Careless Whisper

 

A Spectrum Story by Marion Woods

 

 

Captain Blue took the last garland down from the Amber Room walls and waited for Symphony to walk towards him, folding the brightly coloured tinfoil into a neat square, suitable for packing away.

She came close and took the last section from him, and stood looking down at the item in her hands. 

“That’s the last one,” he said, glancing round with satisfaction.  I think we’ve done a good job, even without the others.” 

They’d done it all; although Scarlet and Rhapsody had originally promised to help, when duty called they’d had to cry off.  The three on-duty Angel Pilots were out on a mission - flying security for Captain Scarlet and Captain Grey as they escorted the World President back to Futura.  The President’s visit had been a hastily arranged affair, to offer him maximum protection from the latest Mysteron threat. 

Captains Ochre and Magenta had dealt effectively with the potentially lethal bomber and were, even now, co-ordinating the scan of the World capital to ensure the threat was well and truly over.

It meant that Cloudbase was almost devoid of senior officers.

It also means, Blue thought happily, that I get Karen to myself for a while. 

He reached out a hand and touched her chin, lifting it gently so that he could see her face and frowned to see the sadness in her expression.  She kept her beautiful, moss-green eyes lowered, refusing to look up into his.

“What’s wrong, älskling?” he asked softly.

She shrugged, bit her lip and shook her head.

“Karen?”  He waited.  He could wait for a long time and she couldn’t resist ending the silences between them.

She turned away and walked to the box to pack the garland away.  Blue followed her, saying nothing.

She put the lid on and made a show of looking around for the tape to seal the box.  Anything but meet his gaze.  He handed her the tape and the scissors and in silence they sealed the box. 

This was as long as she’d ever resisted revealing her woes.

He decided to call her bluff. 

“I’ll take this to the storage bay and go and get something to eat. It’s getting late and I have to cover for Scarlet’s night duty in the Control Room.  I doubt any of them will be back till morning.  Have you got extra duty too?”  She nodded.  Blue rolled his eyes at her continued silence.  “You going to the Room of Sleep?” he prompted.

She shook her head.

“Okay.  Well, I think I’ll catch forty-winks there.  Even Doc Fawn’ll have to admit, that with our current depleted numbers, I have a valid reason to use it.  I’ll see you tomorrow, I guess?” 

 She nodded.

He resorted to an emergency strategy and drew her into his arms, bending his head for a ‘goodnight’ kiss. He tasted salty tears on her cheek.

“Karen, honey, whatever is the matter?”

“I can’t help it,” she mumbled against his broad chest, shaking slightly with this unknown personal tragedy.

“Help what?”  He cast his mind over a range of potential calamities.   “Have you gone overdrawn? Again…”

She pushed him away.  “No, Stupid!”

“Okay then, I give up.  You obviously don’t want to tell me what the problem is, and, for all my talents, I’m not a mind reader, so I might as well just go.  After all, it’s more than likely there’s nothing I can do, anyway.” 

He waited for her response.  Symphony said nothing and kept her eyes fixed on the floor.

Even Blue’s near legendary patience was almost exhausted before she did – finally – raise her eyes to his.  A large tear trickled from her left eye, and she raised a hand to brush it away.

Älskling…” he said with such tenderness that her resolve crumbled and she confessed:

“I miss them, Adam.  I just miss them…”

“They’ll be back tomorrow, Karen…”

She flounced away.  “Not the others!  I mean my Dad and my Grandfather.  It’s my birthday, Sky, and not even my Mom’s sent me a present. Oh, I know you gave me one – and it’s lovely - and Dianne and Paul did too, but that’s not the same.  It’s like my family have forgotten me.   On top of that, the whole jolly Christmas thing is being packed away into boxes for another year – and I can’t help remembering all the good times we had at home over past Christmases and New Years.   And how everyone made such a fuss of today, so that I didn’t feel as if it was my fault Christmas ended on my birthday.”

“Yeah, you’ve mentioned that before.  Kids get weird ideas, but you’re all grown up now, älskling, you know that your birthday’s got nothing to do with it.”

Of course I know!  Jeez, Adam, it’s not like you to be so obtuse.”

“I guess we all miss the people we love at this time of year,” he admitted.   She nodded and sniffed.  He went and wrapped her in another embrace.  “But, while we can spend it with someone we love as much, it can’t be all bad, can it?”

She shook her head and sighed, comforted by the strength of his arms and the open affection in his voice.

“No, it isn’t bad.  No time I spend with you is ever bad, Sky.”

“Even when you hate me?”

“I never hate you.  You exasperate me, but – if I’m honest – I adore you all the same.”

He chuckled.  “You have no idea how comforting it is to know that.”

“Oh sure, like you didn’t know it already…”

“Hey, even I - Mr. Self-Assured of Boston - cower under your wrathful eye, älskling.”

“You?  You don’t even blanch at facing Mysterons.  Am I worse then them, Sky?”  She simpered up at him.

“I’m not in love with the Mysterons.”

She giggled.  “Who are you in love with?”

“You know full well what the answer to that question is.”

“So, tell me…”

Happy to see her smiling again, Blue feigned reluctance. 

“Well,” he said, “I – that is, me, Adam Svenson, codename Captain Blue of Spectrum – I…”

“Yes?”

“Well…” he paused. “Do I really have to do this?”

She nodded emphatically, smiling.

“Oh, all right.  I, Adam Svenson…”

“Yes – go on!”

“I-”

The door to the Amber Room snapped open and Colonel White came in.  He stopped suddenly on seeing the couple’s intimate embrace, and glanced with exaggerated interest around the room.

“Ah, you have taken the decorations down.  Good work, you two,” he said, studying the denuded walls and pretending not to notice as the couple sprang apart, identical blushes sweeping up into their cheeks.

“Yes, sir,” Symphony gabbled in embarrassment.  “We thought we’d better, it’ll be tomorrow before the others get back and it’s supposed to be bad luck if you miss the date, or something, isn’t it?”  She looked at Blue for confirmation and back to their commanding officer, before drawing a deep breath and asking, “Was there something you wanted, Colonel?” 

She couldn’t believe he had come all the way down to the Amber Room simply to check up about the decorations.

“Well, I… I just wandered down to wish you happy birthday, Symphony,” White admitted, feeling his own cheeks start to flame.  “And to deliver a package for a friend.  Your mother sent you this gift through me, so that you’d get it on the right day.  She asked me to wish you a very happy birthday, Karen, from her and your grandmother.”

He held out a small, brightly wrapped box.

“Oh – oh thank you, sir!”

Symphony skipped over to take the box and opened it under the benevolent gaze of the two men.  Amanda Wainwright knew her daughter very well, and the box contained a selection of expensive chocolates and, buried amongst the wrappers, small silver charm in the shape of a delta winged plane. 

She held the charm up for their inspection, exclaiming in delight, “She remembered, Adam.  She remembered!”

Blue examined the charm carefully. “That bracelet of yours is already a lethal weapon in its own right,” he commented. “It must weigh pounds.” 

“It’s not for wearing, not really.  Not any more,” she explained.  “My grandparents started it when I was just a girl. They always used to give me a charm for the bracelet, as one of my presents, on every birthday. Since Grandpa and my dad died, Mom’s tried to continue the tradition, because I still like to get charms for it.  She must’ve searched high and low for this one.”

“I believe she did,” the colonel said.  He had been roped into the search as well, but wild horses wouldn’t have made him confess to that.

“I shall go and put it on with the others straight away, and call Mom to thank her. I really thought she had forgotten this year.”  She looked up at the colonel.  “Thank you, sir, for acting as postman!”

“My pleasure, Symphony.  I would have delivered it earlier, but we were rather busy with the Mysteron threat.”

“Yes, of course.  I understand.”  She gave both men a dazzling smile.  “I’ve had a wonderful birthday.”

Blue grinned back and reached out to touch her cheek.  “I’m glad of that.  I don’t like to see you upset.” Symphony’s body leaned towards his as if she was being sucked in by his personal gravitational field.  Her lips parted as her face lifted to his… Blue started to lean forward to meet her -

Colonel White cleared his throat. 

“Happy Birthday,” he said, noticing the momentary shadow of confusion and disappointment that crossed both faces. 

“I’ll take the decorations to the storage bay,” Blue repeated and stooped to pick up the box in order to hide his discomfiture.

Colonel White moved to gaze out of the window over Cloudbase’s runway, seeing the distance glimmer of the rising stars and the repetitive flashes of the base’s lights.  He watched the couple leaving in the reflection that covered the huge picture window, and smiled as he caught Blue’s murmured farewell words to Symphony.

“I love you.”

The young woman smiled.  A piercingly sweet and deliriously happy smile.

As the door closed behind his officers, White turned back to his vigil.

And do you still think I don’t know that? he thought, smiling to himself. 

 

The End

 

AUTHOR’S NOTES:

 

My thanks to Chris Bishop for posting this 'snippet' at the last minute.
And 'Happy Birthday, Symphony'!
 
Marion Woods
06 January 2008

 

 

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