He laughed, but he cried, too, and thank God nobody saw him in that state, given that some hijackers were asleep in the First Class cabin, but most of them were in the aisle of Economy. One of the terrorists that were enjoying the drink service, Sahir al-Hamawi, a refugee in Syria that had been a follower to the Palestinian cause ever since he was twelve and learned to handle a weapon, approached Arthur and put his hand over his shoulder, lowering his head so he could be on the short flight attendant’s level.
He also spoke good English and could make himself understandable to the crew, which was crucial in a hijack of an American or British airliner. Arthur raised his head to stare into the deep brown eyes of the terrorist. He was very handsome and, under different circumstances, he could have even considered him attractive and – as Feliks would say – a “hunk”.
“We won’t hurt any of you if you cooperate; we just want to recover the lands where our ancestors had lived for decades and this is the only way for the imperialist State of Israel and its allies in the western world to negotiate with us. I promise you that, once our demands have been met, you will all be released”
That didn’t calm Arthur at all because he, despite not knowing much about that subject, he was sure that the foreign policy of both Israel and the United States consisted in not negotiating with terrorists, even when 180 lives were in jeopardy somewhere over the Middle East. Arthur sucked in a deep breath and smiled the way he was taught to do while training as a flight attendant. He left the First Class cabin and squeezed through the hijackers standing in the aisle until he got to the rear galley, where the Vargas brothers where sleeping on the jump seat.
Arthur smiled sadly at them and poured himself a glass of water when Lovino woke up and got up from the seat, carefully strapping his brother in so he wouldn’t fall if there was turbulence. Arthur offered him another glass of water, but he rather had orange juice, so he poured himself a glass.
“How is everything in the cockpit?”
Lovino asked while Arthur poured himself another glass of water, their backs to each other in the small galley. The blonde flight attendant sighed.
“Everything’s alright, I guess. The captain is still a git, even with everything that’s going on. The other pilots look as if they don’t exist and Sadiq is there with them”
Lovino turned around, confused. He rested his body against the counter.
“Sadiq? Who the hell is that?”
Now, Arthur turned around to face the Italian flight attendant.
“The leader of the hijackers who came on board in Beirut”
“Oh... you call them by their name? I just call them bastards”
Arthur chuckled and turned his back at Lovino, drinking his water. Lovino sipped on his hardly cold orange juice, casting a glance at his sleeping brother.
“You swear too much”
Arthur said, half amused and half serious. Lovino hummed, his mouth full of juice. He left the half empty glass in the counter, noticing that it didn’t even move. The engines were so smooth.
“You know I had a boyfriend that thought that was sexy”
Lovino said nonchalantly and Arthur turned around. He never figured Lovino to be gay, but, then again, when he came out of the closet to his family back in the United Kingdom, they were pretty surprised and pissed off. That’s when he decided to apply for a job that would keep him as far away from them as it could. Lovino quickly realised what he had said and tried to cover it up.
“I meant “girlfriend”... a girlfriend thought that was sexy”
“Don’t mind it. I have a boyfriend, too. His name is Alfred, he is an American... and he might just be on his way”
He said, jokingly but with hope in his eyes. Lovino sighed and looked down at his feet which kept shifting from side to side. He then admitted that he had had a boyfriend back when he was stationed in Rome, but upon moving to the United States, they had to break it up because he – Lovino – didn’t believe in long-distance relationships nor did he think they should exist. He had been pretty battered by their breakup, so he had given up on men completely and was trying to see how many women could he bang in one year, he was trying to establish a record. Arthur had laughed loudly at that.
They stood in the galley, talking, while half of the plane was sleeping and flying to an unknown destination. Lovino was sipping on his juice and Arthur his water when he got an idea and put a finger in the air. He grabbed two tiny bottles of vodka and gave one to Arthur, who looked at it like if it was something from outer space.
“Don’t judge me, fairy boy, it helps me relax”
He poured Arthur a glass of juice and the liquor inside before giving it to the Brit, who inspected it before taking a sip, cringing at the strong taste, but, upon looking around at the situations they were in, he drank it all in one sip. Lovino was impressed and perhaps he had judged his stern Chief Steward wrong upon the first impression.
He enjoyed drinking, but he didn’t want to get drunk, especially with a hijacker in the cockpit and a dozen in the First Class cabin – that’s right, they’d cleared the Economy cabin, luckily – but, under the circumstances, getting drunk would make the situation a little more bearable.
He remembered fondly the first time Alfred had got drunk and he had stayed sober. Shocking, right?
It was the morning of the 25th of December 1976 and outside the window of their apartment, they both could see the snow falling from the dark skies and covering New York City in a thick fluffy layer of white. The windows and any glass surface of the apartment were fogged due to the heat provided by the chimney. Arthur had been recently initiated in the Jones-Williams family tradition of wearing matching red and white sweaters decorated with red maple leafs over the white stripes and white stars over the red ones. Arthur had thought it was cute on the inside, but on the outside, he had to maintain his stone façade, so he said, upon presented with his sweater as a Christmas present:
“Oh, poppycock. I won’t wear that!”
Arthur said, waving his hand in the air. Alfred whined like a child and Arthur just rolled his eyes. Matthew paid no attention to his childish brother and addressed to the grumpy Englishman.
“Oh, come on, Arthur. You’ll look so good in this. I promise”
“He would look better without anything at all”
Alfred mock-whispered, for which both Arthur and Matthew smacked him across the head causing him to whine, again, like a small child that had just been hit by the boy he was playing with in the park. Arthur sighed and grabbed the damn thing.
“Ok, I will put it on, but don’t laugh!”
He went out of the living room and into the bedroom, where they had some kind of boudoir with a mirror in which Arthur looked at himself after taking off his vest and putting on the hideous sweater. He sighed, once again, and adventured out, where they twins laid.
“How do I look?”
Arthur asked. He was met with mesmerizing smiles and Alfred came over to him, embraced him and planted a kiss on his cheek, taking him completely by surprise. He turned around, still in Alfred’s arms and looked up at his lover’s handsome face and striking blue eyes behind those cute glasses.
“Why was that for?”
The American answered with his ever present satisfied smile on his face. Matthew admired fondly the happy couple and wished he could have that with someone someday... perhaps Gilbert would be a candidate. Oh, forget it. That would never happen.
“You looked so cute with that, I couldn’t resist”
That simple statement made Arthur blush profusely, tinting his pale face with red. He looked at Matthew and then pecked Alfred’s lips, now surprising the younger man. Arthur sighed, for the third time in that morning, and looked down at the carpeted floor.
“I kind of feel bad for what I’m going to give you as a present”
Alfred was confused, and so was Matthew. Arthur wiggled out of his lover’s grasp and went over to a tall and neatly wrapped box with a bow on top laying underneath the beautifully decorated Christmas tree. He gave it to Alfred with a sheepish expression on his face. Alfred took it and sat down on the floor, unwrapping his present like an excited child, not minding Arthur’s warning.
“This is a bottle”
He said, flatly, upon seeing what was inside of the box. Indeed, it was a black bottle with a golden wrapping on top. He took it out and read something he couldn’t understand. Arthur noticed and read it for him.
“It’s a bottle of Dom Pérignon, the most expensive champagne there is... you... you told me that you never had alcohol in your entire life, so I decided to bring you this. The best in the market, just for you”
Arthur kissed his nose. Matthew got up from his seat, excitedly whilst Alfred kept sitting with his legs spread open and the box with the champagne inside in the middle of them. Arthur was afraid that he had got him the wrong gift.
“Perfect, I’ll bring the glasses”
Matthew went into the kitchen while Arthur kept looking at his disappointed lover, so he kneeled down and whispered something in his ear that cheered Alfred up immediately; something that is not going to be a part of this story, obviously. When Matthew returned with the champagne glasses, Alfred was nervous, he had heard that alcohol was bitter, but Arthur seemed to like it and so did Matthew, only that his brother drank wine whilst his boyfriend was fond of beer... very fond of beer.
Arthur uncorked the bottle and poured a bit into the three glasses. Matthew drank it first, slowly, savouring it and moaning at the taste. He had never had something so delicious and expensive in his tongue, but Arthur had, quite a few times in the past. Alfred drank it nervously, expecting a strong and bitter taste, but, instead, he felt something delicious travelling through his mouth and his eyes opened wide at the new sensation.
“Oh my God! This is delicious!”
Both Matthew and Arthur giggled and, in no time, they were passing the bottle back and forth between the three of them and the room was growing hotter by every drop they had. They had all taken off their sweaters and Alfred had unbuttoned his shirt down to his navel, which made Arthur mentally lick his lips.
“Well, whaddaya say we dance the Conga!? I’m bored!”
Alfred said, at the top of his voice, standing up and opening his arms wide. Matthew laughed unceremoniously whilst Arthur was starting to feel a little tipsy.
“C’mon! Ain’t cha-cha coming out t-tonight?”
While Alfred continued to dance to the old Izumi Yukimura song over the dinner table, causing his brother to laugh loudly, Arthur received a call from the Department of Flight Planning telling him he was on the red-eye special to Honolulu...
... Come to think of it, Arthur remembered a few little moments where Alfred and his’ relationship hadn’t been interrupted by his work. Now, after a couple drinks with Lovino in the galley, he thought that, if they made it out of this situation safe and sound, he would never let his work get between him and Alfred. Never again.
General Honda, son of Japanese immigrants that had not yet quite lost his accent and mannerisms, was talking with the Colonel through the phone from the Pentagon, where he had summoned an emergency meeting to deal with the crisis of the hijacked airliner upon finding out about the news. He was currently telling the Colonel that the hostages liberated in Beirut and the two men in the hospital were being transported to Tel Aviv, where they had landed a couple hours ago. The men were currently in their hotel rooms, ready to meet with Israeli commandoes the following morning.
Alfred kissed Arthur’s face in the picture, which he left in his bedside table before drifting off to sleep mumbling the following words:
“I’m coming to get you, Artie... I’m coming...”
Suddenly, he found himself staring up to the clear blue sky. There was no cloud in sight, but several kites of different colours and the laughter of children playing around could be heard, and a small summer breeze ruffled his hairs, which were being put back in place by Arthur, who was staring down at him with fondness in his beautiful emerald eyes. It was one of the few times that the Brit was not being his usual sassy and grumpy self, even though Alfred loved him when he was like that, because he was even more difficult to charm and he had to work harder. And that was because they were having a picnic at the Champs de Mars in Paris, his lover’s favourite city in the world, the city where he felt at home.
Alfred had got to Paris using Arthur’s buddy pass in the same flight he was working in. They had exchanged cute smiles and glances all over the flight, when Arthur went to the cockpit to serve the pilots, as Alfred was travelling in the cockpit due to the whole plane being full of passengers in both cabins. Later on, when they landed at Charles de Gaulle, he had gone on and on of how he loved being in the cockpit during takeoff and landing. He said it had been “an awesome experience”... and it had, even if the captain had to shut him up several times during the security checks on the ground.
The following day to their arrival, they went to have a picnic at the Champs de Mars – as explained earlier – where Alfred was laying over Arthur’s lap while he sang him a lullaby which always helped him get to sleep.
“... And do I dream again, for now I find...”
Alfred smiled tiredly at Arthur and, then, fell asleep. The last thing he felt was his tender lips against his forehead and a sweet:
“Sweet dreams, my lovely git”
Alfred smiled with his eyes closing and drifted off into dreamland until he was woken up by slender fingers running softly through his locks. He woke up, startled by that fact only to see Arthur sitting next to him in his hotel room bed, looking down at him fondly with those sparkling emerald eyes.
Arthur put a finger over his lips, effectively shutting him up, and continued to stroke his hair with such affection. Alfred was falling asleep again.
Arthur lulled him back to sleep, and when he awoke the next morning, he wasn’t there anymore.
He knew he had to get him back, one way or the other.