Cabin Pressure Fic- Our Resident Ghostly Mascot 1/1
Genre: Gen; AU (pre-series); ... hurt/comfort/humor?
Rating: PG-13 just in case
Characters: Arthur, Martin, Carolyn, Douglas
Warning: Character death (kinda- not really explicit); talk of death; strange humor?
Self beta'd and brit-picked.
Summary: A story in which (newly) Pilot Martin Crief still joins MJN Air, just a little... posthumously.
A/N: This is my first (and likely only (for now, unless my muse gets creative again) story for Cabin Pressure. I can't remember where the idea came from, but it nagged at me and my friend said it was brilliant so I decided to go for it. This was started a while ago, but I've only just finished it.
Any feedback, even constructive criticism, is welcome!
As he entered the flight deck again Arthur scanned the small space for any sign of Skipper.
At first he didn’t see him. Feeling disappointed, Arthur closed the door before he walked slowly over to Douglas’ chair. Since Skipper wasn’t there Arthur supposed he could drink the other mug himself. He shouldn’t let it just sit unused.
“Thank you, Arthur,” Douglas told him, reaching out to take one of the mugs. Once it was in his hand Douglas curled both of his hands around the mug and raised it to his mouth.
Arthur gave a mumbled “welcome,” before he turned around to his chair. Only to find Skipper sitting in it, watching Douglas with a weird- almost longing- look.
“Skipper!” He greeted happily, feeling a grin break across his face. He must have moved the mug because a little of the coffee sloshed over his hand, and it really hurt. “Ow, ow!”
Skipper blinked, looking startled. “Are you all right? You didn’t get hurt…”
By the time Skipper finished talking Arthur had his hand in his mouth, nursing the burn. “No, ‘m fine,” Arthur mumbled around his hand. He glanced at the mug he was still holding, and then up at Skipper. “D’you want coffee?”
Skipper was giving him a really weird look now. Had he said something wrong again? He hated when that happened. Did Skipper not like coffee? “Or- or not,” Arthur quickly said, taking the mug back. “Do you want something else? We have tea, and I think we might still have juice somewhere. Or we could try and unlock the liquor cabinet.”
Skipper’s face did a strange twitchy thing and then his mouth opened and closed a few times like a fish. “A-Arthur, it is Arthur r-right?” He kind of rasped a little, but his voice was higher than Arthur remembered. “You do realize, I mean you are aware, you do know-“
Arthur leaned forward, a little alarmed by how twitchy Skip had gotten suddenly. And he looked pale too. “You all right, Skip?”
Skip made a hiccup-laugh sound before he gave a nervous sigh. “Arthur… Arthur, I’m n-not sure how to tell you this, but… well,” he squinted his eyes up. “You do realize that I’m not exactly… alive. I mean I’m not, I’m actually… dead.”
Arthur froze, feeling a little… crushed. He realized a few seconds later that his mouth was hanging open and quickly closed it. Mum always said he looked like a fish when he did that.
“Oh… wow. That, that explains a lot.” He frowned, squinting uncertainly at Skip- at a ghost! “Are you sure?”
Skip flinched a little at the question, and looked away. But then he tensed again, looking at something behind Arthur. “If you don’t believe me, look at your other pilot.”
“Douglas?” Arthur asked, surprised that Skipper had mentioned Douglas. What did Douglas have to do with this? He knew for sure that Douglas wasn’t a ghost.
“Yes, Arthur? Are you finished talking with your new friend ‘Skipper’ now?” Douglas asked him in the bored sarcastic voice that always made an appearance on long flights. “I’m very grateful to finally have your attention once again.”
Had he been ignoring Douglas? That wasn’t very nice, even if he hadn’t meant to. “Sorry, Douglas. I didn’t mean not to say anything. I mean- I would have said something, but I was talking to-“
“Your new friend ‘Skipper,’ Arthur. Yes, I heard.” Douglas shifted forward in his chair just enough to set his mug down within reach. “It seems the two of you are getting along.”
Arthur was about to reply that yes, they really were, when Skip said sharply, “Arthur, don’t. He’s just goading you. He thinks-“
When Arthur turned around Skip had already stopped talking and was glancing around the flight deck, biting his lip.
“Arthur, the chair is there for a reason,” Douglas informed him shortly. “I would suggest you sit down.”
Arthur didn’t really listen to Douglas. “What Skip?”
Skip nodded to himself before scrambling out of the chair. “We shouldn’t talk here, your other pilot is looking at you oddly. We should, uhm, let’s go into the cabin, maybe?”
Skip stood up in front of the chair then hurried around the other side. So Arthur went between the chairs and followed him to the flight deck door.
He got to the door first, so Arthur opened it for them. Skip went through first, mumbling a thank you Arthur was almost sure, and he followed.
Mum was still in the galley, holding her mobile and shouting abuse at it. She didn’t look up when Skip went by, but she did glare at him. “What are you doing out here, Arthur? You’re supposed to be on the flight deck with Douglas.”
“Douglas’ll be fine, mum, he’s the actual pilot,” Arthur told her quickly. “And it’s only for a few minutes. I just need to talk to Skipper quick.”
His mum fiddled with the mobile in her hand. “This Skipper business again,” she sighed. “Arthur, darling boy,” she started to say to him, looking worried and with her serious face on.
“Arthur, I think you should stop talking and come have a chat,” Skipper suggested rather insistently.
Arthur took his eyes off his mum’s worried face to look at Skip, who was looking warily at mum.
“Okay, Skip,” Arthur agreed, taking a few steps towards him. Before they went off Arthur turned back to reassure mum, because he really didn’t like it when she looked worried like that. “We won’t go far, mum. Just to the not pointy end. And it’s not like I won’t hear if you shout. GERTI’s not that big.”
Mum didn’t look like she was very reassured at all. “All the same, Arthur, you should-“
Out of the corner of his eye Arthur saw Skip walking away between the passenger chairs. “Sorry, mum!” He called and hurried after Skip.
As he walked away Arthur heard his mum mutter crossly- never a good sign- and then the sound of the mobile keys being smashed.
“Your mother seems upset,” Skipper observed out loud as Arthur stopped near him. “Her mobile doesn’t sound like it’ll survive.”
Arthur glanced over GERTI’s seats at his mum, who now had the mobile to her ear. “We don’t always have the best days with GERTI- she can be temperamental sometimes.” He quickly added on, just so Skipper didn’t get the wrong idea, “She’s a great aeroplane though. But, I think Mum’s more annoyed that the new pilot who was supposed to come on today, didn’t. And now she can’t get a hold of him. Mum doesn’t like it when things don’t work how they’re supposed to.”
Skipper’s face did that funny twitching thing again, his eyes widening so he looked startled. He didn’t say anything right away, just opened and closed his mouth a few times.
Arthur waited patiently, wondering what it was that Skip was finding so hard to say.
“Arthur,” Skip began, and his voice was wavering a little again. “You remember I told you I’m…dead?”
“Yeah, Skip,” Arthur agreed, nodding. “And I’m really very sorry to hear that.”
For some reason Skip looked surprised by his- really honest- words. Did Skip expect him not to be? It was always very sad when people died; especially Skipper who was so nice. There must be someone missing him, somewhere.
“Um, w-well, thank you. I suppose,” Skipper stuttered, a blush creeping across his face. “B-but what I meant to say was that since I’m… dead, what you’re seeing isn’t exactly me- I think. Well, it is me since I’m still myself, but I’m not… real. I’m just a, a ghost.”
“Wow, I’ve never met a real ghost before!” Arthur exclaimed probably a little too loudly. He leaned forward, looking carefully at Skipper to see if he could tell just from looking that Skip was a ghost. Finally he had to conclude that he couldn’t tell just by using his eyes. Skipper looked totally normal. “This is really exciting!”
Skipper was looking wide-eyed again. “R-really? Most people would run away when they realize they’ve been talking to a ghost. Or at least I think they would.”
Well those people were silly then. He could never have dreamed up getting to talk with a ghost. “No, this is exciting!”
Arthur grinned when Skip’s mouth twitched and then actually smiled. Good, he had gotten Skipper to smile. That was definitely a good thing.
But then Arthur had the thought that if Skipper was a ghost, then why was he here at MJN? There must be lots of exciting places you could go as a ghost!
Maybe he could ask, he didn’t think it would upset Skip. “I don’t want to upset you Skip, and I really do like it here and I’m glad you’re here too… but I was really just curious… why are you here? Out of everywhere you could go now why’d you come here?”
Uh oh, Skip had that funny look on his face again; and he was blinking lots. “Please, Skip, don’t get upset. I didn’t mean to upset you. It was a stupid question, okay? You don’t have to answer. You can forget I asked you anything.”
Skipper shook his head firmly, and his lips were pressed together. “N-no, it’s fine. I was just surprised, really.” He ran a hand through his hair, messing up the really bright curls. “I told you before I’ve always wanted to be a pilot. MJN was my first chance to be one once I finally passed my CPL.” Skipper looked down at the floor, blinking fast again. “But with my luck I couldn’t even manage that. I died just before my first day here.”
So Skip had been going to come to MJN. That would have been fun; Skip’d be a great addition to MJN. Mum had said they were getting another pilot, but Arthur hadn’t been sure what to think since the last few pilots hadn’t lasted very long. And now they wouldn’t ever know what it would’ve been like because Skip hadn’t gotten a chance to fly with them.
“Oh. Oh!” Arthur exclaimed as everything finally all clicked together. “You were the new pilot that was coming today! The one mum’s so mad at because you didn’t show.” He smiled at Skipper. “She should definitely forgive you since you have such a good reason. And you actually are here.”
Skipper laughed, but it didn’t sound very happy. “Oh yes. ‘I know you can’t see or hear me Ms. Knapp-Shappey, but I do have a very good reason for not turning up. You see, I died in a fire at my apartment just before my first day. But I’m here as a ghost, so that must count for something!’”
“Ah, well…” Arthur mumbled, fumbling for a response. “Yeah, I guess so. But I’m sure mum’ll still be forgiving!”
Skip shook his head again. He didn’t look as sure as Arthur was. “It doesn’t matter if she forgives me or not, Arthur. I’m still dead and a ghost, and your mother needs another pilot. One who’s alive.”
If only there was a way to change that. He really thought Skipper would be really great with MJN. And they had been so close to all flying together!
Arthur tried to hide his disappointment, and still sound cheerful as he said, “Yeah, but I bet Mum would still want to know. And you don’t have to go anywhere; you could stay here with us.”
Skipper was really obviously trying not to smile. Good, that meant he’d successfully cheered Skipper up. “And what would I do at MJN? I can’t be your second pilot.”
“Noo… I guess not.” He quickly tried to think of a good reason for Skipper to stay. “You could be… our unofficial mascot!”
“A ghost as a mascot?” Skipper asked, sounding like he didn’t think it was such a great idea.
So maybe not then. “Well, you’d still be really good company, Skip.” He grinned widely. “I’d love you to stay.”
“I-I’d love to stay as well, Arthur,” Skipper replied so quietly Arthur almost couldn’t hear him. “I-I’m glad I came.”
Arthur felt his face starting to hurt from how big he was grinning. “That’s brilliant, Skip. I’m really glad you’re here too!”
He took a step forward to hug Skip since he felt like this was a hugging moment. But he froze at the alarmed look Skip gave him, and then a second later remembered why they were talking about this in the first place.
Arthur let his arms fall back to his sides, and gave Skip a sheepish look. “Sorry, Skip.”
“N-no, it’s fine,” Skip said. His face almost matched his hair now! “I, appreciate the sentiment.”
That was good, he hadn’t completely embarrassed Skip.
He gave Skip a reassuring smile. “Good, let’s go talk to mum then!” Arthur started back down the aisle, expecting Skip to follow him.
“I-I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” Skip replied, his voice doing the funny pitch thing again.
Arthur stopped halfway down the aisle of seats and turned around again. Skip hadn’t moved and he looked nervous again.
He tried his best to reassure Skip. “I know Mum’s a little scary, especially when she does her shouty-bit thing. But deep, deep down she’s actually a good person and I know she wants to talk to you. She likes to know all about what’s going on with GERTI; and after some of what’s happened to GERTI I bet she’ll be happy to know we have a ghost mascot now! Well, maybe not happy. Probably relieved.”
“Yes, because every aeroplane company wants a ghost mascot now; and lucky for your mother, I’m it,” Skip replied quickly; and ohh, that was sarcasm. So Skipper didn’t think Mum wanted a mascot? “No, Arthur, the only reason your mother would talk to me would be to yell at me once she realizes her new pilot is here after all, but so sorry, he’s a ghost.”
Mum hadn’t realized Skip was here had she? He hadn’t put it all together until just now, but it was true. Mum hadn’t greeted or even looked at Skipper when they’d arrived at the hangar earlier, and since they’d been on GERTI Mum hadn’t looked directly at Skipper or seemed to hear him when he and Skipper’d been talking by the kitchen just now.
And Douglas; he had caught Douglas giving him strange looks, and Douglas had been using a lot more sarcasm than he usually did. So maybe Douglas hadn’t seen or heard Skipper either.
Which probably meant… “Skip…” he said slowly. “Am I the only one who can see you?”
“Yes, it seems for some reason you’re the only one who can see or hear me,” Skipper informed him. He sounded tired… could a ghost be tired? “Which is why your mother and pilot have looked oddly at you when you talked to me.”
“They have, haven’t they?” Arthur mused. Then he smiled. “That just means I have to introduce you to Mum and Douglas!” He resumed walked down the seats again. “Don’t worry; I’m sure they’ll really like you.”
On his way to the flight deck Arthur thought he heard Skip mumble, “That’s really unlikely.” But that couldn’t be right.
~~~ * ~~~
Carolyn quickly pulled open the flight deck door and hurried inside.
“Douglas, we need to talk. Now,” she commanded while turning back to close the door loudly.
Douglas didn’t deign to turn and look at her, or to even take his eyes from the no doubt mesmerizing view of the clouds out the window. “Being the owner of an aeroline, Carolyn, I would have thought you were aware of this; but part of being a pilot is flying an aeroplane. Meaning I am supposed to keep a watchful eye for any dangerous geese that may attempt to hijack us.”
“Only you, Douglas,” she commented walking up to the pilot’s seats, “would consider the possibility of being hijacked by geese.”
Carolyn stopped to stand beside his chair, within his line of sight so he couldn’t ignore her. “We need to talk about Arthur.”
Douglas groaned very loudly at her pronouncement. “No conversation that begins with ‘we need to talk about Arthur’ is one that I want to participate in. As you can see, I am busy flying an aeroplane. I have no time to discuss your son.”
“Very clever, Douglas,” Carolyn replied sharply. “But I have seen the weather report and I know that it says we will have clear skies. I also know there are two hours- at minimum- remaining in our flight time. So as you can see, I am well aware that you do in fact have quite a lot of time to discuss Arthur with me.” She crossed her arms across her chest and treated him to her iciest look. “Now, did you notice anything odd about Arthur today?”
Douglas’ mouth twitched, and his eyes crinkled. Both clear signs the next words out of his mouth would be sarcastic.
Douglas did not disappoint. “Are we judging this off Arthur’s typical odd behavior, or Arthur being more peculiar than he usually is?”
“More so than usual,” Carolyn confirmed shortly.
Douglas hummed quietly before he answered, “I see. Well in that case, he did seem rather engaged in a conversation with the pilot’s seat.” The frown lines around his mouth deepened. “And was referring to it as ‘Skipper.’”
Carolyn’s expression darkened. “I feared as much. While I was in the galley trying once again to reach our errant pilot, I overheard Arthur carrying on a conversation with a ‘Skipper.’”
“The same person, then,” Douglas mused, finally sounding serious.
Carolyn nodded her agreement. “Likely, yes.”
Silence reigned between them for several long moments as the two who normally never struggled for words, did.
“Carolyn,” Douglas finally said, his voice atypically doubtful. “Is it possible Arthur could have-“
“No,” Carolyn denied firmly, cutting him off. “It is not.”
Douglas looked intently at her. “Carolyn, I understand he is your son. However-“
He was interrupted this time by the flight deck door opening behind them.
“Mum,” Arthur called from the door. “Can Skip and I come in?”
Carolyn turned to see Arthur standing half in and half out of the doorway, looking uncertainly at her.
She sighed, and then replied, “Far be it from me to restrict you from somewhere you are supposed to be in the first place.”
The comment appeared to go over his head, as was typical. “Thanks mum!” He said happily; then he stepped through into the flight deck, holding the door open after him long enough for another person to enter.
Carolyn shared a wary look with Douglas.
“Mum,” Arthur said, standing just inside the door and looking directly at her. “Skipper wants to say something to you.” He turned his head towards the empty space to his right, and his forehead creased.
“Oh, right,” Arthur said, as if replying to something. His expression cleared and he looked back to her again. “Skipper wants me to say something to you for him since he can’t say it himself because you can’t hear him since he’s a ghost, and I’m apparently the only one who can see or hear him.”
Carolyn blinked a few times, taking a second to mentally unravel her sons babbling. What she came up with seemed impossible; yet this was Arthur.
So she asked carefully, “Arthur, are you saying this ‘Skipper’ you’ve been talking to… is a ghost?”
Arthur, her impossible boy, simply nodded. “Yeah. And-“ He broke off, turning to his right again.
Carolyn waited as Arthur appeared to listen to his… ghost. This felt ridiculous; she doubted Arthur had suddenly become a ghost whisperer. But he was her son, and she liked to think herself a good mother.
“Mum, Skipper wants me to tell you that he’s sorry he’s deserted and inconvenienced you; he was looking forward to starting today. But his bad luck intervened and there was a fire so he… couldn’t. He’s still here though, even if he can’t be our second pilot anymore.”
If the idea wasn’t completely ridiculous, and impossible, it sounded as if Arthur was talking about the nervous, fresh young thing she’d hired to be their new pilot.
But- as far as she knew- the irresponsible Martin something was still alive, just glaringly absent.
“Arthur, that’s completely ridiculous,” she argued sternly. “Your ghost can’t possibly-“
“Carolyn,” Douglas interrupted firmly, sounding strange for him.
She turned to where Douglas was now standing in front of his chair, facing Arthur as well. “Not now, Douglas,” Carolyn snapped angrily before looking back to her son.
“I really think you should listen to me, Carolyn,” Douglas commented insistently, speaking before she could.
She turned to him once more, glaring fiercely. But he didn’t back down; being Douglas, he met her glare.
Finally Carolyn decided she might as well listen to what he wanted to say. Otherwise she’d never hear the end of it from him. Even if she’d rather there not be a delay before she got to the bottom of all this.
Carolyn huffed irritably and crossed her arms. “What is it, Douglas?”
He was still looking at her, but every so often glanced over at Arthur. “Did you read the paper from two days ago? The local paper?”
How were the papers relevant to this? “No, as it happens I did not. Was there some miraculous event I missed?”
Douglas was looking more at Arthur than her now. “There was an article about a fire at a house for agricultural students at the local college. The entire place burned to the ground, and firemen found the remains of a young man in the ruins. They haven’t released the name, and everything was burned, yet…”
Yes, ‘yet’… It should seem utterly ridiculous; they shouldn’t even be considering the idea. Yet Arthur was completely useless at lying, and he seemed to really believe his ‘Skipper’ ghost was real.
Through Arthur the ghost had mentioned he’d died in a fire, which did connect to the article Douglas mentioned, and also apologized for not being able to be their second pilot anymore… which, unless this was a very poor joke, could really only mean one person.
As ridiculous as it was…
“Arthur, what does this Skipper of yours look like?” Carolyn asked curiously, not looking at her son but at the space next to him.
Arthur shifted from foot to foot, a line creasing his brow as he stared at his ghost. “Uhm, well… he’s sort of short, and really kind of thin. He has bright hair and he’s pale. Not vampire pale, but pale. And… he knows you.”
As vague as Arthur’s description was, it sounded very like the nervous young pilot she’d hired to fly with MJN. “Well, this is certainly a turn of events,” Carolyn mused. “Our new pilot does turn up after all, but does so as a ghost. How obliging of you, Martin.”
Her son turned to where Martin must be standing and asked eagerly, “Your name is Martin, Skip?”
At the same time Douglas spoke again, addressing their ghost. “Martin, was it? I don’t pretend to know very much about ghosts, but I did think spirits were supposed to move on after they… died. Not stick around nearly bankrupt charter aerodots.”
“You are welcome to find another aeroline that will hire you, Douglas,” Carolyn informed her never completely happy pilot. “But until then, my aerodot, my rules.”
Douglas gave her a long, unimpressed look. But, thankfully, he didn’t say any more annoying things.
“Skip says he doesn’t know how to ‘move on,’” Arthur announced into the once again tense silence. “But he’d rather stay here with us than go somewhere else.”
Carolyn blinked, a little surprised. “Well, Martin, how… loyal of you. Yet I’m afraid we don’t have any openings for ghosts, however friendly they might be.”
“Please Mum?” Arthur pleaded, looking honestly distraught at the possibility of losing his Skipper. “Skip’s only ever wanted to be a pilot. And Skip and I already decided he could be our sort of ghostly mascot!”
She was getting a headache now from all of this. “Arthur, MJN doesn’t need a mascot. And a ghost, even if he was a pilot, is no use to me. I need a real, alive, pilot.”
“Pleeeease Mum?” Arthur pleaded, and oh dear god he was using the horrid wide puppy eyes on her now. He knew she always found it hard to deny him with those. “Skipper won’t be any trouble, he promises. And you won’t even have to pay him for anything!”
While she wouldn’t need to pay Martin-the-ghost, it still meant she would be down one pilot. Finding Martin, and especially his willingness to work for nothing, had seemed like an once-in-a-lifetime lucky break. But now Martin was no longer available to her. Surely there were other pilots out there willing to work for a not-quite-so-large paycheck. Or, she could fuss with her budget and finances to somehow find enough to pay a second pilot. If all else failed she could cut Douglas’ pay and find better uses for the additional money. No matter what he said, she knew Douglas would not be leaving MJN any time soon.
And Arthur did really look very happy with his new ghostly friend ‘Skipper.’ He probably wouldn’t forgive her anytime in the future for denying him his ‘Skip.’ And in the short time she’d spoken with him once Martin had seemed like a very nice young man; a little eager, perhaps, but there was nothing wrong with that. Maybe having a ghost pilot- or mascot- would be a source of excitement for MJN.
“Very well, Arthur, Martin can stay with us,” Carolyn finally gave in with a dramatically loud sigh. She turned a deaf ear to Douglas’ indignant protest. “But I will not suffer any ghostly funny business, Martin. I’m mostly only agreeing for Arthur’s sake. You’re not to interfere with anything involving the flying of GERTI. Do you understand?”
Carolyn looked to her son, who was grinning as if Christmas had come early.
“Skip understands, mum,” Arthur promised genuinely. “This is going to be absolutely brilliant!”
“Well, welcome to MJN Air, Martin,” Douglas commented with only a slight note of sarcasm. “Apparently we’re putting even more excitement back into air travel.”
All though only Arthur could see, Martin was grinning happily; he felt lighter than he had in a long time.
He would get to fly with MJN after all. And it really would be absolutely brilliant.