A/N: This was just a little one-shot I wrote last night because the idea wouldn't get out of my head. And because I keep having Series Four feels, ha. The title is from the phrase 'In for a penny, in for a pound'. I don't know if it's used outside of the UK, but it just means that if you're doing something in part, you may as well do it all the way; so it seemed appropriate for this story. I had a lot of fun writing this, and I hope you do too, even though I so obviously have no idea how the lottery works. XD Anyway, enjoy!
In For a Pound
Strangely, the atmosphere at MJN Air had improved now that Carolyn had announced that they had most definitely, absolutely and without hope of reprisal, gone bankrupt.
Things had been noticeably bad for some time, of course, with the company getting fewer and fewer jobs and Gerti needing more and more repairs. Martin had proved himself to be a fairly competent emergency engineer more than once, probably because of all his practice with the van, but most of his fixes had only been temporary and sometimes the plane was just too broken. Their income had been steadily decreasing, and their debts had been piling up. Six months ago, Carolyn had brought them all into this office- even Arthur- and advised them, all of them, to start looking for other jobs. For various reasons, none of them had had any luck, and here they all still were. Three months ago, Douglas had agreed to waive his wages until Carolyn could pay him back and was beginning to feel the strain. Things had been rather tense at MJN recently. Everyone had been stressed, irritable, depressed. Even Arthur had been affected by the gloom. Somehow, the announcement that the worst had come had released the tension. In the end, knowledge was better than uncertainty. On Monday morning administrators were going to come and deal with liquidising the firm. The airfield was closed on Sunday, so that Saturday had really been their last chance. They had all sat together in the office all day, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for the final big booking that might just save them; but it had never come. When the clock hands hit five and the office was officially closed, they all cheered and groaned. At least the waiting was over.
"Well," Carolyn said, "That's it. The end of MJN Air."
"At last." Douglas sighed. "This company had a more drawn out death than Rasputin."
"Rasputin?" Arthur asked.
"Yes, he was a sort of mad monk. He was stabbed, poisoned, shot four times, and drowned before he finally died."
"Oh. Well, maybe someone will still call, maybe they just didn't notice the time." Arthur suggested, but even he didn't seem to have any real belief in what he was saying and didn't protest when they told him it wouldn't happen.
"Might I suggest we all go into Fitton and find the nearest pub?" Douglas asked.
"We may as well finish the stuff that's on Gerti." Carolyn said. "They won't be able to sell it on. And, while we drink, we shall feast."
"On what?" Martin asked, curious.
"On what we shall buy, with the very last bit of MJN Air's money."
"Carolyn, are you sure?" Martin said. "It's just… I'm not sure where we'd stand legally-"
"This is the last of MJN's money." Carolyn said, pulling something out of her pocket. She held it out for them to see.
"Wow." Arthur said. "It's a shiny one."
"Mm, it's new. It's got the Olympic logo on the back." In her hand was a single pound coin. It was indeed very shiny.
"So we're going to feast… on a bar of chocolate?" Martin raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, it might stretch to a box of cakes if something's on offer." Carolyn said. "Come on, if we're going bankrupt we may as well do it properly. Let's go into Fitton and go on a spending spree."
Chocolate was more expensive than Douglas had remembered. Even the normal small bars in the small newsagent they were in cost up to seventy pence nowadays; the sharing ones were all more than a pound. As the debate continued, Douglas noticed Martin had slipped away. To his great surprise, Martin was leaning precariously on the small blue stand provided for people to fill in their national lottery tickets, pondering over his own.
"I didn't take you as a gambler, Martin." Douglas said.
"I'm not! I don't usually play, it's just, well, it's rolled over a few times and the Jackpot tonight is ten million pounds." Martin hastily moved on. "I mean, I know I won't win that much, no-one will, but… you never know, I might get something."
"Ten million? Goodness." Douglas said. "Perhaps I'll join you in a little flutter."
"Oh no! No, Douglas! Don't!"
"What? Why shouldn't I?"
"Well, there's no point me playing if you are!" Martin said. "I'm not going to win against you, am I?"
"I fear you may be slipping into the irrational, Martin. But fine, if it means that much to you, I won't play."
By this time Arthur and Carolyn had come to join them. The final choice seemed to be Cadbury's Dairy Milk with Caramel. Douglas looked at in disgust.
"Caramel? I hate caramel chocolate. The only place caramel belongs is in crème brûlée."
"Stop complaining." Carolyn said. "It's the only one on offer for a pound. Martin, what are you doing?"
"Nothing, nothing, I just thought while we're here, I might buy a lottery ticket."
"It's a ten million pound rollover." Douglas supplied helpfully. "But Martin won't let me enter. He fears I'll use my influence over a random selection of coloured balls in order to beat him."
"Wow, ten million?" Arthur echoed. "Can we enter, mum?"
"No, Arthur, it's a waste of money, I keep telling you. Anyway, I didn't bring my purse out. The only money we have is MJN's pound coin."
"Oh." Arthur looked up at the National Lottery sign above the stand. "A lottery ticket costs a pound."
"Oh, yes!" Douglas approved. "Staking it all on a desperate gamble, I like it."
"It does seem like MJN's style." Martin smiled.
"Oh, alright." Carolyn said, turning to go and put the chocolate back. "Just get a blank one, Martin, we'll fill it in at the airfield. I need a drink."
"Alright, entries close at seven, let's get this filled in." Douglas said, once they were at last all settled back in the office; Carolyn and Martin with some wine that smelt delicious, and Douglas and Arthur with soft drinks. Douglas was extremely tempted by that wine, and he was even fairly confident that, after more than a decade of sobriety, he would have been able to stop at one. There was no point risking it though. Anyway, he was officially the designated driver and Martin was famous for being an extreme light weight. It was almost worth being sober to fully appreciate the hilarity of a drunk Martin, who usually giggled and sang like a school girl. Comforting himself with this thought, Douglas took another swig of his lemonade and smoothed the ticket out on the desk.
"Oh, there's no point." Carolyn said. "You know we won't win anything."
"No harm in trying." Douglas said. "Come on Martin, lucky number?"
"Hmm? Oh, gosh, I don't really have one." Martin said, apparently thrown by the fact that he was first.
"You must do. You must have had six in fact, to fill in your own ticket. Now, share and share alike."
"Oh, fine then. Seven, I suppose."
"Let me guess." Carolyn snorted. "That's in honour of the seven goes it took you to get your license."
"Well, yes." Martin said, frowning at her and Douglas' laughter. "What's wrong with that? It was the best moment of my life! And it's been seven years since I qualified now, too, so… seven."
"Wow, I didn't know you'd been here for seven years, Skip." Arthur said. "It's flown by."
"I haven't been here seven years, Arthur, I've only been here five. I had another job before this one."
"Oh, yes, some other small company wasn't it?" Carolyn asked. "Pay-as-you-Fly or something."
"Pay-per-Fly." Martin said, throwing his hands up at Douglas' smirk. "I didn't name it! It's a terrible name. Terrible job."
"You keep saying that." Douglas said. "But you never tell us what was so bad about it."
"At least they paid you." Carolyn pointed out.
"Well yes, but at least at MJN Air I get to fly a plane, you know, what I'm employed to do." Martin sighed in frustration. "The thing was, PPF was a small company too. Bigger than MJN, but they only employed ten pilots and only had four planes, so even when they were all in use, which wasn't often, there were always at least two of us on the ground. The idea was that we would all rotate round and those on the ground would run the office. Take the phone calls and do the paperwork, that kind of thing."
"Let me guess." Douglas said, trying desperately not to laugh. "They didn't rotate you out of the office."
"No, hardly ever! They said I was too 'inexperienced'. Even when I did get in the air the Captain did everything!"
"Hmm." Carolyn said. "You didn't tell me that at the interview."
"I know, I'm sorry, I just didn't think you'd hire me if you knew."
"Well, I wouldn't have. But it hardly matters now, that was five years ago."
"I might have five as my lucky number then." Arthur piped up. "Cause that means I've been at MJN five and a bit years too."
"Really, Arthur?" Martin turned to look at him. "I assumed you'd been here since the beginning."
"No, not at all." Arthur said cheerily. "I know you'd think that, if you were looking at my professional skills base, but actually I only started a few months before you did, Skip."
"Oh? Then what did you do before?"
"I worked with dad."
"With your dad?" Martin looked understandably horrified. It didn't take much imagination to think what Arthur working with his dad would have been like.
"Well, not so much with as for." Arthur amended. "I mean, he was in Australia and I was here, and he was the big boss CEO guy and I just did drinks and photocopying and things, and a bit of finance here and there, but it was the same company."
"You did finance?!" Martin looked almost ready to faint at the thought.
"Yep. I was awful." Arthur said cheerfully.
"He really was." Carolyn agreed. "He once cost his father fifteen thousand pounds in a single afternoon." She seemed positively gleeful at the prospect.
"Be fair, mum, it was only fourteen thousand nine hundred and eighty five pounds!" Arthur protested. "I thought the comma was supposed to be a decimal point." He explained, joining in the laughter from the others.
"I take it you got fired for that." Martin said when he got his breath back.
"No." Arthur replied. "I got told off a lot though and then people were pretty angry that I didn't get fired just because dad was the boss. It… it wasn't very nice."
"So how did you end up at MJN?" Martin asked. Arthur visibly perked up.
"Oh, well, one Christmas mum had to work and I didn't want to be on my own, so she said I could come with her on the flight, just as long as I helped with the passengers. So I made the drinks and I did the safety demo and the seatbelts and everything, and it was brilliant, and then…" He turned and beamed at Douglas. "And then Douglas told me I was an excellent steward, and that was the first time anyone other than mum had ever told me I was good at anything without being sarcastic, so I asked mum if I could work with her instead and she said yes."
"Oh." Douglas shifted uncomfortably. "To be honest, Arthur, I was being sarcastic. I was just trying to distract you and get you off the flight deck."
"Oh. Okay." Arthur looked crestfallen.
"But I'm not being sarcastic now." Douglas continued smoothly. "You, Arthur, are a fantastic steward. Best I've ever flown with. Really top notch."
"Mm, brilliant." Martin agreed.
"Really?! Aww, thanks guys. You're the best crew I've ever flown with too!"
"We're the only crew you've ever flown with." Martin pointed out.
"Not when I've been on holiday!" Arthur said. "Anyway, I like you much more than our first captain, Skip."
"Arthur, no!" Carolyn groaned.
"That subject is taboo." Douglas agreed.
"W-why?" Martin asked. "You never tell me about your old captain. What was so wrong with him?"
"Her." Douglas said. "And nothing, really, there was just a bit of nastiness about a... an allegation of sexual harassment." He examined his finger nails.
"I didn't do anything!" Douglas protested. "Look, one night in Ireland she got very drunk and I had to help her upstairs. I couldn't find her room key anywhere on her so I left her in mine while I went downstairs for the spare; but by the time I got back she was asleep in my bed. She slept in my room and I slept in hers, but in the morning she decided I'd taken advantage and screamed blue murder."
"Then when they got back here she said I either had to fire Douglas or she'd quit." Carolyn took up the story. "It wasn't the first time she'd threatened to sue or resign over nothing, though, so I told her to quit, and she did." She peered curiously over at Douglas. "You can tell me now, Douglas, as it hardly matters anymore- was I right to trust you over her?"
"Yes!" Douglas said. "I may not have been married at the time, but I was engaged. And she was a harpy anyway, not really my type. Now, can we please get this lottery ticket filled in? Carolyn?"
"Oh. What have we got so far?"
"Seven, for the seven goes it took Martin to get his license-"
"No, for the number of years I've been a pilot!"
"-And five, for the number of years Arthur has worked at MJN Air. So, Carolyn, what can I put you down for?"
"Thirty-four." Carolyn said without hesitation. "It's my lucky number."
"Why thirty-four?" Douglas asked, writing it down.
"No reason, it's just… lucky, that's all." Carolyn shrugged. "It's always been my lucky number, it's a good number. Good things happen when you're thirty four."
"Not to me they didn't." Martin answered. "So what happened to you?"
"Nothing! Douglas, pick a number."
Douglas did not pick a number. He was too interested in what had happened to Carolyn when she was thirty-four. "How old are you now?" He asked as casually as he could.
"That's none of your business."
"Sixty-six." Martin said quietly. "She's sixty-six." He hastily pushed back on his swivel chair to get out of range of Carolyn's hitting. "You can't expect us to know remember your birthday every year and not know how old you are! Stop hitting me!"
"Arthur," Douglas shouted over their bickering. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're thirty-one now, aren't you?"
"Yeah." Arthur said proudly. "Almost thirty-two!"
"Aha." Douglas smirked.
"Oh, Carolyn." Martin smiled.
"Shut up, shut up both of you!" Carolyn said. "It has nothing to do with that!"
"Of course it doesn't." Douglas said, ignoring Arthur's questioning glances as he tried to work out what was going on. "Well, only me to choose now, and I always choose thirteen."
"Thirteen?" Arthur wrinkled his nose. "Isn't that meant to be really unlucky?"
"Unlucky for some." Douglas replied. "I am not some."
"Of course you're not." Carolyn sighed. "Maverick flies again. Well, put it down, then we only need two more. Who has another one?"
"Wait, mum, there's someone who hasn't chosen yet." Arthur said, getting up and going to the window. "Gerti hasn't chosen."
"Dear heart, Gerti is an aeroplane. I doubt she has a lucky number."
"No, but we could use her number plate or something."
"Planes don't have-"
"What about 3-12?" Martin interrupted. "Like her make. She's a Lockheed McDonnal 3-12."
"Alright." Douglas said. "3-12 it is." He filled in the ticket. "So, dear colleagues, our numbers for tonight's lotto are seven, five, thirty-four, thirteen, three and our lucky star number, twelve! Everyone happy?" Everyone was. "In that case," Douglas said, lifting his glass. "I'd like to propose a toast, to the end of MJN Air. God bless Gerti, that poor decrepit old soul, and all who flew in her. Cheers!"
They drank and Arthur was dispatched to go and give the ticket in. It was an hour and seven minutes until the draw.
In all honesty, they almost forgot about it. There was drink and chatter and word games to be thought about; reminiscing about old times, glasses to be refilled, worries about the future and reservations about things past. It was only at the last minute that a by-then rather tipsy Captain Crief realised the time and suggested they relocate to the plane, where there was a television they could watch it on. It only seemed fitting that MJN Air should meet its final-final end there. Arthur was right, Gerti was as much a part of the team as they were.
After all the usual rigmarole that none of them paid any attention too, the drum was spun and the first ball rolled into place. It was a seven.
"Seven!" Douglas was astonished. "Martin! That's your lucky number!"
"Yes, no use to me though." Martin said good naturedly. "I put it in the little star." He screwed up his ticket and threw it aside, apparently forgetting that the other numbers could still be worth something. Douglas might have said something, had the next number not been drawn just then.
"Five!" The voice over announced.
Arthur cheered and Douglas felt the hair raise on the back of his neck. Two was bad in a way. One was just a fluke, hundreds of people would get one; but two was bad. Two made you hope, made you start thinking that perhaps all six-
Impossible. If Douglas didn't know better, he would almost have thought there was something at work here, something that wanted their gamble to pay off, for MJN to carry on. Arthur, sitting down on the floor of the aisle, clearly had no trouble believing this as he whooped at the screen. He was loud enough to even attract Carolyn and Martin's attention away from their drinks. They looked stupidly at the screen as the numbers continued to stack up.
Seven, five, thirty-four, thirteen, three…
Douglas had given up on the 'not getting his hopes up' part and was now sitting, dumbstruck, before the screen. Even Arthur had fallen prey to the painful silent tension. Those were their numbers appearing, in the right order, right in front of them. It was one of those things that simply wasn't meant to happen.
The final number drawn was, as they had all been half-expecting, twelve.
There were a few seconds of silence.
"W-what now?" Martin asked. "Carolyn, I think you just won the lottery."
"Not me, Martin. It was MJN Air's money. MJN Air has won the lottery." She blinked in shock. Arthur finally caught up with his surprise and gave an excited scream of frankly heroic volume.
"Oh, no, no, no, no, no!" Martin shouted.
"I fear you might be mixing up your opposites there, Captain!" Douglas cried. "We've just won the lottery!"
"No, it's my luck!" Martin said. "With my luck, something is bound to go wrong! Um, um, Douglas! You need to do something really mean!"
"Douglas, quickly! Before it catches up with us and makes us not win the lottery!"
"Right." Douglas tried not laugh. "Martin, remember that little chat we had earlier about your irrational idea of luck? You may want to ponder on that. And on the dangers of drinking too much."
"Maybe I am irrationally drunk," Martin said, "But if my bad luck comes along and stops us winning the lottery, do you really want to risk it?!"
"Good point." Douglas said. "Well, Martin, I think your good luck has already been negated. After all, MJN won, you didn't."
"But that's just the normal level of bad luck that everyone gets! It has to be something worse than that!"
"You've also recently admitted, to me, that you spent the early years of your career as a secretary."
"Oh, damn." Martin said, then relaxed. "Well, that's alright then. Carry on, everyone!"
"Thank you, Miss Jones." Douglas said, and cheered. Arthur and Martin joined in and for a few seconds there was chaos.
"Will you all calm down?!" Carolyn tried. "Even with all the numbers, we've probably only won about ten pounds! I suppose I ought to ring them…"
She did ring them, and then she sat down and looked rather pale.
"Mum? What is it? What's wrong?"
"That lottery ticket," she said slowly. "Is worth ten million pounds."
The auditors were sceptical on Monday morning, but so far as they could tell, while the purchase of a lottery ticket with the company's money was certainly unorthodox, it was not actually illegal; and with the proceeds there was enough money to pay off the company's debts ten times over, including the wages owed to the First Officer and a rather sizeable pay off for the Captain, who it seemed was owed something like five years of salary. A share was given to each member of staff for their contribution to the winning ticket, and the rest of the money was invested back in the company; on a professional website and some advertisements, on a complete overhauling of the plane, on new uniforms for the crew and a redecoration of the plane's interior. The rest was saved, just in case of a rainy day. Even ten million pounds could be got through eventually.
The crew could have taken a share each and walked away. Carolyn had offered it to them, offered to pay off MJN's debts and then split the remainder between them. They could have all walked away with a comfortable little nest egg. Only then Arthur had protested, vehemently, against this plan, and said flying was what made him happy, and he would much rather keep his job than the two million or so he would have got. Martin agreed, which meant Douglas had to, which meant Carolyn also had to. Even so, after some debate over the shares, all of them were left millionaires, even if it was only just. Only just, after all, seemed rather their style.