45: Handlebar

When he came back home from the studio, he was stunned to find his wife in the kitchen slipping off her apron. Setting his bag down on one of the island stools, he hesitantly reached out, as if he wasn’t quite sure if she was real or just a figment of his imagination.

“Milly had to go back home, so we have about a month before I have to go back.”

Leaning up, she lightly kissed him as he stood there in wonder. When he’d woken up that morning, little had he known that he’d be eating dinner with his wife. Perhaps if he’d known, he’d have come home earlier, but he obviously hadn’t and so never even considered starting dinner at this time. Particularly when the French habitually ate dinner significantly later than the English did.

“Where’s your mother?”
“I sent her out with Liesl on this late night group walk. She’ll be back late.”
“And you made dinner?”
“I don’t mind being the traditional wife every now and then.”
“Oh, sweet pea…” Wrapping his arms around her waist, he buried his nose in the crook of her neck and drew in her familiar perfume. Gently crushing her to himself, he squeezed his eyes shut. “I missed you so much.”

She laughed as she smoothed his hair. “I missed you too.”

“I almost went crazy without you.”
“Well, you can tell me all about it over dinner. I made lobster thermidor.”

He marveled at her. How fortunate a man he was to have a woman like her to call his wife. There were few, perhaps even a lack of, flaws of hers he could name at the moment, and even if there were, they were so insignificant, he didn’t particularly care. He was high off of her being here with him after three months of separation, and it was all he could do not to crush her again in his embrace and purr.

“What are you just standing there for? Go wash your hands.”
“Right.” Flushing, he smiled sheepishly. “I’ll, er… I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere!”
“I won’t.”

But he had already run to the bathroom so quickly, he nearly slipped on the wood flooring. Giggling to herself, his wife shook his head. Good God, just what was she going to do with that man?

Why, love him, of course, with all her heart.

. . .

“Oh, my God,” he groaned. “I can’t remember the last time I ate that much.”

Smiling drowsily, she brushed his jawline with her fingers.

“Maman tells me you haven’t been taking very good care of yourself in my absence. Is that true?”
“I will neither confirm nor deny what your mother’s told you. You know how the French and English never got along. She could be exaggerating for all I know.”
“That’s very funny coming from someone who so eagerly goes to the park and the movies and shopping with my mother.”
“Yes, well, your mum happens to be a very charming lady.”

She studied him as he lay his head on her lap. Despite all of the joking between them, she could see how her mother’s report had held little hyperbole. While the apartment was as clean and tidy as always, the fridge hadn’t been as well-stocked with fresh ingredients when she had come home earlier (not to say that he was taking poor care of his mother-in-law; just that he seemed to have lost some of his typical standards. Her mother might also have had a hand in such as she had never quite liked the practice of buying ingredients so often; she thought it as a wasteful and illogical practice, two things which she hated, and so had probably bent her son-in-law’s will to match her own). Not to mention how he’d stopped shaving.

“So you’re not shaving anymore?”
“I, uh… I forgot to, and by the time I realized, your mother requested that I not.”
“Of course she did. She said that it was a waste of water, didn’t she?”
“No one in my family shaves because of her.”

Rubbing his chin, he quietly thought for a moment or two before asking, “Do you think it looks bad?”

“It scratches when I kiss you.”
“I’ll shave it off tomorrow.”
“Don’t, if you like it.”
“But do you?”
“Well… I’ve always found men with handlebar mustaches to be the sexiest.”

Bewildered, he looked up at her. Handlebar? She’d never mentioned any such thing in the past years they’d been together. Perhaps it was a secret she’d kept from him, out of fear of pressuring him to change? But that was silly. Why should she be scared? If it was something she really wanted, then of course he would do it for her. Didn’t she know that?

But then he realized she was only teasing him and immediately flushed. Embarrassed, he sat up to hide his face. Laughing, she leaned over and draped her arms around his shoulders.

“You’re so cute.”
“I can’t believe I fell for that,” he muttered. “That wasn’t even- How can I be so stupid?”
“I thought it was kind of sweet. You would really grow a mustache just for me?”
“Well, I mean,” he sputtered, “I suppose if you really wanted it, I would, but it’s not like- Oh, bugger it all.”
“But really. Keep it if you want. It’s nice to have some change every once and a while.”
“I promise I’ll shave soon.”
“Keep it as long as it makes you happy. As long as you’re happy, I’m happy.”

Kissing him on the cheek, she rested her chin on his shoulder.

“I’m so glad to be back home.”
“I’m glad to have you home,” he said. “It was bloody damn time you came back.”

And sharing a short, sweet kiss, they enjoyed one another’s company completely and beautifully uninterrupted.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Sean O'Brien says:

    Well , that whole plan to have them apart for all that time sort of fell apart, didn’t it? I’m sure Milly would have preferred not to have gone home at all until things were done, but she did manage for at least a period of time. Enough for Lelouch to get a bit scrappy anyway. Well, he’s got a month so no need to worry about coming home a bit later than he intended. Interesting that the French eat later though I’d be curious what that would be. 8 PM?

    Huh, not familiar with the idea of a late night group walk. Wonder if it’s a means for her to meet some people. It is nice to think of her spending time with the dog though and them getting along. I’m sure Leisl doesn’t care as long as she is getting some form of attention. I feel like this whole thing highlights that Lelouch seems more dependent on C.C. then she necessarily is on him, though it may be that she can simply process it better is all.

    Lobster thermidor? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBJyp2LFHgk

    His gushing is sort of hilarious. It’s a miracle she doesn’t get a big head or annoyed with him due to it all. He’s like a little kid her with all the excitement when they’re just sitting down to eat a nice meal. It is nice to see her displaying cooking skills and from the description of the dish a pretty nice one too.

    The French and English line made me chuckle. I imagine being able to understand and speak it gives him some brownie points. I sort of imagine her making jokes when introduced about her daughter marrying an Englishman to tease him or something. Nice to see all the things they’ve been doing together, though not a surprise given the influence she represents in his life.

    Interesting how some of him not doing what he usually did may have been due to her influence and iron will taking over the house as it were in a sense to make it more like hers. Seen that enough with family to know it’s a thing. The whole reasoning for the beard is rather hilarious I think. Not so much the lack of personal attention to himself which is negative, but more how C.C.’s mom stopped him. I wonder if it’s purely due to being a frugal person or if she likes beards and thinks her son-in-law would look good in one. He’s lucky if he can grow one at all as not everyone can all that well.

    The line about his beard scratching her made me think of a book and thus laugh as it was the same context. Funny thing for him to fall for though it’s an intriguing image to imagine him with one. He might as well grow it out to see how it looks on him. Probably just make him even more attractive if anything. I’d have to imagine they got down to it fast while keeping an ear to the ground given how long it’s been for the two of them. Probably couldn’t indulge in all they’d want to if they did anything at all. I imagine Leisl will be happy to see her mom and her mother will be happy to her see daughter as well.

    Thank you 🙂


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