The Christmas Eve Shift ... a Lucas North story

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Disclaimer: [Spooks], Lucas North and any other characters you may recognise belong to the BBC and Kudos. All original characters and the plot belong to me, with more than a small nod to Charles Dickens.

--

The sound of a phone ringing rudely awoke him and he rolled over with a groan, groping for it in the darkness without opening his eyes. Once in his hand, he opened one eye and winced at the screen as it flashed brightly in his face. He groaned again when he saw who was calling but reluctantly answered it.

"Harry ..."

"Oh good ... you're awake," The head of Section D at MI5 was seemingly oblivious to the date, time or the fact that Lucas was taking some well earned holiday.

"Not exactly ..."

"Well grab a coffee and get yourself on the Grid pronto, something's come up and I need you here."

Lucas sighed.

"Problem?"

"It's 5am on Christmas Eve Harry ... I have plans." As he said it he knew the lie wouldn't make a blind bit of difference. What Harry wanted Harry got. Did it matter if he spent Christmas alone at home with a bottle of vodka or at work with a bucket of coffee? Neither would rid him of the cold emptiness that seemed to have taken root in his soul.

"Just get yourself down here now or you'll find yourself manning the weirdo line from now until Easter." The phone went dead and Lucas punched his pillow in frustration.

He returned from Russia a couple of years ago but sometimes it felt like he'd never left. MI5 was his life, section D, his family, but it still had a feeling of incarceration about it. He now lived comfortably without torture, deprivation, or fear, but, there was no escape from the clutches of MI5 ... even at Christmas.

The thing that had come up was the flu ... three operatives down and Harry it seemed had plans of his own he wasn't willing to break. Lucas suspected they involved Ruth but decided it was best not to ask. Harry was welcome to his cosy little Christmas ... festive cheer was overrated anyway.

--

As far as protecting the nation went this had to be the most boring Christmas ever Lucas thought to himself as he stretched his weary limbs. Not that the large bottle of vodka at home would've been any more riveting, it was just that oblivion seemed like a welcome alternative. Eight years in a Russian prison with nothing to indicate it was Christmas except a guard kicking you in the ribs and gloating about spending time with his family had rendered Lucas impotent of festive cheer.

He'd done nothing constructive since arriving at the Grid a few hours earlier and, despite the vat of coffee he'd consumed, was in danger of falling asleep where he sat. He stood up and wandered over to the only other person working, a junior officer called Jamie, "I'll be in Harry's office if you need me ... got some phone calls to make."

The young man nodded his acceptance without so much as a raised eyebrow and Lucas smiled to himself. The service would soon grind his gullibility down. He wandered into Harry's office, closed the door and shut the blinds. Sitting back in the leather chair he arranged his long legs leisurely on the desk and closed his eyes.

--

A warm glow from a window dressed with multi-coloured lights drew him in, and as he gazed through the glass to a familiar scene beyond, he gasped. A large glittering tree with piles of presents underneath was taking up considerable space in the corner of the room and an open fire crackled in the hearth. He pressed his nose to the glass and watched as a door opened and a small figure came rushing in.

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