Just a bit of plotless, fluffy Joetina for Sev. Hopefully it'll cheer you up, and hope you like, my dear. And I hope all goes well. I put in a Royals reference for you too :) ATEOTD-fied, set about a couple of months after Joey and Martina got married in chapter 3, so they're still full of newlywed bliss and Martina is coming to terms with being a Boswell. Only short. Just for fun.
Martina McKenna was never what could be called a 'good girl.' Never did well at school, even when she could have done, never obeyed the teachers, even when she should have done, never respected her parents, even...well, there was no getting around that one; they didn't deserve it. But once she entered the workforce, she had tried to turn that around. Dealing with scoundrels deters one from being a scoundrel oneself. That, and living with someone who depends on you to pay the bills, and then having to pay off a portion of the debt they left behind. Like it or not, Martina had had good behaviour thrust upon her, and she had learned to go along with that, fit the image she'd been prescribed.
But she's Martina Boswell now, as of March, there's a shimmering, imitation Princess Di ring on her left hand (probably cost more than the original, knowing her husband) and a gold band under it, her clothes cost just a little more and look nicer for it, she's in a bed with silk sheets, next to a man in silk pyjamas, wearing a silk nightdress. Money is spent on things they technically can't afford. She signs off on things they technically shouldn't put in claims for, and no-one knows that better than her.
Martina McKenna, when she had grown up, hated the idea that somebody might reach out and take something they weren't entitled to.
But sometimes, Martina Boswell slides a little more than is appropriate.
Sometimes, Martina Boswell gets wicked ideas in her head. She shouldn't, of course. They're the sort of ideas she outwardly abhors. The sort that her husband condones and she doesn't, but seems to succumb to anyway. Sometimes, despite all the responsibilities that await her, when she wakes up, instead of preparing for the job she is being paid to do, she immediately reaches over to her bedside table and picks up the phone.
Some days, the dramas of the DSS can wait. Some days, Martina's just in that sort of mood, and when she is, the crises of the not-working classes can be solved without her. And, though she really, really should be thinking of her own moral codes…well, they can sod off. The naughty idea has completely overridden her entire brain.
The ringing down the line drones and grumbles through her ears. Behind her the blankets rustle, an arm comes up and snakes around her waist, a forehead presses into her shoulder and a pair of lips kiss her shoulder blade. Martina smiles as she holds the receiver more firmly to the side of her head.
'Department of Social Security, Canning Place.'
The voice, though definitely a human one, has the same abrupt monotone as a recording. Martina's smile gets bigger, digs deeper into her face as she contemplates what she's about to do. A year ago, she'd never have been able to, couldn't have afforded to, wouldn't have even let it cross her mind.
'It's Martina,' she begins, aware that she's automatically adopted a slightly wheezy moan. Her husband has a lot to answer for—his ability to spin a tale with ease is rubbing off on her far more than it should, if she can switch on a convincing sick-act this easily. He's corrupted her, he has. And he's going to pay for it. Sometime. When she can get around to it.
When she's not contentedly reaping the benefits of the tricks he's taught her.
'Listen,' she wheezes and moans into the phone, 'I'm not at all well. I won't be comin' in today.'
A pause and a small rummage on the other end.
'All right, I've made a note of that.'
That's all that needs to be said. The conversation could go on for longer, if she stayed on the line, and indeed, it would be polite to, at the very least, offer some sort of goodbye, but Martina doesn't. She's done all she need do for duty's sake, now she merely clunks the receiver down, satisfaction welling in her chest.
A kiss is planted in the crook between her neck and her shoulder, sending a pleasant shiver down her spine.
'Pretendin' to be sick. Tsk. Naughty, naughty girl. Not up to catchin' out cheats today, then?'
'You've corrupted me,' she says, by way of a reply. 'And besides, what's the point in chasin' down the cheats when I know exactly where the ringleader is?'
She turns onto her other side, indulging in the sight of his sleep-crusted eyes and bed-tousled hair, that same stubborn cowlick, once blond, now black, curling over his forehead. It's a view she's come to enjoy, to look forward to; a glimpse of the more worn, vulnerable side of the impish angel who struts through each day with the confidence to take on the world. It reminds her that, really, he's just a human, this man she's got here, despite what he might like to make out, and not some sort of unusual entity, as she had once thought.
'Great,' says Joey Boswell, leaning in to kiss her. 'Fantastic. That means I get you to meself. A whole day of just you and me, eh?'
He pushes her gently into the mattress, and Martina shuts her eyes, feeling the sunlight on her face, Joey's hands roaming over her, his lips touching hers again and again.
'Just you and me?' She raises her head, whispering the words into his ear. 'You mean, no scroungers behind a counter, no other Boswells…no anythin'?'
'You got it, sweetheart,' he whispers back, chuckling into her neck. 'You got it.'
No suggestion has ever sounded so perfect.
It's freshly cold and slightly dewy, but they sit outside anyway, refreshed by the crispness of the morning air and warmed by cups of tea. Martina sits with her legs across Joey's lap, just relaxing and basking in his company, because there's no-one else around to see her, and if she wants to simply lay back and depend on him for a while, who's to stop her? Not the people at work, that's for sure. They don't know. Oh, this is naughty. She'd pay if they knew. But she doesn't care.
And Joey keeps one arm around her waist, holding her, steadying her, the other hand precariously trying to move his cup to and from his mouth without spilling the contents over both of them. He's smug, she knows he is. If he's basking in anything, it's the fact that he's triumphed, despite the fact she wasn't aware they were playing a game. He's influenced her in a bad (but oh, so good) way, he's making her into a Boswell, and oh, how he loves it.
They don't talk much. They don't have to. Conversation seems arbitrary, an unnecessary trimming that would only succeed in adding a tacky sort of over-decoration to the moment. Martina can say all she needs to just by purring out a sigh of contentment and resting her head on his shoulder, Joey bestows a kiss or two on whichever part of her he can reach, and she shoves her elbow back into him when he snorts at her uncharacteristic happiness, but otherwise they don't really move. The sun inches further into the sky in a slow, bedazzling climb, softly illuminating them, melded together like a sculpture, a living, breathing, daydreaming monument to the happiness only a special kind of stolen laziness can bring. It's a laziness which involves sitting in silence and near-stillness with someone you love, and leaves you feeling overwhelmingly unburdened by it. It's the perfect tonic to nearly a whole week of shouting 'next!' and slamming down forms, just the quiet and the sunshine and an entire day of nothing, sitting with the most infuriating, the most annoying and yet the most wonderful man she's ever encountered. And no, she shouldn't be indulging in this, when somewhere out there is a mountain of things she is supposed to be doing, but that makes it all the more delicious, somehow.
And so they sit there together in the garden, wrapped around each other on the ancient bench that had come with the house, and which neither had even momentarily considered removing.
Just sitting, with no other purpose.
A year ago, Martina would never have been able to do this—couldn't have afforded to, wouldn't have even let it cross her mind. In another life, a moment not filled with pointless busywork allowed dark thoughts to slip into her mind, nothing to keep them at bay, thoughts of loneliness and worthlessness and pointlessness. But now she's got the sort of love she never thought existed. Now she's got a life she'd always considered inaccessible to her. Now it doesn't matter if she doesn't invest her soul into the DSS, because it's not the only thing keeping her afloat, not the only purpose she's got in an otherwise purposeless existence. It doesn't matter if she doesn't think, because the dark thoughts are locked away; not gone, but banished to the far corners of her brain, locked in a safe and buried under pleasant, more recent memories.
Except, if she thinks about it, she really should be at work. She shouldn't be shirking her responsibilities, especially as that's something she's always telling Joey off for doing. She shouldn't be accepting pay for a day of work she's not doing, by pretending to be sick. That's the employee's version of what the Boswells do, accepting money when they don't fit the qualifications to be receiving giros. But who cares about shouldn't on a day like this? Sometimes, being a Boswell is a little easier. Martina McKenna would hate herself for even considering that. Martina Boswell wonders if maybe it might be prudent to live up to her new last name, just once or twice. But tomorrow she'll stop.
Or the day after.
Or maybe next week.
There's no doubt about it. Joey has corrupted her.