Interesting as Fireworks
Written for the Discovered in a Skyrocket challenge on the discoveredinalj Livejournal community. Sequel to The Drowning Plains.
Note: I've shamelessly co-opted and altered more historic sites, great houses and geography of Scotland for my own nefarious purposes of getting the Lads together for all sorts of naughty pursuits. Just a confection for Bonfire night.
A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy
- Guy Fawkes
They were as interesting as fireworks,
going up in endless, successive crowds,
each after an explosion,
in an eager, serpentine course...
- Henry David Thoreau
The local plods wanted their pound of flesh before they'd consider taking over the investigation and the disposition of the body of one Liam MacAllister.
"You were here not twenty-four hours ago taking over this case in the name of the almighty CI-5," Inspector Keane declared waspishly.
"As we've explained," Doyle began.
"About six times now," Bodie chimed in with a not so sotto voice.
"Upon further investigation, we've determined that it's no longer a matter for CI-5," Doyle finished, holding onto his temper and upright status tenuously. Both were tired, wet, hungry, and not a little out of sorts from their second visit to Castle Threave -- the Ghostly Vengeance Tour.
Keane was shaking his head, "Very well, you've submitted your reports on what happened?"
"Yes," replied Bodie through clenched teeth. "You're holding them in your left hand."
The inspector looked down, harrumphed, and straightened the papers he held. "Very well, be off with you. But," he called over to them as the CI-5 operatives made tracks for the door, "be sure to make yourselves available tomorrow should you be needed."
"We're at the Crown," called Doyle behind his back as they escaped out of Keane's office and headed straight out the door.
"Wonder what the autopsy will say was the cause of death," Bodie mused as they made their way to the Capri.
"Bet you a quid they'll say he drowned," Doyle shivered in the dank cold as they got in.
Bodie started the engine and pulled out into the roadway. "No bet," he chuckled wryly. "Our Robbie's a downy one."
Doyle barked a laugh as he fiddled with the heating controls.
"What do you mean, you don't have a room for us? We were just here last night," Doyle's voice was even, but Bodie knew what that tone meant. "In fact, our luggage is still in our room." The front parlor where Mrs. Collier had cornered them was filled with guests milling about, all wearing bright yellow nametags.
"Well, it's not, and that's for a fact," Mrs. Collier smiled serenely. "I've moved it into the office for safekeeping. 'Tis such a rare occasion that we're booked up. A group from America it is. A whole tour bus full of them arrived this afternoon, and we've not a room left in the place."
"We already had a room, paid up for three days," Doyle tried again. Bodie just glared his best brooding look that had caused many a villain to confess on the spot, but it just bounced off of their hostess.
"Oh, I had to give your room to the Cunninghams. They're from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Such nice people, friendly and interesting to talk to," Mrs. Collier continued blithely on, looking from one man to the other.
"Mrs. Collier," Doyle said through his teeth. "We're tired, wet, and in desperate need of a bath, some food, and a place to sleep. Perhaps you could help us with this," he smiled viciously.
"Of course," she returned his smile brilliantly. "I've no wish to put you out, but when the count was off on the group, a room had to come from somewhere. We're rather a small hotel, you know."
Doyle looked like he was about to commit GBH, so Bodie eased himself between his partner and Mrs. Collier. "So you've a solution to our dilemma," he said smoothly while holding onto Ray's arm with a grip of iron.
"Oh, yes," beamed Mrs. Collier. "I rang up Maggie Dinwiddie over at the Cavens at Kirkbeam. She manages for the owners and owes me a favour, so they've a lovely room their all ready for you -- no extra charge," she gestured for them to follow her, and she led them to the small office she worked out of, and there they found their carryalls in a small forlorn pile by a closet door.
"And how do we get to this place," asked Bodie, picking up the bags and handing Doyle his.
"It's very easy to get to," Mrs. Collier smiled still more as she directed them out the front door with unsubtle pushes to their shoulders. "Just follow the A710 through Dalbeatie and head toward the sea and you'll reach Kirkbeam. There's a great sign for the house, you can't miss it. Mind the children out for the Guy," she nodded her head and closed the double doors against the wind.
"Woman's a force of nature," Doyle said incredulously as they made their way back to the Capri, still damp, cold, hungry, and now apparently on an odyssey to a great house in the wilds of Dumfriesshire, in the dark no less.
"Beginning to think we were better off with Robbie," Bodie muttered as he started the Capri yet again and went in search of the road to Kirkbeam, sure that it coincided with that one to hell.
Both men were shivering as they stepped out of the Capri and stared at their supposed lodgings. Pulling their bags out of the boot, they trudged up to the entrance of the great house, its white exterior glowing slightly in the rainy gloom. The door opened as they neared it, and a woman eerily similar to Mrs. Collier called out cheerfully, "Ye'll be the lads Moira Collier called me up about then. Come in out of the damp, ye'll catch yer deaths ye will. I'm Mrs. Dinwiddie," she added gesturing them in.
"Thank you," Doyle responded quietly, while Bodie just nodded in appreciation for the warmth that now surrounded them.
"Ach, and ye look all in," the woman declared. "Follow me," she commanded, "I'll take ye to yer room." They passed through a hallway that went by formal drawing rooms, sitting rooms, and other rooms, filled with antiques and stiff looking furniture that shouted out to them that this place was way out of their budget and social circle for that matter. As both men were ready to doss down at a youth hostel, if it was reasonably dry and had bathroom privileges, their current settings were just this side of surreal.
Stopping at a set of double doors, Mrs. Dinwiddie unlocked and opened them. "This is the Robert Burns," she walked to the center of the sitting room. "Through there's the bedroom, that's the en suite," she gestured appropriately. "Breakfast is between seven and nine normally, but we've a lovely brunch on Sunday's from eight to eleven."
"Thanks," Doyle said tiredly, unable to muster up more enthusiasm at the posh settings, and Bodie just nodded and looked pained at the mention of food.
"Don't suppose we could get a cuppa and some toast from the kitchen," Bodie ventured without much hope.
"A cuppa," began Mrs. Dinwiddie, a puzzled expression on her face. "Never say ye've not had yer supper yet?" she exclaimed.
"Not a scrap," mourned Bodie sincerely, and Doyle employed his lost waif look that clearly needed no practice as it was perfect.
"Ach," the woman fussed. "The kitchen's closed this time of night. Mrs. Collier said ye've had a bad day on top of losing yer lodgings, but she never said she didn't feed ye," her thoughts on the magnitude of this crime showing clearly on her face.
"We didn't want to trouble her," Doyle said piously.
"Full house, doncha know," Bodie chimed in. "We felt it best to get out of her way."
"Poor things," Mrs. Dinwiddie nodded as if making up her mind. "Ye'll no doubt need to wash up. I'll head down to the kitchen and find you something for your supper. I'm sure Mrs. Lisle mentioned something about leftovers. I'll come back in an hour," she smiled warmly.
"You are a treasure," Bodie said taking her arm as he walked her to the door of the suite, and she blushed and giggled like a girl.
"You do go on," her words denied the pleasure his attentions gave her.
"Yes he does," Doyle agreed warmly, coming up on her other side. "But, occasionally, he does say something worthwhile."
Mrs. Dinwiddie laughed as she passed through the door, "Yer a pair o' lively lads, that's for certain."
"You hear that?" Bodie pressed up behind Doyle as he shut the door. "I'm a lively lad, I am."
"Yeah, well, you may be lively, but I'm freezing," Doyle shuddered and pressed back into Bodie, who even damp, radiated heat albeit at a lower rate than usual.
Bodie's arms automatically came round Doyle and hugged him closer, "Let's get out of these things. You'll be warmer after a wash." He tugged Doyle toward the bath. "You know, if you weren't such a scrawny thing, you'd not get so cold."
"I'll show you scrawny," Doyle grabbed Bodie in a headlock on the way to the bath and the two scrabbled through the door into the large white room filled with delightfully enormous porcelain fittings crowned by a huge clawed tub.
"It's like a cathedral," Bodie stood, awed.
"Uh huh, get those taps running," Doyle began undressing. "It'll take an age to fill that monster," he began shivering in anticipation of gallons of hot water at his disposal.
Bodie automatically moved toward the tub and started the water running. Putting in the stopper, he stood and intoned, "Would m'lud like anything else with his bath?"
"Yeah," Doyle crossed over to Bodie and grabbed him by his sweater, "you, naked, now."
A delightful hour and much hot water later, the partners sat in the sitting room in the complimentary heavy toweling robes. As promised, Mrs. Dinwiddie had provided food in the form of baked salmon, Colcannon, and bannocks. A full tea service and Parkin with custard filled out the menu.
"If this is the leftovers, I'd like to see what they serve at table," Bodie remarked, plowing manfully through the hearty portion on his plate.
"Menu's like an ad for Scottish tourism," chuckled Doyle, making his own inroads.
"I've seen just about enough Historic Scotland as I can handle this week," muttered Bodie, filling his teacup. He gestured with the pot to Doyle, who held his cup up for re-filling.
"Yeah, and the old man wasn't very happy that his radar was off on this one," Doyle made a sound of satisfaction that could have been addressed to the remark or to the fact that he'd cleared his plate.
"Just as well," Bodie reached over to the Parkin and began to dish it up. "This is the closest we're getting to a vacation in the near future, I'm sure."
"And, we had to put up with a ghost to get it," Doyle added, looking torn at the plate Bodie held up.
"Come on then, a spot of pud won't kill you," Bodie scoffed, then smiled genuinely as Doyle took the treat and began eating it.
"'M'not twelve years old, Bodie," his partner rolled his eyes, but still kept eating. Bodie's reply was lost in his portion.
Afterwards, sitting with the last of the tea, both men finally felt truly warm for the first time since they got to Scotland.
"One of us has to report in," Doyle finally said as he placed his empty teacup on the table in front of the lounge. Bodie groaned in reply, but stood up and went toward the bedroom.
"I've got it," he called back as he grabbed dry trousers and a shirt from his hold all. "You start thinking about the report you're going to write up about this little excursion," he appeared in the door of the bedroom, grinning.
"Sod off," Doyle was too warm and comfortable to bother with saying anything else.
"Yes, dear," Bodie ruffled his curls in passing, taking the tray with the dishes with him as he left the room.
Returning from phoning in an initial report to the on-duty, Bodie came into the bedroom where Doyle had ensconced himself in the enormous bed, reading a novel he'd found on the sitting room bookshelf.
"You took your time. Wonder what the old bird was thinking of us, giving us the room with just the one bed," Doyle speculated, putting the book.
"She's a romantic, that one," Bodie assured him, placing a bottle with amber fluid on the end table, producing two crystal tumblers to go with it.
Doyle examined the label and raised his eyebrows, "Very nice. Who'd you nick this from, the lord of the manner?"
"Told you," Bodie sniffed. "She's a romantic, and she likes me. Tracked her down in the kitchen, doing the washing up from our meal. She was appalled that I'd brought the dishes down. Called me thoughtful," he preened at this last. "Then, she up and tells me that she'd never heard such a romantic tale as what Mrs. Collier told her about us taking a bit of vacation out of our busy schedule as salesmen to visit the castle, then the weather going so off, losing our room, and having no place to go."
"There's a point somewhere here," Doyle nodded knowledgeably as he poured a generous portion of Laphroaig for each of them.
"I'm getting to it," Bodie finished stripping on his clothes and sat down on the bed, taking a generous swallow. "Ah, s'good, that," he moaned appreciatively.
"Yeah," grinned Doyle, drinking his own, eyeing the fine form laid out for his viewing.
"Anyway," the long-suffering Bodie continued. "The lady took one look at us and decided we were love's young dream or some such." He chuckled and drank another mouthful. "She tells me it's good to see such commitment to one another, working together, and all that. She tipped me a wink then, and handed me the bottle, said we needed it to ward off a possible cold."
"She never," Doyle laughed delightedly.
"Grand old bird," Bodie toasted her with a grin.
"I'll drink to that," Doyle finished off his portion, then looked at Bodie. "You done with that?" Bodie upended the rest of the single malt in his glass, then surrendered it to Doyle.
"You've that look in your eye, Raymond," Bodie slid in his lover's arms.
"Yeah?" smiled Doyle, tugging Bodie close and wriggling in a delightful manner.
"Yeah," Bodie nuzzled an ear, then brought his mouth over Doyle's for a light kiss. "S'nice that," he breathed.
"Been a long day," Doyle said, kissing him back in small nips and quick forays of his tongue into Bodie's mouth.
"Missed the fireworks," Bodie lamented with a beautiful pout.
"No you didn't," Doyle closed the distance between them.
-- THE END --