Disclaimer: Characters from The Professionals are © Mark-1 Productions Ltd and are used without permission but with no intent to defraud. I'll put them back once I've finished playing. I promise.
Author's Notes: Written for the 'No More Heroes' Lyric Challenge 2005 on the Prosfanfic Yahoo Group: Use one line of lyric from the The Stranglers "No More Heroes" in the story in a natural manner. I used three -grin-.
Thanks to Sue for the beta!
No More Heroes
Sitting in a car, staring at an anonymous red brick house was a novelty for about five minutes. Three hours of uninterrupted coverage of the same bland building and Bodie was adding the finishing touches to his mental list of ways-to-repay-Cowley for the ruination of a perfectly good Friday night.
"He looks a bit like that old toff, Lenny Kominski." Doyle broke the companionable silence, nodding at a dishevelled tramp who was struggling to push a battered shopping trolley across the road in front of the car. "D'you remember him? Worked at the Russian embassy - pretended he was descended from royalty?"
Bodie's eyes, which had been lazily following the old man's movements, widened with recognition. "Not a bad likeness. Whatever happened to dear old Lenny?"
"He got an ice pick..."
"...jammed in his ear'ole. Yeah, I remember now," Bodie said, cutting Doyle off. "Copycat killing wasn't it? Some mafia thing."
Doyle slanted his gaze to look at his partner. Sometimes he was never sure if Bodie was quite as ignorant as he made out to be, or if it was all an act. On a whim, Doyle decided to push a little. "You're having me on, right? You're not trying to tell me you don't know who was assassinated with an ice pick?"
"If I knew I wouldn't be asking would I?" Bodie said, frowning at his stomach when it emitted a little growl. "You got any food on you?"
Doyle ignored his question. "I don't believe you. You go about spouting bits of obscure poetry all the time but then you claim not to know about the simplest things."
"Bits of poetry gets the birds going. They love it...you chuck a bit of Keats at them and they're in your bed faster than you can say 'Seasons of mists'. I learned that a long time ago. Doyle, me old son, take a tip from Uncle Bodie and buy yourself some poetry books...might improve your pulling power."
"Nothing wrong with my pulling power," Doyle said indignantly.
"If you say so."
A shadow passed across one of the downstairs window of the house they were watching, a figure visible through the net curtains. Doyle picked up the R/T and spoke into it. "4.5 to base. One target confirmed in the house. 4.5 out."
Casually tossing the R/T into the side pocket of the car door, Doyle leaned back in the seat. "So do you know?" he asked.
"Know what?" His stomach rumbled again and Bodie glowered at it - then leaned past Doyle to rake about in the glove compartment. Empty handed he snapped it shut.
"Who was killed with an ice pick?" Doyle felt his irritation growing. "And stop trying to avoid the question."
Bodie looked at his partner in surprise. "'I'm not avoiding the question. Just hungry that's all. If you've got a bee in your bonnet about some assassinated politician then I'm all ears – but I need some grub before I starve to death."
"How do you know it was a politician?" Doyle said, pouncing on Bodie's words.
"What? Did I say that?" Doyle nodded sharply and Bodie shrugged. "I don't know...stands to reason don't it? S'usually politicians that get themselves killed." He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Honestly mate, I don't know about you but I really need to get out of this car and get some-"
"Will you stop changing the bloody subject?" Doyle snapped.
"You'll give yourself an ulcer if you don't stop getting so worked up y'know."
"I've already got an ulcer working with you."
"Charming. What have I done to deserve an insult like that?"
"You drive me up the bloody wall," Doyle said tersely. "Do you or do you not know who was assassinated with an ice-pick? And give me a straight answer for once."
"All right sweetheart, if it'll stop you having a tantrum." He grinned at the malevolent look on Doyle's face. "The man killed with the ice-pick was Leon Davidovitch Trotsky...nice bloke by all accounts – bet he wouldn't have said no to a nice bag of chips." And with that he opened the car door and climbed out, popping his head in the door to ask, "You want some chips?"
Doyle's response was enough to make Bodie jerk back from the car.
"So any movement?" Bodie asked as he slid back into the car, offering Doyle a soggy bag of chips wrapped in generous amounts of Daily Mail newsprint.
The mouth-watering smell of salt and vinegar filled the car, and Doyle took the proffered bag with pretended indifference, trying to quash the sounds threatening from his own empty stomach.
"Nah," he answered, popping a chip in his mouth and talking around it. "But the old biddy two doors down has been back and forth, curtains flicking open like nobody's business. Might go and have a word with her – she seems to be watching everybody even more than we are."
"S'an idea," Bodie agreed, licking sauce from his fingers. "So how long d'you think the Cow expects us to sit here? Does he even know if the kid's in there?"
"Not got a clue. Story of ours lives though innit? Knowing the old goat he won't tell us anything until our whole night is shot to hell."
Mouth full of chips, Bodie didn't comment, just glared hard at the unremarkable building and kept chewing.
Doyle balled up the fat-saturated newspaper and tossed it over his shoulder onto the back seat.
"Oi!" Bodie said sharply, spitting bits of chip all over the dashboard.
Doyle just grinned, and opened the car door. "Back in a minute. Just going to have a word with our local busybody."
Bodie was too busy wiping the dashboard clean to respond.
Doyle returned quarter of an hour later, looking decidedly smug.
"Three very shifty looking men went in there last night carrying a large bag that they were awfully gentle with. One of them looked like 'that lovely man on TV that does the news'."
"Merson," Bodie said, eyes gleaming. "She saw Merson."
"Yeah, that's what I thought too. She couldn't give me descriptions of the other two though – think she was a bit too taken with our Mr Merson."
"So you think the kid was in the...?"
"Maybe," Doyle shrugged. "No way to be sure until we get in there."
Bodie nodded. "Think I saw two of them upstairs when you were busy chatting up OAPs. But it's a bit hard to tell with the light the way it is."
Doyle looked across at the house, squinting against the reflected rays of the dying sun to peer at the windows. "Wish they'd hurry up," he muttered.
They both sat in silence, eyes focused on the netted windows.
"Who's your favourite super-hero?" Bodie asked suddenly.
Doyle was startled. "What?"
"Well I was thinking about what we were talking about earlier," Bodie said.
"The whole Trotsky thing. He was a hero wasn't he? Tried to change things to help people...ended up getting killed for it."
Doyle still didn't get it. "So how does that relate to...?"
"Well when I was a kid we didn't care about politics and all that stuff. So I thought to myself 'who was my hero when I was a kid?' And since I was really into comics at the time..."
"Let me guess...Roy of the Rovers." A front curtain twitched open in the front window of the red house and Doyle watched carefully as a figure looked out and let the curtain fall.
Bodie was scandalised. "How could he be a hero?"
"Oh terribly sorry," Doyle said sarcastically, fishing the R/T out of the side pocket. "I wasn't aware there were requirements you had to meet to be a hero to a kid." He pressed the button. "4.5 to base. Visual confirmation of Merson. Two other unknowns reported to be on site and a possible – repeat – possible chance the kid is in there. 4.5 out."
Waiting until Doyle had finished transmitting, Bodie continued their conversation. "'Course there's requirements - what's the point of being a hero if you don't save lives?"
"Point taken. So who was it then?"
"I asked you first."
Doyle frowned in thought. "Didn't have one."
"'Course you did – everyone had a favourite."
"So go on then, who was yours?"
Bodie replied with no hesitation, "Superman."
"There an echo in here? Yeah, I said Superman. What's wrong with that?"
"I dunno. Just expected you to say someone a bit less...well..." he grinned, "girly."
"Girly?" Bodie was indignant. "Superman's not bloody girly."
"He wears tights. And pants. On top of the tights." He choked back a laugh. "And the hair-"
"There's nothing wrong with his hair!"
Laughing openly now, Doyle looked pointedly at Bodie's head. "I see why you would think that mate."
"Like you can talk." Bodie grumbled, and then he brightened, snapping his fingers and pointing at Doyle triumphantly. "That's why you can't think of anyone – there aren't any superheroes with embarrassingly huge perms."
"Touché," Doyle said. "I have thought of someone though – I remember thinking Spiderman was not bad."
"He wore tights," Bodie pointed out.
"An all-in-one suit," Doyle argued. "Not tights."
"Same difference. Always thought he was a bit of a pansy."
"A bloke that has spider powers? How's that being a pansy? He could swing through the city in no time."
"Superman could fly."
"He had spider sense."
"Not as good as super sense."
"Well at least he didn't turn into a wobbling lump of jelly every time someone lobbed a green rock at him."
"No, they only had to go at him with some fly spray."
Both men drew breath. Bodie's lip twitched and he said challengingly, "Bet you Superman could kick Spiderman's arse."
Doyle considered this. "Probably," he acceded, and Bodie raised an eyebrow in surprise. "But he wouldn't get the chance. Spidey would wrap him in web-stuff and leg...er…swing his way out of there."
"He's a coward then," Bodie scoffed.
"It's not cowardice, it's a tactical retreat."
"It's called using your brain – you might have heard of it. Why not back off when he knows he's outgunned? Makes sense."
"Oh really?" Bodie said. "So if it makes so much sense how come you never do it?"
Doyle frowned. "Do what?"
"Back off. You never back off from anything."
"S'not true," Doyle muttered stubbornly.
"Name one time."
Doyle focused his gaze out of the window and pursed his lips.
"You can't can you?" Bodie scoffed. "Always too busy trying to be the hero, charging in with all guns blazing."
Doyle shook his head. "No more heroes anymore," he observed. "Fictional or otherwise."
The R/T burst into life, startling both of them, Cowley's voice blaring out into the car. "Alpha One to 4.5 and 3.7. The drop off's been made and the target's been acquired. It's confirmed, the boy is in the house. So go in there and get him out. Use all necessary force. Confirm. Alpha One out."
Bodie shared a look with Doyle before picking up the R/T. "3.7 to Alpha One. Confirm we are going in. And we'll try to not get ourselves killed as well, sir. 3.7 out."
"Alpha One to 3.7. Just get the bloody lad out of the house, his family's worried about him. You two are expendable. Alpha One out."
Doyle snorted with laughter at the look on Bodie's face. He patted him on the arm consolingly. "Don't get your knickers in a twist, Superman - we've got a boy to save. Now get your cape on and let's go."
"Let's fly," Bodie corrected, sliding the R/T in his pocket.
"Let's swing," Doyle said with a grin and got out of the car.
And off they went to save the world again.