Pure fluff. For my wonderful beta.

PS. I may have made up 'nonsequiturally'.


Grass and Citrus

Artemis sank stiffly onto a stool, leaning his elbows on the island's marble top. Across from him, Butler was making himself a sandwich. Artemis eyed the other man's lunch, squinting at it nearsightedly as though he couldn't fathom what on earth it was doing there in front of him.

"Tired?" asked Butler, reaching across to turn on the kettle.

Artemis grunted, his head falling into his hands; his slender fingers threading through the uncombed mess of his hair.

"Did you sleep at all last night?" He measured Earl Grey into a teapot and sliced a lemon. The sharp citrus smell made Artemis's nostrils flare.

Wordlessly, Artemis shook his head.

"Working on something interesting?" Butler placed a cup and saucer next to his charge.

Still mute, Artemis raised his head, fixing Butler with a cold glare.

Butler raised his eyebrows as he warmed the pot. "You're the one interrupting my lunch, Artemis. I'm just making conversation."

Artemis sighed and looked down at his pale hands. Butler accepted the apology just as silently. He placed the full teapot next to the plate of lemon.

"It's a disaster, Butler. An unmitigated disaster." Artemis picked up a leftover slice of cucumber from Butler's cutting board and chewed it moodily.

"Your work?"

"My life," replied Artemis dramatically.

"Ah, of course."

"I'm not getting a thing done, Butler. Not a thing." Disdainfully, he picked the trouser-legs of his rumpled, day-old suit. "I'm not even capable of dressing myself, it seems. Good God."

"Tea's ready," said Butler.

Artemis placed the little silver strainer over his cup and poured for himself. He picked up a lemon slice, looked at it as though it were somehow challenging him, then put it back on the plate.

"Don't feel like lemon today?" Butler asked. "Sour enough just on your own, are you?"

"Grass and citrus," Artemis sneered non-sequiturally.

"If you say so," said Butler, slicing his sandwich into quarters.

Artemis shot the lemon one last look of loathing and then gave in, squeezing a slice into his tea. Delicately, he sucked the extra juice off his fingertips. "I am not sour," he retorted primly, somewhat after the fact.

"No, of course not." Butler sat down and began to eat, determined not to let Artemis's mood get in the way of a perfectly good cucumber sandwich.

"I'm serious, though, Butler. Something must be done. I have things to do, I cannot continue to be distracted in this ridiculous manner indefinitely."

"Well, what's distracting you? You were up all night. If you weren't working, what were you doing?" The sandwich was heavenly. He'd even cut the crusts off.

Artemis pursed his lips. "I don't want to talk about it," he said and drank his tea.

"You interrupted my lunch for something you don't want to talk about?"

Obstinately, Artemis continued drinking.

Butler shrugged and went back to eating.

"It's Holly."

The enormous man looked up, his mouth full. He raised his eyebrows expectantly.

Artemis sighed. "It's Holly," he said again. "I always seem to be... talking to her. On the phone, I mean," he continued hastily when he saw Butler's expression grow worried. "Not in my head. There just always seems to be something else to say to one another. I lose track of time."

Butler swallowed his mouthful. "Well, surely you can't be on the phone twenty four hours a day, Holly's got a job."

"No, of course we aren't."

"Well, then?"

"Yes, well, exactly. You'd think that would be that, wouldn't you?" Artemis refused to meet Butler's eyes, peering past him to the windows instead.

"But?"

Artemis spoke to the dewy, early-morning Irish countryside, his expression pained. "I don't know how, but it seems that I spend the rest of the time... thinking about her. And then somehow, between talking to her and thinking about her, my time quite vanishes."

"Ah, young love," said Butler, smiling.

His charge turned back to him, clearly unimpressed.

"Oh, Artemis, don't worry about it. So you've got a crush, so what? It'll pass."

Artemis picked up another slice of lemon, fiddling with it momentarily before squeezing it too into his tea. He laid his fingers on his lips, as though thinking.

"But therein lies the rub, my dear Butler," he said at last, picking up his teacup and sipping, a smile playing in the corners of his mouth. "I don't wish it to."