A/N: This is my first Space Cases fic and I am so excited! So…Harlan and Catalina may seem a little OOC, but their older and therefore different. That's my reasoning anyways. Let me know what you think!
I do not own Space Cases…no matter how much I wanted to be on the show as a child….
Harlan stepped quietly through the doorway to the Viewing Galley, which was admittedly, one of his favorite places on the Christa. It ran along the starboard side, a long corridor of clear glass that granted the passengers an unobstructed view of the dark, chilling skyline of space. Most of the time the Commander ordered the flaps to be down so that no one could see outside; Harlan supposed it had something to do with the unnatural stillness and terrifying inky blackness of space. It certainly made you think, that was for sure. Or, it could have been because the first time Bova had seen it, he had raised such a stink about something hitting the glass, breaking it and causing a space vacuum inside the Christa that Ms. Davenport had cried and the Commander had given in to avoid further episodes. That was probably it.
Tonight however, someone had opened all the flaps so that the sight that greeted him was of black so deep and thorough that it was suffocating. But they were close enough to a star that there was a dim, white light washed through the blackness. There was nothing but the Christa and the star for miles (millions actually, because they weren't even that close to the star).
Harlan remembered that he had woken suddenly in the middle of the night, hearing something creak on the ship. He had tip toed quietly past his bed mates and to the deck, where Thelma was busy doing…well, he wasn't even really sure what it was, but he didn't even try to question her.
"Thelma?" Harlan asked softly, rubbing sleep out of his eyes. The forgetful android turned at his voice, greeting him with her robotic smile.
"Yes, Harlan?" she questioned, straightening from what she was doing to face him.
"What was that noise?" he questioned and Thelma cocked her head to the side curiously, listening for a noise. Realizing his mistake, Harlan quickly exhaled in annoyance and shook his head.
"No, no Thelma not a noise right now…I heard it a while ago. It was like a creaking…" the light seemed to go on in Thelma's head as she nodded at this.
"Ah, I see. It may be that the flaps to the Observation Galley were opened" she supplied helpfully, and Harlan blinked. As far as he knew, he was the only Caser that particularly enjoyed the Observation Galley, no one usually opened them on their own free will.
"Who opened them Thelma?" he questioned, frowning slightly. Thelma seemed to think about it for a second before turning back to her work.
"Catalina" the android answered before becoming completely absorbed in whatever it was she was doing. Harlan frowned again. Catalina? The girl had just been returned to them a few short hours ago: Suzee had finally figured out the correct logical combination to bring the Saturnian home, and the crew had bid a tearful farewell to their favourite "invisible" friend, before welcoming a tearful Catalina home with open arms. They had celebrated long into the night, recounting stories and sharing old laughs. Thankfully the Commander had decided to give them all a break the next morning, giving them the morning off. Catalina had gone to bed first, claiming that she had interdimensional-lag: so what was she still doing up? And in the Observational Galley no less…Harlan absently bid Thelma a goodbye, to which she did not respond and began to make his way quietly to the Galley.
Now that he was here, he couldn't see Catalina anywhere, so he continued making his way across the galley. He stopped a few feet short of the middle of the galley. Resting there, curled up in a small ball with a warm, yellow fleece blanket around her was Catalina, staring intently out the windows, the dim light from the star providing a dim light for her face but casting deep shadows around her. Harlan hesitated slightly; she obviously wanted to be alone, so should he interrupt her? He knew how the old Catalina would have taken it, and it pained him to think that he didn't know this new Catalina very well.
"Hello Harlan" Catalina said softly, without turning her head. Harlan jumped in surprise and jerked his head around, trying to figure out how she had…oh. Right.
"Hey Cat. Hey Suzee" Catalina managed a small smile, still looking straight ahead.
"She says 'Hey Back'" Catalina whispered. Harlan took a seat next to her on the floor, feeling the cold metal bite through his pajama pants. It was a nice change from his bedroom, which Bova kept at ridiculous temperatures to keep himself warm. They didn't say anything for a while, just stared out the window in silence, taking in the amazingly dark depths of space.
"What're you doing up?" he asked quietly, trying not to break the silence but feeling the pressing urge to anyways. He was never one for silence; that was Radu's forte.
"Thinking" the beautiful Saturnian replied cheekily. He smiled and shook his head at the typical answer.
Her time in Yensid had been good to her; her hair had grown shaggier and longer and the rings of colours had deviated so that they weren't as circular anymore, giving her a rather edgy look. Her bangs were cut straight across, falling just above her eyes and were mostly blues and purples with a fat streak of yellow on the right. From what Harlan could see underneath the blanket, and what he remembered from this afternoon her body was still on the short side (although not as short as Rosie) but lean and well muscled. She had pierced her ears several times and the earrings clinked together gently as she moved her head. Her dark eyes were piercing and her eyelashes long, dark and thick, curling gently on her cheeks. She was wearing a pair of grey sleeping shorts (Rosie did tend to make the room overly heated after all) and a black t-shirt. There was nothing on her feet but Harlan took notice that her toe nails were painted all different colours. He smiled fondly before reaching out and tugging on a lock of hair.
"I missed this Rainbow Head" she rolled her eyes, but still did not look in his direction, which made him frown slightly.
"What, calling me Rainbow Head? Or tugging on my hair" she questioned sarcastically and he found he wasn't shocked to discover the new Catalina's biting sarcasm. He just smiled at her and tugged again, a little harder this time.
"Both" and she rolled her eyes again, swatting his hand away impatiently.
"Whatever Band" she muttered. He frowned outright this time. Shouldn't she be happy that he was talking with her and trying to reestablish the bond they'd had before she left?
"What's crawled up your butt and died?" He questioned snidely and she turned her head sharply to glare at him. Harlan found that her dark gaze was similar to the impenetrable space skyline, and couldn't recall the girl ever looking at him like that before.
"Shut it Harlan, Grozit you haven't changed at all!" she sounded annoyed and he felt a new flame start in his chest, similar to the ones she had produced before she left. Suzee had produced a fire of a different kind, irritating him with her knowledge, but ultimately not a competitor because she had no people skills. Catalina had been a very real competitor back then, and she was proving that she still was one now.
"Look Rainbow Head, I don't know what's gotten into you, but you should be pretty thankful considering we went out of our way to help Suzee figure out a way to get you home!" She turned on him, eyes blazing and Harlan felt his subconscious flinch away from the angry teenage girl.
"You?! You did nothing to get me back Harlan! You all loved and moved on with Suzee, never once telling her to say hi to me, or to ask how I was doing – be quiet Suzee! This isn't your place now! – You watched me blow up on that stupid ship and moved on with your lives like I had never existed in the first place! And now you want to make things better?! Now that we're all different people, with different personalities who would never even have been friends if it hadn't been for this stupid ship!" when she was finished she was breathing heavily and Harlan could see the start of tears gathering in her eyes.
Now he knew that there were many things wrong with that statement. And he could have argued them come daytime, but he also knew there were many truths in that outburst as well. It just made him feel more guilty then angry. Catalina thought that they had liked Suzee more then her. She felt replaced. He supposed he would have felt the same way, if it had been him in her place. They stared at each other for a long time, Catalina with blazing eyes and Harlan with sadness.
"Well?!" she questioned angrily. Harlan shook his head and grabbed her hand, keeping a firm hold even as she struggled to release it.
"You're right" she stopped struggling to look at him with wide eyes. "But you're also wrong. We didn't often ask Suzee about you; but to be fair she told us that she didn't have much of a connection with you after the explosion." She looked at him for a few seconds before looking away.
"She didn't" Catalina admitted quietly, a blush spreading across her cheeks.
"And I didn't just watch you blow apart on that ship Catalina; I felt it with every fibre in my being. I felt like I was being torn apart. I blamed myself for so long to letting that happen to you" His morose tone made her turn to face him again, eyes impossibly wide. He met her incredulous gaze, surprised to be admitting this, and to find his eyes slightly damp.
"And maybe moving on and acting as if you had never existed was the only way we could deal with it" he held up his other hand as she opened her mouth. "I didn't say it was the best way to do it, I just said it was the way we did it. What would you have done in our place?" She didn't answer but instead kept a steady gaze on him.
"And maybe we are different people. Being Casers has changed us; mostly for the better I'd like to think. And maybe we wouldn't have been friends if not for this ship; but I think that's a pretty big maybe, don't you?" they just stared at each other and he lowered his gaze to rub his thumb across the back of her pale hand. Their skin contrasted brilliantly, but Harlan thought it was beautiful.
"I can't imagine my life without these people. Without Rosie and Bova and Suzee and even Radu" he smiled at her briefly before looking back down again. "I certainly can't ever imagine my life without you Catalina. You're my competitor, the one who keeps my ego in check, my engineering specialist, the place I used to go for a good laugh…I always knew you would come back to us, and now you are. I just want that relationship back again. Is that asking too much?" Harlan raised his eyes to look at the flushed Catalina, who shook her head slowly.
"I don't think so" she said quietly. "But…I'm a different person now Harlan, you might not like me as much" she sounded so unsure of herself and he grinned slightly.
"I don't think I could ever not like you" he murmured and she ducked her head shyly. Suddenly her head whipped up and she jumped to her feet, relinquishing her hold on Harlan's hand.
"Shut up Suzee! You are destroying a beautiful moment with your background commentary! I don't find you very funny" Catalina warned the invisible friend. Harlan laughed and stood as well, as the two started to move back towards their bedrooms, hands brushing every so often as Catalina relayed to Harlan what Suzee was doing back at home. They paused at the hallway leading to the deck.
"I should go shut the flaps" Catalina suggested quietly, avoiding eye contact. Harlan just nodded slightly.
"Right." He said equally as quietly, turning after a moment's hesitation to leave.
"Harlan, wait" Catalina had reached out an grabbed his wrist, turning him slightly as she leaned up on her tip toes and brushed an innocent kiss against his cheek. "Thanks" she murmured before letting go and walking away.
Harlan stared after her as a ton of memories raced back to him. He had saved her and she had kissed him on the cheek as thanks. He remembered thinking that it could be the start to something beautiful before the ship exploded, she was screaming and he felt like his heart had been ripped in pieces. Running after quickly, Harlan grabbed her wrist and flung her around.
"Harlan! What-" he interrupted her quickly.
"I watched you walk away from me one time and I never got another chance. I'm not letting that happen this time" and he leaned down swiftly, kissing her with such intensity that she almost fell, but he caught her with his arm around her slender waist.
The flaps in the Galley were not closed when the Commander got up in the morning, and he spent the rest of the day dealing with another Bova and Ms. Davenport episode, and no one could seem to explain why they were opened in the first place. Catalina and Harlan only smiled secretively at each other as Catalina blushed and shouted at Suzee to mind her own business and not be a tattle tale. And the Christa floated through space into her next wild and crazy adventure, pulsing with the happiness of having her original crew back together again.