Title: Kiss the Cook
Rating: PG (this chapter)
Words: 3484 this chapter
Pairing: Eventual Martin/Arthur
Disclaimer: I do not own Cabin Pressure because I am nowhere NEAR as awesome as John Finnemore or the BEEBEECEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
Summary: Martin is down on his luck again until he realizes he's had a friend this whole time. As it turns out, Arthur may not be such a clot after all.
Note: I have a Beta, and will probably re-upload chapters as time goes to fix errors. The Beta'd chapters will immediately go to my LiveJournal (mesitas). This place is like an invisible flash drive! And a test run!
Martin Crieff had always had a love/hate relationship with summer.
On the one hand, Martin thought the summer was a most beautiful season. The scorching sun never bothered him (it gave him an excuse to wear his Aviator Shades, after all), the lack of snow was always reassuring, and the entire Northern Hemisphere had a tendency to go on holiday. This common occurrence often meant that the crew of MJN Air benefited from visiting some very exquisite locations. Every summer, Carolyn was very meticulous about keeping the schedule tight. In fact, the schedule was so cram-packed during the summer months that Martin had very little time for anything else.
For someone who wanted to be a pilot as bad as Martin, this would normally be deemed as a 'slice of heaven,' and it was! –for the most part. It would have been infinitely more wonderful if Martin were paid to fly the rich and famous to various island resorts. Nothing stung worse than listening to the whimpers and complaints of spoiled children and old folk with nasty tempers. The plane was either too bumpy or too boring or the flight was too long or not long enough. Martin was constantly thankful that he had very little contact with the passengers when they happened to be that ignorant type.
Perhaps, however, the more pressing problem Martin faced every summer was the problem of keeping himself afloat. With the never-ending flights and minimal layovers, Martin had to choose between sleeping and making money—and sometimes he could barely do either. It was nearly impossible to manage a solid seven or eight hour's rest and still manage his moving company. Icarus Removals had so few calls, that when Martin received any at all, he would take the job, no matter how big or small—so long as it paid well enough (he would even transport an orca if it really came to that. No matter how he would do it—it would get done!).
Summer was also the worst month for Martin's living conditions. Most classes were not in session, and those that were, were few and far between. When times were particularly desperate, Martin would sneak in amongst the students of the shared house and nip at the food (although usually there was not much to go by, but some leftover crisps, which are never filling). However, as this was so often a transition time between students and holidays, the electricity was never accounted for and this led to a boiling hot attic.
And so Martin found himself so often trying to sleep in a small, stuffy space, his stomach growling and his heart less happy to be a pilot and leaning more toward giving it all up. Every summer he battled with this issue, and every fall the optimistic side of him won. Once the weather cooled and the harvests came in, food was generally cheaper and his attic was generally more comfortable and the selection of student food was generally more various.
It was hard to imagine the light at the end of the tunnel in the middle of July, but sometimes he swore he could see a flicker.
Martin had found a fiver crunched in the corner of the hold as he helped Douglas and Arthur remove one of their wealthier client's belongings. As the bill was not in any bag, and smashed to the side as if it had been dropped a week before and no one was the wiser, Martin picked it up and deftly shoved it into his sock so as not to draw attention to himself. He liked to think of it as a gratuity tip for a piloting job well done, and seeing as he was the Captain, he did not need to report it to the other members of his crew.
Those five pounds had gotten him a very tasty meal.
Martin's joy, however, was incredibly and unfortunately short-lived. While the weather proved to be quite lovely when he set foot into the market, the unpredictable summer weather had brought on a splash of isolated storms. Leave it to mid-July to have nearly clear skies with maybe one or two clouds hanging about one minute, and the next minute one of those clouds grows a temper and all but pisses on Fitton, or, more specifically, Martin Crieff.
He did his best to rush under the overhang of a nearby shop, but the damage had already occurred. Soggy bread roll sandwiches did not sound appetizing. He could still salvage the lettuce, cheese and meat, probably, but the most filling part of his meal was essentially ruined. Martin cursed loudly and brainstormed a plan of action.
Option one was to run home in the rain. It was not as if his food could become any more ruined, and he was already pretty wet.
Option two was to wait until the storm passed and then walk home. The problem with that option was that it was nearly impossible to tell just how long the rain would last, and he was on a time crunch.
He had no money for a taxi. Hailing a cab was useless anyway, for the market was a short walk from where he stayed. He could have easily taken his van, but he wanted to save on petrol and the walk wasn't that far. Martin was beginning to favor the idea of walking home in the rain. So, with a large sigh and a moment to recompose himself, Martin stepped out into the pouring rain.
Martin trudged ahead with his head hung down. He did not bother to step around the puddles, as there was no use in it anymore. His socks were soaked already, and he could not help but feel particularly down about himself at that moment.
Why couldn't the heavens open up and give him a break for once? It seemed like everyone else that chose to follow their dreams made it in the world, so why couldn't he? He only failed the pilot's exams because he was too nervous. He knew every handbook inside and out but he never tested well, and that had been his downfall.
Martin shook his head. This was no time to feel sorry for himself! Then he paused a moment and nearly whimpered. Oh, yes it was. His life was a wreck; a sham. He should have been happy with a first officer's position, but he had wanted to be captain so badly, that he let Carolyn talk him into working for free. He wished to every higher power out there that he could learn to be more assertive. In the past, every time he had ever been assertive, things had looked up for him even if just for a moment.
At that thought, Martin grinned and picked up his stride. He was going to walk proudly in the rain. He had a shelter and a meal and a job. He may have been broke, but he had friends. Even if Carolyn, Douglas and Arthur weren't related to him by blood, he had spent so much time with his crew that they were nearly forced to become friends if they wanted to survive days on end with each other.
Yes, Martin was going to be assertive and proud and amazing and nothing could make him change his mind.
That was, until a car unceremoniously swerved by and splashed a considerable amount of water all down Martin's right side. He would have cursed loudly, but he didn't want any dirty water to fly into his mouth. He could tolerate being soaked, but the griminess of the tar and asphalt was something else entirely.
The car in question had pulled up to the curb and stopped and the window began to roll down. Martin, wanting very much to use his newfound need to be assertive, stepped up the vehicle to give the driver a piece of his mind when suddenly:
"I'm sorry, Skip! I just saw you walking in the rain and I wanted to give you a bit of a lift!"
The telltale cheerfulness of Arthur Shappey's voice sounded out over the pounding of rain on the sidewalk, buildings and car. Martin did a double-take. He'd had a string of insults ready, but seeing as this was Arthur, he'd had to tone down his assertiveness level only a little.
"Arthur!" He exclaimed. "Look at me, I'm soaked!"
"Sorry again, Skip," Arthur said, obviously leaning over to see Martin on the other side of the car. "But would you like to get in? I can take you home if you like."
Martin hesitated. Arthur behind the driver's wheel was a little unsettling, but now that he thought about it, this was Carolyn's car. He hadn't noticed before because it didn't really stand out, and he was just a bit preoccupied. If Carolyn trusted her son enough to allow him to drive her car every so often, he really couldn't be that bad of a driver. After just a moment of deliberation, Martin got into the passenger's side and shut the door.
"Thank you, Arthur…" Martin began, settling back into the seat. Carolyn would probably get angry to find that her car was becoming soaked due to Martin's wet clothing, but this was nice. He hadn't quite anticipated this turn of events. He could even think a little more clearly now that the cold rain wasn't pounding on his head.
Arthur smiled, "Oh, it's all right, Skip. Where can I take you?"
"Oh, well, it's just around the corner and a few blocks down—" he stopped. Arthur didn't know where Martin lived, yet. The only person to whom Martin had confided was Douglas, and Douglas hadn't told anyone, save probably his wife. The last thing Martin needed was for Arthur to feel sorry for him even more than he probably already did.
"Oh no… no, nothing's wrong. Nothing. Um. Actually, there are repairs being done to my house right now, so I can't go in."
"Oh, well, where are you staying then? In a hotel?"
"A hotel would be infinitely nicer than my place…" Martin said under his breath, glaring out the window as if it had done him some great wrong.
"What was that?"
"Nothing. I'm just staying with a friend." Martin said, expecting Arthur to pull the car out and they could be on their merry way, but Arthur surprised Martin in that he hesitated before putting the car in gear. Martin gave him an inquisitive look.
"Well, you know, you could have asked to stay with me while the repairs are being done, I won't mind."
"Arthur, you live with our employer, who also happens to be your mother."
"Yes, but it's really quite a big place for just two people. And, I don't know, remember that time when we were driving that baggage truck in Spain? I thought we got along really well back then."
"Well, yes…" Martin trailed off. Arthur did have a point. And Martin really wouldn't mind having some elbow room for a change. "But what about my things? We'll have to stop by and pick up my uniform, at least."
"Oh, don't worry about that, Skip. We'll get it later." Arthur said in his usual cheery tone and finally pulled away from the curb.
Martin wanted to point out that it would be easier to pick his things up as they were just a few blocks away from where he stayed, but the thought of staying in a warm room with a good meal was overwhelming, even if it would just be for a few hours. He'd have Arthur drop him off when they were ready to get back to the airport. "Thanks for this, Arthur. I... I owe you one."
Arthur beamed with more pride than was necessary. "It's no problem. Not at all. It should be fun, shouldn't it?"
"Fun?" Martin couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at the young steward.
"Well, yeah. We can have sorts of sweets and watch telly or a DVD. I don't really get to do that with someone else very often. It'll be brilliant!"
"I was thinking of getting something to eat and then taking a nap before the flight."
Arthur frowned. "Well, that's boring."
"Boring, yes, but also necessary." Martin sighed. "I need my sleep."
"Well, sometimes, and don't tell mum, but when she isn't on board, I nod off for a bit in the galley."
"That's because if it's a cargo flight or the passengers don't require assistance, you have the time to do that!" Martin pointed out in frustration. "I can't readily just fall asleep at the controls. I'm the captain."
"Why don't you just let Douglas fly the plane?" Martin stared at Arthur incredulously and when Arthur glanced over to see why Martin was so quiet, he caught glimpse of the look and cowed. "Oh, right."
Martin settled back into the seat. It was getting pretty uncomfortable with him in his wet clothing, but things could have been worse. Arthur, on the other hand, was actually quite capable of driving the two of them through a rainstorm without crashing the car. He had both hands on the wheel and had turned the windshield wipers up faster than was needed, but Martin didn't mind. He was mostly impressed with how meticulous Arthur was in making sure he followed all the rules of the road. He used all the proper signals at the proper times and even checked all of his mirrors before making any turns or lane changes.
"Arthur…" Martin began, "Who taught you how to drive?"
"Oh, um. It was my dad, actually."
"Yeah… I'm rubbish, aren't I?"
"No, quite the opposite. You're very thorough. I was just thinking that Carolyn couldn't possibly have taught you." Martin stole a glance at Arthur to see that he was beaming again. He had to admit, it was a little odd to see that Arthur thought of himself as rubbish at driving. In fact, Martin didn't know that rubbish was in Arthur's vocabulary. Though, now that he thought about it, after he'd met Gordon, he could probably take a stab at how Arthur's driving lessons were. It certainly explained his attention to detail and specifics—something that Martin had never seen Arthur do on GERTI, before. Furthermore, he wasn't even playing Yellow Car due to his concentration. Martin did not mind one bit.
"So, Skip. Why were you out there in the rain?" Arthur said, changing the subject.
Martin looked down at his derelict bag of groceries. "I was picking up some dinner, but I suppose it's ruined, now."
Arthur took no hesitation in seizing the opportunity. "I could make something for you, if you like."
Martin remembered the Surprising Rice and cringed. "Um… thanks Arthur, but I can manage."
"Oh! No.. no no, I mean, when I have proper ingredients I can make some really nice food. We just have limited items on GERTI."
"You can cook, Arthur?"
"Without a microwave? Yes."
"Huh." Martin glanced at his food and shrugged. He wasn't completely convinced, but he figured he would at least try it, so long as whatever Arthur cooked at least appeared edible. If push came to shove, he would just eat the insides out of his sandwiches and be done with it.
The two of them rode on in silence, with only the sound of the windshield wipers and the splash of tires on water as other cars drove by. Soon, they reached the gate of the Shappey household and Arthur buzzed them inside.
Martin had been to Carolyn's place before several times, but always for business. Coming here for a personal call felt a bit awkward, and Martin prayed silently that Carolyn was out. The house was grand and impressive. It was by no means a mansion, but held more rooms than was required for two people. So far, Martin had only seen the yard and the foyer, and he had to admit that he was curious to see the rest of the place. He had long since gotten past any jealously he'd harbored for his employer and her son. Some people were simply blessed with money, it seemed. Martin was used to the shit storm that happened to be his life, but every so often it got to him.
Arthur parked the car in the adjoining garage and the two of them made their way inside. Martin had always gone in the front entrance, before, but the side door that connected to the garage felt strangely personal. In a way, using the front door felt like a simple transition from being a stranger to a houseguest, but entering a home though the garage door felt like he was trespassing on someone else's property. Arthur, of course didn't seem to mind, in fact, he was chattering away about nothing in particular.
"—and that's when I snuck up on him, just to see if I could do it. But… but I couldn't. He heard me and he swung his arms around and nearly popped me right in the—Oh, here we are. Myself would like to welcome yourself to the humble establishment that is the home of myself and my birth mother accordingly. Please, for your happy convenience, remove your foot encasements so as not to track onto the carpet today with trackings from your steps. It is in yourself's best interest to not be concerned with the canine on the premises as it is harmless. Now if yourself will follow myself—"
"Arthur!" Martin cut the steward off while holding back laughter. "I'm just me, not a passenger."
"Right." Arthur breathed. "Sorry. I'm so used to it. It's fun, isn't it?"
"What, to rattle on like that? For you, maybe."
"Where can I go to wash up? I'm about to catch cold any minute, and Carolyn would have my head if I'm sick."
"Oh, in here." Arthur walked past the kitchen, to a hallway and opened a door. "I'll be in the kitchen."
"Thank you…" Martin entered the wash room and nearly doubled over. This, too, was larger than necessary. He could fit his entire bed on the floor. He sighed and began to undress. He hadn't thought about it until now, but he would need some kind of change of clothing. He looked about the room and saw a bathrobe hanging on the backside of the door. It was embarrassing, but there was nothing left in this day to get even more embarrassed about anymore, so Martin shrugged and simply began to continue peeling off his wet clothes.
The shower was superb. He hadn't had a hot shower like that in a long time. And because of that, he took longer than necessary to just enjoy it. He had no qualms about using the soap and shampoo. Anyone who lived in a massive house like this wouldn't miss a little bit of cleansing product.
The shower also gave Martin time to think. He would have to talk to Arthur about not mentioning this to Douglas. They still had ten hours before they both needed to get back to the hangar. That was plenty of time to get some sleep in and be back at his place to get changed back into his pilot's uniform.
When Martin emerged from the shower, a rather pleasing aroma filled his senses and he followed the scent to the kitchen. "That smells wonderful, Arthur what are you-" He stopped, dead in his tracks.
Arthur was listening to headphones, dancing awfully in the kitchen wearing a 'Kiss the Cook' Apron.
Martin shrank back out of the kitchen, his face red. How could he interrupt that?