Arthur was never going to fly standby ever again.
Sure, it was terribly convenient that his brother was a pilot and could get him tickets a fourth of the price of a regular ticket.
But that didn't do him any bloody good when he spent six hours at the airport because he couldn't get on a flight.
"Aaaah-CHOO!" sneezed the (admittedly) attractive young American man across from him at the gate. The poor lad had been in this mess just as long as him, from the very first flight at six that morning. They had shared brief conversation at Gates 4, 21, and 19, as well as defeated, but optimistic looks every time their names weren't called to board, and it seemed the boy was starting to develop a bit of a cold.
"Bless you," Arthur replied politely.
The man sniffed and shot him a thumbs up. "Thanks dude. Wish they'd turn on the friggin heat, ya know?"
Arthur nodded, despite being quite cozy in his cardigan and coat. "Indeed."
They returned to their own business; Arthur to his book, and the American to his iPhone, until the PA system crackled and the forcibly perky voice chirped through.
"Hello passengers, we would like to start boarding at this time. We will start with our first class passengers, this includes uniformed military, and those passengers needing extra assistance. Thank you!"
The American beamed at Arthur, crossing his fingers on each hand hopefully. Arthur returned the smile nervously.
Premium, Gold, and Silver passengers loaded next, as well as seating groups one through six before finally they announced the standby.
"Standby passengers: Smith- party of three, Lawrence- party of one, Martinez- party of two, and Brody- party of one. Please come up to the podium to receive your boarding passes."
Arthur deflated, and a glance out of the corner of his eyes revealed that the American had as well.
"If you are flying standby and were not able to be seated on this flight," chirped the PA system once again, "please report to the desk, and we'll get you booked on the next flight leaving for your destination."
Arthur sighed, gathering up his things (again), and dragging his feet to the counter, behind the just as defeated looking American.
"Fourteenth time's a charm, right?" he asked. Arthur growled a curse under his breath, and the America laughed. "I'm Alfred, by the way. Figured we might as well introduce each other if we'll be following each other around all day."
"Arthur," Arthur replied, holding out his hand for a handshake, which Alfred returned enthusiastically. "And we best hope you're wrong. I'm sure you're a lovely person, but I'm quite tired of following you around, if I'm to be completely honest."
Alfred laughed, louder and longer this time. "No kidding bro. Same goes for you!"
The next flight started boarding in about a half an hour at Gate 7, on the other side of the airport. Alfred and Arthur walked together in comfortable silence, both determined to get to the next terminal as soon as possible. They arrived with minutes to spare, and sat down next to each other to wait out the boarding process once again.
First Class, Premium, Gold, Silver, one, two, three, four, five, six, and finally, standby. Alfred and Arthur waited literally at the edge of their seats as they called off each party.
"Thompson- party of four, Higgins- party of two, Jones- party of one, and Zimmerman- party of two, if Lisa and Travis Zimmerman could join me up here, please, there is a bit of an issue."
"WOO!" Alfred exclaimed, jumping up from his seat with a punch of victory in the air. "Jones! Right here!" he exclaimed, rushing up to the desk. Arthur sighed, packing away his standby boarding pass, and rubbing his temples. He wasn't overly surprised not to get on the flight, but now he had to be stranded without anything nice to look at, now that Alfred got on.
A sudden commotion at the desk got Arthur's attention, and pulled him out of his self-wallowing. A young couple stood in front of Alfred, apparently arguing.
"Sweetie, go," the man urged the woman, who Arthur assumed was his wife. "Dad will come and get you, and you guys can just hang out until I get there."
The woman shook her head. "Travis, what if you don't get on?" she pleaded. "It's your sister's wedding. It's not fair if I go, and you don't."
"I don't want you here alone without me!"
"I don't want you alone here either!"
"Hey," Alfred suddenly interjected. Arthur adverted his glance to him, his eyes widening in surprise when he saw the look on the American's face. Sure, Arthur didn't know him very well at all, but it wasn't hard to tell what he was about to do. "Excuse me, Miss?" Alfred asked the woman at the desk. "Would you be able to give my ticket to them?"
Bloody hell, who was this guy? Superman?
Everyone in the immediate vicinity froze. Even Arthur, who had a feeling this was coming, was shocked into silence and stillness. The couple moved aside and let the young man up to the counter. The woman glanced at him worriedly out of the corner of her eye as she typed in his information.
"And you're sure about this, sir?" she asked. "There is only one more flight out of here this evening, and it looks pretty full."
Alfred nodded with that infuriatingly handsome grin. "Sure am! Let's get this lovely couple on their way."
After the information had been changed, and the couple thanked Alfred profusely for a solid ten minutes (tears and promises of eternal gratitude included), he came strutting back to the row of chairs, looking far too proud of himself as far as Arthur was concerned. With a smirk, he took the chair to his left.
"They told me I was their hero," Alfred sang.
Arthur rolled his eyes, but even through his glare, Arthur was pretty sure it was obvious he was swooning, if only just a bit. Alfred was a big, idiotic, absolutely beautiful moron, and Arthur wanted to kiss him.
"That was very stupid," he replied instead.
Alfred laughed. "Yeah, probably. They needed to get on more than I did, though." He threw his hands behind his head, far too dramatically to be casual, and grinned slyly at him with the corner of his mouth. Arthur blushed and glared in return.
"What?" he snapped.
"Well, I was just super heroic," Alfred said with a shrug. "I thought you would be a bit more appreciative."
Arthur scoffed, sticking his nose back in his book. "It's not as if you got me on the plane."
Alfred laughed, loud and long, which only succeed in making Arthur blush even darker. "I'm only capable of so many miracles, dude! But tell ya what?"
Pushing down Arthur's book, Alfred's blue eyes shone playfully over the cover. Arthur puffed out his cheeks, hoping his blush wasn't as noticeable as he felt it was, and met them reluctantly. "What?"
"You give me your number, and I'll do whatever I can to get you on the next flight."
Well that certainly wasn't what he was expecting.
Arthur bit his lip, coming to terms with the fact that there was no use hiding his flushing cheeks, and lowered his book to his lap. "My number?"
Losing his bravado, apparently, Alfred's cheeks took on a rosy tint of their own. "W-well, you know," he stuttered. "As sucky as today was, you made it a whole bunch less sucky. And, well, I dunno, I was thinking maybe we could meet up for coffee or something? We're both goin' to the same place and all, I mean if we actually get there and stuff... But if you're not into me, or into dudes, or whatever, I totally get it and- mmph!"
Arthur smiled tenderly, the fingers he placed over Alfred's lips succeeding spectacularly in shutting him up. "Hush, love," he chided, slipping a scratch piece of paper and pen from his luggage. Cautiously removing his fingers, he jotted down his name and mobile number on the paper in his loopy, chicken-scratch (but making special care to make sure it was as readable as possible), and slipped it into Alfred's front pocket. "You get me on that flight, and I'll let you provide me with much more than just a vile cup of coffee."
Alfred smiled dopily. "Y-yeah? I-I mean yeah! T-totally! Awesome! One boarding pass, coming up!"
Exactly one hour later, as Passenger Kirkland- party of one, was called up to the podium, Alfred stood across the gate, a big smile on his face, and his arms waving above his head. Arthur had no idea what Alfred had done to move him up on the standby list, (though he had a sneaking suspicion it involved trading places with each other and sacrificing his own seat-again, even if Alfred vehemently denied it) but he was on his way.
"Arthur!" Alfred called. Arthur paused halfway through the doorway to the jet bridge, and raised an eyebrow curiously. Alfred beamed. "When can I see you again?"
Arthur blushed, perfectly aware that roughly half of the people at the gate were looking at him. "Ring me when you finally make it in!" he called back. Alfred replied with a thumbs up, and blew an exaggerated, embarrassing kiss.
"Then you better stand by!"
It was stupid, and corny, and embarrassing, but Arthur would be lying if he said he didn't have a big, goofy grin on his face the entire flight.
So my grandpa passed away last weekend, and in order to fly back to Chicago for his celebration of life with my family on such short notice, I had to fly standby on my aunt's buddy passes. Hence this story! XD I used to only fly standby when I was a kid, but as I got older I realized it was worth it to pay a few extra hundred then to sit in an airport all stressed out all day. XD Wish me luck flying back tomorrow!
So there you go! :D I promise I'll update Run Fast as soon as I can, but life has been stressful, so I haven't got much of a chance to write. Once report cards and parent teacher conferences are over, I'll be in the clear!
Hope you all enjoyed, and don't forget to review!