Bodie approached the reception desk at the A&E in St. Mary's hospital for the umpteenth time. The stern, but motherly nurse in charge rolled her eyes briefly when she spotted him, then said: "No news about your partner yet. I told you I'd inform you immediately when he comes out of surgery. Why don't you go back to the waiting room?"
Bodie shook his head and heaved a sigh. The waiting room of the hospital felt like a forecourt to hell to him. Some people said that a sorrow shared was a sorrow halved, but that didn't sound true for a waiting room. According to him, the fears and worries of the people waiting for news about family members or friends seemed to multiply. He didn't feel like explaining that to the nurse, so he said: "Listen, Doyle's been in surgery for more than three hours now. The paramedic said that probably all that needed to be done was a bit of tidying up the wound and that shouldn't take so long. He ran his fingers through his hair and added: "Why do they need all the blood they asked to be sent to the operating theatre some time ago?"
The nurse gave him a very stern look and said: "I wish I could tell you, it looks like there might be some complications. I'm afraid there's nothing we can do at the moment but wait. Pacing about like a caged tiger won't help your partner. I'm sure the surgeons are doing their best, so why don't you get out of my sight for a while and get yourself a cup of tea and a sandwich at the cafeteria?" She waved her arm in the direction of the cafeteria and Bodie decided to go there before the nurse dragged him there with friendly force.
Fifteen minutes later, he peered at a half eaten liver sausage sandwich with a look of disgust on his face. He hated liver sausage sandwiches with a vengeance and only God knew why he had decided to buy it. Probably because it had been the only sandwich on the shelves and he was too scared to return to the nurse without being able to report that he had had followed her order to the letter. Doyle would get a good laugh out of this and Bodie made a mental note to tell his partner about it the first thing when he opened his eyes.
With contempt for death, Bodie washed the last bite of the sandwich down with a sip of tea, then headed back to the A&E.
The nurse gave him a questioning look when she caught sight of him. Bodie stood at attention and said: "Aye-aye, Nurse O'Hara. I had a cup of tea and a sandwich and I hope you have news on Doyle."
With a sigh, she shook her head and said: "I'm afraid you're in for more waiting."
Bodie's patience was only an inch away from running out, so it was a good thing when the door to the reception area opened at that moment and a surgeon entered. He came over to the reception desk and asked: "Mr. Bodie? I believe you were with Mr. Doyle when he was admitted."
Not trusting his voice, Bodie just nodded.
The surgeon continued: "Well, the surgery we had to perform on Mr. Doyle was a lot more complicated than we had expected. The bullet had chipped the femur. One big bone fragment was located close to the artery and several smaller bits were scattered about. It was a tricky business to remove all of them and not cause damage to the artery. We ordered blood to be prepared for any emergency, but luckily we didn't need it. We did our best to repair the damage to Mr. Doyle's thigh and I expect him to make a full recovery, but it was a close shave. If the artery had been ruptured, Mr. Doyle might have bled to death on the scene. Your partner is a very lucky man, Mr. Bodie."
Bodie released the breath he had been holding and said: "Thank you, doctor."
He had to agree with the doctor, Doyle seemed to have the luck of the devil.
The surgeon's tired face was lit up by a smile when he answered: "You're more than welcome. Nurse O'Hara will take you to Mr. Doyle's room later."
When Bodie entered Doyle's private room in Nurse O'Hara's wake, Doyle was still asleep. His face was pale and his left leg was propped up on some pillows. An iv line fed fluid and medication to Doyle's body. The sight filled Bodie with relief as he now knew his partner was going to be all right. The adrenaline which had been coursing through his veins ever since he had raced into the parking garage to find Doyle down on the ground, clutching his thigh, was starting to ebb away.
Nurse O'Hara pulled a chair up to the bed and gently pushed Bodie down on it. She gave him a smile and said: "I expect it will take a while till he wakes up, so you'd better make yourself as comfortable as possible."
Bodie nodded his thanks. This time, waiting would be a lot easier. Watching over Doyle's beauty sleep was kid stuff and he was looking forward to telling Doyle about the liver sandwich.
When Ray Doyle finally managed to open his eyes and release his mind from the grip of sedation, he immediately knew he was in hospital as the smell tickling his nose was quite distinctive. He didn't feel any pain, what caused him the most discomfort was a sore, dry throat and a raging thist.
He chuckled silently... if his major problem was a dry throat and a raging thirst, he should be in a pub with Bodie, quarrelling about who was to buy the next round and not in a hospital bed. Speaking of Bodie, where was his sometimes pretty annoying, yet always reliable partner anyway? Bodie had arrived right on time to prevent Turkov from killing Sara, so he expected him to be here. Turning his head slowly, Ray spotted a cup with ice-chips on the bedside table and moved on his bed to get it to soothe his sore throat. A sharp pain in his left leg stopped him immediately and he couldn't bite back a yelp of pain and he arched up. That stirred the dark-haired man who had been dozing in a chair at the bedside. Bodie pushed his partner gently back onto the bed.
"Easy, mate. Try not to move!"
"Jesus, Bodie, it hurts." Doyle's voice was only a raucous whisper and while he tried to get his panting breath under control, sweat started to bead his face. His fists clenched a part of the blanket while he was waiting for the waves of pain flaring through his body to ebb away.
When his partner finally relaxed after what seemed an agonizingly long time and settled a bit more comfortably into his pillows, Bodie spooned some of the ice-chips into Doyle's mouth. They melted in Ray's mouth and when cool water ran down his throat that was sore from the tube of a respirator, Doyle felt very grateful for small mercies. When he spoke again, his voice was a bit stronger and less hoarse. He released a deep breath and asked: "What's the damage to my leg?"
Bodie had to clear his throat before answering: "Ah, nothing to worry about, the bullet went straight through without any major damage. Chipped a bit of the femur, but the bone isn't broken. Yet the surgeon had a tough job at hand removing all the bits and pieces. I don't think he likes jigsaw puzzles very..."
He broke off when he saw a look of panic on Doyle's face and hastened to add: "Doyle, there's nothing to worry about. The surgeon expects you to make a full recovery."
Doyle heaved a sigh of relief and Bodie decided to play his trump card to cheer Doyle up. He exclaimed proudly: "I ate a liver sausage sandwich to please Nurse O'Hara!"
The look on Doyle's face was priceless and when he fell asleep again a few seconds later, an amused grin lingered on his face for quite a while.
When Bodie walked along the corridor to visit Doyle in the hospital three days later, there was a heated argument going on inside Doyle's room.
A female voice said: "You have got to be sensible, Mr. Doyle. You're in no state to leave the hospital, not even for a couple of hours."
That statement was answered by an angry snort from Doyle.
Bodie opened the door and saw Doyle sitting on the edge of the bed, glaring at the nurse standing in front of him.
At the sound of the opening door, she turned around and said: "Maybe you can put some sense into that thick skull of Mr. Doyle. He insists on going to a funeral this morning."
Bodie wasn't surprised. Of course, Doyle wanted to attend Ann Seaford's funeral, but he thought that the nurse was perfectly right, Doyle was in no state to do that. Giving the nurse a smile, he said: "I'll try my best, yet it might be easier to shift the hospital a little to the left than to change Ray's mind."
At that remark, Doyle tried to jump up from his bed and the nurse had to be very quick to catch him and manoeuvre him back onto the bed. The pain caused by that stunt didn't alleviate Doyle's determination and he said: "I don't see why I can't attend Ann's funeral. I wasn't able to save her life when she turned to me for help, so the least thing I can do for her is to attend her funeral. I was allowed out of bed yesterday and we did have a walk along the corridor, Bodie."
Bodie rolled his eyes and walked over to the bed to face Doyle. Giving his partner a hard stare, he said: "Yes, we did, but you didn't notice that a snail overtook us and it laughed its slimy little arse off. You were not too steady either, so there's no way you're going to the funeral, but I'll tell you something: I promise to take you to Ann's grave right after your discharge. What do you say, Ray?"
Conceding defeat, Doyle lay down on his back, helped by the nurse. When he was comfortable, he said: "All right, Bodie, point taken!"
A week later, Bodie opened the bootlid of the Capri parked in the hospital car park to show Doyle the bouquet of flowers he had just collected from the florist. Doyle had given him detailed instructions for the bouquet and Bodie had made sure it was exactly to Doyle's liking. Doyle nodded and said: "That is very nice, so let's go." Bodie opened the passenger door for Doyle and lent an unobtrusive hand while his partner settled down carefully in the seat. Having stowed away Doyle's crutches in the boot, he got into the car and soon they were heading for Highgate Cemetery.