An Elf By Any Other Name
Yes, it's an elf story. But it's not what you think, honest....
"Oh, damn," Doyle muttered, hitching his jacket higher and burying his nose in his glass.
Bodie lifted an eyebrow. "What's wrong?"
"That girl," Doyle muttered, gesturing discreetly at a table a short distance away. "Don't want her to see me here." He shifted until his back was toward the woman in question, prodding Bodie firmly when his partner didn't move fast enough to give him room.
"Since when don't you want a bird to notice you?" Bodie demanded interestedly, batting away the intrusive hand with an offended look but pulling his chair around anyway. "She an old girlfriend? Did something embarrassing when you were with her, did you?"
"No, I did not," Doyle gritted out. "It's just...never mind, it's not important."
"Maybe I'll just ask her, then," Bodie mused, eyeing her from this better vantage point. "She's a looker."
"Don't you dare!" Doyle blinked and sighed, clearly aware that he'd just dropped himself completely in it. "All right, I'll tell you. It's not that big a deal, just...she likes pet names, and I can't stand the one she gave me, okay?"
Bodie's eyes widened as he tried to figure out what name could possibly have bothered his partner that much. "What was it, then? Snookums?" he started.
"No, nothing like that," Doyle said, grimacing. "You can talk a bird out of calling you something like that. No, this one seems to think I look like..." he trailed off and took a fortifying drink of his beer.
Bodie waited with infinite patience for about ten seconds, then burst out with, "Like what, for chrissakes!"
"Like an elf," Doyle mumbled into his glass.
Bodie went perfectly still, sure he'd misheard. "Like what?" he asked politely.
Doyle looked up, narrow-eyed, and snapped (softly), "An elf, all right? She thinks I look like a bloody elf, and kept trying out all these bloody 'elven' names on me to see if any of them fit. She used to read a lot of Tolkien, or something. Put up with it at first--what the hell, if it makes her happy, right? Till she started doing it in public. Finally settled on one and wouldn't call me anything else, didn't matter where we were. Oh, thank you very much," he added bitingly, as Bodie succumbed and started laughing helplessly.
After he'd caught his breath, Bodie, grinning broadly, said, "But that's absolutely precious, Raymond."
Doyle clenched a fist on the table and snarled, "Pack it in, Bodie, or so help me I'll thump you. Knew I shouldn't have told you any of it."
Making an effort, Bodie straightened his features. Maybe this wasn't the best time to ask what the name had been. "Sorry, mate," he offered. "But you have to admit, it's funny. What would you do if I told you someone was calling me an elf?"
"Not likely to happen, is it?" Doyle demanded, disgruntled. "You look the part even less than me."
Bodie nodded, a smug grin creeping back across his features. "True, mate, very true."
Doyle glared for a minute longer, then relaxed with a rueful quirk of his lips. He tapped his now-empty glass meaningfully. "It's your round, innit?"
Obligingly, Bodie got up, asking, "Another lager? Or something stronger this time?"
Doyle's eyes widened at the unexpected peace offering, and he promptly decided, "Whisky, thanks!"
"Yeah, why am I not surprised?" Bodie asked, amused, as he headed for the bar. Catching the barman's attention, he ordered the cheapest whisky they had, then stared intently at the most expensive bottle he could see--not even Cowley would turn that down.
Collecting the drinks, he headed back to the table, bowing floridly as he handed Doyle's over. It worked; all trace of ill-humour vanished as Doyle laughed at him. He settled down with a happy grin, lifting his glass in silent toast to his partner.
Doyle returned the toast, then sipped. "Cor! That's all right!" he exclaimed. "Spared no expense, did you?"
"Nothing but the best for you, petal," Bodie agreed cheerfully. Distract him, that was the ticket, get him thinking about something else. Then, later--he had enough ammunition now to get him through a dozen boring stakeouts, and all handed to him on a silver platter.
Was funny, though. He'd never understand why people thought elves looked like Doyle. He'd never met any who'd looked anything like his stroppy partner. Oh, well; made life easier for the rest of them, with everyone looking in the wrong places for them. He grinned smugly to himself, doing his own particular brand of half-inching--siphoning the bottom half-inch of Doyle's drink into his own glass without his partner ever noticing. Life was good.
-- THE END --
28 January 1998