A/N: This is a short middle-piece for the original 1968 Sweet November, with Sandy Dennis and Anthony Newley. The movie is sappy-sweet, and yet, surprisingly hard to resist. The fanfiction is difficult to explain, except for I was curious about how an aloof British box-maker took to plumbing.
Thirty Days Hath
Charlie doesn't particularly like to be reminded of his innate, sensible Britishness by way of her blatant, carefree Americanisms, but it appears, sometimes, that neither of them can help it. Case in point: she wants him to help her with a plumbing call, but it's obviously going to take a bit of explanation. They haven't even gotten out the front door— they're still mired elbows-deep in her once-neat toolbox.
He purses his lips. "Tell me again, now."
She tilts her head up to look at him, one eye squinting. "You're pouting, Charlie."
"It's not a pout," he informs her with great dignity. "My lips naturally look this way."
She still thinks he's being sulky; it's evident in the resigned way she looks at him. "It's a wrench."
"It's a spanner," he contradicts, gently.
"Spanner is some sort of British slang for wrench, then."
He backs off a step or two and makes the sound of a buzzer, briefly obnoxious. "Wrong, Miss Deever! All answers must be couched in the form of a question. Care to try again?"
She doesn't. She just takes the maligned spanner from him and puts it into the nearly empty toolbox. "What do you call this, then?" he asks, moving on to a ball-peen hammer. "A pounder? A chicken-sticker? Santa Claus?"
"I would have thought you'd say 'Father Christmas.'" Not since she asked him if were his real accent or if he affected it 'cause he was pompous has her tone been so carelessly insulting. Charlie can hear her irritation— she doesn't bother hide what she was feeling. Most of the time. It's her realness, her utter uncompromising truthfulness that makes him smile now, and reach for her.
"Oh Sara, Sara," he murmurs in her hair, wrapping one lanky arm around her and holding the hammer up in front of them. "I'm not a complete git, you know. So don't you go thinking that I am."
"I don't know what that is." She takes the hammer from him and smooths a thumb over the rounded head.
"Well, it probably fits in with what you call my 'Wisenheimer remarks.'" His tone is airy, his eyes lifted heavenwards, while his hands play with her hair.
"Oh yes." A slight frown; she sets the hammer neatly in the toolbox. "I did hope you'd finished with those, Charlie."
"Mr. Charles Blake," he says, releasing her and groping amidst the tools littering the table till he locates a screwdriver, the handle of which is wrapped round about with bicycle tape. "Wisenheimer and plumber extraordinaire."
"You haven't plumbed anything yet," she objects, snatching likewise at the screwdriver to lay it to rest among its fellows in the toolbox.
He waves his hands exaggeratedly. "Only the depths of the human soul, Sara. The deeps of abject misery, the heights of extreme joy, the wonder and the pity of every girl and boy."
She beams, laughs. He's surprised it out of her. He's surprised himself; he grins, briefly, toothily.
"Oh, Charlie, Charlie."
"Oh, Sara, Sara."
"Oh, Charlie, I know what you are." She bites her lip. "You are a poet, and did not know it." One hand goes up to cover her giggle. He wraps distracted fingers around it, abjectly, and pulls it back down to disclose even white teeth. "It's coming out of you, it's coming back to you. Little by little."
"I think I am a fisherman, to fish upon the sea," says Charlie winsomely. "From bigger fish little 'uns run, and they run straight to me."
She applauds him. "Not quite topical. But that can be forgiven."
"Use Bryce Ice!" Charlie goes on, now with added enthusiasm. "It makes your Spice twice as nice!"
Sara's smile fades. "Now, Charlie," she admonishes, "culling from the Colgate Comedy Hour isn't admissible."
Charlie's smile turns beatific as he pulls her towards him again. "How about pulling— pulling from the Darling Deever's Domesticated Delight? At three in the afternoon, no less."
"I've got to get rid of that watch of yours."
"But I shall miss it so. Sara—"
"Nonsense, Charlie." She slaps his hands away. "Concentrate on the matter at hand."
"I'm trying to, baby." His attempt at an American accent falls flat.
"Charlie—" She struggles, only a little but it's plenty enough to dim his ardor. "If I may remind you, you were about to get a lesson in plumbing."
"Now— now Charlie, remember, we've got a time limit on things. You know?"
It takes him a moment to realize she means, not the plumbing call, but the month itself. "Of course," he says, resigned somewhat. "But it is only the sixth of November, Sara, and you've already accomplished so much. Shouldn't you be, I don't know, resting on your laurels, so to speak? I mean, you've already got me in trousers made from processed jerky."
"Regardless of the date, we've— we've no time to lose. And they're not jerky."
"What's not?" He blinks.
"The pants. They're made from leather."
"Funny," says Charlie, looking down at himself. "They taste like jerky."
"Oh, they do not." She hits him lightly on the shoulder, with the back of her hand. "Now pay attention. When you have an emergency—"
"Coffee grounds into the drain. Espresso," Charlie grouses. She takes a moment and looks at him, slouched at her side like a puppet with the strings cut. The thick sweater she chose for him gives him a curiously hunched look, like his shoulders are encroaching on his neck. On his calmly petulant face— calm at the moment, anyway— his thin mouth curves down, his grey eyes under heavy brows are directed at the floor. Sara softens a little. She has done good work, and Charlie has been a very good boy, so far.
"I have— a question for you."
"In England, Charlie— in England, what do they call—" She pushes up to him, delicate little hands laid on his shoulders over the much-hated sweater, delicate little mouth on his. He stands for a moment with hands in pockets, then relaxes into her, spreads his fingers in a span over her back and loosens all over. When she lets him go his dark eyes are undeniably twinkling.
"That," he says deliberately, "is the same in any language, Miss Deever."
She tugs on his hand. "Come on, Mr. Blake. And don't forget the toolbox. We've got a drain to rescue."
"Emergency, emergency," hums Charlie, gathering tools and getting tangled in bicycle tape. "My love has an emergency— "
He shuts the door neatly behind them.