Martin held himself stiffly and wouldn't look Douglas in the eye. Douglas looked for obvious signs of injury. None to be seen, but still. He bit his lip and thought of the best way to phrase it.
"Any way we can get them for police brutality, Captain?"
"Um, ah, no, no. Apart from the whole 'being handcuffed and dragged off my feet', they... haven't actually hurt me."
Martin looked wounded. The important thing, however, was that he wasn't, and Douglas didn't have to admit to the momentary weakness of actually worrying a bit about MJN's Captain.
"I'm just saying. You could have got a king's reward for any broken limb. Any permanent injury would have made you a rich man for life."
"Oh yes, thank you for the concern, Douglas."
Martin scowled at him, but it was his regular 'why do I have to put up with this' scowl. Douglas smiled benignly.
"So, the interview?"
Martin's expression darkened again.
"I tried to use my one phone call to reschedule it."
"And I didn't get a phone call!"
"Ah, yes, something about the anti-terrorism laws again..."
"It probably would have been a bust anyway." Martin paused and took a deep breath, evidently struggling with the choice between saying and not saying something. Douglas waited. "The truth is... I hate interviews. I hate the stupid questions, and the puzzles, and the 'what would you do if' and 'where do you see yourself in five years' rubbish. I hate the corporate values that every EasyJet employee has to believe in and stand for."
"And yet, so ardent was your wish to leave us that you were ready to brave all that."
"What? No! I... don't really want to quit, but..."
"Well, after last month and the... feline diversion to Normandy, Carolyn told me... She said I should start looking for another job, so... I did."
"And you believed her?"
"Well..." Martin looked nonplussed.
"Martin, do you believe everything I tell you?"
"No, but that's - well, no offence, but you said it yourself once, you're very accomplished at 'telling your own truth'."
"Yes. Carolyn has about two decades of experience on me, and she didn't see fit to warn you as I did."
"But she was all... angry and furious, and- solemn."
"Were the corners of her mouth turned down?"
"What? Um, I- I don't know!"
Douglas imagined the scene, and decided that Martin would have been too busy losing a staring contest with the portacabin floor.
"You have to learn the tells, Martin. She didn't really want you to leave."
"Well, I thought it was weird that she acted so upset about my interview."
"For one, she hates interviewing people too. Probably not as much as people hate being interviewed by her, but she still wouldn't be relishing the prospect. And for the other, she just wanted to scare you a little. Make you appreciate the job that you have got."
A strange smile appeared on Martin's face.
"Oh, believe me, I do appreciate it at its true value."
"How do you mean?"
"Nothing in particular. Just that it's very hard for a young pilot to get a job, especially as a captain; point well made."
It did of course make sense, especially the part that Martin had oh-so-cleverly glossed over, about the hypothetical young pilot having flunked his exams six times and yet wanting to jump the ranks straight to captain, but Martin's smile still had a strange edge to it, as if Martin, of all people, knew something Douglas didn't. Douglas went over that last idea. Hah, as if! He chalked it up to Martin being strange in general, with a little note to investigate more when the opportunity arose. Now, however, they were finally cleared for take-off.
"There we go, Sir, one day and two missed appointments late. But before we take off - ah, Martin?"
"You won't be breaking out the fire axe, will you?"
"Just asking... I very much intend to make it home today."
"So do I!"