Disclaimer: Earth 2 and all related elements, characters and indicia are trademarks of Amblin Entertainment/Universal © 1995. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situationssave those created by the authors for use solely on this websiteare copyright Amblin Entertainment/Universal © 1995.
Author's Note: This is dedicated to John and Rebecca. They do a fantastic job, and I just had to do a little fiction about the Martins, who really are a great couple.
The Last Wildflower
by Tara O'Shea
The first time Bess Amelia Klempt saw Morgan Horatio Martin, she thought he had been dropped on his head as a child.
There was simply no other explanation. Bess was at the busy NorthAm shuttle port, checking on a shipment of minerals bound for the Mars station, and looked over to see a man sitting on a metal case, with some kind of weird pair of glasses on, hitting the air with a pair of sticks.
Bess chewed on her lower lip, and curiosity overcame any kind of warning bells as she crept closer. He was dressed really nice, in a suit that was wilting from the humidity, but screamed Stations Dweller all the same. She reached out and touched his shoulder, and the young man practically yelled, snatching the headset off, and staring at her with wild eyes.
"Are you okay, mister?"
"Yes, I'm fine. I'm fine." Morgan patted his pockets, making sure his wallet was where he'd left it, and had a moment of panic as he realised he couldn't remember where he left it, and then recovered as his hands found the bulge in his breast pocket. He stood, meaning to give this grubby Earth Res a piece of his mind for scaring him while he was in VR, and froze.
She was beautiful. It was more than that. She was... stunning. An angel, underneath a layer of dirt and grime, though it was obvious she had done her best to clean herself up before coming to the port. Her clothes, though faded and poorly made, were clean, or at least, recently cleaned, and all the tears were mended, all the holes patched. Her mane of curly light brown hair was held back from her face with combs, a few curls escaping to cling damply to her neck and cheeks. Her blue eyes were wide, and her full mouth trembled a little. Probably afraid he was someone really important, and not just Morgan Martin, level three bureaucrat who got stuck with all the dirty work, including supervising mining contracts back on the rock that had spawned the human race before they were drawn up into the stars...
But she lifted her chin, and there was a spark... something in the way she squared her shoulders and stared him down. Something that took Morgan Martin, bureaucrat, and transformed him into Morgan blithering-idiot-for-one-word-from-those-lips-oh-my-god-is- this-love?or-bad-synthetic-chicken-dinner-on-the-shuttle Martin.
For her part, Bess seemed unable to form a coherent thought. She just stood like a lump in the middle of the terminal, waiting for this guy to say something, instead of staring at her like he was either having an epiphany, or a stroke. His dark hair was a little long, curling against the collar of his grey shirt, and mussed from pulling off the headset in such a hurry. She repressed a sudden urge to push it away from his face.
"Are you sure you're okay?" she finally asked, looking concerned as he still seemed a little out of it.
Morgan hastily stuck the sticks in his pocket, and cleared his throat. He cleared it again before he spoke, and tried to seem perfectly normal. "Yes, I was just waiting for someone, there's on... um, need, no need to be concerned."
"What were you doing?"
"Oh, just," Morgan looked around like the answer would be painted in bright red letters on the walls or ceiling of the terminal. "you know, in VR."
"Actually, I don't know," Bess said casually, trying to look calm and collected instead of wanting to grab the gear and take it apart to see how it worked, and then put it back together and try it, since she'd never actually been in VR. Programs were just a little too expensive planetside, and things like food and shelter tended to take precedence.
"Oh," Morgan was at a bit of a loss, and then the girl smiled shyly, and he thought his heart might stop.
"Well, if you're sure you're fine, I guess I'll be on my way." She turned to go, and he just stood there for a second, unable to believe that she was walking out of his life only seconds after she'd waltzed into it.
"Um... wait. Miss?" He grabbed his case and trotted after her, and Bess smiled.
"What do you know about this fellow?" Armstrong Klempt questioned his daughter as she flitted from room to room, heels clicking on the concrete floor, putting on her mother's gold earrings, pulling her hair back in combs, adjusting the neckline of the green dress he had given her for her eighteenth birthday. She had only worn it twice in four years. There wasn't much to dress up for these days. Not planetside.
"I met him in the port yesterday."
"And he asked you to dinner?"
"And you're going."
The crusty old miner hurumphed, and Bess smiled at him affectionately. He'd been fussing over her ever since she was six years old, and while normally she found it a bit overbearing, occasionally it touched her heart.
"What kind of a man asks a young woman to meet him at his hotel? Not a gentleman, I'll tell you that."
"Dad, he probably wouldn't be able to find this place, even if I tried to give him directions. I don't mind."
"It isn't right."
"Dad, I've been out and about on my own since I was seven, why the sudden concern?"
"You just don't let this guy take advantage of you." He moved to kiss her forehead, and she pulled back.
"Dad, I just fixed my face."
"Bess, are you listening to me?"
"Don't let him take advantage of me. Got it. Dad, he won't."
"How do you know?"
"I just know." Bess shrugged, and slipped out. Klempt watched her, shaking his head. He had a wilful little girl, he'd always known that. But what he hadn't expected was that he'd have to admit that she wasn't a little girl any more.
The generically named Plaza Hotel was not exactly five star accommodations, at least, not in Morgan's opinion. Not that he'd ever stayed in a five star anything but he'd been hoping that the level-jump from Two to Three might have yielded something a little more classy and a little less...
The rooms were small, a bed, a satellite hook-up set into the small desk, green curtains covering a blank wall (the hotel was two stories underground thanks to acid rain), the walls painted in an off-white that must be the cheapest paint in the history of the world, since he seemed to run into it so often. Halogen lights set into the ceiling were harsh, and there was no dimmer, so Bess was treated to the room's entire stark, plain, functional glory when she tapped at his door.
"Hi." Morgan tried to usher her out quickly, but she was charmed.
"Wow." She looked around the room, delighted at the cool air that the automated filtering system pumped into the cubicle, even the grey carpeting that looked as if no human feet had ever tread upon it. "Fancy."
"Um... yeah," Morgan tried concentrating on everything but her shoulders bared by the green dress, and failing miserably. "You look... really nice." He smiled what he hoped was a charming, disarming smile.
Bess actually blushed, which surprised her. She didn't blush easily. He offered his arm, which she took.
"So what exactly does Level Three mean?" Bess asked around a mouthful of pasta. Morgan was amazed. She was slender as a reed, but a picky eater she was not. She ate everything he ordered for her, steadily and without comment save for how excellent the food was.
"Well, for one, it means access to all Level Three files."
"They're more important than Level Two?"
"Oh, much. Level Three handles all the mining contracts here on Earth, trade with the other stations, commercial electronics contracts--"
"So why are you here?"
"For the next four weeks, I'm supposed to work with the Level Fives back stationside to negotiate three supply contracts for ore and mineral processing on Mars station."
"Sounds pretty important, my father's a miner."
"Yeah, mostly iron ore for the lunar processing station, so the Adairs can start work on a new orbital station in Mars orbit. It's a pretty big contract."
"Don't be. There are about eighty different miners in on it as a consortium, there's so little ore left, we're barely turning over enough to keep food on the table. Still, we managed to purchase five Zero units to work in the lower level mines last quarter, it almost doubled our output."
"Bess..." Morgan was uncomfortable discussing business, he was trying to make his job sound much more important than it was, really. He was little more than a human communications relay. "What about you?"
"Well, I help my dad out. Mostly record keeping, not as exciting as your job I'm sure."
"Everything you do fascinates me," he blurted out, and she laughed.
"How long have you been on the Stations?"
"Oh, my grandmother was a communications technician, the Adairs brought her up when they were constructing the Lunar Station. I was born there."
"Is this your first trip planetside?"
"Ye-es." Morgan admitted. "Does it show?"
"Just a little. It would probably help if you learned--" she leaned forward and unbuttoned the first button of his dress shirt, and Morgan forgot how to breathe at the feather light touch of her slender fingers at his neck "--to loosen up a little. We don't stand on ceremony much down here."
"I'll keep that in mind."
"So what were you doing in VR this morning?"
Bess clapped wildly as Morgan twirled one drumstick while steadily tapping out a rhythm with the other. She tapped her foot in time with the music as one of the holographic bandmembers stepped forward and lifted a clarinet to his lips.
"Two hundred year old music, huh?" Bess asked as she untangled the gear from her curls. They sat in a deserted underground lot that was supposed to be a park, from the benches and defaced fountain, but the complete lack of trees and grass defeated the purpose to a certain degree. The sky above the dome was pitch dark, no stars could find their way through the thick haze of pollution.
"Yeah, my grandmother passed on her collection of vintage cds when she died, and my dad gave them to me." Morgan shrugged, tucking his gear into one pocket, his drumsticks in the other where they peeked out a few inches. "He didn't have much use for music. Numbers were his only passion."
"And the drums are yours."
"Well, maybe not only." Morgan tucked a curl behind her ear, and brushed her lips with his own.
"Do you really have to go?" Bess leaned against the desk, watching Morgan pack. She held his drumsticks in her hands, and clicked them together nervously.
The past few weeks had been amazing. Bess had never thought, never dreamed...
He looked up, and sighed.
"I petitioned to stay, but it was turned down. They want me to become some kind of liaison to a colony project, you know when the Adairs ask, you don't say no. I don't know what else to do." He sat on the edge of the bed. He hated this planet, hated the idea of it, of staying there, but he would have. He would have stayed for her. His eyes pleaded for her to understand that. She knelt at his feet, pushing his hair from his cheek.
"I know. I know sweetie."
"Go with me," Morgan wondered why the idea hadn't occurred to him before.
"What?" Bess blinked.
"I can't leave you. Come with me, stay with me."
"I don't understand--"
Morgan kissed her hand, and then got off the bed, kneeling at her side. "Will you... "
"Yes." Bess threw her arms around him, almost choking the life out of him.
"Let me finish asking, this is important," he said to her hair, which was all he could actually see.
"Okay." She giggled.
"Will you marry me?"
"Yes," she whispered, and kissed him.
And that was that.
"It'll be okay, Morgan." Bess held his hand, ducking beneath the pipes that lined the ceiling of the ore processing station she called home.
"Ow." Morgan rubbed his forehead.
"I'm sorry," she touched his forehead, and he kissed her hand.
"I'm okay," he assured her, but his smile faded, and he chewed on his lower lip. "Are you sure meeting your father is such a good idea?"
"Morgan," Bess laughed. "He's not a monster, he's my dad."
"I know that. It's just... what if he doesn't like me?"
"He'll love you, just like I love you."
"You mean that?"
"Of course I do." Bess smiled at him. "I'm going to marry you, aren't?"
"What is it about my daughter, Mr. Martin, that makes you want to take her stationside?" Armstrong Klempt sat back, arms crossed, and if he was trying to look foreboding, as far as Morgan was concerned, he was succeeding admirably.
"What is it...?" Morgan echoed, and blinked. Of all the questions he had been prepared to answer, this was not one of them. "You have a beautiful, intelligent daughter, Mr. Klempt. I want to show her things that she's never seen, give her what she deserves..." he licked his lips, which were suddenly dry. "She deserves so much more--"
"Than what I can give her." Klempt's voice was low, almost indistinguishable from the whirring of the fan, the water dripping from the pipes. But Morgan heard it almost inside his head.
"I didn't mean, sir--"
"I know what you meant, Mr. Martin."
Morgan felt like a bug.
This was not a good thing. The very last thing one should feel, as they meet the father of the woman they want to marry, is like a bug.
"My daughter," Klempt stood, and began to pace, "is the most important thing in my life, Mr. Martin. Her mother died when she was seven years old, and it almost destroyed us. She has done amazing thing, do you understand me? Amazing things all her life, just staying alive on this god-forsaken planet. And on top of all of that, she has taken good care of me, and I have tried my damnedest to take care of her, see that she's never hurt, that she knows that she's loved. That she has food in her stomach and clothes on her back, and I never expected her to stay here forever. You're right, she's too good for this place, this life."
"I love your daughter very much."
"Yes, well, she seems to think so. And if you make her happy, how can I deny her?"
"I'm not finished yet."
"I'm sorry, sir."
"I want my daughter to be happy. More importantly, I want to know that she's taken care of."
"Sir, I just made a level-jump to Three, and I think by the end of this quarter, I will make Four. I can promise you that for as long as our contract, I will make sure Bess is happy, and comfortable, at least as comfortable as I can manage."
"And after your contract?"
"I know you are willing to commit to four years, but what about after that? What, will you give her a taste of the stars, and then send her packing back down to here, to just pick up where she left off?"
"No," Morgan was shocked. He hadn't thought quite that far ahead, but he certainly couldn't imagine loving her any less than he did now. "No... I would never do that. We'll renew."
"For another four years?"
"For as long as your daughter will have me." Morgan tried to meet the old man's eyes, and the fire he saw there... the strength, made him feel like he could never live up to his expectations. And he wanted to. He had to. "Bess is my world."
Klempt hurumphed, and stopped pacing.
"I believe you. I may not like it," Morgan opened his mouth to protest, but Klempt held up his hand, and Morgan closed it quickly, "but my daughter loves you. And I can't ignore that."
"Thank you, um.. sir, thank you," Morgan pumped the old miner's hand, relief shining in his eyes. "I won't let you down."
"You'd better not let her down, Mr. Martin. Or I will make you sorry you ever set foot on this planet."
"See? That wasn't so bad." Bess met him in the corridor, kissing his cheek. "My dad's a great guy, isn't he?"
"Oh yeah, the best." Morgan smiled for her sake, but couldn't help feeling that he'd just been subjected to an exam where if he missed one question, he'd fail.
He didn't think he'd failed. But until his heart decided it preferred living in his chest rather than it's current location, which seemed to be his shoes, he couldn't say he felt like he'd passed either.
"Your mother would have wanted you to have this," Klempt hooked the clasp around his daughter's neck, and did his best not to sound like the pathetic old man he felt like.
"It's beautiful," Bess held the pendant in her hand, smiling.
"It's a wildflower, it must be a hundred years old, there sure as hell haven't been any wildflowers on Earth for decades. The last wildflower on Earth, I'd say." He kissed her forehead. "Just like you."
Morgan held back, his suitcases, and Bess's lone case in the sitting on the floor beside him, as busy commuters and business people headed out and came in. The NorthAm shuttle port wasn't the best place for sentimental family scenes, but since it had all started there, it seemed fitting.
"Ah daddy," Bess hugged him. "I'll be back after the wedding. I'll visit, I promise."
"Don't you be making any promises you can't keep," Klempt could feel his eyes smarting as she held her tight. "Once you're all the way up there, you won't be wanting to come back down here."
"I promise." She pulled back reluctantly, and he straightened the shoulders of her green dress for her, chucking her under the chin as he did so.
"Martin," Klempt looked up at Morgan, who stiffened. The old man offered his hand, and solemnly, Morgan shook it. He felt like he should say something, but he couldn't think of anything to say that wouldn't come out all wrong, so he kept his mouth shut. Klempt nodded, and watched then get on the moving sidewalk, which took his daughter out of his life, and to a brighter future.
Shoving his hands deep in his pockets, he turned around and headed home.