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Twisted Fate

Authors: Procyonstar
Categories: John/Helena
Episodes: Set before Breakaway
Show Year: Y1
Rating: PG-13
Date: 2010
Emotions are running high in the days leading up to Breakaway
Average Rating: No reviews.

Helena was tired.

She had only just gone off duty last night, just got to her quarters in fact, when her commlock had gone off, calling her back to the Medical Centre. The condition of one of the Meta Probe astronauts had deteriorated dramatically and she had been forced to perform surgery on him, in the early hours of the morning, to relieve a build up of pressure on his brain. He was stable now, but for a while she'd thought he might not make it through the night.

The situation on Alpha was getting more and more difficult by the hour. Helena and her team had worked tirelessly for several weeks now, but to no avail. One by one the crew of the Meta Probe had been struck down and now two members of Alpha personnel were also affected. Nine men were dead to date. The pressure to find a cause and cure was intense. Helena knew she was being judged and found lacking by both Commander Gorski and Commissioner Simmonds, but despite her total commitment to the problem she was no closer to coming up with a solution. In her opinion, what she was seeing was some form of radiation sickness and yet the illness did not conform completely to that diagnosis. No matter how hard any of her team worked, people continued to die and the pressure from Space Commission continued to increase.

Helena checked her watch. She was late.

The fallout from the delayed Meta Launch was already being felt. Gorski had been removed from Command of Moonbase Alpha and today the new Commander arrived. Well...he had actually arrived last night, Helena had heard some of her staff talking as she'd scrubbed in for the emergency surgery, but today was his first real day on Alpha. She herself as CMO had received a command communication as she left medical yesterday, requesting her attendance at his first Command Conference this morning. She was required to brief him on the situation and bring him up-to-date with her findings regarding possible causes.

Helena hoped that the new Commander would be easier to work with than Gorski.

She had been on Alpha for nine months now. Professionally it had been an excellent career move. Her interest in Space Medicine and her impeccable management abilities made her the perfect choice as CMO. She had changed the dynamics of the medical team in the last few months considerably. Around her now everything was efficiency and control. This ethos she carried through into her private life. Coming to Alpha had been a means of escape for Helena. She had been able to leave behind the grieving widow image and bury herself in her work with no one to question her about it. Here there was no need for explanations. Most people on Alpha knew her as Dr Russell, very few knew her as Helena and that was the way she wanted it to be.

Gorski had been a nuisance. Initially he'd seemed unable to grasp the concept that his new CMO did not find him at all attractive and desirable. When he did finally accept that Helena had no intention of having any sort of 'personal relationship' with him, he became very difficult. Helena had found herself having to deal with his petulant behaviour on many occasions during the months that followed and it had gotten worse during the last few weeks. As the Meta problems had come to light, he openly disagreed with her evaluations and blamed her incompetence as a causal factor in the whole situation, making for a very stressful working relationship.

Helena would not be sorry to see the last of Gorski, she only hoped that the new Commander would be willing to listen, with an open mind to her theories regarding radiation sickness, because time was running out for the astronauts and also for the launch of the Meta Probe. The whole command team on Alpha was being judged by the politicians at Space Commission and careers could be ended if answers were not found soon.

Glancing at her watch again as she hurried along the corridor, she knew that she was not going to be making a good first impression with the new Commander. She was terribly late for the Command Conference but first and foremost she was a doctor...and her patients had to come first. She hoped he would understand.

John Koenig was pleased to be back in command on Moonbase Alpha. Despite the problems he knew he was taking on and the demands that would be made of him, he loved his role on Alpha. He knew many of the current staff who were assigned to the base at present, had worked closely with several on many occasions in the past. In fact Victor Bergman, an old friend and John's mentor, had been the first person to greet John on his arrival yesterday. John smiled now as he recollected how good it had been to see Victor after several months apart. Looking back over his career he acknowledged that some of his best memories were of his time up here on the Moon. This was what his life had been all about...his love of Space, his need to be at the forefront of space exploration. He had awoken today, on his first proper day of command with a sense of exhilaration. There was a job to be done up here and he would be the one to do it.

On the journey from Earth to the Moon he had spoken with Paul Marrow, Controller of Main Mission and put in place a Command Conference scheduled for early on his first full day. It would be a good opportunity to meet key members of staff and assess the situation as they saw it.

John had worked with Paul before and had been pleased when he realised that he was still on Alpha. He knew that the next few weeks were going to be difficult and to have known and trusted colleagues around him would undoubtedly be beneficial. John was aware that his replacing Gorski was a political move and that everything he did would be under surveillance from Earth. He was gonna be watched closely. There was a lot at stake for the political animals of Space Control and he, John Koenig, had been given the unenviable task of sorting out what was rapidly developing into a disaster on the Moonbase. Well, he was always interested in a challenge and the Meta Probe was a project close to his heart.

John made his way from his quarters to Main Mission, stopping to greet a few a people he recognised, on the way. He entered Main Mission and was greeted by Paul and several other operatives who were already at their desks and pleased to have him back as Commander, shook hand with Kano, a wonder with computers and climbed the steps to his office. Using his commlock to close the sliding doors that sealed him off from the activity of Alpha's control centre he allowed himself a minute to take in his surroundings. He moved around the large space noting that nothing really had changed. Gorski had left little imprint of his personality on the office space. The muted hustle and bustle of Main Mission was just audible, the hum of the atmospheric conditioning system, constant background music. The very essence of Alpha seeped back into his being. He felt this was where he belonged.

It was good to be back.

Taking his seat behind the large desk, he used the time before the scheduled meeting to go over all of the facts and familiarise himself again with the full extent of the problem. He had spent the journey up to Alpha looking through reports and preparing for the task ahead. He wanted the looming conference to be productive. Send a clear message to everyone that he was here to achieve results and would accept nothing less than total commitment from each and every member of staff until the problem could be isolated and a solution could be found.

Before too long Victor arrived and then, soon, everyone else was present except one. Paul passed on a message from Medical, that there had been some issues there through the night that had required the attendance of the CMO and that this may result in her being a little late this morning. The CMO's input was vital and he hoped that she would not be too late, but John knew that there was a lot of ground to cover and so the meeting began.

Helena strode purposefully through Main Mission. Despite the fact that she was late and the meeting would already be underway she was calm and controlled. Acknowledging Sandra who was busy at her console, with a slight, distant smile, Helena climbed the steps. Inwardly gathering herself together, for her first meeting with the new Commander, she requested admission to the command conference.

The interruption caused by the CMO's arrival was a blessing for most gathered at the meeting. The new Commander had been relentless in his grilling of each participant, wanting answers and not reacting kindly when none could be found. There was an air of frustration in the room. As the doors opened to admit Helena, John finished a conversation with Victor and turned from the table, automatically rising to greet his CMO.

Helena felt a frisson of recognition as she approached the Commanders chair.

A warning!

A sensation of dread washed over her so quickly that she didn't have time to react or to analyse it. She was already introducing herself and about to explain her late arrival as he turned to face her. The words caught in her throat as she came face to face with her new Commander.

John rose from his position at the large round conference table, and turned to greet his CMO, his hand already in place for a formal handshake. In the same instant as their eyes met and locked and he came face to face with his CMO, his hand dropped away and his words of greeting died on suddenly dry lips. He needed to do something to hide his confusion but found his mind had suddenly slowed. Aware that they had an audience he composed himself as best he could, but was unprepared for the wave of anger that overcame him.


Here on Alpha.

Why had he not known? How could this be happening?

As the questions exploded in his brain he reacted instinctively. His face became a cold, closed mask, his voice menacing, as he quietly but firmly explained to Helena and all present that she was late. He would not tolerate such unprofessional behaviour from a senior member of his team. He didn't need to raise his voice for the anger to be clearly heard. Voices hushed and all eyes were drawn to the new Commander as he very publically hauled his CMO over the coals. How dare she assume that she could just waltz into an important meeting, late! She was not the only one with a busy work schedule. Her input was critical and her failure to be on time had held the whole meeting up. This may have been the way she had behaved when Gorski had been Commander but it would no longer be acceptable.

Those present, who'd worked with John Koenig in the past, were somewhat shocked. They knew him to be a firm, strong willed leader who demanded the best from those in his command, but never before had they seen him react with such open contempt towards any individual.

Victor was perplexed. He had gotten to know Helena quite well since she had arrived on Alpha earlier in the year. He respected her professionally and liked her as a person. He knew that the last few months with Gorski had been particularly difficult ones for her and had assumed that with John now in Command the situation would improve.

Helena had visibly paled since John had began his verbal assault and Victor cleared his throat and made an attempt to intervene, not understanding why John was being so hard. A cold glance from John silenced him before he could utter a word.

Helena stood before the new Commander, John Koenig, in shock. Totally unprepared for the situation she found herself in.

This couldn't be happening! How could this be happening?

She called on every vestige of self control to stand there before him and not shrink away from the angry words, as he lashed out at her. As their eyes had met she had seen instant recognition quickly followed by contempt. His cold eyes were now blank, giving nothing away. She knew that she should respond. Should say something, but she found herself completely unable to do anything other than let his anger wash over her. As the initial shock began to fade she became aware of many pairs of eyes on her. She could feel the embarrassed silence and stillness that shrouded everyone present in the room. Finally, Victors attempt to intervene on her behalf acted like a catalyst.

Although overcome with embarrassment by the Commanders very public onslaught she managed to hold herself together and tried to, at last, defend herself.

'Commander...if you would just allow me to explain...' was all she managed.

The sound of her voice was the last straw. John raised his arm to ward off any excuses and Helena flinched as he waved her away. Her face flamed with embarrassment as, before the entire hierarchy of gathered Alphan personnel, he ordered his CMO to leave the meeting.

He would not tolerate such unprofessional behaviour from a member of his staff and he would deal with her later. The meeting would continue without her.

Helena made her way back to her office in a haze of confused, wounded emotion.

What the hell had just happened?

The thought keep going over and over in her head, making her feel dizzy. As the numbness that had taken her over and protected her began to subside she realised that her position here on Alpha had just become untenable. She had been so busy over the last few days that she had somehow missed the fact that John Koenig was the new Commander. How could she have not known? If she'd had some warning she could have prepared herself for their first meeting. As it was, the shock of coming face to face with him for the first time in several years had completely thrown her. Oh God...she must have looked like such a fool. Too stunned to react, she had allowed him to publically humiliate her in front of the entire command staff. Shock and embarrassment turned now to anger...and fury.

How dare he talk to her like that!

How dare he treat her with such contempt...not even allow her to defend herself.

She had sensed danger as she'd walked into the room. Something about the figure before her had set alarm bells ringing. Some sort of in-built defence mechanism, had tried to warn her, but it had been too late. As he turned, smiling towards her, the world that she had so carefully built around her crumbled away and turned upside down.

In the relative safety of her office she relived the moment their eyes had met. For a split second she had felt her heart explode with the sheer joy of seeing him there before her, and then felt it shatter again with sadness and loss, as the memory of their past surfaced. It had been over before it had really begun but their relationship was something that still had the power to cause her pain, even now, after such a long time. Seeing him here today on Alpha, actually being in the same room with him, allowed every deeply buried memory to come flooding back.

Helena had grown up believing in fairy stories and happy endings. A somewhat serious little girl had turned into a straight 'A' student with a dream to follow in her father's footsteps and become a doctor. But there, inside Helena alongside her passion for medicine, had been the notion that she was waiting...waiting for her knight in shining armour...who would come, sweep her off her feet...confess undying love for her and carry her off into the sunset. And...they would, of course, live happily ever after. Helena carried this dream around with her as she grew up with complete faith that this was how her life would be. College followed school and Helena's dream of becoming a doctor became reality as she progressed into the world of medicine. She worked hard and as the years passed her life took shape. Everything seemed to fall into place except for one thing...the missing knight. She had some boyfriends and as she got older a serious relationship or two but nothing that equated to her fairytale dream. And then Lee came along. He was an astronaut with the Space Programme and they met through work as she was specialising in Space Medicine. They drifted into a relationship and quite quickly he asked her to become his wife. At this point Helena began to question the existence of the whole fairytale dream that she'd believed in for all of her life. Did that sort of love really exist? Perhaps what she felt for Lee was love? Not the 'slap you in the face', earth shattering, mind blowing love that she'd been expecting. But love none the less. Perhaps she'd been waiting for something that didn't really exist. So Helena accepted Lee's proposal, the wedding was planned and Helena tried to let go of her dream and face the reality of a new life with Lee.

Then at a party, a few weeks before their marriage, Lee had taken her arm and guided her across the crowded room to introduce her, his fiancé, to a fellow astronaut, John Koenig.

His smile was enough.

Enough to send her world spinning around on its axis!

She briefly wondered if the champagne she'd been drinking was responsible for the sensations flooding through her and then she found herself caught up in his eyes...eyes so blue and so deep that she thought she may never find a way out. As his hand took hers, electricity seemed to surge through her whole body making her pull away quickly.

Lee continued with the introduction, amazingly noticing nothing amiss and then Helena became aware that she was being guided away from John and into a new group of people. She was perplexed...had she imagined what had just happened? People smiled greetings at her and she acknowledged them with vague smiles in return. Her hand still tingled from his, it wasn't had been real.

She excused herself and made her way outside for some fresh air, finding herself on a quiet balcony and within seconds he'd materialised at her side. Their eyes met and locked and the strangest thing was that they didn't really need to say anything. It was as if they both knew that this was meant to be. As the party continued without them, John moved close to her and took her in his arms. She could feel his hardness along the length of her body as he drew her close. Smelt his maleness as he lowered his head and found her lips, with a rough, demanding kiss. Without a word being spoken they lost themselves in each other. This was it! This was what she'd been waiting for. This earth shattering, mind blowing sensation coursing through her veins was what she'd dreamt of for so long. A feeling that made her come alive. Alive and wild and crazy for his touch.

For the touch of a stranger!

Part of her was shocked. A tiny part of her couldn't believe it was happening.

How could she be doing this?

But the rest of her seemed to understand. Understand and recognise that he was 'the one'. The one she'd been waiting all of her life to meet. Their bodies seemed to meld into one as their hunger grew.

Then he forced her away from him and reality hit her like a bucket of cold water as he pulled away and stared down at her, shock evident on his face. She felt bereft as his lips left hers but as she became aware of their surroundings, aware that anyone could have witnessed what had just happened, she was overcome with guilt.

How could this be happening to them?


In her head they were already a couple. How odd!

Speechless and unable to sort her chaotic thoughts into any semblance of order she heard Lee call her name. He was downstairs in the grounds, obviously looking for her. Unable to look John in the eye she mumbled an apology and fled the balcony...heading for the powder room to give herself some breathing space. How she got through the next hour she didn't know. Eventually she went to find Lee, pleading a headache, which at that point in time was not a lie and asked him to take her home. If he sensed anything strange about her behaviour he kept it to himself and they completed the journey to Helena's apartment in silence. He noticed that she really did seem very pale and after she assured him that she just needed to get some sleep he drove off leaving her alone.

When sleep finally came, she dreamt of dragons and witches and of her knight in shining armour riding to her rescue. But tonight she could see his face for the first time, his eyes, his smile. She had experienced the touch of his lips and knew that it was no longer a dream. He was real. He was the one she had been waiting for.

A shrill noise made her jump. A summons from her commlock brought her back to Alpha.

It was Dr Mathias with an update on the condition of the Meta Probe astronauts. He was slightly concerned about his superior. In all his time working with Dr Russell he had never known her return to the Medical centre and not ask for a status report. After what seemed a very short conference she had returned and gone straight to her office, without a word to any member of staff.


Helena listened to the update and then asked not to be disturbed.

Very unusual!

In her office Helena was having difficulty getting her world back onto kilter. She would obviously need to resign. There was no other choice. There was no way that they would be able to work together long term. It would be impossible.

For years she'd suppressed his memory, thinking of him was just too painful. Now he was here, actually on Alpha and she would be expected to work with him until she could be replaced. How was she supposed to do that when the very sight of him nearly tore her apart. She took a deep breath and tried to collect her thoughts, but her mind was full of him.

She remembered how he'd been waiting for her outside the hospital the day after the party. She should have been shocked but she wasn't. She'd known that it would happen. That he would come to her. Her sense of commitment to Lee stopped anything untoward from happening but for the next week she led a double life. What little free time she had was spent with John. Lee thought that she was busy clearing the decks for their honeymoon and Helena didn't correct him. All she knew was that she needed to be with just be with him. Learn everything there was to learn about him. She was supposed to be marrying Lee in a few weeks and John was preparing to leave on a mission imminently, but they found that they could hardly bear to be apart. The connection between then had been obvious from the moment they'd first met and in some uncanny sort of way it seemed like they'd always known each other and were merely reacquainting themselves with each other, after a period apart. The time she spent with John was delicious and special and as the days passed Helena was overwhelmed by the depth of feeling for him.

One evening towards the end of the week Helena, who had been caught up with an urgent case left the hospital late to find John waiting outside. He'd just got news that he would be leaving later that night, and had come by to say goodbye. Lee was not expecting to see her that evening so they took the opportunity of a last few hours together, before they had to part, driving along the highway and pulling over at a rest stop on the edge of the dunes. The atmosphere in the car was strained. Although Helena had known that John would be leaving, now that the time had come she wasn't sure she'd be able to let him go. It sounded overly dramatic, even in her own head, but she was finding it impossible to contemplate living without him in her life!

Although she'd only meet him barely a week ago Helena knew that she was meant to be with this man. The thought of him going away so soon scared her. Helena knew beyond doubt that she loved John deeply and although it would seem a rash decision to most people who knew her she'd come to realise in the last few days that her relationship with Lee was over. It would seem crazy and irresponsible and she was sure that no-one would understand, but she sensed beyond a doubt, that John was her future.

Sensing her confusion, John suggested they take a walk. The evening was warm, the sun just setting on the horizon as he guided her along a path away from the car towards a thicket of trees. They sat on a huge log watching fireflies dance through the warm, tranquil air as the sun slid silently into the ocean neither wanting to spoil the moment with thoughts of tomorrow but each separately aware that time was ticking away. John drew her close and turning her face to him, kissed her gently as the sky darkened and stars appeared. Helena wanted more, so much more. Deepening the kiss allowing her tongue to move suggestively with his, she slid her hands over his chest and then moulded herself against him...she wanted more. She had to have more.

'Make love to me...John' she whispered into his mouth as their kiss deepened.

This hadn't been part of the plan. He'd wanted to give her the time and space to realise that her engagement to Lee was not right and that her future was with him, John Koenig, but everything was happening so quickly and he found he was powerless to resist what she was offering...seeing his own need mirrored in her eyes, he swept her up into his arms.

He released her when they reached the shadow of the trees, allowing her body to slide slowly along his length, capturing her mouth with his lips, making her moan into him with her need. She could feel the hardness of the tree bark digging into the flesh of her back as the kiss deepened and she held him close, his heart beat drumming against her breast, his long lean length pinning her tightly against the tree. Her hands explored his chest, his back, luxuriating in the feel of his masculine body crushed to hers. Then the cooling night air touched her hot skin as his hands opened her blouse, quickly removing her bra, his hands moulding her breasts sending sparks of desire coursing through her veins. Lips soon replaced hands and Helena clung to him as she was swept away with sensation. She heard herself gasp as his lips found her nipples and nearly stopped breathing completely as his hand moved beneath her skirt, slowly, deliciously sliding along the length of her thigh. He deftly hooked her panties down helping her to step out of them before returning his hand to where she most wanted it to be. Feeling her slick and hot, bucking against him, he knew she was ready.

Helena was overcome with longing, desperate for more. Never before had she known such intensity of emotion. There was no awkwardness or worry, just a feeling of complete rightness. Her fingers found the fastening of his jeans, working quickly, releasing him, raw desire unleashed as she held him, rigid in her hands, stroking him, teasing him. Then he could take no more. Lifting her against the tree he parted her legs, moving forcefully between them, hooking each long limb around him as he held her in place against the trunk. Their eyes locked together as their bodies joined and became one. Slowly he thrust into her, watching as her eyes closed in the ecstasy of the moment. Finally able to lose himself in her at last he surrendered to the need that had been building in him since their first meeting. Mouths locked together in a fusion of wild kisses, flames of passion licked around them, growing with intensity as each new thrust pushed them both steadily towards the edge...until finally...they plunged together into an inferno of sensation neither had experienced before.

It was as if their whole lives had been leading towards this one perfect moment of union.

Locked together as one, their bodies slowly stilled, breathe coming in shuddering gasps, foreheads resting together. They stayed, kissing and whispering quietly in the shadows neither wanting the moment to end, until they slipped apart and moved to cover up, reality finally closing in on them.

Time was ticking away, Helena could feel it. Soon he would have to leave and suddenly it all seemed so complicated.

The Moon had risen as they made their way back to the car but Helena was oblivious to its beauty as thoughts flew in and out of her head like angry magpies. She knew now that things had changed forever. There was no more thinking to be done. If she was completely honest with herself she'd known from the very first moment that she'd met John that her destiny lay with him. It was something she felt in her very soul. She couldn't explain it, even to herself, but nevertheless she knew it was true. She wasn't a deceitful person and had been uncomfortable meeting John over the last few days behind Lee's back. After what had just happened she knew she would have to tell Lee it was over between them. She needed to be totally honest with him. He would be hurt and she hated that it would be her fault, but she couldn't deny her true feeling any longer.

As they drove through the dark night she felt John's eyes on her, watching her in the dim light as she struggled with her thoughts. Soon he would be gone. She fought to stay in control of her emotions not wanting John to leave worrying about how upset she was. When they reached the gates of the base, from where he was to leave early the next day, Helena pulled the car over and stopped the engine. Silence surrounded them. Time kept ticking away. He turned in his seat, pulling her to him in the darkness and she was lost. He told her how much he loved her, told her that he would be back. Kissed away a tear as it fell. She held him tightly wishing that she could stay in his arms forever, not wanting to spend a single moment without him ever again. The 'realistic, practical' Helena knew this was an irrational desire but the 'crazy, madly in love' Helena never wanted to let him go again. Deep within her she could still feel the warm afterglow from their lovemaking and she wanted that feeling to never leave her. Struggling to swallow the tears that threatened to fall she whispered her love to him, returned his kisses with a passion that once again threatened to overcome them both. Gently pushing her away before they were carried away again, his eyes locked with hers. Time seemed to stand still for the briefest of moments as she was lost in his tender smile, leaning towards her he brushed his lips against her brow in the lightest of touches and kissed her goodbye. She felt his fingers brush against her cheek in the most tender of caresses and then he was gone. She watched him pass through the gatehouse and disappear from view. Feeling bereft, she started the engine and drove away, finally allowing her tears to fall.

It had been a long time since Helena had allowed herself to think about that night.

Alone now, sitting in her office on Alpha, knowing that John was close by, she felt panic building inside her.

What was she going to do?

That night had been the last time she has seen John Koenig, until today.

She remembered how difficult it had been to tell Lee that she couldn't marry him, that she'd fallen in love with someone of his colleagues. She remembered how he had begged her not to leave him, to reconsider. She remembered how dreadful she'd felt to be causing him so much pain and yet how right it seemed to be looking forward to a future with John. She could still vividly recall how lonely she'd been waiting for John to contact her. If only she could hear his voice she would feel better. Time passed. She was sure that there must be some logical reason for his silence but she missed him so much. Days turned into weeks and still she waited.

Waited for a call, that never came.

A few weeks later Lee had come to her, asked her if she'd heard the rumours...told her how sorry he was.

It had been Lee who had told her the truth. That John Koenig had just been using her, having a little fun with her before he returned to his wife.

There would be no happy ending.

Helena had struggled to take in everything he was telling her. Struggled to accept that John had lied to her, but Lee was adamant that it true, it was common knowledge he said. John had been boasting with friends about his fling with a certain easy she'd been, how she'd fallen for his charms. Rumours were starting to circulate on the base, people were talking. Again Helena had tried to defend John. He just wouldn't do this to her...there must be some sort of misunderstanding. It must be a mistake! But at the same time she began to wonder. Why hadn't she heard from him? Why the silence?

Suddenly everything seemed to make sense.

How could she have been such a fool? She'd believed John, believed everything he'd told her. Believed, that he'd loved her. She'd known about his wife, John had told her that they were separated, that the marriage was long over. To find out that she had been some sort of light hearted, 'wile away the time' bit of fun was heartbreaking. What a stupid fool she'd been. How he must be laughing at her right now. Why had he hurt her so much?

Struggling to keep painful tears at bay she asked Lee to leave and then she lay for hours in darkness, too wounded to really make sense of what was happening. Overcome with a pain and misery so overwhelming she curled herself into a ball and sobbed. By morning no more tears would come and she vowed to herself never to be so stupid again. Never too love so deeply or trust so completely.

It was a stronger, harder Helena who finally accepted Lee's suggestion, a few days later. He wanted them to go away and marry straight away. He said it would give Helena some respect back. Show everyone that Koenig hadn't totally ruined her life. To Helena, in her raw pain, it seemed like a lifeline.

And so she became Dr Russell and life continued in much the same way as before, except for the deep ache that John's betrayal had left behind. Helena buried it along with her memories of him and worked hard at making her life with Lee a success. Time passed and Helena slowly recovered from her affair with John. Lee was a good husband. They were a highly driven, career focused couple who were happy together until, one day Lee left on a mission and never returned.

Helena was alone.

As a widow, with her husband presumed dead, Helena turned to her career for solace. She channelled all her energy into her specialism and after years of dedicated hard work she grabbed the opportunity to transfer her skills to Moonbase Alpha when she was selected for the position of Chief Medical Officer. Her new role was demanding and fulfilling and apart from clashes with Gorski and the normal Space Commission politics she'd really enjoyed her months on the base.

Resting her head in her hands she almost gave in to the temptation to cry. Seeing John today had been such a shock. That, on top of the fact that she hadn't slept last night was making her feel very fragile. She needed some time alone. But that wasn't about to happen. Her Commlock beeped and Helena took a message from Paul in Main Mission. The Command Conference was over and the Commander was on his way to meet with her. Brilliant...just what she needed!

John waited for everyone to file out of his office, barely able to conceal his agitation and then pressed the button close the doors to Main Mission and seal himself off. Victor had wanted to stay and chat but John had sent him off with a report to compile on a launch delay scenario. John knew that Victor wanted to ask questions about his treatment of Helena and he didn't feel able to answer them at the moment. He needed to get used to the fact that she was here on Alpha, that she was his CMO. That very soon he was going to have to go talk to her.

Throughout his career John had prided himself on his attention to detail.

How had this...VERY IMPORTANT...detail got by him?

How the HELL had he not known?

He tried to go over the last few days since being re-assigned to Alpha. Reports he'd read and conversations he'd had. All mentioned the CMO...but had any given a name? Actually mentioned Dr Russell? Dr Helena Russell! He swore out loud. By some twist of fate he was sure her name had not been provided and hence he had not known who to expect.

Would it have changed things if he'd known?

He couldn't really answer that one. As he paced his office his agitation grew. He had no other choice but to work with her for the time being. Alpha was in a crisis and some key personnel were essential to a successful outcome. Dr Russell was one of those personnel. He would need to put his personal feelings aside and tolerate her presence until matters could be rectified.

Hell...he didn't have time for this now, but having been stirred early today the memories wouldn't go away.

One by one they kept coming.

How soft she sweet she'd passionate she'd wild she'd driven much he'd loved her.

One by one they kept coming.

Taunting him!

His marriage to Jean had not been happy, it had been a mistake from almost the beginning, with no real shared interests and little common ground and after their separation he had been happy to immerse himself in his career. Meeting Helena had made him rethink everything. Their connection was instantaneous. Electric! God that sounded so corny but it was the only way he could describe the effect she'd had on him. He knew what they had between them was unusual. The very next day after meeting Helena he had talked with Jean, told her he'd met someone else and asked for a divorce. It had not been a blow to her because their relationship had been over for ages and a divorce was really only a formality. With a failed marriage behind him he knew how lucky he was to be given a second chance at love. And what he felt for Helena was real, proper love. Fairytale love. He wanted to sweep her off her feet, carry her away and never let her go.

But then real life got in the way. He was about to leave on a mission and she was engaged to another guy who happened to be a fellow astronaut. He hadn't wanted to rush her into making a decision about them. What they had was special and he knew she recognised it too. Everything would sort itself out in time. He trusted their love.

As each, long buried memory surfaced, John's mood grew darker and darker. He really didn't want to remember. He'd shut her away a long time ago and had sworn never again to allow someone into his heart and now his mind was full of her again.

Damn it and damn her! Why was this happening?

He remembered their last night, remembered he hadn't planned to make love with her but he'd been unable to resist the pleading in her eyes. Her hands on his body had made him crazy with desire and it had all seemed so it was meant to be. He remembered kissing her goodbye at the car and walking away from her and being so sure that they had a future together.

What a bloody fool!

For days he'd hardly been able to sleep without images of her driving him mad...he could feel her, smell her, taste her, even in his dreams. Thoughts of her had distracted the hell out of him and for the first time ever he'd had trouble concentrating on the mission. He'd been flying with Alan Carter who'd noticed that his mind wasn't quite on the job. John had taken quite a bit of ribbing for letting a 'Sheila' get under his skin! He'd laughed at the banter before telling Alan that this was one hell of a special 'Sheila'!

Alan had teased him about his secret woman and John hadn't minded one bit. It felt so good to know she was waiting for him. He knew that their love making on their last night together had changed everything. He'd been desperate to get back to her so that they could tell the world that they were together and make plans for their future. He hated being incommunicado but that was one of the penalties of his line of work. Helena would be aware of that because of Lee. The thought of Lee made John a little uncomfortable. They'd flown together on a few missions and although not good friends like he and Alan, they were colleagues. It was going to be difficult for John to be the cause of Lee's broken engagement but there was no other way to sort the mess out. Helena loved him, John Koenig, of that he was sure.

On the day he returned, a last minute change of plan meant he'd only had a few hours on base before being sent off on a new mission. He'd tried to get hold of Helena to tell her but she'd been tied up in surgery so he hadn't been able to see her before he left. Instead he wrote her a message, explaining the change of plan, that he was going to be away for a few weeks, probably unable to contact her, that he missed her so much, that he was having difficulty concentrating on anything else but her, that he loved her and couldn't wait for them to be together. He had no time for anything else, for flowers or chocolates, just a hastily scribbled message containing all of his hopes for their future. He'd left the envelope containing the letter at the front desk of the hospital. She would be sad that they'd missed each other but at least she would know how much he loved her.

When he returned to find that Helena and Lee had gone away and married, John had not known how to react. Helena had married Lee...What had he missed? How could she have done this to him?

He had tried to call her and eventually the telephone had been answered, but it had been Lee who John had spoken with. Apparently Helena was unavailable.


John could vividly remember that he'd almost laughed out loud at that!

Darn right she's unavailable...she bloody well married you didn't she! At that point he could have cheerfully strangled her, so mad was he with her!

Apparently, Lee had said, her little affair with John had made Helena realise who she truly wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Again the urge to laugh...sure as hell not me then, was what John deduced.

He had been left reeling. Expecting to come back to Helena he was shocked to find it had all been make-believe.

Alan never knew who was responsible for John's broken heart, but he was bloody furious with her that night, as he helped his friend drink himself into a stupor. It seemed to help dull the pain for a while so for days John drank and drank. In a haze of alcohol and misery he began to wish he'd never met her. He eventually picked up the pieces of his life and buried himself in work. His marriage had been a disaster and his love affair with Helena a farce. He was obviously a very poor judge of women. Safer to keep part of him back, always protected. He'd never open himself up to so much pain again. From now on he would be immune. Alan who had been there for John was glad to see him slowly get back to normal and was always reminding John that there were ' plenty more fish in the sea'.

Time passed and over the years John found himself involved in a few relationships.

Women found him attractive and he had no problem accepting their ministrations, but he never let it get too intense and he was always in control. Alan joked that his friends reserve with women only made them want him more, and this was ironic but true. His rise through the ranks also added to his appeal. Most woman, he realised were turned on by power and found him even more attractive because he was 'The Commander'. John was always being subjected to provocative stares and propositions and while Alan thought this was absolutely hysterical, John saw it only as annoying.

Years had passed since she'd smashed his heart to pieces and walked away from him and he'd never allowed himself to get too involved with anyone since.

Until today he'd done quite a good job of burying her memory away. Seldom, allowing thoughts of her to permeate into his consciousness, and then she was suddenly there, standing right before him at the conference. Stunned didn't begin to describe how he felt. Shocked senseless was more like it. He'd just managed to get control of himself, realising that they had an interested audience watching their every move. He knew his behaviour had seemed unusual to those who had worked with him before but he didn't allow himself to worry about that now.

What the hell was he going to do?

How he would manage though, he wasn't sure. He'd been shocked today at the intensity of his anger towards her. She'd made him burn with rage. A part of him had wanted to hurt her, retaliate for the wounds she'd inflicted on him. But it had been years ago! In fact, the more he thought about it the more he concluded, he'd probably over reacted somewhat. He could not let her get under his skin. He couldn't allow his personal feelings to impact on his command of Alpha, so he was going to have to find a way to work with her until the situation could be resolved.

Moving to his desk and opening a channel through to Paul in Main Mission he asked for a message to be sent to Medical Centre informing Dr Russell that he wanted to meet with her in her office immediately. Then massaging his temples to try to alleviate the pounding headache he could feel developing, he moved to a viewport and staring out at Earth so far away, wished with all his heart that that was where Helena Russell was.

Far away on earth.

A safe distance away from him.

Victor was absorbed in working through the analysis of the rescheduled Meta Probe launch implications but still, absorbed as he was, his mind kept straying to John and his unusual behaviour.

So much for his hoping, that John would get along with Helena.

If today's reaction was anything to go by it would seem that Helena's problems had just got worse. Gorski had been spurned and had not reacted well to Helena's rebuffs. John on the other hand, had seemed to loathe her on sight. Victor was confused. He had been working with Helena for, oh, probably nine months now and had gotten along with her wonderfully. He greatly admired her skills both as a doctor and a leader. He'd heard only good things about her professionally. Although a hard task master she was well respected. Her staff responded well to her directions and the new plans that she'd implemented since arriving on Alpha had restructured and reorganised Medical Centre.

Personally however, she was somewhat of an enigma, mostly keeping herself to herself. She allowed very few people to cross the boundary between colleague and friend. She kept up her professional persona with most and was still, after many months, known to nearly everyone on Alpha, only by her title, Dr Russell.

She was reserved with everyone, but once you got through that reserve, if you were allowed to get through that is, she was a genuinely lovely person. He was one of the few on the base who knew her as Helena. He found her a warm and gentle person and he attributed her withdrawn nature to the loss of her husband. She didn't talk about her life on Earth but he'd spent a little time with her off duty and sensed a deep sadness within her. Victor mused that her husband's tragic end, had obviously had an effect on her, closed her off, made her hard to reach. Yet despite that, he had expected her and John to get along famously. They both shared the same work ethic, they were both passionate about what they did. They had so much in common.

He shook his head, muttering again to very, very odd.

As John made his way along the maze of Alphan corridors towards Medical he mentally rehearsed his words in an effort to prepare himself for the meeting. He would explain that they would need to be professional, put their past behind them. Treat each other with respect. For the time being they were here, on Alpha, together and they would need to make the best of it.

He was waylaid by several people as he travelled along the familiar passageways, glad to have him back, eager to talk. Finally he reached the medical section and as the sliding doors closed with a swoosh behind him he paused momentarily and prepared himself for what lay ahead. A few nurses moved around the reception area, busy in their work. The air smelt mildly of antiseptic. Muted voices and the hum of machinery reached him from unseen diagnostic units and offices. Everything seemed calm and controlled.

John made his way along the main corridor acknowledging several open stares and as he arrived outside the main office suite he was intercepted by a doctor in a white sleeved tunic. Dr Mathias had worked with the Commander previously and they shared a brief discussion about life on Alpha and the status of the remaining probe astronauts. Then John asked to be shown to the CMO's office.

Helena activated the door with her commlock and he entered the room.

She was seated at her desk and even though she had been expecting him this time, had tried to prepare herself for the meeting, she was overcome by the wave of emotion that washed over her as their eyes met and fused.

Blue eyes, clouded with emotion locked and held green eyes, misted with pain. For the merest slip of time both individual souls were united in intimate, shared memories.

She caught her breath and was thankful she was seated. Her earlier fury had dissipated somewhat and despite logical thought her body ached for his touch. The memories that had been forcing their way into her consciousness since meeting him again filled her mind and jostled for supremacy. The desk provided a barrier of sorts and after the rollercoaster of emotion she'd been riding for the last few hours she was glad of its relative protection.

He had not expected the sight of her to have such an effect on him this time around. Earlier he'd been shocked...but now he was prepared. What was it about this woman that got under his skin? Mentally he shook himself...get a grip Koenig he chastised...remember how she treated you!

John dragged his eyes away from hers and in an effort to give them both a little more time to adjust to the situation, moved around the room taking in his surroundings, willing himself to keep control. He tried to play the role of interested superior officer, making small talk, asking questions about a microscope on display, acting out the part of new Commander, all the while aware of her presence close by, becoming more aware as each second passed, of the effect she was having on him.

She watched him warily hardly able to conceive that he was in her office, chit chatting with her after so many years. It seemed so unreal and yet she knew it was happening.

Although he had planned to be rational, to treat her professionally, anger once again exploded within him as his traitorous body responded to her proximity. God dammit how could he still want her after everything that had happened? How could he be so pathetic? What the hell sort of hold did she have on him!

Losing his battle with himself, he turned abruptly and planted his hands on the desk opposite her, bending forward and locking his eyes with hers. Contempt written all over his face!

'What are you doing up here Dr Russell?' he spat out, with quiet but deadly anger. 'Fed up with playing happy families back on earth...Did you use your husband's name to pull strings and get yourself up here?'

'Lee died five years ago...' Helena chocked on a whisper. 'I was assigned to Alpha on my own merit!'

Part of John was disgusted with his behaviour but another stronger part needed to inflict pain. Of course he'd been aware of Lee Russell's tragic death on the doomed Ultra Probe mission but he could see that his words were hurting her and it felt good...

'MERIT...Dr Russell...don't talk to me about merit,' he spoke quietly but with barely contained fury. 'Alpha is in the middle of a desperate situation and YOU as CMO are partially responsible. If your conduct of earlier today is anything to go by...'

Smarting with his accusations Helena tried to interrupt, to explain the reason behind her lateness but was prevented from doing so by a look, so full of anger that her words died on her lips.

'Is it any wonder that no solution has been found?' John continued, his voice rising with barely contained fury. 'As Commander I need to have complete faith in my CMO and, to me it's evident that you're not up to the job. You clearly have been promoted to a position far exceeding your abilities. Tell me...did you sleep your way up here? Gorski? Was he another one of your conquests? Did you make a fool out of him too? Did you have a lover's quarrel? Is that why he's busy telling everyone who'll listen to him that you're incompetent?'

John was in full flow now, years of pent up anger being released. He was beyond caring how much he hurt just felt so good to finally get the chance to yell at her.

Drowning beneath his onslaught, allowing his words and accusations to wash over her, Helena tried to make sense of what was happening. Sickened by his cruelty, a part of her was nonetheless confused by his anger. Why did he hate her so much? Surely it was she who was the injured party here? Why was he so mad at her? What had she missed? And anyway it had all been so long ago...what was happening here?

Calling on her years of medical training to portray a calm disposition Helena tried to speak again. If nothing else she needed him to understand the dire consequences of her recent findings. She could feel tears threatening to fall and she willed them away, not wanting to appear weak. She would not let him get to her...a mantra she kept repeating over and over in her head in an effort to keep it together.

He leaned in closer across her desk so that their faces were only inches apart, once again capturing her eyes with his.

'I want all of your paperwork and reports on my desk by 0800 hours tomorrow morning. And, if it's at all possible Dr Russell' he spat with mocking contempt, 'try not to be late this time!'

Watching her closely he lowered his voice trying to regain control of his anger. 'For the time being you and I will be working very closely together, but mark my words, your days on Alpha are numbered. I cannot work with someone I can't trust!'

With that, he turned abruptly, activated the doors and strode purposefully out of her office, leaving behind a shaken and confused CMO and some very interested group of medical personnel.

As the drama played out between the bases Commander and CMO most of the Alphan personnel continued with their duties oblivious to the tension that surrounded two of their most senior officers.

Final preparations were underway in the maintenance bays for the Meta Launch with staff busy checking and re-checking pre flight data. The whole area was a hive of activity, people working against the clock to get the job done in the vain hope that the illness could be combated.

On the Commanders orders, Main Mission personnel were engrossed in checking all recent data, trying to find some clue, however small, that might help to explain what was going on.

Victor was absorbed in working on Helena's theory regarding radiation sickness, believing that he was missing some important factor that would shed light on the situation.

As the doors to her office closed behind the Commander, Helena allowed herself a brief moment of solitude, allowing the familiar calmness of her office to soothe her shattered emotions before collecting together the required information for tomorrow's summons. She was called to the isolation area as another astronauts condition deteriorated and again she felt the all familiar sense of frustration as all life signs ceased and another man's life was lost. All signs of death pointed to radiation sickness except for one, the obvious lack of radiation. Helena was not used to being thwarted and especially not by medicine. She had to be missing something? And so her next hours were spent again going over everything that had happened from the first illness weeks earlier to this last death, just awhile ago. Looking for, the proverbial, needle in a haystack.

After leaving the Medical Centre John made his way back to his office banishing all thoughts of his meeting with Dr Russell from his mind. He could not afford to be distracted. There was too much at stake. He had a frustrating conversation with Commissioner Simmonds back on Earth via video communication link-up. He talked briefly with Victor in his lab, asking for an update but receiving no new news. He was informed of another death from a nurse in Medical. He dropped by Alan Carter in the pilots section of the base, the man responsible for the Meta crew's training, trying to uncover any small snippet of information that could be of value. Being so busy was a blessing because he had no time to dwell on personal matters. No time to probe feelings he was not yet ready to deal with.

Conversations on Alpha that night were full of the day's events.

Another death! Who would be next? Who was at risk?

A delay in the launch of the Meta Probe! What would this mean for those who were working on the project?

The arrival of John Koenig had everyone talking. Old colleagues were glad to have him back in charge on the base. He was strong and familiar and exuded confidence. They had every faith in his ability to sort out the problems that Alpha was facing and were more than happy to sing his praises. People who had come up to Alpha since John Koenig had left hoped the new Commander would be an improvement on Gorski.

There was some talk about his treatment of Dr Russell earlier in the day. Personnel who had actually been at the conference that morning and those in Main Mission who had witnessed the CMO as she, for want of a better word 'fled' his office, were a little intrigued.

What was going on with those two anyway?

The electricity sparking off between them had almost been tangible. They seemed to have taken an instant and intense dislike to each other. Apparently if rumours were to be believed they'd had another coming together in Medical too. Voices had been raised, an argument overheard. It was said that the Commander had left Dr Russell's office in a very bad mood indeed.

This talk, however cheered most of the female population on Alpha, with whom the arrival of John Koenig had caused the greatest stir. Those who had come into contact with him had spent a very pleasant day allowing their thoughts to drift and to dwell on their new Commander. Those who had met him, told friends of his dark brooding looks, his lean hard body, a few whispered about his blue eyes, his smile. The stewardess who had travelled up on the Eagle with him the previous night professed herself 'in love' with him. His aura of barely contained power and restless energy had left its impression on most females he'd come into contact with that day. To have Dr Russell so publically 'out of the running', enhanced their chances of making an impression on him, a pleasant thought for many.

Overhearing a quite blatantly explicit conversation regarding John, whispered between a group of Alphan Technologists, as he sat in a cafeteria eating dinner that evening, Alan Carter again wondered at his friends 'effect' on women. seemed John only had to walk into a room and they were falling at his feet. Alan shook his head with wonder. He'd been on the base barely twenty four hours and already he had a fan club. He made a mental note to have a word with John tomorrow...tell him how irresistible he was to the opposite sex. He couldn't wait to see John's face when he realised he was the centre of so many women's fantasy's.

Even if John had been aware of the impression he had made on so many on his first day back in command he wouldn't have given it a second thought that night as he allowed the darkness of his quarters to envelop him. He'd skipped dinner, he had no appetite.

Earlier, having travelled to Area One with Victor, something had taken place causing their pilot to succumb to the illness. It had happened before his minute everything had been normal...the next, all hell had broken loose, the crazed man trying to smash his way out of a gallery window. It had been a sobering sight to witness. One which brought home to him just what Gorski and Helena had been fighting.


When had she ceased to be Dr Russell?

In the relative solitude of his private quarters he allowed himself to think about Helena, to analyse his reaction, now that the shock of seeing her had worn off a little. She had hardly changed. Okay she was a little older but still as beautiful as he remembered, still able to effect him so strongly. He stared out at the stars beyond the viewport, broodingly, remembering how close he'd been to her today. Close enough to touch. Close enough to kiss. He caught that thought, frustrated with himself, annoyed with her for having such an effect on him.

He thought about the way he'd treated her. If he was honest with himself he hadn't been fair to her today. His own anger and hurt was not an acceptable excuse. If he allowed himself to remember the wounded pain in her eyes as she'd looked at him, he would be lost. He was the Commander and her superior officer and he should have had more control. He'd allowed personal feelings to outweigh his professionalism. His treatment of her in front of the whole Command Team had been shocking and totally uncalled for. He had been unprofessional and he really did owe her an apology. He needed his whole team working together to get to the bottom of the problem on Alpha and today he had undermined his CMO publically, both in Main Mission and in Medical. If he continued to act as he had today it would be obvious that there was something going on with them. Tomorrow he would need to repair the damage he'd done.

He needed to get a few hours sleep while he could. He had an early start tomorrow.

The past was the past. It was their secret and no-one knew about them.

Them! Irritated with himself he swore out loud. There was no them!

As he relaxed into sleep the memories once again returned and he lost himself in her for the first time in many years. For a few hours, at least, back in a place where life made sense. Where, he and Helena were together.

Having had no sleep during the previous night, Helena was relieved to fall into bed that night and shut herself away from the demands of Alpha, for a few hours.

She was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. There had been little time over the past hours to dwell on how life on the base, had now changed for her. Obviously she and John were not going to be able to work together long term, but for the next few days at least they would need to come to some sort of agreement. Helena was a strong person and although she'd been shocked into submission today by John Koenig, she would not let it happen again.

Who the hell did he think he was, treating her so badly. If he had problems with her on a personal level, that was one thing. To call into question her professional competence was a totally different matter altogether. How dare he insinuate that she had slept her way to the top. Helena could feel her blood begin to boil again as she remembered his words and she tried to steady her breathing in an attempt to keep control of her temper.

Why was he so mad at her anyway?

Despite her tiredness sleep would not come. Her mind was filled with John Koenig, his angry words playing over and over in her head.

Was Gorski another one of your conquests? These words made no sense to her at all.

He had been the one to use her and then to leave her.

He'd been the one to make her look a stupid, naive, trusting fool.

I cannot work with someone I can't trust. His words echoed around her quarters as she whispered them out loud.

He...had betrayed her trust.

So why did he think he couldn't trust her?

It made no sense. She shook her head with frustration. None of it made any sense.

Calling on her learnt ability to catch up on sleep whenever she had the opportunity, a handy skill for a doctor, Helena willed her mind to be empty of all thoughts of John Koenig. She knew she needed to rest but would be unable to while his image swirled around in her mind, tantalising and tempting her.

Oh Helena you're such a fool...she told herself...have some dignity for God's sake...he used you and then left you without a backward glance...he hurt you...broke your heart...shattered your dreams.

She would need every ounce of strength she possessed to face him tomorrow.

She had to get some sleep!

Concentrating on her breathe she cleared her mind of him, stilled her thoughts and slowly drifted off into a light restless slumber, and as she slept he returned to her in her dreams. Pervading her consciousness and making her moan out loud in her sleep, with a longing that refused to be ignored anymore.

Main Mission was a hive of controlled activity as Helena arrived for her scheduled meeting early next morning. The Commander was in conversation with Paul and catching her eye, he gestured her to go ahead to his office while he finished his discussion. She climbed the shallow steps leading to the Command Office and dropped her reports and files onto the large conference table, taking a seat and allowing her gaze to settle on John as he spoke with Paul.

She had woken, after a few hours of restless sleep, with her head full of him. Vivid dreams had left strong images in her mind. Images of his hands on her body! His lips touching her in intimate caresses. Erotic and crazy images that had made her breathless with a long suppressed need!

She didn't want to be dreaming of John Koenig...didn't want to remember.

And now, here she was in his office waiting for him and the images wouldn't go away.

Something told her to keep herself detached. She must keep a distance between them. She could sense, deep within her, a yearning for him and she couldn't afford to give into that yearning. He'd hurt her badly and it had taken a long time for her to recover, but that was in the past and she'd managed to put it behind her. Life had moved on and for the time being anyway, he was now her Commander and she needed to remember that. Even after twenty four hours she was still having difficulty coming to terms with the fact that he was actually on Alpha.

Her Commanding Office!

They would need to work together closely for the next few days until someone could be arranged to take over from her, so she would keep her professional persona in place and do what needed to be done.

Not wanting to be caught staring, she turned away and began opening files, arranging paperwork, preparing for the meeting ahead. The sound of the doors sliding shut signalled the beginning of the meeting and she took a steadying breath and allowed Dr Russell to take over.

Firstly he apologised, he had been wrong to be so angry yesterday. He had no justification for his behaviour other than the fact that he had been shocked by her presence on Alpha. No excuse he knew. Would she please forgive his professional slights and put it behind them?

Acknowledging his words she agreed to start again, work together as the professionals that they both were.

The meeting began.

John was brusque and businesslike as they discussed Helena's findings, questioning the reasoning behind her diagnosis of radiation sickness. It wasn't that he was insinuating incompetence on her part, he was quick to point out, it was just that there was no evidence to support her conclusion. Nothing to suggest radiation of any sort! A plan of action was agreed, a further meeting scheduled for later, after the autopsy on the latest fatality had been completed and maybe some more information had come to light.

They assumed their professional roles with forced ease and managed to concentrate on the issues at hand without straying onto personal matters.

John was just starting to relax, to give himself an imaginary 'pat on the back' for handling the situation so well, when it happened.

Helena was relieved. The meeting had gone well. John had listened to her report and not dismissed it out of hand as Gorski had done. Maybe it would be ok. She just needed to keep up her guard, be Dr Russell, cool and always in control, and maybe they would be able to work together.

Then they touched.

It was nothing really, quite insignificant.

She moved to start collecting papers together, he moved to help and they brushed against each other.

That was all it was. But it was enough!

Electricity jolted through Helena. Gasping she twisted away but somehow managed to fall closer against him.

Shocked, first by the searing sensation of her touch, and then by the intensity of her reaction, he was unprepared for the total body contact that came, as he cushioned her fall with his arms, wrapped them around her instinctively, held her close.

It all happened in a split second, but it was the sort of split second that seemed to last forever. Memories flooded through them both, evoking thoughts of pleasure and of pain.

Frantic to escape his embrace Helena pushed herself away from him gasping for air, flushed and furious with herself for overacting to his touch. To be in his arms even for a moment had been ecstasy. His body had felt so good! could she feel this way? Disgust, at her own weakness, etched itself across her features, anger flashing in her eyes as she realised how stupid she must seem to him.

John, misunderstanding the reason for her reaction, turned away, put some space between them. He'd seen the disgust in her eyes as she'd frantically pushed away from him. He didn't need it spelt out for him. She detested him. Fresh pain caused by the emotions he'd seen written on her face, sliced through him. His initial hurt turned quickly to anger.

Suddenly it was as if it all became real...somehow.

Yesterday he'd been shocked to meet her again after so many years.

Today! Here! Now! It that one moment it all became real.

She was real.

And nothing had changed.

She was still the same person who had thrown his love away, heartlessly, without a backward glance. Used him as some sort of final fling, before settling down, with another guy! had been a long time ago, but his sense of pain and loss, was still raw and too intense for him to contain.

Years of hurt flowed out as he snarled at her 'Oh for God's sake Dr Russell, what do you think you're up to...trying to manipulate me like before? Is that it?'

He turned to face her, his eyes blazing. 'Well I'm not gonna fall for your tricks this time around...I learnt my lesson the first time! You like playing games...don't you?' he sneered

His eyes pinned her to the spot and the fury in them seared into her. 'Oh...was that the problem with Gorski? Did he not want to play either? Is that why you two didn't get along? You're good I'll credit you that...very believable! You've even got Victor believing your stories...well, I know what you're capable more games...Dr Russell' his voice rose menacingly...'No more games...understood!'

Helena had frozen as he began his rant, not sure how they had got to this point, not knowing how to stop the angry words directed at her. She watched him as he paced, saw the look of dislike on his face as he turned to face her and was genuinely confused by the outburst. She had to be missing something here...again he was acting the injured party! Him the injured party! It was almost funny but she was way too upset to hold on to the humour in the situation. She had been trying so hard to get through the meeting, hold it all together. Years of pain, weeks of frustration, days of anguish finally took their toll.

With a bravado she was far from feeling she glared at him. 'WHO...THE...HELL...DO... YOU...THINK...YOU... ARE... COMMANDER'?' She almost chocked on the last word. Green eyes glistening dangerously with tears she refused to shed, she carried on, her voice rising with every word.

'Let me tell you something...' she bite out. 'I take my job and my responsibilities here on Alpha very seriously...I really don't have a clue what you're yelling at me for! I have never used my husband's name to pull any strings...never! I've worked hard to get where I am...bloody hard! Harder than any man! Commander Gorski was very difficult to work with, HE WANTED ME...DO YOU UNDERSTAND...HE WANTED ME!' she gasped for breathe. 'He wanted more from me than a professional relationship and...when I wouldn't play along...when I wouldn't give him what he wanted he got angry! He couldn't handle being rejected! Victor has been a real friend over the last few months. How dare youoH suggest I've manipulated him in some way?'

She could feel her voice beginning to crack and tried desperately to finish what needed to be said without breaking down completely in front of him.

Her throat ached with the pain of unshed tears as she caught his eyes and fired her next words at him with as much control as she could muster. 'On a professional level Commander I find your accusations insulting! On a personal level I find your recollection of our past delusional! I have no wish to be in your company a moment longer!'

Leaving her paperwork and reports scattered across the table she flew across his office hitting the door control and waiting for what seemed like an age, but was really a matter of moments, for the large doors to slide open.

With tears blurring her vision she almost knocked Alan Carter down the steps as he approached the opening doors. His arms caught and steadied her, he felt her trembling. One look at her ashen face told him that something was very wrong. He let her go without comment, allowing her to make her way across Main Mission with as much dignity as was possible when the entire room was trying not to watch, but were nonetheless glued avidly to the proceedings.

Raised voices had been audible from the Commanders office for a few minutes. As the doors had opened everyone had tried to look busy, to go about their duties as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening. There had been rumours yesterday, talk of a clash of personalities. But today the rumours had turned to fact. The new Commander and Dr Russell really did not get along.

Shocked at how upset Dr Russell had been, Alan watched her until she was out of sight and then turned to go ask some questions of John Koenig. Alan knew John well, they went back a long way. He respected John as Commander and they were friends outside of the work environment. There was something unusual going on here. Something very unusual indeed!

He was however, unable to get to the bottom of it. John was not in the mood for joking that much was obvious. His face was dark and his temper barely contained. He was probably as mad as Alan had ever seen him before. Deciding to leave questions until later, Alan brought John up to date with some technical reports and left, arranging to meet later with John, for some lunch.

Slamming his fist forcefully against a wall panel as Alan left, John tried to get a hold of himself. He was furious with her and furious with himself. He knew that Alan had been curious and was glad that he'd not asked any awkward questions. God what a mess! He must not allow himself to be distracted by her! He had to put her out of his mind and concentrate on Alpha. Surely he could do that? She meant nothing to him anymore...

Once more in the relative safety of the Medical Section and the quiet of her office, it took Helena awhile to regain her composure. Sipping strong coffee she tried to analyse what the hell had just happened. She was normally able to keep herself tightly under control ,yet he'd been able to breach her defences and make her mad so easily.

She was a jumble of conflicting emotions. Anger, confusion, sadness and frustration. A shudder passed through her as she remembered his arms closing around her...why did her body still respond to him...why did she ache for him...why?

And what about him? Why was he so mad at her? It didn't make sense.

From a bad start, the day deteriorated even further for both Dr Russell and the Commander. After a hectic morning all hell broke loose around lunchtime. Frank Warren died at 1.28 Lunar Time followed shortly afterward by Eric Sparkman. There was nothing Helena could do to save them. At around the same time the heat levels in Waste Disposal Area One began to rise steeply. Several surveillance cameras on the surface blew out and a spike in the data recordings over Navigation Beacon Delta One was found. A connection was made between the flight paths that the shuttle pilots followed, and training grids that the Meta Pilots flew. Could this be the breakthrough that everyone had been working towards? Surely it was more than mere coincidence?

As the Alphans went about their duties, Commander Koenig took an Eagle to go look at the area in question. As John surveyed the surface from his eagle, Victor analysed the data that was being streamed to him in Main Mission where most operatives were transfixed at the unfolding events. Although highly trained for their roles on Alpha, no-one had ever witnessed such scenes before. Every now and again the large screen showed arcs of magnetic energy pulsing from the surface and exploding into showers of sparks. It was awe inspiring sight, yet deadly in its implication.

Helena quickly made her way to Main Mission after hearing that the Commander was flying the reconnaissance mission himself, not allowing herself to think too deeply about the knot of fear churning in the pit of her stomach, as she thought of him out there, in danger.

Tension mounted as the minutes passed and heat levels continued to rise. To Victor's amazement he found evidence of a magnetic field being created and expanding rapidly over the area that John was monitoring. Even as he sounded the warning and ordered Paul to get the Commander back, emergency signals began to emanate from the Eagle and contact with John was lost. Suddenly the whole of the area began to shimmer as the intense build up of heat and magnetic energy combined together to cause an intense fire ball. The tremor was felt by all on Alpha.

Rescue procedures were initiated immediately and Helena made her way to Medical to prepare for casualties. She tried to ignore her anxiety as she directed her team and waited for news but she couldn't stop the nagging worry. The relief she felt when Medical received word that the crashed Eagle had been located and the Commander was safe and on his way back to Alpha was overwhelming.

When he arrived at Medical for his examination, Helena made every effort to be professional, but performing her role as Doctor, with John as her patient was very distracting to say the least. To her dismay she found herself reacting to his nearness in a very unprofessional manner. Tingles of awareness raced through her as she began to check him over. Trying to distract herself from the memory of his lean body pressed to hers, she instructed Bob to take over from her and she busied herself inputting data into the diagnostic unit and reading off results until the exam was over. Luckily no-one could read her mind as she fought to banish erotic images of the Commander from her head. It seemed that despite many warning messages from her brain, her body still craved him!

Cross with herself she concentrated on the readings Bob was giving her, looking for any trace that John could have been affected by whatever had killed the others. After a thorough check-up with no sign of 'the sickness' Helena dismissed Bob. John was suffering from shock, minor physical shock but nothing worse, at the moment anyway.

Having been obliged to submit to the medical exam because of his crash, John was not in the best of moods to say the least. Not normally known for being the most patient of patients, being so close to Helena in her professional capacity had proved difficult. Luckily she'd handed him over to Dr Mathias to complete the actual physical examination, but just being in the same room with her had been a challenge. When she told him that, in her medical opinion, he was just suffering from shock, relief that it was over, caused him to be a little flippant as he rose from the examination couch.

'I told you there was nothing wrong with me...I walked away from damage' he smirked as he rose from the examination couch.

His smirk was the thing that did it...his smirk along with his stupid, childish comment!

It was a challenge to her authority that she couldn't let pass.

'Commander that is not the kind of damage I was looking for' she snapped.

Her voice became icy. 'You knew that that area was suspect. You knew that it had already affected the two Probe astronauts and the Eagle shuttle pilot, in some way and yet you went right out there yourself ', she paused to take a breath, to make sure that she had his full attention.

'We're looking for answers Commander...not heroes!'

The way she said the word 'commander' was the last straw.

He was irritated by her words but at the same time he found himself aroused by her temper. Her cold disdain sent his temperature soaring. Without a thought for the implication of his action he strode across the room, unable to resist the temptation any longer, and pulled her to him. Their eyes locked as he yanked her to him, then his lips descended.

The kiss was rough and hard and borne out of frustration with the way she was making him feel. The catalyst had been anger, yet as he held her to him, felt her stiffness melt away, the kiss deepened and turned into one of the most passionate moments he'd ever experienced.

It had happened so quickly and had been so unexpected that Helena hadn't had time to prepare herself for his touch. One minute she was using her best Doctors voice with him and the next moment she was being pulled roughly into his arms and held close. As his lips crushed hers and her token resistance dissolved away, passion flamed through her. Her arms wound around him, holding him even closer, responding instinctively to her yearning need as the harshness of the kiss turned to somehow into passion.

As he felt her soften against him, as his body hardened against her, he realised that he had lost the initiative. What had begun as a form of punishment, a way to vent his frustration at her, had backfired somehow and had now become an exquisite torture for him.

He had to stop he still could!

Thrusting her from him, he span away towards the door, his clenched fist trying to wipe away her taste from his lips, his breathing ragged. Then, pausing, he turned and stared at her fully for a moment, taking in her flushed cheeks, the bruised mouth, dishevelled hair.

God she was beautiful.

Before leaving he couldn't resist another flippant remark. She made him mad as hell!

'I didn't know you cared Doctor!' were his parting words as he turned abruptly and left Medical.

Within the hour, Emergency Code Alpha 1 was implemented when Victor's theory about Magnetic Radiation was verified. His calculations showed that what had happened in Area One could easily be replicated in Area Two, but with much more devastating consequences because of its larger size.

In the Commander's words...they were sitting on the biggest bomb Man had ever made.

All thoughts, other than finding a way to avert a disaster, left the Commander's head.

It became a race against time to try and prevent catastrophe. Under his direction the whole of the Eagle fleet worked, under intense pressure to try and move as many of the nuclear waste pods as possible from Area Two, in an attempt to disperse the nuclear mass and lessen the scale of the imminent problem.

Commissioner Simmonds had arrived unexpectedly from Earth, not at all happy with what was going on and demanding attention.

John found himself trying to placate an angry politician who had no real understanding of what might be about to happen, while at the same time trying to lead a group of skilled operatives whose grasp of the situation was spot on. Alpha was fighting for its life!

The tension on the base mounted as the temperature levels in Area Two continued to rise.

Everyone caught up in the operation to move the nuclear pods knew how vitally important every passing minute was. Analysts, communication operatives, computer technologists, technicians in the Eagle Bays and the pilots themselves understood that it was a race against time and time was fast running out.

Under the Commanders instruction, Alan left the base to fly a reconnaissance mission evaluating the progress real time.

Emergency procedures were implemented and once Helena was satisfied that her area was ready to cope, if needed, she made her way to Main Mission.

When Area Two exploded there was no time to respond at all. The difference a moment makes! One second all was normal...the had changed forever, for everyone on Alpha.

All eagles and their crews in the immediate vicinity were devoured by the fireball. The blast, visible to all in Main Mission, was a frozen moment of the most intense brightness that lit up the screen...and then ...all hell broke loose. There was awareness and disbelief but little else. No action was possible as the incredible G forces that took hold of the Moon held the Alphans in their grip. Bodies were literally pinned where they fell, battered and bleeding. Those few who remained conscious during the immediate aftermath of the explosion fought to make sense of what was happening.

Unable to move, John struggled to fight off the waves of dizziness that threatened to overcome him. He must stay awake. Something told him it was vitally important. Helena ...where was she?...he'd known she was there...the minute she'd arrived in Main Mission...he'd been aware of her presence as she stood quietly with Victor...where was she now?...what the hell was happening...stay awake John...god dammit...fight it...fight it! The pain was intense, it seemed to be tearing him apart...the pressure almost too much...but he had to stay awake. His years of pilot training had given him a stamina that allowed him to fight the waves of blackness that tempted his brain to submit. Instinct told him to fight.

Helena had been flung across a workstation by the initial blast and then backwards onto the floor as the Moon began to accelerate. She was aware of pain and a tremendous force making it difficult to breathe. Her vision clouded and blackness began to pervade her senses. Shocked, and with her body pinned to the floor by the intense pressure, she struggled to make sense of what was happening. She heard Victor, who must have been quite close, force out the words...G Force, but she couldn't move her head to see him. Screams and cries filled the air and she fought down a wave of panic...Where was John? He'd been quite close to her as the shockwave hit...she could remember the tiny pin pricks of awareness she'd felt as he'd moved past her just before the blast. In her peripheral vision she caught a flash of a black sleeve and struggled against the incredible force that held her in place to see more of him...was he ok? He had to be ok. Please God let him be ok! This emotive plea came from a somewhere deep inside her and her rational mind didn't question it.

The roar of the blast faded and, as John fought against the invisible force that held him in place, a new sound slowly became audible above the roaring in his head. A far away noise that, initially he didn't recognise. Then, as his brain struggled to overcome its lethargy, he understood. It was Alan...somewhere out there...Alan was calling Alpha...trying to make contact. Fighting the heavy weight that seemed to be sitting upon him he struggled to move his body. Alan kept calling, time and time again, the same message, almost pleading for a response.

'Alpha...can you hear me? you copy?'

It took every ounce of energy John could muster to force his leaden body to move. Knowing that time was of the essence, John fought against waves of pain as he inched towards the control panel.

Must make contact with Alan...must let him know that Alpha has survivors...must call for help

Alan's voice became harder to decipher through the static 'Alpha I'm not receiving you...but maybe you're receiving me. We're moving...the Moon is going out of the Earth's orbit...that has pushed us out of the Earth's orbit...Alpha can you hear me...come in Alpha...Alpha...what's happening down there?

John finally managed to reach the desk, hauled himself up and opened a communication channel 'Carter...can you hear me...we've got incredible G Forces...can't move.'

The force that had been holding everyone in its grip began to lessen. John sensed the change. 'Wait a minute...we seem to be decelerating...pressures easing.'

As the Moon stabilised, dazed people began to pick themselves up and assess their immediate surroundings. Status reports began to flood in from all sections; Alpha and Main Mission became the hub of frenzied activity. Emergency procedures were initiated and rapid response technicians were set to work to secure breaches in the base structure, make safe areas that had sustained damage and contain the numerous fires that had taken hold around the base.

Helena rose shakily to her feet as Main Mission came alive. She was disoriented and had to steady herself for a moment as her legs refused to hold her. Fighting down a wave of nausea, she took a shaky breathe and tried to clear her head. Her first instinct was to look for John. She'd been able to hear him as he'd managed to make contact with the Eagle pilot but she needed to see with her own eyes that he was safe. There he was, hunched over the communications desk talking with Alan. She could hear the desperation in his voice as he urged the pilot to get back to Alpha as soon as he could, before he was out of range and lost to them.

Fighting down the urge to go to him, she moved to begin assessing casualties. There was work to be done. She heard Medical's status report come in and was relieved to hear of no major damage in her department. Organising triage for the wounded Alphans in Main Mission then became her number one priority, stemming blood flow and assessing injuries, offering soothing words and a calming influence filled the minutes as she waited for medical teams to reach them.

Victor and Kano began working with computer, relating trajectory data and trying to make sense of what had just occurred. She could hear them almost excitedly describing everything that had happened. How the nuclear waste dumps had ignited because of the build up of heat caused by the magnetic radiation. How the blast from the explosion had acted like a giant rocket propelling the Moon out of Earth's orbit. Their voices seemed filled with awe and wonder at what had taken place and by the fact that Alpha had seemingly managed to survive pretty much intact.

Main Mission was filled with frenetic activity as debris was cleared, casualties were treated and moved to the Medical Centre and some sense of order was restored.

John was with Paul and Sandra, desperately trying to make contact with Earth, to get some help.

No-one dared to voice the unspoken question.

It simply hung there, unanswered, as everyone on Alpha played their part in getting the Moonbase back on its feet. A hush fell and all eyes turned to the main screen as Paul brought up a link from one of the long range scanners on Mars. It showed clearly, for all to see, that the Moon was moving away from Earth.

At that moment Paul dared to ask the question that had been on everyone's mind, 'Can we make it back to Earth...Commander?'

Across the still space, Helena caught eyes with John and for a fleeting second it was as if their connection was actually physical. Both could feel the fear, the sadness and the dread in the other. Then John turned away and the connection was broken as he gave the order for Computer to be consulted on the probability of 'Contingency Plan Exodus' - a planned evacuation of the Moonbase. Bodies stilled and silence fell over Main Mission as people waited for Computer's response. John had the entire base patched in so that no-one was excluded from the proceedings. Throughout the base Alphans waited for the directive that would set in motion their return to Earth.

It never came!

With agonising slowness Computer worked away at its calculations, lights flashing , as it's churning thoughts rushed together and melded to give the answer no-one wanted to hear. It finally listed all factors relating to a journey back to Earth and concluded...

Insufficient data available under prevailing circumstances...human decision required!

The silence that had fallen throughout the base became deafening.

As Commander, John knew that 'the human decision required 'would need to be his. He desperately wanted to give the command to begin 'Exodus' but rationally he knew it was impossible. Without the needed data there was no guarantee that they would make it back to Earth. He could feel all eyes on him...burning into him. He looked slowly around Main Mission at the Alphans gathered there, seeing their faces pale with fear, eyes alive with hope. He knew that his decision would not be popular but he held the responsibility for each and every life on Alpha in his hands, and he could not give an order that would, most likely, end in disaster. With his mind whirring like computers he turned and climbed the stairs to his office. No-one took their eyes off him.

Silence was broken only by a slight disturbance as Alan Carter arrived back and was greeted by Victor but the Commander stayed the focus of most people's attention.

As he addressed the whole of Alpha on a base wide communication channel, John realised that the next few minutes would be the hardest of his command. He was about to crush everyone's hopes of operation 'Exodus'. He had weighed up the factors that related to both survival on Alpha and successful travel back to Earth. In his mind, and having taken into account all aspects of the situation, he believed that they stood a far more realistic chance of survival on Alpha. Many of the Eagle fleet had been lost in the blast and without proper and sufficient flight data any chance of the remaining Eagles reaching Earth was highly improbable. As he conveyed these thoughts to the whole of Alpha the realisation that his 'command' status had changed forever began to sink in. He could feel the leaden weight of extra responsibility descend on him as he explained the reasons for his decision.

The atmosphere was sombre, as those listening began to comprehend for the first time the significance of his words.

He was the one expected to have the answers. He was their Commander. They were cut off from Earth, from Space Commission, from their research universities, from their family and friends. He, John Koenig, was the only authority they had to turn to and trust in. He waited, fully expecting some backlash to his words. Waited for someone to challenge his authority...but no one did.

Shaken and stunned it was easy to seek comfort in normal routine, and in those first few hours as they worked to get the Moonbase functioning properly again, there wasn't much time for panic or for thoughts of home. There were jobs to be done. All hands to deck. There were damage reports to be filed, areas to make safe. Technicians busied themselves with repairing launch pad structures and stabilising the nuclear reactors. Maintenance crews threw themselves into bringing back a sense of order to wrecked rooms and corridors. Clearing away broken glass and salvaging what best they could from the debris of the shockwave. Computer analysts, domestic auxiliary staff, hydroponic scientists and nurses all worked tirelessly to get the base back on its feet. On the surface it was as if nothing had changed. It was only later as people went off duty, returned to their quarters for much needed rest that the true circumstances of their situation began to sink in.

For a while a television broadcast from Earth had reached across space towards them, the broadcaster's voice echoing throughout Alpha, telling the world of the enormity of the damage caused by the explosion on the Moon. It was their one link to their home and raised the slight hope that all was not lost, that a way would be found, to rescue them. But the hope was short lived. Along with tales of earthquakes and tsunamis, of death and destruction there was also mention of the people trapped on Moonbase Alpha. People, lost to the world, presumed dead! There would be no rescue attempt. No hope of help. They were on their own!

Listening as the voice faded and the final connection with earth was lost John could feel his insides squirm. In his wildest dreams he'd never contemplated such responsibility. He fought to control emotions that threatened to overwhelm him. He needed to be much depended upon it, now more than ever! Status reports flooded in from all sections and in the hours that followed, he lost himself in the job of stabilising the base and trying to bring back at least some sense of normality

As casualties had mounted, Helena had been called to surgery. Hours passed as she fought to stop death from taking those most severely injured.

Patient after patient.

Crushed bodies, internal bleeding.

People struck down as Alpha paid the price for years of political misdemeanour. Sadly she wasn't able to win every battle. Working almost on autopilot she mended fractures and removed shards of glass, sutured gashes and dispensed pain medication. All the time remembering and yet trying to forget the look she'd shared with John. The look that had connected them, the shared awareness that life would never be the same again. Endless cups of coffee kept her going until there were no more new patients to treat and the lights in Medical Centre were dimmed for a few hours. It was not a huge facility, but it had served its purpose well and she was proud of her team.

The most critical would remain in Medical where the fight to keep them alive would continue. A temporary rota had been drawn up to allow all medical personnel to get at least some rest through the night hours.

Helena was relieved however that most casualties had been walking wounded. For the weeks to come...that's if we're able to survive for that inner voice quipped, there would be much work to do. A period of rehabilitation would be needed, but their broken limbs would mend, their wounds would heal. Their pain and shock would eventually subside.

Taking with her yet another coffee and a sandwich that a nurse had thoughtfully brought back from the cafeteria, Helena retreated to the solitude of her office. It was quiet and private and offered a respite from the craziness of the day. There was a couch along one wall and she sank down into its comforting softness, resting her head on a cushion, closing her eyes and allowing the tension to drain from her aching body. She'd given herself a quick check over earlier with a medical scanner and had found nothing negative except that she was suffering from slight shock. Huh huh...the same could be said for everyone on Alpha! Despite being lucky and having no actual injuries her whole body ached, ached in a way she'd never experienced before. Muscles had obviously been traumatised by the G forces inflicted on them and yet she was sure that she shared the pain with everyone else on the base that night. They would all be suffering.

Should she have given out pain medication to all Alphans? Would that have helped? Made people rest more easily...Probably not! ...It would take more than a few pills to take away the pain tonight...of that she was sure! And it would have been a great lose of supplies!

No command decisions had been sent out as yet, but she was sure that tomorrow there would be some sort of rationing plan implemented. She sighed, a sort of half sigh half sob. That would be just the beginning of their fight to survive...oh...there would be so much to many hurdles to overcome. She could feel panic begin to claw at her...she needed to keep was all too difficult to think about tonight. She was too raw!

She'd talked to Victor earlier in between patients. She'd wanted to satisfy herself that because of his age and mechanical heart, he'd suffered no side effects from the blast experience. She really needn't have worried. He'd been fine, quite mellow in fact. Chilled even! Already accepting of their fate and looking at the way forward.

Professionally, Helena thought she'd done much the same. Coped well with the situation, but she could feel her control slipping now as tiredness took over and the reaction from the day set in. She was too exhausted and drained to even attempt to understand the difficulties that lay ahead. Panic clouded her mind and again she felt herself near the edge, almost ready to give in and sob out her distress. Biting her lip as her eyes filled with tears that she was helpless to hold back she cried, not for what she'd lost, because she was probably one of the lucky ones. She'd not had any close family on Earth; no husband, no special person. The tears were more caused by fear of the unknown, by the vastness of the problems they would face, by the shock of their situation, by self pity.

For God's sake Helena, don't fall apart now...she tried to be harsh with herself. To grab the panic that threatened to overwhelm her and channel it into something constructive. There was so much to be done! But she was beyond that. There was so much to think about and in her fragile state she found she was incapable of putting any emotional distance between herself and the problem. Wiping the tears from her cheeks she ran a trembling hand through her hair, catching the sob that rose in her throat and taking a shaky breathe she fought for control. She was good at it, she knew, but it wasn't easy... always having to appear 'in control' and now it would be even more vital to maintain her image. Preserve the facade. To be the cool, capable doctor, unperturbed by the enormity of the problems they faced. She knew she needed to be that person, but she didn't know if she was strong enough to carry it off and she was scared.

Then another though popped into her head. Thank God she had John!

Now where had that come from? And why did she feel such a sense of relief when she thought of him? Surely he only complicated an already traumatic situation? Fresh tears fell as the realisation hit her that there would be no resignation. No reassignment. They were stuck on Alpha together. They were both caught up in the drama and would need to find a way to 'get along' with each other because now...there was nowhere to run. For the umpteenth time in the last few days she pleaded to know why this was happening to her, what twist of fate had put them both together on Alpha in the first place and then compounded the situation with 'Breakaway'. It was her first use of the term being used to describe the day's events.

One word.


Who had used it first she didn't know but it seemed to have stuck. Quickly become part of the Alphan vocabulary. John Koenig and Breakaway! It was just too much! Reaching for her coffee she sipped it, not really tasting it, not caring that it was cold. It was a normal thing to do and she craved normality. Knowing that she needed to eat she tried to swallow a few bites of the sandwich, but her stomach churned alarmingly. Now that he was in her head he wouldn't go away. She'd felt his vulnerability earlier, just after the blast, when their eyes had locked together. Despite what had happened between them, no... probably because of what had happened between them they seemed to have some sort of...she struggled to find the right word...connection. She could 'feel' him. It sounded mad, even as a thought in her own head, but it was the only way she could describe it to herself. Somehow she could 'feel' him, sense his emotions, tune in to his thoughts. It wasn't something she wanted...this ability. She didn't want to feel anything for him. He was from a part of her life that she'd closed away a long time ago, but at the moment anyway, she seemed to have no control over her emotions.

It was probably due to his unexpected arrival on the base...that was probably it, she reasoned with herself.

She hadn't had much time, if any, to get used to his being there. Once normality set in hopefully she would be able to view him as her commanding officer without allowing their past history to get in the way. She took a deep, steadying breath and prayed that that's how it would happen, that they would find a way to relate to each other as colleagues. It would make life on Alpha a hell of a lot easier, of that she was sure! Then a nagging thought came into her mind. She tried hard not to acknowledge it at first, but the harder she tried to ignore it the stronger it became. As CMO she really should go check on the Commander, check him for injuries, find out if he needed anything. She knew he hadn't come by Medical. She would have been told if that had been the case. But to go seek him out, would that send the wrong signal? See! Already their past was causing problems, making her change her normal actions. If Gorski had still been the Commander she would have had no compunction is fulfilling her duty as CMO. That thought stunned her...imagine how different it would have been if the blast had occurred just a few days earlier while Gorski was still in command. It didn't bare thinking about. Somehow...she didn't question how...she knew that they all stood a much better chance of survival with John Koenig in Command. Personal feelings aside, she was so glad he was the Commander.

Not quite brave enough to make a personal visit, even on medical grounds, she took her commlock and called him up. The screen flashed to life and his image appeared before her. He was in his office, at his desk, and even on her commlock she could see that he was exhausted.

'Dr Russell,' his voice was brusque, 'any problems?'

'Other than Breakaway you mean!' She tried to keep it light.

She saw a small tired smile tug at the corner of his mouth and she steeled herself not to respond. 'Nothing new to report here, you received our earlier status report?'

'I did.' There was silence. A long pause as he shook his head. 'It could have been a lot worse...I've got a skeleton crew here...keeping things stable for a few hours. We should get a better idea of things then, when the shock's worn off a bit and everyone's managed to get some rest.'

She nodded 'Talking of rest...shouldn't you be getting some' she stumbled, 'you look exhausted.'

Through the commlock their eyes held and locked. 'Why thanks for that, Doctor. Is that a professional opinion?' Even on the tiny screen she could see his face soften.

'Yes Commander, it is. We need you...' she swallowed a tiny sob. 'We all need you. You should try to get some rest.'

'I know. I will. Tomorrow's gonna be a long day...'

'Go rest John.'

'Ok Helena.'

He broke the link.

She stared at the blank screen. He was gone.

Wrapping her arms tightly around herself for comfort, she closed her eyes and alone in the dim light she allowed herself to remember the warmth of his arms holding her close, then almost as quickly she chased the memory away. Whoa...dangerous! To go there would be far too painful and she was hurting enough already!

Monitoring her patients and giving directions to nurses filled the next few hours. They lost one patient, a technician who'd suffered horrific injuries as part of an eagle collapsed onto him when the shockwave hit. His body just hadn't been strong enough to recover from the trauma of the injuries he'd sustained and the hours of surgery needed to piece him back together. All in all a depressing end to a pretty horrendous day.

When Bob Mathias came back to Medical after some rest, she was managing to hold it all together but desperate for a break, although this was in no way evident from the way in which she gave orders and tended the injured. Bob noticed that she was a little paler than usual and that tiredness was beginning to cloud her eyes, but her professionalism never faltered and inwardly he marvelled at her ability to be so strong.

He'd been working with her for many months now and really knew very little about her on a personal level. She kept most people at arm's length. An excellent doctor and generally a good boss, she could be more than a little intimidating sometimes and didn't suffer fools gladly. They had a good working relationship but he couldn't help musing to himself that she let very few people see the 'real' Helena and that she wore her position as CMO as almost an armour against the world. It had only been very recently that he'd realised all of this. There'd been a definite change in her over the last few days and for the first time he'd seen a chink in the armour. A glimpse of the woman she kept hidden so well. It was subtle; he couldn't put his finger on it exactly but she was definitely a little distracted, not totally focused. Not herself. She'd been under a lot of pressure over the Meta launch and he guessed that that could have had something to do with it. There was also the conflict with the new commander that had been the talk of the base. Even on the Moon people loved to gossip and the arrival of John Koenig and his quite open dislike of the base's CMO had drawn a lot of attention. It was obviously a clash of personalities and he supposed that too could have contributed to the change he sensed in her. Whatever it was didn't really matter anymore, he concluded, because Breakaway had given everything a new perspective. Nothing would be the same from now on!

After a de-brief and satisfied that Bob could hold the fort, Helena left medical. Knowing that she had to get a little rest herself, she made her way through the deserted corridors of Alpha, avoiding the most damaged sections, to her private quarters. She closed the door and dropped onto the bed, too weary to undress. Despite her exhaustion sleep took a long time to come. Eventually, giving in to her unconscious need, she allowed her thoughts to go to one Alphan in particular. She remembered the warmth of his embrace, focused on his eyes and allowed their comfort to soothe her to sleep.

In his quarters, locked away from responsibility for a just a few precious hours, John also found it hard to sleep. He was sure he wasn't the only person struggling to cope with the impact of the day's events. Being on the base for only a matter of days he'd barely had time to meet, let alone get to know most of the Alphans who would now look to him for decisions that would shape their very existence. Taking everything into account they'd come through the day not in bad shape. Being what it was, a centre of excellence in all things Space, Moonbase Alpha had some of the best people the world could offer collected together in one place. Scientists, computer specialists, even medical personnel were all on Alpha because of their proven abilities. Even as dark tendrils of fear snaked out to attack his exhausted mind, he knew that they had that going for them. A community of intelligent human beings who he hoped would survive against all odds.

Pouring himself a generous measure of vodka from a bottle Gorski had left behind ... he downed the strong spirit in one, relishing the pain as it burnt its way into his system. God he'd needed that. He sank down and cradled his head in his hands, trying to banish the fear that had found a foothold. Things could have turned out a hell of a lot worse! He remembered something his grandmother used to tell him so many years ago...count your's never as bad as it seems...Well now seemed as good a time as any to heed that advice. At least he was surrounded by a good team of people.

Victor, being one of the world's leading minds on the 'science of space', would be invaluable. That he was a longstanding friend and able to give John vital support would be a bonus. The fact that Alan had beaten the odds and made it back to base was another thing to be grateful for. He could trust Alan in any circumstance. They went back a long way. His Main Mission crew were mostly known to him and luckily enough no-one had been lost. In the circumstances things had not turned out too badly.

He didn't allow himself to go down the 'Helena' route.

She was here...he was here. That was that.

Nothing could be done about it now and despite all of his accusations he was pretty sure she was a good doctor. And a doctor was going to invaluable to them all, a vital part in their future. For the sake of everyone on Alpha he would need to forget about their past and start afresh with her.

With a strength he didn't think he possessed he closed her out of his mind and slept.

The first weeks after Breakaway were hard. Normally in even the direst of circumstance, there is usually a 'light at the end of the tunnel'. On Alpha there was no light. They were stranded on a lump of lunar rock, inhospitable and barren, on a base that had been designed merely as an outpost for a much larger planet. Self sufficient with regard to its general day to day existence, Alpha required a regular consignment of crucial components to be sent up from Earth to keep all its systems functioning and... unfortunately, Earth had been lost!

The first challenge had been to see that life support facilities could be maintained effectively to ensure their immediate survival. With a stable environment, there could be some hope. Alpha's supply of air was maintained and recycled with no outside help from Earth. All equipment had been monitored and remarkably seemed to have sustained no major damage.

Water was another matter. Before Breakaway all water on the base had been recycled of course, but with the Earth gone they now had no means of replenishing their supply when the situation required it. In the immediate aftermath of the blast small moonquakes had been triggered which had caused substantial damage to several of the underground water storage tanks. Rationing had been implemented in an effort to conserve their supply and, despite the fact that the tanks had now been repaired they had lost a considerable amount of an essential resource.

Food! That was another problem. Alpha had its own hydroponics centre, producing and growing some quantities of edible foodstuffs. Most of the projects however had been the work of scientists and botanists and quite experimental in their nature. Why would precious time and workspace be devoted to food production on a scale large enough to feed around three hundred people when supplies could be flown up from Earth? Thus there was a major issue relating to food production. They could not grow food overnight! Computer had been used to detail a basic and very restricted diet that would sustain the Alphans while at the same time, be most sparing and conserving with their limited supply of staple ingredients.

They had a breathable atmosphere, enough water to keep them alive in the immediacy and enough basic food stuffs that would, with a little bit of luck, get them through until they were able to grow fresh produce. But none of those factors changed the main problem.

They were alone! Totally alone!

John sat in his office, shut away from the activity in Main Mission. Reports littered his desk. The result of the energy expounded over the last few exhausting and traumatic weeks. Everyone had done what had been asked of them. The reports contained basic base data files that were waiting for his input, details of Life Support functions, structure repairs, new casualty updates, everything pertaining to the running of the base. These reports sat alongside paperwork devoted to new ideas on how to improve day to day life, an idea concerning using waste water in hydroponics before sending it to be recycled, another on a change to the duty rota schedules, plans to develop a soya food experiment into a full scale food production process. The scientist involved truly believed it could be done and had spent the last hour of John's day sitting across from him explaining the full implications. If it could be made to work they would have an alternative protein based food substitute that would improve their basic rations immeasurably and her research seemed to be suggesting that the plan was viable. He re-read her hypothesis and decided that the idea needed to be discussed in a more open forum.

Since Breakaway he'd tried to involve the main command structure in all aspects of base decisions. Most days there was a small conference just to allow all heads of departments to touch base and interact. They all needed to work as a team, now more than ever and so far he'd been pleased with how much progress was being made to that end. Opening a channel on his desk he called through to Paul asking that a command memo be sent out detailing the outline of the 'soya project' to all command staff. It could then be evaluated in more depth during the following morning's conference. He also asked Paul to request Carla's presence at the meeting. It was after all her idea so only appropriate that she be there.

Carla Emmerson knew she was attractive and smart and had made no effort to hide the fact that she was attracted to him. Tired, yet buoyed up a little by the possibility of some good news, John marvelled at the fact that she had been so blatant. They had met for the first time a couple of days ago and even then he had been amused by her forwardness. She had been working closely with him now for the last few days after Victor had vouched for her idea and she'd taken every opportunity to make herself 'available' to him. Interrupting his work with small problems in her research, suggesting they meet maybe to eat and discuss things further. He could read the signs and it wasn't as if she was being particularly subtle. She had made it more than obvious that she wanted him. She was ready and willing to be anything he desired her to be...God...if only life were that simple. A part of him wished he could just take what was on offer. He was but a man and he had needs which he was pretty sure Carla could take care of, and yet he knew he would allow it to go no further.

He was not about to start mixing his personal and professional life. Alpha demanded his absolute commitment.

John pushed himself back in his chair, stretching through his shoulders, aware of stiffness in his neck. Stress and tension no doubt. Caused by the god-awful slog that masqueraded as 'life' these days. There was little to be cheerful about unless you viewed the fact that they were managing to exist day by day as an achievement. Sighing, he chided himself for being so negative and yet he was finding it hard to cling onto the positives. Could he name any positives? Stop it John...he warned himself again...there has to be a way forward, you just haven't found it yet!

Deciding that he'd spent enough time shut away brooding and feeling sorry for himself, he decided to go visit Victor in his lab. There were some data calculations that needed to be discussed and then maybe they could grab some lunch together.

As he walked Alpha's corridors, stopping to share a word or two with people he passed he became aware of how day to day life on the base had, on the surface, hardly changed. People went about their daily routine as they'd done before breakaway and you could easily forget the great loss and sadness just beneath the surface. Loved ones, children and families, gone, maybe forever. It was testament to the calibre and strength of the Alphans that such an air of normality prevailed. How they would fare in the weeks and months to come John spent restless hours each night contemplating. Apart from the eagle pilots, most people on Alpha were not interested in the actual exploration of Space. Most were there as part of a select group of scientists assigned to the Moon to conduct research and educational projects. The auxiliary staff, were there for the exorbitant pay scales such work demanded; that, and the chance to say that they had actually 'been into Space'. Back on Earth they would have tales to tell of Eagle flights, artificial gravity and meteor showers. No-one had expected to be cast adrift into the unknown, lost to the only world they knew.

Helena had compiled a report which was sitting on his desk at this very minute, listing all of the psychological and emotional problems they should be ready to encounter. Grief, anxiety, depression, anger and frustration, the list was long. Better to be prepared, she'd said. If they knew what to expect they would be better able to deal with situations as they arose.

He'd had as little contact as possible with Helena since Breakaway. Since coming face to face with her all those weeks ago he was fighting a constant battle to keep thoughts of her at bay, to ignore the feelings that he'd thought were long gone. But there had been so much to do and the days had been so long that it had been easy to avoid any real time with her. They seemed to have fallen into an uneasy truce, keeping contact to a minimum and yet working together when the need arose with none of the emotional baggage that had marred their first meetings on Alpha in evidence. Mature adults trying to put the past behind them. They were cool and reserved with each other when in public, both realising that the situation had to be made to work, and yet their animosity towards each other could not be completely disguised. He hoped it wasn't obvious to those around them, but it was there as an undercurrent, no matter how professional they managed to be. He was uncomfortable around her and assumed that she pretty much felt the same. She was just another problem to add to his list.

Realising that the travel tube stopped and he'd been lost in thought he alighted and made his way to Victor's Lab, trying to shrug off his bad mood. It wouldn't do to allow himself to fall into one of Helena's categories, now would it!

From her seat at the conference table Helena watched the hustle and bustle of Main Mission through the large doorway. She was the first to arrive for the morning's meeting and had taken her seat and opened a report, scanning its contents as she waited for the others to arrive. Her attention had been drawn to the busy work area as John arrived. He was deep in conversation with a woman Helena could not place. No real reason why she should. The base was relatively large and with the regular comings and goings before Breakaway, probably impossible for her to have met every Alphan. Something about the way they arrived together made Helena uncomfortable. Refusing to allow her thoughts to follow the route they obviously wanted to go down she turned back to her paperwork and tried to concentrate on the words in front of her, yet all the while she was conscious of their movements. Victor arrived, closely followed by Alan who collected up Sandra as he passed through the busy work space. Kano took his place at the table and then John led the woman into the group, introducing Carla to everyone as the scientist behind the 'soya project'.

The conference followed much the same format as the previous day's had done. There were updates on past discussions and directives. Progress reported on repairs and upgrades to various systems. A whole batch of Eagle maintenance reports needed scrutiny, along with a new upgrade to life support functions. All of the normal day to day trivia of base life was updated and discussed. Although she tried to pay attention, as the meeting progressed Helena found herself distracted. Despite her attempts not to allow it to happen, her gaze kept being drawn to John who sat a little way across the table from her. These conferences were the closest contact she'd had with him recently. They were both doing a good job of avoiding each other and despite the fact that she knew it was for the best, a part of her she couldn't ignore craved his company. Hoping that she wasn't being obvious she once again allowed her gazed to return to the Commander. She could see tiredness etched on his features, knew he was driving himself hard to keep everything together. She couldn't stop a knot of worry from forming in her as she tried to imagine how he must be feeling. Command must be lonely. She knew from personal experience that a position of seniority could sometimes make you feel alienated from those you worked with and she was sure John must be feeling very alone at the moment He would need to cut himself some slack soon or he'd be in trouble. He was only human and she made a mental note as his Doctor to 'order' him to take some rest.

The meeting progressed and when most areas on the agenda had been covered, John gave a brief introduction and Carla Emmerson rose to take the floor.

As the scientist gave her presentation Helena tried to concentrate on the details of the new project, yet her attention was focused more on the connection she seemed to be picking up between the woman and John than on the content of the presentation. He was certainly being very attentive...nodding in support of her explanations, smiling encouragement and support. Unable to prevent it, her imagination went into overdrive.

Questions exploded in her head like firecrackers!

Was there something between them?

Had John found someone to comfort him?

She was just acknowledging the sharp burns of pain that these questions caused when another thought overwhelmed her. Why assume that this was new? Maybe Carla and John had been involved in a relationship before Breakaway! Funnily enough this was something she'd never contemplated...that John may have someone he cared for on Alpha.

Could it be possible! How did she feel about it?

She tried to make herself think but her mind was in a fog. It was difficult to breathe. She picked up the report in front of her and began turning pages, trying to hold onto her composure as her mind was flooded with images of John and Carla together; talking, laughing, loving...Again pain burned into her...and she almost gasped out loud...stop thinking about it Helena she warned herself...think about need to concentrate on soya and get through this...think about soya!

On the opposite side of the conference table to Helena, John was struggling with his own demons. He was pleased with the way the discussions had gone and impressed with Carla's presentation. In the past days she'd explained her nerves about attending a command conference and he acknowledged that she was not used to taking part in such high level discussions. He'd made it clear that he would be there to support her and that her work was essential to the well being of those on the Moonbase. She had done a good job and seemed to have covered all of the important issues and he looked forward to seeing how things developed. A new food source would definitely help lift people's spirits. He smiled encouragingly as she finished speaking and the topic of discussion moved on.

He tried hard to concentrate, set his private problem aside, but it was impossible!

Helena...she was his problem, his own personal demon! His awareness of her was still as acute as ever. As soon as he'd entered Main Mission earlier, he'd known she was there. He seemed to just 'feel' her presence. He'd spent the last few weeks trying to overcome his adolescent reaction to her proximity and had obviously failed completely. He'd tried hard to put distance between them...well as much distance as was possible on Alpha... and he'd hoped that this would have put an end to whatever hold she seemed to have on him, but it hadn't worked. God... they were old news...she was a prize bitch...Just thinking about her made him mad as hell...She'd hurt him in the worst possible way, so why couldn't he get over her? He was frustrated and angry with himself for his weakness.

Throughout the entire meeting he'd been conscious of her every move no matter how hard he tried to ignore her. She was just across the table from him. Her hair falling in a silky curtain across her face, her breasts moving invitingly as she breathed...every time she breathed. God it was mesmerising and he was unable to counter his body's response as he lost himself in his fantasy.

He swept his fingers through her hair, caressed her face, his hand followed the line of her throat to her breast...where it settled comfortably, cupping the warm responsive flesh, finding her nipple, his thumb...aghhhh...God ...take some deep breaths John!

Why did he do this to himself? Torture himself like this?

His temper flared as he became aware that he was in the middle of a conference, surrounded by his highest ranking officers and he'd lost himself in her. Didn't have a clue what was being discussed...could've been 'little green men' for all he knew. As Commander he should be above such loss of control. He could see that she posed a dangerous threat to his command and his mood took a downward spiral as he acknowledged defeat. He didn't know how to combat the power she had over him.

He tried to shake off the images his mind had created. Be realistic John, he told himself. She hates you. Remember how she flinched at your touch...remember what happened in your she reacted like a scalded cat when you tried to stop her from falling!

You're a fool John Koenig! A crazy bloody fool!

As Helena hastily left the conference the last thing she heard was Carla arranging to get together later with John to go over some test results. The meeting dispersed, everyone returning to their duties except Alan, who lingered as the room emptied. Alan had known John for a long time and although he respected John's position as base Commander, felt that he needed to talk to him as a friend. There was something going on here that he didn't understand. He'd been watching from the sidelines for weeks now expecting John to get back to normal, but it hadn't happened. Not that it was obvious to everyone. It was just that they'd been through a lot together over the years, some hairy situations and that sort of 'tuned you in' to your mate. If John needed to talk he'd be there for him.

Wryly...seeing that Alan was there to stay and sensing that he wasn't about to be fobbed off this time, John pressed the button closing the doors and effectively shut them off from Main Mission, took his seat and waited for the probing to begin.

Coffee was being rationed to allow supplies to last as long as possible and Alan could have murdered a coffee at this moment. It was the sort of conversation that would have benefitted from a steaming mug of Java or better still an ice cold Fosters, but having no such props Alan had little choice but to wade straight in without a fortifying dose of caffeine or alcohol in his system as a crutch.

He was sure the others hadn't noticed, but Alan had seen John's mood deteriorate as the command conference had progressed, and had spent most of the time trying to pin point the cause rather than listening to matters that, quite frankly, bored him senseless. He was happiest when he was out there flying and found the need to be involved in this day to day survival stuff trivial and annoying! Great if someone could come up with some sort of artificial steak or burger...he'd bloody well tuck in and enjoy eating it, but just leave him to his Eagles and get on with it! Fair dinkum!

Hoping that John was prepared to talk as a cobber rather than Commander he decided not to 'beat around the bush' and just asked him outright what the bloody hell was wrong with him! He could tell that he'd shocked his friend with this tactic and watched as several emotions crossed John's face. Anger, frustration and irritation vied for supremacy and Alan only felt able to throw in a 'Fire away, mate...spit it out!' as he finally caught a glimmer of humour in John's eyes.

As the story unfolded Alan found it almost impossible to contain himself. His barely concealed 'Jeez, mate' when the identity of John's 'true love' was revealed caused John to stop pacing and give his friend an icy stare! Alan raised a hand in silent apology willing him to go on.

Crickey...what a story and what a mess!

No wonder John was having a hard time keeping it all together, with the one person he despised most suddenly reappearing , having no way of getting rid of her and having to work alongside her to boot. Well it certainly explained the 'barney' he'd overheard and the rumours on the Alphan grapevine of a 'problem' between the Commander and CMO. There was most definitely a big problem between the Commander and CMO!

Words suddenly dried up and John stopped his pacing and fixed his gaze on a faraway pinprick of light in the vastness of Space beyond the viewport. It had not been as hard as he'd expected, telling Alan. Of course he had been there all those years ago so maybe that's why it hadn't been too difficult? He tried to analyse whether he felt any better for having shared his problem. They said it helped to talk...didn't they? But maybe it was too soon to be able to tell. He waited for Alan's reaction. He'd seen how hard it had been for his friend to keep quiet and not react as the story had unfolded. Now there was silence. Well, as much quiet as you ever got on Alpha. The constant hum of air conditioning and artificial gravity systems were always there as background music that you became accustomed to and learnt to cancel out. His office was filled with silence.

Alan's first words were not inspirational...'Well I'll be buggered...Helena Russell...' was all Alan was able to manage.

John was not impressed! He glared at his friend before turning back to the viewport.

Alan tried again. Telling John that a lot of water had flowed under the bridge should he phrase it? Since he'd last seen Helena. They'd both moved on. They were both mature and professional people and therefore should be able to work things out between them. But there really wasn't anything between them anymore, was there? Nothing! So what was there to work out? Surely it was that simple! John should just put it all behind him and let the past go, once and for all.

He also had a suggestion. Ok, things had changed since Breakaway and life was no longer as trivial as it maybe once had been, but that didn't change the fact that there were plenty of females who would be more than willing to be 'friends' with the Commander, he was sure of it. Despite his dark mood, John found it mildly amusing, to say the least, that in the life and death situation they found themselves in, there should be any interest in him as 'the Commander'. Feeling his mood lighten a little, John couldn't help seeing the funny side of Alan's solution.

So that was Alan's advice. Nice and simple!

Erase the old memory by overwriting with a new memory. It sounded so easy. Get over Helena once and for all by replacing her with someone new. Alan was pleased with his solution and he was on a roll now! He even offered some suggestions of suitable candidates. What about Carla, who did seem to be enjoying John's company of late, or the computer analyst?...What was her name...the one who'd asked to be transferred to work with Kano? She'd requested the re-assignment saying that she wanted to improve her main frame skills, but word around the base was that she wanted to work in Main Mission in the hope of getting closer to the Commander. Alan was somehow privy to all Alphan gossip and reminded John yet again of what a privilege it would be to be the 'Commander's Woman'. Apparently the kudos attached to this title was tremendous!

John listened to everything that Alan had to say trying to focus on the humour. He didn't enjoy being told that he was the focus of so much personal interest. It made him uncomfortable. Hell...he was just a man! A normal guy who just happened to be in command! He was sure that Alan was exaggerating the situation somewhat but did believe that there was some truth to what Alan said. He would have to be stupid not to notice the looks directed at him by some of the female population on Alpha and he sure as hell couldn't mistake the signals that Carla had been sending him recently. But it wasn't going to happen. Simply getting through each day was enough of a challenge and he couldn't imagine getting involved in any new relationship any time soon, but he could see some wisdom in Alan's words, something that made sense to him.

The words spun around in his head...Erase the memory by overwriting with a new memory. Erase the memory of Helena...what was he missing? Erase the memory...and his mind suddenly cleared. That was it! Maybe in a roundabout way Alan had actually solved his problem.

She was a memory! Helena was just a memory! She was his past. His Helena, the one that made him crazy, the one he fantasised about, the one that drove him to distraction...she probably no longer existed. More than likely lost in the many years that had passed.

A lifetime of experiences had happened to both of them since their 'fling' and they were both different people now. Different people! Life must surely have changed her because it had definitely left its mark on him. He bet that if he spent any time with her now he probably wouldn't even like her very much anymore! Why had he been such a fool? He'd allowed her appearance back into his life to completely throw him. He'd gotten caught up in the memories and pain and lost sight of reality.

His Helena from the past and Dr Russell from Alpha were not the same person. He stared out into the blackness as he allowed this new awareness to sink in. Could it really be that simple?...Oh... he hoped so!

It had helped to bring it out into the open with Alan. Talking, actually talking about her out loud had helped him to cauterise his wounds. He felt better than he had in a long time.

Alan had kept quiet as John had seemed to battle with his memories, sensing that he'd needed to get his thoughts into some sort of order. He'd watched as John's whole body seemed to relax. Watched as John returned to his desk and slowly sat down. He released a long held breathe as his friend managed a smile of sorts.

'Thanks's helped to talk' John acknowledged, smiling at the pilot.

'Right mate, glad I could be of service' he quipped. 'I'll leave you to it then...' Alan made his way to the door and then hesitated briefly. 'And no worries...I'll keep it to myself...'

Nodding goodbye, he pressed the door control and was gone.

In Medical Helena was trying to lose herself in work, without much success. Her mind was conjuring up vivid pictures of Carla...Carla talking quietly with John. Carla alone with John. Carla intimate with John! Pictures of them together exploded in her mind. Images that refused to go away. They were sharing the special, secret things that only lovers share.




Things that she'd once shared with him. Her head pounded and her hands shook and she fought to keep the memories at bay.

It was getting no easier. She'd expected the intensity of her emotions to have abated by now as she'd become accustomed to his presence on the base. But it just wasn't working out like that. When they were apart it was easy to convince herself that she had control but as soon as he came anywhere close to her his nearness overwhelmed her. Fumbling with an instrument tray Helen became aware of Bob watching her from across the room. She handed the tray to the nurse who had been helping her with the procedure and made her way across the ward, a questioning look directed at Bob.

'Problems?' she asked, as nonchalantly as she could.

'No, Dr Russell...just umm...wondering if you're...umm...ok?' he finally got out.

'Actually a bit of a headache...' she answered, gently massaging her temples. And it was true. Her head was pounding. 'Maybe I'll take a break. Can you manage for awhile without me?'

Smiling, Bob humoured her. 'I think we'll get by...but only if you aren't gone too long!'

Picking up on the joke at her expense she returned his smile with a faint one of her own. 'Don't let anything mess up my ward while I'm gone...understand! I'll hold you fully responsible...ok!'

'Yes, Dr Russell...of course, Dr Russell...' Bob laughed. 'Now get out of here and go take something for your head'.

'Will do, Dr Mathias.' She smiled and then collecting a couple of aspirin, she left Medical.

Bob watched her go wondering yet again what was troubling her. She'd lost weight over the last few weeks and the haunted expression always seemed to be evident in her eyes. She seemed, he hunted for the right word...brittle. That was it. Brittle, as if she might shatter given the slightest provocation. Up until recently he would have sworn she was one of the strongest, most self possessed people he'd ever met. He had no doubt that her strength was still there but a fragile side to Helena was in evidence a lot more of late. He wondered if she needed to talk and if she would open up to him. He was, after all, her physician and therefore had a responsibility to her to look after her welfare. Tapping his pen as he contemplated that uncomfortable conversation he decided to monitor things for a while longer. Hoping that the situation, whatever it was, would sort itself out without his intervention.

Where to go? That was the question. She wanted to be by herself to try and sort out the nag of discomfort she was experiencing...but where to go? Her quarters, her small personal space offered solitude yet she knew she would find no comfort there! She wanted something to match her mood. She wanted to surrender herself to the cold, impersonal cloak of wind as it gusted in from a stormy ocean. To feel it sting her face and tangle in her hair. She wanted to be lost in its roar, silently alone.

For the first time since she'd arrived on Alpha she felt trapped. The confines of the base seemed to close in around her. Not normally claustrophobic, she felt overcome with the need to escape and she could feel fear starting to take a hold. She wanted fresh air and solitude. She wanted to talk to no-one because no-one could help! Where should she go?

Making a decision, she headed away from the main hub of the base and after a brief journey in an empty travel tube, slipped quietly into one of the Hydroponics Labs. There were plans already being discussed to turn much more space on Alpha over to Hydroponics to allow for more food production. It was early days however and the main focus of the units was still based around earth driven experiments. How plants developed in the artificial gravity environment. How they responded to external stimuli. Yet despite it being a laboratory, the green foliage and moisture rich atmosphere gave an illusion of something more akin to a natural garden. Since she had been on Alpha the plants and small trees had flourished and a few seats had been placed around the area, allowing people to come and sit and 'enjoy' the experience of being close to nature. It was artificial but surprisingly effective and a while back Helena had begun conducting some minor research into its affect on the human psyche.

The lab was humid and quiet and it was as close as she was going to get today to fresh air. She wandered around, stood for a time with her forehead pressed against a viewport, allowing its cold surface to soothe her headache. She was almost scared to ask herself the question. He was in her head again and she couldn't seem to do anything about it. The command conference today had been so hard. Being so close to him, watching him, with her.

But why did she care if John was in a relationship? Surely it made things easier, didn't it?

As she wrestled with these thoughts she became aware of the outer doors sliding open. Of voices and movement. Not wanting to be interrupted, wanting to remain undisturbed she moved further into the screen of foliage, deeper into the greenness. Resting her elbows on a sill, she cradled her head in her hands rhythmically massaging her temples and waited for whoever had just entered to leave.

The lab was large and, unaware of the CMO, the two hydroponic technicians continued their conversation, chatting as they went about their tasks. Busily collecting samples and logging information onto their charts they were oblivious to the fact that Helena was there.

It would seem that wherever she went on his damned base she was unable to escape from John Koenig though. He was the focus of their conversation.

Trying not to listen but unable escape their words, Helena found out that most of the women on the base fancied a shot at the Commander. Ha! Would be more than willing to make themselves available to him. Apparently Carla Emmerson felt that she was already well on the way to getting Koenig into bed. Had been spending lots of time working closely with him and was quite openly telling her friends that she expected him to make a move soon. Well now you know...don't you Helena, she chided. The irony of the situation was not lost on her. Here she was trying to escape from thoughts of him and she'd somehow managed to get herself a live newsflash regarding his present eligibility status! She willed them to finish their work and leave so that she could get back to her day, really not in the mood to hear any more Alphan gossip.

Not expecting that it could get any worse she stiffened when she heard her name mentioned. Holding her breath as John's hostility to her was openly discussed, she wished she'd never set foot in Hydroponics. Her headache was getting worse by the second! She did find out however that she was now, officially, 'out of the running' with regard to the Commander! She was not seen as a threat.

Oh the irony of it! Tell me something I don't know she thought. That is such...old news! If only you knew!

A commlock chimed and for one single second Helena thought she'd been found out. It was with huge relief that she heard one of the two techs answer the call and make a garbled excuse to her manager. As quickly as they had arrived they left, and Helena followed as soon after as she dared, not wanting to be there a minute longer than necessary.

Her headache hadn't gone and yet, retreating behind her cool, unattached image, she got through the rest of her shift. She was conscious of Bob watching her every now and again, but with her armour in place she gave nothing away and managed to reach the isolation of her quarters late in the evening without shattering in front of anyone.

Once alone however, she curled into a ball of abject misery and surrendered to the emotions that had been building within her for the last few weeks. Damn John Koenig. Damn Gorski and Breakaway. Damn Carla... bloody...Emmerson. Damn, damn, damn being 'out of the running'!

She was unprepared for the release of such raw emotion. Overwhelmed, she sobbed until she could sob no more, finally pulling a cover over her as the air chilled and the saltiness of her tears caused her skin to tighten as they dried on her swollen face. Her breathe hiccupping as the sobs subsided, she felt numb. This brought some relief. Numb was good! She lay still, her mind closed to everything. The quietness enveloped her and the darkness soothed her and eventually after such a tumultuous assault on her emotions...she slept.

John found his mind full of his CMO. The more he thought about his previous reactions to her, the more he became convinced that Alan was right and he was caught up in the past and that the best way to get over his irrational response to Helena was to 'get to know' her again. He needed to do something to break the spell she had over him because he was finding his preoccupation with her very stressful. Alpha demanded his complete attention nearly every hour of every day. There was no room for a personal life, let alone one filled with such drama and she was always in his head, always on his mind no matter how he struggled not to think about her. He needed to come to terms with the past and begin again with Dr Russell. They needed to be able to work together as colleagues and spend time together socially without the tension. They would have to find a way to put the past behind them.

In the days that followed, while Helena did her best to avoid any contact with John Koenig or Carla, the Commander on the other hand looked for ways to have his CMO close.

Carla Emmerson's food production project gave him an excellent reason to request her presence at project meetings and he was hoping that his contact with her, even on a professional basis, would begin to erode the illusion he'd created and allow him to rid himself of the hold she seemed to have on him.

Helena found herself frustrated beyond belief as for the hundredth time she asked herself...why? She had a Medical Centre to run, Life Support functions to co-ordinate and more importantly, she wanted to keep her distance from the very people she was being forced to spend time with. Why did this new project require input from the CMO? Surely Bob would have been just as effective?

For days she'd been forced to work alongside John and it was a constant battle to try and keep her feelings in check because spending any time with him sent her pulse rate racing. He didn't need to be close. Even from across a room he made her skin tingle with awareness. It was crazy, this reaction he evoked. It seemed as if every nerve in her entire body was tuned into his frequency and became highly charged whenever he was close. It was driving her mad having to keep such a tight hold on her emotions, to fight down the urge to touch him, to go to him and beg him to take her back! Whilst her rational mind was enraged at this traitorous wish, her body yearned for his arms to wrap themselves around her and never let her go. Trying to keep a professional distance was taking every ounce of strength she possessed and she didn't know how long she could keep it up. Sometimes their eyes would meet and she would sense a connection. It had happened several times now, but it was only for a fleeting moment and then she was alone again and...She tried to find the right word to describe how she felt. Bereft...the word seemed a little melodramatic but it also summed up her emotion quite nicely. He'd almost crushed her once and, when she should know better, here she was almost begging for more.

Evidently John had no feelings left for her. For starters he'd been the one to break things off all those years ago, leaving her alone and humiliated. His anger when he'd found her on Alpha had been hard to miss and some of the awful things he'd accused her of left no room for any doubt on her part. He despised her! So she really must do everything in her power to keep her stupid reaction to his presence hidden. More humiliation at the hands of John Koenig she didn't think she could survive.

As well as having to contend with John for days on end, she was also having to watch as Carla made her play for the Commander. Finding out that they weren't in a relationship had been a relief initially, but it had not taken long for her mind to start imagining them 'becoming a couple'. Was John falling for Carla? Had he succumbed to her attempts to get him into bed? She knew that they had eaten together because she'd been alone at a table in the main cafeteria when they'd arrived deep in conversation. Okay, they did spend time pouring over some paperwork as they ate, but their heads had been quite close together and they had drawn quite a lot of attention from other diners. She found herself looking for signs that things had changed, constantly watching them as they worked together to try and pick up on any intimate gestures that would verify her worst fears. She tried to ignore the feeling growing within her because she didn't want to acknowledge its existence, but she knew she was jealous...Jealous of Carla...and that made her mad!

When Paul came through on her commlock after lunch about a week later, asking her to attend a small meeting later that evening she finally could contain her frustration no longer. She asked to be transferred through to the Commander. Her screen went blank for a second and then he was there on her commlock, a questioning expression on his face.

'You have a problem, Dr Russell?' He asked in what he hoped would be a cool tone.

'Yes, Commander,' she held his gaze. 'Dr Mathias will attend this evening's meeting. I'll see that he's briefed and has the lab analysis results with him and...'

He cut her off abruptly. 'You have other things to attend to?' It was clipped question.

'Yes...yes I do.'

'Ok...' There was a pause while he searched her face, not able to glean much from the black and white image on his monitor, before shrugging. 'Tell Bob to meet us in Victor's lab,' were his last words before he cut the link.

She'd managed to get out of it but perversely, now she wished she hadn't made the excuse. She realised she was still staring at the blank screen. Shaking her head in confusion, she left her office to find Bob and let him know he had a meeting to go to, not wanting to think about why she suddenly felt so lost.

In his office John was irritated.

He was irritated with her because he suspected that her excuse was just that, an excuse, and irritated with himself for caring so much! His plan wasn't really working. No, to be honest he didn't think his plan stood a hope in hell of working! He just couldn't get her out of his head. Aware that he was pacing again he moved to a viewport to stare out into space, finding the immense void beyond the window humbling. For him, the vast, cold beauty of the scene never failed to put things into perspective and he forced himself to relax.

To say that she was in his head was an understatement. Who was he trying to kid?...He'd been devastated when she'd left him...hated her for what she'd done...but...she was Helena. It was that simple! She was Helena and despite everything she still drove him crazy.

Maybe he would just have to accept the situation for what it was. Spending time with her over the last few days had done nothing to help the situation. He'd watched her yesterday deep in discussion with Victor, Sandra and Carla and found himself responding to her, even from across the room. Felt his need for her make its presence well and truly felt! Luckily the work surface in Victor's lab had hidden the physical evidence, but he had been shaken by his reaction. There was just something about this woman that triggered a raging need deep within him. Something that had always been there from the very first moment they'd met and something that...he was beginning to suspect, would never leave him. No matter how much he wanted it to. His body seemed to crave her and there seemed little he could do about it. He may not like her for what she had done to him but he wanted her...Boy did he want her, and badly.

Maybe it was time to face the fact that he needed to let the past go before it consumed him. Somehow they had ended up here on Alpha together. Maybe, just maybe it was all happening for a reason. Life had gone crazy for everyone since Breakaway. He needed to let go a little. Accept that he couldn't control this situation. So he would accept his feelings for Helena and stop fighting them. The base needed a focused Commander. He'd concentrate on that and let everything else play out in its own way.

The last few days had brought the Alphans face to face with their first Alien race, the Kaldorians.

The time that had passed since the craft had crash landed on the lunar surface had been filled with repairs and diplomacy, a sharing of knowledge and a surge of radically diverse emotions. There was wonder and optimism brought about from the first contact with a new people, the absolute reality that space was not empty and that the future could hold more encounters with forces unknown to the human mind. This knowledge was both awe-inspiring and daunting to accept and would take some time to be fully assimilated by the Alphans. Space exploration from the safety of your home world was one thing. To be forced out into the unknown by accident and have no direct control over your journey was a totally different matter. The encounter with Captain Zantor and the Kaldorians, even for such a short space of time therefore, was bound to have an impact on those who now called Moonbase Alpha home. So there was excitement tempered with trepidation which had somehow been completely overshadowed by dismay at the behaviour and ultimate demise of Commissioner Simmonds.

His self appointed position on Alpha since Breakaway had been to irritate and manipulate, a role he played to perfection because it differed little from his previous job description on Earth. The political battles at Space Commission had fed his power crazed temperament perfectly. He had not taken well to the loss of his status or to his authority being usurped by Koenig during the time since Breakaway and had few friends. His lack of respect for the Kaldorians and his subsequent action to steal the place on their ship as they resumed their journey to Earth had been witnessed by everyone on Alpha and condemned, but no-one would have wanted him to die in such an awful manner.

The main cafeteria was relatively quiet when Helena and Victor arrived late in the evening. He'd arranged to have a late dinner with her as they'd left Main Mission after the Kaldorian Ship had finally moved away from the Moon to continue its journey to Earth.

She'd not seemed herself lately and he felt that maybe a quiet bite to eat, away from the demands of her role may help her to unwind. Since Breakaway they'd all been under a huge amount of stress. She was a strong woman and allowed nothing to get in the way of her sense of duty but obviously those near the top of the command structure shouldered more than their fair share of the problems. The responsibility they carried around with them was unprecedented and Victor was a little worried about Helena.

Today had been a case in point. Helena had been part of the initial landing party to make first contact with the Kaldorians. Although justified, it had been her action, authorised by the Commander, that had resulted in the death of one of the six Alien beings before contact could be established. She had also risked her life today in the name of duty, using herself as a guinea pig to determine whether a human being could be put into stasis and take the empty slot to return to Earth. Victor shuddered as he remembered the struggle that Zantor and Mathias had had in order to 'bring' Helena back. The Kaldorain computer system and the input by Zantor and Mathias had not allowed adequately for the human differences and for a while it had been touch and go. Luckily Helena had been revived but it had been a close thing and once John had recovered from the worry of nearly losing a vital member of his command team and the bases CMO he had been furious, both with Helena, for participating in the experiment herself and with Zantor and Mathias.

Victor wasn't the most observant of people, most of the time preferring to keep himself shut away in his lab, working, but he'd enjoyed the time he's spent with Helena since she'd arrived on Alpha, respected her professionally and genuinely he'd come to think a great deal of her. He didn't like the thought that she may be suffering and have no-one close to confide in. He doubted she would open up to him, it just wasn't her style but perhaps a little time spent outside of medical relaxing, may be just the tonic she needed.

Helena had been happy to accept Victor's invitation. The whole situation with the Kaldorians had been emotionally wearing. Meeting and learning about a new race had been exhilarating. The subsequent goodbyes and the tragic death of Simmonds, a sad conclusion. A chance to spend a little down time with Victor away from the demands of her role would be nice for a change.

She loaded her tray and made her way towards the corner table that Victor had chosen. The food wasn't wonderful. Some sort of dried vegetable and rice concoction, bland and boring but it was all there was. Carla's project had been a great success and after weeks of theory and small experiments full scale soya production had begun. If all went to plan Alpha would have some colour added to its plain rations before too long. The entire base was used to the restricted diet by now but it didn't stop you craving your favourite meal...longing for what you couldn't have.

The Commander!

Helena caught that thought, amazed at the way in which her mind had conjured up the image of John Koenig instead of chocolate cake! The topic had been food...damn it...not men. Not one man in particular.

She just didn't seem able to get him out of her mind. Look at today. Captain Zantor had been quite forward and made no effort to hide the fact that he'd found her attractive and she'd be lying if she denied that she'd been a little flattered, but waking from her stasis to find John staring so intently at her, connected by far more than just their eyes had simply reaffirmed the situation she was in.

She was crazy about...fancied the pants off...and longed for... John Koenig.

John Koenig!

The Commander!

A man she should have nothing whatsoever to do with. He was history! History! And after their past there could be no way forward for them. It was madness but she couldn't get him out of her mind.

No sooner had she thought about him than he appeared, entering the hall alongside Alan Carter.

She took her seat just as Victor waved them over and so, felt powerless to object when Victor asked John and Alan to join them. Great...just what she needed! The object of her mad craving, sitting opposite her across the table, close enough to touch and yet as distant as ever. Deciding that she needed to try and appear as blasé as possible so that he wouldn't see the effect he was having on her, she made a show of eating and joined in with Victors chatter, all the while sending up a silent prayer that some medical emergency would require her immediate attention and get her out of this awkward situation.

As he left Main Mission, John had been looking forward to some peace and quiet.

It wasn't every day that you came face to face with people from a different planet...was it!

And John had a feeling that this was how life was going to be from now on. Full of the unexpected! So he'd better get used to it!

Today they had been given proof that they were not alone in the universe they so randomly travelled in. They had found the Kaldorians to be a peaceful race, fighting for their own survival amongst the stars, a people with the same fundamental makeup as they themselves. It gave him a small measure of hope for the future of the Alphans on a new world someday but at the same time worry for their current journey into the unknown.

Dealing with Simmonds tantrums had been a real pain in the ass and then his summons to the alien craft to discover that Helena had submitted to the stasis process and couldn't be revived had rocked him to his core. He hadn't been able to keep his feelings in control and knew that he'd caused a few raised eyebrows around the base at his reaction. He'd been furious with Zantor and Mathias for allowing her to experiment on herself and mad at Victor for not stopping her. He knew that he'd taken his frustration out on others as he'd paced Main Mission waiting for news as they tried to reverse the process. He'd barked out orders and lost his temper over minor problems and he'd caught a few openly inquisitive stares as people wondered at his odd behaviour. His relief as she had finally woken had shocked him and adversely made him mad at her for having such an effect on him. He'd been meaning to reprimand her! Warn her that Alpha needed its CMO and order her, never again to put herself in that position and then Simmonds actions had taken precedent. All in all it had been a crappy day and he didn't want anyone's company but his own.

He'd been planning on getting some dinner sent to his quarters and then barring any more issues, shut the base out of his mind for a few hours. But he'd bumped into Alan, just coming back from an Eagle recon flight and somehow ended up being talked into grabbing some 'tucker' in the cafeteria. Then to top it all, she was there with Victor. Just what he needed!

Alan for his part, was feeling a little bad. He hadn't known how to extricate them when Victor had waved them over. Was conscious of the strained atmosphere but didn't know what to do about it and to be honest a part of him was interested to see how John and Helena would interact with each other. He'd spent a fair bit of time thinking over what John had told him about Helena and couldn't help been a little intrigued about their past relationship.

For years he'd assumed that the sheila who'd dumped John must have been a real cold hearted piece of crap but since finding out the truth he was being forced to change his thinking. It didn't quite stack up! He remembered holding her briefly as she fled from John's office after their infamous row before Breakaway. He'd sensed vulnerability in her in that moment that was not easy to forget. Her eyes had been haunted, broadcasting a pain that he hadn't really understood until his talk with John. Ok, so she wasn't the most approachable of women, she had a bit of a reputation for being cold and aloof, but under her tough exterior he guessed there must be a soft side because his friend had fallen for her and he wondered yet again what had made her behave so badly toward John all those years ago. He'd watched for weeks now as they tip toed around each other, he could feel the electricity between them when duty brought them together and today, others had noticed the Commanders odd behaviour in relation to his CMO. John had definitely been more than professionally worried about Helena and it had not escaped the eyes of those in Main Mission. People had been fascinated and since the recent talk about Carla Emmerson had died down, new rumours were starting to circulate about the Commander and Dr Russell already.

The Alphan rumour mill, which had always been around, had become a fundamental part of life on Alpha since Breakaway and was almost considered a form of entertainment now. John had well and truly put himself up there for discussion and Alan wondered not for the first time how it was all going to play out.

Victor had thought that the four of them would have a pleasant meal together, maybe some relaxed conversation away from the stresses of the day. It didn't take him long to reach the conclusion that he'd messed up somewhere in his thinking. The air seemed to be charged with some strange static and he knew something was wrong...he just couldn't put his finger on what it was. Alan was trying hard, subjecting them all to his usual light hearted banter but the tension was almost tangible. John seemed tired and moody and Helena seemed decidedly uncomfortable.

It wasn't long before discussion turned to the day's events and John found himself tensing. He really did not want to go there...the emotions of the day were too fresh. He'd put aside the need to talk to Helena until he had more control over the way he was feeling, until he could talk to her as her Commander without his personal feelings getting in the way but now, listening as she talked to Victor and Alan about the stasis process, he couldn't hold his tongue. What she had done had been irresponsible and he couldn't sit and listen to them discussing it and not react!

'I think you showed a lack of leadership today!' His words stopped the conversation dead and the accusation hung in the air. His eyes were fixed firmly on Helena so no-one could mistake who he was talking to. 'You jeopardised the good of Alpha for your own shall I put it? Interest!'

Helena was startled, she'd not expected him to be so confrontational in front of the others. She could read his mood, knew he was spoiling for a fight and didn't want to involve Victor and Alan let alone the whole of the damn cafeteria in his pettiness but she wasn't about to let him accuse her of a professional lack of judgement and not respond.

'I...did what!' Helena questioned quietly but with an edge of ice in her voice.

' know what I mean!' His tone was goading, inviting a response. 'Why did it have to be YOU who submitted to the process! You're the Chief of Medical, you should have been the one overseeing the whole damn thing...not risking...not risking your...'

His outburst was cut off by Helena before he could finish. She understood where he was coming from, knew what he was getting at and wasn't about to let him get away with double standards!

'Risk my...what...John? My life? What else would you have me do...draw straws amongst my medical personnel to see who got lucky!' She took a breath to contain her anger and made an effort to lower her voice. 'How dare you criticise me when you did the very same thing just before Breakaway. Or don't you remember that? Going out in that Eagle, flying that mission...when any pilot on Alpha could have done the same thing...but no ... it had to be you didn't it!'

'It's not the same thing...'

She cut him off before he could continue. 'Of course it's the same thing Commander...'she spoke firmly but her anger bubbled beneath the surface of her words. 'You refused to send someone out into that danger, preferring to risk your own life. You can hardly blame me for following a precedent set by you, can you?'

She watched him, knew he was remembering their conversation in Medical after his rescue. Watched his face as subtle changes told her he was also remembering how that conversation had ended! 'I did the same thing today because I am CMO and it was down to me to take the risk!'

He really couldn't argue with his own logic now could he?

Satisfied that she'd made her point and conscious that Victor and Alan were watching them both intently and that a hush had fallen in the cafeteria as curious Alphans tried to listen to the heated exchange, she tried to smooth over the last few minutes.

She forced a smile onto her face and attempted to lighten the mood. 'And was only a slight miscalculation...I'm fine...and Alpha has its CMO it all turned out ok...'

John shut up!

He was still mad at her. How dare she be so blasé about something which had nearly killed her! But she did have a point and they were definitely drawing some attention from interested diners, so he just shut up!

Staring moodily at nothing in particular he listened as the conversation changed direction and Alan began relaying the finer points of the strange looking Kaldorian ship. He tried to pay attention but he found himself going over her words, remembering the day he'd crashed the Eagle. How angry she'd been at his...what had she called it?...his hero pissed he'd been with he'd kissed her to shut her up and how it had backfired on him.

Giving himself a mental shake as he became aware that a certain part of his body was stirring at the memory, he forced himself to stop thinking about that kiss and brought himself back to the present.

Alan and Victor were quietly discussing the advanced Kaldorian technology and Helena was listening, staring into her coffee mug and absently stirring the contents. He made an effort to join in the conversation telling himself that he'd give it a few more minutes then make his excuses and retire for the night and then Victor happened to mention how charming Captain Zantor had been which in turn provoked a sigh of agreement from Helena.

That's what did it.

The sigh!

He'd been to hell and back worrying about her, was trying to hide the fact that his body was uncomfortably hard with wanting her, and here she was sighing over someone who had almost caused her death.

He lost his temper! He couldn't help himself... but he lost his temper!

Dropping his fork down with a clatter, he couldn't keep the irony out of his voice as he taunted her. 'Oh that's right! You found him very charming...didn't you Dr Russell?' The words were quietly spoken but there was no mistaking the contained anger within them.

Three pairs of eyes turned to him in unison, questioning his second outburst. Victor puzzled. Alan intrigued and Helena wary.

'You practically threw yourself at him...didn't you? His words were quiet but menacing. 'Nothing changes does it? Don't you have any self respect!' He could see sparks of temper igniting in her eyes as she stared at him and that only served to make him madder. 'But why am I surprised...huh...!'

Helena tried to interrupt him, to stop him before he said any more but the ice in his eyes froze any words before she could get them out.

Two interested spectators watched from the sidelines.

'You really are amazing, aren't you? Absolutely no morals, whatsoever!' He scrapped his chair back from the table drawing some more attention from the few late diners in the near empty cafeteria. With an apology directed at Victor and Alan he fired one more look of disdain at Helena and then strode away, leaving an awkward silence in his wake.

Helena didn't know what to do next. She was furious with him for putting her in this position and embarrassed that others had witnessed his outburst. He was acting like a spoilt child. How dare he talk to her like that! And involve Victor and Alan in their private situation too! How dare he?

Victor was looking confused and Alan more than a little uncomfortable at what had just happened. She thanked Victor for his dinner invitation and apologised to both men for John's behaviour then after assuring Victor that she was ok, she her left them staring after her and managed to make it to the corridor and into the nearest travel tube before she allowed herself to react to his attack. She was physically shaking with fury and she took a few deep breathes to calm herself as she contemplated what she should do next.

When the summons from his commlock indicated a visitor, John knew she had followed him back to his quarters. His first instinct was to ignore her, she could go to hell as far as he was concerned...but he knew she wasn't going anywhere. The summons came again and John aimed his commlock at the door allowing her to enter.

As she'd stormed through the corridors, after tracing him to him quarters, she'd been all set to yell at him, to tell him how ridiculous his behaviour was, but when he opened the door to her she held herself together with icy control. She was determined not to respond to his goading.

As soon as the door closed behind her, she moved to the farthest corner of his private space, putting as much distance as she could between them. Her fury had carried her here but now, suddenly alone with him she began to question the sense of her visit. His presence disturbed her, distracted her. She needed to focus.

'We can't carry on like this John...' she said earnestly as she raked her fingers through her silken hair. 'What the hell was all that about just now?

He didn't have an answer, just watched her from across the room with hooded eyes, his expression unreadable.

'It's not good...John. Not good for people to see us...arguing like that...' she faltered trying to find the right words and then continued '...I don't understand...I don't know...what it is, this problem you have with me, but we have to put it behind us!' Her voice was husky with emotion. 'We're stuck here... together... whether we like it or not... so we don't have a choice...we have to work this out!'

She turned to stare out of the viewport trying to regain her composure before she made a complete fool of herself. Her anger had lost its edge and she was very close to tears. That would be the ultimate humiliation...crying in front of him. She mustn't let that happen!

The silence in the room grew.

Now he had her here alone, John wasn't sure how to proceed. He didn't know what to do next. He knew his behaviour a short while ago had been uncalled for and that he should apologise. He knew her words made sense. He knew that they had to find a way to live together on Alpha without the constant undercurrent of tension but he was damned if he knew the answer.

She turned back and their eyes met and held for the longest moment and in that moment what was left of her anger evaporated because she recognised the look in his eyes. It was the same thing that she was so desperately trying to hide herself. Need, longing and desire!

As he watched her fight to hold her temper in check and keep her icy exterior in place he realised how beautiful she looked, cheeks flushed, hair tousled, eyes sparkling initially with temper and then with something much more disturbing. She really was something...his thoughts moved from the hell she created in him, to the heaven she promised, as he felt his body responding to her yet again.

He knew that he needed her...needed to be close to her.

John's anger began to subside as her closeness soothed him.

He'd experienced a whole array of emotions in the last few hours concerning Helena that he was having difficulty assimilating. When her attempt to open the capsule had resulted in the death of the first Kaldorian, he'd felt protective of her, knowing how hard she would berate herself for what she would view as mistake on her part. Watching Zantor openly flirting with her had caused jealousy to knot in his stomach. Thinking he'd lost her as she lay in deep stasis had made him question every feeling he'd ever had for her.

Somehow the past didn't matter anymore. The need, the compulsion to hold her close, was ever present and after nearly losing her today he didn't think he could hold out much longer. His outburst in the cafeteria had been a mere symptom of his frustration.

Whether she wanted the same thing or not, he wasn't sure! There was a current of awareness that constantly drew them together...he was sure she wouldn't deny that. Despite the fact that they had tried to keep their distance from each other he was sure she was as troubled as he was by their connection. He remembered kissing her just before Breakaway...just after he'd crashed his passion had overruled anger and how it had become so sensual he'd bolted for safety before he was lost. Today...or was it yesterday? He was losing track of time...when she'd finally woken from the stasis experiment. Their eyes had met and held and it had been like a...physical connection...time had stood still for him in that moment and he was sure it wasn't one-sided. She couldn't have responded as she had to his kiss unless she'd felt something too. Maybe they should give in to whatever seemed to draw them together, surrender to their feeling and get it over with. He knew he'd be more focused as Commander without her forever on his mind.

Helena waited for him to speak, watching the stars in the blackness beyond the window, knowing that she would need very little encouragement to throw caution to the wind and ask him to hold her. It had been a long day and she was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. His angry accusations at dinner had annoyed her but she now understood what fuelled it. Need and desire. She was tired of pretence. No matter what had happened in the badly he'd treated her, she seemed to need him. Maybe it would just be easier to stop fighting the attraction, accept the situation and give in.

Taking a deep breath she turned to face him. He was watching her from across the room, an unreadable expression on his face.

This was crazy...they were behaving like school kids instead of the mature adults they were. Should she go to him? Make the first move! Tell him what she wanted and how desperately she wanted it!

Could she live with it when he once again lost interest in her?

When he tossed her aside and moved onto someone new?

Alpha was a small base and there would be nowhere to hide. How would she face that?

She'd clung to Lee like a lifeline all of those years ago when John had dumped her... she'd been racked with jealousy when she thought that Carla was in Johns life, but it could be different.

This time she understood the rules. They did have a connection...she couldn't deny that!

But she was under no illusion that love was involved, not on his part anyway! He didn't love her...she knew that now. Never had! It was clearly just lust.

She didn't allow herself to analyse her own feelings too closely. She'd been a naive fool last time...dreaming of fairytales and happy endings...this time it would be different. He could use he'd done in the past but this time she would use him too. Use him to ease the ache she felt every time she was near him. To assuage the hunger she seemed to have for his touch. To make life so close to him more bearable!

They were intelligent, sensible people who surely could have a mature 'relationship' - no strings attached. It was an old cliché but nonetheless relevant. They were two adults who found themselves attracted to each other and who needed a release from the stress they had to live with on a daily basis, and if they could find that release together, it would be beneficial to them both.

John watched as she fought with herself, half understood what she was feeling because he'd already been there...weighed up the alternatives and concluded that she was right, they couldn't go on like they had been. He was pretty sure that once they gave in to whatever force seemed to be pulling them together that would be the end of it. They could move on from the past and there would be no more 'connection'! He would be free of her and that was what he wanted...wasn't it?



They seemed to come together by mutual consent, meeting in the centre of the room, eyes locked and held together by whatever force it was that had them in its grip. The room was still, silent save for their laboured breathing. John knew there would be no going back...that he needed to take the next step to free himself from her hold. Helena was finding it difficult to stop herself from touching him...she needed him badly...but this time it would be on her terms.

They both stood on the edge and at the final moment a tiny part of each questioned the sense in doing what they were about to do...but it was only a tiny part and neither could find the strength to heed its warning.

'John...please...' Two words were all it took...two whispered words of want and they were in each other's arms.

His mouth was hard and demanding and swallowed any more words before they could leave her lips. It was hot and delicious and she gave into the passion that ignited between them instantly, moulding herself against his lean length, her arms wrapping him tight against her. Opening her mouth to allow him the entry he desired, their tongues danced together, gently at first and then bolder, darting and exploring as their kisses grew wilder and then, just weren't enough.

Determined not to be overcome with the emotion he was feeling this time, John pulled away, watching as her eyes turned into pools of deep green longing as she thought he was calling an end to what had only just begun.

Had he ...just... meant to kiss her...? She shuddered with humiliation as he walked away, wrapping her arms around herself in comfort, watching with growing confusion as he went to his communication tower and opened a channel to Main Mission.

It was late and after an eventful day all was quiet. John asked not to be disturbed...he was working late and did not want any interruptions he explained. He was not to be bothered unless it was an emergency. Was that understood? Accepting his order the operative in Main Mission wished the Commander a good night and closed the channel.

A good night...he hoped so.

Using his commlock John keyed in the lock code to his door and then slowly put the commlock down on his desk and turned back to face her.

It was if they both needed to exorcise the past. They...had been over before they had really begun and there had been no real closure for either of them. It had not ended for them with yelling or screaming but with silent recrimination.

They watched each other warily.

'Are you sure you want this?' he questioned softly, giving Helena one more chance to step back.

She nodded slowly, her body tense with barely concealed desire. Her words were husky with longing. 'I...we...need this...' she whispered hoping he would understand.

He did.

Her words hung in the air. He turned away to adjust the lighting and the room became shadow and starlight. Then he turned back, his expression once again unreadable.

'Undress Helena...I want' His words were quietly spoken but the command in them was evident.

His eyes locked with hers and held them trapped in his gaze as he watched for her reaction. She caught her breathe...was he playing some sort of game with her...a million doubts spinning in her head as she made her decision.

The room was silent and filled with heavy anticipation.

She walked toward him stopping just a short distance from him and still caught in his gaze, she slowly unzipped the sleeve of her tunic. With a hint of a blush colouring her cheek bones and her fingers trembling slightly, she exposed first her bare shoulder and then more.

He was still and silent.

Fighting down a wave of panic and unable to look at him any longer she slowly removed her uniform until she was standing before him in just her bra and panties. The coolness of the room enveloped her, she could feel her skin prickling with the chill and her unease. The seconds ticked away...and just as she was beginning to think she'd been a fool to act on his order he moved toward her, slid his fingers into her hair and bent to kiss her. It was rough and aggressive, as if he was angry at himself for his need, but it suited her mood. She moulded herself to him, wound her arms around him and held him, revelling in his body so close to hers.

Memories flooded through Helena, memories that she'd hidden away so long ago, his feel, his taste, his smell. A part of her couldn't believe what she was doing but a part of her had never stopped craving this...this incredible emotion that reached into her very soul and made her feel completely whole.

Minutes passed and there was nothing else but their hunger as they gave in to weeks of frustration. Her fingers danced over his shoulders, traced a path up the back of his neck and found their way into his hair, stroking and caressing, pulling him closer...holding him there. He kissed her deeply, revelling in the feel of her softness, biting into her neck, finding her earlobe and struggling for control as she gasped his name.

Slowly untangling himself from her embrace he held her away from him and took a step backward. Despite their past he had never seen her naked and she was still in her underwear!

'Take off your bra, Helena...' he commanded.

Her eyes sought his for support and drowning in his gaze she slowly unhooked her bra and let it fall to the floor, standing before him in total supplication. His hand reached out and cupped her left breast, tracing his fingers lightly over the gentle swell, moulding his hand to her soft shape, overwhelmed by the intensity of his reaction to her naked breasts. Moaning, he pulled her to him in a crushing kiss then his mouth found first one hard nipple, then the other, suckling and kissing and nipping at the delicate nubs of flesh, making her gasp and arch toward him as desire washed over her.

Clinging to him as the kisses intensified she felt herself lifted off her feet and carried across the room to the far wall. Setting her down on shaky legs he pushed her gently into position and then stepped back holding her in place with the heat of his gaze. Slowly he removed his uniform, until he stood before her completely naked, his hard body leaving no doubt in Helena's mind that he wanted her as much as she wanted him. She drank in his nakedness as he stood before her, thrilled that she was able to affect him so much and then gasped as his mouth returned to her body, tracing with her fingertips the slight sheen of sweat across his shoulders as his mouth returned again to her breasts. The sight of his dark head nuzzling against her body made her weak with longing and she swayed toward him wanting to prolong the sensations he was creating within her, entwining her fingers in his hair and holding him close, every part of her desperate for a release only he could give her.

Aware of her growing tension he drew back, his eyes smouldering with desire as they travelled over her taut body, then his hand moved to her thigh, tracing tiny patterns on her skin as it inched slowly and with deliberation to the area between her legs that she was so keen he explore. She gasped as she felt his touch. The silkiness of her panties drenched with her wetness told him everything he needed to know. He rubbed the palm of his hand over the smooth damp material gently feeling her body quivering beneath his touch.

'Take them off...Helena' it was his last command.

She did as she was told and then she finally stood before him naked and she was as beautiful and exquisite as he'd imagined her to be. Stepping forward he cupped her bottom in his hands, lifted her intimately against him and spread her legs around him, unconsciously re-in acting their first and their last time together.

Holding her still he savoured the anticipation as she gasped her need, her breasts bobbing enticingly before him. Then using the wall as support he slowly slid her to the very edge of his hardness, feeling her hot wetness crying out to him. Slowly...slowly he slid into her warmth, revelling in her tightness as she opened herself to him. Time stood still as they became one, her head thrown back against the wall, way beyond rational thought her legs locked behind him. The pale gleam of her throat mesmerized him...he couldn't resist planting tiny, feather-light kisses along its graceful arch, tracing the taut line of her breast with his mouth, finding the hard nub of her nipple with his teeth as it thrust out for his touch.

'John...' The word was a plea and he understood what it was she craved.

With her long legs wrapped tightly around him he slowly began to thrust his length in and out, deeper and deeper, gradually increasing the tempo until they were both slick with sweat and she was gasping his name over and over again. The thrusts became harder, his hands cupping her bottom and his thighs holding her in place as their lovemaking became a fury of passion, sweeping them both along as the pressure grew. Her nails raked over his skin holding him close revelling in the fierce sensations he was creating within her, completely lost in the moment. Thinking only about release, the blessed release only he could give her, as he pushed her further and further toward her climax.


Blinding light exploded in her head as his hard body finally took her over the edge and she clung to him as wave after wave of sensation swept over her, his mouth cutting off and absorbing her scream as she was washed away in swirling wonderment. His final thrust took him along with her and the moment became endless for the both of them as, spiralling out of control, they clung to each other as he came deep within her, flooding her with his seed.

Locked together as one, time eventually reasserted itself and resting her head against his chest she allowed his heartbeat to calm her shattered emotions. Deep and rhythmic and soothing it slowly brought them back to Alpha and locking her hands behind his head she kissed him deeply, still not able to get enough of him.

Feeling his body begin to respond immediately, he withdrew from her with agonising slowness, smiling at her consternation as she thought he was going to end the proceedings, then after kissing her thoroughly, he swept her up into his arms and carried her to his bed, where he proceeded to fill the next few hours with more delicious lovemaking.

Her dreams were tantalising and erotic and centred...around John Koenig.

As she awoke the normal sense of loss that had been her constant companion for many years swept over her...and then...she remembered...and slowly turned her head to find herself cushioned against a firm warm body.

John's body!

Starlight flooded his quarters and Helena tried to keep her breathing under control as she recalled the previous evening. Remembered dinner with Victor, John's accusations, remembered following him to his quarters because she was mad at him...then...oh god...what had she done...what had they done?

Her hair was splayed across his chest and he was asleep but his legs were entwined with hers and his arm kept her close. There was no way she could move without waking him and if she was honest, finding herself being so intimately held by him was beginning to cause tiny tremors of desire to shoot through her. Closing her eyes she allowed herself just a few more moments of bliss before she left his bed. Minutes passed and she must have dozed. When she next awoke she felt him stir and when she opened her eyes again he was watching her...

John had known the second she'd woken up. He had been half awake himself and enjoying the sensation of her body wrapped around his beneath the thin sheet. He hadn't expected to be so overwhelmed by what had happened. Telling himself that a night with her would 'get her out of his system' he'd decided to enjoy what she gave and then draw a line under them once and for all...but...he'd lost himself in her last night. It wasn't just sex they shared...She ignited a passion in him on a level he'd never experienced with any other woman and it scared the hell out of him because she'd stamped on his heart once before. But despite his intention to the contrary, he still wanted her. It wasn't love. No, couldn't be love...he was sure of that...wasn't he? But he did know that he couldn't live in such close proximity to her on Alpha and not share what they had shared last night. He just hoped she felt the same way!

Watching her sleep was almost torture. Waking to find her lying naked in his bed had made him rock hard and ready to go again and despite the intimate things they'd shared the previous night he was unsure of how she would react to such an obvious sign of his desire. Now as he met her gaze and saw sleepy green eyes cloud with wariness he wasn't sure how things were gonna turn out!

As she met his gaze the closeness of the night before seemed to vanish and Helena wasn't sure what to do next.

Not able to read her reaction and mistaking her wariness for distaste he moved from the bed to his bathroom, grabbing a towel and covering his arousal as best he could. Hell...why was this so damned awkward...

Left alone and horribly aware of her nakedness beneath the thin blue sheet and the coolness emanating from the man she'd felt so close to just a short while ago...she cursed her foolishness...she was an idiot...she need to get out of here...

When he returned she had wrapped the sheet around her naked body and was collecting together her discarded clothing with her back to him. He didn't want her to go like this...scurrying from his quarters in the early Alphan morning, regretting what had happened between them. Last night he'd thought that she was as moved by their lovemaking as he had been but...maybe he'd been wrong!

They needed to talk!

Helena was desperate to get away! Watching him walk away to the bathroom without so much as a smile toward her had sent her spiralling down into abject embarrassment. How had she allowed him to do this to her again...was she stupid! She'd totally lost control last night, overcome with the emotion of finally having him beside her again. So much being different this time...who was she trying to kid! She had no control over her emotions when John Koenig was involved!

The sex had been...amazing...mindblowingly be precise! He just knew exactly what to do to make her melt with her need for him. And it was...only him! No other partner had ever come close to making her feel the way he did. She was a mature woman...for heaven's sake...not a lovelorn school kid...but she knew that what he did to her was special and as she frantically tried to find her clothes so that she could leave his quarters with a modicum of dignity intact...don't kid yourself lost every shred of dignity you ever had last night...and now you have to work with the your commanding officer...she couldn't help a tiny tear of misery as she realised that she'd made a fool of herself with him again.

God it was so embarrassing. She'd practically thrown herself at him. What must he think of her? Just snap your fingers and Helena'll be there!

'Helena, stop!' Her name on his lips sounded husky and once again she obeyed his command.

She turned to face him, trying to mask her discomfort, not wanting him to see how much she was hurting but the tiny tear let her down. It trickled down her cheek and as she scrubbed it away she lost the edge of the sheet and the bits of her uniform and suddenly she was standing there naked and he was striding towards her and then he was kissing away the tears and holding her close and she could feel his hard length thrusting against the towel to get to her and she was working on the knot at his hip, releasing him, touching him, gasping as he touched her and they were on the floor amongst discarded sheets and towels and clothes and none of it mattered because she was once again beneath him and he was once again inside her and they revelled in the sensations that their union created until they were slick with sweat and eventually...a long while later, lay together...exhausted and spent.

This time they didn't sleep.

Lying on the floor, limbs entwined together, they talked about the way forward. Neither prepared to open up completely and reveal the depth of their true feelings but both knowing they couldn't go on as they had been. They had to work things out.

Neither mentioned the past... or talked about any emotional aspect to their relationship! It was as if, by unconscious agreement, they decided to leave well alone. To discuss the past would have meant exploring feelings that neither of them were ready to share. It seemed easier to put it aside and concentrate on the way forward.

No way was John ready to admit out loud...even to himself...that he still loved her. That was too dangerous. He told himself that if he kept reminding himself of what she'd done to him he would be safe from falling under her spell again! So he told himself what was happening had nothing to do with love...huh...who was he kidding... It was all about want...and he sure as hell wanted her!

Deep down, Helena had pretty much accepted that she had never stopped loving John, despite what he'd done to her. The bond she'd forged with him all those years ago...somehow...couldn't be broken. How they had ended up here on Alpha together, defied logic, but over the last weeks she'd come to accept that she loved him and she always would. No way was she going to tell him this though...she needed to be in control this time. Be able to walk away intact if he chose to end it again. She knew if she opened up completely, was totally honest with him about the way she felt, then she wouldn't survive losing him again so she had to protect herself from being hurt too badly by keeping part of herself locked away from him.

And so... it would be... just about the now, the present.

Two adults....attracted to each other physically. It was how they justified it to was about sex and lust and if they could be together like mature adults and have a relationship based on just that, their lives should become easier.

The tension between them lately had become a cause of gossip and neither could afford to compromise their professional positions on Alpha. The Commander and CMO needed to be seen as focused and committed with personal issues coming second to their command roles.

The fact that they didn't seem to be able to keep their hands off each other...was not something either of them wanted to become common knowledge. It was private and not for general consumption. Hopefully, with the matter now resolved between them, they would find it easier to hide the attraction they felt because both would know it was shared and could be taken care of at an appropriate moment.

'So, how will it work?' Helena questioned not quite meeting his eyes, not wanting to seem too pushy.

He shrugged, idly stroking her breast then pushing himself up and turning onto his side to face her, his head resting on his other hand.

'We'll have to make it work.' It was a statement in typical commander fashion. 'I don't think either of us can do without this...' he rolled her taut nipple between his fingers, dipping his head to nip at her gently. 'Can we?'

He looked at her and smiled that smile of his that sent her pulse racing, as his mouth once again returned to her breast, and his hand moved between their bodies to find the hot wetness that begged for his touch, sliding his fingers into her and making her moan with need.

Later...much later, they discussed the finer points of their agreement. They agreed to keep their relationship a private thing. It didn't concern anyone else. They would work together as Commander and CMO without giving any indication that there was anything but a professional relationship between them. The fact that their...lust...was being taken care of by regular clandestine meetings would remain a secret. It seemed like a workable plan and as Helena left John's quarters about an hour before shift change on Alpha so that no-one would question her whereabouts, a new chapter in their relationship had begun.

Later the next day Helena explained to a worried Victor that the argument he'd witnessed between her and John the night before had been the result of a simple misunderstanding...they...she and John, had discussed the problem and agreed to put it behind them. Not wanting her to see the disbelief in his eyes, he'd continued pottering about in his lab as they talked, nodding his head sagely and seemingly accepting her explanation. When she had finished her coffee and left him to return to Medical he watched her go wondering what was really going on between her and John.

Alan had been fed a similar line by John...but needless to say...he didn't believe a word of it either.

Watching them closely over the next few weeks he was sure he sensed a change in the way in which they acted when they were around one another. The angry tension had been replaced by a polite coolness and yet he could still detect a palpable current of energy that, try as they might, they couldn't hide, from him anyway. Something must have happened and he thought he knew what it was. In fact he was sure he did. They were sleeping together! In his eyes it was the only explanation for the change he sensed in them both. He hoped to hell his old friend knew what he was doing!

Over the coming weeks things seemed to settle into a workable situation for both the Commander and CMO.

The routine day to day running of the base brought them together frequently and to most people nothing was amiss. The fact that the Commanders eyes would linger just that second too long on his CMO as she gave a briefing or that their fingers would touch fleetingly as reports were exchanged was only really picked up by those Alphans closest to them. They spent occasional off duty time together...maybe the odd meal as part of a social group, so on the face of it nothing seemed to have changed.

The difference was something only they knew about. It didn't happen every night...because neither would openly admit to being that needy but it happened frequently and it was wonderful. They would meet in different places when their off duty time overlapped, sometimes his quarters, sometimes hers. They never spent that long together and it was never enough for either of them but they didn't want to draw any attention to themselves so they were careful to be as discreet as possible. The sex was incredible and while they were together they could forget about the base and the problems their new life amongst the stars created. It was just in to the most basic of human instinct and loving every moment of it.

They seemed to have found a way to be together despite the past.

As the moon travelled on its journey a new planet came into range. Their long range scanners had been providing information regarding the looming planet for days now. Kano was busy working with main computer analysing the data and providing feasibility reports regarding possible compatibility. Main Mission had been full of activity since the planet first came to the Alphans notice and Johns days had been longer than usual, which in turn meant no time with Helena.

He was alone in his office and finding it hard to concentrate. He was trying to work through some files but his mind kept wandering...remembering in his office a few weeks ago.

She'd dropped off a report he'd requested and he hadn't been able to have her so close and just let her go. He'd locked the doors and they had made love wildly, but in total silence as the rest of Main Mission went about its business on the other side of the wall. It was dangerous...and he was annoyed with himself and he knew he would have hauled any other member of Alpha over the coals for such a lack of restraint when on duty, but his need for her knew no bounds and he told himself that it was slightly different for him anyway!

As Commander was he ever really off duty? Never free from the demands of his role!

No matter how he managed to justify it though, he was still annoyed with himself for his lack of self control and frustrated because each day his need for he grew stronger.

The fact that he was finding it more and more difficult to keep his feelings for her hidden confused him. He had hoped that having Helena on tap would begin to assuage the hunger he felt for her. He had hoped that sleeping with her in this no strings sort of way would somehow lessen the hold she had over him.

Not fact the more time he spent with her the more he wanted her, and not just for the sex, even if it was exceptional, he mused to himself. She charmed him completely...a flash of her smile could excite him, her touch could relax him. She was beautiful and intelligent and strong and he was beginning to accept that deep down he still loved her. But accepting and openly admitting were to different things. She had thrown his love away once before and he didn't know if they could ever get over that. It came down to trust and this is where confusion set in.

He knew he trusted her on a professional basis. She'd proven herself to be an important part of the command structure and her skills were vital to their ultimate survival. He trusted her judgement as his CMO implicitly but he wanted to trust her as her lover, needed to be able to be completely honest with her and yet didn't seem able to let go of the past. It was always there between them even though neither mentioned it.

His thoughts were interrupted by a summons from Paul Morrow in Main Mission. The Command Team were beginning to arrive for the morning conference and Computer was about to release an early study report analysing the conditions on the surface of the new planet. Dropping the files that he had been trying to read without success, onto his desk, he activated the doors and strode from his office into Main Mission, putting thoughts of Helena out of his head.

Helena hadn't seen John properly for days. She knew that the possibility of the planet providing a new home for them was causing him to spend nearly every hour in Main Mission working with Kano and Sandra, pouring over computer read-outs and projections but she missed their time together...she missed him.

Being close to him but having to keep her distance required discipline and she knew she was capable of it but it didn't make it any easier.

As the mornings Command Conference came to an end Helena realised she had been daydreaming. Since their lovemaking in this very office a few weeks ago she had to try hard every time she was here, to get her mind away from the images of them both locked together in a naked embrace just a few steps away from where the command team now sat. She tried desperately not to think about what they had done on this very table...but the erotic details would flit into her mind at the most inappropriate time and it was proving to be more than a little disconcerting. The room began to empty and as she was collecting her files together and shaking her head to dissolve the pictures she caught John watching her with a knowing look in his eyes.

He knew what she was thinking about!

Their eyes locked for a split second and each shared a common thought. I miss you...I need you so badly...

Alan knew he was interrupting something...didn't have to be a detective to pick up on the silent conversation that was taking place between John and Helena as the room cleared. Crikey...he could fairly feel the electricity arcing across the room between them!

He hadn't openly discussed Helena again with John since he'd first learnt that she was 'the one'. John hadn't actually told him in words that things had changed... but John knew he knew...when you went back as long as they did you didn't need everything explained to you. Alan could read between the lines. He knew that John and Helena were secretly seeing each other but also knew that John trusted him to keep quiet.

Knowing and being involved were two different things and he was just about to leave them to it... cos playing gooseberry wasn't his thing, when John turned to him with a questioning look.

''s alright Commander...ummm... don't wanna interrupt anything...'

John caught eyes with Helena and then turned his smile back to the pilot. 'That won't be necessary Carter.' John was almost laughing at his friend. 'What Dr Russell and I have to resolve is probably, best left till later!'

Alan heard Helena gasp quietly and saw the look that passed between them both and felt decidedly uncomfortable. Nothing untoward had been said but Alan knew that every word held a double meaning and his friend was teasing him.

Turning back to Helena, John took her arm and guided her toward the door, bending to whisper something to her before arranging a lunchtime meeting in her office in Medical, loud enough for Alan to hear.

Then she was gone and John turned back to Alan.

'I hope you know what you're doing mate?' Alan questioned, not knowing how John was gonna react to his worried statement.

'I hope I know what I'm doing too...' John stared into space for the briefest of moments as if contemplating his actions and then the Commander was back.

Brusque and in control.

'Ok, what did you want to talk about Carter?' he questioned and the discussion turned to Eagles and flight crews and the possible reconnaissance of the new planet Terra Nova.

The morning had been long and tedious. The data that they were accumulating about Terra Nova was allowing them to build up a good picture of what they could expect but the waiting was becoming frustrating for everyone. There was excitement on Alpha about the possibility of a new life on the planet but it was still days away from being in range of their Eagles, so collecting data and planning recon was all they could do at the moment.

John was tired and he needed a break. He hadn't seen Helena privately for days and he needed her...missed her...more than he wanted to admit. He checked a monitor. It was only 11.50 but what the heck...close enough to be considered lunch time!

Leaving his office he headed toward the main cafeteria, collecting some sandwiches for them both on his way to Medical. She was deep in discussion with Dr Mathias as he arrived and he made his way to her office to wait. Watching her through the glass walls of her office as she worked he knew that this hadn't been a good idea. They were in full view of the entire Medical Centre her. After days of no contact he didn't know if he'd be able to keep his hands off her. And drawing the blinds sure as hell wouldn't be a sensible move. Rumours spread like wildfire on this base, a fact that never ceased to amaze him. It could take hours for an official communiqué to reach everyone but a tasty bit of gossip could spread around the base in no time at all! Shaking his head at this quirk of human nature he sent a short message to her commlock rescheduling their meeting for later that her quarters... then he went back to Main Mission.

The sandwiches lay forgotten on her desk.

The day dragged by way to slowly and the few hours they were together that night went by way too quickly.

Their lovemaking after days apart was desperate and wild, neither knowing when the next opportunity would arise. Eventually they lay entwined together sleepy and sated and then all too quickly he was gone. It was not enough but it was all they allowed themselves.

It was as she lay alone in her bed after John had left...that was the worst time.

When he was making exquisite love to her she was lost in the moment, unable to think about anything else but the feel of his lips and hands on every part of her body. The sense of completeness she experienced as their bodies joined together overwhelmed her! The quiet time afterward when they would simply hold each other, the time when words were not needed...that was a special time...and she never wanted it to end. But it always did! When she was with him she was able to forget the way she felt each time he left her.

But it was as she lay alone in her bed...that was the worst time.

She would be alone again and despite knowing that he was close by somewhere on the base...he had left her and she hated that time. Because despite their lovemaking they weren't really close. For awhile they were as intimate as two people could be and then he was gone. Their relationship was artificial and she didn't know if it was going to be enough. When they'd reached their agreement it had seemed a simple solution and admittedly it had worked for awhile so what had changed? Why was she suddenly so needy?

She knew the answer even as she asked the question. It wasn't enough...simply wasn't enough anymore. Hiding her love from him, knowing it wasn't reciprocated, not being a full part of his wasn't enough. She wanted...what did she want? She buried her head in the pillow that up until a few minutes ago had had his head resting upon and inhaled the scent he'd left behind. She wanted so much more. She wanted the past to be forgotten and for him to love her and...even as she thought it she knew it was impossible...but it didn't stop her wanting it.

She wanted to call him right this minute on his commlock and ask him to come back. She wanted to wake up tomorrow morning with their bodies close together, his arm thrown possessively across her nakedness. She wanted to be the one he turned to when things got too much for him. Most of all she wanted to tell him that she loved him.

But none of that could happen. Realistically she knew that this was what she would have to be content with being the Commanders secret sex interest. She knew it sounded tacky but that's what she was...wasn't it? Someone he used for sex. She should have more self respect she told herself...but...she couldn't help herself! Any part of him was better than no part of him! So she was back at the beginning...trapped in the situation because she loved him so much.

Pulling the sheet tightly around her naked body, she lulled herself to sleep, remembering a time when she'd believed he'd truly loved her.

Unable to sleep John paced his quarters wishing he could go back to her. Sneaking away was getting old very quickly. He wandered...not for the first time...what it would be like to wake up next to her in the morning...well what masqueraded as a morning here on Alpha. He longed to be able to sleep with her next to him all night long. To share things with her like they used to do. To be loved by her.

Maybe this agreement they'd come to wasn't going to work. It was getting too hard not love her. Not to admit his feelings to her. He wanted to trust her. He wanted her in his life...period.

Knowing that sleep was not going to come tonight, he poured himself a generous measure of Gorski's vodka and drank the spirit in one slug...relishing the pain as it burnt its way into his system. Restless, he left his quarters and moving quickly through the near deserted corridors he made his way to one of his favourite spots on Alpha, the Observation Deck, where he sank into a chair and rested his head back, allowing the vastness of the universe to overwhelm his senses.

He could just make out the first glimpse of Terra Nova as the Moon hurtled its way across the emptiness of Space toward it. In solitude he allowed himself to wander what future that planet would hold for them.

Little did John or Helena know that the encounter with Terra Nova was all part of the plan.

Part of a plan that had been set in motion many years ago the minute Lee Russell had stepped in and ended their love affair.

The minute that Lee Russell had twisted fate!

Since that fateful moment when one human being had altered the course of the lives of two people destined to be together...supposed to be together, tiny parts of the One-consciousness had been at work.

Undoing the wrong and re-aligning the universe.

Conspiring to make right, the way it should have been...

Copyright (c) 2010. Reprinted with permission.
Space:1999 is (c) 1976 by Carlton International Media.
All stories are the property of their respective authors.

Database last modified in 2018.

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