Martin is halfway to his spot in the car park when he hears the distinct sound of someone crying.
It's a long, long walk to get to his car, and Martin could certainly park in the pilot's lot (he is Captain, after all) but it's so bloody expensive. Parking way out here saves him nearly 100 quid a month and so far no one is the wiser.
He usually walks out with Douglas then waves him on and meanders his way away while Douglas revs his Lexus, rolls down the window, and zooms home to his perfect life.
They landed in the last traces of daylight, but proper safety checks and shut down procedures kept them (him, not Douglas) working for a good hour and a half after landing, so it's almost fully dark now.
Martin stops when he hears the crying rise a little. The thing is: he really, really understands crying in the middle of the car park late at night. He's done it more than once (but likely fewer than ten times) after a rather rotten trip, and when faced with the reality of what he's actually coming 'home' to. Tonight is rather a big one, anyway; he's just lost out on what should have been several thousand pounds from Mr. Burling. And, naturally, it had been his fault.
Martin would really like to get some food, collapse onto his tiny mattress, and sleep. But-
What if someone really needs his help?
"Is someone there?" he calls softly.
The crying stops.
Martin stands where he is, listening for movement, noise, anything. He's torn between giving this unknown stranger some privacy and the giant wave of empathy that passes through him.
"Can I help?" he calls, a little louder. Still cautious. "I'd like to help."
He knows that voice.
He hears a loud sniff and low cough.
"I'm coming over there," he says firmly, walking away from his own car, in the direction of Arthur's voice.
After a false alarm (how many bloody purple cars are there in England, let alone a two-bit car park in Fitton?), Martin finally finds Arthur leaning against his car with his satchel upturned on the pavement in front of him and his shoulders slumped.
"I can't find my keys," Arthur says sadly as Martin approaches. He doesn't know what to do with his body (should he hug Arthur? pat his shoulder?), so instead Martin puts his own bag on the ground and leans back against the car next to Arthur.
"Surely that's nothing to cry about."
"I know you're Arthur. That's why I said before: 'Arthur?' Because that's your name." Martin is dreadfully confused.
"So why did you call me Shirley?"
"I did no such thi- " Martin's mind replays the last few bits of the conversation. " -oh."
He turns to look at Arthur, but Arthur's face has crumpled and tears are falling steadily down. He's clearly trying to smile at Martin, but the corners of his mouth wobble and his eyes are bright with tears. Martin feels a rush of warmth and all that he really, really wants at this moment is to protect Arthur from all of the crap that Martin himself fights against every day.
He pulls Arthur into his arms and holds on tightly. "Shh... " he murmurs. "I know your name. I'm sorry I said it wrong before."
Arthur wraps his arms fully around Martin, buries his face in Martin's shoulder and sobs. Full, wracking sobs that jar their bodies and break Martin's heart with every breath. He just rubs Arthur's back and whispers nonsense syllables into his hair then presses his lips against his temple to soothe Arthur's hurt.
Martin's overwhelmed at how desperately good it feels to have Arthur pressed against him, the sweet smell of his hair filling his nose. When Arthur shifts and they're pressed fully against each other, desire tugs deep inside him and Martin feels slightly uneasy. This can't be right. It's certainly not gentlemanly. One doesn't get aroused by comforting a co-worker-- no, a friend.
After a long breath, Arthur's cheek slides against Martin's as he pulls back marginally, his lips almost brushing Martin's jaw. His eyes are red, but vividly alive, and Martin can summon absolutely no need to look anywhere else.
Martin feels it again, that need to protect Arthur, but he's got to separate it from the thoughts inside his head that go a little like this: kiss him. kiss him. and sound far too much like Douglas for his comfort.
"So..." Martin doesn't know what to say, really. "How are-- are you--"
"It's alright," Arthur says. "Just everything with Mr. Burling got to me, yeah? And then I couldn't find my car and then the tires were low, and then I couldn't find my keys. But now you're here."
"But what does that matter?"
"That was a proper hug," Arthur tells him. "You're good at hugs. It doesn't really matter that I can't keep a girlfriend and I'm a right idiot and we didn't get tips because... well, because it doesn't. Not when you're here."
Arthur watches him for a long moment, breathing slowly. He's kind of... oddly... beautiful.
Martin's stomach drops into his shoes because Arthur's just licked his lips and Martin's deathly afraid that if Arthur doesn't find his keys really soon and get into that bloody purple car and drive off... then Martin is going to do something more than slightly embarrassing.
"Skip." Arthur breathes it, right into the air between them.
Martin can't say anything; the air is almost literally caught inside him. He reaches out slightly, touches Arthur's cheek, tries to smile.
Arthur beams at him.
He can't hold on anymore. Martin reaches for Arthur, touches his hip, tries to take more than a shallow breath, and then, then -- oh god -- they're kissing.
The first press of their mouths is fiercely electric; Martin can feel it shoot up through the top of his head. He's certain planes flying overhead would have noticed; it must have interfered with their radar. But also, fuck their bloody radar. They're proper Captains with proper airlines, and Martin's not going to do anything right now, not when he's in the middle of being quite thoroughly (and rather skillfully) snogged.
Arthur's mouth is warm and wet; Martin's quite content to let him suck his upper lip for hours if it meant that everything else could melt around them and his insides could feel so delightfully soft. They kiss for a long, long time: slow brushes of lips alternating with bruising kisses that Martin can barely wait to feel sore from.
A bright light blinds them both; they step back from each other, blinking.
"A car," Martin says.
Martin shifts from one foot to another as his eyes adjust to the change in light. He's suddenly insecure, but swallows it down.
"Why don't you come home with me?" he asks quietly, taking Arthur's hand.
Arthur grabs his satchel, following Martin through the maze of the car park. When they finally reach his van, Martin unlocks the door, tossing his bag in and gesturing for Arthur to climb in.
He pulls the door shut behind them, discarding his jacket and cap and pulling off his tie. Then he pulls off his shirt, shoes, and trousers and slides into the warmth of his tiny bed.
Martin reaches a hand out to Arthur, who has been standing, stooped, by the door all the while, his eyes wide.
"Come to bed," he says quietly. "We'll sort it all out in the morning."
Arthur looks around once more, then pulls off extraneous clothing and complies. It takes a bit of maneuvering to get the two of them to fit comfortably on the small mattress, but it's worth it to hear Arthur's sigh of contentment.
Martin presses a kiss to Arthur's cheek and closes his eyes. He feels absurdly, incongruously happy.
"Do you, um... live here?"
"Shhh... " Martin wraps his arms more tightly around Arthur and buries his nose in the soft, sweet-smelling hair at the top of Arthur's head and closes his eyes. "Go to sleep."
Because really, that's a story for another day.