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dark Dean

Taking the Bait

Posted on 2007.03.23 at 16:59
Current Mood: optimisticoptimistic
Tags: , , , , ,
That's better.  My Bodie love is back on its true course.  (Still, Sam Tyler, eh? mmm)

Watched The Yellow House last night.  I'd love to say I'm the kind of erudite person that would have watched it anyway, but I'm afraid it was John Simm that drew me in.  And my word, he really did.  I honestly thought I'd find it hard to stop making Sam connections, but I gave up playing Spot the Sam after about ten mins, as there just wasn't a trace of him.  Maybe I'm biased (maybe??) but he acted everyone else clean off the park.

OK, enough ramblings.  One more piece of fic to stick in.  This one's longer than the others, Pros fandom.

Ratings: I've forgotten the ratings system!  But it's gen, no pairings whatsoever (although in my slashy mind...but that's a separate issue!) Much violence though.  Of a beating up and banging on the head sort.

Summary:  An old adversary with a grudge decides it's time to get even.

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TAKING THE BAIT

Bodie strolled into the shade of the derelict warehouse, enjoying the cool of the shadows after the blistering brightness of the August afternoon. Instinct made him move noiselessly between the rows of empty pallets, gun drawn but pointed loosely downwards – he was not expecting trouble here. Gary was a reliable informant, cheerful and compliant, an ex-merc like himself who had grown weary of the jungle and had decided to try his luck as a petty criminal back home.

The call had been unexpected – Bodie had been under the impression that Gary was inside, serving a stretch for aggravated burglary. He smiled to himself: his contact had not proved to be an adept burglar, and his last job had fallen apart spectacularly when he had crept, under cover of darkness, into a house he thought to be unoccupied, only to run headlong into the owner, a senior police officer, making his way unsuspectingly back to bed from the bathroom. Do not pass go, do not collect £200; Gary was banged up so fast he barely had time to register what was happening.

His gaze scanned expertly but fruitlessly round the dimness of the cavernous room. This was hopeless – if Gary was concealed somewhere, it could take all day to find him. Bodie spotted a metal staircase leading up to some glass-fronted offices, decided it was worth a go. Started towards it.

He froze instantly as he heard, from behind him, a metallic click that he would have recognised in his sleep. "Don’t turn round, Bodie." He didn’t turn round. A brief second stretched as he desperately tried to place the voice. Not Gary. Familiar, but the hoarse whisper made it difficult to identify. "Drop the gun." Bodie weighed the odds – bad. His gun clattered onto the concrete floor, within easy range of a drop and roll should the opportunity present itself.

The disembodied voice chuckled, a rich rolling sound devoid of humour. "Nice try. Kick it away. Good and hard." Hands balling into fists in frustration, Bodie gave the gun a forceful shove with his foot. It skidded across the floor, coming to rest under a pallet. A tense silence. Bodie waited, breathing evenly, forcing himself to remain calm as his ears strained to pick up any sound from behind him.

A slow, measured tread as the man came out into the open, staying carefully out of Bodie’s field of vision. "Well done, Bodie. Now kneel. Hands behind your head."

"No!" For a second Bodie thought he had said it aloud, so utterly did his entire being reject the instruction. Time and again he’d seen it, in Africa and then in Northern Ireland – you kneel down with a gun on you, you don’t get up again. He hesitated, fighting to control a rising panic as his mind raced, trying in vain to come up with a course of action that wouldn’t get him killed on the spot.

The man sensed his resistance, the voice, closer now, taking on a new note of aggression. "Do it, Bodie. Or so help me, I’ll end this now."

Bodie knelt, absently feeling the chill of the concrete through the knees of his jeans. He laced his fingers behind the nape of his neck A steady tap, tap, as his captor approached, and Bodie felt the caress of cold metal burning against his temple. Briefly, involuntarily, he closed his eyes, noting his pounding pulse, the quivering of every nerve, the incongruous rush of exhilaration. Wondering idly how it was possible to feel so completely alive and so close to death at the same time.

The gun barrel slid obscenely gently down his cheek, rested with the lightest of touches in the hollow of his throat, and was gone. The steps came round from behind him, to the side and then in front, and Bodie gazed up for the first time into the amused, menacing face of his assailant.

His heart plummeted, the euphoria vanishing like mist to leave in its place a numbing hopelessness. Maybe death would have been preferable to whatever delights this man undoubtedly had planned.

His captor smiled benevolently down at him, clearly relishing the moment. "Well, Bodie, it’s been a while. Miss me? How’s Doyle?" Bodie stayed silent, dully unable to think of anything useful to say.

"What’s the matter? Cat…" he enunciated the cliché precisely, loading each word with dark promise "…got your tongue?"

As he shrugged off the deadly lethargy, Bodie was suffused with an irrational anger – at himself, at Gary, at the man in front of him. For the first time since entering the warehouse, he spoke.

"Coogan. You bastard."

The smile faded from Coogan’s face, his eyes shifting to a point somewhere behind Bodie’s head. He nodded once. The last thing Bodie saw, that nod, before a crashing searing darkness overtook him and he collapsed, senseless, at Coogan’s feet.

 

Doyle was tired. And, frankly, more than a little pissed off. He’d been recalled from a long overdue day’s leave early in the morning, laughed at mercilessly by Bodie who had stayed over the night before and who had managed, with his usual devilish luck, to escape the recall. He’d been posted to a total waste of an observation in place of Murphy, off on long term sick, reportedly the result of a pounding by Macklin. He’d spent the day watching and meticulously recording details of the comings and goings at what seemed like the busiest house in London. Then, coming back into HQ, a harassed and unsympathetic Cowley had ordered him to write up the report on the spot.

Now, to cap it all, he was stuck outside Bodie’s flat, alternately ringing and pounding on the door, and no sign of Bodie at all. Daft sod had clearly forgotten they had arranged to meet up. Probably out on the pull somewhere.

He pressed the bell fiercely one last time, rewarded only by an angry protestation from a neighbour. Giving up in disgust, he slouched back to the Capri. He’d wait five more minutes, he resolved as he flung himself into the driver’s seat, and then he’d go home and find a better way of relaxing.

He was just weighing up the relative merits of a good book and Mahler’s Fourth, as against a couple of pints at his local, when the car radio crackled tinnily into life. "Control to 4.5. 4.5."

Doyle responded, slightly startled. The Cow himself. Never a good sign, that. "4.5."

"Priority One. Get yourself back here now, Doyle."

Typical. Doyle wistfully said goodbye to his chances of a calm evening in. "On my way, sir. Have you raised Bodie yet?"

"Just get here." Cowley sounded distinctly stressed. "I’ll explain when you arrive."

 

Doyle stared blindly out of the window, distractedly running one hand through already tangled hair, as Cowley clicked off the tape recorder. Neither man spoke for long seconds, each lost in his own unpleasant thoughts. Then:

"Again," Doyle snarled, turning back towards the Controller in a single jerking movement, eyes flashing sparks of barely controlled rage. Without comment Cowley complied, pressing the button on the little machine. The smug, sarcastic tones of a voice they hoped they had left behind them filled the small office.

"Remember me, Doyle? Oh, I’m sure you do. John Coogan. You know, the man whose brother you killed. I’ve got something here I think you might be interested in. Listen…"

Bodie’s voice, strained, urgent. "Harden Docks. Gary…" A sickening thud, a choked gasp. Silence.

"You took something from me, something very precious. And I’m going to return the favour. Eventually. Might have a bit of fun first, though. Anyway, can’t stop to chat. I’ll be in touch." Coogan’s voice ceased abruptly, replaced by the monotone hum of the dial tone. Doyle’s open palm slammed onto the wooden desktop.

"For Christ’s sake! We should have seen this coming, from the moment the case fell through. Bloody maniac was never going to go and lie low like a good boy, not with a score this big to settle. God only knows what he’ll do to Bodie before he finally gets around to killing him." Doyle’s voice cracked slightly and he paused, leaning both hands on the desk, head bowed, rigid with anger and fear.

Cowley studied the agent for a brief moment. When he spoke, his tone fell nebulously between exasperation and sympathy. "Och, for goodness sake sit down, lad. Have a drink." He indicated the ever-present bottle and glasses in the corner of the room.

Doyle glared. "No thank you sir," he answered coldly. "I think we’ve got more important things to be doing."

"And those are?"

Sarcasm radiated from the younger agent. "Well, finding Bodie would be fairly high on my to-do list for the day."

"Oh? And exactly how do you propose to do that?" Cowley was never to be beaten in cold sarcasm. Doyle stared at him for a long moment, the tension ebbing gradually from his stance, leaving him looking weary and shaken. At last, he sat, arms crossed defensively in front of him. "I don’t know," he admitted simply, honestly. "I just don’t know. Harden Docks, I suppose."

"I’ve already dispatched agents to make a thorough search of the docks. I’d be very surprised if they found anything, though. Even if Coogan had intended to hole up there, he’d have changed his mind as soon as Bodie said the name. He’s got any number of bolt holes."

Doyle forced himself to think rationally. What on earth had Bodie been up to? He hadn’t mentioned any plans for the day. "Sir? Did Bodie call in at all? Give any clue as to where he was going?"

Cowley shook his head. "Nothing at all."

"Then he can’t have thought he was doing anything risky. Bodie’s rash at times, but he’s no fool." His mind flashed back to a time when he had himself gone off to meet a contact without giving any notification, to the near-fatal trap that Preston had set for him. To the disgusted tirade that Bodie had launched at him for his folly, as soon as they were safely out of earshot of The Cow. They’d almost come to blows over that…

"Have you any idea who Gary is?" he asked Cowley. For answer, Cowley pushed a sheet of paper across the desk. The word CONFIDENTIAL was clearly stamped in sharp red letters at the head.

"Gary Allen. Bodie registered him as an informant a good while ago. He’s an old colleague."

"Army?" asked Doyle, surprised that he hadn’t come across this Gary Allen – Doyle and Bodie often turned up together to meets with each other’s contacts, most of the regulars were used to it by now.

"No. Before that."

"Right." Doyle nodded. That explained it. Bodie was still, even after all their shared secrets, decidedly reluctant to go into much detail about his mercenary work. "Well, he’s the best we’ve got for now. Shall I go and talk to him?"

Uncharacteristically, Cowley hesitated. "No, I don’t think so," he answered finally. "Bring him in. I’ll deal with Allen myself."

"Bring him in?" Doyle was dubious. "He’s not going to like that much."

Cowley eyed his operative acidly. "No-one’s asking him to like it. I daresay you’ll find a way of persuading him. Well? What are you sitting round here for?"

Doyle could take a hint.

 

Doyle picked his way gingerly through the overspilling black bags of rubbish to make his way up into the grimy stairwell. His nose wrinkled, rejecting the reek of urine and stale beer, and he eyed the graffiti with grim amusement. "ALL PIGS ARE FASHISTS".

On the second floor, he came out gratefully onto the walkway, taking a deep breath of the relatively pure evening air. He headed past the row of peeling doors, taking a quick look over the balcony, noting with some trepidation the gang of bored pre-teens hovering close to the Capri.

Approaching the door of number 47 (blue, as far as he could tell), he clattered the metal letterbox a few times. Waited without patience for a couple of minutes. Finally, the door was pulled open, yellow light from an exposed bulb spilling out into the crepuscular gloom. Doyle found himself confronted by a tall, unsmiling black man in his early twenties or thereabouts. "Yeah? What is it?"

Doyle kept his tone casual. "Looking for Gary. He here?" He didn’t miss the flurry of movement at the other end of the hall, as someone made a rapid exit into a back room.

"Nah, mate. He was sent down. I’m looking after his pad for him, that’s all. You from the Social?"

"Come on. Do I look like the Social?" Doyle was scathing. "I’m just a mate of a mate. Need to talk to him. I think he can help me out." He raised his voice slightly. "Bodie sent me."

"Well, you’ve wasted your time, haven’t you? Gary’s not here. So you can push off." The black man started to push the door closed. Doyle leant against it.

"Now, that’s not very friendly. Why don’t I just come in for a minute and we can have a chat?" Leaning harder, forcing the other man to concede or make a fight of it. The man gave way slightly, and Doyle took advantage of the moment to barge past him into the hallway.

"Down here, is it?" He strode inexorably towards the back of the flat, ignoring the "Oi!" from behind him, a prickling awareness making him turn at the last moment as the angry man swung a wooden baseball bat towards the back of his head. It connected viciously just above Doyle’s right ear. Doyle fell to his hands and knees on the faded orange and brown carpet, ears ringing, vision misted and blurry. Knowing he needed to get up fast but lacking the co-ordination to act.

From somewhere above and in front, a new voice. "Hang about, Zach." Doyle pushed himself to his knees, squinted up to make out the face of the speaker. Shortish, sandy-haired, stocky - nevertheless the man exuded an air of cool disinterest, an edge of unforced menace, that reminded Doyle instantly and powerfully of Bodie. He knew he had found his target.

"Gary Allen?" With difficulty, Doyle clambered to his feet. Swayed ever so slightly. Rested one hand against the wall, hoping he looked casual rather than about to fall over.

"Who wants to know?" Allen appeared relaxed, his wariness clearly habitual.

"Ray Doyle. CI5. Can we talk?" Zach was still hovering, the bat dangling from one hand as if he hadn’t completely given up on the idea of finishing the job. Allen glanced from one to the other, gaze assessing. Finally he nodded at Zach.

"It’s OK, mate. Panic over." To Doyle: "Come on through here."

 

A violent lurch jerked Bodie back into uncomfortable consciousness. Briefly disorientated, he was aware of a panic-inducing claustrophobia and fought for calm, riding a surge of nausea as his senses were overpowered by a stale odour of dogs, oil, cigarette smoke. Opening his eyes revealed nothing – he couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe.

His training, natural as instinct, took over. He realised he was wedged into the footwell of a car, face down, head pressed into a musty, scratchy blanket. The pounding in his head was superseded by an agonising ache and strain in his shoulders, which were wrenched securely behind him. Cautiously he tried to move his arms, tensing and relaxing his wrists, discovering no give in the bonds that held him fast hand and foot. The bindings felt like plastic, clothes line or something, and the ominous tingling in his fingers gave him something else to worry about.

Inch by tortuous inch, Bodie twisted himself round so he was lying on one side. Immediately his breathing eased as his face was freed from the smothering confines of the blanket. Craning his neck slightly, he squinted into the dimness of the car.

The sky outside the window was pitch black – must be past eleven, he thought, trying to work out how long it had been since his desperate attempt to convey any sort of useful message to Doyle and Cowley. They were outside London as well by the looks of things – no streetlamps, no reassuring glow from houses and shops. Could be bloody anywhere by now.

Bodie turned his gaze towards the front of the car. The oppressive dark made it impossible to pick out any detail – he could see the shadow of a head in the passenger seat, face presented in profile – that was Coogan. He was holding a murmured conversation with the driver, a steady, indistinct rumble of male voices.

The gentle clicking of the indicator preceded a sudden swing to the left, and the road instantly became more bumpy and uneven. A farm track maybe, thought Bodie, cursing the violent jolting which was starting a fire in his taut shoulder blades. They made slow progress for another few minutes, at one point stopping completely as Coogan left the car, presumably to open and close a gate. Finally the empty view outside the window changed, dark outbuildings looming to either side, and the jerking motion gave way to the smooth crackle of rubber on gravel.

The passenger door swung open as the car glided to a halt, and Bodie gratefully gulped breaths of the suddenly pure air, immediately feeling stronger, more alert. He closed his eyes as the driver craned round the back of the seat to check on him. Presumably satisfied, the driver turned back, the hiss and click of a lighter followed by a pervasive rank smokiness. Bodie listened, taking in the low hum of a generator nearby and, farther away, the incongruously gentle bleating of sheep. Over-riding these was the crunch of footsteps on gravel, the low hum of voices, three or maybe four.

Without warning, the rear door was yanked open, Bodie’s ankles grabbed and he was tugged from the car, landing painfully on his back as he struggled to keep his head from colliding with the gravel path. Immediately he scanned his surroundings as far as he was able – a barn door stood open nearly, electric light spilling out into the gloom, affording him a view of two men, both armed, standing to one side. And Coogan. Backlit, his face in shadow, his posture radiating satisfaction. "Good trip, Bodie?"

"Fuck you." Bodie was not in the mood for a witty retort. Coogan chuckled richly.

"Now there’s a thought." The undiluted malice in his voice caused Bodie’s skin to prickle. "Not quite what I had in mind for you, but I’m nothing if not adaptable." He glanced at his companions, who provided the dutiful laugh that Coogan was clearly expecting. "Now, I’m going to untie your feet, save us the bother of carrying you. Any trouble at all, and I promise you’ll regret it." Bodie saw no reason to doubt it.

Coogan stood back as one of the other men bent over Bodie’s ankles, slashing through the bindings with a careless disregard for the skin underneath. Bodie bit back a curse and resisted the temptation to lash out. As he stood, the blood rushed with agonising suddenness into his feet, and he stumbled, falling heavily against the other armed man, who caught him instinctively. Bodie looked up into the face of his unlikely saviour. What he saw stunned him.

Too thrown to think clearly, he stammered out, "What the hell are…?" His captor’s eyes widened, the arm holding the gun was brought viciously forward to connect with Bodie’s unprotected head, and Bodie was enveloped once more in a misty darkness.

 

The drive to CI5 Headquarters passed in a kind of morose silence. At least, Doyle was morose, and he wasn’t all that bothered about how Allen was feeling. He’d been somewhat surprised by the ease with which the informant had agreed to go with him. And, in all honesty, a little disappointed – he’d been hoping for a bit of resistance, something he could work out his mood on.

He’d made a few scant efforts to get Allen to talk, to find out what his involvement was. The informant had met his advances with a sullen, ‘I’ll talk to the organ-grinder’ attitude that, under normal circumstances, would have set Doyle’s teeth well on edge. Now, though, coasting through the neon-spattered darkness, Doyle could not find it in himself to care. If Cowley could get to the bottom of all this more quickly than he could, so be it.

The Capri eased to a halt outside an anonymous-looking door, and the two men were ushered inside. As they made their way down the darkened corridors into the heart of the building, an office door opened to reveal Cowley, clearly anticipating their arrival. Allen immediately stepped forward, his posture a combination of bewilderment and menace. "Cowley!" he snapped. "What the hell is going on?"

Cowley stood his ground, palms out in a gesture of conciliation. "Ah. Mr Allen, I presume. If you’d like to come through here, I’m sure I can clear everything up." He turned to Doyle. "Good work, 4.5. If you go down to Records, you should find everything we’ve got on Mr Allen waiting for you. Pick up the file, then fix us all a coffee. We’ll expect you in my office."

Cowley led Allen into the office, the door clicking softly shut, leaving Doyle alone, staring after them. Automatically he turned, intending to follow Cowley’s instructions. Took a few steps, paused. His mind was replaying, over and over, the scene he had just witnessed. Something was wrong…he screwed his eyes shut, trying to concentrate. All at once, a powerful wave of weary frustration surged through him, and he slammed his palm against the wall of the corridor, his head drooping onto his forearm, burning eyes still squeezed shut. Images of his partner flashed through his mind, horrific images – Bodie captive, bleeding, broken…worse.

Doyle flung himself back from the wall in an instinctive rejection of where his thoughts were leading him. Dragging in a deep, shuddering breath, letting it out with slow control, he set off purposefully towards the Records office.

 

Once again Bodie found himself taking on the laborious process of surfacing to painful consciousness. Slowly, he lifted his head, wincing at the cramped pain in his neck and shoulders.

Coogan had clearly been busy while he was out. He was in some kind of barn, by the look and smell used for machine storage rather than animals. Dim light emanated from a few sparsely scattered light bulbs. Bodie himself was slumped on a wooden-framed chair, an unlikely furnishing for a machine store. His arms had been untied, pushed through the slats and re-secured, his legs left free, for what it was worth.

Tied to a bloody chair! Bodie almost laughed out loud at the utter cliché of the situation, like something out of some gangster movie. Nevertheless, he was deeply aware that the very incongruity was a calculated humiliation on Coogan’s part, and he refused to submit to the oppressive feeling of vulnerability.

Trying to ignore the throbbing, pounding ache that was consuming his head, the nauseous debilitating dizziness, he glared round the sparse room, taking in the opposition. Coogan was leaning casually against a stack of hay bales, one hand clasped loosely round the handle of a pitchfork, watching intently and with the glimmer of a smile as he relished the helplessness of his quarry. Lurking slightly further off, the three men Bodie had seen in the yard – the erstwhile chauffeur, a cigarette dangling from one corner of his mouth, face set in stolid indifference.

His attention moving to the other two, Bodie’s gaze locked briefly with the one who had hit him with such catastrophic force. Forewarned this time, he allowed no shadow of recognition to enter his expression. Nevertheless, a spark passed between the two men, and for the first time since his capture, Bodie felt the faintest stirrings of something approaching hope.

Coogan sensed the shift of mood, was irritated by it. Detaching himself from the hay bales, he stalked towards his captive, leaning in so close that the two men were eye to eye. Bodie was assaulted by powerful whisky fumes – obviously Coogan had taken the opportunity for something of a celebration.

"Well." Coogan spoke softly, almost congenially. "Here we are at last."

Bodie waited.

Almost absent-mindedly, Coogan brought up one hand, clenched into a fist, drove it with shattering force into the side of Bodie’s face. Bodie rode the blow as far as the constraints would allow, the chair rocking alarmingly. His head rang as he spat blood. Coogan stared with detached curiosity into Bodie’s eyes, and Bodie returned the gaze steadily, trying to bank down the anger that he knew must show.

Without success, apparently. Coogan smiled broadly, evidently well satisfied with what he had seen. "That’s a promising start," he said. "Now, here’s the thing. I can’t quite decide what to do with you. Maybe you can help. Do I send you back piece by piece to your little friend? Or…" Deliberately, gently, he traced a finger along Bodie’s jawline, examining the effect of the blow he had just landed, "…do I give him a call and let him know where you are? Watch him grovel and beg for your miserable life?"

"Listen, Coogan." Bodie knew he shouldn’t rise to the provocation, but the fear he had felt was fast transmuting into a surge of rage he could barely control. "I’m really not in the mood for a chat. Whatever it is you’ve got in mind, just get it over with. Only spare me the patter."

"Oh, it doesn’t do to rush these things." Coogan was really getting into his stride now. Eyes bright, cheeks slightly flushed. Bodie swallowed down a sensation of nausea at the deepening breaths wafting onto his neck. Coogan’s hand stroked lower, a parody of a caress – down across Bodie’s chest, onwards – eyes fixed to catch every nuance of the revulsion he was causing.

As the hand crossed Bodie’s stomach, inexorably moving lower, Bodie snapped. As Coogan had no doubt intended. Bringing his knees up, he lashed out with both feet, catching Coogan viciously on the thighs, sending him staggering back to fall heavily on the concrete floor. The chair crashed backwards and Bodie rolled, struggling to stand. Before he could find his feet, the driver, still with a cigarette dangling from his bottom lip, came across and grabbed the frame of the chair, forcing it upwards until the strain on Bodie’s shoulders warned of imminent dislocation.

Bodie could recognise defeat when it was so clearly presented to him. Instantly he lay still, relaxed as much as he could. Watched as a livid Coogan pulled himself upright, grabbed a discarded piece of rope from the floor, stalked over towards him, arm raised in a clear gesture of intent. Bodie braced himself, curled up as far as his tethered arms and the chair would permit. This, he could handle – he’d had worse.

As Coogan brought the rope lashing down, Bodie noticed, out of the corner of his eye, someone slipping unseen out through the barn door, into the darkness beyond.

 

Doyle made his precarious way back toward Cowley’s office, three mugs of steaming coffee balanced in his hands, a buff manila folder tucked under one arm. He leant down, positioning himself to push down the door handle with an elbow.

He paused, listening to the muffled but audible voices coming from the other side of the door.

"I agree it was unfortunate, Mr Allen." Cowley, smooth, unflappable. "But it was hardly Bodie’s fault. He had no idea what was going on. In the circumstances, he responded extremely professionally."

"That’s as may be." Allen, surly, unmollified. "But you promised I wouldn’t be dragged into this. If I’d known I’d end up here, I’d never have agreed."

"Och, come on, man. You were in no position to pick and choose. If it weren’t for me, you’d still be facing a long stretch inside."

"If it weren’t for you," Allen sounded resigned rather than angry, "I’d never have been inside in the first place. Bloody copper’s house. I should have known it was a fit-up."

"Aye, well, maybe breaking and entering wasn’t the wisest career choice. Still, it doesn’t do to dwell."

With exaggerated gentleness, Doyle placed the coffee mugs on the floor. Turned the handle, stepped into the office. The two occupants faced him – Allen, a picture of mutinous guilt; Cowley, steady and assessing. "Cowley," the name dropped with acid sweetness into the sudden silence. "Don’t you think it’s about time you told me what was going on?"

So polite, the tone, as the agent stood facing his Controller, eyes wide, the ghost of a smile teasing the corners of the mobile mouth. Cowley knew his man. This was Doyle the killer. One of his own had been put at risk, and he would stop at nothing until the danger was past. He sighed.

"Aye, you’re right. It’s past time."

He gestured to the empty chair. Doyle glared at it, stalked past it to stand in front of Cowley’s desk. "Go on then. Sir. Do you know where Bodie is?"

"If I knew that, man, we wouldn’t be sitting round here chatting!" Cowley’s own frustration briefly surfaced, and he took a deliberate breath. "Look, you said yourself that we should have seen it coming. Well, I did, Doyle. It was only a matter of time before Coogan tried something. So why not turn the situation to our advantage?"

"So you set Bodie up?" Doyle sank into the chair, an appalled realisation taking over temporarily from the anger and suspicion.

"Aye, 4.5. That’s exactly what I did. Coogan couldn’t resist. This time, we’ll have him properly."

A long pause. Doyle tried to push away the sense of unreality that had overtaken him, remembered the other occupant of the room. "And what have you got to do with all this? Bodie’s supposed to be a mate of yours."

Allen shrugged. "Ask me one on sport, mate. All I was told, was to arrange a meet with Bodie and then not turn up."

For a second, Doyle’s anger flared, then he turned from the informant, attention back on Cowley. "So what’s happened to Bodie? How do we get him back?"

In any other circumstances, Doyle would have treasured the moment which followed this question. He would never have believed that Cowley had it in him to look sheepish. "Well, that’s not too clear at this moment. We’d expected to be able to mount an operation to rescue him from the Docks. But then Bodie gave away the location and was moved."

The implication that Bodie was in some way responsible was too much for an already stressed Doyle, and it was fortunate for Cowley that the shrill ring of the telephone chose this moment to cut into the rising tension. Cowley picked it up without breaking eye contact with Doyle.

"Cowley."

A deathly hush fell over the office as Cowley listened intently to the voice at the other end of the phone.

"Understood. Where are you now?"

Pause.

"We’re on our way."

 

The steel-grey light of early morning encroached gradually through the half-open door of the barn, adding a harsh starkness to the dim interior. Coogan had long since sated his rage, and Bodie had been unfastened from the remains of the chair, dumped in a semi-aware heap on the chill floor. He lay there now, unmoving, watching through half-closed eyes as he allowed the energy to flow tentatively back into his battered body.

His captors were lounging in the opposite corner of the room, near the door, passing round a hip flask of some spirit or other. The driver had been sent off somewhere, leaving just the three. Just. Might as well have been an army. Bodie looked on as one of the henchmen idly checked his gun, breaking it open, taking out and reinserting the ammunition, peering along the barrel, clearly acting out of long-standing habit. Bodie, relating to the mindset behind the actions, found a strange, vicarious comfort in the procedure.

Even more comforting were the occasional, careful glances from the other man. Without catching Coogan’s attention, he was trying to offer as much reassurance as he could, going so far on one occasion as to risk an almost imperceptible wink. Bodie almost smiled, turning it at the last moment into a pained grimace for Coogan’s benefit.

There is a kind of tranquillity to the pre-dawn moments that is matched in no other time. An almost magical peace, where hushed sound is shockingly magnified and the world tends to silence. The interval, before the next act plays out.

The crashing of shots, close outside the barn, signalled the opening of the last act.

 

The little convoy scorched through the pre-dawn, Doyle and Cowley leading in the Capri, Jax and Anson (the on-call agents that night) close behind. Conversation was sparse – Cowley filled Doyle in on the location and the little information that he had. The tacit understanding was that analysis and recrimination could wait.

As they approached the farm gate and slowed to a halt, Cowley signalled to the others that, from this point, they would close in on foot. They took a wide path across fields, separating as they went to fan out and cover as many angles as they could between them. Through a combination of radio whispers and eye line gestures, the group of agents stalked their prey.

As they approached the dark outlines of the farm buildings, silhouetted against the lightening sky, a downward sweep of an arm from Doyle led the men to drop flat onto the grass. A man emerged from one of the barns, leaving the door slightly open so that light could be seen spilling out into the gloom. He turned up the track towards the main farmhouse, took a few steps, then stopped, checking his watch. Turning back, he went to lean on the roof of a car parked outside the building. A tiny flash of light indicated that this was a cigarette break.

Commando-style, the four edged stealthily closer to the farm. The man smoked on, oblivious to the gathering threat, curls of smoke drifting lazily upwards to lose themselves in the pure air. At length he dropped the cigarette, crushed the end with his heel. As he turned to walk off, some tiny movement must have caught his eye in the stillness that surrounded him.

"Hey!" Pulling a gun from his pocket, he took a few steps towards the crouching CI5 men. Doyle knew the moment for engagement was upon them. Abandoning stealth, he knelt, pistol trained directly at the other man. "Drop it!" he called.

Fair warning, but it went unheeded. The man loosed off two shots – hindered by the half-light, nevertheless the second shot was breath-takingly close. Doyle returned fire, an efficient tap-tap that dropped his opponent where he stood.

So much for the element of surprise. Doyle fairly sprinted across the yard, Cowley and the others in hot pursuit. Meeting the half-open door with the flat of one foot, he burst into the barn.

The sight that greeted him froze him into immobility.

 

Bodie. Bruised and bleeding, he stood in the centre of the barn, hands tied behind, giving the effect of a parade-rest stance. Behind him, Coogan, shielded and barely visible, gun pressed to Bodie’s neck, finger taut on the trigger.

"You alone, Doyle?" Coogan gestured with his head to the door. "Shut that. Anyone else comes in here, he’s finished."

Doyle, motionless, examined his partner. Despite the injuries, he was reassured to note the brightness in the blue eyes that met his steadily. Angry as hell, but no serious damage done. Keeping his weapon trained towards Coogan, Doyle backed off to the door, pushed it closed without looking round.

"OK, Coogan. You wanted me here, you’ve got me. What now?"

"Now?" Coogan smiled, the one eye Doyle could see gleaming with a fervency approaching mania. "Now, you get to find out what it means to lose someone close. He goes first, you get to watch. And then it’s your turn."

"And what then?" Doyle spoke randomly, just keeping the conversation ticking over while he scanned the room, taking in the two goons behind Coogan, finding what he was looking for. "We’ve got men outside. There’s nowhere for you to go."

The man just behind Coogan inclined his head towards his companion. Doyle nodded fractionally. Coogan was lost in the moment, oblivious to the subtle unspoken conversation taking place around him. "I’ll take my chances. Once you two are dead…"

The man behind suddenly cannoned forcefully into Coogan, taking him utterly by surprise. As he staggered, dropping to one knee, two things happened simultaneously. Doyle turned his gun on the other henchman, placing a single shot squarely between his eyes as he struggled to free his own gun from his pocket. And a stinging kick to Coogan’s arm sent his gun flying across the room – Coogan turned to find himself gazing down the barrel of a pistol.

Doyle checked on his quarry, stalked over to Coogan. Ever so gently, he touched the muzzle of his gun to Coogan’s throat, turning his head up till Coogan was staring into the unnaturally calm green eyes. The silence in the room was profound – Doyle’s expression was unreadable, yet his intention was so clear that he could have been shouting. Coogan didn’t plead – whether he was too far gone to consider it, or whether he sensed that would be the worst possible reaction, was never clear.

After an age, Bodie spoke. A single word – "Ray".

Doyle started, apparently having forgotten the presence of the others. Looking up, he met his partner’s eyes over the head of his captive. Ruefully, he smiled, drawing back his gun with an air of regret and slamming it into Coogan’s head. Coogan crashed to the floor and lay, motionless, a small trickle of blood seeping from his hairline to drip glutinously onto the concrete below.

The other man had moved over to Bodie, and was now untying the ropes still binding his wrists. Bodie flexed his fingers, trying to boost the circulation. He grinned, relief suddenly flooding through him. "Cheers, Murph."

"No problem." Murphy smiled back, glanced at the damage he’d caused. "Sorry about the head, mate. Spur of the moment, you know how it is."

"I know, these things happen. And you can pay me back later – you owe me a pint. A week. For life."

Doyle just stood, beside the unconscious body of Coogan, turbulent thoughts whirling round his mind, robbing him of speech. He stared at Bodie, swallowed dryly, shook his head. Bodie understood, and was touched.

"Hey," soft words floating into the grimness. "What kept you?"

Doyle relaxed into a broad grin. "Dumb crud. Next time, tell someone where you’re going."

And as the three men walked side by side into the pale pink dawn, the two other agents moved in to pick up the pieces of John Coogan.

 

 

 




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