Amongst the Nightingales.
Summary: Its Midnight on the Christa and Harlan is perhaps dreaming or perhaps not but it will be the last time he ever sees her again. Harlan/Cat, I don't own so don't sue.
It was midnight, not a sound from the Christa. Normally the ship would be filled with activity, after all teenagers were notorious for staying up until all hours of the morning. But this night was different.
Tomorrow was going to be a big day or well technically since there never were any real tomorrows on the Christa in a few hours it would be a big series of time. Ms Davenport had sent every one off to bed early and Thelma had fiddled with their sleeping pods to ensure they'd get a healthy ten hours of sleep.
Harlan had been insulted at the time after all he was twenty now and by earth standards that meant he was adult. He'd argued that he should be able to go to sleep whenever he felt like it and Ms Davenport had merely rolled her eyes and wandered off in her dressing gown not willing to argue.
Every one else had gone to bed at around ten all claiming exhaustion leaving Harlan alone, alone at the hull staring at the infinite pinprick lights of space.
He yawned loudly leaning against his console wondering why they never seemed to see stars up close why the stars were always distant.
But then he stopped his mind trailing away; Harlan was never one for introspection.
The ship was silent, so silent in fact that he was sure he'd inherited Radu's super hearing because he could hear the gizbot whirring about in another room.
"Just another one of those nights" he yawned to himself.
"You've been having a few of those lately" a voice, female and slightly familiar said and he turned.
"What are you…Oh It's you," he finally said wiping his arms. She was standing before him, and She was the sort of girl who deserved an honorific because She was beyond the sort of girl he took an idle interest in because they happened to look hot.
Not that Harlan ever paid much attention to spelling or grammar.
"Cat am I dreaming?" he asked and she held up her hand as if to warn him.
"Yeah you are actually, you fell asleep in your sleeping pod and now you're entering your rem cycle" she said in her familiar know it all tone of voice.
"Same old Cat" he said but affectionately.
"Not really, I mean it's been a couple of years and I'm a little different" she said shrugging her shoulders self-consciously.
He half expected her to look exactly the same but she was older, like a real grown up and her rainbow hair was long falling to just above her shoulders.
"Yeah I can see that, so I'm seeing a version of you that's been made up in my brain right? Ms Davenport said that dreams are like the stuff our brains throw up when we're asleep" he began and she wrinkled her nose.
"Ugh gross, I wouldn't know about that.. Saturians rarely dream," she reminded him.
"Oh yeah, forgot about that" Harlan said turning back to the stars.
"Have you ever wondered why the stars always look far away?" he asked.
"Physics" she answered him.
"You really think so?"
"It's always got something to do with physics Harlan" Catalina said.
"Suzie would know" Harlan said knowingly.
"Of course she'd know she knows every thing, I could ask her the next time I speak to her" Catalina said standing next to him.
"But you cant ask her because you're not the real Cat" Harlan pointed out.
"Did you ever wonder how Suzie learned to pitch her consciousness?" Cat asked raising her dark purple eyebrows.
"I never wonder about those sort of things," Harlan pointed out and her lips formed into an almost smile.
"Of course you don't" she said.
"You humans believe in souls don't you? A sort of thing deep inside you that lasts longer then death?" she asked.
"Well most humans believe," he admitted.
"There's a story that Suzie's sister Zoë once told me, it's kinda funny because most people in Yenslid don't really have stories, historical facts and figures of course but never any actual stories about their people" Catalina said and Harlan nodded.
He knew this, Suzie had told him that once before.
"The story said that once, millions of years ago when Yenslid was a boiling hot wasteland the world was populated by the first generation of Suzie's people. Now don't tell Suzie this because she'll refuse to admit it but they called themselves mages" Catalina began.
"Oh yeah my dad told me about them once, they can do magic and stuff right? But magic isn't real" Harlan said and Catalina sighed impatiently.
"Magic is all about bending particles and reality you dolt! It's just a very very advanced form of science," Catalina said with a long-suffering sigh.
"You know I can never understand that science stuff and you're starting to sound like Ms Davenport" Harlan grinned.
"Hey I will never be a stuffy woman from Mars with a rod planted firmly up my ass! I was just trying to explain to you that these people lived in such horrible conditions they learned to leave their bodies and walk in other worlds" Catalina continued and Harlan shuddered.
"You mean like Suzie" Harlan realized.
"Yep, well accept Suzie can only ever enter minds close to her because she's never fully learned how to use her powers" Catalina said with a hint of something Harlan didn't exactly like.
"That's a relief, I wouldn't want Suzie busting in on any of my dreams" Harlan admitted.
"Especially the one with the Saturian girls in their bikini's cheering you on while you win the Star Academy award for kick boxing" Catalina said with an amused smirk.
"Hey no fair! No rooting around in my dreams Cat" Harlan said.
"I never rooted around in your brain Harlan, you told Bova about that dream and he told Suzie who told me" Catalina pointed out leaning onto the ships control panel.
"I knew I couldn't trust the bug," Harlan grumbled.
"If you're going to tell people secrets you should tell Radu, he'd keep them" Catalina said.
"Have you ever told him anything?" Harlan challenged her.
"You wouldn't ever know if I did like I said Radu wouldn't tell" Catalina grinned.
The light oddly enough began to glow blue turning her face into nothing more then dark roughly formed shadows.
Harlan considered himself as being something of an expert when it came to the way girls looked, he knew how to rate boobs, eyes, skin and hair colour across five different species.
But this was different, when Catalina had been around he'd never bothered to rate her because she'd been nothing more then a crazy kid.
Sure he liked her, cared about her even but he always thought it was the same way he liked Rosie.
At least he thought he did and when the wake up call came and Harlan realized she wasn't like Rosie at all she'd been taken away and replaced just as quickly.
Suzie was hot and when you spent years on a ship you had to take what you could get, but she was good looking the same way his mom's favorite vase was.
Nice to look at, but to fragile and cold to touch.
"You know it's funny, if I was talking to Bova right now he would be wondering why his subconscious managed to show what I look like now that I'm older" Catalina said.
"Well I saw you that one time on the visual message from the future" he reminded her.
"Do I look like that now?" she asked.
The Catalina from the visual message looked like an adult with her thick make up and fancy hairstyle, this Catalina looked older yes but she didn't quite look the same.
For one thing her hair ended in messy curls that looked like they needed to be brushed and she was wearing an actual nightdress.
It was flimsy and the same color as the purple blue curl close to her forehead.
Harlan had only ever seen Catalina in her star academy uniform so needless to say he was surprised.
"It's summer in Yenslid," she admitted self-consciously.
"I miss summer" Harlan replied.
"You still don't understand, do you?" she asked him and of course he didn't understand.
He never really understood but he'd discovered that the best way to deal with not understanding the world was to distract yourself with something you did understand. Currently he was distracting himself by noticing the way the nightdress split at just above the knee showing Catalina's legs.
"Hey my face is up here Band, I know that it's very exciting seeing actual naked skin on this ship but try to control yourself" she smirked.
"This isn't exactly a dream is it? This is what you were talking about before with leaving bodies and everything," he said and Catalina looked mortified for a second.
"Of course it's a dream Band! You're definitely dreaming, any second now you'll find yourself in your underwear in front of our whole class" Catalina said sounding a bit panicked.
"If this was a real dream all sorts of crazy shit would be going down, there would be giant eye balls floating around and a monkey on a bike" Harlan said knowingly.
"A monkey on a bike?" Catalina asked.
"Or a chicken, I'm not fussy" Harlan added.
"Chicken's have been extinct for nearly a centaury," Catalina reminded him.
"Look is this a dream or not? Don't lie to me" he whined and Catalina sighed rolling her eyes.
"Ok it's not! They're forcing me to learn to pitch my consciousness at Yenslid and I've only just started. My teacher Professor Geozi told me that the first time I tried I'd be led to a sort of anchor" Catalina admitted.
"An anchor? Like a ship?" Harlan asked.
"It's a sort of mind you connect with, it makes sure that you can get back to your body. Honestly I thought my anchor would be Suzie because I'm hers, but instead I'm here in your subconscious! Out of every one in the multiverse I'm stuck in your brain" Catalina snapped irritably.
"It could be worse, you could be stuck in Bova's brain" Harlan pointed out feeling a little offended.
"Bova may be terminally suicidal but at least he likes me" Catalina said wearily.
"I like you!" Harlan protested.
"Harlan you haven't mentioned me once since I've left, I may be in another dimension but I can hear things you know" Catalina said wearily.
"Yeah but that's because." Harlan began and he trailed off because he knew he didn't really have an excuse.
It was because she was gone, gone, and nothing could change that.
When you were Harlan Band and things were unchangeable or unforgivable they were forever forgotten.
"Look Harlan I wasn't really expecting you to spend years crying over me or anything but hitting on my best friend ten minutes after I left? Wow that was low even for you" Catalina sighed.
In all honestly Harlan had never seen it that way and to be fair Suzie had thrown herself at him but even so he couldn't stand the way Catalina was now glaring at him.
It was worse then the stares she would give him when she thought he was being stupid.
It was a stare that indicated she was hurt.
"I'm sorry," he finally admitted.
"It's okay" she sighed her eyes trailing towards the floor and suddenly she was standing behind him her hand placed against his shoulder, barely there but still buzzing at his skin.
Like an insects wings.
"Did you miss me at all?" she finally asked.
Harlan was never one to be honest about things like that but if you couldn't be honest in a dream then when could you be honest? Besides it wasn't as if anyone else could hear him.
"Sometimes" he admitted and she almost smiled again, satisfied by this answer.
"I miss you sometimes as well."
"The boys here may be super intelligent but they're all skinny and geeky, I can see why Suzie latched onto you," she admitted sheepishly and then she rubbed her arms subconsciously.
"Can you actually get cold in a dream?" Harlan asked her.
"No I think I'm waking up, it's sort of like when you wake up in a dream only to find your body is still asleep you know?"
"You'll probably think this is a dream when you wake up and maybe it's better off this way" she continued and he wanted to kiss her, properly the way girls were supposed to be kissed.
Just because, well just because really.
Then just like that she was gone and all was quiet in the ship.
There was a faint whirring sound and Harlan slowly turned around spotting a small white like creature in the corner of the ship.
"And then a chicken road past on a bike?" Radu asked him some time later.
"Uhhuh" Harlan said poking his breakfast.
"Weird dream" Radu said diplomatically.
And that was it really, just another weird dream.