Alright, well, this was supposed to be both a German essay, a presentation on the Unnatural Father in folktales, and a few hours spent studying for a midterm but, somehow, I ended up with this instead. I'm pretty sure it's the love child of a conversation about kraken (though it's not really, truly kraken-bait) and a chapter of HolidayBoredom's 'Short Circuits'. I'm sure you can guess which one, if you've read it. It was also an excuse to write more Minerva who, after all these years of hatred, I now adore. Mostly because of Butler. Which reminds me: this has nothing to do with any of my B/M fics, so please disregard that backstory, despite similarities.
I'm not sure how I feel about the quality of this piece over all but it's definitely better than studying adjective endings or writing essays about the GDR so, if you need to do either of those things, please feel free to read this instead. Also, this is the longest (and possibly worst) chapter of this little mini-series. The rest will be quite a bit shorter. And, of course, if you don't like sex (though it won't be horrendously graphic, let's be honest), or people talking about sex (because, if you're having it, you should probably also be talking about it) please don't read this, it will only make you sad.
And now, the story!
Minerva swayed towards him, expertly dodging both the dancing and the simply drunk. The strobe lights made a metal out of her blonde hair.
When she reached him, she mimicked his position, leaning back, elbows propped up on the counter behind. Thus settled, she gave him an unimpressed once-over. "You're just lucky the vest-and-tie look is back in fashion," was all she said.
Artemis looked vaguely affronted. "I'm here, aren't I? What more do you want?"
Minerva blew out her cheeks as though pondering a heavy question. "Enthusiasm?" she ventured at last. "Maybe even a little dancing? The sky's the limit, really."
"I don't dance," huffed Artemis.
Minerva rolled her eyes. "I didn't invite you here so that you could sulk publicly instead of privately, Artemis. I invited you here so that you could have a good time. Live a little. Try something new for once."
"Is that why you're here then? To try something new?"
Minerva looked momentarily offended, but laughed it off, leaning closer to whisper in his ear. "I don't need to try something new," she purred, "I have what I want."
"But not all the time," Artemis shot back. "Maybe you're getting lonely?"
Minerva leaned back, looking down into her drink. "Artemis, cheri, I know you want her. I know it's eating you up inside, etc., etc., and I know that you're so sexually frustrated you may explode at any moment, but don't take it out on me. You can't have her, at least not right now. And as your father, in his infinite wisdom, has taken my lover off to America, ghastly vulgar country that it is, we have no other option but drink too much, dance with strangers until nearly sated, and then stumble drunkenly to bed to dream, alone, of those we long to hold. So," she snagged a glass of something fruit-studded off the tray of a passing waiter and held it out to him, "a toast?"
"To getting what we want," said Minerva and clinked her glass to his. Artemis shrugged and downed his drink as she did.
"You really do love him." Artemis picked out the skewer of fruit and slid off a strawberry with his teeth.
"I really do. But, unlike you, I know how to keep myself amused when alone. Therefore, mon cher, I suggest you do as Juliet says and 'man up'. Which means no more moping. It's boring. It's," Minerva waved her hand around, searching for something more insulting, "predictable."
Artemis flinched as though struck. "Alright, alright," he sulked, "I'll play along. There's no call for that."
Minerva chuckled, laying a hand on his arm. "Who knows, Artemis, you may even enjoy yourself."
Artemis snorted and ate a grape, further denuding his fruit skewer.
With a little wave, Minerva left him, wading off into the crowd. Mutinously, Artemis watched her go. At some point in time Minerva had gone from a snotty, insecure brat to an empowered, confident woman. He wasn't sure when it had happened, but it galled him to have her treat him like a child. It galled him even more that he was envious of this transformation.
He scanned the crowd. The swaying lights made it difficult to pick out individuals. He grimaced and took another passing drink.
"Hey." A girl flopped against the counter next to him. He looked at her out of the corner of his eye: curvy, wearing something short made of turquoise sequins, long brown hair. Not ugly. He sighed. I hope you're watching, Minerva.
"Hello," he said.
"Some party, yeah? Minnie, she doesn't skimp, does she? Love them! Could not believe it, heard a rumour that she had, like, some full time boyfriend and that was why she hadn't had a party in so long, you know? What's it been, anyway? Like, six months? Anyway, can't be true though or he'd be here, would'nee?"
Artemis wanted to ask 'Have you ever heard of the full stop?' but said instead, "Mmm," non-committally.
That was good enough for the girl. "I know, right? She was probably just off doing something clever, you how she gets sometimes, all genius-y."
"Mmm," said Artemis again.
"What are you drinking?" The girl lurched into him, trying to peer into his glass.
"I'm not entirely certain, actually." Artemis wriggled his nose, trying to get her hair out of his face. "The last one was some sort of punch concoction but I think this one may be whiskey."
"Oh, blech, gross." The brunette made a face. Leaning into his arm, she looked up at him through her lashes. "I suppose you'll taste like it now too, won't you?"
Artemis looked down at the girl. She had enormous brown eyes. He sighed again. He felt like the lead in a badly scripted play. "I suppose there's only one way to find out, isn't there?"
"You talk cute," she giggled before kissing him.
No, I 'talk' correctly.
Sometime after the whiskey, between the dance floor and the bedroom floor, there had been a substantial amount of gin. He knew he would regret it in the morning. Just at that moment, however, he was (much to his own surprise) enjoying himself too much to care.
It would be hard, he supposed at one point, to be a teenage boy of ambiguous sexual orientation and not enjoy having such a lovely, jiggly, creamy-skinned playmate. Her body lay below him, spread out for him like toys on the floor. Her breasts bounced with every thrust and her pale legs tightened around him. She cried out near the end, urging him one.
So, while the experience itself was not epic in length, nor entirely graceful in its execution, it was nonetheless extremely satisfying.
Afterwards, he stood next to the bed re-tying his tie and watching the girl – Bethany, it turned out – sleep. She had giggled too much, and smelled heavily of perfume, but her body had been warm and soft and, most gratifying of all, she had wanted him. He had never realised that being wanted could be such an aphrodisiac. Feeling nearly fond of the girl, he brushed a curl from her face and kissed her forehead before leaving.
Out in the hall the floor still rumbled with bass. He tugged his phone from a pocket and checked the time. After three. He groaned and turned down the hall, taking the back stairs to the kitchen. His head felt heavy and thick and, between the alcohol and the exercise, he was desperate for water.
In the kitchen it was dark and blessedly quiet. Fumbling on the light, he poured himself a glass of water straight from the sink, foregoing his usual finickiness. The water hit his throat like heaven on earth and he drank the glass in one go, sighing at the end. He turned on the kettle and flipped open cabinets, hunting until he found the coffee. As he waited for the kettle to whistle he drank another three glasses of water, each one more beautiful than the last.
He was standing in the white glow of the open fridge, deciding between cream and milk, when Minerva came in.
"Hiding?" she asked.
"Recuperating," he replied.
She raised her eyebrows. "That bad?"
"No, surprisingly pleasant, all things considered. But I'm afraid I over indulged on the way. If I never see another gin and tonic, I will die a happy man."
"Ah," said Minerva. "Who was the lucky girl?" She gave him another once-over. "Lucky boy?"
"Girl," replied Artemis evenly. "Bethany, I believe her name was."
"Ends all of her sentences with questions?"
"She's quite pretty," said Minerva, looking a little impressed.
"Such a tone of surprise," sniffed Artemis.
"Not at all, I expect nothing but the best from you. Enough coffee for two?" Minerva crossed to the steeping press.
"More than, I'm sure."
"Well, since you're not planning on sleeping, let's go up to your room and watch the sunrise," said Minerva, taking two mugs from a cupboard. "It won't be so long now and your room has the best view for it."
"Alright. If you think you can keep yourself from me."
"One girl succumbs and he thinks he's irresistible. Just like a man. Here, take the press and let's go, Casanova."
As they settled themselves on two wood-and-cushion deck chairs, the horizon was only just beginning to pale.
"Sunrise will be a while yet," noted Artemis.
"Gives us plenty of time to catch up." Minerva fished a pack of cigarettes from her cardigan pocket.
Artemis raised an eyebrow. "You smoke?"
"No," she said, lighting up.
"Only at these things, after I've been drinking." She waved a hand dismissively.
"Does Butler know?"
"He's not my father, Artemis."
"I don't recall saying he was. But he is very health-conscious."
Minerva rolled her eyes, exhaling smoke into the whitening sky. "As much as I'd rather he didn't, yes, he knows. I used to be a lot worse."
Artemis sipped his milky coffee contemplatively. Minerva, a true Frenchwoman, drank hers black.
"What was it like?" Artemis asked suddenly.
"Losing your virginity."
"Losing my virginity?" she repeated, taken off guard.
"Yes. Was it ... enjoyable?"
"Obviously, this is Butler we're talking about."
"I don't need to know details," Artemis said hurriedly.
She chuckled around her cigarette. "It hurt briefly, but I believe it almost always does with girls. Hymens, you know."
"Pesky things," agreed Artemis.
"Totally inconsiderate, if you want my opinion."
"I nearly always do," he smiled.
"Good, because I'm about to give it to you again: unless your partner is Butler - who is by all accounts a miracle worker - I believe common consensus is that the first time is nearly always forgettable so far as proficiency is concerned. I wouldn't worry about it too much, if I were you."
"I wasn't thinking about proficiency." Artemis sipped his coffee and looked out at the horizon.
"Ah, I see." Minerva stubbed out her cigarette. "Let me quote a little Wilde for you, mon cher, to put things into perspective. Well, paraphrase. He once wrote that men always want to be a woman's first lover and a woman always wants to be a man's last. As a woman, I can assure you that at least half of that is true. And, as Wilde was a man - and one that was at least occasionally interested in women - I assume he is correct about the other half as well. Do you see what I'm getting at here?"
"Good. Because trust me, when the big day comes and you finally get your hands on her pretty little body - don't look at me like that, you're the one who fantasies about her, not me – you'll be extremely happy that you got in a bit of practice first. Wilde was a very clever man."
"Well, he was Irish. It goes without saying."
Minerva laughed. "Mais serieusement, Artemis, do me a favour?"
She rolled her eyes. "Just remember that getting there is half the fun, alright?"
"So I'm beginning to realise," he said with his wicked smile.