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

Be careful what you wish for...

Doyle answered the door swiftly, but it was Cowley. Doyle smothered his anxiety as Cowley held out a bottle of whisky; no bearer of bad news could have an expression that calm, so there was still no word on Bodie.

"Thought you could use a drink. And the company."

Doyle motioned him in. "Come in, sir." He fetched another glass from the kitchen; Cowley lost no time in opening the bottle and pouring.

"How's the arm?"

"Better. I'll be in tomorrow." Doyle paused and the silence dragged out - he would be in, but what about his partner?

"What did you argue about?"

Doyle shrugged. He might've known Cowley would be aware of their argument on Thursday; he had spies all over the building. The only surprising thing was that he'd waited until now to ask about it. "Something and nothing. Bodie just being Bodie."

"Which means...?"

The tedious stakeout had meant them both missing dates. Bodie, for once, had taken it better than Doyle and was still trying to cheer him up as dawn broke. "C'mon, sunshine. Plenty more fish in the sea."

"And pebbles on the beach. I know, so you keep telling me. I'd just like to have a normal social life for once." Bodie's inane chatter was driving Doyle nuts. And the weather - it had been pissing down all night, and hadn't stopped properly yet - had meant he couldn't even escape for a walk round the block unless he'd wanted to get soaked.

They'd abandoned the conversation at the call from Murphy on duty at the rear; something was moving inside the house.

Cowley's instructions had been to watch the property but pick up anyone who left. The two men who emerged looked innocent enough, until they caught sight of the partners getting out of the Capri. The quiet of the early morning suburban street had been rudely disturbed by the gunfire, but by the time most of the residents reached their doors and windows to see what was happening, it was over.

Bodie had spotted Doyle favouring his arm almost immediately. "You OK?" he'd asked, sharply. Frowning with the concentration necessary to ignore the pain, Doyle had pushed past without answering him, leading to Bodie grabbing his arm and causing him to yelp and swear.

Impossible, then, to declare there was nothing wrong, and Bodie had fussed a great deal and plonked him in the car for the drive to the hospital.

It wasn't serious. Hadn't even sprained his wrist; just wrenched the muscles all the way up his arm when he'd hauled the car door open to stop the pair driving away. But it was bad enough for the doctor to suggest a sling and a few days off.

His partner had yielded to Doyle's insistence that he went in to report to Cowley personally, but there was no doubting Bodie's satisfaction when their boss had reinforced the doctor's orders about time off, and directed Bodie to drive Doyle home.

This sort of minor, nagging injury pissed Doyle off more than if he'd been shot, or stabbed. And Bodie's jollity on the way back to his place had been the last straw. Flat responses had led to even more cheering comments from his partner, and he'd slammed the car door behind him.

"There are times, Bodie, when I just wish you'd leave me alone!"

It was still raining on Wednesday, and Doyle was missing his partner. All right, so he'd told Bodie to leave him alone, but that usually only meant the silly sod would avoid him for a few hours, before turning up with a beer and take-away. But it seemed Bodie had taken him seriously for once; he hadn't even phoned to see how Doyle was.

Thursday morning, and - dodging the showers; was it ever going to stop raining? - Doyle reported in. It seemed no one wanted him around though; Murphy had barely acknowledged him in passing on the stairs, and Cowley had been abrupt. "Things are quiet; there's no need for you to be here. I've just signed Bodie off until tomorrow evening; the earliest I'll need you is Saturday morning. Get off home and rest that arm."

Just what he needed. And if Bodie wasn't busy, he'd be round, bothering him... Irrationally, even though he'd been missing his partner, he didn't want to see him now, and Doyle made his way swiftly down the stairs.

"Doyle! Ray, wait!"

Reaching the reception, Doyle paused. Bodie would pursue him down the street if he didn't. "How're you doing? How's the arm?"

"Gettin' there. Much you care, anyway. I hear you've squeezed some time off from Cowley. Well, just don't come round botherin' me."

Bodie had pulled one of his 'little boy hurt' faces and attempted to interrupt. "Ray, listen, this couple of days, I wanted to ask you if you were interested - "

Doyle didn't care, and cut him off. "Not in anything.   Got things to do.   S'far as I'm concerned, I wish you'd get lost."

The mixture of annoyance and irritation carried him through Thursday and most of Friday but by Saturday morning Doyle was back to missing his partner. He'd tried to ring him the night before, but Bodie was out.

The phone call from Murphy hadn't at first alarmed him though. "I haven't spoken to Bodie since Thursday. Why?"

"He should've reported in last night; still nothing from him this morning. He's not answering the phone at his place. The Old Man's spitting feathers."

Doyle felt the chill down his spine. Bodie wasn't always where he was supposed to be, but he generally reported in - when he didn't, something was usually wrong. "Did he tell anyone what he was doing with his time off?"

"He usually tells you." It was clear from Murphy's tone that he'd heard how they'd parted.

"Not this time." Doyle thought for a moment. "Has anyone actually checked his flat? I can go round there."

"Worth a try - he might be there, in the clutches of an evil nymphomaniac..."

Doyle had managed a laugh. "In which case, he wouldn't be trying very hard to escape. I'll call in later, Murph."

Doyle had been relieved to see Bodie's silver Capri at the kerb as he pulled up, and had hurried up to the flat, expecting to see his partner. But ringing the bell and knocking on the door produced no response, and after 10 minutes Doyle pulled out the keys to let himself in.

The flat was quiet, deserted. Tidy, as usual; there were no signs that Bodie had gone unwillingly. Locking the door behind him, Doyle tapped on the neighbour's door. Bodie always described her as an interfering nosey old biddy, so maybe she'd have some idea of when he left.

It was nearly half hour later before he managed to get back to the car. The old lady had plenty of ideas (mainly about curbing some of Bodie's wild behaviour) but she didn't know any more than the fact that he'd left around Thursday lunchtime, slamming the door on the way out. She thought she'd heard a girl's voice with him.

That didn't give Doyle any clues. Bodie had mentioned seeing someone called Natalie a few times - she was the date he'd had to cancel - but Doyle had never met her.

He radioed Murphy. "Bodie's not here. No sign of any disturbance; if he's been grabbed by someone it wasn't from his flat. His car's still here."

"I'll let Cowley know. You coming in?"

Doyle stared through the windscreen; it had started to rain again. "Not yet. I'll check round a few of Bodie's haunts. Cowley can reach me in the car if he wants me."

The next couple of hours were torture, as he paid visits to some of the pubs Bodie - and he - favoured. There was no reason to be concerned - Bodie would probably roll in, smirking and unharmed - but Doyle couldn't help but remember the times when things had gone wrong. Like the day he'd taken Julia out on the river, only to stumble over that German terrorist and land himself in a siege. He'd been dead lucky to escape that one...

He'd only admitted defeat when the pubs shut for the afternoon, and headed for home, radioing in his failure on the way, half-hoping that Bodie had been in touch but someone had forgotten to tell him. He hadn't.

Doyle's arm had been steadily getting better, but the hours of changing gear hadn't done him any good at all. The only bright spot, Doyle noted, as he made his way upstairs, was that it had at last stopped raining.

Indoors, he'd poured a whisky and tried to read, but he couldn't concentrate. Every so often he'd hear a car door slam, and got up to check; it was never Bodie down in the road.

On his third such trip to the window, his hand had settled unconsciously on the ornate glass bottle, and he picked it up. He bought it just a few weeks ago but wasn't sure why, it was hardly a great work of art; but there was something about the mix of swirling green colours that had caught his eye. Bodie had ribbed him rotten about it, especially when Doyle had been cleaning it up. "Rub a bit harder, mate; see if a genie pops out..."

... and grants me three wishes. His thoughts following Bodie's comment, Doyle froze. No, that was stupid.

He put the bottle down, and turned back to pick up his glass. It was stupid.

"Ray?" Cowley was still waiting for an answer to his question.

"And I was just being me. Just one of those things."

Cowley let it go. Just occasionally the mix of chalk and cheese needed a break from each other; it would take more than a few daft niggles to damage the partnership. Providing Bodie was OK.

"You've no idea where he could be?"

"Wish I did." Wish. "Think I'd better stop using that word." It was the whisky talking now, and Doyle gestured towards the green bottle. "I haven't seen the genie, but he seems to be granting my wishes. Last week I wished Bodie would stop bothering me and leave me alone, after that trip to the hospital. Then on Thursday I wished he would get lost."

The idea was still stupid. In fact, it sounded worse now he'd said it out loud.

"Well, traditionally you get three wishes. Why not wish him back?"

Doyle stared at his boss. Either he was plastered, or Cowley was. Or maybe they both were.

"It's ludicrous. I can't have made Bodie disappear, just by wishing for it..."

"Maybe. But it wouldn't do any harm, Ray."

Feeling foolish wasn't in it. Doyle poured another drink and looked up to see Cowley still gazing intently at him. "Oh, all right. I wish - I just wish Bodie would phone, and tell us he's OK."

The phone rang.

Still staring at Cowley, Doyle answered it.

"That you, sunshine?"

"Where the hell have you been?" Doyle grinned in relief at their boss, preparing to berate his errant partner.

"Mate, you wouldn't believe it." Doyle sketched a farewell as Cowley let himself out, and settled down to listen as his partner launched into explanations and excuses involving a flat battery in Natalie's car, no telephone, and a country cottage cut off by a flooded river.

His eye caught the green bottle. Maybe he'd better sell it...


© Carol Good - September 2000