We’ll Always Have Paris
Fandom: James Bond/As Time Goes By
Pairing: James Bond/Olivia Mansfield, Lionel Hardcastle/Jean Pargetter
Characters: James Bond, Olivia Mansfield, Jean Pargetter, Lionel Hardcastle
Disclaimer: All characters belong to their respective owners.
Summary: Jean and Lionel’s Paris trip doesn’t go the way they had planned. With Lionel asleep in their hotel room, Jean contemplates their relationship wondering if they have a future together. It is only when she collides with a mysterious stranger who offers her some advice, leading to an unlikely friendship, which makes Jean come to a decision that could ultimately change her life.
Notes: This crossover is AU and takes place four months after the events of Skyfall and during S03E01 of As Time Goes By.
We’ll Always Have Paris
Jean gave a sigh at Lionel’s melancholy attitude. Honestly, she swore that man only was ever happy when his eyes found one of those custard tarts. Their Paris trip hadn’t gone as they had planned. Instead of a peaceful relaxing holiday, they had found themselves caught in a newly married couple’s drama. Luckily, the scenario was resolved and the young couple left happy. If only the same could be said for the both of them.
She turned away from the window and looked to Lionel who was lying on the bed sound asleep. ‘So much for dinner and the carriage ride.’
It was still daylight outside, and she still wanted to see much of the sights that Paris had. Making her decision, she grabbed her coat and bag and decided to go sightseeing herself for a few hours. Quickly grabbing a pen and a piece of paper, she wrote Lionel a note telling him where she was going. Satisfied, she left it on the table, and made her way from their suite and out the hotel exit to the bustling street. She looked left then right before deciding on going left.
She had no idea where she was going, but anywhere was better than staying in a hotel room for the rest of the day; despite her earlier shopping with Ann. She wondered how everything went wrong in the space of a few hours. The entire situation frustrated her to no end.
She was so wrapped up in her own thoughts she wasn’t watching where she was going until she collided with someone coming in the opposite direction. She looked up to see a man in his mid-thirties picking up her bags from the ground, which she had dropped when he had collided with her.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t looking where I was going.” Jean bent down and helped the man pick up the items that had spilled from his bags, and placed them back inside.
“It’s fine, don’t worry about it.” The stranger replied truthfully.
Once the last item was securely packed into the bag, they both stood up. It was only when Jean started to hand over the bag to the man that she felt her breath hitch as she took in in his appearance. Staring back at her was a pair of piercing blue eyes that held amusement; no doubt at their current predicament. His chiselled jaw line and athletic body would cause any woman to stop and stare. While no longer a young woman, she knew a good-looking man when she saw one.
“Are you all right?”
Jean came back to the present as the man’s concerned voice broke into her thoughts.
“I’m fine, just have a lot on my mind at the moment.” She semi-lied.
“As long as you aren’t hurt.”
Jean was touched that someone she hadn’t even known for more than five minutes was worried about her well-being, when the man she had left in the hotel room hadn’t even bothered to ask how she was feeling.
“No, I’m quite all right. I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name.”
“The name’s, Bond, James Bond.”
“Pleasure to meet you, James Bond.” She liked the way it sounded on her tongue. “Anyway I won’t keep you any longer; you looked like you were in a hurry.”
“You don’t have to. I was only going to drop these off at the hotel, and then I was going to do some sightseeing. You’re more than welcome to accompany me.”
Jean felt a blush heat up her face at James’ simple question. She shouldn’t really accept, as there was something about the man that made her wary, but then she thought back to Lionel asleep in their hotel room, and she knew it wouldn’t be a hard decision to make.
“I think I would like that. Do you need help with any of those?” Jean looked towards his bags.
“I can manage… sorry I didn’t catch your name?” James asked with a charming smile.
“Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Jean,” he replied, taking her hand in his own, then pressed a soft kiss to her knuckles.
As soon as his hand made contact with hers, Jean felt a spark of electricity shoot through her at the small touch. James must have felt it too as he gave her a look of longing before letting go of her hand.
“My hotel is just five minutes away.” James started to walk in the direction Jean had come from only a few moments ago.
Jean walked next to him, their arms slightly brushing as they walked.
“How long are you in Paris for?”
“Three weeks. I head back home tomorrow evening. And yourself?”
“Just for the weekend. I, well, my partner and I head home on Sunday.” Jean stumbled over her words.
James gave her a curious look. “Why are you out here walking alone without your partner?”
“Let’s just say today hasn’t been one of the best days I’ve had. We were trying to help a newly married couple, as they had a slight misunderstanding. They managed to resolve their problems, and Lionel arranged for dinner and a carriage ride, but he is currently a sleep in our room. I couldn’t spend another moment in that room.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Jean. So, Lionel doesn’t know you’ve left?”
“No, however I did leave him a note telling him where I was going.”
“Have you been with Lionel long?” James inquired, wanting to know more about the life of the woman next to him.
Jean gave James a small smile. “It depends on how you look at it. We met when I was a nurse in my early twenties. Lionel was a Lieutenant and was sent to Korea. We lost contact until just a few years ago when we met each other again. We decided to re-try our relationship, but now I’m thinking we would be better off as friends. Too much time has passed; we’re both different people, not the same as we were back when we were younger.”
James saw the wistful look on her face as she recalled their past relationship, but there was also a hint of sadness there as well.
“Perhaps, the two of you need to discuss what would be best all around. Are you happy with Lionel?”
“Yes and no. Don’t get me wrong, he can be sweet and caring when he wants to be, but I’m realising now it’s not enough. We should never have rekindled our relationship. I’m now starting to think that friendship would be best for the both of us.”
“Would it make you happier if you were friends?”
“I think it would. We bicker back and forth when we don’t agree on certain matters. He even booked this trip. You see when we were younger we always wanted to go to Paris. Now that we’re here it’s not the way I envisioned all those years ago.”
James gave a sad smile as he thought about the similar relationship he had with Olivia.
“Your relationship with Lionel reminds me of my own.”
“Long story short, I was in love with my boss, but I knew her job would always come first. We would always argue, but at the end of the day, I knew I could always trust her. She always had my back, despite my actions. Olivia was one of a kind. I hadn’t met another woman like her, which is why I still find it difficult to move on after her death. I still miss her with each passing day, which is why I needed to get away from London for a while; there were just too many memories.”
“I’m sorry for your loss, James.”
“Don’t be. I’ve come to accept the fact that everyone I love leaves me in the end. I think I’m meant to be alone, but it seems you have been given a second chance at your relationship, Jean, and I’m sure whatever you decide it will work out for the best.”
Jean’s voice caught in her throat, and her next words came out as a whisper, “You’re probably right.”
James gave her a warm smile. “Of course I am.”
Jean let out a small laugh, and James felt his heart rate increase at the sound. It was like music to his ears; soft, yet vibrant and full of warmth. He couldn’t help but think it reminded him of Olivia’s laugh. He would never forget the day when he returned from one of his missions and her blue eyes lighting up in amusement at seeing his new hairstyle that was bleached a hideous shade of blond. It was only when he had left her office after their debriefing that he had heard her laughter, so vibrant and beautiful, echo behind her office door.
James mentally slapped himself for even thinking such thoughts. There was only one Olivia, and she was now dead. He kept glancing at Jean out the corner of his eye, admiring her beauty. The way that she continued to laugh made the lines on her face more pronounced especially around her eyes. Lionel was an idiot in his mind, he didn’t even realise what he had in front of him. If their roles were reversed he would spend every waking moment he had with her and let her know that she meant the world to him, much like Olivia.
It was another few moments before James stopped outside the front of his hotel.
“This is us,” James said, seeing Jean’s eyes widening.
“You’re staying here?”
“So am I.”
It was James’s turn to be surprised, yet he couldn’t contain the slight thrill at that small piece of information.
“Looks like we’re closer than we originally thought. Hotel wise I mean.” Jean quickly backtracked not wanting him to get the wrong idea.
James wished the first part was true. “Looks like it. Shall we?”
Jean watched his back as he started to walk into the hotel; she didn’t miss the sadness, or was it disappointment, in his voice at her first statement. She bit her lip unsure of what was happening. She could see the man was still in mourning, but at the same time, she felt like a teenager with her first crush.
She didn’t know what to make of this new development as she followed after James, then waited with him for the receptionist to hand over the key to his suite.
Jean could feel butterflies in her stomach at their closeness; she was nervous; feeling emotions she hadn’t felt in the longest time, and it alarmed her how fast this man was creeping into her heart and taking over her senses.
“I’m only on the second floor, so shouldn’t be too long. I’ll drop in the bags, and then we can go look at some of the sights. Only if you haven’t changed your mind and still want to of course.”
“No, I haven’t. I’m actually looking forward to it.”
The smile that James gave her took her breath away, and she found herself smiling back.
Once the bags were dropped off in James’ hotel room, they made their way back outside unsure of which way to go.
“Any preferences of what you would like to see?” James asked Jean, deciding to let her pick their first destination.
“How about we start at the Eiffel Tower, then we can go from there?”
Jean made her way towards the taxi rank when James stopped her. “We can take the boat, that way we can see more of Paris as we go.”
Making their way to the harbour, James bought their tickets, much to Jean’s protests. The boat wasn’t big, but had a line of seats for passengers to sit and a plastic dome covering overhead, but the port side remained uncovered for passengers to stand if they wished. They both decided on sitting for the time being.
“It takes us to Paris’ major landmarks so it will be easier for us,” Jean told him as she looked up from the brochure with a smile.
“Sounds good” he returned her smile, not wanting to tell her that he had seen most of the landmarks in the first week of his trip.
As the boat started to make its journey to the first destination, passing by various green trees and buildings that were softly being illuminated in golden hues caused by the sunset, Jean kept her attention on the scenery. As the light reflected off her making her look even more beautiful, James couldn’t stop staring. Jean must have felt eyes on her, as she turned and gave him a shy smile.
The voice of the captain filtered through the speaker informing them they were approaching their first destination. Jean turned away and saw the large steel structure in front of her. It was truly quite amazing. She had always wanted to see what the fuss was about it, but now she understood.
Disembarking from the now docked boat, James held out his hand for Jean to take, and helped her onto the pier, and then they started to walk towards the main square with James’ hand still grasped in hers. The surrounding ground area was bustling with adults and children, most of whom were watching a Punch and Judy show.
“Come on,” Jean told him excitedly.
They stood behind the seated children with the rest of the adults, watching the show with amusement. They both chuckled when Judy clonked Punch over the head with her baton.
“Do you know how many times I’ve wanted to do that to Lionel, and sometimes Alistair?”
James looked at her in amusement. “No, how many? And who is Alistair?”
“Too many to count. As for Alistair, he’s a friend. Well to start with he seemed to have an infatuation with me before Lionel and I decided to rekindle our relationship. I acted on his attention to try and make Lionel jealous. Only my plan worked a little too well, so much so, that he sent me a gorilla-gram.”
James’ eyes lit up in amusement at that piece of information. He could only imagine Jean’s face at the time.
Once the show had finished they stood at the base of the Eiffel Tower, looking up at the height.
“Will you be all right going up?” James asked her.
“I think so.”
James gave her hand a reassuring squeeze and led her over to the entrance.
“Lift or stairs?”
“Could we take the lift?” Jean asked hesitant. “I don’t think at my age I will be able to make the climb.”
“You would be surprised by what you can do, Jean,” James told her softly.
Before Jean could question further, James lead them towards the lifts. Upon entering, she noticed the sign in front of her and quickly read it over realising that they would have to take it to the second floor before changing lifts if they wanted to go to the top. The lift was open design, which was starting to make Jean feel nauseous.
Once on the second floor, they looked out over the horizon, taking in the view. It really was quite beautiful. After a few moments, they made their way into the second lift, which would take them to the top of the steel structure.
If they thought the view on the second floor was beautiful, it was nothing compared to what they saw at the top. There was a slight breeze in the air, and the view stretched on for miles, overlooking the fountain garden below. It really was quite a beautiful city. Jean looked over at James, noting the peaceful look on his face as he stared into the distance.
Following James’ gaze, Jean realised that she had enjoyed herself more in the short period of time with him than she had with any of her time spent with Lionel. Jean bit her lip, wondering if her and Lionel’s time as an item had indeed passed. She wasn’t the same woman and he wasn’t the same man as they had been in their youth. Time had changed them, perhaps for the better. She would have to speak with Lionel at some point as it wasn’t fair on either of them.
“Are you all right?” James asked, seeing the mixed emotions flash over Jean’s face.
“I’m fine, just thinking about a few things. It does clear your head standing up here; almost calming in a way.”
James wanted to ask her what she was thinking about, but decided not to press her further; he didn’t want to upset the older woman.
“Should we go and see what else Paris has to offer us?” James asked.
“Yes, as much as I like it up here, I do miss the solid ground.”
James chuckled at her answer as the two of them made their descent back to the ground.
They continued their trip around Paris, visiting Notre Dame and the Louvre; losing track of time, just enjoying the scenery and each other’s company, before deciding to head back to the hotel.
The walk back was made in silence, each trying not to think what it would mean.
“Are you going to talk with Lionel?”
Jean let out a sigh. “I think I need to. Today made me realise a few truths that I think we both need to address between us.”
James saw the sad smile Jean had aimed his way; knowing himself what she was going through at having to lose Lionel again in some way.
“If you need to talk afterward, you can come and find me.” He gave her a comforting smile.
Once back in the hotel, James walked Jean to her door, and let go of her hand with regret.
“Thank you for today, James.”
“The pleasure was all mine, Jean. Take care of yourself.”
“You, too, James.”
Jean felt her breath catch as he leaned in and placed a soft kiss on her cheek, before whispering into her ear.
“You know where to find me, should you need me.”
They broke apart, and Jean gave him one last smile before entering her room. James watched her door for a few moments, before making his way to his own room.
Once inside, he closed the door behind him and leaned against it, trying to keep the image of Jean in his mind. He didn’t know what to make of these new emotions he was feeling. It felt like he was betraying Olivia’s memory as he thought of his evening with Jean, but at the same time, he could hear Olivia’s voice telling him to move on with his life and not hang onto the past.
Not knowing what to do, he walked into the bedroom and started to pack, wondering how Jean’s conversation with Lionel was going.
Jean entered her room, noticing Lionel was now awake and sitting on the bed.
“How were the sights?”
Jean had to stop from rolling her eyes at his depressed mood.
“Lovely, thank you. I met a charming young man who came with me.”
“His name wasn’t Alistair by any chance was it?”
“No, it wasn’t.” Jean threw down her bag and removed her coat trying not to raise her voice. “Look, Lionel, I’ve been thinking.”
“This should be good.”
“I don’t think this is working between us. We can’t seem to see eye to eye on most things and this trip has proven that.”
“What are you saying, Jean?”
Jean gave him a look of sadness, knowing this could end badly.
“I think it would be best if we remained friends rather than be in a relationship.”
“Oh, I see,” Lionel muttered softly.
“I’m not saying this to hurt you, but the truth of the matter is time has changed us, Lionel. We were naive and foolish to think our relationship could just pick up from where we left off. We were two different people back then, and everything seemed so much simpler.”
“As much as I hate to say it, you’re right. I was going to say the same thing to you funnily enough. Aren’t we a pair?”
“Well, we certainly were back in the day,” Jean told him fondly.
Lionel let out a laugh. “We certainly were.”
“We’ll be all right won’t we though, Lionel. Friend wise I mean.”
“Yes, I think it will be nice to have a friend.”
Jean sighed with relief. He’d taken it better than she had originally thought he would.
“So, tell me about your day.”
Jean took a seat beside him, and told him everything; about bumping into James, and their boat ride to all of Paris’ landmarks. Lionel listened and tried to hide a smile as she spoke about the man she had met.
“He certainly seems the charmer.”
Lionel saw the sad look fall over her face, and he realised she had feelings for this man, even if she hadn’t realised it herself.
“Jean, do you like him?”
“Weren’t you listening to me? Of course, I do.”
“I mean do you like him as more than a friend.”
Jean stared at him as if he had grown a second head. Did she? It would explain a few things, but she was an old woman. What could someone as young as James ever see in her. Not to mention the poor man was still mourning over the woman he had lost. Everything seemed confusing; she didn’t know what to think.
“Perhaps, but I’m old, Lionel. It wouldn’t be right, and he probably doesn’t feel the same. Besides, he is still mourning over the woman he loved and lost.”
Lionel tried to stay out of relationship business when he could, as it was always messy, but he cared about Jean, and her well-being. Things may not have worked out for them romantically, but he did care about her as a friend, and he wanted her to be happy.
“From the way you spoke about your day, it seems he does. As for him mourning, you may be just what he needs to help him try and move on with his life. Don’t waste time like we did. Go and see him.”
“You know, Lionel, for someone who claims they don’t know about relationships, you are doing a good job.”
“Yes, well, just don’t tell Alistair. The man will be more insufferable than he already is.”
Jean laughed. “You’re probably right.”
“You’re a good man, Lionel.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
“I try. Now go and speak to James. There’s a show coming on that I want to watch.”
Jean stood, and made her way to the door, before turning to look at him.
“Will you even understand it?”
“Probably not, but it will be a good sleeping aid.”
Jean chuckled, and left Lionel to it. It felt like a weight had been lifted off her chest. Making her way back to James’ room, she hesitated at his door, before plucking up her courage and gently knocked.
After a few seconds the door opened, and James gave her a surprised look.
“May I come in?” Jean asked hesitantly.
“Of course.” He stepped back to let the older woman in.
“Did everything go okay with Lionel?”
“It did. Surprisingly, he felt the same, and we decided to settle on being friends.”
James gave her a smile. “I’m glad it went well, Jean.”
“There was something else, something Lionel said.”
James saw that Jean was nervous, and offered her a seat, which she gratefully took.
“If I tell you, you will probably hate me.”
“I could never hate you, Jean.” James took her hands in his, encouraging her to continue with whatever it was she had to say.
We’ve only just met, and I know you are still mourning over the loss of Olivia. I just… my thoughts are all over the place. “I know you probably think I’m crazy…”
“I don’t think you’re crazy, Jean.” I’ve been having the same thoughts, but I don’t think I’m ready for another relationship just yet. Olivia was a huge part of my life.”
“I understand, James.”
“But for the time being, I think we should get to know each other better. There are things about my past and work that I can’t tell you, Jean. It’s for your own safety as well as my own. I’m not the man you think I am, and once you get to know me, you may not like what you see.”
“And what is it you do exactly?”
“I can’t tell you. Not yet. Perhaps in time if you still have those feelings for me, I’ll tell you everything, but for the time being it’s better if you remain in the dark.”
Jean didn’t know what to make of this new piece of information. It seemed that there was more to James than meets the eye.
“I’ll take your word on that, James. But I hope you will be able to trust me enough to tell me when you’re ready.”
Jean looked down at her lap, unsure of how to proceed. “So, what do we do now?” Jean asked curiously.
“We’ll take each day as it comes. I’m not rejecting you, Jean, far from it. When you bumped into me on the street, I could feel myself falling for you. You were so beautiful, and reminded me so much of Olivia. I think that’s why we need time. I don’t want you to feel you are a substitute for her, but maybe with your help, I will be able to finally move on.”
She could feel her cheeks blush at his admission, only to be cooled down by one of James’ cool hands caressing her cheek, which caused her to look up at him.
Jean could feel her heart beating in her chest as she watched James lean in and place a small kiss on her lips before pulling back.
“Once I’m settled back in London, perhaps we could go for dinner, then go from there.”
“I think I would like that, James.” She gave James a loving smile, before looking around the room.
“Do you have any paper?”
“Yes, give me a minute.” Jean watched as he went over to the desk, then returned with a memo pad and pen.
Jean quickly wrote down her details and gave it James. “Feel free to call me anytime, and we can arrange something.”
James took it with a smile. “You can count on it, and before I forget…”
Jean watched as he took the memo pad and pen from her, then quickly scribbled his phone number and address, before ripping off the sheet and passing it over to Jean who carefully folded it and kept it in her hand so as not to lose it.
“There is something else I wanted to ask you, James.”
“Would it be okay if I can stay here for a while? Perhaps we can start the getting to know each other process.”
“I think I would like that,” James told her sitting back on the couch and wrapping his arm around Jean’s shoulders in a one-arm hug causing her to unconsciously lean into his embrace.
They didn’t know how long they would have to wait until the next time they would see each other, but for the moment it didn’t matter. They would enjoy the remaining hours they had together, because until that time came, they knew that they would always have Paris.