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

The Reader's Challenge
Georgi from Killer With a Long Arm has always been one of my favorite villains. He had very little screen time with the boys, though, as he was killed in the dramatic fight sequence. I'd like to have seen him interact more with Bodie and Doyle. Also, the actress who played the girl hanger-on from Long Arm was the female lead in Cuckoo's Waltz (which also starred Lewis Collins), so I always thought it'd be neat to have Bodie and her interact somehow, they didn't even have one scene together in KWLA. So I guess what I'm asking for is an AU version of Killer With a Long Arm, please.

The story picks up after this scene:

Supermarket. Hilda pays for some food, then leaves the shop carrying two bags. When she sees two policemen outside, she hurries away, dropping an orange. One of the policemen picks it up.
POLICEMAN: Here, miss.
Hilda ignores him and rushes away.
POLICEMAN: You dropped something! Hang on. Here, here. [shouts] Look out!
Hilda steps into the path of a taxi and is hit, falling unconscious to the road.
POLICEMAN: Stand back, everybody.

Killer with a Long Arm - The Reader's Challenge version

          Doyle flashed his ID. "We're here about the girl who was carrying the Greek cigarettes."
          The officer held out her bag. "Name of Hilda Daniels according to her Driving Licence. Address listed in North London."
          "When can we talk to her?"
          The officer gestured to the far cubicle. "Soon as you like. She was knocked out briefly, but other than cuts, bruises and a broken wrist she was remarkably lucky."
          Behind the curtain, the nurse was putting the finishing touches to a sling, and the young dark-haired woman looked up at their entrance. "What...?"
          "Hallo," Bodie smiled encouragingly. "We're just here for a chat. How are you feeling? I hear that taxi caught you a nasty blow."
          She responded with a cautious smile. "Yes... it did. But it was my fault, I wasn't looking. In too much of a hurry."
          "We thought so." Bodie studied her. They'd put out a general call for anything unusual that had Greek connections but this could be a red herring; her name didn't suggest she was Greek, and she sounded entirely British to him. Maybe she'd just holidayed in Greece and got a taste for their smokes. They needed to establish quickly whether this was a lead. "In a hurry to get back with your shopping, eh? Is Scafross getting hungry?"
          It could be his imagination, but Bodie thought she paled. "Or perhaps you know him better as Georgi." He threw down their photo in front of her; the image was blurred but there was no mistaking her gasp of recognition.
          "So you do know Georgi." He perched on the bed.
          "No, I..."
          "You recognise the man in the photo." Bodie kept his smile in place but smoothly drove on with the questioning. "You know he's an assassin, and you know why he's here, in this country."
          "And you know where he is." Standing back by the curtain, so far Doyle had left Bodie to it but that was the thing they most needed to know. Whether she was completely mixed up in this or just an unfortunate along-for-the-ride girlfriend, she had the answers. "Who's the target?"
          She bluffed. "I don't know what you're talking about. I was just doing my shopping..."
          "Don't mess us about, Hilda! You live miles away, why would you be shopping around here?"
          "It's a free country; I can shop where I like!"
          "Of course you can," Bodie said soothingly. He cast a glance at Doyle; this was a stalemate. "But it does look odd, you have to admit."
          Clearly, she wasn't about to admit anything; settling back against the pillows Hilda stared at both of them.
          Doyle jerked his head to Bodie to indicate he wanted to talk, and Bodie joined him outside. "We've no proof she's involved; but I'm sure she is."
          "Me too. She's not going to talk; we'll have to take her back to headquarters and sweat it out of her. I'll call in; get someone to pick her up. Keep an eye on her." Doyle headed for the car.
          Bodie went back into the cubicle. "Can I get you anything; a drink?"
          "No thank you. " She'd had a few minutes to think out her story, and sounded rational. "I really don't understand who you are or what you want. I came for a day out, decided to shop for something to eat a bit later and didn't look where I was going. There's nothing more to it."
          She smiled seductively. "I'm sure this is just a big mistake."
          "I'm sure it's nothing we can't sort out," Bodie responded in kind. Let her think she was winning him over and she might give something away. "You've had a nasty shock. Is there someone local we can call, to come and look after you?"
          "No, not local. I don't know the area very well."
          "So why were you in a hurry? If you're just out for the day, to look around the town?"
          That was obviously something she'd not thought out. "I suddenly realised the time. My car is on a meter and it was running out."
          Bodie laughed. "You'll certainly have a ticket by now. You should tell me where it is; I can make sure it's picked up for you."
          Hilda was silent, and Bodie pressed his point. "Well, where are your keys? There aren't any in your bag."
          "Perhaps I dropped them..."
          "Or perhaps the policemen picked them up. I'll have to ask them."
          "The policemen...?"
          "Bodie." Doyle reappeared briefly to call him, and sorry to leave it at that - watching her struggle for answers was quite amusing - Bodie joined him.
          "I've just had an interesting conversation with Cowley. They've been working on Tommy and he came up with a couple more names: Nikos Costa and that of our young lady in there. Cowley's checking them out, but says to bring her in."
          Bodie nodded and pulled the curtain back. Hilda was already standing, and Bodie stepped forward to take her arm. "You need to come with us."
          "What...?" She seemed distracted. "Who...?"
          "We have a few questions we need to ask you."
          Urged by Bodie, she took a step forward but before she even reached Doyle Hilda suddenly jerked violently and collapsed to the ground, still fitting. Doyle shouted for help while they got her back on the bed, and within seconds the bed was surrounded by medical staff and they were thrust out of the way. Almost without pause, the team were pulling the bed out and rushing Hilda away.
          "What is it?" Bodie caught one of the nurses by the arm. "What's happened?"
          "Looks like a subdural haematoma. She'll need immediate surgery."
          Stunned, the partners looked at each other blankly. "Well, that's that lead down the pan. S'pose we'd better let Cowley know..."

          "If it's any consolation, sir, I think she would have held out under questioning for some time. She was still bluffing up until that point." Bodie held the handset away, waiting for the explosion; instead Cowley sounded resigned.
          "At least we know who else we're looking for. Nikos Costa rents the flat where the girl lives, and he owns a white Range Rover, registration Romeo Oscar Golf 932 Romeo. Get out and look for it; it has to be close by."
          "Er, it's a big area, sir."
          "You'd better get started then. Cowley out."
          Bodie hung up the handset. "Look for it. Where the heck does he suggest we start?"
          "She was on foot, right? Start at the supermarket and we'll work our way out from there."

          Bodie pulled up outside the shop, and as one the partners exited, looking around them.
          "Hilda had brought sandwiches and snack foods, enough for a couple of days. They're holed up somewhere." Bodie turned slowly, scanning the skyline. "They're in position for the hit, and it's a tall building... like that?"
          Doyle looked where he was pointing. "Let's check it out."
          Getting clearance from the caretaker, they emerged cautiously onto the roof but it was empty. "They're not up here, then."
          "Might not even be these buildings." Bodie holstered his Browning and stared out around the surrounding area. "The target could be anything around here. We'd be better off looking at a map and seeing if there's anything shaped like that diagram."
          "Mmm." Doyle was peering over the edge of the parapet. "Bodie, what do you see down there?"
          "The car park? And a white Range Rover..."
          "Let's find out if it's the one we're looking for..."

          Under cover of the trees at the edge of the car park, Bodie scanned the upper floors of the flats with binoculars. "Nothing. It would help if we knew which direction they might be shooting in."
          "Nothing obvious on the map, I looked. It's unlikely you'll see anything through the windows from this angle anyway; we need to check the flats."
          "On our own? That's going to take ages!"
          "In the words of our illustrious leader, better get started then," Doyle grinned. "We'll take it a block at a time, and we only need check the top two floors..."

          Doyle thumbed his R/T. "Bodie? Where are you?"
          "Just left Flat 228."
          "Come down to 125. I think I'm onto something." He slipped the R/T back into his pocket. "So, you think something is wrong with your neighbour?"
          Muriel Wilson nodded. "She's normally so friendly - we pop in and out each other's flats all the time. And yesterday when I called she kept the door half-closed. I know Frank's had a cold, so thought maybe their son Billy had picked it up. Barbara's never stopped me going in before, although I thought perhaps Frank might be contagious. Oh!" She jumped as Bodie appeared abruptly around the door.
          "This is my partner. Mrs Wilson was just telling me about Frank and Barbara Prior at number 128; acting oddly yesterday. And you haven't seen them today?"
          "No. I didn't like to call, but thought it strange that Barbara hasn't been over."
          "You didn't see anyone about that you don't know?"
          "Well... there was a young woman going down the stairs earlier, just as I came back from the shops. I didn't know her but thought she was visiting someone."
          "Can you describe her?"
          "Dark hair, I think - she had a headscarf around it. Wearing a patterned blouse and red skirt; it was a sort of peasant-style outfit."
          "Hilda," Bodie nodded.
          "Sounds like it." Doyle stood up. "Mrs Wilson, we need to call for some back-up, and then I'm going to come back and ask you some more questions."

          While Bodie got their flak jackets from the boot, Doyle radioed in to report to Cowley. "Sir, we've found the Range Rover, outside some flats which are high enough to provide the assassin with the trajectory on the diagram, and we think we've pinpointed his location in one of the flats."
          "Good work!"
          "He's got hostages. A family. It'll need to be a rapid assault."
          "I'll organise a back-up team and equipment. Find out what you can about positions and work up a strategy."

          An hour later, the caretaker's flat had been commandeered as a temporary headquarters and after telling them what she could about the interior of the flat Mrs Wilson had been elected honorary tea-maker.
          Phillips was already connecting up microphones by the time Cowley arrived with Lucas and McCabe. "What have we got? Are you certain he's in the flat?"
          "I got one of the locals to go up with the caretaker and the photo of Scafross. He's confirmed the lady who answered the door is the owner. She said she hadn't seen the man in the photo, but she seemed alarmed and barely opened the door. I think he's in there." Doyle drew a rough plan forward. "Mrs Wilson, a neighbour, has been very helpful. This is the layout of the Priors' flat. Corridor from the front door, two bedrooms off to the left, one to the right. That's the open dining area, the lounge opens onto the balcony, and the kitchen around to the right at the rear. If we can work out where he's holding the hostages, we have plenty of opportunities for entries through the windows all round."
          "Tea?" Mrs Wilson thrust a tray in front of them.
          "Thank you." Cowley accepted the cup with a smile before returning to their conversation. "I worked on Tommy. He gave up a few more names of those who helped raise the money for the hit, but he doesn't know who the target is; only Costa and the woman knew, he says. So we've got to assume Costa is in the flat; but probably only the two of them."
          "That's still two too many."
          "What about the target?" Bodie joined them. "Anyone had any bright ideas?"
          "What's the scope like from the flat? What directions are possible?"
          "North looks unlikely." Doyle indicated the plan again. "There are other flats jutting out over here, even the kitchen window doesn't offer a great range. West or south are possible."
          Bodie produced a map and spread it over Doyle's plan. "South from here... a couple of miles... Morden? Kingston?"
          "Or west?"
          A radio came on, and Doyle turned to scowl at the caretaker. "We're trying to concentrate."
          The caretaker swiftly switched the radio off again. "Sorry, guv. Just wondered what the score was at Wimbledon."
          Bodie's finger came to rest on the map. "Wimbledon. It's a couple of miles west of here..."
          Doyle caught on quickly, "...and that diagram, could it be the Centre Court?"
          "The Tennis Championships?"
          "It's coming up to the end of the contest. Ladies' Finals day today."
          "And the Mens' Finals are tomorrow. Attended by a good number of special guests, including Royals. Royals with Greek connections?" Doyle hazarded a guess.
          Cowley nodded. "That has to be it. I'll check out the most likely hit - let's hope it's someone on the guest list tomorrow rather than today."
          "Hilda had bought quite a bit of food. Enough till Saturday."
          "Let's hope so. You two liaise with Phillips and see if he can work out where the hostages are being held."

          The partners travelled up in the lift to the top floor with Phillips, planning to let down microphones from the flat above 128.
          Bodie tapped on the door of 228; the pretty girl who answered smiled welcomingly at him. "I thought we made the date for tomorrow night?"
          "Yes, that's quite right." Bodie insinuated himself inside the door. "We just need to borrow your flat..."
          "What?" She allowed herself to be drawn back inside, looking in bemusement at Doyle and Phillips following on, equipment in hand.
          "We've got a bit of a situation in the flat downstairs. You don't mind if we make ourselves at home...?" Bodie opened the sliding door to the small balcony, and he and Phillips disappeared outside.
          The girl looked blankly at Doyle. "What sort of a situation? Who are you all, anyway?"
          "The cavalry," Doyle said with a smile. "I didn't realise Bodie knew anyone in the building."
          "Is that his name?" She grinned impishly. "We only met this afternoon."
          "He's a fast worker. I'm Ray Doyle."
          "Nice to meet you. I'm Chloe."
          Bodie popped back into the room like a genie, giving Doyle his: 'I saw her first' warning glare.
          Doyle grinned back. Even if he had no intention of moving in on her, they were likely to be spending quite a few hours in Chloe's flat and it would never do to miss any opportunity of winding Bodie up.
          Bodie decided to ignore Doyle for the time being. "The position's perfect. Brains is setting up microphones over the balcony above their patio door, and can do the same over the side window of the lounge. We'll need to hang some more out of your side windows, love."
          "Only if you explain exactly what's going on."
          Doyle left Bodie to explain and went out to inspect the balcony. It was a sharpish drop but easy enough; he supposed he or Bodie would get to do that one. A drop from the roof into one of the bedrooms on the south, and maybe one from the north, plus one coming through the main door. It was only going to work if they knew where the hostages were though.
          "What's the signal like?" he asked Brains quietly. The boffin gave him the thumbs up, and moved to the side of the block. Doyle stood and gazed out ahead of him; somewhere over there was Wimbledon and the tennis courts, and just below them, if they were right, was the killer they had to stop. Better pray they were right; they didn't have time to have got it wrong...

          "Penny for them..." Cowley's quiet voice came out of the shadows as Doyle paused beside the swimming pool.
          "Sir. Just getting a breath of fresh air."
          "Me too. Where's Bodie?"
          "Up in 228, going over the equipment again." At least, that was what he'd said. Doyle kept his thoughts to himself regarding whose equipment Bodie was possibly going over.
          "Good. Can't afford to get it wrong."
          "No sir." The night sky was already lightening. They were planning to hit early, hoping to catch Scafross and Costa half asleep. Their surveillance had pinpointed the hostage family as having been shut into the middle bedroom; there had been some murmured but terrified conversation between the Priors presumably after their young son had fallen asleep. They couldn't know anyone was out there ready to help them, and were assuming the worst.
          Bodie was going over the balcony; Doyle would be going in through the front door. McCabe would drop from the roof and get into the hostages' room via the open window.
          Unlike most of their rapid assaults, they were going in quietly. The neighbour had a key to the door which would enable them silent and easy access, and everything pointed to them being able to disarm and disable their targets without harm to the hostages.
          They hoped.
          Cowley consulted his watch in the half-light. "Time you were getting into position."

          The lights in the corridor were dimmed. Doyle exited from the stairwell and softly moved towards the front door of number 128. He knew Bodie and McCabe were in position; Cowley was upstairs directing the operation and they were only waiting for him to get into position outside the door before the operation was underway.
          The keys felt hot in his palm. There was too much that could go wrong with this; the mortice lock had to be keyed first and if the key was in the lock on the other side it would stymie any further plans. Any sound, and he could alert those inside.
          Holding the keys rigidly, Doyle eased the solid 5-levered brass key into the chamber. No obstruction; no sound. It bit, and turned, and he drew it away, breathing again.
          Just the Yale now. Sliding the key into the cylinder, he paused and took a step away to thumb his R/T. "4.5, in position. Lower lock released, upper lock ready to go."
          "Thirty seconds, 4.5."
          Thirty seconds to wait. Doyle mentally counted them down, knowing that McCabe would be sliding down the outside walls, and Bodie going over the balcony. Ten, nine, eight...
          Browning ready in his right hand, he took hold of the latchkey with his left and turned it, pushing gently on the door, releasing the key as soon as the door cleared the jam.
          The flat was dark and shadowy, beyond the end of the corridor Doyle could see the large expanse of patio door, dawn breaking behind it. He took several cautious steps forward...

          The light that snapped on left him blinking and took him by surprise. "Come in. We've been waiting for you."
          Scafross sat on the sofa, revolver held at the young boy's head, and Doyle felt a muzzle firmly connect with his back as Costa came out of the dining area behind him. He let his Browning drop and spoke up loudly - at the very least he could warn McCabe of the setback; to defend the bedroom and protect the parents. "No need to hurt the boy."
          "We'll see. Get your friend in from outside." Scafross gestured to the patio. Recognising it would do no good to deny anyone was out there, Doyle stepped forward and opened the door. "He's got us over a barrel, Bodie. Put your gun down."
          Bodie came through the door ready for action, but under the aim of the SMG Costa was holding realised instantly that Doyle was right, and his gun joined Doyle's on the floor. Costa waved them back against the wall before collecting their weapons, and Scafross smiled.
          "I'm glad you are both sensible. Perhaps we will all walk away from this."
          "What makes you think you're walking anywhere?"
          "Because I am still walking. You think this is the first time I have been in this position? I am not an amateur." Although arrogant, Scafross was relaxed and the partners could see there was every chance he was right. Cowley wouldn't take any risks with the boy's life; Scafross had only to keep that gun right where it was, and he'd get away. "Your microphones tapped against the walls. I knew how you would try to take me. I also know you will let us go. I want a car."
          "It's not down to us."
          Scafross laughed at Doyle. "Of course it isn't. You have a radio; consult with your superior."
          It was Bodie who hooked his R/T from his pocket; he'd had the channel open so Cowley should already be up to speed. "3.7, sir."
          "Yes Bodie, I heard him." Cowley could only imagine their positions, but must have heard from McCabe that the boy wasn't in the bedroom. Much as it would gall him, the car would be provided. "We're organising a car now."
          "You have ten minutes. Then we are going to walk downstairs; if the car is not ready and waiting with the engine running then what happens to this boy will be on your conscience."
          The time stretched out; Doyle considered trying to talk Scafross round but remembering how callously the assassin had shot the golfer, reckoned he'd just be wasting his breath. What really concerned him what was Scafross intended to do with his hostage. The boy's life wouldn't be worth a brass farthing once Scafross was clear; they couldn't just let him drive away with the boy but Doyle didn't see how they were going to wrest him away.
          "We will go now." Scafross stood up and pulled the boy closer, arm around his neck, tapping his chest with the gun. "You will keep close to me, understand?"
          He didn't wait for the boy's nervous nod. "Costa, you will follow us down and keep these two at bay."
          His accomplice nodded, and as Scafross headed for the door Costa fell in behind. The partners waited only until they'd reached the corridor before moving after them, Bodie also transmitting. "Sir, Scafross and Costa are on their way down; Scafross has the lad Billy with him. We're following."
          "We're ready."
          Reaching the stairwell, Doyle paused at the top. Costa was backing down the steps keeping him covered, and there was no sense in harrying them; the boy was terrified and tired and Scafross was already practically dragging him down the stairs.
          Bodie had vanished, and Doyle guessed he'd either taken the lift or run through to the other stairwell. Cowley and Lucas would have the area covered downstairs, but Bodie preferred to be where the action was.
          "Stay back!" Costa shouted up the warning - unnecessary, since Doyle didn't intend to get too close. He followed at a floor's distance, allowing them to take their time in descending. There was a pause when they reached the ground floor as they left the stairwell, then he could hear Cowley.
          "The car's waiting, just as you wanted. Let the boy go."
          Scafross' response was inaudible, but as Doyle emerged from the stairwell he saw the position hadn't changed. Costa was still covering Scafross' back as they made their way towards Cowley's Rover, which had obviously been chosen as the best vehicle to give them.
          Doyle joined his boss at the doorway. "Do we try and take them?"
          Cowley shrugged helplessly. He wouldn't order his men to attempt a rescue when lives were at risk; but they all knew his wishes, if an opportunity presented itself...

          Scafross had reached the Rover and released his necklock on Billy, intending to push the boy across the front seat. In spite of - or perhaps because of - the danger he was in, Billy wrenched himself backwards, away from Scafross' grasp, falling and scrambling to one side.
          Scafross didn't waste time trying to catch him, throwing himself into the car and without pause revving the engine and releasing the handbrake. Costa, still backing towards the vehicle, turned immediately at the noise, and shouted in anger as the car took off. "Georgi!"
          "Drop it!" Lucas and Bodie sprang up from the bushes, and fired together as Costa turned the SMG in their direction. He fell heavily and lay immobile as the blast of the gunshots died away and the echo of the Rover's engine receded, leaving just the sound of Billy whimpering for his mum...
          Doyle reached his huddled figure first. "It's OK, son. It's over now."
          Cowley hurried over. "Leave him with me. Get after Scafross; the tracker's live on my car."

          Bodie had retrieved their weapons from Costa's belt, and they ran for the Triumph.
          Tossing both guns at Doyle, Bodie reversed violently before heading for the main road. "Get us a direction!"
          Doyle had already snatched up the radio handset. "4.5 to Control. We need the trace on Cowley's Rover!"
          "Hold on, 4.5."
          "We don't have time to hold on!"
          "Heading north on Garratt Lane."
          Bodie swung the car out right and put his foot down. The lack of early morning traffic was helpful - but it had also helped Scafross in getting a good start. "4.5, the Rover's just turned right onto Earlsfield Road."
          "How far's that?"
          Doyle had managed to find their location on the A to Z. "About half a mile, just after the railway line. Control, can we rustle up any support? Watch only, no contact - the suspect is armed and dangerous."
          "Contacting the Met now, 4.5. Rover is still heading north-east, just passed the junction with Trinity Road onto Windmill Road."
          Engine roaring, Bodie skidded the Triumph into Earlsfield Road, narrowly missing a milk float and even more narrowly missing the milkman.
          "Scafross is at least a mile ahead," Doyle told him. "If we don't get someone in front we're going to lose him..."
          "Not as long as the tracker is working."
          "4.5, the Rover has stopped, I repeat, the Rover is stationery at the end of Spencer Park and the junction of Battersea Rise. No Met vehicles close enough to assist."
          "Might be as well," Bodie muttered. "Scafross doesn't seem choosy about who he shoots..."
          Minutes later, they spotted the Rover at the kerb. There was no sign of the assassin, and the partners made only a cursory check of the immediate area. Bodie swore. "Lost him. Cowley isn't going to be pleased."
          "Could have been worse," Doyle reminded him. "Scafross might be on the run but we've got his weapon, and we saved the hostages and got Costa."

          Cowley looked resigned as they returned to the flats, Doyle driving the Rover. "He dumped the car, and there was no sign of him. Sorry, sir."
          "Could have been worse, I suppose," Cowley echoed Doyle's words. "You've put out a fresh APB?"
          "Everyone's onto it, sir. He's got to get out of the country somehow; we'll pick him up."
          "We'd better. Help Lucas and McCabe with the rest of the equipment then the pair of you can stand down for a few hours. I'm going back to headquarters to issue a few warnings to the Greek community." Taking his keys from Doyle, Cowley headed for his car.
          "A few hours? Didn't exactly get much sleep last night," Bodie complained.
          "At least you spent it in the company of the lovely Chloe." Doyle grinned. "Gave you a chance to get to know her better before you go on your first date."
          "Maybe. Having you along as chaperone didn't exactly help." Bodie punched the button to call the lift, frowning. "In fact, you were far too conspicuous. You could have made yourself scarce."
          "And miss out on all your best chat-up lines? Learning from the master, I am. Anyway, you would still have had Brains wandering about."
          "Yeah. He's weird." As they emerged at the top floor they met Lucas and McCabe carrying out equipment boxes. "Oh good, all finished?"
          "All without your help," Lucas agreed, grinning.
          "Listen mate, we've been chasing the assassin. I'm quite happy to swap you that sort of job any time."
          "Me too," McCabe grinned as well. "We might have caught him."
          "I'm going down to see how the hostages are." Doyle left them to it before the argument could develop, and trotted down the stairs to the seventh floor.
          The door to 128 stood open, and Muriel Wilson could be heard inside. "My dear, I was so shocked when those nice young men told me what could be happening. I couldn't imagine how you must be feeling."
          Barbara Prior was trying to look unconcerned but Doyle saw straight through the brave front. "How are you feeling?"
          "This is Mr Doyle, Barbara. He's - "
          "- not got long, Mrs Wilson, and I'd like to chat to Mrs Prior alone for a bit. Do you mind?" Ushering her towards the door, Doyle shut it behind her.
          He got a weak smile. "Thanks. She means well, but..."
          "Is a bit overpowering? I thought so. How's Billy?"
          "Shocked. But not hurt. My husband is with him."
          "He was brave, freeing himself as he did."
          "I think he was too scared to think about being brave. That man - the one they called Georgi - had pulled him out of the bedroom without us knowing. I mean, he'd not really treated us badly, but those guns..."
          "You had a lucky escape." Doyle didn't want to scare her further, but thought privately that Scafross would have been unlikely to leave them alive after his job was done. "Did you hear them talking at all? Anything you can remember that might help us?"
          "Your Mr Cowley asked me that. They talked, but it wasn't anything important. They were talking in a foreign language quite often, I suppose when they didn't want us to know what they were saying."
          "Seems likely." Doyle stood up to leave; she didn't know anything that would help them. The bedroom door was slightly ajar, and Billy was peeping out.
          "I heard them."
          "Billy? What did you hear?" Doyle beckoned him out.
          "Last night, when we were waiting. They were talking about where they would go."
          "Can you remember any names, or addresses?"
          "Georgi was asking Costa for directions, in case they got separated."
          Billy closed his eyes, and recited from memory. "Costa said to go to the tavern near Tommy's flat and Tarkos would help him."
          Doyle controlled his interest with difficulty, not wanting to influence Billy's recollection. "Are you sure about the name?"
          The boy nodded. "I remember thinking it was a bit like Tarzan. What's a tavern, though?"
          "A pub - although, could the word have been taverna?"
          "That was it! What's one of them?"
          "It's a restaurant, Billy. A Greek restaurant." Now he was sure, Doyle had an appointment with a certain Greek restaurant owner. "I need to get going. Cowley left you a number to call if you need anything?"
          "He did," Barbara nodded. "I hope you catch him."
          "We will." Doyle ruffled Billy's hair. "Get back to bed and catch up on some sleep."

          Thirty seconds later, he was banging on the door to 228. "Bodie! C'mon, we've got to get going!"
          Chloe opened the door, wearing a dressing gown. "I thought you'd got a few hours off..."
          "So did I, darling. Where is he? I've got a lead."
          Bodie appeared from the bedroom, pulling on his poloneck. "What's up?"
          "The lad, Billy. He heard them talking - Scafross is on his way to Tarkos."
          "Tarkos?" Still half-asleep, Bodie took a few seconds to realise who Doyle was talking about. "Your not-so-friendly Greek."
          "The very same. So much for not being political; he's in it up to his crooked little neck..."

          It was still early and the trip across town didn't take them long, although the traffic was getting heavier as they reached the North London suburb. Bodie pulled in close to where they'd arrested Tommy. "Leave the car here?"
          Doyle agreed. They needed to keep this low key; they didn't know whether Scafross was there yet. They needed him inside where they could corner him - if he got wind of anything before that they'd be clutching at dust again.
          It wasn't even seven-thirty yet, Doyle realised as he glanced at his watch. People were just getting up, early workers on their way to catch the bus or tube. The partners drew more than a few glances; the taking of the assassin uppermost in their minds, thoughts which were translated into determination in their stance and pace.
          They paused on the corner opposite the restaurant, which was closed and dark. "It'll have been open until about eleven-thirty last night," Doyle muttered. "Staff won't be in until about eleven, I shouldn't think, but Tarkos lives over the premises."
          "I don't imagine Scafross will come up openly to the front door anyway. Does it have a backyard?"
          "Oh yeah." Doyle remembered the last time he'd been in the backyard, following a police raid. Tarkos had got off that time. "Not easy to watch though."
          "Do we need backup?"
          "Yeah, let's get someone out front who Scafross won't know. Then we can lurk around the back..."
          "You call it in. I'll keep an eye on the place - and find us some breakfast," Bodie added, gesturing to the baker's which had just opened. "What do you fancy?"
          "Anything. Actually, everything - I'm starvin'..."
          By the time Doyle returned, Bodie had beguiled the young female assistant into packing several boxes with freshly-made sandwiches, doughnuts and cakes.
          "That should keep us going."
          "You're joking, this will just about do for breakfast. I've asked her to put some sarnies aside for our lunch."
          It had been a long while since Mrs Wilson's biscuits the previous evening, Doyle realised, as his stomach rumbled at the smell of fresh croissants. "Cowley's sending Jax up to cover the front. Let's find ourselves a vantage point, and get eating."
          They ended up several doors down, lurking in the doorway of the laundrette and earning themselves curious glances from the manageress as they munched their way through several sticky confections.
          Jax arrived on foot, and immediately tried to take the bag off Bodie. "Anything left for me?"
          "You can buy your own," Bodie told him hard-heartedly. "We've been up all night."
          "It shows." Jax was fresh from his bed, and Doyle was suddenly conscious of how scruffy they must look. No wonder the laundrette lady had been glaring at them for cluttering up her doorstep.
          "You know who we're looking for?"
          "Scafross. I've kept up with the case. You think he's coming here?"
          "It's a long shot, but we know he was given this location. If he sees us he's going to make a run for it, so we're going to take the back."
          "OK. I've got a bag of washing in the car," Jax said, gesturing to the laundrette. "It'll be a good place to keep watch."
          Bemused, Bodie paused in his munching. "You just happened to have your washing along?"
          Jax shook his head, grinning. "I always keep a bag of clothes in the car in case there's a laundrette handy for a stakeout. And it means I always have a change of clothing."
          "The original boy scout..." Bodie resumed his consumption of the fourth Danish. All that sugar had to be good for something, but it didn't seem to be having the desired affect this morning...

          "7.1 to 4.5."
          "Come in Jax. What's happening?"
          "Nothing. Except I've just put my washing on for the third time, and the manageress is getting very suspicious. Think I might have to confide in her."
          "Tell her you're the new James Bond."
          "Dey ain't goin' ta make no black guy James Bond, man." As Doyle laughed, Jax reverted to his normal voice. "Nah, I'll spin her a line and try and keep it simple - I don't think she could handle secret agents."
          "OK - call in if you need rescuing from her."
          Doyle was feeling hungry again. It was nearly ten and he and Bodie had finished the bag of food a couple of hours ago. Maybe he should wake his partner and send him off in search of more. On the other hand, they could expect Scafross any time now, and Doyle didn't particularly want to face him single-handed.
          Still, he shouldn't have to suffer alone, and he nudged Bodie, who despite being perched awkwardly upright, leaning against the wall and sitting on a dustbin, had somehow managed to fall asleep. "Wha?"
          "C'mon Sleeping Beauty. Rise and shine."
          Bodie yawned. "Any sign?"
          "Not yet. All quiet, although Jax is starting an affair with the woman in the laundrette."
          "Rather him than me." From what Bodie had seen, she was a battleaxe. "Any food left?" he asked hopefully.
          "Nope. You ate it all."
          "Shall I fetch some more?"
          "Just what I was thinking. But we could be getting a visitor soon. I've heard Tarkos or one of his sons around in the yard a couple of times, but nothing out of the ordinary."
          Bodie slid off of the dustbin and stretched. "You really think he's going to turn up? Far more likely to be heading for the coast or airport."
          "He came into the country on a false passport, and we have that covered. All his contacts are dead or gone. In order to get out he's going to need papers and transport, and Costa told him to come to Tarkos. So I'd say we've got a good chance of seeing him, yeah."
          Bodie trusted Doyle's instincts, but several hours had now elapsed since their last sighting of the assassin. "Taking his time though. It's just -" He cut off what he was saying as they heard the restaurant door open.
          "... to the supplier. I'll only be half an hour."
          Peering cautiously around the corner of the yard they were in, the partners saw Tarkos' burly son emerge from the restaurant yard and clambering into a dirty van, drive away.
          "Good," Doyle muttered. "One less in there."
          "Wish we knew who was in there. There's no chance Scafross got here before us, I suppose?"
          "Well, we had transport and knew exactly where to come, he'd got to find out. Maybe we should grab junior when he gets back and go in with him..." Doyle took one last glance down the service road at the vanishing van and suddenly dodged back.
          "It's him," he hissed. "Just coming."
          They shrank back into the recesses of the yard and crouched behind the poor cover provided by the dustbins, hoping Scafross would head straight into the restaurant and not thoroughly check out the area first.
          His shoes scuffed on the uneven surface and they heard him pause, before the gate latch clicked and his footsteps headed alongside them. A tap at the door, and Tarkos answered.
          Annoyingly, their brief but quiet conversation couldn't be heard beyond the tone of voices: Scafross demanding and insistent, Tarkos reluctant. The partners heard the door slam shut and a quick glance over the wall confirmed both men had gone inside.
          "Tarkos didn't sound pleased to see him."
          "Would you be pleased, having a high-class assassin on your back doorstep?" Doyle pulled out his R/T. "4.5 to 7.1. Scafross has just turned up; he's inside. Call it in to Cowley and raise a few more bodies, then cover the front. We're moving in."
          "7.1, understood."

          Scafross had left the gate open, and the partners went through almost on hands and knees to the cover of boxes and bins. A quick check showed the door was shut, and from what they could see through the windows, the kitchen looked deserted. It was probably too early for any of the staff to be in yet. Nevertheless, they approached the door cautiously, taking a side each, and Doyle reached and pulled at the door quietly.
          It didn't budge; the Yale lock was engaged. "Dammit." Tucking his gun back into the holster Doyle reached for the small piece of plastic he always carried, and within a couple of seconds had slipped the catch. Opening the door just an inch, he peered and listened. Nothing.
          Nodding to Bodie, he took out his Browning again and they let themselves into the kitchen, pausing to listen.
          The only immediate sounds were of several large pans gently bubbling with various, delicious-smelling, recipes, and Bodie's stomach joined in. He grinned at Doyle as they advanced through the kitchen towards the restaurant, where voices could be heard.
          "I thought you were making the hit today! What has gone wrong?"
          "Everything. Your plans were poor, the people you chose to help you were weak."
          "But you've been paid - you must do the job!"
          "My identity is known to the authorities; by now they must know who the target is and security will be tighter than ever. I have no weapon, no plan and no guaranteed escape route. To attempt such a thing now would be suicide and I am not going to be a martyr in your cause."
          Pausing at the door, the partners stopped to listen.
          "We were told you were the best, that if you were paid for a job then the job would be done. We have paid a lot of money for such an expert."
          "I am an expert!" A crash made them jump; probably Scafross had overturned a chair. "An expert surrounded by amateurs. I cannot take the blame for your failures. It is irrelevant anyway. I am only here because I need to get out of the country."
          "And you think I will help you?" Doyle knew that Tarkos had a lot of contacts and probably wouldn't have much trouble laying his hands on fake papers if he wanted to - but he didn't sound like he wanted to. "You have cost our cause time and money; you can make your own plans to leave the country."
          The partners tensed at the unmistakeable sound of the revolver being cocked. "I don't think you understand. That was not a request. You will assist me, if you value your life."
          "I think that's our cue," Bodie murmured.
          Nodding in agreement, Doyle held up three fingers; two, one, and they burst into the restaurant together. "Drop it, Scafross!"
          Scafross was close to Tarkos and he swiftly grabbed the restaurant owner, holding the revolver to his head and smiling. "Or what?"
          Doyle stepped forward, still holding his weapon at the ready. "Well, we could shoot you. But we'd much prefer not to do that."
          Tarkos was stuttering incoherently. "Mr Doyle, please..."
          Scafross began to back towards the main door, pulling Tarkos with him. "I don't know how you two found me. But once again, I shall take my leave."
          Bodie shook his head. "Not this time. We've got men out there with orders not to let you go anywhere."
          "Face it, Scafross, it's over. Drop the gun." The partners advanced as Doyle continued. "You see, last time you had an innocent boy as hostage, and we were concerned for his life. Now, you just have Tarkos, and while I'm sure he has a loving family to mourn him, we won't be grieving very hard if he should happen to get shot."
          "So, it's up to you," Bodie followed up. "Shoot your hostage, or don't. Try and escape, or don't. Makes not a lot of difference to us, we're going to take you, one way or another."
          Scafross stopped, looking between them. "You're bluffing. You English are soft; you won't let him die."
          "Try us."
          For a moment it seemed he might surrender; then with a shout, he pushed Tarkos heavily to one side, and began firing. Ducking the partners leapt apart and returned fire, their joint volley of bullets smashing into Scafross' chest and blasting him backwards to hit the benchseat and slide to the ground...

          As they checked the body, Doyle's R/T crackled into life. "Alpha to 4.5, what's the situation?"
          "Scafross is dead, sir. Tarkos, some might say unfortunately, is unhurt."
          Scrambling to his feet, Tarkos began to screech indignantly. "You, you should protect me, not allow these, these assassins to run loose and threaten innocent people..."
          "Oh, stop complaining. You're still alive, aren't you? What?" Doyle paused as Bodie tapped him on the shoulder and looked where his partner pointed, before grinning. "Anyway, you have other things to worry about..."
          Turning, Tarkos looked towards the mantelpiece where his precious Limoges was displayed, his wail of dismay echoing loudly in their ears as they left to greet their boss...


© Carol Good - October 2005