Babysitting Tommy
by Rebelcat

The thing was, Bodie liked children. In fact, prior to that fateful November fifth, Doyle would have felt confident in saying that Bodie had never met a child he didn’t like.

But that was before Tommy Winter, the redheaded son of Peter Winter, the Canadian financier.

“I want to see the Guy!”

Doyle glanced at the rear view mirror. Tommy was red-faced and getting redder by the moment, his freckles standing out in startling contrast on his cheeks.

Bodie turned around carefully, wincing. He propped his plastered right arm on the back of the seat as he glared at the boy. “Look, we already explained. Your dad’s in a tight spot. Mr. Cowley’s agreed to help, and you’re going on a nice holiday.”

Doyle sighed and then winced, having forgotten once again to take small breaths. He sat up straighter in his seat, trying not to mind his bruised ribs. Both he and Bodie ought to be at their flats this Sunday evening, being fussed over by their dates, watching the fireworks. Just a little something to brighten things up after they'd been knocked over by that bomb and put on the injured list.

If they had arrived a minute later, they’d both be wet smears on the pavement in front of the courthouse. Of course, by that same token, if they had been ten minutes earlier they might have had a decent chance at defusing it, but neither of them were superhuman. Even Cowley couldn’t hold them responsible this time.

Unfortunately the concept of some well-deserved sick leave flew right out the window when Cowley was shorthanded. Every available man had been mobilized, “... and even minus a right arm, surely the two of you can handle the delivery of one small lad to the airport!”

Doyle was beginning to suspect, however, that Cowley might have been somewhat overly optimistic.

“What about the bonfire?” demanded Tommy.

“Not this year,” said Bodie, his words clipped and his irritation plain to hear in his voice. “Your flight leaves at eight.”

Of course, Doyle mused, Bodie’s introduction to Tommy had come when the lad, charging headlong after the family cat, ran into him, which had led to a series of events that might have something to do with Bodie’s current antipathy for the lad.

“What about fireworks?”

“No fireworks.”

It wasn’t Tommy’s fault that he was precisely the same height as Bodie’s belt-buckle. Nor could he be blamed for the fact that he’d managed to collide with that most delicate, if indisputably masculine, part of Bodie’s anatomy. Tommy had been running flat out with his head down, like a very small but determined bull, and he couldn’t have anticipated that there would be a CI5 agent standing in the hall, directly in his path.


“No sparklers.”

And surely no one could have predicted that the cat would decide Bodie was the closest thing to high ground. Doyle palmed the wheel, pulling smoothly around a lorry. He glanced at Bodie, taking in the angry red scratches trailing from his temple down to the side of his neck, and made a mental note to check the first aid supplies for antiseptic when they got back to headquarters.



Bodie might have forgiven even that insult, generous soul that he was, if Tommy’s first reaction on seeing him doubled over, bleeding and clutching himself in agony, hadn’t been to burst into peals of delighted laughter.

Well, the boy wasn’t laughing now. No one in the car was. And Bodie was in as high a temper as Doyle had ever seen him.

Which meant, of course, that Doyle had to be the cool-headed one for a change. An unnatural state of affairs, any way you looked at it.

“Not even a cracker?”

“If we’re still stuck with you come Christmas, then we can discuss crackers!”

From the back of the car came an outraged howl, followed by an emphatic kick to the rear of Bodie’s seat. “I want to go home!”

Bodie thumped the car door with the side of his fist, his cast impacting on the armrest with a solid thud. “Stop hitting my seat!”


“Both of you stop hitting my car!” Doyle took the corner with more energy than was strictly necessary, and an unworthy part of himself thoroughly enjoyed the sound of both Bodie and Tommy falling across their seats smack into the side of the car.

Of course he paid for it, too. His ribs set up a loud protest that nearly brought tears to his eyes. But it was still worth it.

“The car’s not yours. It’s CI5 property,” said Bodie, frowning at Doyle as he centred himself back in his seat.

“I want a lawyer!” shouted Tommy.

“Shut up!” bellowed Bodie.

Doyle had seen hard men crumble under Bodie’s ire. Desperate criminals trembled in their shoes when Bodie turned his glare on them, and terrorists spilled their guts when he smiled. Unfortunately, Tommy appeared to be made of a combination of Kevlar and asbestos.

“Buncha fishist cops! I want my dad!” The boy kicked the back of Bodie’s seat again.

“Stop that!” Bodie’s voice cracked. He was clearly at the end of his rope.

Doyle suspected that if there was any way to stretch CI5's brief to cover infanticide, Bodie would be happy to oblige. “Look, just give the kid something to eat, that’ll shut him up.”

“Good idea,” said Bodie. He yanked open the glove compartment and retrieved a rather squashed box of Mr Kipling's Cherry Bakewells. “Put a stopper in that bunghole.”

“Bo-die,” said Doyle, catching his partner’s eye in clear warning.

Bodie opened the box and handed Tommy a cake. In a somewhat more controlled voice he said, “Now you behave yourself. We’re not cops. We’re a lot meaner.”

“We’re not fascists, either,” added Doyle. “We’re just taking you to the airport, and putting you on a plane, so you can go visit your grandmother.” Silently he prayed there wouldn’t be any significant delays, or he’d surely end up killing Bodie - Tommy being off limits due to his tender age.

This time the boy kicked the back of Doyle’s seat. “I don’t want to be driven anywhere! I want to see the Guy!”

Nearly simultaneously, Bodie grumbled, “I didn’t join this mob to be a chauffeur...”

“Just think of us as your own personal bodyguards.” Doyle hit his horn as a horse trailer pulled into the road ahead of him and commenced travel at approximately half the legal limit. The only positive thing about this whole trip was that road was nearly empty, and passing was a piece of cake.

“Huh,” said Tommy, derisively. “You look like you get beat up, more’n you beat anyone else up. How’d you get that black eye? And he’s got a broken arm!”

Ignoring the boy, Doyle answered Bodie instead. “It’s not my fault you can’t handle a six year old. Big tough merc...” He trailed off as he spotted a chance to pass the horse trailer.

The boy bounced forward in his seat, spraying crumbs over both of the CI5 men. “I’m six and three quarters!” He paused, swallowed what remained in his mouth, and then asked, “Can I have another?”

Bodie handed him the entire box, and turned back to address Doyle. “'S got nothing to do with being tough. He hit me in the goolies!” He shifted uncomfortably in his seat and rubbed his mouth with the palm of his hand, still looking faintly nauseous.

Doyle glanced at him sideways. There was no help for it. However annoyed he might be with Bodie at the moment, he did feel sorry for him. Any man would. It was just one of those special kinds of agony to which nothing else could really compare.

His mouth full, the boy said contentedly, “I heard if you hit ‘em hard enough they can pop and then the doctor has to turn you into a girl.”

Doyle glanced over his shoulder in alarm. “Where the hell did you hear that?” A honk and squeal from the road ahead refocused his attention on driving, and he pulled sharply to the side to keep from driving into the rear of a large American-style black car.

“Blood-thirsty little tyke isn’t he?” said Bodie, sourly. “Comes from a long line of villains, no doubt.”

That seemed a bit harsh to Doyle, considering that the boy was only six. And they really didn’t know anything about him, other than that they were to pick him up and put him on a plane. They’d have to make peace with the kid, if they were going to be spending the next hour, possibly longer, together. God, please let it not be longer. Please let that plane be on time.

Doyle plastered a conciliatory smile on his face. “Tommy, do you know what your dad does for a living?” Cowley hadn’t seen fit to explain exactly what Peter Winter’s importance was to the security of the nation, but maybe the boy could provide some useful information.

The boy’s reply was immediate. “He fills an innernational economic nish, providin’ the private citizen with the means to resist fishist dictators - like you!”

“Memorized all that, did you?” asked Bodie. He sounded weary now, and Doyle hoped he was finally tired of fighting with the kid. It was bad enough having to deal with one immature child, let alone two.

“Yeah, I got a good membery.” Tommy stuffed another cherry Bakewell into his mouth. “And you’re still a bunch of fishists.”

“Yeah?” asked Doyle. “Would a fishist - I mean, a fascist - buy you dinner at the airport? Or would he just lock you in a closet and let you starve?”

“I like the second option,” muttered Bodie, under his breath.

“I want chips,” said Tommy.


“And ice cream.”


“And black liquorice.”

“You’re pushing it,” said Doyle, after a moment’s pause in which he wondered if liquorice came in any other colour than black. Well, the kid was Canadian, after all. Who knew what their liquorice looked like.

“Fishists don’t like liquorice.”

“A fishist would let you get sick to your stomach!” Doyle winced at the sound of himself shouting. Now he was the one fighting with the little monster and, damn it, shouting was making his ribs hurt even more.

And Bodie was smirking at him. Arrogant bastard.

Tommy tossed the empty box back over the seat, hitting Bodie’s shoulder. “I’m still hungry.”

With an air of pointed forbearance - pointedly directed at Doyle - Bodie ignored Tommy. He rolled down the window and propped his head on the palm of his hand, leaning out into the passing stream of air.

The black saloon turned at Doyle’s exit, remaining just ahead of him. Doyle automatically took note of the license plate number, though the only people who knew which car Tommy was travelling in were his father and his nanny.

Tommy, apparently realizing that he wasn’t going to get a further rise out of either of them, subsided into the back seat, grumbling. For a scant few minutes, there was peace in the car.

The rush of air through the open window was so loud that Doyle almost didn’t hear Bodie when he spoke again.

“Behind, third car back.”

Doyle glanced at the rear view mirror. A second black saloon had just pulled into the passing lane and was quickly closing. “Coincidence?”

“I didn’t think we believed in coincidence,” said Bodie, tightly. Left-handed, he thumbed on his R/T. “3.7 to Control…”

An uncharacteristically quiet voice asked from the back seat. “Can we stop?”

Since the kid was neither howling nor kicking seats, Doyle found him quite easy to ignore. Especially considering the fact that a third black saloon had just pulled out from a side road to join the traffic. They were bracketed in.

“I feel like I’m in the prime minister’s motorcade,” said Bodie. Into his R/T he said, “Make that a definite ambush. We need back up!”

Doyle tried to remember what the road was like ahead. There weren’t very many places where an ambush would be feasible.

“I don’t feel good,” said Tommy.

“Had too much cake, did we?” said Bodie, distracted. Receiving confirmation that help would be on its way shortly, he dropped the R/T into his lap and was now awkwardly retrieving his weapon from his shoulder holster with his left hand.

“We’re almost there,” said Doyle, tightly. He licked his lips, keeping an eye on the rear-view and side mirrors. Three black cars with tinted windows. He couldn’t tell how many men might be inside, or if they were armed, but he had to assume they were.

Only two people outside of CI5 knew which car they were in...

“Heads up,” said Bodie.

Doyle nodded - he’d already spotted it. The road dipped down between an embankment a couple of hundred meters away and they were approaching fast. If he kept to the route, there was only one way this could go. They would be herded in, cut off by the car in the lead, Bodie and himself shot, the kid taken...

Tommy coughed.

They were coming up on the trap now. Doyle abruptly wrenched his wheel to the side, cutting across the path of the black saloon on his right. The wheels of the Capri bounced onto the hard shoulder and then the entire car seemed to defy gravity for a moment as he brought it right up onto the edge of the embankment, at a sharp angle of nearly forty five degrees. Doyle was vaguely aware of Tommy alternately coughing and sobbing in the back seat, and Bodie hanging out the window trying to get a bead on the cars following them.

Trusting that their momentum would keep the Capri from rolling, Doyle continued until the embankment gave way to hard shoulder once again, then increased their speed even more as an exit loomed ahead. The saloon in front tried to cut him off, but the driver’s reaction time was slow. The bumper of the car scraped across Doyle’s door with a grinding screech. The car shuddered, then suddenly lurched forward. They were in front, ahead of all three of their pursuers.

The airport was a write-off. They’d have to try and lose themselves in the countryside and hope they made a clean enough getaway to hole up for the night. Beside him he could hear the R/T crackling, demanding an update on their situation. But Doyle needed both hands for driving and Bodie’s gun was their only defence.

They heard a stutter of gunfire and Doyle reached blindly over his seat for Tommy. “Get down!” His hand hit the top of the boy’s head.

The back window shattered, and Bodie twisted around, trying to find a better angle from which to return fire.

“Oh, bugger it!” shouted Bodie. “The kid’s been sick!”

And suddenly Doyle knew exactly what those wet coughing sounds from the back seat had meant. The smell hit him with force a split second later and he felt his gorge rise as he manoeuvred the car onto a side road which had suddenly appeared on his left. “My god...”

“I can’t take much more of this.” Bodie fired again, and added, “But on the bright side, it appears your last move has whittled the opposition down to two.”

Doyle glanced back. There were indeed just two black saloons now in the rear view mirror. The third one must have failed to make the turn onto the side road. With luck they’d be long gone before he could rejoin the chase.

Tommy began to bawl, loudly. In between his sobs, Doyle could make out demands to see his father, his lawyer, and dire promises as to what his dad would do to a certain pair of fishist cop kidnappers.

“Do we have any gaffer tape?” asked Bodie - rhetorically, Doyle hoped.

The next corner was blind, with high embankments and thick bushes on either side. Doyle took it on two wheels, as Bodie fired out the back window. Smoke erupted from the bonnet of the closest saloon and it swerved off the road onto the shoulder. A satisfyingly metallic crunch informed him that they were now down to a single car in pursuit.

Tommy continued to wail. Despite the gravity of the situation, Doyle couldn’t help but be vaguely amused by his threats, even as he wondered where on earth a six year old learned about kneecapping.

“Got him!” Bodie’s shout was triumphant.

A quick glance in the rear-view mirror showed Doyle the last remaining saloon skidding off the road with a blown tyre.

“Not bad.” He gave Bodie a quick grin, as he brought the Capri back to a more sedate speed. Not bad, indeed. Considering that Bodie was firing with his off hand, it was almost miraculous.

Bodie returned the smile and dropped his gun between his knees. Then he bent over to search for the R/T which had slid onto the floor at his feet, sometime during the chase.

Tommy’s wails had subsided to miserable hiccupping. Doyle found himself grateful for the broken window, as he tried to ignore the sour miasma emanating from the back seat.

“We’re out of range,” said Bodie, trying unsuccessfully to raise anyone on the R/T. “We’re going to have to go to ground somewhere and call in.”

“Right,” said Doyle. He began scanning the road for phone boxes, or else a pub or a hotel. “The kid’s going to miss his plane. Looks like he’s ours for tonight.”

“We could shoot him,” said Bodie, helpfully. “Tell them it was an accident. I’m sure no one would miss the little beast.”

That got through to Tommy. He stopped crying and said, indignantly, “You wouldn’t shoot me!”

Bodie picked up his gun from where it rested in his lap and began reloading it one-handed. “Jus’ try me!” His voice was muffled by the ammo box held in his teeth.

“Bodie!” Doyle might sympathize with Bodie’s annoyance, but he drew the line at threatening six year olds.

Tommy, however, was not at all intimidated. He leaned over Bodie’s shoulder and stared at the weapon, goggle-eyed. “Hey, that’s a big gun. Can I have it?”

Bodie jerked his head away with an expression of disgust. “God, you stink! And, no!”

“Can I touch it?”

Alarmed, Doyle said, “Bodie, put your gun away.”

Tommy draped himself over the seat, near Bodie’s ear. “I shot a Magnum, once. Just like the one Dirty Harry has.”

“You did not,” said Bodie, flatly.

“I did, too! ‘Course, my dad had to hold it for me, but I pulled the trigger all by myself. So, can I have your gun?”

“No,” Bodie slipped the gun back into his holster. “I heard that kneecapping comment you made earlier. You’d probably try to shoot us with it.”

“Would not!”

“Yeah, you would.”

“Uh-uh.” Tommy shook his head emphatically.

“Uh-huh!” returned Bodie, with equal emphasis.

Doyle gritted his teeth. Yelling at either of them would only hurt his ribs, worse than they were already hurting. He hadn’t noticed the pain so much during the adrenaline high of the chase, but now it felt like someone was twisting a knife in his side every time he tried to take a deep breath.



Doyle interrupted the stunningly intellectual debate. “We don’t give guns to little boys!”

“Yeah.” said Bodie, smugly.

And then to Doyle’s complete astonishment, Bodie crossed his eyes and stuck his tongue out at Tommy. Thus proving beyond doubt that CI5 only gives guns to big boys.

“Stop it,” said Tommy, sulkily.

“Stop, what?” asked Bodie innocently. Then he did it again.

Doyle gripped the steering wheel harder, his jaw beginning to ache.

“Stop that!” shouted Tommy.

“What, this?” Bodie helpfully repeated the expression.

“Stop it!”


Doyle slammed his foot down on the brakes. “STOP IT!” He bit back a gasp as his ribs protested the sudden exertion.

Both Tommy and Bodie’s heads snapped around to stare at Doyle with matching expressions of astonishment.

Doyle took a very careful breath, and immediately regretted it as another whiff of the back seat caught him. “This place looks good. We can stash the car around back, out of sight.” Where hopefully we won’t have to smell it, either. The motor pool wasn’t going to thank them for this one.

Bodie, thankfully behaving like an adult once more, glanced up at the imposing but extremely tatty hotel. “Why don’t you check us in and get the key? I’ll park the car.”

As Doyle climbed out, he heard the kid say, “Anyway, I wouldn’t shoot you anywhere that’d kill you.”

“Decent of you,” said Bodie, wearily.

The room was tiny - just two twin beds and a fold-up bed for Doyle’s “nephew”. The bathroom was down the hall. But the room’s main selling point was the presence of a small black-and-white television.

The phone was at the front desk, and Bodie immediately disappeared to report in, leaving Doyle to try to mop up Tommy as best he could.

“Look, you be a good lad, and I’ll let you watch the telly,” promised Doyle, desperately. He had stripped off his t-shirt and was in the process of pulling it over the boy’s head to replace his ruined shirt. Tommy’s own shirt was stuffed into the bottom of the rubbish bin, regurgitated cherry Bakewell having defeated the best of Doyle’s efforts.

“Does it have Pong?” asked an imperious small voice from somewhere beneath the folds of Doyle’s t-shirt.

“It’s just a TV!” Doyle yanked, and Tommy’s head emerged from the collar, his hair sticking out in every direction.

“Does it have colour?”

“It’s got what it’s got!” Doyle abandoned the futile task of trying to make the boy any more presentable. He shrugged back into his own shirt. And then, crossing the room, he turned the television on.

Tommy followed him, apparently unconcerned that Doyle’s t-shirt was hanging nearly down to his knees. “Our TV’s bigger and we have Pong.”

Doyle collapsed across the bed nearest the window while Tommy commenced his own imitation of the game of Pong, ricocheting from wall to wall. He opened all the drawers in the dresser, checked out every corner of the closet and discovered a rubber under the bed. A used rubber. Doyle nearly cracked another rib getting it away from the kid.

Not the best-kept hotel. Grimacing, Doyle marched Tommy down the hall to the bathroom and made him wash his hands.

And then it was back to their room, where Tommy continued his frighteningly energetic investigations.

It was exhausting to watch. He could feel the energy being leeched from him as the boy kept up a running commentary on everything, including each and every advertisement.

Tommy bounced onto the bed beside Doyle. “They said it makes your hair five times stronger. You hear that? I think my hair is already five times stronger. What’s that selling? That’s dumb.” He flung himself off and took another circuit of the room, nearly colliding with Bodie as he entered, his arms full of takeaway.

Doyle squinted, trying to make sense of what he thought he’d just seen. Surely Bodie hadn’t just... flinched? Nah. Bodie would never be scared of an six year old. It wasn’t possible.

Although there was something rather overly cautious about the way Bodie was picking his way across the room to the armchair.

“You bastard!” snarled Doyle as Bodie passed him. “You left me here to deal with...” he eyed Tommy, but the boy was still rattling on about TV ads. “...that!”

The television returned to its film and Superman flew across the screen.

Tommy said, “Hey, I know that movie!”

Bodie settled himself carefully in the chair, placing the bags down on the table. Leaving aside the food for the moment, he began distractedly trying to dig under his cast with a forefinger. “Cowley says we’re to stay put tonight. The next flight out isn’t until tomorrow.” He pulled his finger out from under the plaster and picked up a pen to use instead.

It wasn’t news to Doyle, he’d been expecting something of the sort. “You shouldn’t do that. Give yourself a nasty infection.”

“It itches!” protested Bodie, stuffing the pen further into his cast.

Tommy grabbed a parcel of chips and dropped down onto the foot of Doyle’s bed. As he ate, he began to bounce on his rear end, eyes still glued to the TV set. “Heh, that giant S could mean anything. Maybe he’s Stupid Man! Oh, nooo! Boy, I wish I had a reprint of the first copy of Superman. I’d like to read that. You think it’s any different than the movie?” Without waiting for an answer, the boy began reciting the dialogue along with the actors.

Doyle rubbed his face with both hands, silently praying for strength.

“Smells like puke in here,” observed Bodie, in much the same bland manner one might have when commenting on the weather.

“Bodie...” growled Doyle, warningly.

“Hi there, something wrong with the elevator?” Tommy was mimicking Superman, addressing a villain trying to scale the side of a building. “Heh! Funny! Okay, this does have good dialogue, just bad outfits. Hey, what goes ha-ha-ha thump?”

Both Doyle and Bodie ignored the question.

The boy jumped up and stood in front of Bodie, his hands on his hips. “What goes ha-ha-ha thump?” he demanded.

“You,” said Bodie, sternly. “Going to bed and staying there all night.”

“No! It’s a man laughing his head off. Get it? Ha. Ha. Ha. Thump!” This last was punctuated with an actual thump, and a howl of pain, as the boy jumped directly into Bodie’s lap. Bodie dumped him on the carpet and folded over his knees.

Doyle sat up. “Bodie? You okay?”

Bodie did not look up, but his knuckles were turning white where they clutched the arm of the chair. “Put that kid to bed,” said Bodie, very slowly and distinctly. “Before I kill him.”

“Sorry,” said a quiet voice from behind Doyle.

Doyle turned around to face an abashed looking boy.

“Sorry,” said Tommy, sincerely. “I forgot he was delicate.”

Doyle winced, hearing a snarl from Bodie. “He’s not...” Doyle gave up and settled for simply shaking his head. “Just, be good! Sit down, watch the movie.”

Swinging his legs off the bed, Doyle pushed himself up carefully, mindful of his ribs. “Bodie?”

“Ray, if I ever start talking about having a wife and kids some day, be a mate and do me a favour?”


“Just shoot me.”

Doyle suppressed a snort of laughter. It wasn’t Bodie’s pain that amused him, it was the dramatic suffering in his voice. “They’re not all bad. Remember Jack Stone’s kids? They were alright, weren’t they?”

Bodie straightened in his chair. “Ray...”


“Where’s Tommy?”

Doyle turned quickly. The room behind him was empty, the door to the hallway standing wide open. “Fuck!”

It was a bad few moments for Doyle as he tried and failed to imagine how they might preserve their reputations after losing a single six-year-old boy. Cowley would… do something unspeakable to their chewed up mangled remains once he was through with them, Doyle was sure.

Luckily his panic was short lived. Tommy had dragged a chair from the dining room over to the front desk, and was standing on it to make a phone call. The clerk was nowhere in sight.

Doyle grabbed it away from him. “Who’d you call?”

“Hey!” protested Tommy. When Doyle and Bodie simply glowered at him, he said, “My dad! I wanted him to take me to see the Guy, but he wasn’t home!”

A young, harried-looking woman stuck her head around the corner and started to say, “Can I help you…?”

Leaving Bodie to make the necessary apologies, Doyle grabbed Tommy’s arm and hauled him back to their room. “Then who were you talking to?”

“My nanny.”

“What did you tell her?”


“Truth?” What were the odds, Doyle wondered, that a six-year-old could give clear directions to the middle of nowhere anyway? He probably didn’t even know how to read yet.

“You made me hang up,” said Tommy, sullenly. “I was going to get to set off real fireworks this year.”

“Here,” Doyle said. “Have some more chips. And sit down!” What they were going to do with the kid once the food gave out, Doyle had no idea.

Bodie came back in and threw himself down on the nearest bed, without looking at either of them.

“Sorry I whacked you in the goolies again, Mr. Bodie,” said Tommy.

Bodie didn’t open his eyes.

Tommy climbed up onto the bed next to him, and Doyle noticed how Bodie immediately drew his knee up, protecting himself even as his eyes remained closed.

“You ever wonder why they call them goolies?” asked Tommy conversationally. “My daddy calls them balls, but my teacher says they’re tessicles. And then there’s your old man...”


“Old man! Wee-wee. Willy...”

Doyle suspected that the pain on Bodie’s face had nothing to do with his current physical state.

“Um... in my old school in Toronto they say penises and puh-ginas, but my nanny calls it a birdie. It’s weird they got so many names for it.”

Reflectively, Bodie said, “You forgot dick, cock...”


Bodie’s eyes opened and he looked at Doyle innocently. “What?”

“Don’t teach him that language!”

“He’s got a point, though, don’t he? S’weird we need so many names for what’s really just another part of our anatomy, like our elbow or our knee.” Bodie paused, reflectively. “‘Cept when we get older it’s a hell of a lot more fun...”

Doyle grabbed a pillow from the other bed and, with one arm bracing his ribs, he threw it at him. “Shut up, Bodie!” To the kid, he said, “Let’s see what else is in these bags.”

“More food?”

“That’s the idea. Do you think you can manage not to throw up this time?”

Midnight found both Bodie and Doyle ready to collapse from exhaustion. Tommy was still going strong.

“The fireworks were on TV! Why couldn’t we go see them? It’s not fair!”

“Look, why don’t you just watch something else?” said Doyle, wearily.

“It’s stupid. There’s nothing on.”

“Then go to sleep!”

“No!” Tommy crossed his arms, and scowled. “Besides, I’ve got to go pee.”

Bodie was lying on his bed, his good arm behind his head and his broken arm resting on his stomach. “It’s your turn,” he said.

“We should be getting compensated for this. Time and a half at least.”

“Submit a chit. I’m sure Cowley will be delighted with your... display of initiative.” Bodie smirked, completely unruffled by the dirty look Doyle gave him.

Doyle had lost count of how many times that evening he’d had to stand in the hall outside the bathroom door while Tommy took his time on the other side. Surely it wasn’t normal for even a child to have to go that often, and he was becoming very suspicious of Tommy’s timing, which was never during a commercial and usually when Doyle was mid-bite with a sandwich, or trying to read the paper.

Finally Tommy emerged, wiping his hands on Doyle’s t-shirt. He glared balefully. “You guys made me miss bonfire night.”

“Not us,” said Doyle. “Orders from Cowley.” He’d tried reminding Tommy about the fact that they’d been ambushed and shot at once this evening, and how they really didn’t need to set themselves up for a second time, but the boy seemed impervious to logic.

“It’s going to be a whole year before there’s another Bonfire night!”

A heavy-set man in a dark suit was coming down the hall towards them. Doyle eyed him suspiciously. Was that a weapon bulge under his left arm? Aloud, he said, “A year’s not that long.”

The fire exit door opened and a second man entered the hall, also in a black suit. Either there was an undertaker’s convention in town, or... Doyle grabbed the back of Tommy’s collar. They were two doors away from their own room.

“It is to me!” protested Tommy, squirming.

The man facing them reached into the front of his jacket. Doyle reacted immediately. With a shout, he knocked Tommy down and drew his own gun, crouching to cover the boy. Tommy howled, and Doyle found himself staring down the muzzle of two separate guns, held by two gunmen.

“Would be a shame,” said the closest in a thick German accent. “If the bullet went through you and into the child.”

But Doyle didn’t have to answer, because at that moment the door beside him burst open. It slammed into the man who had just spoken and knocked him off balance. Without stopping to see what Bodie was up to, Doyle tackled the other gunman, grabbing him around the waist and pulling him down to the ground.

Doyle seized his opponent’s hand, forcing it up over his head even as he felt the fingers closing on the trigger. The gun went off, close enough to make his ears ring and a chunk of plaster from the ceiling hit the floor next to them.

They grappled, struggling for control. Doyle was on top, but the other man had the advantage in both height and weight. He twisted his legs around Doyle’s waist like a wrestler, and threw him sideways against the wall. Doyle gasped as his ribs took the brunt of the impact. The gun went off again, but he couldn’t tell where the bullet had gone. Drawing on everything he had left, Doyle heaved himself up and slugged the German twice with his right fist, as hard as he could.

His opponent went limp, landing heavily across his chest. Doyle caught the gun and struggled to free himself. Rolling the man away from himself, he tried to jump to his feet to confront the remaining attacker, but his left foot was still stuck between the unconscious man and the wall. As he stood he felt something give way inside his ankle and a wave of agony travelled up his leg. Losing his balance, Doyle landed heavily on his side. He yelped, feeling his ribs start a fierce counterpoint to the pain in his ankle.

“You shot?” asked Bodie, sharply.

Doyle blinked, his eyes watering. He shook his head. “It’s my bloody ankle!” As Doyle’s vision cleared, he could see that Bodie was crouched over the other gunman’s unconscious body. Tommy was pressed back against the wall, speechless for the first time that evening. Distantly, Doyle could hear sirens.

“There could be more,” said Bodie, quickly patting down the man at his feet.

“Right, give me a hand up.”

Bodie stood and reached down to help Doyle wobble onto his feet.

Doyle gasped as he tried unsuccessfully to put weight on his ankle. He reached blindly for the wall, trying to keep his balance. He should have been home with his girl this evening. It just wasn’t fair.

“It’s never broken!” said Bodie, alarmed.

“God, I hope not,” said Doyle, fervently. Then he took in Bodie’s bedraggled appearance. “What did you do to your cast?”

Bodie looked at his arm with a grimace. Chunks of plaster were falling off, and there was a long jagged crack running up from his wrist. “Busted it, didn’t I?”

They both heard the footsteps running up the stairs at the same time. There was no more time to talk. Bodie, his own gun now gripped between his teeth and the other man’s gun tucked into the front of his trousers, grabbed Tommy one handed and lifted him bodily off the floor. He ducked quickly back inside the room, hauling the boy with him.

Doyle, bracing himself against the wall, took up position in the doorway. Behind him he could hear Tommy finally regaining the use of his tongue.

“I could help if you gave me a gun!”

“No!” said Doyle, loudly. Simultaneously, he heard an alarmed grunt from Bodie, who clearly was still short of free hands and obviously couldn’t speak around the butt of his weapon.

“Why not? You got extras!”

The door swung open with a bang, and Doyle tensed.

And then he relaxed, his hands dropping even as Cowley’s voice reverberated through the hall. “Stand down, 4.5! I’m not the enemy!”

Doyle was sitting on the hotel bed, gritting his teeth as the ambulance man determined that his ankle was indeed badly sprained, if not broken. Tommy, appearing entirely unaffected by having just seen two men beaten into unconsciousness, was loudly telling Bodie that this was the best Bonfire Night ever, even if there wasn’t any Bonfire. Bodie, for his part, had a look of deeply pained resignation about him, as if he’d simply given up and accepted his place in hell.

“Hey, does this mean my nanny told them where to find us?” asked Tommy.

“Yeah,” said Doyle. “It also means you lied to us when you said you hadn’t told her anything.”

Tommy pulled on the back of Bodie’s jacket. “I don’t care if she gets fired. I never liked her much anyway.” He paused. “Hey, you’re okay for a fishist. Do you think you’ll still have to baby-sit me?”

Doyle could have sworn Bodie turned a shade of green at that question. But what Bodie said was “Tommy, what did you say your dad does for a living?”

“He fills an innernational economic nish...”

“Yeah, we got all that! Do you know what he sells?”

“Oh!” Tommy nodded in comprehension. “He sells guns.”

Cowley walked in at that moment, and Doyle looked at him in outrage. “You might have told us!”

“You were told as much as you needed to know,” said Cowley, unruffled. “Mr. Winter has agreed to testify regarding certain transactions involving... influential persons, so long as we can provide protection for his son. I suspected there was a leak in his household.” He frowned first at Doyle and then at Bodie. “Would either of you like to explain why you allowed the lad access to a phone?”

Doyle would have tried to say something in their defence, but at that moment the ambulance man did something to his ankle that had him seeing fireworks that had nothing to do with the date.

By the time he had his breath back, Cowley was explaining to Tommy exactly why he had to go to a safe house with Sally and Murphy.

“If I worked for you,” asked Tommy. “Would I get my own gun?”

“Study hard, lad,” said Cowley, genially. “Apply yourself to your books. You never know, you might be the sort we’re looking for.”

Doyle, still stinging from Cowley’s rebuke, decided he wouldn’t try to warn the other agents about Tommy. They could find out what he was really like for themselves. Besides, maybe Sally, being a woman, had some sort of special insight into how to control six year olds.

“Bye, Mr. Bodie!”

Doyle had no chance to warn Bodie as Tommy charged back across the room directly at him. But Bodie must have seen him coming, because he turned defensively. Tommy slammed directly into Bodie’s knee and sat down hard on the floor. His mouth opened wide in silent astonishment, and then he began to bawl.


“Bodie!” snapped Cowley.

“He ran into me!” protested Bodie. “It was an accident!”

Bodie liked children. He’d never met one he didn’t like. Tommy Winter, however, rather like the unholy Damien, was a different creature altogether.