UNTIL THE END
Bodie's disliking for coppers turns to loathing when Doyle is arrested and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Bodie is determined to clear his lover's name.
An established relationship story.
Warning: Major character death.
Written: August 2005. Word count: 3,617.
During my life, I learned to live with death and smell it and swallow it. I saw what it did to people; how it affected them; how they reacted to it. I've seen it destroy lives, and I've seen it save them. I've seen people welcome it with open arms, and I've seen them fight against it until their last breath. I've seen it as a relief and a punishment. I've been responsible for more deaths than most; and I've buried more people than most. I wasn't even sure it could touch me, really touch me anymore. But this time . . .
I've never liked coppers. Now I positively loathe them. I'd like to say hate, but in my book, hate implies that a person is capable of loving who they hate, and there's only one copper ex-copper I could ever love: my partner: Ray Doyle.
They broke the mould when the Met made him, they did. He's unique. There's never been anyone like my Ray, before or since. Incorruptible, an idealist with a powerful sense of right and wrong, caring, compassionate, honest that's Ray. I'm not saying he's perfect far from it; too bloody clever for his own good, sharp as one of my knives, with a sarcastic wit and a quick temper. A born flirt although to his credit I don't think he was ever aware of just how much he flirted. And he could cut you to ribbons with a single word. However, he was also loyal, trustworthy, loving and generous. The best friend, partner and lover I've ever had.
Life in 1983 was perfect, or as near perfect as made no difference. Me and Ray had been sleeping together on and off for years, virtually since the day we met. Lust at first sight it was. Both of us were bi, both pretty experienced me a bit more so both could appreciate a nice body and face, irrelevant of its sex. We double dated a lot, mostly with birds, because I was less romantic as far as male/male sex went than Ray was. Ray had boyfriends; me I had blokes I fucked, or who fucked me.
Until I met Ray, I never knew that sex with another feller could be loving and gentle. He was never really one for rough sex, which isn't to say that we didn't have some great hard and fast quickies in some pretty interesting places. We even did it once in the graveyard, the one he used to drag me out to jog in, but that's another story. Generally, though, we tended to take our time and enjoy one another.
Time moved on and we got closer and closer. The only blip on the horizon was the day the bitch Ann Holly reared her pretty little head; not that it lasted - well it couldn't have done, could it? The cow didn't want Ray. She wanted what she thought she could make him into. The night she dumped him, I showed him what love was about. I made the little sod realise that there was one person in the grey old world who did love him for him, and that person was me.
Anyway, as I was saying, time moved on and we closer and closer, until the day came when we realised that we were spending more time sleeping together and I'm not just talking sex here than we were apart.
It finally came to a head when I nearly lost him to that Chinese bitch's bullets. Shouldn't really call her a bitch, she wasn't, not like Miss Holly, she was misguided, that's what Mayli really was. I held her hand in the ambulance, just as I'd held Ray's during one of the worst journeys of my life. Unlike Ray, though, she died before we got to the hospital. I left her to the medical staff, well there wasn't anything I could do, and dashed off to see Ray. The moment he came round and I was alone with him, I told him that I wasn't standing for it any longer. I said that I'd had enough games, and that I was going to tell Cowley we wanted to live together, and that we were now exclusive. The poor sod just blinked at me, well he was doped to the eyeballs with painkillers and other drugs, but he agreed. I tell you, I could have drowned in those big green eyes of his when he looked up at me, smiled the smile he reserves only for me and nodded.
I actually didn't tell the Old Man for a few days; I felt a bit guilty, almost as if I'd railroaded Ray into it. However, it was Ray who brought the subject up again, he wanted to know where we were going to live and what The Cow had said. I mumbled about not having time to see Father, and he just smiled that I-know-you-so-well-Bodie smile at me, turned the emerald pools on me and whispered to me, his voice soft and sensual. "Oh, no, love, you don't get away from me that easily. Do you for breach of promise, I will. Typical, bleedin' Bodie, break the engagement before I've even got a ring."
"Engagement," I'd replied, somewhat dazed.
"You were asking me to marry you, weren't you?" he'd asked, batting his eyelashes in that innocent angel way that I swear he cultivated from his toddler days. "Or are we just going to live in sin?" he'd added as the angel fled and the mischievous imp took its place.
I suppose that I was, in a way, proposing. I mean I'd become all protective and macho, and mentioned exclusiveness, and he obviously loved every second of it.
Thus, I told Cowley. Turns out that the canny old bastard was merely waiting for it. Had the flat lined up and everything. No pep talk, no speech, no threats, okay, so no congratulations and roses either, but his acceptance was enough for me.
I never did buy Ray that engagement ring that would have been soppy. What I did do, however, was every bit as soppy; well one pressie was. I bought him a teddy bear, yes a teddy bear, can you imagine it? I reckoned he'd be on his own a fair bit for a few months, and I didn't want him getting lonely. I did think of a puppy, but reckoned that once Ray was fit again and back at work I had no doubts that he would be that it wouldn't be fair on the poor little thing; the puppy that is, not Ray. He did blink and stare rather when I handed him the bear, but I knew that he secretly loved it. His real pressie was a damned good camera, he likes photography almost as much a painting does my Ray; in fact he often does it for CI5.
Then a year to the day of us moving into our first joint flat, I gave him the wedding band. The one that matched mine. The ones we never took off.
And so we lived perfectly happily for the next few years, until the summer of '86.
I'll never forget that morning, we weren't due at work until 10:00 a.m., and had woken at 6:00 and had a long, tender love making session. It had been beautiful, perfect even obviously too perfect.
At 9:00 a.m., there was a buzz on the door intercom. I was still getting dressed so Ray answered it. We were surprised to hear that it was the Police, but we really didn't think anything of it. The next thing I knew the door had been forced open and there was a loud commotion, and finally a cry from Ray. I dashed out of the bedroom to find him flat against the wall, blood pouring from his nose and lip, legs wide apart, being searched by a none-too-tender handed copper. I tried to go to him, but another couple of coppers held me back, and believe me it took both of them to hold me. And even then I made certain that they'd have something to show for it later that day. Actually, I was stunned by their strength, if I'm honest. So they both had about six inches and a couple of stone on me, but time was I'd have put them both down and barely have broken sweat. Maybe I was getting to be a cream puff after all.
The one thing that stopped me from fighting in the end was the look in the by-then sage green eyes. They held mine and told me to stop struggling, told me that everything was going to be okay, told me they loved me. So I stopped being aggressive and became as close to passive as I can be when I'm not doing it for Ray.
Seconds later the fight had gone out of me, just when I needed it, by the words that came out of the bloke in charge. "Raymond Doyle, I'm arresting you on the charge of murder. You do not have to say anything, but . . . "
I didn't hear anymore. Not that I needed to. Despite never being a copper, I could quote the words in my sleep, comes of living with my little ray of sunshine. Only at that moment he wasn't. His mouth had fallen open, his skin had turned ghostly, making his broken cheekbone scream for attention and his glazed eyes were so wide, I kept expecting to hear the sockets pop. I just stared at him convinced it had to be a bad dream. Hell, I even glanced at the calendar just to check the date. I didn't think Murph or one of the others would pull such a stupid stunt, but . . .
In the end Ray was the calmer one. He told me to ring Cowley and get it all sorted out. He even made a joke about Cowley making us work overtime for the inconvenience. His voice, the one that can shudder with emotion, was calm, icy calm, so cold that I shivered inside. His eyes, however, told a different story. They locked with mine for an all-too brief moment, and then he let the bastards take him away.
I didn't bother with the phone, I was down the stairs, in the car and on my way to HQ, the siren Ray likes to tease me about blaring, and lights full on in seconds. I can only thank God that no poor innocent bugger got in my way. I stormed straight into the Old Man's office where he sat with the Minister. "The cops have arrested Ray," was all I managed to get out, as I dug my nails into the palms of my hands.
For a moment no one moved, we were like a tableau. Cowley, his glasses in his hand, looking up at me. The Minister half-turned. Betty behind me, her hand on the door, her mouth open to apologise. And me, looming over them all. By now ice had replaced the blood in my veins, and I knew what was meant by the calm before the storm and being white with rage; because that's what I was I didn't have to see myself to know what I looked like.
Cowley broke the freeze. "Minister." His tone brooked no argument. It wasn't subservient, or even apologetic. It was a tone I'd never heard before, and never wanted to hear again.
The Minister blinked twice, then rose, stiffly to his feet. "George. Phone me." It wasn't a request. However, Cowley paid no attention, he had one hand on the phone, and his pale blue eyes turned to me.
The charge was upheld.
Bail was denied.
The Crown appointed Geraldine Mather.
For the first time in it's somewhat shady and occasionally dodgy history, CI5 faced a Crown Court trial from the wrong side.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury will your foreman please rise. Just answer the question yes' or no'. Have you reached a verdict on which you are all agreed?"
"Do you find the prisoner Raymond Doyle, guilty or not guilty of the charge of wilful murder?"
"Is this the verdict of you all?"
I barely head the last two exchanges they only registered at all because I'd heard them many times before. I would have been on my feet, but for Cowley's restraining hand on one side, and Murphy's iron grip on the other. I looked at Ray standing in the dock flanked by a uniformed copper.
I didn't know who was more stunned: Ray. Me. Cowley. Ray's Defence Barrister. CI5's Solicitor. Or the Judge. Or, come to think of it, the Prosecution. Everyone had been expecting a verdict of not guilty'. Christ, Ray wasn't guilty.
To this day I still don't know why the jury convicted, the evidence was all circumstantial. Don't even really know why the case was ever prosecuted. Okay so CI5 were, at that time, having a bad press. We were all being hounded and called murderers', and Cowley especially was under a lot of pressure and came in for a vast amount of criticism. So the conviction of one of CI5's finest for murder was a coup.
Nevertheless, guilty or not, Ray was, in the eyes of the law, guilty, and his sentence was stiff. It was the minimum the judge could give; but it was still stiff.
I'm not certain that Ray was taking it in, because he just stared at me, a look of utter incomprehension on his pale face.
I don't know what Cowley did, what favours he pulled in, but I found myself alone in a room with Ray and Cowley. We'd been allowed five minutes, with Murphy guarding the door. The Old Man crossed to the window, clearly ordering us to ignore him.
And we did.
We just held one another tightly; our kisses were chase, gentle and loving. Our tears mingled words were barely spoken. Then the door was flung open and Ray was ripped away from me. I would have followed, fought the whole bloody lot of them, killed them all with my bare hands, but Cowley and Murphy had me again.
I vowed I'd never rest until I got Ray out.
I'd like to say that the story has a happy ending but it doesn't.
The appeal failed.
As did the one after that.
And the one after that.
Even the one to the Home Secretary the bastard who was our boss.
And Ray died in prison.
I never did find out exactly what happened. And I guess I never shall. I visited him as often as I was allowed and he tried, tried so bloody hard for my sake just as I did for him. Once again, Cowley must have pulled in every favour he was owed, because once a month I was allowed to see him, openly touch him. We sat and held hands the whole time, neither of us giving a damn what anyone thought. Murphy always drove me, even came in from a few days off once, and another time climbed out of his sickbed. I don't think either him or Cowley reckoned I was safe to drive myself and they were right.
Then one day, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, even the streets seemed to glitter and gleam and the river didn't stink, Cowley called me in to his office, and I knew that the news wasn't good. There had been an accident, and Ray was dead.
I didn't cry then or at his funeral. Why? Because I was dead too.
Ray's conviction hit Cowley hard too, harder than I would have ever thought, and not just because he'd lined Ray up as his successor. It aged him and finally killed him eight years ago. You see, he thought he'd killed Ray, because he couldn't do anything to secure his freedom.
I never blamed the Old Man; told him so too on numerous occasions. But, typical of him, he never listened. Surprised me in a way, him taking it so hard. I guess that I, like many of the mob, wasn't certain he had a heart or a conscience. But then again, he cared about the lot of us truly cared some more than others, and Ray was one of those some.
Cowley worked and worked on trying to clear Ray's name, evenings, weekends and holidays. I reckon it became on obsession to him. When he died I grieved, and not just for him, but for the fact that with his death came the end of someone truly understanding what Ray and me meant to one another.
And what about me?
Well, all this was twelve years ago. I'm now fifty-two, and have the honour, or maybe that should be curse, of being the Controller of CI5, along with Thomas Murphy as my deputy.
For all those years, from the second the jury found him guilty, I was determined to clear Ray's name, and not a week went by when I didn't work on it. In fact, it's the only thing that kept me from following Ray into death, from taking my gun and putting it to my head, or even going back to the jungle.
For twelve years I existed; I didn't live. There has been no one since Ray, except for a handful of hookers I used purely for relief. Remember Anna from the Rahad case? Well, I've been with her a few times. I even spent an evening getting drunk with Marjory Harper she cried for Ray. She's a lot older now. Well, we all are.
I see the new recruits coming into CI5, see their eagerness, their belief, and it saddens me. I give them my pep talk, try to take care of them, I see their loved ones when they die for Queen and country, but none of it touches me.
I made a vow that on the day I finally obtained a full pardon for Ray would be the day I'd take my gun and put it to my head. Why? Simple: because then there will be nothing left for me even to exist for.
That day has finally come.
After years of trying, fruitlessly searching, getting more demoralised, yet more determined every day, Murph and me found the evidence. It was foolproof, concrete and as good as written in stone.
It didn't happen overnight, but today my boss the Home Secretary issued a full, absolute posthumous pardon for one Raymond Doyle. He apologised as well; I suppose it didn't cost him anything.
Maybe now you can see just why I loath coppers so much, because they took Ray away from me. They killed him just as surely as if they'd stuck in the knife in themselves.
It's 11:00 p.m. early for me, but tonight's special and that's that. I've written my final report, cleared my desk, and said a handful of goodbyes to those people who'd been with me from the beginning. I'll leave this office and this building for the last time, go home and . . . Murph promised me that he'd come round tomorrow morning and deal with things bloody good man is Tommy Murphy.
No point in locking the desk drawer, it's empty and it's not mine anymore anyway. The room looks good in the subtle lighting; I know it so well that I could walk around it blindfolded. I take one last look around it, but already it's empty, full of ghosts and echoes. If I was a fanciful bloke I'd say it was mourning for me already.
The door clicks behind me as I walk out into Murphy's office. He's still at his desk. Doesn't surprise me, expected him to be there. "Tommy."
"Bodie." His eyes are like warm chocolate as they stare at me, unblinking, saying things he'd never be able to say aloud.
I hold out the keys. "Take care of her, Tommy. I know she's in good hands. Don't let them run rings around you too much."
"I will," he frowned for a second before adding, "and I won't." We grinned at one another, the air became rich with tension, yet for the first time in over twelve years I felt relaxed and at peace.
"Oh, bugger it." The words were harsh and I recognised the tone in Tommy's voice. It reminded me of the one Ray adopted when he did his I'm controlling here, I won't cry'. Two long arms reached out and snagged me, pulling me into a fierce, slightly stiff hug. I dropped my briefcase, the noise sounded like cannon-fire as it hit the ground, and returned the hug, forcing the stiffness out.
I heard a sniff and felt my own nose twitch and the backs of my eyes burn. But I knew mine was pure relief that it was finally over. I broke the hug after a minute or two and pushed the lanky body away, gripping Tommy's upper arms, I stared up into the damp brown eyes.
"Take care," I managed, squeezing his arms once more, before bending to pick up my case.
"Yeh. And you mate." He gave me a mock salute, which I returned, before turning on my heel and striding out of the office, down the long, dimly lit corridor, into the lift and finally out into the garage where a gold Capri waited for me.
"I'll see you soon, sunshine," I whispered, as I turned on the ignition and gunned the engine. "Know you're waiting for me."
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