A STARMAN FOR THE AGES
A Fan Fiction story
By Nina and Chuck S - ©December, 2002
“Ok, who’s this one from?” Scott asked, extracting a large package from the pile of presents. The Hayden and Forrester clans had gathered at his bachelor apartment in Madison for a family dinner and party to celebrate Scott’s thirtieth birthday, which was the next day.
“Dad and me,” Jenny told him.
“Great,” Scott said, giving the wrapping paper a resounding rip and opening the box to reveal a new hiking jacket. “Ooh, I need this! I love the blue with the dark red accent stripes. It’s gorgeous.”
“Your mother has taste in colors,” Paul added with a loving smile at Jenny.
“It’s one of those with a removable lining and a concealed hood, Scott” Jenny told him, standing behind his chair. “It also stuffs into its own pocket.”
“It’s got twenty-two of those,” Paul pointed out. “I made sure of that.”
“Pockets, Dad?” Scott said with a small laugh, “What do I need that many for?”
Paul gave him a look as if he were missing the obvious. “To keep all of your important things and important people in your pockets.”
“Of course, Dad, always,” Scott assured him. “Thanks Mom and Dad.”
“Wear it in good health,” Jenny told him, leaning down to give him a kiss. “Happy birthday.”
“Mine next, Scotty, mine next!” his little sister Lizzie clamored from the seat next to him. She reached for her present and put it in front of him.
“Ok, squirt,” Scott said in a patient, calming tone. A few minutes later, he’d unwrapped three new jazz CD’s.
“You like those guys with the funny trumpets, right?” Lizzie asked, referring to the saxophone players on the CD covers.
“Yeah, I do,” Scott smiled, reaching out to hug her. “Thanks, Lizzie.”
“I bought them all by myself, Scotty,” Lizzie announced proudly.
“You did?” Scott said. “That’s very generous, Lizzie. You must have saved your money a long time for these.”
He gave her another hug and surveyed the rest of the gifts on the table. “Did I open everybody’s?”
“One more from Grandma,” a couple of his cousins on the Hayden side called out.
Scott accepted a small, lightweight box from Grandma Hayden. “I wonder what this is,” he said, shaking it gently. When he opened it, he drew in his breath in wonder. “Grandpa’s?” he confirmed softly, catching his grandmother’s eye.
“Wow,” Scott said. “I heard about the Purple Heart, but I didn’t know he had a Silver Star too.” He turned to his aunt, one of Scott Hayden Sr.’s sisters. “Are you sure you shouldn’t keep them? I mean, he was your dad.”
“And your grandfather,” his aunt replied. “Take them. Grandma wants you to have them.”
“Thank you, Grandma,” Scott said. “I’ll treasure them. I promise.”
“You’re welcome, darling,” his grandmother said. “I know you will. That’s why I’m giving them to you. Happy birthday.”
“They’re so pretty!” Lizzie exclaimed. Of course she liked anything that was her favorite color, anything that had a heart, and anything that was a star.
“Yes,” Scott agreed with her, explaining quietly, “These were Grandpa Hayden’s from when he was a soldier in World War II. The Purple Heart means he was hurt in combat. And the Silver Star is an extra special medal because he was real, real brave, risking his life to save his fellow soldiers from the bad guys. That was a very dangerous job, so we should be very proud that he was our grandpa.”
Paul watched his son and daughter with quiet pride, remembering his words to Jenny on the train to Winslow, now an eternity ago. “When he grows to manhood, he will be a teacher.” He believed that then, but he could not have possibly foreseen this day—Scott, now a Starman in his own right, fiercely and tenderly devoted teacher to the second Starchild, the sibling that Paul and Jenny had hoped against hope for many years to be able to give him so that he would no longer be unique and alone in the universe. While the Algeiban in Paul still did not fully comprehend the human need for war, he did esteem honor and duty to country and fellow man, and above all, to family. In their own way, he and Jenny also strived for those ideals, and though it had taken nearly two decades of separation, sacrifice and faith, their firstborn understood his many legacies well and bore them with grace.
“Hey,” Bob Forrester, the original Paul Forrester, found alive and now known as the Starman Paul's twin brother, broke Paul’s reverie with pragmatic matters. “Don’t we have a chocolate cake around here somewhere?”
“Yes, we do,” Grandma Hayden said. “Are you ready, Scott?”
“Yeah!” Lizzie exclaimed.
“It’s your brother’s birthday and his cake, little one,” Paul admonished gently.
“For chocolate, Grandma? Absolutely. Any time.” Scott responded.
“Ok, so who remembered to bring candles?” she asked the assembled guests.
“Oh, no, you’re not going to give me thirty candles, are you?” Scott called, as his grandmother and several other relatives left the room to help with the cake. “I’ll be here all night blowing them out.” To the quiet chuckles of his elders he added, “I’m getting so middle aged.”
Momentarily, Scott’s aunt emerged with the cake and set it in front of him. Somebody turned off the lights and everybody launched into a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
“Looks like you’ll have to help me blow out all these candles, squirt,” Scott whispered to Lizzie. “Can you do that?”
“Yeah,” she answered. “Make a wish, Scotty.”
“Ok. You can make one too. Ready?”
“Hold it—“ Bob stopped them.
“Oh,” Scott said, remembering, “Daddy and Uncle Bob want to take pictures. Better wait.” With two professional photographers in the family, each with several Pulitzers to his name, they all knew the drill.
“Will, get the lights, please,” Liz called to her son at the other end of the long table.
“Liz, we’re professionals,” Bob reminded her. “We know how to do it in dim light.”
“Yeah, Bob. Just do it before the candles go out.”
“If they do, we’ll just re-light them, Liz,” Paul said mildly. The twin photographers stood at opposite sides of the table, each trying to get the best angle. Two clicks from each shutter and Paul said, “Ok, Scott and Lizzie. We’re finished. Make your wishes.”
“Deep breath,” Scott instructed his sister quietly. “One—two—three—blow!”
Several seconds later, all of the candles were out. “Good job,” Paul pronounced. He took the cake and began cutting slices to pass around.
“Thanks, everybody,” Scott began, “For dinner and the presents and the cake, and especially those of you who drove a long way to be here with me tonight—the last night of my twenties. I love you all.”
“What are you going to do tomorrow, Scott?” one of his cousins queried.
“Go to work like any other weekday,” Scott said with a sigh. “Later, some friends will come over and we’ll probably go to the movies. It’ll be fun, but I’m glad to have this important family time, so thanks again.”
“Thank you, Scott,” his father said quietly. “You are an exemplary son, brother, grandson, nephew and cousin. We love you, we’re very proud of you and we’d all be nothing without you. Happy birthday.”
“Hear hear!” came the reply from around the table.
A short while later, Scott sprawled on the couch snuggling with his little sister as various relatives milled around cleaning up. “Grandma, do you need any help?” he inquired.
“No, you just relax,” she assured him.
“It’s my apartment. I should be doing something,” he pointed out.
“It’s your birthday. Enjoy it,” she responded.
“I’ll drive you home later,” he said.
“Don’t be silly. Anybody can easily drop me off on the way out.”
“Scottso,” Bob approached. “Liz, Will and I have to get going. It’s three hours to Chicago and I don’t want to get in too late.”
“Ok, Uncle Bob. Thanks for coming,” Scott said. “Will!” he called to his cousin. “Good luck with your high school interview next week.”
“Aw, that’s nothing,” Will said with Forrester confidence. “Happy birthday. Email me about how you like that simulation game when you try it out.”
“Bye, Uncle Bob,” Lizzie said from Scott’s lap.
“See ya, cutes,” Bob responded.
As Jenny came toward him, Scott asked quietly, “You’re not leaving now too, are you? I haven’t been able to spend time with Lizzie in ages.”
“No, not quite yet,” their mother assured him. “Within the hour though. She has major meltdowns when she doesn’t get enough rest, and she has school tomorrow.”
“She’ll sleep in the car,” Scott said “Won’t you, Lizzie?”
Jenny smiled and reached out to stroke her daughter’s hair. “What would you do without your big brother to take care of you, huh, Lizzie?”
In answer, the little girl snuggled closer against Scott’s chest. Jenny squeezed her son’s shoulder affectionately and retreated. Watching the two of them from a distance, she almost wanted to tell Paul to get the camera, but she didn’t want to intrude on their private moments.
“Scotty,” Lizzie murmured softly.
“Yeah, Lizzie,” Scott acknowledged gently.
“Why are you sad?” From the time Lizzie had been very young, she and her brother had been exceptionally attuned to each other’s moods and thoughts.
“Not sad,” Scott corrected, searching for the right word. “Pensive, I guess. Do you know that word?”
“Uh uh,” Lizzie shook her head no.
“It means just a little sad but mostly thoughtful,” Scott explained.
“Well, how come you’re that?” Lizzie inquired now.
“Because thirty is old,” Scott said. “Not really old for a grownup but definitely a grownup. And the more grown up you get, the more you have to do and think about things that aren’t so fun like bills, work, and protecting the family. You know, responsibility. I mean, it was a nice birthday party and I really appreciate it, but sometimes this adult stuff is a drag. So you should enjoy being a kid while you can, ok?”
“I will!” Lizzie promised buoyantly, and Scott knew that was true. His little sister was a bright, determined, funny and utterly loving little girl with a zest for life and an innocent sweetness that he and their parents worked hard to protect and nurture. Though Scott valued the strength and resilience his life had taught him, there were also lessons he hoped ardently that Lizzie would never have to learn.
“Do you want to be a kid again?” Lizzie asked.
“Well, no, not really,” Scott amended. “Not permanently. But it’s cool to think about how it might be sometimes if I were—oh, fourteen again. Fourteen was an important year for me because Daddy gave me my first sphere.” Carefully, he sidestepped all the circumstances surrounding that milestone. Lizzie was too young for the gory details.
“Ooh!” Lizzie exclaimed in admiring delight. Although Paul let her practice with a sphere under his or Scott’s watchful supervision, and the item had been at the top of her birthday and holiday wish lists for several years, they didn’t think she was old enough yet for one of her own.
“That was pretty awesome,” Scott said. “But there were other parts of fourteen that weren't so great and it would be nice to do them over. And maybe also—“ He paused thoughtfully. “Ten. When kids are 10, they can do a lot by themselves, but they’re still young enough to have fun without too much to worry about.”
“If you were 10, would you play with me more?” Lizzie asked.
“Sure!” Scott said.
The two Starchildren, almost a generation apart, snuggled quietly, each lost in their own thoughts.
Ten-year-old Scotty Hayden's eyes glowed, as he stood at third base in nervous anticipation. If he could cross home plate, just ninety feet away, his team, the Stargazers, would win the Ironwood Little League Championship against their archrivals, the Foxes. His best friend, Gene, was at bat, and his dad and four year old little sister were standing on the sidelines near the plate, cheering wildly and entreating him to score. "Run real fast, Scotty," he heard Lizzie shout out. That he would do.
With a long look at Scotty taking a daring lead off third base, the Foxes' pitcher began his windup and threw the fastest pitch his young body could muster. A loud crack emerged from Gene's bat, and the ball suddenly took off for far left field, soaring upward in a graceful arc like a comet roaring past Algeiba. It was a high popper, and Scotty waited for the catch, so he could tag up and head for the plate with the winning run. Eagerly anticipating the joyous mobbing and celebration his teammates would excitedly bestow on him the minute he crossed the plate, young Scotty charged down the baseline, sure he could beat the throw from the Foxes' left fielder. Head down, fierce determination in his eyes, the boy followed that chalk white line that would lead to glory.
Then, with home plate in sight, he glimpsed a familiar powder blue color in a garment that did not belong in the scene. "Oh, no! Lizzie!" he cried out. There, right in front of the plate, the rascal chipmunk was waving wildly, her blue tee shirt looking incongruous next to the tan uniform of the Foxes' catcher, George. He could see his dad running frantically right at them, but knew Paul would never get there in time.
Scotty didn't hesitate. All thought of winning abandoned, he slowed his pace and scooped little Lizzie in his arms a nanosecond before the speeding ball would have struck her. The ball settled into George's glove, but the tag never came. With a nod and long look right into Scotty's eyes, the catcher calmly dropped the ball right in front of the plate. Scotty and Lizzie landed on the plate and collapsed in a heap. Pandemonium reigned.
“I’m proud of you, son,” Paul whispered when he got through the crowd of celebrating youngsters. “You know what’s important in this world—and protecting your family is paramount. That’s a value you’ll keep all your life.” Then with a twinkle in his eyes, Paul added, “Oh and congratulations for some tremendous base running, too!”
Scott woke suddenly, with his dad’s words from the dream still on his mind. Glancing at his seven-year-old sister snuggling and snoozing contentedly in his arms, he knew he would always be Lizzie's protector because he indeed valued what was important in this world. He had his parents to thank for that!
Drifting back to a semi-conscious state, he dreamed of a young teen appearing at a distance. It was Scott as he had been at fourteen.
“You missed a normal adolescence, all right,” the boy told him, as he approached. “Always on the run from an obsessed government agent, fearing for your life, not even knowing where your mom was. It’s a wonder you turned out the way you did.”
The slumbering adult couldn’t help but exchange his famous boyish grin with the apparition of his younger self. The dream continued.
“Let me show you my world.” Young Scott beckoned his alter ego to enter a swirling tunnel of blue lights, very reminiscent of the chamber Paul had created for his son at Saguaro all those years past when Jenny had left her message of hope for the future.
Scott found himself entering the fourteen-year-old’s body and back at the track meet at Union High School, his girlfriend, Kelly, wildly cheering him on. This time there was no ducking into the bushes and through the broken fence he remembered so vividly from sixteen years ago, with Fox hot on their trail. This time, he finished the race, bringing victory to himself and his longtime teammates. This time, he basked in the thrill of going out to a victory celebration at Alfredo’s, home of the best pizza in town, one of the guys at last.
Jubilantly coming home, Scott was greeted by Lizzie. "Scotty, I wanna piggy-back ride, plu-leeze?" came the next cry, which resonated throughout the house, followed by giggles and, "Whee! Faster, horsey!"
Paul just stared at the door from his office, and then with a slight rolling of his eyes and the satisfied smile of a happy parent, rose up to go watch the fun. "What?! Mumph!" Paul cried out, as suddenly horse and rider crashed into him as he entered the family room. "Yay, get him!" came a muffled voice as the three fell to the carpet in a tangle of flailing arms and legs. "Scotty, you know Daddy's ticklish, don't you?" "Right," came the grinning reply. "Don't you guys dare," threatened a desperate Starman, laughing uneasily, and quickly disentangling himself. As they came at him again, Paul struggled to his feet and fled to the kitchen, with his two kids in hot pursuit. He raced around the center island, reached the refrigerator, and deployed his secret weapon, "Gelato, anyone?"
A screeching halt to the pandemonium. "Yay!"
It was a new flavor Bob and Liz had brought back from Hawaii in an ice chest—"Kauai Pie"—coconut macadamia nut fudge. Jenny popped in and the StarFamily savored the delectable concoction. With a sigh of relief, Paul silently thanked his twin for having introduced the kids to gourmet ice cream, wondering if the original Paul Forrester was as ticklish as he was.
As the thirty-year-old Scott continued to dream, he saw Jenny appear in one corner of the blue light.
“Ability invokes responsibility, Scott,” she said.
“I know, Mom,” his younger self replied calmly but with the somewhat tired tone of a teen who had heard this line many times before. Giving her a dutiful hug goodbye, he left the room, only to be met by Paul as he headed out the front door.
“Remember, ability invokes responsibility,” the Starman repeated somberly.
“Dad, Kelly and I are just going to the movies and for ice cream, ok?” the fourteen-year-old sighed heavily, “That’s all! I’ll be home on time. I promise!”
Soon, he and Kelly were in the dark movie theater watching the latest Star Wars sequel. They shared a huge tub of popcorn, drank sodas, and marveled at the special effects that dazzled all their friends.
“That’s something,” Scott said afterward, as they hung out in the local ice cream parlor, “but you should see the real thing like my dad showed me.”
He described the Orion Nebula, as his dad, with the deft use of his sphere, had brought it to him, closer than even the Hubble Telescope could ever venture-a swirling, gaseous cloud that his dad called a nursery for young stars. He told what it was like to see the Leonids from where they originated–the constellation of Leo, near Dad’s home on Algeiba.
“That’s cool,” Kelly agreed. “I’ve always liked science. I’ll probably major in it when it’s time for college. I’m not sure yet which kind, though. What do you want to do when you’re older?”
Scott stared up to the heavens, lost in thought. “Oh, I don’t know,” he finally answered truthfully. It’s hard enough thinking about that stuff when you don’t have to understand what it means to be half alien.”
“Yeah, I guess it would be,” Kelly replied thoughtfully. “I know you guys don’t tell everybody your origins.”
“Mom told me the story about how when–well you know, when she and Dad—-um--had me,” Scott, young adolescent boy that he was, still stammered a bit when discussing such things with his girlfriend. “Dad said I’d be a teacher. But why a teacher, specifically? Why not a doctor, an executive, a musician, a restaurant owner or whatever? And if I’m supposed to become a teacher, what kind of teacher?”
At that point, he looked down in consternation as something in his pocket began to vibrate. Trying to shield his hand inconspicuously in the fold of his jacket, he bent down to glance at his sphere. In the blue lights, he heard his father’s voice again. “Ability invokes responsibility.”
“Ok, ok, I heard you!” Scott responded as quietly as he could. “I’m in public, Dad, do you mind?”
As the sphere faded, he said to Kelly with exasperated chagrin, “Parents! What do you think ‘Ability invokes responsibility.’ means anyway? They keep saying that.”
“Well,” Kelly considered thoughtfully. “Maybe they’re talking about your gifts. That because you have and know things that average human beings don’t, you need to use them wisely. That’s a tremendous responsibility that you can’t just take lightly.”
“Now you’re beginning to sound like my dad,” Scott said wryly. “I think I get that part—sort of. But I’m only fourteen, you know, and this future stuff has me scared sometimes, like ‘The fate of the universe rests in your hands, Scott Hayden,’ He affected a deep, dramatic voice. “That still doesn’t tell me what I’m supposed to teach people.”
“I don’t know,” Kelly said. “What kinds of things from your dad’s home can you teach people down here, and what things from here can you teach worlds like his?
“Oh—“ Scott murmured with a nod. He thought of the lessons that came from the Algeiban side of his heritage. Over the years, his father had taught him to love everyone, and deal with others different from himself in a way far more cosmic than differences of race or color. He had taught Scott that there were more stars and more species of intelligent beings than humans had ever dreamed of, and he had encouraged Scott to look forward to a time when the people of Earth and their galactic neighbors would be able to travel and interact freely in the spirit of harmony and sharing. From his mother, his human legacy, Scott was learning other values and gifts that his father, who came from a world of one language and one people, had told them he now cherished—-humans all so different and alive, endlessly creating and hoping. Pondering all of this, Scott now grasped how his uniqueness made him capable of showing the world something new under the sun. If only it could be as Kelly described it.
His adult self started to materialize out of Scott the Younger’s body and the teenaged Scott turned to him with that exuberant boyish grin of his. “So you see, being a ‘normal’ fourteen-year-old isn’t all root beer floats, sports, dating, and video games.”
“So I notice,” the older Scott replied.
“And they weren’t just referring to drinking, driving, girls, and all that stuff when they kept harping on responsibility.”
“No,” Scott the Elder agreed.
“You’ve been through a lot in this life, man,” the teenager marveled. “I don’t envy you for that. But you did ok, Scott the Elder. You did become the kind of teacher your dad envisioned. Not literally, but by example: how you live your life, the values you display, the kind of person you’ve become. You’re an exemplary family man who respects the wisdom and experience of your parents and grandparents, and teaches his values to the next generation.
“Even if that’s all you did, that might be enough. But there are still even bigger and better things in store for you. I know it. The world might be intrigued enough by a half alien, who shows more humanity than most humans, just like our fully alien dad, that it might well learn some valuable lessons from you.”
The younger version of himself paused a minute before adding, “And you know something else? At fourteen, you achieved something that might have been the best thing that ever happened to you.”
“What’s that?” the adult Scott asked.
“You met your dad,” came the simple response.
Scott awoke with a smile, and hugged his kid sister with all his might.
This story is a work of fiction based on characters and situations created in the 1984 feature film and 1986-87 television series, STARMAN. It is an amateur publication circulated without profit for the enjoyment of fellow fans. No infringement of existing copyrights is intended.