CHRISTMAS WITH THE FORRESTERS
A Romantic Alternate Tale of the Star Force for Christmas
By Frederick P. Kopetz
Note: This tale fits between "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Save the Last Dance for Me" in the "Visions of Love And Honor" storyline before "The Rikasha Incident"--Freddo
December 24, 2201
1138 Hours: Spacetime
"Karl, did she get Derek from the hotel yet?" asked Teri Forrester.
"Well, he and Nova wanted some private time together at the hotel before they came here to the church for the midnight service," said Karl Forrester, the husband of Teri Forrester and father of Star Force heroine Lieutenant Nova Forrester.
"Maybe they got lohst?" said Lieutenant Jefferson Hardy of the Black
Tigers, one of Nova and Derek Wildstar's comrades on the space battleship Argo.
He was wearing a black blazer with mustard-colored slacks, a white shirt, and a
gold tie...along with a Tiger pin. His girlfriend, Mio Hoshiyama, stood nearby
in a dark green skirt and white blouse with white pumps. The skirt billowed a
little in the bracing (but not cold) breeze that blew in from off the
"Nova grew up here before the bombings for most of her life," said Teri, in one of her usual pantsuits. "She wouldn't get lost in her hometown in her cousin Jane's aircar that I know she knows how to drive."
"Well, she and Wildstah both drive a little crazy when they're in a rush," said Hardy. "Don't we know that, Conroy?"
"We do, all too well," said Pete Conroy, the squadron leader of the Black Tigers. He was in a suit similar to Hardy's. It had been his idea to have the Tigers present dressed in the squadron colors.
"So, what are you saying?" asked Teri.
Lieutenant Natalie Fisher, the intended maid of honor at the upcoming wedding, dressed in a dark brown suede suit and boots, said, "I think maybe Nova got a speeding ticket?"
"She'd better not have," said Nova's cousin Jane, one of the bridesmaids. Her back-length blond hair billowed in the breeze along with the green skirt of her red and green dress. She wore festive red sandals and a Santa Claus pin pinned to her dress near the collar.
"Yeah...wasn't it your idea to have all of us together at this time?" asked Natalie. "We can't be rushing her for time."
A moment later, a white aircar pulled up in the parking lot. Natalie and Jane began to applaud, and the driver of the aircar beeped once and waved with one of her free hands before pulling into a parking space. She stopped, and the canopy rolled back and the door came open.
Nova Forrester, resplendent in a white dress trimmed in pink, with pink pumps and wearing a Santa Claus cap, waved merrily at her friend and cousin as she stepped out of the car. Captain Derek Wildstar, her fiancée, smiled and waved, too as he came out. He was wearing his new Captain's peacoat and cap with his ascot and blue EDF uniform slacks. Both of them wore holly sprigs towards the right of their outfits.
"What was the delay?" asked Jane.
"I was helping him get ready," said Nova softly. "I had to get him looking just right."
"You're already acting like his wife. Good girl!" joked Natalie.
Commander Mark Venture, the Deputy Captain of the Argo, pulled up a moment later in his rental car. He parked, and came out with Stephen Sandor. Both of them were in EDF blues with their blue and red peacoats and light brown boots.
"I do not believe this," said Venture. "Nova, you made him look good for once."
"Oh, be quiet!" said Derek with a grin. There was a note of "anger" in his voice, but Nova knew it was mock anger. She knew all too well of his deep affection and friendship with both Mark and herself.
"I helped him out," said Nova. She hugged him and said. "Think I have good taste and can get him ready for inspection? Look at his boots. Perfect shine!"
"Well, I was pretty good at that," said Derek.
"But you need a woman's touch about you my space cowboy," joked Nova. "You guys think I take care of him?"
"Yeah," said Venture.
Sandor nodded. "He looks healthier."
"I think she does a great job in looking out for me, and I know she thinks I'm great at looking out for her," said Derek as he laid his head on her shoulder. "It's different...but...I'm starting a different chapter of my life soon."
"You guys eveah gonna get a divohce?" teased Hardy.
"NO" said Derek and Nova very emphatically in chorus. The fire in both of their eyes at this statement took Hardy back a little.
"Well...why are you so strong-willed about this?"
"I love him" said Nova.
"And I love her," said Derek. "It goes against my faith, my ethical system, and why consider marrying someone that you're not sure you will spend the rest of your life with?"
"People make mistakes," said Hardy.
"We're not making a mistake," said Nova in a slow and dangerous voice. "I intend to spend the rest of my life with him, and we will deal with any heartbreaks that come up in stride. Now, let's get inside the church, guys. The service is about to start."
Hardy went in with Mio and sat down in the same pew with Derek and Nova, who were at the far end of the pew talking quietly and studying the hymnal. Beside Hardy and Mio sat Jane, Sandor, and Natalie.
"Looks sort of Lutheran," said Sandor.
"The inside of this church, Hardy," said Sandor. "I've been to some Lutheran churches, even though I was raised Russian Orthodox."
"The church is somewhere between Lutheran and Episcopalian in its beliefs," Jane said. "We all used to be Catholic, but then there was some kind of controversy, so we came across town to this place and loved it."
Homer came in a moment later, dressed in a royal-blue suit, light blue shirt, and striped tie. "Sorry I'm late," he said. "Sandor, the planning is still going on."
"The bash tomorrow night."
"Oh, that," smiled Hardy.
"What?" asked Mio.
Hardy dropped his voice to a whisper. "Wildstar's gonna be shanghaied to a party. At 2230 tomorrow night, it will turn into a bachelor pahty, with a cake, a stripper..."
"What?" said Mio.
Jane Forrester gave Hardy an icy look with dark eyes not that much unlike her cousin's. "The bridegroom's fiancée is not letting the Captain attend a stupid bachelor party like that, and the Captain does not care to attend such an observance."
"Sorry. We thought it'd be cute," said Hardy.
"I have been ordered to inform my cousin of any such developments," said Jane. "And I will have you know that if he is shanghaied there, my cousin plans desperate countermeasures against you guys if he is found in that lower bar suite of the Boulderado Hotel tomorrow night." Hardy noticed that Jane said that in a slightly loud voice. In their corner of the pew, he then noticed Derek and Nova giving each other a decorous high-five, like a signal.
Mio said, "Jeff, you sound terrible."
"But it's kind of cute," she whispered. "What were you planning to do to Derek?"
"We have a couple of Tiger measures underway, all of them secret."
"Can you tell me?" she whispered. "After all, this is our second date."
"Give me some time and maybe I will," said Hardy. The lovers snuck a kiss before Jane hit Mio in the knee with her hymnal.
"Ouch!" she said
"Behave yourselves, you lovebird. The service is about to begin. Stand up."
The congregation stood, looking down at the altar, covered in poinsettias, white flowers and candles. A chorus of Angels We Have Heard on High began, followed by O Little Town of Bethlehem. Hardy felt a little stirring in his heart on that piece, since that was one of his favorite carols.
In his part of the pew, Derek looked in Nova's eyes as they both sang together. Their hands slipped together under the hymnal and they held hands as the song ran through. Derek particularly liked his fiancé's sweet alto voice on the carol.
"Thank you, everyone," said Pastor Likanski, the church's rector. He stood behind the lectern in a dark suit with a white robe, over which he wore a red stole. "We are here to commemorate the birth of our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ tonight. We have gathered at midnight because that is when tradition said that the Star was first seen over the birthplace of the Child. This is traditionally a time for new beginnings, new hopes, new resolutions for the New Year. It is said that this is a great time to start new lives. It is felt that anyone who gets married around this time may well receive a special blessing. I have two such services on Saturday, not a day and a half from now, one in the morning, one in the early evening. I'd like all of you to pray for the soon-to-be-newlyweds tonight."
"Yeah...they're gonna need it with you guys," whispered Jane.
"Hey, Sandor," whispered Homer.
"When you pray in here, is it like synagogue? Do you bow your head?"
"Same thing," said Sandor.
A moment later, when they "Let us pray" came up, Jane kneed Mio, and she and Hardy bowed their heads as the pastor made a long prayer. Hardy fidgeted a little, and Mio playfully bumped him. At that, Jane went "shhh...guys...don't you know how to act in church?"
"Maybe he doesn't," said Mio with a wink. She put her arm around his waist, getting a little bored with the service.
"A'hm bored, too," said Hardy. "When can we get outta here?"
"You gonna be bored on Saturday?" asked Jane.
"No...because I'll have duties."
"Guys...chill," whispered Sandor in a low voice.
Finally, the long prayer was over and they sat down.
Later on, outside, with the bells ringing, the group came out of the church. It was a little colder, and Jane shivered a little as she came out. Mio held Jeff, and, of course, Derek had a protective arm over Nova to keep her warm, since her dress had a scoop neckline that bared much of her shoulders to the Rockies breeze.
"Are you okay?" Derek said as he helped her into the car.
"Fine. Just a little chilly. I should've brought my coat from the house. Didn't think it'd get this cold tonight." Nova put her keys into the car's ignition, listening as the little chime went off for a moment. She got it started, and closed the canopy and automatic doors. Soon, they were up on the suspension field, drifting towards the exit of the parking lot.
It was a short drive to the Forrester home. The house twinkled with many white and multi-colored Christmas lights as they drove up. They went to the door and knocked. Teri greeted both Nova and Derek with big hugs, saying, "Do you have your presents in the bags?"
"Yes, we do," said Derek.
"Our first Christmas together on Earth," said Nova. "Isn't this fun?
"It is," said Derek as his eyes misted up. "It's been so long since I've had a family..."
"I'm your family now," she said as she gave him a big hug on the doorstep.
They kissed, and then went inside.
The party was going soon afterwards. Teri made sure her daughter and soon-to-be son in law had full plates with slices of ham, turkey sandwiches, macaroni salad, and even kielbasa.
Near the tree, a while later, Nova handed Derek two wrapped boxes. Wildstar opened one of the boxes, and found a model of a little snow-globe with a model of Denver in it.
"Pretty," he said. "What do you do, Nova?"
"Shake it, and watch the snow fall," she said softly.
He turned it upside-down and watched the snow falling as everyone applauded.
"Open the other one," said Nova.
Derek did so, and his eyes went wide as he pulled out a silver Stellar Navigator Chronometer wristwatch. It was quite accurate, and very expensive.
"Wow..." he said. "You caught me looking at it in the store, didn't you?"
"I sure did," she said as she put it on his wrist. "There you go, Captain. Now you can keep us on time aboard ship!"
They all clapped. "Now, for you," he said, handing her a single small box.
"What is it?" she said.
"If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise. Open it up, Nova."
She tore open the gold paper tied with a black ribbon and opened a small box. She looked in the box, and squealed. "Oh, my God...what a beautiful little diamond necklace! And it's a blue diamond! Where did you get it from?"
"Iscandar," he said with a smile. "When we were there, I picked it up when you weren't around. I spent quite a bit to have it cut. And the chain is platinum."
"Put it on me!" she cried. Derek did so, and she stood up on tiptoe in her pumps to give him a big, big hug.
"Well," said Mio as she looked at Jeff.
"Yeah?" said Hardy.
"What did you get for me, you Tiger?"
"You'll find out."
Both of them watched as they heard a little girl in a sleeper yelling, Okay, you guys! Get under the mistletoe! KISS him, Cousin Nova!"
"Uhh...I think we've been abducted," said Derek with a grin as a little blond girl in a pink sleeper pulled at his coat.
"We're going over, Kristin," giggled Nova. "Don't knock cousin Derek over now. Otherwise, you might lose your job as flower girl on Saturday."
"I won't, Novie-wovie!" said Kristin. "But you gotta kiss him! Otherwise Santa Claus won't come!"
"Okay," said Nova as Derek embraced her. She threw her arms around him, and as several family members snapped pictures, they kissed to applause, cheers, and lots of shouts of "awww" and "how sweet"
After they got done, Nova noticed Hardy and Hoshiyama standing nearby exchanging gifts. She winked at Derek and said, "Guys, that can wait a minute."
"Why?" asked Mio.
Nova smiled and shoved them under the mistletoe. She whispered, "kiss, you two!" in Hardy's ear.
At that, Hardy and Mio kissed, again and again.
The family members laughed while Derek and Nova snapped pictures.
"You know what?" said Derek.
"Watching those two smooch is giving me ideas..."
"How dangerous are those ideas?'
"Very," said Derek. "But not too bad. The real fun stuff will be on Saturday night."
"I know," whispered Nova.
They had some eggnog, and then disappeared for a while. Hardy thought he heard something about "Get the trains out, you two..."
At that, Derek and Nova vanished.
A while later, Mio Hoshiyama and Jefferson Hardy found themselves sitting in a white-paneled bedroom, kissing and hugging.
"Jeff, you drive me crazy," said Mio.
"I'd hope so," said Hardy. They hugged and kissed again on the bed, and Jeff began to run a hand up Mio's leg.
"Whoa," she whispered.
"Not under the skirt yet, hon. We don't know each other well enough yet."
"Sorry," said Hardy.
They went downstairs to a rec room. "This place seems quiet," said Hardy.
"Hopefully you don't want to kiss more? I'm not sure it's right to sneak off and smooch in someone else's house."
"No...let's have some Bourbon. Synthetic, but it's there."
"Okay," said Mio. To her amazement, Hardy made them a pair of decent Bourbon and Sodas.
"What shall we drink to?" said Mio.
"I agree," said Mio. They clinked glasses and drank.
A moment later, they heard the sound of whispered endearments and kisses.
"What do you hear?" asked Mio.
"Kissin' "said Hardy."Shh..."
They went over to the direction that the kissing was coming from. Hardy opened the door of a storage room slightly to find an adorable scene.
Two Lionel train set boxes sat on the floor. There was a stepstool near a set of high shelves. Perched up there were Derek and Nova, busily smooching. Derek was running his hands over his wife's slender form, while Nova was running her hands down his open peacoat and under his askew ascot. She also occassionally stroked his ankle with a slender stockinged foot, since her shoes were kicked off on the floor.
"Shh," said Hardy as Mio was about to say something.
Hardy pulled Mio over and embraced her, giving her a deep kiss while he gently used his boot to close the door to the storage room.
"Don't know if I mind this," said Mio. "Inspiration from your Captain?"
"You could say that..."
Later that night, Nova took Derek back to the hotel. It was around 5 AM, and she insisted he needed to get a few hours' worth of sleep before coming back over to her parents' house. Nova would've stayed with him, except for the fact that she was expected back at her parents' house.
Later on, at noon on Christmas Day proper, Nova showed up tapping at the door to Derek's hotel room. She had on a different outfit; a brown suede skirt, boots, and a white sweater with a black vinyl coat and matching beret.
"You look cute today."
"Merry Christmas all over again," she said with a smile. She looked at him through the door. "Uniform?"
"No....I'm trying to put on the suit you got me."
He opened the door, standing there in blue slacks, a white shirt, dark green vest, black blazers, and no tie. He had it in his hand.
"Don't you know how to put that on?" Nova asked softly.
"I haven't worn a civilian suit in years, since the orphanage," he said. "I've sort of forgotten this."
"Let me help you," said Nova. She stepped into his room, looked at him and the snow-globe on his desk, and smiled. "Be sure you're ready to check out of here tomorrow morning when I get to take home my biggest Christmas present."
"And that is?" he said as he smiled at the feel of Nova's soft hands tying his tie.
"You," she replied. "Merry Christmas, Derek."
"Merry Christmas, Nova."
On that tender note, they kissed again. It took a little while for Wildstar to get his tie tied.
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