All I want for Christmas…
Duffy watched Patrick stride into the department’s reception area, that familiar glum expression on his face. It didn’t take a genius to work out that Christmas wasn’t exactly his favourite time of year. He’d done nothing but complain ever since Jack had retrieved the box of decorations from the storeroom and he and Spencer had spent a good couple of hours putting them up.
‘Why does Christmas have to start in bloody September?’ He’d moaned, followed by, ‘How exactly does shiny plastic help celebrate the birth of Christ?’ and ‘Surely all this stuff constitutes some sort of fire hazard?’.
Everyone had told him to shut up moaning and get into the Christmas spirit, to which he had replied, as deadpan as was physically possible, ‘Bah Humbug!’ Then he walked away informing them that he was off to replace all the presents on the children’s ward with lumps of coal.
Since then the grumpiness had continued, albeit at a slightly quieter tone. Duffy had begun to wonder whether there was more to Patrick’s hatred of Christmas than simply the commercialism and the inability to go anywhere or do anything without fighting through a hundred frazzled shoppers and screaming children. His Christmas blues were more acute than any she’d seen before, but the thing that nagged at her most was that she hadn’t noticed it nearly so much the previous year, and that that might be something to do with her own feelings on the subject.
"Morning Patrick!" She called as he neared her position. He appeared startled for a second by her greeting but acknowledged it with a curt nod.
"No, we’re quite empty actually," she replied, "handful of ‘flu cases, three from an RTA, a kid who super glued a paper lightening strike to his forehead…"
"He wanted to be Harry Potter" Duffy explained, as though it were perfectly reasonable.
Patrick shook his head in utter disbelief, "I’ll never get over the stupidity of some people".
"Oh Patrick, he’s only a kid and he wanted a bit of magic in his life. It is Christmas after all!"
"Christmas is just another day of the year. There’s nothing ‘magic’ about it, and I don’t see why people use it as an excuse to lose their common sense".
Had she been able to think of a reply, Patrick wouldn’t have heard it, he was off to the staff room so quickly that his feet barely touched the floor. For a second she contemplated following him and trying to get to the root of his reactions, but something told her that now wasn’t the time. Besides, getting blood from a stone was easier than getting Patrick to put aside the sarcastic comments and general insults long enough for a serious talk.
Duffy wandered instead to Charlie’s office and, with a knock more out of habit than politeness, let herself in. Charlie was in his increasingly regular position; hunched over his desk glaring at some pretty much indecipherable sheet of figures. At the sound of the door opening he looked up and turned around blatantly thankful for an interruption.
Duffy shook her head, "No, although the storeroom downstairs’ door is locking itself shut again. Anna reckons she was nearly trapped in there earlier. I’ve been on to maintenance, but you know what it’s like in this place".
"I thought they’d fixed it?"
"That’s what they said, but it doesn’t look very fixed to me. Anyway, it's under control, nothing to worry about". She flashed her best hundred watt cheery smile. Charlie frowned.
"What is it?"
"Come on, I know you. You didn’t come in here to talk about a dodgy door lock, and I haven’t seen you trying to look so happy in ages. So what is it?"
Silently cursing his ability to read her so well, she kept the smile fixed in place and perched on the edge of is desk.
"It’s not me," she said forcefully. It wasn’t a lie exactly because she hadn’t come to talk about her, even if things weren’t quite as perfect as she liked to make out. "It’s Patrick".
"What’s he done now?" Charlie sighed.
"Nothing, it's just that … I don’t know… he seems upset somehow".
He raised an eyebrow, "Upset?"
"Maybe I’m just imagining it, but ever since the Christmas decorations went up he’s been miserable, and it's only getting worse."
"Duffy, how long has Patrick been working here now? Nearly two years? And has he ever been anything other than miserable?"
"This is different though. I think someone should talk to him." She looked pointedly at Charlie, who proceeded to shake his head and wave his arms about in a ‘no way, not me’ gesture.
"You think there’s a problem Duffy, you talk to him. Or talk some other mug into doing it, but don’t look at me." Then as an afterthought he added, "I have far too much paper work to get through to play counsellor".
"What’s the sudden interest in Patrick’s welfare anyway?" He continued ignoring her jibe.
"It’s my job ensure the smooth running of the department, and if that means taking an interest in …"
He held up his hand to silence her, "Duffy. The truth?"
"I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks watching my boys getting more and more miserable as Christmas approaches. I’ve been doing everything in my power to make this year, if not the best Christmas, then not the worst either. They get this weird sorrowful expression sometimes Charlie, and it’s the exact same expression that I can see on Patrick’s face. I suppose I feel sorry for him, that’s all".
"Concentrate on your kids Duffy. Patrick is big enough and ugly enough to take care of himself."
"Yeah, but…" She sighed at his expression knowing she wasn't about to win, "OK, you’re right. As always".
"How are things at home? Are you coping?" He asked softly.
She replaced the smile that had slipped during their conversation, "I’m coping. Everything’s fine".
"Would I lie to you?" She stood up and before he had a chance to respond she’d continued, "I should get back out there I suppose. See you later!"
As Duffy walked up to the admin area she saw Chloe, Anna and Jack huddled around talking in hushed tones and giggling like children.
"Ahem!" she coughed.
They each jerked to upright positions looking suspiciously guilty, before bursting into a renewed attack of giggles at the sight of each other's faces.
"I’m not sure it’s even worth me asking what you’re up to, so I’ll just say: Jack, you should be behind the reception desk, and I’m sure you two have jobs to be getting on with…"
"I’m waiting to be called back" Chloe explained.
"And I’m catching up on paperwork" Anna chipped in.
"And I’ll… um, see ya girls" Jack muttered as he scurried off to the reception area, giving Chloe and Anna a decidedly indiscreet thumbs up sign as he went.
"Is he quite alright?" Duffy asked referring to the hastily retreating figure of Jack.
"Yeah" Anna said, nodding fervently.
"Er, Duffy," Chloe broke in, directing the senior nurse’s attention away from her excitable friend, "Have they fixed that storeroom door yet?" Anna just about stifled a giggle, and Chloe rolled her eyes at her.
"Not that I know of. Why?"
"Just wondered. And has Patrick arrived yet?" She asked with all the innocence of the devil himself.
"Yes. Look, I hope you three aren’t planning something stupid. This is a hospital not a playground, no practical jokes when I’m on duty thank you."
"Would we?" Chloe grinned, just as the telephone rang, "Sorry Duffy can’t chat, work to do!"
For another hour the running of the casualty department went without incident. In itself that was strange enough but the secrecy of Anna, Chloe and Jack earlier made Duffy even more convinced that that trouble was lurking just around the corner. She tapped away at one of the admin area's computer terminals, glancing around nervously every minute or so to make sure all was still as it should be. Patrick sat a few feet away reading through some medical journal and looking bored.
"It’s at times like this that I could almost wish for an emergency" He grumbled.
Duffy turned to face him, "Be careful what you wish for, it might just come true and I’m rather enjoying the peace and quiet for once".
"You don’t look like it. In fact you look like the world is going to come crashing down around your ears any minute."
Too late for that, she thought bitterly, but refrained from making any outward show of her feelings. "Rubbish, I’ve just got a lot to do."
"If you spent a little less time wrapping tinsel around your head, maybe you’d get more work done".
Duffy’s hand automatically rose to the piece of red tinsel that she’d tied around her ponytail that morning.
"Some people like to make an effort to feel festive." She retorted defensively.
Patrick grunted. He was about to respond in a more vocal manner when the sound of running from reception, followed by an out of breath Jack flying though the double doors stopped him mid-thought.
"Dr Spiller, there’s someone collapsed downstairs. I need your help!"
In a split second Patrick was on his feet, "What’s happened, where?"
"In the storeroom, dunno what’s the matter with him. You’ve got to go now. Now!" He stepped out of the way and Patrick bolted past him to the stairwell; Duffy meanwhile jumped up from behind the computer to follow suit, but Jack stood back in her way.
"Jack would you let me past!"
"No need." She saw a mischievous grin spread across his face, and from behind her she could her hear the distinctive giggling of two of her nurses.
All of a sudden, it dawned on her what was going on; and she berated herself for not seeing it before Patrick had rushed off.
"You three are idiots and I’ll be taking this up with Charlie. Now get out of the way!"
A very shocked Jack moved aside to let Duffy run along Patrick’s path, "Great, now we’re going to be in trouble with the boss!"
Chloe sidled up to him, "Nah, Duffy’ll let Patrick out, and he’ll be so embarrassed that he won’t let her take it any further. We’re safe, man!"
Patrick raced into the room, oblivious to the crudely set up trip wire across the doorway. He could see what looked like a person at the back of the room and made his way past the shelves to get to them. When he did, he stood hunched over so that the palms of his hands were on the tops of his legs and surveyed the scene in front of him with disgust.
Propped up in the corner of the room was a plastic skeleton, liberally decorated with silly string, tinsel, and a couple of baubles for makeshift earrings. Around the skeleton’s neck hung a small computer printed sign that read ‘I think you’re a bit late doctor!’ in large red letters.
Hearing footsteps behind him, he paced back to the open door, sure that whoever it was advancing on him was the perpetrator of this little hoax, and determined to give them a piece of his mind. He stood behind the open door and waited.
Duffy approached the storeroom, surprised to find the door lying wide open, and wondering where Patrick was if he hadn’t fallen for the practical joke. She stepped forward into the room, the wire catching on her ankle and releasing the rubber doorstop that held the door open. The door thudded shut behind her.
"Is this your idea of a joke?" Patrick boomed, startling an already confused Duffy even more. He pointed at the skeleton. "What if there was a real emergency while you lot were busy crying wolf, eh? Wouldn’t be so bloody funny then!"
"Patrick I have no idea what you’re talking about, it’s got nothing to do with me. But I have a feeling we have something more immediate to worry about".
"Well I’ll tell you now, whoever did do this has something pretty immediate to worry about too" He grabbed at the door handle angrily, but the door didn’t open. "Bloody thing’s stuck" he muttered, trying again even more viciously.
"It’s not stuck Patrick…" Duffy tried to explain, as Patrick began cursing exasperatedly under his breath.
"Oh no? You try then".
"It’s not stuck Patrick, it’s locked".
He stopped what he was doing and looked at her as I she was mad. "What do you mean ‘locked’?"
"I mean this door swings shut with such a force that it jars the lock shut".
"You have keys". He said in his best patronising tone of voice.
"Yeah," she replied in kind, "but the keyhole is on the other side of the door".
"So you’re saying we’re trapped in here?"
She sighed and dropped to the floor, her back pressed against the cold plaster wall. At least the room was warm and brightly lit, and not so small as to be imposingly claustrophobic.
"Well, the Three Stooges upstairs know where we are. They’ll come and rescue us sooner or later".
"Sooner or later? Great, we could be here all day!" He slumped into a similar position to hers, but on the other side of the room.
"I’m sure it won’t be that long".
"Why are you ‘sure’? What makes you think that the sort of pillocks who’d lock the senior doctor on duty in a storeroom for a joke would have the common sense to come and open the door again?"
"Someone else will notice then. Charlie, or Lara…?"
"Lara would probably be pleased if I dropped off the face of the earth".
She detected something in his voice that suggested that he'd been knocked back once to often to think Lara would care about his predicament. "Well, anyway, there are worse places to be locked into".
"Last Christmas I was trapped in a barn in the snow with a sprained ankle and a sore finger. A few weeks later I was held at gunpoint on a rusty boat, miles from anywhere. And you know what? Either experience was preferable to this because I wasn’t locked in a confined space with Mother Christmas’s more optimistic twin!"
He practically spat the last words before springing to his feet to begin pacing the room. Of all the people to be locked up with it was just his luck to end up with the person who got the most on his nerves. He pushed his hand through his hair in frustration and renewed his attack on the door.
"You could help you know Duffy, seeing as all this is your fault" He threw an accusatory glance in her direction.
"Patrick, the door won’t open from this side, we’ve been through this already." She called up at him, "And no amount of swearing at it will change the situation".
Patrick stopped his attack and looked back at her, "So you just want me to sit here while you tell me to look on the bright side?" He said mockingly, as he stood over her.
Annoyed by his attitude Duffy got to her feet so she could look him in the eyes, "Well, would it hurt you to be a little less miserable about everything?"
"I have every right to be miserable! I’m stuck in her, with you." He shouted.
"I came down here to rescue you!" She shouted back.
"And you did such a good job. I was perfectly fine until you came blundering in. I can do without that kind of ‘help’ thank you."
"Well don’t expect me to help you in the future!"
Angrily they each returned to their former positions and the room descended into silence.
Jack sat happily ogling one of the more attractive female patients from behind his desk when Colette and Dillon approached him.
"Jack, have you seen Duffy or Patrick around recently?" Colette asked.
Jack shook his head and tried to hide his guilty expression, "No, not for a while".
"Well, if you see either of them tell them we’ve been looking, it’s starting to pick up pace around here" Colette stated as she walked off.
Dillon rested against the desk and stared at the young receptionist. "You know something, don’t you?"
"Me? I know nothing mate".
"And the rest. Come on. You can tell me…"
Jack did a quick visual sweep of the room to make sure they wouldn’t be overheard. "Well, me, Anna and Chloe rigged it up for Patrick to get locked in the downstairs storeroom. Duffy figured it out and went to rescue him but neither of them has come back. I reckon it went wrong and they’re both locked in".
Dillon stifled a laugh, "Don’t you think now would be a good time to let them out again?"
"Yeah" Jack admitted.
"Well, I’ll keep an eye on the desk while you’re gone".
"Hey mate, no way. He’ll be in a foul mood, and she won’t be much better. I’m not gonna face that, one of the girls is going to have to do it".
"And you make out like you’re the big bad boxer of Holby! Look, I don’t care how you do it, just open the door and let them out. All right?"
It felt like an eternity to the reluctant roommates before either of them moved again. In reality though, it was only a matter of minutes before Duffy rooted down into her pocket and pulled a slightly melted Mars Bar from it.
She knew it was bad for her, and didn’t usually indulge in her chocolate cravings but recently she’d needed a little something just as a pick-me-up as the day wore on. She eyed it guiltily before taking a bite.
From across the room, Patrick found his stomach rumbling at the sight of food. By now it was past lunchtime and he cursed himself for not grabbing a sandwich when he had had the chance. He wondered if Duffy would be willing to share, but as he contemplated asking her he realised that that would mean breaking their hostile silence and he certainly had no intention of being the first to give in. As it turned out, he didn’t have to.
"Do you want some?"
"No". He said, wrong footed by her unexpected generosity.
"You sure? Might be a while before we can get some proper food…"
"Well, OK. Thanks" He pushed himself off the floor and sat down again next to her. In return she broke the remainder of the bar in half and offered him the end still in its wrapper.
"You already said that"
"The first one was for the chocolate, that was for trying to rescue me. Even if you did make a pig’s ear of it".
"I did, didn’t I?" she laughed weakly. "Sorry".
He shrugged, "It’s OK. Most people wouldn’t have bothered. They’d just sit around and laugh at me getting my comeuppance".
"That’s not true". She said, though even as she tried to make it sound sincere she wondered just how many people would go out of their way to stop a prank against him. She only did so herself because she felt sorry for him, not because he’d ever given her any reason to like him particularly.
"I know what people think of me Duffy, and what you lot say about me behind my back. I know where I stand. It doesn’t bother me."
Knowing exactly the sort of cruel things people said about him, even if sometimes he certainly seemed to deserve it, she found that hard to believe. "Really?"
"Of course I don’t. I’m a doctor, I’m here to practice medicine and to save lives, not to make friends."
"Maybe, but it’s like you set out to get people’s backs up deliberately…"
"I am who I am, and I speak as I find. If people don’t like that it’s not my fault." He crossed his arms across his chest defiantly.
"Don’t you get lonely?"
It wasn’t a question he expected and he had no desire of going into the real answer. "No".
"I do," she admitted solemnly, "I do and I have plenty of friends. I can’t imagine what it would be like to go through life alone. I need people around me to rely on".
"The only person you can rely on in life is yourself. Rely on other people and they’ll only let you down or leave you completely". He sounded bitter, though he tried to cover it up.
"Come on Patrick, that’s a bit cynical".
"Not in my experience it isn’t."
"What experience is that then?"
Realising that he‘d probably said too much already, he decided not to delve deeper. "Nothing. Doesn’t matter".
"Sounds like it does…"
"And who made you a consultant psychiatrist?"
"I’m just trying to understand" Duffy said, sounding slightly hurt, "Sorry I spoke".
He groaned to himself and gave in, "Me Mam died. All right? Now you know".
"Patrick, I’m sorry".
"Why? It was a long time ago, and you didn’t know her".
"I’m sorry because I can see how deeply it’s affected you, just like Andrew’s death has affected me and the boys. How old were you?"
"I was 10, and it was on Christmas day. So, while all my friends were playing with their new toys, stuffing their faces with Christmas pudding or getting into snowball fights I was… I was…" He took a deep breath to calm himself, unwilling to relive those particular memories.
Suddenly all the pieces started to slot into place. No wonder he hated Christmas so much. She reached over and took his hand, but he let her hold it for only a second before pulling away again.
"How did she die?"
"She’d been ill for a long time, I never really thought she’d die though. And suddenly I was alone".
"What about your Dad?"
"My Dad!? He packed me off to my Aunt and Uncle’s. It was nearly a week before he even visited. And when I’d just about got used to living with them and my cousins, that’s when he came and took me back. Although he took me back more as a lodger than a son. Told me I had to be grown up, help around the house. He never touched me, and could barely look me in the eyes. As far as I’m concerned I might as well be an orphan". He didn’t shout the statement or make it sound overly dramatic in any way, he simply spoke it as a fact. The day he’d lost his mother he’d lost his bond with his father too.
"It must have been hard for him" Duffy stated diplomatically.
"It was hard for me." He replied, deep-seated bitterness apparent in his voice.
"You know, if people knew about this they’d probably be a lot more forgiving of your moods".
"I don’t want to be pitied. Not by you or by anyone. That’s not why I told you".
"Why did you tell me?"
"Because you asked. Most people don’t ask, the assume that they know all about me; that I’m just a miserable bugger and a lost cause," he paused and tilted his head back so that it touched the wall, "Maybe they’re right".
"I don’t think so".
"What, I tell you about me Mam and suddenly you think you understand me?"
"No, but I know that underneath that arrogant, rude, irritating exterior of yours there’s someone worth getting to know. I mean, there must have been a reason why a nice girl like Holly liked you".
At the mention of Holly’s name Patrick’s head snapped back down and he glared at Duffy. He had been trying his hardest to forget her, though in truth that was easier said than done.
"What’s Holly got to do with anything?"
"You two were close, weren’t you? You spent a lot of time together that’s for sure, and I saw you with her after… well, after what happened that night. It looked to me like you two were together".
Feeling as though he’d been found out, and knowing that the chances of his successfully changing the subject were slim, he sighed and admitted it.
"I wanted us to be. You see, we were a long time ago, before either of us came to Holby".
"You knew each other before?" Duffy had heard, like all the staff in the department, the rumours about them, but had been unsure whether they could be trusted. Now it looked like they could well all be true.
"We dated, but it all got a bit complicated. Basically, she took the word of her ex-boyfriend over mine and we split up. We didn’t see each other for years, not until I came to work here".
"So all the sniping and bitching between you two over the last couple of years has been over some ancient argument?"
"I was in the right!" He exclaimed defensively, before realising just how little good that actually did him. He sighed again, "She even admitted as much just before… everything. We made up".
The wistfulness in his voice sounded strange coming from someone like him, but, Duffy realised, most of the denizens of Holby Hospital didn’t really know him at all. It appeared as though his relationship with Holly had been the exception to that rule though.
"But she didn’t stick around?"
Patrick shook himself out of his pleasant daydream about Holly and directed his attention back to Duffy, "Like I said, everyone leaves".
"Did you ask her to stay?"
"She wouldn’t have".
"You mean you didn’t ask?!" Duffy exclaimed in utter disbelief, "Oh Patrick! You are a fool. Why don’t you call her and tell her how you feel?"
"Why not? You and I both know that life’s too short to let pride get in the way. Call her and tell her you love her".
"Who said I love her?" He replied with false indignation.
"Patrick, it’s written all over your face!"
It all sounded so easy the way Duffy put it. Just get Holly on the phone, tell her how much she means to him, then she’ll admit that she feels exactly the same way and she’ll come rushing back to his waiting arms. Pity that real life didn’t work the same way as the storybooks do.
"Look Duffy, I don’t believe in ‘happily ever afters’ and to tell you the truth I don’t understand how you can either after what happened to Andrew. How can you sit there and be so bloody positive about everything all the time?"
"I have to be." She answered softly, "I’d go mad if I wasn’t. Besides, my children, even after the death of their father, still believe in ‘happily ever afters’ as you put it. They believe that on Christmas morning Santa will bring them their presents, they believe that people are basically good. I could tell them that life is cr*p; that you spend your time lurching from one crisis to the next and then you die, but I don’t want them to grow up thinking like that.
"Maybe, just maybe they won’t have to deal with as many disasters as I have, as you have, and I don’t want to spoil their chances of future happiness by filling their heads with the idea that there’s no point in trying because everything is always going to go wrong.
"So if next week, on Christmas day, I have to put aside my feelings and put on a happy face, cover the house in fairy lights and miles of tinsel to perpetuate their faith in humanity, I will. All I want this Christmas, all I want full stop, is for them to be happy. That’s not too much to try for is it?"
No response that Patrick could think of felt adequate after that. It touched something inside him, and he couldn’t help but wish that his father had had the same mission statement about life, rather than simply shutting him out. He found himself wishing that there was something that he could do to help her, but his mind was blank as to what. Spreading happiness wasn’t exactly his forte.
The silence between them grew stronger as they became lost in their respective thoughts, and it was only broken by Duffy’s occasional sniffing as she tried to rein her emotions back in. So they were both taken by surprise when the door suddenly flew open and the sound of someone running away could be heard down the corridor. Neither Duffy nor Patrick wasted any time in making their escape, but once out of the door Patrick charged down the corridor in an attempt to catch up with whoever had released them.
"Patrick, leave them!" Duffy called after him, and Patrick, recognising that they were long gone, stopped, and trudged back to her.
"I’m going to make them pay for what they’ve put us through!"
"What, making us talk to each other? It might even have done some good".
"Perhaps". He admitted grudgingly.
"Anyway," Duffy continued, a smile forming on her lips, "They know that we know who they are. We could keep the threat of revenge hanging over them for months!"
Patrick couldn’t help but smile in return, he liked the sound of that, "You’re a devious woman Duffy. Remind me not to get on the wrong side of you again".
She laughed. "In that case you won’t be able to turn my invitation to Christmas dinner. Two ‘o’ clock, my place, Christmas day - It’s about time you had a proper family Christmas" she added, a plan already formulating in her mind.
Patrick stood outside Duffy’s house on Christmas day, feeling like a complete idiot and unable to put his finger on just why he’d thought this was such a good idea in the first place. If it got back to the hospital what he was doing, he’d never live it down, as it was he was no doubt going to have to put up with Duffy taking the mickey out of him forever more.
He turned around again with every intention of diving back into the relative sanctuary of his car and driving home to spend Christmas day on his own, in the pub. But with no alcohol because he was on call.
"Dammit!" He exclaimed under his breath, "I hate Christmas".
As he walked back to his car, all the while fumbling around for his car keys he nearly collided with a little girl out walking with her mother. The child beamed at him, her face lighting up, and her eyes wide with wonder. It would have been enough to melt half the Antarctic and deep down Patrick was nowhere near as cold as he liked to make out. He smiled at the kid and wished her a merry Christmas. Then he walked back up to Duffy’s doorstep and rang the bell.
Duffy looked at her watch and sighed. Whatever it was they taught at medical school it obviously wasn’t how to tell the time; not everything was sorted yet.
She made her way to the door and opened it wide. Then promptly burst out laughing. The first real laugh she’d laughed in a long time, for, standing in front of her, larger than life, was Santa Claus himself.
"Ho ho ho" Santa said in his distinctive Yorkshire accent.
"Patrick, what are you wearing!"
He pulled the long white beard away from his face so he could speak properly and without getting a mouthful of synthetic hair.
"What does it look like? Everyone’s been saying how I should be more Christmassy, and you can’t get much more Christmassy than this!" He rubbed his padded stomach, "Now can I come in, I feel rather conspicuous stood on the doorstep like this".
"Course you can. Come on, the kids are through here". She showed him to he living room door and signalled for him to wait while she went in.
"Boys," Peter and Jake looked up from their respective toys and directed their attention to their mother, "You remember I said we were having a guest today, well here he is!" And with that, Patrick in full regalia stepped into the room.
"Father Christmas!" Jake squealed excitedly running toward him, and failing entirely to notice Patrick’s expression was like that of a rabbit caught in the headlights. Peter looked rather less impressed, or at least he did until Patrick produced a present for each of them from his big brown bag.
"Patrick you shouldn’t have" Duffy said as her sons ripped noisily through the coloured paper to reveal the presents that the nice woman in Woolworth’s had picked out.
"So you don’t want yours then?" He asked in an uncharacteristically teasing tone, "It’s just a little something to say thanks for listening to me last week".
"Oh, thank you Patrick".
He handed her a small parcel wrapped in star covered paper; inside was a little blue jewellery box. She looked up at him quizzically, she hadn’t honestly expected him to get any of them presents, let alone something nice.
"Well, go on then. Open it". He prompted.
She did as she was directed. Inside the box on a little velvet cushion was a brightly coloured, enamelled broach in the shape of a Christmas tree.
"The best bit," He said taking the box off her and pressing a tiny button on the back of the broach, "is this!" Little coloured lights started flashing roughly in time to a very tinny rendition of ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’.
"Brilliant Patrick. Very festive!"
"Well I know it’s tacky but I thought you’d like it".
"Thanks. I think." she replied, a little unsure of his sentiment, "I’ve got you something too".
"The only problem is it hasn’t arrived yet".
"Oh". He said, a bit disappointedly.
"It’ll be here soon…"
Patrick looked unconvinced, "There are no deliveries today" he pointed out.
As if especially to prove him wrong it was at that very moment that the doorbell rang again.
"Why don’t you answer that Patrick?"
Casting her a suspicious glance, he walked back to the front door, removing his beard and hood as he went. When he opened it he was wholly unprepared for who he found waiting on the other side.
"Merry Christmas Patrick!" He took a good look at her. She looked happy, healthy, beautiful, and she was smiling broadly. "Nice suit!"
"What are you doing here?"
"Duffy got in touch. She said you wanted to see me.." Suddenly a wave of worry passed over her that perhaps Duffy had got it wrong, but it lasted only a second. She’d never seen Patrick look quite so happy.
"I did. I mean, I do. I can’t believe you’re here!" He made a mental note to thank Duffy for interfering on his behalf, "I’ve missed you".
"I’ve missed you too." She broke into another, more mischievous smile. "I got you a present, if you want it…"
From behind her back, she produced a sprig of Mistletoe, which she then held above her head as she gave him her best ‘come hither’ look. He didn’t need asking twice and pulled her into a passionate kiss, all worries about who might be watching forgotten.
When eventually they pulled apart, Patrick looked at her apologetically, "If I’d known you were going to be here I would have bought you a present. I don’t have one for your birthday or for Christmas".
"It doesn’t matter Patrick," she replied, giving him another light kiss, "All I want for Christmas is you!"