A/N: Just a heads up, but updates may be a bit sporadic during October. Please don't think I've abandoned you; I just have a bunch of college applications due in early November. I fully intend to keep going on this story.
Also, I think his chapter may reflect my mild obsession with Radio 1 and Radio 4. That's actually what I was listening to while I wrote the latter part of this.
This was a bad idea, full Stop, Martin thought as he climbed the steps to Douglas's front door at seven that night. His breathing was elevated, and sweat had broken out on his palms. He shouldn't be this nervous. This was Douglas's house for God's sake, not Buckingham Palace. He'd passed it hundreds of times on pickups for MJN. Then again, it was Douglas's house. Douglas's house where he was going to be living for the foreseeable future. Oh God.
The young captain was on the verge of doing an about-face and fleeing back to his van when the door before him opened. "Wavering on the precipice of indecision as ever, I see," Douglas said with knowing smirk as he leaned against the doorframe and wiped his hands on a dish towel.
"I was not!" It came out far too defensive to both of their ears for either of them to believe it for a millisecond.
The older pilot made a noncommittal "mmh" noise and took Martin's suitcase with the air of a man who knew he'd just won before stepping aside. "In you go."
"Thanks," Martin mumbled as he was ushered into a warm kitchen full of high-end appliances. The multitude of stone surfaces clearly got a fair bit of use, as attested to by the cutting board full of half-chopped basil. It could safely be said that it smelt brilliant in here thanks to whatever was in the pot on the stove. The kitchen flowed seamlessly into a combined dining/living area with a tall wooden table at one end and a leather sofa and flat screen TV at the other. What of the house he could see was decorated in an inviting and lived-in style but still an expensive one none the less. All in all, Martin felt about as out of place as a pigeon at a party for South American Parrots.
For his part Douglas pretended not to notice the other man's evident discomfort. "I'll give you the grand tour, shall I?" he said, reaching over to turn down the temperature of the simmering pot.
As they passed through the living room, Martin noticed that the large black bookshelves smattered there about held an odd mix of DVDs, Blu-Rays, CDs, records, and books. The radio cum record player sitting on an end table hummed softly with the sounds of Radio 3. Gee, the captain thought sarcastically, who would have guessed that Douglas would be a Radio 3 person? Admittedly 35 was a bit old to be listening to Radio 1 with the religious dedication he did, but still, could Douglas be more predictable?
Down the hall the older man gestured lackadaisically at the doors that stood half-open at irregular intervals. "Bathroom, my room, room that's nominally an office but in practice is just a place where old junk goes to die – or, at least, live out the rest of its existence relatively undisturbed – and your room."
Following after the other man, Martin saw that it was a fair-sized room plainly furnished with a side table, dresser, and bed. Douglas placed the battered suitcase he carried on the olive green duvet, and said, "It's not the Ritz, but it's still better than what Carolyn puts us in."
The modicum of tact he had made Martin refrained from saying that it was nearly as large as his entire flat had been. "It's great. Thank you again, Douglas."
"Martin, thank me again and you can sleep in the garage tonight. I didn't invite you to stay with me so I could hear how wonderfully generous I am every four minutes. You may as well unpack your things, considering you'll be here for a while. After that you can have free reign of the bathroom, music, and DVDs."
With that Douglas walked out of the room, leaving Martin staring slack-jawed at the door. So what, he was just being left here to unpack? He ground into motion with painful slowness, unsure of what to do. Just as he reached to unzip his suitcase, the first officer's head appeared around the doorframe. "By the way, if there's anything in that dresser that looks like it doesn't belong anymore, just put it in an empty box from the office and leave it there." A pained expression crossed his face. "My apologies. I would have done it myself, but, well, you understand."
No, he really didn't, Martin wanted to say as Douglas disappeared again. That left the other man even more confused than he'd been before. Shrugging it off, he grabbed a handful of clothes from his bag and opened a dresser drawer.
Which was apparently already occupied by clothes.
Some of Helena's things. This must be why Douglas had just left them. It hit Martin then that even though his first officer acted like nothing had changed, he must still be in some serious pain, even nearly a year later. A pang of guilt shot through the captain; how many time had he ever bothered to ask Douglas how he was doing and been looking for more than a polite answer?
Making up his mind to be a bit more considerate of what Douglas might not be saying, Martin crept back down the hall to the office and grabbed a mostly empty cardboard box which appeared to hold the forgotten remnants of Helena's stamp on the bathroom. It took roughly fifteen minutes to empty the drawers and closet of 'anything that looked like it didn't belong anymore'. The box was carefully resealed and left in the most inconspicuous place he could find in the whirlwind of an office. He toyed with the idea of tossing one of the gaudy Christmas jumpers on the floor over it but decided against it.
Martin put his hands on his hips and let out a long breath. God this felt strange, wandering around Douglas's house picking up after his ex-wife. A glance at the clock on the bedside table told him it was nearly eight. Normally he would take a shower about this time, so... Did he ask permission? That sounded like a quick way to get put in garage. Douglas had said that he could have free reign of the bathroom, and it followed that that would include that shower. He was over thinking this. Maybe his first officer was right in saying that he was indecisive.
Annoyed at his own indecision, he grabbed the small bag containing his toiletries made his way to the bathroom. Ugg. He hated using other people's showers. It was nothing against the people themselves but just the awkwardness of trying to figure out how to work the temperature controls and wondering where to put your bottle of shampoo because they always seemed to have every available bloody surface filled with seven different kinds of soap that you knew they couldn't actually be using. It always felt awkward on a level he had trouble expressing verbally. There was a voice in the back of his head that sounded remarkably like Douglas's telling him that he had better get used to it.
Thanks for reading!