a CAPTAIN SCARLET AND THE MYSTERONS story
by Mary J. Rudy
Captain Scarlet sat in a chair on Cloudbase’s glass-enclosed Promenade Deck and stared at the star-filled heavens. He went up there often, not only to enjoy the beauty of the night sky but also to have a place to collect his thoughts. Tonight those thoughts were personal ones, warm and romantic--it was rather fitting that there was a full moon--yet they were also tinged with frustration.
For the first time in his life, he realized that he was in love. Rhapsody Angel had stirred up emotions inside of him that he wasn’t even aware of before. It was a truly wonderful feeling, but it left him not knowing how to act. Oh, sure, he had had his share of encounters with the opposite sex. He had been normal in that respect, rather the envy of several of his mates. But no one had touched his heart in the way that Dianne did.
He had confided in his best friend about his feelings earlier that day. Captain Blue thought it was wonderful, said he had an idea of what was going on but had kept it to himself. He had said that the best way for Scarlet to act was just to “be himself” and just to let everything come naturally.
That was what troubled him. Scarlet was frustrated, not with how he felt about Rhapsody or how she felt about him, but rather with how he felt about himself. He wasn’t sure that he wanted to enter into a commitment with anyone. It was the typical reaction of someone doing dangerous work, that fear of one day not returning to home and family, but on a different scale due to Captain Scarlet’s unique situation. Was he immortal? Would his body age over the years or just keep rejuvenating itself? Would he never die? Worst of all, how did he know that all this trauma to his body--and possibly his mind--wouldn’t one day catch up with him? He shuddered at the thought of leaving a widow and children--if he could still create them--to fend for themselves. It was aggravating that he would probably never know the answers to these questions.
Scarlet sighed, rose from the chair and walked to the window. There he stood, with one hand in his pocket and the other on the window frame, drumming on the metal strip with his fingers. Many times he had asked himself the same questions, but they had never held the importance they did now. The look Rhapsody had given him today at tea had disturbed him greatly. It was the same look he saw in the mirror whenever he thought of her. He hoped that she thought of him the same way he did of her, that it was not just his imagination. But would she accept him as he was?
Suddenly his fingers stopped. Perhaps Adam was right. Of course! To be himself was to be truthful to Rhapsody, to tell her exactly how he felt. Make her aware of just what she was getting herself into by falling for him. Let her decide if she wanted to take the risks involved.
Satisfied with his decision, Captain Scarlet looked as if a great weight had been removed from his shoulders. He turned from the window and reached for the small stack of recordings he had brought with him. The Promenade Deck was equipped with a stereo system, and he often played some sort of classical music while he was there. Depending on the piece he played, the music could intensify the majesty of the cosmos or soothe his frayed nerves. Scarlet opted for the latter, selecting a work called “The Moldau” written by a Czech composer in the late 19th century. It was perhaps his favorite piece, one that combined soft, flowing violin music with heroic brass fanfares. He started the music and returned to staring out the windows.
The soft music indeed had a relaxing effect on him. Scarlet needed to clear his head, for he still had to sort out a few details of his decision--namely, how to reveal his feelings to Rhapsody. What should I say? He had been brought up learning to suppress his emotions, to be a proper British military officer and keep a stiff upper lip at all times, just like his father. Professing his love would be new to him, something that would require a lot of forethought.
He had been this way for a few minutes, turning ideas over in his head, when the door slid open and Rhapsody Angel herself entered.
That quickly, his mind went blank.
She must have come straight from her shift in the alert aircraft, for he saw that she still had her crash helmet with her. Her red hair flowed over her shoulders and shone in the moonlight like a newly-minted penny. Scarlet’s presence in the lounge seemed to startle her.
The captain felt his heart leap at the sight of Rhapsody. He smiled warmly and turned from the window. “Well, hello! Fancy a bit of stargazing tonight?”
She smiled at him in reply and looked at him the same way she had that afternoon. “Yes, you can’t see the moon from the flight deck. I thought I’d stop here for a few minutes before going below.” She placed the helmet on a table and stood next to him before the window, gazing outside dreamily. Then the Angel pilot noticed the music playing in the background. “My, that’s pretty. Who wrote that one?”
“Smetana. I often play it when something’s troubling me.”
“I thought something was wrong at tea today. You were so quiet.” She drew a little closer to him. “Do you want to tell me about it?”
No time like the present, thought Captain Scarlet. He shifted uneasily and cleared his throat before he spoke. “Do-- Do you like me, Dianne?”
“Well, this must be serious, because you hardly ever call me by my first name. Yes, Paul, I like you very much.” She paused and looked at the floor. “In fact, I--” She paused, wondering if she should beat about the bush or just spit it out.
She took a deep breath. “I believe I’ve fallen in love with you.”
His eyes widened. “You have?”
Rhapsody nodded slowly. “I’ve been quite fond of you for some time.” She looked up at him nervously, her cheeks starting to redden. “I suppose I was hoping that you would notice one day.”
He turned toward her and grasped her hand. “Oh, but I have. Didn’t you notice how quiet I was this afternoon? And that’s what I was trying to sort out before you came in.”
“What do you mean?”
“Whether or not you should get too involved with me.”
She gave him a confused look. “Why?”
Captain Scarlet let go of Rhapsody’s hand and backed away from her. “Dianne, look at me. Why am I even standing here in front of you? I should be dead!” He ran his fingers through his dark hair and turned toward the window again, trying to conceal his anguish from her. “Quite a lot has happened to me since that first Mysteron attack. Sometimes I think Captain Brown was the lucky one.”
“Oh, Paul, you shouldn’t say that!” Rhapsody interrupted. “You escaped them, after all, and got your life back in order--”
He turned back toward her at the comment. “Perhaps I did escape them, but what sort of a life did they give me in return? Do you have any idea what goes through my mind each day?” He began to count on his fingers. “Am I human, or am I some sort of freak? Will I ever have a normal life and get married one day? Will I be able to have normal children? What if the Mysteron powers leave me without warning and I take one chance too many? I could never expose anyone to those risks--especially you, Dianne. I love you too much to even think of hurting you if something more goes wrong with my life--”
Rhapsody’s jaw dropped upon hearing the last sentence.
Scarlet placed his hands gently on her shoulders as he continued. “Yes, Dianne, I love you. I’ve felt this way for several months, but I haven’t quite known how to tell you until just now. I’ve never felt the same way as I do when you’re near. And when you’re not about, I feel an emptiness in my heart that no one can fill but you. When I saw the way you looked at me this afternoon, I didn’t know what to do. Should I tell you how I feel, or keep it bottled up forever? Would it be right to let you love me, with all the risks you’d be taking? That’s why these things upset me so much. I’m worried about you, if you’re aware that there may be problems--”
“Paul, stop it!” Rhapsody exclaimed, taking his hands from her shoulders, her velvet-soft eyes brimming with tears. She reached up and caressed his cheek. “Don’t you think I’ve thought about all of this already? We all worry about what will happen to ourselves. I’m willing to take a chance. What might happen doesn’t matter to me. All that matters is that I love you, and if you love me in return then you must be human!”
Captain Scarlet said nothing, but gathered her to his breast and held her against his rapidly beating heart.
Rhapsody could feel him shaking slightly as she nestled in his arms. It was probably the most difficult speech he’s ever had to make, she mused. She realized that she had just witnessed months of pent-up emotions finally being allowed to come out into the open. Paul had actually been concealing his affection for her in an attempt to protect her! From that moment, she loved him even more dearly than she had before.
As the final notes of Bedrich Smetana’s “The Moldau” echoed through the Promenade Deck, Scarlet brushed the tears from Rhapsody Angels smooth face and touched his lips tenderly to hers. She returned the kiss softly and held him as though she would never let him go. They remained in their warm embrace for a few precious minutes longer, taking in the magnificent backdrop of the moonlit night, not wanting the moment to end too quickly. But time was short, and so the pair exited the Promenade Deck and parted, Rhapsody taking her standby post in the Amber Room and Captain Scarlet going to his duty station, both fully aware that their lives had been changed forever.
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