THE PROFESSIONALS FLOATING SCENE CHALLENGE
(Issued by Hephaistos on The Prosfanfic list)
DISCLAIMER: The characters of "The Professionals" belong to ... whoa, hang on... just checking my papers. Nah, they definitely don't belong to me. Guess they still remain the property of Brian Clemens et al. Yes, I'll put them back when I've finished playing with them. No, didn't make any money from them either, dammit.
Thanks to Jane for a great challenge. Hope you like where I took it. Sorry, couldn't resist making it a Bodie whumping fic. Hey, I am a Bodie babe after all <g>. Thanks as always to Lyn for the beta and my site.
George Cowley was one of those unique men who could be categorized as both a doer and a thinker. Deceptively small, Cowley was clever and resourceful, cursed with a game leg while blessed with a silver tongue. A natural born leader, he was one who commanded loyalty and gave the same in return. However, when faced with a situation where he could neither think, nor do, the wily George Cowley became nothing more than a caged tiger.
He'd found himself in just such a situation for four days now, locked in a concrete room with a plain cot, straight-backed wooden chair, and a bucket for nature's necessities. The caged tiger faced these indignities with impatience, frustration, and no small amount of anger.
"On the cot!" a voice yelled into the room from the other side of the heavy door, the room's only access. Cowley narrowed his eyes and remained on the cot where he'd been sitting anyway, dissecting his situation for the umpteenth time. The voice broke a pattern; until this point he'd only been visited once a day to be brought his rations, and he'd already received those earlier.
The door swung open and two men looking rather the worse for wear were roughly shoved to the floor at Cowley's feet, after which the door was slammed shut and bolted. Cowley sighed.
"Hello, sir," wheezed Bodie, meeting his superior's gaze through one good eye.
"We've come to rescue you," explained Doyle, who promptly passed out.
"For God's sake," Cowley growled, shoving himself to his feet and crossing the floor to kneel next to his injured operatives. "What the hell are you two doing here?" He glared up at Bodie, while he felt along Doyle's neck until he found his pulse. It was slow but strong and Cowley motioned Bodie to help him turn the unconscious man on his side. Bodie struggled to comply and Cowley took note of the grimace of pain that crossed his face as he did so. Satisfied that Doyle was in no immediate danger, Cowley eased back on his haunches and glared up at Bodie.
"Like Doyle said, sir, we came to rescue you." Bodie made an attempt at a grin but truth to tell, he felt like hell. One eye was swollen almost shut, he was sure that at least one or two of his ribs were broken and his head was thundering in time to the pounding of his heartbeat. He looked down at Doyle and carefully brushed a lock of bloodstained hair away from the gash above his partner's eyebrow.
"I see. And who's coming to rescue you pair of idiots? Jax and Murphy, I suppose." Cowley scrabbled in his pocket and found his handkerchief, the only thing that had been left to him besides his clothes when he'd been brought here. He pressed the handkerchief to the cut on Doyle's head, holding it firmly in place when Doyle groaned and tried to move his head away. "Take it easy, Doyle. Lie still," he said, gruffly.
Doyle responded to the voice, eyes opening blearily, attempting to focus. "Must have been some party," he muttered, drunkenly.
"Aye, some party indeed," his boss agreed. "Here, 4-5, you got that?" He reached for Doyle's hand and placed it over the temporary dressing. Grunting with effort, he made it back to his feet, ignoring Bodie's offer of help and moved to sit on the cot again.
Shaking his head, he looked his star team over. Bodie sat, head bent to his knees, one arm wrapped around his aching ribs. Doyle still lay flat on the floor, but on his back now, blood continuing to seep slowly through the handkerchief at his temple.
"Well, here's another fine mess you've got yourselves into," he said. "Still you're here now, so we may as well make the best of it, I suppose. Which of you is going to tell me what's going on? 4-5?"
Silence from Doyle.
"How about you, 3-7? I'd wager a bottle of the best that this was your idea," Cowley said, fixing Bodie with an accusatory look.
"Me, sir?" Bodie replied, an injured tone to his voice. "And I always thought I was your blue eyed boy." He stuttered to a halt as Cowley gave him the look once more. "Right, sir. Well, when we realized you'd been snatched it took us a day or so to find out who was behind it..."
"And that would be?" Cowley asked, trying unsuccessfully to tamp down his impatience.
"Jack Archer. Remember him, sir?"
"Oh aye, I remember him... and his brother. We closed their gun running business down... what was it... 3 years ago?" Cowley cast his mind back to the op. He'd lost a good man on that one, young Rick Fisher. Cowley had sent him in to infiltrate the gang but one of Archer's men had broken his cover and shot him dead, just before the arrest went down.
"That's the one," Bodie continued. "We got Pat Archer for Rick's murder and the guns but Jack slipped through the net and went to ground, probably in France."
"And now, he's back," Cowley said, nodding, "And he wants...?"
"Sorry, sir, nothing personal, but he doesn't want you. He wants a prisoner exchange for his brother," Bodie replied.
"Och, the man's a bloody fool. They'd never go for it," Cowley snapped.
"Well, no, but not for the reason you think, sir." Doyle had finally pushed himself to a sitting position. He removed the handkerchief from his head and dabbed the gash gently with his fingertips, then looked at his hand. The bleeding had all but stopped. He began to hand the handkerchief back to Cowley, then, at a look from the chief, thought better of it and tossed it into a corner of the room.
"All right, I'm listening. But keep it down. I'm almost positive the room isn't bugged but you can't be sure. Go on," Cowley ordered.
"The day after you went missing, we got a phone call from Jack Archer, laying out his terms - Pat's release, a helicopter, half a million pounds... the usual kidnapper's wish list," Doyle said with a smile. "We held him off for a bit, but when we went to question Pat in prison, we got a bit of a surprise." Doyle paused.
"Well, come on, don't keep me in suspense," Cowley grunted impatiently.
Bodie took over where his partner had left off. "Pat doesn't want be released, sir. Well, not to his brother at least. Turns out there's some money hidden away from a few payroll jobs the boys did before they got into the gun business."
"Aye, I think I know the ones you mean. They never arrested anyone for them. They just stopped. Go on, 3-7."
"Seems Pat kept half the cash and Jack took the other half. Pat figures Jack has probably gone through his share while he's been on the run. You know, sir, wine, women and the French Riviera?" Bodie cocked a lascivious eyebrow at his chief and then went on, "Anyway, Pat thinks Jack wants him out so he can get his hands on Pat's share."
"But here's the really interesting part, sir," Doyle interjected. "Pat was willing to give us the location of the hidden brass on one condition... that we don't let Jack get his mitts on him. He reckons Jack'll break him out, force him to say where the money is and then kill him."
"No honour among thieves, 'ey,?" Cowley mused.
"Or brothers," Bodie rejoined. "So, Pat told us where the money was and gave us a heads up on where Jack'd probably be keeping you. Doyle and I came to break you out, but old Jack's beefed up his goon squad a bit more than we'd expected and here we are, sir."
"Aye, that you are. And now we have to find a way to get us all out in one piece." He looked his battered men over once more, and amended his words, "Well, more or less, anyway. I suppose you weren't thinking sensibly enough to bring back up?"
"Of course we did, sir. What do you think we are?" Doyle asked, eyes wide.
"You don't want me to answer that right now, 4-5," his boss shot back. "Well, where's your back up?"
"Jax and Murphy and a few of the other lads are out there somewhere, sir. You're in a warehouse at the docks, by the way. The only problem is we told them not to make a move till they got a signal from us. But we don't have our weapons or our R/T's anymore, do we?" Doyle answered.
"Then, I suppose that means we go with Plan B, Doyle." Cowley smiled for the first time. He suddenly had a feeling the tiger wasn't going to be caged for much longer, and Jack Archer had better watch out once the lock was sprung.
"What's Plan B?" Bodie asked, knowing he probably wasn't going to like the answer.
"First, we work out what we do have, Bodie. Haven't you ever heard of seeing the glass half full instead of half empty?" He grinned at his men and they got the strong impression that George Cowley was going to enjoy the coming battle. "Now, how badly are you hurt? And be honest about it. We need to know exactly what our weaknesses are, as well as our strengths. Doyle?"
"Got hit in the head with a gun barrel. Not too bad, now. Headache, still a bit woozy, my vision's a bit blurry."
"All right, 4-5. Bodie, how about you?"
"Think I've got a couple of cracked ribs. Plus this, sir." He pointed at the black and blue swelling covering his left eye.
"You both up to a bit of biffo, when the time comes, are you?"
"Biffo, sir?" Bodie asked, trying unsuccessfully to hide a grin. "Think you've been hanging around with Doyle too long. But, yeah, biffo it is. We'll be okay. What's the plan?"
"You ever watch old westerns on television, the ones where the man in the jail lures the sheriff in by pretending he's sick?" Cowley asked.
"Yeah, I think I know what you're up to, sir. Get a couple of 'em in here by saying one of us is dying, then take 'em down and get their weapons? Am I right?" Bodie grinned.
"It's an old one but it might work. I'll be the 'patient'. Seeing it was me Archer grabbed, I'm hoping he'll think I'm still worth more to him alive than dead. If we can make enough noise, it might be a way to signal Murphy and the others to make a move," Cowley said. "How many men did you bring with you, by the way?"
"Oh, ten or so, sir. Actually, pretty much the whole squad volunteered to back us up once we knew where you were. We just didn't want to come in like gang-busters, making a lot of racket, in case they topped you," Doyle explained.
"I'm touched, Doyle. All thinking I'm going to spring for the pub bill once this is over, no doubt. Och, well, if I'm still alive at the end of it, I just might at that," Cowley laughed.
In the end, it had gone down easier than they'd expected. When Bodie had said Archer had gotten more goons, it had soon been borne out it didn't mean more intelligent. Two of them had come barrelling in within minutes of Bodie and Doyle bashing on the door and yelling that Cowley was having a heart attack. Bodie went in high and Doyle went in low, sending the two men cannoning against each other. After that, they picked a man each and proceeded to take them apart, while Cowley climbed off the cot and collected the fallen weapons.
They headed out of the room, Bodie and Doyle toting a gun each and taking up position either side of their chief. There was no sign of anyone in the open space of the warehouse and at a nod from Cowley, Doyle moved to the window while Bodie kept watch, sweeping his gun in wide arcs around them. Doyle fired off two quick rounds into the air outside, then ducked back around to cover their flank. Walking backwards, they edged closer and closer to the doors.
Suddenly, Bodie caught a movement from the corner of his good eye. It was Archer and two more of his standover lads. At the same moment, he heard cars screeching to a halt outside. He breathed a sigh of relief. The back up was here.
The two goons with Archer took off in opposite directions. One was brought down by Anson, but Murphy was having trouble with his. Doyle took off at a run, covering the last couple of feet with a leap that took the man square in the back catapulting him almost at Murphy's feet.
Cowley moved to stand at Bodie's side, as they peered around the warehouse, trying to see where Archer had gone to ground. Bodie kept having to close his one good eye against the sun glaring through the windows.
He pushed his eyes open again, squinting against the light and as he did, a bright flash caught his attention. Without giving himself time to think, he shoved Cowley to the side with his shoulder, his ribs screaming in protest as the report of a gun sounded in his ears. They hit the ground a moment apart, then Bodie heard the roar of another weapon and looked up to see Archer's body roll from where he'd been hiding. Jax ran up and checked for a heartbeat. "He's dead," he said, rising to his feet.
Then Doyle was there next to them, reaching a hand down to pull Cowley to his feet, while Murphy did the same for Bodie. The gash over Doyle's eyebrow had opened again and was slowly dripping blood down his cheek.
Bodie tried to lock his knees as he felt the floor slip sideways. Instinctively, he reached out his arms, trying to keep his balance. Only now did he feel the burning in his right shoulder. He put a hand up to the source of the pain and glanced down dazedly as his fingers came away wet with blood. Doyle and Murphy each reached round his back, keeping him on his feet. He heard a roaring in his head, and darkness crowded in on him. His head lolled forward on his chest as his knees gave way and he felt himself being lowered gently to the floor, where he let unconsciousness claim him.
Cowley knelt beside Bodie, pulling off his jacket and laying it over Bodie's chest, while Murphy went to find the medics. Doyle slumped to the ground next to his partner, aching head momentarily forgotten. He reached across and absently grabbed Bodie's hand, his eyes looking up to fix on Cowley's equally worried ones.
"He'll be okay, 4-5," Cowley said reassuringly. "You need to get yourself looked at too."
Doyle nodded cautiously, wincing as the movement caused pain to flare in his head. "You all right, sir?"
"Och, I'm fine, Doyle. A bit ragged around the edges, maybe, but I'll live." He pushed himself to his feet as the ambulance attendants arrived, watching as his ace team was examined and loaded into an ambulance. Only then did he allow Murphy and Jax to escort him to a car and take him to be checked out himself.
Bodie woke to bright lights and the sounds and smell of a hospital. He moved against the heaviness of bandages encasing his shoulder and felt the tug of an IV in his wrist.
"Take it easy, sunshine."
He turned his head and focused on Doyle's face.
"You okay, Ray?" he asked huskily.
"I'm okay," Doyle replied, one finger pointing to the sutures crisscrossing his forehead. "Bit of concussion, few stitches. I'm fine."
"Cowley?" Bodie asked.
"I'm fine, too, 3-7," came the Scots brogue from his other side.
Bodie turned his head in surprise. He was used to waking up to Doyle at his bedside but he couldn't remember the last time the Cow had been there, too. Back when he got caught in that KKK case and stabbed, he thought it must have been.
"Glad to hear that, sir."
"You're going to be all right, too, Bodie," Cowley replied. "The bullet didn't hit any bones, but it did split the muscle in your shoulder. Added to that are the two broken ribs you already had. So, once the doctor deems you fit enough you'll be undergoing some training sessions with Macklin."
"Macklin?" Bodie groused. " Come on, sir. After all, I did save your life... Well, Doyle and I did anyway."
"Aye, that you did, Bodie. And I'm very grateful for it. So grateful in fact that I'm hosting a little knees up at the local tonight for all the lads who helped to break us out." Cowley smiled.
"What? Tonight?" Bodie asked incredulously.
"Well, of course, 3-7. You've been here for almost 24 hours. We could hardly have had a celebration till we knew you and Doyle were going to be okay, could we?" Now Cowley was positively grinning.
"Ray?" Bodie looked imploringly towards his partner but Doyle simply stood up and with a pat to the head and a cheery, "See you in the morning, mate," he headed to the door behind the chief.
"Oh, and Doyle, there'll be no alcohol for you tonight either. Don't forget you've a concussion, lad." Cowley shut off Doyle's outburst with an upraised hand, then turned and smiled broadly at Bodie. "Maybe next time you'll remember to do things by the book, lads. You can't expect an old tiger like me to go around saving you two every time you get yourselves into trouble."