When Arthur was done with the safety procedures, he went to the Economy cabin to check if all the passengers had their seatbelts fastened and their life jackets on. The hijackers, who up until that moment had been standing in the rear galley, were now crowding the aisle to get to First Class and sit down, just as it had been instructed by the flight attendants. Lovino was banging on the lavatory door to get Feliciano to open it. When Arthur approached him, he heard the loud sobs coming from inside. Arthur gently pushed Lovino aside.
“Feliciano, it’s Arthur. I know this is hard for you, but you have a duty with all this passengers, you must not forget that. We all go through some rough times and right now we are going through one hell of a rough time, I admit that, but we are going through it togetherand we will get out of this together”
He could hear the sobs had stopped and the door opened revealing a teary eyed Feliciano. Arthur smiled sadly, he wasn’t used to showing much affection at work, but this was a special situation, so he hugged Feliciano awkwardly and rubbed his back while he sobbed in his shoulder. Lovino rolled his eyes at his brother’s mental weakness, but internally, he was glad that he was feeling better now.
“Now, put yourself together. Remember what I said to you at the beginning of the flight? We must behave the way it’s expected from this airline”
Feliciano said, wiping his nose with the back of his hand. Arthur smiled and patted him on the back. Sadiq appeared behind of him and Lovino did everything but growl at him. Arthur turned around when he put his hand over his arm.
“Come with me”
Arthur gave a last squeeze to Feliciano’s shoulder before following Sadiq to the cockpit, where the pilots were struggling to restart the engines while Francis was trying to tell Malta air traffic controllers that they were in an emergency and in desperate need to land.
“I’m terribly sorry, sir, but the Maltese government has given explicit orders to not let you land in our country...”
The air traffic controller said, with a thick accent, through the radio. Francis clenched his teeth and cut him mid-sentence.
“Malta, we have 52 souls on board! Now, the hijackers had threatened to blow up the plane and if he does, it will be your responsibility!”
“I’m sorry, flight 103, but...”
“Besides, we have only ten minutes of fuel, we have lost two engines and we are currently losing altitude, our only other option would be a water landing but we don’t have enough fuel to wait until dawn so, you want it or not, we are coming in for landing”
Francis said and Arthur felt proud for the frog for standing up for himself and not being a coward like he always was. He was acting manlier than he really was and that was kind of arousing to Arthur... wait, did he say “arousing”? Oh my God. He snapped out of his train of thought by shaking his head and speaking up.
Francis turned around, pushing his luscious hair back, as it was blocking his vision. He should really think of cutting it short, but he wouldn’t be himself without that long, beautiful hair that defined him from the other pilots of Pan Atlantic. When he entered a room, the people turned to look and admire his beauty. Francis smiled, remembering the old days... well, they weren’t old per se, because the last episode of his obvious display of beauty had been during the pre-flight briefing before the flight that took them to Europe from New York.
“They won’t let us land, but we are doing it anyways. I don’t want to risk any lives by ditching in the dark”
He looked at Sadiq, who was genuinely nervous for this situation. He had been trained to be prepared to die for Allah, but... he rather die in an explosion which would kill him instantly, not drown in the sea, in the darkness, and without possibility to swim to the shore. If the plane broke apart in the water, there was an immense possibility of them all drowning, especially if they had their seatbelts on.
“I’m not doing this for your people, mind you”
Francis said harshly at Sadiq, who pursed his lips, narrowed his eyes and nodded before going to the cabin to look for a life jacket and return to take a seat in the cockpit. Arthur approached Francis.
“Are we... are we going to be able to land?”
He asked in a whisper, with his hand over his chest, closing the top two buttons of his shirt, which had become open in Beirut due to the heat inside the cabin. He was afraid of the answer Francis would give him, and the latter was afraid that the answer he would give him would be correct.
“I don’t think so”
Arthur bit his lower lip and went back to the cabin.
Meanwhile, on the plane heading to Malta, the blonde major was sleeping, unbeknownst to him the danger that his loved one was enduring. Not at all unconscious about it, as he had heard what General Honda had said to the Colonel through conference and that had upset him so much, that his brother had to give him a sedative so he would calm down and that put him to sleep and dream about that beautiful moment he and Arthur shared the first night they spent at their new apartment.
Alfred was not used to sleep anywhere outside of his house, so when he and Arthur decided to move in together in an apartment of their own, he couldn’t sleep at all. It was almost one o’clock in the morning, and there were bags darker than the sky outside beneath Alfred’s blue eyes. He rubbed his face and sighed annoyed. Apparently, he had sighed so loudly that Arthur woke up and turned to look at him.
He asked, his voice rough from sleep. Alfred, without taking his tired eyes off the door that was across the room, nodded. Arthur got up slowly from the bed and fixed his pyjamas before leaning over the bed and kissing his cheek. The Brit left the room to get Alfred some warm milk, but after half an hour, they realised it didn’t work, so Arthur tried something his governess had done several times in his childhood back in London.
He took out his music box and began to sing, while Alfred laid down on the bed and he caressed his blonde locks softly. The music began playing and Arthur cleared his throat.
What do you see?
You people gazing at me
Alfred looked up at Arthur with a confused expression. He wasn’t singing his usual go-to song, this one was different and, yet, slightly familiar.
You see a doll on a music box
That’s wound by a key
And then he recognised it! It was from his favourite film of his childhood! How could he had not recognised it at first? He couldn’t think any longer, because the entrancing music and Arthur’s fingers tangling slowly in his hair blurred his mind.
How can you tell?
I’m under a spell
I’m waiting for love’s first kiss
Arthur leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on his young lover’s forehead. Sometimes, he couldn’t believe that such a marvellous and beautiful person would be interested in being with someone so boring, tasteless and old like him. It was something that had kept him awake most nights during the first day of their relationship.
Turning around on this music box
That’s wound by a key
He began to twirl Alfred’s cowlick with his index finger and thumb slowly as he heard the soft breathing coming from his lover, who was, slowly falling asleep.
I’m turning around and around
When Arthur finished the song, Alfred was already asleep. Suddenly, he felt someone gently shaking him awake. He opened his eyes slowly and saw Matthew with his usual serene expression in his face as he tried to wake his brother up while the Colonel was speaking and waiting for him to wake up fully, so he could explain to his unit what was going on.
“Are you awake, Jones?”
The Colonel asked sternly upon seeing Alfred yawn and rub his eyes.
Alfred said sleepily. Matthew got up and sat down in his seat. Gilbert watched his every move.
“We had just received confirmation that the plane is in distress. It’s running low on fuel and will attempt and emergency landing in Malta”
“What about the Maltese authorities? I though they wouldn’t let the plane land”
Matthew piped in.
“They won’t... at least, that’s what we know. Anyways, the British commandos are on their way and will arrive at Malta an hour before we do. Let’s just hope the plane makes it that far”
Yeah, Alfred thought, let’s just hope.
Back in the cockpit, the pilots had given up on restarting the engines one and two, and had set the autopilot to fly at a lower altitude, now able to see the lights of the coast. Time was running out and so was the fuel. Francis had decided to not stress the number three engine, which was operating slower than the fourth, so he pulled the third trust lever back two inches. They had left behind the possibility of a water landing, and Francis hoped they could make it far enough to land at Luqa, or else they would crash on the city.
Arthur, even though he knew – although he couldn’t see through the windows – that they had passed the sea and were now overflying Luqa, kept the cabin prepared for an emergency water landing. He couldn’t order the passengers to take off their life jackets now. He grabbed his bag – a company cerulean bag with the white logo of Pan Atlantic in the middle – from the First Class closet and took it to the rear galley, in the mean time, checking if the passengers had their seatbelts fastened and their life jackets in their place. A man grabbed his hand. He looked scared and was sweating profusely.
Arthur didn’t know how to put it, and he had simply, detached himself from whatever it had to do with the cockpit because he wanted to be with Feliciano and Lovino in the rear galley and not up front with the other hijackers. He was overwhelmed and tired of them.
“We are going to land, so, please, fasten your seatbelts”
He said before walking over to the galley. The passenger didn’t seemed to be calmed by that statement, but at that point, Arthur didn’t care, he just wanted to be as far away from the hijackers as he could be. They weren’t being loud and obnoxious like they had been in the previous legs of the trip, because they were genuinely scared. When he got to the galley, he found Lovino standing against the lavatory’s door drinking a glass of water with his life jacket on, looking down at his brother, who was on his knees on the floor praying with a rosary. Arthur squeezed his shoulder and sat down in the jump seat, opening his bag.
He took out a small beige teddy bear with a red lace wrapped around his neck and the words “You are Grrr-eat” embroidered in red in his tummy. Arthur smiled sadly and felt his eyes get a little teary, so he wiped them with the back of his hand quickly, as to avoid anyone from noticing. That had been the first gift Alfred had ever given to him, on their first date.
In an amusement park.
Yes, that was Alfred’s idea of romance.
Arthur remembered that day, it had been a couple weeks after the Fourth of July and it was very hot outside, so Arthur had gone against his principles and dressed in some jean shorts – that were a little too short for his liking – a white tank top and flip-flops. He had to roll his eyes upon seeing Alfred, standing at his doorway, wearing the same outfit. He had been going on and on about on their way to their date on Alfred’s car.
“Oh, come on, Artie. We look good... even though you look better than I do. Dem legs...”
He whistled, making Arthur blush profusely. He smacked him across the head with a red face. Alfred laughed.
“What? Can’t I say that my boyfriend looks hot in those shorts?”
Arthur had paused and turned to look at Alfred with a surprised expression in his face and a light, fading blush tinting his porcelain skin. They had never talked about their relationship, obviously, because it was their first date.
“You-You called me your boyfriend”
Arthur stated and Alfred shrugged, his eyes on the road all the time. He didn’t consider it to be a big deal, apparently.
“Yeah, I mean, we are going out together and not as friends. So we are doing it as boyfriends”
Apparently, too, his logic didn’t work quite like Arthur’s did, because, to the Englishman, they were beginning to know each others, but being called someone’s “boyfriend” was something that thrilled him. Although he wouldn’t let it show.
Arthur was pulled out of his deep thoughts when they arrived at their destination. Arthur was very excited and was about to open the door, when Alfred did it for him. the Brit blushed and mumbled “git” under his breath, but took his boyfriend’s hand nevertheless and climbed off the car. With a smile on his face he looked up to see where he had brought him and his smile dropped when he saw that they had parked in an amusement park.
The blonde flight attendant asked his American boyfriend with his thick eyebrow raised. Alfred just laughed and patted him on the back so hard that all air left his lungs, but, of course, he didn’t mean harm.
“Aw, come on, Artie, it’s gonna be fun!”
Alfred said loudly, flailing his arms around like crazy. Arthur sighed and rolled his eyes before accepting whatever Alfred had in mind for that pseudo-date. The young American ran inside like a kid and Arthur followed him behind like the grumpy father. The Brit managed to catch on to Alfred, who was standing in front of a claw crane, trying to take any of the stuffed animals inside.
“Come on, bitch!”
He said, sticking his tongue out the side of his mouth. Arthur found it cute and began to think about how cute Alfred was, with his slightly chubby body and childish demeanour. It felt as if Arthur would have to look after the younger man like a babysitter, rather than enjoy a healthy, mature relationship with him. Just when he was thinking about the pros and cons of having a relationship with Alfred, he pulled out a little teddy bear with a triumphant pose.
“Here... take it with you to China”
Arthur was left with his mouth hanging open and small tears forming in the corners of his emerald eyes. He was supposed to go on a flight to China the following day and he had told Alfred that, when he had asked him out for a date. He grabbed the teddy bear and, throwing away his gentlemanly persona, hugged it close to his face, nuzzling it with his nose with a smile on his face. He grabbed Alfred from the shoulders, surprising him, and kissed him in the lips not caring if anyone around could see them.
That had been the first fond memory he had of his relationship with Alfred and he had kept his bear in his bag ever since that moment, travelling with it all around the globe.
It was probably the last memory he would have of Alfred.