We Wish You a Merry Christmas


The sound was sudden, shrill, unexpected. Bodie jumped up, gun in hand. He pointed it at the source of the noise and looked. A shrill rendition of 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' was forcing its way out of a music box. Bodie swore and sat down on the floor hard.

The bloody fucking music box. That's where it was, then. It must have lodged itself behind the bookshelf, and Bodie's search for an extra box of ammo had made it fall. They'd spent a long, unsuccessful time looking for it last year.


Bodie suddenly moved towards the box and shut the lid down. He kept its hand over it, white fingers over burnished mahogany. It was actually Doyle who had looked for the thing, as Bodie couldn't be bothered and watched TV throughout the search.

Bodie looked at the box again: the wood was painted with a bunch of wildflowers, not particularly Christmassy. The enamel-like paint was slightly raised; even under the finishing varnish he felt tiny petal- shaped bumps under his fingertips. He took his hand away, then grasped his gun by the barrel and started to hit the box with the gun handle. Slowly, methodically, calmly, he continued until the box was a mess of smashed wood splinters and metal. After a botched attempt at rendering 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' again, the tinny chimes were silent, except for an odd, off-key sound from time to time.

'Feeling better now?' Doyle asked from the door. Tired of waiting downstairs, he had used his own copy of the keys to enter. He hadn't used them in a while now and somehow it felt strange, but he wasn't certainly saying so to Bodie. 'We're already late and Lucas will be quite mad if we don't relieve him soon.' Two men for the day stakeout in Davenport street, one man for the night. Reinforcements by midnight, as the time the op might break drew nearer. Christmas time, of course. 'C'mon, Bodie, stop playing around and move.' It was cruel, mocking Bodie so. Doyle did remember the box. But it was over, wasn't it? They were over.

Bodie stood up and put his gun back in its shoulder holster. He pointedly avoided looking at Doyle; he walked around the wreck of the box, picked up his jacket without stopping its his trajectory for the door, and walked out. The door slammed, startling Doyle from its his brief contemplation of the wood splinters; he followed Bodie, fast but not as fast as he could. He had the car keys.

Bodie was waiting at the car, driver's side. He didn't look at Doyle directly but held out a hand for the keys. He certainly wasn't letting Doyle drive now. Petty, maybe, but still it felt good that the message was loud enough for Doyle to pick up. Once inside the car, engine on and foot down on the accelerator, Bodie concentrated on driving. Bloody Doyle could have his cake and eat it. He wasn't going to play along, not anymore.

The tyres squealed loudly as the car took a corner too fast in the driving sleet and Bodie had to fight to control it. His barely breathed 'fuck' was covered by the much louder one from Doyle. 'FUCK, BODIE! What the fuck you think you're doing ?' Bodie turned his head to glare at his passenger, and almost missed a red light. Doyle punched the dashboard and swore again. 'Christ on a crutch! You blind as well as stupid?'

Bodie swore too, unconsciously mirroring Doyle's movements as he slammed his hands hard on the wheel. 'It's dusk, you moron! It's difficult to see a light, especially if I'm sitting next to someone who keeps distracting me!'

He was not exactly screaming, yet the air in the car seemed to shake with the force of it. The light turned green again, and Bodie started the car viciously, barrelling into the deserted streets towards the docks. Doyle's ignoring him lasted until the first squeal of tyres and swerve of car. 'BODIE! That's enough! Stop the car! Stop it now!' Bodie complied immediately and abruptly, almost sending a swearing Doyle through the windscreen.

'Happy now, Doyle?'

Doyle wanted to wipe that smirk off Bodie's face. This was not working, this trying to pretend everything was fine, that they could keep on going, being best CI5 team and best buddies and generally supermen. And Bodie, Bodie using his own words at him... No. No. NO. Doyle's fist slammed against the passenger's window, heedless of eventual damage. He looked around, then abruptly opened the car door, got out and stood still under the freezing sky, breathing deeply. Bodie kept staring ahead, his hands on the steering wheel, standard ten to four position. Doyle sighed and turned to enter the car again, sitting and then resting his head back, eyes closed. 'Let's just fuck, hey?'

Bodie took a deep breath and squeezed the wheel. He stared ahead, a tiny corner of his mind following the course of sleet spatterings melting over the windscreen and forming tiny twisted rivers, sometimes merging into one, sometimes diverging suddenly and wildly. Then, in the same sudden movement, he locked the door with his right elbow and grabbed Doyle's shirt front.

Doyle wasn't exactly expecting it. He wasn't expecting anything in fact. Bodie had yanked him forward, and now Doyle's neck hurt. 'You never say no, do you?' Sometimes it was easy, goading Bodie into action. Too easy, and not pleasant. Sometimes Doyle just could not, would not help it. 'What's it going to be this time? Want me to suck you off again? You love that, don't you?' He waited for Bodie's reaction, barely breathing, the windows of the car starting to become clouded, the heating on at full blast. 'Makes you feel like a man, that does.' There. Bull's-eye. Ironic how Doyle's mind kept playing the silly tune We Wish You a Merry Christmas, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, We Wish You... Doyle wondered briefly if Bodie was going to crush him, this time, just as he had crushed the wooden box.

Bodie ignored him and went on with the business at hand. One hand to shut Doyle's foul mouth up. Check. Another hand to grope for the lever to flatten the passenger seat. Check, no, wait, yes; check. The newly-freed hand now busy opening his trousers. Check. Then Doyle's fly. Buttons, dammit. Now, one at a time. Yes. Check. Then push Doyle back and flatten him with his own weight. Check. Then start pushing. Push push push... He tuned out the curses from Doyle, and the sounds from both of them. He tuned out the little tinny sound of chimes in the back of his head. We Wish You a Merry Christmas, We Wish You a Merry Christmas. They didn't have a lot of time. And a Happy New Year. They had to be on their way soon. A Happy New Year. There was no time to lose. There was no time. No time. No.

And on their way they were, even before Doyle could raise his seat again: Bodie zipped up, wound his window down a chink to disperse the smell of sex, turned the ignition on and drove away. Doyle just lay there, breathing through his mouth and staring at the ceiling for a few minutes; then he briefly fiddled with his seat lever, and resumed its customary seated position. Bodie wound his window up again and Doyle turned up the heating a notch to get rid of the last vestiges of fog on the windscreen. The silence was screaming louder and louder in the confined space. The sleet had stopped.

As they turned the last corner before their destination, the night outside became a pageant of blinking lights, flares and floodlamps. A fire engine stood like a huge, misshapen Christmas tree; two smaller ambulances were squarish chunks at its feet, the red stripes making them look like parcels left by Santa. More, smaller shapes of unmarked cars surrounded the scene. Doyle swore and Bodie pushed that little bit more on the pedal. There were no sirens and the ambulances were still; the little people around them moved slowly, blurred little helpers in the wet, rimy night.

They could not really run because of the slippery new layer of slushy frost on top of the older, solid ice on the asphalt, and even if they had, time had taken on that eerie, slowed down quality that made it all unreal. The cold biting them as they got out of the car, the brightness of a floodlamp beam hitting them as they approached, the squeaks from a police radio, people calling orders and signals, and then the red stains on the snow: it all moved towards them slowly, almost gracefully, as if time had been muted by the muffling night.

The Old Man was standing near the blood, and old indeed he looked as he turned; then his features hardened and the suspended quality of the moment was broken by his voice addressing them in an icy flow of fury. Where the hell were they while Lucas was hit? They very well knew the op could break soon, there had been no time to lose, yet they'd been late.

They did what they always did: they stood it in sullen silence. Yet this time the silence was different, as different as the earlier one in the car. Bodie closed his eyes against a ghastly surge of song somewhere in his head. We Wish You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Doyle dug a ragged hole in the sleet with his left foot, dunking his trainer in the wet mush until it was smeared all over his shoe. Cowley was winding down now, would soon give them orders.

'To Guy's, the two of you. I want to hear Lucas's version as soon as he comes out of the emergency room: they'll have almost set his leg by now. I will deal with your behaviour tomorrow at oh-eight sharp, in my office. And I will want Lucas's report as well.'

They climbed back into the car, and drove westwards again to the hospital. Yet another silence had fallen, shroud-like, around them. Even the little tinny song was over in Bodie's mind.

-- THE END --

Twelfth Night 2004

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