Longer Than Five Years
Raising his glass, Bodie smiled suggestively into clear green eyes. The noise of the pub disappeared with the encouragement he found on Gillian Miles' face.
Tilting her head, Gillian leaned over to shout in Bodie's ear. "Do you think your friend would be hurt if we didn't finish our drinks?"
Bodie glanced across the table to where Ray Doyle sat engrossed in Sarah Moore's 'conversation'. "Right now, I don't think he would notice a goldfish in his lager."
Her hands cupping her ears protectively, Gillian cooed, "I know a much quieter place that serves a particularly good malt scotch."
"A veritable Garden of Eden," said Bodie.
"Without the serpent."
Trying not to appear overly eager, Bodie rose. Helping Gillian to her feet, he gallantly draped her coat across her thin shoulders before crossing to his partner's side. "Ray." When Doyle failed to respond, Bodie bent closer. "4.5 to 3.7, come in 3.7."
Doyle turned to regard his friend not even trying to suppress a groan of disgust. "Bodie, you've got the timing of an elephant in heat."
"Sorry," Bodie smiled. "I just thought I'd let you know Gillian and I are leaving."
"Right." Before Bodie could walk away, Doyle grabbed his arm. "Don't forget Cowley is expecting us bright and early in the morning." As Bodie nodded acknowledgement, Doyle repeated, "Bright and early."
"I remember," said Bodie. Glancing at Sarah, he added, "The question is, will you?"
"Bloody hell," Doyle muttered, "Cowley owes me. Five years with you as a partner is more torture than anyone should be forced to endure."
A broad smile on his lips, Bodie patted Doyle's shoulder. "Good luck tonight, sunshine."
"What makes you think I need luck?" sputtered Doyle.
Taking Gillian's arm, Bodie pushed his way through the noisy crowd. Reaching the door he pulled it open and gratefully followed Gillian into the cool night. As the door snapped closed behind him, he paused to take a deep breath of the crisp, fresh air. Snuggling close against Gillian's side, Bodie guided her slowly across the car park to Bodie's Lagonda.
A hand on Gillian's elbow, Bodie bent to unlock the passenger side door. He had no warning when his grip was torn free and he was flung to the rocky ground.
"Don't try anything stupid, Mr. Bodie," ordered a muffled voice above him. "I'd hate to see this pretty young lady pay for you foolishness."
Cautiously, Bodie pulled himself to his feet. Facing him were four ski-masked figures. One had a firm grip on Gillian, while the other three faced the CI5 agent.
"Now that we've got your attention, Mr. Bodie, where is your partner, Mr. Doyle?"
Smiling slightly, Bodie shook his head. Tensing too late, Bodie doubled over as a fist contacted forcefully with his stomach. Straightening, a hand protecting his sore abdomen, he glared at his assailant, his lips thinning in anger. Even if he hadn't been badly outnumbered, Gillian's presence effectively tied his hands.
"Now, shall we try that question again? Where is Doyle?"
His jaw tightening, Bodie shrugged his shoulders. Anticipating the blow this time, he moved with it, weakening its power and his own pain. Winded, he began to lift his head when a hard right to the jaw slapped him back against the car.
Struggling against her captor, Gillian cried, "Please stop, why are you doing this?"
Ignoring the young woman's plea, a muffled voice growled, "I'm losing patience, Mr. CI5. Where is your partner?"
His eyes focused on the shadow in front of him, Bodie made no move to reply, tensing as the man on his right moved closer. Two more blows to the stomach and head had him leaning against the car for support.
Obviously horrified, Gillian watched as the blood dripped slowly down Bodie's chin. Unable to stand it any longer, she said, "Please stop, Ray Doyle's still inside the pub. Please don't hurt Bodie anymore."
"Gillian, no!" gasped Bodie.
Though muffled, the satisfaction in the man's voice was clearly evident. "Well, it seems the young lady has brains as well as looks." Slapping Bodie across the face, the tallest of the four men continued smugly, "Which is more than I can say for you – darling."
His head snapping up, Bodie tried to ignore the pain, focusing his attention on that one word and its strange familiarity.
"What are we going to do?" whispered the man holding Gillian. "The boss wanted both of them."
"Well he's not going to get both of them," growled the leader. "At least not tonight. It's too dangerous for us to hang around here any longer."
"They were supposed to be together. What happened?"
"How should I know? They didn't, so let the girl go and let's get out of here."
Watching Gillian walk nervously across the parking lot, Bodie sighed with relief. A few more steps and she would be safe, allowing him the opportunity of venting some of his pent-up aggression.
Turning to glare defiantly at his attackers, Bodie grunted in pain when a gun but came smashing down on the back of his head. His knees buckling, he was unconscious before he hit the ground.
Confused and scared, Gillian pushed her way back inside the pub to the table she and Bodie had vacated only minutes before. Distraught, her hands twisting uncontrollably, she yelled, "Ray!" Her cry going unnoticed, she roughly shook the young agent's shoulder. "Ray, please, Bodie's in trouble."
The beautiful Sarah forgotten, Doyle focused his attention on what Gillian was trying to say. "What about Bodie?"
"Four masked men attacked us outside," explained Gillian breathlessly.
"By his car."
His mouth dry with fear for his partner's safety, Doyle ordered, "You two stay here. I'll be back as soon as I can."
Pushing his way through the crowd, Doyle waited until he was outside before pulling his gun. Hard metal gripped firmly with both hands, he cautiously checked each shadow for hidden danger as he slowly made his way to where Bodie had parked earlier that evening.
Rounding the car he was disappointed to find there was no sign of either Bodie or his assailants. Doyle crouched to give himself better cover as he softly called, "Bodie?"
The soft moaning of the wind was his only answer.
Instinctively knowing he was alone, Doyle straightened. As he did so, his eye was caught by a red drop glistening in the moonlight. His hand shaking, he gently touched the wet blood scarring the side window of his partner's Lagonda. "Damn you, Bodie. Why couldn't you have been more careful?"
His eyes constantly searching the shadows, Doyle crossed to his own car. Unlocking the door, he climbed behind the wheel, the engine roaring to life before he had closed the door. Pulling up in front of the pub, he saw Gillian and Sarah huddled in the doorway.
Dragging Gillian along with her, Sarah quickly opened the passenger door. Pushing the frightened young girl into the backseat, Sarah sat next to Doyle. "Did you find anything?"
"Nothing. Whoever they are, they're long gone with Bodie as hostage." Squealing the tires as he pulled away from the curb, Doyle said, "Hand me the R.T. from the glove box, would you, Love?"
Hysterical, her face streaked with tears, Gillian demanded, "What are you guys anyway? Why did those men hurt Bodie?"
Ignoring Gillian's questions, Doyle flipped the R.T. on, holding it firmly in one hand, while the other deftly guided the car through the busy streets of London. "4.5 to base, put me through to Alpha Charlie."
"That won't be possible 4.5," Ruth's soft voice replied. "Alpha Charlie has retired for the evening and has left orders that he is not to be disturbed. If you will dictate your request, I will relay it to Alpha first thing in the morning."
"Negative base," snapped Doyle. "This is an A-1 priority. Agent 3.7 has been abducted. I am about twenty minutes from headquarters. If Alpha Charlie isn't there when I arrive, I will personally tear out your transistors and stuff them down your . . ."
"Understood, 4.5," Ruth hastily interrupted, "base out."
Her voice cracking, Gillian demanded, "What are you? Spies?"
"CI5," corrected Doyle.
Surprised, Sarah turned to peer into the backseat. "Are you telling me you've never heard of CI5? Where have you been, on the moon?"
"Not quite," sniffed Gillian, "Australia."
Shaking her head, Sarah explained, "CI5 is an organization with free rein to deal with terrorists, assassins, and anybody else who threatens this nation's most important resource – it's people."
"But why did those four men want Ray?" asked Gillian.
"Me!" Shocked, Doyle snapped, "What are you talking about?"
"They kept hurting Bodie because he wouldn't tell them where you were." Her lips quivering, Gillian confessed, "I'm sorry, I couldn't stand it anymore and I told them you were in the pub."
"Yet they weren't waiting for me when I came out," Doyle softly noted. His voice hardening, he asked, "What did they say after you told them where I was?"
Confused, Gillian shook her head. "I don't remember."
"Try, dammit," ordered Doyle. "It could mean Bodie's life."
Closing her eyes to block out the swiftly passing buildings, Gillian concentrated. "The man holding me said the boss would be angry, he wanted both of you. Another man said he couldn't have both of you, at least not tonight. They knew you both by name and called Bodie Mr. CI5. I didn't know what that meant at the time."
Frightened, Sarah said, "That means they're still after you, Ray. Who are they? What do they want?"
His thoughts jumbled, Doyle shook his head. Nothing made sense. They weren't presently on assignment so terror tactics to get them to curb their investigation was unnecessary. Hoping Cowley could find the answers escaping his confused thoughts, Doyle pushed the gas pedal closer to the floor. No matter what he'd said to Bodie earlier, five years wasn't long enough.
His head throbbing, Bodie slowly opened his eyes. Unable to focus, he gently shook his head, quickly regretting the move as his vision blurred and consciousness threatened to slip away. Breathing deeply, he flinched as a twinge in his side reminded him of the beating he had received.
When his sight finally cleared, he surveyed his prison. The large, almost empty warehouse presented a number of avenues for escape. Unfortunately, he was in no position to take advantage of the situation.
With his wrists handcuffed to a steel beam above his head, he hung suspended over the dirty floor. Making him feel like a wishbone his legs were pulled apart with each ankle tied securely to separate pillars.
Completely helpless, he stifled a groan, idly wondering if there was anyone close enough to hear and profoundly grateful there wasn't. Subconsciously, he had been fearful he would wake up to find a badly beaten or dead Ray Doyle beside him.
"Well, Mr. Bodie, I see you've finally awakened."
His head snapping up, Bodie tried to twist his body so he could face a man whose voice was painfully familiar. "Chives!"
"I'm flattered that you remember me, but frankly surprised. With all the real criminals you've dealt with I expected to be a vaguely remembered ghost from your past."
"I don't generally forget the face or voice of a bent copper who tries to kill me or slaps my face – twice," growled Bodie.
Angrily, Chives backhanded Bodie across the cheek.
"Make that three times."
"I wasn't bent. I was doing my job."
"Oh right," Bodie snarled, "I forgot that there was a new law allowing cops to whip private citizens because of their sexual preference."
His face flushed with fury, Chives backhanded Bodie once more. Positioning his arm for another blow, he was stopped by a voice from the doorway."
"That will be all, Chives. We can't afford to waste more time waiting for Mr. Bodie to wake up from another beating."
"Yes, sir. Sorry, sir." Meekly, Chives backed away.
Twisting his head as far as he could, Bodie regarded the men confronting him with disgust. "Hail, hail the gang's all here. Let's see now, if I remember correctly, it's ex-Chief Constable Green, ex-Detective Sergeant Reed, ex-Detective Constable Turner, and ex-Constables Bates and Severs. Taking the law into your own hands again, I see."
"What we did was in the public interest. Even George was impressed with our twenty-two percent reduction in the crime rate," defended Green.
"It's Mr. Cowley to you," snapped Bodie. In a more soothing voice, he continued, "I guess some people just don't appreciate the advantage of a police state."
Straightening his shoulders defensively, Green raised his head. Glaring maliciously at the helpless CI5 agent, he asked, "Do you have everything you need, Chives?"
Chives crossed to a table Bodie could see out of the corner of his eye.
"Everything is as you ordered, sir," said Chives. "We're ready to begin when you give the word."
Bodie's eyes widened when Chives walked back into his field of view. In the ex-Inspector's hand was a rawhide whip. Recalling the beating he would have received years before if Doyle hadn't intervened, Bodie muttered, "At least you guys are consistent."
Folding his hands behind his back, Green calmly replied, "Shall we begin, gentlemen? I don't wish to keep George waiting any longer than necessary."
An involuntary gasp escaping his lips, Bodie watched in shocked helplessness as Chives moved behind him. His skin crawling, he waited in horrified resignation for the first crack of the whip – and the burning pain that would follow.
Storming into Cowley's office, Doyle demanded, "Any word?"
His own frustration obvious, Cowley shook his head. "No demands have been made to any of the news services."
"Where are Sarah and Gillian?"
"Safe house seven with Myers. I thought it best to keep them in protective custody until we know exactly what's going on."
Doyle nodded agreement as he silently paced the width of the room. "It's been over twelve hours. We should have heard something if . . ."
"Exactly," interrupted Cowley, "which supports my theory. The kidnapping was not for profit. It has something to do with your past or Bodie's. Think, Lad!"
Exasperated, Doyle snapped, "What do you think I've been doing? You won't let me out on the streets to help look."
"It's too dangerous and not just for yourself, Doyle," Cowley insisted. "Whatever plans these kidnappers have made include you both. The only thing keeping Bodie alive could be your absence. Until we know more, you're confined to headquarters and that is a direct order. Understood?"
Reluctantly backing down, Doyle nodded. "Yes, sir."
The sound of running feet broke the uncomfortable tension.
Knocking lightly, Murphy burst uninvited into the room. "We just received this in the post." Flourishing a large manila envelope, Murphy hastened across the room to his superior.
Barely controlling the trembling in his hands, Cowley took the envelope. Opening it carefully, he pulled out a cassette and a photograph. Handing the picture to Doyle, he pulled a tape player closer and quickly inserted the cassette. A finger reaching to press play was stopped by Doyle's soft gasp.
"Oh my God!"
Fingering the picture carefully so he wouldn't smear any possible prints, Doyle laid it on the desk in front of his chief.
Though he had fought in many wars and seen many atrocities inflicted on the human body, Cowley was convinced that a whipping was among the cruelest. Closing his eyes, he tried not to think of the pain Bodie had endured. Breathing deeply, he resolutely pushed the photo out of his mind. Pressing the play button on the tape player, he forced himself to concentrate on its message.
"As I'm sure you've been informed, George, we have your man Bodie. It was frightfully easy to subdue him. The years have made you lax. Now, this is the proposition. We are reasonable men. A fair exchange, you for Mr. Bodie. A photo has been enclosed to ensure your co-operation. We have no desire to kill Mr. Bodie. But as you see, his life can be made very unpleasant. You shall be notified later of the details for the exchange. Needless to say, if you do not agree, Mr. Bodie's further existence will be very painful and very short."
When it was obvious the message had ended, Cowley shakily pushed the stop button. "That voice is very familiar, if only I could place it." Frustrated, he punched the eject button. Carefully handing the cassette, envelope and picture to Murphy, he ordered, "Get these down to the lab. I want to know everything there is to know about them and I want to know it within the hour."
Throwing Doyle a sympathetic glance, Murphy swallowed convulsively when his eyes rested on the photograph. His lips thinning angrily, he gruffly replied, "Yes, sir. Consider it already done."
His mind turning elsewhere, Cowley didn't notice Murphy's exit. Head down, he paced slowly in the confined space behind his desk. "Now, let's see what we've learned from that tape."
His eyes filled with tears, Doyle's gaze rested intently upon his boss. "You can't do it."
Raising his head, Cowley paused in his pacing. "What was that, Doyle?"
"You heard me – sir. Bodie would have me hide if I let you sacrifice yourself for him."
"It's not Bodie's choice, nor is it yours, Doyle. Unless something has changed in the last five minutes, I'm still in charge of CI5 and my decision, whatever it may be, will stand." The piercing look in his eyes staring down any protest Doyle might have made, Cowley resumed his pacing. "Now, what did that tape tell us?"
"Well, he kept referring to 'we' so we know there's more than one and they seem to be seeking some king of revenge."
Exasperated, Cowley shook his head. "We already know there's at least five, according to Miss Miles account of the abduction. Think man! There's got to be more, something that will give us a clue to who they are."
Each word burned into is memory, Doyle mentally reviewed the demand. Hesitantly he said, "The man said you'd become lax over the years which seems to imply he came into contact with you and CI5 a few years ago."
"Yes, but how many years? We can't review every case CI5 has handled since its inception."
"They know Bodie and they know me, so it has to be something the three of us handled together. But, as you're the principal target, where you dealt the deciding blow."
"That narrows it down considerably," snapped Cowley sarcastically.
Exasperated, Doyle's balled fist punched ineffectually at the stuffed chair next to him. "Bloody hell, sir! This whole thing doesn't make any sense. Why did they want me a well as Bodie last night, yet today you seem to be the target?"
"Maybe they felt the two of you offered more bargaining power than just one?" suggested Cowley. "I can't say it's easy to understand the criminal mind."
His mouth open to respond, Doyle was interrupted by the ringing of Cowley's private phone line. Surprised, Doyle asked, "How many people know your number?"
"About six," Cowley replied, "including you and Bodie."
Crossing determinedly to his desk, Cowley picked up the receiver. "Cowley."
A pain filled voice came across the wire. "Hello, sir."
"Tell Doyle he should reconsider and put up that plaque."
Before Cowley could reply the voice he had heard on the tape broke in, "I decided you would require proof that your man is alive, George. If you want him to stay that way be at the reservoir in three hours. Need I mention you'd better be alone?"
With the irritating buzz of an empty line ringing in his ears, Cowley slowly replaced the receiver.
Impatient, Doyle demanded, "What happened, sir?"
Reciting the conversation word for word, Cowley sadly asked, "What did Bodie mean when he said you should put up a plaque?"
Doyle shook his head. "I don't know!"
"You've got to know if we're to rescue Bodie."
Sitting heavily, his head in his hands, Doyle tried to think back over the years. The long stakeouts that should have been boring but weren't as he listened to Bodie's endless and sometimes fantastic, stories of his exploits. The silly conversations loaded with pitfalls that kept his mind and body alert.
Snapping his fingers, Doyle jumped to his feet. "Of course! It all fits, the whipping, a plaque, and the three of us."
"Explain yourself, man."
"Chief Constable Green and Inspector Chives, they liked to keep their town in order by using a whip along with other rather unorthodox methods."
Confused, Cowley muttered, "What has that got to do with a plaque?"
"When you first sent us to investigate Green and his twenty-two percent drop in the crime rate, we parked in front of a shopping centre. I lived in that town when I was in my teens. I told Bodie that at the end of the mall was a dance hall with a beautiful blonde and we . . ."
"I get the picture, Doyle," interrupted Cowley. "Stick to the relevant facts."
"Bodie said they should put up a plaque, 'Here for the first time, Ray Doyle' or something along those lines. That's what he's trying to tell us, sir. Green, Chives and probably a few of the other bent coppers we nailed three years ago are his abductors."
Cowley called the computer room. "I want everything that machine of yours can dig up on ex-Chief Constable Gerald Green and ex-Inspector Chives."
"Yes, sir," acknowledged Mary, "as soon as we've finished the program already in progress."
"Damn the program. This is top priority. If I don't have that information in an hour, I will take that computer of yours and reconnect its circuits so it can't tell its input from its output."
"Yes, sir," Mary gasped. "Switching over now, sir."
In less than an hour, Murphy entered the office with a thick stack of paper. Noticing Cowley's angry scowl, Murphy defended, "You said you wanted everything, sir."
"I know," Cowley grunted, "but that lot will take the entire complement of CI5 a year to check out."
Eagerly, Doyle interrupted, "Sir, I've got an idea. Let me go to my apartment."
"That's a brilliant plan, Doyle. Then if you become a hostage it'll be easier to find Bodie."
"Exactly, because you'll have a bug on me. I'm sure they'll take me to wherever they're holding Bodie. Then you and the lads can be the 7th Calvary."
Shaking his head, Cowley said, "I don't think I like your analogy. Sitting Bull wiped out the 7th Calvary at the Little Big Horn."
"All right, so you can be the Indians," argued Doyle.
Sitting heavily in his chair, Cowley reluctantly offered, "What if something goes wrong?"
"It won't. Besides, I don't think there's a prison that could hold the two of us if we're together."
"All right," agreed Cowley, "get yourself suited up. Murphy, get someone sifting through that report, then go with Doyle. Remember, no heroics, we want them to take Doyle."
"Yes, sir," said Murphy.
As the two men rushed eagerly for the door, Cowley growled, "Keep me posted on all developments."
Nodding agreement, Doyle and Murphy quickly left the room before their chief could change his mind.
Contemplating the closed door, Cowley sighed. If Green was after the head of CI5, there was no longer a need for him to kidnap Doyle. It was the only reason Cowley had agreed to it. Silently, he admitted it was also an easy way to make sure Doyle wasn't there to try and stop him when he left for the reservoir.
Hanging from a beam, pain his only companion, Bodie desperately hoped Doyle was able to understand the vague reference to an incident that had happened many years before. Even though he wasn't certain that discovering the identity of his kidnappers would help his situation. But if he knew George Cowley and Raymond Doyle, Green and his colleagues would not escape the clutches of CI5 forever.
Bodie twisted, trying without success to ease the pull on his tortured arms and shoulders. Realizing that thinking about the pain merely intensified it, Bodie attempted to concentrate on something else. Confused, he tried to make sense of the telephone call Green had placed to Cowley after acquiring the chief's private number from Bodie's tortured mind.
Told to think up one short sentence that would prove to his superior that he was alive, without revealing the identity of his abductors, Bodie had forced himself to think back and try to find a link that would save him from further abuse, yet give Doyle a clue.
His lips twitching, Bodie remembered his partner's indignation when Bodie had assumed the blond from the dance hall had been his first sexual encounter. After all, Ray had protested, "I was nearly fifteen."
"We must not be treating you right if you can still smile."
His head snapping up at the sound of the hated voice, Bodie sneered, "I always thought you could use some lessons in etiquette, Chives. Slapping your guests about is not considered normal."
"Normal," growled Chives, "what would you know about what's normal and what isn't? Because of you I just spend three bloody years where a normal day ended fighting off the sexual advances of my cellmate."
Bodie kept all expression off his face as he reminded, "But it didn't bother you when you sentenced other people, most of them innocent, to the same fate."
"They weren't innocent; they were brought before the magistrate and duly sentenced."
"Oh, yeah," Bodie sarcastically agreed, "it didn't matter that the evidence was contrived. Admit it, they didn't measure up to the standards you and your boss set. That alone was enough to condemn them."
"It worked, didn't it?" defended Chives. "The crime rate dropped an unprecedented twenty-two percent."
"You think a police state has its' place in society?" asked Bodie.
"Yes, when it's governed correctly."
"Tell that to the survivors of Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, and the other death camps created by Hitler's correctly governed police state."
"Damn you, you twist everything I say."
"I don't need to, what you say is already twisted."
Lashing out, Chives blindly swung his arms. He didn't seem to feel his own pain as his fists worked to punch a hole in Bodie's ribcage.
The onslaught leaving him gasping, Bodie bent trying to protect his already damaged ribs. The buzzing in his ears warning him, Bodie sighed. There would be no pain when he was unconscious.
The location transmitter in his shoe giving him a feeling of confidence, Doyle slowly opened the door to enter his flat. He already knew there was a welcoming committee waiting inside. He always left the curtain on the window of his back door open but now it was closed, effectively concealing its present occupants.
Idly, he wondered at his own eagerness to confront the danger within. Realistically, he realized the long hours of waiting and worrying about Bodie had taken their toll. Any action, even if it placed his own life in jeopardy was preferable to quiescent waiting.
Opening the door, he found two ski-masked figures facing him. "I think I'm insulted. "It took four of you goons to take Bodie."
Guns leveled, the shorter of the two men said, "Please step into your bedroom, Mr. Doyle."
Puzzled, Doyle did as he was told, carefully keeping his hands away from his body. Getting himself shot would do Bodie no good. Entering his bedroom, he turned slowly to face the two figures.
Immediately understanding why the request had been made, Doyle tried to talk his way out of obeying the request. "I'm not that kind of guy."
"I said strip, I want all your clothes off and on the bed, now."
Realizing further protest would be futile, Doyle complied. Feeling a little foolish, he slowly unbuttoned his shirt.
The short man moved to the dresser and pulled out a t-shirt, and a pair of faded blue jeans. Throwing them at Doyle, he ordered, "Put these on."
Unhappily recognizing the reasoning behind his strip-tease, Doyle silently prayed they would overlook his shoes. Dressing slowly, he stepped to the side of the bed hoping that by hiding his feet they would forget to make him change his shoes.
Moving to the closet, Turner opened the door. Sifting through the mess inside, he pulled out a worn pair of tennis shoes. "Put these on and hurry it up or we'll take you as is."
His spirits falling, Doyle sadly did as he was told. Realizing his plan had backfired, he inwardly groaned. "I'm sorry, Bodie, I guess the cavalry won't be coming to the rescue this time."
Sitting in a car across from Doyle's apartment, Murphy tired to shake off a feeling of foreboding. He had wanted to follow Ray to search his flat, only to have his friend veto the plan.
"After all," Doyle had pointed out, "we want them to take me. If they're already waiting, this will be over that much sooner."
Glancing at the red light on the transmitter that told him Doyle was still in his apartment, Murphy couldn't stop thinking that something had gone wrong. His Scottish grandmother had always said he was fey.
Pulling out his R.T., he called CI5 headquarters. "6.2 to base."
"Base here," answered Ruth. "Go ahead, 6.2."
"Ruth, love, do me a favor and call Ray."
"You know that's against regulations, 6.2"
"It's strictly business. I want to make sure he's all right."
"Understood. But if you're lying to me, the chief will have your head on a block."
His fingers drumming nervously on the dashboard, Murphy waited impatiently for Ruth's return call.
Her voice unnaturally loud in the silent car, Ruth said, "6.2, 4.5 does not respond. Repeat, there is no response."
Murphy didn't acknowledge the message. Stuffing his R.T. in his pocket, he exited the car and ran across to Doyle's apartment. Gun in hand, he cautiously entered the open back door. It seemed his grandmother was right.
Surveying the room before him, Murphy moved slowly through the flat, fearing that each turn would reveal Doyle's lifeless body. When he entered the bedroom, his stomach dropped. Picking up the shoe that had the bug in it he flung it against the wall. "Dammit, how did they know?"
Murphy pulled out his R.T. and contacted base. "This is 6.2, tell Alpha Charlie that 4.5 has been taken. The bug is US. Repeat, Doyle is no longer wearing the tracking device. He's on his own."
Carefully shaking his head to clear the fog, Bodie twisted his body. The pain in his side was a forceful reminder of Chives vicious attack.
"It's about time you woke up, Sleeping Beauty."
Bodie's head snapped up at the familiar voice. He groaned and tried to focus on the battered face of his partner. "You idiot! What the bloody hell are you doing here?"
Suspended from the same beam as his partner, Doyle forced a smile. "I thought you might be lonely."
"So you walked into a bloody trap?"
"I was bugged," defended Doyle.
"Was being the operative word here."
"How was I to know? I've changed clothes for a date, but never for a kidnapping."
His eyes taking in the stained t-shirt and torn jeans, Bodie smiled. "They could have at least let you put on a tie."
"Their tastes obviously don't run toward the sublime," said Doyle.
Though his voice was light as he traded sallies with his partner Doyle was burning inside as he angrily regarded Bodie's battered figure. When he'd first entered the warehouse he had Bodie was dead. No one could be abused that badly and still be alive. Only the slight rise and fall of his friend's chest proved to Doyle that he was wrong.
Suppressing a groan, Bodie growled, "I'll have the Cow's hide for using you as bait."
"It wasn't his idea," protested Doyle. "It was mine. He didn't agree right off, he was afraid something would go wrong."
"Why does he always have to be right?" muttered Bodie.
Doyle ruefully noted, "I guess that's why he's in charge of CI5 and I'm not."
"Well, I'll tell you one thing the day you become head of CI5 is the day I retire."
Realizing the conversation was taking Bodie's mind off his pain, Doyle feigned indignation, "What makes you think I'll be made the new chief?"
"Logic," said Bodie.
"Oh, oh," Doyle hooted, "when have you ever been logical?"
"I always have been. You just never appreciated my kind of logic."
"Bodie, logic isn't a car where you can buy different models. There's only one way to reason correctly."
"That's what you say."
"You're bloody bonkers," snapped an exasperated Doyle.
"I agree with your assessment, Mr. Doyle."
Tension was audible in Bodie's voice as he said, "Ray, you remember Chives, formerly bent Inspector, now Chief Tormentor." Receiving the expected slap across the face, Bodie continued, "He's very good with those."
"I am also," said Chives, "very good with a whip, as your partner is about to find out."
Bodie twisted to meet the ex-copper's eyes. "Why? What bloody good will it do?"
"I'll make me happy." Chives smiled.
Hoping Bodie couldn't hear the fear in his voice, Doyle suggested, "Never argue with a simpleton, Bodie; it makes them surly."
Turning another page of the computer report lying on his desk, Cowley sighed and gently massed his temples. It was difficult to focus his tired eyes on the blurring figures on the readouts.
In less than an hour he would have to leave for the reservoir if he was to get there in time. Bodie's life and now Doyle's could depend on it. Desperately hoping to find a clue to their whereabouts, he sat studying the only avenue left to their investigation.
He'd made a bad miscalculation allowing Doyle to return to his apartment. He just hoped the lad wouldn't be the one to pay for it.
Remembering Green's protests when his misconduct had been discovered, Cowley had been certain that as head of CI5 he was the main target of the man's wrath with Bodie's kidnapping merely a means to obtain that objective. But now he wasn't so sure. Doyle's abduction proved that all three were targets. Recognizing this, Cowley also knew his presence at the reservoir would do little for his agents' plight. But it didn't matter. At 1400 hours he would be at the appointed rendezvous.
A soft curse escaping his lips when he realized his mind hadn't registered anything he'd read on the page in front of him, Cowley tried again. Reading through the property listed for Green and his subordinates, his thoughts suddenly became clearer. He flipped through the pages only to discover that what he was looking for wasn't in the listing.
He threw down his pencil and grabbed the sheaf of papers and stalked angrily to the computer room. Confronting Mary, he demanded, "Where are the property listings for Green's wife and daughters?"
Swallowing convulsively, Mary stuttered, "I thought you only wanted a break down on Green and Chives, sir."
"I said I wanted everything and I meant everything on everyone involved in the original case."
Her hands visibly shaking, Mary turned to her keyboard. "Yes, sir. Right away, sir."
The long hours of waiting taking their toll, Cowley paced impatiently around the room. When Murphy entered the room, he barely acknowledged the man's appearance. Why hadn't he realized the report was incomplete sooner?
The sound of the computer filled the room until Cowley wanted to cover his ears. Impatiently, he demanded, "How much longer?"
"Almost ready now, sir, just another minute or two."
"Just a minute or two could cost a man his life."
Her eyes filling with tears, Mary stuttered, "Yes, sir. I know. It won't happen again."
His voice softening, Cowley said, "I'm counting on it."
"Thank you, sir." Taking a deep breath, Mary walked over to the printer. She tore off the top sheet and handed it to her boss. "Here's the information you requested, sir."
With Murphy peering over his shoulder, Cowley eagerly scanned the printout, tense minutes later he pointed a stubby finger at an item halfway down the page. "This has got to be the place."
Confused, Murphy asked, "Sir?"
"What does an abandoned warehouse near the docks sound like to you, Murphy?"
"It sounds like a perfect place to hide two kidnapped CI5 agents, sir."
"Exactly!" His spirits buoyed, Cowley ordered, "Take some of the lads and get over there."
Already partially out the door, Murphy called, "Are you coming, sir?"
"I'll be along shortly," snapped Cowley. "Now on your horse, man."
Sure that his hunch was right, Cowley sighed with relief. Laying the printout on Mary's desk, he crossed to the door. If he left now he would have just enough time to get to the reservoir by the appointed hour. Though he was ninety-five percent certain that Bodie and Doyle would be found at the warehouse, he wasn't willing to see them pay the price if he was wrong.
Listening as rawhide met flesh, Bodie groaned. His own memories of the same abuse were still too fresh to even try to convince himself Doyle's suffering was any less than his own had been. Bodie closed his eyes trying to shut out the sound of his partner's silent cries of pain. Hanging there, helplessly hearing the crack of the whip, Bodie discovered what true pain was. It could not be inflicted physically, but rather mentally.
His arm bent so the rawhide hung limply behind him, Chives stopped as the door to the large room opened. His face twisted cruelly, he said, "Sir?"
"Sorry to spoil your fun, Chives," called Green. "But it's time we were going."
"Yes, sir. Sorry, sir. I hadn't realized it was so late."
His eyes inspecting the damage inflicted on Doyle's back, Green confronted the young agent. "I see you've had a slight indoctrination in Chives' specialty. Please forgive the interruption. We shall return shortly. I hope you won't miss us too much while we're gone."
When the door closed behind their tormentors, Bodie sighed with relief. "I wonder where the hell they're going?"
The pain in his back forgotten, Doyle gasped, "What time is it?"
"You're asking me?" Bodie groaned in disgust. "I'm not even sure which day it is."
Twisting his wrist within the confining handcuff, Doyle winced as he ordered, "See if you can see the time on my watch."
Bodie slowly lifted his head. "I hate to tell you, sunshine, but you're not wearing a watch. Just the thick silver bracelet holding you up."
"Why those bloody bastards! They nicked my watch."
"I never would have guessed you were a clock watcher," said an exasperated Bodie.
"Don't you know what happens at 1400 hours?"
"Let's see," Bodie thoughtfully suggested, "you turn into a pumpkin?"
"Haven't they told you anthing?"
"No, I guess they didn't know I should be in on their strategy meetings."
"At 1400 hours," said Doyle, "Cowley is supposed to meet Green at the reservoir."
"Why the hell would the Cow want to do that?"
"Because they said they would exchange you for him."
"No worries, the higher-ups would never go for it."
"I don't think they know." Doyle sheepishly admitted, "In fact, I think I'm the only other person who does."
"I was so worried about you, I forgot about the rendezvous."
A concern for his chief that he would never admit to lent a sharpness to Bodie's voice. "I can take care of myself."
His eyes sadly noting the bruises and lacerations, Doyle muttered, "I can see that. Knowing you, you kept opening your big mouth and Chives kept trying to shut it."
"It might have been better for Cowley if you had tired opening yours a little more," snapped Bodie.
Realizing Bodie's anger was fueled by exhaustion and pain, Doyle didn't argue. They both knew it really made no difference who had been informed of the meeting. If Cowley had it in his head to be there, no one, not even the Queen, herself, could stop him.
Doyle sighed before hesitantly confessing, "I've been thinking maybe it was time to change professions. What do you think?"
"What? And go back to being a mercenary?"
"There are other things you can do besides killing people. All wars end sometime."
"I'll make a deal with you, Ray," said Bodie. "When innocent people stop being murdered, I'll stop trying to catch the killers."
"Don't you get tired of hurting all the time?"
His mind flashing back to his days in Africa, Bodie mumbled, "I've had worse. And I've seen much worse done to people who didn't even know they were in a war." As a feeling of helplessness washed over him, Bodie forced a lightness to his voice. "Besides, I'm not the one who can get hurt in a padded cell."
"Which means you think I can."
"Let's put it this way," Bodie grinned, "the hospital has a room reserved in your name."
His tone softer, more reflective, Doyle asked, "Do you remember that song the Beatles wrote years ago?"
"Which one? Nowhere man? Help?"
"In spite of himself, Doyle smiled. "No, the one that Mary Wells sang."
His knowledge of music vastly superior to that of his partner, Bodie snorted, "The Beatles didn't write that song, they produced it."
"Technicalities." Undaunted Doyle recited, "Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end."
"You're not turning morbid on me, are you sunshine?"
"I was just thinking how well those lines encompassed these last five years."
"Yeah, well there's a couple of lines further on I think fit better," said Bodie. "We live the life we choose. We fight and never lose."
"Never is a long time. Longer than five years."
"As long as Cowley's out there, never is as long as you keep breathing."
"When did you become a bloody optimist?" groaned Doyle.
"About five years ago." Bodie smiled.
Checking to see that Charlie, Tony, Jax, and Frank Smythe were in position, Murphy guardedly crossed to the warehouse the computer had listed under Green's daughter's name. Fervently he hoped Cowley would be right once more, time was running out. If Bodie and Doyle weren't inside they might never be found – alive. Signaling the other CI5 agents, they rushed the building. Caught by surprise, Turner, Bates, and Severs were taken without a shot being fired.
Roughly throwing Turner against the wall, Murphy demanded, "Where's Doyle and Bodie?"
Receiving no answer, Murphy put his gun directly below the ex-cop's chin. "It won't look at all strange that you committed suicide when we rushed the building."
"You wouldn't dare," sneered Turner. "CI5 is too righteous and proper to openly break the law."
Murphy glared at the smaller man. "Today, I'm the law."
Studying the agent's face, Turner nervously licked his lips. "What the hell, they're through that door."
Careful to keep the ex-copper in front of him as a shield, Murphy cautiously approached the doo. Opening it, he slowly entered the main portion of the warehouse. When he saw the two bloody figures hanging helplessly from the rafters, he grabbed Turner by the lapels and slammed him into the wall. "Where are the bloody keys to the cuffs?"
Slowly, Turner pulled a key ring from his coat pocket and handed it to Murphy.
Recognizing the familiar voice, Doyle tried to twist his head. "Hey, Murphy, is that you?"
"No, it's Sitting Bull." Murphy fought to hide his reaction at the sight of his friends.
"You're late," said Doyle. "If you'd been chief at the Little Big Horn the 7th Cavalry wouldn't have been wiped out."
"You didn't really expect me to miss tea?"
"Could you two discuss this later?" Bodie groaned. "This is not exactly the most comfortable position I've ever been in."
Crossing first to Doyle who was closest to him, Murphy pulled over a box. Standing on it, he reached up and unlocked Doyle's handcuffs. Held gently by Charlie and Tony, Doyle was slowly lowered to the floor.
Murphy suppressed a shudder as he moved to Bodie's side. Painfully aware there was no place on Bodie's body that wouldn't hurt when they touched him, the three men worked quickly.
His voice barely above a whisper, Bodie said, "I told you Cowley would come through."
Doyle glanced around the room. "Murphy, where is Cowley?"
"I don't know. He said he'd be along directly."
"Bloody hell," growled Doyle. "He went to the reservoir where they'll be waiting for him."
"Who?" asked a confused Murphy.
Bodie growled. "Our social directors.
"Green and his cohorts, Chives, and Reed," explained Doyle. "They told Cowley they would exchange Bodie at the reservoir at 1400 hours today."
Glancing at his watch, Murphy muttered, "Shit!"
"Well, what are you hanging around for?" demanded Doyle. "Get out there."
"Charlie, you stay and watch things here," ordered Murphy.
"No." Doyle shook his head. "Give me a gun. I'll watch these bastards 'til help arrives."
"Are you sure you'll be able to? You're hurt pretty bad."
His eyes on Bodie's slumped figure on the floor beside him, Doyle's jaw tightened. "Everyone goes. I don't want anything to go wrong. If even one of those buggers escapes, Murphy, you'll answer to me."
Understanding his friend's feelings, Murphy nodded his understanding. "Help should be here in a few minutes. Crossing swiftly to the door, he grinned. "Sitting Bull is on the warpath again."
Doyle 's lips curved into a smile. It lasted only as long as Murphy could see him. Desperately hoping the three ex-coppers couldn't see how badly his arm was shaking, Doyle trained his gun in their direction.
As the blood began to flow to his extremities, Bodie groaned. With swollen hands, he rubbed ineffectually at the painful cramps tightening his muscles. Swaying as his eyes blurred with the pain, he found his head and shoulders being slowly lowered into Doyle's lap.
Using his free hand, Doyle gently massaged his partner's aching limbs. His head snapped up when Turner made a slight movement. "Give me a reason," Doyle growled. "Please, give me a reason to pull this trigger."
Charging through another red light, Charlie smiled. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Murphy turning an interesting shade of green and covering his eyes. "What's the matter, mate?" asked Charlie. "Don't you like my driving?"
"I know we're in a hurry, Charlie, but we have to arrive alive to do the Cow any good." When they turned the corner on two wheels, Murphy ordered, "Slow down!"
Easing up on the gas pedal, Charlie grinned. "Since this bothers you, I guess you've never ridden with Bodie."
"Can't say I've had the terror. Though, I have seen some of the after effects. The shapes some of those vehicles were in was truly amazing."
"Tell me about it," said Charlie. "I was in the Bentley when he turned it into a watering can."
As they neared the reservoir, Murphy said, "Stop here, Charlie. Tony, you, and Frank get out and make your way quietly around the lake. Maybe you can flush Green's ambush. The rest of us will try to find the old man before he gets himself killed."
Shifting into park, Charlie opened his door. "You realize we're in big trouble if Cowley has his own plans and we mess them up."
"If that's the case, you and I won't have to worry about riding with Bodie ever again. I don't think they ride anything faster than a turtle in the Galapagos Islands."
Using hand signals, Murphy relayed his orders to the rest of the agents. As they neared the lake, he heard voices. The closer they got the clearer the conversation became.
"Above all else, Green, I thought you were a man of your word," said Cowley. "You promised you would release Bodie and Doyle if I met you here."
"Actually, only Mr. Bodie was part of the transaction, George," Green replied.
"Yet now you're telling me you won't even release him."
"You see, George," Green calmly stated, "Chives hasn't had enough fun yet. The score hasn't been settled to his satisfaction."
His gun pointed directly at the ex-chief constable's stomach, Murphy growled, "Drop your guns. The fun is over now, for all of you."
His face mirroring a momentary shock, Cowley quickly recovered. "Bodie? Doyle?"
His lips quivering as his gaze fixed on the bent coppers, Charlie said, "We found them in that warehouse just as you predicted, sir."
"Well," demanded Cowley in exasperation, "are they alive?"
"Yes sir," Murphy nodded. "Though neither is a very pretty sight."
Chives hand moved to his waist pulling a gun from his pocket. He pointed it at Cowley. "You! You always ruin everything."
Softly cursing himself for letting his guard down, Murphy ducked as Chives began shooting wildly. The first bullet caught Cowley in the middle of the chest.
His breath hitching in his throat, Murphy tried to get a bead on Chives. Before he could fire a shot came out of the trees to his right.
His gun held firmly in both hands, Tony's bullet had caught Chives just behind the left ear. As the body slowly crumpled to the ground an unnatural silence settled over the lake.
Fearing the worst, Murphy moved quickly to Cowley's side. Strangely, his first thought was that Doyle was going to kill him for blowing the rescue.
Moaning, Cowley reached a hand up to his white-faced subordinate. "Help me up."
"Excuse me, sir," squeaked Murphy, "but shouldn't you be dead?"
"Don't be daft. Do you think I'd keep this rendezvous without at least wearing a bullet proof vest?"
"Of course not, sir," Murphy stuttered. Deciding not to mention that the vest would be little protection against the type of plans Green had devised, Murphy boldly pointed out, "Still, you were lucky, sir."
"I was, but he wasn't," said Cowley indicating the body Charlie was checking for a pulse.
Murphy looked over to see it was Green.
Looking up, Charlie shook his head. "Near as I can tell, he caught one in the heart."
"Well," Murphy unsympathetically muttered, "maybe Doyle and Bodie can rest easier knowing that in two or three years this won't happen again."
Rubbing his bruised chest, Cowley waved distractedly at Reed as he walked away. "Take care of him. I'll be at the hospital."
Bodie shifted carefully on the hard hospital mattress as he regarded his partner. "Hey, sunshine, you wanna wrestle?"
"Are you kidding?" Doyle snorted in disgust. "Right now, a ninety year old matron could pin you with one hand tied behind her back."
"I gotta do something," groaned Bodie. "Did you know over half the deaths in hospitals are caused by boredom?"
Limping slightly, Cowley entered the hospital room, carrying a brown bag in each arm. He placed them on the tables next to the agents' beds.
His movements slow, Bodie eagerly reached for his bag. Opening it, his face dropped when he looked inside. "Grapes!"
"What were you expecting, Bodie?" asked Cowley.
"A painkiller would have been nice."
Pretending to misunderstand, Cowley forced his lips into a frown. "Are you telling me the sisters aren't taking good care of you?"
"No, sir, that's not what I mean," Bodie protested. "It's just that their painkillers don't come in a bottle, if you get my point, sir."
"Well, I tell you what, Bodie, as soon as they stop giving you the painkillers with the pointed tips, I'll bring the other kind."
Looking with disgust at the IV bottle feeding into his left arm, Bodie nodded. "Have I any choice?"
Cowley backed towards the door. "You two picked a rotten time to be laid up in hospital. I've got a case that's right up your alley. Ach, well I'm sure there will be others. Remember, I need you back on the streets, not in those beds; so do as the sisters tell you or you'll answer to me."
Before the two men could so much as acknowledge the order, Cowley was gone. The door swung slowly closed behind him.
Staring at the white wall in front of him, Bodie's quiet voice demanded, "You didn't tell him."
His brow wrinkled in puzzlement, Doyle's green eyes searched his partner's averted face. "Tell him what?"
"That you're quitting CI5," said Bodie tonelessly.
"Quitting! Are you daft?" When did I say that?"
"Back in the warehouse."
"I asked you a simple question, that's all. I didn't say I was quitting."
His lips quivering slightly, Bodie asked, "Well, are you?"
"Are you?" returned Doyle.
Shaking his head, Bodie ruefully admitted, "I'd go mad on a nine to five job."
"Five years is a long time," pointed out Doyle. Watching Bodie closely, Ray saw the hurt flash across his partner's face before returning to the expressionless mask. "Like I said, it's a long time, but not long enough."
Relief flashed across Bodie's face. He cleared his throat as he asked, "Do you remember that song you were quoting back in the warehouse?"
"You mean Those were the Days?"
"Yeah, you were right, it does fit us."
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser for in our hearts the dreams are still the same.