There was an alien in the backseat. Now that was something you didn't get to say every day. Wouldn't want to, either – it wasn't the most comfortable feeling in the world, having a thing like that sat right behind you.
Not that this journey would have been comfortable for Bodie even without the alien in the backseat, since country roads, high speeds and gunshot wounds weren't a good mix. Biting back another grunt of discomfort as the car rattled and jerked its way along, he was grateful for the hefty strapping the doctor had applied to his wound before immobilising the arm in a sling, since without that this journey would have been even more intolerable. Doyle seemed to be on a mission to hit every pothole the road had to offer.
"Sorry," he muttered, looking contrite. "I daren't slow down."
"No, you're all right, you keep going," Bodie told him through gritted teeth. They'd been informed that the Drashk mothership had reached orbit, which meant that time really was against them now. The alien, Logh, had used its communication device to inform its colleagues that it was safe and on its way back to them, but they apparently weren't entirely convinced that it wasn't another trick or double cross, and at this point no one wanted to take any chances.
It – Logh – was on the communicator again now, listening intently as the other aliens growled away. Then it – he, whatever – leaned forward and picked up the translation device. "They ask how far we are. A shuttle has been despatched to collect and they wish not to wait. This place is not safe."
Bodie instinctively bridled at the insinuation. The aliens had killed two men, had tried to kill them, had issued dire threats against mankind in general – and now they were claiming to not feel safe? But he'd already had this conversation with Sullivan, back at the garage while his gunshot wound was being treated. He'd sounded off about the pains they were going to for the sake of pacifying creatures that were effectively holding them to ransom at gunpoint, and the doctor had said, 'I agree that they've behaved dreadfully, but so did the humans they made first contact with, so I daresay we could run around that circle all day. What matters now is avoiding further bloodshed.' And he did have something of a point. It was a messy situation on all sides, that was the bottom line, and the sooner it was resolved, the happier everyone concerned would be – and the safer the rest of the world would be.
"Tell 'em we're nearly there," Doyle called over his shoulder.
He wasn't close enough to the translation device for it to pick up his words and render them into a growl the alien could understand, though, so Sullivan translated instead. "We're not far away now. Tell them to expect us within minutes."
"You know, I'd still like to know how that little party trick works," Doyle remarked, and he was right, it made no sense at all that the alien could understand Sullivan but not them when they were all speaking the same language.
"Yes," Sullivan mildly agreed, "So would I."
That made no sense either. "You mean you don't know how you do it?" Bodie protested, puzzled. "How can you not know?"
"It's rather complicated. And a longer story than I believe we have time for just now," was all Sullivan would say.
Bodie looked at Doyle, who rolled his eyes and shrugged. "I've already had this conversation," he said. "That's as good as you're going to get."
Sullivan was right about not having time for long stories, anyway. They reached the farm just a few minutes later. The UNIT soldiers guarding the gate had obviously been forewarned to expect them, as they weren't challenged upon their approach; the soldiers simply stood back and let them speed straight past.
It was dark now, but not so dark that they couldn't see the three aliens, the Drashk, who they'd seen on the farm earlier, standing out in the yard waiting for them, lit up by the car headlights, guns at the ready. They really were afraid this would turn out to be another double-cross, clearly. Doyle slowed right down the moment he saw them and brought the car to a halt a short distance away, and the three Drashk weapons were instantly brought to bear on them. Doyle shot a wide-eyed glance at Bodie that echoed his own feelings about this insane situation. It had seemed like such a normal day when he got up this morning.
"Your friends seem awfully tense, old chap," Sullivan observed to Logh. "You'd best go show them you're still in one piece – and perhaps you might warn them not to shoot us, while you're at it."
That was their cue to start moving. Exchanging a quick, apprehensive look with Doyle, Bodie carefully pulled at the door handle. The waiting Drashk tensed up all the more as the door swung open, all three lightning guns trained on the car, fingers on triggers, so he made sure to keep his hands in the air, weapon out of sight, as he gingerly slid out of the vehicle and then even more gingerly reached back into it to pull the seat forward so that his rear passengers could exit.
The relief of the Drashk was palpable as Logh emerged from the car and stepped into view. He scurried over to them and they lowered their weapons at once to pounce on him, quickly hauling him into their midst as if to protect him from anyone else who might feel inclined to abduct him again – they were so preoccupied with their newly restored colleague that they barely even seemed to remember that the humans were there. Bodie kept his eyes fixed on them, though, in case the situation turned again, while Sullivan quickly checked the dressing on his arm, which was sore but had held up to that journey better than he'd expected; the doctor seemed satisfied with it.
"What are they saying?" Doyle asked, watching the Drashk reunion with interest.
"They're very happy to see him," said Sullivan, rather unhelpfully, since that much was patently obvious. He listened carefully to the growling and snarling as the aliens gabbed away at each other, fussing over Logh and gesticulating in their direction. "Um…they're pleased to have him back intact, but rather concerned because they can see that he's been mistreated. He's assuring them that he's all right. And now he's telling them that we're the good guys, that we rescued him."
Logh's testimony seemed to swing Drashk opinion in their favour, as the aliens holstered their weapons before advancing toward them, Logh in their midst. One of them – the one who'd been so belligerent earlier, who seemed to be their leader – took a step forward to head the little group, and said something incomprehensible.
"You're quite welcome," said Sullivan.
Bodie was getting fed up of being out of the loop now, especially since there was a way to avoid it. "Where's that translation thing?" he wanted to know, and could hear the exasperation in his own voice but didn't care. His arm was hurting and it had been a very long day.
"Oh yes, of course – sorry." Sullivan ducked back into the car and came out bearing Logh's gun and communicator and the translation device, which he held out to the aliens. "I believe these belong to you."
The Lead Drashk took the devices, handed the gun and communicator back to Logh but kept the translation device in its own hands – or possibly her own hands. Up close, she appeared to be female, strange though it was to be able to tell, given the alien anatomy and costume. "I thank you again," she said via the device. "I did not believe, when we met earlier, that you would keep your word. I see that I was wrong. We had feared that all humans would be as those we first met."
"Yes, it's a dreadful shame you were given such a poor first impression of us," Sullivan agreed. He had a real gift for understatement, Bodie felt. If Logh hadn't been unlucky enough to run into Galbraith and his crew in the first place, none of this would have happened.
The Drashk quickly conferred among themselves again for a moment, and then another of them, the one Doyle had dubbed 'Mr Sunshine' earlier, stepped forward and took the translation device. "We wish to offer apology," he said, "For those that were killed. We acted to defend, but now regret the loss of life."
"Thank you for that," Sullivan quietly replied, and there was silence for a moment.
"So what happens now?" Doyle asked at length – and then had to repeat the question when Mr Sunshine offered the translation device for him to use, since it hadn't picked up his words.
"A shuttle will come to collect," Mr Sunshine replied via the device. "Very near now."
"What about the air strikes?" Bodie suddenly thought to ask. Mr Sunshine promptly held the translation device out for him and he gingerly accepted it, one-handed, and wondered how it worked.
"It's on, you just have to speak," Doyle helpfully explained from his lofty vantage point of having already used the wretched thing.
Bodie rolled his eyes at him for showing off and then repeated the question, marvelling at the sound of his own voice rendered into Drashk growls. "You talked about air strikes earlier, reprisals. Have those been called off?" Just because the aliens were playing nice now, he couldn't forget their previous aggression – understandable, perhaps, given the way they'd been treated by Galbraith and his men, meeting hostility with counter hostility, but it didn't hurt to remain cautious. The question needed to be asked.
The Lead Drashk took the translation device back. "You have kept your word," she said. "The safe return of Crewman Logh was all we wished and we are grateful for it. There will be no further action. We leave you in peace."
Handing the device to her right hand man Mr Sunshine again, she pulled out a communicator and growled into it – and just moments later a rumbling sound filled the air.
It was a spaceship, an honest to God spaceship. It descended from the night sky to hover above the farm and Bodie felt his mouth drop open at the sight. Just when he'd thought this bizarre, insane day had no shocks left to offer, just when he'd thought he was coming to terms with the existence of aliens, which was hard to deny when they were standing right there in front of him, along came another sucker punch. It was all very well to understand, logically, that these aliens had come from somewhere in outer space and had travelled in a spaceship, but it was another thing entirely to actually see that spaceship, hanging in the sky above his head. He looked at Doyle to see how he was taking it and saw incredulity and wonder in his partner's eyes that echoed his own sentiments entirely.
"Thank you and farewell," said the Lead Drashk, very formally, and then Logh took the translation device from her.
"Yes," he said, scampering forward to reach out and gently touch a hand of each of them in turn, those talons of his safely curled downward and away so as not to scratch – this fist-bump the Drashk equivalent of a handshake, perhaps? "Thank you."
He darted back to rejoin his colleagues…and then there was a flash of light and all four aliens disappeared. Just like that. One moment they were standing right there and the next they were gone.
Bodie blinked. He stared at the spot where the aliens had been standing a moment earlier, then looked up at the ship, which was starting to gain height, heading into space once more, and then looked back at the empty patch of ground again. Then he looked at Doyle, whose mouth had dropped open in amazement.
"We both saw that, right?" Doyle muttered. "Didn't we? I mean, it's not just me losing my marbles, or something?"
"No, we both saw it," Bodie firmly agreed and then turned to Sullivan to see if he had any explanation to offer.
Sullivan did not look the slightest bit surprised by this turn of events. Hands stuffed in pockets, he was frowning up at the departing spaceship with a thoughtful expression on his face. "Do you know, I'm sure they didn't need to do that," he said in a conversational tone, apropos of nothing.
Bodie tried to make sense of this remark, but failed. "What?"
"Bringing that shuttle all the way down here like that, for us to see. I'm sure they didn't need to, if they were going to transmat up anyway. It would have worked perfectly well from orbit – at least, the ones I've seen always seemed to work well over quite vast distances."
"I didn't understand a word of that," said Doyle, and Bodie agreed – it was all so much double Dutch.
"You're talking about that little disappearing act, right? 'Beam me up, Scotty', type of thing?" He caught a quick sideways glance from Doyle, who seemed both amused and surprised by the reference, and could only shrug. It fit, after all.
"Yes, it's called transmat – a matter transmitter," Sullivan explained. He wrinkled his nose and rubbed at his head. "Rather a disconcerting way to travel, I always found, but you certainly can't beat it for speed."
Bodie narrowed his eyes. "That sounds suspiciously like the voice of experience," he observed, and the doctor's eyes sparkled with sudden amusement.
"You could say that, yes," he wryly agreed, flashing a mischievous little grin at them, before turning back to the car, all business once more. "We'll need to set up some kind of cordon around the area, I suppose – the locals are bound to have spotted the shuttle, so there'll be sightseers here in no time, on the prowl for UFOs."
Well, that was a valid point, yes, but it was also an evasion of the issue. Bodie looked at Doyle, who nodded that no, they weren't going to let him get away with that any longer. As one, they hurried after him and slung an arm each around his shoulders.
"There are still one or two loose ends to tie up, of course," Doyle agreed.
"But afterward," Bodie continued, "When we haven't written those reports that we aren't going to be allowed to write, the three of us are going to go out for a drink together, someplace nice and quiet."
"That's right," said Doyle. "Someplace nice and quiet where you can tell us that long story you mentioned earlier – a story about talking to aliens and about transmats and all the rest of it."
As Sullivan shook their arms off and turned to face them, he was laughing. "Oh, I'd be quite happy to let you buy me a drink," he said. "I'll even tell you my story, if you really want to hear it – but I can't imagine you'll believe a word of it."
"After what we've seen today," said Doyle, "I think it's just possible that we might."
But both the drink and the story were going to have to wait a while longer, it seemed, as a UNIT vehicle was now thundering down the track toward them. It was Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
"Well, gentlemen, it appears I'm a little late to join the action," he ruefully noted as he climbed out of his jeep.
"I'm afraid so, sir," Sullivan replied. "The Drashk weren't keen to hang around, once we'd returned their missing crewman."
"Yes, I saw their ship taking off – that'll stir up the locals, eh," the Brigadier crisply noted. "All go off without a hitch?"
"Strangely enough, yes, sir," Sullivan nodded. "They were extremely grateful for the return of their colleague – and they also apologised for the deaths of Corporal Parker and Clive Morley."
The Brigadier looked grim. "Well, that's something, I suppose. More than we usually get."
"Yes, sir. I'm sorry for not keeping you in the loop," Sullivan added. "It all happened rather fast."
"Yes, the Doctor was a bad influence on you, Lieutenant," the Brigadier rather cryptically remarked, and, whatever he meant by that, it sounded as if it should be a criticism – except that he seemed amused, rather than annoyed, while Sullivan was completely unperturbed.
"I imagine that's true, sir," he replied, far too cheerfully for the Brigadier's observation to have been a rebuke. There was a history there, a tacit understanding between the UNIT officers of something no outsider could hope to decipher, and Bodie wondered what their chances were of ever getting Sullivan to explain things fully, drink or no drink.
"Well done," the Brigadier told the doctor. "I'll expect a report on my desk in the morning."
"Of course, sir."
"Mr Bodie," the Brigadier continued, turning to him, "You appear to have been in the wars."
"Ah, yes," Bodie agreed, casting a rueful glance down at his wounded arm, securely strapped up in its sling. "Yes. It's not that bad, sir – the doc took good care of it."
"That's only a field dressing, of course," Sullivan immediately reminded him. "It still needs to be attended to properly." Bodie pulled a face at the thought of it, and the doctor took pity on him and added, "But if you'd rather not make a trip to hospital, I can see to it in our sick bay at UNIT; we've got the facilities."
Bodie nodded his agreement to this plan and the Brigadier looked pleased. "Well, Mr Bodie, Mr Doyle – I'd like to thank you both for your invaluable assistance on this investigation," he said. "Of course, you aren't required to submit written reports, but your account of today's events would be extremely useful for our records." So in other words, while not technically compulsory, they weren't going to get out of writing up reports about the day's events, after all. "I must stress, however, that there is a strict confidentiality clause attached to any UNIT investigation," the Brigadier added.
"You mean we aren't allowed to tell anyone back at CI5 what's happened," said Doyle, rolling his eyes. "Not even Mr Cowley."
"I'm afraid not, no," the Brigadier confirmed. "But if that causes any problems for you, you'll have my full backing."
"I shouldn't fancy trying to explain all this to him, anyway," Bodie wryly remarked. The mere thought of even attempting that conversation made him shudder. Not that the thought of telling the old man they weren't allowed to tell him what they'd done today was any better, mind. "By the way, sir," he added, "Mind if I ask how you got on at the warehouse? I know the alien wasn't being held there, but…"
"But it is still at the centre of a sizeable arms smuggling ring," the Brigadier nodded. "There actually seemed to be some kind of internal coup going on when we got there."
"Internal coup?" Bodie frowned, trying to tie this information together with what they already knew, or thought they knew.
"It appears Mr Stanton caught his business partner Galbraith pilfering the stock, shortly before we arrived."
"Pilfering the…you mean the weapons?" Doyle smacked Bodie's arm – the uninjured one, thankfully. "Remember those bully-boys at the garage," he said. "They said something about the boss having a plan, didn't they? Maybe that was the plan: nick a load of heavy artillery –"
"And try to take the rest of the aliens by force, since the blackmail attempt backfired on them so spectacularly?" Bodie mused, seeing where his partner was heading with this. He wrinkled his nose. "It's possible, I suppose." They'd certainly seemed stupid enough to try it. "It was Galbraith who was behind the abduction of the alien, you see, sir," he added for the Brigadier's benefit.
"I see," said the Brigadier. "Well, I shall look forward to hearing a full account of your activities and theories later. For now, I think you've provided all the assistance you can, so I suggest you get that arm seen to. Lieutenant, I'll attend to the mopping up here and leave the agents in your capable hands," he added, turning to Sullivan.
"Aye-aye, sir," Sullivan agreed as the Brigadier swung himself back into his jeep and headed off to harass the troops that were still scattered around the place.
Bodie watched him go and then turned to the doctor. "Looks like you're riding with us again."
"Apparently so," he nodded.
"Back to your place, then," said Doyle, "To get Bodie's arm seen to."
"Yeah, and after that we'll find a pub somewhere," Bodie added. "And you can buy us that drink we were talking about."
Sullivan frowned. "Steady on, now, why am I buying the drinks all of a sudden?" he protested. "I thought we'd agreed that you would buy me a drink."
"Hey, you might not remember it, but I saved your life today, sunshine," Bodie teasingly pointed out.
"Well, yeah, and he saved my life," Doyle chipped in, unexpectedly sticking up for the doctor, "And fixed your arm."
Bodie looked at Sullivan, who raised his eyebrows. Bodie nodded. "Right, then," he said, "That settles it. Doyle's buying the drinks!"
When Doyle put his head around the door of the agents' lounge at CI5 headquarters the next morning, Bodie was already there, sat at the table reading a paper as if nothing had happened.
"Yesterday happened, right?" Doyle demanded. It had felt real enough at the time, but now, in the cold light of a new day, it was a bit like remembering a dream, too ludicrous to possibly be true. "Or did I imagine the whole thing?"
"Your imagination's not that good, mate," Bodie dryly retorted. Then he gestured at the newspaper strewn across the table in front of him. "According to this, nothing the slightest bit untoward happened yesterday. But I don't think I'm imagining this hole in my arm." He pulled at the sling encasing his wounded arm, grimacing slightly, and Doyle eyed him appraisingly.
"Should you be in?"
"Oh, it's all right. I've had worse," he shrugged – a one-shouldered shrug, given the injury.
Doyle wasn't convinced but let it slide for now, dropping onto the chair opposite him with a groan. "Remind me never to go out drinking with a sailor again, even if…no, especially if he looks like a lightweight," he grumbled. Pausing, he eyed his partner speculatively for a moment, before adding, "So did you believe him?"
"Even half of what he told us." Which hadn't been much, truth be told, but Sullivan had given them a few wild stories, which had been entertainingly colourful…albeit also a bit confusing, since whatever the man's talents, narration was definitely not one of them.
Bodie looked pensive. "Honestly?" he wryly replied, "I don't think he told us even the half of it."
And that wasn't what Doyle wanted to hear, but was more or less the conclusion he'd come to himself. "Yeah," he ruefully agreed. "Yeah, that's what I thought."
It was a sobering thought, at that. Sullivan's stories about giant space bugs and the Loch Ness monster had been entertainingly colourful, enough that it was tempting to write them off as hopelessly exaggerated, but, on the other hand, the earnest UNIT doctor wasn't really the type for that kind of tall tale, and after what they'd seen yesterday…no. No, he hadn't been exaggerating – holding back, if anything, saying just enough to give them a taste of some of the incredible things he'd seen during his career with UNIT, but offering no actual detail. And he never had explained that talking to aliens trick of his, not really. At the end of the day, while Doyle and Bodie had seen enough to take them to the other side of UNIT's confidentiality clause, that clearly only took them so far; they were still outsiders, and if there was one thing UNIT was good at, it was protecting its secrets – the absence of any UFO reports in this morning's papers made that much crystal clear.
They were probably better off not knowing, come to that. And that was a sobering thought, too.
Bodie shifted position slightly, letting out a little hiss of pain as he jarred his wounded arm, and Doyle frowned. "Are you sure you should be in?"
"Yeah, it's not that bad," he insisted. "The doc said I was good to go."
"No, he didn't," Doyle retorted. "He said you were good to go home. He didn't say anything about work in the morning."
Bodie pulled a face at him. "Such a stickler for detail."
"I'm glad to hear it," said a crisp voice from behind them.
It was Cowley. They hastily scrambled to their feet as he swept into the room, almost quivering with indignation.
"It appears I am not allowed to ask you what happened yesterday," he announced with no further preamble, face like thunder, "Orders from Sir John Sudbury himself. Is there any particular reason why the activities of my top agents are being kept from me? Or am I not allowed to ask that, either?"
Doyle said, "Um…" and got no further, looked at Bodie and saw that he was also floundering. "Sorry, sir," he offered.
"I've had men working on the Stanton case for months now," Cowley fumed, "Painstakingly pulling evidence together. I wanted it watertight before we made a move. And then UNIT go wading in with their size nines and trample all over the investigation – all that effort, ruined in a single day!"
Doyle looked at Bodie, who shrugged and said, "As I understand it, sir, they managed a pretty effective take down of the…"
His voice tailed off as Cowley fixed him with a cold, hard glare. "Stanton is dead, Galbraith will probably join him, and now we'll never unravel the full extent of their operation, how many pies they had their fingers in."
"I believe a large amount of evidence was uncovered at Stanton's warehouse," Doyle offered, more in hope than expectation of mollifying his boss. "Contacts, buyers, that kind of thing."
"Aye, and the bulk of that evidence is now locked down behind UNIT's security classification!" Cowley seethed.
Ah, so that was the problem. And yes, Doyle could see how it might be tricky, from UNIT's perspective, to sift through what information could be safely released to partner agencies and what was too sensitive to allow out there; that certainly wouldn't be a quick job. But saying so wasn't going to improve Cowley's mood any, and nor would the revelation that UNIT weren't actually the slightest bit interested in Stanton's gun running operation, taking it down had just been a side benefit of a completely different investigation.
"If it makes you feel any better," he offered, "I think we may have helped save the world yesterday…"
Bodie promptly trod heavily on his foot, while Cowley skewered him with a glare. "This is no joking matter, Doyle," he fumed.
"No, didn't think so," he murmured.
"This was my investigation – a tin pot organisation like UNIT had no business going anywhere near it. And just what exactly is so secret about a raid on an arms smuggling ring, eh? Tell me that."
They couldn't tell him that. That was the trouble.
"Um," said Doyle.
"Cat got your tongue, Doyle?"
"On the bright side, sir," Bodie interjected in that bright, brittle tone he used when he was trying to lighten the mood, "We have formed some useful new contacts at UNIT –"
"How is that useful?" Cowley snapped. "You're expecting to work with them again, are you?"
"God, I hope not," Doyle fervently replied. Once was more than enough.
"That's the first sensible thing I've heard you say yet, Doyle," Cowley snorted, glowering. There was nothing he could do and they all knew it. He wasn't allowed to ask and they weren't allowed to tell, and wouldn't know where to begin even if they were. Because this wasn't about the security classification, it was about what lay behind it. But he didn't know that, couldn't know that.
Doyle tried a different tack. "Do you trust us, sir?"
"What?" Cowley narrowed his eyes, as if he thought it was a trick question. It wasn't. It was the simplest question in the world – but also, perhaps, the hardest.
"Me and Bodie – do you trust us?" Because that was what it all came down to, in the end…but it was a thorny question to broach, he knew that, because Cowley couldn't afford to trust anyone, could he? Not in his job, not with all the treachery and betrayal he'd seen. He'd had agents turn on him, trusted associates had stabbed him in the back, he'd rooted out corruption at the very highest level of government…Cowley didn't trust anyone, not really. And yet for this organisation to work effectively, he had to trust his men – didn't he?
Cowley fixed them both with a long, hard glare, sizing them up, that brain of his whizzing away nineteen to the dozen behind those sharp eyes. He never missed a trick, did Cowley. That was why this was hurting him so badly, because he didn't have all the information and so couldn't form a clear picture, couldn't understand what it was all about. Of course he was going to suspect the worst.
At length, he let out a little sigh of resignation. "Aye," he said – reluctantly, maybe, but he was still saying it. "Aye, I do…for whatever that's worth."
Course, he wasn't saying how far he trusted them, but it was enough. "It's worth a lot, thank you, sir," Doyle sincerely told him. "So please, trust us on this. There are reasons why we can't talk about what happened yesterday, but they aren't reasons that need to concern you. UNIT stepped into our investigation, yes, but not for the reasons you're thinking –"
"And just what am I thinking, Doyle? Eh? You're a mind reader now, are you?" Cowley furiously snapped. He was spoiling for a fight, that much was clear, but Doyle wasn't going to let himself be drawn; he didn't have to be a mind reader to hazard a guess at the direction Cowley's suspicions were most likely taking him, knowing the man as he did.
"You're thinking that if UNIT took over an investigation on our turf and no one will tell you why, not even us, there must be something shady going on," he bluntly replied, determinedly sticking to his guns, now he'd started, "Somewhere behind the scenes – someone must be up to something, plotting something or covering something up. That's what's happened before, isn't it? But not this time. The truth is, UNIT aren't the slightest bit interested in our work. They stepped into our investigation because it overlapped with a case they were working on, that's all: something that was…well, frankly, it was so far outside our jurisdiction it isn't funny. They needed us to help because of the overlap – but even then we were only involved by chance, really. That's all it was. And if it was something we thought you needed to know, we'd tell you, we would, classification or no classification. But it isn't. You don't need to know what that UNIT case involved, sir, because it isn't the slightest bit relevant to CI5 operations – and you wouldn't want to know, either."
"Wouldn't believe us, anyway," Bodie wryly chipped in.
"That's right. And we're just going to have to ask you to trust our judgement on that," Doyle finished, running out of steam.
Cowley stared at him, impassive. It was unnerving.
"I don't appear to have much choice in the matter, do I?" he sourly observed at last. "Och, go on, get out of here – out of my sight, the pair of you. Find something useful to do."
It was as close to a 'let's drop this and never speak of it again' as they were going to get. They grabbed it with both hands and made a run for it.
"Nicely played," Bodie approved as they scurried down the hallway, glad to be let off the hook. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
Bodie grinned. "Knowing more than Cowley does, for once!"