Doyle snuggled down into his thick furry collar and tried to remember the last time he'd been warm. Really warm. Toasty, lovely warm. "All I want is a room somewhere..." he muttered aloud.
A disgusted snort answered him. His partner removed the night glasses from his eyes and glared at Doyle. Bodie's handsome features were flushed and chapped from the cold and blowing snow. He'd lost the toss and drawn first watch on the house they were staking out. Silent and apparently deserted, it had been that way since they had relieved Reams and Sonners. Bodie blew on his hands and kept punching the heater button as if that would force more heat out of the already straining unit. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Doyle wrestling with something. He turned and watched in astonishment as Doyle proceeded to wrap what looked like a fifteen foot dark red knitted scarf around and around and around his neck.
"Somebody forgot how to end it?" Bodie queried, lips twisted into a superior smile.
"Huh?" Doyle looked up from his handiwork, having finally anchored the scarf securely. Bodie reached over and drew the scarf edge over Doyle's mouth and nose, leaving only wide green eyes and wildly tousled brown hair.
"That really does something for you, mate. The improvement is impressive. You might consider doing it more often," Bodie chortled. Ray Doyle glared and contented himself with visions of revenge when he and Bodie got off duty.
Bodie couldn't leave well enough alone. "Where'd you nick that flamin' scarf, Ray?" A muffled laugh came from the bundled figure and Ray pulled down the concealing wool.
"Didn't nick it. My niece Sally gave it to me for Christmas. She's a big fan of some clown called Doctor Who on the telly. He's apparently miles tall and wears scarves you could use for mountain climbing. But it's warm, and I can tell her I did use it on the Job. She worries about me."
"And that scarf is gonna protect you from the villains?" Bodie scoffed lightly. Doyle just grinned and pocketed his R/T.
Bodie fingered the scarf. "The question is who is wearing whom?"
Doyle grinned again, reached over and patted Bodie on the cheek. "Watch out for strange people, sunshine."
"Why? Did you lose any?"
Doyle ignored the prompt comeback, got out of the car and kicked his way through the snow to his position where he settled down with his scarf and watched the house.
"Come in, 3.7."
"Right with you, 4.5."
"I don't think anyone is gonna visit tonight, Bodie."
"Come on, 4.5. It's bloody Christmas Eve. Even if no one else shows, a fat red-suited bloke is gonna descend on the roof of this house at the witching hour of midnight."
There was an appreciative silence from Doyle, then, "3.7, I have no intention of meeting that particular gentleman out here in this damp and cold. I intend to be cozy and snug with scotch in hand and me feet up. Besides, since when did you believe in Santa Claus, Bodie?"
"Since Cowley told me the Easter Bunny was the result of greedy capitalists, Ray. Everybody needs to believe in something, you know." The voice on the R/T was mournful, and Doyle had to restrain himself from laughing.
"Since you already believe, Bodie, I think we should allow Murphy and Masters to wait for him."
"True. We wouldn't want to be greedy now, would we? Time for all little boys to go home, Raymond. 3.7 out."
Doyle snorted, then grinned at his crazy partner's cheeky remarks and checked his watch. Half an hour from now, his Christmas would really begin.
Doyle raced up the stairs, leaving Bodie struggling with the outside door and two bags of groceries to his one. He threw the dead bolt to make sure the door was secure. He put down his bag, grasped the top package from it and headed for the kitchen. He gathered up another package and went into the livingroom. The first bangs hit the door, and he knew he had very little time. The closet. No, that would be the first place he'd look. Under the bed. That would be the second. Doyle snapped his fingers. The oven. No, that was the third place Bodie would search.
It was hell living with a very observant lover like Bodie, especially when he was like a child about presents and had begun searching for them December 1st. Ray had been forced to contrive caches and continually move them. He had finally taken to tricks to keep Bodie occupied long enough to move the stuff from place to place.
'Thank Christ it's almost over,' he thought as Bodie gave the door a particularly vicious kick. "Ray!" sounded clearly from the hall. Doyle pulled up the cushion on the bedcouch and stowed his packages with the others. He'd have to leave them for now - Bodie was getting grumpy. He opened the door quickly, and received a bag of groceries full in the gut as Bodie passed him. The taller man went into the kitchen, his eyes immediately searching for signs of disturbance. His head popped around the door, and he grinned cheerfully at Ray.
"Are you gonna bring in the food, or are they goin' to stay in the door for Santa to find?" He disappeared, and Doyle shook his head as he retrieved the rest of the bags. Bodie was whistling loudly as Ray entered the kitchen. He had opened all the kitchen doors and drawers, including the oven (Ray was wrong about that being the third place Bodie would search), and was just beginning to store things. Doyle glared at the mess, then rescued the eggs and milk. He moved to the table and set them down, then gathered up a large bowl and various spices he would need. Rolling up his sleeves, he began.
Warm air suddenly touched his neck, and he saw Bodie's face appear over his shoulder, alive with fascination. "What's that?" he inquired, intrigued despite himself.
"Me mum's recipe for the best eggnog in London."
Bodie's eyes roved over the ingredients, then registered disappointment. "No booze for warmin' the cockles?" he asked in heartbroken tones.
Doyle chuckled. "Wait for it, Bodie. I serve no eggnog before its time." He cackled at his own high wit, and Bodie just winced. Ray began to add the ingredients, muttering and peering into the bowl like a warlock making a magic brew. Bodie was enthralled by the show. At last Ray stood back, nodded thoughtfully after a taste and went into the livingroom. He returned with a bottle of their best brandy, which he added with a moderate hand. He tasted it again, put his fingers to his lips, kissed the air with a grand gesture and announced in a horrid accent, "Magnifique!" Then the bowl was placed under a cover and set out of the way in a corner. Ray wiped his hands and remarked, "Let that stew a bit, and we can get the tree up."
"Stew?" Bodie echoed in confusion.
"Yeah, stew. You know, have the ingredients blend together." Bodie raised an unconvinced eyebrow at this statement, but he obediently followed Ray out of the kitchen. Doyle went to the closet to get the ornaments and tree and Bodie searched for presents. He quickly scanned the drinks cabinet, the stereo and the enclosed book cases before Ray returned. Nothing. Ray was getting real good at hiding things now. Bodie had found exactly two caches during the past two weeks. He hadn't opened them; he just set them out in plain sight to drive Ray batty. It had worked beautifully the first time, then Ray had taken the pressies down to their landlady for her to keep for a while. Bodie had promptly accused Doyle of cheating and sulked. Ray had stared at him in startled comprehension, then agreed with a very wicked smile. Since that time Bodie hadn't found another cache. Ray could be as devious as hell when he got the notion. Bodie had enjoyed this holiday more than any other in a very long time.
Ray staggered in with the tree and several boxes and glared at Bodie.
"You wanted a bloody tree, so you can just bloody well help, mate!"
"I wanted a real tree," Bodie muttered to himself as he got up. Ray heard the disgruntled whisper and stopped short. He slowly put down the string of lights, looked at the sleet falling outside, and sighed. He had taken two steps towards his coat when Bodie tackled him onto the couch. Bodie sat up on the squirming figure.
"I didn't mean it. Really, I didn't!" he gasped, grabbing at Doyle's flying hands. Ray immediately relaxed, then gently punched Bodie in the stomach.
"No foolin', you moron," he chided calmly. "Gerroff me and go get the box of ornaments the twins gave me. And untangle 'em first!" He gently pushed Bodie off him. Bodie just stood there, a yearning fire in his eyes, a look Ray was familiar with now. He knew if he didn't misdirect that sex maniac soon, nothing would get done for a good long time, if ever. He got up swiftly, kissed Bodie thoroughly if briefly, then shoved him towards the hallway.
"Later, lover, when we've got everything done," he promised firmly. He vanished into the kitchen to check the eggnog. Soon muffled curses issued from the hallway, and Ray realised Bodie had discovered the tangled mass of bulbs and lights bequeathed to him by his family. It would keep Bodie occupied while he retrieved the presents from the couch. Doyle raced into the livingroom and grabbed the tree leaning against the stereo. Ramming it into a stand, he dug into the couch and scattered the gaily wrapped packages around its base.
Meanwhile, Bodie had sneaked into the kitchen, tasted the eggnog and added brandy with a liberal hand. He crept back into the hallway just as Doyle sped into the room. Ray had ignored the decided list of their tree when he thought he detected sounds in the kitchen. He didn't trust Bodie as far as he could throw him to keep his big mitts off the eggnog; besides, Doyle wanted some himself. He was relieved to find the room deserted. Now he could add the second stage of the recipe.
Ray took out the best brandy he'd hidden in the sink cabinet and added a goodly amount. He'd just dipped a small cup to sample the brew when a large hand reached over his shoulder, grabbed the cup and Bodie drank his sample. "Umm, that is lovely," Bodie announced, grinning widely at his partner.
Ray grabbed the cup for another try, then heard a loud thump in the livingroom. He dashed in to see the tree leaning drunkenly over the couch. Bodie quickly dumped his bottle of brandy in the eggnog and went to help Ray, throwing the empty bottle in the closet as he passed. Together they righted the tree and trimmed it. When Ray went into the bedroom to get some- thing, Bodie rescued his presents from the fishing basket in the back of the airing closet and added them to the small pile.
He was wearing his most innocent look when Ray returned, decoratively arrayed on the couch. Ray glared at him suspiciously; when Bodie looked the most innocent, he was the least. Not spying anything amiss, he smiled back at the silly prat. "The eggnog should be Just about ready, Bodie," he rubbed his hands together tn anticipation. He looked around the room at the festive array and chuckled. "We've done ourselves proud, sunshine."
Bodie nodded in agreement and patted the space next to him. "Don't you want any eggnog after I wore me fingers to the bone to make it for you?" Doyle demanded 1tghtly. Bodie leered, "That's not what I need right now, sunshine. Cummere."
Ray decided that he was serious and settled down next to htm, enfolded in strong arms. Fire flared between them, a clutching heated need that spread like wildfire, and Incidentals 1tke eggnog and Christmas were completely forgotten in the glory. The phone rang. Doyle moaned and reluctantly raised his head, holding Bodie down when he would have followed. Bodie shook his head, glared at the offending instrument and said, "Scream all you want; we're not gonna answer." Then he jerked Ray to htm and began to nibble on his ear.
Doyle sucked tn his breath and grabbed the persistent phone, wrapping an arm around Bodie's neck. He dragged his head away from the target area to his chest. Bodie seemed perfectly content to nibble and explore the new site and 1isten to Ray's side of the conversation, once he was sure it wasn't involving work. Doyle swallowed hard at the sensations incited by his evil-minded lover, gathered his wits and forced his mind to 1isten and answer coherently.
"Doyle..... Merry Christmas to you too, Mum.... Dinner sounds good. I don't see why we can't. If there's a problem, I'll get word to you.... I'll have to check with Bodie, though. It should be all right.... Love you too. 'Bye."
Doyle waited, but there was silence from his chest area. Then Bodie raised his head, blue eyes hazy with passion, and smothered what Ray was about to say with his hot mouth. Slowly he eased Ray down to the couch and began to remove what little clothes remained on Doyle. Ray gave up trying to discuss anything for the time being and reached out to hold Bodie close. Passion flowed, peaked, and slowly they came back to the room's reality and the couch that was just a bit too narrow for lovemaking. Bodie groaned, wondering how Doyle got on top.
Ray sat up and leaned against the cushions, resting one palm lightly on Bodie's damp chest, rubbing just a little. "Mum wants to have us over for dinner tomorrow night. She says Sally is worried because you have no family and Davie 'as been pinin' for you. So you are to go, too."
Bodie smiled faintly, sat up himself and leaned his head back onto Ray's shoulder. "Do we have to go?" he asked in an oddly expressionless tone of voice.
Doyle stiffened in surprise and ran a hand through his tangled mop. "No," he answered flatly. "You don't 'ave to go, mate."
Bodie edged himself to the end of the couch and looked his partner in the eye. "It is our first Christmas together, really together, and much as I do like your family, I want to be honest about this, Ray. I would have to act differently than I want to with you while we're with them." He raised a hand and twirled a curl around a finger. "This is a time for makin' memories, good memories, and I seem to have a dearth of 'em. This is a precious time for me, Ray. And I don't want them tarnished in any way. People tend to disapprove of our relationship, and in general I can deal with it, but not just now."
Bodie's softly spoken words were strong with sincerity and Doyle blinked. Bodie wasn't one to give voice to his feelings much; even now he wasn't very openhanded about it. Ray wasn't about to ruin this by riding roughshod over Bodie's objections. He would have to step very carefully.
He reached up and captured the caressing hand, kissing the palm. "Mum and Kathy already know, lover. And I planned to stay only a couple of hours. I have to go, Bodie. It's not for very long. It would make them and me happy if you came but not if you don't want to go. I would never try to make you do what you don't want to do."
Bodie's lowered head rose, his darkened eyes uncertain. Ray's eyes pleaded one moment despite his strong resolve, then were hidden by flickering lashes. He leaned over slowly, deliberately, and kissed Bodie hard.
"Lissen, mate. You think on it. The decision is yours." Ray got up, eyed his clothing and decided it was too much bother to get dressed just to take them off again a little later. He padded naked to the doorway of the kitchen. He paused there and added, "Bodie." Bodie looked blindly at him. "Whatever decision you make I will abide by it, and it will have no bearing on this relationship," he said with a wry smile. Then he disappeared into the kitchen and left Bodie alone with his problem.
Bodie acknowledged to himself that he was caught between a rock and a hard spot. In spite of what Ray said and meant sincerely, Bodie couldn't quite believe that there would be no repercussions. Both of them had reasonable positions, and he did like the Doyle family - in small doses. He did wonder just when Ray had told his mother and sister about them, but he wasn't bothered about it. Doyle rarely did anything without good reason. He did consider the possibility that Ray had done it so they could be comfortable with his family. Doyle was a sly boots. He relaxed, looking up as Ray staggered in, balancing a pitcher, two mugs and a plate of fruit- cake slices. Bodie sprang up and rescued the fruitcake, stuffing a large piece in his mouth.
"Only two hours?" he mumbled, spraying crumbs at Doyle who ducked, setting his burdens down on the coffee table. Ray flopped onto the couch, and looking over at Bodie, grinned and nodded vigorously, hair flying wildly. Bodie wrapped an arm around him and bit his neck gently.
"Okay, sunshine," he muttered. "You win. We'll both go."
Ray froze. "It's not a win or lose matter, Bodie," he muttered wearily.
Bodie chuckled. "No, it's not, love. It's just that I had forgotten the responsibilities of haven' a family. It's been a long time for me, and it was never that great."
Ray relaxed once again in Bodie's arms, kissed his nose in approval and reached out a lazy arm for the cups of eggnog. He handed one to Bodie and took a healthy gulp from his. Choking and sputtering, Ray sat up and tried to catch his breath.
"Bloody 'ell, Bodie! It didn't simply blend, it bloody well fermented,"
Bodie choked on his eggnog, chuckling at Ray's astonished face. He finally gave in, and sitting back, howled with laughter. 'That would teach 'im.' he decided as he began to pound on Ray's back with overenthusiastic thumps. Ray tried to defend his back, and they ended up in a heap on the floor, covered with fruitcake and eggnog. They had a perfectly erotic time cleaning each other up.
-- THE END --