Something for Everyone : A Challenge of Five Series for Valentine’s Day
Diana Grey was sitting on a chair in the UN Security Development Committee office, waiting. She wasn't sure why she was waiting, or why she had come all the way to the UN building for that matter. She could have left a phone message.
Charles' promise of a private, romantic lunch had turned out to be as disappointing as she had feared. She would have accepted that he was late. She knew he had important duties. But nearly an hour of sitting alone at their table, despite the Maitre D's best efforts to make her wait comfortable, was more than she could take.
Her arrival at the office had created some commotion. Charles' assistant had tried to say that he had given strict orders about being undisturbed, but seeing that Diana wouldn't take no for an answer, had gone to see what she could do.
The assistant had come back with a young black woman Diana recognized as one of the computer specialists who’d been hired for the Spectrum project. The newcomer smiled warmly as she approached and said: "Good afternoon, Lady Grey. How can I help you?"
"Miss Lewis, I'm trying to find my husband. We were supposed to meet at the Café Boulud one hour ago, and he won't answer his phone..."
"I know he was working on something for Madam Secretary earlier. I'm certain he was about to come and meet you. Let me go get him," Serena Lewis assured the other woman in a calm and pacifying tone. "Did Connie offer you anything to drink?"
"I'm not thirsty, thank you."
Serena nodded. "I'll be right back."
She walked past the assistant's desk and went through a secured access door at the end of the room. The assistant gave Diana an apologetic, slightly embarrassed smile. Poor thing. She had probably not been assigned to her husband by choice, and was most likely half-terrorized by him—he was an intimidating man... You have five minutes, Charles, she thought, looking at the door with a set expression.
Charles Grey frowned when he heard the discreet knock on his office door. He had expressly asked not to be bothered under any circumstance. Who was foolish enough to ignore his warning?
The door opened. He looked up, his ice-blue stare shooting arrows. "Miss Lewis, I thought my instructions were clear," he said in a voice laced with irritation.
Serena entered the room, closing the door behind her. She hated being the bearer of potentially bad news, but Connie had all but run to her in panic, claiming that only the young computer specialist could go in without running the risk of being beheaded on the spot. "Sir, I know what you said," she began, "but I thought you should know that Lady Grey is here…"
He blinked, and his expression changed a little. "Diana's here?" he asked.
She nodded. "If I may say so, she looks angry. She mentioned something about waiting at the Café Boulud for nearly an hour…"
He paled. "What time is it?"
Serena winced in sympathy. Charles Grey was strong on duty, and a workaholic—especially now with the Spectrum project under full development—and was often so fully involved in what he did that he forgot about social events or holidays. Serena was aware of some of the times when a frustrated Lady Grey had complained that she didn't come first anymore, that her husband forgot about her. He had protested vehemently, insisting that he loved her more than anything else and that he would be more careful in future.
He was honest in his words, and meant them. And he adored his wife. But then, something else would come up to demand his attention and the cycle would begin again.
He ran a hand through his still thick, but more salt than pepper hair, and pursed his lips. "I have to finish this, Madam Secretary is expecting the complete report by the end of the day," he said. "I know I had promised Diana we would go out to eat, but I'll have to cancel it."
Serena stepped forward. "Sir, no… it's Valentine's Day. You can't do that. Please, take the time to go with her," she pleaded.
"She looks upset, but she's here." Serena's voice became softer. "I know it's none of my business, but if you keep this up, someday, it's going to be a lawyer with divorce papers in your assistant's office, not your wife."
"You're quite right. It's none of your business. And I'd appreciate it if you kept such comments to yourself from now on."
She ignored his harsh tone of voice. "Perhaps… I could finish your report? It's about the road tests for the tactical response unit, isn't it? I know enough about that. I was there when they tried the voice command modules and the camera feeds. I can do it."
He opened his mouth to protest, then closed it. Serena was a fearless, meddling little pixie, but always had the best intentions in mind, and her power of persuasion was ridiculously high. And if she said she'd complete the report, she would. Flawlessly. He knew that much about her. "You are aware that this would constitute a breach in protocol," he commented.
She kept a straight face, even though she knew she had won. "No one has to know."
He stared at her, and she returned the stare calmly. He hesitated, then stood up. "Of course, you won't forget to lock up once you're done," he said.
"Of course." She gave him a winning smile. "You're making the right choice, sir. And hopefully, you won't come back until tomorrow."
He walked past her toward the office door, touching her shoulder briefly as he went. "Thank you," his voice was gentler.
Good luck, sir. She looks pretty angry… Serena thought, watching him leave.
The door opened, and Charles walked into the assistant's office with a determined stride. His expression was severe, but Diana could see the worried crease in his eyebrows. She stood up and waited, refusing to be mellowed by him. He stopped in front of her and took her hands in his. "My darling, I know there are no words…" he began.
"No, there are none."
He sighed and kissed her hands gently. Then, becoming aware that he had an audience, despite his assistant's best efforts to look as if she wasn't paying attention, he kept one of Diana's hands in his and began to walk his wife away, into the lobby. "Did you receive the flowers?" he asked tentatively.
"Yes." Her voice was tight.
He knew he was probably going to be late for their lunch when he had planned the whole thing some weeks ago, so he had ordered a bouquet to be delivered to the restaurant. She was obviously not carrying it around, so he gave her an inquiring look. They stopped in front of the lifts and she pulled her hand away. "I gave them to a young couple enjoying their meal at a nearby table."
The hurt expression on his face made her regret her gesture done in spite—that, and the flowers had been quite lovely—but she had been so angry to be left out yet again... She pressed the call button for a lift. "I won't take much of your time. I came to tell you not to wait for me tonight. I'm going to the opera."
The lift door opened. "Goodbye," she said, stepping inside.
He hurried to follow her and she gave him a look as the doors closed. "You can't just leave like this," he tried. "Let's go somewhere. Let's talk."
She tried to ignore the way his baritone voice still had a strong effect on her, even when she was angry at him. "How is it going to be different this time, Charles?" she asked in a tired voice, pressing the button to reach ground level. "I already know what you're going to say."
He took her by the shoulders. From up close, he could smell her subtle perfume. She had dressed nicely, her blue skirt suit highlighting her eyes. "My darling, I know that, and I can't begi—"
The lift jolted suddenly to a stop and the lights inside the car dimmed for a few seconds. They stared at each other in stunned silence for a while. "I'm going to start believing there's a curse on us and UN building lifts," he said quietly.
She blinked. "Are we on level nine?" she asked, trying to suppress a smile but failing somewhat.
He glanced at the indicator. "Fifteen."
There was a pregnant pause. "Are you going to call maintenance?" she asked.
"That can wait." His hands slid from her shoulders to her arms and he took a step closer. "I want to apologize, even if I know I'm beyond any excuses at this point."
She took a step back. His gaze upon her made her feel warm, and slightly light-headed. One thing she could say about Charles was that he still looked at her as he did when they had begun to see each other.
She held back a sigh. She already knew she was going to forgive him. Again. And it wouldn't be the last time. "I know you're working on something important. And we're not at the beginning of our relationship where a day like Valentine's Day would matter. If you couldn't make it, why didn't you just tell me? We could have gone some other day." She raised her hands to his collar, arranging his suit in a familiar, wifely gesture. "I was looking forward to spending time with my handsome husband. I thought this time would be the right one."
He took another step forward. "I'll make it up to you. We can go anywhere you want."
"For once, I'd like you to think of me as a priority before I become angry.”
"I do! Things should calm down soon, I'll make sure..." She raised one eyebrow and he sighed. "You won't believe me until I do something. It goes without saying."
She shook her head. "I want to believe you, I really do... but it doesn't help when I'm left to wait like an old, hopeless has-been whose date has deserted!"
"Oh, for crying out loud, Dee! You're quite far from being a has-been, or old for that matter! Men were probably wondering where was the idiot you were supposed to meet with, and if they could take his place!"
Diana felt the wall of the car behind her back. She wasn't sure if Charles had pushed her up against it consciously or not. He cupped her face in his hands and leant his forehead against hers. She had a little smile. "You haven't called me Dee in ages," she commented, smoothing the lapel of his jacket.
"I know. Yet another mistake." He leant in to kiss her gently. "Please don't give up on me yet."
She sighed, trying to sound impatient. "Against my better judgment, I'm not. Yet."
She felt him say "thank you" against her mouth, before he kissed her again.
His mouth slanted a bit to catch her lower lip between his in a slow, familiar, yet still arousing caress. He moved to the corner of her mouth, to her jaw, murmuring that he loved her close to her ear, asking her if she was aware of how beautiful she was.
The husky tone of his voice made her shiver in... anticipation? Charles was usually not one to display such emotions in public, and it was both unsettling and exciting at the same time. She put her arms around his neck, quite aware that she had to stretch against him to reach him. He noticed. He made a low sound in his throat and his hands went to her hips. Goodness me, if he keeps this up, we are going to have a tumble in this lift as if we were two hormone-driven teenagers! she thought, not without a thrill going down her spine.
"Is that what you want?" she heard him ask, and realized she had thought out loud.
His stare was intense, his eyes darker... and from the way she was leaning against him, she could clearly feel that he was ready for it if she was. "Charlie... what if we get caught?" she asked.
He briefly looked startled by her question, at what it implied—she hadn't said no—but his mouth stretched into a wolfish grin that made him look younger. And extremely seductive. "Who would believe that the chairwoman of the Global Heritage Foundation and one of the UN Security Development Committee's top executives were caught doing anything, in a lift of all places?" he asked.
She laughed, then bit her lip when she felt his hands move from her hips to her stomach to slowly unfasten her jacket. She sighed when he kissed her neck, not believing what was apparently going to happen, not believing she was letting him do it, but strangely looking forward to it at the same time.
Charles had ended up calling maintenance after all, his voice almost joyous as he spoke on the phone with a technician. They had waited in companionable silence, holding each other and talking about this and that. "Perhaps we could go home, then see if we could book somewhere else for dinner?" Diana suggested.
"I don't know... with your success rate at booking something at the last minute when coming out of a lift, I'll end up having to drive somewhere for two hours," he replied, a glint of mischief in his eyes.
She sputtered in mock-protest, and he kissed her to quiet her down. Of course, that's when the doors opened and they were exposed to the clear view of a few surprised and smiling on-lookers.
Charles offered his arm to his wife and they strode out, ignoring them. He took the direction of the main entrance, but stopped before they reached the doors. "What if we drove somewhere for two hours? Can you free up your schedule for tomorrow?" he asked her. "I'm sure we can find some inn, or resort upstate if I fork out an astronomical amount of money..."
"Are you serious? Can you free your schedule?" she replied, smiling despite herself.
"Only one way to find out..." he pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialed a number, while he saw Diana do the same.
He heard the tone ring twice before a voice answered: "Sir?"
"Miss Lewis, are you still in my office?"
"Yes. I'm working on the report. What can I do for you?"
"Considering our... discussion earlier, I was wondering if I could ask a favor of you... I was supposed to meet with Madam Secretary tomorrow about that report. Do you think..." he asked tentatively.
He heard the young woman gasp. "Sir! Are you going somewhere overnight with Lady Grey?" she exclaimed happily, before apparently realizing that her comment might have sounded inappropriate considering he was her boss. "I'm sorry, it's none of my business either..." she added.
"No, it's not, but it's all right. I am indeed going somewhere." He was smiling at her contagious mood.
"I'm so happy for you! Of course, I'll take care of everything and I'll notify Connie. I'll just need the clearance level..."
"I'll take care of that before leaving the building," he assured her.
"You're still here?"
"Would you believe we were stuck in the lift and just got out?"
There was a short silence at the other end. "You just... You were? Well! I'm not sure it was a bad thing considering what you just told me. Looks like you had some time to settle things."
Charles looked at his wife and she looked back, smiling as she talked to her own assistant. "You're quite right, Miss Lewis. I'll go take care of the clearance. See you the day after tomorrow."
"Goodbye, sir, have a nice trip!"
He hung up, then frowned. Serena hadn't sounded very surprised about his predicament, almost as if... His eyes opened wide.
The meddling little pixie!
He made a mental note to bring her a box of baklavas upon his return.
~ The End ~
Author’s Notes and Disclaimer:
What better way to start off this challenge than with a feeling of déjà vu for Charles and Diana! Putting them in an elevator when they have to settle things only felt natural. And yes, the hint Serena gives about lawyers is a nod to Skybase Girl’s excellent story Compromising Positions. It just goes to show it’s still going to be the same old song even some years later...
In the very little official background info we have about New Captain Scarlet, it is mentioned that Lieutenant Green was working at the UN while Colonel White was there, and that she would later follow him and join Spectrum. It was only fitting to have her help at this point.
Thank you Skybase Girl, once again you did a terrific beta-reading job on this challenge while juggling with your own writing projects. Any remaining mistakes are mine.
Also thank you to Chris Bishop, who maintains this site and always find the right setup to make the stories look even better!
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.
Any comments? Send an E-MAIL to the SPECTRUM HEADQUARTERS site