By Sage Harper
A firm resolution
“Good morning and happy new year, of course,” Scarlet said cheerfully.
“Shut up, my head hurts,” his field partner replied.
“We did over do it a bit, didn’t we?” Scarlet added, eyeing the almost empty whisky bottle before he stashed it away.
Being the only captains off-duty, and with their girlfriends occupied in the Amber Room, Scarlet and Blue had decided to see the New Year in together. It hadn’t been long before the whisky began flowing.
Due to his retrometabolism Scarlet was immune to intoxicating substances. His body just broke them down too fast for there to be much effect. So the colonel permitted him a limited supply of whisky, which Scarlet used for well-rationed nightcap.
Unfortunately Blue had no such ‘special powers’ and that fact - coupled with a total inability to judge his limits had resulted in a hangover.
Scarlet listened from the lounge area of his quarters, as Blue reluctantly got up and showered. Scarlet really hoped the Colonel wouldn’t find out about this incident - his whisky would be confiscated for a start - and, of course, Blue would get into trouble. Drinking alcohol was forbidden on Cloudbase. Luckily last night and subsequent early hours of the morning has passed without incident.
Blue emerged looking moderately less ‘undead’. “Gonna make any resolutions?” he asked, gratefully accepting a mug of black coffee.
“No, but I can guess yours, something about never drinking again.”
“Am I really so predictable?”
“Paul, do you really have to go?” Rhapsody asked.
“But I checked the rotas; you aren’t supposed to be on duty yet.”
“Something’s come up… look, I’ll make it up to you, promise.”
“You should not be doing that,” Destiny said from behind her magazine. “Have you not noticed that our dear American comrades have disappeared? Granted Melody and Symphony are off duty; but the guys – Poof – they have vanished,” she elaborated.
Symphony came in, dressed for duty and looking really annoyed.
“Boyfriend trouble?” Scarlet queried.
“I can’t believe an otherwise rational person could be so pathetic. Either he cools off with this obsession or I’ll cool it with him, permanently.”
“What is going on?” Rhapsody demanded.
“Argh, you don’t want to know; let’s just say: for your sake, I’m glad Paul’s a Brit.”
“This is ridiculous. Right as I am off duty I’ll track them down and have words,” her fellow Angel said with determination.
“Be my guest; they’re in the Officers’ Lounge.”
Rhapsody opened the door to the lounge, not quite knowing what to expect. It certainly wasn’t the sight that greeted her.
The officers and Melody were crowded around the huge plasma TV. Grey was lying on his stomach, his head propped by his hands, amid a sea of salty snacks and cans of soda. Ochre and Magenta sat either side of him on chairs; while Blue and Melody had taken the couch.
“Go, Patriots!” the latter yelled, waving a pair of blue and white pom poms.
Rhapsody approached the scene, with the trepidation of someone drawing near a wild animal. “What is going on?” she asked slowly.
Melody swung round to address her friend with an incredulous look.
“Super Bowl,” she said simply.
“Oh, the football thingy.”
“Yeah, that. It’s the biggest sporting event in the whole country; as great an institution as apple pie and July 4th. It’s a heck of a show; my brothers and I never miss it.”
“But what’s the point; it’s just some men running around a field with a ball.”
Rhapsody had never thought it possible for five people to give a derisive snort in unison.
“Ah, lay off, she’s a Brit; Scarlet didn’t get it either,” Magenta noted.
“Very true,” Ochre agreed “Wow, look at that cheerleader, the brunette. God, does she have a great butt!”
Rhapsody rolled her eyes.
“No, I’m not into that part either, but everything else is pretty cool,” Melody said. Sharing her friend’s exasperation with Ochre’s preoccupation.
“Are you all supporting the Patriots?”
“Yeah, it was Adam’s pick. They’ve got a real good chance this year. Unlike the Red Soxs.”
“Oi, do I diss your teams?” Blue retorted “You going to watch with us Dianne? you might get into it.”
“No thanks.” Rhapsody replied firmly. “I’m going to keep Karen company in the Amber Room” she then added pointedly.
Blue gave a weak, apologetic, but still cheeky, grin. “Oh don’t worry over Symphony; tell her I’ll make it up to her after the game. She’ll have a good time whatever the final score.”
With that Rhapsody shook her head in amusement and departed. As she left she heard them all cheer, as presumably, the Patriots scored their first goal. Or whatever it was called.
Have you the green food colouring?
Captain Blue shut the oven door, leant against it and sighed.
“Okay, that’s the last batch.”
“About fecking time,” Magenta retorted “Jeez, whose idea was it to bake a gross of cookies?”
“Oh, yeah … well they’ll go a damn sight quicker than it took to make them. No one can resist Mam’s cookies.”
“So very right.” Blue had selflessly eaten a cookie - or two. He’d explained to the protesting Magenta that it was ‘just for testing…’
Magenta grinned; he had found a perfect accomplice in Blue. Not only was he another competent cook, but the Bostonian had vivid memories of the revelry that took place in his home city’s Irish quarter every year. They couldn’t hope to recreate the glorious celebrations they had grown up with, but hoped their culinary contribution would be a start.
“Better get started with the icing then,” Magenta said, slightly overwhelmed at the sight of a hundred or so golden-brown cookies, all shaped as shamrocks. “Have you the green food colouring?” he asked.
Quite how Blue had managed to acquire the emerald liquid was a mystery; Magenta was just grateful and asked no questions.
They spent the next hour listening to their mutual favourite songs, contentedly stirring and spreading the icing.
“Brilliant, Cloudbase had better prepare itself for the world’s first airborne St Patrick’s Day party.”
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”
Ochre slumped down deeper into the couch, grinning with contentment and rubbing the traces of chocolate from around his lips.
“Don’t be daft, you can never have enough,” he replied.
“Yeah? Well don’t come crying to me when you get sick.” Magenta answered, surprised at sounding like his mother.
Surrounding them was the debris of the last hour’s occupation; a surprise Easter egg hunt in the Officers’ Lounge. The organisers, Blue and Symphony, were sat together polishing off a dark chocolate egg. All of the room’s occupants had an aura of contentment. Apart from Rhapsody; who was perched on the edge of the couch, looking a little uncomfortable.
“What’s the matter?” Ochre asked her.
It seemed as if he and Blue were engaged in some kind of chocolate eating stand-off. So far the former was winning.
“My diet was going so well; now it’s shot to bits, all because of you lot.”
“Yeah, but this chocolate isn’t really fattening.” Blue explained “Considering all the calories we burnt off running around looking for it, it’s merely redressing the balance.”
“I like your thinking.” Symphony replied, helping herself to more chocolate. Her New Year’s diet had failed after six days. ‘Well you can’t not eat your own birthday cake.’ She had stated in her own defence.
Scarlet got up and walked over to the kitchen area. “Well, as you’re on a diet I knew you wouldn’t want an egg,” he said reaching for something in the cupboard. “So I got you something else.”
With a suitable flourish he presented Rhapsody with a large toy rabbit, made of fluffy grey fabric and floppy from it’s bean bag stuffing.
“Oh, it’s so adorable. Thank you.” She grinned and hugged the toy close. “Much better than chocolate, a most excellent choice Captain.”
“Don’t you mean, Egg-cellent?” Ochre asked teasingly.
Rhapsody fought very hard, but managed not to roll her eyes.
“See, I knew you’d get into this.”
Bring forth May flowers
“Ah, the phantom horticulturalist strikes again.”
Harmony Angel looked up in alarm, then saw him give a rare smile, and relaxed.
“Yes, Colonel, sir; you have found me out.”
Colonel White strode further into the promenade deck, with a look of appreciation on his face as he surveyed the plant and flowers around him. The deck was one of the rare areas of Cloudbase set aside purely for recreation.
Being so open to the light it was, in effect, utilised as a huge
greenhouse. Over the months it had been in operation all manner of flora had
been planted; from
the exotic palms to Symphony’s herbs, spilling in a
gloriously haphazard way from terracotta pots, and it was thriving.
The most recent additions had appeared with subtle stealth; bonsai trees and rare orchids. The Colonel realised these must be tended by an expert hand and set about discovering the identity of this gardener; he’d only just got lucky.
“Shouldn’t be surprised really.” He said
“I learned from my Grandmother how to care for them. She loved plants so much but had no garden. So we grew them on windowsills and pretended it was a forest.” She smiled wistfully “They remind me of long ago.”
White looked up from tending his roses.
“Yes, I feel that about my roses too; the white ones at least. They are for my wife. I give her a bunch every year on our anniversary.”
“I did not know you have a wife.”
“Well, sadly, she died many years ago.”
“Oh, that is so sad.”
White nodded, not really wishing to elaborate.
“You have new roses too,” she continued
“The cream ones? Yes, a gift from a friend.”
He remembered being given them for his birthday, by Symphony’s mother. Certainly it was strange for a man to receive flowers; yet really it seemed very much in keeping with Amanda to give such a thoughtful gift. Cream roses were her favourites she claimed, so they’d be something to remind him of her. White had pointed out that he already had that, in the form of Symphony. Who was just as beautiful, although slightly harder work.
“Your friend must like you a lot, to be so thoughtful. And roses are a symbol of love, yes?”
White looked up a little surprised. He had honestly never considered such a notion. Of course he was fond of Amanda; it was nice to have companionship with someone who wasn’t young enough to be his son or daughter.
But love? That was strong stuff. Perhaps he was reading far too much into it - helped by Symphony’s matchmaking.
Then again, how could he rule it out?
“Yes, they are,” he replied with a smile.
A sweet melody
It had to happen eventually; the last six months of slacking-off were starting to show. The colonel had advised the Captains to step up their efforts, which was half-way between a helpful suggestion and direct order.
This though, probably wasn’t what he had in mind.
“Mag, there’s a slight technical problem. I can’t dance.”
Melody rolled her eyes.
“I can make a dress from a feed-sack, and I can make a dancer of you,” she insisted.
“Yeah, right.” Ochre reluctantly got up.
There was no point arguing with Melody. She had such a dignified strength, and wouldn’t take no for an answer anyway. He liked that about her, well most of the time.
“Tell yah what, you can pick the song,” she added generously.
Truth be told, Melody was beginning to wonder what had gotten into her. Ochre was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking-chairs. Honestly you’d think he was off to single-handedly fight the Mysterons.
Yet he happily went and put on the song. She smiled recognising the tune. So they got in position and she led him through some simple steps.
This hadn’t really been her idea; more of a team effort with a pincer manoeuvre, courtesy of their respective best friends. Sure, that was some serious scheming, but, feeling Ochre’s presence beside her, Melody couldn’t possibly get mad. She watched him trying to dance and thought. For all the no-good stunts he pulls Ochre’s a great guy really. I guess he doesn’t feel the need to keep trying to win me over any more and he’s opening up – showing more sides of his character. And, yeah, I like what I’m seeing.
So bye-bye, Miss American pie.
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, "this’ll be the day that I die.”
"This’ll be the day that I die.”
By now Ochre was actually starting to get into it. Heck, it was almost fun. He twirled Melody and dipped her down, causing her shriek with delight.
At that point Destiny stuck her head round the door. She was about to greet her friends but realised they were busy. To be generous would be to say Ochre and Melody were dancing; to be accurate would be she was dragging him round the floor.
Well, I know that you’re in love with him
`cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym.
You both kicked off your shoes.
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues.
Not wanted to make them self-conscious Destiny just watched silently for a moment, then quietly left.
Here be fireworks
They all had leave at the same time, and Blue’s parents’ cabin was free over the Fourth of July weekend. So it seemed obvious that he should invite Grey and Symphony along.
It had seemed like such a good idea at the time. That was until Grey twigged what exactly was going on between his companions. In a way he was very flattered they trusted him not to run blabbing their ‘secret’ to the others, like some kid. Didn’t stop him feeling like a spare part though.
“Well, I better start preparing the show,” Blue said going outside.
“And I’ll check on the food,” Symphony headed for the kitchen.
“Oh, Brad. My sister should be showing up soon. Could you let her in?” Blue yelled from the deck.
Grey knew a little bit about Blue’s sister. Ochre had met her a few months before and imparted information along the lines of his standard précis; 5.10, blonde, blue eyes, great butt.
So whoopee do. Grey thought. Now Blue or Symphony, or both of them, were trying to get him set up on some stupid double-date. He was about to march off and explain that he was quite content single and, on the off-chance of him wanting to find a woman, he wouldn’t require a dating service. Thanks!
Then the doorbell rang.
Grey reluctantly bookmarked his page and then got up to see who it was. Must be this sister, who else would turn up to a cabin in the middle of nowhere?
So he opened the door, not quite knowing what to expect. But it certainly wasn’t the vision that greeted him.
Well, yes, she was all the things Ochre said, but that wasn’t even a fraction of it. Her features had that same gentle strength as her brother’s. Her clothes had a loose bohemian quality, which he supposed were worn not out of fashion but from a genuine appreciation of the style.
For a moment Grey didn’t speak, just drinking in her perfection.
“Hi; you must be Brad, right?”
Her voice was gentle, the final waver of uncertainty giving it a charming vulnerability.
“That’s a great name, I’m Rebecca.”
“It’s umm very nice to meet you … You really are beautiful.”
She looked at him a little surprised. Taken aback at his own brashness Grey mumbled an explanation.
“Well you see Rick talked about you - a bit - but I never thought it was going to be so true.”
Then Rebecca gave a smile, its sweet engaging warmth like a breath of spring.
“That’s a sweet thing to say, not sure I can beat that.”
Grey and Rebecca looked at each other, for a moment that felt like a drop of eternity.
They only broke away when Blue called over: “You ready for the fireworks?”
Rebecca went on through to the garden. Watching her go, another kind of smile tugged at Grey’s lips.
It’s okay Adam, we’ve got our own, he thought.
Summer night dreaming
“How big do you thinking the universe is?”
“Massive beyond your wildest imagings.”
“And Karen wins a cookie for the best answer.”
Symphony graciously accepted the award.
“This is nuts,” Grey said, getting up.
“Let’s get some perspective here,” Magenta began “We are on a floating military base, employed to combat the greatest threat to world security, currently a race of pissed-off invisible aliens. So compared to that lying on the prom deck floor stargazing is practically normal.”
“Oh well, when you put it like that.” Grey sat back down.
Around him Magenta, Symphony and Blue were lying on their Spectrum issue sleeping bags in a haphazard circle. Their perfectly rational explanation was that it saved them getting cricked necks looking up through the glass ceiling of the promenade deck. At such a high altitude they got a brilliant view of the night sky, and of course, light pollution was negligible. So it was a perfect place to star gaze.
“So what are you guys going to do when this is over?” Symphony asked.
“I’ve always wanted to take a year out and fly around the world. Find a nice place enroute and set up home there. Then I don’t know: settle down, raise some kids, potter about not doing much,” Blue answered
“Well, I’m going to live on a desert island. Just spending my days swimming in the sea. With no one for company but a beautiful wife and trusty mutt,” Grey said.
“How about you, Karen, what are you going to do?”
“Me? I’m going along with Adam. It’ll be great. Well if he’ll let me of course … Go on then, Pat, how about you?”
“I might go back to Ireland and run a pub, always fancied doing that. Bit of computer work on the side too. Should be grand. You guys can stop by anytime. Drinks on the house.”
“You reckon we’ll still be friends?” Grey asked
“After everything we’ve been though and how close we are now, we have to be.” Symphony said simply.
Blue agreed, “Let’s all meet up for reunions in Pat’s pub and bore our kids stupid with stories about our time here.”
“It’d be classified information though.”
“Oh, Brad, stop being so official. We’d tell them non-classified stuff. Like how Mommy met Daddy when he knocked some guy out with a frying pan.”
“That has to be the best first meeting story ever.”
“Guess everything we do could be a story,” Blue mused “Hey could you imagine if they made it into books, or a movie?”
“More like a TV show.”
“Yeah, that’d be really cool.”
What do you want, a card?
“Right, come on, I’m bored now. What the hell’s wrong with yah?”
His thoughts broken, Scarlet looked round in the direction of the comment.
“I’m fine, Adam.”
Blue raised an eyebrow at his friend. “Yeah, like I’m gonna believe that. You’ve been moping about all day; doing all that ‘dark and brooding’ stuff. I just want to know why. It doesn’t look like much fun.”
“Do you know what happened, on this day, exactly a year ago?”
Blue made an exaggerated show of thinking. Then shook his head.
“I died, Adam, the first time. Surely you remember that?”
“Pretty difficult to forget the events. Never figured I’d need to remember the date though; didn’t think you would either.”
“There’s so much that’s a blank, I try to keep all the details possible.”
“Well then, happy first death day… What do you want a card?”
“No, thank you,” Scarlet retorted bluntly.
He was about to make another sharp retort. When caught Blue’s lopsided grin and felt rather foolish. Of course Blue wasn’t being malicious or insensitive. In all these months he’d been anything but. Now here he was yet again, gently drawing Scarlet from one of his dark moods. And it was working.
Instead Scarlet laughed, and put an arm around his friend.
“I’ll let you off this time, but you better remember next year.”
Blue laughed. “Course I will. Tell you want; I’ll even do you a party.”
Trick or treat
“Aren’t we a bit old for this?”
“Nonsense, you are only as old as you feel.”
At that point Magenta felt considerable older than he usually did. This was possibly one of the silliest things he had done in his entire adult life, or at least whilst he was still sober.
It had all been her idea, of course, something about a deprived childhood. Yet for some reason she wouldn’t do it alone. So good old Magenta had eagerly volunteered, and was now stepping sideways to avoid GBH caused by Destiny’s fairy wings.
What the heck was I thinking? He wondered.
Sure they all did dumb stuff this time of year, couldn’t let the opportunity pass. This though, was truly insane. Aside from its innate childishness, it necessitated the wearing of ridiculous costumes. She had just put on a cute dress and aforementioned fairy wings. He, on the other hand, had fake bolts almost falling off his neck, and a mask which was rapidly becoming hot and sticky with his breath.
“This had better be worth it,” he muttered
Destiny tried to affect an exasperated sigh, but was grinning too much.
“Of course it will, you know how full their snack drawers are,” she insisted.
With her empty pillow case in one hand, wand in the other Destiny marched on down the corridor outside the captains’ quarters. Magenta grudgingly followed, though not particularly objecting to the great view he now had of her rear.
“Here we are, you knock and I shall talk.” she instructed.
So Magenta obligingly pressed the buzzer.
“Yes?” Scarlet said, coming to the door.
“Trick or treat.” Destiny said.
He rolled his eyes, then went inside and came back with two large bars of chocolate.
“Oh, merci. Now make a wish,” Destiny said, giving Scarlet a peck on the cheek and tapping his head with the wand.
“You’re welcome,” he said, shutting the door.
“You are still not getting into this Pat?” Destiny asked, dumping the chocolate in their ‘loot sack’.
“You kidding? blackmail, sweet rewards, a loyal accomplice; it’s like my old job all over again. Only legal and more fun… Come on, I’m pretty sure Rick’s in too. Last one there gets no candy.”
With a shriek of delight she chased him across the corridor.
“I cannot stand it. Not for a moment longer,” Destiny insisted
“Patience is a virtue.” Harmony replied
“That I do not possess.”
When they had come off duty Melody and Symphony had quickly commandeered the small kitchen on deck C. Judging by the blissful aromas flowing through the vents they were making fruit pies. No doubt in preparation for the upcoming holiday
These scents had been taunting the other Angels for almost an hour. Now they were at breaking point.
“Hey, girls.” Symphony greeted them, carrying a large metal biscuit tin. She was followed by Melody.
“We were just coming to find you,” she explained
“We felt so guilty about having all this great food around, and you gals not getting a bite. So we figured it’d be nice to share, if you want some.” Melody added
“We implore you, please do share.” Destiny begged her American colleagues.
“That’s the idea.”
They eagerly unpacked the tin, laying out its wares; sugar cookies, fruit twists, cranberry muffins, on the table.
The four sat around and piled their plates with goodies. They sampled everything, murmuring contently.
“So, what are we going to be thankful for this year?” Melody asked to make conversation.
“Good friends,” Harmony responded unhesitantly.
“What about amazingly good cooks?” Destiny retorted.
“Yes, those too.”
Captain Scarlet rolled over in bed and hit his alarm clock to stop it beeping. Having to get up at half-five was not the best way to start the day, especially not this day in particular. He got up, regardless, and decided to make the best of it. After all today was special.
He dressed and went to the galley to get breakfast, then stopped by the Officers Lounge. All the captains were there sat at their usual tables. He greeted them and participated in their heated discussion about something they’d forget about by tomorrow. They carried on for several minutes, until a natural lull occurred in the conversation. Scarlet decided it was a good time to butt in; he was really annoyed now, as nobody had wished him a happy birthday.
“Does today have any particular significance to you?” he asked them.
Grey thought about this for a minute. “No, not really, why?”
“Just wondered, don’t worry about it,” Scarlet said as he left.
He then met up with Destiny who was distributing the mail. She also made no reference to his birthday but helpful suggested maybe some of the post had been delayed. By now Scarlet was not happy at all. How could anyone forget the day’s importance? It was obvious that Grey had been lying when he said he did not remember anything important should be happening today. Scarlet began to wonder what he had done that was so terrible that his friends had “forgotten” his birthday. Destiny felt sorry for the captain but knew better that to ruin the carefully arranged plan.
Rhapsody was passing by, and noticed that Scarlet had clearly been in better moods.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, innocently.
“Don’t say you’ve forgotten too”
“Forgotten what, Darling?” her voice betrayed nothing, she knew exactly.
“Of course I haven’t.” She was delighted that the plan was working so well.
“Well, everyone else seems to have”
“Don’t be so sure”
She opened the door to the Amber Room and led him inside.
“Surprise!” The assembled captains and angels yelled in unison.
Scarlet took in the room, decked out for a party, the coffee table laden with presents, and his friends all gathered together.
“Oh, come on,” Blue exclaimed, already wearing a party hat “Did you seriously think we’d forget?”
Scarlet grinned. “Course not.”
Thanks go to….
Chris: for the wonderful site, taking the time and effort to edit/post my stories, and for again letting me borrow her wonderful character Amanda Wainwright.
Marion: For being such an excellent Beta reader.
My Dad: who inspired ‘Yankee insanity’
Everyone on the forum: For the encouragement.
Don MacLean: For ‘American pie’, which certainly is a sweet melody.
Blue & Symphony’s meeting is borrowed from Chris’s excellent story All the colours of the rainbow.
With regards ‘what do you want, a card?’ I have no idea exactly when Captain Scarlet was killed the first time. Just made an educated guess. If it’s incorrect I claim poetic license (to be honest I just couldn’t think of anything else for September).