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06 February 2009 @ 10:41 pm
Fan Fiction: Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons  
Title: There Was Always Next Year.
Author: startron, né sovietkiki
Fandom: Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons (1967)
Pairing: Ochre/Magenta.
Word Count: 3,182.
Summary: Magenta really doesn't like anything about Valentines Day. Pre-Series.

It was not the rose that bothered him the most about the situation he was in, but rather the desk it was sat upon. Perched perkily from a bottle of Evian mineral water and turning its delicate head towards the port window, in search of pure daylight (and not the tacky stuff that fell from the ceiling lamps), it seemed to be in entirely the wrong place, for it was wedged rather rudely between the in tray and the out tray. It was a neglected creature and he pitied it, and wanted to rescue it; he supposed in hindsight that it seemed a little bit like him. Searching for a bit of love and affection in the world, but caught up in the middle of meaningless bureaucracy. He wondered if it would be counted as cheek to check the tag around its slender neck and decided that it probably was; his superior was not one for socialising or the childish games of love, and yet somehow he had managed to score himself a small slice of happiness. One that was being denied to him. He scowled as he noticed another red-envelope-wielding lieutenant pass by the door, a stupidly happy smile plastered all over her pretty face. God, he hated this time of year.

So wrapped up was he in the fictional affairs of the lieutenant that were swirling around in his mind that he missed Captain Black holding the paperwork he needed signing out to him, until the older man grew tired of waiting and grunted rather loudly - and disapprovingly. Startled into action, Magenta snatched the file away in a rather rude manner and stood up to leave. Upon spotting the irritated and mildly confused expression upon the other Captain's face he paused and tried to smile apologetically. 'Sorry, sir,' he tried to keep his tone upbeat and at its usual cheerful pitch, 'I'm not a great fan of this time of year.'

Black gave him a disbelieving and rather cool glance. 'That would make two of us, Captain,' he replied softly, 'but you don't see me being rude to Colonel White.'

'No sir.' Magenta's eyes had slid back to the rose, and he noticed how uncomfortable his observation of it made the other man. 'Although you're doing a damn sight better than I am.' He couldn't help but observe.

He had never seen Captain Black blush before, and the effect was rather strange. He was an emotionless man who, as Destiny had put it, 'could sit through a romantic movie without even feeling a little bit of empathy for anybody involved in it', and whose animosity was kept at a strict maximum so that he could remain completely outside of the social circles that had developed over the base in the past couple of months. Grey had postulated that this was because he was their superior and couldn't risk his position by involving himself with them; but his sympathies were soon better placed with the majority after Black chewed him out for failing to hand in a report at the exact hour he had requested it. After that incident, which involved humiliation in front of the entire of the Officer's Lounge, nobody else had bothered with trying to understand Black; they lived in a kind-of fear about him, wondering who it was who would get it in the neck next for doing something as mundane as missing a simple deadline.

'You appear to still be standing in my office, Captain,' Black observed, breaking Magenta back out of his reverie. He apologised shortly and turned around and marched out of the room before the senior officer could bestow any more irritation upon him. As he wandered up the corridor on his way to the Staff Lounge, he found himself becoming more and more brooding - which was strange, as he acknowledged that others were correct when they said about him that he was a normally cheerful 'prat' - if by others, he meant Ochre. For some reason or another, he could hear his mother's voice ringing in his ears. 'I dint get a rose from anyone at school,' she had said cheerfully as she tucked him into bed after another unsuccessful Valentines Day - Grade Five or so, 'perhaps it runs in the family. So you'll get an old codger like your father for a...wife.' She had realised halfway through speaking that the metaphor wouldn't work with the gender of her boy, but she had been closer to the truth than she could ever have guessed. Patrick Donaghue had always known he would never get a rose at school, because little boys didn't send them to other little boys, no matter how many times those other little boys held the door open for them or bought them lunch. Little boys were dense - and scared of being beaten up. It was different in High School, as long as you were discreet, and for the year or so he'd spent at Brooklyn Electronics he'd enjoyed the freedom his off-hours had provided. Then came what Ochre humourlessly referred to as the 'gangland years', where everything imperfect had had to be swept back under the proverbial carpet lest it bring with it shame and defeat by his enemies. And finally, he was here on Cloudbase - with no idea how he was supposed to feel about anyone.

Patrick knew that Ochre knew, and had known for some time, that he was in pining for someone - but he thought that it was one of the Angels. Certainly all of the other male officers on the base catered to their every whim, such as escorting Destiny to Paris for a day of shopping or helping Harmony brush up on her martial arts skills (she didn't need so much of a sparring partner, but more of a crash-test dummy), and Magenta went along with the rest of the crowd so that he wouldn't be seen as sticking out quite so sorely. As Black does, he supposed vaguely as he entered the Lounge and went immediately to the coffee machine so that he could ignore the garish pink streamers Symphony had hung over the noticeboard, it must be easier not caring if everyone dislikes you. But I think I'd prefer to have friends.

He and Richard Frazer had been partnered together in absolutely everything since day one at the Koala Base in Australia, and had hated each other from the word 'go'. They fought like wildcats about anything, spent long days not speaking about the most trifling of things, and had been unfavourably compared to a bitter long-married couple by many of their mutual friends. Brown, in particular, had enjoyed teasing them - until one day, during a quick reprieve in between training sessions, Rick had become so incensed that he had bored a pitcher of ice water over the poor unsuspecting officer's head. The resulting brain freeze - 'if such a thing is possible without actually ingesting the water,' Blue had complained - put him off saying anything about them ever again. And yet after that particular incident Magenta had felt things begin to change. Ochre didn't snipe at him so much, and he found himself becoming gradually less irritated simply by the other man's company. It had taken another three months for them to become friends, and another month and a half after that, Magenta had realised he was in lust. (He wasn't a great believer of 'love at first sight' - he never gave the appearance of a cynic, but was naturally one at heart.) From that point on, he made it his mission to appear as heterosexual as possible without going out and getting a woman's name tattooed on his arm - although Rick had, ironically, dared him to do that on one of their many nights out during shore leave. If he hadn't been so broke he probably would have. Anything to make his friends laugh.

He turned around from the machine and found Ochre standing directly behind him. Startled, his body gave a impulsive jerk and the coffee cup spilled from his hand, sending piping hot water spraying across his duty partner. Thankfully, the Spectrum uniforms were thicker than they appeared, but a look of horror still passed over Ochre's taciturn face. 'Well hello to you too,' he huffed, bending to retrieve the fallen (and now empty) cup and handing it back to Magenta, 'latte, please.' Growling and pawing the front of his uniform, he went and took a seat on one of the sofas next to Grey whilst Magenta, hands shaking from an unexpected adrenaline rush, dealt with his friend's drinks order. Something tells me today just isn't going to go to plan, he hypothesised, and he was right. From that point on he got Ochre's milk-to-coffee ratio wrong, forgot to hand in a report to Black (and thus incurred the wrath of an officer scorned), spelt his own name wrong on the half-arsed effort he then strove to get handed in by the five o'clock cut-off point, and finally burnt his hand on an overheating circuit board he was attempting to repair in the main control room.

Sat on a spare gurney in Sickbay and watching Doctor Fawn wrap a light bandage around the tender area, he sighed heavily and wished that the day would just end. It wouldn't have been nearly so bad if everyone wasn't skipping around like a happy puppy who had just found a new toy to play with. At least Fawn was his usual brusque self; he had even given a warning about touching overheating electronics in the future. 'It's just common sense, Magenta,' he chided gently, 'especially for an officer in Spectrum. I know it's Valentines Day and love is in the air, but that doesn't make you indestructible.'

Magenta smiled thinly and thanked him as he left, wondering at the same time if Fawn had a secret sweetheart hidden somewhere on the base. He wouldn't put it past him; a lot of the personnel on Cloudbase took Fawn as a given bore, but only Magenta and Ochre knew of his secret passion for skydiving - a pursuit that was less safe than repairing electronics, that was for damn sure. Sighing again, he rounded a corner and ran rather solidly into Symphony, who had been walking the other way. Rebounding slightly, they both stopped and looked at each other. 'Sorry, Symphony,' he said hurriedly, 'I wasn't looking where I was going.'

'It's alright,' the American replied airily, smiling in her usual manner, 'I was just on my way to see Adam, remind him that we're going somewhere in an hour, and he'd better be ready for it.' She registered the distant expression on Magenta's face and laughed. 'Who are you bringing along?'

Magenta groaned. Despite the wishes of Captain Black, whose sour expression had dogged the entire meeting on the matter, the Angels had convinced Colonel White to allow them to have an informal 'Valentines Ball' in the Officer's Lounge that evening, and it was, childishly, 'partners-only'. Patrick's High School had held these clique-ish events and he hadn't attended a single one, and had no compulsion to attend this one, either. Rick flirting with other girls on duty, fine, his mind thought absently. Rick dancing with and kissing other girls in my face, not so much. He returned Symphony's unsure smile and shrugged. 'Sorry, Symphony,' he said in a faux-cheerful tone, 'I have Radar Room duty tonight.' He made a show of checking his watch. 'Speaking of which, I'm running a bit late. I'm sorry. Have a lovely time, tell me all about it tomorrow, okay?'

He left her stood in the corridor with a bewildered expression running across her face, and he was sorry for that - but he really was late, and he knew that Brown didn't deserve the wait. As it was, the officer was being entertained by one of the prettier lieutenants from the personnel office, and they left him in peace after only a few flirty introductions and more than an ear's worth of giggling. Magenta sat down and logged on to his account on the computer, then leant back in the chair and rubbed at his eyes. This day had better end soon, he thought sulkily, Never mind marrying him - I'm beginning to sound like my pa. In fifty-four years of marriage, his father had not done one romantic thing for his mother. Not because he didn't love her, as she had explained, but because it simply didn't occur to him to. The tone she had spoken this spiel in had made it sound like future relationship advice, and Patrick had taken it in that manner, carefully filing it under the heading, 'stuff I should probably remember' and promptly forgetting about it.

His mind wandered vaguely back to Ochre and he frowned, realising suddenly that he had no idea who Rick was planning on taking to the Ball. This in itself was odd; whenever he had gotten a date in the past, he had rubbed it as far into Magenta's face as Patrick's own honour would allow. Yet that morning in the Staff Lounge he hadn't even mentioned the Ball once, yet alone which gorgeous woman he was planning to escort to it. If Magenta hadn't been feeling so sorry for himself he might have noticed sooner. Even Grey had mentioned his date - a nice girl named Sheridan who worked down in the computer lab - and that was bold by Bradley Holden standards. For Ochre not to counter it with a, 'well yeah, but I'm taking...' was highly unusual. Patrick cursed himself for not being more attentive - romantic hopes aside, it was the duty of a good friend to notice when those close to him weren't acting as themselves, and he had failed utterly.

He continued guilting himself for another couple of hours, well into the Ball's set duration period. There was little else for him to do; duty in the Radar Room just meant watching for any unauthorised aircraft in the vicinity, and according to Green's event log, the only blip he should be seeing was the one he was looking at now. Passenger jet, taking a detour because of a storm. Nothing at all exciting or unpredictable. Sinking back into the sulk that had enveloped him earlier, he leant back in the chair and studied the ceiling, counting the little dots that criss-crossed the metal panels.

'That looks like a fascinating job.'

He rocked forwards with a crash as he observed Ochre stood in the doorway, tuxedo-clad and watching him with a mildly amused expression. Magenta took a second to compose himself before replying. 'Well somebody has to do it,' he said tersely before remembering that he was trying to be more positive, 'why aren't you at the Ball?'

'The person I wanted to go with couldn't go.' Ochre replied earnestly, leaning against the door frame and sticking his hands self-consciously in his pockets. He waited for the realisation switch to flick in the back of his friend's mind and the light to dawn in his eyes, but instead all he got in return was a simple:

'Oh yeah? Who was that?'

Ochre rolled his own eyes. For a full year now he had tried to mentally equate his blundering mess of a friend with the scheming gangster Captain Black had said he was when he had paired them together, and he just could not reconcile the two images. Certainly for someone to be as dense as Magenta took a certain kind of ignorance, and it wasn't one he was sure that a criminal mastermind his file boasted. He had told Magenta on the day they had met that he shagged anything; surely his partner knew that that definition crossed genders, and not just hair colours and body types? Of course he had to be discreet about that sort of thing - they both had to, in this business and the businesses that had come before - but he knew he was doing a damn better job of it than his partner was. Patrick acted so straight sometimes that it was almost impossible for him not to be the other way; and the fact that he looked good in pink sealed the deal. 'Who do you think?' He asked in return, putting an added emphasis on the 'you'.

Magenta sighed. 'I can't be bothered with the duty roster, Rick,' he said impatiently, eyes drawn back to the slow-moving dot that was still traversing the radar screen, 'if you don't want to tell me, don't tell me.'

Ochre looked at him curiously. 'What the hell is up with you today?' He asked instead, moving into the room and allowing the automatic door to close behind him. 'You've been all grumpy since breakfast. Don't tell me you're still mourning the latte. I told you it was no big deal.'

Magenta half-sighed and half-laughed. 'How noble of you to think I was brooding about you.' He replied - even if it was true.

'Well, isn't it true?' Rick faked a hurt expression, and he was pleased when Magenta conceded that was the case.

'Alright,' Magenta admitted, 'I was brooding about you. You and your lack of a date. What's up? Usually you have a plethora of girls falling over each other. Either you're slacking, or there's something wrong.'

Rick tsked loudly. 'You never listen, do you?' He accused. 'I told you: the person I wanted to go with was unavailable.'

Patrick couldn't follow Ochre's line of reasoning, because it was too anti-Rick. 'So you...didn't go.' He laughed disbelievingly. 'Oh, come off it. Knowing you, you went and picked up a handful of girls, and now you're just here to brag about it.'

Spelling it out was, obviously, the only option. 'No,' Rick replied softly, 'I'm here because my unavailable date is here.'

It took a moment or two to sink in and, when it did, the response it evoked was a defensive strife. 'Oh, so now you're teasing me,' Magenta didn't see how it could be any other way, and felt chastised, 'can today get any worse? Perhaps the base will blow up, or...' He tailed off as Ochre stepped up onto the platform beside him and perched rather heavily on the edge of the chair, looking at him so intently that he was forced to avert his eyes.

'Patrick Donoghue,' Rick declared earnestly, 'you are the densest individual I have ever met. And I love you for it.' He leant forwards and planted a soft kiss on his field partner's flushing forehead. 'Now are you taking me seriously?'

Patrick smiled weakly. 'You've done worse for April Fool's pranks,' he hesitated before reaching up and putting his hand over Ochre's, still convinced it was a meaningless prank and that any second Rick would pull a disgusted face and shove him off. Instead, their fingers twined together and he smiled, the floor suddenly becoming a very interesting thing to stare at. 'Alright,' he admitted, 'I'm taking you seriously.'

Perhaps Valentines Day wasn't such a bad day after all. Or wouldn't have been, if Ochre hadn't planned his admission to coincide with half an hour into February 15th.

Still, there was always next year.