Flambeau groaned softly in annoyance and confusion. Something had woken him, in the middle of a rather lovely dream. As his brain slowly woke up, the first thing he became aware of was that he was alone in the bed, which annoyed and confused him further. He was absolutely certain he had fallen asleep perfectly comfortably with a warm, softly snoring priest curled up in his arms, and a vaguely angelic half-smiling face snuggled neatly into the crook of his neck.
Flambeau opened his eyes to blink blearily around the small, dreary, hotel room, in search of some kind of explanation as to why exactly he had been rudely awoken, far earlier than was reasonable, and with both his bed and his arms quite unacceptably cold and priestless.
The room was dark, almost pitch black, with only the faint grey glow of a street lamp peaking in through the curtains. It was definitely far too early. Someone very gently, almost apologetically shook his shoulder. For a second time, he realised. That was what had woken him.
He turned his head, and had the immense self-control to only jump slightly at the sight of a dimly lit figure dressed entirely in black, looming over him.
“Flambeau?” said the looming figure, sheepishly. “Flambeau, are you awake?”
Flambeau half-sat up, propping himself on one elbow, and rubbed at his eyes with his free hand. “I certainly am now, Father,” he said, in a voice that would have been reproachful had it not been spoken through a barely stifled yawn. He blinked and furrowed his brow. “What time is it?”
“Just coming up to half past four in the morning,” said Father Brown, for of course it was he.
“Half past-” Flambeau gave another, louder, groan and sank back into the pillow, screwing his eyes shut. Half past four in the morning, and Father Brown was already awake, and fully dressed in his damned cassock. Damn Catholics, he thought. Does the Vatican forbid lie-ins too, along with everything else even remotely enjoyable?
After a short moment of silence, he opened his eyes once more to find Father Brown, still standing stock still, blinking at him earnestly, almost anxiously, in the dim light.
Flambeau sighed, rolled over toward him, and lazily flung out an arm. “Come back to bed,” he said in a voice that he had fully intended to sound stern and forceful, but, due to a mixture of tiredness and an intense yearning for his bed and his arms to no longer be priestless, instead came out sounding rather more pleading than anything, while the way his lazily flung-out arm had found one of Father Brown’s hands and sleepily entwined their fingers quickly dispelled any lingering sternness to the statement that may have remained.
Father Brown gave his fingers a gentle squeeze in return, and smiled faintly. “I’m afraid I can’t, my dear. Or at least, I very much feel I shouldn’t,” he said, sounding genuinely apologetic.
“Why not?” Flambeau cried, as loudly as he dared in a public hotel, in genuine annoyance and frustration. He almost immediately regretted it, as Father Brown startled back, withdrawing his hand, blinking rapidly, and wringing both hands most anxiously.
Flambeau felt uncomfortably guilty. Something was clearly wrong with his dear little priest, and he kicked himself internally for not noticing sooner.
“...Did something happen, mon cher?” Flambeau asked, gently.
“Well-" The little priest shifted nervously on his feet in a quite unfairly adorable fashion. “Well yes, I rather think it must've done. You see, the thing is, Flambeau... Well the thing is, there’s a dead body downstairs.”
“WHAT?” Flambeau yelped, sitting bolt upright.
Father Brown made a panicked shushing gesture, putting his finger to his lips, and nodding at the wall behind them.
“What?” Flambeau repeated, in a whisper. “You’re sure?”
“Fairly sure, Flambeau, yes,” said Father Brown, as casually as though he were discussing the weather. “There’s a knife sticking out of it, you see.”
Flambeau sighed once more and rolled his eyes heavenward. If there was a God, he had a cruel sense of humour. Flambeau had already come to this grimy little place, a world away from the kind of hotel he preferred, on the kind of petty job he despised, and now the fates were conspiring to not even allow him some intimate time alone with his lover while he was here.
He threw back the eiderdown, and swung his legs out of bed. “Have you alerted the police? Or the owners of this establishment?”
Father Brown looked sheepish. “Um. No,” he said, handing Flambeau his slippers. “No, I, er. I came straight up to wake you.”
Flambeau stared, then gave a small affectionate chuckle and shook his head. “My dear Father,” he said, pulling on his slippers and standing up. “You really are impossible.”
He heaved himself to his feet, and retrieved his carefully laid out dressing gown from where in lay on the un-slept in second bed. He fumbled slightly in the dark as he put it on.
“Come here, my dear,” murmured Father Brown, taking a step toward the former thief and carefully tying the gown’s belt, straightening its collar, and brushing an invisible speck of dust off the lapel. He hesitated, letting his hands rest there, before gripping the gown and gently pulling Flambeau down into a tender kiss.
“What was that for?” Flambeau asked as they broke apart, unable to keep the soft smile out of his voice.
“For putting up with me.”
“Mon cher,” Flambeau said, with unbelievable softness, as he cupped Father Brown’s face in his hands. “Mon amour.” And he kissed the little priest on the forehead, silently delighted at the way his dark little eyes sparkled at him in the dimness, and then stepped away, opening the door to the room and gesturing for Father Brown to go though.
“Now, about this body…” he whispered.