(1938-10-23) Getting Blotto
Details for Getting Blotto
Summary: The end of the night. Fabia fancies a few drinks. Frid obliges.
Date: October 23rd, 1938
Location: Upstairs at the Three Broomsticks

The Broomstick has shut its doors for the night, and locked them; remaining upon the inside, half a dozen locals having a quietly merry time, and a girl who doesn't mind being on overtime to redeem the drinks they paid for at 10:59 p.m.

This is one party into the middle of which Fabia Fairfax has the tact not to introduce her strange and citified self. She lingers at the foot of the stairs, the sound of their laughter tugging her lips into a brief, wistful smile; then tip-toes up to her rooms, one hand on the bannister for safety, for she's three and a half martinis in credit (she dropped one) and not completely bereft of sense.

In the dark passageway her sitting-room door is slightly ajar: inside is warmth, light, Frid. She shuts it with herself on the other side, and sighs.

Frid has carried out his duties for the evening, the usual laying out of pyjamas, the drawing of curtains, the general tidying of the room before Fabia returns to it to cause her own particular brand of chaos once more, and has settled himself down with a small glass of whisky. As the door clicks closed, however, he hurriedly rises to his feet, putting the glass down and shooting a hand to straighten his tie. "Madam. I wasn't expecting you to retire so early."

"Well, that makes two of us, sweetie," is Fabia's amiable answer. "Oh, don't jump about like that, you'll make me seasick. Do sit down. Oh, no, unzip me, and then sit down." This strikes her as a much happier order of activities. She takes a few gliding steps nearer to him and presents him with her back, letting her shawl fall away from her shoulders.

Frid collects the shawl to begin with, folding it and setting it down to one side. "Shall I assume that this evening's company wasn't up to your exacting standards, or is it just that you would rather have the evening to yourself?" he asks, lips quirked up at the edges as he eases the zip down.

"I'm not sure I was quite what was required downstairs tonight," Fabia murmurs, shrugging a little; her unfastened dress begins to slip down from her shoulders and as she walks she lets it slither the rest of the way, and simply steps out of it. "Won't you please pour me an enormous glass of whatever it is you're drinking?" she calls from the bedroom.

"It's the Lagavulin," Frid informs her as he stoops to collect the discarded dress, putting that in its place with the shawl before returning to his drink and the rest of the bottle. "Would you like me to get you something you'd rather?" he offers, watching the ceiling as he fully expects her now to be wandering about in the buff.

She hasn't got quite that far yet; but there's a definite trail of garments leading to her dressing-table, where she's taking off her jewellery and leaving it in an untidy, sparkly pile. Not her necklace from the tulip gentleman, of course; she hasn't taken that off even to wash… "Oh, well," she sighs, "if it's the Lagavulin, yes, better a martini for me, sweetie."

It should come as no surprise that Frid has stashed close to hand a jar of olives, a bottle of gin, one of vermouth, and a number of chilled glasses, for just such a request, it hardly being uncommon. He grins to himself as he sets about making the drink for her, the familiar shaking sounds followed by the glorious trickle of booze into glass. "I didn't thank you for finding it for me," he adds, calling through to her. "You have my sincerest gratitude, madam." Not only is it a whisky he enjoys, it's one she doesn't, which means it's less likely to be raided in the night.

"You deserved a treat," she calls back, and swears softly as she knocks something over.

"Which means you're going to want something," Frid responds drily, heading through to try to limit the carnage as best he can. "I was going to ask if I might be excused tomorrow evening for the night."

On the floor, a small chinoiserie lamp (thankfully a pile of her lingerie broke its fall), a cigarette case, and a volume of Swinburne; on Fabia — well, not much more than her stockings, by now, but the floor's almost as good as the ceiling, isn't it?

"I'm so sorry," she says guiltily, "my elbow—"

Frid averts his gaze, giving a good natured sigh even as he holds out the martini for her. "If you must break things, madam, I thought we had agreed on only the ugly things?" He ducks down to gather the lamp carefully, examining it for cracks as he sets it back upright. "Or at least the easily replaceable."

A manicured hand plucks the martini from Frid's grasp as Fabia steps past him, fragrantly and flagrantly indecent, and pads across to sit on the end of the bed. She's noticed he likes it better if he knows where she *is*, when she's not dressed. "I did say I was sorry," she murmurs, and then, after the faint swallowing sound and distinct 'mmmh' which heralds the initial assault upon a martini, "And of course you can have tomorrow evening off. Of course."

"And it is your lamp," Frid allows, a faint smile creeping across his face. "Thank you." He takes a moment to gather the cigarette case, shaking it surreptitiously to ascertain just how many are left within and if he's going to have to find a tobacconist on his evening off, too.

Fabia sets her glass tenderly on the floor, not too close to her feet, and picks up the top half of the pyjamas which have been put out for her. Lavender tonight. Very pretty. The first sleeve goes on all right; the second gives her a little bother. "My lamp…" she sighs. "Frid, do you fancy getting absolutely blotto?"

Frid glances sidelong at her to confirm she has at least some clothes on before facing her fully, brow raised. "Is there a special occasion?" he asks. "I'll fetch the bottles, shall I."

"No special occasion," Fabia lies, coming to the end of her pyjama top and finding she has one button left over. Ah, well, it has been known to happen. "I just want to, and not — not all by myself." Crossing one leg over the other, she swoops down upon her martini and brings it to her lips for a generous gulp.

Frid dips his head, disappearing to fetch the bottles, glass and shaker to be able to settle in for a proper night of it, uninterrupted. Setting down the wares with the sort of ease that only comes through years of practice, he settles into a seat not far from the bed and tops up his own glass, lifting it towards Fabia. "Skol."

A lady doesn't get blotto with her valet in her bedroom of an evening; but Fabia has the inestimable advantage of not being a lady. Slightly cheered up by the ease with which she has persuaded him to fall in with her sudden scheme (or rather, her sudden revival of an old, old scheme, tried and tested and true), she raises her glass in answer and knocks back the little that was left in it. "Slainte mhor!" And then, with a smile at once naughty and apologetic — she does know what she puts him through, she just doesn't care enough to go out of her way to stop — "You'll probably want to shut your eyes for a minute."

"Duly noted, madam," Frid responds, turning his gaze up towards the ceiling as he takes a sip from his drink. No doubt the fact that he hadn't expected to be needed further tonight and thus had already made a good sized dent in the whisky has something to do with the ease by which he was convinced to partake in Fabia's alcoholic plans for the night. While she is quite happy to strip off on a whim, however, Frid's only concession to relaxing is to loosen his tie very slightly.

Fabia puts down her empty glass; in short order, her stockings and her knickers land next to it, and she wiggles into her lavender pyjama pants instead. There. Much more suitable, both for her purposes and for Frid's determined innocence.

She wanders across to her dressing-table and, unscrewing the silver lid of a very pretty cut-crystal jar into which Frid regularly decants cold-cream for her nocturnal use, assures him, "It's all right, I'm as decent as I shall ever be. And don't ask me what I mean by that remark, because I don't know. Martini, please?"

"I wouldn't dream of asking, madam," Frid points out with a slight smile, setting down his drink once more in order to shake up another for his employer. "I am terrified to hear what the answer might be, after all."

It's Fabia who has her eyes shut now, as she coats her face, eyelids and all, with a thick layer of white cream. She reaches out blindly for tissues to remove it; she finds them, after all they don't move about much, but her cigarette case takes another tumble. "Honestly," she mutters at it. One of her sticky, makeup-stained tissues lands in the wastebasket, the next one doesn't. It's a better average than she manages some nights. "Will you go to London for your night off?" she asks suddenly.

Frid rises to gather the cigarette case, sliding it back onto the dressing table. "I thought I might," he agrees mildly. "Although it does become more difficult to explain how, having moved to Scotland, I am able to visit London for a single day. I may be forced to claim I am running errands for you in the mornings and am in town for a longer period."

"Oh, I know, sweetie," she sighs. "The lies I've been telling. Worse than ever." The cigarette case begins to look attractive now that it has drawn itself to Fabia's attention; she doesn't smoke very much, but one or two in the evening… She pops it open (leaving faint oily fingerprints upon the silver) and extracts one of her Sobranie Black Russians. "I haven't told the tulip man a thing about Scotland; I've tried to convince him that some things in life are better left as mysteries, and then, when he asks questions anyway, I just distract him." Cigarette holder… there. Lighter? No sign of it. She looks imploringly up at Frid as he delivers her martini. Has he, by chance, got a light as well?

"Perhaps I ought to try that tactic," Frid responds drily, lips twitching at the corners. He fishes in his pocket for a book of matches, striking one and cupping it in his hand as he leans to deliver the flame to the end of her cigarette. That done, he shakes the match out, licks his thumb and forefinger, then pinches it to be sure before discarding it in the horrific elephant's foot.

Fabia conveys a 'thank you' with her eyes as she inhales smoke through her long ebony cigarette-holder; then, aware that time's a-wasting, lifts her martini glass, tilts her head back very slightly, and drinks down half of it without a pause for breath. Another drag on her cigarette. Mmh. Then commences the tricky choreography of drinking, smoking, and returning for a second pass with the cold-cream to make sure her face is quite, quite clean. So many moving parts. She picks things up, puts them down, gets them in the wrong order. It'll work out in the end.

Remembering Frid's last words, and with an increasingly pleasant buzzing sensation just south of her henna'd hair, she murmurs, "Well within your powers I should think. Unless she's an unusually hard-hearted and snake-eyed creature. Is she?"

"I'm quite sure I have no idea to whom you are referring," Frid notes with a quiet smile, settling back with his whisky once more, nursing it quietly but with great contentment. "I merely had plans to see a dance band."

Her face half-white and half-bare, Fabia looks over her shoulder and raises her eyebrows at him. "Nobody," she intones, "but nobody," cigarette, "goes to London to see a dance band all by himself." She looks away again, lifting her chin as though she has just revealed a profound truth and scored a tremendous point. Martini. Another tissue. There. Astringent lotion. Ash everywhere. Belated tapping on the edge of the ashtray. Life is so complicated.

Frid just grins at that, the smile taking years off his face, and takes another long sip of his whisky. "I may," he allows, "meet up with some old friends. This is not, however, an admission of anything, I hasten to add."

Fabia wiggles slightly in her chair. She knows she's right. "Well, then," she relinquishes her drink and her cigarette to smooth one sort of nourishing face-cream everywhere but her eyes, then sips her martini again whilst dabbing a second cream just around her eyes, "I hope your 'old friends' aren't too snake-hearted and hard-eyed, then." She doesn't seem to realise that in repeating her words she's reversed them. "Lots of my old friends," she murmurs into her looking glass, "are dead. It's rather bloody, really, when the people one was young with start toppling off their perches. Bertie, too. Do you know, no one even gives me condolences? No one even says I'm so sorry, Mrs Travers, for the loss of your husband. I don't mean to say it's been… you know. I can't pretend. But I am sorry he's dead, and it would have been nice if someone else had been."

"I was given to understand that at least Miss Silver offered her sympathies," Frid notes, leaning back in his seat. "But I think it is the curse of our time, to outlive our friends and loved ones. Perhaps we should be grateful that we are still alive, certainly, but on the other hand… well…"

Fabia's laughter is nothing short of mischievous: "Oh, yes, Miss Silver's very sympathetic…" Twelve-inch cigarette holder bobbing along in one hand, martini sloshing about in the other, she weaves her way across the few feet of rug which separate her dressing-table and her bed. Oh, look. The covers have been turned down. There's probably a hot-water bottle in there somewhere, too. Frid is just her favourite person. She casts a fond look in his direction, empties her glass, puts it down somewhere or another, and insinuates herself between her sheets (frankly collapsing the last few inches onto her pillow-pile). Her cigarette has a few puffs to go. She nibbles the end of the holder contentedly.

"Whiskey, please," she murmurs. "Not the Lagavulin. Perhaps something in the neighbourhood, though…"

"The Islay?" Frid suggests, pulling himself slowly upright and straightening his tie, ready to look presentable enough to go downstairs and seek out a bottle for her. He gives himself a glance in the mirror, checking himself over, then nods slightly. He doesn't look drunk and that's what matters. "Shall we be expecting more of Miss Silver here?" he adds casually as he moves towards the door.

"Oh, I hope so, she's a darling creature," Fabia murmurs complacently, pulling pins out of her hair and scattering them in the direction of the bedside table. "Just bring me whatever's on the trolley, there must be something… I think I brought up the end of a bottle of Bruichladdich last night." Oh, so *that's* where it went.

"She certainly draws the eye," Frid replies, dipping his head as he heads instead for the trolley, pressing his lips together briefly as he finds exactly where the Bruichladdich went after all. "And that's good for custom. Drives sales," he explains, perhaps unnecessarily, as he pours out a generous nip into one of the short cut crystal tumblers.

As the glass of whiskey is pressed into her hand Fabia bestows her cigarette (almost burned out) upon Frid instead, ceasing thereafter to think of it at all. "Yes, yes, you're thinking only of my profits," she teases him; and sends the very fine Bruichladdich down her throat in four quick, determined swallows. Gin is mother's milk to her; but they both know whiskey hits her faster and harder. Asking for it at all when she's been imbibing the other stuff so liberally amounts to a declaration that she's beyond caring how she'll feel tomorrow, or whether tomorrow's coming at all.

"I like the place to look its best," Frid insists with a slight smile, removing the dead butt from the cigarette holder to dispose of it and glancing back towards her. "We are staying, I presume?"

Long, thick, artificially red hair spread in a fan over her pillows, Fabia nestles further down in bed. Ah, there's the hot water bottle. Her feet toy with it. "I — I suppose we are. For now. I hope you don't mind. It's not at all what you expected, is it? And — it would be more convenient to be in London, but, oh, Frid. I'm too old, aren't I," a shocking, whiskey-fueled admission, from betwixt lips which have formed a rare unhappy crease, "to order everything in my life just round the possibility that a man might like me enough to… Oh, for God's sake, get me another one of these." Her hand rises peremptorily in the air, extending her empty glass. "You may as well just fill it to the brim, sweetie."

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