"... in place by Tuesday - " Bodie paused as his mobile buzzed a text alert, recognising the distinct tone as the one allocated solely to Ray's number. "Email Andy and ask him to make sure everything on order will definitely be delivered. Then grab yourself some lunch."
Lucy finished jotting down notes and smiled as she stood up. "Do you want me to fetch you anything?"
"No thanks, darlin'. This might be an invite out anyway."
He watched her leave wishing he was a few years younger - although it didn't stop him from looking - before picking up the phone to click his way into the message box.
"Call me on my mobile as soon as you can."
Bit mysterious - but then Ray didn't embrace new technology in the way he had; he probably couldn't be bothered to construct a longer text. A couple more clicks took him into the phonebook to select "4.5" and to call.
"Bodie. I need to see you today."
"What's up, sunshine? Got another virus on your laptop? If you will go visiting these dodgy websites..."
"It's not the laptop - at least, not what you're on about. I need you to come to London and meet me."
Bodie frowned. Something was up, and Doyle didn't seem to want to elaborate. "OK. Are you at home?"
"No. You remember where we found Ann's body?"
Ann...? Bodie dredged his memories of the last thirty years. Ann... Holly? No, Ann Seaford. "Ann from the case with the black pimp?"
"That's it. Meet me there at four. I'm turning my phone off now."
He hung up and Bodie cut his call, mind racing. Doyle was turning his phone off, and had made a point of telling him. He knew his former partner didn't use the mobile much but he generally left it turned on.
He stared at his own handset. Doyle was being secretive, wanting to meet somewhere that only the pair of them would know and telling him in the cagiest of terms, then turning his phone off. He was worried about being followed or traced...
Bodie knew, better than some, how advanced technology was when it came to tracing people via their mobiles. He stabbed at the off button on his own phone and it tunefully closed down.
The small digital display of the desk clock told him it was just after one. He had three hours to get into London - easily time enough, if he got a shift on. He'd be less traceable by train but that journey alone could take an hour, then he'd have to tag on travelling time at either end, whichever mainline station he went into.
First he opened the safe and took out a thousand in cash, that should see him through for a bit. Emptying his wallet of the credit cards, he put them in place of the money, and also tucked his mobile away. There were some nice, new, and anonymous phones in Lucy's cupboard.
Lucy was just arriving back at her desk, supermarket carrier bag in hand. "Now you're going to tell me you did want lunch..."
"No. That text - well, it wasn't exactly an invite to lunch but I do have to go out."
Lucy might be young but she'd picked up a fair bit in the six months she'd worked for Bodie - well, in a security firm you had to be sharp. "Trouble?"
"Might be." He unlocked the cupboard. "I'm leaving my mobile so I need a couple of anonymous phones - are all these registered?"
"Anonymous as in unconnected to this address?" Lucy selected two, each from a different shelf. "One registered to Manchester and the other to Glasgow, both with twenty pounds on them."
"Thanks, darlin'." Bodie grinned as he added them to the laptop bag. Thank god he'd chosen her when he needed a new assistant. Worth her weight in any commodity you cared to name, and didn't care for all this PC nonsense. Mind, he'd made it clear he was too old to change his ways and she'd have to put up with it.
"Will you be back today?"
"Doubt it, and maybe not for a couple of days. I'll call in later - either using one of these, or from Brian's. Keep on top of the Embassy job for me. I'll be leaving the car here, make sure it doesn't get vandalised, and I'll see you Monday - I hope."
It took him less than fifteen minutes to walk from the office to Wokingham Station. Mindful of Doyle's concern, he'd started out slowly but wasn't conscious of anyone following him. Having checked the train times he opted to take a direct line into Waterloo - the journey took longer, but it saved having to change at Reading where there might be delays. It didn't make much difference once he reached London anyway, neither Paddington or Waterloo had a direct link to Hammersmith.
Once seated, he took out both mobiles and put each other's numbers into the phonebook, setting them up with one button shortdial for instant communication. After that, the train journey - first class for quiet and comfort - gave him time to think. In his line of business, security and secrecy were still second nature, but Doyle was out of all that now - or at least, as out of it as the service would ever allow. So who was he running scared from?
In the old days, they'd have had other agents to call on but CI5 was gone. Towards the end of Thatcher's term in power things were changing extensively. More authority was being given to the Regional Crime Squads and those in charge at Five were hassling for control of CI5. Cowley had fought for his creation but the writing was on the wall. He was forced into retirement and CI5 personnel were absorbed into other organisations. His proposed successors - Doyle, Murphy and Ruth - were offered other posts.
Murphy had sensibly taken the offer they made him and gone to MI5. Ruth - freshly divorced after several failed reconciliations with Alan - had decided she'd had enough of the criminal element and moved back to the country and her family. A quiet life pottering in the garden was never going to suit her however and she was now busily organising the local solicitor's office as their Practice Manager.
Doyle, of course, had thrown their offer back in their faces. It had taken him long enough to accept Cowley meant to leave him in charge but once he did, he'd worked hard to be a worthy leader for CI5 only to see the opportunity vanish in the stroke of a politician's pen. After a few months of brooding resentment he'd begun writing articles, one of which had been accepted by a major newspaper and suddenly Doyle was in demand as a journalist.
As for Bodie, when he had rejoined CI5 as an instructor it hadn't been all work and he'd had a lot of time on his hands. Initially he'd hung around the computer rooms because of the number of eligible women to chat up, but he swiftly developed an interest in the technology and when the axe fell he was ready to set up in business, taking a few chosen staff with him...
"The next station stop will be Richmond," the recorded message intoned, breaking into his thoughts. He checked his watch: it was twenty past two, still twenty minutes or so off Waterloo.
Looking out at the platform as passengers got on and off, Bodie spotted signs for the Underground - and leapt up and off the train just before the doors could close, as it struck him he could get the District line up to Hammersmith from here instead of travelling all the way into Waterloo.
Consequently, he exited from Hammersmith Station with more than an hour to get down to the bridge. He cast another look behind but still no one seemed interested in him - although it hadn't been a deliberate move, jumping the train at Richmond had probably thrown off any follower.
Doyle's text had prevented him getting lunch and his stomach rumbled loudly to remind him. Hammersmith was undergoing a lot of building refurbishment but he ducked into a small cafe and ordered a sandwich and drink to go before hailing a taxi.
"I want the road under the bridge," he told the driver.
"Which one, guv?"
"I'm not sure of the street name - I remember it's directly under the bridge, opens out onto a wide path along the river? I think I'll recognise it."
"Sounds like you want the bridge road onto Lower Mall." The cabbie expertly turned his vehicle and started off and within fifteen minutes had deposited Bodie exactly where he wanted to be.
He was right; he did recognise it. The building where Doyle had used to live when he was a copper, when he'd first known Ann Seaford, and the river where she'd died.
He wondered where Ann's daughter was now. She'd be in her forties. Christ, remembering things like that made him feel really old, but it had to be nearly thirty years ago. He set his laptop case at his feet and took a sip of his coffee, hoping Doyle would be early. It wasn't the best of weather to hang around outside, and neither of them were getting any younger.
"Did you get me one?" Doyle had obviously been standing where he was shielded by the uprights of the bridge, and now came forward.
"Didn't think you'd be here this early. You said four." Bodie studied Doyle as he approached. For all his earlier reminiscing, the one thing that never failed to remind him how many years had passed was meeting with Doyle. He could - for the most part - overlook the grey hairs and lines on the reflection in his own mirror, but the changes in his partner's face were harder to ignore. But it had only been a few weeks since they last met.
One thing he saw instantly though, was the unease with which Doyle looked around them. "I wasn't followed," Bodie said, unnecessarily.
"Shouldn't think you were," Doyle responded easily, but glanced back over his shoulder again. "Trouble is, I can't be so sure I wasn't."
He hefted the laptop bag he carried back onto his shoulder. "Let's walk."
Bodie obediently lifted his own case and followed Doyle along the river path. "So, what's this about?"
"I'm not sure. Except I think someone might be trying to kill me."
Bodie stopped. "What? And you're wandering around out here? A nutter with a rifle -"
"It'll look like an accident." Doyle kept walking, and Bodie lengthened his pace to catch up. "The others have."
"Others? What the hell are you on about? Who?" Concerned nonetheless - Doyle wasn't given to wild flights of fancy - Bodie swivelled about, checking around them just in case.
"You remember I forwarded Phil's email a few weeks ago, about Mike Pennington?" Doyle continued, barely waiting for Bodie's assenting nod. "An accident - he apparently tripped, at the top of an escalator on the tube."
Bodie left keeping in touch with old colleagues to Doyle - he'd go for a drink if someone organised it, but that was all. He'd been sorry to hear about Pennington, but it was just an accident.
"On Sunday, I got a phone call from Phil's daughter. The brakes failed on his car on Saturday night and he hit a tree. He's dead, Bodie."
That one hit closer to home. How many times had they been teamed with Lucas and Mac?
"Yeah, that's how I felt." Doyle had paused. "Doesn't seem fair, after all those years of being shot at that they died in accidents. So I thought, anyway."
He walked on again, slowly. "Until this morning."
"What happened this morning?" For all that Bodie trusted his partner, he anticipated that Doyle was going to recount a near-miss with a car or something, a possible accident that was simply coincidence.
Doyle picked up on the trace of scepticism in Bodie's voice. "Think I'm losing my marbles?"
"I've known that for a long time, sunshine," Bodie grinned.
"It's not my imagination." Doyle turned into the entrance to Furnival Gardens. "Let's sit down - I need to show you something."
Laptop bag balanced on his knees, Doyle booted up the computer. "I had a meeting first thing this morning, so I didn't boot up before I left home. Once I'd finished the meeting I went to get lunch - the place has wireless access and I thought I'd check my emails. There was an email from Phil Lucas. I thought perhaps it had been delayed at the server or something, and had taken a few days to get to me. I opened it, thinking it would be something trivial, a joke or something..."
Bodie still wasn't clear what Doyle was getting at. "And what does it say?"
Doyle clicked a few times, then swivelled the laptop so Bodie could see the screen properly. "Take a look."
The email in the Inbox was clearly from Lucas, although there was no subject heading. Bodie clicked it open.
He pressed the down arrow key, but that was it. "You're next? What the heck does that mean?"
"That Pennington and Lucas didn't die in accidents."
"But why would Phil send you -"
"Phil didn't send it. You're the expert, I know, but as far as I can see that email was only sent this morning. Phil's been dead for four days - someone else sent it from his account."
Bodie checked the mail properties, and it looked like Doyle was right. "So someone hacked his account."
"Possibly. But why that email, to me? And it's come to my personal account - they had to have had access to Phil's computer to get that address." On Bodie's advice, Doyle had set up several different email accounts for his work and subscriptions, keeping one private that very few people knew about. "Still think I'm losing it?"
Bodie shook his head. This could be a very sick joke, but in their line of business you couldn't be too careful, and Doyle's caution over the phones suddenly made sense. It wasn't just the weather that made him shiver, and he shut down the computer. "Time to move."
He glanced around the deserted gardens. "Do you really think you were followed?"
"I don't know. I couldn't pick anyone out - but I haven't exactly been keeping my skills honed."
"We'll take a few evasive procedures just in case..."
It was just like old times, Doyle thought, as he and Bodie zigzagged their way across London on the tube. He had no idea where they were headed, not least because Bodie kept changing direction as they hopped from one train to another, but he stayed tightly on Bodie's heels.
For all the seriousness of the situation, it amused him to see how Bodie was in his element. When they finally exited the tube at Farrington Bodie seemed satisfied that they had lost any tails.
"That's if anyone was following me in the first place," Doyle felt obliged to point out. "Where are we going now, anyway?"
"Safe house," Bodie grinned at him.
A short walk later Bodie led him up the very short path of a small house and produced a key. "Is this your place?" Doyle knew he didn't know everything about Bodie's life now, but he did know Bodie had a very nice - much larger - house in Woodley. But in some respects, it made sense if Bodie still had a bolthole.
"Sort of." Closing the door behind them, Bodie led the way into what would have been a lounge in a normal house. Instead of armchairs it was filled with desks and computers. "Brian?"
"Through here, boss." The kitchen was an annex to the lounge - although it did boast the usual kitchen appliances there were several more computers linked up in there. "Lucy emailed to say you'd be in."
"You remember Doyle?"
"Yes, how are you sir?"
Doyle blinked. Did he know this man? Not from anywhere recently - he tried taking a few years off the visual appearance and suddenly it came to him. "You used to work in the computer room at headquarters."
"That's right." Bodie grinned at him. "I didn't think MI5 deserved someone of Brian's expertise, so I encouraged him to enter the private sector for more pay."
He divested himself of bag and overcoat while gesturing for Doyle to do the same. "Brian, can you take a look at an email for me? See if you can tell us anything other than the obvious?"
Doyle wordlessly held out his laptop bag. Now that he'd recognised him, he remembered Brian Jones had been revered by most of the computer department. If he'd lived up to his potential, Bodie had hired a genius.
Brian seized it and he and Bodie disappeared back to the lounge.
Having shrugged off his coat, Doyle glanced about. He hadn't had lunch, having rather lost his appetite after receiving that email. But there was a kettle, and mugs and a jar of coffee. He couldn't assist with the technical stuff, but he could still boil a kettle.
Brian was scrutinising the email by the time Doyle carried three mugs back to the lounge. "As far as I can see it originated from the same ISP servers as the email address. Could have been the webmail interface rather than directly off Lucas' computer though."
Bodie sipped at his coffee and regarded Doyle over the mug. "Who have you been upsetting lately, sunshine?"
Doyle shrugged. "No one I can think of." His articles had ruffled a few feathers in the past, but nothing he'd written recently had been that contentious. "And I can't think of anything I've learnt recently that could make anyone interested in me. No, I think this is something from our past, something connected with CI5."
"Something like Five, for instance? That is who you were worried about this morning, wasn't it?"
"It had to be someone who knew how to trace Pennington, Lucas and myself and who knew enough to get into Phil's computer. Yes, Bodie, let's just say it didn't seem beyond the realms of possibility. So I didn't go home, I called you for backup and turned off my phone."
"Best thing you could have done." Bodie glanced at Brian. "Can you see if MI5 are interested in Doyle at all? Check for Pennington and Lucas' names as well."
Brian nodded and moving to another computer began tapping at the keyboard. Doyle stared, bemused, at Bodie. "You can hack into Five's computers?"
"Brian can." Bodie set down his coffee and retrieved the sandwich he'd bought earlier from his bag. "I'm starving. Want half?"
"Only if it isn't liver sausage," Doyle grinned, accepting the succulent-looking cheese and salad triangular slice. "Do they know about you?"
"As little as possible. We keep our backdoor activities strictly limited - much less chance of them noticing if we only nip in there occasionally. But sometimes it's useful."
"There's a log entry for both Pennington and Lucas," Brian told them. "Only because of their former security clearance status though, they're logged as accidental deaths."
"No one has made a connection?"
"Not that they've put on here." Brian paged down a few times. "Nothing on Mr Doyle."
"So, either it's nothing to do with Five or it's deeper - and nastier - than standard procedure. That would take more digging to find."
"I can try," Brian offered, but Bodie shook his head.
"Not yet. We don't want them spotting us unnecessarily. We'll do some old-fashioned investigation first." He took the two new mobiles out of his jacket pocket and handed one to Doyle.
"Leave yours here, sunshine, and take this one instead. If we have to split up we'll need to stay in touch. Number's registered to one of my subsidiary businesses in Glasgow, it'll take a long time for anyone to trace it back to me."
Doyle took the slim silver mobile. "What about yours?"
"I left mine back at the office, this one's registered to Manchester. Lucy sent you the numbers, Brian?"
"Yes, I've logged them into the GPS already."
"Good, keep a track on us just in case. Your phone rings mine with shortdial one, Ray. And the office number is in there just in case. They can put you through to Brian if necessary."
"So, where are we going?"
"You tell me." Bodie picked up his jacket. "You're the one who knows Phil's address."
Just around the corner from the house, Bodie led the way into the NCP and towards a shabby VW Golf.
"Spare car?" Doyle asked.
Firing the car key towards it to open the doors, Bodie grinned. "Old habits die hard. Brian uses it when he needs to, which isn't often. It looks scruffy but the engine is fine-tuned."
Doyle had to admit, Bodie had lost none of his skill handling a car in the London traffic - which was considerably worse than in the 80s. Maybe the skill needed now was more one of avoiding other cars than speed but you still needed all your reflexes. Doyle didn't even own a car now. His central London flat meant he didn't need one around town, and it was easy enough to hire one if he had to travel further afield.
As Bodie headed south across Blackfriars Bridge, Doyle wondered if he was over-reacting. Email apart - and there could even be an explanation for that - there was no evidence to support his theory about Pennington and Lucas.
"What are we going to tell his daughter?"
"That I've got a half-baked idea her father's been murdered?"
"You know her - at least, you know her better than I do. What do you think?"
Phil Lucas had been the only agent on the team whose marriage had survived. Ally had stuck by him through everything. Right up to the moment when Mac was killed, and then she asked Phil to give up. Doyle doubted she'd have left him if he hadn't, but it was for her and Miriam that Phil had walked before he was killed as well.
Doyle had seen quite a bit of Phil, particularly over the last few years. "Miriam and her husband moved in with Phil after Ally died. Got kids of her own now. I dunno. She grew up knowing he could be killed at any time."
"Play it by ear, then. But if she's anything like Ally she'll be OK."
"Ray, come in. It's good of you to come over." Miriam was surprised but pleased to see him. "And Bodie, isn't it?"
Bodie couldn't ever remember meeting Miriam, but clearly he had. She smiled. "Dad brought me into your office, just the once. I think I was about five."
"I always did like to make an impression." He followed Doyle into the hallway.
"Miriam - " Doyle stopped. He was out of practice at starting this sort of conversation.
Fortunately she didn't notice his awkwardness, gesturing them towards a lounge. "The kettle is just on - do you want a cuppa? Or something stronger to keep out the cold?"
"Tea would be fine." The room was warm and they both hastened to remove their coats. A little boy was playing with cars in a plastic garage, and a toddler beamed at them from her imprisonment in a playpen.
Miriam returned with a tray bearing teapot and mugs and a glass of orange juice. "Ryan, here's your drink." The boy collected it and returned to his traffic jam without a word.
"He's not sure what's happened," Miriam lowered her voice. "He doesn't quite understand why his Granda won't be coming back."
Doyle nodded. Perhaps it was lucky the kids were that young. "We thought we'd call..."
"... see if there was anything we could do," Bodie finished.
"We've got it under control, I think," Miriam sighed, busying herself with milk and teapot. "Dad had left a will, so there shouldn't be too much to do. The cremation is on Friday; I don't know if you can make it..."
"We'll try to be there." Doyle glanced at Bodie. "Miriam - what exactly happened?"
"We don't really understand it, he only had his car serviced just last week, so the brakes should have been checked. It was a wet night and the police said he hadn't stood a chance on the bend..." She swallowed hard. "Sorry. Alex says we should sue the garage for negligence. But it won't bring Dad back."
"Where did it happen?"
"Near Orpington - it looks like he was heading for the M25. Dad hadn't mentioned that he was going out. He would normally tell me."
Bodie shot Doyle a glance. Had Phil agreed to meet someone in secret?
Miriam saw the look. "Do you know something? Was Dad meeting you?"
"No." There wasn't much more they could ask before she'd get suspicious, if she wasn't already.
"Did Phil have a laptop?" Bodie jumped in.
"No, just a desktop computer." Now she did look confused. "Why do you want to know?"
"Ray had an email from Phil - this morning."
"This morning - but that's impossible."
"I thought that perhaps if Phil's laptop had been stolen from his car..."
"Someone else sent it? No, Dad only has the one computer. Do you want to look at it?" Without waiting for a response, Miriam led the way to a study at the rear of the property. "Not that it'll do much good unless you can guess his password. Still paranoid about security, he was."
"We all are," Bodie smiled. As one of the children squealed for attention Miriam hurried away.
Bodie swiftly booted up the computer, but was brought up short by the demand for a password before he could log in. "I should have brought Brian. He'd be into this in about ten seconds flat."
"Should we take it back to him?"
"Let's see if we can crack it ourselves." Bodie tapped a few keys and was rejected. "Not CI5, then. Suppose that's a bit obvious." He tried a few other names and phrases from the old days but the computer resisted.
Doyle had flicked open the diary on the desk. It bore the same sort of entries as his own; a few appointments like the doctor and so on. Three weeks ago he'd been to Mike Pennington's funeral but there wasn't an entry for last Saturday.
The first line of the Notes pages at the back simply said 'me + Mac'. Doyle stared at it. Presumably it referred to McCabe, but that was an odd thing to record in the notes of a diary some twenty years after McCabe had been killed.
"Bodie, what was Phil's code number?"
"3.4, wasn't he? I tried that already."
"Mac's was 4.2. Try adding them together."
"Adding what? Thirty four and forty two, or three point four and four point two?"
"Try it both ways," Doyle said, patiently.
"OK, thirty four and forty two is seventy six." Bodie tried numerals first, not really expecting that to work, then typed it in full. The computer obligingly logged him in.
"The brain still works then, Einstein." Bodie launched emails, just as Miriam returned.
"You got in! Can you leave it running - all his bank details are on there and we need them."
"Of course." Bodie skimmed through the sent emails - nothing to Doyle in the last 24 hours. He checked the deleted mail box just in case but the most recent deletion had been on Friday. About to shutdown the emails, Bodie stopped as he caught sight of the last deleted email. It had come from Mike Pennington...
Doyle saw him pause. "Something?"
"Yes." Bodie clicked open the mail. One line. 'Your turn next'.
He turned to Miriam who was looking over his shoulder. "Had Phil seemed worried about anything on Saturday? He didn't mention this email?"
"No... But Mike Pennington died - Dad went to the funeral weeks ago. How could he send Dad an email?" Miriam looked at Doyle, remembering what he had said. "And you got an email from Dad...?"
"We don't think their deaths were an accident."
"At least she didn't think you were off your trolley." Bodie had moved away from Lucas' house but stopped around the corner.
"No." Miriam had almost found it easier to believe Phil was murdered than that he had lost control of the car, and had made them promise to keep her informed. "She takes after Ally, all right."
Doyle sighed. "Is it worth trying to find out if Pennington got an email? Although he won't have if he was the first. No one dead to warn him."
"Probably would have dismissed it as spam anyway, if he didn't know the sender. I think we should go back and see if Brian has discovered anything, and make contact with some of the old team."
Doyle shivered. "Someone has it in for us."
"It's not the first time." Bodie started the engine. "We've sorted it before, and we'll sort it again."
"I was just thinking. Pennington was killed about a month ago, but Phil only got that email on Friday. Whereas Phil died on Saturday -"
"And your email arrived today. Much quicker. Maybe they had more trouble finding Phil?"
"I'm not exactly in the public eye. I'm not even in the phone book."
"You'd be surprised how much information is out there online. Anyway, it takes time to set up an accident. Pennington didn't require any more than to be at the right place at the right time. Phil lived further out, probably didn't go into central London much. And whoever it is wouldn't want to draw attention by doing the same thing anyway."
"Wouldn't he? Who's going to make the connection?"
"Other than us. I suppose Five might make it - but only if someone asked them to look at it."
"So you think he already knew where to find me? I was right to be paranoid about someone following me."
"You weren't followed today. But yes, he could easily know where you live, so you won't be going home for a while."
"Might need some shopping then." Doyle looked down at the clothes he'd worn for the meeting at the publishers. "I'm not sure I can wear this suit for the next few days."
Bodie, more casually and comfortably dressed, grinned. "I thought you were a bit togged up."
"Meetings," Doyle said succinctly. He had no intention of letting Bodie know about the possible publishing deal just yet. "You don't think someone has managed to bug me?"
"Nope," Bodie assured him confidently. "If you had the slightest whiff of any device on you, we'd know."
"How can you be so sure?"
"The alarms would have rung the second you walked into the house. Brian's got sensors around the doors - not even a gnat gets in there."
"Nice to know..."
"Right about now, the Old Man would have been telling us to backtrack through the files." Bodie reached for his third slice of pizza. "Of course, we could always see if any of the old files are still in existence."
So far they'd reached Jax and Marriott and neither of them had received any odd emails. Anson, Marriott had told them, was abroad on holiday so they wouldn't get him. He was going to call his former partner Lewis and a few of the others that Doyle didn't have numbers for. Neither of them had any idea why ex-CI5 members would be targeted.
"Our old files? I'd be very surprised if they were."
"Be in storage, even if they are, I suppose. But it might just have given us a lead."
"There are two angles," Doyle mused. "Either it's a nutter like Wakeman out for personal revenge, or we're being bumped off because of something we all know." He grinned. "Remember that dotty old woman and her bits of coloured paper and string?"
"Yeah. Well, if we have to resort to that sort of thing, I'll be getting Brian to do it on the computer. I'm sure it'd be a lot quicker."
"Bits of string?" Brian was looking bemused as they reminisced - he'd only joined CI5 after those cases were long gone.
"Don't worry - she had the 1970s version of a database in her head. She made sense of it somehow."
"Surely it can't be something like that? It's more than fifteen years since you both left the service."
"You never leave the service," Bodie and Doyle replied simultaneously, then grinned. "That's certainly not long enough for those of us with long memories," Bodie went on. "The case we're talking about, someone was bumping off people who'd worked for the service twenty-odd years before, just in case they got together and worked out the new head of MI6 was a Russian spy. The chances of it happening were absolute minimum, but a lot was at stake."
"Which makes it harder for us to nail down what it is we might know. If anything." Doyle stretched - wishing he had jeans on rather than the slightly tight suit trousers - and reached for more pizza. Lounging around eating takeaway and trying to figure out what was going on reminded him of the stakeouts they'd shared years ago and in spite of everything it was oddly reassuring. "If it's simply a nutter, we might actually stand more chance of finding out who."
"Out for revenge on CI5, or certain individuals, though? This is where the files would have been helpful; working out where Pennington, Lucas and you all worked together."
"I can't think of anything where just the three of us worked together - which means that our partners are at risk as well."
"Just me, then. Turner died in that crash while I was in hospital, and McCabe just before I came back."
"And that's just original teams," Doyle commented. "There were more of us by the end."
"Pennington and Lucas were early agents, like us. If it's something connected with a later case, why would the nutter pick on the older crew - it's far more likely he'd start on the youngsters."
"How do you know he hasn't?" Brian asked. "You're only in touch with your peer group, after all."
He had a point, and Bodie waved him to the computer. "Check out the police computers for accidental deaths for the last three months. Who was there?" he asked Doyle.
"Andy Collins and Will Johnson. Christian Hamill, Bernie Jacobs, Gerry Peters..." Doyle reeled the names off.
"Hold on." Brian typed and scrolled. "Collins is a common name. There's an Andrew Collins here, car crash... no, he was only nineteen. Can we narrow the age range?"
"Late forties, early fifties? No younger."
"That helps..." Brian tapped some more keys. "That's better. No Andrew Collins in that age range."
"There was also Paul Mitchell, Ken Yates, John Issacs and Ed Henderson."
Brian gave up trying to tap all the names into the computer and wrote them down instead. "I'll check them now."
"I suppose some of them could still be on active service. That would make them harder to track down." Bodie glanced at his watch. "I'll try Murph again - he should be home by now."
The phone rang four or five times and Bodie was just about to give up again when the receiver was picked up. "Hallo?" The voice was breathless, young and female - and sounded American.
"Well, hello. Is Murphy there?"
"We've just got home, he's just coming in from the car..."
"I'd like a word, if he's not too busy," Bodie waggled an eyebrow at Doyle, who grinned.
"He's here now." The girl giggled, and Bodie heard a male voice rumble in the background. "Who is it?"
"Tell him it's Bodie and that I'm looking forward to meeting you."
Giggling again she relayed Bodie's message, and obviously handed the phone over. "Bodie?"
"Got a new squeeze, Murph?"
"Get your mind out of the gutter. That's my daughter you were talking to." Bodie could hear the smile in his voice. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"We may have a bit of a problem. You heard about Pennington and Lucas?"
"Ray emailed me about Mike. What about Phil?"
"He's dead as well, car crash last Saturday. Thing is, we don't think they were accidents."
"Hold on. Nina, put that away for me, will you? I'm going to take this call in the study." Bodie heard footsteps and a door close. "OK, start again. What do you mean, weren't accidents?"
"Ray had an email from Phil this morning, saying he was next."
"Hang on, you said Phil died on Saturday."
"Exactly, an email from beyond the grave. We took a look at Phil's computer and he'd had an email from Pennington, saying exactly the same thing."
"Someone's targeting ex-CI5 agents?"
"Hole in one. You haven't had an email like it?"
"Nothing. But neither Pennington or Lucas have my personal details - I stayed in touch via Ray."
"Yeah, same as me. And since Ray and his computer are nice and safe here, you probably won't get one. It doesn't mean you can't be traced in other ways - just that you may not get any warning."
"So what are you and Ray doing about it?"
"Investigating. Just like old times. Want to join the party?"
It was still early when Doyle woke; the luminous hands on his watch told him it was only just gone six-thirty and he couldn't hear anyone else awake. He'd slept badly anyway, concerned that they hadn't managed to reach Ruth the previous evening, and had resolved to call her as soon as he could.
Murphy couldn't get away today but had agreed to meet them at the funeral tomorrow and they'd assess the situation further then.
Brian's check on the police computer had produced sobering news, revealing the recent deaths of Issacs and Henderson. Both were still active with the details rated as classified and it had taken another sneaky look into Five's computers to find the relevant information on their 'accidents'.
Checking the dates off on a calendar, it seemed Pennington had been the first, Issacs a week later and Henderson a few days after that, just over a week before Lucas. It seemed their man - or woman - was after a strike rate of one a week.
The new development had thrown them. If the younger agents were also being targeted, it widened the range of possible assassins but reduced the number of cases where the agents worked together - in fact, it narrowed the number of cases to almost nil, since Issacs and Henderson had only been with the Squad for about six months before Mac was killed and Lucas resigned.
Bodie hadn't even been in the country at the time and while Doyle had racked his brains for some link no incident stood out as having the potential for the agents involved to be killed nearly twenty years later.
Doyle rolled over and glanced again at his watch. Nearly seven-thirty. It was still early to be making phone calls but he couldn't risk missing Ruth. Dressing in shirt and suit trousers - he really had to get to the shops today - he padded barefoot down the stairs to use the phone.
Other than Bodie's it was the only phone number he didn't need to look up, even though he hadn't rung it in over six months. They'd both been busy but the truth was that their relationship had cooled - at least, he felt it had from Ruth's side. She was friendly enough but for the last few years she had kept him at arms' length.
"Ruth, it's me."
"Ray...? What...? It's only seven-thirty." Ruth sounded half-asleep and not a little annoyed. "Couldn't you have waited until a decent hour to call?"
"I'm sorry, darlin'. I didn't want to miss you and I didn't know what time you might leave for work."
"I was out late last night. And I've got the morning off; I was hoping to sleep in." She sighed. "What do you want? What's so important that it couldn't wait?"
"You might be in danger."
There was a brief silence. "Well, that's one way to make sure I'm awake. Explain."
"Someone is targeting ex-CI5 agents. Pennington, Lucas, Issacs and Henderson are dead."
"And I could be on the list?"
"We all could." Doyle heard the bed creaking as Ruth obviously got up and then various sounds of her moving around.
"So... what am I supposed to be looking for? There's no one outside. I haven't seen anything suspicious in the last few days. Any idea who's responsible?"
"Not yet. Whoever it is, they're making the deaths look accidental - and seem to like warning the next victim by email."
"Bit macabre. So who is next on this theoretical list?"
"You? And you're just calmly calling me? Where are you? Are you safe?"
Doyle had to smile. "Of course I'm safe. As soon as I got my warning I called Bodie. Look, we're going to see what we can find out. Lucas' funeral is tomorrow, and Murphy is coming down. I needed to warn you, but I'm next in line so you should be safe enough for now. I'll call you later."
"Well, OK. But make sure you stay in touch. I'll call your mobile if I think of anything."
"It's off - just in case the nutter has the number and can trace them. I'll give you another number - this one is anonymous and can't be traced, according to Bodie."
"Let me find a pen." Doyle could hear her scrabbling amongst papers. "I wonder sometimes what sort of business Bodie is running, to have untraceable numbers... OK, go ahead."
As Doyle hung up he heard footsteps on the stairs.
"Morning sunshine. Want to come for a run?" Bodie was dressed in a tracksuit and trainers.
"I'm hardly dressed for it."
"There are spares upstairs. I keep this place equipped in case I get stuck in town at any time. You should even find some clothes to fit you to get you out of that suit."
"I'll take a look. But I'll pass on the run - it's not something I do much of, now."
"Thought you were putting on weight," Bodie grinned. "Did you reach Ruth?"
"Yeah. She's OK. I said we'd stay in touch."
"OK. Won't be long, I'll find something for breakfast..."
Returning to the small room he'd slept in, Doyle investigated the contents of the wardrobe and was surprised to find a large range of clothes in various sizes. When Bodie had referred to this place as a safe house Doyle hadn't realised he was serious. He selected chinos, t-shirt and sweatshirt in the right sizes, and went in search of the bathroom, trusting that the place would also be equipped with shaving gear and so on.
Half an hour later, feeling much refreshed and definitely more comfortably dressed, he made his way downstairs just as Bodie returned carrying several small paper bags.
"Danish," Bodie announced, "and croissants. Although if you fancy a proper breakfast, Brian will have bacon in the fridge. He never runs out."
"I'd prefer a healthy bowl of cereal," Doyle grinned. "But it doesn't sound like Brian's likely to have any in."
"Uh, no. He's not the healthiest eater."
"I'll make do with a Danish, then. And if that's the way you still eat it's no wonder you still need a morning run."
Bodie grimaced. "It's harder to keep the weight off these days, certainly. But I find everything starts to seize up if I don't run - don't tell me you don't find the same."
"Of course I do. I find eating healthily and using the gym a few times a week seems to work, though."
"I just need to stay that bit fitter. Never know when I might have to fill in for one of my team and it wouldn't do to be out of shape." Finding plates and mugs, Bodie filled the kettle. "Better leave some for Brian. He's a late riser; he'll have been up till the early hours."
While they breakfasted, Bodie glanced through some notes Brian had left for him. "He knows someone at the Transport Police who looked into Pennington's death; he'll contact them later and see if he can get any more details, names of witnesses, things like that."
"Might be CCTV available - if Mike was pushed it might show us who did it."
"It can't have looked too obvious otherwise the cops wouldn't have written it off as an accident." Bodie frowned. "But then, if they weren't looking for anything but an accident - "
"Easy enough to miss, particularly if the escalator was crowded."
"Yeah." Bodie returned to the notes. "He's got a number for Hamill, seems he didn't stay at Five long. He's also found one for Mitchell; he's still active. We should call them and check they haven't had any odd threats, and maybe they can chase up some of the others."
"You'd better speak to Mitchell," Doyle grinned. "He never forgave me when I had him following you that time and left him out in the rain."
"I'm not sure he ever forgave me either," Bodie agreed. "I know he didn't particularly like taking orders from me."
"You don't think it's him?" The thought struck Doyle suddenly, but he dismissed it instantly. "No, can't be. That's not enough of a reason to start killing people."
"Anyway he'd start with us, not Mike or Phil," Bodie added. "I can't think he'd have any reason for a grudge against them. Or the other two, come to that."
"No, you're right. Just clutching at straws."
"I get the feeling we're going to be doing a lot of that in this particular haystack."
"Mr Pennington fell at Leicester Square." Sergeant Tomkins, Brian's contact, had agreed they could see the CCTV footage. "Long escalators there, and he tripped at the top."
He slotted a DVD into the drive and skipped it through to the piece of film they wanted to see before slowing it to half-speed. "There he is, just stepping onto the escalator. He starts to walk down..."
The partners watched in silence as their former colleague seemed to trip, made a grab for the handrail and missed, and tumbled headlong down the steep moving stairs. "Can we see it again?"
Tomkins frowned. "What are you looking for?"
Bodie glanced at Doyle, having already decided that the best way to get the police on their side was to be honest. "Whoever pushed him."
"What?" Tomkins rewound the disc. "We didn't see anything to suggest he was pushed..."
"But you weren't really looking for it." Bodie took the remote and slowed the playback to quarter-speed. "There wasn't anyone close enough behind him... but what about beside him?"
There were three people allowing the escalator to carry them down rather than walking; two men and a woman. The woman at the front showed no reaction until Pennington fell, and the visual wasn't good enough to show them whether either of the men had tripped him - although it wasn't impossible that one of them had.
Both had their heads down obscuring their faces and the only thing the partners could identify was that they were both quite young. "What about witness statements?" Bodie asked.
"Several; mainly people who were actually on the escalator as he fell. They all say the same thing; he tripped." Tomkins handed them a file. "Why are you so sure he was pushed?"
"Brian told you who we used to work for?"
"That's the only reason you're in here watching this. We don't usually give showings to sundry members of the public, you know."
"Mike Pennington was the first of four of our ex-colleagues who has died in an 'accident' just recently."
"And I'm next on the list," Doyle added. "So we're a bit anxious to catch whoever it is."
Tomkins ran the disc again. "How can you be so sure they weren't accidents?"
"Four in four weeks? Bit too much of a coincidence for us. Anything interesting?" Bodie asked Doyle who was skimming the paperwork.
"Nothing obvious. I don't recognise any of the witnesses' names. Of course, if someone did push him it's hardly likely they'd hang around to give a statement or provide their proper identity if they did." He sighed. "I think we're still in that haystack."
Back on Goodge Street, Bodie headed for a cafe. "Let's get a coffee. I need to call in and check Lucy has things under control anyway."
Doyle fetched the drinks - and a chocolate muffin for Bodie; it was some hours since breakfast - and returned to the table where Bodie was making his phone call. "Ask Kimberley to check with the hotel; she's worked with them before. And Jack could take over the set-up for me tomorrow, I know he's supposed to be on holiday, but give him a call."
He grinned happily at Doyle, waving his thanks for the cake. "I know. Flannel him for me, sweetheart. Lay it on thick and tell him he's on double-time. Call me back if he kicks up and I'll phone him myself. I'll speak to you later."
"Trouble at t'mill?"
Bodie grinned. "Your accent is terrible. Not really; just that this will make the third time I've had to pull Jack off holiday this year. He doesn't really mind; he's a bit like Brian, lives for his work, but he likes to think I take him for granted." He peeled the paper case from the muffin and took a huge satisfying bite.
"You probably do." Doyle sipped his coffee and waited for Bodie to finish the cake; he wouldn't get any intelligent conversation until then.
"You know me too well, sunshine," Bodie managed through the crumbs. "But I treat them well enough, none of them want to go and work elsewhere - and it's not because I overpay them."
Doyle could believe that although he hadn't seen much of Bodie in his business environment. The time in CI5 had shown his partner that loyalty was important and he'd been careful in recruiting his employees.
"So, where do we go next?" Bodie gulped coffee to wash down the last of the crumbs. "We need a few more brains searching for this needle with us."
"We've already got Murphy on the case, and Ruth, Jax and Marriott will be racking their brains as well. I'm just not sure that without files to cross-reference against we'll be able to come up with anything positive, even if all of us were in the same room throwing names about."
"Maybe. Let's make those calls to Mitchell and Hamill. You know what Cowley used to say about following up every little lead."
"You mean you listened to him? Nice to know some of it sunk in after all." Doyle grinned as he selected a coin from the change which he'd left on the table. "I'll toss you for who calls Mitchell."
Doyle flipped the coin and peered at it. "I actually don't know why I bother. You call Hamill then."
"Innate luck, mate." Bodie consulted the slip of paper Brian had given him, and dialled Hamill's number. Brian hadn't managed to find out much about Christian Hamill other than that he now lived in a small village near Chester. "Oh, is that Mrs Hamill? I wonder if I might speak to Chris - Christian? I'm an old friend."
"Uh, yes, a very old friend - before he went to MI5. I see." Bodie shook his head at Doyle; whatever he was being told it didn't look like they were going to get anything from Hamill. "OK, no, I understand. Thanks for your time."
He ended the call. "That was Hamill's mother. He doesn't like to talk about the old days. Seems Five didn't look after him very well, when he was shot and left in a wheelchair; just gave him the pension and waved him goodbye."
Doyle remembered Hamill joining the squad; extremely fit, a man who ran just for pleasure. "I wonder how he copes?"
"Not well." Bodie grimaced. "She said, last time someone from the 'old days' contacted him, he tried to commit suicide and she'd rather he didn't try it again."
Bodie handed Doyle the slip of paper. "Your turn. Let's hope you have better luck with Mitchell."
Doyle took out his phone, but hesitated. "I suppose we are sure it's not him? I know it's hard to imagine a reason, but he'd have the resources to trace us. Maybe we should wait and see if we have any other leads first?"
"I doubt it's him." Bodie shrugged as another thought occurred to him. "But it might be wise to leave him - he might just wonder how we traced him, and I'd rather Five didn't know I was dipping into their network."
"They might take exception," Doyle agreed. "Look, I'm not sure it'll get us very far, but Mike Pennington's sister identified him - should we go and see her? I memorised her address off the police record."
"I thought you were studying that file a bit hard." Bodie finished his coffee. "Lead on Macduff."
"He suggested I move in with him, see. Once my Arthur died it seemed silly keeping two houses when we could be company for each other, and save on the bills at the same time. We'd always got on well."
They'd decided before they got there that they weren't going to tell her Pennington's death might not be an accident, they'd get justice for Mike but didn't need to disturb his sister still further over the death.
She'd been rambling on for nearly half an hour, and Bodie glanced again at Doyle. Pennington's sister was only about five years older than Mike had been - and indeed, than they were - but she was old before her time, behaving more like she was well into her seventies than sixties. That might have been acceptable if she was in ill-health, but she seemed as fit as a flea.
"So, Margaret, did Mike say anything to you about receiving an odd email?"
"Email? That's one of those computer messages? Not to me, he didn't. I don't understand them, see. I worked in a shop and we didn't have to use such things. Even the tills scared me, towards the end, before I retired. They're so clever, you don't have to work anything out now. As long as that barcode worked I was all right, but if it went wrong, well, I had to call for help."
As Doyle geared up to ask his question again in a different way, she veered back towards what he'd asked.
"But he didn't have his computer for the last few weeks, you know, so he couldn't have received any messages."
Bodie decided it was time he took an interest again. "Didn't have his computer? Did it break down?"
"No, it was stolen. It was a laptop. He had it with him one day; he'd gone to the British Museum to look at some old maps, and on the way back it was stolen, right from beside him, on the tube."
"And he didn't get it back?"
"Oh, he reported it to the police and they made all the right noises. But they didn't hold out any hope, they said it would be wiped and sold on, whatever that means. He was quite upset; he had a lot of work that he hadn't made copies of."
"Did Mike have an address book, or a diary with addresses in?"
"He did, but it wasn't very up to date. He had to get it out when he lost the computer, because he'd kept everything on there instead; he said it was much easier but I can't see that myself, but then I don't understand computers."
"Yes, so you said. So his address book?"
"It was just as well he did get it out, because I wouldn't have known who to call to tell about the funeral otherwise. That nice Phil Lucas came; he was ever so kind to me." She pointed to a dresser just behind Bodie. "It's in the top drawer, just there. You can have a look at it if you like."
Bodie got the book out and flicked through it, finding full details for Lucas, Issacs and Henderson, but just a phone number for Doyle. There was no telling how much detail had been on the lost laptop, however.
"I'm going to miss him." She pulled out a tissue, and Bodie made 'let's get out of here' gestures. Margaret wasn't going to be able to tell them much more, and Bodie still didn't like dealing with weepy females.
"I'm sure you will," Doyle stood up to join Bodie. He was sorry for Margaret, but wasn't prepared to offer his shoulder to cry on. "We have to go now. We just wanted to let you know we were sorry about Mike."
Margaret dabbed at her eyes with the tissue. "Oh, all right. Can you see yourselves out?"
"Willingly," Bodie muttered under his breath, hustling Doyle towards the door.
Outside, Doyle chided him for not having more patience. "I know she was a bit over the top, but she has just lost her brother."
"I didn't notice you being slow to leave either," Bodie replied. "I know her type, Doyle. Before you know it, she'll have your number and be calling for help with every little thing, and you'll end up helping because you feel sorry for her. My Great-Aunt was just the same."
"I'll bow to your greater experience, then. So, Mike's laptop was stolen by our killer."
Glad of the change of subject, Bodie nodded. "Has to be him. I wonder what the motive was? Did he think up this email threat idea or was it something else, and sending the email just occurred to him?"
"To get the addresses and details he was after, I should think. Anything else would just be a bonus."
"It certainly had to have given him access to Phil's email address. Just what else did Mike have on there? His address book didn't have much in it; your phone number for instance, but not your address."
Doyle shrugged. "Mike did know my address. Maybe he just didn't need to write it down."
"And even if he had, you're not about to go home and make yourself a target, so we don't need to worry about that."
"I'll have to go home eventually."
"Not yet, you don't," Bodie grinned. "But if we don't catch him, you may have to get yourself a new identity."
"I'll manage with the existing one, thanks. I'm too old to start a new life."
"Better a new life than dead."
"Thanks, Bodie. You always know just how to make me feel better."
"I try." He pointed across the street. "How about a pint?"
"I'm buying - the first one," Bodie confirmed.
"Just like the old days..." Doyle sighed.
Doyle remembered his mum saying that as she got older it seemed the only times she went out were to funerals, and that losing friends reminded her of her own mortality. Neither he or Bodie were strangers to graveyards or crematoria; there had been too many deaths over the years to feel much emotion at what was just a simple building. Besides, they weren't old yet. Not that old, anyway. Nonetheless, their reason for being there was always sobering.
They were early and the previous service was obviously still taking place as a small knot of mourners were gathered near the entrance waiting their turn. Bodie parked at the furthest end of the car park where there were still a few places. As they got out another car pulled in, the driver's window gliding down. "Look, it's the Bisto Geriatrics."
"Nice to see you too, Murph." Doyle grinned at him. They hadn't seen Murphy in ages; his job had taken him up to the Midlands making meeting less easy. "Brought your zimmer frame? Bodie takes some keeping up with, you know."
Bodie came round the car and joined him. "Murph is more with it than to have a zimmer frame. He'll have one of those speedy mobility scooters in the boot."
"I'll have you two know I still jog every morning." Murphy stepped out of his spacious vehicle and stretched awkwardly, noticing their sceptical looks. "It's a long drive and a bad reason to have to make it."
"Anyone else coming?"
"Just us from the squad, as far as I know. I expect Ruth will have sent flowers. No idea how many friends or family there are though."
"You do realise the killer is likely to be here?" Murphy reached into the back seat for a dark overcoat; the day was chilly. "To see the results of his actions, maybe catch sight of his future victims?"
"We had thought about it, yes." Doyle pulled on and buttoned his own overcoat, pleased that his suit was sober enough to pass unremarked. Bodie had produced a dark suit from his capacious wardrobe and loaned Doyle a black tie, so they both looked respectable, even if Bodie was wearing his thick anorak over the top. "But if he wants the deaths to look like accidents he won't be trying anything today."
"And on the plus side, it might just enable us to find out who it is," Bodie chipped in. He gestured towards the group of mourners as a sleek black hearse arrived, followed by a black limo. "Looks like we're on."
They joined the silent group, nodding a greeting to Miriam and her husband as they left the limo but by mutual consent hung back so that they were the last into the chapel. It wasn't entirely out of respect for the family; they all felt safer when they could see everyone in front of them.
The service wasn't long. Phil's son-in-law gave a short eulogy but soon everyone was filing out, exchanging quiet words with the bereaved before pausing to read the cards on the floral tributes.
Again at the rear of the gathering, all three of them were scanning the faces of the mourners. No one looked familiar among the mixture of old and young, if their killer was there he wasn't instantly known to them. The only person who seemed to be out of place was a lone young man, but he was obviously known to Miriam as he stopped and spoke briefly to her before moving on. Reaching Miriam a few minutes later, Doyle took advantage of being last to ask her if there was anyone at the chapel she didn't know.
"No, everyone is a relative or friend. Oh, the only one who isn't is the policeman."
"The young one - I think he was one of the officers who investigated the crash; I certainly remember him coming to the house."
As she moved away to speak to an elderly couple, Doyle shrugged at the other two. "Shame we didn't get a chance to speak to him, find out what he thought about the crash."
"I'll see if he's still about." Without being too obvious, Bodie hurried out to the car park.
"Maybe Miriam knows his name, or station. We could follow him up," Murphy suggested.
"I'll ask her if I get a chance."
Bodie came back, shaking his head. "No sign, he must've left. Miriam is asking people back to the house - we don't need to go, do we?"
"I don't think she'll mind if we don't. I'll make our goodbyes."
It took Doyle another five minutes to capture Miriam's attention. "We're not coming back, love. Listen, that policeman, you don't recall his name or where he was stationed?"
"Not offhand. Is it important?"
"Just thought we might talk to him, see what he thought of the accident. Maybe you can call me if you remember his name?"
"I will. Ray, you will let me know if you find out anything?"
"Of course we will."
"And take care - if there is someone trying to kill you..."
"We'll be fine."
Bodie and Murphy were waiting by the cars. "We thought we'd head for a pub," Bodie told him. "We passed one on the way in that looked all right."
Twenty minutes later they were in the Woodman and Bodie launched into what he'd been waiting to ask. "So Murph, was that really your daughter answering the phone?"
"It was." Murphy beamed a proud-father smile. "You remember she doesn't really get on with her mother? Well, apparently Helen has hooked up with someone Nina hates, so she phoned me and asked if she could come over. She's been here about four months, but I think she's here to stay."
"That's great," Doyle said. After they'd split up, Nina's mother had taken her to the States when she was still a baby but in spite of the distance Murphy had resolutely stayed in touch, visiting at least once a year. "Persistence pays off - I told you Nina wouldn't forget you."
"She'd have a job," Bodie laughed. "He was always sending her presents."
"Every parent has the right to spoil their child, Bodie," Murphy grinned, not taking offence. "Anyway, I seem to remember you were busily buying presents for Betty's son at the same time."
Bodie shrugged, trying to be offhand. "She would keep bringing him in to see us. We had to have something around to keep him amused."
"Nothing to do with the fact that his 'Uncle Bodie' spoiled him rotten," Doyle laughed. In fact, the way young Tom had latched onto Bodie, it was just as well Bodie had been out of the country when Betty conceived otherwise tongues would have been wagging.
"Nothing whatsoever," Murphy agreed. "How is Betty? Anyone spoken to her?"
"Not for a long while. Ruth still sees her sometimes."
Murphy glanced at Bodie before making his next enquiry. "And how's Ruth?"
"She's fine." Doyle ignored the implied question about the state of their relationship, and changed the subject. "I called her yesterday to put her on her guard about our killer."
"Did she have any ideas?"
"She said she'd call if she thought of anything. We managed to see the CCTV of Mike's fall yesterday. It looked pretty convincing, if you didn't know he was pushed."
"And we are sure -"
"There were two more," Bodie cut off Murphy's doubt. "Issacs and Henderson. Then Phil. So yes, we're sure."
Murphy thoughtfully sipped at his pint. "Then, we'd better see what we can do about it."
"Brian?" Bodie called out as he opened the door, heading straight for the stairs. The drive back had been relatively traffic-free and they'd been highly fortunate to find two parking spaces outside the house. "We're just back to change, then we're going over to Thames House."
Doyle followed Bodie up the stairs, relieved that Murphy hadn't minded a stop (his suit really was getting too tight for him, maybe he should follow Bodie's example and start running each morning) - but they needed to change quickly, since Murphy wanted to start back home again before the rush hour.
"So, what exactly are you monitoring here?" Left with Brian, Murphy had wasted no time in probing Bodie's operations, and Doyle arrived back downstairs to hear Bodie attempting to fob Murphy off.
"Anything and everything, mate. You know I'm providing security for various diplomats - I need to know what's going on at all times."
"Does that include our own operations?" Murphy sounded suspicious, and Doyle struggled with keeping a straight face as Bodie denied it. "Do you think I'd spy on our own side?"
"I wouldn't put it past you." With one last suspicious glance at the rank of computer monitors - which fortunately were innocently showing screensavers or ordinary Windows screens - Murphy headed for the door. "Let's get going then."
Bodie tossed the Golf's keys to Brian. "Move the car back to the garage, will you? We'll go with Murphy."
The drive across to Millbank didn't take long but Murphy had to do a couple of circuits of the area before finding a parking meter free in Smith Square. He started searching his pockets as they got out. "Anyone got any change?"
"Nope," Bodie was quick to answer.
Doyle sighed, and checked his own pockets to find the necessary coins. "This is really starting to feel like the old days. I always ended up paying then as well, except now I can't claim any expenses."
Murphy reached for his wallet and extracting a tenner held it out to Doyle. "I just don't have change."
"Oh, put it away. I'm not broke yet."
"He's far from broke," Bodie added. "His freelance work pays pretty well, from what I hear."
"You'd know all about freelancing, Bodie," Doyle returned the jibe, grinning. "One of these days you'll get a proper job."
"Not likely. Next thing I'll be doing is retiring. After all, Murph is way ahead of us there."
"Murph," Murphy said, in a lofty 'third party' voice, "is still working as a consultant, just as hard as before his official retirement."
He reverted to his normal tone. "Anyway, it's just as well I am, otherwise these doors would be completely barred to us." He led the way into the building, his ID already in hand.
"Afternoon. I wonder if Paul Mitchell is in the building? He's not expecting us."
Doyle flashed a look at Bodie. Murphy hadn't told them who he intended to ask for at Thames House; simply that he had some contacts who might be able to help. Well, neither of them really believed it could be Mitchell.
Murphy's ID was examined carefully before the commissioner turned to them. "Do you have some means of identification, gentlemen?"
"Not security-cleared, they don't," Murphy answered for them. "But Paul Mitchell will vouch for them."
Punching a number into his handset, the commissioner made the call. "Mr Mitchell, there are three gentlemen here to see you, not expected, they say. A Mr Murphy, who has clearance, and two others, who don't."
He listened for a moment, then covered the mouthpiece. "Could I have your names?"
"Doyle, and Bodie."
Relaying them into the phone, the commissioner listened again before hanging up. "If you'd like to take a seat, he'll be with you shortly."
"Didn't know you were still in touch with Mitchell," Doyle murmured, as they all moved away from the desk.
"We worked quite closely at one point. It helped, both having had CI5 training."
"What about Issacs and Henderson: did you work with them?"
"Not directly. Once CI5 people were absorbed it was too easy to lose touch. Mitchell will probably have had more to do with them, working here."
They didn't have to wait long before Paul Mitchell appeared. "What's up, Murphy, can't stay away?"
He shook Murphy's hand and turned to the partners. "Mr Bodie, Mr Doyle."
"Drop the Mister, please." Doyle shook the outstretched hand. "I'm not your boss now; it's Ray, or Doyle if you prefer."
"Yeah," Bodie chimed in, "he can't make you stand in the rain any more."
Mitchell laughed. "At least he won't have me following you any more either. What can I do for you? Are you just in town...?"
"It's not a social call," Murphy said. "Do you have somewhere we can talk?"
"Let me find a room." Mitchell conferred with the commissioner, and returned with pass badges for Bodie and Doyle. "I've signed you in. We can use one of the meeting rooms down the corridor."
He led the way, nodding to one or two people that they met, before opening the door to a small room. "We won't be disturbed. What did you want to talk about?"
"Several accidental deaths of ex-CI5 personnel."
Mitchell stared at Murphy. "I think you'd better start from the beginning."
Doyle took over. "About a month ago, Mike Pennington fell down an escalator at the tube station in Leicester Square and died. Last week, Phil Lucas died in a car crash."
"Yes, both looked like accidents," Bodie put in before Mitchell could interrupt, "but then we started looking at other names."
"John Issacs?" Mitchell supplied the name before Bodie could. "His death was investigated; it was just an accident..."
"He fell in front of a tube train. Got to be one of the easiest ways to commit murder."
"And then there's Henderson, electrocuted in his own home," Doyle added.
"Henderson?" Mitchell swivelled his chair to the computer terminal behind him and tapped his way past the security, finding the information swiftly. "I hadn't seen him in a while; he'd been working out of London, undercover. I thought he still was, I hadn't heard..."
He turned back to them, eyes narrowed. "How did you know about Issacs and Henderson?"
"I've still got a few contacts in the police," Bodie said.
"Any idea who it is? You're sure it's got a CI5 connection?"
"Pretty sure. Lucas got an email from Pennington - three weeks after Pennington died - telling him he was next. We're assuming he ignored it - and within a couple of days he was dead."
"That was Saturday." Doyle took up the story. "On Wednesday, I got an email from Phil Lucas. I'm next on the list."
"What do you want me to do? I have no idea who could be responsible."
"Can you talk to people who worked with Issacs and Henderson? Find out if they were still in touch with Pennington, whether either of them mentioned strange emails? This really is a needle in a haystack; we have no leads at all."
"I'll see what I can find out. How can I contact you?"
Bodie had already jotted down the mobile numbers and slid the card across the table. "Or you can reach Murphy; we'll stay in touch with him."
Mitchell nodded. "Anything else?"
"Yes." Murphy surprised the partners again. "We need to talk to Susan Fischer - can you organise it?"
"Murphy? I haven't spoken to you in months. How are you?"
"Fine. Listen, Susan, I'm at Thames House, and I've got you on speakerphone."
"Why? Who else is there?"
"Bodie. So I presume Doyle is there as well?"
Neither of the partners had spoken to Susan in years. While Mitchell was out finding the number, Murphy had filled them in; she had her feet well under a table somewhere in the Cabinet offices - even he wasn't certain what position she held but she wielded considerable power.
The hint of friendliness had vanished to be replaced with her official tone. "It's business then, of some sort?"
"Something like that. You got five minutes to listen?"
The partners let Murphy do the talking and Susan listened without interrupting.
"So," she said once he had finished, "is this my warning call?" She sounded slightly amused.
"Susan, I have trouble tracking you down and I know more about you than our killer possibly could," Murphy grinned. "I suppose the answer is yes, you need to be on your guard. More importantly, if you have any ideas about who could be responsible we'd love to hear them."
"You're not expecting me to remember all the details of our CI5 cases, are you?"
"Not all the details, no. But you've got the best memory I've ever come across so if anyone is going to remember something it'll probably be you."
"Flattery doesn't get you anywhere."
"It used to work for me," Bodie murmured, winking at the other two.
"I heard that, Bodie. I can see you haven't changed."
"What, change all those things that make me lovable and charming? Why would I?"
She laughed. "For your information, your flattery never used to work on me. OK, I'll have a think. Make my life easy; email me everything you've told me and any names you have. All the old files are archived in a bunker somewhere and I can't possibly justify sending someone to find them, but I can see what's available on the indexes. Include your mobile numbers and I'll call if I find anything."
"You're a doll," Bodie told her.
"And you're still in the Ark, Bodie. You need to buy yourself a new dictionary."
She hung up before Bodie could reply, and he grinned at the others. "She loves me really."
Mitchell had slid quietly back into the room during the conversation and now moved back to the computer. "If you've got her email address I can log you in from here, Murphy."
"That would be a help." Murphy pulled out a PDA to look it up. "Susan's email is the only way I do have of contacting her - it's nice and anonymous, probably goes via the North Pole or something."
He seated himself in front of the computer. "Why don't you two grab a coffee while I do this?"
"Don't you want Bodie to type it for you?" Doyle grinned as he stood up; Bodie's typing speed had always been a source of amusement around the VIP Lounge.
"Oi, I probably know my way around a keyboard better than you now. Not," Bodie added hurriedly, before he was asked to prove it, "that I can necessarily type faster than Murphy."
"No, I'll do it. You can bring me one back."
"There's a machine just to the right along the corridor," Mitchell informed them.
Bodie closed the door behind them. "Could we take advantage of these passes and have a wander, d'you think?"
"Not unless you fancy being locked up. And it would do nothing for Murphy's credibility in bringing us in. Anyway, what are you hoping to see?"
"Oh, I dunno. Would just be good to get a feel for the place."
"Well, unless you want to get a feel for the dungeons, I wouldn't recommend it. Make do with raiding the coffee machine."
Murphy was still busily typing when they returned. "Nearly done," he said, without looking up.
Bodie slid the coffee cup onto the desk beside him. "We got you a coffee. But I wouldn't be in any rush to drink it, I thought the CI5 machines were bad but these are worse."
"It's all the government cut-backs," Mitchell said, not entirely joking. "If you want anything decent you have to bring it in. We're not even allowed to make our own; kettles are outlawed under Health and Safety Regulations."
Murphy picked up the plastic cup and sipped the drink. "Tastes OK to me. You've been spoilt by too many trips to Starbucks."
"I hardly ever go in them," Bodie claimed, ignoring Doyle's smirk; it was a Starbucks they'd gone to the previous day. He peered into his cup. "I'm not sure this is even coffee - could be dishwater."
"Well, I'll save you from having to drink it," Murphy tapped the mouse. "I'm finished; Susan will have that in minutes. And I have to go - I told Nina I'd be back by four, and it's nearly three now."
They thanked Mitchell and headed back out to the car. "Do you mind if I don't give you a lift back?" Murphy asked. "It'll save me time."
"Of course not. Thanks for coming down, Murph."
"I'll let you know if Susan comes back to me. And you keep me up to speed."
With a wave, Murphy was gone, and Bodie looked around them. "I suppose we'd better find the nearest tube."
"What about splashing out on a taxi instead? I'll pay."
The house was quiet as Bodie opened the door. Brian wasn't in his usual seat by the computers and although nothing was out of place, Bodie looked about him with a sense of foreboding. "Something's wrong."
"Maybe he's out?"
"The alarms weren't set." Bodie swiftly checked upstairs. "There's no sign of him." As he pulled out his mobile, they both heard muffled banging from the kitchen.
Brian fell backwards as they opened the door to the small kitchen cupboard. He had been bound and gagged, and had a cut on his head. Bodie pulled the gag away before using a sharp knife to cut the rope.
"Any idea who it was?"
"Didn't recognise him, boss, sorry. He was young, mid-twenties I'd say. Dark hair, slim build."
Helping him up, Bodie wheeled Brian into the chair Doyle had set ready. "How's your head?"
"Aches a bit." Brian put his hand up to the cut and winced. "Sod it."
Doyle had dampened a kitchen towel and passed it to Brian. "Put that on it."
"It was only just after you'd left - I went out to put the car away. I was only going to be five minutes so I didn't put the alarms on," he added apologetically.
"Never mind that for now."
"He'd got in here, he grabbed me as I came back through the door. I dunno what he hit me with, but it floored me and before I was thinking clearly he'd got me tied up."
"What did he want?"
"Something on the computers." The thought of his precious machines galvanised Brian to the living room, his head forgotten. "He hasn't damaged anything...?"
"He'd shoved me in the kitchen." Brian began tapping anxiously at a keyboard. "I don't know what he touched. He could have planted a trojan..."
Scrabbling down behind the desk, he reappeared holding one end of a cable. "Best pull myself off the network just in case."
"Did he say anything?"
"Not as such, but as he was shoving me in the cupboard he said he'd left a message."
"A message? What about? Who he was, or what he was after?"
"I don't know. I could hear him on a keyboard; he knew what he was doing, there was no hesitation in his movements. And then I heard him printing something."
"Can you find out what?"
Brian shook his head. "There are programmes to monitor printer usage but we've never needed them." He began tapping his keyboard again.
"I can't immediately see if he's had anything open. Actually..." Brian glanced across the desks as something occurred to him. "The sound of the keyboard - I don't think it was this one; it sounded like a laptop."
Doyle looked to where his laptop had been sitting for the last couple of days. The screensaver was active as it should be; it kicked in after half an hour and he hadn't touched it since earlier that morning.
He tentatively moved the mouse; the screensaver cleared to reveal the Windows address book. "He was after my laptop, for addresses."
"How many pages did he print, Brian?"
"Four. They were probably half pages."
"The length individual address pages are." Bodie snatched up the phone as it started ringing, knowing immediately who it was; she'd have seen the network drop. "Yes, Lucy. We may have an infiltration this end; Brian will check it and come back to you." He hung up abruptly.
"Bodie." Doyle had been staring at the laptop. "His message. We know from his actions that he's the killer, so what was the message?"
Bodie stared at him blankly, and Doyle pointed at the screen. "This address. He left this page up deliberately - he's gone after Ruth."
Fifteen minutes later they were heading for the car, Bodie on the phone to Lucy. "I've got an emergency, darlin', so I've had to leave Brian. He was attacked - he seems OK, but can you send someone over here, just in case?"
"Of course. Can I do anything to help?"
"Not just yet. I'll call you if I think of anything." He slid his phone away, frowning as they approached the car. "How did he know where to come? We'd have seen someone following us."
"He bugged the car?"
"Us, or Murphy. Got to be. Well, we don't have time to sweep the car now. Better warn Murphy."
Doyle nodded. "After I try Ruth again." He'd tried her number eight times already; there was no answer and it seemed she'd forgotten to turn on her answerphone.
"Why can't she have a mobile like everyone else?" Bodie complained.
"She says she had enough of always being at Cowley's beck and call on the end of the R/T. Mobiles are worse, she reckons." He terminated the unanswered call. "Still not there."
"Where are we headed?" Slamming the car into reverse, Bodie hightailed it out of the car park, and forced his way onto Farringdon Road.
"She lives near Fleet - down the M3."
"Three-thirty on a Friday - and we're trying to get out of town in a hurry. Wish we could whistle up a police escort." Bodie grimaced as he cut out in front of a taxi. "Do you think it would be worth going south of the river or take the direct route?"
"South's likely to be just as bad - but maybe go along the Embankment rather than the Strand - better avoid Hyde Park Corner as well."
"Yeah. If I go down towards Victoria I can cut around the back of Knightsbridge. But I'll risk the Talgarth Road; I think we're early enough."
"I'll call Murphy - hope he's got hands-free."
"Ray? What's up?"
"Seems we were followed from the funeral - our killer attacked Brian and got his hands on my laptop. Ten to one he's got your address. Bodie insists we weren't followed earlier so it's likely one of the cars has a bug."
"I'll check when I get home, and I'll take Nina to a hotel. Is Brian OK?"
"Bit of a headache. Listen, the killer might turn to you, but right now we think he's heading for Ruth - we're on our way there."
"Do you want me to turn back?"
"No, we'll handle it. We'll let you know what's happening."
Doyle sat back and tried to relax as Bodie cut his way through the Friday afternoon traffic, overwhelmingly conscious that they had at least an hour's drive ahead of them and that their man was probably already there. He'd try Ruth again in a few minutes. Please God she was all right, and worked late tonight...
Once they reached the dual carriageway at Chertsey Bodie opened the car up as much as he could but the traffic was still quite heavy and he couldn't make any real progress until the road widened again. Hitting the outside lane he pushed the car up to ninety and kept the needle there. "Hope there's no hold up at the M25. Which junction do we want?"
"4a - it's the new one. Ruth's place is only a few miles off that." Doyle resisted the urge to hang onto the door handle, and instead fished out his mobile to try Ruth again.
"Still no answer?" Bodie glanced minutely across as Doyle shook his head. "We won't be long now."
The twenty-odd miles were swallowed up in less than twenty-five minutes, but it had still taken them just over an hour from Farringdon. As Bodie turned off the motorway Doyle gave him directions. "Turn right towards Fleet, and right again at the next roundabout. Then it's a turning on the right about half a mile on. Bramshot Lane."
As Bodie skidded onto the driveway of the isolated house a car was already there, and Doyle nodded at his enquiring look. "That's Ruth's."
They rang the bell for form's sake, but almost immediately tried the door. It opened, and Doyle called out. "Ruth? Are you there?"
The wide hall was empty, and Doyle who had feared finding her dead from an apparent fall at the bottom of the stairs, headed for them. "I'll check upstairs, you check down."
The bedroom looked undisturbed - not that Doyle was well acquainted with Ruth's bedroom, but it was tidy enough. The second bedroom was obviously used as a study; filing cabinets, a few files on the desk beside a monitor, keyboard and mouse but no computer; Doyle remembered Ruth saying she plugged her laptop in.
"Ray!" Doyle was already heading back down but Bodie's shout hastened his descent.
Bodie was in the hall. "There's no sign of any entry point; he must have followed her in. The alarm has been deactivated - she'd obviously just arrived home." He led the way into the lounge. "You can see there's been a struggle; Ruth's handbag is all the way over by the window."
"She probably threw it at him." Doyle managed a dry laugh as he looked around the room; nothing seemed to be missing. Looking towards the dining area he spotted a laptop on the table. "Do you think that's another message?"
"It's probably Ruth's."
"She's got an office upstairs where she normally plugs it in." Doyle moved the mouse to stop the screensaver. There was a Word document open; a list which they scanned together, the significance of the struck-through names hitting them both.
"Jeez... it's a deathlist," Bodie exclaimed.
"And I'm at the top. He's taken Ruth to get to me."
"It's probably in alphabetical order."
"Your name is underneath mine."
"So he's dyslexic," Bodie glared. "Stop trying to blame yourself. Anyway, the order can't be that important to him because Issacs and Henderson are at the bottom."
"We know he doesn't have any compunction about killing. How do we know Ruth's still alive?" Doyle looked back at the laptop.
"To start with, Ruth's name isn't on that list. And if he'd simply wanted to kill her, he'd have done it. She's still alive, Ray. We will find her."
To add to the rush-hour traffic there had been a crash on the M3 causing tailbacks and making their progress back to town slow. Trying to distract himself from worrying about Ruth, Doyle was thinking over everything that had happened in the hope it would give him a clue.
Murphy had phoned them before they left the house. "Did you find Ruth?"
"He's upped the stakes, Murph. He's taken Ruth hostage, and left us a deathlist."
"Christ. Is there anything I can do? Do you want me to drive back down?"
"Probably no point at this stage - maybe if we get a lead."
"OK. Look, you can tell Bodie I found a bug on my car, but it'd be a good idea to check yours as well. Nina is packing and I'm taking her to a hotel. I'll call you later with a number."
They'd checked around but her car was locked and untouched even though the keys had been dropped in the lounge; it seemed the killer had acted swiftly, taking just the one thing he was interested in: Ruth.
Bodie had persuaded Doyle the best thing they could do was lock up and head home.
"I still think we should have called the police," Doyle began.
Bodie cut him off. "And tell them that Ruth's been kidnapped? They probably wouldn't believe us - we don't have any evidence and the full story isn't likely to convince them."
"Still - "
"If we had a lead - like a car-type, or number - then maybe. They'd have the upper hand then with being able to track vehicles. But until we have more to go on..."
"What about her office? They'll report her missing."
"Not until Monday, unless she's in the habit of working weekends - although she always used to, remember?"
"That was when Cowley didn't give her much choice." Doyle frowned. "Or when she was trying to avoid Alan. Anyway, she doesn't have much reason to, now."
"There you are, then. We've got until Monday."
"No, we haven't. We've only got until this lunatic decides we have..."
Doyle's phone rang just as they got back to the car park; it was Miriam. "Hello love, how did the rest of the day go?"
"Not too bad, considering. Everyone's gone now anyway. Listen, that police officer you were interested in, his name was Shepherd - he came here to speak to Alex a couple of times but we can't remember which station he came from."
"Not to worry, we can probably track him down if we need to speak to him. Things have moved on anyway; there's no doubt now what we're dealing with, we just need to discover who."
Once he had hung up, he passed the name to Bodie. "That was Miriam: the copper's name was Shepherd, if we need to find him."
"OK." Bodie let them into the house. "Brian? How's it going?"
"Fine, boss. We've checked out and restored the network; no problems with it. Did you see Miss Pettifer?"
"The bastard has taken her hostage," Doyle growled. "And we've nothing to go on; no way of finding her."
Brian glanced at Bodie, unsure how he should comment. Instead, he pointed to where another lad was fiddling with a computer. "I think you should look at this."
"What've you got, Rick?"
"The webcam images of the front door. This is the man who attacked Brian."
"We've got our own CCTV?" Bodie was surprised but pleased.
"I'd got all the components," Brian shrugged. "And with the value of the equipment in the house it seemed like a good idea."
"It was an excellent idea. Let's take a look."
Doyle joined him as Rick ran the video clip. The man's face was obscured as he first opened the door and went into the lounge. "He obviously heard me coming back," Brian said. "In a moment he comes back towards the camera."
This time, his face was clear as he approached the front door before stepping into the shadow of the stairwell, ready to hit Brian as he re-entered the property. "He hit you with an umbrella," Bodie laughed.
"He hit me bloody hard with an umbrella, and pushed me into the door frame at the same time." Brian was less amused.
"Yeah, I know."
They watched as the recording showed Brian being bundled into the lounge, then Rick ran it forward about twenty minutes. "This is the last view we get of him."
Once again their man had his head down. "Can you run back to get the clearest image of him?" Bodie glanced at Doyle. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"He was at the funeral. The copper, Shepherd."
They waited while Rick found the right clip and looked again. "Yep, it's him. Rick, can you zoom in, clean it up a bit? I'll need some print-outs and we can email it to a few people."
The niggle that Doyle had developed in the back of his mind since Miriam phoned suddenly clicked with recognition. "Shepherd. I thought I'd seen the name recently - Brian, can you call your friend Tomkins and get him to check the witnesses to Pennington's fall? I'm sure Shepherd was one of the names."
"I can probably find that on the accident record."
"OK. See if there are any contact details."
"Bound to be false even if he has left an address," Bodie said. "I'd be more interested in knowing whether he's a real copper. Brian, check out the personnel records as well."
"Here we are, Terry Shepherd. Gave an address in Fulham."
"What is it?" Doyle made towards the door and Bodie called him back.
"Hold on mate, let's see what else Brian can find out. No sense in rushing out to a false address."
Brian was tapping at the keyboard with one hand and the mouse with the other. "Right, the Met's records... Shepherd, Terence O. Rank, Detective Constable, stationed at Hammersmith & Fulham, currently on extended compassionate leave."
A few more clicks. "Same as the one given by the witness."
"It has to be right then. What is it?" Doyle asked once again.
"I'll print it."
"We're not going to find him there," Bodie said. "He wouldn't just take Ruth home with him."
"He might." Doyle whipped the page away from the printer; not only had Brian printed the address but he'd generated and printed a map for them as well. "He doesn't know we know his name, or that we've made any connection between a witness at one accident and a cop investigating another, and he didn't know about the camera here. As far as he knows, he's still anonymous. In any event, you're not about to tell me we shouldn't check it out."
"I wouldn't dream of it, sunshine. Rick, can we get a print-out of his face yet?"
"Just coming, boss." The printer started whirring to produce a slightly grainy photo.
"Good. Do me a few more for later. C'mon mate."
It was already dark by the time they reached the house in Parkville Road, number 29 looking just the same as its terraced neighbours. Unlike them, none of its windows had lights.
Doyle tried the door anyway, knocking and ringing the bell. Bodie had brought a torch from the car and shone it through the front bay window. "Looks empty."
"Perfect place to bring a hostage then." Doyle banged again. "Do you think there's a way in around the back?"
"Maybe." Bodie nudged him as he heard a noise from the neighbouring house and the door opened. "Oh good evening, madam. We were looking for Terry Shepherd?"
She peered out at them. "You Council? Ain't no good chasing him for yer bloomin' taxes."
"Why is that?"
"Place is empty so he don't owe yer nuthing. His poor mum only gone a few weeks as well. He told me he wouldn't pay you leeches nuthing."
"Well, technically madam, even empty properties are liable for Council Tax, albeit at a reduced rate."
"Leeches," she muttered.
"But that's not why we're here. We need to talk to him about his mother's grave."
"I thought she were cremated."
"Yes, that's right, it's the cremation plot I need to speak to him about. We couldn't reach him on the phone and letters are unanswered."
"He's gorn away. Cleared the house and left. Dunno where. Wouldn't tell yer if I did." She stepped back inside and slammed the door behind her.
"Thought you'd given yourself away, then," Doyle grinned.
"Buried or cremated; it was a 50:50 chance. Anyway she'd probably disbelieve me on principle." Bodie retreated from the front door. "We'd better come back later when it's quieter, if we're going to break in."
"We are?" Doyle followed him back to the car.
"You were the one thinking about getting in round the back - getting cold feet now?"
"Yeah, but when you put it like that - break in - maybe we'd better call the police instead?"
"We won't have to do any actual breaking - the lock on that door won't delay us by more than a few seconds. We get in for a quick look round and lock the door on the way out. No harm done. We've done it hundreds of times."
"I know. But we had official sanction back then. Now - "
"Ray, quit worrying. As long as the crone next door has gone to bed no one will notice us." Bodie started the engine. "I'll move the car so she doesn't get suspicious."
"Move the car, certainly. But not far, because we need to keep an eye on the house. If he is in there with Ruth, he could be out and gone while we're away."
"OK. You can keep watch while I go and find us something to eat; I'm starving."
Bodie had clearly lost none of his skills; the lock took him about ten seconds to pick. Doyle followed him in and softly closed the door behind them before they put on the torches, careful to keep them aimed at the floor.
The noise of a television was coming loudly through the walls from one of the neighbouring properties that hopefully would mask any sounds they made. "Let's check around," Bodie whispered. "You take upstairs."
Doyle made his way towards the stairs as Bodie headed along the narrow hallway to the kitchen at the rear. Stepping quietly up them, he realised that the old habits hadn't completely abandoned him and he was using the outer edges of each tread which were less likely to creak than the centre. The floor was still carpeted, albeit with faded and worn covering which had probably been down for thirty years, and as he reached the landing he paused. There was still nothing to be heard and Doyle's heart sank. Despite all appearances to the contrary he'd been hoping they would find Ruth inside.
The house hadn't been entirely emptied. What was presumably the main bedroom still contained a double bed and wardrobe - either because they were so old as to be worthless or because they were too heavy to be moved, at least by one man. But the mattress was bare and the wardrobe empty, not even a mothball left behind. The other bedroom had been emptied. It had obviously been a child's room at some point; the wallpaper had faded around things pinned to the walls and here and there the corner of a poster remained.
Returning downstairs, Doyle called softly to his partner. "Through here," Bodie replied from the kitchen. "Found anything?"
"Not a thing," Doyle flashed his torch around the room. "You?"
"Just moved in here. The dining room still has a table; nothing else. There's a sideboard in the front room but it's empty, apart from a few sheets of newspaper. I flicked over them but they're nothing remarkable, simply used to line the drawers." He opened several more cupboards. "Looks like a thorough clear out; there's nothing for us to go on."
"Nothing for him to come back for, either." Doyle was despondent. It would have been too ridiculously easy to have found Shepherd holding Ruth here, but it had at least been a lead. To have found nothing at all, nothing to help them trace Shepherd, meant they were back to square one. "How are we going to find him?"
"To start with, we don't give up." Bodie shut the last cupboard with a bang. "There are a lot of things we can do, and we can always call on Mitchell. Come on, let's get back to Brian and see what he's come up with."
"You still look like a zombie."
"Cheers..." Doyle followed Bodie into the police station. To be honest, he still felt like a zombie. Mind tumbling over everything, he'd found it difficult to sleep and when he'd finally dropped off through exhaustion, his dreams had been full of images from the old days sparked by Ruth's disappearance and searching the empty house. He'd woken abruptly from a cyclical nightmare of empty rooms where he was following but always just missing Ruth, to find it might be morning but was barely light.
In spite of that Bodie had already been up, dressed ready to go running. Somehow he'd persuaded Doyle to go along, assuring him it would clear his head and make him feel better. In fact, the only bit about the run that made him feel better was stopping at the end of it. It hadn't helped to realise that he wasn't as fit as he thought.
Now they were about to try and persuade the police to tell them something about Shepherd, a task he would have preferred to do with his wits about him, but it couldn't wait.
"Good morning," Bodie started, knowing that his confidence would help take advantage of the very young desk officer's inexperience. "I wonder if we might speak to Detective Constable Shepherd, if he's on duty?"
"He's er, not in today."
"It's quite important that we speak to him," Doyle chimed in. "We understand from his neighbours that he's recently moved house, so thought we might have a word with him here..."
They both waited, putting the ball in the officer's court. He shifted nervously. "I don't know about that... Maybe..."
"Is there a senior officer we could speak to, perhaps?" Bodie offered him a solution and the young man leapt on it, reaching for the phone.
"Yes, I'll just find out who might be able to come down."
They moved back from the desk. "They know something's up," Doyle murmured. "If he was genuinely on leave they'd say so and turn us away. He hasn't even attempted to find out who we are or what we want."
Within a few minutes an attractive thirty-something brunette approached them. "Inspector Jane Morgan. You're asking about Terry Shepherd?"
"Is there somewhere private we can talk?"
She motioned them into an interview room. "Who are you and why do you want him?" she asked, abruptly.
Neither of them were prepared to lie at an outright question but Bodie hedged and answered half of it. "My name's Bodie, this is Doyle. We've been to Shepherd's house but he's moved out, and we need to trace him."
"Why? What's your business with him?" She seemed prepared to stonewall them all the way, and Doyle glanced at Bodie. Probably better if they came clean, they'd be no worse off and she might tell them something.
"Do you remember an organisation called CI5?"
Morgan didn't really look old enough, but she nodded slowly. "A sort of security service. Disbanded years ago."
"We both used to work for it. There have been some - incidents - involving former members of staff and we need to speak to Shepherd."
"Terry's barely old enough to remember your organisation. What possible connection can he have to it?"
"That's what we want to find out." Bodie showed her the photo from the CCTV. "He broke into my house yesterday. We have the right man."
She clearly recognised the image, and Doyle followed up with another question. "Has he been behaving oddly lately? Might he have discussed any problems with anyone?"
"His problem is that his mother has been slowly dying of cancer for months and as sole carer he's found it hard. He's been tetchy and unreliable, but you'd expect that. He's been on leave since it happened - although he should have returned by now."
"Can you tell us exactly when she died?"
She had a moment's internal debate before taking out a diary. "It was the 3rd of last month - about seven weeks ago."
And a month ago, Shepherd had started on his campaign. Could it be her death that had caused him to go off the rails? Although tracing people would have taken time; he'd probably been planning for longer than that. "Do you know anything about his mother?" Doyle asked.
"Not much. Shepherd is quiet, keeps to himself - he always has done. I know she was a single mum, no father on the scene." She paused. "You said incidents. What sort of incidents?"
"Four of our former colleagues have been murdered."
"You think Terry... ? That's impossible. How would he even know them?"
"That's what we're trying to find out."
"You are...? Which station is looking into the deaths?" The professional in her suddenly realised that whatever they'd been in the past, these two were just a couple of civilians.
"None. They all looked like accidents and we don't have any proof."
"Then we can find him, bring him in, if he's still on the patch."
Doyle shook his head. "Right now, we'd rather no one did that. He's taken another of our colleagues hostage. If she's still alive - " he avoided Bodie's glance " - Shepherd might kill her if anyone gets too close. We need to find out where he's hiding her."
"And we have contacts at MI5 who will help us bring him in when we find him," Bodie added. "Thanks for the offer, but you can help us best by keeping quiet so no one alerts him."
The mention of Five seemed to reassure the inspector that an official body was at least involved, and Morgan reluctantly let them leave, passing Bodie a card. "That's my direct number. If you need anything."
Bodie's phone rang as they crossed to the car. "Boss, I think you should get back here immediately."
"What's up, Brian?"
"Mr Doyle has had an email..."
Brian's sense of urgency meant Bodie left the car on the yellow line outside - he'd risk a ticket, they might need it in a hurry...
Doyle had checked his mails before they left. There hadn't been much, just a message from Murphy acknowledging his update and the photo and telling them he'd passed everything on to Susan, after which he'd left his laptop running. "What email?" he asked, as soon as they got in the door.
"From Miss Pettifer," Brian said. "I haven't opened it, but there's a file attachment."
Doyle swallowed as he clicked on the email. "No message. It's a video file." He hesitated.
"Run it, Ray. We have to know what's in it."
It was badly lit; one light over where Ruth sat seemed to provide the only illumination, and as a result the focus was poor. Blindfolded, she seemed to be tied to the chair, and had a message for them.
"Ray, Bodie... I don't know who he is. He says that if you're as clever as you think you are, you'll find me." In spite of the danger she had to know she was in, she sounded remarkably stable, and in fact smiled. "It's quite cold here, so I'd appreciate it if you could make it sooner rather than later."
The video cut off. Doyle forced himself to relax his grip on the back of the chair he was leaning against. "At least she was still alive to make that." He looked again at the email. "It's come from Ruth's email account. He must have forced her to give him the password."
"Not necessarily," Brian said. "That laptop you brought back last night isn't hers; I was looking at it earlier. It's Pennington's; Issacs' and Henderson's personal details are on there and the last email was the one sent to Phil Lucas. He's probably using her laptop now."
"Who the hell is he, Bodie? That message implies we should know him."
"From what that Inspector told us, he's too young to have been involved in any of our cases so he's out for revenge on behalf of someone else. His mother?"
"Maybe. If we had more information about her..."
"Rebecca Shepherd," Brian interjected. "Been resident at the Fulham address for over twenty years, according to the Council records. The house was rented; it seems the rent was paid up, but the Council Tax was outstanding, as is the gas, electric and telephone."
"You've been busy," Bodie grinned.
"It's all there, if you know where to look. Rebecca died of cancer aged 59, seven weeks ago. I haven't been able to trace whether she left a Will. But I ran the name and address through police records and it came back clean, not even a parking ticket - if indeed she could drive, there's no car registered to her, or to Terry Shepherd."
"He's obviously got transport, though, to follow us and snatch Ruth. Maybe he's hired a car." Bodie suddenly headed for the door. "And talking of cars, I'd better move mine before it gets clamped."
"I'll forward that video to Murphy and give him the details about Shepherd's mother - she's not ringing any bells with me but it might jog his memory."
"Save the video over to my computer and I'll take a look at it; see if I can enhance it at all - there might be something in the background."
Doyle did as Brian suggested, before typing his email to Murphy. He didn't think they'd be able to get much at all from the video, but who knew what Brian could achieve? He pressed 'Send', then looked back at the original. "If he's got Ruth's laptop, can you trace where he sent the email from?"
"I might be able to track the IP address, but there are so many freely available wireless access points these days it could be anywhere. And even if I got the IP we'd need to get the precise location from the provider; by the time we'd done that he would probably have moved on. That's even assuming we can get the location from the provider; you normally need a warrant for that."
"So much more technology we can use - and about ten times as much bureaucracy," Bodie commented, overhearing Brian as he came back in. "It's probably worth a try though, if he emails again."
"I'm not sure how we're going to find him if he doesn't. We might know who he is, but tracing him is going to depend on knowing what his motives are."
"What about your contacts at Five?" Brian suggested. "They'd have all the equipment - probably better than we have - to fix on the IP and they've got the authority to get the location instantly."
Bodie nodded. "Brian's right. Mitchell was willing to help - and that was before Shepherd snatched Ruth - so we should call him."
"And keep our fingers crossed that Shepherd keeps taunting us with emails?"
"Maybe we can string him along with a few replies. Anyway, it's our best bet at the moment. I'll see if I can get hold of Mitchell."
"Where did he say to meet him?"
"At the entrance to the garage. That has to be it." Bodie pulled up outside Thames House and checked his watch. "Mitchell said he wouldn't be longer than half-hour; it's nearly that now."
A car approaching from the opposite direction flashed its lights as it turned in front of them, and they saw Mitchell gesturing to follow him down the ramp. At the barrier he conversed with the security guard and then they were waved through, Bodie following Mitchell and parking in the bay next to him.
"Paul, thanks for this."
"You said there had been developments?"
"A couple. We know who he is, although his motives are still a mystery - and he's taken Ruth hostage."
"Ruth Pettifer?" Mitchell scowled at Doyle's news. "What can we do?"
"He sent us an email. We were hoping Five might trace the IP location?"
Hurrying them towards the lifts, Mitchell glanced back. "Have you any idea how many wireless access points there are in central London alone?"
"Couple of hundred, last time I checked," Bodie replied. "And I know that's only counting the genuinely available ones. But we're out of fresh ideas, unless you have any other suggestions."
"Let's see what we can find out, first." Mitchell tapped a code into the lower of the two numerical panels in the lift, and then pressed for the fifth floor. He noticed Bodie watching him and grinned. "No point in trying to remember the code - they're changed daily."
"Who, me?" Bodie avoided Doyle's glance. "I'd be more likely to effect entry through a window from the roof; I was never any good at remembering numbers."
Mitchell was sceptical. "Pull the other one - I've played you at cards, remember. And lost."
He swept out of the lift towards the only visible door in the corridor and keyed in another code. The room beyond was more up to Bodie's expectations of what MI5 should be about; computers on desks and maps on walls, even if it was nearly deserted - apparently spooks took Saturdays off like everyone else.
"Hallo?" Calling across the nearly empty room Mitchell was answered by someone out of sight, but Doyle recognised the voice. "Peters?"
"I called him yesterday to let him know what was going on," Mitchell nodded as their colleague rounded the desk. "Gerry, things have moved on. The bastard has taken Ruth Pettifer hostage. We need to see if we can trace an IP location - is Leona in the building?"
"Where else would she be?" Peters answered Mitchell while lifting a telephone. "I'll call her. Mr Doyle, Mr Bodie," he nodded in greeting.
"Leona's the best we've got," Mitchell told them. "If she can't get a trace it can't be done."
The petite blonde who arrived within minutes wasn't at all what Bodie, anticipating a female version of Brian, had been expecting but she clearly knew her stuff, commandeering Doyle's laptop and logging in efficiently.
"Let me work and make a couple of phone calls," she waved them away. Bodie wouldn't have minded staying; the view over her shoulder was particularly interesting, but he allowed Doyle to nudge him away.
They used the time to fill Mitchell and Peters in on what they had discovered about their man; but as expected neither of them knew who Shepherd could be.
When Doyle's phone went he jumped before fumbling to answer the unfamiliar handset that Bodie had given him, recognising Murphy's number.
"Ray, I'm glad I've caught you. I've just had an email from Susan and she wants a conference call, now. Where can I get you on a landline?"
"We're at Thames House with Mitchell. We're hoping we might get a trace on that email with the video. Does Susan know something?"
"She didn't elaborate. Let me speak to Mitchell, I'll fix the call."
"What does Murphy want?" Bodie asked eagerly as Doyle handed Mitchell his mobile.
"Susan's got something for us. She wants a conference call."
Mitchell hung up. "Come on, Murphy's going to call into the meeting room."
They followed him across the office to a closed room where the phone on the table rang almost immediately, and Mitchell pressed a button to answer it. "Hallo?"
"It's Murphy, I'm going to put you on hold and link Susan in."
A few clicks later and they heard Susan's voice. "Are we all in?"
"All present and correct," Bodie told her.
" Listen, Murphy forwarded me Shepherd's details and photo. I know who Rebecca Shepherd was. You all met her."
"At some of the CI5 parties. She was Owen Lake's girlfriend." Susan continued into their stunned silence. "In 1981 they had a son called Terry. Lake never got round to marrying her - probably just as well because they separated before the boy was three. But I know Lake doted on the boy and was determined to be a good father."
"Except he decided to turn traitor to his country and got sent down," Doyle said.
"He blamed us for it," Bodie reminded him. "And now his son is out for revenge."
"After all this time?" Murphy said.
"Maybe he never knew what happened to his father. From what the inspector told us he'd changed whilst nursing his mother - maybe it wasn't all to do with her illness, perhaps she decided he should know the truth before she died...?"
Bodie shook his head at Doyle. "That wouldn't explain Shepherd knowing all about us as individuals. Rebecca wouldn't have known any of the details."
"She could have been listed as his Next of Kin, though," Susan said. "When he died in that prison fight anything he left would have gone to her. Was Lake in the habit of keeping a diary?"
"After a couple of years in prison, who knows what habits you'd get into? He was vindictive - remember when they took him down from the dock he was swearing to get even with everyone?"
"Yeah, but Phil and Mike didn't have anything to do with him going down - Phil wasn't even on the squad by then. And Issacs and Henderson - what was the reason for revenge on them?" Doyle frowned. "Of course, if Shepherd is going by some list for revenge Lake left, then god knows how warped the reasons are. Lake wasn't exactly acting rationally."
"The specific reasons are immaterial, anyway," Murphy added. "Now we know who and why; we just need to find him."
"And there's our problem. He has the whole of London to hide in."
"Or beyond," Mitchell commented. "He could be anywhere, miles from London."
"Not at nine-fifty this morning he wasn't," Leona told them from the doorway. "When he sent that email he was using a wireless connection provided by the Goodness Cafe in Chiswick High Road."
"At least he was still in London then. But that's well over an hour ago, unlikely he's still there."
"We should try emailing him. If we can provoke him into responding we can get another location; one you can reach before he moves on." Leona vanished back towards the desk of computers, and Doyle followed her.
Bodie's mobile buzzed loudly to attract his attention and he checked the incoming text message before following his partner. "Brian's sent an email about the video file."
"You're connected to the network," Leona told Doyle. "Check your emails."
Downloading it, Doyle skimmed the message. "Brian's managed to clean up the video image and sound - the best he could glean from the picture was that Ruth is in some sort of garage or workshop but the sound file is attached." He clicked to play it, tapping the keyboard to increase the volume. It was only a fourteen second clip but the improved quality immediately provided them with the distinctive rumble of trains on tracks in the background. "He's got her somewhere near a rail line."
"Which is no help at all, really," Bodie grunted. "How many mainline and tube services are there?"
"Hundreds," Mitchell agreed. "Might help us to rule some places out though."
Doyle played the clip again, looking thoughtful. "'If you're as clever as you think you are, you'll find me.' There's a clue in that. We're not looking for a random location, it has to be somewhere we should know about..."
Catching on quickly, Bodie hurried back to the meeting room and the phone. "Susan, Murph, are you both still there?"
"I am, Bodie - Murphy had to go."
"Did Lake have an emergency grounding station?"
"I expect so - we all did. But if your next question is to ask me where it was I've no idea. I don't even know where yours was!"
"They were allocated by Cowley though; unique to teams?"
"Lake was never re-teamed after Williams died so it wouldn't have been allocated again." Susan sighed. "Ironically, the one person who might know is Ruth. It's a hell of a long shot, Bodie."
"They've worked for us before. The only thing we have to go on is a vaguely west-London location and the sound of trains. He might be content to play with us for a bit, but we need to find Ruth before he gets tired of the game."
"I know. I'll call in a few favours and get back to you."
Doyle had followed him. "We're clutching at straws again."
"I don't intend coming up empty-handed, Doyle." Bodie turned him back to the desk. "Let's send the bastard an email..."
"You think we should just head out there?"
Doyle's terse email asking who he was and what he wanted hadn't been answered. They had no way of knowing whether Shepherd had picked it up or if he had whether he would reply, and Bodie was getting restless.
"What have we got to lose? From what we know about Shepherd he knows that area pretty well; there's every chance he's got Ruth out there."
"It's barely been twenty minutes; he could still reply."
"And it'll take us twenty minutes to get there. Even if he does reply, he could be gone by the time we do."
"Well, we need to be out there," Mitchell agreed. "Why don't Peters and I get out to Chiswick and you phone us?"
"Not on your life!" "There's no way you're leaving us out of this one." The partners' responses were simultaneous and they grinned at each other.
"Sorry, Paul, no. This is Ruth we're talking about," Doyle told him.
"Take the laptop with you," Leona suggested. "You can keep it online with a mobile. I'll use Mr Doyle's settings to set up a duplicate account here and if Shepherd replies we'll both receive the message and I can trace it."
"Girl's a genius," Bodie grinned. "Let's get sorted, then."
"There's the cafe." Bodie slowed and pulled up behind Mitchell's car. "Still no reply?"
"No... hold on." As he pressed Send/Receive again, Doyle started to receive an email. "Yes. It's him."
Opening the email, Doyle read it out. "'I'm disappointed. Surely you know who I am by now?' That's it."
Bodie's mobile rang. "It's Leona. Yes, darlin'?"
"Firstly, Mr Bodie, I'm not your darling. Secondly, that email's come from a different location. If you'd like to hold on I'm just tracing it now."
"She needs to spend a bit more time with me," Bodie grinned. He wound down the window as Mitchell came back to his car. "We just got a reply; Leona's tracing the location."
"Mr Bodie? It's a couple of miles north of your current location, a pub called The Windmill, on the High Street in Acton. Get Paul to put the postcode into his Sat-Nav: W3 6LG."
"W3 6LG," Bodie relayed. "A pub called the Windmill."
"Got it," Mitchell spun back to his car and within seconds took off; Bodie in pursuit. He didn't like the fact that they had to follow, but had to admit using GPS was quicker than skimming the A to Z like they'd had to in the past.
Doyle meanwhile was typing a reply. "If I can keep him in the one place replying to me, we might stand a chance to finding him."
"Don't let on we know exactly who he is."
"I haven't." Doyle pressed Send. "I've said we know his name is Shepherd but we don't know why he's got Ruth, and to give us the chance to talk to him."
"He won't fall for that."
"Of course not. But it could buy us some time."
The drive only took a few minutes, and as the cars drew up opposite the pub, a reply arrived. "'We don't need to talk.' He's not giving anything away."
Mitchell and Peters were out of their vehicle; Mitchell dodging traffic to check the actual pub, and Peters hurrying along the kerb checking the few illegally parked cars. "One thing about having them along," Bodie smiled, "is they can do all the running about."
Doyle was already typing again as Bodie's phone rang. "Mr Bodie, that last message came from an unsecured private network logged at 7 Churchfield Road. I'm looking at a map right now, if you take the next right into Grove Road Churchfield Road is at the end of that; you'll need to turn right, but I can't get you any closer than that."
"Brilliant, thanks!" Bodie dropped the phone into Doyle's lap and took off with a screech, as Mitchell and Peters ran back towards the cars.
Grove Road was only a couple of hundred yards long and Bodie turned quickly into Churchfield Road. "He's mobile so he has to be in a car or van. Drive slowly so we can check them," Doyle said.
Bodie slowed, seeing Mitchell's car arrive in his mirror. "Do you think we'd be better on foot?"
"Maybe, but it looks like a long road. If he sees us coming we'd need the car. Just drive slowly, like you're a law-abiding driver observing the speed limit."
"Like I always drive, you mean?" Bodie smirked. "Or are you implying I drive too fast?"
Although residential, Churchfield Road also had restricted parking and most of the stationary cars were facing them, and empty. Bodie increased his speed slightly. "No sign. I suppose he could be in one of these side streets?"
"We've only just passed number fifty, number seven has to be further up. What range do wireless networks generally have?"
"Not that great usually; he'd probably have to be pretty much outside the house." Having picked up speed, Bodie was forced to slow again as he reached the end of a queue of traffic waiting at lowered railway barriers. "Number seven must be just down there."
A thought struck them both at the same time. "You don't suppose..."
"He's in a car ahead of us?"
As one they exited the car, and scooted forward, checking as they went and ignoring Peters' shout from behind them. They'd got to four cars from the front of the queue when Bodie saw the driver's door on the small white van at the barrier swing open and the driver leap out. "There he is!"
They ran forward but Shepherd had enough start on them and ignoring the flashing lights dived round the red and white barrier onto the line. If they'd even been inclined to follow him, the train screeching down on them barely seconds later prevented any pursuit.
Mitchell and Peters caught up with them in seconds. "Was it him?"
"Doubt anyone else would have had reason to do a bunk like that. Check the van; he wasn't carrying anything, the laptop still has to be in there." As Peters hurried away, Bodie stared dismally at the train still sweeping past. "Wonder if he made it?"
"You think he might not have?" Mitchell turned slightly pale.
"If he didn't, the train driver didn't realise. He'd have hit the emergency stop."
As the end of the train passed them they moved forward to the barrier. "He made it. And we've lost him again."
The cars in the queue tooted impatiently as the lights stopped flashing and the barrier started to rise. "Let's get the cars moved..."
Doyle slumped into his seat. "I just don't know where we go from here. He's hardly going to make contact again now..."
Bodie wasn't keen to admit defeat but even he didn't have any answers. "Mitchell and Peters are checking the area for him."
"There's two of them, Bodie. He could have vanished into any one of these properties down any one of these streets. We need a few more people than that."
Bodie was glad his phone rang to interrupt them. "Hallo?"
"Bodie, it's me. Lake and William's grounding station was the Old Oak Common sidings near to North Acton Station."
"Susan, you're a star."
"You owe me, Bodie. I have juniors marooned in deep bunkers and my staff aren't particularly happy with me."
"I'll buy you dinner. Wherever you want."
"You're on. Call me when you find Ruth."
"Susan's found Lake's grounding station," Bodie told Doyle, dropping the phone and reaching for the A to Z. He flicked over the pages. "Here they are, these sidings. And we're -" he ran his finger down the page "- here. The bottom of Perryn Road. It's only about a mile."
"It has to be where he's got Ruth." Doyle snatched the A to Z from Bodie. "Get going!"
"Get on the phone to Mitchell. Even if we're right, it's a bloody big place to search."
"Turn right here," Doyle directed. "The sidings should be ahead of us."
"Let's park up here then." Bodie pulled in on the access road. "Less chance of someone seeing us and demanding to know what we're doing."
Heading toward the lines Doyle paused, scanning the area. "I'm not sure this is right."
"It's too open - too populated." Doyle stopped and pointed. "Those yards are all in use; thirty years ago they'd have been just as busy. The whole point of our grounding stations was to have somewhere secluded, tucked away where we could hide up if necessary."
"Yeah, I see what you mean. Think Susan's wrong? I suppose there could be some sheds on the far side?"
"Maybe." Doyle pointed to the left, away from the main sheds. "Let's head up that slope beside the line; see if better elevation makes anything obvious."
Cautiously they crossed the lines, constantly checking for oncoming trains. "I'm getting too old for this," Doyle commented.
"Only Superman gets to outrun trains, sunshine."
"I know that. I'm just not sure I'm up to dodging them any more either. I never used to worry about it."
"Well, if you don't dodge them you won't have to worry about it for long."
"Oh, very reassuring." Doyle hopped nimbly over the last rail, glancing back nervously as a train hooted loudly from not very far away.
"We made it, what are you complaining about?"
"We still have to make it back."
Doyle followed Bodie as he trotted to the top of the rise. "We're still not high enough to see past the sheds."
"No, but those could be worth checking out first." Bodie pointed to some buildings further away up the line. "They're secluded."
"But they look occupied... Bodie, is that Shepherd?"
"Just in front of the edge of the building - it's a pathway, I think."
"Let's get over there and check it out."
By the time they had followed the line and reached the point where Shepherd had been, he was crossing a footbridge over the rail line and as they followed they saw him veer off the pathway onto an overgrown footpath towards a run-down building isolated by the rail lines. "That's the place we're looking for."
"How are we going to take him?"
They had reached the building easily, apparently without being seen. Bodie reached inside his jacket and pulled out a handgun. Doyle blinked. "I'm not going to ask where you got that."
"It's legit. It's an XD-45; I brought it in from the States."
"OK, so that's you armed. But we can't exactly do this like we used to thirty years ago."
"You're just jealous," Bodie commented, before pulling out a second gun, grinning. "I had a feeling we might be needing them."
Doyle hesitated. "I haven't been on a range in years."
"Skill never goes away, Doyle, it's like riding a bike." Bodie held it out. "And you were the best."
Accepting it reluctantly, Doyle tested the weight of the automatic. "It's lighter than the Browning?"
"Fractionally. Mechanism's the same though, as is the trigger pull. There are thirteen rounds in the magazine; .45 ACP, slightly bigger than the 9mm the Brownings carried."
"I'm not sure..."
"Carry it, Ray. Better you have it than wish you did when you need it."
"Is it cocked?"
"What do you think?" The next thing Bodie did was to pull out his mobile. "Better switch the phones to vibrate only - I don't want anyone phoning us and giving us away. Mobiles are probably worse than R/Ts."
Doyle followed suit, tucking the mobile securely back into his inside pocket. The automatic felt heavy yet familiar, and he wondered where best to carry it. If he put it in a pocket but needed to draw in a hurry it could get caught up. He settled for tucking it into his waistband, pulling his jacket together to mask it; it wasn't a completely unfamiliar position to carry the gun, even if he hadn't carried one in years.
"As I'll ever be..."
It was the weirdest sensation; going through the motions as he followed Bodie into the building, Doyle could almost believe the years hadn't vanished and they were still doing this sort of thing every day...
The building was dark; the slight illumination provided by grimy, high windows proved the place was as good as deserted. The corridor was punctuated by doors along the left side and the partners advanced slowly and as silently as possible. Glimpses into the small workshops showed them to be abandoned and similar to that in which the video had shown Ruth being held; any second they could come across her.
By the time they reached the end of the corridor their eyes had adjusted to the lower light level and now they could both see the room at the end had a light on. Bodie paused. They'd seen Shepherd come in here and unless there was a back door he was in there with Ruth. If they rushed the room, they might take him by surprise - but if he'd heard them, was waiting for them...
Doyle slid past him, walking purposefully through the doorway. To say he wasn't worried would be a lie; Shepherd wanted him dead. But he was counting on the fact that Shepherd would want him to know why he was going to die; and if he felt he had the drop on Doyle he'd want to boast first.
Terry Shepherd stood at the rear of the room, behind Ruth whose position hadn't changed since the video was filmed. Now that Doyle knew exactly who he was, he could see a likeness to Lake.
"Come in," Shepherd said, holding the automatic steadily on him. "And I'm sure you're not alone."
As Doyle moved further in, Bodie followed him in, stepping to the right of the doorway.
Ruth lifted her head as Shepherd spoke. "Ray?"
"We're both here, Ruthie," Bodie answered her.
"How many times have I told you not to call me that?" Ruth sighed in exasperation.
"Are you all right, Ruth?"
"How touching," Shepherd cut in before she could answer. "Such concern for a colleague. Except that she's more than a colleague, isn't she?"
As one the partners took a step forward, Doyle to the left and Bodie further to the right, their former training holding true as they put space between them - Shepherd couldn't shoot them both at the same time.
"I've known Ruth for thirty years," Doyle answered him. "Of course she's more than a colleague, she's a friend."
"And lover. I know all about your little affair."
Doyle shrugged, taking a further step forward. "It's a long time ago."
"That's close enough." Shepherd had been concentrating his attention on Doyle but now swivelled slightly to Bodie. "Don't think you're going to trick me like you did my father."
"Yes, we remember your father," Bodie said. "The traitor."
Doyle folded his arms in a relaxed gesture, bringing his hand closer to the very reassuring weight in his waistband, relieved that Bodie had insisted on him carrying it.
"Traitor?" Ruth was still in the dark in more ways than the obvious, and Doyle elaborated.
"Your captor, the man who has killed four times so far, is Lake's son."
Shepherd smiled. "So you do know who I am."
"Of course. How else would we know where to find you? What I'd like to know is how you knew about this place?"
"Yeah," Bodie added, "did Daddy leave you a list of instructions?"
Doyle glanced sideways. Bodie seemed intent on riling Shepherd, maybe hoping to draw his fire, but Shepherd was still a lot closer to Ruth than they were.
"He left me a lot of information. Everything I needed to track down the people who put him away in prison."
"He put himself away," Bodie retorted. "Selling secrets to foreign powers."
"And then you had him murdered."
Doyle glanced across at Bodie. "We're not responsible for that. It was a prison brawl, pure and simple."
"If we'd wanted him dead he wouldn't even have made it to prison," Bodie added. "Don't you think we had ways to make people disappear?"
"Probably. But he had people to care about him, they'd have asked questions - that's why you framed him. My mother didn't tell me anything except that he'd died. It was only when she got sick that I found everything he'd left; found out about the task he'd left me."
The partners exchanged another glance; any hope Doyle had felt that they might have been able to talk Shepherd round vanished. Lake had clearly spent his time behind bars on a work of fiction. There was only likely to be one outcome from this.
"OK, so you've killed four times - you left us a copy of your list, your task. What about the others on it?"
"You think I'm finished? No way, I have lots to do yet. But you two, you're top of my list; getting you is what it's all about."
"Ruth wasn't on your list," Bodie said. "You can let her go."
"Sadly, no." He had the audacity to stroke Ruth's hair causing her to flinch away, and Doyle bristled. "Miss Pettifer served a very useful purpose in bringing you here, and I hadn't intended her any harm - but I can hardly let her go, not now."
The gun in his hand had wavered slightly, now he brought it back to bear on Bodie. "We'll start with you dropping that gun you're holding. Don't think I didn't realise; I'm a copper, remember? I know what business you're still in, I know that you're still armed."
Bodie had kept his hand down, hoping for an opportunity to use the XD-45, but his chance hadn't come with Shepherd's gun being aimed at himself or Doyle, or worse, Ruth. He brought it round to the front, slowly. "See, the trouble with that is that it would leave you with a gun, and me without," he said. "I'm not keen on unequal positions."
"Drop it." Shepherd brought his gun up further, and Bodie glanced across at Doyle. If he thought that Bodie's profession meant he was still armed, with any luck he'd assume that Doyle's writing career meant he wouldn't be... He carefully unwound his fingers from the weapon and lowered it to the ground - it had a drop safety and shouldn't go off, but he hated to risk damaging it.
"That's better. Now, I'll give you a few seconds to say your goodbyes..."
As his finger tensed on the trigger, Bodie was tensing also. Only Superman got to outrun bullets as well, but if he timed it right - and moved in the right direction - then just maybe Shepherd would miss...
As the scene unfolded Doyle had frozen. It was all very well for Bodie to say the skill never left you - he hadn't practiced in years; he had to be rusty, and slow... Shepherd was right behind Ruth, what if he was so badly out of practice that he missed...?
He watched Shepherd, minutely aware of the finger on that trigger - and as it began to squeeze back, all the old instincts kicked in so quickly that he wasn't even aware of his own speed of movement as he pulled the gun and fired...
Ruth shrieked as Shepherd jerked backwards, and for a few horrified moments Doyle thought he'd shot her. Then he was beside her, pulling off the blindfold, and he could see she was fine. "Ruth... I thought..."
She gave a sob, before swallowing hard. "I'm OK - the shot made me jump, deafened me - what are you using?"
"Some new gun Bodie gave me." He smoothed her hair back, cradling her face in his hands. "Are you sure you're OK?"
"Yes, I'm fine. I'd be even better if you'd untie me..."
"Yes..." That was easier said than done: Shepherd had used cable ties rather than rope and Doyle had to use his penknife to cut them, but soon she was free and trying to stand, looking behind the chair to see Shepherd.
Bodie had disarmed him but with Doyle's bullet lodged in his shoulder Shepherd wasn't up to much. "I told you you could still do it," he grinned at Doyle.
Ruth shivered, and Doyle immediately pulled off his coat to wrap around her. "We need to get you checked out."
"Ray, I'm fine. I'm just numb and cold from sitting there for too long. I wouldn't mind something to eat but if you think you're taking me anywhere near a hospital..."
"Doyle, Bodie!" Mitchell and Peters had obviously heard the shot and arrived at a run.
"Nice of you to join us," Bodie said. "You're a bit late for the party."
"Well, if you two had waited for backup..." Mitchell holstered his gun, looking suspiciously at Bodie as he realised Shepherd had been shot. "Are you armed?"
"Paul, Gerry, good to see you," Ruth diverted their attention from Bodie.
Bodie hauled Shepherd to his feet. "Meet our killer. Perhaps you two could see he gets dealt with as appropriate?"
"Yeah, we'll take good care of him," Mitchell nodded.
Peters moved forward to take over. "Maybe we need to get that seen to first. Wouldn't want him to bleed to death before he could be charged."
As Peters shoved Shepherd towards the door, Doyle urged Ruth forward. "Come on, let's get you back to the car. I still think you need a check up."
"Don't push your luck, Ray Doyle..."
As they disappeared into the corridor Mitchell bent to pick up the handgun Doyle had dropped. "Yours?" he asked Bodie.
Bodie had already slid the second one away out of sight and held out his hand, nodding. "I have a licence and permit to carry it, before you ask."
"OK..." Mitchell handed it over, frowning, and Bodie cast around for a distraction before Mitchell could work out that it had probably been Doyle that fired the gun.
"Shepherd admitted it all to us." Spotting a boxfile that seemed out of place, Bodie moved to take a look and Mitchell joined him. The contents were interesting; amongst papers with dates and times there were photos of Pennington, Lucas and Doyle; along with a notebook that Bodie flipped open, recognising the writing. "This was Lake's. Whatever he says in here was what motivated Shepherd."
He dropped it back in the boxfile and Mitchell closed it. "We'll take it in as evidence."
"Don't forget this," Bodie said, adding the PPK to the top. "By the look of it, that's something else Lake bequeathed to his son..."
"I still think we should take you to the hospital." Ruth was proving as obstinate as Doyle remembered. "You've been stuck there for nearly twenty-four hours, in the cold and without anything to eat. You're not as young as you were, Ruth."
"A gentleman would never remind a lady of her age," she retorted. "But while we're on the subject of age, what do you and Bodie think you were doing? Neither of you are exactly in your peak to be hunting down gunmen, and Mitchell and Peters were obviously close behind you."
Doyle grinned. "We didn't even think about waiting for them. The team was in action, Ruth. Just like we used to be."
"And just as efficient," she smiled back.
"Well, maybe. If I'm honest, I'm glad you still had that blindfold on. At least you didn't get to see my hand wobble as I pulled that gun."
"Whose hand was wobbling?" Bodie said, joining them in the car. "I didn't see any sign of nerves."
"So I hid it well. Seriously, I haven't fired anything for years. Maybe I should get some practice, just in case this ever happens again."
"You should join my company. I'll get you back into practice." Bodie grinned. "So, the hospital?"
"Don't you dare," Ruth told him. "I want to go somewhere warm and get something to eat - and I won't get either at a hospital."
"My place is closest," Doyle said.
"You haven't been home since Wednesday; your heating is off and so, probably, is your food. But my place," Bodie grinned over his shoulder, "is already warm and definitely has edible food."
"No contest," Ruth smiled. "Your place, Bodie."
"What I'm curious about is why Shepherd hadn't intended to harm you, Ruth."
Back in Farringdon, Ruth was ensconced in the only armchair, sipping a cup of tea while they waited for the pizza delivery - although the place was warm Bodie had overestimated the food situation.
"I mean, you did as much as any of us to unmask Lake and put him away - some might say, more than we did. Yet you didn't get put onto Lake's list?"
"She did," Bodie said. "I saw the list in Lake's notebook, and she was right up there behind you and me."
"So why did Shepherd not have her on his list then? Any ideas, Ruth?"
"After Lake got sent down, Becky Shepherd came to headquarters with Terry; he was about four or five at the time. She was pretty desperate; she had no money, no job and a child to bring up. I persuaded Mr Cowley that it wasn't her or the child's fault that Lake had turned bad, and to make her a one-off payment so they didn't suffer. Whatever Lake may have written about me, I can only suppose Shepherd remembers I'd helped his mother."
"And I always thought your soft heart would cause you trouble," Bodie grinned, getting up to answer the door as the bell rang.
"Which just goes to show how much Bodie doesn't know," Doyle said.
"One of my better decisions, obviously. I'm starving." Ruth brightened as Bodie returned with two pizza boxes. "I don't think I've eaten pizza from the box since, oh, probably my last stake-out."
"You've been missing out, you need to spend more time with us. Get things back to the way they used to be."
"Maybe. Although too much pizza isn't good for the figure."
Doyle hoped he wasn't misinterpreting the glance she gave him. "There's still nothing wrong with your figure." She blushed slightly, clearly remembering when he'd first said that to her.
"For a game old bird, anyway," Bodie chortled, breaking the mood. "Now, now, don't waste pizza by throwing it at me..."