Disclaimer: I do not own Wings or any of its characters.
Note: This story takes place during the beginning of the second season.
"Announcing Sandpiper flight number seventeen from New Bedford arriving through Gate one," said the cheerful voice of Fay Cochran over the intercom. As the passengers unloaded and filed in casually through the doors, Joe pushed passed them and ran over to Helen's lunch counter.
"Helen! Helen, come here," he whispered as he leaned over the counter, glancing frantically behind him.
"Yeah," said Helen. She was busy with the coffee pot and it took her a moment to get away. "What is it?" she asked in her twangy Texas accent, but before she could get a response from Joe, the pilot suddenly leapt over the counter and shoved a surprised Helen beneath the counter.
"Joe, what're you doin?" she shouted, but Joe ducked down just long enough to put a finger to his lips.
"Shh, don't say anything. It's Rowdy Symcox, from high school. He was on my flight."
"Rowdy Symcox," whined Helen. What's he doing here? That weirdo…"
"Quiet! Here he comes," said Joe. He stood suddenly and pretended to be cleaning the counter. The topic of their whispering, Rowdy Symcox, sauntered over to the counter and sat down on one of the stools. He was a tall, lean man with dark, slicked hair and thick glasses. He wore an expensive looking striped suit and a coat. For a moment he looked casually around the terminal, and then he quickly glanced at a menu. He held up a finger and addressed Joe without looking at him.
"I'll just take a cup of coffee and an English muffin please," he said.
"Uh, sure," said Joe. "Coming right up." Joe disappeared into the kitchen for a moment to grab the muffin. He brought it out and poured the cup of coffee. "Is there anything else I can get you?" he asked.
"Yeah," said Rowdy. "Can I get a coaster? I don't like to get my sleeves wet from those coffee stain rings on the counter."
"Okay," said Joe. He looked around for a coaster and couldn't find where Helen kept them. He ducked quickly into the kitchen, and while he was gone Helen grabbed a coaster from the stand behind the counter where she was hiding. She reached up and put the coaster on the counter in front of Rowdy, who was busy watching the terminal and only saw the coaster out of the corner of his eye.
"Thanks," he said, and he turned back to his muffin and coffee. Joe came back out from the kitchen, still having found no coasters. He was about to think of some excuse when he saw that Rowdy had one, so instead he stood and said nothing.
"Say," said Rowdy suddenly. "How long have you lived on the island?"
"All my life," said Joe, smiling pleasantly, then he suddenly frowned as he realized his mistake.
Rowdy stopped and Joe could feel the other man studying his face. Please, please, please! thought Joe. Don't let him recognize me.
"Well, we must have gone to school together then. You look a little familiar, but I can't seem to place you. What's your name?"
"Ben," Joe lied.
"Ben, uh, Fenpinn." Joe said the first thing that came to his mind, and he cringed at his own idiocy. But Rowdy only looked thoughtful as he tried to place the name. "I was home-schooled," said Joe. "You wouldn't know me."
"Ah," said Rowdy. "Well, would you happen to know a Helen Chappel, then?"
"Helen?" asked Joe. "Uh, no. I don't know that name."
Rowdy furrowed his brow. "Well, that's odd. One of my old friends said she worked here."
"Oh, Helen Chappel," said Joe. "Yeah, she's on vacation—she won't be back for a couple of weeks. I'm just filling in for her."
"Ah, so you work behind the lunch counter? Hey, what's with the wings on your shirt? Do you waiters have to wear those too?"
"No, no, these aren't mine. They're my brother's, I just borrowed them. He's a pilot."
"Really? Which airline?"
"Sandpiper, he's the owner."
"Yeah, I came on the Sandpiper flight over here. Very nice plane."
"Thanks," said Joe. "I-I mean, for my brother. I'll tell him you said so."
Rowdy looked at him for a moment, then he sighed. Getting up to leave, he reached in his pocket and pulled out a card which he handed to Joe.
"Will you do me a favor? Give this to Helen when you see her, tell her I'd just like to see her again, catch up on old times. We went to school together."
"Okay, I will," said Joe. Rowdy finished his coffee and hurried out the door.
"He's gone," Joe said to Helen. He dropped his head down onto the counter, relieved to finally be rid of him. Helen remained sitting on the floor, grumbling and huffing about Weird Rowdy coming back to bother her.
Brian walked in through the terminal entrance and sat down at the counter. "Joe, you're on the wrong side of the bar," he told his brother. "But while you're there, can you make me a BLT?"
Helen rose then and leaned over the counter, still nervous that Rowdy might be lurking around. "Rowdy Symcox was here," she said. "I was hiding and Joe was covering for me."
"Rowdy Symcox, from our school days?" said Brian. "No way! Wasn't he that weirdo that was obsessed with you? He had the big glasses and he always stared at everyone."
"That's him," said Helen. "I remember he wouldn't stop calling me. No one else would ever ask me out, so I just used to tell him that I was going out with Joe so he would leave me alone."
"So did he?" asked Brian.
Joe interjected then. "It worked at first, but then he wouldn't leave me alone. He would come over to me in school and ask me all these creepy questions trying to get information about Helen because he thought we were dating. The guy could barely see, and he always leaned in really close when he saw someone. He creeped me out, too. Oh, by the way he wanted to give this to you, Helen." Joe tossed the card onto the counter and laughed to himself.
"It's not funny, Joe," said Helen. "I don't want that creep messing with me again after all these years."
"Relax, Helen," said Joe, calmly. "I told him you were on vacation, so he won't come in here again until his flight out, you're safe."
"Well, this card's going out with the garbage," Helen snatched it up and suddenly paused. She looked at the card again and brought a hand to her mouth in shock."
"What is it?" asked Joe.
"I don't believe it," said Helen as she stared at his card. "Rowdy R. Symcox…Philadelphia Orchestra…conductor."