"You what? You're kidding me!" Ellie declared, eyes wide with horror as she stared across the desk at the rather worried-looking Virgin Atlantic official, sleep deprivation and stress causing her to exclaim a little louder than was strictly necessary in the fairly quiet – for 3:45 AM – check-in desks of Heathrow Airport.

"I'm afraid not," the man said weakly. "You need two forms of photo ID to be allowed to check in." He almost looked apologetic, then shrugged in a surly way as Ellie began to glare at him. "It's a security precaution."

"I have my passport!" she wailed, throwing her arms up in the air. "Do I look like a terrorist to you?"

"You have your passport," the man agreed. "That's one form of identification. Not looking like a terrorist is not a valid second form of photo ID. And I cannot let you on the plane if you do not have two."

"The plane is about to leave in fifteen minutes! I don't have time to go home and find my driver's licence!" Despite this, Ellie rifled desperately through her wallet, absolutely certain that the licence was there somewhere. Driving licences didn't spontaneously combust, even if you didn't have a car and thus never needed to drag the bloody thing out of hibernation because it was never needed…

"I'm sorry. But you will have to miss the flight, and book for a later one."

Ellie glowered at him. "The next flight is not until 8 AM. And then I will have probably less than an hour to get from the airport to the White House and I'll look as if I've just been tipped out of the airplane toilet!" Her temper getting the better of her, she was beginning to get more than slightly flustered, and so continued to glare as the official blinked at the words 'White House'. "Yes! Yes! The White House! I have to be there by 9 AM local time! Don't you know who I am?"

"That never works to get you through," he warned, still in that surly tone.

"I'm not asking for preferential treatment!" Ellie wailed. "But don't you recognise me? Don't you know my name?" She got a blank look in return. "Do you read newspapers?"

He blinked again. "I read the Sun," the Virgin Atlantic said slowly.

"That's not a newspaper. That's a marvellous work of fiction, read only by those with an IQ lower than the price –"

"Now, now, Miss Cross. You're talking about Britain's best-loved newspaper," a dry, drawling voice from behind her cut into her tirade and made her freeze with a mixture of intense surprise and abject horror.

Ellie stopped, then took a deep breath and composed herself before she turned around calmly, grinning in a very insincere way at Edward Whittaker. "I suppose that says something very serious about our country. After all, they did elect a Tory Prime Minister, too."

Ed smirked in his infinitely aggravating way that never failed to drive her up the wall. Even though they hadn't seen each other, had much contact with each other save a brief phone call after the publication and short success of the interview, or kept tabs on each others' existence in the last six months, Ellie recognised that smirk easily, and Ed knew how much it annoyed her.

"I thought you were in favour of a voice for everyone, not just a voice for the educated? After all, that's a new form of elitism." Ed grinned, then glanced at the Virgin Atlantic attendant, who was staring at him, a little slack-jawed. "Could you move things along, please? Some of us have a flight to catch."

"I have a flight to catch too!" Ellie snapped. "I have to get to Washington DC by…" Her voice trailed off, and she stared at him for a long moment, her over-tired brain managing to catch up with her. "Wait a minute. What are you doing here?"

"The same as you. Or the same as you intended, at least. Catching a flight." Ed shrugged, setting his suitcase down. "Dad insisted that I take a few days off to go on this trip with him, but I had a bit of last-minute work that couldn't be delayed. So this was the next flight out."

"Oh, joy. Just as I thought I was rid of you." Ellie grimaced again, then a small trace of hope entered her eyes, and she leant towards him conspiratorially. "I don't suppose you could give me a hand with this idiot and get me on the flight? Or Bridges will have my guts for garters. And Mike Bridges in garters is not something you'd like to see."

Ed shook his head, raising his hands. "No can do. I don't fudge the system. Convincing him would be… taking advantage of my status. Or at least fame." He smirked at her. "Wouldn't you hate it if I did that?"

As Ellie continued to glower at him, conceding his point but clearly not happy about it, he sighed and looked at her. "Do you have a copy of today's Herald with you?"

Ellie frowned more. "Yes, but –"

"Just get it out."

After a few seconds of rummaging around, she did, presenting him with a rolled-up and fairly battered paper. "Did you write your column today?" he asked, flicking through the pages as best one can with a broadsheet. "Or yesterday… whatever." At her confused nod, he rolled his eyes and folded the paper back, placing it on the check-in desk under the nose of the confused Virgin Atlantic official.

"See that column on the bottom left there? That's written by a woman named Ellie Cross. Doesn't that name match up with the name on the passport you have there?" Ed started, more than slightly patronisingly. "Doesn't the picture also match the picture on the passport, and, amazingly enough, the face of the woman in front of you who's desperate to get on the next plane to the US?"

The man looked up at Ed, his eyes dark but obviously now forced to be nothing but official. "Of course, Mister Whittaker," he sighed, tapping up on his computer and hitting the button to knock the conveyer belt into action, where it swept away Ellie's bag to unknown depths, hopefully headed for the plane, eventually.

Ellie tapped her foot impatiently as the official then attended to Ed's booking (which, of course, took much less time than her own), before grabbing him by the elbow almost the second he was done and practically dragging him across Heathrow in a mad bid to get to the plane on time.

Luck, which had been quite harsh on them both until now, decided to finally smile upon them, and within ten minutes they were trotting onto the large Boeing 747, completely out of breath and quite happy to collapse onto the luxurious and large seats of first class, without even thinking about it sitting in the same row.

"That… was fortunate. Dad would have gone insane if I'd missed this flight. He's already in a mood because I couldn't fly out with him," Ed gasped, standing up briefly only to store his small backpack and Ellie's bag, as she passed it to him, in the overhead compartment before he flopped down on his couch of a chair.

"Why didn't you just wait until the morning?" Ellie asked as she buckled up her seat-belt. "Instead of coming along at this ungodly hour?"

"John will get ratty if I'm not there was soon as he's called for me. He can get… demanding like that," Ed elaborated, shrugging slightly. Then he glanced at her briefly, curiously. "What about you? I thought the journalists were all going with the political body this evening?"

Ellie nodded. "They were. Just the Herald's representative – Ben Allston – got himself a nasty bug and is shipping back to the UK, too ill to do anything. Bridges bribed and blackmailed me in the middle of the night to do it."

"Isn't that fun, then? You get to spend the trip with little old me," Ed said, with a touch of smugness. "And I get to enjoy you as a travelling partner."

"There once was a time when the socialist would drive the conservative crazy," she groaned, shaking her head. Then she glanced over at him. "Still, it's pretty typical of you to get you processed so quickly at the terminal because of your status."

Ed glanced over at her as the engines whirred to life, ignored under her accusation. "What makes you think that's typical of me?" he asked, taunting and challenging. "You really don't know me as well as you think, Cross."

"I know you well enough. So far in our acquaintance you haven't said much to me that hasn't rung of 'typical public schoolboy'."

Ed snorted. "I'm sure that's not true." He shook his head. "Besides, what makes you qualified to judge what's 'typical public schoolboy'?" he said, cocking an eyebrow at her.

"I have had interaction with them before, you know. I did go to public school," Ellie retorted.

A long silence fell upon them both, broken only by a quite curse from Ellie. Ed raised an eyebrow slowly. "This is something that not many people seem to know," he observed dryly, staying wry to cover up his mild surprise.

"No." Ellie swore again. Her need to win every argument against Ed had prompted her to reveal something she wasn't too prone to advertising. "But yes. I went to a public school. I guess you didn't put two and two together about my family? Or, specifically, my father?"

Ed blinked. "No. Who's you're father… no!" His voice trailed off as realisation settled in, and he stared at her disbelievingly. "Not Terry Cross? Former Chancellor of the Exchequer under a Conservative government?"

Ellie nodded, turning red. "What can I say? I'm a black sheep of the family. I was sent to public school without debate, and was a right little ponce until I went to university and got myself enlightened as to the ways of the world."

Ed considered this briefly, still visibly goggled. "A psychiatrist could have a field day with paternal conflict relating to how much you lay into Conservatives," he mused, shaking his head. "My word. I really didn't expect this of you."

"Oh yes. I don't speak to my father that much anymore. He was horrified when I became a journalist, and even more so when I went to as 'disreputable' paper as the Herald. Thinks that I'm just a delusional little girl who ought to know her place and be a bit more supportive of those who are in their rightful place of ruling – i.e. the government or the monarchy."

"I can see how that sits badly with you." Ed paused for a few seconds, then began to chuckle, only just suppressing his laughter so that it wasn't too loud and didn't disturb any of the other passengers. "God! That's funny! Eleanor Cross, esteemed columnist for a left-wing paper, went to public school."

"It's not as unorthodox as it sounds. We're a bunch of hypocrites in the left-wing media," Ellie mumbled unhappily, shifting down in her chair.

Ed shook his head, still chuckling. "The great socialist who went to public school by chauffeur-driven Mercedes – and yes, I remember Terry Cross' habits, I know what the man was like! – and is currently loving travelling on First Class to the US to watch two right-wing leaders of countries have a chin-wag."

Ellie fixed him with a death-glare. "Maybe, one of these days, someone will take pity on me and kill you," she mumbled, then rummaged around under her chair before coming up with two items. "And now that I am here on First Class, I intend to make the most of it, primarily by avoiding talking to you, Whittaker. Wake me up when we're in Yank-land," she told him, leaning back in her chair and shoving the ear-plugs in her ears and lowering the eye-mask over her face to block out the light of the compartment and the still-merry chuckling of Ed Whittaker.