Author: Sylvie Orp PM
It's easy to assume; less easy to live with the consequences.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Angst - Chapters: 2 - Words: 6,228 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Published: 10-30-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7507039
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Chapter 1 - A tale of assumptions by Jax and Doyle, and a turning of the knife by Merchison.
A select group of them had been picked from Special Branch and CI5 to accompany Super Grass to and from the courtroom to a safe house and back. The first journey had been a sort of dummy run as Kennedy had only been required to confirm his name and address. The journey to the court went well, despite the weather – almost blizzard conditions. This first run was CI5-only – Jax and Merchison in the front and Bodie and Doyle in the back with their prisoner, Kennedy, squeezed in between them. When they came out of court, however, things turned very nasty indeed. It had stopped snowing and the men were on high alert with their prisoner. They were wearing body armour – except Bodie who said that it spoilt the line of his suit. Doyle had argued with him and said that Cowley would kill him if a bullet didn't. Bodie had wanted to know when Doyle had got so obedient all of a sudden. It was beginning to turn into a row and Jax had to remind them that they had a guest. The partners glared at each other before turning away from their disagreement and concentrating on the matter in hand. Jax, as driver, went on ahead and the rest, guns at the ready, headed on after him. Several shots suddenly burst from across the road. It had them immediately running for cover. They chose different parked cars to hide behind. Kennedy was in Bodie's custody. Jax had made it to the car and drove towards them. Bodie broke cover with his charge and headed for the car door. He never made it. Doyle was an inch or so behind when Bodie fell. Doyle had no choice but to grab Kennedy, leap over Bodie's body, and shove Kennedy in the back of the car. He didn't know where Merchison was, but Jax took off at high speed. Doyle immediately looked back at the scene they had just left. He saw Bodie spread-eagled in the snow. Every atom of his being wanted Jax to stop and turn round to help but knew that Jax had to keep their prisoner safe – 'at all costs' were Cowley's orders. Yes, he was that important.
Jax radioed in that they had met opposition and had a man down (though HQ probably already knew) and were heading for the safe house. Merchison wasn't with them. The duty officer said that the agent would follow on and meet them at their rendez-vous. Doyle was breathing deeply. He couldn't keep the image of what had just happened out of his mind, but knew that he'd have to be professional and keep his mind on the job. He kept his eyes peeled for any tails. He knew that Jax would be doing the same up front. It had been the plan that Doyle or Merchison would get out a few streets before they arrived to ensure that the coast was clear, but with now only one driver and one guard, that wasn't possible. They'd just had to hope that there was no ambush. They arrived at the house at around the same time as Merchison, who'd got a taxi (!) and came from a different direction.
When they entered the house, Doyle handed over their prisoner to Merchison without a word and, with Jax, searched the house and gardens for possible intrusion. They found nothing amiss. When Doyle entered the living room Merchison said insincerely, "Sorry about your partner, Doyle. You don't seem to have much luck with them, do you?"
Kennedy of course had no idea what he was talking about but he certainly felt the temperature drop to well below zero in the space of a heartbeat.
"You're a bastard, Merchison," growled Jax, pushing Doyle out of the door before he could respond by tearing the man to pieces.
"Go and get us all some tea," Jax suggested gently to him but Doyle headed for the stairs instead.
"Looks like we'll have to find ourselves another tea boy," Merchison said loudly so Doyle could hear. He seemed to be enjoying himself.
Jax had been landed with this fool for the past six months now. He had wanted the relationship to work and had been prepared to overlook Merchison's crass jokes and bullying personality, but this was going well over and above. Jax didn't want to get into a row in front of Kennedy so he stalked into the kitchen to make a drink for them all. Meanwhile, Doyle was vomiting upstairs. Afterwards, he sat on the floor in the bathroom. He was wet with sweat and shaking violently. He knew that it wasn't just the shock of seeing his friend gunned down, blood blossoming across his chest (How's the cut of your suit now, Bodie? Doyle asked bitterly to himself), but also what Merchison had said. He was furious that Merchison knew how to turn the screws. He mentally cursed him with every name he could think of as unnoticed tears rolled down his face. Having no-one to blame, he needed someone to hate and Merchison would do just fine. After a while he heard a knock on the bathroom door. "There's tea outside the door, Ray," Jax called quietly. Doyle took a deep breath and thanked him. Once he heard Jax retreating he ventured out, quickly retrieved the tea and shut himself back in. He knew that there was only one loo in the house so he couldn't stay there all day.
After being sick several more times, he eventually came down after having a wash.
"Well, you took your time. Jippy tummy?" jeered Merchison.
Doyle knew that Merchison would have another go at him and had mentally prepared himself as much as he could. He ignored the man and, despite the weather, took a stroll in the garden in the dying light. His every waking moment seemed to conjure up those last moments outside the courthouse, the image receding as Jax had driven away. It was becoming too dark so Doyle went in. He seemed impervious to the cold. Jax pushed another cup of tea in his hand. He'd no sooner got to the end of it than he had to return to the bathroom to be sick. While he was wash-ing his face in more cold water, he heard the R/T downstairs. They'd been told to maintain radio silence, so the contact had to be important. When he returned to the kitchen Jax was getting dinner together. Doyle told him that he didn't want any but he'd try again to keep some tea down. He asked Jax who'd been on the radio. Jax kept his back to Doyle, stirring the stew on the stove, avoiding eye contact. He replied that Merchison had answered it. It was Cowley to 'confirm things'. "Bodie?" Doyle asked, not wanting to put his question into any further words. Jax looked at the floor and nodded. Jax felt that he'd been very bad as a copper in comforting the bereaved, and he didn't reckon he'd improved any with CI5. He simply didn't know what to say as Doyle sat down heavily. "I'm sorry," was all he could come up with. He knew that he'd had no choice but to drive away, just as Doyle had had no choice but to jump in the back with Kennedy. It didn't make the facts any easier to bear though.
The others gathered in the living room for dinner but Doyle stayed in the kitchen nursing an undrunk cup of coffee and gazing unseeingly at the far wall. He had harboured a grain of hope that Bodie's injury wasn't as bad as it looked, but now that slender hope had been smashed to atoms. Jax should have asked for another agent as Doyle was clearly in shock, but that would have meant breaking radio silence again and drawing unnecessary attention to the house as cars came and went. Later that evening, Doyle told them to go to bed as there was no point in them all staying up. "Insomnia now is it, as well as Delhi Belly?" mocked Merchison. Even Kennedy was moved to remark what a bastard Merchison was. He'd cottoned on to the fact that the agent guarding him had died – he was a close friend of theirs – well, close to Doyle at least. Although, technically, they were enemy as far as Kennedy was concerned, he was nonetheless drawn into their pain. He'd lost a close friend too last year. He knew how it felt.
Throughout the night Doyle paced up and down, checking the garden front and back, rechecking rooms. His nightmare and Bodie's ghost dogged his every footstep. At around 7 in the morning, Doyle took Jax a cup of tea, and the rest of the house roused themselves soon after. Doyle seemed on the point of collapse. Even a shave hadn't improved his looks. Jax said nothing and even Merchison was unusually quiet – for the moment. As they prepared to leave for the courthouse again at around noon, they donned their flak jackets. Doyle was reluctant to put his on. What was the point? Jax saw his hesitation and pushed the jacket towards him in silent encouragement. Doyle relented.
The journey was uneventful – until they got to the courthouse. As Doyle stepped out with Kennedy gunfire flared again. It was like a rerun of the previous day. A bullet ricocheted off Doyle's armour but he managed to shield Kennedy. There were people milling around the car park. Doyle pushed Kennedy into Jax' care while he shepherded the terrified civilians into the building and out of harm's way. Jax and Merchison had Kennedy between them in the hall. Once the last of the civilians was safely indoors Jax called to Doyle to come back.
Doyle ignored him and ran at full tilt towards the building opposite where the shots had come from. The armed police were already at the doorway. Doyle thundered passed them, gun drawn. The police followed in behind him as though this was the signal they'd been waiting for. They fanned out to search the ground floor, while Doyle took the stairs two at a time. He knew the shots had come from the first or top floor. On the first floor, Doyle met them. Two were fighting each other to climb out of the window. Doyle automatically shouted a warning, and blasted away a second later before they had time to respond. The other sniper was pounding down the corridor. Doyle heard police (he assumed) coming up the stairs behind him. The gunman, finding the end of the corridor blocked by a locked fire door, whirled on his pursuers. Doyle flung himself against the banister out of the line of fire as he blasted off a shot at the same moment as the banister gave way. He fired again as he hung in space for that split second. His anger outweighed his fear of falling. He crashed to the ground with tremendous force. It was a miracle that he wasn't killed, even more of a miracle that he remained conscious. He staggered to his feet, bewildered that he was still alive and awake. His flak jacket had helped to take some of the impact. A copper staggered downstairs. At first Doyle thought he'd been shot. He had vomit down his tunic.
"Can't take the heat," someone said.
"Shooting people is a lot different to shooting dummy targets," yelled Doyle.
He had to take his rage out on someone. The speaker looked suitably chastised. Doyle was leaning heavily against the wall. He didn't know where the pain was coming from. Breathing seemed to be a problem. "Ray?" For one glorious moment Doyle thought it was Bodie but when he turned his head, and fire shot through his brain, he saw that it was a plain-clothes man who he eventually recognised as DI Barnabus.
"You're right," Barnabus said, "Reg has never been on active service before. He's never even seen a dead body before as far as I know – and you left quite a mess up there. He won't make it into the 'thunder and lightening brigade', Ray, but we'll look after him, don't worry. You look as if you need looking after though."
Before Doyle could answer him, Cowley came on the scene. "I'll take him," he said, introducing himself to the DI and taking Doyle's arm. Cowley drew Doyle, caked in dust, to the stairs and sat him down. He looked vacantly at Cowley and whispered, "I'd like to see Bodie's body before, before they take him away." He hung his head. It was as much as he could say.
Cowley looked for a while at his defeated agent. "You didn't get the message did you, laddie?"
Doyle looked up and lost. Finding no answers he understood in Cowley's eyes, he turned away to retch again on the stairs. Cowley clicked his tongue and helped him off with his flak jacket. His breathing became a little easier. Barnabus leaned forward and whispered to Cowley. "Have you lost a man? Is there anything we can do?"
Cowley left Doyle and had a murmured conversation with Barnabus before retrieving his agent and gently guiding him into his car. On the way to the hospital Cowley noticed that Doyle was bleeding. And what he'd taken for concussion may also be profound shock. As they drove, Doyle wound the window down and lifted his face to the icy wind, very much as a dog does when being driven. "You may want pneumonia, but I don't laddie. Close the window." Doyle didn't seem to hear him. As they were drawing into the car park anyway, Cowley didn't insist. He entered Casualty and pushed Doyle into the nearest seat while he spoke to the Receptionist. Doyle was then led silently to a small relatives' room. Doyle didn't ask anything or seem to be aware of his surroundings. Cowley told him to stay put and left him there. He came back presently with a cup of sweet tea. Doyle didn't seem to know what to do with it. He was shaking violently. Cowley didn't know how badly he'd been injured. Didn't know, in fact, that he'd just fallen several feet from a first floor balcony. Didn't know, in fact, that he'd been shot. Unable to get him to drink from the cup, Cowley poured some tea into the saucer, blew on it to cool it down, and poured it into Doyle's unresisting mouth, teeth clattering against the china. He managed to get the rest of the tea down him this way. It pulled him round a little.
"Doyle," Cowley began gently, "there are good shocks and there are bad shocks. Of course, you've had a very bad shock. Now you need to prepare for a good shock." Doyle looked blank. "I broke silence last night to tell you that Bodie had been badly injured but not dead, Doyle. Not dead." Still no reaction from Doyle. "A punctured lung they tell me. I spoke to the nurse just now and she said that he's doing so well that they've moved him from intensive care to men's surgical."
Doyle continued staring at him. Hope was battling fear and losing.
"I was told he was dead," Doyle whispered eventually. The words were dragged out. He didn't even want to say those words in case, somehow, it made them true.
"You were misinformed, or you misunderstood. Aye, that's it, laddie. In the state you're in, you'll have just misunderstood." Cowley could be very gentle. He took Doyle's arm again - he seemed incapable of independent movement - and led him along to a side ward in men's surgical. Bodie looked very peaceful as he slept. "No ventilator, Doyle, not even a heart monitor." It was an improvement on the last time Cowley had seen Bodie. Yes, he looked a lot better. It was fortunate that the ambulance had been on standby just round the corner and they'd got to him quickly, or they could be looking at a very different outcome. Cowley drew up a chair next to the bed and pushed Doyle onto it. Tentatively Doyle reached out for Bodie, still unable or unwilling to believe that he was there in the flesh. Cowley noticed blood on Doyle's hand as it crept tentatively across the blanket leaving a trail behind. "We need to get you a doctor, lad." His agent didn't seem to hear. He seemed hypnotised by the sight in front of him. Bodie stirred. He eyes fluttered and eventually focussed on the two men in front of him – one sitting; one standing.
"You're a sight for sore eyes," Bodie said hoarsely to his battered friend. Even this didn't stir the waking sleeper. Bodie tugged Doyle's hand. He couldn't see the blood from his prone position, but he felt very cold. "Is he alright, sir?"
Since Doyle wasn't going to, or couldn't, Cowley came round the other side of the bed and helped Bodie to a more comfortable position and gave him some water. "He's in shock, Bodie," Cowley said. "He's been living this past few days under the impression that you were dead."
Bodie vaguely remembered the events that had led up to his ending up in hospital. He hadn't known exactly where Doyle was when he'd been shot but knew he must have been close enough to have seen it. Poor Doyle.
"Doyle. You need to see a doctor," Cowley said again more firmly coming round to where Doyle was sitting. He tried to get him to stand. He wouldn't let go of Bodie's hand. Bodie could see the blood now but, like Cowley, didn't know where it was coming from or how serious.
"It's alright, Ray. I'll still be here when you get back. I'm not going anywhere. Scout's honour," Bodie crossed his heart.
Doyle seemed to come slowly out of his stupor on hearing Bodie's voice. He sighed deeply. "Don't you dare go anywhere," he said shakily as he was led away by an increasingly anxious boss.
"I'll let you know," Cowley replied to Bodie's unasked question as he pushed Doyle gently out of the door. Bodie was rubbing his crushed hand. It would be bruised by morning.
Cowley took his operative back to Casualty. He pressed Doyle into a chair again as he spoke to the nurse on duty. He explained that they were from CI5, Doyle had had a profound shock and was bleeding from somewhere. It was nearly an hour later that Doyle could be found drugged into unconsciousness in a side ward not far from Bodie. He'd been prodded, poked and x-rayed. They'd found a deep flesh wound, several hairline fractures, lacerations, concussion and, of course, shock. He was also very dehydrated, exhausted and was black and blue with bruises. The doctor concluded that most of the injuries were consistent with a fall from a high place. Cowley reported all this back to Bodie. "So, apart from that, he's doing fine," Bodie summed up with a smile. They were both relieved that none of it was life-threatening. Cowley smiled indulgently but remained worried by Doyle's mental state.
If Doyle had understood that Bodie was dead, then maybe Jax had too. To be sure, Cowley contacted him as soon as he could to inform him that Bodie was indeed in the land of the living and Doyle had been admitted to hospital too, but both were recovering. Cowley thought the man was going to faint. It was clear that this was news to Jax too. However, Cowley still ordered him to make out his report. Jax' first priority, though, was to see his friends in hospital.
There was little further Cowley could do that night. The next day it was Special Branch's turn to chaperone Kennedy. Now that Doyle's one-man army had eliminated the opposition Special Branch should have a clear run – not that anything was taken for granted of course and they were still on high alert. As an added precaution, the car park was cleared of civilians as soon as Kennedy got within a hundred yards of the place and, as before, an ambulance remained on alert around the corner.
Cowley called Jax into his office next day. "I've read your report now I want an oral account. Start from the first run." Jax told Cowley that the safe house seemed secure. Their run to the courthouse went smoothly and unopposed. However, once they left the court after the red tape had been tied up the battle started. As driver, he'd gone ahead and made a dash for the car rather than getting involved in the firefight. It was essential to get Kennedy away. Cowley silently approved. Unknown to him, Jax had just earned several gold stars for keeping his head. As Jax drove the car towards the agents, he saw Bodie fall. Doyle was right behind him, close enough to grab Kennedy and shove him in the back of the car before Kennedy could make a run for it. Gold stars for Doyle. Jax had debated when writing the report whether to mention this next bit. He'd deliberately edited events. However, he'd gone over endlessly in his head the subsequent events and thought it should now be told. Cowley could make of it what he would. "Once Doyle and Kennedy were in the back, I put my foot down."
"Where was Merchison?" Aye, that was the question all right.
Jax took a deep breath. Betraying Judas must have felt like this. "He was behind a parked car, sir. He was there when Doyle jumped in the car. He was still there when I took off. I'd left it as long as I could before I put my foot down on the gas and sailed right past him." Jax didn't need to spell it out that Merchison could have got in the passenger side relatively easily. From that side, he'd be shielded by the car. He had a flak jacket on in any case. Cowley said nothing. Jax ploughed on.
"I saw Doyle look back and I couldn't see Merchison any more so I radioed in and carried on to the safe house. We didn't meet any more opposition and we weren't followed. We were both looking out, sir. When we arrived at the safe house Merchison was just arriving." Jax didn't mention the taxi in his report or now. "Once in the house, we checked over the place. It didn't look as though it had been compromised while we'd been away. Doyle then went upstairs. He obviously wanted to be alone, and Merchison had had a crack at him but he kept his temper, sir." Jax was as aware as Cowley of Doyle's sporadic storms. He was getting much better at controlling them now.
"You didn't mention this in your report," said Cowley.
"I didn't think it relevant, sir."
From Cowley's silence, it was obvious that he wanted all of it – verbatim. Jax gave it to him. The anger on Doyle's behalf as well as his own which had grown against the man over the past six months. It came pouring out. Like lancing a boil, it was painful at the time, but such a relief afterwards. Jax explained that Doyle had locked himself in the bathroom for most of the day and came down in the evening and took all the night shifts. Jax himself had woken up a couple of times and seen Doyle once in the garden and the other time in the living room gazing out of the window into the darkness when he'd gone down to make a cup of tea. He explained that Doyle was unable to keep food down and Merchison had made a dig about that too.
"I know I should have replaced Doyle, but I didn't want to draw attention to the house," Jax added miserably. Cowley said that he'd done the correct thing and encouraged him to continue. Jax said that the R/T had sounded during the early evening. They were surprised as they'd assumed radio silence. Jax was trying to be diplomatic. It was Cowley himself who'd ordered silence, and Cowley himself who'd broken it. "Merchison took the R/T to the kitchen," Jax explained. "He came back looking upset and said it was you on the blower with news of Bodie. I asked what that news was, though I could see from his face that it was bad. He said that I'd have to break the news to the 'nancy boy'." Jax choked as he repeated the jibe. Cowley restrained his rage and kept his craggy face as neutral as possible. He was very good at that.
"Let's be clear, Jax," Cowley interrupted, "did Merchison say in exact words that Bodie was dead or had been killed?"
"No sir. His manner suggested bad news, and 'breaking the news' usually means only one thing doesn't it, sir?"
Cowley silently agreed with him but urged him to go on with the story. Jax said that there wasn't much else to add until they arrived at the courthouse again. Merchison hadn't made any more jibes that morning and Doyle had said even less. Then it all kicked off again once they'd arrived at their destination. Jax and Merchison had taken charge of Kennedy, and Doyle had taken charge of the civilians. Once they'd been safely cleared away, Jax had seen Doyle charge off in the direction of the gunman (or men). That was the last Jax had seen of Doyle. After hearing everything, Cowley dismissed Jax without comment, giving him a few days off.
Cowley returned to the hospital that evening to check on his men. The doctor told him that Doyle was very restless and had a chill. They'd taken him off sedatives to see if that would make him any calmer. Sometimes patients reacted badly to certain medications. Cowley sat by Doyle's bed. He did look feverish. As Cowley sat he noticed a growing restlessness in the man. Doyle began thrashing about and gasping for breath. He was clearly in the grip of a nightmare. Cowley wasn't exactly sure where Doyle was damaged so was reluctant to touch him, but something needed to be done before he injured himself. Cowley shook Doyle by the shoulders and spoke his name very clearly in his ear several times. Eventually the thrashing eased and his eyes half opened. Cowley felt Doyle's muscles relax under the thin hospital pyjamas. He placed Doyle gently back down on the pillows. He was soaked with sweat and breathing heavily. His head rolled in Cowley's direction and he apologised hoarsely. While trying to get a glass of water down his throat, Cowley asked if he had nightmares often. Doyle refused to admit that every time he closed his eyes he saw Bodie's body and every time he opened his eyes he saw Bodie's body too. "Sometimes," Doyle said. "Sir?" Cowley waited. "Bodie is alright, isn't he?" Doyle did remember sitting by Bodie's bed and Bodie saying that he wasn't going anywhere, but was that a dream, a hope, a longing for all to be right again? Hope was still fighting a rearguard action.
"Bodie's fine, Doyle. As soon as he's able, I'll get him to come and see you."
Doyle looked exhausted and Cowley got up to find a nurse to make him more comfortable. He then went on to see Bodie. He told Bodie about Doyle's nightmares.
"He only gets them now and then – so he says," reported Cowley. Both men knew that wasn't true without putting it into words. "So, if you could do us all a favour, Bodie, and manage to stagger out of bed some time this week and tend the fevered brow, even from a wheelchair, it would be much appreciated," asked Cowley dryly. They exchanged grins and Bodie said he'd do his best to get better soon, for Doyle's sake if not for his own.
Cowley's next problem was Merchison. He couldn't sack the man – much as he'd like to – just for taunting. However, there was the matter of him staying (cowering?) behind that parked car when Bodie had been shot. But Cowley had no doubt that Merchison could talk his way out of that one. No, Cowley needed more than that. He'd start digging, and once Cowley got the shovel out, there was no end of worms which wriggled to the surface. By the end of a couple of months, Merchison was no longer drawing CI5 pay - much to the relief of many members of CI5, Doyle and Jax in particular.