Fandom: The Professionals
Warnings: Soppy Romanticism
Wordcount: 9,739 (including song lyrics)
Thank you to moth2fic for her wonderful beta skills and for correcting my inevitable gramma and punctuation errors. Any remaining errors are entirely my own.
Summary: Bodie falls under a spell.
I put a spell on you
Because you're mine
You better stop
The things that you're doing
I said "Watch out!"
I ain't lying, yeah!
I ain't gonna take none of your
I ain't gonna take none of your
Putting me down
I put a spell on you
Because you're mine.
Credence Clearwater Revival
Hawkins, Jay 1956 (songwriter)
The shop was on a backstreet in Soho, the entrance a narrow doorway that admitted only one person at a time through a clingy beaded curtain. Bodie squinted as he stepped inside but the interior was as dark and dingy as the street the shop was located on and try as he might he couldn’t quite penetrate the gloom and dancing dust motes until he’d moved much further into the shop, which was why he managed to bang his head on the gourd hanging from one of the low roof beams. He pulled up short and rubbed his head, only to have the gourd nearly collect him again when his partner stumbled into his back, pushing him forward.
“Careful, Twinkle Toes,” Bodie muttered.
“Yeah, well. Why’d you stop? Can’t see a bloody thing in here,” Doyle muttered back.
Bodie cautiously moved forward, knowing Doyle was close to his shoulder, then stopped again as his eyes adjusted to the dimness and outlines began to gain clarity. Doyle, hitting into his side this time, muttered again but stopped whatever invective he was about to hurl at his partner and whistled softly instead.
For a moment Bodie thought he’d gone back in time and wandered into a bazaar in the heart of Kinshasa. The shop was crowded with display cabinets filled with carvings, figurines and brightly coloured woven baskets. Scattered tables held bead covered vessels, some human shaped with long necks and exquisitely fashioned faces others with plain rounded heads and fat bodies. African masks and headdresses stared at them from the walls and more gourds, like the one that had nearly brained him, hung from the rafters, swaying softly in an almost non-existent breeze.
“Good day, Sirs. You wish to see something special?” The voice seemed to come from out of nowhere, until Bodie squinted some more and made out the shadowy figure standing behind a counter at the far end of the shop. Moving forward he realised it was a women, a quite beautiful woman in a non-European heart of darkness kind of way. She was tall, the kaftan she wore accentuating what he could see of her sinuous figure. Tightly braided hair hanging loose about her face framed the slightly broad features and dark questioning eyes fixed on them.
“Lookin’ for information, love,” Bodie told her, dodging past a large elephant’s foot umbrella stand to reach the counter, Doyle a pace behind him. Flashing his ID card at the woman he continued. “Heard you’ve got a reliable importer. We were wondering what you know about the export side of his business.”
The dark eyes widen slightly. “I deal only in genuine African artefacts. Anything else my import agent is involved in is not my concern.”
“The supplier of your artefacts could also be the supplier of some highly illegal weaponry into central and southern Africa,” Doyle told her.
The woman shrugged. “As I said, I import into the United Kingdom only. No exports. I know nothing of weapons.”
Another dead end by the look of it. They had been tracking the elusive arms dealer for months and not even a nibble for their efforts. Bodie glanced around while Doyle took over the conversation, his attention diverted by the array of booklets, beaded dolls, charms and small carvings scattered across the counter. Idly he picked up one of the carvings. It was a woman sitting back on her heels, her legs folded under her. The head was elongated and a band of glass beads and twisted metal sat tight around her neck. She held a basket of woven grass in her hands. Bodie turned the carving around in his hands, fingering the smooth curves and swells of the small body. It was warm to the touch.
“It is Nambi, love goddess of the Buganda people. This was carved by a very important sangoma. Very good muti for matters of the heart.”
Startled and feeling caught out Bodie looked up at the African. Her conversation with his partner obviously at an end she was looking at the carving still in Bodie’s hands. He noticed that Doyle was watching him with some amusement.
“Er, really? No, I was just looking at it.” He went to put the figure back where it belonged on the counter.
“You take,” the woman urged. “She will lead you to your true love.”
They were both looking at him, the woman slightly impatient, his partner with a grin.
“Yeah, yeah, okay then,” he said. Anything to take the attention off him and get them out of the shop.
“Good, that’s four pound and fifty pence please,” she said, holding out her hand.
Doyle laughed as Bodie reached into his pocket for the money and Bodie threw him a look, which bounced straight off that rhinoceros hide, leaving the grin intact. In fact it was still intact when they reached their car.
“She got you good and proper, didn’t she!”
“Oh, I don’t know. Might dangle it in front of Kate Ross like a piece of cheese. Make her see my better qualities. One way of getting a good report out of her.”
“Kate Ross! That’d be the day! In any case it’s supposed to lead you, not the other way around. What’s a sangoma anyway?”
“Witch doctor. Very powerful character amongst believers. I’ve known men to do all sorts of weird things under a sangoma spell.”
“Now there’s a thought. Think she’s got anything that’d make Cowley give us a weekend off? Or a raise?”
“Nah, not worth the risk, mate. Cowley’d just turn it back on us, make us work for nothing.”
Doyle looked pensive as he started the car. “You’re right, he would,” he said sadly. “What you going to do with that, anyway?”
Bodie was still holding the carving, absentmindedly rubbing his thumb over it. “Dunno, stick it on the mantelpiece I suppose. Tell everyone I got it in deepest darkest Africa.”
“Yeah, along with all the other stories you come up with”
“All true, Raymond.” His partner snorted and Bodie went for a change of subject. “What do reckon about her anyway? She know anything?”
“Nah, seems legitimate. Mind you, we maybe could get her on giving false hope to the delusional.”
Bodie looked confused “Huh? Where’d you get that, mate?” he asked.
Doyle nodded to the carving. Bodie crossed his eyes and poked out his tongue at his partner then shoved the carving into his jacket pocket, where it lay forgotten and neglected for the rest of the day.
It was after midnight before they’d checked all their contacts and finally called it a day, or rather, a night. Doyle dropped Bodie off at his flat, refusing a coffee – offered more out of habit by Bodie than anything.
Bodie began stripping as soon as he was safely inside, his mind firmly on his bed and sleep. His shoes went first and he stretched his toes with a relieved sigh at their freedom. His jacket was next, thrown carelessly towards the bureau in the corner of his bedroom. It wasn’t until he’d shed trousers, shirt and socks that the clunk he’d heard as his jacket hit the edge of the bureau registered. Bending he gathered up the jacket and retrieved the carving from the pocket he’d carelessly placed it in earlier.
“Forgotten about you, hadn’t I?” he told the carving, giving it a quick rub over with his thumb to check for damage before settling it on the chest of drawers next to a picture of himself and Doyle, the one taken just after their partnership began. Naked, tired and strung out, he threw himself on the bed and fell immediately asleep.
He had strange dreams that night: dreams of wandering through open savannah and dusty villages; of dry, waterless plains and dark skinned warriors; of guns and fire; and a lithe tawny cat that was always there, just within sight but remaining out of reach no matter how much he tried to touch it - a beast with a long ruffled mane who watched his every move through feral green eyes.
Finally, in the hazy light of dawn the shrill tones of his alarm clock dragged him away from his phantom visions just as he was about to capture the beast once and for all. Addlebrained and wrung out from the endless night of chasing shadows he slammed his hand down on the top of the clock to still its strident tones then cursed at the sudden pain in his palm. He cursed again at the strange illusions that clung like sticky tendrils through his brain. It wasn’t the first time he’d woken from nightmares, had in fact frightened the life out of more than one bird with his ferocious thrashing when the night horrors smashed their way through his sleep. But this dream state was of a different quality, not really threatening, just … frustrating, like a nagging thought that had gone astray and he couldn’t quite grab hold of again.
He was still trying to shake off the visions and the feelings they evoked as he pulled his Capri into the HQ parking area. Doyle had arrived before him and was by the front entrance waiting, leaning in his usual boneless way against the doorframe, watching Bodie cross the tarmac.
“You’re late,” he said as Bodie closed the last few feet between them. “And you got out of the wrong side of the bed,” he added as Bodie threw him a venomous glare. “Come on. Father’s bound to be waiting for us.”
Not waiting for a reply that wouldn’t have been edifying anyway, Doyle unglued himself from the wall and headed into the building. Bodie found himself trailing along behind his eyes drawn to the patch on the back of Doyle’s jeans as it creased and un-creased with each determined stride. Mesmerised, he watched the tantalising movements until Doyle was stationary in front of Cowley’s office, poised and ready to knock. When he did finally lift his head to meet his partner’s gaze his head swam as oval catlike eyes stared back at him before finally resolving into the familiar quizzical green orbs of his partner. Doyle was gazing back, a puzzled expression on his face.
“Well, you going to knock or what?” Bodie asked, querulous to hide his discomfort.
Doyle gave him a long searching look before turning back to the door and delivering the promised knock, hard and precise, barely giving their boss a chance to bid them enter before opening the door and barging in, not bothering to wait and see if Bodie was following him or not.
Cowley was as hard and precise as Doyle’s knock on his door had been. After they delivered their reports he told them he wanted them out on the streets again. Then he wanted them out on the streets every day for another week after that because the gun runners were still elusive but it was known another shipment had reached its destination in Mozambique, small arms and rocket launchers found in rebel hands, the likely source originating in UK.
They spent the week scrutinising dodgy import and export companies; small dealers who were known to take on shady customers when the profits were worth it; big dealers who thought they were immune to the law because of their power and prestige. They drew a blank. The days passed. Bodie found himself edgy, restless, watching his partner more than he should. After all, Doyle was perfectly capable of dealing with matters when those teenage thugs decided it was worth lifting the hubcaps from his Rover when it was parked in Clapham or when they both chased that snitch into a blind alley. So why was Bodie feeling those heart stopping moments of fear or the tightness inside when Doyle looked at him and smiled that special smile of his? It was odd because he’d never noticed the effect that smile had on him before, had he?
They investigated by day and the little carving kept him company at night, seeing as he was too disgruntled and out of sorts most evenings to bother trying to hook a bird. They’d more than likely run a mile, the mood he was in lately anyway. So Bodie found himself alone talking to Nambi, telling her things he’d never tell another human being. How he worried about Doyle, what a prat the man was for taking the risks he did and most of all how much Bodie sometimes wanted to grab the silly sod and … But he never quite finished that thought off. Nambi listened in silence, keeping her own council. And still at night the tawny cat stalked through his dreams and destroyed his sleep.
“You sure you’re okay?” Doyle asked for the umpteenth time that day as he leant against the rec room counter sipping at his mug of tea and watching Bodie staring morosely into his. They had just been to see Marty Martel, hoping for a lead. Marty had promised to keep his ear to the ground for them. It was late evening after another fruitless day and with nothing else for them to go on they had headed back to headquarters.
Bodie wasn’t about to let on about his restless nights, tawny big cats and one-way conversations with a wooden carving so he just shrugged. “’Course, why wouldn’t I be?”
“Dunno, mate. Not sure why I bothered to ask either.”
Bodie felt instantly guilty. After all none of it was Ray’s fault. But his intended apology was stifled before it could leave his lips as Stuart bounced jauntily into the rec room. A rare sight in the confines of CI5 the man always seemed to make a beeline for Doyle whenever he was around, something that for some reason irritated Bodie no end. Today was no exception.
Giving Bodie a sketchy nod by way of acknowledgement Stuart chose to stand next to Doyle by the counter.
“Long time no see, mate. How’s tricks?” he asked, looking directly at Doyle, very much in his personal space.
Ray smiled back. “Not bad, Stuart. What’s brought the king of South London crawling out of the woodwork?”
“Gotta come up for air some time. Besides, thought it was about time I checked on the local riffraff, see how you’re surviving without me.”
Bodie watched as Stuart casually reached out and ruffled Doyle’s curls, saw Doyle playfully push his hand away and move out of Stuart’s reach in his usual fluid style with a casually stated “piss off.” He saw their byplay, the easy way they had with each other and something bone deep in Bodie stirred – a single moment of madness that told him if Stuart tried to touch his partner like that again he would probably kill him. But he stifled the urge as Stuart lowered his hand and leant back against the counter.
“Nah, had to see Cowley about something. Thought I might catch you in here. Fancy a drink at the pub tonight, Doyle?”
“Yeah, why not.” Doyle turned towards Bodie. “How about it, Bodie?”
“Maybe,” Bodie said, unable at the moment to move beyond his steaming resentment of the grinning Stuart.
Doyle shrugged, his patience with his partner worn thin. “Please yourself then,” he said, pushing off the counter. “C’mon then, Stuart. The night’s young and I fancy a pint.”
Bodie sipped his cold tea and watched as they walked out of the room together. He sat there for a while, alone in the silence. Not normally given to introspection or any kind of self-revelation Bodie usually wandered through life and love without the need to analyse his feelings or emotions. Love ‘em, leave ‘em, don’t get too involved was his normal credo. But something else was happening here and stray ideas were slowly gathering inside his head - a realisation that one day Ray Doyle might not just walk out of a door without him but out of his life forever and that thought - the thought of being without Doyle for any reason - was unbearable. He might not be into self-analysis but he was never delusional, his feelings for his partner were taking on a startling new dimension. The thought was troubling. But what scared him more was that the revelation wasn’t really a surprise.
Bodie brooded all the way home, trying to sort out his emotions but his analytical skills seemed to have deserted him. What made what he was feeling now different? There had always been friendship, a closeness he’d never felt with anyone else. When had that changed to what he could only call desire and … something else?
“It’s your fault,” he shouted at Nambi as soon as he arrived at his flat. “Bloody ‘lead you to the one you love’ crap! What’m I supposed to do now, eh? Declare myself like some lovelorn prat? That’ll go down a right treat.”
The carving remained impassive, staring back at Bodie with its dark brooding eyes.
“Think you’re clever, don’t you,” he raged. “If I get my hands on that bloody, sangoma I’ll take her damn love spell and choke her with it.” Bodie stopped abruptly, common sense finally kicking in. “And I’m bloody insane, talking to a friggin’ statue like a daft idiot.”
He sank down onto the bed and buried his face in his hands. God, what an idiot he truly was. Of course he loved Ray Doyle, he always had. It didn’t take a carving or a spell to make that happen, it was as natural as night follows day. It had taken a spell to make him see it clearly though, realise how much the man meant to him. And now he’d spent the last week pissing the love of his life off. No wonder Doyle had preferred Stuart’s company.
He could put it right though, he could tell Ray how he felt, take the chance. He’d risk a bollocking by his partner, or worse, if Ray took exception to his romantic interest. But now the momentum of his feelings had started he couldn’t stop them, he had to do something about it, even if it meant Ray despising him for it. He could live with unrequited love and Ray’s ratty temper, but he couldn’t live with not knowing.
Decision made, Bodie picked his jacket and keys up again and headed out the door.
The pub was well lit, which made it easy to spot Doyle, leaning back against the bar, a pint of mild in his hand. Stuart was there too of course, the centre of attention amongst a crowd of CI5 operatives and staffers that included Murphy, Anson and some girls from the typing pool. Bodie’s heart sank a little when he realised how difficult it would be to get Ray alone, not to mention laying his heart on his sleeve to the man. But, resolve undaunted, he sauntered to the bar through the haze of Anson’s cigar smoke, ordered a double whisky for courage and propped himself beside his partner.
“Changed your mind then?” Doyle asked quietly so as not to disturb Stuart’s current rendition of undercover derring-do. The question was an obvious dig but Doyle was smiling so that was all right.
“Yeah, couldn’t miss out on joining the riffraff could I?” Bodie answered just as quietly, taking a generous sip of his whisky and ending up with an empty glass. He ordered another one, for more courage, although he knew he really, really shouldn’t. Ray gave him a sharp look but he ignored it.
“Ray, I was wondering …” But he got no further because Stuart finished his story to a round of applause and incredulous exclamations of “You never did? Did you?”
“I certainly did!” the hero of the moment exclaimed, then noticed Bodie for the first time. “Ah, Bodie. Glad you joined us, want a drink?”
“Don’t mind if I do,” was Bodie’s response.
And so the night progressed. But with no progress for Bodie. More drinks were consumed, more stories told – some by Stuart, more by Murphy, even Anson had a go – and all the time Ray watched and joined in the laughter while Bodie watched Ray and felt strangely aloof from it all. He watched the way Doyle leaned negligently against the bar just so, displaying what he had to offer; watched his smile for Stuart or Murphy or Lisa from the typing pool and his heart broke a little even while his mind told him he shouldn’t be jealous, had no right to be jealous. And he always made sure his glass was full, rather than half empty.
Slowly the night began to blur a little and the call of nature when it came was too insistent to ignore, so he made his excuses and stumbling slightly, turned weaving what he thought was a steady path to the gents. But they must have moved it because the path he wove led him to the beer garden instead. He could have pissed in the shrubs of course, but he was sensible enough to know the people quietly drinking at the scattered tables might object, so he wandered back inside and this time found the right door.
And that was where Doyle found him ten minutes later, leaning against the wall next to a urinal.
He didn’t say anything at first, just stood there, his arms crossed, looking at his partner with an expression Bodie couldn’t read, mainly because Doyle’s face was swimming disconcertingly in and out of focus. He blinked hard, trying to solve the problem, make Doyle’s face stay put. It didn’t work. How did the sod do that?
Bodie considered that for a moment then nodded in confirmation, staggering slightly as the movement threw him off balance. “Raymond, you are perfectly right,” he said with what he thought was admirable precision, although maybe it wasn’t because the words seemed to slide around in his mouth a bit before tripping out, and Doyle was looking at him rather oddly too. “Pissed as a newt, or as pissed as only a newt could be,” he continued, regardless.
“You’ve been acting like an arse for days, you won’t tell me what’s wrong. Then you get drunk . What’s got into you, Bodie?”
More of a case of what I’d like to get into Bodie thought, at least he thought he thought it but Ray gave him another strange look, so maybe he’d actually said it. He closed his mouth firmly until he was sure about what to let come out of it. Then he drew himself up to his full height and dignity, prepared to express his innermost feelings to his partner and opening his mouth spoke very carefully.
“Ray I …” His stomach roiled and the world tilted, Ray became the only steady port in his currently rolling world and he grabbed hold of his partner’s shoulders, desperate to stop the groundswell. “Don’t feel so good,” he managed before having to clamp his mouth shut against the nausea.
“Shit, Bodie. You’ll have us both down in a minute.” Doyle, regaining his balance, rolled his eyes but took hold of Bodie’s arms anyway and held him steady. “Come on, Sunshine. Let’s get you home.”
“Yes please, Ray. Take me home with you.” Bodie breathed, looking deep into Ray’s eyes. Ray flinched and screwed up his nose as the whisky fumes hit, then his face coalesced into a half smile.
“Are you laughing at me, Raymond?” Bodie asked suspiciously.
“Nah! Would I?” Doyle said as he steered his wayward partner out the door.
Bodie thoughtfully contemplated his partner’s words. “Yes, I believe you would.”
“Well, you’ve only got yourself to blame, haven’t you, mate.”
“Ah, s’pose so.” Bodie was now feeling very sorry for himself and any indication of Ray’s previous amusement had faded. “Won’t Stuart miss you?”
“Nah, he’s taken Lisa home.”
“Ah,” Bodie said again but couldn’t think of anything else to add, so left it at that as he wobbled out of the pub and towards Ray’s car. Ray slid an arm around his waist to keep him steady. He didn’t need the support, he really didn’t, but it was nice.
“Don’t throw up in my car.” Ray admonished as he deposited Bodie in the passenger seat and went around to the driver’s side.
“I won’t,” Bodie told him and hoped it was the truth.
It was a quiet drive back to Bodie’s flat. Doyle remained silent and Bodie didn’t want to open his mouth again in case he couldn’t contain the nausea, so he huddled at the edge of the passenger seat and pretended he was fine. Doyle must have known though because at the first traffic light he leant over his miserable partner and wound down the passenger side window. Bodie gulped at the fresh, cold air and felt a little better.
When they reached the flat Bodie hurriedly stumbled out of the car, expecting Doyle to leave him to make his own way inside. But Doyle was right behind him, taking Bodie’s keys out of suddenly nerveless fingers and letting them both inside, muttering “bedroom” with a gentle push in the back for emphasis. Bodie knew it wasn’t an invitation.
The bed was soft and welcoming and Bodie threw himself into its depths, managing to toe off his shoes first but not bothered about the rest. He heard Doyle moving about the room and felt hands pulling him up and something dragging on his shoulders. He muttered a complaint but they didn’t stop then he felt the slide of his jacket being removed and the hands went away. Then everything went black.
The dreams were back … the cat was back, its tangled mane so close that if he just reached out his hand he could touch it, feel it. But he wasn’t going to be fooled again, he’d keep his hands to himself this time, not be tempted to reach out and fail, have the illusion run away from him. He jumped slightly when he felt the hot breath on his forehead before it quickly withdrew but then came back again with the brush of lips where breath had been a moment before. The lips travelled to his mouth, gentle and slightly moist. At least tawny cats didn’t seem to mind whisky breath and now that the cat had decided to kiss him it felt nice, just a hint of feline whiskers and nicely shaped lips. He imagined Ray’s mouth would feel like that, so gentle at first then firm and bold, persistent. He held that image to himself as the dream disappeared.
Doyle was there again at 8.00am the next morning to pick him up, cheerful and obviously unhung-over. Bodie was hung-over and miserable, sitting at the breakfast nook after a shower had helped but not cured his headache and nibbling delicately on a piece of toast. Soothing blues music filled the room.
“Let yourself in, why don’t you.” Bodie took another bite from the toast and chewed slowly.
“Just did,” Doyle told him, his indefatigable grin firmly in place. “You look awful!”
“Thanks!” Bodie acknowledged, giving his partner a sour look. “Right little ray of sunshine this morning, aren’t you?”
“At least I’m not singing the blues.” Doyle said, regarding the tape deck next to Bodie with suspicion before grabbing the remaining piece of toast from Bodie’s plate and taking a healthy bite. “Get you feeling all morbid, that stuff will.”
“Nah, Billie’s a classic. Would do your soul good to listen to her sometime, Raymond.”
Doyle gave him a speculative look. “Lost love and a broken heart, is that what’s led you to drink?”
Bodie returned his look but refused to answer, poking out his tongue instead. Doyle laughed.
“Anyway, our souls aren’t our own to do good with, they belong to Cowley, and our bodies. Speaking of which, you’d better move your arse.” Doyle said as he lent over and switched Billie off mid lyric. “We’ll just have time to pick up your car from the pub car park before Cowley sets the dogs on us.”
Bodie groaned but obediently put his toast down and stood, putting a hand to his head so it wouldn’t tumble off as he moved.
Doyle followed him to the bedroom and stood in the doorway watching as Bodie slid into cords and looked in the cupboard for a polo neck jumper.
“See you found a spot for that,” he said, moving to the bureau and picking the carving up, moving it around in his hands to admire. “What’d that sangoma call it? Nimble, Nancy? A goddess or something, isn’t she?”
“Nambi. And yes, a goddess.” Bodie took the carving off him and put her back where she belonged, then picked up the keys and wallet that had sat beside her. “Come on, Sunshine, thought we were in a hurry.”
Fully dressed now Bodie dodged the next speculative look from Doyle and headed purposefully to the door of the flat, opening it to let Doyle out before him then locking up, but still managing to clip his partner smartly across the back of the head as Doyle started off down the stairs warbling untunefully.
Don't mind the rain drops.
Wait till the rain stops.
Smile through your tears, laughing at life
Which only proved to Bodie that his partner wasn’t a complete Billie Holiday ignoramus after all.
Cowley wasn’t pleased. The investigation into the gunrunning was at a standstill, his best agents having come up with virtually nothing in the way of leads into how and by whom the munitions were being smuggled out of the country.
“Marty’s checking out a few leads,” Bodie told him defensively. “Thinks he may have something for me in a few days.”
“Aye, well, until that happens, Bodie you can spend some time in records looking for anything you may have missed before.” Swinging around to a grinning Doyle, Cowley continued. “As for you, Doyle. I still haven’t received that report you promised on last month’s Swindon operation. Have it on my desk this afternoon.”
It was cold in records, buried as it was in the bowels of CI5 Headquarters, and lonely. Bodie had plenty of time to think, cut off from the sounds and dramas of the outside world. Last night had worked a treat - he’d made a right prat of himself and hadn’t achieved anything other than piss Ray off even more. He was surprised his partner was still talking to him, much less helping him fetch his car and getting him to work on time. Still, Bodie was not inclined to let one setback deter him, he was made of much sterner stuff. He would just have to think of other ways to woo Raymond Doyle.
He was so deep in thought and files that it was several minutes before he realised he was being watched. He looked up to find Doyle leaning against the rack of files he was working on, regarding him through steady green eyes.
Slightly disconcerted Bodie said the first thing that came to him. “The Cow let you loose, has he?”
“Yeah, the report’s signed, sealed with wax and delivered into Father’s expectant hands, so I thought I’d come see how you were getting on down here.”
“He let you go, without coming up with something else for you to do?”
“Nah, didn’t see him did I? Gave it to Mary to hand over and scarpered.”
Bodie laughed then waved the file he was holding in Doyle’s general direction. “Do you know how many dodgy gun dealers there are in the UK alone?”
“No, but I’m sure you’ll tell me.”
“Too bloody many, that’s what.”
Now it was Doyle’s turn to laugh. “Ah, but have you come up with anything new.”
Bodie put the file back where it belonged and shook his head. “No, not really.” He paused for a moment then took the plunge. “Look, I’m sorry about last night. You were right, I’ve been making an arse of myself.”
“Oh, you remember that, do you?”
“Yeah, I remember most of it, surprisingly enough.”
Doyle looked uncomfortable for a moment and Bodie wondered why.
“What I was wondering. Just to make up for last night, we could go out somewhere fancy. Murphy’s told me there’s a new Greek place in Chelsea was pretty good, interested?”
Doyle looked at him for a moment his face unreadable, before speaking. “Is this you, asking me out to dinner?”
Bodie considered laughing, making a joke of it – for about five seconds. But he shrugged off the impulse.
“Yeah, flowers an’ all. And if you don’t fancy Greek then we can make it the restaurant of your choice.”
“No, Greek’s fine. See you at 8.00 then.” Doyle pushed up off the wall and headed to the exit. Pausing just as he reached to door he turned, one hand on the doorhandle. “Oh, and my favourite’s roses, long stemmed.” And there was that seductive grin again, shining full on Bodie but before he could say anything Doyle was closing the door behind him. Bodie shook his head. Trust his partner to manage to surprise him yet again.
Sharp at 8.00pm Bodie was leaning his thumb on Doyle’s doorbell, a box of chocolates in his other hand and a long stemmed rose between his teeth because he’d run out of hands.
Doyle’s answer was almost immediate and Bodie thought he must have been right behind the door, waiting for him to ring.
“I take it that’s for me,” Doyle said, reaching out to pluck the bloom from where it rested and sniffing it delicately. “And chocolates too!” he added, reaching for the box.
Bodie trailed behind as Doyle made his way to the kitchen and began searching the cupboards, finally bringing out a long glass and filling it with tap water for the rose before heading back to the lounge.
Bodie watched him from the doorway, taking in every inch of the delectable body. Doyle was wearing tight pants as usual but instead of jeans he had donned a pair of dark grey trousers that hugged his hips even more, if anything, than his jeans usually did. The long sleeve shirt he wore was white and crisp and figure hugging too. Surprisingly enough a tie was knotted neatly around his neck.
“Nice. I like the red ones,” Doyle said as he placed the makeshift vase with its attendant rose in the centre of the coffee table before grabbing a jacket from the back of a chair, slipping it on and picking up his box of chocolates. “You ready then?”
“I am and your carriage awaits, Cinders.”
Doyle’s laugh followed them from the flat.
Doyle open the box as soon as they were in the car, studying the selections before choosing a chocolate and popping it in his mouth, then another one.
“These are good,” he said through a mouthful of chocolate “Here, have a Turkish delight, I know you like them.” Before Bodie could protest Doyle was holding the sweet against his lips, slipping it into his mouth as Bodie obediently opened. The chocolate was sweet and melting, the taste clinging to Ray’s finger as it lingered on his lips. Bodie licked at the digit, then at his lips as Ray’s finger withdrew. Ray grinned, helping himself to another sweet.
“Hey, you’ll spoil your appetite!”
“Take more than a few chocolates to do that. I’m starved, didn’t get a chance at lunch, Cowley caught me after I’d seen you in files, had me doing something every time I looked up. This place had better be good, could eat a scabby horse.”
“Don’t think they serve that, we could ask though.”
“Prat,” Doyle said and shoved another chocolate into Bodie’s mouth.
Dinner was good, candlelight and fine wine, the food exquisite. For once Murphy had come through and Bodie was pleased he’d listened. They chatted over the meal, as casual and at home with each other as always. Doyle was at his most relaxed, lively and smiling, full of the recent events and rumours circulating through HQ corridors. Bodie didn’t really hear most of the stories though, he was too busy looking at Ray, the way his eyes crinkled with laughter when he remembered Anson’s misadventure with a cigar and a very pretty young blond woman.
“I never thought I’d see Anson at a loss for words,” Ray said, still smiling.
“Well, had to happen some time didn’t it?” Bodie responded. “Maybe now he’ll toss the bleedin’ things in, give us all a rest.”
“It’s nice here, this.” Ray changed the subject, nodding at the general décor of the restaurant. “Even if it’s a bit pricy.”
“It is that,” agreed Bodie, picking up the menu to study it again. “Nice I mean. And if you’re very good I’ll even treat you to one of those fancy looking deserts.”
“Oh, I’m always very good.” Ray’s smile had turned into one of pure carnality, which could have been at the thought of the seductive selection of sweet confectionary on offer, or something else entirely. In any case Bodie found it necessary to shift slightly on his chair to ease his sudden discomfort. Perhaps he should have worn looser trousers.
In the end Bodie went for a particularly tempting chocolate and walnut torte and Doyle settled for a delicious looking baklava.
They walked back to the car afterwards via the riverbank, stopping to watch the reflected lights ripple on the water. The night sky was star filled, the air chilly but not too cold and the knot on Ray’s tie was halfway down his chest, the top buttons on his shirt undone. Bodie hadn’t really noticed when that had happened, just that one minute his partner looked neat, tidy and well groomed, the next he was back to being the normal scruffy Ray Doyle. Bodie preferred the scruff.
Ray was pensive “What’s this about, Bodie?” he asked, turning to look directly at his partner, his expression gentle but determined to seek answers.
Bodie shrugged . “Could be just a couple of mates having a night out.” Then he looked straight at Ray, into his eyes. “Or it could be more. It’s whatever you want it to be about, Ray.”
“Is it more for you?”
Bodie nodded, all pretence gone. “It’s been that way for a while now,” he admitted, ready to hand him everything.
“Thought so.” Ray said, thoughtful now.
“What about you? Could there be more?” Bodie dared the question.
“I’m not ….” Ray hesitated, his eyes worried. “I care, Bodie, of course I do. But give me some time, okay? Got something I need to work out.”
It was enough, for now and what more could he ask anyway? At least Ray hadn’t punched him, or worse, laughed. He reached over and pulled gently on one of Ray’s wild curls, letting it slide along his finger. “Its okay, Ray. I can be patient when I want to be. Just, don’t leave it too long.”
Doyle shook his head. “I won’t. Would never leave you waiting, Sunshine.”
They drove back to Doyle’s flat in silence, but it was a companionable silence that made Bodie feel relaxed and more at ease with himself and the world than he had been for days. Whatever happened now, at least he’d told Ray how he felt and there was freedom in that.
Early the next morning Marty Martel rang Bodie’s number with information on the gun dealers.
“Portsmouth! Is he sure?”
“Yes, Sir,” Bodie said. “And he’s got a name, Eduardo Alvares. Rumour has it some bigwig is backing the deal, supplying the cash and Alvares is taking the buyers to the warehouse tonight to inspect and move the shipment. The financier’s got a private yacht sitting outside territorial waters. Marty’s arranged to meet me at the warehouse.”
Cowley paced for a moment then looked at his operatives, waiting patiently for his orders. “Right, Bodie. You’d better get off down there then, set up some surveillance. Take Anson with you.”
“What about Doyle?” Bodie demanded.
“Yeah, what about me?” Doyle echoed.
“Doyle, you can do some checking on this Alvares. Find out what you can about him and get the information to me as soon as possible.”
“But, I’ve been working with Bodie on this for weeks. Can’t Anson do the checking?”
“No,” Cowley was obviously making an effort at patience, which appeared to be wearing thin. “Once Doyle has finished with Alvares I want him to co-ordinate a response with the local constabulary and the Coast Guard. With any kind of luck, we can trap them all, including the financier, with one cast of the net.”
Turning back to his deck he sat down then glanced up at his men again. “Well, what are you waiting for?”
“Yes, Sir.” They said in unison, backing out the door.
The warehouse was deserted, a wreck of a building in a conglomeration of old warehouses probably due for demolition. Bodie had set up a surveillance point on the upper level, by one of the building’s open windows - open by virtue of the fact there were only a few shards of glass remaining in the frame. The object of his surveillance was a building opposite, a slightly more salubrious structure that looked like it could still be in use, the windows being mostly unbroken or else carefully boarded up. And there was a padlock on the large double doors. He had a good view of the building and the cobblestone street that separated the two warehouses, or would have if it weren’t for the sheets of rain obscuring his view. The gale had started just after he took up position. He’d quickly discovered that the roof of the warehouse leaked and the wind was capable of blowing rain through every orifice in its structure, and there were many of those. He was cold, wet and pissed off that Anson was relatively warm and dry sitting with Marty Martel in a car parked close by, ready to give warning when the suspects arrived.
Bodie shifted from one foot to the other in an effort to restore lost circulation to his feet, swiped at the water that dripped from the ceiling into his eye and thought of his partner, the softness of Ray’s hair on his finger and the smile that had ghosted his lips the last time Bodie had seen him and he wondered what Ray’s answer would be. Whether he had spectacularly blown his chances with his heartfelt declaration. Absently he drew his gun out of its holster and checked the clip, the action more reflex than necessity. It gave his cold hands some exercise and his mind something else to concentrate on other than his partner and thoughts of possible disaster and loss.
“Bodie, you there?” The voice, coming from near the top of the rickety set of steps leading up from the lower level, was startling in its clarity over the noise of the howling wind and rain on the metal roof of the building and Bodie couldn’t stop his instinctive swing towards the sound, gun level and ready, pointed dead centre at the owner of the enquiring voice.
“Whoa! Don’t shoot!”
“Shouldn’t sneak up on a person like that, Marty,” Bodie said, rising from his shooter’s stance and holstering his gun.
“Thought you could do with this.” Marty held out a plastic mug, steam swirling from the brim. He was wearing a plastic raincoat and carrying a dripping fisherman’s hat in his other hand. He looked a little pale. “Of course I didn’t think I’d end on the wrong end of a gun for my pains.”
Bodie shrugged and grinned. “You came very close to a sudden, undignified death then, Mate. But thanks.” He accepted the mug, wrapping his hands around it, letting the warmth seep in, and took a sip of the bitter tasting coffee. He thought Marty muttered something about gun happy CI5 agents but couldn’t be sure. The next comment was loud and clear though as his friend dodged out of the way of a sudden drip of water.
“Sodding rain, and it’s as cold as a witch’s tit.”
“Yeah, should have packed it in and gone home ages ago.” Bodie quirked a sardonic eyebrow. “But where’s the fun in that?”
Marty laughed. “Dunno how you people do this all the time. Give me a nice warm berth on the Woolwich ferry any day.”
Bodie snorted. “Then how come you’re here getting wet?”
“Dunno, thought I’d see it through, see how you glory boys work. They approached me you know, the buyers. Wanted small arms and some heavier stuff. I told them to bugger off. I don’t do deals with terrorists.”
“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, Marty. You never used to be so choosy.”
“Nah, this is different, mate. These guys stick guns in the hands of kids, twelve - thirteen-year-olds. It’s not right.”
Bodie pondered gunrunning morality for a moment but whatever response he could have given was lost when his RT, lying on the window ledge, crackled into life followed by Anson’s voice.
“3.7. Bodie? A van and a car have just pulled into the street. Looks like our guys. I’m following them in”
Bodies dumped the mug on the window ledge, coffee forgotten and grabbed the RT “Not too close, Anson,” he said into the radio, eyes on the street outside, Marty now close to his elbow. “We don’t want to spook them too early.”
“Don’t get your knickers in a knot, Bodie, they won’t spot me,” came the tinny response.
“They better not,” Bodie muttered switching off the RT. Moments later the headlights of approaching vehicles slashed through the rain and mist. He instinctively pulled back as the headlights flashed over the window and the vehicles came to a halt further down the road. Seconds later, a large man, fat and ungainly and wearing a suit emerged from the car and made a dash through the rain to the door of the warehouse. Another man, casually dressed and dark skinned, jumped from the driver’s side of the van and joined the figure at the door. The passenger door of the van opened and Bodie could see a rain-coated arm holding the door but whoever it was remained inside obviously having no intention of getting wet.
“Yeah, I’d recognise that dainty figure anywhere. It’s Alvares. ”
They watched as the two men struggled with the padlock before pulling it off and pushing on the doors. As soon as they were open the third rain-coated figure jumped from the van and, hood pulled up against the rain, dashed inside with the two men. In seconds the street was empty apart from the vehicles.
Bodie drew his gun, switching on the RT again. “Anson, where are you?”
“Side street just past the warehouses, can see the van from here.”
“Right, hold your position and keep watching. Be ready to follow the van when it moves out.” He clicked the RT off then on again. “3.7 to alpha. Suspects are in the warehouse. We have them covered. Going in for a closer look.”
Cowley’s voice came over clearly in spite of the crackle on the RT. “Careful, Bodie, I want them all, not just Alvares.”
“Yeah, I know, casting the net wide … Sir.”
“Aye, and don’t you forget it. Keep those hobnailed boots of yours under control.”
“Yes, Sir. 3.7 out.” Bodie flipped the switch on the RT and pocketed it.
“Stay here and stay out of sight,” he told Marty and not waiting for a reply headed for the steps leading to the ground floor.
The rain, if anything, was sheeting down even heavier than before and Bodie stayed close to the open door of the building for a moment, gun drawn, checking for the best vantage point. He needed to see inside that warehouse. There was a window that looked promising, not far from the entrance but far enough. What was more, two large container bins stood neatly positioned on each side of the window, enough to give him cover and the overhanging roof of the building offered some shelter from the rain.
In seconds he was across the roadway, past the vehicles and beside the window in question. He flattened himself against the wall and stood on tiptoe to peer cautiously inside. Alvares and his two companions were crowded around several stacked boxes. The top box was open and the dark skinned man was examining an armalite rifle while Alvares spoke earnestly to him, obviously pointing out the qualities of the weapon. The rain-coated figure was on the other side of the boxes, checking a Walther PPK, sliding the release back and forth. The hood was thrown back now, leaving the dark feminine face and long braided hair exposed. Memory stirred as Bodie looked hard at the woman and the weapon, and he wondered at African artefacts that included guns. But there was no time for further speculation as the lid of the box was slammed shut and Alvares and the other man began the transfer of the merchandise to the van while the woman waited in the shelter of the warehouse.
It only took a few minutes for the boxes to be loaded and the payoff to begin. Alvares waited patiently while the other man, rifle still in his hand, shouted “It’s done, bring the money.” back at the warehouse. The rain had finally eased off to a steady drizzle as the woman emerged, hand thrust deep into the pocket of the raincoat.
And that was when Marty Martel slipped on the wet cobblestone street and interrupted proceedings in spectacular fashion.
Bodie hadn’t realised he was there, and neither apparently had the gun dealer and his clients, until Marty let out a shout as his feet went from under him and he began what would be a bone jarring decent onto the cobbles.
Everything blurred into one split second of action. Bodie instinctively swung towards the sight and sound of Marty’s fall, as did Alvares and his companions, the man bringing his rifle to bear on the hapless Marty. Bodie rapidly changed direction bringing his own weapon around to aim at the man, but at the same time the woman’s attention switched as well, her hand coming out of the raincoat pocket holding not money but the Walther.
Three shots rang out almost as one and Bodie felt the impact against his temple, saw Marty collapse in a crumpled heap, then everything went dark.
The next thing he knew Cowley was in his face shouting something about boots with hobnails and fleeing gunrunners.