It was ten after four in the pip emma, and Bertram was making tea. I hummed happily, thinking to myself that I had become quite good at this tea-making business. I had carefully filled the tea holding thingummy with tea leaves and dangled it over the edge of the pot, and was just getting in position to pour the boiling w. in along with it when my intense concentration was broken by the sound of a familiar voice. "Sir?"
"Jeeves!" I exclaimed in surprise, for I had not been expecting my beloved valet to come anywhere near the Wooster residence today, or, indeed, for the rest of the week. He was supposed to be on holiday, you see. I'm ashamed to say I was so surprised I accidentally sloshed some of the boiling hot water from the kettle onto my fingers. I let out an embarrassingly loud "dash it!" and the next moment the kitchen door had opened and there was Jeeves, all six foot whatever of him, looking as bally well fresh as an extra dewy violet. "Jeeves!" I repeated, my conversational vocab. clearly not up to its usual standard.
Jeeves took in the sight of Bertram W. before him, his eyes slightly wider than usual and his dark eyebrows drawn together slightly with concern. "All you all right, sir?"
The unexpected appearance of Jeeves had caused me to forget all about the pain in my fingers for several moments, but Jeeves' words reminded me of my unfortunate accident. No, I thought, I was not all right, but I'd live. "Fine Jeeves, fine!" I answered, and it wasn't at all difficult to sound cheerful about it, as I really was overjoyed to see him. I was about to embrace my man and welcome him home, but realized I was, inexplicably, still holding the kettle. Fortunately, Jeeves saved both of us from the foolish young master with his usual foresight and gently took the kettle from my non-burnt hand to place it on the stove. "Thank you, Jeeves," I said gratefully and proceeded with my original plan re: embracing my valet. I wrapped my arms around his shoulders tightly and buried my head under his chin, inhaling the unique Jeevesian scent I had missed so much during the past week. "You're home early, Jeeves. I'm so glad," I murmured into the comforting warmth of his neck.
"Yes, sir. As enjoyable as Cuba was, I confess that by the seventh day I could no longer bear to be away from you."
Well, I say. I realized that this was the first time Jeeves had taken a holiday since we had come to our understanding two months earlier, and hearing Jeeves express the strength of his feelings for me was certainly encouraging. A grin, soppy enough to make Madeline Bassett proud, spread across my face as I pulled back to regard my love. I was rewarded with Jeeves' much more subtle version of a soppy grin. Mutual soppiness having been expressed, Jeeves' expression became serious once more. "When I came in, sir, you sounded distressed –"
"I was startled, Jeeves, that's all. And, well, I was just about to pour the hot water in the teapot when you called out to me and…" I held out the affected hand, knowing that if I didn't tell Jeeves now, he'd just find out later anyway.
"Oh, sir, your fingers," he breathed, cradling my left hand in his own and inspecting the rather pinkish patches of skin. "I am sorry, sir. I should have sent a telegram to warn you I was returning early -"
"Nonsense, my man. I'd say it's worth some minor discomfort to have you back safe and sound."
"Did you run cold water over the burn, sir?"
"Well, no, Jeeves. To be honest it slipped my mind."
"Allow me, sir," Jeeves replied, and led me over to the sink so I could receive the cool wet stuff treatment. "Your skin has already been burned, sir, but this should at least ease the pain."
And it did, by Jove. "Thank you, Jeeves," I said after a few minutes of the cooling water. "That does feel much improved."
Jeeves turned off the tap, and brought my hand up close to inspect it. "Fortunately, sir, the burn does not appear to be very severe. It should heal well."
"I won't need to make an appointment to get a plaster cast for my fingers, what?"
I was treated to an indulgent quirk of the Jeevesian lips. "No, sir, I do not think that will be necessary."
"Good," I said just as Jeeves brought my hand to his mouth and placed the gentlest kiss possible on my fingers, just next to the sensitive pinkish area. I shuddered in response and wrapped my arms around him again, attaching my lips to his. We started off rather passionate, I must say. It had been some time since we had got to indulge in the labial press, after all. "I missed you," I murmured the next time I managed to breathe.
"And I you, sir," Jeeves replied, nuzzling my ear.
An idea popped into the old noggin. "Jeeves, you must be tired from your long journey home, and as soon as you step in the door, there's your young master in need of rescuing from his own silliness. Why don't you sit down and relax, and I can make that tea properly so we can both have some."
"I am grateful for your offer sir, but perhaps in this case I should make the tea? I would not want you to –"
Well, I knew where that thought was going and I nipped it in the bud. "Jeeves, I'm not always like this, you know!" I said, not wanting my man to think I was utterly hopeless in the kitchen. "I made tea plenty of times while you were away, even when I had company over!"
"Sir, I do not doubt your ability for one moment. However, I feel responsible for causing you to burn yourself in the first place, and would like to make it up to you in some small way."
"I think that kiss more than made up for anything you think you need to make up for, which I assure you you don't. But all right, Jeeves," I sighed, knowing protesting further was useless. Jeeves was right, though. My already-sore fingers would make me more clumsy and then…well, it didn't bear contemplating. I released Jeeves and slumped down into one of the kitchen chairs. Jeeves cleared a small work-space on the counter by stacking up some dirty dishes.
"Sorry about the state of the kitchen, Jeeves. I did try to keep it clean, but I suppose it got a little out of hand. I think I did a fairly good job of the sitting room and my bedroom at least."
"I noticed, sir. A superb effort," he said, looking genuinely pleased. "The next time I go away, however, I would be more than happy to arrange a replacement valet for you."
"No, Jeeves. No more temporary valets. It's you or nothing, old thing. I mean to say, it just doesn't feel right, somehow. Especially now."
"I mean, you're the best valet anyone could have. It's not even possible to replace you, old thing, so I figure, why bother? That's why I didn't let you get someone for me before you left last week." Jeeves looked quite touched at this and smiled a little, but didn't say anything. I took a steadying breath before I continued, because I wasn't sure how Jeeves would take what I was about to say. "Since we, you know, became a couple, I've come to think of you as sort of a wife, I suppose…not that you're at all like a woman, Jeeves! Just…oh, this is coming out all wrong."
"I think I understand, sir."
"Do you?" I looked up hopefully, and was relieved to see Jeeves not looking offended at all.
"You prefer to see our relationship as a marriage, sir?"
"Yes, that's exactly it! I like to think that we're just as married as anyone else is. Anyone else who is married, that is. And when people are married, Jeeves, I think each partner should chip in and help as much as they can. I don't want you doing all the work, Jeeves. That doesn't seem cricket. I thought I'd take the opportunity to learn to do some things while you were away…"
It was at this point that I saw Jeeves begin to tidy up the counter again. That sneaky devil!
"Now see here, Jeeves. You shouldn't even be working again yet! You're still supposed to be on holiday for the next three days! You should at least be having fun with your valet friends at the Junior Ganymede or reading one of your books or something!"
The next moment, Jeeves was at my side and grasped my hand (my uninjured one) to pull me towards him into a warm embrace. "My dear Bertram," he said against my neck. I shivered a little from the trill of hearing him call me that – Jeeves using my given name is still a rather novel experience. "Serving you is not a burden for me – it never has been. As grateful as I am for your generous and kind nature – it is one of the very qualities that has always attracted me to you – it would make me even happier to settle back into our usual routine as soon as possible now that I have returned. Please believe me when I say I do not require holidays, for every day I am with you already feels like a holiday." At this, he placed a tender kiss on my lips.
"Oh, Jeeves," I sighed, quite overcome at Jeeves' moving words. "But, Jeeves…"
"You will let me do a few things here and there to help you out, won't you?"
"If it pleases you, sir."
"It does, Jeeves."
"Then I am sure that could be arranged, Bertram."
"Thank you, my love," I said, glad that this little issue seemed to have been resolved. "Jeeves," I said, "I think the mess in the kitchen can wait for now. And we can put the blasted tea on hold. What do you say?" I was already tugging on his arm. As Jeeves is such a clever cove, I had no doubt he would guess my intentions.
"Of course, sir," he replied and followed me to the master bedroom.