This, my first ever real Cabin Pressure story (this doesn’t really count although I’m claiming it for the same universe) is dedicated to @artbylexie for inspiring it (from an email exchange earlier today): I’ll bet she likes how small and cozy Martin’s flat is (“Cozy?” Martin asked looking around at the 500 square feet studio flat. “No one’s ever called it cozy before.”) and she would rather stay there than any fancy hotel.(I HAVE A LOT OF MARTIN/THERESA FEELINGS TODAY)
The first time he brings her to his flat he’s nervous, so very very VERY nervous. It’s an attic. It’s 500 square feet of slant-roofed, flat-white-painted, mostly second-hand-furniture- cluttered nothing. And he’s bringing a woman to it - a woman! - who lives in a castle. A castle. What’s he thinking? He must have gone mental, bringing Princess Theresa Gustava Bonaventure of Liechtenstein here, to his tiny little nothing of a flat. Even though she knows the truth about his non-paying job at MJN, and that he makes his real living with a van (a van!)…knowing something and being forced to confront the reality of it are two entirely different things.
He opens the door and steps inside, squishing himself against the wall to give her room to enter. “So, um, this is it.” He laughs, a high, nervous laugh, incredibly uncomfortable with the whole situation, mentally kicking himself for agreeing to bring her here after their third date. Oh, the date itself went well - Croydon Airport’s Visitors Center is top of the line and she seemed to enjoy it - but now they’re ending the date here in his tiny little miserable splotch of a flat and she’s…
Oh. Actually she’s looking around with a smile on her lips. Not a forced smile, not a condescending, oh-my-isn’t-this-quaint kind of smile, but one of her lovely bright real smiles. The ones that make his toes curl and his heart pound like an overworked jet engine. A General Electric GE90, not some piddling little TJ100 Turbojet engine. She turns that smile on him and he dares to find it…approving? “It’s lovely, Martin. So cozy!”
“Cozy?” he echoes, brow scrunching in confusion. He darts a quick look around to make sure nothing’s changed in the thirty seconds or so that have passed since she stepped inside. “No one’s ever called it ‘cozy’ before.” He feels a flush forming on his face - God he hates how red he gets when he’s embarrassed but there’s nothing he can do about it - and blurts out, “Not that I’ve ever brought anyone here before. I mean, well, yes, my Mum and my sister came to help me move in, Simon was too busy of course but that’s Simon for you, never around when there’s actual work to be done and Douglas and Arthur have been here, they helped me back up the stairs after we delivered that piano and I…”
She stops his unstoppable stream of nervous babbling in the most wonderful way possible: she steps over to him, takes his hand in hers, and leans down (just slightly down, she’s only ten centimeters taller than he is when she’s wearing flats like she is today) and kisses him.
It’s their first kiss. He’s wanted to kiss her ever since she saved him from Carolyn’s wrath over the whole fuel misunderstanding, but he hasn’t quite been able to nerve himself up for it. He’s grateful to her for being the one to kiss him, in fact. So grateful that he goes a bit numb, his mind fizzing into nothingness, and it takes him a few seconds to start kissing her back. But she doesn’t pull away, so she understands and doesn’t think he didn’t want her to kiss him. Because God knows he wants her to kiss him! So he finally gets his brain and body coordinated enough to kiss her back and she lets him and it’s just…it’s perfect. It’s absolutely perfect.
When she finally ends the kiss he opens his eyes (oh, he closed them, when did he do that?) and sees her smiling at him again. She’s still holding his hand, and she reaches up with the other and cups his cheek. “It’s lovely Martin, your flat. And I just want you to know that I would rather stay here than any fancy hotel. Maybe the next time I’m in Fitton? Maxi has a concert in six weeks. Would it be all right if I stayed here?”
Once again he’s grateful to her for taking the lead, because of course this is their third date and he knows the old rule about third dates, even if he’s never personally experienced, well, THAT. Not on a third date. Not at all with his first girlfriend, not for six months with his second, and only the one time with his third (rather disastrous) relationship. But Theresa’s reassuring him by letting him know that she’s interested in…THAT…with him, but isn’t expecting anything this time around. Which is good because he doesn’t have any of the necessities on hand (note to self: buy condoms) and he hasn’t had time to fix things up in any kind of romantic manner, which he absolutely will do. Candles, flowers, maybe spring for a fancy set of sheets and a new duvet cover…
“Martin. Breathe,” Theresa advises him with another small smile, and he gulps in some air.
“Sorry,” he says weakly. Then he does probably the bravest thing he’s ever done in his life: he leans forward and kisses her. And she tastes lovely and feels lovely and his free hand slips around her waist and she’s kissing him back and he knows - absolutely, positively knows - that he’s in love with the most perfect woman on the face of the earth.
He doesn’t tell her that, however, until their ninth date, which is still in the future. All he does now is tell her yes, of course she can stay here in six weeks (six weeks isn’t long enough and it’s too long at the same time) and offer to show her around the 500 square feet of cozy flat he now surveys with pride. It ends with him making her a cup of coffee on his one truly expensive splurge - a Keurig coffee maker. He’s pleased that he can offer her a variety of flavors and proudly shows off the device with an enthusiasm normally reserved for all things aeronautical. She’s suitably impressed, selects a blueberry coffee for herself while he has hazelnut, and they spend the evening talking about so many things he can’t even remember them all. He walks her back to her rental car when it’s close to midnight, and has the courage to be the one to initiate the good-night kiss. He knows he’ll never taste blueberries or coffee again without thinking of her, and watches in a daze as she drives off.
Six weeks, he thinks to himself, knowing he’s grinning like an idiot, feeling the tips of his ears turning red at the thought.
For the first time in his life, Martin Crieff finds himself looking forward to something even more than flying…and he’s never been happier.