Chapter Three: New Riders and Old Friends
“I can’t believe my parents agreed to this,” sighed _____ as she finally passed security and was able to enter the plane. “They’re so strict––they never let me go anywhere.”
Alfred looked back at her and smiled. “Apparently, not strict enough to keep you from coming with me.”
“Yeah.” She handed her ticket to the woman outside the tunnel and went inside.
The two stepped into the plane and made their way through the walkways and doors until they reached the first-class area of the plane. _____ blinked when she saw it. There was no one else in first-class, and the seats were all cushioned and spread apart from each other.
“Wow,” she breathed out, plopping into one of the seats.
“Like it?” said Alfred.
_____ nodded and set her backpack (holding all of her entertainment items, of course) on the floor beside her.
“You’ve never been in first-class before, huh?”
She let out a small laugh. “I’ve never been on a plane before.”
Alfred blinked at her, as if riding in a plane was just as normal as riding in a car. Then he smiled and sat down in the seat beside her. “It’s not so bad.”
_____ sighed. “It better not be.”
Alfred smiled at her, squeezing her hand. She immediately jerked her hand away. “Nope,” she said.
“Okay,” he replied with a smile still on his lips. He pulled on the seatbelt attached to his seat and strapped himself in. “The plane’s about to take off.”
_____ furrowed her brows at him. “How do you kno––”
“Attention, passengers,” said a voice over the intercom, “this is your captain speaking. We are now clear for takeoff.”
Bewildered, _____ buckled her seatbelt and looked at Alfred. “Okay. You’re weird.”
Alfred chuckled. “You haven’t met my friends yet.”
They felt the plane begin to move, and _____ flinched under her seatbelt. Her weight increased for a moment as the plane lifted into the sky, and then went back to normal. She sighed and unbuckled herself as the pilot announced that the passengers were free to move about and remove their seatbelts.
She glanced out the window and saw the city and the airport shrink below her as the plane rose higher. “So, what are they like?”
_____ adjusted herself in her seat. “Your friends. What are they like?”
Alfred smiled, his hand absentmindedly going to the back of his neck. “Smart, mellow, cranky, pervy, creepy, anal. . . The list goes on.”
She nodded, then turned her attention back to the window.
Where the plane had taken off, it landed at around four in the afternoon. But in Venice, Italy, the plane landed at almost eleven that night. And Alfred and _____ were not able to leave the airport (due to luggage and security) until midnight. The two were given a rental car that Alfred had rented long before he had invited _____ to come with him, and they arrived at Gakuen forty-five minutes later. By then, well, it’s safe to say they were both exhausted.
“Okay, so where’re the dorm rooms?” slurred _____ sleepily.
Alfred yawned. “Actually, we don’t have dorm rooms.”
She raised an eyebrow. “So where do ya’ll stay?”
“Dorm houses,” he replied with a tired smile on his face. “They’re like dorms and houses put together. And they usually house about five to seven people.”
“Mm,” was all that _____ could muster as a response. She was tired.
“C’mon,” said Alfred. “Let’s get to the dorm. Unless you wanna sleep in the car.”
_____ quickly (relatively speaking) opened the car door and climbed out. “No more seats. I want a bed, dammit.”
Alfred laughed and stepped out of the car, opening the trunk and extracting their luggage. They walked for a good five minutes past other dorm houses while Alfred texted someone on his cell phone. Soon after he took it out of his pocket and began texting, he put it back and kept moving. Nearly ten minutes had gone by before they finally reached Alfred’s dorm house. He knocked on the door to the beat of the old “Shave and a Haircut” tune, ringing the doorbell for the last two beats. A groan could be heard from the other side of the door, and it slowly opened to a half-asleep blond man with bushy eyebrows and partially-open, emerald green eyes.
“Why the bloody hell didn’t you use your key, instead of waking me at one in the morning?” he grumbled to Alfred.
Alfred laughed with a sudden burst of energy. “I figured you want to see _____. It’s been ten years, after all.”
_____ blinked at Alfred, then at the man. The man blinked at _____ as well. “_____?” he said.
Her eyebrows rose on her face as she slowly took in his familiar features. “Arthur?”
Arthur smiled warmly. “It’s very good to see you after all this time.” He yawned. “But not so good to see you at this time. I advise you to get some sleep before associating with anyone––including me.”
_____ smiled back. “Sure thing.”
She and Alfred entered the house, and Arthur went back to bed. Alfred led _____ to a spare bedroom. “Here’s your room. It’s not the best, but. . .”
“It’s fine,” she said.
He nodded. “By the way, remember those two mock world conferences I told you about? Well, one of them’s tomorrow at one. My advice is go to bed ASAP so we can make it without much trouble. That okay?”
_____ nodded, only wanting to be left alone so she could finally get some sleep.
“‘Kay.” Alfred turned to leave. “Night, _____,” he said quietly before closing the door.
“Night, Alfie,” _____ yawned before collapsing on the bed from exhaustion.