Between A Rock And A Hard Place
Ray Doyle couldn't hold back the pained gasp that forced its way past his clenched jaws as the rigid rubber hose slammed against his already aching ribs. Dropping his head onto his chest, he yearned for oblivion to sweep in and take him away from the torture being visited upon him. Panting through the sharp shards of agony, he watched blearily as drops of blood slowly dripped from his torn lips to his trembling legs.
A shadow fell over him and he forced his head up, blinking away the fuzziness of his vision, looking blearily into his partner's frantic eyes.
"This is getting us nowhere," Bodie ground out, the nerve in his cheek twitching madly with tension. "He's not going to tell us anything. Let's just leave him here and get the hell out while we can."
"Going soft on us?" Lawrence asked, shouldering Doyle's partner aside with a shove of one massive shoulder. "When we leave, we leave behind a corpse. But first, he's going to tell us who sent him. We've got a shipment of weapons out there that we need to offload and I'm not taking the chance of us being shafted again."
"We've got the money," Bodie countered. "We should just cut our losses and get the hell out. Holland, maybe or Greece."
Lawrence nodded to Collins who whipped a Walther from his jacket pocket and aimed it at Bodie's head. "Just as easy to leave two corpses."
Doyle's head snapped back as Lawrence's hand lashed out and smashed brutally into his face. Spitting blood, choking on spit and mucus, Doyle dredged up a feral grin for his tormentor. "He's right, you know," he croaked. "You are a daft sod. When my buyer finds out what you've done, there won't be anywhere big enough for you to hide."
The hose struck again and he arched up against the agony with a shout then collapsed in on himself, fighting for air. He watched Bodie's eyes narrow, his jaw tightening as his hands clenched into fists.
Don't! Doyle sent the command with his eyes, his voice gone, his body too exhausted to push the word out. He willed his thoughts to his partner. I'm done in, Bodie. You're going to have to get us out of this one.
Bodie's head came up and he took a single step back, his eyes telegraphing regret, shame and sorrow. Finally, blessedly, Doyle let the darkness take him.
"Why is it that you always get the glamorous part?" Doyle asked as he and his partner made their way through the corridors of CI5.
"Because I'm Cowley's favorite," Bodie minced, puckering up his lips and blowing a kiss at Doyle.
"The Cow doesn't have favorites. Don't think he likes anyone." Doyle pushed aside his partner's attempt at a cuddle.
"It was a fair toss of the coin."
"I'm beginning to think it's one of those trick coins, double-headed."
Bodie looked righteously affronted at the remark. "Are you suggesting I'd cheat?"
"As a matter of fact… yes."
Bodie aimed a well-deserved kick at Doyle's behind as his partner cackled and took off out the door. A moment later, Doyle was behind the wheel of his Capri, gunning the engine. Bodie leaned in at the open window.
"We've been working these blokes for weeks now. I was beginning to think they'd never take the bait."
"Just watch yourself, Bodie."
Doyle tossed him a toothy grin. "I've got the easy part. I'm just the money-man. You're the one working the inside. One slip now…"
"We won't lose them," Bodie said as he straightened and fished in his pocket for his car keys.
"I'm more concerned about having to break in a new partner." Doyle's voice dropped and his face grew serious as he laid his hand briefly over Bodie's where it rested on the door. "Be careful."
"Got it." Bodie smiled and waved away the concern in his partner's voice. "Besides, I have the weekend already lined up.” He leaned down and raised an eyebrow at Doyle. “You, me, nice bottle of wine… and the football on the telly.”
Doyle rolled his eyes. “Bloody football. You just like watching their arses in those tight shorts.”
“I’d rather watch your arse any day, Raymond,” Bodie replied.
Doyle sighed. “You’re incorrigible, you know that?” He couldn’t stop a smile when Bodie grinned at him, looking thoroughly unrepentant. Back to business, he told himself firmly. “So, see you at the farm tomorrow afternoon, Mr. Kelly?"
"Until then, Mr. Marshall."
'How the hell had it all gone so bloody wrong, so bloody fast?' Bodie thought as he watched his partner's unconscious, battered form sag against the ropes holding him to the chair. There had been no warning, no inkling of what was to come when Doyle had knocked on the farmhouse door earlier that day. Whoever had screwed this up was going to get a right royal rollicking, Bodie vowed, once he got himself and his partner out of the God-awful pickle they were in.
It was supposed to be a routine undercover operation. There was a new gang on the streets, dealing in black market weapons, not just your everyday assault rifles and hand guns, as if that wasn't bad enough, but missiles, rocket launchers, machine guns, state of the art stuff. Bodie had managed to get inside the group when the word got out that they were looking for ex-SAS men. Soldiers prepared to risk their lives for big money.
He'd been working with the well-trained, disciplined gang for two weeks now, insinuating himself into their favors with lucrative contacts before finally hooking them up with Ray. Doyle was the go-between, the money-man for an anonymous buyer in the Middle East. They were yet to pin down the inside man at the weapons research establishment.
International government contacts made it easy to have Doyle checked out and approved by the gang. After meeting with Murphy that morning at a café and getting final instructions from Cowley, Doyle set off for the bank and collected the cash.
Once that was delivered, it was a simple matter of waiting for the money to change hands and getting the location of the weapons. Back up would storm the place and they'd be home in time for tea and a football game on the telly, though Bodie knew if Doyle got his way – and he would – they wouldn’t be watching much of the football.
It had been so long since they'd had any days off, they were both getting antsy. It seemed Cowley kept them on the go so much, they scarcely had time for a quick blowjob or a shower together before they were off and running again. Bodie had mused that perhaps Cowley knew about their relationship and was trying to force them to cool it. Doyle had sniggered and said that maybe Cowley was just jealous that they were getting some and he wasn’t.
Then this job had come up. One of the biggest cases CI5 had been handed and both Bodie and Doyle jumped at the chance to be in on the action. After this one, Bodie figured, Cowley would owe them a whole lot more than just an afternoon off.
Somehow, it all gone to hell in a handbasket. Bodie had felt the first frisson of unease when Darcy, the driver and apparent odd-jobs-man had arrived and taken Lawrence into a corner of the large kitchen, conferring in whispers, throwing the occasional venomous glance in Doyle's direction. Exchanging a quick puzzled look with his partner, Bodie gave Ray a surreptitious shrug of his shoulders and indicated they should wait and see what played out.
He balked initially when he was sent to check out the grounds with Darcy, leaving Lawrence and Collins alone with Ray. A slight shake of Doyle's head and he'd taken the hint and followed Darcy outside. He'd performed a perfunctory circuit of the grounds, relieved to see that Cowley's men were not close enough to be detected. They'd returned to the farmhouse to find Doyle bound and bruised from Lawrence's blows, his lip cut and swelling rapidly.
"He's a fucking copper," Lawrence snarled, pacing up and down in front of the semi-conscious man.
Bodie had almost lost it there and then, only a warning glance from Doyle stopping him from taking Lawrence apart with his bare hands.
'Back off,' Ray was telling him with narrowed, pain-filled eyes. 'We can still salvage this.'
Bodie had nodded imperceptibly. He'd back off… for now. Come on, Cowley, make a bloody move already! Bodie urged.
Surely when they showed no sign of exiting the farmhouse, Cowley would give the order to move in. It wasn't as though they were having a bloody tea party in here.
Bodie tried not to show any emotion as Lawrence threw a jug of cold water over Doyle and he regained consciousness with a gasp. Shivering as he sat in wet, bloody clothes, Doyle looked sullen as a Polaroid photo was tossed onto his lap.
"Who's that you're with?"
"Just a friend," Doyle muttered. "Old school mate. Haven't seen him in years."
Again the hose lashed out, this time contacting Doyles' leg with a sharp crack and Doyle croaked out a sob, his stamina spent. "I'm telling you the truth. He's an old mate."
"Explain this then." Collins, a thin, weasel-looking man with bad teeth stepped up then and waved a second photo under Doyle's nose. "Here's your mate again. Looks to me like he's talking into a radio."
Doyle squinted then lifted his head defiantly, flashing a despairing glance at Bodie. "You can't see that. Could be anything."
"All right, that's it!" Lawrence turned away and stepped over to the corner of the room. Bodie took a chance in the momentary distraction to cross to the window and peer out. A flicker in the trees near the front gate caught his attention and he allowed himself a measure of relief. Not too much, he still had to get Ray out of here before Lawrence killed him.
Surely, by now, Cowley had picked up that there had been a complication. Shaking his head, he grimaced at the poor choice of words for the disastrous turn of events. As he watched, Murphy's head appeared from within the cover of the trees and the agent looked directly at him. Bodie nodded then stepped away from the window and back toward Ray. He growled sub-vocally as he watched Lawrence approach Doyle with a lit blowtorch. Back up or not, Bodie decided this was going to end now.
Collins grasped a handful of Ray's hair and wrenched his head back hard, exposing his neck, the corded muscles bulging, sweat dribbling in bloodied rivulets and snaking beneath his wet shirt.
Doyle's eyes widened, his resistance spent as Lawrence stepped closer. "Please…" he whispered.
It was all Bodie could take. He launched himself at Lawrence's back, barely registering Collins raising his weapon with a shout at the same time as the back door exploded inward.
As operatives swarmed into the farmhouse, Bodie's momentum carried him into Lawrence, the soldering iron spilling from the big man's grasp as he was thrown to the floor. Bodie grabbed a handful of hair and slammed Lawrence's head brutally against the tiles. Rolling off the dazed man, he pulled Lawrence over and smashed his fist into the hated face, only peripherally aware of frantic shouting and hands that tried to pull him away. He couldn't stop, didn't know how to, didn't want to… Every punch eased his pain and guilt even as his fists bled.
One voice filtered through beneath the others, hoarse and barely there. One touch on the arm raised high to move in for the killing blow to the throat and he froze.
"Bodie. No more. It's over."
Bodie sagged, panting, then collapsed back to sit on his rear, his attention completely on his partner, who lay amid the ruins of the kitchen chair, still tangled in his bonds.
Reaching out a shaking hand, Bodie gently wiped a ribbon of blood from Doyle's cheek. "You look like something the cat dragged in."
Doyle shook his head slowly as his eyes slid closed. "Thanks."
Bodie followed Cowley into Ray's hospital room and tried not to frown at the bruises marring his partner's face. Doyle opened heavy eyelids as they approached the bed and pasted on a weak smile.
"Good, you're awake." Cowley stopped at the side of the bed and looked down at him, his craggy face showing no emotion.
"Just barely," Doyle croaked. "They gave me an injection before." Doyle's face was battered and swollen, his lower lip puffed out and scabbed over. Thick bandages supported cracked ribs and concealed the black bruises that Bodie knew peppered his partner's chest.
He still looked as exhausted as he had when the ambulance had rushed him here. Being tortured would do that to you, Bodie knew. Sucked the soul out of you, replaced hope with helplessness and defeat, and witnessing it, unable to stop it, was just as bad, maybe worse.
"You're looking your usual handsome self," Bodie said as he fixed a strained grin on his face, and tried to force his bruised hands to unclench.
"Feeling it too."
"Doctor seems to think you need to stay off duty for a few days," Cowley said somewhat begrudgingly, picking up the chart from the end of the bed and studying it as though it would contradict the medico's words.
"I don't know about that, sir." Doyle winced as he shifted position in the bed. "I might need a bit longer than that, maybe even a week." His eyes telegraphed a plea for Bodie to play along.
"Aye, is that right, Doyle?" Cowley groused. "And who do you suppose is going to pick up the slack while you're playing the invalid?"
"We are due for a couple of days' off, sir," Bodie put in.
Cowley flashed him an impatient glare but Bodie saw the faintest twitch of his lips. "Right then. You're off for a week, 4.5." He strode to the door and pulled it open, then turned back. "Bodie, I'll see you at 0700."
"Time waits for no man, Bodie. There's work to be done. Now finish up here quickly, while I have a final word to the doctor. Then you can buy me a nightcap." The door closed before Bodie could muster a reply.
"See what a beating'll get you?" Doyle sighed and shrugged at Bodie's pained glare. "Could do with a whiskey myself," he muttered as he shifted attempting to find a comfortable position. "A week. Remember Cathy, from the last time you were here… or was it me? Doesn't matter. Seems she has a boat. She offered to let me use it whenever I wanted."
"You don’t know how to sail," Bodie said grumpily.
"She doesn't know that."
The silence dragged between them then Doyle spoke again, his voice sounding drowsy and a little slurred. "Thanks, for what you did."
Bodie shrugged and picked at a tuft of cotton on the bedspread. "I just wish it had been me… instead of you…"
"No." Doyle's voice was firm. "If it had been me in your position, I would have folded too soon, probably gotten us both killed. You did the right thing. Let yourself off the hook, Bodie. We collared the bastards, found the guns and we're both alive. The right team won."
Cowley's head appeared around the door. "A man could die of thirst, 3.7."
"Yes, sir." Bodie grimaced at Doyle and rolled his eyes. He smiled and waited until the door closed again before leaning down and kissing Doyle gently on the cheek. “So, just how big is this boat?"
Bodie lay back on the deck, watching as Doyle settled beside him. He waited until Ray was comfortable before turning to his side and rising up, leaning on one elbow. Carefully, he stroked a finger down Doyle’s ribs, which still displayed purpling bruises from his ordeal. “Still hurt?” he asked.
Doyle shook his head and closed his eyes, a small smile playing on his lips.
“Good.” Bodie leaned forward and kissed the marred flesh gently. He froze when Doyle gave a small hiss and squirmed. “Sorry,” he said. “You said it didn’t hurt so…”
“It doesn’t, Bodie,” Doyle said. He reached down and adjusted his shorts. “Not much anyway, but there’s another part of my anatomy that wasn’t broken or bruised and is very interested in that mouth of yours.” He opened his eyes and Bodie grinned at the unadulterated lust in them.
“You’re going to milk this for all it’s worth, aren’t you?”
Doyle looked positively affronted. “Me? I was injured in the line of duty, Bodie!” He couldn’t hold the pose for long and smiled then reached out and grasped Bodie’s hand, guiding it down to rest on his dick. “Just making the most of things while we have the time. Are you complaining? Because if you are, I could phone Cathy. She’s off this weekend too –“ He yelped as Bodie’s mouth descended upon him.