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Christmas Morning Interlude

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It was seven o’clock on Christmas morning and the phone was ringing.

“No,” said Gold with a groan, burrowing his head under the pillow. “No no no no no. I refuse. No. Go away.”

Belle looked at him. “Do you want me to answer it?”

“No,” came Gold’s pillow-muffled reply. “It’s the hospital. Jones hasn’t turned up for his shift and they want me to go in and cover. No.”

There were a couple of footsteps along the creaky landing.

“Are you going to pick that bloody phone up, Raymond?” Aunt Elvira yelled.

“No!” Gold yelled back.

“Fine!” The ringing suddenly cut off and Belle heard Elvira speaking into the phone. “Gold residence, Elvira speaking.” There was a pause. “It’s for you!” she called to Gold.

“Who is it?”

“Who are you?” Elvira asked the phone. There was another pause. “It’s Victor Whale at the hospital!”

“Tell him to bugger off!”

“Rum says bugger off.” Pause. “He says he thought you might say that!” Elvira yelled through to them.

“So why the bloody hell did he ring me?”

“So why the bloody hell…” Elvira began to relay into the phone, before Gold yanked up the extension on his bedside table.

“Morning, Victor,” he growled.

“Merry Christmas, Gold,” Belle heard Dr Whale say.

“Merry fucking Christmas to you too. Let me guess, Jones has done a bunk.”

“Well, yes…”

“Victor, I’m not primary on-call.”

“I know, but…”

“Victor, I’m not secondary on-call.”

“I know, but…”

“Victor, I am not on-call at all this week.”

“I know, but…”

“Why are you calling me?!”

“Because you always work Christmas Day!” Victor moaned.

“I don’t do it because I like it!” Gold said, his voice exasperated. “Have you called Tina?”

“No, but…”

“Tina is the primary on-call today. When you need to call someone, you call the primary on-call first. Victor, you have been working there for almost as long as I have, surely you don’t need me to remind you what ‘primary on-call’ means. It means you call them primarily. IE, you call them first.”

“I know, but…”

“Call Tina. Then call whoever is secondary on-call, I think it’s Cara. Then call every other member of the entire fucking pathology department, including Eric who’s gone home to Denmark for the holidays, and then call me.”

“But…”

“Victor,” Gold said through gritted teeth, “I got engaged yesterday, and I would really like to spend my Christmas morning shagging my fiancée senseless.”

“Ah.” There was silence on the other end of the phone for a long time. “Ah. Ok. Erm. Merry Christmas Gold. See you on the twenty-seventh.”

Gold hung up the phone and groaned.

Belle smiled and rolled over onto his chest, tracing patterns through the sparse scattering of hair there.

“So…” she began. “About shagging your fiancée senseless…”

“Congratulations!”

The bedroom door flew open and Gold gave an alarmingly high-pitched squeal, pulling the covers up to his chin. “Aunt Elvira!”

“Congratulations! I knew he was going to pop the question at some point over Christmas,” Elvira said to Belle, “but I had no idea it would be so soon!”

“Aunt Elvira, get out of our bedroom!” Gold squawked. “Were you listening in on my conversation?”

“Of course I was dear, I wanted to hear you rip Victor to shreds.”

“What’s going on?”

“Jesus fucking Christ!” Gold pulled the covers even further up as Bae poked his head around the door.

“Your dad proposed last night!” Elvira said happily, clapping her hands together in excitement.

“Cool! Did you say yes?” Bae asked Belle.

Belle, trying desperately to contain her laughter, nodded.

“Fantastic! Happy Christmas! Best present ever!”

“Can everyone please get out of our bedroom?” Gold said mournfully from beneath the covers.

Neither Bae nor Elvira paid him any attention, and Belle smiled. It was a slightly mad family that she had chosen to become part of, but she wouldn’t change it for the world.