Well, this was a pairing that's been kicking around in my head since the days of Seen In a Certain Light, but I never really did anything with. Had a conversation with Kitsune_Heart the other day that reminded me of just how cute this could be. This is a stand alone, but there's a longer story in the works that could be the backstory to this, if you wanted it to be.I think I may have finally got to like Minerva. Success!
Also, points to anyone who watches Being Human (and, if you aren't, you should be) and can spot the reference.
"Mr. McCartney," the woman - he thought he remembered her name as Annie - behind the desk dimpled at him, "we've missed you."
"It's been a busy few months," the man acknowledged with an eloquent grimace as he accepted his keycard.
"Your wife is upstairs already, she arrived this afternoon."
"She does love the sunsets here. Hopefully I won't be in too much trouble for being late."
"I'm sure you'll make it up to her," Annie laughed.
"I'll do my best," he replied with a smile, nodding goodbye.
When she'd first seen them, Annie had thought the same thing as every other staff member at the Hotel Negresco had: what a bloody cliché. Yet another French beauty not even half the age of her rich husband, just waiting around for him to shuffle off this mortal coil.
Very quickly, however, it became apparent that they had it backward. She was the money and he was the chosen one.
Mrs. McCartney - everyone knew the name was fake, but no one knew their real ones - always arrived before her lover. Sometimes by a few days. But he would arrive eventually and, without fail, when she caught sight of him weaving towards her - through dining room, through the lounge, through the sunbathers - her face would light up in undisguised joy.
Everyone at the hotel found it baffling to tell the truth.
Minerva had been asleep but awoke to the sound of him unlocking the door. She kept her breathing regular, feigning sleep as he put his bag down on a chair, moving silently around the room in faint glow of the city lights through the curtains.
Through her lashes, she watched him shed his clothes, folding them over the back of a chair. The muscles of his back were only smudges in the weak light. She smiled to herself.
He got into bed at last, having made slightly less noise then a panther in the jungle since he entered the room. "I really don't know why you bother pretending," he said.
She sighed theatrically, flinging an arm out to cover him as she nestled into his side. "One day, I'll convince you. Just you wait, I'll trick you yet."
"I don't doubt it," he said one hand coming up to rest on her hair. "Give me a few more years and my hearing will be entirely gone and then I'll never know the difference."
"Don't say things like that," she told him, frowning.
"Sorry. How have you been?" The hand in her hair moved to her shoulder, fingers brushing the freckles he couldn't see but knew were there.
"Worried sick, if you must know, but –" she paused, biting her lip.
"Kiss me," she said, avoiding his question.
Obligingly, he rolled onto his side, leaning down to press his lips to hers. She sighed when he broke it off.
"What's the matter, Butler? I've had more enthusiastic kisses from my cat. If I didn't like you so much, I'd be insulted." Truth be told, she was a little hurt, after so long apart, but she tried not to take it personally.
He chuckled, resting his forehead on her collarbone. "Sorry."
"You've said that already. Why don't you just tell me what's wrong? I haven't heard anything from you since you left for Mexico. Is Juliet alright? Are you alright?"
"We're both fine. Everything's alright. It was a false alarm. It was ... it's Artemis."
"Quelle surprise," Minerva murmured. "What has he done now?"
"Well, according to the doctors, that's exactly the problem."
"The doctors?" Minerva tried to sit up but was kept in place by his weight. "Butler? What doctors? Is he alright? Butler, what's happened?"
Her lover sighed, rolling off her and bringing her with him, so that she lay against his chest, held tightly to him. He kissed the crown of her head, letting his cheek rest on her hair. Haltingly, he told her the story of their latest adventure, and Artemis' illness.
"And now he's ... away with the fairies? As it were," Minerva asked.
He laughed quietly. "Yes, yes he is. Holly's sworn left and right that she'll look after him. And with that, apparently, I am supposed to be satisfied. They can't keep me in Haven City, or so they say."
"Well, you are a bit large in comparison," Minerva reasoned. "Besides, Holly Short would cut off her own legs before she let anything harm Artemis."
"Which is the only reason I'm not camped out in the halls of Haven General Hospital at the moment. Well," he mused a moment, running a hand along her spine, "maybe not quite the only reason."
Humming happily, she squirmed closer to him. "It's Artemis, Butler, he'll be alright. Not to mention, he and Holly are probably having a lovely time together. They never have enough time together it seems."
"They're not the only ones," Butler muttered, his words rumbling under her cheek. She smiled against his skin.
After a moment, he spoke again. "Can we start this again?"
"One minute," he said, untangling himself from her and slipping out of the bed.
"Shh," he interrupted her, putting a finger to her lips with one hand and, with the other, shutting her eyelids for her.
Going to the door, he stood facing her, as though he had just entered the room. With one hand he opened the door an inch and shut it again. Crossing the room quickly, he eased himself back into the bed, turning her onto her back with one hand as he did so. She opened her eyes then, and smiled.
"Goodness, Mrs. McCartney," he said, kissing her shoulder, "it's been far too long. I've missed you."
"Oh yes?" Minerva stretched her arms out languorously.
"Very much," he told her and kissed her again. Properly.