The Holly and the Ivy
by Anna Parrish
December 22, 1988
The night was cold but the sky was clear. It was brilliant with stars, almost as though it too was celebrating Christmas with the people below. They were radiant lights given by God to give enrichment to those who mingled around savoring the cheer of the holidays.
Trafalgar Square was also enriched and adorned with the paraphernalia of the holiday season. London went all out for the twelve day period. Shops were aglow with lights and toys and decorations. A huge tree stood between the twin fountains. It rose majestically high into the air, a ruler of all who surveyed it. It's bright twinkling brought to the surface of Doyle's thinking that holidays were a time for loved ones.
He gazed solemnly at the four bronze lions. Even in the darkness, they had a sheen. People surrounded him as he stood silently in Trafalgar Square, moving back and forth, but no one pushed, no one seemed in a hurry to reach their destination. His eyes moved slowly upward until they came to rest on the cold looking statue of Lord Nelson. Doyle sighed and looked elsewhere. Nelson reminded him of Cowley, and Cowley reminded him of work that brought Bodie to mind, and Doyle desperately strove to stay away from that thought.
Loneliness and mild depression started then. Everyone around him seemed to be with someone...yet, he was alone...like always. That melancholy emotion started every year near Christmas time. It was something he had no control over. Like a headache, it kept coming back.
Carolers surrounded the tree. They sang "Silent Night" in loud joy. Someone in the group sang off key, but it did not faze the others who continued serenading anyone who wanted to pay attention to them. Doyle listened to them a moment and then left the square. Wind blew moisture from the fountains. The drops touched his face with cooling beads.
Down one street he went and then to the left. The sound of the singers vanished little by little until nothing was left but the hum of traffic, the buzz of people muttering to each other. A horn blared once...a man's voice raised in anger...but no one sang of joy and promise and hope...no one sang of Christmas and love and loved ones. For that, the slim, man was grateful.
Doyle had left the party at CI5 early.
Revelry and music, booze and sexual tensions were mere aggravations to him. Watching Bodie chatting up the women who were responding to his blatant sexually was not something he wanted to do. It wasn't something he could do. Besides, if he became inebriated, if his tight hold on the secret desire that burned brightly within him, were let loose....
The CI5 agent shuddered. Think about something else! he commanded himself.
He urgently sought something else to concentrate on. A toy store caught his attention.
A tiny train ran around a miniature Christmas tree.
An electric marionette of Father Christmas nodded his head wisely as he looked down at the tiny figure seated on his knee. The fake child was dressed in fake fur and red wool. Father Christmas wore his usual wreathe of mistletoe on his head. His gown was a pristine white.
Doyle smiled ruefully. It had been a long time since he had written a letter to Father Christmas. Sighing he moved on to the next window where a profusion of teddy bears, of all makes, all sizes, stood or sat, all waiting for children to come inside, for parents to buy them. A man came to the window, smiled at Doyle.
"Happy Christmas," he mouthed. Doyle nodded and walked on.
It wasn't a very happy Christmas for him.
He was cold and damp when he reached his apartment. Doyle found Bodie inside, waiting, a small tin settled in the middle of the tiny table in front of the sofa. Bodie searched his partner's face.
"Have a bit of the gloom, do you?" Bodie inquired gently.
"I'd thought you'd be in Miranda's bed by now," Doyle said, shutting the door behind him. He had heard the sympathy in the other man's voice, heard it and resented it.
"Thought about it," came the truthful reply.
"She choose someone else?"
"No," Bodie said quietly, "I did." Doyle looked at him, a queer expression on his face...he could feel it. He did his best to alter it. "Seemed to recall you had a touch of misery last year at this time as well." Doyle shrugged. "Couldn't leave a friend of mine beneath a lorry, now could I?"
"It'll go away, Bodie." Doyle jerked off his coat. "It always does." He hung it up.
"Your place is kinda bare. No tree this year?"
"It seems a waste, it does. Chop down a tree, garnish it with tinsel and garland and wait for it to die." Doyle shook his head. "Not for me."
"That's your trouble, sunshine," the blue eyed CI5 agent remarked casually. Doyle looked at him. "No Christmas spirit. Dickens should visit you."
"You know, those three ghosts of his...old king Morley, boo...rattle...that kind of thing."
The slimmer man remarked in a tired voice. "It was his ghosts that visited people, not him. Look, I want to go to bed. Why are you really here?"
"To play Santa Claus. Come sit on my lap, young Doyle, and tell me what you want most for the hols."
"Don't make jokes, Bodie. I'm too tired to play along."
"I'd be Father Christmas but I hate wearing mistletoe in my hair. Messy stuff."
"Cowley's lending us his cottage up near Loch Mary."
"Cowley never lends anything."
"He's lending this. We can keep it until after Twelfth night. I'd hate to go alone. Drive up with me. Look..." He lifted the tiro front the table. "...My landlady made a Christmas pudding. All we have to do is light it. She's even put a coin in it. Might get your wish, Doyle."
"He's giving us the cottage and time off? What's wrong? You catch him with his biscuits soaked in liquor?"
"Something like that. Well?"
"I don't think so. Like you said, I have no Christmas spirit. Hate to ruin your days off with my long face."
"You don't like the glitter and serenading, do you?"
"Nah, seems false, kind of." He went to the window, stood peering down at the outer world. His flesh tingled with the awareness that Bodie was near. It always did lately.
"Well then, you need time away from all that, don't you?" He stood up, walked slowly to Doyle. He did not touch him but he stood close enough to notice the slight flush on the other mans cheeks. "Come with, young Doyle. We'll hang stockings but we won't kill a tree...I promise. We'll write letters to Father Christmas, create the grandest bowl of wassail you've ever tasted. And don't forget the Christmas pudding. What's a hol without it?"
God knew how much Doyle wanted to be alone with Bodie, but it wouldn't do. No, it wouldn't do.
"I don't think so."
"You need it, sunshine. You need the rest, you know you do. That last case took a lot out of the both of us." He grinned slightly. Doyle's heart jumped. "Think of the privacy! Think of the quiet! Think of the change of scenery. Hell, think of Cowley actually giving us the use of his cottage. How can you think of turning down that?" Without giving Doyle a chance to make a statement, Bodie hurried on, "Don't make him regret his sudden burst of generosity. Who knows when he'll break down and do it again?"
Say no! Doyle's mind said, but his heart was louder. Say no! his sanity yelled, but his yearning was deafening. It drowned out all the lucid thoughts.
"Think logically. You've been invited to Meridian's party, to the one Boelter is given, to Marshanti's. If you stay, you'll be expected to go to every one of them. Otherwise, there will be much anger, and hurt feelings and that will carry over into the work place. Cowley won't like that, now will he? But...if you're out of town, then you can't go to the parties, can you?"
"And they can't very well get angry with you for not going to their festivities, can they?"
"Do you want to go to them?"
Doyle was weakening. He could feel it. He wanted to fight it but there seemed to be no strength in him...no strength at all.
"Well then?" Why did Doyle hear triumph in his friend's tone?
"I'll go to Scotland!" His breath halted in his lungs, frozen from the smile of delight Bodie gave him. Uneasiness waited at the back of his mind, waited to spring forth and disturb him. He shouldn't go. Bodie would find out and.... No, he had managed to hide it this long...he could hide it longer. Day after day they had worked side by side, in close contact, and Bodie hadn't discovered the truth yet, had he? Well then, what was the harm in going?
Bodie's smile altered slightly and then reversed back to one of joy. Doyle couldn't place that difference, couldn't give names to each expression. "Pack a bag, Ray. Mine's in the car."
"You were that sure of me?"
"I don't know if like that," Doyle said dryly.
"Course you do. We're partners and partners should know each other, don't, you think?"
Yeah! Doyle thought, but I hope to God you never learn everything about me.
"Good, but first a stop at HARRODS."
"It's a surprise, young Doyle. You shall have to wait until Christmas eve morning to find out."
Despite his mild depression, Doyle felt a stirring of interest. He watched that pleased smile pass quickly over his partner's face, and he smiled back. "No fair, Bodie. Give us a hint." He went into the bedroom.
"Nah. Didn't your mum ever tell you patience is a virtue?" Bodie inquired from the doorway. Doyle looked around and saw the heavier man leaning nonchalantly against the door frame.
His mood lightened even more. "Yeah, but did I listen?"
There was a blanket of snow over the village of Loch Mary. Bodie's car went into a minor skid once at the outskirts. It only took a moment for him to regain full control of his car.
"To the left at the next turn-off," Doyle said as he studied the map Cowley had given Bodie.
"What did you get back at HARRODS?"
"Told you, it's a surprise." Bodie turned left, leaving the town behind them.
"What was it you placed in your case you wouldn't let me see?"
"It's a surprise." Doyle took out a pack of gum, offered one to Bodie but he shook his head. The slim, green eyed agent pealed one for himself, popped it into his mouth.
Bodie muttered, "And you call me a fiend."
Bodie's low chuckle made shivers run up and down Doyle's spine.
Ten minutes later, Cowley's cottage came into view. It had been a long drive from London. They were both tired, but it was a good type of tiredness. There was that wonderful shared feeling of companionship, friendship, trust. Doyle's depression had receded into a dull grayness that tarried at the back of his awareness. He was glad he had agreed to go with Bodie. It felt natural being here with him.
Bodie parked the blue mini close to the small cottage and they both left the vehicle, stretching their muscles as they did.
"Hope Mrs. McCray lit that fire like I asked her to when I called." He opened the door, peered inside. "She did. Let's get the groceries in first, sunshine. I could use a cuppa right now." He shivered slightly. "Temp's falling."
"He have electricity in here?"
"There was an oil lamp lit in there."
"We'll make do. It won't be the first time, now will it?"
They took the groceries into the cottage. While Bodie brought the small, leather cases and the bags from HARRODS into the cottage, Doyle went into the tiny kitchen area and located the tea pot. Within moments water was heating up on the stove.
Electric lights burned merrily around the cottage.
"Found a generator," Doyle said as he sipped his hot tea.
"Glad you did. It cover the heat as well?"
"Yeah." He pulled of his shoes and wiggled them before the fire. "I don't suppose you picked up a tin of biscuits at HARRODS, did you?"
"I picked up two." His blue eyes twinkled merrily in the firelight's dancing beams. "I don't suppose you'd want to open one?"
"Are they covered in chocolate?"
"Of course. Nothing but the best for us. I set them in the kitchen on the table."
Doyle stood up. "I'll play the mother then."
Bodie lifted his cup. "Could go for another, sunshine. Be the proper mum and fetch me more?"
Doyle laughed and took the almost empty cup. He watched his partner stretch and yawn, and an upsurge of love filled him. Doyle hurried away before that emotion could show. That wouldn't do.
That wouldn't do at all.
The need for escape became overwhelming.
"Let's go outside," Doyle said, grabbing up his black and white checked coat.
"Out in that?" Bodie complained. "Are you that fagged out?"
"It'll do you good."
"You should be dead on your feet...up all night awake in the car while drove."
"Lazy..." Doyle teased. He liked that idle expression in that face, in the way his partner was sprawled on the sofa.
Bodie's eyes narrowed. "Lazy? Is that what I am?"
The tall, slim man thought, No...you're beautiful and sexy and I want you so bad at night, I can't sleep. Aloud, he replied casually, "Yeah."
"Is that the thanks I get? Bringing you up here to this splendid cottage by the sea? Lazy?" He stood up slowly, sauntered to his coat.
Doyle knew that look. Bodie was up to something, but what? As Doyle stepped onto the snow covered pathway, Bodie lagged behind.
"Isn't it beautiful?" Doyle asked with a pleased sigh. When there was no reply, he turned, a questioning look on his face.
A snowball smacked Doyle on his chest.
Another hit him, right in the midst of the remains from the first.
"You are a fiend," Doyle muttered. "No wonder Miranda turned you down."
"I told you, I turned her down." He grabbed another fistful of snow, began to compact it tight in his hard hands.
Doyle viewed him in astonishment and mild dismay. He crouched down, made his own weapon of cold, white snow. And the fight was on.
An hour later, cold, wet, but laughing and joking, they reentered the warmth of the modest dwelling. They made supper together and sat afterwards, drowsy before the fire, talking about old times.
The old clock on the mantle, an ornate one of chipped bone china and gold leaf, struck ten in its gentle murmur.
"Glad you came, Ray?" Bodie asked as they stood up, ready for bed.
Doyle didn't have to pause for contemplation. His answer came immediately. "Yes."
There was one bed. Without reluctance, Bodie immediately shed his jeans, his shirt and climbed beneath the quilts. Doyle hesitated a moment then he too discarded his clothing and went to bed.
"Don't miss the sound of traffic," Bodie murmured as he turned over onto his left side and tucked his left hand beneath his cheek.
"Me neither. I don't miss the phone either." Every movement Bodie made sent Doyle's pulse pounding. His groin reacted too.
"Miss it? It means no Cowley calling with a case. Bet he's getting dotty over that. It must be hard on him not being able to call on his two best agents."
"Not very conceited now, are we?"
"What? Us? Not bloody likely. Cowley gets us down close to the curlies, he does. There's no way we can get a swelled head around him." Bodie yawned. "He won't let us. Night, Sunshine....pleasant dreams."
It would be a while before Doyle would drift off to sleep, a disturbed, dreamed ridden night that left him vaguely discontented when he woke the next morning.
December 24th, 1988
Doyle felt Bodie's gaze on him. He wasn't surprised when the other man said, "You look like a lorry has rolled over you. You tossed and turned all night. What's wrong?"
"The long drive, the lack of sleep it all caught up with me."
"Want to go lie back down?"
When Doyle shook his head, Bodie went to the closet door and took out the two bags from HARRODS. "I know you weren't in the Christmas spirit before, Doyle, but what about now? You friends with Father Christmas yet?"
"I'm feeling better." He went to the other man, stared in avid interest at the paper sacks. "What's in them?"
"This big one contains a tiny tree. No...don't look like that. It's not a real one, just a bad looking fake, but what's Christmas without a tree, I ask you?" He removed a miniature tree complete with little lights and ornaments. "Nothing broken!" he said in satisfaction. "Where should I put it?"
"By the window?" Why did the sight that object bring such quiet optimism and gladness to him? Bodie's smile of delight brought an answering one from him as well.
"Now, Sunshine, know I shouldn't have, but I picked you up a gift too. Hope you don't mind."
"I have one for you too." When Bodie turned surprised eyes to him, Doyle explained, "It's in my bag."
"Looks like we both had the same idea."
The tree looked beautiful in front of the window.
"What's in the other sack?"
"Stuff to make a wassail bowl. Gonna help me?"
"Have you written to Father Christmas yet?"
"I don't do that anymore, Bodie." His eyes grew dark. "I haven't for a long time."
"Well, this year, we both are. And we're going to hang our stockings too. Mark me, though, they must be clean. I won't stand for dirty ones on that mantle."
Doyle sighed at the obstinate, inflexible tone in his friend's voice. "And I suppose we're going to watch the Queen give her speech tomorrow at three p.m."
"Not likely without a telly," Bodie chuckled.
"We could always go back to London."
"Nah." He smiled in honest liking for the man who had been his partner for so long. "Got any pens and paper?"
Doyle searched his coat pocket, located a biro. "We can strips from the sacks."
"I don't expect Father Christmas will mind," Bodie teased. "Me first." He took the pen and went to the sacks. He tore off a strip and said, "No peeking."
Doyle made a rude noise and headed for the tiny kitchen area. "Want a cuppa?" Bodie mumbled something. Doyle took it for assent and proceeded to make two cups of strong, hot tea.
"Your turn, Sunshine." Bodie took the cup and handed the pen to his friend.
"No peeking," Doyle said sternly. Bodie grinned cheekily and went to the fireplace.
Doyle began to write insane, unimportant things but within seconds, had scratched them out. He wrote: "I want Bodie to love me." He chewed the tip of the pen, wavering, then added, "I want to make love to him." He crumpled the sheet into a tight ball and went to the fireplace.
"Yeah." He felt himself flushing.
"Asked for naughty things, did you?" Bodie laughed. "Never mind, I won't tell anyone."
"See that you don't."
They threw their letters into the fireplace. The f lames caught the crumpled sheets of paper, devoured them slowly. Black and white...the blaze flared...black bits of ash dust...then...nothing.... Bodie's vanished first, followed quickly by the one Doyle had penned. For one brief moment, Doyle felt a surge of thrill, of anticipation, then it dissipated in a moment of sanity.
Father Christmas was not real, and his letter would not be answered.
Depression made him sigh in tiredness.
"It's been a long day. Come on, young Doyle let's go to bed."
"You go. I want to stay up for a moment. I have some thinking to do."
"You need an ear?"
Doyle shook his head. He saw the expression of worry and indecision, fleetingly cross, over Bodie's face.
The blue eyed agent said at last, "Well, don't stay up too long. I hate cold feet."
Doyle tried to smile. His lips upturned but his eyes did not light up, not like they usually did. "Night, Bodie."
Once more, Bodie hesitated but then said, "Night." He vanished into the bedroom.
Time passed. Doyle came back to reality when the clock chimed eleven. Sighing, he rose, picked up his coat. Maybe a walk outside would do him good. Maybe it would tire him out enough so he could sleep next to Bodie without wanting him.
He took one look at the barren landscape, covered with white, unfamiliar, and a little intimidating, and decided against walking. He simply stood by the door, gazing blindly at the panorama. His thoughts were a jumble of needs and wants and honest admittance that nothing would ever come of them except heartache. The gray covering of depression surrounded him again.
The cold began to seep in. Inhaling/exhaling slowly, raggedly, Doyle turned to go in. He slipped on a patch of ice and fell, hitting his left temple on a jagged piece of the cottage's stone wall.
He cursed. His fingers encountered wetness. Cursing again, he reentered the building. Bodie was there, drawing on his own coat.
"I was just coming after you. Do you know how long been out there? What the hell have you done to your head?!" Bodie hurried forward, throwing his coat aside as he did so.
"It's just a little cut." Yet, he flinched when the other man touched it gingerly with his fingertip.
"A little cut my arse. You're bleeding all over Cowley's floor. He won't like that, now will he? Come on, let me take care of it." His gaze lingered on the wound for a moment. "You should have a plaster." He turned toward the kitchen area.
"I'm all right. It's just a little cut." He felt the blood trickling down the side of his face and knew it was deeper than he had thought.
Why am I being so rebellious? The truth came instantly. I don't think I can bear having his hand on me. But why now? Bodie had stopped his bleeding before from gun shots, from knife wounds. Why now? And the truth came immediately on that as well. It's my face. He'll be watching my face. Can I hide what his touch does to me? God help me.
Without saying another word, Bodie gathered a bowl of water, a clean cloth. "Sit," he finally ordered when he had the things back in the living section. "I said, sit." His tone left no arguments.
"I'm not exactly helpless, Bodie," Doyle said stiffly, yet he sat.
"Don't be so prickly. There's no harm in me doing this, is there?"
If you don't count your touch driving me over the edge? No.... But I can't tell you that, can I? Doyle only shrugged.
"If you were any more thankful, I'd blush from embarrassment." Bodie's tone was dry, a little sardonic. He bathed the wound with gentle, knowledgeable fingers. "How did you break your cheekbone?"
"I was a copper then. A thief took my stick and used it on me while his partners held me." He kept his tone calm, uncaring. It had been over five years ago. That was more than enough time to get over. Concentrate on something else...something...Bodie's fingers touching, loving....
Not that. Never that.... It had been a mistake, their coming. It was dangerous, foolish thing to have done.
"Did I hurt you?"
"No." My bones feel like jelly. Don't stop touching me. Don't stop.... Stop! Please stop. I like it too much...too much.
Bodie touched Doyle's right cheek bone, a sympathetic, understanding type of skimming and Doyle shifted his body away from his partner. The very last thing he wanted from his partner was pity. Their eyes met and became imprisoned.
"Ray...." Bodie's hand went up to caress the dark curls. His tone held a lover's touch. Doyle froze in shock, a feeling that swiftly moved to uncertainty and indecision. Bodie bent down, pressed his lips softly against the other's trembling ones.
"Ray...." Bodie's voice was soft against the cold cheek.
Doyle moaned and turned his face, melding his lips against the other man's in fervor, and starvation. Lips parted and tongues explored the wonderful moist darkness that awaited them. Bodie tugged Doyle upward, clasped him in hard, demanding arms. Doyle's legs grew weaker. He could feel his heart beating fiercely...he could feel Bodie's as well, they were that close. Bodie's lips were without mercy as they laid fire to every inch of Doyle's body. His fingers were like steel demanding, extracting everything Doyle had to offer and more. He was demanding yet gentle, harsh yet completely controlled. The tall slim man grew lost in what he was feeling, what Bodie's nearness, his tumultuous love making brought him to, what his own desire was doing to him. He couldn't remember going to the bedroom. He couldn't recall stripping off his clothes. He only knew he was lying on the bed and Bodie's mouth encompassed his fullness. Doyle whimpered in pleasure, in need. His mind continually said, This can't be happening.... This isn't Bodie. Bodie wouldn't be doing this....
But Bodie was, and Bodie brought the other man to full completion, and then it was Doyle's turn to do Bodie. Within moments, he had the other agent crying out, thrusting upward, coming in cataclysmic tremors that threw him into unconsciousness. Doyle was soon sinking down into the bed with the other man. He pulled the covers up and over them, drifted off into a deep sleep.
The next morning, lips woke him, lips that tasted and teased, and hands that searched the nude body. Within seconds, Doyle was over his shock and responding, and they made love again.
Bodie cuddled him afterwards. "Happy Christmas, Sunshine."
"I don't understand."
"Today's December 25th, you forgetful old man." Bodie kissed the mussed curls.
"That's not what I meant." He could hear the disquiet, the uneasiness in his voice. He looked up, met gentle, understanding, loving, blue eyes.
"Don't be scared, Ray."
Doyle forced himself to be honest. "Yes, a little."
"So was I, at first." He kissed Doyle soundly, moved his hands up and down the slim body. Doyle shivered. "I got tired of waiting for you to make the first move. I'd keep looking up at you and seeing that cow's look in your eyes every time you thought you could watch me unnoticed."
"I never did!"
"The bloody hell you didn't. I saw the wanting in you. I saw the love you felt for me. I waited...and waited, and then one day I decided I wasn't going to wait any longer. So here we are."
"Here we are," Doyle murmured. And now what? Is this a fling on your part? An act of pity for the wretched man? He didn't think he could take that. A few days and they would go back to the way it was? No, he didn't think he could take that at all. Better arrest the thief now before he robbed again. Hurting, he tried to leave the bed, but Bodie held him down. "Let go, Bodie."
The blue eyed agent grinned wickedly. "Make me...."
"Bodie...." His eyes were green ice, glacial, threatening. His voice....
Bodie let go. "What is it, Sunshine?" Blue eyes held worry, distress.
"We've had our night of fun. We can go back to London now." He rose stiffly, felt bruising on his body, saw them as well when he looked at his flesh.
"I didn't mean to be so rough. I wanted you for so long...." How apologetic he sounded, how sincere. "I won't be so unpolished next time, Doyle, I promise." Green eyes searched his face. "Please?" His hand went up, tugged at a messy curl. "We haven't looked into our stockings yet. What about opening our gifts? We can't go back before that, can we?" An emotion close to pain flickered across the handsome face. "Ray, please."
Bodie begging? Bodie asked, Bodie commanded, Bodie very often demanded, but he never begged. There was a time to turn away and a time to move forward. Maybe he was making a mistake. Maybe, in a week or two, Bodie would move on to someone else, like he always did. There had been no mention of love, but Bodie wouldn't, not at first, even if he did feel that. Bodie didn't show his emotions so easily. Making this first step must have been hard for him.
Doyle went back into Bodie's arms, held him tightly.
Doyle heard the triumph, the incredible joy in his partners voice. Emotion ran deep within him as well...too deep and too strong. He hardened his heart against it. It was too soon. Maybe, in a month or two, if they were still together, if.... Pain tried to overwhelm him, the greyness of depression tried to surround him. He struggled to hold them back.
"We didn't fill our stockings last night," he murmured softly.
"Poor Father Christmas."
Doyle looked up. "Why?"
"He had to do all the work himself." Bodie giggled suddenly when Doyle tickled him.
"I'll make breakfast." Doyle moved away, began to dress.
"You're very beautiful," Bodie said softly. Doyle looked at him and smiled. "Like sunshine," he murmured in awe. "Every time you smile, your face lights up like sunshine." He watched a slight flush tint the other man's face. "And now you're all sunburned." He smiled hugely, a bit impishly.
"You...." Doyle flung Bodie's sock at him. Smiling, he left the bedroom. Bodie was half dressed when Doyle's shocked, "Bodie!" called him from the room. "Look!" Doyle pointed at the two stockings hanging on the mantle. "Did you do that?"
Bodie's mouth hung open. They were full of candy and nuts, and there was a bright red apple perched on the top of each. "Not me, Doyle. When did I have time?"
They looked at each other. "No way, Bodie. He's not real."
"What did you write in your letter to him?"
"He's not real."
"I asked him for you."
Doyle's mouth worked silently for a moment. "He's not real," he said at last.
"What did you ask for?" Bodie insisted. "Doyle? What did you ask for?" He repeated when there had been too much silence.
"You," Doyle said at last. "He's not real! He's someone our parents used to make us behave at Christmas!"
Bodie shrugged. "Doesn't matter, does it? We both got what we want, didn't we?"
"Yeah." Awkwardly, they moved into each other's arms, kissed tentatively.
"Is your hair always so messy in the morning?" Bodie teased, trying to run his fingers through it and encountering tangles.
"You'll just have to find out, won't you?" Doyle asked in a hushed tone.
"Yeah," Bodie agreed delight.
Cowley had only to take one look at Bodie and Doyle to notice the changes in them both. Pleased, a trifle smug, he sat back in his chair and tried hard not to grin at them. His plan had worked. Get them together, away from everyone else, and.... He had been concerned at first when he had noticed the holiday depression in Doyle's eyes, but things had fallen into place. Trust that Bodie to overcome Doyle's usual stubbornness.
Smug wasn't quite the word for what Cowley was feeling right then. Conceited, arrogant, totally pleased were closer to the truth. But of course, he couldn't let them know that.
"I hope you left my cottage clean and presentable," he remarked in gruff tones. "The way you found it?" Their quick words of reassurance did bring a smile. It was faint but noticeable, for about three seconds. And then Cowley became Cowley again and he picked up the paperwork on his desk. "There's a rumour that Philip Sythemore has become involved in...."
The holidays were officially at an end.
-- THE END --