I've got a new fic here, but I feel the need to give a bit of explanation/apology for it. When I first fell for Cabin Pressure, it was, to make no bones about it, because of Benedict Cumberbatch and his lovely voice. But the reason I fell for the fandom was that it was a tiny fandom that offered the promise of a lot of funny gen fic. Since funny gen fic is usually in fairly short supply in my other fandoms, I was thrilled. And I'm pleased that I've even contributed a bit as a writer to the running total (though maybe it's only funny in my own head - I don't know); I've also betaed some incredible stories in this fandom, so surely that counts too?
In any case, I really can't explain why the main prompt for this fic hit me so hard, enough that I started writing as soon as I read it and only claimed the prompt once I had over 500 words already down. The story is about a threesome - Helena, Douglas, and Martin - and it's more angsty than lighthearted, which makes sense,I suppose, given that after the story ends, Helena will run off with her tai chi instructor. So I fail at both the gen and the funny parts of my previous formulation. Oh well. I hope you enjoy it anyway.
Fantastic beta and Britpicking by enigel and oxoniensis, both of whom took my anxieties about the story seriously and responded with great thoughtfulness and care.
Prompts: (1) Helena suggests a threesome to save her marriage with Douglas, and Douglas asks Martin and (2) Martin's unexpectedly got a great body because of his side job. Thanks to veronamay for suggesting that Douglas might find Martin's aviators aesthetically pleasing. And thanks to everyone who's playing over at the Cabin Pressure Prompts Post for being so inspired and inspiring! (Title from the Pet Shop Boys - "What Have I Done To Deserve This?")
"Pour the Drinks and Crush the Flowers"
Douglas was the dashing type. He was, in fact, the kind of happy-go-lucky chap whose impulses and gut feelings landed him more often than not in the bedroom of his choice, marital vows notwithstanding. Definitely not the kind of man who'd be gobsmacked by his wife suggesting that they invite a third party into their bed.
"We need to do something," Helena said, tugging irritably at one corner of the duvet to get it to lie flat. She'd been twitchy since she'd started trying to quit smoking. The afternoon light hit her and turned her blonde hair into something precious, and the sight of her like that weakened him.
At least, he could think of no other reason why he would say, "Alright," as casually as if he were agreeing to blackcurrant jam instead of strawberry.
Her face went from harried to pleased in an instant. "Really? Oh, you're a love." She unclipped her hair and ran swift fingers through its length. "Whoever you want, Doug. Just let me know when."
"We're flying to South Africa again, and given the way Carolyn usually works, we should be back in a week." Once more, he silently blessed the pronoun we for its lack of specificity and therefore its utility when discussing matters with one's wife.
"Next Wednesday night, then," Helena said, checking her reflection and picking up her purse. Just before she headed out of the door, she turned back, her smile now verging on wicked. "Just - not Carolyn?"
"God forbid," he said sincerely, and her laugh trailed behind her like perfume.
It wasn’t hard to see why he didn’t have any male friends. Who'd want to be wingman - dull, secondary - to a handsome, silver-tongued, and rapier-witted Casanova? And the wide swath he’d cut meant that, while he’d recorded several facts and figures about his lovely conquests in a little black book, he'd never got around to jotting down the girls' phone numbers.
Of course, the obvious answer was sitting right next to him in the form of a skinny twerp who was overly enamoured of rules and regulations. Helena would get a kick out of making Martin turn red and splutter - really, it was far too easy - and then realise that the only one she actually needed was the man who’d put a ring on her finger and proper brown sauce on the table.
It hadn’t been his plan to start with, but it was shaping up into a Douglas Richardson Special nevertheless.
“Helena asked me to ask you for a favour,” Douglas drawled casually on Wednesday morning just after takeoff.
“What is it?” Martin asked, sounding relaxed and happy; they had clear skies ahead and not a single orange warning light blinking at them.
“Can’t quite remember. I know she’s been wanting to have you round for dinner anyway. Come by at seven?”
“That’s, that’s very kind of her,” Martin said, then paused. “Does she still think you’re the capt- ? Um, does she drink? Should I bring wine?”
“No need,” Douglas assured him; Martin’s finances could most likely only cover the weakest of wine coolers, and there were plenty of spirits in the house, if that was what it was going to take to get Martin to agree to the proposal.
Martin showed up at seven, a rather homegrown bouquet of daisies and greenery in his hand. He was wearing those damn aviators that Arthur had got him a few months after the dreadful Joburg jaunt. From the neck up, he looked every inch the seducer; from the neck down, he looked like a schoolboy on class picture day, all twitchy hands and pigeon-toed stance.
Helena very clearly let her amusement show as she greeted Martin with a kiss on each cheek. “How lovely of you to join us,” she said; Douglas caught the innuendo and laughed, and Martin shot a sickly smile their way, clearly not understanding the joke.
“Lovely of you to have me,” Martin said gamely, and Douglas felt his grin grow wider still.
Martin was flushed and tipsy when Helena made her move, cupping his cheek with her hand, and he leaned into it, ready to be petted. Awareness rushed sharply back to him in the next moment, though, and he paled, sat up straight, and turned pleading eyes on Douglas, looking like a repentant sinner quailing before the family vicar.
Douglas couldn’t get over how young Martin appeared just then, and let his voice go deep and reassuring. “This is the favour, Martin,” he said, nodding genially.
Martin’s eyes went wide, and he bit his lip. A second later, Helena was biting it for him. Douglas got up and went to the bedroom; he knew what her kisses were like, and had no doubt Martin would follow her down the hall in a matter of moments.
Her fingers were in the soft-looking waves of his hair when they came in together, and Douglas could see that Martin was just about due for his next haircut. Martin’s hands were shaking and curling into fists by her shoulders, and she was murmuring something to him; when she said, “Honestly, promise, yes,” some of the tension left Martin’s shoulders.
Not all of it, though, because this was stick-in-the-mud Martin, who said, shakily, “Douglas? Are you -?”
Martin hadn’t turned to face him, and he could see the wear on the seat of Martin’s ancient-looking grey trousers and the shine of hard use across the shoulders of his blue shirt. “Martin,” he said, tone as light as if they were playing Brians of Britain, “the answer this evening is always going to be yes.”
Helena shot him a conspiratorial smile over Martin’s shoulder, then drew Martin’s head down for another kiss.
Martin unclenched his fists and finally let himself touch her, holding her delicately by the shoulders. Douglas very nearly rolled his eyes at his wife at that, knowing she liked to be held firmly, but contented himself with stripping out of his clothes. He whipped off his tie and considered the length of fabric for a long moment, wondering if it might become necessary later in the evening. He’d let that be her decision, he decided, feeling terribly generous.
It wasn’t long before he was bare to the world, and he crossed over to the pair of them, intending to enjoy stripping his wife, surely one of life’s greater pleasures. He was stopped in his tracks by the sight of her, her eyes soft and dreamy as she watched Martin undressing her reverently.
Helena had to be several leagues above the kinds of girls - or boys, he supposed, never having really given the oxymoron of “Martin’s sexuality” much thought - Martin usually allowed himself to fantasise about, and no doubt having permission to touch her had rather gone to the poor lad’s head. Douglas moved closer, frowning when Helena’s gaze stayed on the boy, who was running the fingers of one hand gently along her collarbone and jaw while he undid the buttons of her blouse with the other.
Well, points to Martin for being rather good with his hands, but Douglas would bet his own annual salary that Martin lacked the dexterity to snap a brassiere open with merely a flick of practiced fingers. He did it himself, and Helena’s handfuls were gloriously bare.
Martin, he thought dryly to himself, had obviously never been warned about staring into the sun; his stunned eyes were locked on her flesh. That was enough for Helena’s gaze to go focused and determined, and Douglas smiled, sensing an ally. He stepped behind Martin, and between the two of them, they had his sad little shirt off before Martin could remember to blush.
Douglas’s first warning came on hearing Helena’s sharply indrawn breath, and he looked down at the shirt lying limp in his hands before turning his gaze back on Martin. They hadn’t hurt him somehow, had they? All too soon, he realized why Helena was looking so very pleased. Beneath the camouflage of his clothes, Martin was very fit indeed; hauling boxes in his copious free time had been kind to his physique. Douglas suspected, given the proprietary hand Helena was trailing down Martin’s bare chest, that she hadn’t noticed the faint but still ridiculous tan lines ringing his biceps and neck.
He tossed Martin’s shirt aside and stepped forward resolutely; Martin had had more than enough time to get acclimatised to the wonders of the Richardson bedroom, and there was no need to watch him duck his head shyly or anticipate the next tremulous smile to grace his lips. He nodded decisively at Helena, who took the cue and shimmied out of the rest of her clothes while Douglas stripped Martin.
He wanted to give Helena what she’d asked for before they got much older.
Martin’s fingertips were surprisingly rough, another rather beneficial result of his “man with a van” excursions, no doubt; Douglas could see them catch on the silk sheets while Helena teased Martin with her mouth, finding all of the moles that dotted his smooth skin.
Martin’s eyes, wide and wild, showed that he was ready to shake apart with even the slightest bit more stimulation, so Douglas left him to lie on the bed and strode over to pull Helena to him, enjoying her newfound playfulness for long moments. He hadn’t seen her like this since they’d met at his second wedding. Pleased with her friskiness, he kissed her deeply, tasting smoke in her mouth and picturing her puffing on a cigarette earlier to soothe her nerves as she waited for his return. It was, as ever, a charming image, and he drew her closer still.
Martin shuddered out a long breath and started to sit up, but before he could get very far, Douglas pounced, sitting on the bed himself and pulling Martin close so that his chest warmed Martin’s back. Martin’s entire frame went stiff as a ramrod at the new position, and didn’t relax when Helena crawled toward them. “Shhh,” Douglas soothed, feeling the small sounds Martin was making rather than hearing them, and Helena simply pulled Martin’s hand close.
She guided that hand down the centre of her body and turned it so that one of Martin’s absurdly long fingers disappeared inside her. “Ah,” Martin choked, and Douglas wanted to swallow that sound. His mouth met Helena’s on Martin’s throat.
Martin’s other fingers unfurled like a flower, and Helena took them in one by one, moaning an octave lower than her usual screams.
Douglas closed his eyes against the slim body growing luxuriously warmer in his arms, and tried to focus on the sounds his wife was making and the feel of blood rushing into his prick.
He thought he was doing well until he opened his eyes again and saw his greedy hand curling around the curve of Martin’s cock.
Martin, naked, was rather beautiful.
Helena said she wanted a taste, so Douglas adjusted their positions to allow her to reach Martin’s curled up, spent form, a silent curve on their silk sheets.
He thrust back into his wife, unable to see but feeling certain enough to guess, that her tongue was tracing Martin’s hipbone, that her teeth were skimming his soap-scented thigh; all he could see was weary tears of overstimulation trailing damply down Martin’s face. But Helena was persisting, and soon Martin’s prick began valiantly to rise again.
Douglas couldn’t look away. He slammed vehemently into Helena, who screamed her pleasure as she collapsed. Before he was even fully withdrawn from her, she was more than halfway asleep, smile curving her beautiful lips. She’d always been quick to fall into post-coital slumber, but this was a new record for her.
The experiment - her favour - was over.
Martin, for the first time that night, met his eyes, and Douglas bent close, ignoring their erections, to kiss the salt off Martin’s freckled cheek. Martin’s breath hitched and tumbled into a tiny sigh as they parted.
Douglas looked down at his wife, at the spill of her golden hair, and covered her with the duvet. He made no move to stop Martin when he got his shaky legs under him like a newborn colt and stumbled off toward the en-suite bathroom.
Douglas took care of himself with a few practised strokes, donned his robe, and went to raid the fridge. He hummed loudly to himself, not wanting to hear the snick of a door opening and shutting, if that was what was going to happen.
By pure bad luck - Martinish he would have called it before tonight - he caught a glimpse of a slim figure in a hastily buttoned blue shirt and faded grey trousers moving toward the front door. He abandoned the leftovers and went back to the bedroom.
Helena’s faint breaths were all that broke the silence.
He moved into the bathroom and took a quick shower under water as icy as he could stand. He drank a glass of water at the sink and found his fingers clutching the hand towel when he realised it was damp.
He lay in bed, Helena’s head comfortably pillowed on his chest, and was just starting to drift off to sleep when he heard a vehicle - something large, a van in shoddy condition, perhaps - start up and then drive off. Before he could stop himself, he saw Martin in his mind’s eye again, standing on the front step in his faded clothes and aviator shades.
Martin, clothed, was rather beautiful too.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.
(And a reminder that sign-ups for sherlock_remix are opening officially tomorrow, though if you signed up today, that would make me pretty happy.)