold steel of New Scotland Yard and had decided that was enough. It had to be considering that no one, man nor woman, provoked his interest: Not even Ann Holly, who’d come back from the states. He’d tried – he really had. They’d gone to dinner, the theatre and had picnics in the park, but his heart had not been in it. Once she caught on, she’d left him alone.
But seeing Bodie again, tall and handsome as ever, had made his heart and other parts of his anatomy stir. Christ, if Bodie had touched him today he’d probably have come on the spot! Well, Ray thought shaking his head; he certainly didn’t have to worry about that occurring. The only touch he could expect from his ex-partner was a right hook to the jaw. Ray was relieved, though, that he had two days to recover before seeing Bodie again at the will reading. After that task was completed, Ray would be able to force those painful feelings back into their box and lock them away for good.
The two former agents sat quietly, less than a foot apart, as the solicitor read George Cowley’s last will and testament aloud. The old man had left most of his money to charity. Not sure why, as he only half listened to the monotone voice, he’d had to come at all, Doyle tensed as the man read three lines requesting Cowley’s former top team clean out the house, determine what should be saved, and what should be sold. They were then to sell the place and split the money. Bloody hell!
As if reading his mind, Bodie turned to face Ray for the first time since he’d entered the office. “You needn’t bother, Commander. I know you’re busy. I can sort through everything, and you can come have a look when I’m done.” It was said evenly, an offer that would allow them both to avoid what they knew would be a very uncomfortable situation.
“Surely you don’t think I’m going to let you have all the fun, sunshine,” Ray responded somewhat snidely. “There’s no telling what treasures the Cow has stashed away in that place.” He was shocked at the words coming out of his mouth. Bodie had offered him a painless way out of Cowley’s request, and he needed to shut up and accept it gracefully.
Sitting back in his chair, Bodie’s face went blank as he turned to face the solicitor. “Fine, then you can bloody well have at it. Whatever you decide is fine with me.”
“Oh, no, you are not getting out of this one. George said we were to do this together, and we will. It’s clearly what he wanted.” He looked at the man sitting behind the desk and received a nod in acknowledgement. Ray pondered whether this was simply a bout of temporary insanity or the start of the long downward spiral into mental illness.
“It’s simply triple think, Doyle; Cowley’s way of manipulating us from beyond the grave. Haven’t we both had more than enough of that to last us several bloody lifetimes?” Bodie was not entirely successful in keeping the stress from his voice.
“It’s the old man’s last wish, mate,” Ray responded, the sarcasm placed on that last word not lost on anyone in the room. “I, for one, can’t deny him that. Owe the Cow too much.” Even knowing he had backed the other man into a corner, Ray cringed mentally at the mess he’d gotten himself into.
“Fine…for the old man. I’ll meet you at the house tomorrow morning at 8.” Bodie rose gracefully and slipped from the room before Ray had time to take it all back.
The next morning, Bodie was waiting on the pavement in front of Cowley’s house, dressed in a snug fitting blue shirt and worn jeans. Recalling his partner’s dressing habits from years ago, Doyle couldn’t stop himself from commenting. “Slumming are we?” he nodded toward the jeans even as his eyes took in the still lean, muscular body.
Ignoring the jibe, Bodie reached into a pocket and produced the key. “You ready?”
They worked until 1 p.m. in different rooms on different floors. Doyle hadn’t realized what time it was, having gotten lost in a thousand different memories as he worked his way through the file drawers full of CI5 history, until the scent of coffee hit him. Following his nose, he ran into Bodie halfway to the kitchen, carrying a full tray. About to say something cutting, Ray stopped. What was the point? “Wouldn’t happen to have any extra there, would you? Going through all those files gives a bloke an appetite.”
“This is yours, mine’s in the kitchen.” Dumbfounded, Ray took the tray and returned to the office. He ate slowly, pondering why his ex-partner had bothered to make him lunch. It wasn’t as though he’d gone out of his way to be polite to Bodie. Hell, if he was being honest, Ray knew his words had been aimed at setting the man off. Yet Bodie had, unasked, made him a lunch which included the salad dressing he favoured, the fruit cut the way he preferred and the cheese sandwiches had the pickles on the side, just the way he made them himself. Yet Doyle would have sworn in court that his ex-partner hadn’t even wanted to be in the same room with him.
In turn, shortly before 5 p.m., Doyle made tea and took a mug upstairs. He stood in the doorway of the master bedroom and watched as Bodied folded shirts and trousers in the same efficient military fashion he’d become accustomed to years ago, before announcing his presence. “Brought you some tea. Thought it might get you through the next hour or so and then I think we should call it a day.”
“Ta,” Bodie offered up after taking a sip. “Sounds like a plan.”
They parted at their cars after agreeing to meet at 8 the next morning. Ray had to bite his tongue to stop from suggesting they stop at George’s local for a pint. Must have been his subconscious, Ray decided later, trying to see if there was still enough between them to try and restore the friendship he deeply missed. After Bodie made a parting comment about heading to his office to check on things, Ray was glad he’d kept his silence.
Bodie decided, as he drove away from the house, that George Cowley had purposely not thrown anything out – clothes, files, books, china – simply as a way of getting back at him for all the trouble he’d caused over the years. He and Doyle both had jobs, how did the Cow think they would have the time to go through everything? They worked all day Sunday with few words between them. Bodie had to fly to Germany early the next morning to see a client, so they agreed to meet up and continue their work again the following Saturday.
Doyle found himself missing his old mate over the course of the week, despite the fact they’d spoken barely more than two dozen words to each other. Simply being around Bodie had stirred up old feelings and memories – good memories of their time together on the job and others of their time together in bed made certain parts of his anatomy sit up and take notice.
Bodie slept poorly, even though the client had set him up in a five star hotel. Memories of the nights he’d spent entwined with Ray Doyle marched through his mind, always followed by that horrible evening he’d opened the door to discover his lover draped over the barmaid. Each morning Bodie woke to twisted and tangled sheets leaving the bed looking as though it had been the site of a monumental battle.
Saturday afternoon they were outside Cowley’s house putting boxes destined for the charity shop in the boot of Bodie’s car when Ray realised something was wrong. Bodie was frozen beside him, and it was only later he marvelled that he could still read the man like a book.
“Down,” Bodie roared and Doyle felt the heat and weight of his former partner blanket him as he was forced to the ground. He also registered the sound of a semiautomatic. He felt more than heard the vibration of Bodie returning fire. “Let me up,” the commander hissed as he shook off the hand still pressing him into the pavement. Pushing free, Ray pulled his own weapon.
“Green Jag, two door, late model,” Bodie reported hoarsely, his eyes sweeping the street and the rooftops opposite.
“I got the registration,” Doyle responded his eyes also checking their surroundings as he pulled out his mobile. He gave a curt order along with the address before hanging up.
“Let’s get you inside,” Bodie ordered as he placed a firm hand on Ray’s elbow.
“Bugger off, Bodie!” Ray yelled pushing the man away. “What makes you think it was me they were after?” Looking up, Ray stared into pupils so enlarged the blue was almost completely swallowed – he’d forgotten how beautiful his partner was - and he felt himself beginning to get hard.
“Anyone after me wouldn’t be so bloody obvious as to try in broad daylight,” Bodie sneered as he continued to scan their surroundings, “they’d be a bit more subtle – bomb in me motor; run over by a lorry while crossing the street. Come on, in the house now, Doyle!”
Ray started to argue only to catch himself. He remembered Bodie when he was like this – focused, quiet, deadly and unwilling to listen to any reasoning other than his own. Kate Ross had once referred to it as his ‘protector mode’. And when Bodie went there he became very single minded and allowed nothing and no one to get between him and his objective. So Ray followed, a bit in awe that Bodie still considered him worthy of such protection. Besides, his own people were on their way, and it wouldn’t do to have a screaming match in the street.
Bodie was systematically checking window locks in the house as Ray followed him from room to room. “Bodie?” They’d made it to the kitchen by then...“Bodie! I doubt they’ll be back.”
”Willing to risk your life on that, are you, Doyle?” Bodie demanded as he checked the locks on the door leading to the small garden. That task completed, he headed for the stairs taking them two at a time. Ray didn’t bother to follow. Instead he put the kettle on before moving to the front lounge to await the arrival of his team.
When the doorbell rang Doyle went to answer it. “No!” Bodie ordered, coming down the stairs at a jog, gun out.
“It’s my team.”
“Christ, Doyle, you check first – we always check first!” Bodie flipped a hidden panel in the wall and revealed a screen. “This them?”
Cowley had clearly had some high tech gadgets installed, Ray thought as he looked at the screen. He’d been in and out of the house half a hundred times and never noticed a camera - he must be getting old. “My team,” Ray agreed turning to face Bodie. “You can put that away, I’ll vouch for them.”
“Commander, everyone alright?”
“Yeah. Inspector, Detective Sergeant, this is William Bodie. Bodie, Inspector Davidson and Detective Sergeant Roberts.”
“The William Bodie?” the DS asked.
“Don’t know, am I, Doyle?” he responded, and Ray noted a slight easing of the tension in the broad shoulders.
“Certainly hope they broke the mould after they made you. Not sure the world would survive two of you.”
“Ta, mate.” The whistle of the kettle made them all start and Bodie disappeared in the direction of the kitchen.
“You were partners in CI5 – the top team,” Davidson said.
“Long time ago, Richard, hell of a long time ago. Come on, the lounge is this way.”
Once they were settled, the inspector cleared his throat. “Mr Bodie has a somewhat colourful past,” he started just as Bodie entered the room bearing a tray with tea and biscuits.
“I think shady is the word you’re looking for, Inspector,” Bodie responded, unsuccessfully hiding a smirk as he set the tray on the coffee table.
“Bodie!” Ray barked. “He was Para's and SAS before joining the mob. He used to run a very successful executive protection service, and no doubt has made himself a few enemies. He never did learn to play well with others.” Ray turned his gaze from his subordinates to his former partner. “You did have a nasty habit of getting right up people’s hooters, sunshine.”
“You left out my time as a mercenary,” Bodie countered, grinning. “And what about those punks you put away during your time as the honest beat copper?” He shared his smirk with Ray’s team. “You should know your boss wasn’t always quite as civilized as he is now. We never once ran into a bloke he’d put the cuffs on that had one nice thing to say about him.”
“Are we quite finished arguing over whose most likely to be wearing a target on his back?” Ray asked, the disgust in his tone warring with the smile in his eyes.
“Yes, mum,” Bodie said meekly.
Shaking his head at the man’s antics, Ray returned his attention to his team. “Any word on the car?”
“Reported stolen two hours ago, sir, about six streets over,” the DS responded checking a notepad.
“See, it wasn’t about us. We’ve been here all day.” Bodie looked rather pleased with himself.
“That’s a big assumption, there, Butch.” Ray tried not to smile at the confused look on his subordinates’ faces but failed. The back and forth was so familiar, comforting even, and Ray suddenly realised just how much he’d missed being with someone with whom he was so totally in sync.
“Look, Ray, it wouldn’t make sense-”
“Then who are they after?” the commander interrupted.
“Maybe it isn’t who but what.” Suddenly serious, the two men looked at each other.
“What?” Ray repeated, trying to wrap his head around the path his ex-partner was heading down. “Go on.”
“Maybe there’s something here – in this house – that they want. And when they discovered it was occupied, they had to change their plans. Nicking a motor so close by speaks to me of a half-arsed plan, probably made up on the run. And if you think about it, none of those bullets came very close.”
“Close enough!” Doyle retorted. “But you could be - and I stress ‘could be’ - right. Would be just like the Cow to leave us a few surprises, and that includes dropping us right in the middle of something with no clue as to what was going on.”
“Sounds familiar. Any ideas?”
“Given the fact we haven’t even made a dent in the stuff in this house, I can only imagine.”
“Yeah, the old man appears to have held onto his material possessions as tightly as he did a pound. The question is what in bloody hell are we looking for?” Bodie finished with a shrug.
“We’ll know it when we find it,” they said in unison, both smiling at the puzzled looks Doyle’s team wore.
“Right. Take away and continue looking?” Ray asked.
“Might as well. Sooner we find it the sooner people might stop shooting at us. I’ll start in on the library upstairs. Not that he would ever be obliging enough to leave it in a simple place like a hollowed out book,” Bodie finished with a weary sigh which was at odds with the smile on his face.
Ray’s smile grew bigger as he realised his ex-partner was enjoying the familiar banter just as much as he was. “I think we need to resort to his triple think for this one.”
“Christ, triple think always gives me a headache," Bodie acknowledged, running a hand through his still dark hair.
“That’s why I’ve always been the brains of this team,” Ray stopped abruptly as the smile disappeared from Bodie’s face at his reference to their teaming. “Go on up, sunshine. I’ll finish in the office and call you when the food arrives.” Ray watched the broad shoulders until they disappeared from the room, silently kicking himself for forgetting his place “Sir?”
“Richard. I want an unmarked car across the street and one behind the house until we find it – whatever it is.”
“Sir, what if you and Mr Bodie are, well, what if you’re wrong?”
“God knows it wouldn’t be the first time. We’re both armed and with cars in front and back if anything happens, we’ll have help immediately.”
“Not comfortable leaving you here alone, sir. Don’t fancy explaining to the higher ups how I lost my guv.”
“Bodie won’t let anything happen to me,” Ray said with complete certainty.
“No disrespect, but people change, sir,” Davidson responded.
Ray shrugged dismissively. “He devoted twelve years to watching my back. Whatever else has changed between us that certainly hasn’t. He proved that earlier when the shooting started.”
The two men called it quits just after 1 a.m. and retreated to separate bedrooms for a few hours sleep. Ray woke at 3:30 a.m. and made his way across the hall to the loo. As he did so, he caught sight of Bodie’s outline against the window in the library. “Everything alright?”
“Yeah, just can’t seem to get any sleep is all.” Bodie did not turn around as he answered.
“Been a while since anyone’s shot at you, eh?” Ray feasted his eyes on the pale bare chest that was revealed as the other man finally turned to face him.
“Yeah, but that’s not it. It’s George. I spent a lot of time in this house with him over the years. Spent three months recovering here after Egypt…just didn’t expect to feel like this,” his hand rubbed unconsciously over a thick scar on his chest, “…to miss him quite so damn much.” Bodie abruptly shut up and moved restlessly across the room to take a seat on the sofa.
Ray squatted in front of him, planting his hands on Bodie’s firm, bare thighs to keep his balance. “I know. Shall miss our monthly dinners. Always managed to amaze me with some tidbit of information I needed. Never could figure out how he did that.” Ray smiled warmly up at his former mate as he reminded himself that while had lost his mentor, Bodie had lost the only father figure he’d ever known. Ray resisted the urge to embrace Bodie, knowing it wouldn’t be welcome. And he found himself fighting the urge to tighten his grip on the man’s thighs and do what he wanted so desperately to do - push upward and steal a kiss.
Bodie interrupted his inner battle. “Why would he drop us in something like this, Doyle? For somebody to want whatever it is badly enough to risk a shoot out in broad daylight in this neighbourhood, it has to be pretty damn big.”
“Been thinking the same thing. Not sure I appreciate having an Operation Susie dropped in our laps from the afterlife. In the old days he’d at least give us a bit of a hint before sending us off to do battle undermanned, unarmed and unknowing,” Ray responded with a shrug.
“Guess the old bastard simply couldn’t stand not having the last word,” Bodie declared with a sigh, rising from the sofa and shrugging his shoulders eloquently. “Come on, Ray. Morning will be here soon enough.” Bodie gently patted Ray on the shoulder before departing.
*The Poem Requiescant
Frederick George Scott
In a Field near Ypres April, 1915
I Once Was Lost: Part II