Doyle came awake abruptly, not knowing at first where he was. Some bird's flat, he thought. Then no. Then Bodie.
He turned on his side. In the early morning light he could see Bodie beside him. His partner was lying on his stomach, his face turned away from Doyle, his hair stuck up like a hedgehog's. Doyle wondered if he would ever get used to this, to waking up with Bodie at his side. Wondered if there'd be time for him to get used to it.
Two months since it had started, since they'd stopped messing about and followed through on the innuendo and the flirting. Two months since he'd accepted the unspoken challenge in Bodie's eyes and kissed the annoying git. Two months since Bodie'd kissed him back with interest. Two months since they'd started fucking, the heat they created almost unbearable at times, and yet still there was an awkwardness between them. Though not at night.
At night, need overcame reluctance, hunger conquered disquiet. At night, all that mattered was mouth and breath, skin and touch.
But mornings were a different matter. In the clear light of day, they would avoid each other's gaze, as if a look would confirm what neither was willing to admit with words. With the sun's appearance, the touches that had passed between them so frequently became rare indeed.
Doyle hated the changes, wished everything could go back the way it had been. But it couldn't, because he wouldn't give up what he had of Bodie at night, not even if it meant sacrificing friendship and partnership and all. And somehow, without him saying a word, he knew Bodie felt the same.
They would muddle through and somehow it would all work out. It had to.
Sighing, Doyle looked at the alarm clock, its hands confirming what he already knew: it was time to get up, or would be in two minutes. Lightly, as if he were touching a wild animal that would struggle against any attempt to tame it, he touched the back of Bodie's head, ruffling his already mussed hair.
"You awake?" Doyle asked quietly.
Bodie started slightly, then drew a deep breath and turned onto his back, his eyes fixed firmly on the ceiling. "Yeah," he said. "I'm bloody awake."
"Time to rise and shine, then. We're due in at HQ at eight."
"I can't wait to see what fresh horrors the Cow is waiting to inflict on us today." Bodie slid out of bed and padded to the door on bare feet. "My flat; I'll take the first shower." Bodie shrugged into his robe, hiding his skin from view. "You can have whatever hot water's left."
"Ta very much, I'm sure," Doyle called after his retreating partner. He tried to keep his tone light, but he wasn't sure he succeeded. He was too conscious of the fact that Bodie had looked at the ceiling, the floor, a picture on the wall, anywhere but at him, and the knowledge settled like a clenched fist around his throat.
"Christ, you're a sad bastard, Ray Doyle," he said, then grabbed the t-shirt and jeans he'd discarded in haste the night before and moved to the kitchen to brew a pot of tea. He'd go on as they were as long as he could, and hope that they both survived and came out the other side whole and sane and together.
It was Bodie's turn to drive them in that morning, and he was glad indeed for that. If he had to concentrate on driving, he didn't have to look at Doyle. And just at the moment he desperately needed a reason not to look at Doyle.
He wasn't sure what insanity had spurred him to respond the first time Doyle had kissed him–he should have known no good could come from it–but he hadn't been able to help himself. The touch of Doyle's lips had unlocked something wild and uncontrollable within him, and he could do nothing but kiss him back, hold him tightly, and let the whirlwind take him, even as he had known that it couldn't help but change things.
Change things it had, and mostly not for the better. The sex was extraordinary, more intense that Bodie had experienced with anyone else, man or woman. But his new awareness of Doyle's body had cost in other ways. The camaraderie that they'd had since their very early days had evaporated. In its place was a tension that Bodie desperately wanted to break, but could see no way around or through. He knew it was mostly his fault: as soon as they'd started fucking, he'd stopped touching Doyle, stopped joking with him, even stopped looking at him. And the worst thing was he didn't even know why. He wished he could talk to Doyle about it, brighten the darkness he could see growing in his partner's eyes, but he didn't know what to say.
Bodie might have been better able to bear it if Doyle had responded as expected: yelled at him, knocked him to the ground. But instead, Doyle had gone as quiet as Bodie himself. During obbo duties there was no more back chat; while they were waiting for assignments in the rest room there was no horsing around.
If he and Doyle were awkward with each other during the day, they were drawn relentlessly together at night. Inevitably they'd end up at his flat or Doyle's. Takeaway chicken and chips or vindaloo would be consumed silently on the sofa while a match or the news or some half-arsed drama blared away unwatched on the telly.
When the food was gone and they'd each had a lager or two, he'd touch Doyle or Doyle would touch him and they'd blaze like a line of gun powder touched by a lit match. Many were the nights they never made it to the bedroom. Bodie had too many friction burns on his arse and knees from the rug on Doyle's floor, and more than one shirt that was missing a button from when Doyle pulled it open too quickly.
During sex, they still didn't talk much, but they weren't quiet. Bodie allowed himself a strained smile as he remembered the sounds he'd drawn from Doyle's throat last night, and those Doyle had inspired from him. He suppressed even that brief smile when he noticed Doyle looking at him strangely, and yanked the wheel viciously to make the turn into HQ. It was a mark of how bad things were that Doyle didnŐt even protest at being thrown against the door of the Capri by his lunatic partner.
Once inside, a sign informed them that the decrepit lift was still out of order, so they climbed the stairs to the second floor. Not finding their names on the day's roster, they made their way to the rest room. The place was full today. There was nothing major on, and few enough routine operations, so HQ was full of bored men and woman, whinging about having nothing to do but equally determined to avoid a dreaded turn in Records.
When he and Doyle entered the room there were a few waves of recognition, a few greetings, but that was it. Bodie knew that the other agents had noticed there was something wrong between them–they were a smart lot–but even Anson had sense enough not to say a word. Murphy was the only one who'd come close to asking him what was going on, raising an eyebrow at Bodie last week when Doyle had been in the midst of a particularly vicious strop, but Bodie had responded with a shrug and a shake of his head, and Murph had known to leave well enough alone. That suited Bodie just fine. Even assuming he wanted to admit to another agent that he was sleeping with the golly, which he didn't, he wasn't sure how he'd explain it when he didn't understand what was happening himself.
Bodie drifted over to where a group of agents was watching Murphy play solitaire and mocking each turn of a card. Doyle made tea for them both, handing Bodie a mug before going over to chat with Jax and Susan in the corner. Even without watching him, Bodie was conscious of where Doyle was. Before, that consciousness had been a comfort; now it was a trial.
They could not continue as they were and they could not go back to how things used to be. Stalemate, and Bodie could see no earthly way of breaking it.
Cowley put his head in the rest room, noting with satisfaction the way all his agents went silent and sat just a little bit straighter when they noticed their boss' presence.
"Can I help you, sir?" Lucas asked.
"Have you seen 3.7 and 4.5?"
"3.7 is over there." Lucas pointed and then quickly moved away, no doubt sensing that there was something afoot, and sensing instinctively that he wanted no part of it. And knowing what he did, Cowley couldn't blame him.
"Bodie. Where's your partner?"
"In the corner, sir," Bodie said, standing.
"Well come on, the pair of you."
Cowley led the way back to his office where he had left his visitor sitting, Bodie and Doyle trailing behind him.
When everyone was settled, Cowley made the introductions.
"Bodie and Doyle, this is Mr. Lawrence Jones. Mr. Jones, these are two of my top agents, Ray Doyle and William Bodie. I think they're the men to help out with the problem you've brought to my attention."
Cowley sat for a few seconds to let his men assess Lawrence Jones, Larry to his many acquaintances and few friends. He knew what they would see: a small, middle-aged man, balding and thin, one hand shoved into his suit pocket. Jones' face was marked with acne scarring and his suit was slightly too large and fraying at the edges. Not the sort of man you'd look at twice on the street, unless it was to avoid him.
"Mr. Jones came to me several days ago with a rather alarming story. Mr. Jones, please tell my men what you told me."
"I dunno, Mr. Cowley. Can I trust 'em?" Jones' voice was thin and reedy, his accent belonging solidly to London's East End.
"As much as you can trust me, Mr. Jones."
"All right, then." Jones looked down at his lap and played with the unravelling edge of his jacket with his one visible hand before he said any more, his body language bespeaking his great discomfort. "I got out of the Scrubs a couple of weeks back. There was stuff going on there that ain't right. I didn't reckon anyone would pay attention to the likes of me, but I had to try. So, I asked around, and everyone said the same thing: you can depend on George Cowley to do the right thing. Even the fellas that hate him agree on that."
"I don't think you need to tell my men they can trust me, Mr. Jones."
"I don't reckon I do, but I thought they should know why I come to you." Jones stopped and gave a great sniff before continuing. "Anyway, like I said, there's stuff that ain't right going on at the Scrubs, I noticed that right off. Wasn't much at first: screws that bully certain prisoners, screws that can be convinced to smuggle in fags or booze for a price. Nothin' ya don't see in any gaol, and I've been in a few in my lifetime.
"But then it got worse. The bullying turned into beatings. And then a couple of fellas disappeared entirely. Fellas that caused trouble, or had threatened to complain, or had tried going to the governor. The screws said they'd been transferred out, or released, but I didn't believe 'em. Things don't work that way. People hear things in a prison, but these blokes were gone without a whisper.
"I always try to keep quiet, toe the line, but I didn't like what was going on, I can tell you. And one of 'em must have heard me complaining, 'cause the next thing I know I'm getting hauled out to the prison laundry. And I'm scared. There ain't no other prisoners there, only four screws, and none of them was looking particularly friendly, if you know what I mean.
"One of 'em, the worst of 'em, tells me to mind me own business, to not make waves, and I may just make it to the end of my sentence alive. And then they tell me they're going to make it so I don't forget what they told me, they're going to make it stick. They..." Jones stopped talking and Cowley could see the man's Adam's apple bob as he swallowed convulsively.
"It's all right, Mr. Jones. Take your time."
Jones squeezed his eyes tightly shut and shuddered. He sat like that for a long minute, clearly struggling with the demons that had brought him to the office of George Cowley and CI5. Cowley was just about to suggest they take a break when Jones finally sighed and opened his eyes once more.
"Sorry, Mr. Cowley. It just hits me sometimes, you know?" Jones hunched his shoulders and looked at his feet, but this time he continued talking. "Two of them grabbed me, held me down on a laundry sorting table. Then one of the other two took his truncheon and, well, he did this." Jones carefully eased his left hand out of the pocket where it had been hidden.
"Christ," Bodie said under his breath, and apart from a sharp look, Cowley didn't chastise him for his language. The cause was sufficient. Jones' hand looked liked a jigsaw puzzle that had been smashed apart and put back together with pieces missing. None of the bones were straight and there were uneven scars all across its back.
Jones put his hand back in his pocket, clearly uncomfortable at having it exposed.
"They told me if I grassed they'd start on the other hand and work their way up to me head. Then they dragged me to the infirmary and told 'em I'd had an accident."
"And you didn't tell anyone what really happened?" Doyle sounded appalled.
"I'm not bloody stupid." Jones' voice rose to a near squeak. "They're all in on it, aren't they? Or they don't want to stick their oar in, in case it gets broken off. I wasn't going to risk me neck on the chance that one of them would stand up for the likes of me. I was lucky to get off with only a smashed hand."
"I served out the rest of my time as quietly as possible. I did what I was told, and didn't talk to anyone that I didn't have to. I was terrified they'd find a way to keep me in past my parole date. But as soon as I was released I started looking for a way to stop what's going on. And that brought me to your guv."
"Thank you, Mr. Jones," Cowley said as kindly as he could. Jones had been treated badly enough by the authorities; no need to compound the sins of others. "If you see my assistant, she'll see you get a ride home."
"Always a gentleman, Mr. Cowley. That's what you are."
With Jones gone, an uncomfortable silence fell over the room.
"Well, what do you think?" Cowley asked.
"Is he credible?" Doyle asked.
"Extremely, Doyle. Jones is a career thief, but once caught he's never caused a problem. He does his time with a minimum of fuss."
"And you have more than just his word," Bodie said.
"I do indeed. And the two of you will be familiarizing yourselves with all of it." Cowley produced two large manila folders. "I've followed up on the names and information that Mr. Jones provided me last week. Prisoners he alleges were beaten or who disappeared, and prison guards he alleges are involved in the beatings and worse."
"Bent coppers," Bodie said quietly.
"Shut it, Bodie," Doyle said without even looking at his partner. "And what have you found, sir?"
"It all seems to check out. The prisoners who disappeared from the Scrubs either turned up dead after supposed prison brawls or were transferred to other facilities and are too afraid to say anything. The men who Jones says were beaten have injuries as bad or worse than Jones' own. And more than a few of the guards seem to have more income than can be accounted for by legitimate means."
"But none of the prisoners are willing to testify?"
"Apart from Jones? No, Doyle. Unfortunately not." Cowley sat back and waited for his men to work the rest out. It didn't take long; he didn't hire fools, and Bodie and Doyle were two of his best.
"And that's where we come in," Bodie said.
"That's where you come in." Cowley leaned forward. "There are jobs in this for both of you, though not quite together."
"What lion's den are you throwing us into, then?" Doyle looked more resigned than anything.
"You, Doyle, are going undercover as a prison guard. I'll be getting you a transfer out of CI5 within the week. I'll make it look like your reputation is in doubt and the Squad wants to be well rid of you. With luck, that will attract the very men we want to trap." Cowley gave 4.5 a piercing look. "It'll necessitate a hair cut, I'm afraid. The prison service isn't as tolerant of eccentricity of appearance as CI5." Doyle scowled at the mention of a haircut, while Bodie smirked.
"'Bout time you stopped looking like a golliwog, Doyle."
"Ha, bloody ha, Bodie. I just hope this doesn't muck up my pension."
"Your pension will be quite safe, Doyle," Cowley said
"That's what you told me the last time I was declared dead. Took a month to straighten out the paperwork."
"What about me, sir?" Bodie asked, ignoring Doyle's fit of temper, as he seemed apt to ignore so very much about Doyle lately.
"You, Bodie, will be sent to Wormwood Scrubs as a prisoner."
"What?" Bodie squawked, just as Doyle said "Your true nature comes out at last, Sunshine."
"You're to be incarcerated as Trevor Hampton. Hampton was a British national serving a sentence for gun running in Kenya."
"Was?" Bodie said. "That doesn't sound promising."
"Hampton died of dysentery last week. We're appropriating his identity for you. Our story is that Hampton applied to finish out the remainder of his sentence in a British prison, and both the Kenyan and British governments have agreed."
"We'll be shipping you to Kenya in three days. You'll spend two weeks there to make it look like you've spent the last several years doing hard labour under the African sun."
"That'll ruin your complexion, Bodie."
"I'd rather face sunburn than what'll happen if anyone at the Scrubs susses out that I'm not really Trevor Hampton."
"Fair enough." Doyle faced Cowley. "What 'm I supposed to do until his nibs shows up?"
"You'll be starting work at the prison next week. I'll get the paperwork for your transfer done by Friday. Make yourself as unpleasant and unpopular as possible while you're there. And speaking of paperwork..." Cowley pointed to the two fat manila files. "Those also contain all the details you'll need of your cover stories. And I've included information on the prisoners and guards at Wormwood Scrubs."
Bodie took both folders and passed one to Doyle, and then they both sat there, tentatively, as if they weren't sure whether to leave or await further orders. Time was they'd have been out of his office while he was still shouting instructions at them. Thinking about it, things had been off between them for weeks now.
They'd been quieter, for a start. Less trouble to deal with, that way, but Cowley wasn't sure that it wasn't a sign of something wrong in the partnership. A portent of a flaw between them that might just get them killed.
He briefly considered pulling another team onto this assignment and sending 4.5 and 3.7 to see Macklin, but dismissed the idea. The two of them had been as efficient as ever. Possibly more than ever. And they wouldn't thank him for removing them from a job. Not after they'd been briefed, not when they were both perfect for it. And when it came right down to it, he had every confidence that they could manage the assignment.
After it was all over, if his instinct still told him there was something wrong with the partnership, then he could throw them at Macklin, and Kate Ross too. Until then, he would trust them to do the job at hand as well as they'd always done it.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" He dismissed them with a wave of his hand. "Away with the two of you. And you might as well study those files from home for the next two days. You'd no doubt find a way to do that anyway. I'll see you both here on Friday. Bodie, you should arrive ready to travel."
Shaken from their reverie, they scrambled to leave without further comment. Cowley shook his head as the door closed behind them.
"You're a foolish old man, George Cowley, worrying about the likes of those two." Pulling out his glasses, he opened a new file and moved on to the next crisis facing his country.
By mutual, silent assent, they fetched up at Bodie's flat, though not to study Cowley's notes. Manila folders were abandoned inside the door, followed by jackets, shirts, vests and trousers. Pants and socks lasted until the bedroom when they too were thrown off.
Doyle wasn't sure why, but sitting in Cowley's office, listening to the details of the job they were expected to do, he had been overcome by an overwhelming need to feel Bodie, to be surrounded by him, as if touch alone could broach the walls that had gone up around them. Doyle was as unsure as ever of what was going on in Bodie's close-cropped head, but his partner seemed to be possessed of a similar need.
Now it was Bodie who drew him in close with rough, warm hands, and Bodie who took his mouth with that brutal gentleness that undid Doyle every time. Doyle let the sensation of Bodie's mouth–the heat, the taste–overwhelm him, even as he played his own hands over Bodie's skin. He felt shoulders and arms, chest and belly, finally reaching around to grab Bodie's arse.
He felt Bodie gasp as their cocks ground together, both hard, both weeping with pre-ejaculate. Doyle would have gasped himself, but his concentration on the man before him was too deep. He committed every sensation to memory: the flutter of Bodie's eyelash against his cheek, the heave of his chest against Doyle's own, the nip of Bodie's teeth at his shoulder. Every feeling was catalogued; every impression was stored.
Doyle threw back his head as Bodie's tongue played on a nipple, and noted with something like wonder the sound that sprang from his own throat, a primal sound, full of both hope and despair.
Knowing he was close and wanting to stave off his climax, he pushed back against Bodie's chest. Bodie gaze held his, his eyes asking a question that his mouth could not.
Doyle shook his head, hoping Bodie would understand that he only needed time. And somehow Bodie did know, because he quirked an eyebrow and smiled and held very, very still, waiting for Doyle to lead the way that he would always follow.
The anticipation grew in the air around them, a third presence in the room, but still Doyle didn't move. Instead, he watched Bodie, all too conscious that this was the one time that they allowed themselves to look at each other anymore. That it took arousal to strip away their defences.
He looked at Bodie's eyes, the blue gone nearly black with lust. He looked at his mouth, slightly parted, wanting only a nod from Doyle before lips and tongue and teeth fastened once again on his throat. He looked at Bodie's throat, where the pulse point beat out the seconds of his life. All these things and more he examined.
This must be what it's like. he thought. This must be what it's like to love. And he wondered what would happen if he said the words out loud, finally broke the silence between them, said what they both must dread and want.
But he wouldn't say it. Not yet. Not right at this moment. Because he was a coward and because he didn't want to lose Bodie and because he hoped that Bodie might feel the same even as he feared it.
And then, finally, when the waiting was too much and the anticipation set to smother them both, he said one word.
It wasn't what he wanted to say, what he wished he could say, but it was enough.
Bodie held him, surrounded him, and in his arms Doyle felt more passion than he had for any other human being. Doyle felt his legs buckle and took Bodie down to the bed with him. Bodie's weight on top of him stirred his blood further, heated his skin and left him wanting. Without being told, Bodie knew what he needed.
When Bodie reached for the drawer of his night table, Doyle stopped him. He did not want this to be easy tonight. He wanted it to be hard, wanted it to hurt, wanted a reminder of this night three days hence when Bodie was in Africa. Bodie's eyes widened in surprise, but after a few seconds he nodded in assent.
Doyle moved to his side, brought his legs up in front of him. Bodie spooned behind him, his lips making the back of Doyle's neck tingle, his hands bringing pleasure to his cock. And just when Doyle thought that he could not hold out, that he had to come, Bodie penetrated him.
At first there was only pain, an exquisite pain that obliterated all other feeling. But then the pain changed, mutated into a pleasure that scorched his nerve endings. He moaned as Bodie bit his shoulder and stroked his cock. When Bodie caressed his lips, he drew Bodie's fingers into his mouth and sucked them. He pushed back, meeting Bodie thrust for thrust, breath for breath. Finally, when he heard the hitch in Bodie's throat and knew it was nearly time, he let go, climax firing through his body like a bullet through a target, and drew Bodie with him.
They lay together for long minutes afterward, as orgasm faded from incandescent glare to comforting glow. When their breathing had finally returned to normal, it was Bodie who spoke first.
"Christ, Doyle." The words were both blasphemy and benediction, and Doyle held them as tightly as he held the hand Bodie had snaked underneath him.
After a long while, they parted and dealt with the mundane matters of cleaning up, but when they fell asleep in the deepening afternoon, it was with their hands once again entwined.
When Doyle awoke, the sky still held the last trace of the sun's glow and he could see the streetlights just coming on outside his window.
Some time as they'd slept, he'd let go of Bodie's hand, and his partner now lay on his side, his back toward Doyle. If his breathing was anything to go by, he was sound asleep.
Doyle, however, was wide awake. He lay on his back for several long minutes, hoping to reclaim the welcome oblivion of sleep, but it wouldn't come. After he'd counted the cracks in Bodie's ceiling and wondered why such an impossibly tidy person didn't sweep the corners of cobwebs, he finally gave in to the inevitable and got up.
He retrieved his underpants from the corner they'd been thrown into, and padded down the hall barefoot. His jeans and shirt he recovered from the hall. He pulled them both on, leaving the shirt unbuttoned. Then he swept up Cowley's files from where they'd dropped at the door and made for the sofa.
That was where Bodie found him two hours later, his legs folded underneath him, leaves of paper scattered around him.
Bodie shifted papers to the coffee table and sat on the far end of the sofa. Doyle concentrated on reading the report in front of him, but he could feel Bodie's eyes on him. Finishing the paragraph, Doyle deliberately set the paper down beside him and then looked up. He considered it a victory of sorts that neither of them flinched at the eye contact.
"Well?" Bodie said, tilting his head meaningfully at the reports that were strewn around them.
"Well, it's not going to be fun, if that's what you're asking."
"We never get the fun assignments, Doyle. We get the dirty ones. Or hadn't you noticed?"
"Oh, I've noticed, all right. Nothing we can do about it though, is there?"
"Nothing except quit."
Their eyes met again, held a beat.
"Nah," they both said at the same time.
"What'd we do for a laugh if we didn't have the Cow sending us off on some mad mission or other?" Bodie chuckled.
"Yeah, we'd have to take up something safe. Like bomb disposal." Doyle's laughter joined his partner's. Relief at the ease that seemed to have resumed between them opened up something that had been clenched tight inside Doyle for weeks now. He didn't need confessions of undying love or eternal devotion; he just needed to be able to joke with Bodie at the insanity of their job.
"So, give me some of the details," Bodie said, then stretched out his legs and grabbed some of the papers from the coffee table.
"Cowley's given us a rundown of both the prisoners and the guards." Doyle looked down at the sheet in front of him. "At least he'd gone to the trouble of making sure that there's no one either of us put away in the prison population."
"We should be grateful for small mercies, I suppose."
"With the Cow, small mercies are all I expect."
"Anyone interesting behind bars?"
"The usual suspects. A bunch of career villains, with a mix of blokes from the National Front and the IRA."
"Skinheads and crazy Paddies. Brilliant." Bodie's tone made it very clear that he did not, in fact, think it was brilliant. And Doyle didn't blame him.
"You want to remember you're half-Irish yourself."
"Don't bloody remind me. I've spent over half my life avoiding my family. I know what they're like."
"At any rate, you should stay away from both of those lots. The guards leave them alone and it's the guards that Cowley wants to take a run at you."
"So, how do I make sure that they do?"
"The guards pick on loners, troublemakers and scapegoats. So, stick to yourself and be your usual charming self. You should keep an eye out for anyone the guards have it in for, too. Try and get close to them."
"Should be easy enough."
"And be careful, Bodie." Bodie snorted derisively, and without thinking Doyle grabbed his arm. "I mean it, you daft bastard. You'll be a guppy swimming with piranhas. I don't want you to try anything if I'm not around to fish you out of the tank."
"Don't worry. This guppy has some teeth."
"Bodie..." Doyle let the warning be heard in his voice.
"Yes, mum." Bodie clearly tried to look contrite and did a bloody bad job of it.
"Idiot," Doyle said, and punched Bodie in the shoulder.
Bodie responded in kind and soon they were scuffling in the lounge, Cowley's papers flying every which way as they wrestled each other for dominance. Doyle finally ended up on the carpet, trapped under his partner's bulk, his hands pinned to the floor by Bodie's. The playfulness that had consumed them so suddenly was just as suddenly gone. But it was concern that replaced the playfulness, and not the tension that had wound around them so tightly of late.
Bodie looked down on him, and the expression on his face did nothing to slow down Doyle's breathing. Then Bodie carefully released his hands and planted one blunt finger in Doyle's chest.
"If I'm going to be careful, you great golly, you'd better be twice as careful. 'Cause I'm not going to be much help watching your back when I'm locked down in a cell most of the day."
"I'll be careful," Doyle solemnly promised. And then he pulled Bodie down by the shirt front and kissed him as thoroughly as he could manage.
It was another hour before they parted and called out for takeaway, and an hour after that before they got back to work looking at the files, but Doyle didn't regret the time lost to re-establishing the connection between them. He didn't regret it at all.
Nearly three weeks later, Bodie was delivered the gates of Wormwood Scrubs to serve out the remainder of Trevor Hampton's sentence at Her Majesty's pleasure.
He was a sorry sight and knew it, blotchy with sunburn and peeling skin, his hands rough with calluses and blisters, nearly two stone burned from his flesh from working under the hot African sun.
He'd spent the last two weeks in Kenya slogging away at an irrigation project run by a bunch of Royal Engineers. The engineers had supplied the expertise while Bodie and an army of local workers had supplied the brute strength to dig trenches and haul soil. If the goal had been to make him look as if he had been serving a sentence of hard labour for five years in an African prison, it had succeeded admirably. Serving time in an English prison would seem a holiday now.
He went through all the processes and procedures that would see him locked behind British bars with the same sense of detachment that he'd maintained since he'd handed over everything that would identify him as William Andrew Philip Bodie and been turned over to a member of the British constabulary at the Nairobi airport as Trevor Aaron Hampton. He went through the whole thing in a haze, surrendering his few remaining belongings, signing where he was told to and dressing in the clothes he was given. Then he took the linen he was offered to the cell where he'd be spending his time for the next few weeks at least.
The cell was small, with a single bed, a tiny desk, and a toilet and washbasin in the corner. It was a far cry from the Congo prison that still made occasional appearances in his nightmares, for which he was thankful. He was also thankful that he wouldn't have to share the space with another prisoner. Bad enough that he had to be here; he didnŐt want to have to spend his time with some sad bastard whinging about how he was innocent, or a bloody psychopath he couldn't turn his back on.
Bodie spent the next few days adjusting to the prison routine. He got up, ate, exercised, worked and slept when ordered. It really wasn't that much different from military life. Remembering Cowley's files, he kept mostly to himself, turning down overtures from the National Front and several crazy Irish Republicans, but did his best not to make enemies of either group. The last thing he wanted was for a pissed-off skinhead to bury a makeshift blade in his back.
With the other prisoners he was polite, if not overly friendly, employing just a wee bit of menace for good measure. With the guards he used the diffidence mixed with insolence that had driven his commanding officers round the twist since his mercenary days. Nothing they could cite him on, not yet, but enough that he knew he was being marked as trouble.
Not that he wanted to get right into trouble yet. Because, for the first few days, Doyle was nowhere to be seen, and he wanted to make sure Doyle knew where he was if a guard decided to have a go at him. He didn't want to end up as a morgue picture in one of Cowley's files.
When he finally did see Doyle, in the servery, four days after entering the Scrubs, he almost didn't recognize him.
It might have been the hair, shorn shorter than Bodie had ever seen it. Or it might have been the uniform. He'd seen Doyle in uniform once or twice before, but those times he'd always looked like he wanted to pull at the collar, undo a few buttons and lose the cap. He was always more comfortable in skin-tight jeans and a leather jacket. But this Doyle: he looked like he'd been born for a uniform, like he'd be naked without the jacket fully buttoned up and the cap on his head.
And then there was the look on Doyle's face: a grim, humourless expression that had nothing in common with the mercurial mix of emotions that usually played across his features. It made Bodie wonder exactly what his partner had been up to while he'd been preparing for his role in Africa.
"You want to steer clear of that 'un," the prisoner sitting beside him said as he nudged Bodie's elbow.
"What, that guard?" Bodie nodded in Doyle's direction.
"That's him. A right bastard, he is." The man shuddered elaborately. "Was transferred here a couple of weeks back and he's made himself a bloody nuisance ever since."
"What's he done?" Bodie asked.
"Smashed Johnny over there in the face with his stick last week just 'cause he didn't move fast enough for him, for a start." This answer came from the man across from Bodie.
"And no one complained?"
What's the bloody use? All the screws are like that. We all know better than to say anything." This came from the man beside Bodie. "My name's Gaz, by the way. He's Rob." Gaz pointed at the man across from him.
"Trevor," Bodie said, using his cover's name.
Gaz was an older man, maybe in his fifties, thin, wiry, with clear, blue eyes and a nervous twitch to his mouth. Rob was a young man, in his twenties, with the arrogance of youth that prison hadn't quite knocked out of him. Both avoided the usual mobs and cliques, and both, Bodie had noted, looked at the guards with more than the usual suspicion. It was why he'd chosen this table to eat at, sensing men that their targets might have already victimized.
"We've seen you around," Rob said. "Thought you might be one of those National Front blokes."
"Nah. Those lads are a lot of right prats, aren't they?"
"Goes without saying," Gaz said. "So, what are you in for?"
"I'm innocent, mate."
"We're all innocent here." Gaz grinned at him. "But what are you innocent of?"
"Gun running," Bodie said with a laugh. "In Africa. Got caught down there and applied to serve my sentence back home. Took bloody long enough for England to agree, though." Bodie scratched his nose where the sunburn was still peeling. "What about you?"
"I'm innocent of break and enter. And he," Gaz pointed at Rob, "is innocent of GBH."
"Pay no attention to Gaz. I'm in for fraud."
"Oh, fuckin' hell," Gaz said suddenly and dropped his eyes down to the tabletop. "He's on his way over."
"Who is?" asked Rob.
"That bloody screw. Doyle."
Looking up, Bodie saw that Gaz had it right. Doyle was fixed on their table and was walking deliberately toward them, his truncheon beating a tattoo on the palm of his hand. If he didn't know Doyle, didn't know why he was here, he might have been as afraid of him as Gaz and Rob clearly were. There was no mercy visible in Doyle's bearing at all.
The truncheon slammed down on the table right beside Bodie, barely missing his hand.
"So, what have we here? Conspiracy? Plans for mayhem?"
His two companions kept their eyes firmly down and didn't respond. Bodie reckoned he might as well start making himself into proper bait while his backup was standing here beside him.
"We're just eating our breakfast, so why don't you leave us alone?"
Quick as a flash of summer lightning, Doyle had his stick pressed at the base of Bodie's throat.
"You don't give the orders around here, Sunshine. You want to remember that."
Bodie swallowed once before answering, the stick at his throat making it difficult. "And if I don't remember?"
Doyle pulled the truncheon away, then brought the end back quickly into the middle of Bodie's stomach, right in the solar plexus. Bodie doubled over as all the air was driven out of his lungs.
"If you don't remember, that'll be the least that happens to you." Bodie tried desperately to draw in air as Doyle loomed over him. "Your card is marked, Sunshine. You want to watch you don't get thrown out of the game."
One more sharp tap on the table with his stick, and then Doyle was gone. Tears streaming from his eyes, Bodie watched as his partner moved to the far end of the servery to where two other guards were standing. Bodie scowled as he saw Doyle talking and laughing with them.
"Told you he was a right bastard," Gaz said.
"Yeah," Bodie gasped out. "You were right."
As he rubbed at the sore spot in his middle, Bodie wondered what this assignment was costing Doyle. Doyle was good at undercover work, could disappear into a role for days and weeks when needed, but this time it was different. This time he had to become the thing he hated most: a corrupt copper, or as near as made no difference.
Though the threat of it had managed to ease the tension between him and Doyle, Bodie hadn't liked this assignment from the start. He'd foreseen too many ways it could go wrong–Doyle unable to back him up, or him stuck behind bars when Doyle needed him most–but stupidly he hadn't anticipated this danger: Doyle being forced to do things that would trigger his guilt, his capacity for self-loathing.
Turning back to his new friends, Bodie threw up a hope to whatever agent of fate was listening that they'd flush their quarry and be out of this damn place before anything happened that they could not recover from.
From his first shift at the Scrubs, Doyle put all his energy into earning a reputation as one of the worst guards in the place.
He started small, humiliating the quieter prisoners, giving the rougher ones warnings for nothing at all. He bullied and badgered men for minor offences, and inflicted the maximum punishments for worse ones. He became the kind of man they were hoping to trap. And it worked. By the end of the first week, prisoners would flinch when he came into a room and whisper when he walked past. They'd avoid areas he was in charge of and would do anything to evade his notice.
And after every shift, when he went home to the tiny flat he'd moved into from his CI5 quarters, he still felt mired in the filth that surrounded him during the day.
He never realized how much he'd depended on Bodie to help him wash the muck off after an assignment, how much Bodie helped keep him sane. Bodie and his stupid jokes could jolly him out of a mood faster than any treatment Kate Ross could throw at him. But with no Bodie to take him down to the pub for a pint, no Bodie to take him home for a fuck, he found himself falling deeper and deeper into an abyss. He could only hope that his partner would have a rope long enough to pull him out at the end.
The one thing helping to slow his fall into the abyss was his nightly check in with HQ. Every night at midnight, no matter what he was doing, he called in to Central to deliver his report. And nearly every night his call was answered by George Cowley himself. Cowley's pointed questions made Doyle remember exactly why he was putting himself through this hell. The Cow's voice made him remember that there were honourable men, like Cowley and Bodie and even poor Larry Jones, who had put their trust in him.
At least if he was paying a price for this assignment, it seemed he was getting his money's worth. His targets had fallen for his tactics as he'd hoped they would.
He would have known which guards were their targets as soon as he walked into the Scrubs even without reading Cowley's reports. There was a core of ten or twelve men: men with a bit more swagger, a bit more arrogance than the norm. The others guards gave them a wide berth, or ignored them, or paid them deference, marking them as men to watch. It was to this group that Doyle played his role, for this group he performed his audition. He was at his worst when one of them was around. And he made certain he was especially vicious whenever their ringleader, Jack Slater, was in view.
Slater was a nasty piece of work, for all that he wore a uniform. If Doyle had been free to act on his instinct, he would have duffed Slater up. Instead, he had to pretend to be just as bad as he was, if not worse.
Nearly a week before Bodie was due to arrive, Doyle's bad behaviour attracted the notice he'd hoped it would. It started when Slater invited Doyle to join his crew in the caff for lunch. Then, a few days later, it was a pint at the pub down the road from the Scrubs that served as the guards' local. By the time Bodie had been delivered to the Scrubs, Doyle'd been to the racetrack and out to a club with Slater and his lot. He'd also begun to hunt with Slater's pack in the prison. He'd begun to see not just the harassment of prisoners but also the minor extortion that was going on. Doyle reckoned he already had enough evidence to get them all thrown out of the Prison Service, but he wanted more. He wanted to be an instrument of revenge for Larry Jones and all the other men they'd hurt and all the men they'd killed. He wanted to see Jack Slater and the rest of them behind bars. And not in uniform either.
Doyle let his fire for vengeance, for justice, carry him through; let it shield him as much as possible from the muck he was living in.
But he longed to see Bodie, even if he couldn't touch him, couldn't even talk to him properly. He wanted to see the smug bastard with his own eyes. He wanted to be in the presence of someone who wasn't afraid of him, who didn't hate him.
By a quirk of scheduling, though, it wasn't until four days after Bodie arrived that Doyle finally saw him.
Even wearing the clothes of a prisoner, even with a sunburned nose and skinnier than he'd ever seen him, Bodie retained some of that magnificent arrogance that Doyle couldn't help but love. If he hadn't been undercover himself, the sight of Bodie would have made Doyle smile his first real smile since he'd arrived in this bloody place. But he couldn't smile, couldn't allow the real joy that Bodie brought him to show.
Still, he wanted to talk to Bodie, to breath the same air as him, if only for a minute. So he did the only thing he could do.
"Who's that big bastard?" Doyle asked Slater, nodding in Bodie's direction. He, Slater, and Slater's right hand man, Ted Nolan, were on guard in the servery during breakfast.
"Hampton. He was transferred here a few days ago. Finishing out the end of an African sentence, so I've heard."
"He looks an arrogant sod. Wants taking down a peg or two." Doyle let a predatory grin form on his face.
"He's all yours, Doyle." Slater smirked in anticipation.
Tapping his stick against his palm, Doyle walked over to Bodie's table. And on that journey across the servery floor something happened. It was as if he became what he was pretending to be: a bent screw, intent on humiliating a prisoner for the sheer thrill of it. Seemingly without his volition, he pressed his truncheon to the base of Bodie's throat. Without conscious thought, he forced the air from Bodie's lungs before delivering his final warning.
As he turned his back on Bodie and walked away, he could hear a voice in his head screaming at him to stop, to make sure Bodie was all right, to take it back, but this new creature he'd become laughed at the voice.
"You show him who's in charge?" Slater asked.
"I reckon he might have an inkling that it's not him," Doyle said, letting a smile loose that had nothing to do with amusement.
"You watch this lad, Ted," Slater said, slapping Doyle on the back. "He'll go far."
And the three of them laughed as the voice in Doyle's head kept on screaming and screaming.
He hadn't meant for it to happen, but it had become a ritual. Every night at ten to midnight, George Cowley would make his way to the communications room and wait for 4.5 to make his nightly call.
Those first few nights he'd only listened to the call and noted any information that might prove useful in the case. But after that he made sure he always talked to Doyle personally.
He knew his men, in his opinion, better than they knew themselves, and everything he knew about Raymond Doyle told him that this assignment wouldn't sit well with him, however well he could carry it out. Doyle was as capable as any of his men of applying strong-arm tactics, of leaning on an informant or inflicting physical violence on a suspect, but Cowley could hear the strain in his voice every time he talked about things he'd had to do to maintain his cover.
"Used my stick a bit freely on a prisoner today, sir. Didn't like it much."
"You're doing your job, 4.5. Keep focused on that."
He'd hoped that Bodie's arrival at the Scrubs would help steady out Doyle but, if anything, it made things worse.
"Bodie arrived today. And the first thing I did was to threaten and humiliate him. Didn't half make me feel sick."
"Bodie will understand, Doyle. He's army trained; he knows it's all part of the assignment."
"Wish I could be certain of that."
Hearing Doyle's voice, Cowley was sometimes reminded of the doubts he'd had about sending 4.5 and 3.7 out on this assignment. Doubts he'd put aside not only for the good of CI5, but to save the pride of the men involved. And sometimes he wondered if he shouldn't have listened to those doubts more closely.
"I had to stand by tonight and watch while Slater and his thugs worked over a prisoner in the laundry room. And all because he hadn't paid them for two cartons of cigarettes."
"We'll see them brought to justice soon enough, lad."
"Not soon enough for Jimmy Letham."
"The poor bastard they beat up. Broke his nose and a couple of ribs. Letham's in the infirmary and he's still too afraid to tell anyone what happened to him."
More often than not, though, he'd remember why he'd hired Doyle in the first place: that mixture of toughness and compassion he possessed that was so rare, and so essential in their trade. Doyle's compassion would make sure he only did what he had to do, and his toughness would carry him through it all.
"There's a prisoner or two I'm worried about, sir. Was wondering if you could have them transferred before Slater does them some permanent mischief."
"Give me their names, Doyle. I'll do what I can."
Then came the night when there was no phone call at all.
The longer this assignment when on, the more worried Bodie became for Doyle.
Not that Doyle wasn't doing his job. He was maintaining his cover, getting in tighter and tighter with Slater and the men he'd surrounded himself with until from what Bodie had seen, he was one of the people Slater trusted most. He was as arrogant and cruel as the rest of them with no apparent effort, but it was his eyes that worried Bodie.
His eyes were haunted by the evil he'd done and the evil he'd let happen.
Bodie wanted nothing so much as to take the stupid bastard aside and hold him tightly and tell him that he was a good man, that he was doing his job, that he was doing what was necessary. He wanted to tell him that everything would be all right, although he wasn't sure that was true.
But he couldn't do any of that, couldn't even give him a kind word or a gentle touch, however brief. Not with the two of them surrounded by other prisoners and guards every waking moment. The most Bodie had been able to manage was a surreptitious brush against Doyle's hand as they passed in a corridor last week. Doyle had looked at him in surprise as he'd gone by, and Bodie had given him a quick wink. And for a brief second, Bodie had seen the shadows in Doyle's eyes brighten. Bodie's only thought was to banish those shadows permanently.
For his part, Bodie had got stuck into playing the part of the recalcitrant prisoner. He was slow to obey instructions from guards and openly contemptuous when he finally did; he complained of his treatment loudly and frequently; he made open, if deliberately ineffective, attempts at fomenting rebellion in the prison population. All this he did in the hope that Slater would finally show his hand and move against him. Then CI5 could come down hard on the whole lot of them, and he and Ray could finally get out of this fucking place.
Bodie started as Ted Nolan called his cover name. Nolan was the worst of Slater's crew, the man Slater trusted to do the dirtiest jobs, according to Larry Jones' information. And he was staring at Bodie with eyes that were as unforgiving as Bodie'd ever seen.
All around him in the recreation area Bodie saw prisoners scatter, no one willing to get between him and Nolan. Bodie turned slowly to Nolan and gave him the look of contempt that'd had him up on charges two times when he'd been with the Paras.
"What?" Bodie said, making it clear with that one syllable that he thought he was doing Nolan a favour by answering.
"On your feet, Hampton. You're wanted in the laundry."
"What's the matter? Someone use too much starch in your pants?" Bodie kept his voice calm even as he felt his heart begin to race. The laundry was where Jones had been beaten, where he heard that Slater took the men that he wanted to make an example of. His eyes scanned the room, but he could see Doyle nowhere.
"Button it, Hampton." Nolan hauled him to his feet by the collar of his shirt.
Bodie tried to make eye contact with someone in the room, but no other prisoner would look at him. Not even Gaz or Rob, with whom he'd formed what passed for a friendship in this place. He and Rob looked out for Gaz, and in return Gaz kept them up on the prison gossip that always seemed to tumble his way before anyone else seemed to hear it. But right at this moment the pair of them were looking at the floor as if it was the most interesting thing they'd ever seen.
He was on his own.
Remembering the sight of Larry Jones' ruined hand, he clenched his fists and hoped that all Nolan and Slater wanted was a little chat.
Doyle was on shift in one of the residential blocks when Phil Woodman found him.
"Doyle, can you get away for a few minutes?" Woodman pitched his voice quietly so no one else in the area could hear.
Woodman was another of Slater's crew. He didn't do much of the harassment himself, but in Doyle's opinion he took far too much enjoyment in seeing others mete it out.
"Jack's staging a special party for one of the new prisoners. Going to teach him to show proper respect. Thought you might want to watch."
"Oh yeah," Doyle said, an icy premonition forming in his chest. "Which new prisoner is that, then?"
"You should know him. You've already had a go or two at him yourself."
"Who, Woodman?" Doyle had to restrain himself from following through on the urge to wrap his fingers around the man's scrawny throat and squeeze.
"Yeah, all right," Doyle said calmly, even as every instinct in his head was shouting at him to come on, to hurry, to run. "I'm going on break," Doyle called to the other guard in his area, knowing that his decision to take break so early in the evening would be accepted without question. "Be back soon." No one, not even the other guards, questioned the actions one of Slater's crew.
He heard what was going on before he saw it, the muted crack of wood on flesh, the gasp of air expelled as a blow landed, the laughing jeers of Slater's men.
When Doyle turned the corner, he found himself confronted by his worst nightmare. Bodie was on his knees in the centre of the laundry room, blood streaming from his nose and a nasty cut above his eye. A ring of guards surrounded him, and, as Doyle watched, one of them had a bash at Bodie with his truncheon, opening a gash on his cheek.
Ray Doyle was all too aware of what a temper he had, but at that moment it flared hotter than he'd allowed since he'd been a hot-headed, teen-aged guttersnipe, fighting with his fists and a flashing blade. With a roar, he was at Bodie's side, standing between him and his tormentors, brandishing his truncheon at the men surrounding them.
"Leave him alone."
Jeers were the only response he got.
"Don't spoil our fun, Doyle."
"We were only just getting started." That last comment was from Slater himself. "And we thought you might want to join in."
Doyle ignored Slater and his thugs and turned to Bodie.
"You all right, Bodie?"
"Yeah. No problem. You can go to the racetrack if you like. Take a nice break."
"Nah. My horses always lose," Doyle said, relieved that Bodie was well enough to make jokes.
"Bodie?" Slater said. "His name's Hampton."
"His name's William Bodie. He's CI5, you bastards. We both are. And you're all under arrest."
The only response to that statement was more laughter.
"You think you're going to arrest us?" Slater said. "There's only two of you, and he's in no shape to help."
"There may only be two of us in here, but all of CI5 is waiting outside to come and get you. I've been reporting on your little operation the whole time I've been here. And I'll tell you one thing about George Cowley: if two of his men disappear, he'll come after you hard and he won't stop until you're all behind bars."
"Jack?" Ted Nolan had the decency to look nervous.
"Ignore him, Ted. He's bluffing, just trying to save his own hide."
"Ted knows I'm not bluffing." Doyle faced down Nolan, using his fury as fuel. "Don't you, Ted?"
Nolan started to bite his lip, and the others grouped around them started to reflect his nervousness. Doyle almost thought he was going to get out of this until he saw Nolan's eyes flick quickly to the left. Instinctively, he turned, just in time to see the blow that Woodman had aimed at his head.
Abruptly, everything was red and noise and pain. And then, just as abruptly, it all turned black.
The first thing he was conscious of was blinding pain.
Moaning, Doyle rolled onto his side and was promptly very sorry that he had. Even that slight movement made the throbbing in his head worse, and his stomach was suddenly feeling very dodgy indeed.
"Bodie," he said, sitting up abruptly. "'M gonna be sick."
"Christ." Bodie grabbed him awkwardly by the collar with one hand and pulled him over to the corner of the small room they were in. Doyle just made it to the toilet in time to throw up. He emptied the contents of his stomach, each heave of his body making his head feel worse. When he was done, he rinsed his mouth out with water from the small washbasin.
He closed his eyes as the nausea faded, and slumped against the wall. As the pain in his head began to recede, slightly, he started to realize something was wrong.
Bodie was wrong. Bodie hadn't touched him since he hauled him over to the toilet. Even in the past two months when things hadn't been right between them, Bodie couldn't be kept away when Doyle was injured.
Doyle opened his eyes to find Bodie sitting against the wall opposite, his face gone white, one arm cradled against his chest.
"Bodie, what's wrong?"
"Arm's broken. Slater did it in with his truncheon." Bodie gave him a thin-lipped smile that did absolutely nothing to reassure Doyle.
"Slater?" Doyle tried to remember how it was that he'd got here and only came up with a confused jumble of images: jeering faces and blood and darkness.
"Yeah, Slater. Remember him? Bent screw. The reason we're in here in the first place."
"The Scrubs," Doyle said, and everything fell into place. He remembered Slater and Nolan and finding Bodie and everything. "They knocked me out."
"That they did, Sunshine. I was beginning to worry about you." Bodie gave him a searching look. "Still am, actually. You don't look very good."
"You should talk. You look fuckin' awful." And Bodie did. His face had no more colour than the fine, white linen he favoured on his bed, and was bruised and streaked with blood. The broken arm was obvious, now that Doyle knew to look for it. His left forearm wasn't entirely straight. It was a wonder Bodie'd been able to drag him over to the toilet at all. And Doyle could only imagine the injuries that his clothing hid.
Doyle hauled himself over to Bodie and sat beside him. He wished he could help Bodie, but with the room spinning around him he didn't trust himself to try and deal with the damaged arm. He could only imagine that he'd cause Bodie more pain. He settled for putting a gentle hand on Bodie's leg.
"So, where are we?"
"Segregation wing. It's empty at the moment. They stuffed us in this cell after they decided not to kill us outright."
"They wouldn't be that stupid."
"I think they might, actually. Slater tried to convince the others that they could get away with dumping our bodies. Nolan ended up being the voice of reason, much to my surprise."
"Nolan's a bastard, but he has some common sense." The room gave a particularly nasty heave, and Doyle swallowed and closed his eyes again.
"You all right, Sunshine?"
"Yeah. Just dizzy. Be all right in a second."
"Concussion. And by the length of time you were out, I'd reckon it's a bad 'un."
"Is that what you reckon?"
"Yeah. You need to see a doctor."
"Says the man with the broken arm."
"We both need a doctor. Satisfied?"
Doyle made no response. The dizziness and nausea flowed over and through him like the churning seas of the English Channel during an especially bad crossing, before finally easing. When he was certain he wasn't going to throw up again, Doyle finally opened his eyes.
Bodie was looking at him, his eyes full of concern. Doyle gave him a wan smile and squeezed his leg.
"So how long have we been here?"
"How many hours?"
"Five or six. Which is it?"
"I don't know, Doyle. They didn't leave me my bloody watch, did they?"
Doyle looked at his wrist and found his own watch missing as well.
"Why take our watches?"
"Standard practice to disorientate a prisoner, innit? Keep them from knowing what time it is."
"Fantastic. We get caught by a bunch of corrupt guards, and they're up on good interrogation techniques."
"I'm not so worried about their interrogation techniques. I'm more worried that they're going to kill us."
"Well, they haven't done it yet. Let's see if we can get you sorted."
"You're never going to try and set the arm." Bodie looked alarmed, telling Doyle just how much it was hurting him."
"Nah. I reckon I'd only make it worse. You're better off just holding it like you are." Doyle took off his uniform jacket and shirt, leaving only his vest on. He tore a strip off the shirt. "Thought I'd just clean up your face a bit. It looks a fright."
Doyle proceeded to use water from the basin to daub away the blood that caked Bodie's face. It was a delicate job, but he managed it with Bodie only flinching once or twice. When he was done, Bodie still looked alarming, his face pale and bruised and swollen, but it was better.
"There you go, Sunshine." Doyle trailed a hand down Bodie's cheek and smiled at him. "Nearly restored to your usual splendour."
"I somehow very much doubt that," Bodie said with a grimace. "I feel like I've gone ten rounds with a gorilla."
"Well, you're splendid to me." Doyle put his jacket on and then wrapped an arm around Bodie's shoulders, careful as he did so not to jar him.
Doyle didn't rise to the insult, but just held Bodie that much closer.
They sat comfortably like that for a few minutes before Bodie broke the silence.
"When was your check in with HQ?"
"Midnight. Every night."
"So, you've missed it then."
"If you're right that we've been here five or six hours, yeah."
"Wonder how long it'll take them to come looking for us."
"It can't be soon enough, can it?"
"Nah." Bodie sighed and closed his eyes as Doyle rubbed his leg with his free hand.
Doyle let the affection he felt for the man in his arms overwhelm him for a moment. But only for a moment.
"You should get some kip," Bodie said. "We both should."
"How can you think of sleep now?"
"First thing you learn in the army. Eat when you can; sleep when you can."
"And if they come for us?"
"I don't think either of us is going to sleep through that door opening. Do you?"
"No, I don't suppose we will." Doyle sighed. "Sleep it is."
Doyle felt Bodie relax in his arms and fall asleep almost immediately, but sleep wouldn't come for him. Partly, he put it down to an instinctual need to stand guard over his partner, to make sure the wolves and jackals didn't surround them while they slept. But there was something else at work as well. For the first time in weeks, since he'd walked through the gates of the Scrubs, he felt clean and untainted. He wasn't doing something he hated in order to work a greater good, wasn't sacrificing all his principles on the altar of a perfect and non-existent England erected and maintained by George Fucking Cowley.
Instead, he was watching over the one man who was dearer to him than anyone in his life, and that was the most virtuous duty he could imagine.
It was over an hour later when exhaustion won out over his determination and Doyle finally allowed sleep to take him.
Bodie came awake still wrapped in Doyle's arms. He moved abruptly before he remembered the broken arm, and gritted his teeth when he felt the ends of the bone grind together. Holding the arm more firmly, he sat up straighter and tried to figure out what had woken him.
And heard the sound of footsteps in the corridor outside their cell, growing closer by the second.
"Doyle," he whispered sharply.
His partner came awake immediately.
"We've got company coming." "Ah," Doyle said, gently releasing his hold on Bodie before he stood. "But are they friend or foe?"
"That would be the question."
The footsteps stopped outside their door and they could hear the sound of keys clattering on their chain. Doyle assumed a defensive position, feet solidly apart, fists up. Bodie was damned if he was going to let his partner face their enemies alone.
"Give us a hand up, Doyle."
"Stay down, you stupid bastard. What good are you with a broken arm?"
"Can still kick, can't I?"
"You haven't the sense of a small child," Doyle complained, even as he helped Bodie to his feet.
They stood, elbow to elbow, as they heard the key in the lock and saw the door begin to open. Bodie gave a grim, satisfied smile even as he felt the world sway around him on waves of pain. If they were to die now, in this place, they would give a good accounting of themselves. And they would go together.
The door to the cell swung wide open, revealing three men standing backlit against the corridor. His eyes dazzled by the sudden bright light, Bodie couldn't see anything but their silhouettes. And by the tension he could sense in Doyle, he didn't think his partner could identify their visitors either.
Then the man in the middle spoke.
"Well, what are the two of you standing there for?" George Cowley stepped fully into the cell.
"Fuckin' hell," Bodie said, then collapsed in a heap at Doyle's feet.
When he regained consciousness, and after Doyle had yelled at him for taking ten years off his life with fright, Murphy congratulated Bodie on being the only agent in the history of CI5 who'd been allowed to use that particular phrase in the presence of George Cowley without getting a right bollocking.
Doyle's waking was leisurely, accompanied by limbs stretched with the unhurried grace of a nonchalant ginger cat. When he was at last fully awake, he turned to the man beside him, buried under a heap of blankets and pillows.
"Bodie," Doyle whispered. "You awake?"
"'Course I'm not bloody awake," came the muffled answer. "It's not even daylight yet."
"It's a lovely sunny day. You'd know that if you came out of your burrow and opened your eyes."
"Christ." Bodie pulled down the covers and looked at him blearily. "How come you always wake up so fucking early?"
"How come you always want to lie in?" Doyle wrapped an arm around Bodie's chest and rested his chin on a broad shoulder. "Didn't they make you get up at dawn and kill your own breakfast in the SAS?"
"I'll have you know we only had to kill our own breakfast on alternate days," Bodie said, batting his eyelashes and using his best plummy accent. "The other days a raft of servants delivered breakfast in bed on a silver tray." He gave a jaw-cracking yawn. "Anyway, it was having to get up so early in the Regiment that turned me off mornings altogether. Swore I'd never get up at dawn again, unless I absolutely had to."
"Which was why you joined Cowley's mob," Doyle said with a laugh
"Thinking about it, that might have been a slight miscalculation." Bodie shrugged off Doyle's arm, sat up, and dragged his good hand through his already spiky hair. "Why are you awake so early, anyway?"
"I dunno. Just glad to be out of the Scrubs. And the hospital. Glad to be back home. Back with you." Doyle leaned in and let his lips brush against Bodie's own. Bodie wrapped his hand around the back of Doyle's neck and deepened the kiss. Doyle fell into the kiss willingly, knowing Bodie would always be there to catch him.
They were both panting by the time Bodie finally pushed him away.
"Christ, your breath is foul in the morning," Bodie said with a joking grimace.
"Won't matter for what I have in mind." Doyle waggled his eyebrows suggestively and then straddled Bodie's thighs.
"Doyle," Bodie said, a warning in his voice. "Nothing too athletic. I'm still recovering, aren't I?" Bodie waved his be-plastered arm under Doyle's nose and wiggled his fingers.
"Don't worry, Sunshine." Doyle kissed the tips of the offered fingers. "You can just lay back and relax." Doyle put a hand on Bodie's chest and gave him a firm push back into the pillows. "Leave it all to me."
Doyle worked his way down his partner's body with hands and mouth, lingering at his favourite parts: the hollow at the base of his throat, brown nipples, a jutting hipbone. He took care to avoid the bruises that Slater and his company had left, now fading to yellow shadows on Bodie's skin, but a reminder of how precarious their lives were and how easily they could be lost. But he banished any thought of their mortality and concentrated on Bodie's corporality.
A last lick and a nip at the tender skin of Bodie's inner thigh, and then Doyle finally took Bodie's cock into his mouth. He focused on maximizing Bodie's pleasure, using tongue and lips and a hint of teeth until Bodie was writhing beneath him. The moans he drew from Bodie's throat inflamed his own pleasure, but Doyle ignored his need in favour of his partner's.
Soon enough, Bodie crested the wave of pleasure that Doyle had hurled at him. A final cry, and then Bodie was coming. Doyle swallowed it all, as if he could swallow Bodie's own satisfaction with his seed.
As Bodie collapsed in a limp, satisfied heap, Doyle crawled up beside him and pulled him into his arms.
"If you could bottle that and sell it, you'd be a millionaire," Bodie said.
"I'd never sell that. It's just for you."
"Berk," Bodie said, laying his head on Doyle's chest.
"Git," Doyle returned, letting a fond smile play on his lips.
Bodie's eyes drifted shut and Doyle could feel his body relax as he fell back into a deep, healing sleep. Doyle quietly stroked the dark hair as he guarded his partner's ease.
Light of day or dark of night, he had what he valued most right here: friend and comrade, protector and protected, lover and beloved. Nothing else mattered in the least.
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