LOOKING BACK

 

By

 

Darby Brennan

 

Set some years after the series finished.

Cowley is dead; Doyle is his successor; whilst Bodie is Deputy Controller and in charge of training. It's their first day in charge and they discover that even from the grave Cowley has things to say.

An established relationship story.

Written: February 2015. Word count: 2,900.

 

 

Doyle sighed as he put the box down onto the desk.

 

Bodie shifted the box he was carrying into one arm and draped his other around Doyle's shoulders. "You okay, sunshine?" he asked.

 

For a moment Doyle leant against him; then he sighed again and said, "Yeah. It just still seems strange being in Cowley's office without Cowley being here."

 

Bodie squeezed his shoulders. "It's your office now, Ray."

 

"And don't I know it." For a moment Doyle slipped his arm around Bodie's waist and gave him a quick squeeze before moving away and beginning to pull things out of the box. The first was a framed photograph of the two of them, on the occasion of their fifth anniversary. The second was another framed photograph; this time of them and Cowley, it had been taken several years before the first photo. He stood both of them on the desk and for the next minute or so moved them around until he was apparently satisfied they were in the right place.

 

"God," Bodie said, grabbing the photo which included Cowley; the move earnt him a frown from Doyle. "I'll put it back where I found it."

 

"Make sure you do."

 

Bodie continued to stare at the photo. "Were we ever really that young?" he asked. He looked at Doyle and realised that in reality he had changed very little. His still curly hair, which was now more grey now than brown, was still slightly longer than was fashionable, but it still suited him. He was still trim, maybe a bit heavier than he had been, but not by much. He normally still favoured, much to Bodie's pleasure, tight jeans, but today he was dressed in a suit and smart shirt - he even wore a tie, albeit it was already partly undone. He had more lines on his face and larger bags under his eyes. Nonetheless, to Bodie eyes he was still every bit as desirable as he had been when they'd first met. He didn't look forty-five.

 

Doyle glanced at the photo and then at Bodie. "You've not changed much," he said, snatching the photo from Bodie's hand and putting back down. "At least your hair's still the right colour, whereas mine . . ." He pulled a strand and stared at it. "And it's got even greyer in the last few days; the old man might have warned me." He dug into the box again, pulled out a bottle of whisky and two glasses, plonked them down on the desk, put the box on the floor and slumped down onto the chair.

 

Bodie stood and watched as he opened the bottle and poured a generous slug of whisky into each glass. Raymond Doyle: Controller of CI5; it had a nice ring to it he thought, and he was proud of his one-time working partner. Cowley had always had Doyle in mind to take over, had groomed him so to speak. So when, upon his death, the Minister had told them it had been Cowley's wish that Doyle take over, Bodie hadn't been surprised. What had surprised him was that Cowley had wanted him to take over as Deputy Controller, as well as being in charge of training. At least the Deputy Controller bit had surprised him on two levels: firstly, because it was a brand new role and secondly, because he had never thought Cowley saw him in any kind of management role.

 

"Well," Doyle said, pushing one of the glasses across the desk. "Don't just stand there, sit down and let's drink a toast to Cowley."

 

Bodie sat down and picked the glass up. "Didn't like to sit down before," he said, grinning at Doyle, "I didn't have permission."

 

Doyle narrowed his eyes and stared at Bodie. "Don't bleedin' well start that again, Bodie," he growled. "This doesn't change anything between us."

 

Bodie sighed. Yeah, Doyle really hadn't changed that much; he still had the na´ve element about him. "Course it does," he said carefully. "You're the boss now and I'm -"

 

Doyle reached across the desk and grabbed Bodie's hand. "The man who's going to keep me sane; make sure I don't work myself to death; help me keep a balance between the job and our home life, and help me every step of the way to run his place." He paused and stared intently at Bodie, holding his gaze and saying much more with his eyes. "Oh, and the bloke who, the first time he dares to 'sir' me, will spend the next month sleeping in the spare room. Now: to Cowley." He raised his glass.

 

Bodie squeezed his hand and raised his own glass. "Cowley," he said and then added, "To George. May he rest in peace." He drained the glass.

 

Doyle nodded and drained his own glass. "George. May he leave us in peace," he said, refilling both glasses.

 

Bodie nodded his thanks. "I dunno, Ray, I rather fancy the idea of him turning up and -" He fell silent as there was a tap at the door.

 

The next moment it opened and Betty came in. She was still wearing black, as she had done since Cowley's death, her eyes were slightly red and puffy and she looked very pale. She had a large box file in her hand.

 

Doyle stood up as she came in. "Hello, Betty love," he said. "How are you?"

 

She gave him a faint smile. "Not too bad, thanks," she paused, and then said softly but determinedly, "Ray. At least not until I think of him and then -" She fell silent and blinked hard.

 

"Drink?" Doyle offered, nodding to the bottle of whisky on the desk.

 

She shook her head. "Thank you. But no, I won't."

 

"Have you changed your mind?" Doyle asked.

 

Betty glanced at Bodie and then back at Doyle. "No, Ray," she said. "I haven't."

 

"I wish you would. I really could do with you and your knowledge of the job and all the stuff that went on which we simple agents never knew about."

 

"I know. But I can't, Ray. Don't get me wrong, I like you and for what it's worth Mr. Cowley made the right decision leaving you in charge. But I can't work for you and anyway, it would be wrong. You need someone you appoint; someone who will work for you and do things your way. I'm too entrenched in how he used to do things. It would be wrong. The agency's yours now, Ray. Yours and Bodie's. You need your own team."

 

Bodie leant back in his chair and just watched Doyle and Betty. Betty was right; he knew it and he knew Doyle knew it too. Still he didn't think it was his place to say anything, so he just sipped his drink and stayed silent.

 

Finally, Doyle sighed and put his hand on Betty's arm. "You're right, Betty love," he said. "I know you are. I just . . ." He trailed off and shrugged. "What are you going to do?"

 

She flushed somewhat and for a moment looked away from him. Then she looked back and smiled, a real smile this time; the first Bodie had seen since Cowley's death. "I'm going to take some time off; I'm not going to find another job straight away. And I'm going to - Oh, I hope you won't think it silly but . . . I'm going to go to Scotland and just spend a few weeks touring around. I think -" She fell silent and bit her lip.

 

"I think it's a lovely idea, Betty. George would have approved." Doyle squeezed her arm. "He left you a reference, didn't he?"

 

Betty flushed. "Yes. He did. It was very . . . Flattering."

 

Doyle shook his head. "No, Betty. Cowley did many things, but he never flattered. It was honest. Whatever he said he meant. Anyway, what I was going to say was that I'm sure that will be enough, but if for any reason some place needs something from the current Controller, well you know, I hope, you only have to ask."

 

She smiled. "Thank you, Ray."

 

"My pleasure, love."

 

"Well, I had better get off and leave you to settle in." She glanced slowly around the office, before letting her gaze come to rest on the desk. "It seems so strange," she whispered.

 

"Yeah, I know it does. Seems that way to us too, doesn't it, Bodie?"

 

"Yeah, it does." Bodie nodded.

 

"This is for you," Betty said, belatedly holding out the box file she held. "It's from Mr. Cowley. He started it quite a few years ago and added to it pretty much every year. He told me to give it to you the day after his funeral; the day you officially became Controller of CI5. He told me to tell you to forget everything else until you and Bodie had read it. He said even the Minister could wait." She smiled. Then tears filled her eyes. "It was . . . It was . . ." She swallowed hard, pulled out her handkerchief and wiped her eyes. "It was the last thing he said to me, when I . . . His very last words, Ray. So you must obey him - just as . . . Well, I was going to say 'just as you always did', but . . ." She laughed lightly, even though tears still stood in her eyes.

 

Doyle grinned and swallowed hard; Bodie saw that Betty wasn't the only one who had tears in their eyes. "I'll - we'll," he added, glancing at Bodie, "- do as Mr. Cowley said, Betty. I give you my word." He moved towards her and kissed her cheek. "Thanks, love," he said. "Thanks for everything. Hey and, don't be a stranger."

 

Bodie stood up and moved towards her, took her into his arms and kissed her on both cheeks and squeezed her hard, making her blush just a little. "You take care, Betty, and as Ray said, don't be a stranger."

 

"I won't," she said. "And you two - You both take care and . . ." She shrugged, smiled and then turned and hurried out of the room.

 

Doyle waited until the door had closed behind her before staring down at the box file. "Well," he said, pulling out his penknife and cutting the string that was around it. "I guess we'd better find out just what the old man has left us. Pour us another whisky and get comfortable, I have a feeling this might take some time."

 

TWO HOURS LATER

 

"Bloody hell," Doyle said, leaning back in his chair and dragging his hand through his curls. He winced as his fingers tangled in one, pulling some hair out as he tried to untangle it. He stared at the hair and sighed. "You know I really have got greyer since Cowley died," he said, dropping the curly strand into the bin.

 

Bodie stared at him. "I hate to break it to you, sunshine," he said, "but you really haven't. You've been that grey for months now."

 

"Gee, thanks, Bodie. Do you think I should have it cut? It'd be more professional."

 

Bodie shook his head. "No. Grey or not, I like your curls. You get 'em cut off, you'll be the one spending your nights in the spare room - until they grow back."

 

Doyle shot him a look and sighed. "Bloody hell," he said again. "He liked us, Bodie. The Cow; he really liked us. He -" He fell silent.

 

"Yeah. I know." Bodie's tone was sombre. "Never realised. I mean I know he thought we did our jobs okay. But . . ."

 

"I liked him too." Doyle's voice was low.

 

"I know. Me too."

 

"I know I moaned about him and even argued with him at times. But I did like the old bastard. Do you reckon he knew?" Doyle stared hard at Bodie.

 

"You read the same things as I did, Ray. Course he knew."

 

"This has made me more determined to carry on CI5; carry on his good work and take it into the future." Doyle spoke with a determination he rarely felt.

 

Bodie nodded. "But in your way. Don't forget his opening letter. Don't forget what he said. You're to do it your way. Not the way he did it or the way you think he'd want you to do it. Because all he wants is for you to run the place your way."

 

Doyle sighed. "Not sure I know what 'my' way is, Bodie. What if he was wrong?"

 

Bodie frowned. "Huh?"

 

"Cowley. What if he was wrong about me being the right person, the - to quote him - only person to take over? What if I screw up?"

 

Bodie grabbed Doyle's hand and squeezed it. "He wasn't wrong, sunshine. He was right. And you won't screw up."

 

Doyle intertwined their fingers. "How can you be so sure, Bodie?"

 

"Because you have me to hold your hand." Bodie's tone was smug as was his smile. However, the look in his eyes as he met and held Doyle's gaze told a completely different story.

 

Doyle swallowed hard and for a moment had to blink back a tear. "Yeah," he said, his voice low. "I do. And now we know why Cowley allowed our relationship. Always wondered quite why he let us become more than working partners."

 

Bodie nodded. "Me too. Seemed out of character. But not now. He gave his life, he gave everything to this agency - he wants more than that for us. For the first time I reckon I know why he made me Deputy Controller."

 

Doyle cocked an eyebrow. "Because he was admitting running CI5 is too much for one person?"

 

Bodie nodded and then shook his head. "Not just that. Because he knew that when it comes down to it, Ray, you're just like him. The job killed him; he didn't want the same to happen to you. Without someone by your side here and at home, it would have, because you're as dedicated, as driven, as much of a hard bastard, as soft as he was. And don't look at me like that. Beneath that hard as steel persona, Cowley was as soft as you. And you're as tough as he was."

 

Doyle thought about it. Then he glanced at the desk which was covered with papers and even a few photos and he suddenly realised Bodie was right. He sighed and got up from behind the desk and moved around to the other side and perched on the edge of the it and looked at Bodie.

 

After a moment Bodie put his hand on Doyle's thigh and squeezed it. "He wanted more for you than he had. And," he added, standing up and sitting down next to Doyle, "reckon he wanted more for CI5 as well." He put his arm around Doyle's shoulders and pulled him closer to him.

 

For a moment Doyle let his head rest on Bodie's shoulder, taking comfort in the familiar strong arm and Bodie's scent; knowing that he really wasn't alone and never would be. They sat for a moment or two in the comfortable silence; in the knowledge they didn't need to talk.

 

Finally, Doyle raised his head and said. "I miss him, Bodie. I really miss him."


"Yeah, Ray. So do I. But look at this way, he's not really gone."

 

Doyle turned his head. "What?"

 

"Well, despite his 'run the place the way you want to run it, laddie', he's still pulling the strings to an extent. He's the one who put you in charge and put me as your deputy; he's the one who left us that," he nodded to the paper-strewn desk. "He's the one who let us shack up together because he always had this planned. We've spent two hours looking back at the past, thanks to dear old George. Now we have to look forward - but we'll be doing that thinks to dear old George. He's not really gone, Ray. Part of him will always be with us; always be here."

 

"Dear old George," Doyle said, and then moved just enough so that he could grab Bodie and kiss him. Bodie slipped his arms around Doyle and for a moment the kiss became deeply passionate, until with a sigh Doyle gentled it and it became more about the deep, intense love they had for one another. The love they rarely, if ever spoke about, but both knew about.

 

"Ray -" Whatever Bodie had been about to say was silenced by the intercom on Doyle's desk buzzing.

 

He grabbed the phone. "Yeah?" He listened for a minute. "Give me a minute and then send him up." He put the phone down, swiftly kissed Bodie again before getting to his feet, pulling his tie up and bundling the papers and photos together and putting them back into the box they'd been in. "The Minister's on his way up," he said, swiftly going around to the opposite side of the desk and putting the glasses and half-empty bottle of whisky into a drawer.

 

"Business as usual," Bodie said, moving to lean against the cupboard.

 

"Business as usual," Doyle repeated, straightening up as a perfunctory knock on the door was followed instantly by it being opened.

 

 

 

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