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Fic: Firebird part one

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6 November 2010 | 20:51
posted by: jackiethomas73 in the_safehouse

Title: Firebird 1/2
Author: Jackie Thomas
Format: Short Story (complete, second part to follow, LJ willing)
Circuit Archive: yes
Pros-Lib: yes
Slash/Gen: Slash
Word count: 6700/13000
Pairing: Bodie/Doyle
Warnings: None
Summary: Kreiber’s bullet misses its intended target. An alternative ending to Fall Girl.
Disclaimer: No money being made, no offence intended


Firebird


Hearing the squeal of car tyres, Bodie ran across the smooth white curve of the gasholder to the railed gangway. From his vantage point, he could see the spy convention forming at the foot of the tower. Cowley was there with Willis, a pack of his MI6 men, and the two watchful East Germans; Kreiber and Schuman.

Cowley must have got Willis to call off the attack dogs snapping at his ankles. The old bastard was up to no good, but he was probably the only thing standing between Bodie and – what was it? – a grenade launcher.

Cowley shouted to him to come down, that he was cleared; his words just audible at this distance. Bodie gripped the rail, trying to discern the truth from his craggy features.

He demanded to see Marikka. She had betrayed him, but instinctively he feared for her. Doyle, our very own Mr License to Thrill, brought her.

Marikka screamed at Bodie that she too had been set up and used. He didn’t, couldn’t, believe her. He had been the old Bodie these last few days, the Bodie Marikka had known. The Bodie who fought other people’s wars and never took off his armour.

It had started before he saw her, playing the glamour girl outside the Gloucester Hotel. He had known she was coming, from an article in Doyle’s film magazine, and the past came rushing back. He had shut down; he knew he had, though it was scarcely within his control. He had gone quiet and let Doyle make all that noise to compensate.

But where did it leave him? Hanging about on a gasholder like a fairy on top of a poorly defended Christmas tree.

In the end, it was a habit of obeying Cowley’s orders, no matter how incomprehensible that got him moving. He took the narrow steps down, aware of all eyes focussed on him, conscious of the weight of motivations he had not yet got to grips with.

These days, he could hear and identify the release of a handgun safety from the next borough. He had reached ground level when he recognised the tell-tale click, and he wasn’t the only one. Doyle, in one fluid movement, spun round to Kreiber, pushed Marikka clear and drew his gun.

She ran, and Green, one of Willis’ men, dropped to the floor with a shout of outrage.

At first, Bodie could not see why Doyle had fired at Green when it was Kreiber who had pulled his gun. Then he realised, Doyle’s aim had gone wild because he himself had been shot; hit with the bullet meant for Marikka. He didn’t fall though, just gripped his shoulder, landing heavily on one knee.

Part of him, the recently surfaced old-Bodie, said he should leave Ray to it; he should put himself at risk for no one. But he was already running. He pulled Doyle down just as a bullet whistled over their heads. A chancy MI6 reprisal, he guessed. He scooped his partner up and went for cover with him.

The spies scattered, car wheels spun gravel into the air, warning shots bounced off metal, and when the action died down, Marikka was gone. Bodie cursed, he hadn’t seen who had taken her.

A second or two later a CI5 car drew up, spinning to a halt next to Bodie. Vic flung open the door while Cowley, who had concealed himself in the skeletal iron and steel of the gas works, gave covering fire. Bodie dragged Doyle into the front passenger seat and jumped in the back. Vic had them out on to the road before he had even got the door shut. He stopped not long after when he was sure no one was following.

“I’m going back for the old man,” said Vic. “You take the car and fuck off out of it.”

Bodie took the wheel and headed south. He glanced at Doyle, slumped, passed out against the window, and pulled back his jacket. The bullet looked to have entered too high on his shoulder to have hit any organs, but there was so much blood it was hard to say.

“Ray, come on mate, wake up,” he tried. “Rise and shine, kettles on.” It didn’t work. Not that time, or any of the times he tried it during the endless journey to the hospital.

He hadn’t wanted to risk being tracked down by Six, so he was taking Ray to King’s College Hospital, deep in South London, rather than the nearest A&E. It was a longer journey than he remembered, and slow through crawling traffic. He only hoped it wasn’t too far for Ray.

Eventually Doyle woke up of his own accord. Contrary sod.

“Awake are we?” Bodie asked, nastier than intended. Doyle gasped as pain from his wound shot through. “Take it easy. We’re going to hospital.”

“What happened?”

Bodie sighed and explained what had gone down at the gasholder.

“We’ve got to go back for Marikka,” Doyle interrupted, when he heard she was no longer in CI5’s hands.

“Sorry mate, you can hand me over for framing, when we’ve got that bullet out. I was thinking of a nice mahogany. That’ll work for my coffin too.”

“You moron. Marikka didn’t betray you.”

“Bollocks she didn’t.”

“She was manipulated by Kreiber and Schuman. She was set up, the same as you.”

He glared at Doyle. “Why should I believe you?”

“You think I’m in on it too? Fuck you, Bodie.”

There was more of Doyle’s blood on the upholstery than running through his veins and he was still ready to go guns blazing for Bodie’s ex.

So, no.

“If we don’t get her away, they’ll kill her and make her the scapegoat for Bierman’s murder. They’ve tried once already. Come on Bodie, wake up!”

“All right, all right. I’ll go back to the Gloucester, see if I can track her down.”

Finally they reached Kings and Bodie parked at A&E. He ran round to the passenger side to haul Doyle out, keeping a wary eye for surveillance. A doctor, name-tagged Kaur was called as soon as staff caught sight of Ray.

“If anyone asks for him, he’s not here. Understand?” The doctor’s attention was focused on getting Doyle settled on a trolley, so he pulled Ray’s ID out of his jacket and waved it at her. “Seriously Doc, someone with a better aim might be looking for him.”

She stared at the CI5 insignia, her interest caught at last. “What about my other patients?”

“They won’t hurt anyone not involved, but just keep it quiet okay.”

She nodded. “All right.”

He pocketed the card and was about to leave when Doyle grabbed his arm and dragged him back.

“It’s Suite Nine.”

“Okay.”

His grip tightened. “Trust Cowley,” he insisted. “He’s been fighting for you.”

“Okay, okay.”

Despite the Monday rush hour finishing and the traffic easing, it was after seven when Bodie finally reached Kensington. He opened the car windows during the drive, but the sharp, metallic smell of Doyle’s blood still choked the chill air.

The Gloucester looked peaceful; Bodie saw no sign of MI6, CI5, or Stasi. He kept his hand on his gun. He ought to have seen something.

The blood and dirt decorating his khaki jacket earned him curious glances, but he took the stairs to the ninth floor unhindered. No one guarded the suite either, and he knocked at the door. It was opened a fraction by a uniformed maid, and he pushed his way in.

“Nein!” She cried. “Komm nicht herein!”

Marikka was not there; he found nothing but half-packed cases as he ran from room to room.

He went back for the maid, catching her up as she tried to escape along the corridor. She resisted, shouting at him in rapid, provincial German.

“Wo ist Marikka?” He asked, but she was too agitated to answer in anything but desperate pleas for her life. He took her by the wrist and guided her back to the suite, “Nur die Ruhe, nur die Ruhe.” Calm, calm.

Bodie persuaded her into an armchair and, weeping, she told him Frau Schuman, for whom she worked, was dead. Herr Schuman had said the English had killed her. Why, she did not know.

“Sie sind gegangen.” They have all gone. Schuman, Kreiber and the rest of the entourage; they were taking the first flight back to Berlin, leaving her to pack up and follow on. The cultural exchange was over, then? Shame.

Bodie used the hotel room phone to call Cowley.

“Is 4.5 all right?” He demanded.

“I don’t know, sir. He lost a lot of blood, but he was awake when we got to the hospital.”

“Where is he?”

“Kings. Can you send someone?”

“You’re not there with him?”

“No, I’m looking for Marikka. I mean I was. I’m sorry, sir, what happened to her? The maid told me she was dead.”

There was a pause, a slight adjustment of the receiver at the other end of the line. “6.2 was trying to get her from Willis, to take her into our protection. One of the East Germans shot her.”

“Right, I see.” But he hadn’t seen any of that and he had been right there.

He dismissed the thought; it must have happened after he and Doyle had gone. Trust Cowley. Trust Cowley.

He looked at Marikka’s white fur coat, lying across the leather couch, a sleeping animal.

“She wasn’t working for them, then?”

“No Bodie, she wasn’t.”

“Is she taking the blame for Bierman’s death?”

“I don’t think so. Schuman is next in line for Bierman’s position in Berlin, and she was Schuman’s wife. The connection would be made immediately, and his position would become untenable.”

“Why does MI6 care about that?”

“Schuman is Willis’ asset, Bodie.”

“Our man in East Berlin?” So that’s what this was all about.

“It’s a coup I have to admit. Unfortunately handled with Reg Willis’ customary brutality. No Bodie, the assassin has to be you. You have no connection to Schuman except through his wife, and you have a motive because of your friendship with her.”

“Look, this is what I don’t understand, what motive?”

“A trial is not possible now,” Cowley continued, ignoring the question. “Doyle destroyed the evidence against you. But anything can be said of a dead man. Without the woman, I have nothing to bargain with, and you are in grave danger. You have to disappear for a while.”

“Terrific. Any chance of a safe house?”

“No,” Cowley said. “MI6 are apparently aware of the location of all our safe houses. Go to the place you told me about, they wouldn’t know about that.”

“For how long? For the rest of the day, the rest of my life?”

“We’ll see.”

“Yeah, well, I’m sure I’ll manage.”

“See that you do,” Cowley replied, hanging up.

While the maid shuffled from room to room, crying and packing, Bodie called the hospital. He was told Doyle was in surgery. Cowley would send a guard; Vic probably, he made as good a watchdog as any. Bodie would climb into a top hat and make himself disappear.

~~~

Bodie and Doyle each had keys to a flat the CI5 accommodation office knew nothing about.

It was a quietly anonymous place. A single grimy window above a dry cleaners was all that was visible from the outside. The shop, one of a small row on a South London street, left no impression.

They kept it for the times when it was difficult to tell who else could be trusted. There had been enough of those over the years to justify the few quid a week it cost in rent.

The landlord also owned the dry cleaners. He was sure his two occasional tenants came here for sex, so he asked no questions; even when he realised he did not know their names.

They also rented a space in a garage close by and Bodie parked the CI5 car there. The space was usually occupied by a three year old Ford; another joint purchase. Bodie had retrieved it from here earlier in the day, and if by lucky chance Cowley or Willis hadn’t noticed it, it would still be in North London. It would have to stay there until he could go and get it. Annoying, because he could have done with the weapons and spare ammo stored in the boot.

Also, Doyle was going to kill him for losing the F1. He’d left it at the gas holder, ditching it in favour of his partner’s hand gun when things kicked off. Fuck knew where that was now.

He bought a takeaway and went upstairs to the flat. It was one small room with peeling wallpaper and threadbare carpet. There was a bed, a two ring hot plate, some junk shop furniture and a set of sun-faded pictures of the Greek islands. The warped window frames were no match for the chill autumn breeze and a bathroom behind a curtain, housed plumbing that would have made the bomb squad jumpy.

But it had been subjected to a meticulous security upgrade since the current tenants took possession and, if nothing else, the flat was safe.

Bodie stood by the window, looking out at the darkened street. He swallowed chips and tried, in this first quiet moment, to understand what had happened since he had found Marikka again, not two days ago. How they had walked, hand in hand, into a trap.

He had been the intended sacrifice in MI6’s plan to get Max Schuman highly placed in the East German secret service, and Marikka, he now believed, had been an innocent party. Not a role the great actress would have been familiar with.

Now she was dead, and he was sorry for that.

He had survived, which was an inconvenience to Willis’ mob, and he would continue to be a target while Schuman’s position in Stasi was secured. He drew the curtain across. If he was careful, this would be a safe enough place to wait until the drama played out. Until he had to decide whether his disappearing needed to be permanent.

He opened one of the tins of beer they kept stacked in the kitchen cupboard and tried to settle. If his stay was to be a long one, he needed to stand down from this state of high alert; he needed to calm the caged animal pacing in his mind.

But he could not rest, something wouldn’t let him. Despite Marikka’s death and Cowley ordering him to lie low, every instinct was telling him he still had work to do, that something needed his attention. His hand closed around Doyle’s CI5 ID in his pocket.

People working closely together often acquired a kind of telepathy. Bodie had found this unremarked magic in all his diverse occupations.

Two chefs sharing a kitchen would soon develop it, and it was essential to making a CI5 partnership work. It was the voice telling you to zag when your partner zigged. It was the third eye that let you see what the other half of the team was up to when the bullets started flying.

Bodie had long been accustomed to this mysterious link with Doyle having an infinite range. It sometimes even seemed strongest when they were apart. It wasn’t just about danger; it was more an awareness of the other, an ache, hardly discernible most of the time, but constant.

He had felt this ache, hard and sharp, all weekend. It was why he had not been surprised to see Doyle when he looked out of the hotel room window. A part of him had known he was there all along.

The ache had not dulled and was tugging at the edge of his consciousness now. It was calling him urgently back to Doyle. He wanted to ignore it. Now, above all times, he needed to look after himself, needed to let the doctors and CI5 make sure his partner was okay. And really there was no reason why he shouldn’t be. He decided he definitely wasn’t going to check on Doyle.

It was a quick drive from Kennington back to Kings College Hospital, but by the time he got there, Doyle was gone. He was gone and there was no sign of the CI5 presence Bodie had requested. A nurse was clearing up Doyle’s bed in the surgical ward.

“The police already came in to see him,” the nurse said, glancing at his ID.

“Were they in uniform?”

“Yes. We had to report it because it was a bullet wound. Casualty should have done it really.”

“Did he leave with the police?”

“No, he just disappeared, but it was after they’d gone.”

“How was he? Had they taken the bullet out?”

“Yes. The surgery went well. He’d just woken up from the anaesthetic. But he was in no condition to get up and go.”

“When did you last see him?”

“Half an hour ago, maybe less. The porters are still looking for him.”

Once a bullet wound was reported to the police, it was only a matter of time before the other agencies heard about it, especially if they were listening. MI6 could easily have Doyle now.

“The police were from the local station,” the nurse said, seeing his concern. “They wouldn’t have done anything to him.”

He started moving. “Course they wouldn’t! Thanks.”

If Doyle was alert enough, he would have taken the appearance of uniformed plod as a signal to get himself out.

If that were the case, he would be heading to their safe house above the Kennington dry cleaners. He left the hospital and drove back the way he had come, scanning the cars he passed and the pavements on either side of the road.

It was after eleven and the pubs were tipping out, so he was lucky to spot Doyle, in his blood-stained bomber jacket, propped up against the Perspex wall of a bus shelter on Denmark Hill. He had covered a fair distance from the hospital on foot, but now seemed barely conscious.

Bodie drew up at the kerb and got out of the car. “Going my way, sailor?” He said softly, and Doyle opened unfocussed eyes.

“Hullo,” he said, letting Bodie help him into the car.

Bodie parked close to the dry cleaners. He supported Doyle the short distance across the pavement and up the stairs to the flat, relieved to have the solid weight of his partner at last in his charge.

He left him to settle in one of the armchairs while he pushed coins into the metre, lit the boiler, and switched on the gas fire. The heating exploded into life with a scent of scorched dust but with little impact on the temperature of the room.

He looked in the chest of drawers. Doyle normally slept wearing any old rag of a t-shirt, so Bodie took out a pair of his own pyjamas.

“Ray.”

Doyle didn’t open his eyes. “Not today, thanks.”

“Come on, I want to have a look at that wound.”

“Keep your filthy hands off it.”

But he let Bodie help him sit up and peel off his jacket and denim shirt.

The dressings put on in hospital were in tact and the bandages unstained. Bodie had feared the extra activity would start the bleeding off again.

“All right Ray, stick with me for a mo.”

Doyle nodded against Bodie’s shoulder while he put the pyjama top on him, buttoning it for him.

“Are these my granddad’s?”

“Blood loss hasn’t affected your razor sharp wit, I see.”

He manoeuvred Doyle out of his shoes and jeans and into the pyjama bottoms. Then he made up the bed with all the blankets they had, and helped him in.

“Marikka?” Doyle asked.

“She’s dead.”

Doyle hissed his displeasure. “What happened?”

“Talk later, okay. Get some sleep.”

Doyle soon closed his eyes, his breathing changing as he drifted off. He seemed all right, but you didn’t fuck about with gunshot wounds the way they had with this one. Bodie wished he knew what damage the bullet had done. Doyle had not been long in surgery, which was a good sign, but you could never tell with a shoulder wound; it was a complicated place to take a bullet. Whatever, he should be resting in a hospital not out dodging MI6 hit squads.

Bodie went out to move the car back into the garage and to radio Alpha One.

“Is he there?”

“Negative 3.7,” Julie responded. “He’s out for the night.”

“Can you patch me through?”

“Negative. He left instructions not to be disturbed.”

“He what - ?” Cowley seemed to be going out of his way to annoy him, but that wasn’t unusual. “Well look, can you tell him there was a cock-up with security at the hospital but I’ve got 4.5 with me.”

“Oh, goodness. How is he?”

“I don’t know, okay I think.”

A metallic clatter intruded on the low crackle of the transmission. “What was that?” He asked. “Did someone drop Alpha One’s wallet?”

She diverted him briskly. “Anything further, 3.7?”

“Uh, no. I’ll call in tomorrow. Out.”

There was nothing more he could do, so he went back to the flat and locked up. He half-undressed down to t-shirt and boxers and got into the narrow double bed, where Doyle still slept a heavy, medicated sleep.

They woke at the same time the next morning when one of the machines in the dry cleaner’s shop below shuddered into a noisy spin. Bodie found he had rolled on to his stomach in his sleep, winding an arm around Doyle. It wasn’t the first time that had happened and Doyle didn’t seem to mind.

“I’m not one of your flaming air hostesses,” he said, but his hand moved to cover Bodie’s.

“Look,” Doyle said. “What I did. Following you and whatever. It was just the job, I never believed you’d turned. It was better me than someone else. That’s what I kept telling myself, anyway.”

“Forget it,” Bodie found himself saying. “I would have done the same.” It had taken him a day and a night’s sleep to realise this.

He switched on the bedside light and propped himself up on an elbow to see how Doyle was doing. Not too good by the look of him. Overnight his skin had taken on a feverish sheen. Bodie put his hand to his forehead and found it warm. Doyle opened his eyes at the touch, answering his smile.

“Let’s have a look, then.” He pulled back Doyle’s pyjama top. The bandage was still clean but he flinched at the slight movement.

Bodie got up to get dressed and make cups of black instant coffee. Doyle made his way unsteadily to the bathroom, and then back to bed.

“I’m heading off to the Infirmary to get your prescription,” said Bodie, leaving the coffee to cool on the bedside table.

“It’s not safe, they’ll be watching CI5 locations.”

“If that’s the case, they’ll be spread pretty thin, they won’t be able to cover it properly.” He waggled his eyebrows. “I’ll take the tradesmen’s entrance.”

“I’ve heard that about you.”

Downstairs, he waved good morning to Pavlou, their landlord, who returned a knowing wink from behind his counter.

The street was busy; the morning rush hour was still underway, and a steady stream of people flowed to the underground. But Bodie was instinctively alerted to a different kind of movement. He reached back and grabbed Reg Willis by the wrist, pushing him against the glass shop front and taking his gun.

“If I killed Herr Bierman, why wouldn’t I kill you?”

“I came here to talk to you,” Willis croaked out.

“What about? Are you going to ask me to come quietly? Because after last time, I’ve got to say -”

“We have Marikka Schuman.”

Bodie momentarily dropped his guard and, within seconds, he had been overpowered. Willis cuffed his hands behind his back.

“Marikka’s dead,” said Bodie. “The East Germans killed her.”

“Someone has misled you for their own purpose.”

“I’m likely to believe you. Soul of bloody honour, you are.”

“You can speak to her.” Willis was a weasel but he seemed to mean it.

His car was parked in a nearby side road and he led Bodie to it, pushing him in to the passenger seat. Reaching past him, he picked up the phone and dialled.

“Put the girl on,” he barked when the call connected. He held the receiver to Bodie’s ear.

“Bodie, is that you?”

“Marikka?”

“Yes, it’s me.” It was, without question, her voice.

“Are you all right? Where are you?”

“I’m well. They have me in a house. I do not know where.”

Willis snatched away the phone, hanging up before he could reply.

“What are you going to do with her?” Bodie asked, though he was sure he understood now.

“I’ll let her go.”

“If –?“

“I’ll let her go, on condition you give yourself up to the police. You’ll admit responsibility for Bierman’s murder, acting on George Cowley’s direct order.”

“Wait a minute, what’s it got to do with Cowley?”

“It won’t come to trial, we no longer hold the evidence against you, but it will be enough to take the suspicion away from certain other parties. In return the girl will be granted political asylum in the UK.”

“And if I don’t cooperate?”

“I’ll give her back to her husband, who I imagine won’t miss next time.”

“Oi, Willis,” said Doyle, a voice out of nowhere. “I won’t miss either.” He had come up from behind; barefoot in blue pyjamas, wielding a Browning.

Willis shrugged and gave up his gun. Doyle searched his pockets, relieving him of Bodie’s weapon and the key to the cuffs. Doyle looked amused as Bodie shuffled out of the car.

“All right?”

“Yep.”

“What do we do with him?”

Willis locked up in the boot of his car would have given Bodie a strong chip to bargain with, not to mention a warm glow. But with Doyle winged, and Cowley gone flipping mental, he could do without the whole of MI6 on red alert and after his blood.

“Let him go.”

Willis went round to the driver’s side, letting himself in and starting the engine.

“You’ve got until the end of the day to give yourself up, Bodie,” he said as he drove away.

Doyle waited until Willis’ car turned into the main road before lowering his gun.

“You can’t seem to stay out of trouble, can you,” he said as he unlocked Bodie’s cuffs.

“Yeah well, I’d like to know how it keeps finding me.” Bodie took off his jacket and wrapped it round Doyle’s shoulders. “What are you doing out, anyway? Were you sleepwalking?”

“Pavlou called me down. What was that about?”

“Let’s go inside first. Easy does it.”

Bodie helped Doyle back upstairs, fending off Pavlou’s questions. Doyle sat on the bed, putting his head in his hands until his world settled back into place.

“Sorry mate,” Bodie said, sitting next to him. “We have to get out of here.”

“I know. We must have been followed out of the hospital yesterday.”

“No chance,” said Bodie. “There was nothing on the road, there was no way I missed a tail.”

“How else did Willis find us?”

“Think about it, Ray; who else knows about this place?”

“No one except Cowley.” Doyle turned. “You think Cowley tipped Six off? You’re off your rocker. He nearly shot Willis himself a couple of times this weekend, and I’m not exaggerating.”

Bodie shrugged, as unwilling to face the implications as Doyle. “Why would he tell me Marikka was dead when she’s not? I’ve just spoken to her. Willis has her.”

Doyle stared at him. “So what’s the score?”

“I sign a confession and they let her go with asylum. I don’t and they hand her back to Schuman.”

Doyle absorbed this. “Sod that, we’ve got to talk to the old man.”

“Yeah, I know. But can we get you back to a hospital first? Your skin colour’s making me sea sick.”

Bodie sorted out a clean shirt and jeans for Doyle to change into. As he helped him dress, he saw blood blotting the bandages at the site of the wound.

~~~

CI5 Infirmary’s current location was a quick drive away on the south side of Chelsea Bridge. Bodie drove while Doyle sat in the back seat of the car, his eyes closed, his breathing hard.

He wondered if Doyle was right, that this was too risky. But if he could get him in to CI5’s own clinic, it had to be more secure than an NHS hospital. Though he was starting to wonder.

“By the way,” Doyle said. “Where’s our car?”

“Oh, you’re awake are you?”

“You had the Cortina out, didn’t you? What happened to it?”

“I didn’t want you bleeding all over it.”

“You lost it. What about the F1, you were waving that about yesterday?”

“Stop nagging, I’ll get you another.”

Bodie tried the RT, but all he got was hiss. The radios did go down sometimes, but it didn’t help his creeping sense of unease.

Their cautious circling of the building turned out to be unnecessary; there was no one watching. Probably because, as they discovered, the Infirmary was closed. That would be a first. It was only a small place, but it was in constant use and open twenty four hours. He banged on the door but there was no answer.

Doyle, sick of waiting, got himself out of the car and came over. “Looks like Cowley cured them all. He must have laid hands on them.”

“I’ll lay hands on him,” Bodie muttered. “Something’s bloody well not right.”

Doyle joined him in staring at the darkened building, contemplating the mystery of it.

“Oh well,” Bodie said, eventually. “It’s back to Kings with the riff raff, I suppose.”

They found Dr Kaur on duty in the busy A&E department. She made a swift, disapproving assessment of Doyle’s condition and led him into a treatment bay, Bodie trailing after.

“You’ve an infection, Mr Doyle” she said after she had examined him. “We’ll start you on IV fluids and antibiotics and then take a look at the wound. I’ll get a nurse to set up the drip.”

“Go on,” Doyle said to Bodie, when she had gone. “Call him now.”

Bodie found a pay phone and dialled Cowley’s personal office line. He heard the long ring for divert before the call connected and Julie answered. He pushed coins into the slot.

“Julie love, it’s me. Is he there?”

“I’m sorry Bodie, you can’t speak to him.”

“If he’s in a meeting can you get him out? Or I’ll give you this number. It’s urgent.”

She hesitated. “It’s not that.”

“Tell me what’s going on. Is he hurt or something?”

“He says he won’t take a call from you or Doyle under any circumstances.”

“What? Why?”

“I don’t know. I’m sorry.”

Bodie was momentarily lost for words, and then anger took over.

“Well then, perhaps you could give him a message. Perhaps you could thank him for giving us up to MI6.”

“Are you in trouble?” Julie’s voice lowered to almost a whisper. “Hold on, I’ll patch you through to Vic.”

“No, I’ve got to go.”

“Wait, Bodie, don’t go to HQ –“

He slammed down the phone before she could finish. Then he slammed it down again. What was the old fucker playing at?

He went back to Doyle’s bay where a nurse was setting up his IV. Bodie was silent while she worked, but Doyle soon opened his eyes, alerted by his stillness.

“What happened?” he asked, when they were briefly alone.

“He won’t speak to me,”

“You what?”

“Or you.”

“Who told you that?”

“Julie.”

“Did she say why?”

“Ah come on, she didn’t know. Like he’d brief his agents.”

“He actually wouldn’t speak to you. Bloody hell, he -.”

He broke off as Dr Kaur came back into the bay.

“I don’t know if this is anything,” she said as she checked the progress of Doyle’s drip. “But there’s been a man hanging around in reception since early this morning. He said he was waiting for someone, but as soon as you came in, he left.”

“Ey up,” Doyle said. “Sounds like one of the boys.”

“He probably went to call it in.” Bodie’s hand went to the gun holstered under his jacket. He moved to the bay’s entrance where he could watch the public areas of the department. “Can you take that needle out, Doctor?”

“You’re leaving?” She asked incredulously.

“One way or another. We’d rather it was without a shoot out in A&E first.”

“Can’t you call your organisation for help?”

She caught the look Bodie and Doyle exchanged.

“I see.” After a moment’s reflection she began to undo the work the nurse had done. “I’m not happy with your condition, Mr Doyle.”

“I know how you feel.”

“You must return to have your wound checked.” She helped him back into his shirt. “You’ve had both bone and tissue damage and now an infection. You must understand, you have a lot of healing to do before you can think of yourself as out of danger.”

“Thanks Doc, I’ll be careful.”

“See that you are.” She took a prescription pad from her pocket and scribbled rapid hieroglyphics across it. “Antibiotics and painkillers,” she said. “You won’t fully recover from the anaesthetic for a day or so, so don’t drive, operate heavy machinery or do whatever it is you’re about to rush off and do.”

Doyle zipped his jacket, concealing the blood soaked shirt beneath. He stuffed the prescription into his pocket and joined Bodie in scanning the reception area for likely lads among the staff and patients there.

Bodie handed Doyle the gun he had been keeping for him, and they made their way through the department, into the car park. There was nothing suspicious and their way was clear.

“We should go back to HQ,” said Bodie once they were sure they were not being followed. “Even if we’re not wanted.”

Doyle nodded grimly. “There’s nowhere else, mate.”

CI5’s current base was a a modest Victorian building in North London. A disused primary school, its classrooms were used for briefing rooms and the school hall for physical training. A sign reading, ‘headmaster’ was glued fast to Cowley’s office door.

They drove in through the open gates expecting the usual punch up for a parking space, and found the forecourt empty. Completely free of cars, it had reverted back to its natural state as a kid’s playground, marked out for football and netball.

“Now what?” Bodie exclaimed, stopping the car and getting out.

He tried the main front doors. They were locked, and there was no sign of Eric, the usual daytime security guard. He knocked hard several times and got no reply.

Doyle peered into ground floor windows, tried the side doors and wandered round to the garage and equipment store at the back. But Bodie knew there was no point; dark and silent, the place gave off the hollow vibration of an abandoned building.

“Sod all,” Doyle confirmed succinctly. He sat, wearily on the step. “I’m beginning to take it personally.”

“They must have turned this around overnight,” said Bodie.

Like a mobile army unit, CI5 never considered the space on which it stood as permanent. It changed its address a couple of times a year for both security and more mundane reasons. There was a well-rehearsed routine, and the organisation could, with a little preparation, relocate in half a day, computer banks and telephone numbers included.

There was a move due, but not for another month. The premises had been found, but the address had not been released. Julie had tried to warn him this morning. He should have listened, because it could be anywhere.

“Bodie,” Doyle said. “What’s going on?”

His eyes were fever-bright, his skin ashen, and he didn’t seem able to move his wounded arm at all now. He was a lot worse off than he was making out and this tour of recently deserted CI5 buildings wasn’t helping.

“Cowley’s shutting us out. He’s shutting me out.”

“It’s a bit extreme, isn’t it? Hiding the whole organisation from us. I keep thinking they’re all going to leap out and shout ‘surprise’.”

“I wouldn’t hold your breath for that, Ray.”

He sat on the step with Doyle, watching the breeze whisk litter and leaves around the empty concrete of the old playground. In the silence, an explanation came.

“He must think I’m working for the East Germans. He must have suspected me this whole time.”

“No way. He raised hell to clear you yesterday.”

“You’re telling me that, so I believe it and maybe he believes I didn’t murder Bierman. But he doesn’t know for sure about my connection with Marikka. She’s married to a Stasi officer, double or no, and I met her secretly. I could have told her anything. Now he can never trust me.”

Doyle’s expression was hard and thoughtful. He could find no better explanation. They both knew of other agents who had doubts thrown on their loyalty and received this exact same treatment. They had been left out in the cold without a chance to clear their name.

“You know what,” Doyle began. “One things been bothering me about all this.”

“Go on.”

“Why you? I mean, you were getting your end away with someone else’s wife. Nothing unusual there. But why you?”

“What do you mean?”

“MI6 could have framed anyone for Bierman’s murder.”

“Convenience. I could be manipulated through Marikka.”

“Maybe so, and, at a stretch, that gives you a motive against her husband. But why should you kill Bierman? Picking on you was guaranteed to drag CI5 in and light a firework under George Cowley. I can think of a dozen simpler ways to do the job.”

“You’re saying MI6 had another reason for choosing a CI5 man?”

“Yeah,” he said. “And I’d like to know what it is. Let’s go and get Marikka, then we can figure it out, eh?”

Without Doyle he would be gone now, he would be lost, floating outside the atmosphere, in an airless void. He had tied himself down with all of his partner’s reassurances, and the ties had severed one by one. The last rope was Doyle. It was always like this. Doyle kept him earthbound.

“We should split up,” said Bodie.

“No.”

“You can make contact with Cowley through one of the lads. I can drop you at Jax’s place, it’s not far from here. Cowley’ll talk to you; he’ll only shut you out if you stick with me.”

“No.”

“Come on, you’re no use with that shoulder, anyway.”

“I said no, Bodie.”

He nodded; it was not worth arguing when Doyle got that look in his eye.

“All right,” he said standing and offering a hand to him to help him up. “Let’s get out of here.”

He said he had to fill up the car, and soon drew up at a petrol station at the end of a small row of shops close to Jax’s place. He pointed out a chemist a few doors down.

“Do you want me to get your prescription?”

“I can do it,” Doyle said, as Bodie knew he would.

He waited until Doyle was inside before starting the car and driving off.

Bodie had met secretly with a woman suspected of being an East German agent. He now had to accept the consequences of this unwitting act of betrayal.

Doyle had not been involved, and Cowley had no reason to mistrust him. There should be nothing to stop him going back to the squad. Bodie was aware, and Doyle would be too, that this door inched closed with every minute they spent together.

The best Bodie could do for him now was to absolve him from the responsibilities of their partnership and let him return untainted by suspicions of disloyalty.

Leaving him standing on a North London pavement was a brutal, but necessary, way of managing this.


End of part one

go to part two


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