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Through the Pine Trees

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Mrs McCarthy was pottering her way around the presbytery kitchen donned in a white floral apron, although she was baking, she still had her jewellery draped around her neck as well as her hair curled and pinned. She was using a tea towel to pull her fresh batch of award-winning scones out of the oven and onto the blue lined table where she would leave them to cool.

At the sight of the warm scones Father Brown perked up and lowered his book, a thick green text with a magnifying glass on the front that Mrs M hadn’t managed to catch the name of. The Father timed it so that as Mrs M turned her back to tend to the washing up he would be able to reach over and snatch one of the scones but just as he neared the treats a bang from the front door boomed through the house and caused the Irish lady to turn around and catch him just seconds before he’d got his hands on the prize.

It was then that he looked up and caught the glare coming from Mrs Ms blue eyes, “You should know better than to take what isn’t yours!” With a huff, she placed the tea towel down and leant on one of the chairs.

The Father cleared his throat, “If you don’t mind me asking, who are they for?” A small smile grew on his face as at least he had found a way to see what she was planning on doing with the scones.

Before he found out the answer Sidney Carter wandered into the room, he also spotted the delectable scones cooling in the centre of the table and reached out a hand which was quickly swatted away by Mrs M. “Aw what I’m not allowed one? Just one.”

Bridgette let out a sigh before answering, “These are for the Inspector, not for your prying hands!” she emphasised the last part with a flare of her own hands before returning them to their position of gracefully laid upon the back of the chair.

Sid scoffed, “The Inspector! Why’s he get them but I don’t!” he then dramatically pulled out a chair and plonked himself down noisily.

“Because, the Inspector is at home unwell and it is un-Christian of me to leave the poor man sick without food!” She tilted her upwards as though she was showing just how much of a better person she was being.

Sidney smirked but didn’t get the chance to respond before Father Brown interrupted. “And this has nothing to do with that fact that he declined your scones the first time you offered them?” His lips grew into a knowing smile, he had caught her.

Mrs McCarthy’s cheeks turned pink as she stuttered her way through a response, “I do not know what you’re suggesting.” She turned to face back towards Sidney, “Now, I have a favour to ask of you Sidney.”

Sid crossed his arms, “That depends on whether this favour ends with me getting a scone or not.” His smirk remained until he heard Mrs Ms response.

“I need you to head down to the police cottage and give these to the Inspector.” She turned to grab a clean tin for the scones and began to line it to ensure that they would look perfect for the Inspector.

Sid had to think through his response quite thoroughly, he didn’t want to come off as too eager as they would likely become suspicious but he couldn’t be too defensive as they were aware that he and the Inspector were on better terms these days. He scoffed, “Yeah, maybe I can convince him to let me have a scone.” He didn’t like that the Fathers knowing smile was still present.

“Excellent, I’ll just get them ready to go and then you can take them over and be back in time for tea here!” Mrs M clapped her hands and continued her packing.

The Father picked his book back up, “Yes, I’m sure Sid would love to see the Inspector.”

Sidney felt his cheeks grow pink and coughed in a way to distract the others from noticing it, “Yeah well just get them ready and I’ll go.”

 

Mrs M handed him the tin of scones with a jar of jam and a jar of cream inside, “Right then Sidney Carter, you take the scones right there and if he let’s you come in then you make him a tea because he’s sick remember. Just… don’t be too you for a bit.”

He chuckled, “What’s that supposed to mean!”

“Just don’t annoy him so much he wants to arrest you!” With that she motioned for Sidney to get going before the sun set over Kembleford.

He held the tin of scones tightly as he thought over what to say to the Inspector, they’d finally gotten around to tolerating each other and in Sidney’s case he had developed a soft spot for the Inspector despite the fact that the man was constantly trying to arrest him. It was just two nights ago when Sidney had been sat in the pub, on a stool by the bar, when the Inspector had walked in and joined him. The Inspector placed himself next to Sidney and the only thing Sidney can remember of the man is that pine cologne he wore. The two had drunk a fair share of beers, their conversation began as the Inspector had asked about his life with Father Brown. This led into why the Inspector had come to Kembleford and what his life was like back in London, he had even managed to get the name of the man, Thomas. He had not really told anyone else and Sid really should not have felt a flip in his stomach at the thought of being close enough to exchange names.

Thomas spoke of his life in London with a sadness in his eyes and voice, but Sid was yet to find out what it was that made him so sad. He knew that Thomas had no girl or wife, he certainly never spoke of any family. Perhaps the man really was alone. After the two men had began to slur their words, they parted ways, Thomas back to the cottage and Sid back to his caravan. The whole walk home Sidney’s mind was full of pine trees soaring over him, making him seem tiny and lost. Sid had wanted to ask the man back to his caravan, but he was unsure on where Thomas laid with that sort of stuff.

He was a police officer; what Sid wanted that night would have been illegal and just another reason for the Inspector to arrest him. That night he had decided that he was not allowed to be intoxicated around Sullivan again, just in case he let anything slip.

He wandered past the houses and shops in Kembleford and down towards the police cottage, the village had always made him feel safe. Until he grew up and knew of just how many murders occurred here, he was positive that this village had nearly as many as in London. The Inspector had probably wanted to get away from murders when he came here.

As he neared the police cottage, he saw the lights were on, he prepared himself to face Thomas and prayed to god that he didn’t do something stupid.

Knock. Knock.

He heard a groan before a very dishevelled looking Inspector Sullivan opened the door, “Carter. Why are you here?”

Sid laughed before opening the door himself and walking in, “Nice to see you too princess.” He took in the cottage living room, it seemed like a house that had no occupant if it were not for the large blanket on sofa. “Are you sure you live here? No photos or useless tat?” He picked up the blanket, it was incredibly soft, and then turned back to Thomas who was stood in the doorway.

Thomas’ shirt was untucked, and he wore slacks, as though he had intended to dress for work but gave up halfway through. He had no braces to keep his trousers up and as such it seemed they were slipping down his hips. Although this was obscured by the crinkled shirt hanging over his body. “By all means come in and tease me while I’m down.”

The thought of teasing Thomas while down was one that he would have to explore later, when he was not in the home of someone who could have him hang. “Well I’m here for a reason. Mrs M wanted you to have these,” He paused before adding, “On the condition that you share them with me and tell me exactly how you like them.”

He plonked onto the sofa and rest head on his arm as he waited for a response from Thomas, who seemed shocked still and incapable of speaking. “C’mon Thomas, you know you don’t want to upset little Mrs M now do you.” Sid did notice the twitch on the Inspectors lips as he heard him say his name.

Thomas trudged forward to sit on the sofa, as he got closer Sid could see the bags under his eyes as though he had not been sleeping for a few days. Were these bags there during their time in the pub? That whole night seemed a bit hazy for him looking back on it.

The Inspector sighed, “What is it then.” He seemed so tired, so drained. Sid wanted to reach out, how would he react if Sid just touched him. “Scones no doubt, I told her I was sorry that I didn’t try them last time, but I really did not want them. And now she’s sent you over as bribery.” He fell back and melted into the sofa.

Sid smiled, “We both know it’s scones, but what I don’t know is why you think I’m bribery.” He tilted his head to one side in what he hoped was cute rather than obnoxious and annoying.

Thomas let out a giggle, “Carter don’t pretend like you don’t know what I am. You saw what I was like in the pub.” He seemed almost drunk; Sid would have said he was drunk if he couldn’t smell a single drop of alcohol on the man. All he could smell was a piney cologne, as though Sid was surrounded by Christmas trees. The smell was intoxicating, Sid wanted desperately to lean into his neck and take it in.

Carter furrowed his brows, “Inspector you’ve lost me there, I don’t know what you’re saying.” They were sat quite close, if Sid were to move his leg slightly, they’d be touching.

Thomas slid back upright, placed his left hand onto Sid’s knee, “Carter I’m going to do something and if you don’t want it then tell me and we will never speak of it again, understood?”

Sid stared at the hand on his knee, hoping that this was going where he needed it to go. “Please, Thomas.” Was all he managed to get out before the Inspector came closer and carefully grazed Sid's lips with his own, bringing his hand up to tenderly hold Sid’s jaw.

From there the two lost the world around them. They ran through this pine forest together, hand in hand.