The Dreaming – Chapter 5
On the observation deck, Buck could hear Wilma calling to him, but she sounded so far away. Everything started going dim, then there was only blackness and then he was falling. Suddenly he felt hands pulling him back, heard a soft voice that sounded like his mother. "Not yet Buck – it's not your time."
He opened his eyes to find that he was now alone. The observation deck was in darkness apart from the usual glow of starlight and distant heavens outside. He was confused. Wilma? Where had she gone? Where had everyone gone? He crossed the room and turned to look in the outside corridor. It too was in darkness, "Hey guys, it's not April Fools, what's going on?"
He found her, waiting for him on the bridge. She smiled at him provocatively and slipped her arms around him in a tight hug, "Hi there, I've been waiting for you."
He hugged her back, feeling a little confused." Where did you go? Where are the others?"
"I've been here all the time. The others are around Buck, but don't worry about them, it's just you and me that matter right now," she soothed. Something was wrong, something he couldn't quite work out. She kissed him. When he opened his eyes he was alone again. Where does she keep going? He wondered. Buck's usual logical mind would have worked out that this was no reality, but the residual traces of the hallucegenic substance had dampened his senses, altering his perception.
Wilma refused to leave Buck's side once back on the Searcher. She kept hold of his hand whilst the medical technician, Lieutenant Paulton administered treatment. Buck though didn't really seem to be aware of Wilma's presence. He called her by name but looked straight through her as if seeing someone else.
Buck opened his eyes again, Wilma was standing to the left of him and he appeared to be lying down. He gazed at her, his mind hazy from the toxins and combined with the effect of the painkiller he had been given by Paulton.
"Wilma!" he murmured.
"I'm right here Buck,"
"What's happening? Why do you keep disappearing?"
She frowned, "Buck I've been here all the time, you're the one who keeps disappearing to who knows where."
"Wha –" he reached out and gripped her shoulders, wincing as the pain of his bruised and battered torso became apparent. "You – said you loved me and then you left me," he stammered.
Her eyes widened in shock at this revelation. "I – buck, I..."she gazed down at him unsure what to do or say in response. "You – you've been dreaming," she told him falteringly. She felt suddenly awkward, and heaved a sigh of relief as Dr Goodfellow entered the room. "Perhaps, Dr Goodfellow will be able to explain it to you better," she said softly.
The old scientist walked over to Buck's bed. "Well now how are you doing Captain Rogers?"
"Dr Goodfellow – you left the party, where did you all go?"
"Party? what's he talking about Colonel Deering?"
Wilma shrugged sadly.
He sighed, "Ah – I think Buck that after examining the remains of that alien plant that attacked you. The thorn which was embedded in your chest contained some kind of venom, presumably to puts its prey into a kind of trance, so it can be kept alive without struggling, until it is digested."
Buck fell back on to his pillow bewildered. "Digested? You mean the party, the dancing – none of that was real and instead I was lying inside a giant Venus Fly Trap?
"Ah yes Venus Fly Trap, an ingenious species of plant which traps insects inside its leaves. Well I suppose there are similarities," he said enthusiastically then realised that his words weren't at all reassuring and patted Buck's arm, "the effects of the poison seem to be wearing off though and I should think you'll be fine in an hour or two. Of course the physical effects will take longer, you sustained lacerations around your neck and torso but I believe that all that being taken care of by our excellent Lieutenant Paulton."
"I see," Buck's mind lingered on the memories, which still seemed to him as real as anything he had ever experienced. His moment of happiness with Wilma, it was all false, a drug induced hallucination and he felt like his brain was going to implode. "I think I would like to rest now, if you don't mind," he said wearily and turned his head on the pillow so it was facing away from his visitors..
"Of course Captain Rogers, of course, we'll leave you to sleep. Colonel?"
"Coming Dr," she replied, her voice faltered on the last word. She turned at the door to take a final glance at Buck, tears threatened to overwhelm her but she refused to let them fall. He didn't even ask about Hawk, she thought sadly.
"He just needs a few days to re-orient himself. Obviously this substance puts the victim into a state of complete contentment. "Not a bad way to go really if you think about it. He'll be ok Colonel,"
"I hate to think of him lying there all wrapped up in that thing," she said and his heart went out to her.
Back in her quarters, Wilma was deep in thought. Buck's reaction, asking them to leave the room, had unsettled her. It was understandable to be disorientated after such an experience, she reasoned, but...it seemed a little more than that. Her mind lingered over the conversation.
You said you loved me, then you left. She hadn't known how to react to this. She examined her own feelings. If caring for someone more than anything else, respecting them, trusting them – if that was love then she did love him but had never revealed this to anyone, especially not to him. She wondered now what had prevented her from telling him. Was it pride, that to reveal her soul to him would make her feel more vulnerable than facing a whole fleet of Draconian warships, in a starfighter with disabled laser cannons. Partly perhaps it was this, but it had also been because she didn't know how he felt about her. To be rejected again, whilst having to work side by side with him would break her heart. On top of this she didn't want do anything foolish that might ruin the wonderful esoteric relationship that they had.
She tried to examine everything logically. Dr Goodfellow had said the venom induced a feeling of happiness and contentment in its victims. Buck hadn't dreamed he was back in the 20th Century with his parents and Jennifer, like she would have expected. Instead he had been on the Searcher – and more importantly, with her. Was this just the result of the substance interfering with his subconscious mind or was this where his true desires really lay?
For over an hour, Wilma's troubled mind went over and over Buck's waking words. What was going to happen now? She wondered. Did she take the opportunity to finally tell him once and for all how she felt or did they just carry on as always?
A short while later, Wilma found herself once more outside the sick bay. She felt nervous and apprehensive about how he would react when he saw her. "Hi Buck, she called gingerly, as she entered the room. "How are you feeling now?"
Sheepishly, he replied, "like an idiot that's been on LSD for the last few hours, you must have thought I was mad."
"Not mad," her voice was reassuring – although she had no idea what 'LSD' was. "A little disorientated perhaps." She walked over to his bed side, feeling a little easier.
He shrugged, feeling a little embarrassed. "I said some crazy things."
"That's just it Wilma, it seemed so real to me, I can't just forget it, I felt happier than I had done for the first time in a long while." He sighed. "I'm sorry, you must have been really embarrassed at what I said." He shifted his gaze away from her.
Wilma carefully sat on the side of his bed, "But this could just be the after effects of chemically induced euphoria and it will probably wear off in a couple of days."
"Yeah," he agreed but, maybe it isn't."
"Well I can't risk my own happiness over what-ifs and maybes!" she said tersely and then froze when she realised what she had just said. "I- I mean if we..." she paused, feeling uncharacteristically self-conscious. She could feel her cheeks burning. "
Buck stared at her in shock. "Oh boy I guess we really need to talk, you and I don't we!"
Wilma was caught off guard. "I- I think, we should wait until you feel better Buck, she said hastily, I'll see you later! She rose from her seat.
He caught her hand, "wait a minute, what did you mean about risking your own happiness?"
She sat down again and noticed that Buck never let go of her hand. She took a deep breath and spoke to the quilt, "Buck I- I do love you, and I have for a very long time, but I, well I- I didn't know how you felt about me. And I'd like to think that everything you're feeling is real but – I don't know."
He sensed her discomfort and started stroking her hand softly with his thumb, which made her shiver and she shifted her gaze to his now. "I guess for a long time Wilma neither did I. You've always been special to me – you know that, I just couldn't get involved. I know my behaviour when I first arrived must have left a lot to be desired, and I'm not proud of myself. I was frivolous and reckless and I guess I must have hurt you at times and I'm sorry. "He paused then reached out and touched her cheek. "What I have with you, this connection I've never felt that with anyone before."
A tear escaped from her eyes, which he wiped away gently. She smiled thinly and nodded, "I know!" she didn't know exactly where this was leading but she felt grateful that he had opened up to her like this at least – whatever the outcome.
For a long while they both just gazed into each others' eyes. Time stood still and Wilma dared scarcely breathe for fear of interrupting the moment. Then the spell was broken as Buck winced in pain. The analgesic he had been administered earlier was starting to wear off.
Wilma leaned forward, "Are you OK? Does it hurt? I'll go get you something for the pain." She returned seconds later and gave him the painkiller which provided immediate relief.
"There you see," Buck said softly, "you're the second in command aboard this ship but yet you still take the time to stop and give me medicine instead of waiting for the med tech to do it.. You can command armies and have so much power at your disposal, but yet you're one of the most caring, compassionate people I've ever met. You are such an amazing woman Wilma, and you're beautiful. I do love you and it's real, I know that much."
Wilma blinked twice and stared at him. A huge lump had formed in her throat. Her blue-grey eyes had turned to liquid and her heart was thumping in her chest. She leaned over and kissed him passionately. He responded and she felt the warmth of his lips combined with the fluttering of her own heart. She pressed closer to him and only when he winced did she remember that he was still a very sick man. She pulled back reluctantly and with a sigh, took hold of his hand again.
"Are you absolutely sure that this is what you want? Because I don't think I could handle it if you change your mind in a few days time."
"Wilma – I'm sure," he whispered, and pulled her towards him again.
A week later
Two figures were silhouetted in the subdued lighting of the observation deck. Outside, the view from the panoramic window was truly breathtaking. Brightly lit stars twinkled all around and a distant nebula gave an etheric glow to the dazzling starscape.
Inside the room, Buck held Wilma in a dance that was more of a hug with a slight sway. The gentle tune drifted from the from the audio visual entertainment's unit that Buck had rigged up a short while ago. Tonight, Colonel Wilma Deering and Captain Buck Rogers were happy to forget their official titles and be content to just be Buck and Wilma,
"Funny," he murmured, "that plant almost ended my life, but in some ways, I guess it's kind of done me a huge favour."
"Why's that?" she teased.
"Because, if I hadn't had that crazy dream, then we probably wouldn't have got together, I guess every cloud has a silver lining."'
It was only one week into 2493 and it was already proving to be a truly spectacular year.
Hawk made a full recovery, after catching a minor chill from the quicksand. Whilst in sickbay he made an unlikely friend in Lieutenant Paulton who was quite fascinated with his stories about his ancestors.
The strange 'plant' on closer examination and exploration by Dr Goodfellow, was found to actually be an alien life-form which usually preyed on animals. No other of its kind was found on the planet that Buck insisted on naming 'Triffid.
Most of the ship's crew – including the Admiral, on discovery of the new close relationship between Captain Rogers and Colonel Deering, wondered what had took them so long. Twiki's reaction was "it's about time!"
The only person not happy about the relationship was Princess Ardala, when during a routine voyage through Draconian occupied territory, senior crew member of the Searcher were invited on board the Draconian flagship as a gesture of 'goodwill'. However she did not threaten Wilma's life or end the truce, as Buck feared she might. Meeting Hawk softened the blow somewhat.
Hawk's first words on returning to the Searcher were, 'keep that mad woman away from me!"
The End...for now
Hope you enjoyed this story, reviews appreciated
Many thanks to white_eyebrow for the beta and suggestions.