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Swaying in the Candlelight

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 “What do I owe you?” Martin asks as he surveys the aircraft hangar that has been turned into something – well, Martin’s not quite sure how to describe the scene in front of him. Jaw-dropping? Definitely. Awe-inspiring? Yup. Extremely suspicious? Oh, without a doubt.

“What on earth do you mean?” Douglas replies innocently, leaning back against the door in order to better survey his handiwork.

“Oh please. I know you; you always have an ulterior motive. First crack at the cheese tray for a month? Exemption from walkaround duty for three months? Do you need me to help you steal GERTI for one of your insane schemes again? What is it? I know that you didn’t do this out of the goodness of your heart or anything.” Martin replies, attempting – and failing miserably – to form a scowl on his awestricken face.

“Consider it an act of charity. A gift from an old romantic to his hapless-and-yet-not-completely-hopeless junior,” Douglas drawls with a crooked grin as he adjusts a nearby candle, shifting it a few millimeters to put it perfectly in line with the four others on the cloth-covered dining table.

“Thank you—I think.”

“Have fun tonight,” Douglas says slyly with a wink, before sauntering out of the aircraft hangar.

Taking a deep breath, Martin turns around to take in Douglas’s – well, “masterpiece” doesn’t even begin to describe it. The cold, dark hangar has been transformed into a softly-lit dining room, complete with two piping-hot meals covered with shining silver domes upon a pristine linen-covered table. Bunches of orchids are artfully arranged around and on the table, their muted pinks and purples a delicate contrast to the crisp white tablecloth and dark oak chairs. Strings of fairy lights hang from the ceiling, glowing softly and creating the illusion of a glittering night sky. Before Martin has time to gawk any further, a timid knock on the hangar door echoes around the space.

Martin rushes to the door, hastily grabbing the bouquet conveniently placed beside it. Half a dozen deep red roses interspersed with elegant sprays of baby’s breath, classic yet beautiful; as if Douglas would go for anything else. Martin spends a few moments trying to arrange the flowers in his arms (as it turns out, even living with a horde of agricultural college students can’t cure Martin’s complete and utter lack of a green thumb, and he wonders briefly how long he can hold these flowers for before he ruins them somehow) and then begins to fumble with the doorknob. As it turns out, trying to turn a metal doorknob when your hands are slick with sweat and shaking with nerves is possibly more difficult than passing your CPL, and it takes Martin more than a few tortuously long moments to let Molly in.

When the door swings open, Martin sticks the bouquet straight out in front of him in an attempt to hand it to Molly before he wrecks it completely. However, at the exact same moment, Molly’s shoe catches in the sill of the doorway and she falls forward, the resulting collision leading to six completely crushed roses and two extremely embarrassed individuals all on the hangar floor. Both Molly and Martin start stuttering their apologies, faces flushing, but before the embarrassment can ruin their night, Martin remarks wryly, “We wouldn’t be on a date if we didn’t end up apologizing to each other at some point, right? Better to get it out of the way now.” Molly bursts into a fit of giggles and Martin soon follows suit, until they’re breathless and clutching their aching ribs and still on the concrete floor. They both stand up and brush themselves off, and Molly takes a moment to look around the hangar. Her eyes widen and a soft “Wow” escapes her lips. “Is this for- I mean, is this all for me? Us?”

Martin, fidgeting beside her, nods, then adds, “Well, I mean, Douglas helped. A lot. Okay, he may have done all of it.”

“Well, be sure to thank him for me tomorrow,” she says, giving Martin a small kiss on the cheek, “But for now, should we eat?”

The pasta is superb (as if Martin expected any less from Douglas), and Martin’s meal is almost perfect, if not for the one niggling doubt at the back of his mind. For, you see, Martin knows that Douglas is an old-fashioned romantic, and thus the first officer is particularly fond of dancing after dinner.

And therein is where the problem lies.

As it stands, Martin will swear by any holy book you place in front of him that he cannot dance. Two left feet and a tangle of gangly limbs that he’s never really grown into are bad enough, but add in a rather abysmal lack of coordination and you get the bona fide train wreck that is Martin Crieff’s attempt to dance. So when the music starts to softly play from the speakers nestled discreetly next to their table (just as they had finished eating – of course Douglas would have perfect timing) and Molly, a playful grin on her face, pulls him up to his feet, Martin is understandably worried. Before he can open his mouth to protest though, Molly has already pulled him in a close embrace. Foreheads touching and arms around each other, they slowly begin to sway to the music, and Martin’s doubts and insecurities fade away because there’s no space left in his head (or his heart) for anything other than the wonder of how right this feels.

Dimly, Martin realizes that he’s heard this music before, the swells of brass and saxophone background to childhood memories glimpsed through a closed door, images of two tall figures illuminated with a sliver of light. His mother and father, laughing softly and floating gracefully around the shabby living room of Martin’s childhood home in the middle of the night, smiling and happy and utterly in love. And although he hasn’t heard this melody in over twenty years, he’s never really forgotten it, and as he and Molly sway to the beat, he begins to hum softly. The baritone reverberates through his chest, sweet dulcet notes wrapping the couple in a warm cocoon of calm and contentment and, well, love.

This is their first dance – slow, sweet, and in an empty airline hangar that, for this one night, has been transformed into their private sanctuary. This is their first dance, among the strains of a Moonlight Serenade that has seen many lovers before them and will see many lovers after them and yet, for this one night, belongs only to these two people, swaying in the candlelight. This is their first dance, but it certainly is not their last. 

 

Note: Lexie (artbylexie) drew this incredible sketch for this fic. Thank you dear!

artbylexie.tumblr.com