Disclaimer: Characters from The Professionals are © Mark-1 Productions Ltd
and are used without permission but with no intent to defraud.


Serendipity?
I watched Operation Susie and the following morning decided to listen to a BeeGees CD. This is the result.


Man in the Middle


I had to see for myself.

By the time I was able to get away from Northcott's office it was all over. Nonetheless I'd gone to the railway sidings; now dark, deserted. Gone to the red carriage, 3.7 and 4.5's grounding station. Played a torch over the outside, over the splintered bullet holes, the broken glass.
          Clambered awkwardly up and shone it around inside. Focused briefly on the dark stain which had to be where her life had ended. Glass crunched under my shoes as I shifted uncomfortably, forcing myself to imagine what it had been like in here just a few short hours ago.
          It was as quiet as the grave now, and I let myself back down to the ground outside. The usually noisy surroundings of London were tempered in some way; the traffic less intrusive. Switching off the torch I stood silently, in some sort of tribute to her.
          It was doubtful whether anything would come of my actions earlier. I'd managed to ruffle some feathers, and Northcott's department would be under the spotlight now. He'd be forced to resign and the department possibly disbanded, but there were others.
          The person at the centre of this mess was dead, and nothing could change that. No one would be held accountable for her death.

I held myself responsible.

Diana was just 21. Too young to die. Yet she knew what she was fighting for, and understood the need for sacrifice.
          I hadn't spoken to either of my operatives. HQ had passed me Bodie's message; a cold statement of facts. I hadn't needed to speak with him to hear the bitterness in his words; that Diana had deliberately put herself into the line of fire in order that they would be spared.
          Five minutes. Such a short time, to make all the difference. If I had got to Northcott's office five minutes earlier, Diana would still be alive. Five minutes later, and I'd have been looking for a new team.
          I know that, because I know Bodie and Doyle. If Northcott's men hadn't been retreating my men would have fought to the bitter end; an end that would have been swift to come. Perversely, I am proud of them for that trait; for that dogged persistence to follow orders, even when they haven't a clue why they're doing it.
          The night air was frosty: I was growing cold. I made my way back towards the car, fully aware that this area would never again be used as a bolt-hole. The location was blown, but it was more than that.
          They were good lads, but neither of them would return here willingly. I wondered if I'd ever be able to instigate another Susie with them. The thought briefly flashed through my mind that I might yet have to look for a new team - it wouldn't surprise me to find Doyle's reaction would be to tender his resignation - but time to deal with that when it happened.
          If it happened.

Wherever my lads were, neither phones nor R/Ts were being answered. I didn't blame them. I knew them of old; I'd be willing to bet my pension that they were at Doyle's flat, getting drunk. They'd be discussing it. Discussing Diana. She'd got under Doyle's skin with her passionate words; I was sure he'd had no more understanding than I did of exactly what had been going on, but it was impossible not to be touched by someone fuelled by such dedication to a cause.
          And although he hid it well even Bodie had been impressed by her, by her resolution and courage. I had marked the protective way he had shielded her from Northcott and Torres, particularly as they left for the court.
          So they would be drinking, and Doyle would be talking about getting out. Bodie would be agreeing with him; but at some point he'd turn Doyle around, bring him back into the fold.
          I hoped.

I started the car, thinking. There had been occasions when I would drive to find them and join them in drowning the collective sorrows. This wasn't one of those occasions; I wouldn't be welcome.
          By ordering the Susie I had sent them out without the protection of their organisation; nearly sent them to their deaths. It wasn't the first time. Probably - resignations aside - wouldn't be the last.
          But this time I'd betrayed them. Diana had died; Bodie and Doyle had come close to losing their own lives. I couldn't - and wouldn't - look for forgiveness; if I was lucky I'd receive some sort of grudging exoneration from them because they recognise the truth.
          That in this, as on so many other occasions, I was caught in the middle. Trying to find out exactly what was behind Northcott's actions whilst they fought the front-line battle - if I'd been quicker...
          No use wishing; I hadn't been quick enough. I was the man in the middle but Diana was the one in the crossfire. After all I'd promised I had failed her, and nearly failed my men.

I would return to the office and gather every bit of evidence I could in order to bring Northcott down. I couldn't bring Diana back but I could offer that in reparation. Little though it was, in exchange for a life. It never got any easier.
          Decision made I put the headlights on and pulled away, briefly illuminating the red carriage as I turned the car, already thinking ahead to my goal. I wouldn't lose this battle.



© Carol Good - January 2003


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Lyrics reproduced without permission but with no intent to defraud


Man In The Middle
Bee Gees

You've got a plan that could never go wrong
You took advantage and the damage done
It all comes back to me baby
It all comes back to me

I play the fool and I went off the track
And when I think of what it cost
When the die was cast
You know I had to be crazy
You know I had to be

I've been telling lies
And you forgive me but my heart still cries
And you can understand

I'm just the man in the middle
Of a complicated plan
No one to show me the signs
I'm just a creature of habit
In a complicated world
Nowhere to run to
Nowhere to hide

I know I let you down in so many ways
I know that sorry doesn't tell you
What you need me to say
But I would die for you baby
Yes I would die for you

I've been in disguise
And you forgive me and our love will rise
And you can understand

I'm just the man in the middle
Of a complicated plan
No one to show me the light
I guess I'm weary from battle
But I've just begun to fight
Nowhere to run to
Nowhere to hide

I'm just the man in the middle
Of a complicated plan
No one to show me the signs
I'm just a creature of habit
In a complicated world
Nowhere to run to
Nowhere to hide

I'm just the man in the middle
Of a complicated plan
No one to show me the light
I guess I'm weary from battle
But I've just begun to fight
Nowhere to run to
Nowhere to hide

I'm just the man in the middle
The only man
The fool of a man in the middle
Nowhere to run to
Nowhere to hide

I'm just the man
The only man
That stupid man
Nowhere to run to
Nowhere to hide


If you're interested in hearing the song that inspired this story, please visit here