Standard fanfic disclaimer that wouldn't last ten seconds in a court of law: these aren't my characters. I'm just borrowing them for, um, typing practice. Yeah, that's it, typing practice. Based on characters and situations created by the late Terry Nation. Originally published in Gambit #4 from Peacock Press, back in 1989, slightly edited in 2010.

Carleen

by Susan M. M.

A Blake's Seven story, based on characters and situations created by Terry Nation and the BBC

"Carleen! " the barmaid exclaimed in surprise. "What are you doing here on your day off?"

"I'm meeting Olag, but he doesn't seem to be here yet," Carleen explained. "You haven't seen him, have you, Miri?"

"Your Olag's a hard one to miss. He's a big boy, he is," Miri chuckled. "You go and sit down, and if I see him I'll shoo him on over to your table."

Carleen nodded and found an empty spot. After several long minutes, Olag Gan approached, two mugs of cold beer in his hands.

"Hello, my sweet," Gan greeted her. "Your friend Miri gave me these. Said what your boss didn't know wouldn't hurt him - or our wallets." He set the mugs down and kissed her.

She kissed him back. "I was starting to get worried. What kept you?"

"Busy at the factory. Clean-up took longer than usual, and then traffic was terrible. I think there must have been an accident on one of the earlier trams. Came as quickly as I could. You didn't think I'd miss our anniversary, did you, now?"

"To us." The blonde lifted her beer mug in salute. "Six months together."

"Six wonderful months," Gan agreed.

The vidscreen over the bar was showing the evening news. The sound, as usual, was set unbearably loud, so as to be heard over all the conversations. The pub's customers merely spoke louder, so as to be heard over the vidscreen.

"The dissident leader Roj Blake confessed and repented of his crimes today," the anchorman announced. "He admits to having been led astray -"

"Turn that racket off," one of the pub's patrons ordered in slurred tones.

"Leave it on," Gan countermanded.

The bartender looked at the small, half-drunken man who'd asked to have the vidscreen turned off, then took a look at Gan - nearly two meters tall, easily more than 120 kilos and not a milligram of that fat. Discreetly, he ignored the first customer's request.

"When'd you start taking an interest in politics, luv?"

"Oh, I don't care about that. Hardly any of our business, is it? But the soccer scores should be on in a few minutes. I have a fiver on today's game."

*** ### *** ### ***

The building manager frowned. "There's a housing shortage, or hadn't you heard?"

"Do you at least have a waiting list?" Carleen asked plaintively.

"We've got a list over two years long. There's no vacancies," the manager repeated impatiently. "Now out, and stop wasting my time."

Outside the apartment complex, Carleen sighed. "That's the fifth one."

"Don't worry, luv," Gan reassured her. "We'll find a place of our own, sooner or later."

"Later," Carleen predicted glumly.

*** ### *** ### ***

"Happy Birthday!"

Carleen tore into her present - or tried to.

"Open it," Gan urged.

"I'm trying, I'm trying. You wrap as though you owned a paper factory," she teased. Finally, she broke through the interminable wrappings and opened the box. She tried to hide her dismay as she stared at what had to be the ugliest necklace in the world, possibly in the entire galaxy.

Gan's sister, if he had had one, might have been able to wear it without being overwhelmed by its bulk. It would take a woman with a very Junoesque figure to wear something that big and not look ridiculous. On Carleen's petite form ...

It was also the gaudiest, most ostentatious thing she had ever seen. The huge neon-orange plastic pendant, surrounded by polychromatic beads and false rhinestones, hung from three chains, braided together. Each chain was of a different colored metal. It went beyond tacky; it was atrocious.

"It's beautiful, darling," she lied. "Thank you."

*** ### *** ### ***

Carleen's blonde curls sprawled over the pillow. Gently, so as not to wake her, Gan reached over to caress them. It was her hair - so unfashionably long! - that had attracted his attention the first time they'd met. He'd gone to the pub after work for a beer and a sandwich, like always. The new barmaid walked past, and he and his mates from the factory glanced up, staring at the long golden hair that fell almost to her shapely rear. Somebody called to her for a drink. She'd turned around to take the order, and Olag Gan stared into her face. He was enthralled. He forgot his beer, his sandwich, even Jorj Daley. Suddenly he'd winced in pain, looking up to see Jorj grinning triumpantly, and he realized he'd just lost his first arm-wrestling match in ten years. Then he looked at her again, and forgot the pain and the defeat and everything - everything except her face.

Gan looked down at her now, lying beside him on their bed. She was still as beautiful as she'd been the day they met three years ago.

*** ### *** ### ***

"I love it here," Carleen exclaimed. "I reminds me of home."

Gan glanced around the park. "You see that flower?" He pointed to a bush with one lonely pink blossom.

"Which? That last camellia over there?"

"Uh-huh." He nodded. He hadn't know the flower's name before. "I give it to you. I'd go and pick it for you, if it weren't for him."

Carleen looked over at the police sentry. "On Zephron, flowers were so plentiful we didn't need to guard them. Anyone could pick them."

"Homesick, my sweet?"

"Not when I'm with you." It was only half a fib. When she was with Olag, the homesickness wasn't nearly as bad. He was the best thing about Earth and its domes.

*** ### *** ### ***