The loneliest people are the kindest.
"This is excellent, Douglas! Did you really cook it yourself?"- Martin
"I did indeed."- Douglas
"Mm, it's lovely."- Martin
"Carolyn, Douglas, this is Diego, a fine engineer, a useful light baritone, and a man with an inexhaustible knowledge of how Spanish animals go. Diego, do your Spanish cockerel?"- Martin
"Yup, that's my favourite one."- Martin
"So, you want me to divert? Is that it? You want me to ditch in Nowheresville Normandy? You want me to tell Carolyn I do have the absolute cast iron excuse she demanded for diverting and it goes Miaow."- Martin
"Yes, please."- Arthur
"All right, fine. Fine! All right. It's only a job. There'll be other jobs."- Martin
"But Martin, we've only got twenty minutes before they shut the tower. He can't possibly fix it."- Douglas
"Certainly he can! A man who can imitate a Spanish squirrel helping forty-eight men mow a meadow is capable of anything."- Martin
Martin had lived alone (well, he said alone, but it hardly was, considering he shared a house with multiple students and probably some rodents) for a long time.
It probably wasn't as long as it felt like, probably some sort of weird thing about time that just made it feel longer, but to him it was ages.
He lived in a pathetic attic and had been through three generations of students, none of whom had gotten very close to him, whether it was because they knew they'd be moving on, or because he was just weird, Martin could never be sure. Maybe that was part of it; the knowledge that he was stuck there with nowhere else to go, not enough money to find somewhere better, nor was there any hope of that in the near future.
Perhaps everyone knew that and it was why they avoided him. No one wanted to be stuck around a loser who wasn't going anywhere. Because that's what he was. A loser. A man who flew an airplane for free, failed his test multiple times, and was now a man with a van to pay the bills- and barely pay them at that. So when Martin looked at himself like that, it was no wonder he was so lonely.
So he knew what it felt like when he saw a homeless man on the street, was kind to him when everyone else ignored him. He even had a conversation with him, albeit an awkward one, because that's just what Martin does. He couldn't afford to buy him a coffee, or give him some spare change, but Martin always nodded his head at him, or stopped to say hello.
Because he knew how lonely it was. And knew that he was only one step away from that life.
The saddest people smile the brightest.
"Good morning, good morning, good morning gents, teas, coffees, keys, toffees!"- Arthur
"Morning Arthur. You seem a little low-spirited…"- Douglas
"Do I?"- Arthur
"Brilliant! I love helping!"- Arthur
"Oh well come on, no one's truly happy."- Douglas
"I'm truly happy!"- Arthur
"No, Arthur, you are cheery. No one's interested in the secret of true cheeriness."- Douglas
"But that's not true. I'm fairly often just completely happy. Like, for instance, when you get into a bath quickly and it's just the right temperature, and you go "ooooh". I mean really no one gets any happier than that."- Arthur
"What a depressing thought."- Martin
"No, no, it's not though, because those sort of things happen all the time, whereas you're hardly ever, you know, blissfully happy with the love of your life in the moonlight, and when you are, you're too busy worrying about it being over soon, whereas the bath moments, there's loads of those!"- Arthur
Arthur had told Martin and Douglas the truth, that he really was genuinely happy most of the time. It was just the little in between times that were the worst, because it was those times that all the bad and terrible things managed to sneak him and remind him how unhappy he could be. Because that's what happened when you were so happy all the time, that the unhappy times had a way of packing all that sadness in and making it so much worse.
It hurt when Arthur remembered he was a clot (and a clod) and still lived with his mum, even though he was 29, because they actually liked living together, and it wasn't at all like that, and that he didn't even try to be a pilot and just failed and that he was stupid, stupid, stupid.
It really didn't matter that he was the one who thought about putting an otter in the fridge, or that he guessed what was in the box in less than twenty questions, or that he discovered the recipe for fizzy yoghurt, because in the end he was still a clot.
A stupid boy. With a not brilliant father.
But he had mum, and Skip, and Douglas, and Snoopadoop, and GERTI, and all the guys at the airport. They reminded him why he was happy most of the time. Because life was, in general, brilliant.
The most damaged people are the wisest.
"Well, you remember that time when there was that thing you didn't know whether or not I could do and then it turned out that I couldn't?"- Douglas
"No, nor do I."- Douglas
"Did Douglas do something clever and now everything's fine?"- Arthur
"Well Douglas will sort it out."- Arthur
"I dunno! He'll think of something clever. Like he always does."- Arthur
"Has it occurred to you that maybe Dougal is always right?"- Douglas
"Hah, it's definitely occurred to Dougal."- Martin
Douglas really couldn't believe that Arthur couldn't find anything to tease him about, but then again, this was Arthur, the man who, without fail, saw the best in everyone and thought they were brilliant. Even when he provided a list, Arthur had just stared blankly at him, like it was meaningless. Douglas had given him a list of perfectly good ammunition, a list that anyone else would have taken hold of and run with, providing enough material easily to wear him down. But Arthur was too kind for that. Still, Douglas was hardly without flaws, without damage, without immense failures.
That whole thing about learning from mistakes? Definitely true. It was no wonder Douglas Richardson was the cleverest man around, in the sky or on the ground. That's what happened after three failed marriages and getting fired from a job you'd had for years. It made you a bit cynical, and a hell of a lot cleverer.
Or just appearing that way. It could go either way at MJN, considering the people who he was surrounded by. It wasn't hard to seem clever when compared to a man who didn't know what an apocalypse was.
And then there was the drinking. What was it now, ten years sober? Douglas had been damaged then, physically, mentally, emotionally. He'd stopped to make the marriage work, or at least try, seeing as his current wife at the time was pregnant.
He managed to quit drinking, but the marriage couldn't be saved.
So Douglas buckled down, worked hard to let nothing get to him, to always be the one to fix things with a sarcastic comment, or a witty remark, so he'd always been needed and no one could see how damaged he really was.
The loneliest people are the kindest. The saddest people smile the brightest. The most damaged people are the wisest. All because they do not wish to see anyone else suffer the way they do.
At work it was always the same. Douglas was the clever one, Arthur was the happy one, Martin was the kind (yet neurotic) one, and Carolyn was the alpha dog who looked out for her pack.
And even though they all saw through each other (except for Arthur, since he was actually kind of a clot) they let each other pretend.
It was best that way.