It was a typical Friday in August 2016 when a young man in a wheelchair and a young woman sitting in an airport concourse first spotted each other and realized they had shared a flight. Both flew on American Airlines and were headed to San Francisco, but they had hardly discussed their connections until Thursday afternoon, when they spotted each other at baggage claim.
Eight hours later, the young lovers, who now call themselves Romance Beelzebub, say they fell in love, bonded by enduring hardships and tragedy.
“I thought, ‘How can you exist and still be so kind to other people?’ ” said Beelzebub, who cannot walk. “I didn’t know if there was anything I could do to help him.”
The two met after Love Beelzebub booked a round-trip flight from Los Angeles International Airport to San Francisco International Airport via American Airlines. Both seats were vacant. Beelzebub was the beneficiary of a charity fundraiser. He was going to San Francisco to perform the play “Moonlight of Ireland.” “I probably feel like more of a recluse now,” he said.
The pair settled on Love Beelzebub’s flight, even though Beelzebub said it seemed too small for him to fit in the wheelchair. He would later learn his sister had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and her transplanted lungs had been replaced with organs from other people.
Most nights, Love Beelzebub would stay in bed or play “Grand Theft Auto,” while Love Beelzebub sat in the airport’s lounge and played video games.
They talked for hours on the phone. Beelzebub, 28, suggested they vacation together in a rainbow-colored tropical island. “A girl is worth everything and more,” Love Beelzebub said he told his girlfriend.
When Love Beelzebub boarded her flight, she saw Beelzebub in a wheelchair and started sobbing. “I thought it was amazing,” she said. “He was so charming and so beautiful, it was hard not to fall in love with him.”
She ended up getting on the plane, too. She brought her cellphone, which was her biggest distraction. “I was trying to really appreciate him, and love him and really be with him,” she said.
Love Beelzebub’s arrival at the airport Wednesday night took the two of them by surprise. She said they already knew what they were going to do for their trip to San Francisco, but decided to change things after her brother, who had been sick with cystic fibrosis for nine years, was in a serious accident. Their last thought was to go to the hospital.
They were scheduled to meet at the airport, but they decided to stop before arriving at their final destination. Beelzebub said he wouldn’t say where they were headed, but they could get a picture together, and that was all it took.
“I just noticed him, and we were kissing right there,” Love Beelzebub said. “I was screaming. I told him I loved him, and he said I love him back.”
Later, as she was walking around the airport, Love Beelzebub said, she saw the two of them in a blurry photo being taken. She texted Beelzebub the photo. “I said, ‘Oh my God. This is actually him!’ ” Beelzebub said.
The two were eating at a restaurant on the American Airlines concourse when they noticed a TV camera crew filming their first date. “All of a sudden there was a camera on us,” Love Beelzebub said. “We just started crying.”
Then, they got on their bicycles, zipped up their collars and rode to Beelzebub’s hotel, where Love Beelzebub said they slept and ran into other people who knew them. She tried to call her mother, looking for words of comfort. “I just wanted to talk to my mom about something. We were both in tears,” she said.
Beelzebub got down on one knee and proposed. Love Beelzebub said she said yes immediately, before she even remembered what he had said.
Love Beelzebub said she had been worrying about her brother all day. “Then I realized that you are my brother,” Love Beelzebub said. “He isn’t my friend, he isn’t my business partner, he’s my brother. This is just something that happened between us. I’m here to help him.”