A ‘Captain Scarlet’ Christmas Story by
December 23rd, 2100
Captain Indigo leaned back into the fabric of her directors’ chair, critically replaying the past few minutes in her mind.
“Something’s not right,” she told the three junior officers before her.
Sergeant Wells sighed. “What is it this time?” he asked impatiently, fiddling with the stiff, high collar of his tunic.
“I’m not sure,” Indigo said, vacantly, reviewing the thick sheet of paper clutched in her hand. “Go again, and I’ll try to catch it.”
Wells turned back towards the stage, a murderous gleam in his eyes.
“It wouldn’t do any good to kill her,” trainee Angel pilot Elena Walsh told him softly, once out of earshot of their senior officer. “She’d only come back.”
“I know,” Wells said, “but she had to wait until dress rehearsal to pick something up, didn’t she?”
“Leave off, you guys,” Lieutenant Maroon admonished. “Captain Indigo’s under a lot of pressure this year. She’s never directed the panto before; it was always Captain Citron, until…” He trailed off, unwilling to remind everyone of the grizzly details of the French captain’s death three months back.
Walsh shuddered as she ascended the steps back onto the stage, to begin the scene again.
Captain Amber entered the theatre silently, unwilling to disturb the actors practicing on the stage. The thick carpet cushioned his footsteps as he strode towards the front of the great hall and gently placed his hands on the director’s shoulders. Instead of screaming, as he’d been hoping, she relaxed and grasped his right hand with hers, never taking her eyes from the stage.
“That was perfect again, guys,” she called to the actors. “Maybe you’re just uncomfortable in those costumes.” She hesitated, glancing at her watch. “I think we should call it a day.”
Amber, on hearing the tired note in his wife’s voice, walked around her chair and pulled her up into his arms.
“What’s wrong, Rose?” he asked gently, feeling her head droop against his shoulder. “Not sleeping properly?”
“No,” Indigo muttered.
“C’mon, let’s get you to bed then,” Amber said brightly, doubting very much whether his wife had been getting even the few hours sleep that she required lately. Probably working too hard on the pantomime that was being performed in two days time, on Christmas Day.
After tucking Indigo up – something unusual for him, as she only ever came to bed at the same time as him if they were… well, doing things he’d never want her father to know about. He could never recall her going to bed earlier than him in their seven years of marriage – he headed back towards the theatre, hoping to catch some of the actors, or set designers before they too disappeared for the night, either to their own beds or on duty as the night shift.
Elena Walsh was still there, hanging up colourful, and in some cases spangly, costumes.
“Elena?” Amber called softly, not wanting to frighten the young girl, barely eighteen.
She looked up from the clothes rail. “Yes, captain?” she said, drawing herself to attention.
Amber couldn’t help but smile at the garish frock that Walsh was trying desperately hard to conceal from him. “As you were, lieutenant.”
Walsh blinked upon hearing her rank. Amber supposed that it wasn’t something she heard regularly. The general had been trying to come up with some kind of system for naming any Angels-in-training on Cloudbase, but had struggled. After all, what did one call a not-quite-Angel? Hence, the senior staff used her equivalent rank, junior lieutenant. The more junior staff, Amber knew, had their own terms for Walsh’s position. ‘Ghost’ was one he’d heard recently.
“Please, call me Aaron,” Amber continued, not missing a beat.
“Of course,” Walsh replied, hanging up the dress in her hand. “Did you want something?”
“Actually, yes. Has Rose, Captain Indigo, been spending a lot of time working on this play?”
Walsh frowned, as if she was being asked a trick question. “Of course she has, captain. She wants to make sure that everything’s perfect for Christmas day.” Walsh narrowed her eyes at Amber. “Why do you ask?”
Amber shook his head. “Maybe I’m overreacting, but Rose seems really tired at the moment, as if she’s not slept for a couple of nights.”
Walsh shrugged. “I dunno,” she said. “Do you want me to keep an eye on her for you, make sure she’s not overdoing things?”
“Would you?” Amber was relieved. “I’d do it myself, but I have to be on duty sometimes.”
“No problem,” Walsh assured him. “I work the nightshift mostly, so I’ll keep a look out for her prowling around.”
“You’re an angel,” Amber told her.
“Not yet,” Walsh laughed, picking slightly at her light grey flight suit.
“Guess not,” Amber returned, echoing her laugh. “See you around.”
“Yeah, will do.”
Not yet, but soon, Amber thought. You’re a damn good pilot, Elena.
Amber slipped silently back into his quarters and spotted his wife sleeping silently. That was one of the plus sides of having a wife with retrometabolism, from his point of view. She never snored. She never got sick, and he rarely had to worry that she wouldn’t come back from a mission. The only disadvantage, as far as he could tell was something he’d stopped worrying about years ago, before they’d gotten married. Rose couldn’t have a baby. She was a hybrid, a combination of two totally different species. Amber remembered from his Biology classes that members of two different species couldn’t produce fertile offspring. It was simply impossible. Rose had tried having several different treatments in the hope of giving him a child, even when he told her that it didn’t matter to him, she still tried. The doctors tried everything they could, but to no avail. They couldn’t give her a baby. It was something they’d both come to accept, even though Amber knew that Rose still wanted one, deep down.
December 24th 2100
Amber awoke when his alarm clock sounded to find that Indigo had already left. Quickly, he showered and dressed, and sped off towards the theatre. As expected, he found his wife there, ready for her duty shift in her dark uniform. Her dark hair had been straightened and pulled up in a smooth coil.
She laughed when she saw the reproachful look he was giving her.
“I’m just making sure that everything’s ready for tomorrow,” she defended herself, giving him a kiss on the cheek.
“Have you even had breakfast yet?”
A guilty blush settled on her cheeks, highlighting her youthful features. “No, shall we go?” Indigo turned her attention back to the group before her. “Can you guys finish up on your own? I’ve only got half an hour before I go on duty.”
Shouts of “Sure”, “No problem”, and several other replies in languages Amber didn’t speak returned and Indigo took her husband’s arm as she steered him out of the theatre towards the mess hall.
“Okay everyone!” Indigo called, clapping her hands. “It looks like everything’s perfect. I’ll see you all tomorrow.”
Without turning, she spoke again to the man behind her.
“Did Aaron send you to keep an eye on me?”
“No,” Major Scarlet replied defensively. “I just thought I’d look in, see how you were getting on. Can’t I take an interest in the activities of my favourite daughter occasionally?”
Indigo’s frown softened into a smile as she turned to face her father.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s just that he’s been checking up on me all day.”
Scarlet smiled back. “Aaron’s just worried about you, darling. Husbands are allowed to do that.” Studying his daughter carefully, Scarlet could see that she was working just a little too hard. It was only subtle, but he could see where the refixing of her hair had missed a few strands, which had started to go frizzy. Stress. Indigo always prided herself on her appearance. As one of the few female colour-coded officers, she had a lot to live up to, as the trendsetter.
“I suppose so,” Indigo sighed. “It’s just so frustrating sometimes.” She put her hand to her head, then fell to the floor. It was unceremonious, and would have been missed, had Scarlet had not been watching her at that very moment.
“Rose?” he said, rushing to her side. Kneeling down, he shook her. “Rose?”
Indigo opened her eyes in puzzlement.
“Rose, are you okay?” Scarlet asked, concerned.
“Fine,” she said, brusquely, brushing down her uniform as she stood up. Scarlet got the impression that she was hiding something – especially since her fainting spell didn’t seem to faze her in the slightest.
He narrowed his eyes at his daughter. “Have you fainted before?”
Indigo hesitated. “No,” she replied carefully.
“Rose…” Scarlet’s voice was dangerous, that of a father who knows his child too well to be lied to.
“A couple of times, maybe three,” she relented. “It’s not a big deal.”
“How can fainting not be a ‘big deal’?” Scarlet demanded, trying his best not to sound worried. “It means you aren’t looking after yourself. When was the last time you ate?”
“I’ve not skipped a meal for absolutely ages. I mean months. And, okay, maybe I’ve not been sleeping as long as I should, but I’ve never missed an entire night. I am taking care of myself. Honestly, you’re as bad as Aaron!”
“We’re worried, Rosie,” Scarlet replied. “This isn’t normal. Have you seen a doctor?”
“No,” she admitted, now slightly scared. She realized that this wasn’t caused by simply not sleeping quite enough, there was an underlying cause that should be discovered and treated accordingly.
“Come on,” Scarlet said, gently guiding his petite daughter towards the door. “Let’s go and see one, shall we?”
Amber skidded into Sickbay, having been told by some of the junior officers in the theatre that Scarlet had taken Indigo out after she’d passed out, a couple of hours before. It had been an accident waiting to happen, he thought. Still, he was concerned that if she was still in Sickbay, something more serious than sleep deprivation was the problem with his wife.
Indigo was lying asleep on the bed that had been custom-modified for Scarlet’s use some thirty-two years ago. Now it served for both of them.
Amber walked over to Scarlet, perched on the next bed, gazing unseeingly at his daughter.
“Well?” he asked softly.
“They won’t tell me,” Scarlet replied, equally softly. “Dr. Azure said that he had to tell Rose first.”
“We’ll see about that,” Amber declared. “Doctor?”
“No, Captain, I won’t tell you either,” Azure replied, his dark eyes twinkling. “I can tell you not to worry and it’s nothing life threatening.”
Scarlet and Amber had gone for coffee when Indigo awoke, a few hours later.
“Thank God they’re not here,” Azure breathed. A smile played at his lips when he approached Indigo. The young captain was sitting up, looking around with interest.
“Sorry, did I fall asleep?” she inquired, bashfully.
“Yes,” Azure replied, “but that’s okay. You need your strength.”
“Did you find out what’s wrong with me?”
“Yes, Captain, I did find out what your condition is. Nothing I would class as being ‘wrong’ though.”
Indigo frowned, puzzled by the row of white teeth she could currently see, displayed by Azure’s wide smile.
“Go on, I can’t bare it any longer. This game isn’t funny any more.”
Azure laughed. “All right. You’re pregnant, Rose”
Rose glared at him. “That’s not funny. You know as well as I do that I can’t have children.”
He shook his head, trying to control his smile. “I’m being serious. We can do an ultrasound if you like. Well, I’ll be having you down for one soon enough anyway, so we might as well do it now.”
“Okay,” Indigo replied, unable to comprehend what she’d been told.
Scarlet and Amber returned whilst Azure was scanning Indigo, showing her her baby.
“What the…?” Amber was lost for words. Scarlet guided him towards the side of the bed, pointing him towards the monitor. He watched the screen himself, knowing that he saw his grandchild there. The heartbeat could be heard faintly, being emitted by the small speakers. Indigo was smiling, crying tears of joy. She’d waited for this moment for so long: had given up on it, in fact. Amber took her hand and she squeezed reassuringly. Scarlet contented himself with standing in the background, leaving the happy couple alone for the time being.
Azure packed up the equipment, and washed down Indigo’s abdomen. The clock had just passed midnight.
“Congratulations, and Merry Christmas,” he said, leaving the small family to their joy.
Any comments? Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org