Chapter 3

Moving into Douglas's small guest room was surprisingly easy. This was partly because Martin was half asleep; far too asleep to feel awkward, and partly because Douglas was strangely unobtrusive. He helped him to the guest room with a minimum of fuss, letting Martin hobble on his own this time but staying close in case he stumbled, which he did, three times, despite the lack of any real obstacles through Douglas's hallway. There he deposited Martin on a small but freshly made up bed, his crutches leaned against a nearby wall and his bag on the dresser. And once all had been deposited, a quick explanation given for the location of the toilet, and shoes had been deftly removed before it could occur to the wearer to protest, he left him to fend for himself.

With no students or Douglas to gawk at him and a lovely bed all ready for him, Martin let himself sink into oblivion. Going to sleep was easy.

Waking up, on the other hand, in Douglas's small guest room was predictably disconcerting. Being awoken by a pain in his ankle in a strange bed in a strange house and then having to remember the entirety of the day before was…strange. Surreal. Yesterday had been an awful day; he was certain of that. His ankle was testament to that. But then there were all those little bits of yesterday that didn't fit within Martin's world view as the sort of thing that could happen to Martin. Surely he only dreamt that Carolyn had come by and said that, far from punishing him for their unscheduled and doubtless expensive flight, she was going to pay him. And that she had achieved this economic feat by taking it out of Douglas's pay, something that should have infuriated the man, when nothing in his actions since had indicated fury. Unless…aha! Douglas was furious and had kidnapped him here to…save him from breaking his neck and give him a good night's sleep? No, surely he was biding his time, waiting for his revenge. Which definitely did not explain why Martin smelled bacon.

Before he could completely wrap his head around the situation, there was a knock on his door and then Douglas's surprisingly awake and cheerful voice, despite the fact that it was definitely in the AM.

"Martin? Are you awake yet? Breakfast is ready. Can you eat with your meds?"

The sudden knock made Martin jump and then he had to hold back a yelp when that jarred his ankle so he barely heard anything Douglas had said, just an impression of a familiar deep voice with a hint of concerned interest. Just enough got through to remind him he had relief from the agony throbbing furiously from the injured joint and he scrambled through pockets looking for it.


"I'm fine, Douglas," he managed to answer, just has his fingers finely found the bottle and he pulled it free. He stared bleary eyed at the label for a few minutes until his brain woke up enough to make sense of the small print. Food was not only allowed, it was recommended.

There was a glass of water helpfully placed by his bed that Martin was almost certain hadn't been there when he went to bed. On the other hand, a whole kitchen's worth of glasses could have been left the night before for him and in the state he had been in he never would have noticed. Whenever it arrived, Martin gratefully used it to gulp down his pills before he even contemplated getting out of bed.

"Martin?" Douglas was knocking at the door again, "I hate to disturb my esteemed captain but Carolyn does seem to prefer her pilots to arrive at some point in the morning rather than the afternoon."

"What? Oh god, what time is it?" Martin's hands flew fretfully over his rumpled clothes before realizing that, despite not having changed out of his outfit from the day before, what he had been wearing the day before had been his moving clothes rather than the respectable outfit a captain might be expected to wear. He needed to change. He needed to eat. He needed to shave, to wash. He needed to sit down because the world was suddenly spinning and he had dropped one of his crutches and there was a moment when he was absolutely certain he was going to miss the bed and fall and it was going to hurt.

And then warm arms had him and he was engulfed in a warm familiar scent that somehow screamed safety to all his senses despite his common sense telling him that Douglas was anything but safe. He relaxed in spite of himself, allowing Douglas to ease him back onto the bed, his voice a soothing rumble against his chest.

"Easy, Martin, I didn't mean we had to be off this moment."

"We can't both be late, Douglas, not today, not when it's going to be official!" It was only after he said it that Martin remembered that his 'official' pay would be coming out of Douglas's paycheck. "I mean, well, I suppose you'll have less reason to turn up on time, I mean, I'm not endorsing it, I mean, well it wasn't my idea, you know, I didn't tell Carolyn to…Okay, I did suggest to her, but not from your…and then she just appeared and told me and left and…oh God…I think I told her about our flight yesterday. She's going to kill us. She's only paying me so she can make us pay for our funerals and then she's going to kill us and I'll never fly again."

The rumble behind his back warmed his chest with Douglas's soft laugh, and belatedly Martin realized that he had somehow wound up practically in the other man's lap, still firmly clasped against his chest. He pulled away immediately, making it awkwardly back to his feet. Douglas let him go.

"I can't be late," he repeated again, firmly avoiding looking back at the other man, his hands awkwardly fumbling with one crutch. The other had fallen on the floor but before he could make a fool of himself trying to retrieve it, Douglas had grabbed it up and handed it to him.

"Martin," he said, his voice at once familiarly condescending and strangely gentle, "It's only 6:30. We don't have to be at the airfield for another hour."

"Oh. Right. And you're already awake?"

"I'll have you know, I am a naturally early riser." Then, at Martin's scoff of utter disbelief, he continued with "It's facing the hideous prospect of wasting a perfectly good morning with honest labor that I despise. Breakfast?"

"You didn't have to cook me anything," Martin answered awkwardly, suddenly reminded that he was an unexpected house guest in the other man's home.

"Nonsense. I made myself breakfast and I always make too much. Not quite used to bachelorhood, I suppose. It will be nice to have someone to eat the surplus."

"Oh…" Martin wasn't quite sure what he was meant to say to that. Douglas seemed strangely open this morning. Was he sad about his wife? Or his daughter…Martin knew she had been visiting the weekend before. He didn't look sad, but then, this was Douglas. The closest he ever came to showing his true feelings was by acting especially cross when he was hurt. He wasn't acting cross either. It was confusing. In the end, Martin settled on the neutral, "Thank you," and followed him to the kitchen.

Breakfast turned out to include bacon, eggs and tomatoes on toast with an offering of orange juice, tea and coffee. It smelled mouthwatering and was certainly far heartier than Martin's usual breakfast, which usually consisted of toast or a bagel if it was anything at all. Whatever qualms he had about eating the other man's food disintegrated with the growling of his stomach.

As it turned out, he needn't have worried about feeling like an intruder anyway. Breakfast with Douglas was comfortable and strangely familiar. Martin wondered at it, until he realized that this really wasn't the first time he had spent his morning with Douglas, just the first time it happened to take place in Douglas's house. Or perhaps his medication was to blame. The pain had finally begun to recede to a dull throb but his head also had gone a bit muzzy.

Then, suddenly, it was somehow an entire half hour later and he was quite certain they were going to be late and he wasn't wearing his proper uniform, and his uniform wasn't pressed or neat because it had spent the night in his overnight bag and, oh god, what if Douglas hadn't even packed it?

It turned out he had. And that it was horribly wrinkled. Martin was still staring at it miserably when Douglas appeared in the doorway, impeccably dressed as always.

"Oh dear," he said, "And no time to iron or we will be late."

"This is all your fault!" Martin couldn't help but wail in distress; he had never gone to work so rumpled in his life, not even when it meant washing his clothes every other day because he didn't have enough nice shirts to last the week, "You don't want me to look like a captain! And Carolyn will realize what a mistake she made and give you your paycheck back and remember that we flew yesterday, and I won't ever fly again, and you did it on purpose!"

And suddenly he had to sit down, feeling perfectly miserable. Perhaps that third pill had been too much after all, even though everyone knew they set the dose so that it was safe for eight-two year old grannies or fifteen year old lightweights to take.

"Oh my, did I do all that?" His voice was light and slightly sarcastic, but there was a hurt quality to it as well that matched the look in his face when Martin finally turned his head to look at him. Remorse crashed through him heavily.

"No. No, of course not…you save me from a fall and let me stay and eat your food…I just…I…sorry."

"Well, if Sir will stop drowning in misery for one moment, I might have a solution for you."

Five minutes later, Martin was indeed wearing a perfectly pressed, freshly laundered shirt fit for a proper pilot. A proper pilot who was at least two sizes larger. As it was, he looked rather like a boy playing dress up in his father's clothes.

"Ah," Douglas said, surveying his handiwork, "Perhaps I underestimated exactly how much smaller than me you would be…I had hoped with the way it had shrunk in the wash…"

"It's…it's fine, Douglas," Martin answered, attempted to smile and failing completely. Perhaps tucked in, and with his jacket?

In the end, his desire to be on time won out over his desire to be impeccably dressed. If nothing else, Martin had achieved that morning a feat which Carolyn had been unable to perform in nearly the entire time they had known her. He got Douglas to arrive at work, not only on time, but five minutes early.

Author's Note: This chapter is deplorably late in coming, and I really am terribly sorry. Somehow, after knowing exactly how I wanted the story to begin, my muse completely abandoned me and I had no idea how I wanted it to continue. I'd like to say that muse is re-found and this story will continue on schedule…but I know myself and as much as I fully intend for that to happen, I'd rather not promise anything. I will simply promise it's not abandoned and the rest will come. And thank you, everyone who reviewed the first two chapters; I may rarely answer (I'm shy. It's weird, I know, especially since we're all practically anonymous, I just…get shy and awkward and over think things) but I really do appreciate them, and they can encourage me to remember a story I've…not so much abandoned as had on the back burner. So. I'll try to get the next bit out more quickly. And if you do notice any glaring mistakes or out-of-characternous (or bits you really liked) please let me know.