Fandom: Cabin Pressure
Rating/Warnings: Gen, PG13. WARNING: Aftermath of assault on an OC. Not Humour.
Word Count: 2200-ish
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or the world of Cabin Pressure.
A/N: Originally posted on the Cabin Pressure meme months ago for a memer who was having a rough time. I've been considering de-anoning on this one for a long while, and have finally built up the nerve. Minor edits from original posting.
Summary: Martin helps one of his Parkside Terrace housemates, with an assist from Douglas.
On Rusted Steed He Rode
"Hello, you've reached Parkside Terrace?"
"H-hi, it's Brenda. I live there. Who's this?"
"Oh, Brenda, hello. I'm Martin."
Martin sighed. "The pilot in the attic."
"Oh! Oh right. Um. I..."
"Were you looking for one of the others? Everyone's out, but I could write down- Are you alright? You sound like you're-"
"No. No. I just- Well. I need a ride home. They've offered to take me but I don't- Mum's in Strathclyde and I don't even want to call her, she'd- I don't know anyone except at the Terrace, and some of them don't even have a permit let alone a car and I just, I just want to go home."
"Okay. I've got a van, I can pick you up if you'd like?"
"Where are you?"
"Fitton Police Station."
"Oh... You're not-"
"I'm fine, they needed a statement after- look. I just need a ride home and I don't want it to be in a bloody police car, alright?"
"But what hap-"
"I don't want to talk about it. Please Martin?"
"No, of course, all right. I'll be there in a few minutes."
Martin pulled up to the police station, hoping the traffic officers didn't bother to take too close a look at his van which was a rolling violation at the best of times.
Brenda had never seemed to him to be the sort that would end up in a police station for anything, but he didn't really know any of the students that well. Perhaps Brenda was the quiet type that turned into a complete rowdy when she went out to the clubs.
As Martin opened the van door, Brenda came out of the station, walking quickly, with a limp he hadn't noticed her having before. Martin didn't pay much notice to what the college students were wearing at any given time either, but the bagginess of the track pants and t-shirt she was wearing were giveaways that they weren't hers, and the huge sunglasses certainly weren't needed in the drizzly fall weather.
Martin suddenly felt ill for thinking Brenda had been arrested. He went around to the passenger side and held the door open for her.
"Thanks," she said, climbing in awkwardly.
"Don't mention it. I mean-" He tried to lower his voice, but it went squeaky. "Are you all right? Really?"
"Just, I can't." She took a breath and released it. "Please Martin, I just want to go home."
"Right. No, okay. I just- Right." Martin avoided slamming his thumb in the door. "Okay."
Something very bad had happened to Brenda. Nightmare scenarios flitted through Martin's head, and he wished he knew which was the most accurate. If he knew something about what had happened, maybe he'd be able to help, or know what to do. Looking in the windscreen as he crossed around the front of the van, seeing Brenda leaning her head against the door frame, face wan and blank under the sunglasses, he doubted knowing anything would help him know what to do.
She didn't want to talk about it, so she shouldn't have to. He was driving her home, and that was helping.
He got in behind the wheel.
"I- I hate to ask," Brenda said when he started the van.
"No, please, ask me anything. What- I mean. Yes?"
Brenda's mouth flattened slightly at Martin's babbling into what could have been a smile on a better day, before dropping back down as she burrowed into the collar of the over-large t-shirt. "Could we stop at a Boots? I need. There's some-" She swallowed. "I need something from there."
"Absolutely! Anything at all."
"It's more than- I don't have any... I can't pay. I need- god, I need to borrow some money from you."
Martin blinked. "I'm really not sure I have any. Not much. How much do you need?"
"Just seven pounds fort- Eight. Eight pounds."
A prescription's worth, Martin's mind helpfully filled in, Brenda being past the age for free student prescriptions. "I've got that much, I'm sure. I had a removal to- I mean yes. I can borrow you eight pounds. Loan you. Eight pounds. Yes."
"It's so ridiculous. I've got money, it's just I can't get at it right now. My bank card was in my- Oh god, I can't remember if I called the bank." Her voice turned strained and reedy, and she buried her face in her hands.
"It's all right, really. Pay me back whenever you can, alright?"
Brenda turned her face to the window, shoulders shaking silently. She rubbed a hand over her eyes, pushing the sunglasses up. In the wing mirror, Martin caught a glimpse of a huge purpling bruise around her eye.
Beaten, robbed, and wearing borrowed clothes. He swallowed, not sure whether putting a hand on the girl's shoulder would be helpful or make things so much worse. He didn't know what to do.
He could drive.
"Boots it is, then." Martin put the van in gear and pulled out into traffic.
The van had barely stopped at Parkside Terrace before Brenda jumped out the passenger side and bolted for the front door, limping. She'd been far slower getting out to go in to Boots. Martin had wondered if offering to go in for her would have been a good idea, except she was getting a prescription and probably wouldn't want him knowing which one.
He kept pushing back the wish that he knew more with the knowledge that Brenda was the one who needed help right now. He only wished he knew what to do to help.
Martin got out of the van and was shocked to see Brenda still standing at the door of the building, sobbing. He ran over.
"They- They took my- my- keys!" She sobbed, clutching her forlorn little Boots bag. "I can't even get- get- into my- my- own bloody flat!"
"Brenda, I-" Martin dug out his keys and opened the building door, and when Brenda still stood sobbing, decided to risk gently laying a hand on her elbow and drawing her into the building.
The door shut and locked behind them, and Martin shepherded the sobbing girl into the kitchen, pulling out a chair for her. She sat slowly, then lowered her head to the table and began sobbing even harder.
Martin had never felt so helpless in his life.
"I, I'm just going- I need to make a phone call. Don't-" he waved a hand in the air. "It's going to- Um. I'll be right back."
Brenda continued sobbing, giving no indication she'd even heard Martin. He took the portable phone into the other room.
"Douglas, I don't know what to do!"
"And yet you're not 30,000 feet in the air. There's a novelty."
"Douglas! This is serious, there's a girl crying in the kitchen!"
"Asked her out, did you?"
"Please. It's one of the students, I picked her up from the police station, I'm certain she was attacked last night, and robbed, and god knows what else because she's wearing- I don't know how to help, Douglas! What do I do?"
There was a pause on the other end. "Right. Have you got a kettle?"
"It's student housing, of course we've got a kettle!"
"Put the kettle on. Make tea."
"Good lord, Martin, you are really at a loss if you can't even think to make tea for a distraught person."
"Douglas! Please! I want to help. Tea is not going to fix what's wrong here."
"It can't hurt though. Give her a cup of tea with a great deal of sugar in it."
"Fine. Then what?"
"Sit with her. Let her talk, or not talk, whatever suits her. Let her have space to be alone if she wants it, and from the sounds of it, she probably will."
"She- They stole the keys to her room, and the building. She can't even get into her room, Douglas."
"Ah, well that requires a slightly different solution. Make that pot of tea, I'll be there momentarily. You'll want to let her know you have a fr- someone coming to help."
Martin half-smiled at Douglas's self-correction. "Thank you."
Martin made some tea, set some in front of Brenda, and then hovered, not sure whether to sit or not.
"Um. I, er. There's tea. I've got a someone. I mean he's coming over to help. I don't know how, but he always does. He's an ass but he's safe. I mean okay. I just- god I wish I knew what to do."
Brenda raised her head off the table and pulled off the sunglasses to wipe her eyes with her fingers. Her face was red and the bruise around her right eye was livid and swelling. It was matched by a scrape on her forehead that had been hidden mostly by her fringe, and another scrape high on her right cheekbone. "I do't doh eider." She pulled the collar of the t-shirt over her face and rubbed at her dripping nose.
Martin grabbed the kitchen roll and thrust it at her, then jumped. "I, oh, I'm sorry, that was probably startling, I just- rather than the shirt-"
Brenda laughed, then winced. "It's fine, Martin, really. Thank you." She pulled off several squares of kitchen roll and set to shredding them.
Martin put a hand on the chair next to her, pulled it out, then after a pause long enough for her to tell him to sod off, sat down. They sat in silence for a while. Brenda sipped the tea and sighed.
"I was stupid," she said.
"I took a shortcut past the alley, going home from the club and-" She took another sip of tea.
"You aren't stupid. Believe, me, I know stupid on a deeply personal level, and you are not stupid."
"I was though. It could have been worse. They got my bag, my keys, they beat me up, tore my... I was lucky. If someone hadn't come along before they-" She put the tea down. "I'd really like to take a shower. I need to take a shower, and wear my own clothes, and be safe in my room."
Martin laid his hand on hers. "We'll get you into your room, the landlord must have a spare key-"
"But that's it, though. I can't feel safe. They got my bag. It's got my address, my flat number and my keys."
Martin felt ill. "Oh god."
"They were going to- to- there's nothing stopping them from- from coming here, getting in and- and-"
"Yes there is," Martin said, sitting up straight.
Brenda blinked, then began laughing.
"I mean. No offense, Martin. I appreciate the offer, but you're about as much of a deterrent as my little sister, and about the same size."
Martin sniffed. "I know a few tricks. I once- um. I received a very personal demonstration from a person classified as a deadly weapon, so, I um.... Well, you're probably right actually."
Brenda smiled weakly at him. "It's okay. I know. And I do appreciate the thought."
Martin smiled back.
Douglas arrived shortly after. It turned out yet another thing Douglas Richardson was brilliant at was picking cheap locks. He got Brenda's flat door open for her.
"I've also brought this," he said, passing a small box with a dangling cord.
"What is it?"
"It's a travel alarm. I don't use it anymore, and I've just put fresh batteries in. You hang the box off the doorknob, attach this bit to the doorframe. If the door is opened in the night, the cord pulls out this little pin and the box screams to high heaven."
"Oh, that thing."
"Yes, that thing. After the Sao Paulo incident-"
"Yes. Best to pass it along."
Brenda smiled. "Thanks. That will help a lot. I've got a cricket bat I'll be sleeping with for the next while, I think."
"I think I've also got a more long term solution too," said Martin smugly.
"I've talked to the landlord. Your door and the main building door will be getting re-keyed in the morning. Seems he doesn't like the idea of the kind of people who commit assaults having keys to his building any more than you do."
Brenda said, "Oh."
Martin smacked himself in the forehead. "Oh god, I did that wrong didn't I? I didn't say much of anything to him, well, because I don't know much of anything, and of course you could have rung him yourself, but I just thought it might be one less person you'd need to go over it all with, and it seemed like something I could do to help, and-"
"Martin," said Douglas, putting a hand on his captain's shoulder.
"What? I-" he looked at Brenda, who was genuinely trying not to laugh as tears tracked down her face.
"You did well, Martin. Thank you." She opened her arms and hugged Martin. "You were the last person I expected to be answering the phone when I called, but I'm really glad it was you. You've been fantastic."
"I- Oh!" Martin wasn't sure what to do with his hands suddenly, until Douglas pushed at his elbow and tipped his head. Martin wrapped his arms around Brenda. "If there's something, anything more I can do to help..."
"Let me get your shirt wet?" Brenda said, voice thick.
"My what what?"
Brenda started to cry again, burying her face in Martin's shoulder. These weren't the despairing helpless sobs of before, but a release of tension as the girl clung to him.
Martin awkwardly rubbed circles on her back as she cried, mouthing 'Thank you' at Douglas, who tipped his invisible First Officer's cap to his Captain and left.