A ‘Captain Scarlet’ story for Christmas
Rhapsody Angel all but crawled out of her chair as it reached the Amber Room, raising a weary hand in greeting to Melody, who was about to take over as Angel One. The amber-coloured doors slid closed again, and the elevator took Melody up to begin her duty stint.
No-one spoke much – they were all too tired after their rough day. Rhapsody could hardly keep from yawning as she signed the shift log and closed her computer session down for the day.
“I’m worn out. I think I’m going to have an early night,” she said.
“Let’s hope the Mysterons decide they’ve had enough for one day,” Symphony remarked. She glared out of the window, where the neighbouring planet glittered a pale red in the clear night sky. “Happy Holidays, you bastards.”
Despite her tiredness, Rhapsody laughed. “Hear hear! All right, girls, I’ll see you in the morning. Happy Christmas!”
She left the Amber Room to a chorus of good nights and Happy Christmases, and with considerable relief, reached her quarters and flopped onto the bed. She toyed briefly with the notion of calling Sickbay to find out how Captain Scarlet was doing, but thought better of it. They’d taken heavy casualties today, including Scarlet, and Fawn and his staff would be busy. Besides, Scarlet hated her to see him while he was in recovery, and she somewhat grudgingly respected his wishes. Time enough to see him tomorrow, when they’d arranged to meet for breakfast and exchange gifts.
What a way to spend Christmas Eve, she thought as she wearily stripped off her uniform, shoved it into the laundry hamper, and headed for the shower. The threat that the Mysterons had issued that afternoon had effectively put a stop to all the Christmas celebrations planned for today. She and Paul had planned to have a nice, leisurely, and above all private, dinner in the VIP restaurant, followed by an evening alone together. She had an illicit bottle of wine chilling in the fridge for the occasion... By now, everyone was used to their plans being disrupted by the hostile aliens, but that didn’t make Paul’s absence tonight any easier to accept.
Rhapsody woke suddenly from a pleasant dream about Paul. She frowned into the darkness of her quarters, trying to identify the small sound that had woken her.
There it was again…
This time, she realised what it was, and rolled out of bed to answer the soft knocking on her door.
The figure silhouetted in the light from the corridor was unexpected, to say the least.
“Paul! What a surprise! Come in!”
He stepped forward as she moved out his way and closed the door behind him. Then she turned to him, unable to keep a wide smile off her face. “I’m so glad to see you…” she whispered, throwing her arms round him and burying her face in his shoulder.
Captain Scarlet returned her embrace, kissing her on the forehead and stroking her hair.
At last, she pulled away slightly so she could look at him. “You’ve made a quick recovery,” she remarked. “When did Doctor Fawn let you out?”
Scarlet gave a lop-sided grin, and raised his eyebrows. “Well,” he said, “he didn’t exactly let me out…”
Rhapsody rolled her eyes, but couldn’t maintain her stern frown. “You sneaked out, eh? Honestly, Paul, you’ll get into such trouble one of these days.”
“More than I have already, you mean?” he chuckled.
Rhapsody leaned against him once more, her arms encircling his waist. They stood in silence for a few minutes, just happy to be together in peace after a dreadful day. Finally, Rhapsody drew in a deep, sighing breath of contentment, and pulled away. She moved to the kitchenette, and took from the little fridge the bottle of wine that she had intended to share with him that evening anyway. Without asking, she poured two glasses and handed one to Scarlet, taking his hand and leading him towards the breakfast bar that ran along the wall beside the fridge.
“Ooh, your hands are cold!” she exclaimed.
He looked a little sheepish. “Yes… I don’t think I’ve quite finished regenerating yet.”
She rolled her eyes again. “You don’t say…”
There was another easy silence as they both sipped their wine. Finally, Scarlet spoke again.
“I’m sorry to have woken you up, but I really wanted to see you. And…” he unzipped the breast pocket of his tunic, where Rhapsody had already noticed a small, square bulge, “I know we said we’d meet in the morning and do this, but I couldn’t wait. I’m sorry I haven’t had time to wrap it. Happy Christmas, sweetheart.”
He handed her a small giftbox, about ten centimetres square and covered with red velvet. It was tied with a red ribbon, to which was attached a round label which said, in Paul’s angular handwriting: “To my darling Dianne, wishing you a very happy Christmas, with love from Paul”. She untied the bow, and opened the box.
Nestling inside, on a pad of dark red silk, was a gold bangle, set with tiny diamonds and rubies. Rhapsody lifted it out, and turned it in the light, watching the stones sparkle. “Oh, Paul, it’s beautiful!”
“I wanted to match your engagement ring. I hope I have?”
“Yes, yes, you have. It’s gorgeous… thank you, darling!”
She leaned forward and kissed him, then confessed, a little sheepishly: “Your present is under the tree in the Amber Room. I was going to fetch it in the morning…”
He grinned. “No worries, as Fawn might say. I can wait.” He took the bangle and slid it onto her slim wrist. “Just checking that it fits,” he said.
“Perfectly!” she laughed, and held out her glass. He refilled it, and touched his glass to hers.
“Happy Christmas!” A little wine slopped over the edge, and splashed onto the tabletop. “Oops! Sorry…” Scarlet rescued the velvet box from the table. “No damage here,” he reported, “but the label’s a casualty.”
Rhapsody picked up the wet label from the little puddle of wine, and grinned at him. “At least it proves you do actually use a real fountain pen,” she remarked, looking at the smeared writing. She salvaged the ribbon, and tossed the label into the wastebin.
A tinny chime from Scarlet’s watch broke the silence. He pushed himself up on one elbow and checked the time. “I’d better go, and let you get some sleep,” he said, leaning over and kissing her again.
Rhapsody stretched luxuriously, and pouted up at him. “Do you have to?”
He smiled, and stroked her face. “Yes, I have to.” He rolled off the bed and dressed quickly. “I’m so glad I got to spend at least some of Christmas Eve with you, Angel,” he said softly. “Look – it’s gone midnight. Happy Christmas.”
She held her arms out to him. “Happy Christmas, Paul. Goodnight. I’ll see you at breakfast.”
He kissed her one last time, then quietly let himself out.
Alone once more, Rhapsody lay back on her tousled pillow with a sigh of contentment. She held up her arm, admiring the shine and glitter of her bangle in the subdued light from her fish tank. Then she rolled over onto her side, and went back to sleep.
Rhapsody was off-duty for Christmas Day, and had planned to treat herself to a lie-in before meeting Paul in the canteen for breakfast. Nevertheless, it was still quite early when she pushed the duvet aside, got out of bed, and wandered sleepily over to the kitchenette to make some coffee. As the machine bubbled and burbled to itself, she opened the fridge for the milk – and frowned at her bare wrist.
Where’s my bangle? It must’ve come off during the night. Blast it… I’ll have to strip the bed to look for it.
But the bangle wasn’t caught in the bedlinen, nor was it on the floor, or on the bedside table, or her dressing table, or anywhere else she looked in her increasingly-frantic search. She stood in the middle of her room, hands on hips, looking around with a prickle of tears in her eyes. Dammit… I can’t have lost it! There’s nowhere else it could be! There was nothing for it – she’d have to tell Paul. Perhaps he could help her look for it. And speaking of Paul – now she was nearly late for breakfast!
She left her ransacked quarters in a hurry, dropping in at the Amber Room to collect her present to Paul on the way to the canteen.
He was already there when she arrived, a little out of breath, and greeted her effusively. “Happy Christmas, darling!” He stopped and frowned slightly, rather puzzled by her air of distraction. “Are you OK?”
Rhapsody bit her lip. She’d have to tell him… later… when she could think of how to… “Yes, I’m fine. I just overslept a bit, and had to rush. Sorry.”
Scarlet put his hands on her shoulders, and tilted his head to the side to study her. He was obviously not convinced. “Well, as long as you’re all right. Sit down – I’ve ordered the special for both of us. Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, fresh pineapple juice, toast and coffee. How does that sound?”
She nodded, and managed to smile. “Yes, that’s absolutely fine. Thank you, darling.”
The coffee came first, and Rhapsody poured for them both as Scarlet tore open the parcel she’d given him. It never failed to amuse her, how childlike he could be sometimes. She liked to take her time opening parcels, but Scarlet just ripped straight into them. However, once the contents were revealed, then he slowed down, to appreciate properly both the gift and the thoughtfulness of the giver.
He screwed up the torn wrapping paper, and discarded it with a deadly accurate, over-arm throw into a nearby wastebin. “Now, your present…”
Rhapsody closed her eyes. Now for it… “Er…” She cleared her throat. “I’m sorry, I –”
She opened her eyes in surprise as a small box was placed in her hand. The box was about 10 centimetres square, covered in red velvet and tied with a red ribbon, to which was attached a round label which said, in Paul’s angular handwriting: “To my darling Dianne, wishing you a very happy Christmas, with love from Paul”.
“I’m sorry I didn’t have time to wrap it,” Scarlet was saying apologetically.
Rhapsody stared in astonishment at the box, then up at Scarlet. He gave her an expectant smile. “Aren’t you going to open it?”
Flustered, Rhapsody looked down again. “Yes – yes, of course I am!”
She untied the ribbon and opened the box. Inside, nestling on a pad of dark red silk, was a gold bangle set with tiny diamonds and rubies.
“You’ve got it!” she whispered.
“Er, yes, I got it,” he replied, a little confused. “Well, to be totally accurate, Dad got it in Hatton Garden, and sent it to me. But I ordered it and paid for it… Are you sure you’re OK?”
“Yes, I’m fine! I’m fine now! I’ve been searching for it, I didn’t know how to tell you…”
“Tell me what?” Now, Scarlet was completely confused.
“That’d I’d lost it… I was looking for it this morning, that’s why I was late… but you had it all the time! That was a bit naughty, Paul. You should have told me you’d taken it back!”
“Dianne…” Scarlet started, “I hate to say this, but I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Last night!” Rhapsody babbled. “When you left, you took it with you! You must’ve done – I looked everywhere. I was so upset; it’s such a lovely bangle and I thought I’d lost it…”
She trailed off when she not only noticed his baffled expression, but also remembered that she had still been wearing the bangle after Paul had left…
“Last night?” he repeated slowly. “Last night, I was in Sickbay. Fawn only let me out this morning. I picked this up from my quarters, then came straight here.”
Rhapsody shook her head. “No, last night you came to see me. I’m not sure what time it was – you woke me up by knocking on my door. We had –” she blushed slightly, remembering where they were, and changed what she’d been going to say, continuing in a rather lower voice “‑ a lovely evening, almost just as we’d planned, then you left just after midnight.”
Scarlet took her hand. “I think you must’ve been dreaming,” he said. “I didn’t even regain consciousness until after midnight. I was furious with the Mysterons for ruining our Christmas Eve.”
“But it was so real!” Rhapsody sighed, loath to admit that the night of love, wine and passion had simply been a vivid dream. “You said that you’d tried to match my engagement ring… and when you left, you said that you were happy we’d been able to spend Christmas Eve together after all...” Her mouth twitched into a rueful grin. “I’m so sorry, darling. I’m an idiot. This is a beautiful bangle. I love it. Put it on for me?”
She held out her arm, and Scarlet, blowing out a tolerant, amused sigh, slid it onto her slim wrist. She twisted her arm, admiring the shine and sparkle of the gold and the stones in the bright lights of the canteen.
After the drama of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day itself was peaceful and uneventful, and in due course, Scarlet and Rhapsody retired to the privacy of her quarters. “Might as well finish that wine,” she remarked.
Scarlet raised his eyebrows. “You have wine? Tsk tsk… alcohol is strictly forbidden on base, you know.”
She stuck her tongue out at him. “Make yourself useful and get the glasses,” she instructed, opening the fridge. She wasn’t surprised to find that the bottle was not only full, but unopened. That situation was easily rectified, and the rest of Christmas Day was spent in private enjoyment.
Scarlet was due on duty at 21:00, and Rhapsody kissed him a fond, and lingering, goodnight as he went to relieve Colonel White in the Control Room. After he’d gone, she rinsed the glasses, then, mindful of her early shift in the morning, got ready for bed, making sure that her bangle was safely tucked away in the drawer of her dressing table.
Rhapsody retrieved her nightdress from where it had got kicked under the bed during her whirlwind search that morning. Sighing over her earlier foolishness, she slipped it over her head – then stopped. Something was caught in the lace on the hem of the nightgown, and had brushed against her leg. She frowned as she dislodged a round piece of thin card, which smelled of stale wine and bore the remains of smeared writing: “To my darling Dianne, wishing you a very happy Christmas, with love from Paul”…
Standard disclaimer – regardless of who owns the rights to Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons these days, it is not me, and I am making no profit from this, or any other fan fiction or fan activity.
If memory serves, Rhapsody’s engagement ring of diamonds and rubies was first described in Good Knight, Dear Lady by Mary J Rudy.
Many thanks to my dear friend Marion Woods for her continuing encouragement, and beta-reading. Also to Chris Bishop for providing this outlet for our creative inclinations – I owe you more than I can ever say, Chris!
And as always, the very deepest thanks to Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, and all the talented people who created the worlds of Century 21 which has captivated me for the last 50-odd years.
I hope you enjoyed this little piece of seasonal fluff. Happy Christmas to you all!