Saturday morning Douglas came into work and promptly sat down to wring his hands. He was in early for once, and had the porticabin all to himself. No doubt Carolyn would make a fuss about Douglas being early, and Arthur and Martin… well, Douglas didn’t care about anyone at the moment except for the latter.
He had thought his date with Martin had gone fairly well, but the decision wouldn’t be revealed until Monday, when MJN was returning from a weekend in Greece, where their client was conducting some business and was paying rather splendidly for MJN to spend those days with her instead of returning and coming back for her. Martin and her had really hit it off apparently. Douglas wasn’t sure if he should be worried about their relationship or not…
Anyway, Friday night Douglas had met his Captain at his door and had suffered through a thorough quizzing by three of the ten students that lived in the dorm building with Martin. Eloise, Jessica, and Norbert all had Paths, and familiars, so they were the ones that felt companionship to Martin. But once the quizzing was done, Martin, fairly embarrassed, and Calliope, unfazed as usual, followed Douglas to his Lexus and the date actually began.
Douglas had chosen a fairly cheap pub, and Martin was able to talk Douglas into letting him pay at least half the meal. They talked amiably about the witches living with Martin, which Paths had chosen them and such (they were at the school of agriculture, so, naturally, the Path of Plants had chosen them), until their server had come asking them what they wanted. Once they ordered, they began talking about Carolyn and Hercules, and also Arthur and Pippa, and then Snoopadoop and Rumpelsmoosh, and then when the food came they moved on to Douglas’s daughter, then Martin’s family, and then Douglas tried to explain football to Martin (which was on the telly in the bar area), and then they had coffee and chocolate cake for dessert, and then they split the fee for dinner and Douglas took Martin home.
“Thank you, Douglas,” Martin said at the door, putting his hand on Douglas’s chest before the other man could lean in to kiss him. “I’ll… I’ll have my answer to you on Monday.”
After that, Martin had vanished into the building.
Douglas went in that Saturday morning feeling apprehensive. Could he wait three days for Martin’s answer? Goodness, he hoped so.
Carolyn and Arthur soon came in through the Porticabin door, and Carolyn indeed made a few quips about Douglas being early for once in his life. Douglas made a calm retort back to her, asked Arthur to make tea, and then went back to his thoughts.
Martin came in a few minutes later, and said good morning only to Carolyn and Arthur. He nodded curtly at Douglas, who had said good morning to him.
Carolyn noticed this exchange and raised her eyebrow at Martin, who shrugged his shoulder. When Carolyn turned her apprehensive expression to Douglas, he put on a confused face and shrugged, shaking his head.
“All right, then,” Carolyn said after a few moments of thought. “Apparently you two are playing the Quiet Game with one another. Miss Kennings will be here in a few minutes, so you better get the plane ready for her. Once the contracts are all set we’ll be off.”
“Skip, is it true?” Arthur asked in his usual excited way, “Are you and Douglas playing the Quiet Game? Can I play?”
Martin sighed, “Arthur, can you even be quiet for more than a second?”
Arthur thought about it, “Now that I think about it… no.”
“Pity,” Douglas quipped, getting up from his chair.
“Right… I’ll go do the walk around,” Martin said to no one in particular, quitting the premises.
Carolyn was upon Douglas in a moment, “What was that all about? Not that I care, but if there is a problem in my flight deck, I should know about it…”
Douglas rolled his eyes just a little at this, “Sir thinks in mysterious ways.”
“Is this about the date yesterday?” Arthur asked in his few moments of infinite wisdom.
“What date?” Carolyn asked, looking from her son to Douglas and back again.
“Douglas and Martin had a date last night. They’ve been talking about it in turns all week,” Arthur replied. “Something about Martin feeling appre— apprehend—um… not up to dating Douglas, and Douglas allowing him a couple days to think about it only if they try one date.”
Carolyn smiled slightly at this. “And the time Snoopadoop sprained her ankle wasn’t a date?”
“Neither him nor I knew that was a… date,” Douglas replied smoothly.
“Pity,” Carolyn replied.
“I think its brilliant that you two are together, Douglas,” Arthur suddenly blurted.
“Oh, we’re not dating just yet,” Douglas replied. “By Monday I’ll have my answer, though.”
“You seem confident he’ll say yes,” Carolyn replied, her eyebrow quirking.
Douglas blinked, “Well, I am a perfect Sky God. Why would he say no?”
“He’s Martin,” Carolyn replied. “He stutters and overthinks everything. He might think himself unworthy of you or something. He shouldn’t, though.”
Douglas wasn’t sure if that was compliment or not, but he didn’t get to ask because the redheaded businesswoman they were flying to Greece walked through the door.
The flight deck on the way to Greece had been fairly quiet, though Arthur had tried to break the silence by playing a short-lived game of ‘I Spy,’ which lasted only three minutes before Douglas guessed that what Arthur spied was the sky just outside the front windows. He went to keep their client company after that, and they conversed amiably about the weather and Miss Kennings’s work before Carolyn shooed him back into the flight deck.
Once they landed, Carolyn gave them their hotel keys and let them go off. She decided that Martin and Douglas rooming together at the moment would be a bit of a wrench, but her pilots were big boys and could handle themselves. Though, if Martin said yes to Douglas’s advances she could save a lot of money for a single room… But she also hoped Martin would say yes because both men deserved to be happy. She had been there for most of their little awkward roundabout dance that people with crushes often do, and something good should have come out of it, the sooner the better.
As soon as Martin was let off he quietly meandered to the hotel ahead of Douglas, Arthur, and Carolyn, and once in the hotel he set himself up on his bed and read his book. Douglas paced. And paced. And finally decided to go for a walk around the city.
The employees of MJN reconvened for dinner, and then went off in separate directions again afterwards. Douglas found a movie on one of the three channels they got on the telly in the room, and Martin turned in early, putting earplugs in as he put the blanket over his head and sort of burrowed. He did that every time, with Calliope under the covers somewhere, purring away. The whole effect made it seem like Martin was the one purring, however, which was the more endearing part of it.
Douglas knew it was love when he started staring at Martin sleeping and finding it adorable instead of just wanting in the younger man’s trousers. He was in definite trouble with the other Sky Gods at this point.
The next day was even worse. Miss Kennings (“No please, just call me Hattie.”) asked them to her hotel for breakfast (which she paid for, thank goodness), and once she noticed what was going on between the two pilots and asked about it, she only smirked at Douglas’s explanation and continued talking to Carolyn. Miss Kennings was a witch as well, and her familiar (a discreet hedgehog peeking out from the redheaded woman’s handbag) must have gotten the details from Calliope, because the small animal stared Douglas down through the rest of the meal.
After breakfast Martin and Hattie went walking together as two witches dying to get to know one another. Douglas was dying to know the professional young lady’s Path, so he asked Arthur, who had chatted with her on the ride over as well (Douglas never thought to ask the woman herself, however).
“Communication, like Skipper,” Arthur had replied, a smile on his face. “I think that’s why she’s so successful and she’s so… well, she’s only 26 years old!”
“Isn’t that cheating?” Douglas asked. That was a rich question coming from Douglas.
“She puts a sort of glamour in her words when she presents her ideas, but they’re really good ideas. She redid the entire environmental programme for her company and now they have the smallest carbon footprint they’ve ever had… or something like that. It’s brilliant!”
That’s what a successful Communicator looks like, Douglas thought as Martin and Hattie returned.
“Her familiar’s name is Diana,” Arthur said, “And she talked to me! Can Calliope do that?”
Douglas blinked, remembering the cat’s sad tale, “Yes. But she’s rather picky about who she talks to.”
“Pity. Diana’s really nice! I bet Calliope would be as well…”
Douglas was hardly listening to the young steward as he watched Hattie and Martin hugging at the entrance to the hotel MJN had booked for the weekend. The pool area, where Arthur and Douglas were chatting, was close to the entrance of MJN’s rubbish hotel.
Arthur soon went back in the water, and Douglas went back to his room, and was showering as Martin came back.
One more day until Martin’s final verdict. And Douglas was dying of suspense.
“But you’ve helped your aeroplane so much!” Hattie cried.
The young woman had joined MJN for a lunch along the pier. It was a lovely, warm day, so the women were wearing shorts and tank-tops, and the men were wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts. They walked along the pier first, and Arthur and Hattie put their feet in the water at the end of one of the docks. That was when Hattie burst out.
“But Carolyn can’t pay me, isn’t that right, Carolyn?” Martin asked.
“No…” Carolyn replied, sitting down next to her son, “I’m afraid we don’t get enough money to warrant playing both pilots.”
Hattie thought for a long time. “I could put a word in. Maybe my company can sponsor you. You’d have to put our logo on your plane under the MJN one, but that’s all you’d have to do…”
“Really?” Carolyn asked, a bit suspicious, as usual.
“I’m a Communicator, Miss Knapp-Shappey. I can get into straight girl’s knickers,” Hattie replied, which made Martin laugh. “Oi, watch it, Crieff. I can get into gay boy’s pants as well. Douglas wouldn’t like that.”
Both pilots were strangely silent after that, but Hattie looked rather pleased with herself.
After their walk, Carolyn and Hattie locked themselves in Hattie’s ritzy hotel room to work out the details. Hattie chatted with her boss over her webcam, and he told Hattie to bring Carolyn down to the Bristol office, and that some company officials would look around the airfield where the plane was usually kept a such, but it looked like MJN would get a steady stream of money just by painting Hattie’s company’s logo on one of GERTI’s wings.
“You have friends in high places,” Carloyn told Martin over dinner. “She says she’s happy she’s got a gay best friend like you, Martin, who’s also a Communicator.”
“I’m everybody’s gay best friend,” quipped Martin. “Their gay pilot-in-the-attic, at least. Norbert’s their gay witchy best friend.”
“That’s brilliant!” was Arthur’s interjection.
Martin took over chatting with Hattie on the way back to Bristol, where Hattie lived. Martin was then going to spend his day off at his mother’s, but first, he had to break his silence with Douglas.
The wait was killing said man.
Martin took his sweet time about it, waiting until Hattie left (with a wink), and then Carolyn and Arthur. Then he continued filling out his logbook at the Bristol porticabin, and Douglas began pacing again.
Finally, Martin got up, closed the logbook, and put away his things, Calliope got up from her lounging position and dropped to the floor rather regally. Douglas stopped pacing, watching the red haired pilot. Said pilot went straight to the door, and Douglas had enough.
“Martin!” Douglas shouted. If he were any younger (maybe three years old) he might have stamped his foot.
Martin turned to him, still saying nothing. If Douglas had looked, he would have seen Calliope’s little smirk as she curled herself around her human’s leg.
Douglas and Martin stared each other down. When it was apparent that Martin still wasn’t going to speak, Douglas made a strange strangled noise before he said, “Do… have you come to a decision?”
Martin looked away rather… coyly?! Then he stepped forward towards Douglas, kissed him chastely on the mouth, and said, “Let’s do this. I’m ready.”
And before Douglas could reply, the Communicator and his familiar were out the door.