Disclaimer: I am not Colin Dexter, John Thaw, Kenny McBain, Kevin Whately or any of those other wonderful people that make Lewis and Inspector Morse. I am not being paid to write this fic and am purely writing it for the sheer fun of it.
Detective Inspector Endeavour Morse glanced around him and shook his head in disapproval. Last week, Sgt. Lewis, bursting with the spirit, had decorated the entire office from top to bottom, humming " Deck the Halls" to himself as he placed tinsel around the perimeter of his and Morse's desks, hung vulgar red and green streamers from the door and –worst of all—placed a repulsively decorated Christmas tree in the corner. The overpowering odor of pine combined with the sergeant's disgustingly-cheerful mood only served to make Morse feel nauseous. Morse looked up from his work and sighed, relieved that Lewis had not arrived for work yet. Today was Christmas Eve, which only meant that Lewis would be twice as chipper.
The worst of it was that Christmas had so invaded Lewis's mind that the sergeant no longer seemed able to focus on his work. Lewis had wasted an entire day decorating the office—a day he was supposed to have spent helping Morse write up an account of their most recent case. When asked to go over to the pathologists to clear up a few minor case details, Lewis had lingered for over an hour, chatting away with Max about Christmas plans. Yesterday, Lewis had even left work early, claiming that he needed to attend his daughter's Christmas play at school.
When Morse had complained about Lewis to Strange this morning, he had been told that he was behaving like a Scrooge. Morse had been taken aback at that; he had been so sure that the gruff chief superintendent would take his side. But when he'd noticed the potted poinsettia sitting by the chief superintendent's door and the large pile of Christmas cards on Strange's desk, Morse had realized that he was fighting a losing battle. Everyone seemed to have been overtaken with the spirit of Christmas—everyone, that was, except Morse himself. Christmas had never been a pleasant time for Morse; he had too many painful memories associated with the holiday. But Morse doubted that he had ever dreaded the arrival of Christmas quite as much as he did this year—probably because everyone else was so eagerly anticipating it.
A knock at the door drew Morse out of his reverie.
"Come in," Morse said.
Detective Sergeant Robbie Lewis opened the door and walked inside. Although Lewis was physically weighed down by the enormous pile of wrapped packages he carried in his arms, the extra weight seemed to have no impact on his mood. The sergeant sported a banana-shaped smile and the frantic energy of an overgrown schoolboy.
"Merry Christmas, Sir!" Lewis said affably as he placed the enormous pile on his desk.
"Who are all of those presents for?"
Lewis's eyes twinkled impishly at Morse. "In' it… 'For whom are all those presents?'"
Morse rolled his eyes. The inspector felt as though he spent half of his time correcting his sergeant's grammar. Yet on the rare occasion that Morse made a slight error, Lewis suddenly became an expert in the English language.
When Morse didn't respond to his comment, Lewis continued.
"The presents are for a bunch of people in the office. There's one in here for you, another for Strange, one for Max, and some more for some of my friends from back when I was a constable."
"Oh," Morse said simply, returning his attention back to the paperwork on his desk
"Er…Sir," said Lewis as he walked over to Morse's desk. "Did you give any more thought to what we talked about last week?"
The inspector scowled. Last week, Lewis had invited Morse to share Christmas dinner with his family. Rather than refusing outright, Morse had told the sergeant that he'd think it over when really no other thought was necessary. Morse simply had too much work to do to even begin to consider such mindless frivolities.
"Yes, I… I have. I'm sorry, Lewis, but I'm going to be far too busy with work."
"Well, you don't have to stay for the whole time; you can just pop in for a bit. Val and the kids are really anxious to meet you."
"I'll see what I can do," Morse said finally, mentally resolving to do no such thing.
"Wonderful!" Lewis said enthusiastically, clapping his hands together excitedly.
Morse raised his eyes from his desk for a moment and found himself horrified by the abomination hanging from his sergeant's collar. The abomination in question was a tie—a particularly ghastly tie that featured a pattern of smiling reindeer and diminutive sprigs of holly.
"What is that?" Morse asked, gesturing at the tie. "It's hideous!"
Lewis looked affronted. "I'm not sure it's exactly my style, but I'd hardly call it hideous! Me son gave it me last Christmas, and I promised him that I'd wear it. While I do wish he'd picked something a bit … subtler, it's certainly put me in the Christmas mood!"
The tie did not, however, put Morse in the Christmas mood. The inspector returned his gaze to his desk, sure that if he continued to look at the sickingly-cute reindeers he would not be able to hold down his breakfast.
Lewis returned to his desk and turned on the wireless beside it. "Adeste Fideles" immediately sounded from the radio. Morse walked over to the sergeant's desk and turned off the wireless.
"I'm sorry, Sir. I should have asked you first. I guess I just figured that you liked music. That crowd did seem like the type you usually listen too, though."
"'That crowd' was the London Studio Orchestra, Lewis. And yes, they are 'the type I usually listen' to, but they are completely wasting their talents singing that holiday nonsense!"
Lewis shrugged but continued to sing under his breath. Morse sighed frustratedly and wondered how on earth he was going to get through the rest of the day.
Several hours later, Morse still sat at his desk, the pile of paperwork beside him only slightly smaller than it had been at the beginning of the day. The office around him was dark and empty as most of Morse's coworkers had already gone home, Lewis among them. About a half-hour ago, the sergeant had mentioned something about completing some last-minute shopping and subsequently had scurried away to make the most of his Christmas, leaving behind Morse's present and a biscuit tin of Val's Christmas deserts for his inspector to take home.
Morse checked his watch. It was getting to be quite late, and he could always finish his work at home where there was more to drink. He packed up his belongings and walked over to empty the biscuit tin into the wastebasket. He didn't feel like eating the sweet, sugary confections that Lewis's wife had prepared. In the past few weeks, Morse felt as though he had put up with enough cloying sweetness to last him a lifetime. He picked up Lewis's present and debated throwing that away as well. The sergeant had bought him a cassette tape of a musical version of Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Morse paused, however, when he noticed that famous operatic tenor Alfonzo Sabitini was apparently singing the Ghost of Christmas Present on the recording. He decided to keep the cassette—for now—and placed it in his briefcase along with the paperwork and empty biscuit tin.
Morse picked up his briefcase, turned of the lights, and shut the door behind him. As he walked out to his red Jaguar, he noticed a light flurry of snowflakes. It really was a relief that Lewis had returned home before Morse had as Morse was quite sure that-if the sergeant had still been there—Lewis would have promptly burst into "White Christmas." In fact, Morse was quite sure that Lewis was probably singing it right now at home with his family. Thinking about Lewis reminded Morse of the disappointment that the sergeant would feel tomorrow when his boss failed to show up for Christmas dinner. Morse felt a strange twinge of guilt. But, why? He hadn't actually promised to go, and he was going to be quite busy.
Besides, Lewis wants me to have a 'happy Christmas,'—doesn't he? Well, I hope he realizes that I'll be much happier on my own.
Morse got into his car and sped off. When he arrived at home, Morse entered the house and took off his coat. He placed his briefcase on the sofa and went to pour himself a beverage. He returned to the sofa, set his drink down on an end table, and began to empty his bag. He briefly weighed Lewis's Christmas Carol tape in his hands.
Why not? Maybe, if I use Lewis's present, I'll eliminate some of the ridiculous guilt that I'm feeling right now.
Morse got up off the sofa and placed the cassette in the tape player. The music that the player began to emit was surprisingly pleasant, backed by a rich, full orchestra and a perfectly balanced chorus. Morse returned to his seat and picked up the papers he'd been perusing earlier. He sat there, working peacefully for some time. Then, the song changed. From what Morse had gathered earlier from his brief perusal of the tape's box, this new song was Tiny Tim's solo. The piece was slow and serene, and the lightness of the boy soprano's voice made Morse drowsy. The inspector was aware of his eyelids gradually closing.
No! I must stay awake, though it is late, and I am tired.
Morse shook himself to stay alert, but his eyes continued to flutter. Eventually, the inspector stopped fighting his lethargy and fell into a deep slumber.