The Christmas Fairy


Ray Doyle was dead tired. He'd been on a monotonous stakeout off and on for the last two weeks. Shift scheduling had given him midnight to 8 a.m. off.

"Christmas..." he muttered ruefully, unlocking first the gate, and then the door to his flat. Automatically, but not very thoroughly tonight, he checked his surroundings, making sure that no one was waiting to ambush him; he almost hoped someone had broken in so that he could do something.

Once inside, he stripped off his leather, sheepskin-lined jacket and slushy-wet boots before going into the kitchen. Hungry but too weary to make anything, he opened the fridge to find the usual, sparsely stocked shelves. He caught sight of the plum pudding -- Bodie's actually -- it'd been a gift of sorts. Bodie knew Doyle eschewed foods such as this, but he'd repeatedly insisted that it wasn't Christmas without plum pudding. Doyle reached for it. He preferred it warm, with hard sauce, but tonight he didn't care. He put it on a plate then set the kettle on for tea even though he felt more like a stiff drink of whisky.

"Have that too," he mumbled to himself as he picked up the plum pudding. After taking a bite, he realised just how hungry he really was and just how good the plum pudding tasted. "Never tell Bodie that," he said out loud as he proceeded into the living room.

He flipped the lightswitch with his elbow but the overhead did not come on. Instead, the switch, keyed to a cord, activated a string of Christmas tree lights adorning the small, live, green tree that now stood by the sofa.

Doyle began to laugh. "Bodie, you sentimental cretin." Now he knew where Bodie had been those few hours he'd slipped out of the CI5 surveillance net. Cowley had been duly upset, but when Bodie was determined, little stopped him.

Leaning against the door frame, Doyle stood looking at the brightly lit tree, recalling previous Christmases with his family. While watching the lights blink, he finally noticed a small package and a card sitting beneath his tree. "My tree?" he said to himself, a bit amazed at how quickly he'd adopted this scrawny representative of the evergreen family. "Wouldn't have one if it weren't for Bodie, so I guess it's mine," he acknowledged.

Just then, the room was filled with the chorus of 'GREENSLEEVES'. Bodie had rigged the stereo too, Doyle realised, wondering what other surprises this night would hold.

Deciding that he might as well complete the mood that Bodie had gone to such great lengths to create, Doyle put the plum pudding on the coffee table and bent to the task of lighting a fire. That accomplished, he poured himself a large glass of whisky and went to turn off the kettle, having decided, finally, against a cup of tea. On the way back he collected his whisky and the gift Bodie had left under the tree. The small box was wrapped in red paper and had a green bow. "Coordinated, so like Bodie," Doyle said laughing.

Snuggled into the sofa's corner, he sat sipping his whisky and watching the fire's flames dance in merry accompaniment to the strains of the Christmas carols filling the room with their warm, traditional cheer.

He'd drunk his entire glass of whisky, flipped the cassette over and eaten at least one-half of the plum pudding before he felt ready to open the card and gift.

Picking up the card, he surveyed the green envelope carefully. Only Bodie's neat handwriting adorned it. Oddly, he noted, it seemed to smell faintly of his missing partner. Slowly, he removed the card from the envelope. They never exchanged gifts. In fact, they generally ignored the day, its rites and traditions.

"Why did he change the rules?" Doyle wondered as he read the card. It wasn't from one of the companies. Instead, it was a rich, creamy parchment that said, in clear black letters, simply, "Doyle".

Pondering the intent of that profound message carried him through his second glass of whisky, more of the plum pudding and a repeat of the first side of the Christmas tape. After deciding that he'd waited long enough, Doyle reached for the wrapped box. He'd begun to open it when melancholy struck.

"Why aren't you here to help, Bodie?" he said out loud. "'S not right this way."

Silently cursing the assignment that had Bodie playing pigeon at a social outing this night, Doyle took another long swallow from his whisky glass.

"Need more," he whispered to the fire as he rose, somewhat unsteadily, to head for the liquor cabinet. The room's cosy warmth, the alcohol and his own inactivity-caused-exhaustion combined to make him feel very weary.

He poured himself another drink, determined now to get properly drunk since he had to be alone tonight. "Haven't been alone on Christmas since ... I met Bodie." Their gift to one another, Doyle realised, had been the other's company on this, the hardest night of the year to be alone in the world.

"Why did he decide to change the rules?" Doyle wondered again. "Just like Bodie, to change the rules when you don't expect it." He looked around at all that Bodie had provided. "He's here in spirit," Doyle told no one but the ghost of Christmas Present. Hoisting his now full glass, Doyle said, "To you, mate." After downing a large quantity of the amber fluid, Doyle resettled himself on the sofa. Gingerly, he picked up the still-wrapped box. Playing detective, he tried to figure out what might be in the package. Carefully, he shook it, listening for any noise. He was disappointed when he heard none.

Liquor-fortified now, he simply shifted to alternate plan B. "'Always have an alternative plan, Cowley says." Slowly, Doyle removed the wrapping paper, deciding that since he was an adult, he should not simply rip the paper off. That's Bodie's style, he thought smugly. Once it was unwrapped, he took another bite of pudding, washed it down with a sip of whisky and then, took the lid off the box. Only green tissue paper filled the carton, or so Doyle thought until he rustled through it. Finally, he located a small card which stated, in Bodie's writing, "The Christmas Fairy hereby grants you your most secret of desires."

Completely mystified by the cryptic message, Doyle sank back into the pillowed sofa to think. His thoughts jumped from Bodie, to Bodie's dangerous con-game assignment, to the gift card, and back to Bodie again. Doyle knew there was a connection he had missed.

The evening's trappings conspired against first rate detective prowess. As he watched the fire die, Doyle drank down the last of his whisky. Pulling a nearby afghan over himself, he drifted off, stomach sated, drunk and lonely, "...for Bodie..." he murmured as he fell asleep, the melody of 'I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS' ringing in his ears.

Sometime later, Doyle awoke, feeling as if he was being watched. He was. In the leather armchair across from the sofa sat Bodie, observing him.

Bodie was dressed in a black tuxedo complemented by a white silk shirt. There was a neatly-tied black bow tie around his neck. He was holding a cigar; the smoke circled idly around its end, drifting through the moonlight which streamed in through the window. His dark hair was curlier and didn't flatly frame his face as it normally did. The new cut, necessitated by their assignment, gave Bodie an added air of sensuality. The ice blue eyes, however, were what held Doyle's attention. They communicated an open sexuality Doyle had seen only rarely, and then only directed at women; tonight, it was aimed at him. That gaze, coupled with Bodie's aloof yet charged manner sent a shiver of anticipation through Doyle.

Afraid to break the spell, Doyle nonetheless asked, "What are you doing here, Bodie? You're supposed to be bedding the Cressmont bird tonight."

The silent watcher said nothing.

"If the Cow finds out...." Doyle's voice trailed off as he hoisted himself into a sitting position. "Say something, Bodie."

Again, there was no reply.

Shaking his head, Doyle muttered, "Talkative, aren't we?" He decided to play Bodie's game by returning the quiet scrutiny. Watching his partner, Doyle acknowledged something he'd been ignoring for two weeks now: Bodie wore an air of sophistication, both sensual and sexual, that Doyle found incredibly attractive. He knew it had always been there, but as with many other elements of Bodie's forceful personality, it was kept in check, masked by a cynical aura of detachment. The new hairstyle and Saville Row suits of the previous weeks only accentuated the sophisticated demeanour.

Thinking back, Doyle saw that he'd been responding to the new Bodie in different ways. He'd added a layer of casual sophistication to his own attire, spoken with more eloquence, and ventured into discussions of personal interests such as philosophy and the arts. And tonight, he clearly understood, he finally wanted to respond to this Bodie in still another fashion -- sexually.

A bit taken aback by this insight, caught off guard by Bodie's commanding presence, Doyle didn't think to hide his thoughts. They were openly displayed on his face.

It was the signal Bodie had apparently been waiting for. He rose with catlike grace from the chair and walked over to the sofa. Bodie stopped and picked up the card that had been in the box. He extended it toward Doyle.

Looking Doyle straight in the eye, Bodie said softly, "I'm all yours tonight, Ray -- whatever you want -- conversation, companionship, sex, love. All you have to do is reach out and take it."

A shiver of excitement raced through Doyle. He understood what Bodie was offering, the meaning of the cryptic card clear now. He should have known, he thought, that Bodie wouldn't fail to see the new avenues of communication, comprehend their meaning, even if he, Doyle, hadn't realised his hidden needs for the man Bodie had allowed himself to become.

Doyle hesitated. He knew what he wanted most -- had wanted for too long. This facet of Bodie only accentuated that desire -- the secret desire the "Christmas Fairy" had discerned. To take it, however, might forever change their relationship.

As various scenarios unfolded in his mind, Doyle finally became aware of just how patiently Bodie stood, watching him. Looking up, he saw a sure smile in the beautifully blue eyes.

"You bastard," Doyle whispered.

The smile grew to encompass Bodie's full, sensuous lips. "You smug bastard..." Doyle reached up for the card, no longer afraid of the consequences, no longer wanting to deny the passion Bodie aroused in him. He took the card and placed it on the table. Rising then, he went to stand beside Bodie.

They looked at one another for several moments before Doyle spoke. "Whatever I want," he stated more than asked.

Bodie tipped his head slightly, silently affirming Doyle's comment.

His hesitation gone, Doyle tugged on a corner of the black bow tie. Removing it, he draped it around his own neck before unfastening the uppermost button of Bodie's shirt. Ignoring the jacket, Doyle proceeded to unwrap his Christmas present.

Button by button, he descended Bodie's torso till he arrived at the cummerbund. Stretching around Bodie, Doyle unhooked it and dropped it on the table. He then opened Bodie's pants. Glancing up, he noted the amused pleasure in the blue eyes. Doyle wasn't surprised when he found that Bodie wore no underwear

"You smug bastard," Doyle whispered again as he turned his attention back to Bodie's chest. He caressed Bodie's nipples with the silk of the shirt; they hardened immediately. Pushing aside the fabric then, he continued to tease the nipples, first with his fingers and then his lips and tongue.

Bodie didn't move although a few goosebumps appeared on his chest. Doyle stepped back to see how he was affecting his partner. He wasn't sure he liked an unresisting Bodie. In his fantasies, they had passionate sex, each vying for the dominant role of top man, but the look of barely concealed arousal that burned in Bodie's eyes was enough to convince Doyle that this game would be more worthwhile.

"Passivity becomes you, Bodie," he said, trying to elicit a response. The only reply was an almost imperceptible tightening of Bodie's lips, a sure sign that his patience was being put to the test.

Doyle contemplated his partner's chest for another moment before he resumed his teasing. He sucked and played with Bodie's nipples for a few more minutes. He paused then to comment, "Admire your control, mate. Be fidgety meself..." his voice trailed off as he saw an idea gather strength in Bodie's mind. The steely glint in Bodie's eyes suggested he was on the verge of abandoning the pretence and taking what he wanted.

Doyle realised that he had spoken because some part of him dreamt of being subjugated by Bodie, taken and used, but in love. A stronger part of him wanted to dominate Bodie, really dominate, for once, to make the man with iron control, the need-no-one attitude beg for his touch. If they became lovers, both roles would surely be explored. Which became reality tonight was now in Bodie's hands.

Somewhat to Doyle's amazement, Bodie remained rooted, only his eyes betraying the feelings lurking behind the passive posture. Doyle noted the conscious choice. Bodie was true to his word; tonight it would be whatever, he, Doyle, wanted.

Decisions made, Doyle lapped at Bodie's still firm nipples. With his tongue he then blazed a trail down the smooth, firmly muscled chest. Goosebumps formed in the tongue's wet wake; control over the Involuntary, something not even Bodie possessed.

Doyle laughed softly, almost daring him to move. He folded back the sides the loose trousers. The head of Bodie's erect cock was clearly visible. Doyle was pleased with himself for having aroused his partner with so little effort. Feeling Bodie's hard sex made Doyle realise that his own cock was just as stiff. The need to be rid of his clothing gave him devious idea.

Backing away, Doyle made contact with the smouldering blue eyes. He held that gaze for a long moment. Then, licking his lips slowly, seductively, Doyle began to remove his blue-green sweater by first extending his left arm. While holding its cuff with his right hand, he moved his arm from the sleeve to his torso. Repeating the procedure with his other arm, Doyle continued to stare at Bodie, observing the handsome face intently. That finished, he pulled the sweater up over his head, shaking it to resettle his curls. It was a gesture he knew Bodie always watched. He was not disappointed; Bodie's eyes had widened slightly when Doyle re-established eye contact. The smugness his now, Doyle unbuttoned the top button of his pale blue shirt. Smiling at Bodie, Doyle lowered his gaze to the remaining buttons, fondling each before unfastening them one by one. When he reached his belt, he glanced up to make sure that he still had Bodie's attention. Seeing that he most assuredly did, Doyle looked back down at his belt buckle, running his fingers over it in a caress. He unfastened it then, but rather than unzip his pants as Bodie clearly expected, Doyle continued the tease by instead jerking his shirt free of his waistband. After removing it, one shoulder at a time, he tossed it carelessly onto the sofa. Very deliberately then, he licked his left index finger and touched it to his right nipple, caressing it till it was a rosy, hard mound. He repeated the process, stimulating his already firm left nipple.

As Doyle watched Bodie's rapt scrutiny, he saw his partner's fantasies take control of his eyes, his large frame quivering slightly from the effort of remaining motionless.

Again, Doyle laughed, mentally repaying Bodie for years of teasing when no reply could be given, for the cynical, ribald humour which was let loose at the most inopportune times, for the silent flirting of these last few weeks. Staring Bodie in the eye, Doyle reached down to fondle his own cock, still hidden in the folds of his tight jeans. He saw the tips of Bodie's fingers curl ever so slightly as if they and not Doyle's hands were doing the caressing. As he felt himself, Doyle realised just how close he was to spoiling the effect he'd been striving for; he was perilously near to coming.

With effort, he controlled his own eagerness and resumed the strip. He dropped his opened belt on the floor and began to unzip his pants. Fully aware of his partner's eyes as they followed the zipper down, greedily locking on the object of their lust, Doyle eased his jeans and briefs over his slim hips. He heard Bodie swallow hard when his erect cock was totally exposed.

Nude now except for the black bow tie dangling from his neck, Doyle again touched himself, but only briefly, knowing full well his own limits. He wanted to test Bodie's. The caress evoked a discernible sigh from the other man.

To flaunt himself and tease Bodie to the maximum extent, Doyle slowly walked over to the stereo and flipped the cassette over. To the tune of 'DECK THE HALLS', which he sang as 'DECK THE BALLS', Doyle returned to stand only inches from Bodie.

"I want it all, Bodie," he said softly, relishing the passion he found dancing in the blue eyes as he stood scrutinizing the handsome face.

Doyle ran his tongue over his suddenly dry lips, using the action to further provoke Bodie. Moving still closer, he added, "Most all, though ..." He paused to kiss first one and then the other of his partner's still hard nipples, "I want ..." Doyle licked his lips again, savouring the taste of Bodie lingering there. "I want ... to see you ..." He kissed an earlobe now. "... lose your control." Smiling at the slight gasp from Bodie, Doyle added, "don't want surrender ..." before licking the nape of Bodie's neck. "... Or for you to beg ... yet." A smug smile accentuated Doyle's lips as he kissed the tip of Bodie's nose. "I want you," he whispered into Bodie's left ear as he moved behind his companion. "... Open and vulnerable ..." he continued gently, lifting the silky dark hair from inside Bodie's shirt collar. "Want the real Bodie," he said as his hands reached inside the tuxedo pants to caress the throbbing cock. "The one you hide ..." He stopped, considering. "Or is it protect, even from me ..." Doyle pressed closer to Bodie, his words ruffling the black hair, "... maybe even from yourself ..."

Doyle could see Bodie's fight for control in the squeezed-shut eyelids, the now-clenched fists and the series of shivers that racked the taller man's body.

"What does that Bodie want now?" Doyle asked as he moved around the quivering man. Bodie opened his eyes and looked at him as if searching for something. Doyle waited, not touching, as the blue eyes cut through him.

"What do you want, Bodie?" Doyle repeated, secretly pleased with himself for having turned the game back on its master.

"Want to tell you that I love you," Bodie whispered, his eyes silently holding Doyle's.

"Then tell me, Bodie."

"I love you."

"Why?" Without thinking, Doyle had automatically used the tone of voice he employed when questioning suspects.

"Don't know," Bodie responded before slipping behind the facade of humour. "Must have been your marvellous arse."

"Don't!" Doyle commanded, keenly aware of what he'd inadvertently done. "Don't," he repeated, holding Bodie's gaze, forbidding the tactical retreat to a less vulnerable position.

Bodie didn't reply, clearly waiting for Doyle to explain why he shouldn't back off from the awkward statement.

"So caught up in turning your game back on you ..." Doyle said, his voice trailing off as he silently appealed for understanding. His eyes grew wide, accentuating their deep green colour. It was an expression that Bodie was totally vulnerable to and Doyle knew it.

Still, Bodie said nothing.

Doyle took the silence as his cue to elaborate. He was obviously being given the opportunity to hang or vindicate himself in Bodie's eyes.

Taking a deep breath, Doyle plunged ahead, aware of what was at stake. Bodie would never again say those words to him if he failed now.

"Need to talk. I ..." Doyle shrugged, instinctively using another of the gestures that always penetrated Bodie's defences.

There was virtually no response, save a small sigh.

By now, both men had lost their erections, the fire was dying and a chill held the room captive.

Doyle shivered slightly.

Bodie seemed to relent as he tipped his head, obviously waiting. Sensing the shift in mood, Doyle said, "I'll get dressed and put on the kettle. You stoke the coals," he commanded, reaching for his discarded jeans. He then slipped into the warmth of his sweater.

Bodie silently complied.

When Doyle returned, the fire was rekindled, both in the hearth and Bodie's eyes.

Heartened by what he saw, Doyle put the tea cups on the table. He joined Bodie by the fireplace. Looking up into the blue eyes, Doyle smiled as he pulled his partner into a kiss. He wanted this much at least, before he took the field to win or lose.

Bodie's response was immediate. To Doyle, locked in a tight embrace, Bodie appeared equally determined to have this one kiss, either as a preamble or a taste of what could have been.

As the kiss deepened, both men felt themselves responding to their restrained passions. Doyle pressed his hips into Bodie's groin. Bodie pulled him even closer by running his hands over Doyle's derriere. Doyle's hands flattened themselves against the firm, broad chest, rubbing the silk shirt over Bodie's hardened nipples.

Much as he wanted to talk, Doyle realised he wanted this even more. Bodie's hands travelled up under Doyle's blue-green sweater to caress the corded back.

Doyle tried to stifle the shiver that ran through him as fingers began a light massage. Melting into the hard body holding him so firmly, Doyle surrendered. He closed his eyes as Bodie stuck his head beneath the sweater, nipping first one, then the other of Doyle's erect nipples. Kisses trailed down his suddenly sweaty chest. Bodie nudged aside the jeans' unbuttoned waistband, his tongue following the zipper down to the base of Doyle's hard cock.

Doyle's hands pushed Bodie's face to his groin and the eager mouth quickly engulfed Doyle's stiffened cock. As Bodie sucked, his hands pushed Doyle's pants down and returned to the arse usually flaunted in too-tight jeans.

Caught between the gentle caressing of his arse and the insistent sucking of his cock, Doyle yielded, and came far too quickly. Bodie's warm mouth held him as he spewed semen, the sound of his own pounding blood obscuring Bodie's orgasmic echo.

Doyle slid to his knees to kiss Bodie, whose lips parted, letting Doyle taste himself. Pressed against his partner's body, Doyle could feel the warm stickiness that had penetrated Bodie's black trousers. Reaching down, he caressed Bodie's crotch, enjoying the fact that it had been a response to him.

Doyle whispered, "Love you, Bodie. Have since ..."

Bodie silenced him with a deep kiss that left Doyle a bit lightheaded.

"Not quite the conversation I had in mind," Doyle murmured when Bodie came up for air.

Bodie smiled at him, an open smile that danced in his eyes. "Yes, it was." Doyle laughed softly. "You ... hedonist." He placed his head on Bodie's chest, relaxing in his own surrender to the strong arms that held him. The clock chimed and Doyle realised he could go to sleep here, safe in Bodie's warm embrace....

The persistent chiming, however, kept him from slipping away. He roused himself only to find that instead of Bodie, he was enfolded in the tangled heap of the afghan his mother had made for him years ago. The "clock", he realised, was really his R/T.

"Bodie ..." Doyle called out, looking around for his partner. "Bodie ..." Doyle repeated, surveying the dark living room, noticing with a start that the Christmas tree was missing.

He jumped up and ran to the lightswitch. It activated the room's ceiling lamp, not a string of lights adorning a scraggly evergreen.

Confused, Doyle searched for evidence that he hadn't dreamt it all. "Couldn't have ..." he mumbled as he located the plum pudding crumbs, the empty liquor glass on the coffee table and the nearly depleted decanter. The stereo held no cassette and the room was just as it always was, furnished but strangely cold. The box and its card were gone.

"Booodie ..." Doyle said again as he examined the entire flat for a trace of his partner. He found none.

"Did I dream ...?" Doyle asked himself out loud. "Too real," he answered himself. "Review, Doyle," he admonished himself. "You're a trained detective, remember?"

Methodically, Doyle started at the beginning. He headed for the door to see if his private intruder alert marker had been shifted but he stopped short in the kitchen as he recalled that he'd disturbed it himself. Then he decided to proceed to the door, to retrace his steps. He found his boots and jacket just where he'd left them. The kettle was still on the stove -- stone cold now. Opening the refrigerator, he saw that only the plum pudding had been moved. "Didn't dream that," he said as he went into the living room where he found the remnants on the plate. He noted the presence of the empty whisky glass and the virtually empty decanter. "Had a few drinks ..." He paused. "Thought I made us tea ..." But the coffee table was devoid of tea cups, so he went back into the kitchen only to find the china all present and accounted for in the cupboard.

Puzzled still, he then checked out both the area where the tree had been and the stereo. Finally, he sank down onto the sofa, lost in troubled thought, still ignoring his buzzing R/T. Quickly he constructed a scenario based on his meagre evidence. He'd come in, eaten, had a drink and fallen asleep on the sofa. In his dream, he must have performed those same actions and then added the rather fantastic twist. In spite of the lack of clues, Doyle refused to accept that it had been just a dream.

"Wait a minute, Doyle, you cretin. Murph's on surveillance. He'll know where Bodie was last night." Pleased that he was at last making some progress, Doyle retrieved his R/T. "Couldn't have dreamed it," Doyle told himself smugly, glancing at his watch, noting that it was 8:32 a.m., Christmas morning.


"Happy Christmas, Doyle," Murphy replied cheerlessly. "Just wanted to make sure you were up and on the way. You are a tad late."

"Yeah, yeah," Doyle grumbled before asking, "anything unusual happen last night?"

"No, except that a guy in a red suit with eight reindeer went down the Cressmont chimney at, oh, say 3-ish.."

"Oh, nice, Murphy, real nice. No one went in or out?"

"Doyle," Murphy replied somewhat petulantly, "I was here. No one went in or out after midnight."

He paused, then asked, "What's up, Doyle?"

"Nothing, Murphy. Just wondered if Bodie went ... ah ... was okay." Doyle finished rather lamely, knowing how close he'd come to letting his fantasy intrude on the job.

"As far as we know."

Doyle sighed. He knew it was possible for Bodie to have slipped out unobserved. Bodie himself had mentioned that there was a blind spot in the surveillance net but had been interrupted before he could elaborate. Now, Doyle thought, he'd have to wait to find out if it'd been reality or fantasy. The idea of confronting Bodie, regardless, made him a bit nervous. Doyle had to laugh at the image of himself trying to ask Bodie if he had popped over Christmas to confess his undying love. Doyle sighed again. "Be over in a jiff, Murph," he finally said into the R/T before signing off. He ran his hand through his hair, wishing he had time to shower and change, but he was late.

Doyle reviewed the night one more time, hoping it wasn't just a dream, he realised, when he came to the part where Bodie had kissed him. The taste of that kiss warmed him as he stepped outside into the icy air. He looked up at the few stars still lingering in the morning twilight. "Star light, star bright, wish I may, wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight, that Bodie was here last night," Doyle recited as he climbed into his cold car. "Must have dreamed it," he said, unconvinced. Every honed instinct told him it had happened; he knew Bodie was more than capable of having staged the scene, of leaving afterwards without a trace. But he also understood Bodie's enormous ego. He would have left a clue, albeit barely perceptible, but one that he could find, if he searched hard enough.

Again he scrounged his memory for Bodie's clue. He continued to relive the evening, time and time again, looking at the incident from a different viewpoint on each occasion.

By the time he arrived at the surveillance house, Doyle was frustrated and angry with himself for not having found Bodie's hint. He was certainly in no mood for Murphy's traditional wish of good tidings.

"Happy Christmas, Ray."

Doyle gave his fellow agent a look that would have done Scrooge proud.

"Bah humbug to you too then," Murphy retaliated before beginning his report. "Nothing happened. Bodie arrived at 8:07 p.m., as you know. He spent the evening attending the traditional Cressmont festivities. Not only was he the recipient of a diamond tie tac I'll lay odds that the Cow never sees, he entertained under the mistletoe for a considerable portion of the night."

Doyle grimaced.

Murphy continued. "He and Lady Cressmont ascended to the upper levels..."

Doyle raised his head to look at Murphy with his full attention. "When did he ... ah ... they ... go upstairs?"

"At 12:15."

"And he's been there ever since."

"Yeah, having a happier Christmas than we've had, mate," Murphy replied.

Doyle flashed Murphy a dour look.

"His car?"

"His car?" Murphy echoed, not understanding.

"Where is it?"

"Oh ... in the garage, behind."

"Never left?"

"No. Why? Do you think Bodie went out?"

"No," Doyle said with a bit of a sigh. "Details. If the Cow calls, he'll want details," Doyle stated, his tone of voice defying Murphy to probe further.

Aware of Murphy's curious stare, Doyle set about tidying up the place, silently dismissing the other agent.

Murphy gathered his gear then, saying with a shrug, "Well, I'll be off. There's plum pudding in the fridge, Scrooge."

"Plum pudding ..." Doyle returned with disdain.

"Oh right -- forgot that you don't eat those things." Murphy put on his coat. "See you tonight."

"Yeah," Doyle replied absently, his mind obviously elsewhere.

When Murphy had gone, Doyle shouted, "Plum pudding ..." Embarrassed by the outburst, he glanced around to make sure his R/T was switched off. Smiling, he said out loud, "That's it, Bodie. You ate the rest of the plum pudding ..." Doyle flashed back on the plate on the table in the living room; he'd eaten a considerable portion but he'd been careful to save a few bites for Bodie. "You and your stomach ..." he muttered as he picked up the binoculars to survey the room he knew Bodie was sharing with Lady Matilda Cressmont. It was curtained so he couldn't see into the room but he didn't have to. Bodie was standing in the window, obviously waiting for him to look. Doyle noted that he was still dressed in the black tuxedo but that the collar of the silk shirt was open. The black tie was missing.

Smiling, Doyle reached up and found the tie still around his neck. He removed it, holding it up in the window.

A sure, smug smile lit Bodie's face as he turned away to go back to work.

Cowley glanced at the sergeant. "Do you know," he said, "I think we may have found ourselves a good team there."

The sergeant frowned. "Looked to me like they were ready to slug each other."

Cowley's eyes twinkled. "A lot of good marriages began that way."

-- THE END --

Originally published in Mobile Ghetto 1, Entwhistle & Duck, 1985

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