"And your partner is…." Dr. Jane Scott thumbs unnecessarily through the sheets of crisp white paper that are pinned to the clipboard resting on her knee.
"….Bodie." She knows damn well he is and it just irritates me further that I have to be here. Over half an hour and we're getting nowhere and I know that that's my fault as I sit here defiant. I know its mandatory to have a full Psychological Evaluation after any major personal injury sustained on an assignment but I hate them with a passion, almost as much as Bodie. He'd taken great delight in ribbing me mercilessly in the car on the way here this morning.
"So, a P.E. with the lovely Dr. Jane Scott." he had grinned.
"Lovely? She's far from lovely."
"Yeah," Bodie conceded. "She is a tough nut to crack. Have to use what little charm you have on her. Mind you, if I can't charm her you've got no chance."
"Thanks." I'd stared out of the window as Bodie's continued witterings drifted into the background.
Dr Scott's voice breaks through my thoughts as I let out a long sigh.
"And have you been able to share your feelings with him?"
"My feelings?" I stare back at her in puzzlement. Is she mad? Doesn't she know the words 'Bodie' 'feelings' and 'emotions' don't belong in the same sentence.
"You discussed the shooting with him?"
"No, not really. He was there, he found me. What's to discuss?" I reply flippantly. Her close scrutiny of me is unnerving, as though she can detect that there is something I'm holding back.
"It must have affected him, finding you."
"You'd have to ask him about that. I thought this was about me." I shift uncomfortably in my seat.
"It is but you seem reluctant to be here. Why is that?"
" Its pointless. I was shot and I recovered. End of story." I lean forward in my chair. "I just need to get back to work."
"Need to or want to?" Her vivid clear blue eyes seem to see right through me. I get up to stand at the window in an effort to avoid them for a moment and then spin round to glare at her angrily.
"Look, what do you want me to say because I'll say it and then I can get the hell out of here!"
She continues to watch me silently and I know that if I am to leave her office I'll have to give her at least some of what she wants.
"If you're asking me if I was scared well then yes, I was. Wouldn't you be?Lying there on the floor with two bullets in you, blood all over the place wondering if anyone is going to find you in time? Yeah, I thought my time was up but it wasn't. I'm still here."
I don't want to give away too much to this woman. I don't entirely trust her when she says what's discussed is confidential. How can it be when she's got to give a report to Cowley? He'll be entitled to information.
"So are we done here?" I don't give her time to reply. "Good."I head for the door and, closing it quickly behind me before she can call me back I walk along the corridor to Cowley's office.
"Ah, Doyle." Cowley lifts his head from his papers and Bodie, from an adjacent desk gives me a wide grin. "Has Dr Scott finished with you already?" He glances at the clock behind me.
"Good, good." He watches me carefully for a moment. "Right, well, I need to get together with Macklin to work out a fitness regime for you. But for now get yourself off home and take this one with you," he gestures towards Bodie."He's drunk half my new bottle of malt scotch already. I'll see you both on Monday."
As we make for the door Cowley calls Bodie back.
"Oh Bodie, a quick word."
"I'll wait in the car." I tell Bodie, glad to be away from Cowley's lingering gaze.
A few minutes later Bodie swings into the drivers seat beside me.
"What did he want?" I ask as he starts the engine and we head out into busy London traffic.
"Oh nothing much,just details of a stakeout with Turner on Monday.I tell you mate, I can't wait for you to come back. Turner's driving me mad."
"You always were a bad liar."
I turn my head to stare unseeing out of the side window,my anger rising, knowing Cowley's "quick word" was about me. There are a few minutes of an uncomfortable atmosphere in the car before Bodie attempts to lighten the mood.
"So," he grins at me. "Did Scott certify you as a complete nutcase?"
"Shut up, Bodie." I snap at him.
"I was only-"
"Yeah well don't." The journey home continues in silence and when he drops me at my place I march up to the door without a backward glance aware Bodie's eyes are boring into the back of my head. The weight of his concerns lay heavy on me but I can't deal with them right now. So why, a couple of hours later do I find myself standing outside his door?
When Bodie opens it I find him doing up the buttons of a smart shirt and there's a smell of aftershave.
"Ray!" he says in surprise.
" You're going out."
"Yeah, Louise. Remember?"
I stare back at him blankly.
"I knew you weren't listening this morning." he says smiling. " Come in."
"No mate," I tell him. "You're going out, I won't keep you."
"Nonsense, come on in." Bodie urges, tugging at my sleeve. I'm beginning to regret this but step reluctantly inside.
"Pour yourself a drink. Won't be a minute."he says, disappearing into the off my jacket I sit down wondering what I'm doing here. The apartment is warm and inviting and a smell of coffee drifts on the air. There's a gentle ticking of a clock that adds to the peace and I catch a wonderful much needed sense of safety. His apartment is everything to me that mine is not. I lie my head back and close my eyes breathing in its quiet restfulness. And then I suddenly remember that Bodie clearly has plans for the evening and my courage to perhaps talk to him quickly evaporates.I stand up and move towards the door.
"Listen mate, I'm going to be off." I call out just as he re-appears and he's changed into something more casual.
"No, you're not." he says firmly as he turns out the light and switches on a tablelamp, its gentle light adding to the calm. " You are going to sit down and tell me what's going on in that head of yours. And don't say 'nothing' when I know there is."
"There isn't anything, I just wanted to apologise for earlier. Anyway, what about Louise?"
"I've just rung her and cancelled. So, come on. Spill."
" Bodie-" I begin to protest but he ignores me and,sighing in frustration I flop down onto the sofa. He hovers beside me for a moment to gently ruffle my hair before pouring out equal measures of whisky into two glasses. He hands me one and then comes to sit silently on the edge of the coffee table in front of me.
I gaze up at him, hesitant.
"I don't know." I whisper, setting the glass on the table its contents untouched. I'm afraid of exposing my vunerabilities and weaknesses to him partly because he never seems to have any and partly because I'm afraid he won't take mine seriously. He studies me hard for a moment and then leans forward to slowly tap his forefinger on my knee.
"Don't let this live in your head." he says softly. "Whatever it is kick it out and we'll deal with it. Whatever happens and whatever's said stays between us." There is an honesty and a warmth of understanding to his voice that I rarely hear. I feel my resolve begin to weaken.
I stand in the doorway of my bedroom and watch Ray take off his jacket and drop heavily onto the sofa. No muscle covers his now boney frame and I see for the first time how frail and thin he has become. I tell myself its to be expected, after all he's lain in bed for the best part of six weeks but still it shocks me. I've known something isn't quite right with him for a couple of weeks now. He's seemed distant, haunted almost, and those big green eyes of his have been gradually losing their usual sparkle adding to the blank darkness of his face. He is slipping slowly towards depression and I've felt powerless to help him when my repeated requests for him to tell me what's wrong have been sharply rebuffed.
And so, to my shame, I haven't persued it. Perhaps I've hoped that this day would come when he would seek me out.
I watch, now fascinated by the expression that has come over his face as he rests his head back and closes his eyes. He looks the most relaxed I've seen him in weeks and seems to be drinking in something I am unknowingly providing. I turn off the harshness of the room light and turn on a table lamp that sends out its subtle light, hoping to maintain his mood. My movements around him in the half light are slow and measured and I come to sit quietly on the edge of the coffee table before him Pushing the whisky glass into his fingers I sense his reluctance to confide in me and lean forward to tap his knee with my finger.
"Don't let this live in your head. Whatever it is kick it out and we'll deal with it. Whatever happens and whatever's said stays between us. "
"Its nothing much really…just…" he trails off and dares to steal a glance at me knowing he's in too deep to be able to back out now.
"I just think my physical injuries are healing faster than the mental ones."
"What happened with Dr Scott?"
"Nothing, and that was my fault. I walked out. I hate those things. I was afraid she'd tell Cowley I'm not up to the job but I just need to get back to work."
"She won't do that, mate. At the very least she'll tell him you were unco-operative."
"Yeah, and he'll haul me in and want to know why."
"So why were you?" I probe gently, still sensing Ray's unwillingness to reveal what's really going on with him.
"Dunno really. Maybe I don't like people getting inside my head."
I straighten up and, taking a sip of whisky, I decide to take a different tack to get him to open up to me.
"Tell me what happened."
"The day you were shot. Tell me what happened when you walked into your flat."
"You know what happened."
"Only what I've picked up and pieced together. I haven't heard your account of it."
"Why would you want that?" Ray bristles, suspicious.
"I just think you need to tell me." I tell him calmly.
"Well I don't!" he leaps to his feet, instantly angry.
"Because I just want to forget it. Its done, its over!"
"But its not, is it?"
Ray wheels round to glare at me. "I knew I shouldn't have come here." He grabs his jacket and makes for the door.
"Yeah, that's right," I say, keeping my voice good humoured. "You ruin my evening and not even tell me why. Thanks."
This checks him and for a moment he is perfectly still and then something appears to snap within him and he wheels round to face me.
" You want to know what's wrong? Do you? Do you? I can't eat, I haven't slept properly for weeks and I can't stop shaking!" Ray says enraged, holding out his trembling hands. "And I feel scared all the time though I don't know why or what of!" He pauses, becoming visibly upset.
"I hate being in my flat! I hate it! I should be able to feel safe in my own home shouldn't I? Well I don't. I should be able to come home after some of the awful days we have and feel safe. That was my home, Bodie, where I could shut myself away from the world and relax ….and be me….. and feel safe. But not anymore! Its all been taken away from me and it scares me that I'm not going to get that feeling back again." Ray gasps for breath as his pent up angry words tumble unhindered from him. He turns away from me."I just need some peace and to feel safe and I want this out of my head."
My affection and support for him has never been shown in any physical sense. It's usually conveyed without needing to be said or shown directly, a ruffle of his hair, a warm wink of an eye, a pint in the pub when he's had a bad day. Its always seemed to be enough, until now. I move quietly to stand behind him. "Ray."
He turns reluctantly towards me and when he finally meets my eyes I hold out my arms to him. "Come here."
He stares at me in puzzlement unsure if he has read correctly my intentions. I take a step forward and let my arms drift gently around him. It seems an instinctive though unexpected response from me to his suffering. I feel the tension of uncertainty and surprise from him but then he softens and comes slowly into my embrace. I hold him as firmly as his healing injuries allow but when I feel him press harder against me seeking the comfort and security I seem to provide I tighten my grip around him and for a few moments there is only him and me. I breathe in the scent of his fears and feel the heat of his anger and frustration and,as he takes what he needs from me, I realise, with startling honesty, that I need this too.
Eventually he pulls away from me and sits on the sofa still clearly upset. I sit down quietly beside him and run my hand down his back in a slow circular motion.
"Stay here tonight. Spare bed's made up so there's no excuse." I tell him before he can protest.
Ray nods and rubs at his eyes.
"I don't know why I'm struggling with this," he sniffs. " I mean I've been shot before."
"Not in your own home you haven't and not left for dead. That's massive, mate. You didn't think that wouldn't have any effect on you, did you? Who do you think you are? Superman? You are only human and what happened has knocked you for six and that's understandable so cut yourself some slack." I pause for a moment aware that I have his full attention.
"You've been cooped up in that hospital for weeks," I continue, "with no real privacy, no space to really deal with what's happened and too much time on your hands to think. Now its all caught up with you. You've been out for exactly a week and already you are rushing to get back to work. It's too soon mate, and I think you know it." Picking up the whisky glass I push it into his hands.
"Drink." I tell him firmly and he takes a mouthful and stares into the glass.
"I thought if I went back to work and got into a routine again everything would get back to normal." Ray says quietly.
"Well that's not going to happen until you deal with all this crap in your head." I lean forward to tap the whisky glass he holds."Drink it, all of it." He takes another mouthful and turns the glass idly around in his hands.
"It was the last thing I expected," he says quietly. "When I left you that day I went to get a few groceries and stuff, milk and things. When I opened the door she was just there. Mayli. I was so surprised that for a second I couldn't take it in. I mean, how did she get in? I think I even asked her but from nowhere she pulled this gun. I had no time to react. I just remember…milk and glass….and falling. I didn't feel anything, no pain just utter shock as I hit the floor and then…." Ray swallows hard as he remembers and drains the last of the liquid from the glass. He shivers and I drape the tartan throw from the back of the sofa loosely around his shoulders.
"She stood beside me, the gun aimed at me again and ….." he continues, " I can't get over the feeling of utter terror that she's going to shoot again… and then she does.I feel it this time, excruciating. I thought, this is it. I'm going to die here and now, today and no one will know.I couldn't see her and thought she'd gone. I'm still alive but there's blood everywhere. I was too weak to get help but then I saw the emergency phone had fallen and the red light was flashing. Help must be on the way but its going to be too late, I can't hold on."
As my fingers continue to play soothingly on his back and the alcohol begins to take effect Ray starts to relax.
"Then what?" My voice is barely a whisper.
"There was a noise behind me and I thought she was coming back again to finish me off but it was you. I can't tell you how relieved I was, mate. You didn't say a word yet your silence told me everything. I don't really remember much else." He sits back against the sofa and lets out a long slow breath through pursed lips.
"So your place is full of ghosts and memories, yeah?" I ask.
Ray nods. "Stupid really. I mean I know no one's going to be there but when I open the door I just feel…I don't know…anxious I suppose. Stupid."
"No, its not. Its perfectly natural to have a reaction like would."
"It wouldn't happen to you." Ray's words are becoming slurred and slow.
"Ah well, I am Superman."
"I wondered why you wore pants over your trousers."
"Damn, my secret's out."
I'm encouraged by Ray's humour, it's the first I've heard from him in weeks.
"Seriously mate, you need to go placidly amid the noise and haste like it says on the poster in your bedroom and don't distress yourself with dark imaginings."
"You read it?"
"Cowley read a bit out. You need to take some time off and make a fresh start with a new place to live. Then you can concentrate on getting yourself fit again."
"That's going to take ages, getting fit." Ray's head lolls back and he closes his eyes as the alcohol begins to claim him. He is exhausted and emotionally spent.
"Yeah, you do look like a stick insect and one that's been on a diet but mate, you'll be surprised at how quickly your fitness will come back. Listen, I'll make us some coffee. I don't want you falling asleep on the sofa. You need a proper nights sleep in a bed."
But when I return with two mugs Ray is fast asleep. I cover him with the blanket and then watch him thoughtfully for a while wondering if I've done enough to at least allay some of his fears and wondering what's going to happen if I haven't.
It's a couple of hours later when I hear Ray stumble into the bedroom next door and a couple more when I am woken by the clatter of plates from the kitchen.
"Ray?" I call out.
"Go back to sleep."
"Want some company?"
"No, I'm fine. Go back to sleep."
I turn over and do just that. In the morning I have been up for a few hours and when there's no sign of Ray it occurs to me that he could have gone home. But when I peer into his room he lies deep amongst the covers so that just a few dark curls of his hair are visible. As I turn away the door bell sounds and to my surprise it's Cowley, a newspaper tucked tightly under his arm.
"Sir?" I stand back to let him in.
"I'm not disturbing you am I?" He says, glancing cautiously about the flat expecting no doubt to find a girl.
"No Sir, unfortunately not. Tea? Coffee?"
He shakes his head. "I was looking for Doyle. There's no reply at his flat. Have you seen him?"
"Asleep" I gesture towards the bedroom and, lowering my voice I add, "And I'd like him kept that way."
"Since when did you become mother hen? Is he alright?"
"Yeah, he's fine. We both had a bit too much to drink last night that's all."
Cowley views me with disgust. "Do you think that was wise given that he's not long out of hospital?" He doesn't wait for a response."Doyle is one of my best men." he says. " I don't mind telling you that I'm concerned about him. I haven't had her full report yet but Dr. Scott has indicated that his Psychological Evaluation did not go well. In fact Doyle walked out."
" He did mention that, yes." I confirm, sitting down at the table.
" Do you know why?
"Because, like me, he hates those kind of things. All that raking over old ground for no good reason."
"It is for a good reason, Bodie, a very good reason as well you know."Cowley bangs the newspaper firmly down on the table as if to emphasis the point. "And all this urgency to return to work. Its too soon, much too soon."
"You wouldn't have that problem with me, Sir." I grin, opening the newspaper.
"No Bodie, I don't suppose I would." Cowley regards me with a mixture of amusement and contempt. "Tell him I need to see him. I'll call on him this afternoon."
"Can I make a suggestion,Sir?"
"If you must."
"Can you leave it til Monday?"
"Can I ask why?"
"He's going to be hungover for a start and I think he'd be better for a couple of days breathing space."
Cowley stares at me hard. "Are you telling me everything?"
"Yes Sir, like I said we had a bit too much to drink that's all."
"Well you seem to be alright."
"What can I say!" I nod towards the bedroom. "The boy's a lightweight!" I put my head quickly into the newspaper trying to deflect any further enquiry from him. There's a moments hesitation from Cowley before he moves towards the door realising he's not going to get any more information from me.
"Are you enjoying that newspaper, Bodie?"
He sighs and shakes his head as he realises also that he's not going to be getting it back.
"Am I also one of your best men,Sir?" I beam at him as I open the door. I think he wishes he hadn't called on me now.
"What do you think,Bodie." he says coldly, his piercing eyes giving nothing away and his voice deep and serious. "What do you think." He turns sharply on his heels leaving me smiling in his wake.
Its another hour before Ray rushes from the bedroom into the lounge where I sit with the newspaper and a cup of coffee.
"Christ, Bodie it's 11.35!"
I look up, grinning."Behold! it's the Incredible Sleeping Man!"
"Why didn't you wake me?" he says ignoring me.
"What for? What do you have to do? Where do you have to be?"
"But its nearly mid day!"
"So? If you didn't need it you wouldn't have slept for so long." I reason and then add "How are you?" But I don't think I have to ask. His face is all I could want. He is pale and still looks tired but gone is the haunted expression that has clung to his face for so long. His once dim dead eyes now sparkle with fire as they flit around my face.
"Ask me after I've had a shower and you've made me a cup of tea." As he turns away I mutter "Better obviously, if you are bossing me about."
Ray sits opposite me at the table, eyes closed as he savours the first few mouthfuls of tea. Then he opens them and I read too late a sudden spark of mischief in them.
"I borrowed your toothbrush."he says matter of factly.
For a moment I am dumbstruck. "You didn't!" I utter eventually.
"No of course I didn't! What do you take me for! Don't know what I might have caught. I did raid your fridge in the night though."
"Yeah, I noticed. Don't worry, it will be added to your bill payable on departure." We fall easily back into the gentle teasing of each other that I have sorely missed.
"What's for breakfast?"
"No,no no, you are far too late for breakfast."
"What about lunch then?"
"What do you think this is? A hotel?"
"Well if it is the service is lousy." Ray catches my eye and is suddenly serious. "The counselling session,however was first rate."
Ray nods. "I feel like a beach towel that has had the sand shaken out of it."
"All of it?"
"Most of it. You were right, I let it all get on top of me and blew it all out of proportion." Rays moves behind me to open the fridge and collect bacon and eggs. I look at him quizzically knowing this isn't his usual fare.
"You going to eat that?"
"Desperate times call for desperate measures."
As he cooks he nods towards the newspaper open before me.
"You been out for a paper?"
"No, Cowley brought it."
"He was here?"
"What did he want?"
"You, actually. He'd called at your place."
"Me? Why?" he says above the sound of frying bacon.
"I think he's a bit concerned about you."
"I knew it! Dr bloody Scott!"
"Mate, she's just doing her job."
"What did you tell him?"
"That we'd had a bit of a late night drinking session and you'd crashed here." I assure him.
"Is he worried about me?" Ray asks coming to sit opposite me, placing a plate of food before him.
"He just said you seemed a bit out of sorts and whilst he hadn't had Scott's
full report yet she had expressed some concerns."
"He was going to call on you this afternoon but I've managed to put that off til Monday. I think you need a day or two to take stock and get your thoughts in order."
Ray stops eating and smiles thoughtfully at me.
"You know, you're quite good at all this psychological stuff. When Cowley's had enough of you you could take it up."
"No thanks, though I think he's already fed up with me. He thinks I'm leading you astray."
"No change there then."
We lapse into silence for a moment and then, between mouthfuls, Ray says "I've been doing some thinking. I'm going to take at least a week off, possibly two. Sorry."
"Sorry? Mate, don't be sorry. Take as long as you need because me and Turner are getting on like a house on fire. He's a really great bloke."
Ray raises an eyebrow at me. "I thought you said he was driving you mad?"
"I only said that to make you feel better. No, he's great,honestly." I lie.
"Yeah? Perhaps I'll take a month off then. Cowley would have no problem sanctioning that."
I gulp. Is he serious? Another month with Turner. Oh God. I look up and meet Ray's eyes and we share a soft smile with each other.
Another mug of tea later and Ray places it firmly on the table and gets to his feet.
"It's about time I went home." he announces.
"I was beginning to think you'd never leave." I grin at him. "Seriously Ray, I've also been thinking. Why don't you go home, pack a bag and stay here for a few weeks til you find a new place?"
Ray looks at me in astonishment. "But you hate sharing."
"Well its not like it would be forever."
"Thanks, but mate, I'm fine. You don't need to babysit me anymore."
"I wasn't aware that I was. I thought I was looking after my friend." We gaze at each other for a moment.
"Seriously Bodie, I'm going to be fine." Ray picks up his jacket and moves towards the door. "No one, especially Mayli, is turfing me out of my own home. I'm seeing things a lot clearer now."
"If you're sure." But I don't need to stress this, I can see that he is.
"I am." He confirms and opens the door. He turns slowly to face me and suddenly hooks an arm around my neck to pull me closely against him in the briefest of hugs and then he is gone. I have my partner back.