It was proving to be rather a rough trip. They once again had a plane full of rugby players, but these seemed to be the testosterone-fueled shouty types, not the drunken happy vacationing sportsmen types. Carolyn had elected to sit this flight out, Douglas was not about to waste his wit on a bunch of gorillas, and Martin was secretly afraid of being the first ever captain to be caught in a headlock by a passenger (the memories of his school's rugby players were still a little raw).
So that left Arthur. He seemed so cheery that nothing could faze him; he smiled through literally hours of shouted abuse. He would spend time in the flight deck when he could (even he wasn't actually enjoying the trip), but whenever one of the flight attendant calls went off, he would be right back out in the cabin, with a smile on his face and a tray in his hand.
He came back to the flight deck after serving dinner in the cabin, covered in small bruises and mashed potatoes from all the times he had been tripped walking down the aisle.
"You know, chaps, these guys aren't the brightest around."
Douglas and Martin let the impact of that statement set in for a moment. Someone being stupid by Arthur's standards was usually an insult reserved for single-cell organisms.
"What makes you say that, Arthur?"
"Well, they ran out of the good insults, so they're just using some that don't make any sense! One big bloke called me an S-O-B, but I wasn't crying at all."
Douglas raised an eyebrow.
"You have clearly not been properly schooled in your profanities. SOB is an acronym, not an enthusiastic recitation of the spelling of 'sob'. It means 'son of a bitch'." Douglas lazily turned back around in his chair, waiting for the next stupid comment.
But none came. Both he and Martin turned back to see Arthur standing stock still. His trademark open smile was gone. His face was turning red. He even seemed to be curling his hands into fists (although with the thumbs tucked on the inside; a sure-fire way to break a hand during a punch).
"…Arthur, are you alright?"
He nodded stiffly.
"Oh, yeah, I'm fine. Just fine. Absolutely brilliant. Tell you what, I think I'll just head back to the galley and check on the, on the, on the desserts. Be right back."
And he turned on his heel and left. Thankfully the two pilots were not left with that cliff hanger for very long. Barely five minutes later, the plane was full of the crash of metal, the sound of yelling voices, and one high pitched shout of "What did you call my mum?"
"So let me get this straight. You had to make an emergency landing. Not because of weather conditions. Not because of any sort of technical malfunction. Not even because you just fancied a little time in Paris. But because you started a riot inside a plane."
"I didn't start it! Ask your son who started it!"
"Yeth, Muum, Thkippuh dinndn do enythung."
"Arthur, stop talking and hold the ice still. You are missing rather a lot of teeth."
"Thowwy. Oh, wayd, thowwy. Thowwy. Thowwy!"
"Stop. Now. I am very angry at you, young man, but I will have plenty of time to yell at you at home. Who I really want to talk to is this charmingly bruised oaf sitting in front of me. What happened, Douglas, got bored of verbal sparring, so you decided to test your old boxing moves on our passengers? If you were really so tempted to hit something, why not Martin?"
"I couldn't hit Martin, because he was too busy flying the plane. I heard a commotion in the cabin, I decided to investigate, and I ended up thinking that it would be rather a nice gesture to extract your son from underneath a pile of rugby players. You know, as a sort of early Christmas gift."
"Yes, Arthur, a very early gift. What should I have let happen, Carolyn? I generally thought that airlines frowned upon sitting back while their staff is killed."
"Not sitting back is one thing. Rolling up your sleeves and diving in is an entirely different matter."
"Yes, but wouldn't you know they had a strange tendency to act as a sort of team. Fighting one meant fighting fifteen, and I was fully willing to fight one, so I had to accept the repercussions of my choice."
"Ah, there's the magic word. Repercussions. You assaulted passengers. Not well, of course; they came out looking far less meaty than you two. But you responded to verbal abuse with physical abuse, and this is not one you can walk away from."
"Buh Muum, I-"
"Now, Carolyn, I believe you will find that you are in the wrong here. True, Arthur's decision to dump a tray of potatoes and gravy on a passenger's lap was not, strictly speaking, standard protocol, but it hardly counts as assault. They weren't even hot."
"Thatth becawse the micowavve ith bwoken."
"Intent aside, the potatoes in question were not hot or in any other way particularly harmful. The passenger's response, however, was very harmful, with the current state of your son's face standing as evidence. Everything after that can be called self-defense."
"You haven't mentioned yourself much in this little story. Unless you and Arthur are closer than I think, someone hitting Arthur does not allow you to strike in self-defense."
"Oh, I tried to talk to them calmly, I really did. But wouldn't you know, they just wouldn't listen, and I caught a spare blow in there somewhere. Voila, self-defense! And as you so kindly pointed out, they came out looking much better than us, so I don't imagine their claims of defense will go over well. And besides, Martin's assaulted a passenger before. A child, even."
"Why did you need to bring that into this! I had to land the plane alone, shouting over you lot just to speak to the tower, and get out before those goons thought to get into the flight deck!"
"Yes, it was so very inspiring, the way you ran for your life, screaming."
"Screaming for help, for emergency services! My plane had just erupted into a gang fight! I think I had plenty of reasons to be upset!"
"Shut up, both of you! Now, I have to go and continue talking to those lovely gentlemen from the police, and you lot are to do nothing but sit here and bleed. Is that understood?"
She walked away, thinking about what this would do to her insurance and how long it would take to get the blood out of Gerti's carpeting. She was interrupted by the heavy footfalls of Douglas catching up with her.
"I thought I told you to stay seated."
"And I didn't. Will wonders in this world never cease? I just wanted to tell you not to be too hard on Arthur. He was fine until one of them took a jab at you."
"Does he honestly believe I need defending? And especially by him?"
"He doesn't get to be the defender very often, for incredibly valid reasons. Do what you have to, but let him have a bit of his moment."
"…Alright. But do understand this means some of my anger towards him will end up transferred to you."
"Of course. But do remember to save a little for Martin, or he will feel terribly left out."
"Just how high pitched was his scream?"
"I think some of the glass on the warning lights may have cracked from it."
"How did I ever end up with you lot?"
"Because we're the best you could get. Isn't that just depressing?"
"Not as much as you might think."