A Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons story for Christmas 2005
By Chris Bishop
(The character of ‘Rose Metcalfe’ is used with the consent of her creator, Lezli Farrington. The events of this story take place a few years in the Future, and have been inspired by situations suggested by Lezli’s many fanfics, foremost amongst them “Pride and Joy”, in which the character of Rose first appeared.
Thanks to Lezli for lending her character, and to Marion Woods and Mary J. Rudy for their invaluable beta-reading abilities.
Merry Christmas to all.)
Christmas Eve – at some time in the Future.
"How is he doing, Doctor?"
Colonel White was standing next to the bed where Captain Scarlet was lying, eyes closed and hooked to the instruments registering his condition. Over the past years during which the indestructible agent of Spectrum had been repeatedly injured – or had even died –in the course of his multiple missions, White had learned to understand the readings on the panel embedded into the wall just over the bed. If he wasn't mistaken, it wasn't looking too good for the patient right now. But he wanted to have confirmation from Doctor Fawn.
It came, exactly what he expected, as Fawn, exhaling a deep breath, made a last note on his working pad and addressed him. "He's stable, but his condition is not improving. Which, considering his metabolism, is not a good thing at all.”
"He should have been on his feet hours ago," White muttered in concern.
"He’s mostly healed, but taking into account his usual performance, he should have healed entirely thirty-six hours ago.” Fawn confirmed. "And for some reason, he won’t wake. He’s plunged in a deep coma.”
“What is the reason for this?” White asked. “I know he was seriously injured but…”
“His injuries were extensive, granted,” Fawn admitted. “But as you know, he’s received and survived worse in the past. This is not… normal."
"So what is the problem with him?" White asked again.
"Do I have to tell you?” Fawn scowled. “It should be obvious what is wrong with him. Especially for you, Charles."
White answered with a slow nod, staring thoughtfully at the set face of his comatose junior officer. He knew what Scarlet had been going through lately – the personal pain he had suffered only a few weeks ago and that he had yet to recover from. It was a pain that White could certainly relate too, as he had experienced it himself, years ago.
"Yes,” he said in a murmur. “I think I know what is wrong with him. Rhapsody."
Fawn sighed deeply again, this time with frustration. "You know what he's been like these past weeks, since – the accident. How he's been throwing himself without care in his work, no matter how dangerous each mission might be. He barely stopped to allow himself a moment of rest – barely slept. Nothing was important anymore, except doing his job.”
“Yes, I know how it is,” White mumbled.
“Captain Blue told me he has became terribly moody,” Fawn continued. “Keeping to himself, not wanting to do anything with anyone."
"Except his daughter, I should think."
"Well, apparently, he has been shutting her out as well, lately." Fawn looked down at his patient. "Remember how I told you years ago that I believed that Scarlet's will was playing a huge part in his powers? How it was probably the trigger that freed him from the Mysterons’ control, when they inadvertently copied it as he was struggling to survive that car accident?”
"Yes…" White said pensively.
"It's like he has lost it, Charles. Like he lost the will to fight and live – at the same time he lost Rhapsody."
The mere suggestion made White frown deeply. "I can't believe he would give up like that!" he snapped in protest.
"No?” Fawn raised a brow, staring at the Spectrum commander. “Think about it for a minute. How did you feel when you lost your wife, all those long years ago? How did you react?"
"I…" White hesitated. Breaking eye contact with Fawn, he looked down at the younger man, laid on the bed. He remembered all too well what had happened, so many years ago. He sighed. "I lost myself," he confessed, almost reluctantly. Inside my work, he added inwardly. And at the bottom of a bottle of alcohol. Something Scarlet cannot even find solace in, since his Mysteronisation, considering alcohol barely has any effect on him.
But there was a major difference between himself and Scarlet, he suddenly remembered. Something that could certainly help him recover.
"What about his daughter?" White asked of Doctor Fawn.
There was a shadow of sadness passing in the doctor's eyes. "The poor kid…" he murmured. "There was no way to hide her father's condition from her. She knew. Just like she knew what happened to Rhapsody weeks ago. You know I have been doubtful of that ‘link’ that her parents often claimed she had with her father. But now, I have to accept that she indeed might have a connection with him. She probably had one with her mother as well... either it became more evident in that last moment of distress or it only came to the surface then. We will never know now.”
"Did she come to see her father?" White continued.
"No. Since her mother’s passing, she’s keeping her emotions bottled up inside. But it’s worse now, with this. She won’t talk to anyone. Captain Blue and the others tried to temporarily take her mind off of all this mess, by throwing an impromptu Christmas party – fully expecting that Scarlet would be up and about to give her a surprise visit in the middle of it. That would have been a wonderful Christmas gift, considering the situation. But obviously, it didn't happen. So she locked herself in the family quarters and won't open the door to anyone."
"What?" White said with a furrowed brow. "When was that?"
"Hours ago… people are attempting to get to her, but... she won't listen. Guess she's as stubborn as her dad…"
“She certainly is,” White mumbled. He stroked his chin, pensively. Then he was struck by a sudden decision.
There was something to be done, and he fell for certain he was the man to do it.
“Keep an eye on Scarlet," he requested of Fawn. "I shan't be long." He turned on his heels to leave the room.
"And where are you going?" Fawn called after him.
"To talk to Rose. We might still be able to give her that Christmas gift – and to her father too."
"Rose… Please, honey, open this door."
Captain Blue knew his wife was pleading ineffectively to the closed door. For what seemed like hours now, they had not heard a single sound from the child on the other side. It was like they were literally talking to a wall; she would not listen at all.
"Forget it, Karen," he said to Symphony Angel as she was preparing to call again. "It's useless to call on the kid's good sense to open the damned door. We'll have to open it ourselves." He restrained a frustrated sigh. If only Rose had not changed the access code to the lock! He knew the previous code, but the child, way too smart for her age – and his own taste – had cleverly altered it to introduce another code of her own. An unknown and obviously complicated one, that neither he, Symphony or Ochre had been able to crack so far. I wish Patrick was here, instead of at the Paris H.Q. with Juliette, Blue told himself with irritation. Or that Seymour had not been called away on family business in Trinidad. Both men would have found the access code and opened the door in the blink of an eye.
"What do you propose, Blue?" Captain Ochre, leaning against the wall next to the door demanded. "The only way we can enter those quarters would be to blow the lock, or to use a torch against the door. We can’t very well do that!”
"Rose, that’s enough!" Symphony called again, this time with anger in her tone. "Open this door, right now! You can't stay in there forever!"
"Wanna bet?" Ochre muttered with a frown.
"We can't leave her alone in there," Symphony interjected, turning to him. "It's not good for her to dwell on all these bad things that have happened, on her own."
"I agree," Blue added quickly. "While Paul is recuperating in sickbay, we have to take care of his daughter."
Ochre rolled his eyes. "It sure was a mistake trying to cheer her up with that Christmas party," he said in an undertone. "I feel responsible, guys. It was my idea, after all."
"It wasn't your fault, Rick. How were we to know she would react that badly?"
"Rose!" Symphony's tone was now more insistent. "This is the last time I'll ask: open this door or we'll have it blown open!"
Ochre scowled. “Oh, that’s brilliant, scare the kid."
“You have a better idea, Fraser?” Symphony snapped impatiently.
“We can wait for her to get hungry?”
“NOT very helpful!” Symphony replied, turning again to the door. “Rose! Open the door, or else!!!”
“Or else what?” Ochre murmured.
“I’m getting a headache,” Blue murmured. “This is going to be a LONG night…”
The three of them were all too busy arguing and too preoccupied with trying to find a solution to their problem that they didn’t notice Colonel White emerging from a nearby lift and walking briskly their way, an expression of grim determination set on his face. Ochre and Blue only noticed him when he reached them; without stopping, he passed them by and went straight to the door; Symphony discovered him right next to her, and she made way, just as he firmly brushed her aside with one hand. The second later, he was banging loudly on the door.
“Rose!” he roared with his most commanding voice, making the three officers surrounding him grimace and struggle not to cover their ears. “You will open this door, RIGHT NOW!”
It was an awkward silence that followed, during which the three officers wondered if Rose would dare disobey; they knew they would not – when White took that tone of voice, nobody in his/her right mind would dare challenge him – knowing that there would be hell to pay if they tried.
A buzzing sound was heard and a light on the control panel turned from red to green, indicating that the electromagnetic lock had been disabled. White pushed the opening button and the door slid open in front of him. There was no Rose in sight, so he stepped into the room.
The door slid closed and the three officers standing in front looked at each other, thoughtfully. “Poor kid,” Blue said looking once more at the closed door. “She’s been through a lot lately. Let’s hope the colonel will be able to calm her down.”
“Should we have followed?” Symphony mused.
Ochre scoffed. “No way! The old man seems in a fine mood. I don’t want to put myself between him and Rose at the moment.”
“There’s no need for us to be involved,” Blue replied waving away Ochre’s comment. “If anyone is able to talk to Rose, it’s certainly the colonel.”
“Her ‘Uncle Charlie’,” Symphony said with a faint smile.
“Shhh…” Ochre told her. “I wouldn’t call him that, even with a closed door between us. If ever he should hear…”
“I hope Paul wakes up soon,” Blue murmured. “And that he’ll be all right. Rose certainly needs her father at the moment and…” He let the rest of the sentence hanging. Symphony patted his arm gently.
“Admit it, you’re worried about him,” she finished for him.
Blue nodded sadly. “He’s never had such a long healing period, Karen. Don’t you think there is cause for concern?”
“I know,” she answered. “And you’re not the only one to worry, Adam. But if I know Paul, he’ll be on his feet soon. And we’ll all have worried for nothing.” She offered a reassuring smile. “Come on. Let’s go see him, and ask Doctor Fawn how things are going with him.”
“Good idea,” Blue said with a thankful expression in his eyes. “It’s Christmas Eve and somehow, it doesn’t feel fair to leave him all by himself. Especially this Christmas Eve.”
“I’m in too,” Ochre volunteered. “If you will have an old bachelor accompanying you, that is.”
“Of course, Rick,” Symphony said taking him under the arm. “You’re a friend, after all. Almost like part of the family.”
“You mean, ‘the black sheep of the family’, if I understand correctly,” Ochre remarked mockingly. “I would have thought you’d have attached that epithet to Pat, mind you…” He grinned, as they started walking to leave the quarters area, and direct their steps towards the nearest lift. “I’m buying you a coffee in sickbay. I have a feeling we will need it, if this is going to be the long night I think it’ll be.”
“I’ll accept the coffee,” Symphony answered. “If only to avoid Adam proposing to make some… In all these years, he’s never learned to do a decent coffee.”
Colonel White took a few steps inside the quarters. The lights were down at about thirty percent, with a soft blue hue. There wasn’t any movement, and at first, he thought there was only silence; it took his ear a few seconds to finally pick up the faint and sad Christmas music coming from the radio. There was no Christmas tree in the living area, at the place the colonel knew there should always be one this time of year. No decorations were adorning the walls either. The place was incredibly tidy, considering a child lived there – Rose would always leave a few toys lying around, despite her parents’ frequent reminders that she should put them away, in the toy box in her room. Of course, none of this really surprised White, considering the recent events.
There was still no sign of Rose.
“Rose?” he called with an even, but insistent tone. She couldn’t be that far, he thought. Perhaps her room…
As he turned to go to the child’s little room, he heard a small voice coming from the other side of the quarters, behind the half-wall that separated the living area from the sleeping area that had been Scarlet’s and Rhapsody’s.
“They lied to me, Uncle Charlie.”
Colonel White stopped in his tracks and turned round. Normally, he would take umbrage at Rose calling him ‘Uncle Charlie’. Lord knew how many times he had tried to convince the child not to use that name when addressing him, especially in front of others, as he felt it greatly undermined his authority. But the name would come out every so often, however hard Rose tried not to use it. But right now, it all seemed like such a trivial detail. The distress he could hear in this small voice was that of someone literally heart-broken.
Little eight-year-old Rose Metcalfe was seated in the darkest part of her parents’ sleeping area, on the bed, her legs crossed like an Indian, and holding in her arms a beaten, not-so white Teddy Bear, wearing a Christmas hat. He remembered that bear – it was a gift her mother had given her on her first Christmas. At the time, it was far bigger than she was.
“Who lied to you, Rose?” White stepped into the sleeping area and approached the child. He saw her shrug, almost indifferently.
“My parents,” she said in a faint, very sad tone. “They promised they will always be with me. Now, Mummy is gone, and Daddy…” Her voice broke off. “Daddy is in a bad way…”
White stopped right next to the bed and looked down to her; she didn’t raise her eyes to meet his. He nodded his understanding. He carefully sat down by the side of the bed, next to Rose. Even then, she didn’t look up; she had her back half-turned to him.
“Yes, I can see that it might sound like a careless thing to say,” White remarked casually. He glanced at her, but she had barely moved; he could not see her eyes, only her lowered eyelids, which were surprisingly dry, considering the circumstances.
“Mummy is gone,” Rose repeated with insistence. “She did not come back. She can’t do that. Isn’t that true, Uncle Charles?”
White had to fight not to shudder at the thought. For Rhapsody to ‘have come back’ after that terrible plane accident, those few weeks ago, would have meant the dreadful prospect of her being taken over by the Mysterons. A fate Spectrum officers considered worse than death. And that would certainly have been awful for both Scarlet and Rose – even worse for Rose, actually. Fortunately, it had not been the case.
“No, child, she could not,” he admitted quietly. “Not like your father can. I’m sorry.”
“Daddy is not getting better,” Rose said, almost unemotionally. “He was hurt badly. Is he going to die too, Uncle Charles? Is that why you’re here?”
“Ah, Rose…” White sighed, shaking his head. The way children can see right through you… “Your father was hurt badly. But he’s a fighter, and he will make it. As he always does. You have to believe this.”
Rose shook her head, in a doubtful way, distractedly playing with one of her bear’s ears. “I know he’s not getting better…” she murmured.
“Rose,” White said with insistence, “look at me.”
There was obvious unwillingness on Rose’s part, for the space of a few seconds. Then she finally turned to the colonel and dared to look him in the eyes. He reached one hand to stroke her cheek; he found it very cold, almost icy.
“Do you think I would lie to you?” he asked firmly.
There was barely hesitation this time, before Rose answered with a brief shake of her dark head.
“I would never lie to you,” White continued. “I never did. And neither did your parents.”
“But Mummy and Daddy…”
“Will always be by your side, no matter what happens. Your mother – will always be there. In here.” White’s hand gently touched the girl’s temple, before lowering to press the little heart; he could feel it beating wildly in her chest. “And in here,” he continued solemnly, his voice dropping an octave. “As long as you live, as long as the memories of her live in you, she will always be with you. As she will always be by your side, watching over you – even if you don’t see her. She will never leave you.”
He saw tears starting to moisten Rose’s eyelids; forgetting about her bear, she reached for his arms, and he brought her to his heart. She burst into tears, hiding her face against his shoulder, and dampening his uniform. White patted her back and shushed her in a comforting way. Rose loved all of her surrogate uncles and aunts aboard Cloudbase, but in her heart, there was a special place for her Uncle Charles. It was not that he was overly expressive of his emotions with her. Colonel White was always very careful to keep a restrained countenance, even in private; those occasions when he did actually overtly show his affection for the little child were so very rare, that it made them all the more precious, both for him and for her.
The tears subsided slowly, and White heard them transforming into sniffing sounds. Here's another uniform to go to dry cleaning, he told himself. Not that he really cared that much.
“You think Mummy is a real angel now?” A muffled voice asked him.
White permitted himself a faint smile. The thought certainly had an appealing ring to it. "Child, if anyone in her life has won the right to wear those wings – then it's certainly your mother...”
"How about Daddy?" Rose pushed herself away from his shoulder and looked straight at him. Her eyes were red, and still very moist from her recent tears. "How come he's not all right already? Why doesn't he get better?"
White slowly nodded, carefully weighing what he was going to tell her now. "At the moment," he explained with a calm voice, "your father feels a lot like you do yourself. He’s feeling lonely and abandoned – like nothing matters any more for him."
"Is that why he's been behaving badly lately?" Rose asked. "He’s been shouting a lot – he shouted at me, just before leaving, a few days ago.”
“That’s the last time you saw him?” White inquired.
Rose nodded, sniffling loudly. “I thought he was angry with me."
White shook his head. "No, Rose. He wasn’t angry with you. He was angry with himself. You see, he’s been feeling bad, and hurt, because he was there when you mother – passed away. He couldn't do anything to protect her, and he feels guilty. He misses your mother very much. More than you probably imagine. So, he forgot himself in his pain, in his guilt. He doesn't quite know what to do. I’m sure he really didn't mean to shout at you." He gave her an inquiring frown. "You know how it is, I'm sure… I've been told – you have 'behaved badly' yourself lately?"
"Yes," Rose murmured. “I’ve shouted at him too. And at others. A lot. And I've been very stroppy. Because I was sad."
"That's exactly the same for him, child."
"But… why doesn't he wake up now?" Rose insisted. "He will be okay soon, won't he, Uncle Charles?"
"Oh yes… I believe he will be. Eventually. But he would probably wake up sooner, if he is reminded that there is someone else whom he cares very much about – and who cares a lot about him – who is worried and is waiting for him."
"Me?" Rose said with a little voice.
"Yes, Rose. Your father desperately needs you right now. As much as you need him yourself." White let the rest hang and watched carefully, as Rose weighed his words. Seconds passed, and then he saw her nodding slowly, in a thoughtful way.
“Can I go see him?” she asked timidly.
“Of course, you can,” White answered with an encouraging tone. The little girl jumped down from his knees and he stretched out to get to his feet. He watched as she picked up her white bear into her small arms, before turning to raise an inquiring look at him. He extended his hand, which she took in her tiny one. “Come on,” he said quietly. “I’ll go with you.”
“Come on, Paul, this nap of yours has lasted long enough. It’s time for you to wake up, buddy.”
Gathered around the bed on which Captain Scarlet lay unconscious, Captain Blue, Captain Ochre and Symphony Angel, who was seated on the only chair in the room, were waiting impatiently. Standing back from them, Doctor Fawn was studying the information he could read on the electronic instruments – for the nth time, it seemed to him. He couldn’t see any change in his patient’s condition.
“He’s so quiet,” Symphony said in a murmur, in answer to her husband’s harangue to their best friend. “I don’t remember ever seeing him this way.” She studied the set face, whose cheeks and chin were scruffy with a two or three day old beard. Scarlet appeared so totally calm and relaxed; there wasn’t a single twitch on this face, not a movement under the eyelids. The eyes were marked with deep, dark lines, making his face appear thinner than it really was. If not for the bleeping coming from the electronic panel above his head, the regular sound of the respirator connected to his nose and the steady rise and fall of his chest, she would have feared he was gone.
Gone to be with his lost love…
She clutched his limp hand in hers, warmly. “Edward, isn’t there anything you can do?” she asked turning to Fawn.
He raised an eyebrow, putting away his notepad. “What more can I do, Karen?” he asked gesturing toward the instruments surrounding Scarlet. “He’s alive… he’s nearly healed, in fact… but he won’t wake up. The rest… is up to him.”
“And what can we do?” Blue asked in turn.
“You’re already doing a lot. By being here, and talking to him, maybe it will eventually draw him out of this state.”
“I sure hope so, Doctor,” Ochre then said, looking down with concern at their fallen friend. “And I also hope that Scarlet is not being his usual, obstinate self, by not listening to us. I never knew anyone as headstrong as he is.”
“Well then,” Fawn smiled faintly, “maybe that stubbornness will pull him through. As always.”
Ochre reached for Scarlet’s shoulder and squeezed him tight. “Come on, big guy,” he muttered with a gruff voice. “You’ve wasted enough of our time, worrying us like this. Wake up already.”
“Why, Mr. Fraser,” Symphony remarked with a fond smile, “you do care about him.”
“Of course I do,” grumbled Ochre. “He’s a friend, and I don’t have that many friends that I can afford to lose another one. Beside, it’s more fun to actually play pranks on him than your husband. The reaction’s not the same.”
The door behind them opened at that moment and they stopped chatting to turn around. They saw Colonel White enter, gently pushing Rose in front of him; the little girl was tightly hugging her white Christmas bear against her heart, and was looking at the gathering with wariness. She didn’t seem quite sure what to do now. That was until her eyes discovered her father, lying still on the bed; then she watched only him, as she slowly approached, followed by the colonel.
Symphony rose from her seat, and White helped Rose to climb onto it and stand on it. He looked around at his assembled officers; a murmur and a gesture were enough for them to understand that they should give the child some privacy. Silently, they left, but not before Symphony had kissed Rose’s forehead and Blue had gently brushed her shoulder. She barely took any notice of them, and even less of the door closing on them, as her eyes were set on the face of her sleeping father.
“Daddy?” she murmured cagily. “Daddy, it’s me, Rosie… Can you hear me?”
Carefully, Colonel White took a few steps back, and came to stand next to Fawn. The two men exchanged an apprehensive glance; both were sharing the same concern: would Rose be able to reach her father and bring him out of this state? They were hopeful, and yet… it didn’t seem like the child’s initial appeal had worked.
“Daddy!” Rose’s voice was shaky with concern now, as she put a hand on her father’s shoulder and shook him – vigorously enough, obviously attempting to attract his attention. Fawn stepped forward, as if he had the intention of stopping her, but White extended his arm in front of him and prevented him from approaching the child. He motioned him to wait.
“Daddy, wake up already!” Rose urged, “Don’t leave me… Come on, wake up… I need you, Daddy… I miss you; I want you to wake up.” Her voice quivering, and the tears slowly starting to come to her eyes, Rose scrambled on the narrow bed, and somehow found a way to kneel beside Scarlet. She shook his shoulder again, looking into his set face. “I love you, Daddy…”
There was a whistling sound, coming from the panel overhead, and Fawn raised his eyes to it, expectantly.
He saw the vital signs change, and he approached to get a better reading. He heard the sounds from the panel make a slight change – a change that, with his long years of experience, he had no trouble interpreting.
A faint moan came from Scarlet. Rose watched him hopefully; she first saw his chest rise higher, as he took a deeper breath, and a frown appeared on his brow. He grunted again, then his eyelids fluttered. The deep blue of his eyes appeared, at first staring tiredly at the high ceiling of the room, beyond the young child who was now looking down at him with tears of joy freely rolling down her cheeks.
“Daddy,” she called in a strangled whisper. “You’re awake…”
Scarlet blinked several times, as if registering the sound of her voice; he turned his head and discovered her, leaning over him. He produced a faint, but genuine smile. “Rose…” he croaked, his voice very faint. He feebly raised his hand to brush away the tears on his daughter’s cheek. She burst out and stroked his hand, before throwing herself against him. He held her close against his heart with both arms, heaving a deep breath.
“Don’t ever leave me, Daddy,” she said, her voice muffled against his chest.
“I won’t, sweetie,” he slurred. “Never… I swear it.”
From a distance, Doctor Fawn and Colonel White were watching the scene, deep relief now obvious on their faces. Feeling suddenly awkward to just be standing there, they both moved toward the door. Their presence wasn’t required anymore, and they felt that father and daughter would need some time alone now.
Fawn stepped out first, and White followed, his attention still taken by what was going on in the room, as he was slowly closing the door behind him. Scarlet was still holding his daughter against him, stoking her dark hair, comfortingly. The white bear was lying across his legs, all but forgotten and abandoned by the little girl whose interest was now totally devoted to her father.
“I miss her, Daddy,” Rose said in a timid voice, barely audible in the distance.
Scarlet squeezed her closer to him, in a bear hug, at the risk of choking her. There was a sob in his voice, and pain obvious on his face, as he answered to his daughter’s comments.
“I miss her too, my little Angel…”
Leaving them to their privacy, Colonel White silently closed the door. He turned around to face the satisfied grin that was threatening to crack Fawn’s face in two.
“Well done, Charles,” the physician said. “That was an inspired gesture. You performed a miracle.”
“I did nothing of the sort,” White replied. He looked towards the close door. “Rose did it all.”
“Yes. She did, indeed. Scarlet only needed this incentive, it would seem. He should be all right, now.”
“I believe he will be, yes,” White answered absently.
“Come on, Colonel,” Fawn invited him. “I need some coffee, and I’ll bet you could do with one as well. I believe the others have gone to the canteen. Let’s go tell them the good news.”
White nodded absently, barely listening to him, as he was still looking very pensive, staring at the closed door. He turned around and prepared to follow Doctor Fawn whom he could see walking down the corridor towards the mess. His eyes rose and he glanced at the clock set on the wall in front of him. It was just past midnight. Christmas day.
If it was a miracle, then it was another Christmas miracle, he told himself.
Colonel White’s eyes lowered, and fell on the small Christmas table tree, set on the reception desk, blinking with bright white lights and stylish red and silver decorations. The top of the tree was adorned with a beautiful, rather rustic angel figure, dressed in a silvery white tunic, and complete with halo and wings.
In White’s inner eye, the image of an attractive young red-haired woman, clad in an immaculate white uniform superposed itself on the figure, and almost despite himself, a faint and rare smile started to tug at the colonel’s lips. Rose’s earlier comments about her mother came back to him, and he addressed an appreciative nod at the Angel on the treetop, who seemed to stare right at him, with what almost seemed like a knowing glance.
“Happy Christmas, Rhapsody Angel,” he murmured, and then he walked down the corridor, to follow Doctor Fawn to the mess.
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