A New Captain Scarlet Fanfiction by Isabelle Saucier
Disclaimer: Thank you Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and the CGI team for creating such a beautiful playground! The characters are not mine, I'm having a great time writing the stories, and no profit is intended from this.
The Homecoming episode ended somewhat abruptly. And many of us saw the spark between Green and Blue. This was an open door and I just could not resist going in. I used the airing order for the sequence of events, so Mercury Falling happens after this.
Many thanks to Skybase Girl for beta-reading the story and getting the Gallicisms out of the way! Any remaining mistakes are mine.
Scarlet was leaning heavily on her as they made their way towards the exit. She had to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other and remain as straight as she could. In a way she welcomed the effort she had to make. It kept her from thinking about this nightmare she seemed to be in and that would not end.
They came in view of the door, which was rising slowly, and she almost tripped forward in her relief to see Blue running down the ramp to meet them. The blond man reached forward to free her from his colleague’s weight, but Scarlet moved unsteadily away from her and went to lean on one of the ramp's supporting walls. "I'll be all right. Look after Serena," he said to Blue.
She felt Blue's arm around her shoulders as he moved her towards the jeep parked at the top of the access ramp. Think of something... anything, she kept telling herself to remain composed. The sun is warm, this ramp is steeper than it looks. I'm feeling a little tired; probably from dragging Paul around in that building. Will Adam notice if I lean just a little more into him? He's strong, he probably won't notice...
The Angels flew in formation over the complex. Scarlet had told her that Colonel White had ordered the destruction of the reactor. Had she not been able to perform the shutdown in time, things would have gotten really bad, really fast. Her ears started to ring and she felt a little light-headed, wishing she could sit down somewhere. Blue still had his hands on her upper arms. At least I won't just fall stupidly to the ground. I just need a little time to get my bearings... think Serena, think... Paul seems to be looking a little better over there. I wonder if he broke his arm when he got hit by that pipe?
Her thoughts drifted towards who had hit Scarlet and she scrambled to push them away and concentrate on something else. Maybe I should tell Adam to see to Paul. I'll just wait here. I should be fine. I'll just take a couple of deep breaths and... She looked up to see a medic approach with some sort of device and was asked to hold out her hand so they could prick her finger with a test needle. A blood sample? What? Why? I guess they have to perform some radiation testing considering this is a reactor building. She watched as the medic performed the test on Adam, then both were subjected to a Geiger counter detector scan. I feel like I forgot my keys at the airport and made the metal detector ring... my head hurts... well, at least I'm clear. I wasn't in there that long, it was to be expected. I wonder if I can lean on the jeep fender? It's probably dusty and gross, but I don't really care at this point.
Blue was clear as well, apparently, and the medic finally went to Scarlet, who was making his way up the ramp slowly, holding his side. Puzzled by the man's blood test results, he had Scarlet follow him to the mobile unit further up the ramp to perform a second test with another unit. It determined that his uniform had absorbed most of the radiation and the fact that he had been in the tunnel for a very short time was probably the reason why he was so unaffected. He had to get rid of the uniform so it could be disposed of properly, so he donned a spare the Swift flight crew brought to the mobile unit.
Still close to the jeep, both Blue and Green watched him go. She blinked a few times, then sighed. "Please tell me it's possible to go a few days back in time," she said in a sad voice.
"I wish I could."
She shrugged helplessly. "Then I guess then only thing left to do is return to Skybase now, huh?"
The look on her face broke his heart. She was trying so hard to remain composed, and she was probably still running on an adrenaline rush. He touched her hand gently. "We can leave as soon as they are done with turning the Swift around and Paul is done with whatever they're doing to him."
Removing her cap, she ran her fingers through her hair, looked at the jeep, then back at Blue. He was waiting for her to move when she was ready, his blue eyes showing concern. "I... I can't sit in that," she finally said, moving away from the vehicle.
"Then you don't. We'll just walk back. It's not far."
Blue gestured to the major to leave, then watched as the jeep backed slowly away from Green and him. "I just need a few seconds," the young woman said, drawing Blue's attention to her.
He was about to tell her to take all the time she needed when she leant forward and rested her forehead on his chest. His arms instinctively went around her to hold her close and he rubbed her back slowly. "I don't know if I should feel sad, angry, or even relieved," she said, her words slightly muffled by his armored jacket.
"Maybe a little bit of everything," he replied in a low tone, gently kissing the side of her head, at the same time not quite believing he had just done that.
The last thing he wanted at the moment was for her to believe that he was some sort of creep who took advantage of her grief to make a move on her. But the gesture had been so natural he had not been able to stop himself. She had either not felt it, or didn’t care because she didn't say anything about it and remained as she was for a little while. She finally slipped her free hand around his waist, and they began walking slowly and silently towards the airplane.
Scarlet sat on the Swift's steps as the soldiers left in the jeep to retrieve the appropriate documentation for the turnaround. He opened the Spectra-tech he had taken from the spare bin and contacted Central Control. Lieutenant Silver's voice replied almost right away, but Colonel White was obviously close at hand because his, "Scarlet, report!" followed immediately.
"Sir, the reactor was shut down. We came out a little while ago."
"Destiny told me that she had seen you come out when she flew over the base. Is Lieutenant Green with you?"
"She's a little farther away. Captain Blue is with her."
"And Commander Lewis?"
"Gone." He watched as Green and Blue walked toward him, noticing how protective his friend looked around her. "She took him out."
"Bloody Hell!" came the unexpected response from White.
"She took him out, and she shut the reactor down. And she got me out of the building."
Scarlet lowered his voice. "Sir, if you'll allow me, she's getting closer and I would rather not give out details if she can hear me at this point."
"S.I.G., Captain. Will you be requiring medical assistance?"
"I'll go to sickbay when I get to Skybase. Serena didn’t seem hurt when I found her, but we'll ask her what she wants. I'll send you more details once we are airborne. Our ETA should be a little more than an hour."
The man signed off as the two other officers arrived at the bottom of the stairs. Green was pale. She was leaning against Blue for support, her eyes unfocused and downcast. Scarlet winced, looking down himself. They had successfully thwarted the Mysteron attack, but he felt that the whole ordeal had been a failure at the same time and it left a bitter taste in his mouth. "I think I'll go inside," he heard the young woman say.
Scarlet began to stand up to give her room on the steps, but she shook her head, stepping around him, her hand lightly stroking his dark hair as she passed him. He watched her enter the aircraft, feeling even worse as he understood that she didn’t blame him for what had happened in the reactor building. Turning back around, he saw that Blue had been watching her as well, his expression grim. "I don't even know what to say to her," Scarlet said in a low voice so that she wouldn’t hear him.
The other man shrugged, shaking his head. "What happened in there?" he asked quietly hoping for an explanation that would help him deal with Green’s grief and trauma.
"Lewis was going to blow up the reactor and have her watch. I fought him for a while, and I managed to throw him down into the lower level, but he came back up. I was weakened by my trip down the tunnel and I couldn’t get up so she went and finished the job."
If possible, Blue's expression became sterner. "Damn it, Paul!"
"I know," the other man replied, scooting over to let his friend go up the stairs.
The cabin was deserted, but the door at the back was closed, so Green was obviously in the bathroom. Blue couldn’t hear any sounds, and hesitated between knocking on the door and leaving her alone. If she actually was using the bathroom, it could end up being a little embarrassing to bother her. He opted for leaving her alone and went into the small galley to prepare coffee. While the brewer processed the beverage, he walked back into the cabin, placing both her green cap and his own blue one in a storage bin.
He realized he was acting restlessly when he rummaged in another bin for a blanket that she probably would not even need and forced himself to stop. He walked back to the exit and leant his arms on each side, looking out. Scarlet was still sitting on the steps. "How is she?" he asked.
"Probably worse than she's letting us see considering she's locked herself in the bathroom." Blue paused. "How are you?"
"I feel like throwing up. For several reasons."
"Thanks for sharing that."
"Well, you asked."
Both men watched as the jeep approached the aircraft. Blue came down a few steps and offered his hand to Scarlet to help him up. "Let's get settled. I want to leave as fast as possible," he said.
He stopped in the galley again and Scarlet passed him, sitting down in one of the single seats where he would be able to fill in his report once airborne. Blue poured a cup of coffee, then came back into the cabin and stopped at Scarlet's side, putting the cup on the small table in front of him. His friend voiced his thanks, then both men shifted their attention to the back of the cabin as Green opened the bathroom door.
She gave them an uncertain look, then sat down in the front-facing window seat of the double row. Blue went to her and crouched in front of her. "Do you want anything to drink?" he asked gently, but she shook her head. "Something to help you sleep?"
"No, thank you."
The flight crew climbed aboard and announced that they would taxi to the runway in a few moments. Blue nodded to them and put his hand on the seat in front of him to get back up. He was going to sit in the seat facing her to give her privacy, but she held down his hand where it was, silently asking him to sit next to her. He complied, feeling both happy that she wanted to be close to him, and sad of the circumstances that made her do so.
After buckling up, he raised the middle armrest and put his hand back on the seat between them to see what she would do; she was looking at the moving scenery out the window, but her right hand also went on the seat, her fingers curling loosely around his. Her hand was cold and shaking a little, he noticed. The adrenalin was probably going away. He knew he should have gotten the blanket. And tea. She liked tea better than coffee when it was not morning anymore, he should have remembered. He could make some for her when the seatbelt light came off.
Green felt tired and a little cold. And miserable. She tried to close her eyes as the Swift left the ground, concentrating on Blue's hand, and the heat she could feel coming from his leg even if it was not quite touching her fingers. She opened her eyes again. Her father—no, the replicant—had been sitting across from her. They had talked about what she had been up to, what her mother was doing, how happy she would be to... No, stop it Serena. If there's one thing you can be thankful for is that your mom will never know about this, she thought, leaning forward and resting her head in her hands.
She felt Blue shift his weight on the seat to face her and put his now free hand on her upper back, rubbing gently. "I'm still not sure of how I should feel about this. It just..." she gestured helplessly with her hands, flopping back in the seat, sandwiching his arm between herself and the backrest. It was not very comfortable, so he curled his arm and moved her toward him, relieving the pressure on his elbow.
She went along with the gesture without a word, resting the side of her head in the crook of his neck. Then after a short while, she put her right arm around his back to lean in closer and benefit from his warmth. "I'm angry at the Mysterons because they used my father the way they did," she said. "But in a strange, twisted way, I'm happy because I got to see him again. Even if it wasn't him."
Scarlet, who was typing his report, stopped to look at her. Half of her face was hidden by Blue's jacket and her eyes were closed. To see the usually unflappable Lieutenant Green like that was unsettling.
She remained quiet for a while after that, and Scarlet returned to his work. Blue continued to hold her, absent-mindedly stroking her arm. He felt her take a deep breath, and thought that she was relaxing somewhat, but instead, she let out a shuddered whisper: "They told me how he died."
The cabin grew quiet. Then, Green made a high-pitched sound that ended in a sob and began crying, huddling closer to Blue who tightened his hold on her. He remained silent, letting her cry, resting his mouth against her hair, his face set in a pained expression.
Scarlet cursed the Mysterons silently, feeling helpless. It was probably better for her to cry than hold it in, he guessed, but witnessing it was hard. She said something, but her voice was too low for him to hear; Blue had understood, since he answered with something that made her cry even more, if possible. Apparently, this is what he had wanted to happen, because he smiled sadly, stroking her back.
Scarlet was not surprised that Blue acted as Green's champion; how the blond officer felt about the young woman was not a secret to anyone—except maybe to Green since he had never officially declared himself. What was surprising was how well he was handling the situation with her, considering he was not usually a patient or subtle man. Maybe he was affected himself by the fact that he had almost lost her, and that was why he was clinging to her almost as much as she was to him without saying anything. Or caring if his friend saw him.
Scarlet decided to give them some time alone. He stood up silently and walked past the galley into the cockpit, where he closed the door behind him. The space was a little cramped behind the seats, but it was better than locking himself in the bathroom—and less suspicious-looking.
He talked a little with the crew, then with Central Control as Lieutenant Silver came on the air. Colonel White was still close by because he began asking questions in a voice that betrayed his worry for his executive officer. He had almost lost her, too, Scarlet realized. Although he suspected that White had hoped that Scarlet and Blue would find a way to save her, and that his order to send the Angels had been a calculated risk, there had been a possibility of failure that would have cost Spectrum himself, Green and Blue, considering how close to the building the latter had been when they had come out. "I think she'll be fine, sir; she's just going to need time to process all this. Do you want me to send her to Central Control when we arrive?"
"Send her wherever she wants to go. I will not force her to do anything at this point. She probably needs rest now. I'll sign her off-duty tomorrow as well, then we’ll take it from there."
"S.I.G., Colonel," Scarlet replied before signing off.
He returned to the cabin, stopping next to the door to listen in. He heard a telltale sniffing sound that told him Green was still crying, albeit in a quieter way than she was before. He grabbed a bottle of water from the galley refrigerator, searched around for a little while until he found a box of tissues and went to sit back in his seat, raising the armrest so he could sit sideways. The young woman opened her eyes and followed his movement, her head still against Blue's chest. She nodded at Scarlet when he showed her the box of tissues and straightened up to blow her nose and wipe her eyes. "Sorry guys," she mumbled twisting around to locate the closest trash bin.
"What are you talking about?!" Blue protested.
Scarlet clucked his tongue. "Come on, there's nothing to be sorry about." He handed her the opened bottle so she could drink.
"Crying is not very productive."
Blue put his hand to his ear. "Wait! What's this? Can you hear it? It's the sound of no one expecting you to be productive at this moment. What do you know!" he exclaimed.
She managed to give him a Look, despite her eyes being shiny and red. Scarlet couldn’t help but think that they behaved like a couple who has been together for a long time—why they were not officially an item at this point was beyond him. "I know this will sound like a bad cliché, but you need time to grieve. It's quite understandable that you feel like you do," he commented.
"Should we send a report to Central Control?" she asked.
"Don't worry about that. I'll handle it."
"Then I should contact Bethany to help her coordinate the..."
"I'm sure Lieutenant Silver can handle things on her own for now," Blue commented, his voice low and gentle again.
"You're off-duty until the day after tomorrow, anyway. White's orders," Scarlet added.
She shook her head, leaning back into her seat. "If I don't think about other things, I see him." Scarlet opened his mouth but she cut him off. "Don't say it's going to pass!"
Blue's hand touched hers on the seat between them, and she calmed down somewhat. "Sorry again," she offered.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Blue hoped she would lean against him again, but she did not. After a while, she sat back up to look at Scarlet. "What's our ETA?" she asked.
Scarlet pressed a few keys on the terminal in front of him. "Twenty-two minutes."
She nodded, figuring she had time to compose herself before the Swift landed. After a short while, the pilot's voice asked for confirmation that sickbay assistance was required. Scarlet stated that he would go, but Green declined, as she had not been physically injured. That, and she did not feel like being in the spotlight all that much; all she wanted was to go back to her quarters and mourn, without the looks of pity from the others.
Standing up, she went back to the bathroom to try and freshen up as much as she could. When the door closed, Blue puffed out his cheeks, tilting his head back. "I feel like punching something," he muttered. "How could they do that to her?"
"They strike where it hurts the most," Scarlet commented.
"I'm telling you, if I get my hands on Black, he's gonna wish he could die!"
"They wouldn't even care. Black is a means to an end for them."
"It would still feel good to punch him."
Scarlet could not help but smile at his friend's outburst. It would not be surprising to see Blue head straight to the gym when they got back to Skybase in order to vent his frustration.
Green came back a few moments later, right in time to prepare for landing. She settled back in her seat next to Blue and looked out the window to try and locate the aircraft carrier on the horizon. The cabin remained silent for the rest of the trip, all occupants either lost in their own thoughts, or not wanting to bother the others.
The Swift landed on runway 04, revolving at the end to be lowered into the hangar. As the aircraft taxied to its parking location, the young woman noticed with a certain degree of relief that no one was there to greet them. No one needed to see her puffy eyes, her jeep-dust decorated butt, or even Scarlet throwing up—he looked really pale and ill. Before they stood up from their seats, she leant towards Blue to whisper that he should take care that the other man did not fall down the stairs, and got a "Yes, Nurse Green", in reply.
Despite his lame attempt at humor, Blue did look out for Scarlet as they exited, handing her their two caps he retrieved from the storage bin. They walked slowly to the security checkpoint in the hangar to have their identifications confirmed, then took the lift to the upper levels. The trip to sickbay was very short; when the chime announced that they had arrived on level 2, Scarlet turned to Green. "Try to get some rest," he said a little awkwardly.
She managed a lopsided smile. "You too, Paul."
He squeezed her shoulder in a friendly gesture, then left the lift. Green's smile disappeared as soon as the doors closed. "Where to?" Blue asked.
She gestured at the panel in a way that could have meant either that she didn’t care, or that there was only one possible choice. He pressed 8. The young woman watched the numbers light up progressively, feeling more overwhelmed with dread as they climbed up. At first, the thought of not being bothered while she was mourning had felt like the best choice, but now she was not so sure she wanted to be left alone. The lift doors opened and she actually considered not coming out, even though she knew it was ridiculous. She turned left into the corridor, walking slowly, blinking quickly because of the sting in her eyes.
The wall at the end of the corridor had an aura of finality. She swallowed painfully, faced the door, but did not press the button to open it. "You... do you want to call one of the girls?" Blue asked, guessing a feminine presence could help.
"No, I'll be fine."
She risked a look at him and saw that he clearly didn’t believe her. He did not have to say anything. She blinked and a tear fell down her cheek. Blue, hesitated, then asked: "Do... do you want me to stay?"
He felt his ears burn, but tried to look as natural as possible. He could stay until she fell asleep, he thought. Who was he kidding. He was going to guard her and watch her sleep like a hawk. Or a love-struck teenager. Probably a mix of both.
She blinked again. "Would you?" she asked back in a rather pitiful voice.
"If you want me to, I will."
He felt absurdly pleased that she preferred his company over the girls', but figured that it was more than likely due to the fact that he was already there. Nevertheless, the look of relief on her face when she nodded back at him was good to see.
That did not mean he felt at ease once they were inside her quarters. He did not really know what she expected from him, so he remained near the entrance, watching as she tossed her cap onto a nearby chair. Then, she turned to face him and he saw that her relief had been short-lived. "He's been dead for fifteen years. I had come to terms with that! Why does it hurt so much when I know it wasn't him!" she exclaimed tearfully.
Blue put his cap on the chair and came closer to her. "Is this why you've been holding back all along?" He put his hands on her shoulders. "Don't! Come on, Serena, let it out."
He shook her gently and either the movement or his words opened the floodgates again. She let the tears rain down freely, hiccupping a few times and finally burying her face in his chest again, holding his waist tightly. "They did that to my dad, Adam," she said plaintively after some time.
"I know," he replied, reaching up to stroke her hair, his other arm protectively around her back as he began to sway in hopes of calming her down.
"He remembered Mom, he remembered that I had kept the birthday present unopened, he remembered the stupid corndogs!" She sobbed. "When he took me in the reactor building and tied me to the railing, I tried to reason with him. That's when I learned how he died." She shook her head into his chest, still crying.
"They suffocated, I know," he said and she remembered that he was in the capsule with Scarlet when they had retrieved her fa—the replicant.
"Yes. The cryo-tubes were faulty. He didn't die peacefully."
She tightened her hold on him, making her hug uncomfortable, but he said nothing about it. If that was what she needed at that moment, that was what she would get. He continued to sway, noticing that she was following along as if they were dancing slowly. The movement must have lulled her, because her hold on him relaxed and she moved her head so it rested more in the crook of his neck. She sniffed, then let out a small sigh, feeling both good about being held, and bad because of her stuffed nose and puffy face. She rubbed her eyes and nose with her hand and instinctively put it back on Blue's chest, but removed it almost right away. "Ew. I put snot on your jacket," she commented, backing away.
"It’s seen worse."
"It's still gross." She walked towards the small en-suite bathroom. "Give it to me, I'll clean it up," she added before blowing her nose. "Wow, I look like a freak," she muttered, seeing herself in her mirror.
"You look just fine," he replied, feeling his face heat up—and feeling stupid about it—as he undid his belt buckle and unfastened his holster from his leg to remove his jacket.
He put the belt on the chair next to his cap and handed her the blue garment when she came back out holding a facecloth. She went back into the bathroom and he heard the water run for a little while. "How does tea sound?" he asked, trying to find something to do instead of just standing in the middle of the room like an idiot.
"It sounds like a good idea. Thank you."
He picked up the kettle standing on one of the kitchenette elements and put on some water to boil. The young woman came back into the room, put the cleaned jacket on the now relatively crowded chair, and sat on the end of her bed. Blue was reaching up into a cupboard to retrieve a mug when he heard a thud behind him. He turned around in time to see Green remove her boot and throw it in the general direction of her closet, where it landed close to the first one. "I hope you feel better," he commented, turning back to look at the selection of teas she had in small containers on her counter.
She had both loose leaves and packets; he opted for the latter since he didn’t know much about preparing tea and opened the container. Great, there were several flavors. He turned around again and walked to the end of the bed to have her choose something. She had thrown her belt and jacket toward the closet as well, although with less success as they were not as heavy as her boots. She was lying down on her back with her hands on her stomach and her feet on the floor.
She opened her eyes as she heard him approach. He gave her the box and could not help bending down to pick up her discarded clothes and put them away in a neater fashion so no one would trip over them. He came back to retrieve her choice of teabag and put the rest away, leaning on the counter to wait for the water to boil. He looked more imposing wearing only his black bodysuit, she thought as she watched him: maybe it was because of the sharp contrast it made with his fair hair. She smiled sadly at him. "Dad used to do that. Prepare mom her evening tea. I thought it was corny at the time. You know, old married couple stuff." She looked away. "I was stupid."
"You were a kid," he replied, pursing his lips when he saw that silent tears were running down the side of her head.
She put her arm over her eyes, muttering something he didn’t understand. He picked up a box of tissues and the small trash bin next to her work station and walked over to her. He put the trash bin next to the bed, and placed the box on her stomach. She started, raised her arm from her face to look, then picked a tissue from the box. "Thanks, Adam. You're the best."
"About time you realized it. Remember that next time you feel like scolding me for being 'reckless'" He made a quotation gesture with his hands, then let out a surprised "Hey!" when the tissue box whizzed past him.
"You are reckless. Look at where you were when Paul and I came out of the reactor building," she said, sitting up to pull herself to the head of the bed, where she reclined on her pillow.
"I was confident," he replied, removing the whistling kettle from the stovetop and pouring water into the mug. And desperate, he added to himself.
"You would have been blown to bits."
"Trust me, if you hadn't shut that reactor down, where I was standing wouldn't have mattered."
He put down the mug on the small nightstand next to her, together with a saucer and spoon for when the tea had infused. He bent down in a fluid motion to pick up the tissue box from where it had landed on the other side of the bed and handed it to her. "Sorry, that wasn't very nice," she said, taking the box from him.
He shrugged, a lopsided smile on his lips. "At least it wasn't your boot."
"Oh, you're such a riot."
He winked at her, which sent a fuzzy feeling to her stomach. But when he began to straighten up and move away from her, the fuzzy feeling changed to one of dread. She realized that he was probably going to leave. She held out her hand and said: " No, not yet. Please, sit with me for a little while; at least until I finish my tea."
She was aware that she sounded a little desperate, but could not help herself. He sat on the bed, twisting slightly to face her. Wordlessly, she moved the other pillow to lean it against the wall, giving him a sad little frown that he guessed was an invitation to sit closer. Don't see this as more than it actually is, you moron, you've probably just been propelled even further into the friend zone, he thought, bending down to remove his boots and settling in the spot she had made for him.
The young woman took a sip of her beverage, but pushed the mug away almost immediately. "Ugh," she muttered, putting it back on the table.
"Did you just burn your mouth?”
She nodded. "Figures." She slumped back into her pillow, leaning her head sideways until it rested on his shoulder. "This is really not my day," she added with an impatient sigh.
"Tss. C'mere," he replied, putting his left arm around her shoulders to bring her closer.
"What else could go wrong?"
"Probably a number of things."
She slid her right arm into the gap between his back and the pillow to hug him more comfortably. "You're supposed to say something reassuring so I don't feel like crap anymore."
He did not say anything else, but the way his fingers were running through her hair was soothing. She huddled closer, closing her eyes. "What do you think they will say officially? About the return of the Endeavour capsule?" she asked after a while.
"Considering how fast it all happened, and the fact that only Spectrum and the ISA were notified, I guess it's going to be classified information and will never go public. As far as what happened in New Mexico, well, Colonel White will have to issue an official report. I'm sure he'll write something that reflects more who your father really was than what the replicant did."
"He was there, you know. My father. In the reactor building, He told me to kill the thing inside of him." She sighed. "I was scared."
His hand went from her hair to her back. Unfortunately, he had nothing reassuring to say to that. He had been scared, too.
He thought for a moment that she would cry again, but she didn’t. She simply remained where she was, her embrace actually rather enjoyable. When she didn’t say anything after some time, he tilted his head carefully to the side and saw that she had fallen asleep. Well, how about that, he thought, a somewhat goofy smile appearing on his face.
He looked to see if he could lower the lighting without bothering her, and managed to reach the controls on the small console next to the bed. Settling into the pillows—he took the one Green was not using—he closed his eyes and fell asleep quickly himself despite his earlier vow to watch over her.
The nightmare came a few hours later. Green began talking and moving in her sleep, clearly upset about something, and he woke up almost immediately. He called her name softly, and when she did not respond, stroked her hair. She awoke with a start, moving her head away from his chest. "What?" she mumbled sleepily.
"You were having a bad dream."
She turned her head to look at him, but it twisted her body into an uncomfortable position. He thought that she would sit up, but she turned around completely, using his stomach as a pillow, her body stretching diagonally across the bed. "He was pulling me down into the reactor, and my hands were tied with construction tape, so I couldn’t fight back..." she explained. "His eyes were glowing green, you know, that same green those hideous insects were when they invaded Skybase." She shivered in disgust, remembering the episode too well for her liking.
Then she gave a sigh and closed her eyes, reopening them almost immediately. "Sorry for waking you up," she said.
"Oh, shush." His eyes were closed.
"Am I too heavy?"
"Can I stay like this?"
He opened his eyes. "Yes."
She closed her eyes and his right hand went back instinctively to her hair. It took him a while to fall back to sleep. Part of him wanted to make sure that the nightmare did not come back, part of him wanted to just look at her and enjoy the sight and feel of her so close to him, His last conscious thought was a little voice in the back of his mind wondering if you ever moved out of the friend zone, or if you just kept on going deeper and deeper into it.
Green opened her eyes slowly. She must have slept for a few hours because the room was brighter as the sun rose outside. She blinked a few times, but remained where she was, feeling a little groggy, and not wanting to disturb Blue, who was still sleeping.
Heroes in romantic books looked younger, or less intimidating, or some other silly passionate, sigh-inducing way when they were sleeping. When Blue was sleeping, he looked... well... like Blue with his eyes closed. Ruggedly handsome and fierce-looking. And not even his long eyelashes, or the sprinkle of freckles on his face could make him look boyish or less intimidating.
And yet, fierce-looking and intimidating Blue had stayed with her all night long without protesting, making it feel natural and uncomplicated. The girls would have wanted to talk, and reassure her by saying good things about her father, and try to make her feel at ease with what she had been forced to do. And they would have meant well, but last night had not been the right time to do that. He had just held her, said nothing much, and prepared her a tea that she didn’t even drink, to her dismay. He had not even been fazed by her stupidly dirtying his jacket. If I weren't already in love with you, I'd be falling pretty hard right now, she thought, looking at him and resisting the urge to touch his face.
She sat up carefully, making sure she didn’t bump into him. Apparently, she was not subtle enough because he opened his eyes almost right away. "Erm, hello," she said.
"Hi." His voice was a little gravelly from just waking up.
"I was going to see if you were expected in Central Control early so I didn't wake you up for nothing."
"It's all right." He sat up as well, stretching his arms. "I'm due for a briefing at 08.00."
She looked at her alarm clock. "It's only 06.35."
He nodded. "I should probably go," he commented, scratching the stubble on his chin absent-mindedly. "Are you going to be okay?"
"I think so." She watched as he sat on the edge of the bed to put his boots on. "I'm still going to do a lot of thinking about what happened. I'm probably going to start crying at random times, too."
"You have every right to grieve, Serena. And I don't want you to hold back."
He stood up, heading for the chair where the rest of his gear was. She hurried up herself to see him off, a little uncertain on how to go about that without looking too clingy or silly. She probably should have invited him for breakfast, or at least coffee. Would that have been too awkward? Probably. "Thank you for staying. I really appreciate it because you didn't have to do it," she said.
Blue finished buckling his belt and holster and picked up his cap—he figured that coming out of Lieutenant Green's quarters fully dressed could make it look like a courtesy visit if someone saw him, whereas stepping out half dressed could have had the rumor mill going at full speed. "My pleasure—uh, well..."
He winced at his own poor choice of words, but she didn’t seem offended. "I get your meaning," she assured him.
"Take it easy today."
"And if you need anything, just ask," he added, turning to face her in the small alcove near the door.
She nodded with a lopsided smile. When he didn’t leave right away, she thought he was looking for a suitable farewell, but her expression changed to one of surprise and girlishly thrilled anticipation when understanding dawned on her. He's going to kiss me! He's going to... oh.
She was so taken aback when she felt his lips land quickly on her cheek instead of her mouth that she was not fast enough to kiss him back and all she could do was stare wide-eyed at him when he pulled away.
Blue interpreted her shocked expression as a sign that he had been too bold and tried to act casually about it as if it were an expected "friendship" gesture. "I'll see you later," he said, then left, hoping that the somewhat dimmed lighting of the alcove hid his reddened face and that his pace didn’t make it look like he was fleeing.
Green blinked a few times, staring at the closed door, feeling a little disappointed. Well, what did you expect? That he's secretly in love with you and that he'd reveal himself to you after consoling you all night? she scolded herself.
She went back into the living area to pick up the mug of cold tea and dispose of its contents. As she poured the liquid down the drain, she felt a wave of sadness come over her and she let the tears flow. And not holding back actually made her feel a little better once all the tears were spent – for the moment, at least. Thank you, my unromantic hero Adam, she thought, taking Spectrum-issue sweats and a tee-shirt out of her closet and heading for the en-suite bathroom to take a shower.
She was not especially hungry when she came out, but forced herself to eat at least some toast and drink coffee; she would see about going to the canteen later in the day if she felt like it. She eyed her work station for a while, then her small stack of unread books, slightly at a loss for what to do. She was not able to sit and relax, considering her head was filled with confusing and sad thoughts about what had happened the day before. Colonel White had given her the day off, but she felt like she was going around in circles, and would have preferred to work to keep herself busy. She picked up a novel, but when she had read the same page for the third time, she’d had enough. She changed into her uniform and exited her quarters with a determined step.
When she walked into sickbay, she found Doctor Gold in his office. He looked up from what he was working on. "I was wondering how long it would take you to get here," he said by way of a greeting.
Green was used to his abrupt ways and smiled back. "Hello, Doc."
"Let me guess. You want my blessing to go back to work."
"Colonel White is going to ask for it, so why waste everyone's time by going to Central Control for nothing?"
"You Spectrum officers just can't stand still!"
"I'm going nuts all by myself in my quarters. I'll be fine if I have something to do," she assured him.
"You know I will recommend having a backup on standby if needed, and tell Colonel White not to hesitate to use it." He typed something on his computer, gesturing over Green’s shoulder. "You, go back to bed," he said without even looking up.
Startled, she turned around to see Scarlet in the doorway. The younger man rolled his eyes, muttering: "I don't need to stay here."
"I swear, you're worse than a five-year old," the medical officer continued.
"Don't make him angry, he's only going to keep you longer," Green whispered to Scarlet, then said in a louder voice: "Come on, Paul."
She walked with him to the bed he had vacated in the Recovery Room. He looked better than the day before. She could see a large bruise on his arm that went beyond his tee-shirt sleeve, but it was already changing colors; it would probably be gone by the end of the day. He sat on the bed, but didn’t lie down. "He wants to keep me until after dinner, can you imagine?" he complained.
"You have to understand him. You looked like you were going to keel over when you arrived yesterday." She smiled at his mock-outraged expression. "My eyes were puffy, but I could still see what was going on."
"And I thought I had been able to go unnoticed," he jested, smiling back.
Doctor Gold came in, handing Green a computer printout. "You're starting again after lunch if you want,” he said. “Lieutenant Silver will finish the morning duties and see to the transfer of what's left with you."
"In the meantime, if you want to stay busy, keep this one from running away," the older man added, handing her a pack of playing cards. "He's still under observation." He left, certain that he had settled the matter.
"I wouldn't mind the company," Scarlet said.
She looked at him. "You know I will ask questions."
"I'll try to answer as best as I can."
"And you know I'll probably cry, too," she added, rolling a small table next to the bed and moving the other bed so that she could use it as a seat.
Scarlet reached behind him and took the box of tissues that was on the nightstand and placed it on the table. "All set."
She pursed her lips as she shuffled the cards, but she was still smiling. She stayed long enough to eat lunch with him and then left sickbay, heading for the lift and wondering if Silver had been busy while she was not there.
Central Control was deserted, save for Lieutenant Silver, who stood up when she saw Green arrive and hugged her colleague briefly. The Australian woman did not offer specific words of sympathy—Green suspected most people simply did not know what to say to her—but said that she would be working on some files remotely and that she was one buzz away, and not to hesitate if there was something she could do to help. "Otherwise, the Angel patrol is on its way back with an ETA of 32 minutes. Captains Blue and Ochre are in Houston to meet with our ISA contact there. Some information about a conference on trading in Asia came in; we'll have to discuss with Colonel White how much involvement Spectrum may have. Rather slow day," Silver said.
Green noticed that there was nothing about New Mexico and guessed that the other woman had decided to handle that herself. It was probably better that way. There was really nothing left there to help her to get closure, Green thought as she watched Silver leave. Not even a body to... she shook the thought away, sitting at her desk and logging into the system.
Colonel White arrived shortly after, alone. His stern expression changed slightly when he saw her. To the untrained eye, he looked almost angry, but Green had worked with him long enough to see that he was upset. "Sir?" she asked, standing up, hoping he would not send her back to her quarters.
He stopped in front of her, looked at her as if uncertain of what to do or say—which was rather unusual for him—and took her hands. He was very upset, Serena thought, feeling his fingers tighten around hers. "I am very sorry," he finally said, his ice-blue eyes saying much more than his mouth could about her father, about the order to destroy the reactor building while she was still in it.
She shook her head. "It's all right. I d... Sir, come on... don't look at me like that. I'm gonna start crying again."
It seemed as if he was going to say something, but he held back. He let go of her hands, only to hold her by the shoulders and kiss her gently on her forehead before heading for his desk. "I see you have started looking at the conference details," he said.
"Yes... yes, sir. I'll give you my report as soon as I'm done," she replied, still taken aback by his uncharacteristic, fatherly, gesture.
"Thank you, Lieutenant."
His abrupt, "back to work", attitude suited her perfectly, she thought as she sat back down and wiped her cheek. She did not really see herself bawling her eyes out and putting snot on his jacket. A nervous giggle escaped her lips at the thought, and imagining White's reaction made her put her hand over her mouth to contain a burst of laughter stronger than the first.
Almost at the same moment, Blue's voice came over the communication system: "Blue to Skybase, come in."
Green pressed the button to open the communication channel in a reflex gesture, but started laughing at the same time. Blue’s face appeared on-screen, his expression a mix of surprise and happiness. "I'm not sure of what to think if this is how you react when you see me," he commented.
"Don't worry. You know you're my ray of sunshine."
His mouth managed to say a casual "Am I?" while his heart did a strange dance in his chest and his brain screamed back to calm down because he knew she’d been joking.
She gave him a smile that could have meant several things. "Go ahead."
"We arrived in Houston a little while ago, but we couldn't meet with our contact."
"Why not? You should have clearance with the ISA. Did they refuse you access? I see you're still in the Cheetah."
She saw Colonel White approach her desk in the reflection of her screen as she was checking to see if there was a problem with the ISA access statuses.
"It's pretty noisy outside, that's why I'm here,” Blue said. “There was a huge pileup on Interstate 45 and our contact is either smack in the middle of it, or stuck behind it."
"Were there any injuries or casualties?" White asked.
Captain Blue nodded. "Ochre went to get more info." He seemed to hesitate as if he wanted to say something else.
"I don't know... accidents can happen, but..." He shook his head. "Sir, with your permission, I'd like to take a Rhino and go check things out. Or at least get Dr. Kopalski out of there."
"Yes, go right ahead," the older man agreed.
"I'm downloading the coordinates for the closest Rhino into the Cheetah's GPS. It's about 25 miles south-west of where you are," Serena added.
"Thanks." Blue looked away from the screen as the door of the Cheetah opened and Ochre got in. "Well?" he asked.
"It's pretty bad. They closed both sides of the Interstate, cars are backing up as far as the eye can see," the Irishwoman said.
"Any news about Dr. Kopalski?" White asked as he watched the news broadcast images Green had found and put on her screen.
"Yes sir, actually. Her assistant got hold of her. She was able to stop her car in time, and went to help others, and then an artic rammed into her car and totaled it! Apparently, she was able to get behind the concrete median wall to avoid being hit."
Both Green and White gaped at the screen. Blue started the Cheetah and drove out of the compound, muttering "That's it."
That triggered Green back into action. "I'll send her location information to the Rhino and try to notify her that you're on your way."
"S.I.G.," he replied as he skidded on a street corner, then cut the communication link.
"Be careful, hero," she whispered as she brought up contact information for the ISA Bureau in Houston." She paused. "Sir, should we contact International Rescue as well? That looks like it's going to need more than just fire trucks and ambulances."
"They're probably already aware of the situation, but we could offer support if they require it. Put them through as soon as you reach them."
The information to reach Thunderbird 5 appeared on-screen almost right away, along with two or three other things she was running at the same time.
Welcome home, Lieutenant, Colonel White thought, squeezing her shoulder before going back to his desk.
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