In the Dark is a sequel to the Amanda Birchill/SammiJane Martin joint story Sister Sister, a great story in its own right. Please read it first.

Disclaimer: CI5, its employees and other recognisable characters belong to Mark 1 Productions. There is no money being made from this story, I do it cos I love it.

In the Dark.

       She woke up with a start, completely disoriented, her heart thumping in her chest.
       She couldn't see a thing.
       Taking deep, controlled breaths, she willed herself to calm, reflexively following the training drilled into her by various physical and mental disciplines. Gradually, her heart rate slowed, her breathing became more regular - rationality returned.
       First things first - she thought - who am I?
       That was easy.
       Samantha, 'Sam', Bates; intelligence analyst for MI5, currently on secondment to CI5. Née Sara Alice Mary Bodie - Major Cowley had used the initials of her birth name to construct a new persona for her after the shooting; Sam unconsciously ran her hand over the scars on her abdomen.
       Right then, she knew who she was, now, where was she?
       In the dark - she thought ruefully; then an ice-chip thought wormed into her consciousness - or blind? For a sharp moment the unreasoning panic was back in full force, pushing her heart rate and respiration through the roof. Sam firmly got a hold on herself, again forcing herself to be calm.
       Get a grip, girl - she admonished herself - just because you can't see anything doesn't mean you're blind; test the theory, dammit.
       Sam deliberately shut her eyes and touched her fingertips to her eyelids to make doubly sure they were closed. She opened her eyes - nothing changed. So, I can't work with my eyes, that doesn't mean I'm helpless, she thought, as business-like as she could manage. You're an analyst - she told herself sternly - get the information and analyse it.

       She realised she was lying on her back, on what was probably a foam mattress. She flipped onto her side and sniffed at it - yep, material covered foam, almost new by the strong chemical smell. At least that meant it was probably clean.
       She sat upright, cross-legged, and ran her hands over herself. No pain anywhere, but a slight residual fogginess. Drugged? She shook her head: not enough information to make an accurate assessment yet.
       She took some time fingering her clothes. Tracksuit pants and top, new, just out of the packet by the starchy, stiff feel of the material. No socks or shoes. No underwear. Sam ignored the shiver rippling up her spine, generated by an imagination threatening to run wild. She tried to concentrate on the actual facts she had. Sam was pretty sure these weren't the clothes she was wearing before she was brought here. Why then, had she been given these ones? What'd happened to her own clothes? Too messed up to be of any use?
       To be used as proof - proof that she was being held?
       If her clothes were going to be used for that purpose, then that meant she'd been kidnapped.
       She shook her head in disgust; she really was losing it. Of course it was a kidnapping! Why else would she be in a pitch black room with no idea of how she got there? So, she'd been kidnapped; the next obvious question was - why?
       Again, not enough information yet, she thought. Concentrate on what's immediate, the rest'll come, it always does.

       Using her body as a measuring gauge, lying on her stomach, arms stretched above her head, Sam worked out the dimensions of the mattress. Standard single size, she guessed, about 6' long, 3' wide, 6" deep. The mattress was lying on a concrete floor in the corner of a room. Sam discovered two neatly folded, acrylic blankets at the end of the mattress; they smelt clean. She stood up, time to see how big the room was. Starting at the corner the mattress was in, Sam slowly edged clockwise around the room, one hand on the wall. One small step at a time, feet placed carefully in case there was something for her to trip over. After a few minutes she realised her eyes were wide open, staring into the dark; her eyeballs felt like they were drying out and the muscles around her eyes were beginning to spasm. She shook her head and deliberately closed her eyes again. There was no point in trying to use her eyes if there was nothing to see: she was better off concentrating on her sense of touch.
       The walls had the dense, cold feel of concrete - painted probably - she couldn't feel the little pits that occurred in unfinished concrete. Painted with a matte paint, the surface felt dry and papery rather than slick. Sam grinned at herself: did she want to have a guess at the colour of the wall while she was there?
       The wall along which the mattress lay was about 10' long. In the middle of the next wall was a toilet, with two rolls of toilet paper on the metal cistern, and a small sink. The sink only had cold running water that, after a cautious sip, tasted fine if a bit metallic; at least she'd be able to drink it.
       The second wall was also about 10' long, so was the third; that was where the door was. Sam paused to do a thorough investigation of the door. Wooden, painted with the same type of paint as the wall, hinges on the inside and the screws were painted over. No handle, surprise surprise. No handy slot cut into the door to deliver her meals either; that was, if she was going to get any food. That meant they'd have to open the door to put anything in. Running her fingertips lightly around the edge of the door, Sam found it fitted neatly flush with the door frame. She got down on her knees, opened her eyes and peered under the door; no glimmer of light betrayed itself. The gap between the floor and the bottom of the door was wide enough for her to poke a cautious little finger under. Her finger met a heavy, felt-like material on the other side. She inched her way along the final wall back to the mattress; no more features to note, including no light-switch or power points.
       Sam worked her way around the room again, this time reaching up as high as she could. She estimated that with her arms stretched up and standing on tiptoe, her reach extended to about 7' maybe a little more. She couldn't feel the roof, and after another cautious trip around the room, there were no windows within her reach. After balancing carefully on the toilet seat and reaching up as high as she could, Sam found she still wasn't able to touch the ceiling; but if the rest of the room was anything to go by, the ceiling was probably concrete too, and she guessed about 10' high. She made her way back to the mattress, sat down and thought.
       The room was warm, she noted, though not comfortably warm. The room was heated somehow, but underneath the warmth was the cold chill that concrete always exuded.
       Sam got off the mattress and made her way around the room again, quartering the floor on hands and knees. No vents there. Maybe a vent or hot water pipes along the roof were providing the heat?
       Sam picked up the mattress, tossing the blankets into the corner to mark where the mattress had been, then lifted the short edge of the mattress up gently until it touched the ceiling. Working slowly, she swept the mattress back and forth along the roof trying to catalogue any irregularities she felt through the foam. She also used it to feel along the 2 or 3 feet of the walls that she couldn't reach, to see if there were any windows higher up; as far as she could tell, there weren't.
       The mattress bumped over some protuberances in the ceiling. Sam smiled triumphantly; yes, there they were, three pipes running across the roof, parallel with the toilet and the blank wall. Sam lowered the mattress and felt along the edge that had been in contact with the pipes; it was slightly warm. The heat was coming from the pipes, that meant the building she was being held in might be occupied; if it hadn't been, it was unlikely the heating system would be active.
       So, was this someone's home? Or an office building? Factory?
       Sam was going to put the mattress back where it came from, then remembering the door and where the light, if any, would fall when the door was opened, she pushed the mattress up against the other end, near the toilet. At least she wouldn't be dazzled when the door opened.

       She plumped herself back down on the mattress and began to catalogue the information she had.
       She was in, effectively, a 10' square light-proof concrete box.
       Light-proof - photographic dark-room maybe? It didn't have the vinegary smell of a darkroom, there were no cupboards or benches for the equipment, or power-points or light fixtures for that matter. Mind you - she thought - just because it isn't being used as a darkroom currently doesn't mean it hadn't been originally built for it.
       Could this be a room purpose-built for holding captives? Possibly, but more likely - Sam mused, almost beginning to enjoy unravelling the puzzle - this was a room in the cellar of a building; there were probably stairs outside the door.
       The room was light-proof - probably to disorient her, preventing her from having any accurate idea of how much time had passed.
       As well as being light-proof, the room seemed to be essentially escape-proof as well - although if the opportunity for escape presented itself she'd certainly try.
       Her clothes had been taken - even her underwear. They were probably going to be used as proof that she was being held, and she hazarded a guess that her captors would've included her underwear to give the recipients of her clothes a reason to think the worst. Not to mention herself thinking the worst; the thought that someone, some stranger had undressed her while she was unconscious was very disturbing; it could well be another psychological feint to unbalance her.
       Her basic needs of water and toilet, clothing and rest, were catered for, so she could assume that food would be provided too; it seemed her captors wanted her alive and relatively well for the moment.
       The big questions now were how and why? How had she been kidnapped?
       What was the last thing she remembered?

       Sam consciously closed her eyes again and relaxed, letting her mind drift back over the last things she remembered before waking up here in the dark.
       At home, in the new flat she'd been assigned through CI5.
       Evening; pleasantly tired after a day spent collating and analysing information about a blackmailer who was targeting ministers with unusual appetites. She smiled: some things never change. Bodie had dropped her off. Bodie, who hated his given names and would only answer to 'Bodie'. Bodie, her elder brother who she'd been reunited with several weeks ago after having to live in hiding as another person for several years. Bodie, who thought he'd killed her, even though it was her twin sister, Claire, who'd shot her.
       Claire - the thought rankled even now - the beautiful one, the charming one. The one that looked a lot like their older brother; black hair, pale skin, fine features, beautiful, deep blue eyes. Bodie looked more like Claire's twin than her actual twin did. But Claire, who looked so much like their brother, was nothing like him in reality. True, Bodie was reckless, and he'd been dangerously stupid when younger; running away to war and then getting involved with the people who profited from the small, but bloody, conflicts he'd fought in. But Bodie was basically a decent bloke, not mean or spiteful, not like Claire.
       Sam grimaced; the idea of the 'evil twin' was almost a joke now, it'd been used so often in 'B' grade fiction and films, but it wasn't funny when you were living with it every day of your life.
       Damn! Sam gave herself a mental shove, letting herself ramble on like this wasn't helping. She forced her thoughts back to her last conscious memories.
       OK. Home; evening; after dinner; paperback - some slushy romance, her only weakness. Reading, hearing the clock chime 9 p.m. Making a cup of tea. Sitting down again, picking up the book, taking a sip...
       That was the last thing she could remember. She had no bumps or aches so she hadn't been knocked unconscious or fallen heavily; most likely drugged somehow. Something in the tea perhaps? How? She had her tea black with sugar; a powder mixed in with the sugar? Easier than fiddling with the water or doctoring all the tea-bags to make sure she got the right one. Or, another possibility, there was someone already waiting for her in the flat when she came home. Sam shook her head; her place was very small, not many spots to lurk in, and she'd been into every room that evening.
       And what about the proximity alarms? All CI5 residences had alarms fitted to doors and windows that alerted Base when there was an unauthorised entry; but any alarm could be circumvented given the right knowledge.
       Another possibility; she'd gone out later that evening for some reason and was caught then. It was possible; the effects of whatever was used to put her under could have given her this slight amnesia. What would pull her out of the flat, though? She had a vague recollection of a phone call; had someone called and got her to leave?
       Oddly, Sam felt a little more secure with that explanation; it meant that the integrity of the alarm system was uncompromised. But even so, it meant her kidnappers still knew where she lived, and what her phone number was.
       That was a nasty thought. Did this person, these people, have contacts in CI5? Or were they simply able to buy the information? Which meant there had to be someone to sell it. She knew there was no point pursuing that thought just yet; she mentally filed the information away for consideration at a more convenient time - like when she wasn't trapped in a concrete box with no idea of her immediate future.

       Now for the why. Why had she been kidnapped?
       Kidnappings usually occurred for money. She couldn't think of anyone rich or influential enough that she could be important to. What was left of her family, especially since she'd had almost no contact with them these past 7 years, certainly didn't qualify.
       Kidnapped because she had information? That was more plausible; information, especially highly sensitive information, was her business after all. If so, why wasn't she being interrogated? Maybe the kidnappers didn't know she was awake yet? Maybe they were planning on using the sensory deprivation as a softening up technique? But if her captors were holding her for any information she had, they'd hardly be handing over her clothes for any clues they'd give. Maybe she wasn't being held for information she had?
       Last possibility, was she being held to exchange for something or someone else?
       Like what? Like who?
       The people she was important to now, CI5, MI5 - and more personally, her brother and possibly Major Cowley - what would they have, or be able to get, in exchange for her?
       Weapons? Drugs? Sam dismissed those as soon as they arose. It was too easy to get either of those things from more conventional sources.
       Someone's freedom then?
       Like the blinding illumination of a camera flash, Sam suddenly realised what this was all about.
       What did CI5 have that she was worth exchanging for?
       Her sister, Claire Bodie.

       Alan Marcus, Claire's boss, had gone to ground when Claire and another associate of Marcus's, Michael Henson, had been captured. Claire and Henson were currently being held awaiting trial for the murder of Joyce, a gunrunning contemporary of Bodie's. All the intelligence had pointed to Marcus cutting his losses and running again; that's what he did all those years ago when his boss John Wickford had been shot. Marcus had been the cold, calculating, businessman that picked up the shards of Wickford's group and pieced it back together. Why should it be different now? Claire was important to him, that was what was different.
       Sam cursed herself fluently. The one thing she had overlooked in all her analyses of the situation. She had assumed that Claire was just another employee of Marcus', that he'd behave typically and drop her like so much useless baggage, and run. The only reason - Sam concluded - that Marcus would deviate so far out of his normal pattern of cold-blooded business man, ruthlessly cutting loose anything that would keep him back, would be a strong emotional attachment.
       Cretin! she upbraided herself. If Marcus had, god forbid, got involved with Claire - and that was a distinct possibility given Claire's ability to attach herself to the strongest person who was of use to her...
       Sam ticked off the points of probability.
       Marcus had saved Claire when Wickford's group had been decimated. He'd taken her, and Henson, overseas. Claire had been involved with Wickford, but it would've been natural for her to transfer her loyalty to the next strong leader. Heck, she'd been doing that all her life, Sam could bear witness to that. At school, Claire blithely changed allegiances in the playground depending on who was the strongest/most popular that week. And she'd been Daddy's girl until she became Bodie's pet, then when he disappeared Claire moved on to some brainless athlete at school, and so on until she met John Wickford.
       Shit shit shit! Sam thought hard and fast now.
       Marcus was behind this. She'd been kidnapped in the hopes of gaining Claire's freedom. It was as simple as that. Marcus may not even be in the country, but he'd certainly have someone on tap to act as his intermediary.
       Damn bloody Claire!
       Now it was beginning to look a bit bleak for her. It was unlikely that CI5 would exchange her. Unless she was found, or Major Cowley was using the infamous double think, she was probably going to die.

       Sam was so wrapped up in her horrifying conclusions she almost didn't notice the door suddenly being flung open, until the sharp light flooding into the room made her squint. Before she could react, something was put down on the floor, and the door hastily closed again. With a surge of adrenaline, Sam scrambled to her feet and bolted for the door; she banged on it with an open palm.
       "Marcus! Marcus! They're not going to give her to you, y'know!"
       Quickly she dropped to her knees and squinted under the door. There was the faintest glow of light leaking in under the felt. She held her breath and listened intently; she could hear footsteps on creaky wooden treads, then the light disappeared and she was enveloped in darkness again. Sam rested her forehead against the cold concrete and tried not to give in to the wave of despair.
       After she'd gulped back a few sobs and wiped her eyes, she found the one positive thing in this whole situation; at least now she knew she wasn't blind. She remembered that something had been put on the floor and she felt around for it.
       A plastic plate with some sandwiches, and a banana. How health conscious, she thought bitterly. No cup, and no cutlery. She sniffed at the sandwiches. Meat, probably ham, it smelt more salty than roasted, and cheese, strong. She was hungry now, she realised, with no idea how long it'd been since she last ate. She propped herself up against the wall by the door and slowly ate the food provided.
       When she'd finished, she considered pushing the plate under the door to see if she could lift the felt. It might work, but it may be more useful for her to hold onto the plate for the moment, might be some way to keep track of the time.
       Sam was overcome with a feeling of helplessness. She wasn't a field agent; she was trained to sort and analyse information, not break out of a concrete box armed only with a plastic plate and some toilet paper. Sam crawled over to the mattress, arranged the blankets around herself, and drifted off into a snuffly, fitful sleep.

       An immeasurable amount of time later, she awoke and re-oriented herself. After she'd used the toilet, she sat on the mattress and surveyed her situation again. She felt better after the sleep; the fear and despair were still there, but they'd been pushed back a little. Sam knew that boredom and inactivity would be the things to erode the fragile control on herself. Time to do something about it.
       She got up off the mattress and lifted it up against the wall out of the way, then edged to where she thought the centre of the room should be. Cautiously, she swung her arms in a wide circle around her, first at shoulder height, then crouching, at thigh height.
       Good, nothing in the way. She took a few controlled, deep breaths, letting her mind relax and sink into a calm and focused state. When that was achieved, she began to work through some of the graceful Tai Chi kata. She focused solely on her breathing, her body, and it's movements. She let all the questions about her predicament fade away; nothing else mattered but the ritualistic perfection of the moves.
       Eventually she'd worked up a sweat and her muscles began to protest; she surfaced from the semi-trance she'd been in. She did some cool-down stretches and refocused her attention, feeling more alert and calm than before.
       Phew! Sweaty! Sam wrinkled her nose in distaste; now she needed a wash.
       She decided not to use the toilet paper as a facecloth: she didn't know how long she'd be stuck down here, and the consequences of running out of toilet paper just didn't bear thinking about, so she used a corner of one of the blankets instead. The fluffy acrylic material wasn't all that good as a cloth: it was hardly absorbent and pretty much useless for drying her off, but it was better than nothing and the cold water was refreshing.
       With no idea of when her next meal was coming, Sam set herself some mental exercises to fill in the time. She chose a passage from a favourite book, just a couple of sentences at a time, then methodically translated them into French, then German, then Russian, then Latin and finally Japanese - tricky that last one. She was just about to start on a Spanish translation when the door opened quickly and more food was deposited. Sam scrambled off the mattress again and over to the door.
       She yelled out under it, "Any chance of a cup of tea? Black and one, thanks!"
       It was pointless she knew, but the yelling made her feel obscurely better. She picked up the food; more ham and cheese sandwiches, and an apple this time.
       After she'd eaten she did some more stretching, then tried to sleep.

       The pattern she established for herself continued over five more food drops. Physical exercise, mental exercise, eat, sleep. The food didn't change and the bread steadily got staler and staler.
       Sam ruthlessly used the disciplinary skills she'd honed over the years to keep the crushing panic at bay. The physical exercises were easy, but she was finding it a challenge to keep thinking of new things to keep her brain busy. When she couldn't think of anything more to do with languages, she switched to codes.
       She spent a great deal of time using one of the plastic plates to tap out the lyrics of songs in Morse code; Sam found it was actually more of a challenge to remember all the words to some of them.

       Sometime after she'd finished the most recent ham and cheese sandwich, Sam let her attention wander a little. If she ever got out of here, what would she do? What did she want? Was she happy with her life?
       Major Cowley had had her seconded to CI5 to help with the Marcus/Claire Bodie case; MI5 had politely been asking for her return, and George Cowley was just as politely refusing, citing the need for her expertise in rounding up the evidence necessary for a conviction. So far, no-one had asked her what she wanted to do. But your life wasn't your own in the service of Her Majesty, Sam thought philosophically.
       She was able to admit to herself that she was lonely; she hadn't had a boyfriend for some time, and she didn't really have any close friends. The only people she really associated with were other analysts, or bureaucrats, or field agents. After a couple of bad experiences with the latter, Sam had sworn off dating field agents completely; she'd never met a bureaucrat she liked and analysts, generally, weren't a lot of fun. She smiled bitterly, did that mean she wasn't 'fun'? If she thought her lot was bad, how much worse must it be for someone like Major Cowley? Her smile changed, softened - George Cowley was an interesting man, if he were twenty years younger...
       She caught herself and cut off that train of thought abruptly. If the Major was twenty years younger he'd be a field agent and you wouldn't date him anyway, she told herself scathingly. Her thoughts switched to her brother and Ray Doyle.
       Were they lonely?
       Certainly they'd both had a lot of partners but very few that lasted for more than a couple of weeks. Maybe that's what she should do? Just go out and pick up, a lot. She giggled - no, she'd never been comfortable with the concept of casual sex and she liked her bedmates to have a little bit more going for them than just a pleasant face and sexual availability. Intelligence, general knowledge, conversational skills - was she being too picky? Maybe she should just get a cat.
       Ray was intelligent, she thought, and attractive in a battered, scruffy sort of way; but there was that 'field agent' thing again, and he didn't seem to be all that approachable. Bodie might have something to do with that. Even though she and her brother still weren't terribly close, she'd have to be blind to not see how protective he was of her. It was nice, but the trouble with having that great oaf lurking around glowering at anyone who came near her was that it made it difficult to talk to people. She didn't think it was general knowledge yet that she and Bodie were related; she'd love to hear the rumours circulating about them. It was funny really, she mused, she could pick up the slightest, most subtle nuance contained in an obscure piece of unreadable information; but gossip and rumours right under her nose - she missed them every time.
       The only person who didn't seemed to be intimidated by her personal bouncer was Michael Murphy. Sam liked him, she could easily see them being friends. If Bodie would let them.

       Sam laughed, imagining her brother's reaction if Murphy asked her out - then was shocked into silence by the sound of her amusement. She realised with a dawning horror that she'd been talking aloud. How long had she been doing that? How long since the internal monologue had become external? She had no idea, and was becoming panicky by the implication of her loss of control. Suddenly she could feel the cracks appearing in the retaining wall she'd put up to contain the flood of panic and despair. Sam fought for control of herself; if she cracked now, if the wall came down, she'd be swept away with the fear.
       Then, abruptly, everything changed.

       The door was flung open and Sam's panic scaled new heights as the light came flooding in. Two dark shapes advanced on her. The shapes resolved themselves into people, men, who grabbed her arms and roughly hauled her up off the mattress. A dark, cloth bag was forced down over her head and tightened around her neck. Sam was roughly carried and pushed out of the room and up the stairs, her bare feet tripping over the stair treads. Sam got a confused welter of tactile images; rough wooden stairs, polished floor boards, carpet, tiles and cold concrete again. It was happening too fast; this rapid succession of sensations after being subjected to a type of sensory deprivation, on top of her recent burst of fear, were threatening to overwhelm her. Back in the room, Sam had wished that something, anything would happen; now all she wanted was to be safe and unnoticed in a little mouse-hole in a wall somewhere. She could feel the hysteria bubbling up again.
       She felt the painful grasp of her captors hands on her upper arms; could hear their breathing; smell their clothes. Sam heard a metallic squeak then found herself being pushed head first into a - car?
       Her hands touched vinyl on either side of the narrow space as she tried to steady her descent onto the floor. Wherever she was it smelt bad; petrol fumes and cigarette smoke, and she put her hand in something sticky that had been ground into the floor. A blanket or something was thrown over her and someone sat on the back seat and rested their feet in the small of her back. The door was slammed shut, the engine started and the car began to move. Nothing had been said, and Sam had no idea what time of day it was. The cloth bag covering her head wasn't entirely light-proof, she was sure; if she could just edge the blanket away a little from her face, she might be able to get an idea of what time of day it was. She moved her hand slowly upwards - until a cold hardness pressed into the back of her head. Sam froze, it could just as well be a length of pipe, she reasoned a little hysterically, until she heard the click of the safety being released. Sam forced herself to relax slowly.
       Two people, at least, in the car - one driving, one in the back with her. Sam tried counting out the seconds in an attempt to get some idea of how far they'd been driving.
       She'd counted to 536 when the car pulled up somewhere, and sat idling. The front passenger door opened and someone else got in, the car dipping noticeably. Still nothing was said. Sam resumed counting when the car started moving again.
       Sam had been thoroughly trained in techniques of observation and analyses, and everyone had seen at least one movie where the blindfolded captive was able to lead their rescuers back to the bad guy's hideout by recalling what they'd heard on the journey. But that was easier said than done when your nose was pressed into something putrid and the car engine was blasting your eardrums. Her counting slipped up a couple of times, but it was well into the three thousands when Sam both felt and heard the surface beneath the car change from tarmac, to gravel, to rough ground.
       As soon as the car stopped she was hauled upright again and shoved out of it, her arms flailing as she struggled to keep her balance. Grass - damp, some gravel mixed in with it, was scraping against her bare feet; she stubbed her toe and stumbled when the surface abruptly changed to concrete. A tantalising flicker of light came through the cloth hood.
       Sam's bowels clenched. She might at least get to see daylight before they put the bullet in her head...
       "I want to see her!"
       A distance away, but not so far that the light breeze carried his words away. Sam turned her head in the direction of his voice. She felt the loose knot around her neck being undone and quickly remembered to shut her eyes in case the light was too bright. The bag was whipped off her head, catching on her nose and ears on the way.
       Fresh air! Sunlight - she could feel it on her face now. She lifted her face up to it, still with her eyes closed.
       "Sam, are you alright?" Bodie called to her. She started slightly and nodded, then remembered that her eyes were still closed.
       She could open them now; it wasn't normal for it to be dark all the time.
       Cautiously she lifted her eyelids a fraction; the light was bright, but not blinding. She opened them a little further, then a little further again as her eyes adjusted. It felt like ages, but it was only a few seconds before she could see properly. She looked down; the tracksuit she was wearing was grey.
       "Sam?" Bodie called again, concerned.
       "I'm fine," she whispered, then swallowed and said louder, "I'm fine!"
       The sun was low in the sky, the heat felt like the warmer length of evening rather than the bright cold of a morning sun. The breeze was actually a little chilly, she noticed, and her feet were getting cold.
       Ahead of her, about 10 yards away, stood Bodie; in front of him, oozing a smugness that Sam could feel even at this distance, was Claire.
       Sam grimaced - they were going to exchange them after all. She looked around, it seemed they were in an old airfield. The hysterical laughter she'd been keeping down threatened to overflow. There must be an old airfield set aside purely for prisoner exchanges, she thought wildly.

       The person standing behind her gave her a shove and she stumbled forward a little; Bodie nudged Claire into motion. The gap between the two parties steadily decreased until the twins and their escorts stood only a few feet apart.
       Claire gazed at Sam, feigning complete indifference. Sam knew better; she'd always been able to read her sister's emotions in her cobalt blue eyes, the only feature they shared. Sam felt a vicious satisfaction at the sight of Claire's cool mask wavering when she met her sister's impassive stare.
       "Hello, Sara." Claire said, using Sam's real name.
       "You're scum, Claire."
       "And you're so good you make me wanna commit seppuku," Claire spat back at her. "I had to be bad just to counteract your disgusting sweetness!"
       Sam arched a sardonic eyebrow at the other half of her. "What? Still using the 'I'm-bad-because-my-parents-never-loved-me-like-they-did-my-sister' defence?"
       Bodie broke in then, like he always had.
       "Enough," he said brusquely; the girls subsided, still glaring at each other.
       Bodie spoke to the person behind Sam. "Let's get this over with," he said and took a couple of steps backwards. Sam felt the person behind her do the same. She and Claire looked at each other for an eternal second, then Claire walked past her, ostentatiously side-stepping so she wouldn't have to touch her sister.
       Sam walked towards her brother who was, if possible, even more tense now. She looked back over her shoulder and saw Claire step up to the man waiting for her, saw her reach in under his jacket...
       "Bodie!" Sam called a warning, and without thinking ran in front of her brother as Claire spun and fired the handgun she'd taken from the man.
       Not again, Sam thought disgustedly as she felt the round hit her in the side, just above her pelvis. She sank to her knees, hand pressed over the wound, as sound erupted around her.
       Sam distantly heard a car being started and someone shouting, 'Move move!'; over the top of that was the sound of small arms gunfire, from two guns. She looked up to see Doyle, who'd appeared as if by magic next to her brother. Both of them were braced and firing at the retreating car.
       When it was out of range, Bodie knelt down in front of her and gently moved her hand out of the way, assessing the damage.
       "Doesn't look that bad, but we'll get you to a hospital."
       Sam glared at him. "Why is it always guns with you?" she said irritably, "why couldn't you have gone in for flower arranging or something?" Then she passed out.

       Sam came to as the trolley she was on was being put into an ambulance.
       She'd been kidnapped, subjected to sensory deprivation and then shot; she was in a foul mood, and she vented it on her brother.
       "Moron! Didn't you even suspect she'd pull something like that?"
       Bodie opened his mouth to defend himself but wasn't given the chance.
       "You know what a treacherous slug she is. Ow! Watch it!" Sam growled at the ambulance man attending her.
       "Another display of the Bodie charm, I see," Doyle chuckled, and received an icy glare for his trouble.

       By the next time Bodie and Doyle were allowed to see her, she'd calmed down a little; the painkillers were working a treat.
       "How long was I missing?" she asked as soon as they set foot in the room.
       "Three days; this is the third evening," Doyle answered when Bodie hesitated. "They let us sweat for a day before they told us what they wanted."
       "How did they get me?"
       "You don't remember?" Bodie was quietly curious.
       "Last thing I remember was being at home, reading a book," she frowned, "I think there was a phone call, but it's all a bit hazy."
       "Your phone records show you had a call about 9.30 that night, and a neighbour remembers seeing you go out before 10; then you disappeared."
       "Did you get my clothes?"
       "Yes," Bodie was grim-faced, "the letter with the demand for Claire's release was pinned to them."
       "But the really good news," he said in a lighter tone as he sat on her bed, "is that Claire didn't get away."
       Sam stared at him in disbelief.
       "You're joking!" she asked, grabbing his arm; Bodie grinned, "Tell me you're not joking?"
       "'E's not joking," Doyle smirked, "we had a couple of cars waiting for them. They didn't get far."
       "Any casualties?"
       "One fatality - the man who was behind you. The other two surrendered before they took any damage."
       "And Claire?"
       "This is the best bit," Bodie's grin was malicious, "she sprained her ankle when she ran."
       Sam burst out laughing; even the pain in her side couldn't stop her.

       "So, how are you then?" Bodie asked her gently.
       Sam shrugged, "It just took a small chunk out of my side, didn't hit anything important, just needed a few stitches. I'll be able to go home in a couple of days."
       "That's not what I meant."
       "Oh," Sam looked thoughtful, "OK, I guess, haven't really thought about it. Things seemed to happen a bit quickly there at the end; I don't think I've assimilated it all."
       "No doubt the Old Man will pack you off to Dr. Ross," Bodie shared a grimace with Doyle.
       "Why are you so intimidated by her?" Sam asked her brother, changing the subject.
       "I am not!" he spluttered.
       "You are so!"
       "Am not!"
       This fruitful argument was interrupted by a knock on the door, followed by Murphy coming into the room carrying a glass vase filled with an exquisite mix of fresh flowers.
       "For me?" Sam asked, unnecessarily, "Michael, how nice of you." The tall, dark-haired man grinned.
       "I can't take the credit for these, they're from Mr. Cowley." Murphy shouldered past Bodie to put the vase on the bedside table.
       "From the Major?" Sam leant over to sniff at the flowers, "he's such a sweet man."
       "Sweet?" the disbelieving exclamation came simultaneously from the three men.
       Sam just smiled serenely. "You're men, you wouldn't understand."
       Bodie muttered something about not understanding how anyone could even begin to think of Cowley as 'sweet', Murphy ignored him and handed Sam a small, gift-wrapped parcel.
       "These are from me," he smiled down at her. Bodie's eyes lit up when he saw the box of chocolates emerging from the wrapping.
       "Keep yer thievin' hands offa these, Billy Bodie!" Sam snatched the parcel out of his reach, then laughed at his startled expression, "I know you; when it comes to chocolate you're still the same sneaky, piggy, thieving little -"
       "Alright, alright!" Bodie laughed holding up his hands in surrender. He eyed her shrewdly, "You've never forgiven me for those Easter eggs have you?" Sam regarded him through narrowed eyes.
       "I've got a memory like an elephant when it comes to your misdemeanours, William Andrew Philip Bodie."
       She grinned at him suddenly, then yawned.
       "I think it's time we let you get some kip," Doyle said. Bodie nodded, and in a movement that took Sam straight back to her childhood, he leant over and kissed the top of her head.
       "G'night, Sam," he said softly, "I'll see you soon."
       Murphy and Doyle said goodbye and she smiled sleepily at them as they trailed out of the room.

       Bodie was the last to leave; he stopped by the door, his hand hovering near the light switch.
       "Lights out?" he asked.
       Sam sat bolt upright in bed with such a look of abject terror that Bodie was at her side and enfolding her tightly in his arms before he realised what he was doing. His sister didn't say a word, but she was shaking so much she was making his teeth rattle. He held her until she stopped quivering and her breathing returned to normal.
       "We'll leave the lights on then," he said softly. He disengaged one of his arms and reached over to turn on the bedside light.
       "How about we leave this light on too, and I'll let the nurses know." Sam nodded dumbly, her eyes huge in her pallid face.
       "Do you want me to stay?" Bodie gently brushed the hair off of her face. Sam swallowed then whispered, "No, I'll be fine; as long as I can see, and I can hear people moving about, I'll be fine."
       "You are going to talk to someone about this, aren't you? The Cow will want a full report at any rate."
       Sam's voice was stronger. "I'll do my report for the Major - " she stressed the title ever so slightly, "- tomorrow. Now go," she pushed him firmly away from her and straightened her blankets.
       "OK, piglet." Bodie deliberately used one of the pet names she particularly hated; he knew she was getting her equilibrium back when she fixed him with a glittering stare.
       "I'll see you soon." Bodie blew her a kiss and left.

       Doyle and Murphy were waiting in the corridor for him, Bodie had a quick word with them, then went to talk to the night duty nurses.
       When everything was organised to his satisfaction, Bodie found a chair and settled himself on it against the wall outside his sister's room. He made himself as comfortable as he knew he was going to get; after all, this wasn't the first time he'd spent the night on a plastic chair outside a hospital room. He wondered fleetingly what his boss would have to say about his unauthorised 'baby-sitting' but didn't waste too much time over it. He and Doyle were essentially stood down for the moment anyway.
       Bodie settled in for the night. If England needed saving in the next few hours, Doyle would know where to find him.

© Amanda Birchill - September 2000

© 2000 WordWrights.

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