Something for Everyone : A Challenge of Five Series for Valentine’s Day
Captain Scarlet looked at the rook Captain Ochre had just moved on the chess board and pondered what he would do for a moment, chewing on his lip. Ochre was a worthy opponent, and he had to think through his move thoroughly if he didn’t want to lose, at least not too quickly. His hand hovered over a pawn, then a bishop, but he was distracted when the door to the Lounge opened. He looked up to see Captain Blue enter with a frown on his face.
The blond man surveyed the small room and spotted Lieutenant Green, who was sitting on a couch at the opposite of the chess players and reading. She smiled at him and was about to greet him when he swiftly strode across the room to kneel in front of her.
“Sunshine, what’s wrong, did something happen while you were in London?” she asked, becoming worried.
He opened his mouth to speak, glanced at Scarlet and Ochre who hurried to look busy with their game, then moved closer to his lover before he spoke in a low tone of voice. “Yoko left Valentine’s Day chocolates in my quarters.”
Green bit her lip. He was clearly bothered by what he’d just told her and obviously didn’t know how to handle this unexpected situation. She closed her book, took his face in her hands, and replied in a reassuring voice, “I know. I put them there.”
Blue frowned even more, confused that she wasn’t concerned about another woman giving him something for Valentines’ Day. He had been in London for the past two days and both he and Green had agreed to postpone their own time together. This wasn’t in his plans at all.
“She had to leave for her training seminar in Koala base, so she couldn’t give them to you in person—” she began.
“I’m not interested in her!” Blue cut her off, looking stricken.
Ochre unsuccessfully tried to contain her snort of laughter and Scarlet hid his smile behind his hand, before deciding to come to his friend’s rescue, “I got some too, Adam.”
“We all did. It’s called ‘friendship chocolate’,” Ochre said.
“Friendship chocolate?” Blue asked uncertainly.
“I had to convince Mario not to get his hopes up because of it,” she added as an afterthought, and both Green and Scarlet rolled their eyes, smiling.
“That’s how it works in Japan. She gave us all a little something. It’s a nice thought,” Scarlet commented.
“I know!” Ochre said, “I was surprised when she gave it to me; she’s so reserved and secretive. It’s proof we’re becoming a tighter team. She probably didn’t dare do it last year because everything was so new for everyone.”
“So, she just goes around the base handing those out?” Blue asked.
“No, only to close friends,” the Irishwoman replied, “Of course, a special someone would get something fancier, or bigger, but I haven’t seen or heard anything about that.” Green shook her head to indicate she wasn’t aware of any special someone either.
Scarlet made his move on the chessboard and Blue stood from his kneeling position to sit on the couch armrest next to Green, exchanging a few quiet words and a quick peck on the lips with her as he did so. She leant her elbow on his thigh to watch the other captains play, then said: “We should do something for White Day.”
Ochre looked up. “That’s a good idea.”
Blue frowned again. “Are you making stuff up? White Day? Now he gets chocolate?”
Both women laughed. Scarlet smiled indulgently. “White Day is on March 14. That’s when traditionally the person to whom she gave chocolate reciprocates with a gift, usually one with a white theme to it.”
“You would know about this,” Blue commented sourly.
“Paul’s a man of the world,” Ochre said, moving her queen on the board. “A distracted one, though. Checkmate.”
Scarlet protested, but she ignored him and addressed Green, “We could all gather the presents and surprise her with them. She wouldn’t expect it.”
Green nodded. “I’ll ask around to see who wants to contribute and we’ll set something up. Since she doesn’t really celebrate Christmas, this could be a new tradition!”
As the two women began planning their surprise, Scarlet and Blue exchanged a look and slowly got up to leave. When accused of trying to escape, they mumbled about agreeing with the White Day present and having to be somewhere, before making a hasty retreat out of the Lounge.
As Green expected, all of the color-coded captains and Angels agreed to contribute to the present. They placed their items into a large basket, except for Colonel White’s gift—a bouquet of fresh white daffodils which would arrive at the latest moment possible—and hid it in the executive officer’s quarters until it was time to prepare the surprise.
At first, they thought of simply leaving the basket at Symphony’s door and somehow ring the chime and run, but that wasn’t practical, and anyone could have stumbled upon it and ruin the effect. Then, Destiny Angel had a better idea and went to Flight Control in Hangar deck.
She found the man she was looking for reviewing a maintenance schedule with a few other technicians. Ulrich Loewe was one of the flight directors on Skybase and an operator for the F.R.E.D. remote catapult robots. Since he was often assigned to the Japanese pilot’s Falcon, he would be more inconspicuous if he was the one to tinker around the fighter jet in order to hide something.
She waited for the technicians to leave before approaching Loewe and the tall man turned to face her. He listened as Destiny explained the situation to him and how he could help them. They had a patrol in the morning and then the Falcon would go through the usual verification routine. This would be the ideal moment to go in and hide the basket for Symphony to find. “We’ll just have to pray that we don’t have to go out in a hurry at that time,” the Angel leader commented.
“Don’t worry. I’ll make sure everything’s perfect,” he assured her.
“Thank you, we really appreciate it. Lieutenant Green will come down with it while we’re on patrol.”
Loewe nodded and watched her leave as she returned to the Lounge. He had been able to contain his emotions and remain impassible while she was there, but now, he was smiling goofily. He was quite fond of Symphony, had been ever since he was assigned to the flight crew. She always had a nice word for everyone and was a joy to work with.
He had thought of approaching her several times, but kept backing away, hesitant because they worked together. This year, he had even bought her a little something for Valentine’s Day, a small white owl she could keep in her Falcon as a good-luck charm. Of course, he had never dared giving it to her, uncertain that the time was right. Should he include it in the basket, to see what her reaction would be?
One of the technicians came back to ask questions and he had to make the effort to concentrate on what was going on instead of thinking about the beautiful Angel and whether he would make his move or not... But such an opportunity wouldn’t present itself again and he shouldn’t miss his chance. If she didn’t like the present, he could always take the cowardly way out and pretend he had no idea who it was from.
The patrol was took longer than expected, and by the time the Angels were back, a cargo flight was scheduled to come in, and Loewe had to coordinate the Albatross switchover. He let the flight crew take care of the Falcons and assured Destiny that he would handle his special mission as soon as he could, right before he was called again to handle a Swift taking off with Spectrum personnel going back to the ground.
He finally was able to free himself after a while, and contacted Symphony as she was relaxing in her quarters. “I apologize for bothering you like this, but something came up when we serviced your Falcon,” he explained, trying his best to look contrite. “We’ll need your biometric scan to validate the new system. I would have waited until tomorrow, but you know how it is. If there’s an emergency, you need to be ready to launch.”
“Don’t worry, Uli. I’m sure you did your best and wouldn’t bother me for nothing. I’ll be right over,” she assured him with a smile before closing the link and heading for Hangar deck.
He was waiting for her when the elevator door opened and they made their way to the fighter jet. "That's a long day for you, you were here this morning with the other shift," Symphony said to break the silence.
He shrugged, saying: "I don't mind," then stopped next to the yellow stairway leading to the plane. "You'll have to go up and sit down to do the scan," he added, gesturing toward the open canopy.
The young woman nodded and went up the stairs and stopped at the end of the small platform when she saw the basket resting on the seat. She turned around to look back at Loewe, who had followed her. "I'm just the messenger!" he exclaimed, smiling sheepishly.
She tried to reach down to pick it up, but the angle made it difficult and she finally decided to board the jet and lift the basket onto the platform. Loewe helped her, then offered his hand for her to exit. The basket was bulky and heavier than it looked, and Symphony struggled a little with it until he took it from her to take it down the stairs. She spotted a small card hanging from the basket handle as Loewe stopped next to her and turned it over to read what it said:
Happy White Day Yoko! xx
Someone had attempted to draw a small cat as a decoration on the card. It wasn’t a success, but made her smile even more. “Was this Lieutenant Green’s idea?” she asked, taking the basket in both hands and walking slowly towards Flight Control.
“My lips are sealed.”
She laughed. It was a soft, beautiful sound, and Loewe thought of his contribution nested between two boxes of sweets. He smiled; he had made the right choice to add it.
Symphony entered her quarters, careful not to bump her precious cargo against the wall or door. She put it on her bed, and opened the protective wrapping, feeling like a little girl receiving a birthday present. She took the flowers out first, noticing that some kind soul had already provided a vase for them. She untied the white ribbon and took the time to arrange them in the vase, adding water and the provided small packet of nutriments.
Returning to the basket, she noticed that the items in it had ribbons or markers in different colors to identify the giver... a box of truffles with an indigo ribbon, fancy cookies with a gray one; Magenta had provided a box of marshmallows shaped like little animals which looked almost too cute to be eaten. Orange and Brown had contributed with chocolates, but the boxes and selections were different—they both looked delicious. There was a white and blue, delicate-looking, teapot and four small cups, and an assortment of beautiful origami papers in different shades of white, pink, all the way to deep red in an ornate box. She smiled when she saw the small, white owl with a yellow ribbon tied around its neck. The ribbon was edged in silver; apparently Ochre and Silver had wanted to give her a lucky charm. She would set it in her Falcon the following day.
Under all these presents was a gorgeous yukata. The kimono was white, with a soft floral pattern to it. Symphony pulled it out of the basket to have a better look at it. This was going to be a perfect dressing gown. Whoever had bought this had chosen very well. She draped the yukata on her bed and a small piece of paper fell out of it. She recognized Harmony’s handwriting right away and she read the few lines aloud:
We know it’s supposed to be the guys’ turn to give you things, but we’re starting a new tradition! And we decided to take over the clothing aspect of the present to make sure you’d like it.
There was a little smiling face next to the text and the paper was signed by all of the girls... including Ochre and Silver. Symphony frowned, then looked at the pile of presents. I thought the owl was from Elaine and Bethany?
She shrugged, thinking she’d find out soon enough who it was from when she visited her gift givers for a round of thank-you’s.
Symphony was sitting in her cockpit, waiting for Rhapsody’s Falcon to complete its launching sequence. The Angels were escorting a Swift to Houston for a meeting between Colonel White and ISA officials. It was a routine task and the young woman let her mind wander a bit while the conveyor moved her onto the revolving platform at the end of the circuit. Her eyes fell on the owl, which was looking back at her with its large round eyes from its spot on her control panel. No one knew where it had come from, so apparently, she had a mysterious admirer...
The Falcon was raised to the Flight Deck, turning to face the magna-strip. She saw the F.R.E.D. robot shuffle on its feet as the flight director below deck waited to give her signals. The sun reflected on the weather-battered, yellow humanoid shape, giving its bare metal parts an almost silvery gleam... she froze, staring at it.
The robot did its little launching dance and the catapult propelled the jet forward. Symphony went through the motions automatically, but her take off wasn’t as smooth as expected and she had to scramble to join the Angel formation.
She thought the event had gone unnoticed, but when they landed in Houston and she met with the other Angels, Destiny came up to her and asked: “Did something happen at take-off?”
Symphony blushed and tried to hold back a smile. “Yes. I’ll have to see my flight director about it when I come back to Skybase.”.
“Will you be all right to return?” The Angel leader seemed concerned.
“Yes, don’t worry, probably just some adjustments to be made on the new system installation when we return.” Then, she added to herself, I wonder if he likes old movies?
~ The End ~
Author’s Notes and Disclaimer:
I wanted something different (and new!) for this story, so I chose a lesser known tradition. Even if it happens one month after Valentine’s Day, I thought it was still appropriate for the theme. Normally, though I don’t think a man is supposed to give unsolicited presents to a woman on White Day, but Ulrich doesn’t know that, and I don’t think Symphony will be angry at him for it.
Owls are considered lucky in Japan, and white owls are supposed to bring happiness. At least, he got that part right!
Thank you Caroline Smith for beta-reading this story, it’s very appreciated! Any remaining mistakes are mine.
Also thank you to Chris Bishop, for providing us with hours and hours of interesting and varied stories full of Anderson goodness on your web site.
Disclaimer: Thank you Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and the CGI team for creating such a beautiful playground! The characters are not mine, I'm borrowing them and playing with them, and having loads of fun writing the stories. No profit is intended from this.
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