Title: ALWAYS AND FOREVER, Part Three: Bring on the Music
Author:  Macbee
Email: wcpiga@aol.com
Rating:  NC17 for sexual content
Disclaimer: The characters of Matthew Gideon, Sarah Chambers, Max Eilerson, Dureena Nafeel and Galen belong to Warner Brothers, Babylon 5 Productions and Time Warner Entertainment. By using them in this story I intend in no way to infringe on those rights.
{ } denotes private thought.
Special thanks to Antoinette for her skilled editing and words of encouragement.  

Bring on the Music

0700 hours. The two, still somewhat sleepy medtechs went about their duties, preparing sick bay for another day. They knew they would see the usual parade of scrapes, burns and cuts. Maybe a cold or two.  After all these centuries there was still no cure for the common cold. But, this morning their thoughts were not on their work.

"I bet he is something else in bed!"

"I don't know, Terry, he seems a little odd to me."

"What's wrong with you, Casey? He is hot!"

"And how would you know, Terry?"

"I got eyes, girl. I can see the man."

"But, is he really a man? What exactly is a technomage?"

"Some kind of magician I think, but he's definitely a man. You look at him the next time he comes in here.  Ummm..um."

"Do you think he and Dr. Fox are doing it?"

"Doing it? Casey, you are so dense."

"You know what I mean."

"Yeah, I'm sure they're 'doing it'. Haven't you seen the way Dr. Fox is always smiling these days? Gettin' a little tech-no-magic all her own."

Casey Meadows burst into laughter.  "You are so bad!"

"Yeah, but you love it." Terry Burns threw a towel at her best friend.

The doors to sick bay opened, and Dr. Katherine Fox caught the towel midair.  "Good morning. You two seem in a good mood this morning. What's up?"

"Up," Terry whispered and elbowed Casey in the ribs. Terry was trying very hard to keep from laughing.

"Terry just told a joke, Dr. Fox" Casey blushed as though caught in some misdeed.

"Oh, what about? Maybe I haven't heard it." Katherine put the towel down and walked over to the two medtechs.

"It's not very funny, Doctor. Doesn't make sense really." Casey shifted her weight from one foot to another.

Katherine could see how uncomfortable the young redhead was. "Well, I  probably wouldn't get it anyway."  She then turned away and busied herself with the sterilizer, her back to Casey and Terry.

"Get it." Terry started to snicker. "You gotta know she's gettin' it."

"I beg your pardon. " Katherine turned around.

"Nothing, Doctor. " Casey grabbed Terry by the arm "We need to straighten up the store room." Casey dragged the still giggling Terry through the doors.

{Those two.}  Katherine smiled. {Was I ever that young? Wonder what was so funny.}                                                                     
   
                                                ***

Katherine met Dureena in the passageway, heading in the same direction.  "Are you on your way to the conference room?"

Dureena nodded affirmatively.

"I wonder what this is all about."

"I don't know, but it sounded important." Dureena answered.

They arrived at the doors of the conference room and entered. Inside, seated around the rectangular table were Sarah Chambers, Max Eilerson and Lydia Kramer, the ship's psychologist.  Matthew Gideon was at he head of the table. Katherine and Dureena took a seat.

"Well, that's almost everyone" Gideon said. "I asked Galen to be here, too."

As though on cue Galen walked through the door. "Waiting for me?" He smiled and avoided the chairs, choosing instead to lean against the bulkhead opposite Katherine. Their eyes met in a silent hello.

"Ok," Gideon leaned forward and rested his arms on the table. "Dr. Kramer, would you start please?"

Lydia Kramer, a tall attractive woman in her late fifties, stood up.  Her salt and pepper hair caught the light from above. "As you know, these extended voyages of the Excalibur take an emotional toll on the crew as well as a physical one. After a few weeks in space, my appointment book fills up pretty quickly. So, I have discussed a plan with Capt. Gideon," She nodded in his direction and smiled "That I think might help boost morale. We thought we would run it up the flagpole and see what you think." Lydia looked around the table, then at Galen.

"What do you have in mind, Lydia?" Max interrupted.  "A trip to the Dilixian pleasure palaces?"

She smiled. "No, Max, nothing so exotic. What I propose," She looked at the captain again as though she weren't sure whether or not to go on "Is a talent show."

For a moment there was dead silence.

"A talent show?" Max sounded very disinterested in the idea.

"What sort of talent show?" Sarah asked.

"The crew. Doing whatever they feel like doing. Singing. Dancing. Juggling."

"Maybe Dureena and I will do the tango." Max smiled broadly as Dureena shot daggers with her eyes.

"It sounds like fun to me" Katherine piped in.

"Everything sounds like fun to you, Katherine. You're so agreeable." Max quipped.

"I think Katherine is right, Max." Gideon leaned back in his chair.  "The crew needs to have some fun. Take their mind off this mission....and home. If it's only for a couple of  hours, it's better than  sitting around obsessing about the families they left behind."

"So, who agrees?" Lydia asked hopefully.

Katherine's voice was the first one heard. "I think it's a great idea."

"I think so, too." Dr. Chambers added her opinion.

"Max?"  Gideon looked at the less than enthusiastic Eilerson.

"OK. It's a good idea. But, I'm not getting up on any stage."

"Dureena?"

"I guess so."

"Galen?" All eyes turned to the technomage.

"Well, I'm not voting." He looked at the captain. "I'm not technically a member of the crew, remember?"

"Too bad." Gideon replied. "I was looking forward to seeing you pull a couple of rabbits out of a hat."

Galen barely smiled, but the humor was not lost on the others in the room.

Lydia sat down again. "So, we're agreed. Dureena, rather than performing I thought you might like to coordinate the show."

Dureena seemed immensely relieved. "Yeah, I can do that."

"Then, we'll send out an announcement to the crew and meet again  in a few days." Gideon stoop up.

"I still think the Gilixian pleasure palaces is a better idea." Max grumbled as he left the room.

Galen caught up with Katherine in the passageway. "So, what talent will you be presenting?"

"I haven't decided. But, you'll be the first to know." She gave him a wink and turned a corner.                                                                     
   
                                                   ***

The announcement stirred up quite a commotion among the crew, and a large number of  crew members signed up to perform. The mood around the ship had taken an upward swing.

One evening Katherine was putting away instruments after an unusually quiet day in sick bay.

"Katherine!" Max Eilerson breezed through the doors. "Just the person I'm looking for."

"What can I do for you, Max?" Katherine smiled. She really liked Max, although he could be a little crude at times.

"I've come to offer my services for the talent show. I thought we could do something together."

"Can't find anyone to partner with you, huh, Max?"

"Well, sure I can." He stepped closer to Katherine and said in a softer voice. "I just thought you might need someone to help you with what ever you're going to do, and I'm your man."

Katherine thought for a minute. "OK, Max, but I choose what we do."

"Of course" he said.

"I'll see what I can come up with and get back to you."

"Right.  Well, then I'll go."  He started for the door.

"Max?"

He stopped and turned back toward Katherine.

"Do you sing?"

"Like a bird." He smiled and went through the doors, almost bumping into Galen in the hall. "Galen, my man.  You're looking well."

The mage stared after Max as he turned the corner in the passageway.

"Was Maxmilian  just in here?" He asked as he walked into sick bay.

"Hello to you, too." Katherine was stacking instruments into trays for the sterilizer.

He apologized with one of his dazzling smiles.

"Yes, he wants us to do something together for the talent show."

"You and me?"

"No, Max and me."

"You and Maxmilian? Whatever could you do with him? Minubian fertility dances?"

"I don't know what Minubian fertility dances are, but they're not on my list.  I thought we might sing."

"Do you sing Katherine?"

"I was in the high school glee club and performed in school plays."

"I see."

"Well, I never said I was a great singer, but I can carry a tune."

Galen walked to stand beside her. Close. Their shoulders touched. "But, can Maxmilian sing?"

"I hope so."

"I look forward to seeing another of your many talents." He smiled as Katherine turned her head to look up at him.

"I love your smile. You should smile more often." She touched her index finger to his lips.

"I will do my best. For you."  He bent his head just enough to touch his lips to hers.  "Dinner?"

"I'm starved" she said against his mouth.

"For food, you mean?"  

Katherine laughed and pulled back from him. "Yes, for that, too."

"Then, let us satisfy that hunger now. We can take care of the other one later."                                                                      
   
                                                  ***

Dinner took place on Galen's ship.  He had confiscated a tray of cheese, cold ham and fruit from the dining hall. He also managed to grab a plate of bread before the cook came in, just as he slipped through the doors.

As Katherine ate the last strawberry, she stretched and sighed.  "Delicious. I ate too much."

"I suppose we should save dessert for later."

She stood up, came around the small table and seated herself in Galen's lap.  "I'm not that full.."  She raised her hands to his face and tilted it back, then began to place little butterfly kisses on his forehead, his cheeks, then his mouth. She gently nibbled on his bottom lip as Galen's hands slid slowly up her back. She had removed her uniform jacket before they ate, so there was only the  sleeveless undershirt between his hands and her skin. As Katherine continued her assault on  Galen's mouth, his hands quickly freed the bottom of  the shirt from her pants and slid his hands underneath to caress her bare skin.

Katherine stopped kissing him just long enough to unbutton his shirt and open the front to expose his chest. Then she returned to his mouth and once again began her slow, exciting game.  Her tongue played with his as Galen unfastened her bra and  pushed her shirt up, freeing her breasts against him.  He held her close, loving the feel of her, so soft against him while she continued with kisses that lengthened and deepened. He pulled his lips from hers to kiss her neck, her shoulders and with both hands on her arms, leaned her back  to kiss her breasts. She sighed.

Galen stood up, picking her up as he did, and heading for the bedroom.  He lay her down and lowered himself on top of her, her hands kneading his lower back as the kisses continued. She wrapped her legs around him, pressing him closer. It suddenly became imperative to unburden themselves of their clothing.  Galen slipped off Katherine's pants, removed his shirt, and just as he entered her, said "I love you, Katherine."

It was apparently a very advantageous thing to say for Katherine moaned and drew him deeper inside her.  She wrapped her legs around him once again and began to move under his weight. She thrust her tongue in and out of his mouth in sync with his movements. For the first time, Galen was not sure he could control himself long enough to pleasure Katherine before taking his own. It was with great concentration and effort that he managed, until he heard her whisper his name and push her body against his. Then he let go and joined her in an overpowering  release.

Breathless and wet with perspiration, he rolled off her body and lay beside her. He could hear her breathing beside him and reached to cradle her in his arms.

"I love you, too." she said against his chest.

Galen placed his forefinger under her chin and raised her face to kiss her.  He immediately realized that kissing was not going to be enough. His body cried out once again for hers, and he found her more than willing. It was 0600 when Katherine left the ship to shower and dress for her shift in sick bay.                                                                     
   
                                                    ***

A couple of days later, Katherine found Max in his lab.

"I've got an idea Max. Something we can do for the talent show."

"I'm all ears." He smiled.

"OK. Have you ever heard of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald?"

He scratched his chin. "Yeah, weren't they video stars about a thousand years ago?"

"Sort of. They were movie stars in the early 20th century. They made, movies...musicals. There were some lovely songs in those movies, and I thought we could do one. It's called  *Sweethearts (Will You Remember)."

"Sounds sexy." Max's smile turned into a grin.

"No, nothing sexy, Max. We could do the number real campy, you know, make it funny. Exaggerate every movement and word of the song."

"Sort of a parody?"

"Sort of. What do you think?" Katherine wasn't sure he would agree.

"What made you think of this song?"

"My mother sent me some crystals of several old movies, and  there was one with Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald."

"Well, I think I'd need to see this movie before I make a decision."

"Sure, I'll loan it to you."

"No, I think we should watch it together. I can come by your place tonight. "

Katherine hesitated. {I don't think Galen will be too interested in a movie.}  But, she gave in and said "OK.  Right after dinner. I have to get to bed early."

"Sounds nice," Max said under his breath as Katherine left the lab.                                                                    
   
         ***

"Katherine," Matthew Gideon called to her as she hurried down the passage way to sick bay." Hold up."

She waited and greeted the captain with a smile.

"I thought you'd like to know that we will be going back to Mars in a couple of weeks for supplies. I know you haven't been there since you joined us, and I thought you'd be happy for the chance to see your parents."

"Oh, Matthew!" She almost hugged him but stopped herself. How would it look for the captain and one of the ship's doctors to be seen hugging in the passageway?  "That's wonderful. I  haven't seen my parents in ages!  Thank you."  Katherine hurried down the passage way, humming an old show tune.

Gideon smiled and headed for the bridge.                                                                     
   
                                                   ***

Katherine could not wait to tell Galen. {I'll tell him after dinner.  Darn! Max will be there. Well, I'll just have to tell him after Max leaves.}                                                                     
   
                                                 ***

Max arrived promptly at 1900 hours. Galen excused himself, not really desiring to watch a moving picture from hundreds of years before.

Katherine and Max sat on the floor in front of the video screen as the movie played. Max couldn't believe how ancient everything looked.  "It's hard to believe that our ancestors actually lived like that? So primitive."

"Shhhh..." Katherine interrupted. "The song is coming up."

They sat and listened to the song and the rest of the movie in silence.

"So," She turned to Max. "What do you think?"

"It's a little maudlin, isn't it?"

"Sure, it is. That's the point. We can be dramatic, make it bigger than life."

Couldn't we just make it sexy?"

"Oh, Max! Get you mind off sex and on humor. We can make this very funny."   Katherine waited for him to say something totally disagreeable, but he surprised her.

"OK."

"That's it? OK?" She just knew he had something wicked to add.

"That's it. So, when do we start rehearsing?"

"I can get Dennis from engineering to duplicate the music on his synthesizer and transfer it to a crystal. I'd say we could start in a day or two."

"My place?" Max sounded hopeful.

"No. We'll need a somewhere larger. I'll think of a place."

Max mumbled something as he got up from the floor to leave.

"What, Max?"

"Nothing, Katherine. Good night."

"Good night." Katherine stood up and stretched. {I wonder where Galen is?  Good lord, it's midnight.  Well, if he doesn't come back, I'll tell him tomorrow.}                                                                      
   
                                                   ***

Katherine looked at her watch.  {23 minutes. Just a few more laps.}  She liked to get up early and run in the hydroponics lab. The plants gave the illusion of being on earth. And, the lighting was almost good enough to mimic sunlight. The lab was one of her favorite places.

"I thought I would find you here." Galen stood in the doorway, watching her.

"Good morning." She smiled as her lap brought her in front of him. She decided a few laps skipped wouldn't hurt.  "I missed you last night. I hoped you might come back."

"It was late, and I thought you should get some rest. Besides, I felt the need to meditate."

"Oh," she said. "You must teach me how to do that some time."

"There are other things I would rather teach you," He reached for her.

"Galen!" She protested. "I'm covered in perspiration!"

"That's nothing new." He smiled, and his smile was almost wicked.

"I need a shower." Katherine wiggled from his grasp.

"One kiss." He looked at her like a little boy.

"All right, one kiss, then I'm off to the shower."

Galen drew her to him and smothered her mouth with his. The "one kiss" turned into a warm, moist drawn-out assault on her mouth.  For a moment Katherine weakened, but, summoning all her will power, she broke the kiss and pushed away. "Galen." she said breathlessly. "I have to shower before I go on duty."   Her eyes pleaded for mercy.

"Very well," He let go of her arms, "But tonight we continue."

"I promise." She reached for the towel she had placed over a nearby counter."Oh, darn!"

"What's wrong?"

"I have to see someone tonight about doing the music for Max's and my song. I may be late."

"Tomorrow night, then?"

She nodded negatively.

"Maxmilian?"

"We have to practice. The talent show is only a week away."

"Practice?"

"Yes."

"Every night until the show?"

"I'm afraid so. I'm sorry, Galen. We can spend time together during the day.   Or after practice."

"Of course. It would give me time to get some work done on my ship. A few small repairs."

Katherine smiled and held our her hand. "Walk me to my quarters?"

Galen took her hand in his, and they stepped outside into the passage way, but he let go as soon as two crew members came in sight.  {No use giving them something else to talk about. I see their smiling  faces in my sleep! } "So, Katherine, tell me about your song."

"It's a romantic song about two people in love. It's called 'Sweethearts'."

"Sweethearts?"

"Yes."

"And how do you think Maxmilian will do as a partner?"

"Fine, if he can keep his mind off sex."

"Sex?" Galen stopped in the middle of the passageway.

"Oh, no. Not that. He's just giving me a hard time about the way I want to do the song. You know how Max is."

"Unfortunately, yes."

Katherine stopped in front of her door. "I'd better take that shower."

"Come to think of it, I didn't bathe this morning." A smile began to draw up the corners of his mouth.

"No?" She looked into his azure eyes, then took his hand and stepped close so no one else could hear her. "You scrub my back, and I'll scrub yours."
                                                                    
                                                  ***

The next few days were unusually stressful  for Katherine. Not only was she trying to decide on the best time to tell Galen about her parents, but she had the talent show to think about as well.  She had no problem getting the music. Dennis even wrote the lyrics down for her. It was Max. He questioned and contradicted every idea she put forth. Finally after two nights of practice in the officer's dining hall, she was ready to call it quits.

"I swear Max! If you don't cut the crap and get down to business, I'm walking. You came to me. I didn't come to you. I'm doing you a favor. A big one. I can go out there and sing by myself, you know. And, I'm this close."  She held up her thumb and forefinger "To doing just that!"

"Geez, Katherine. I only asked one little question. Shouldn't we kiss at the end of the song?"

"No, Max! No, no, no!!  That would ruin the entire song. It's supposed to be funny, not romantic."

"Well, excuse me for trying to give a little input."

"I'm leaving now. I'll meet you here tomorrow night, and if you don't do this my way, Max. I'm outta here!"  She grabbed the music crystal and left. The doors slammed together as she exited.

"Women!" Max sat down at one of the tables.                                                                     
   
                                               ***

Katherine saw little of Galen for the next few days. When they did have time together, it was short, and she couldn't seem to find the right way to tell him about Mars and her parents. She certainly wanted him to meet her father and mother, but she could not imagine what that meeting would be like.  Awkward, probably. Roy and Helen Davidson knew what a technomage was, but she knew for a fact that they had never met one. And Galen..he might not find the idea of being scrutinized by her father to be too appealing. She knew she had to broach the subject with great diplomacy.                                                                     
   
                                                  ***

Two days before the talent show, Galen walked into sick bay just in time to see Katherine pop two pills into her mouth and follow them with a glass of water.

Are you ill, Katherine?" He was concerned.

"No, just a headache. A Max Eilerson headache." She laughed.

"Still not cooperating, is he?"

"Oh, he's cooperating all right. Too much. I have this feeling that Max has something up his sleeve."  Katherine raised her index fingers to her face and began to massage the area above her eyes.

"Let me do that." Galen stood facing her, and replaced her fingers with his.

The circular motion of his fingers moved over and  warmed the area around Katherine's temples, then spread across her forehead, loosening the tension and easing the pain. She opened her eyes to look at Galen. "How did you do that?" She asked.

"It's a secret." He whispered as he smiled, his eyes filled with laughter.

"Galen, do you know how much money doctors or companies back on Earth would pay to know how to do that? Throw in that pink herb drink, and you'd be a billionaire."

"I have all I want. Right here." He always knew the right thing to say.

Katherine reached up to touch his cheek. "I love you." She sighed.

"I love you, too." Galen took her hand and kissed her palm causing a small chill to invade her body and scurry from her head to her feet.  It did not go unnoticed by the mage, and he filed it away for future use.

"If I eat something, I think I'll feel better. Have dinner with me in the dining room?" She knew he wouldn't refuse.

Katherine locked the med cabinet and walked with Galen down the passageway.                                                                      
   
                                                    ***

"Is that all you're having?" Galen asked as he looked at the soup and apple on her tray.

"I'm not very hungry. Aren't you eating?"

"No, I'll eat later. Will you be rehearsing late tonight?" He hoped not.

"I don't know. We almost have it, but there are a few kinks to work out. I really want this to go well."

"It will." he said, touching her hand. "Eat your soup before it gets cold."                                                                      
   
                                                    ***

Katherine had been pleasantly surprised when she heard Max sing. He had a better than average voice, and he learned the lyrics quickly. It was the movements while they were singing that he had problems with. He kept bumping into her, or touching her in the wrong place. If she didn't know better, she would think he was doing it on purpose. Maybe he was.

"One more night of practice, Max. We have to get this down right."

"We will." Max smiled. He was charming when he smiled, but she could hear his mind working at full speed.

"You will do this the way we rehearsed?" She looked straight into his eyes.

"Of course I will. I hope you don't think I want to get up there and embarrass myself."

Katherine wasn't sure that she believed him, but she was tired. All she wanted to do was go back to her quarters and sleep. "I'll see you here tomorrow night. OK?"

"Sure."

The look on Max's face puzzled her. But, she was too tired to care.  She went directly to her quarters and lay down, still in her uniform.  The costume that Dureena had made for her hung over the closet door. Katherine had to admit that Dureena was amazing. She had taken one of Katherine's old gowns and a white table cloth from the officers dining room and made a dress exactly like the one in a photo in an ancient magazine. Katherine had searched for days on her computer to find just the right dress, but she had no idea that Dureena could duplicate it so well. The yellow gown was full and had been gathered at  the waist, the skirt falling over the table cloth, which Dureena had sewn underneath. It gave the dress a layered look and also added fullness to the skirt.  A pair of old slippers, found at the bottom of her travel bag, completed the costume. Katherine laughed out loud, then turned over and fell asleep.                                                                      
   
                                                   ***

When the alarm sounded at 0600, Katherine almost fell off the side of the bed.  She had slept all night in her uniform. Still half asleep she headed for the shower. It was 0620 when she finished dressing and slapped on a bit of makeup.  As she turned to pick up her jacket, she saw the beautiful flower from Niloa sitting on the dresser. It usually sat on her desk in thesitting area.  {Galen was here during the night. I must have been totally wiped out.}  She brought the flower to her nose, then sat it down and smiled. The healing flower was a most treasured possession, and Galen assured her that it would live as long as she kept it in water.

0645. Katherine grabbed an orange from the dining hall on her way to sick bay and realized that she felt much better, more rested than she had in days.                                                                      
   
                                                 ***

Galen insisted that they have dinner in his ship. Katherine was in a hurry to get to practice, but the thought of spending a few minutes alone with Galen won out. The dinner was light. Fruit, cheese, tea.

"Galen." Katherine sat her cup down. "There's something I've wanted to tell you for days, but I've been so busy in sick bay and with rehearsals. I never found the right time."

"What is it Katherine? Is something wrong?"

"No, not wrong." She decided to just blurt it out. "Matthew told me that we will be returning to Mars in a week, and I'll get to see my parents for the first time in over a year."

"That's wonderful. I'm sure they will be very happy to see you."

"I want them to meet you." She waited for his reaction.

"They know about me?"

"Yes, I had a chance to send a letter back to Mars. The Health Minister from Lydor was going  for a conference, and I asked him to take it. "

"What did you tell your parents?"

"That I had met someone on the Excalibur, that his name is Galen, and that he's a technomage."

"I'm sure they were thrilled with that last bit of news."  He stood up.

"They're nice people, Galen. I hope you'll like them. I'm sure they'll like you, when they get to know you the way I do."

Galen looked at her and arched his eyebrow.

"Maybe not the way I do, but.........will you go with me to meet my parents?"  Katherine honestly wasn't sure how Galen would reply.  After all, she had sprung it on him with only a few days to prepare for the meeting.

"Perhaps, Katherine. Perhaps."

Deciding that it was best not to push the issue, she stood up and walked over to Galen. "I'd better get to practice. Will I see you later?"

"Most probably. Have a good practice."

Katherine kissed him on the cheek and left the ship. Galen eased into a chair, darkened the ship, and sat alone and silent, well into the night.                                                                      
   
                                                  ***

The next day dragged so slowly that Katherine felt as if she could scream.  She wasn't nervous about performing in front of the crew, but she had this horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach that Max had something up his sleeve. Something that was not part of the plan.   She skipped lunch. It was almost time for her to go off duty, when Galen appeared at the sick bay door.

"Ready for your big number?"  He crossed the room to take her hand.

"Where did you learn that?  The 'big number' part?"

"I was perusing Earth's history files in the computer's data base and found a section titled Entertainment of the 20th century. I found it very interesting. Movies. CDs. The Twist. And a fellow named Meatloaf, I think."

Katherine laughed. "So you've been studying show biz, huh?"

"Show biz.  Is that what they called it?"

"Among other things. As for  my being ready, I might as well be. It's only a few hours until the show."

"How was your final practice?"

"It was perfect, Galen. Max knew every lyric, every move. I don't trust him!"   Her brow furrowed.

"Well, I think you should eat so I'm here to take you to the dining hall."

"Oh, I couldn't eat." Her hand went to her stomach.

"Some soup, then, or something to drink. Juice or coffee." Galen touched her cheek with his fingers.

"Some tea maybe."

"Good. Then a nice walk around Hydroponics. A short one." He smiled.

She nodded. "I just wish I knew what Max is up to."                                                                      
   
                                             ***

The show was held in a docking bay that was temporarily not in use. It was the only place on the ship large enough to hold the number of crew members that were expected to attend. Max was already in the area behind the makeshift stage, when Katherine arrived.  Dureena had also made suggestions for his costume, and it looked really good. Black trousers, a black suit jacket and a white shirt with a stand-up collar. He had slicked his hair back with only-he-knew-what and had used something to create a black mustache. Max caught Katherine out of  the corner of his eye.

He turned around walked back and forth in front of the mirror. "Well, what do you think?"

"You look great, Max."

"I already know that. What about the costume?"

Katherine could not help but laugh. Max could be oh so charming, when he wanted to be.

He looked her up and down. "You look....lovely."

"Thank you." Katherine stepped past him to look in the mirror. Dureena had done an exceptional job on the dress, and Katherine had been a little heavy-handed with the make-up for effect. She had curled her hair, then pinned it up so that it fell in ringlets down her back. "I look like a character from silent movies."

"Silent movies?"

"Another 20th century form of entertainment. The beginnings of film making actually."

"I guess we're ready then." Max looked at himself in the mirror once more.

Durenna came around the corner that led to the stage. "Are you two ready?"  She looked harried.

Max and Katherine nodded.

"You will go on fifth. Got that?"

"Yes, fifth." Katherine repeated.

"Relax Dureena." Max added  "You look like a Cyntaxian water bug caught in a spider's web."

"Shut up, Max!" Dureena disappeared back around the corner.

"What about you, Max. Are you nervous?"

"Not in the least. You look a little tense though. Stage fright?"

"No stage fright. But, I swear, Max, if you mess this up......"

"Relax, Katherine. It will go like clockwork." Max smiled.                                                                       
   
                                             ***

Galen did not sit with the crew, but stood to the side in the shadows.  He decided to see Katherine and Max, then leave. As he looked around the room, music began and Gideon walked onto the stage.  A thunderous round of applause went up from the audience.                                                                      
   
                                               ***

"Good evening and welcome to the first annual Excalibur talent show.  I'm your master of ceremonies for the evening."

Applause.

"First a few thank yous are in order. To Dr. Lydia Kramer, who came up with the idea for this evening's show. Dr. Kramer, stand up, please."

Lydia Kramer stood up on the first row and waved.

Applause.

"To Dureena  Nafeel, who is coordinating behind the scenes to make sure everything goes smoothly.  Dureena?"

Dureena stuck her head around the pieced-together curtain, faked a smile, then disappeard.

Applause.  

"To the crew members, who you will be seeing shortly, performing. To Dennis  MacNeil from engineering who arranged all the music.   And, to you the audience for showing up."    

Applause.

"With that said, let's get the show on the road.  First up, we have Dr. Sarah Chambers, on the synthesizer keyboard, playing  a classical piece by Martian composer Endo Felix." Gideon left the stage.

Dr. Chambers took a seat at the synthesizer and began to play.

Galen was impressed. {I had no idea that Sarah could play. Quite adeptly, too.}

The next three performances went by quickly. The two medtechs, Terry and Casey, did a Pylorian voxil dance. Their undulations sent waves of excitement through the male members of the crowd. Frank Webber from the maintenance played a piece for the guitar, and  Anna Bell from the kitchen staff did a tap dance. Then, it was time for Katherine and Max.

When the music started, Katherine took a deep breath and waited for her cue.  She stepped onto the stage, her hand covering her eyes as though she were searching for someone, then sang  "Sweetheart, sweetheart, sweetheart?"  She sang.

From the opposite side of the stage Max answered "Sweetheart, sweetheart, sweetheart?"

The crew applauded and laughed as the 'lovers' saw each other, and rushed centerstage, clasping each others hands at chest level.

Max began the song.

"Ah, love is so sweet in the springtime

When blossoms are fragrant in May

No years that are coming can bring time

To make me forget, dear, this day."

Katherine and Max stepped apart, their hands still clasped, but he suddenly grabbed her around the waist and pulled her close to him.  Even though Katherine was caught by surprise, she pushed against his shoulders with her hands, kept smiling and sang her solo.

"I'll love you in life's gray December

The same as I love you today......

Max's hand suddenly slid down her back to her rear. She immediately reached around and pinched him on top of his hand as she moved it back to her waist.  The audience went wild with laughter. Katherine continued.

"My heart ever young will remember

The thrill it knew, that day in May."

Then came the chorus done in duet.

"Sweetheart, sweetheart, sweetheart

Will you love me ever.."

Katherine managed to free herself from Max's grasp, only to have him spin her around and pull her to him, her back against his chest.

"Will you remember this day

When we were happy in May ..."

Max inched his hand upward to Katherine's breast, but she slapped it before he made contact, much to the delight of the crew members.  She continued to struggle with Max, but never once lost her smile.

"My dearest one."

Max swung her around again for a few waltz steps that were part of the routine.

"I'm going to kill you Max!" Katherine said through clinched teeth but was suddenly silenced, when Max twirled her around, pulled her close and planted a loud smack on her lips.  Then spinning her once more, he pulled her again to him. Katherine, facing the audience and smiling,  promptly elbowed him in the side.

Applause and laughter. The duet continued.

"Sweetheart, sweetheart, sweetheart

Though our paths may sever..."

Once again Katherine slapped Max's hand as it inched upward.

"To life's last faint ember

Will you remember

Spring time, love-time, May?"

Katherine now had a full blown battle with Max's hands, until she finally grabbed them and held then tightly against her stomach.

"Spring time..................

Max was struggling to free his hands.

"Love time......."

Katherine lifted her right foot and brought it down as hard as she could on Max's toes.

He winced but managed to sing the last of the song.

"Maaaaayyyyyy."

As Max turned Katherine loose for a bow, the audience went wild. The laughter and applause was deafening.

"See Katherine. They liked us."  

Before Katherine could make her exit, Max scooped her up in his arms and carried her, kicking, off stage, much to the approval  of the crew members who were now standing.

Galen, leaning against the bulkhead to the right of the stage did not laugh.  From the moment Max had first held Katherine in his arms, a peculiar and unknown feeling had taken root in his stomach and grown to unpleasant proportions. He felt anger and resentment.  {Good lord. I think I must be jealous.]  Galen left, as planned,  not waiting to see the rest of the show.

Backstage, Katherine punched Max hard in the stomach. "Max, how could you?"

Max was trying to catch his breath. "They loved us Katherine! Did you hear that applause?"

"Ohh!" Katherine turned and left. Max tried to take some deep breaths.                                                                       
   
                                                 ***

Galen was waiting in Katherine's quarters, when she stormed in ten minutes later.

"I going to kill, Max. I'm going to kill him I tell you!" Katherine paced the room. "It was supposed to be a simple, comical number. I  knew he would do something. I just knew it!"

"The crowd seemed to appreciate it, Katherine. They found it to be very humorous indeed." Galen stepped in front of her and stopped her by placing his hands on her shoulders.

"But, it...............oh!" She wrapped her arms around Galen's midsection and hugged him tightly. He stroked her hair.

"I sort of like these curls. They remind me of the yark vines on Zindysia."

Katherine laughed and leaned back to look at him. "I'll take that as a compliment."

"It was meant as one. I have fond memories of those vines." He smiled, and as always, it dazzled her.

"I guess you're right. The audience did seem to like out number. I guess the extracurricular activities did no harm." She walked over to her desk to remove her earrings.

"I wouldn't say that."

"What do you mean, Galen?"

"I'm not sure, as I've never experienced it before, but I think I felt jealousy."

"Jealousy? Are you kidding?"

"Most certainly not."

"But, why? Max is just a friend. Do you really think you were jealous?"

"I do."

"I'm sorry then." She didn't know what else to say.

"I'm sure it's just the first of many human emotions I will be experiencing in the coming weeks."

Katherine knew he was thinking of meeting her parents. She decided to change the subject. "Dance with me Galen."

"I don't dance, Katherine." He sounded a bit uncomfortable.

"Anyone can dance. Here................" she walked across the room.  "Let me take your coat." She threw it across the back of  the sofa, then took a disk from the box and dropped it into the console. Slow, romantic music began to play.

"Now," she stood in front of him. "Put your right hand here." She took his hand and placed it on her waist.  "Take my hand with your left hand." He gently took her hand and curled his fingers around it.  "I put my hand on your shoulder, and we dance. Just move to the music to start."

"Katherine, I don't think..."

"You can do this, Galen. It's easy." She moved a little closer to him and looked into his eyes.

They began to move back and forth, very slowly. Katherine moved closer to rest her cheek against his. Galen let his hand move from her waist to the small of her back, gently pressing her to him.

"Isn't his nice?" she asked in his ear.

"Very."

They continued to dance.

"That's quite a seductive costume Dureena made for you." His hand slid up her back.

"You like it?" Her arm circled his shoulder and rested on his back.

"I do."

"It's a little uncomfortable." She kissed the soft part of his right ear and heard his breath catch as he pulled her closer.

"Shouldn't you take it off then?" His voice sounded husky.

"I think so. Could you help me?"

His hands undid the snaps that ran up the middle of the back of the gown. It opened and the straps falling off her shoulders. Galen bent to kiss her right shoulder, then moved his lips to her neck. He lifted his head to kiss her, covering her mouth with his. As his fingers intertwined in her hair, his other hand slipped inside the top of the gown and found her breast. The kiss became more passionate.

Katherine loosened Galen's shirt from the top of his pants and began to unbutton it. Savoring kiss after kiss, she finally pushed the shirt back from his shoulders and slowly moved her hands across his chest.  It was smooth and firm and soft with hair. She raised her hands to his face and, as she did the gown fell to her waist. Her breasts pressed against Galen.  He lifted her and she circled his hips with her legs, locking her feet against his buttocks. The kisses became deeper, each mouth hungry for the other. Galen moved cautiously toward the bedroom.

Katherine pulled her lips from his for a moment. "No, not the bedroom.

Here."

"Here?" Galen whispered against her mouth.

"Please." She kissed him hard.

Galen carefully eased onto one knee, then the other. Katherine clung to him, her legs still around his hips.

Placing his hands on the floor on either side of her, he lowered her and covered her body with his. She pushed against his shoulder and managed to roll so that she was on top of him. Her tongue traced a searing trail over his chest and down his stomach. She unfastened his pants and pushed then down over his hips, then moved back on top of him to once again take possession of his lips. Galen reached under the bottom of the gown and slid her panties down to her knees.

With one quick move, Galen was again on top of her. Straddling her, he sat up, and Katherine drew her knees to her chest so that he could remove her panties. She circled him again with her legs, and as he lowered himself to kiss her, she tightened them and drew him closer.

Galen's hands moved over her body. Her breasts, down her side, to her hips.  Katherine had  one of her hands on the back of Galen's head, and she kissed him as though she was trying to drain the very life force from him. He was at full arousal and knew from the movements of her hips that she was ready to accept him.  He plunged into her, and she welcomed him. Together they began to move, her pace matching his. He felt her tensing and knew that she soon would be lost in spiraling waves of joy. With a sharp intake of breath, she pushed against him. It was only then that he freed himself to join her. Afterward, he collapsed on top of her, breathless and covered with perspiration. She moaned softly beneath him and began to caress his back. He raised himself on one elbow to look directly into her face.  It was damp and glistening and filled with contentment.

"God, I love you." Galen said softly.

Katherine reached up and drew his head to her shoulder, cradling him in her arms. "I love you, Galen. I will always love you."                                                                     
   
                                            ***

In their quarters on Mars, Dr. and Mrs. Roy Davidson has just finished a game of chess.

"Shall we go to bed, dear? Katherine will be here tomorrow." Helen Davidson pushed her chair back and stood up.

"Helen, do you think she will have Galen with her when she arrives?"  Roy asked.

"I don't know dear. I guess we'll just have to wait and see." His wife patted his arm as he put away the chess pieces. She then headed for the bedroom.

"What am I supposed to say to him, Helen?" He yelled after her.

"Welcome would be nice, dear."                                                                      
   
                                                ***

The next morning Galen awoke and found Katherine gone. He usually was the first to wake up and leave, but this morning Katherine slipped out while he was sleeping. He got out of bed and dressed.

Moments later, he found her in the hydroponics lab.  "Good monring," he said as she walked up behind her and circled her with his arms. She raised her hands to cover his.

Nodding toward the observation window, she said "Mars."

"Mars." He repeated.

"It's beautiful isn't it?"

"Yes, my love, it is." He held her tighter.

"I'm getting off duty early to go down to the planet. " She turned to look at him. "Will I see you then?"

"Yes, I'll be in the shuttle bay."

Katherine left the lab, and Galen stood, staring at the red mass beyond the window. {What do I do now?}  He turned and walked through the passageways, down to the lower landing deck and into his ship.

                                                           
*The lyrics to "Will You Remember (Sweetheart) were written by Rida Johnson Young and copyrighted by G. Schiemer


                                                                 

                                              **end part 3**