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Christmas Special - Sharpe crack!

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Oct. 13th, 2007 | 10:30 pm

It's entirely the fault of kitkatdoll, who forced an Evil Plot Bunny on me concerning Sharpe, sherry and Scrabble, and made me write this.

It's bizarre, cracktastic, anachronistic (since Scrabble wasn't even *invented* - hell, the *crossword* wasn't even invented), it's heavily-implied slash, it's a Scrabble pun (and yes, I do have the board mapped out in my head), it involves the word "quetzal", it has Wellington, it features Sharpe working out a triple letter score.... All I can say is that I'm so, so sorry.

kitkatdoll said: "Why isn't there a Sharpe Christmas Special Episode where they all sit around drinking sherry and playing scrabble?"

It was a bloody strange way to spend Christmas, damn it. Richard Sharpe might not have cared especially about the birth of his Saviour, but he did care that this was a day for rest, and not a day to spend trapped in an enemy's tent being subjected to a form of torture so vile that not even the partisans or the Tippoo Sultan's jettees would have stooped to it. The pain was only dulled a very slight amount by the fact that he was staggering drunk.

"Another letter, Sharpe. Try to make it a vowel." Wellington's clipped voice was utterly unyielding; there would be no escape yet. Sharpe felt the nervous sweat start up in the palms of his hands as he pulled the hateful leather bag towards him and fumbled clumsily in the little ivory tiles. Vowel, vowel....I bloody hate vowels.

Wellington sighed at the delay and pinched the bridge of his nose. "A vowel, Sharpe. A sound made by an open configuration of the vocal tract. A, E, I, O or U. For god's sake, man."

Sharpe clenched his teeth against an insult, found one of the bloody things, and tossed it across to the Peer. Damn Nosey and damn his little tiles! Why couldn't the man play cards or waste his money on the horses like other officers did? And why did he have to choose Sharpe of all people to torture with his bloody word games?

Wellington looked at the tile and made a disgusted sound. "Damn your eyes, Sharpe. Contrary as ever, eh? Damned if I can do anything with this. Your turn."

"I need a bloody drink," Sharpe muttered, shoving down the letters T and E on either side of Wellington's H for a pathetic six points. To his surprise Wellington pushed the decanter over to him.

"Know what that is, Sharpe?" Wellington cocked an eyebrow over his own glass. Sharpe took a sip, and was relieved to find that he did.

"Sherry wine, sir. From Jerez." He'd spent long enough in Spain, now, and time enough, albeit relunctant, in the officers' mess, to recognise the stuff. He groped for the word. "Armontillado, sir."

The eybrow snapped down again. "Very good, Sharpe, very good. Close, quite close." The Peer sounded almost approving. "Palo Cortado, as it happens, but not bad at all. Have some more."

Wellington's tiles, Sharpe noticed gloomily, made very smug little clicking noises as they snapped a triple word score into place. What was a sodding quetzal, anyway? The man had a smug look himself, half pleased and half impatient. Why the bloody hell was he keeping Sharpe here, playing parlour games and feeding him expensive sherry? It was probably the man's idea of a bloody party.

He glared at his own pathetic selection of letters, took a swig of sherry straight from the decanter. There was only one, inevitable word starting up at him, and it wasn't one he could use in a game with bloody Wellington, though he'd probably used it in his presence in enough fits of anger at one order or another.

On the other hand....thirteen points weren't to be sneered at, not at this point in the game and with Wellington so far ahead. And, scribbling feverishly on a scrap of paper already covered in laborious calculations, if he used the second letter of Wellington's bloody quetzal, it would put his last letter on a triple letter score, bringing it up to thirty-three.... "I bloody hate spelling," he muttered under his breath. Wellington snorted and gestured irritably for him to get on.

Sod it. Sharpe took the letters and snapped them decisively into place. It was a stupid thing to do - that damn sherry-wine was stronger than it tasted - but he reckoned if he was lucky it would provoke Wellington into throwing him out into the night in disgust and he could take himself back to the fire with the men, where he belonged. He could already taste Pat's horrible bloody smouch and hear Hagman's fiddle. He suppressed a sigh of relief, and looked up.

Wellington looked down at the word, and hesitated for a moment. That odd look was back in his eyes, and Sharpe felt a momentary pang of misgiving before the Peer gave his sudden startling bark of laughter. "Damn it, Sharpe," he said, almost warmly, and drained the last of the sherry into his glass.

Sharpe watched in mild, drunken suprise as Wellington pushed the board aside with one immaculate sleeve. Ivory tiles clattered onto the soft pile of the rug and he stood up and brushed his palms together, lightly, like a man who knows he has done his job and done it well.

"Since you ask, Sharpe," he said. There was amusement in the clipped voice, and triumph, and the same unexpected spark in his eye as before. "Since you ask - I don't mind if I do."

As his world spun - in more ways than one - and the crystal decanter went crashing after the letter tiles, Sharpe found himself thinking, muzzily but without any particular discontent, that it really was a bloody strange way to spend Christmas.

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